Demon Hunting and Tenth Dimensional Physics

Friday, June 28, 2019

Toxic Influence: New Release

Hello hello! I know it's been a hot minute, but I have a new book out at long last.



Dashiel Rourke: sarcastic, questions authority - that's what my higher-ups say, anyway - and the newest member of the Office of Preternatural Affairs. Yeah, like I saw that one coming. I was a counterterrorism grunt and my own department head barely knew my name before things went to hell.

Now my partner's a troll, I've got a hag fixing up my wounds, and the bad guys can light me on fire with their brains. Or worse. The poison gas attacks I was checking out before I got into this mess? Turns out they were a little less terrorist attack and a little more magic spell.


So even if it's just for that reason, I'm going to see this one through. I got into that poison. I've seen what it does to people. Like hell am I going to lie down and let it run its course…even if that does put me up close and personal with one sorcerer too many.

It's 3.99, or free in Kindle Unlimited. Click the link below to check it out.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

How YouTube Terrified Me into Reading More Books

I recently found a YouTube video that I want to share. It's right below, or if that's not working, here's the link to watch it on YouTube. It's about half an hour, but to me, the most important bits will be covered by the time you're five minutes in, so you don't absolutely need to watch the whole thing.



If you're anything like me, you're now completely distraught. I know I fucking was after I watched this. Seeing that bookshelf and hearing "These are all the books you're going to read for the rest of your life" was not okay with me. I've always been a reader. That's just...scary to me. I read way more books than he does in a year (On the low end, I read probably eight. An average year for me is twelve to fifteen, but in my prime, I read about fifty per year.), but it still got to me.

I really hope it gets to you, too. Not because I want you to be miserable, but because I think everyone could do with a little more reading time in their schedule. I did the math from the video to figure out what I could get through, on average, in a year, and it was thirty books. Thirty books is plenty, with only half an hour a day. Lord knows I have a TBR pile that could use to get lower.

Now I haven't been perfect at this. The last couple of days have been rough on me finding time to read. Well, I guess they've more been full of me not making the time to read. I had the time, but I didn't spend it reading. I spent it watching video essays on YouTube and eating cold pizza.

So I'm posting this not just to convince everyone to read more (And I mean, honestly, that's pretty baldly self-serving. Read more books...also, if you look at my website, you'll see I have books you can read.), but to make myself a little more accountable. I want to read books. I love reading books. It's just sometimes hard to remember how much I love it.

The answer is a lot. A whole lot.
Voss

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

2019 Hugo Awards Finalists Announced

Hello everyone!

2019/1944 Hugo Award Finalists have been announced today, and I have some thoughts I wanted to share. And you're contractually obligated to listen to me because I have a blog, and everyone who has a blog gets read all the time, all the way through.

So as tends to happen, I don't know most of the finalists, so I'm obviously only going to be speaking to the things I have some experience with.

You can read the whole list here.

So, the names that stuck out to me most were in Best Novel (I'm not going to touch on the 1944 Retro Hugos in this post.). Rebecca Roanhorse's Trail of Lightning is here as a first novel, and I've been excited about that book since before it came out. Catherynne M. Valente is one of my favorite authors, so seeing Space Opera make the cut was also exciting. And I always enjoy seeing our old guard pumping out books, so Mary Robinette Kowal's appearance there is good by me.

Aliette de Bodard and Nnedi Okorafor are also favorites of mine, so I'm thrilled to see them both up for Novella (Also, let's give a big shout out to the sheer domination of female candidates this year. We're talking about a genre that was born from Frankenstein, after all.). Best Short Story is full of new names for me, thus further confirming that shorts are still a solid launching point in the genre, and a place to watch or the novelists of tomorrow. I mean, de Bodard herself was someone I marked as really, really skilled off her short work, and now she's all over big books.

Short Form Editors are a strong showing as well. Neil Clarke, the late Gardner Dozois, and Lynne and Michael Thomas from Uncanny Magazine. Although personally, things being what they are, I think Dozois is going to be a hard one to beat. The SF/F community lost him in 2018, and he was so instrumental in the genre...I just think there's not much chance of anyone topping him out this year.

Semiprozine is strong across the board, although I love seeing both FIYAH and Fireside on there, and the now defunct Shimmer as well. And of special note in Related Work are Archive of Our Own, and Lindsay Ellis's Hobbit Duology. Metatextually, those are fascinating. Lindsay is, I believe, the second YouTuber to get a Hugo Final? And Archive of Our Own is...basically just a collection of fan fiction. Those are very different than what we would normally see in Related Work, so those excite me.

Anything from the finalists that really excites you? Let me know in the comments below.

Voss

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Text Message Story: War of Witches

Hello hello! I'm writing you from frigid, snow-covered Eastern Washington, with--this might be hard to believe--a new book!

I know, I know, pick your jaw up off the floor. It's been a minute and a half since I've had a book out, but I have one today: War of Witches.


Fair warning, this book isn't in a traditional format: it's delivered one text message at a time. Highly recommend reading it on the phone rather than on the computer, but both options will get the job done!

I'm quite excited about this, since I love playing with format in my writing, and I hope you'll all be excited about this foray into urban fantasy as well.

Anyway, that's all I had to say. I hope your day is wonderful and considerably warmer than mine is looking to be.

Voss

Friday, January 25, 2019

Diablero and Cultural Differences in Media


If you've been here for a while—remember when the blog was that weird ugly brown color I picked to start out with?—then you know I have a love affair with non-US speculative fiction. There's just a quality to it that is so refreshing, I just can't get enough of it. The Neverending Story is one of my all time favorite books (German). I grew up reading Eva Ibbotson and JK Rowling and, a little later on than those, Phillip Pullman (British). I also watched a ton of anime and read a ton of manga (Japanese). And I still watch and read British, German, Japanese, Spanish, Chinese…I mean, translations or subtitled, obviously, but you can't file off those cultural serial numbers.

Well it happened again. This time, it's a Mexican paranormal drama I stumbled across recently on Netflix (If you're watching it, you probably know what I'm talking about.). It's…it's like Preacher meets Hellboy. Dynamic characters in a shitty situation with strangely intertwining personal lives.



It's called Diablero, and it really has me thinking, once again, about spec fic from other cultures. Because I don't think any native born US citizen could have made Diablero. At all. Nothing even close. The same way an American couldn't have written The Book of Souls, or Bleach, or Dark, or The Golden Compass.

I think—especially if you're in a creative career or just running a creative side-hustle—that these foreign produced media are some of the best things we can take in as people. Seeing another perspective is a powerful thing, both for personal growth and, in my case, a creative sense.

Let's bring this around to Diablero, since it's the crux for me writing this particular article right now. If I sold it as it was—a Mexican demon hunting show—you might be tempted to think, "Oh, like Supernatural." That's what my roommate thought when I explained it that way, at least.

But it's so not. Spoilers, to a certain extent, but I want to go into things a little deeper than the trailer (I still haven't finished the show. I'm about halfway through it right now.). So, to start with, a US show would have at least blinked at making a priest who got a woman pregnant their main character. They also might have blinked twice at making the church have a shadowy underbelly. Not that a US show or book has never done that, but it might make somebody along the way stop and take a closer look.

But more divergent is the use of old culture, and namely old culture in a respectful way. America A: doesn't like to dive into its past because it's ugly and B: doesn't tend to do it well or respectfully. Also C: we really don't have much past to draw on. But then you have Diablero, which establishes a history from the first moment. It brings in aspects of Mexican culture, from as far back as the Aztecs with Diablero magic being cast in Nahuatl and invoking the names of Aztec deities like Quetzalcoatl, to old school brujeria, to more modern Mexican lore, legend, and religion like Santa Muerte. A full spectrum of evolving, historically based magic is shown off in Diablero.

I think, actually, having history is a huge part of the feeling that media from outside of the US evokes. Other than a sparse handful of Native American spec fic, like Rebecca Roanhorse's books, the oldest US history that gets brought in is…when the white people showed up. There's just not a ton of history we have to draw on, which can make our fantasy…a little more sparse, honestly. I mean, when we talk about worldbuilding, fantasy writers are supposed to know the history of the world so they can see how things have come about. 250 years just doesn't quite cut it.

And, on a broader note about culture differences, Diablero has made me—and will probably make others—challenge my notions about Mexico. Even the most socially and culturally aware of us still has prejudices, good and bad, that we haven't yet confronted. Diablero helped me confront it some of that. It showed urban Mexico, which I shamefully admit wasn't a thought in my head. It should have been, obviously, but…well, just goes to show you how much work we all still have to do. And I think shows and books like this help, especially if you're not one of those folks who can pack up and fly around the world to expose yourself to other cultures…like I'm not.

Seeing what people create, in a way, condenses culture into a single, simple package. It's not a full course, it's not dropping yourself off in a foreign country for a month. But it's a start, and I think it's a worthy start.

And from a quality standpoint, I can't recommend Diablero enough. It's short, and the English subtitles do not match the English dub track, but it's still wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.

Do you have a soft spot for media from other countries? Are you from outside the US and have things to say about US media? Chime in and let me know.

Voss

Friday, December 28, 2018

New Year's 2019


Oh lord. 2018 is almost over, and I'm not handling this whole "It's almost 2019" thing very well at all. Like…2019. 2001 used to be far-flung future. People thought civilization would collapse in 2000. 2012? Mayan calendar was up, remember?

When society has outstripped the dates of its science fiction, that's something worth taking note of.

Me personally, I'm setting things up for the year to come, even though it's a scary, freaky little year we're looking at jumping into. I have a "planning party" with a couple fellow authors on the 30th to get our years in some semblance of order. I'm looking at reading challenges to get myself back into reading books. I'm even considering keeping Kindle Unlimited, just so I have more books to read.

2018 was sort of an eye-opening year for me, at least from a financial and business standpoint. See, I really floundered in 2017. I did nothing. I finished 0 manuscripts, and most of my time was spent editing one book for a publishing house that almost immediately went under after I turned in my final edits (Yeah, that was super fun…). So 2018 was a lot of catch-up, studying the market, writing books, etc.

And then in August, I broke my ankle. Right through the thickest part of the tibia. It was a nasty break, too. Like, surgery was on the table at the start, and it's having problems, so surgery is now back on the table, joy of joys (I'm hoping to avoid it. Just got a bone growth stimulator, so we'll see how that goes.). But that really laid me up. I was completely out of commission for about a week, then mostly out of commission for another two months after that (I was bound to crutches, even after I got my walking boot). I mean, I'm still using a shower chair because I can't stand.

It really knocked me on my ass, is what I'm saying. And it gave me a lot, lot, lot of sedentary time, just me and my laptop. While I'm not here to say that breaking my ankle was a good thing—0/10, do not recommend—it really did end up being helpful. I couldn't leave the house. I barely made it to my podiatrist appointments because it was such a hassle some days.

It also meant that I got insurance, finally. And not leaving the house meant I didn't really spend money, so suddenly I had a savings account. A modest one, but I had one. Time locked up with my laptop meant I put my fingers on the keyboard a hell of a lot. I started working on ads and cracking the code on those a little more. Jesus, I mean, I sold my car and I was okay. Like…I did things, and they didn't destroy my entire life. I got good at things. I made strides, I made progress.

I also eventually made purchases that put a dent in my bank account. Things like internet blocking software…and a shit ton of smelly candles because I'm a classy bitch. But that's just it: they were a dent.

I feel like the aftershocks of my broken ankle actually did help me out. At least my mental and emotional state. I ended up clicking a lot of things into place that I wouldn't have otherwise, I don't think.

Okay, that was a lot of semi-esoteric rambling, but it boils down to this in the real world: I'm moving. I have plans. I have new covers purchased, new books ready to publish (I hope you like magic spilling into your Criminal Minds.).

Things are moving, so watch out for me in 2019.

What are you doing in the coming year? What are you getting prepared for? Are you in need of good TV shows to watch on Netflix, because I also spent a lot of time with my eyes glued to that screen while recovering from my broken ankle.

Like…a lot.

Whatever you're doing, whatever you have in store, I hope you kick 2019 in the ass. Let's climb that mountain, and I'll see you at the top.

Voss

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Christmas Missive: 2018 Edition

You know, two years ago I spent Christmas drinking and telling everyone the world was on fire and we were all fucked. So even though it would be really hard to go downhill from there, I'm still going to take credit where credit is due for not being quite so hopeless as I was in December 2016.

2018 has been one heck of a year. I'm not going to do a complete year in review sort of thing (Not yet anyway...), but Christmas comes with a certain nostalgia. I think about the family members I haven't been around in way too long. I think about past Christmases and how much more decoration went on when I was younger (When your dogs are as ball-crazed as mine are, it's...difficult to hang shiny, round, mouth-sized ornaments on the tree.). I drink the same drinks, smell the same smells, see the same lights, and read the same books (I'll be starting my annual reading of Krampus: The Yule Lord tonight!).

So with that nostalgia comes things that are just a little different than I would have planned. I didn't plan on going through Christmas with a walking boot because my ankle still isn't healed. I didn't plan on starting a proofreading service. I certainly didn't plan on owning so many Bath and Body Works candles (If you don't have Frosted Cranberry in your life, you're missing out!).

But I think most refreshing, and simultaneously most depressing, is that I didn't plan to be so happy. I wouldn't have believed that things could be feeling so downright okay if you'd told me. And it really all happened from my birthday at the beginning of October to now. Yep, while I was still laid up in an actual cast, not the significantly more convenient walking boot.

In October, I got a lovely reminder from my roommate that I'm cared for/about. She acknowledged the sacrifices I make, and it was just...incredible. I don't like to talk about any sort of personal hardships, so to have someone see them and accept them and all that, it was really something. And October just kind of built from there, in ways I would never have expected. Early October was spent with a very dear old friend, and then my local RWA chapter imploded, leaving me and two other friends holding the bag for the board if we wanted to keep the chapter. It was not pretty, but it's honestly proven to maybe be the best thing for the chapter's health, in the end. People are excited again, including me.

In November, I actually made a new friend, which never happens. I'm a 27 year old introvert, currently with a broken ankle. I don't get out much. But she's been wonderful. More money's been coming in. Proofreading is going well.

December is looking much the same. My dearest of dearests, Frances Pauli, gave me a Christmas present that had a ton more impact than I think she's put together (It's an auryn pendant, from The Neverending Story. She's one of the few people who probably has any idea how much I love that book, so for her to pull that out of the ether or memory...well, it's another "you're cared for" reminder.).

So this Christmas, as I'm happy, I hope all of you are as well. I hope you're all going to have a wonderful holiday season. I hope your troubles are vanishing. I hope that, if like me, you break your ankle, ruin your hands, and slice open your toe along the nail bed, you'll still be happy enough you're smiling your ass off. Because everyone deserves to feel like that.

Happy Holidays, everyone,
Voss