Bright Spot — Jerri Jerreat

When Brian Hades and I were discussing themes for Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) one of the possibilities he suggested was optimistic speculative fiction. I pounced on that idea for two reasons. First, because I’d just recently become aware of solarpunk (largely through Sarena Ulibarri) and was excited to work on an anthology that might include some and second because I’d become convinced that we were living in the darkest timeline.

That was in 2016. I had no idea how much darker it could become.

Still, despite a very difficult couple of years, I manage to find reasons for optimism. Lights in the darkness. And I’m not alone in that.

In the coming weeks I will be hosting a series of blog posts I’m calling “Bright Spots in the Darkest Timeline”. Each will be written by a Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) contributor and I think they will serve the dual purpose of giving me an excuse to talk about the anthology, and shining a bit of light into people’s lives.

Today we continue with this contribution from Jerri Jerreat how she stays optimistic.

 

Why I’m Still Optimistic

By Jerri Jerreat

I think a writer needs to be drenched in the real world, not holed up in a garret or mansion, separate from life swirling around. I am terribly curious, nosy, my sister says, about everyone. I enjoy chatting with the person beside me on the bus or plane, the waitress, the logger, the cashier. These small connections give me hope. I’ve learned that ordinary people are resourceful and hopeful. They’re all trying to create good lives, make wise choices. They are capable of learning new ways.

I support a variety of kick-ass charities, including Ecojustice, Greenpeace, environmentaldefense.ca, Friends of Clayoquot Sound, Help Lesotho, Women for Women International, etc. They are each accomplishing amazing things. I sign petitions, walk in marches. Martin Luther King taught us.

As well, I teach a classroom full of students under the age of 13. They have anxieties. My 9 year olds came to school in a panic after Trump was elected and I had to soothe them, explain that that was not our country. We were safe. But are we? We have to fight for our safety, our Human Rights and our right to clean air, water and land. Throughout the year, in class, we read newspaper articles together that inspire us all with hope. There were those kids in Yellowknife who wanted to be a sledge hockey team to play with their friend with cerebral palsy; the clever off-grid tiny houses built by the Secwepemc people to protect their alpine meadows; shaggy haired Boyan Slat, with an invention to use the ocean currents to remove plastic; and the Malawain lad, William Kamkwamba, who built a wind turbine out of scrap metal bits and an old textbook. I read them the book, “And Tango Makes Three”, to which one lad responded, “Well why can’t penguins be gay? People can be!” We heard Malan, a local teen, recently a refugee from Syria, chat to us about her life, and we played with her baby sister. My class ate a gorgeous lunch with Muslim Canadian families.

People are creative! We can unlearn prejudices. We can learn to repair our excesses. We can rein in those negative leaders, and work to halt the world’s warming.

I am optimistic, but I am also a fighter.


Jerri Jerreat’s fiction has appeared in The New Quarterly, The Dalhousie Review, The Antigonish Review, Fireweed, Canadian Storyteller Magazine, and won a Room fiction competition. She has a Masters degree in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and has taught a variety of writing courses at St. Lawrence College, in Kingston, Ontario. She now teaches younger students, and each year, mentors a class to create a play together, then directs it. She read A Wrinkle in Time and other fine books aloud to her own kids, Tanner, Adan and Haven, walking them to school, and is proud to say she can still walk and read at the same time. When her family canoe trips somewhere like Algonquin Park, they all stuff massive books secretly into their packs.


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Bright Spots — Natalia Yanchak

When Brian Hades and I were discussing themes for Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) one of the possibilities he suggested was optimistic speculative fiction. I pounced on that idea for two reasons. First, because I’d just recently become aware of solarpunk (largely through Sarena Ulibarri) and was excited to work on an anthology that might include some and second… because I’d become convinced that we were living in the darkest timeline. That was in 2016. I had no idea how much darker it could become.

Still, despite a very difficult couple of years, I manage to find reasons for optimism. Lights in the darkness. And I’m not alone in that.

In the coming weeks I will be hosting a series of blog posts I’m calling “Bright Spots in the Darkest Timeline”. Each will be written by a Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) contributor and I think they will serve the dual purpose of giving me an excuse to talk about the anthology, and shining a bit of light into people’s lives.

Today we begin with this contribution from Natalia Yanchak about shifting how we think and approach things.

 

How to Repurpose a Diss

By Natalia Yanchak

I’ve been mostly self-employed throughout my life, so taking a part-time job was a big change. The decision set my work-life balance askew — or, I considered, the regular pay cheque might recalibrate my life-life balance. Not to say my decades-spanning career in rock and roll wasn’t work, it just never really felt as such.

Now I’ve committed to going in to an office, and managing said office, several times a week. I ride public transit with commuters and have to run errands on the weekend—along with the crowds and everyone else. I promised myself this would be temporary. My band would be making another album and have to tour again in a few years. But for now, I can be normal-core.

At risk of sounding like clickbait, you won’t believe what happened next! The show that was coming to the gallery (did I mention the office was situated in a non-profit art gallery in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal?) would put my optimism to the test.

Part of my new job is being available to visitors of the space. I have to greet them and be able to answer their questions about what is being displayed or presented. This generally requires learning about the work via a walkthrough with artists and curators, or a group reading. In the case of nènè myriam konaté’s curatorial residency “yes, and… also”, gallery employees were invited to a closed reading and discussion of Naomi Klein’s Leap Manifesto — a call to action for economic restructuring and basic equalities for all Canadians.

Part of nènè’s residency included a challenge to only converse in positive terms. Their residency was partially an experiment on how to effect positive change. How intersectionality and improvisation can lead to radical openness, requesting that we “stand firmly in our yes’s + that we ask ourselves why.”

When chatting in the space, nènè would kindly reminded me to reword negative language. It was harder to “stand firmly in my yes’s” than I thought. When wanting to challenge a point in our group reading of the Leap Manifesto, I would begin to speak, then pause and reflect: “How do I criticise with something in a positive way?”

It is doable, but requires forethought. To be positive and optimistic we must defy our innate training towards cynicism. We lean too much on our competitiveness. We puff ourselves up by denigrating others, where this exercise curated by nènè planted the seed that it was possible to speak positively about, say, even the hugest asshole. Those negative thoughts only help to cast an outward, negative vibe.

The inspiration behind my story, “Lt. Andrewicz Goes Apple Picking” is simple: as I waited to pick up my son from daycare, I looked over the photos from a recent field trip to an apple orchard. I couldn’t spot my boy in any of the shots, but I knew he was there: he came home with a sack of apples that day! So where was he? Enter my imagination.

Enter, also, the concept of parenthood, enter the primal bond one develops with their children. Enter the terror of thinking that one day your child might not need you. Then the doubt: Have I done my best? Have I given them the emotional and critical tools they might need to handle whatever life throws at them?

This is where positive vibes come in handy, where the simple task of equipping the people around you — young and old — with a sense of purpose effects positive change. Take pause to work out how that would sound. Come up with something inspiring about someone, even if it’s behind their back, even if you never tell them.

Could you imagine, a day without sending or receiving a single microaggression? Try it for an afternoon. Judge and disagree in solely positive terms: express what would you like to see, instead of ranting about what you didn’t like. Reframe that negative idea, repurpose that diss, and manifest the future, the yes’s, that you want.

 


 

Natalia attended Concordia University’s Creative Writing program. After graduation, she toured  internationally as keyboardist and singer with The Dears. She writes speculative fiction in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal, where she lives with her husband and two children.

 

nataliayanchak.com

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instagram.com/nataliayanchak

facebook.com/natalia.scifi

 

Author photo credit: Richmond Lam

 


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2017 Advent Ghosts — A Christmas Surprise

Every year around Christmas time I write an ‘Advent Ghosts’ story. Loren Eaton started Advent Ghosts several years ago as a way to continue the Victorian tradition of sharing spooky stories at Christmas time.

Last year was exceptionally busy for me so even though I wrote an Advent Ghosts story I didn’t actually type it up and share it. Today when I was flipping through that notebook looking for something else I stumbled across it and decided to correct that. Better late than never, right? 🙂 So, without further rambling please enjoy my 2017 Advent Ghosts story:

 

 

A Christmas Surprise

His truck was in the driveway.

How was his truck in the driveway?

The meth head with the gun had relieved him of it an hour ago. And yet, there it was. Parked and still running in front of his house.

An icicle of dread began in his belly and spread its frigid fingers through his body. With leaden limbs he approached, cupped his hands against his face and pressed them against the driver side window.

The garish green light of the GPS howled

You have arrived at your destination: Home

while simultaneously revealing that the monstrous red suit usually crumpled into the passenger seat was missing. As much as he’d hated having to wear it for the past month to pay the bills he hated that empty seat even more.

The boot prints in the snow leading from the truck to the front door chilled him more than the December wind, but he entered the house to a scene straight out of a holiday television special.

Bathed in the coloured lights of the tree, the boys were stretched out on the floor in front of the television, snug as bugs in their flannel Oilers pajamas.

“Daddy, Daddy!” they chirped, bounding up and jumping around him like excited puppies.

He patted them distractedly on their heads, his eyes frozen to the wet foot prints heading down the hall toward the bedrooms.

“Boys—” he started.

“Daddy! Daddy! Santa’s here! Santa’s here!”

“Santa is what?”

“Santa is here!”

“Where?”

“He took Mommy down there,” Allan pointed down the hall. “He promised he’d have a surprise for us when he was done with Mommy. They were playing really loud, but it’s quiet now. Do you think that means we get our surprise soon, Dad? Do you?”

Nevertheless

I just got home from spending several days in Phoenix to visit a friend and make new ones at CoKoCon (I’ll share more about that later) and while I was away an awesome thing happened. I had a book come out!

Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) is available now from Amazon!

Amazon (US) (CA) (UK)

Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) is a collection of optimistic speculative fiction stories, each optimistic in a slightly different way. These stories explore the optimism that drives us to seek out new worlds, that inspires us to sacrifice for others or fuels us to just keep going when everything seems lost.

One of the reasons best reasons doing an anthology of optimistic future this year was because no matter which side of the political or social spectrum you land on, it’s been a tough year. Nevertheless we try to remain optimistic. Nevertheless, we don’t give up. Nevertheless, yes, we persist. The stories in this anthology of optimistic SF are some of the darkest optimistic stories you’ll ever read but, nevertheless, they are optimistic. And powerful.

Featuring stories and poems by: James Bambury, Meghan Bell, Gavin Bradley, Ryan Henson Creighton, Darrel Duckworth, Dorianne Emmerton, Pat Flewwelling, Stephen Geigen-Miller, Jason M. Harley, Kate Heartfield, R. W. Hodgson, Jerri Jerreat, Jason Lane, Buzz Lanthier-Rogers, Alison McBain, Michael Milne, Fiona Moore, Ursula Pflug, Michael Reid, S. L. Saboviec, Lisa Timpf, Leslie Van Zwol, Natalia Yanchak

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(US) (CA) (UK)

Coming soon to other platforms and in paperback!

Expanded Distribution for E is for Evil

When a book first comes out I usually enroll it in KDP Select for the first few months. That makes it available to people who use Kindle Unlimited, but it means it’s not available for purchase anywhere outside of Amazon. I did this with E is for Evil, which means until recently it’s only been available for readers who use Amazon but–good news everybody!–it’s recently moved out of it’s KDP Select term and is now much more widely available.

So, if you weren’t picking up a copy of E is for Evil because your favourite distributor didn’t have it, now might be a good time to change that!

E is for Evil Available online:

 

Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns

This last weekend we launched Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns at When Words Collide in Calgary, Alberta and sold out of copies at the show.

And there were a lot of copies.

Like, a lot, a lot.

It set a new record for most number of books sold at WWC (or any single event) for me!

But, that’s not the point of this post. As much as I’d like to just dwell on that forever, life does move on and so must I… but I DO have good news.

Today is the official release day of Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns!

That means, if you pre-ordered it either it should be downloaded to your e-reader and ready to go or, if you got the paperback, it ought to be in your mailbox very soon.

Also? Reviews are starting to trickle in. Reviews like this one:

“Fire: Demons, Dragons, and Djinn is an incredibly eclectic and carefully curated collection of short stories… the entire anthology is a treasure of incendiary delights and terrors which deserves a permanent spot on your e-reader’s shelf.”

— Melanie S., Goodreads Reviewer

Yay!

If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, or don’t even know what I’m talking about, all that information is below, and both B&N and Amazon have ‘Look inside’ features in case you want a little taste before you buy.

To everyone who pre-ordered already, thank you SO much for your support. If not for you I couldn’t do what I do (and I love what I do), so thank you, thank you. I hope you love the book as much as I do 🙂

The ability for people to control (to some extent at least) fire has long been held as one of the major events that contributed to human evolution, but when fire eludes or escapes our control it is also one of the most destructive forces on earth. Associated with passion, power, transformation and purification, fire is a ferocious element with an unquenchable appetite.

Discover the power of Fire and the creatures that thrive on it in these twenty-one stories, including: the true inspiration behind Jim Morrison’s songs; a special weapon used in World War II; the secret in the depths of a mortuary furnace; a fantastical card game; and a necromancer out on what may be his last job.

Featuring: Blake Jessop; Kevin Cockle; Lizbeth Ashton; Dusty Thorne; V.F. LeSann; K.T. Ivanrest; Hal J. Friesen; Laura VanArendonk Baugh; Krista D. Ball; Mara Malins; Claude Lalumière; Susan MacGregor; JB Riley; Damascus Mincemeyer; Heather M. O’Connor; Gabrielle Harbowy; R. W. Hodgson; Chadwick Ginther; Wendy Nikel; Annie Neugebauer; and J.G. Formato.

 

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Direct from the Publisher

Electronic: Amazon Kobo | B&N

Paperback: B&N | Amazon

Cover Reveal: Nevertheless

Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) is a collection of optimistic speculative fiction stories, each optimistic in a slightly different way. These stories explore the optimism that drives us to seek out new worlds, that inspires us to sacrifice for others or fuels us to just keep going when everything seems lost and in so doing turn the idea upside down and inside out.

One of the reasons best reasons doing an anthology of optimistic future this year was because no matter which side of the political or social spectrum you land on, it’s been a tough year. Nevertheless we try to remain optimistic. Nevertheless, we don’t give up. Nevertheless, yes, we persist. The stories in this anthology of optimistic SF are some of the darkest optimistic stories you’ll ever read but, nevertheless, they are optimistic. And powerful.

Featuring stories and poems by: James Bambury, Meghan Bell, Gavin Bradley, Ryan Henson Creighton, Darrel Duckworth, Dorianne Emmerton, Pat Flewwelling, Stephen Geigen-Miller, Jason M. Harley, Kate Heartfield, R. W. Hodgson, Jerri Jerreat, Jason Lane, Buzz Lanthier-Rogers, Alison McBain, Michael Milne, Fiona Moore, Ursula Pflug, Michael Reid, S. L. Saboviec, Lisa Timpf, Leslie Van Zwol, Natalia Yanchak

Reserve Your Copy Now!

 

Cover Reveal: Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns

I love this book. I love this cover. And I’m so excited to finally be able to share it with you!

Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns is the first installment in my elemental anthologies series from Tyche Books. The cover art, by Ashley Walters, is fabulous, and the perfect way to introduce readers to the awesome stories within 🙂

Reserve your copy now!

The ability for people to control (to some extent at least) fire has long been held as one of the major events that contributed to human evolution, but when fire eludes or escapes our control it is also one of the most destructive forces on earth. Associated with passion, power, transformation and purification, fire is a ferocious element with an unquenchable appetite.

Discover the power of Fire and the creatures that thrive on it in these twenty-one stories, including: the true inspiration behind Jim Morrison’s songs; a special weapon used in World War II; the secret in the depths of a mortuary furnace; a fantastical card game; and a necromancer out on what may be his last job.

Featuring: Blake Jessop; Kevin Cockle; Lizbeth Ashton; Dusty Thorne; V.F. LeSann; K.T. Ivanrest; Hal J. Friesen; Laura VanArendonk Baugh; Krista D. Ball; Mara Malins; Claude Lalumière; Susan MacGregor; JB Riley; Damascus Mincemeyer; Heather M. O’Connor; Gabrielle Harbowy; R. W. Hodgson; Chadwick Ginther; Wendy Nikel; Annie Neugebauer; and J.G. Formato.

If you reserve your copy now it will be sent to you on August 14th when the book is officially released. Also, remember these?

These are six-sided dice that have a kick-ass dragon instead of a six. I will be giving one of these away to anyone who pre-orders their copy of Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinn. In order to claim your dice email me proof of your order to rhonda.l.parrish@gmail.com along with your snail mail address. That proof can be a screenshot of your order confirmation, a receipt, whatever works for you and shows that you’ve reserved your copy.

Reserve Your Copy Now:

Electronic: Amazon Kobo | B&N

Paperback: B&N | Amazon (coming soon)

The Grandmother Paradox

The second title in Wendy Nikel’s Place in Time series, The Grandmother Paradox. I’m super proud to be the editor for this series and that is because the stories are awesome.

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes/Apple iBooks
Kobo
World Weaver Press

When Dr. Wells, the head of the Place in Time Travel Agency, learns that someone’s trying to track down the ancestors of his star employee, there are few people he can turn to without revealing her secrets. But who better to jump down the timeline and rescue Elise from being snuffed out of existence generations before she’s born than the very person whose life she saved a hundred years in the future?

But Juliette Argent isn’t an easy woman to protect. The assistant to a traveling magician, she’s bold, fearless, and has a fascination with time travel, of all things. Can the former secret agent Chandler, with his knowledge of what’s to come, keep her safe from harm and keep his purpose there a secret? Or will his presence there only entangle the timeline more?


And though The Grandmother Paradox is a standalone title it does follow closely on the heels of the first book in the series, The Continuum. Which, it just so happens, is on sale for $0.99 right now!

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes/Apple iBooks
Kobo
World Weaver Press

 

 

Candas as a Queen of True North SF

We recently celebrated the release of Prairie Starport: Stories in Celebration of Candas Jane Dorsey but some of the contributors wanted to do something a bit more. And so for several Fridays I was honoured to feature more stories about Candas and the anthology in the form of guest posts on my blog. Today’s entry is going to conclude this series which I called:

 

 

Thoughts about one of the Queens of True North SF

by Gregg Chamberlain

I’ve been a fan of speculative fiction since I was kid watching Rocket Robin Hood on CBC and getting a Tom Corbet, Space Cadet juvenile hardcover for a Christmas present one year. Over the years my taste in speculative fiction has broadened and, I hope, matured (though I can still sing both the opening and closing theme songs for Rocket Robin, and will do so despite all attempts to stop me. BIG GRIN).

But for a long while, I thought all the writers of sf and fantasy were either British or American (Jules Verne being the sole exception to the rule). I didn’t know that A.E. Van Vogt was Canadian, though I enjoyed reading Slan. While in high school I discovered H. A. Hargreaves’ North by 2000 collection of short stories and I was amazed. The stories were good, although a bit depressing in their depiction of the future, and that was my impression of Canadian SF then. Cold, bleak, and dark. Kind of like the middle of January in Northern Ontario (and I know what I am talking about, since my family spent two years in the Kenora/Rainy River area—first time ever heard the boom of ice cracking on a river late at night in the middle of winter while the cold stars blinked in the midnight sky).

Now, I did know there were women who wrote sf. Andre Norton and Leigh Brackett were two of my favourite authors, both then and now and always. But again, they were not Canadian sf writers. By a curious chance, during my senior year in high school while the family was living in Kenora, I met in person with Phyllis Gotlieb during a humanities class field trip. But she was introduced to us as a poet, not a writer, and certainly not a writer of speculative fiction. Though she did treat us to a short reading from her novel, Sunburst, during the poetry workshop session with my class. But I did not clue in that this was an actual living breathing Canadian SF writer!

Fastforward to my college years and my somewhat brief nationalist phase. By then I knew there were Canadian sf writers. Giants of the field like Van Vogt and Gordon Dickson, yet Gotlieb was still the only female Canadian sf writer than I knew about (finally figured that much out, I did).

Then, during a trip to visit with the cousins down in the Greater Vancouver area (also known as the Lower Mainland to most of us in B.C.), I discovered the White Dwarf book store. Heaven. Bakka Books in Toronto may be the Mecca for any Canadian sf fan’s mandatory pilgrimage. But the Dwarf was always the one mandatory stop for me any time I was in down in Vancouver town.

There I found Machine Sex and Other Stories by Candas Jane Dorsey. And I was amazed. This was a kind of sf I had never seen before or even imagined. It was edgy, it was off the wall, it was just bloody unbelievably WOW!

I have never met Ms. Dorsey. But then I’ve met in person only a very few of the writers whose works I have enjoyed and loved and treasured over the decades. When you live in the boondocks of Canada most of your life, far from the big cities of Vancouver or Calgary, Toronto, or Montréal, you don’t get a lot of chances to attend sf conventions or hang out with all that many of your fellow sf fans. I am lucky that I was able to attend at least one WorldCon (Torcon 3 is the place for me! Yaaaaay! BIG GRIN again).

Doesn’t matter. I have the words of Ms. Dorsey and all the others. Words which have filled me with wonder, sometimes made me weep, other times had me rolling on the floor laughing, and often left me rubbing my chin and going “hmmm”.

Dorsey and Company all inspired me to put down my dreams into words, and also gave me the courage to send those words out into the wild and see if they might fly. Some crash and burn. But others are soar upwards seeking the stars.

Thank you, Candas Jane Dorsey. I am proud to do my part to honour both your work and the legacy of creativity you gifted all of us.

Gregg Chamberlain

Plantagenet, Ontario (at present)

May 25 2018 (for now)

 

 

Download it for free at:
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Apple

Also available at Amazon

Paperback available at Amazon:
.com
.co.uk

And add it to your shelves at Goodreads

 

All profits from this collection will be donated to the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society in Candas’ name.

Swashbucking Cats — Nine Lives on the Seven Seas

And thus was an anthology conceived, contracted and scheduled.

Bad news: Submissions don’t open until next year.

Good news: That gives you lots of time to write something pawsome.

p.s. If we knock this one out of the park maybe we can talk the publisher into a Ninja Dogs follow-up 😉

 

Swashbuckling Cats: Nine Lives on the Seven Seas

If you think cats and water don’t mix, think again.

I’m putting together an anthology full of feisty felines on the high seas! I want pirate cats, and Viking cats. Submariner cats and explorer cats. This book is going to be filled with adventure-loving cats, puns and fun. I want it to be a wild, rollicking ride complete with sword fights, sea monsters, treasure hunting, discovering new worlds and lots and lots of kittehs.

Be careful not to get too caught up in the fun and forget to include a strong plot and detailed characters for your story, though.

I’m a sucker for a great setting, three-dimensional characters and high stakes and if your story elicits real emotion from me–laughter, tears or anything in between–you will have increased your chances of success significantly.

Rights and compensation: Payment: $50 CAD flat fee and a paperback copy of the anthology. In exchange we are seeking first world rights in English and exclusive right to publish in print and electronic format for six months after publication date, after which publisher retains nonexclusive right to continue to publish for the life of the anthology.

Open submission period: June 1, 2019 – July 31, 2019

Length: Under 9,000 words

Publisher: Tyche Books

No simultaneous or multiple submissions.

No reprints.

Canadian spelling, please.

 

 

 

 

 

I write, I edit and I take a lot of naps.

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