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Distant Early Warning Cover, Trailer and Pre-orders

It’s finally here! The beautiful new cover for Distant Early Warning is ready to meet the world. From this post you can access the book trailer, pre-orders on Kobo, and see the synopsis and new cover. Enjoy!

Pre-order on Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/distant-early-warning-1?utm_source=FNACSpain&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=detailpage

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpR4AYPOmAQ&list=PLnhLvcaGPgg4qXGmbgcDVxWn-jeCURajS&index=33

Synopsis:

Canada is in crisis. Climate change has taken hold, and amid the flooding and the super storms, the dead begin crawling out of the ground at night, screaming out strange gibberish songs that entrance anyone who hears them. The north quickly becomes a wild west, without the west.

Denny’s life changes forever one day when she sees her dad on TV, dead and screaming. Denny gives up her job, buys supplies, and heads out with her dad’s dog, Geoff, to discover the truth behind his death, but truth always comes with a cost. What Denny discovers in the wilds of Northern Ontario will shatter all of her assumptions about her life, and what lies beyond.

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Year-End Wrap-up: 2020

So I know some people aren’t doing year end wrap-ups out of a sense of self-preservation because of how bad 2020 has gone, but I think for me personally, I’ll feel better if I do. Some good things have happened this year, and I think that acknowledging them is a positive thing.

Sitting here, with 2020 almost over, I feel proud of myself for everything I have overcome this year, for not giving up, and for experiencing a lot of personal growth. 2020 is still reminding me that it’s not quite gone yet, but regardless, I will always have hope for the future and I am going to do my best to make 2021 the best year yet.

Writing

I did have one short story published this year, “It’s All in the Sauce”, in A Quiet Afternoon. I have also attended more conventions this year than I normally do, and gotten to meet some excellent and engaging writers from other parts of the world due to the ease of virtual meet-ups. I made the hard decision to postpone Distant Early Warning’s launch to next Spring, a decision which I am blessed to have the full support of my publisher on. I think that choosing to launch a book this year, where there was a choice, is a very personal one, and for me, Distant Early Warning has a history of not getting the publicity it deserves due to unfortunate circumstances, and so I couldn’t bear to have that happen again for the second edition. I thought it would remain a quiet year for publications, but December packed a punch! I made my first pro-rate sale to Halldark Holidays in mid-December, and the book has hit the top Horror Anthology spot on Amazon.com twice since its release and is getting great reviews. I have also received an acceptance from another anthology which I am excited about, but that will have to wait for January as details are still being finalized. All this has me thinking that the short story market could be a promising route for me, and so I have committed to writing more short stories to answer anthology calls and send to general markets.

Life/Career

I am very blessed to say that no one I know has gotten sick or died this year related to COVID. My uncle did pass away last month of unrelated causes, and he will certainly be missed. With the restrictions brought on by lockdown, I have discovered some new and wonderful hobbies that bring me joy, none of which will be a surprise to anyone who reads here regularly. I have expanded my knitting and crochet practice, started a food garden, and learned to can my own food. I found that engaging with living, growing things, and doing something to help others actually filled me with more joy this year than previously. Because everything was so dark, I had to make a conscious turn toward the light, and I think that was very good for me. It feels as though I have re-discovered my heart. I have also stayed busy by bettering myself with education, starting on the journey to fluency in French, updating my animation software skills and, next month, starting a certificate in Marketing. My career goals for this year, as far as day jobs go, were completely shot. There is no nice way to say how badly things went versus my projections, and that has caused me a lot of emotional pain. I’m 35, I want to get my life back on track career-wise, and it has just eluded me all year long. I know I should feel thankful, because I am doing much better than many having stayed employed, and on some level I do. But it’s been hard on the old self-esteem that things have gone this way. I also know a lot of really high-achieving people who have continued to slay this year and it has been hard fighting FOMO and a feeling of ‘what’s wrong with me that I don’t have that life too’. Yes, I know most of you reading this will think I’ve got a ‘cool’ life to start with, and I do. And that is probably what I should promote here for my image. But it’s just the honest truth that I’d like to do even more.

What About 2021?

Ahh, 2021. I don’t think anybody really knows how that will turn out! There are definitely some things I am looking forward to, though. Number one, of course, is the launch of Distant Early Warning in the Spring. And I also already know that I will have at least one short story coming out, but I want to add to that number if I can. I’m also hoping to get more novel manuscripts done, of course, making up for the lost time this year in which I pursued other projects. I’ve already got lots of yarn craft projects planned, including a crochet narwhal, more warm winter items for charity, and many pairs of socks. I’m definitely also doing the garden and the canning again, although the canning may not be on the same scale next year, depending on how food prices go and how the pandemic shapes up. I am looking forward to the peace of mind of being vaccinated, and chances are good that it will happen this coming year. In 2020, before the pandemic even started, I decided to chase joy more often, and I am pleased to say that I did that regardless of the world situation, and it has enriched my life. I would like to cultivate more joy and happiness on a daily basis in 2021, perhaps above and beyond anything else. I also want to remember the lessons 2020 has taught me about myself. Having said all that, my fondest wish for 2021 is that I can meet and interact with folks who understand my true capabilities and want to help me reach my career goals. 2020 seemed to be the year of meeting people who only saw part of the picture, and I want to expel that energy right out of my life. I also want to finish writing the third book in the Singing Bones trilogy, at long last.

So, that’s it! Wherever you’re reading from, I hope that 2021 brings you renewed hope, joy and inspiration for the future, and that you are safe and housed and well-loved. Together, we can make 2021 a historic year for good things, rather than bad.

Halldark Holiday Cheer

So if you’ve been following my Twitter (and I hope you have) I’ve got some big news. 

I had mentioned in previous posts that I was having fun responding to anthology calls. One such call was for Gabino Iglesias and Cemetery Gates Media’s exciting Christmas anthology, Halldark Holidays. I considered it a long shot, but guess what?

My story, ‘Somebody Always Hears You’ made the cut, pun totally intended! I’ll follow Gabino’s lead and not reveal too much about the story now, but it involves an ill-fated wish on a Santa imposter and an aesthetic that is 13 Going on 30 meets Krampus. And check out this cover, you guys…

More details on purchasing and release dates as they become available.

Sometimes it’s good to follow your heart. Uncle Mike, this one’s for you.

December Weekly Update #1: Shorts Galore and Sanity Secrets

I can’t believe it’s December already! If someone had asked me what I thought a year being stuck inside would be like, I wouldn’t have guessed this at all. The time has just flown by! Maybe I didn’t factor in my personality enough. I’m the kind of person that always likes to be productively busy, so I just sort of switched directions and did things that were useful in the pandemic.

One of the ways I have kept busy is by continuing a robust schedule of appearances. Most recently, I would like to thank the AELAQ Book Fair for having me and many of the other Renaissance Press authors in for a Q&A this past Sunday. We had a wonderful engaged audience, and I got to reminisce about some of the books that had touched my life and really connected me to reading. I also got to comment on the connection between the restless dead and climate change in Distant Early Warning, which was a great question and I may write a whole article on it when I get the chance.

Another way I have been keeping busy in the past month is by following my heart and writing some fun short stories for anthology calls. Shorts aren’t usually my main focus (I write and submit about 1-2 a year) but they are catching my imagination right now. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I finish one by the deadline, and the opportunity to write tailor-made pieces based on quirky prompts. I’m going to start editing Undead Princess WIP in December, but I think I will also keep an eye out for any intriguing short story calls that come my way.

Although I have also been keeping busy with French courses and software learning upgrades, the third biggest sanity saver this year which has kept me happy and busy is my knitting and crochet hobby. I haven’t posted a lot of photos because most of the things I have been making are gifts or charitable donations and it’s against my beliefs to use good deeds for public attention, but I have been staying busy and learning new things by making socks for a relative who only wears the handmade kind, and making hats for the homeless. Luckily, I am working on personal projects for December and January, so I can show off my skills a bit.

 

This little fellow will join over sixty others, in various combinations of red white and green, to become a new set of Christmas stockings for my family. I have been looking forward to this project for two months now, and it is my first time doing a dedicated Christmas knit or crochet pattern. I am also planning to crochet myself a stuffed narwhal (supplies permitting), and knit myself some socks.

Knitting and crochet have given me a sense of accomplishment, and a set of small goals that make the time indoors not seem so formless anymore. They give me something to look forward to and make me feel like I am contributing something to the community in this difficult time. Reading magazines that feature others’ projects and new ideas also provides a feeling of community. I absolutely love the UK magazine Simply Knitting and it inspires me to keep going and trying new patterns. I am starting to feel like I may even have the expertise to design a few simple patterns of my own.

In summary, if you’re feeling a bit lost and lethargic during this pandemic, you could do worse than to give knitting or crochet a try. It’s a great confidence boost to make something, and you can help your community, too. Plus, with all the tutorials you’ll need offered for free online with a quick search, it’s relatively inexpensive. 

That’s all for now! See you next week.

November Update: New Projects and Old

Ahh November. Whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo, thinking about the holidays, or just kicking back and enjoying the last days of fall, it’s a time when many people, myself included, start to take stock of their year and take a look at what’s to come.

This year could have been a lot worse to me. I feel very blessed not to have lost too much income, to have had the time and the flexibility to prepare and protect my household during the pandemic, and to have had the opportunity to learn and improve myself even with the restrictions in place.

Still, like everyone, there are some things that I am grieving. Anyone who knows me personally will know that I am a planner, and I had earmarked 2020 as a watershed year of personal growth. I really wish I could talk more about the details of what I wanted to do, and there will be a day in the future when I can, but unfortunately that day has not come yet.  Suffice it to say that due to the changes brought on by the pandemic, a large portion of my plans were ruined and although I still gave it my best effort, the circumstances were far beyond my control.

The state of things this year also affected my goals for social media engagement. I have run into a lot of toxicity when sharing and socializing on the internet in the past, and I am not one of those people that reacts well to being shouted down or being the subject of a pile-on. As such, one of my major challenges as an author has been moving past my aversion to making statements online and my fear of causing a stir.

Needless to say, the climate on social media since about mid-year has not been conducive to mending my relationship with social media. I do want to specify that it’s not about my personal politics– it’s just that this kind of discourse, where I am terrified all the time if someone is going to take issue with something I said that was previously considered perfectly harmless and no one gave me the memo, the kind of discourse where if I cross that invisible line the only option for me is to abjectly apologize in public and discussion is not encouraged, is bad for my personal mental health. It also didn’t help that early on in the year I had a few folks who were determined to be negative on anything I posted simply because they were having a bad day.

Nobody needs to jump in the comments telling me I need to have a thicker skin– believe me, I know. It’s an ongoing process and something I am actively working on. But regardless of who I may grow to be in the future, I am who I am right now, and the climate on social media this year was probably the biggest challenge that could have arisen to my goal of being more active online. Although I didn’t totally flub it (I did manage to pop on to promote events I was doing and places I was going to be published) I do feel that I fell short of my overall goal and was unable to push through, and I take full accountability for that. I am only just now starting to pick up the pieces and re-commit to my original posting goals. I hope all of you out there reading this will wish me well, because as this year has shown, it takes a lot of concerted effort to form a new habit.

My writing life also went on a large detour this year from what I had originally envisioned. I had hoped to produce three manuscripts, and so far I have one. I feel like 1.5 manuscripts and some shorts are about where I will be by the year’s end. This one I am not feeling particularly bad about because unlike the social media posting goal, which didn’t happen because I froze, my smaller writing productivity was a conscious choice. I just wasn’t ready to give up my larger goals for this year, and in order for my big-picture hopes to even be a possibility due to the pandemic, I had to make some tough choices about where to spend my time. My efforts did not ultimately lead to the results I was hoping for, but taking my best shot was still worth it and has led to some fruitful personal growth.

So what am I doing? What is actually going on in my life, you ask? Well, a lot of stuff.

I have finished a couple of personal growth projects recently, and I’m now planning a few shorts. This is fun for me because I’m not a terribly prolific short story writer (although I’ve had good luck with placing the ones I’ve written) and it is nice to play with a format I don’t do as often, and to have some new ideas. One story is a fantasy which is primarily about knitting, and the other is a super freaky horror piece called The Night People which has been turning over in my brain for quite a while now and is materializing into a possible novella.

It also occurs to me that if I want to raise my productivity with shorts, I should consider story prompts, because I am discovering that they really work for me. It’s the same with anthology invitations, (wink wink to any editors in the crowd) as I love to write stories to order. I want to explore this new direction and see where it goes.

I’ve also got some interesting novel work coming up in the near future. Undead Princess WIP is verrrrry slooowly clearing the beta readers and I am cautiously optimistic that it will only need a few minor tweaks and copy/stylistic editing and then will be ready to go. The initial feedback that I am getting is very promising, and I am pleased. I’m also still holding out hope that I can get to roughly the 50% mark with Singing Bones #3 by the New Year, which isn’t too far behind at all, as far as I’m concerned.

So, in conclusion, I think that this year has still been a moderate success for me despite everything going on in the world. I know you either love him or hate him, but I am a big fan of Dr. Phil, and his measurement for yearly goals is something along the lines of: has your life changed for the better this year in a significant way? Even though some of my most cherished goals took a big hit and I didn’t have the big, bold, self-help success story kind of year that I wanted to have, I would say that yes, I have changed things for the better and I am as ‘on the right track’ as I can possibly be right now.

And there’s still more year to go! Stay tuned for more announcements on appearances late in the year, because I do still have at least one more in the works.

October Update and RenVCon Schedule

It’s spoopy season, everyone.

Despite the absolute chaos everywhere, and the inconvenient reality of having to stay cloistered indoors as an extrovert who is seriously missing my peeps, I can’t quite get this running music loop out of my head:

In case you are wondering, yeah, in a world without copyright, this would be my entrance music for every reading. And I would dance up to the mike.

So there’s a lot going on. Halloween, Fall, Halloween, oh and I am also taking some courses. I’ve decided to pursue fluency in French, both because I think it would open up more opportunities for me, and because I think that it’s something that all English-speaking Canadians should know if they have the ability. I’m never one to do things halfway, and so I am planning to read some of my favourite books in French to give my coursework a boost, starting with Le Hobbit. Exciting! Someday, I would like to speak five or six languages, but one at a time.

I am also learning a bunch of great new art and animation softwares including Harmony and ZBrush, so you might see some interesting new projects surfacing here from time to time.

In addition to keeping myself busy with course work, I have been delighted that 2020’s social distancing hasn’t meant any slow-down in appearances. In just fourteen days, my excellent publisher, Renaissance Press, is bringing you…

RenVCon II!

The last RenVCon was awesome, and a good time was had by all, and I think that Renaissance Press has done a great job of building on that success with an all-new round of topics and some new faces. I’ll be reprising my Dystopia panel with a new twist on the topic, and some great new participants, including my dear old friend Rae, creator of the new sci-fi adventure comedy webcomic Recursion.

Here’s my schedule below:

 
 
 

Join Me at the 2020 Bi+ Arts Festival on September 23!

This is the most exciting Fall season I have had in quite some time. Sure, the craft festivals are not happening, and that’s a bummer, but there is so much going on that I don’t have any time to sulk about not getting to taste artisan mustards and buy overly elaborate candy apples.

For instance, I have just been invited to a virtual reading plus dance party at the Bi+ Arts Festival. And now, I am inviting you.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2816145375294537

It looks like it’s going to be a great event. Below are the bios for my fellow authors, and I think it’s going to be a great lineup. I’ve seen Anuja read before, and I was absolutely blown away, so I’m stoked to be in such a prestigious group.

Jen Brown is a queer, Black speculative fiction writer and academic librarian who’s work has appeared in FIYAH Literary Magazine and PodCastle. When not writing, she’s either playing visual novels and tactical RPGs, caring for an impressive collection of house plants, or desperately tackling her “To Be Read” pile. She tweets @jeninthelib, or you can find out more about her work at jencbrown.com.

Anuja Varghese is a QWOC Pushcart-nominated writer whose work appears or is forthcoming in The Malahat Review, The Humber Literary Review, Hamilton Review of Books, THIS Magazine, Best Women’s Erotica of the Year Volume 6, and others. In 2019, she was shortlisted for the Pigeon Pages Fiction Contest and took third prize in the Alice Munro Festival Short Story Competition. Anuja holds a degree in English Literature from McGill University and is currently pursuing a Creative Writing Certificate from the University of Toronto while working on a collection of short stories. Anuja can be found on Instagram (@anuja_v) and Twitter (@Anuja_V), or by visiting her website www.anujavarghese.com.

I will just end by saying… reading plus dance party. What more can you want?

New Cover, New Life.

I would like to cordially invite you to the Renaissance Press Fall Preview event on September 13. Below are more details from the Facebook event page. There will be a ton of great authors reading and discussing their upcoming work, and I will be revealing Distant Early Warning’s new cover and launching presales.

https://www.facebook.com/events/357905142034449/

Out of consideration to everyone who was expecting a Fall launch for Distant Early Warning, we’re opening presales a little earlier than usual to let people guarantee their copy at around the same time as the original launch date.

This cover reveal is a very exciting moment for me. When I first released Distant Early Warning I knew how much potential it had, but there were production problems that prevented us from putting out the same level of finished product as, say, Robotica or 5 Demons. A key player in the production of the book let me down big-time at a very crucial moment, leaving Pop Seagull crunched for time and unable to explore too many concepts for the cover.

My husband, Robin McLean, is the original cover designer, and believe me, he approved this message. He is hugely talented and his interior illustrations for the book really captured the aesthetic. Carrying those illustrations forward to this edition of the book was very important to me. But sometimes, even the professionals can be sitting there, scratching their heads, coming up with nothing except the most literal interpretation of the book for the cover. That was absolutely the two of us back then.

Eventually, in the intervening years, I came up with an awesome cover concept that not only covered Distant Early Warning, but the entire trilogy. It is that cover concept, the one that I wish the book had sported all along, that you will see at the cover reveal on September 13. I am so grateful to Renaissance Press and specifically, Nathan Caro Frechette for making this beautiful cover a reality and introducing Distant Early Warning to the world in a way that highlights what makes it great.

Peace and Love,

Liz

Distant Early Warning Launch Date Change

Those who read the blog regularly may remember my announcement that Distant Early Warning, my Canadian cli-fi survival horror epic, would be published by Renaissance Press this Fall.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the upheaval and uncertainty it has brought to nearly every industry, including publishing, my publisher and I have made the mutual decision to push back the Distant Early Warning launch to Spring of 2021. I initiated this change because I wanted to give the book the best chance possible, and because I hoped that by moving the launch date I might have the chance to celebrate with my fans in person at some point when it is safe to do so.

I know that this announcement is long overdue, and I apologize to anyone that was waiting for more news. I always strive to keep readers in the loop, however all of the chaos happening in the world right now made me forget that this detail was crucial to communicate to others outside of my publishing and marketing team. D’oh! This was another great learning experience on my publishing path, and I look forward to providing more news about Distant Early Warning soon.

Love and good vibes!

End-of-Month Writing Update: July

About two years ago, I embarked on a journey to keep developing as a writer, and to become the best that I can be. My slogan for this journey has been be so good they can’t say no. To me, this means that it’s not okay to stop at my best. It’s not okay to stop at adequate, good, or even great. I’m working hard, I’m seeking out critique, and I’m not stopping until my work sparkles. Because ultimately, I want to be a huge success story in publishing and the only way to do that is to wow people consistently and thoroughly, both in my professional interactions and in the quality of my work.

I think all of the work I have been doing is paying off, because a lot of my old patterns are falling away. For a long time, I have written very clean drafts that went straight into working with an editor, and no matter where I thought they were going to land word count-wise, they always seemed to end perfectly at around 90k words.

Not so with my new, whale-sized fantasy manuscript. Not only did it require a full rewrite with a completely different ending, the new draft is also topping out at around 120k. I know this isn’t unheard-of for fantasy, but it’s nearly unheard-of for me. I am also planning at least one more draft before seeking out an editor.

Some might see these changes as a struggle, but I am invigorated by the fact that I can see new opportunities in my work where before I would have seen ‘the best I can do’. I am leveling up, taking chances and challenging myself.

July has also been a good month for word count, and although I haven’t always hit my aspirational count of 1000+ words per day, I’ve been getting my butt in the seat every day and there have only been 4-5 days where I’ve been running on empty and had to take a break. After the creative wasteland that was February through May, I am grateful to have freed up some brainpower to devote to my writing.

Unfortunately, my little COVID-19 detour means that I will probably not finish three manuscripts this year, but I will most likely finish two and a bit. I really wanted to put my Alien-style rogue AI thriller up first on the docket, but given the timing of everything now it looks like I will be finishing the third and final instalment of the Distant Early Warning series first. That’s okay though, because I am very blessed to have far more ideas that I love than I can write in five years with three manuscripts a year. I’m like a tree that won’t stop dropping apples.

I just want to close by sending out love and encouragement to all of the precious and unique human beings that are out there in this difficult time, still making their art and striving to inspire others, shed light on the human condition, and give people burdened with stress some peace and fun. You are beautiful, you are valued, and you’re making a difference! ❤