I had a fantastic weekend at Balticon in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore (this is exactly what gets burned down in my book Walking Through Fire, by the way). It was nice to see people again, to snack on cannolis in Little Italy and enjoy a paleta, a Mexican frozen treat made from strawberries and then dipped in chocolate.
My panels (and fellow panelists) were fun and we had spirited discussions.
I moderated: Keeping Your Anitheroes Likable
I moderated: What Should I Read Next
I was a panelist for: Magic in the Ancient Mediterranean
I was a panelist for: Gods as Characters
I also had a reading and chose to read from “Swan Dive” in Musings of the Muses and then the first chapter of my upcoming novel, Ashes of Regret.
One note about reading the first chapter. I asked certain of my high school students to critique the content and I was pleased as an author to receive the feedback about what was confusing or what could be changed, but as a teacher I couldn’t have been more proud. Seriously, I’m amazed by my students and the skill and energy they bring to working with language and determining the elements of a story.
So, without further ado, here is the cover for Ashes of Regret. I will launch the novel at Shore Leave this July.
I love this time of year! Friends, family, and food are the heart of the holiday and I appreciate the emphasis on gratitude and the opportunity for me to grow by choosing to focus on the good and not the setbacks. For example, this year has been the year of anthologies for me. I have short stories in: Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day, Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021, Once Upon a Dystopia, Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging, AND an acceptance for an anthology forthcoming in Spring, 2022.
Check out this beautiful cover!
My short story “Gargoyles of Prague” is being included in the anthology DARK CHEER: CRYPTIDS EMERGING Volume Blue. The story is based on my experience of being a mother of a child with a life-threatening illness and the year I spent teaching English in Prague, Czech Republic. It will be released in early December by Improbable Press. Please enjoy this excerpt:
When the hospital door closed behind his mothers, Toby stepped closer to the window. In the gloam, the urban landscape had morphed from buildings into mysterious shapes. Grit – rock against brick – scraped outside his seventh story window. Curious, Toby leaned his forehead against the cold glass to see better. No locks on windows this high; only solid panes.
Suddenly gray claws came into view and dug into the brick wall to find purchase. Wings the same shade smacked against the window. Then a gray face, chiseled, filled the window. A feline face with carved nose, eyes, and whiskers. Wings pressed tightly to its back. Sharp teeth and a tongue that hung out in mid-pant. A statue. One of the creatures that decorated so many of Prague’s ancient buildings.
“Come out,” the gargoyle said. The voice sounded like it looked: coarse and solid.
Toby’s hands trembled. “I don’t know how.”
“Yes, you do.”
More good news! Improbable Press has chosen to turn my short story into an illustrated children’s book! I will share details soon, but I’ve seen the artist’s portfolio and I can’t wait to see what she does with Toby and my gargoyle and the incredible Charles Bridge.
AND…I have another story acceptance for an anthology centered on Greek mythology and history.
For those who have stuck with me after reading my novel Walking Through Fire, I have the rights back from the publisher and I sent off the draft of ASHES OF REGRET (Book 1.5 that features Tamaki) for a final editorial readthrough. I’m also working with a graphic designer for the cover and a map!
Finally, I had the opportunity to be a guest on MOUTHFUL OF GRAFFITTI, a podcast for musicians and authors hosted by Brad Cox. Take a listen here as I talk about our pandemic chickens, local festivals, and more about the inspiration for “Garygoyles of Prague.”
I have a lot of plans for 2022 in the works and I can’t wait to share them with you as we get closer.
Comment on this blog or sign up for my author newsletter here and you’ll be automatically entered into the drawing for a copy of THRILLING ADVENTURE YARNS 2.
BONUS: The first person to figure out the discrepancy between the release picture and my Western story will win a copy of Thrilling Adventure Yarns 2021 AND a $25 Amazon gift certificate. Email taste of sherri @ gmail. com (no spaces) with answer. Ann Hanlin won this part of the contest. The story is a Western, but I had an ENGLISH saddle in the picture.
*The GIVEAWAY lasts until midnight (EST) Sunday, April 25th. US only.
I’m very excited to interview my friend Kelli Fitzpatrick! We roomed together at Taos Toolbox, a two-week writing workshop, in 2018 and have been friends ever since.
Sherri: So, we should have had a chance to catch up at Farpoint Convention this year, but unfortunately the con had to be virtual due to the pandemic. What have you been up to?
Kelli: My tie-in story for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea just released in the Turning the Tied charity anthology from the International Association for Media Tie-In Writers. The Star Trek Adventures Shackleton Expanse sourcebook for which I was a contributing writer will be releasing this summer from Modiphius Entertainment.
Sherri: Nice! Let’s talk a little bit about your experience as an author for Star Trek. As a fan, who are some of your favorite characters and why?
Kelli: My favorite Star Trek character is Captain Janeway since I grew up watching her and was inspired by her leadership. I also love Voyager’s EMH for his quirky personality and the themes of personhood the show explores with his character. Other favorites include Jadzia Dax on DS9, and Discovery’s Jet Reno and Captain Pike.
Sherri: Captain Janeway was certainly an inspiration! As an author, how is writing for Star Trek different than, say, writing an original story?
Kelli: When writing tie-in fiction for a franchise like Star Trek, I must fit my story into existing canon, which means doing research and adhering to that universe’s established values, history, and laws of physics. Tie-in fiction also requires capturing each canon character’s unique voice. For example, I wanted the Doctor Crusher in my Strange New Worlds story to sound exactly like the Doctor Crusher fans know.
Sherri: That makes sense. What changes have you seen in the newer series? How is that a reflection of society?
Kelli: The new Star Trek series have given us solid representation of marginalized identities both on screen and in the writers’ room, resulting in a refreshing absence of male gaze and a distinct focus on the themes of justice and consequences. I think this updated perspective reflects our evolving society, especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the increasingly unavoidable fallout of unchecked capitalism and runaway climate change. Science fiction is a commentary of the moment in which it is written, and Star Trek continues to be a compelling example.
Sherri: You’re an author and an educator. How do you see these roles interconnecting?
Kelli: Teaching and writing are both about guiding people into strange new worlds. For teaching to be effective, teacher and student must cooperate to accomplish growth, and the same is true of author and reader: they create shared meaning together in a beautifully collaborative act. In both of my careers, I see a common thread of hope for the future—I write Star Trek stories because I believe a better world is possible. I teach the next generation to make that possibility into reality.
Sherri: What authors do you admire and why?
Kelli: I really admire the works of Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Brooke Bolander, and Amal El-Mohtar. Their stories all engage with concepts of gender, justice, unorthodox love, and the best and worst of human nature, often from unexpected or subverted angles. Their prose is engaging and filled with striking imagery.
Sherri: If you were teaching a “Literature of Science Fiction” class, what novels and short stories would you use?
The Fifth Season (2015) by N. K. Jemison
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (2014) by Becky Chambers
A Fire Upon the Deep (1992) by Vernor Vinge
Dawn (1987) by Octavia Butler
The Dispossessed (1974) by Ursula K. Le Guin
This is How You Lose the Time War (2019) by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
The Only Harmless Great Thing (2018)by Brooke Bolander
“Number Thirty-Nine Skink” (2017) by Suzanne Palmer
“How the Damned Live On” (2016) by James Sallis
The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953) collectionby Ray Bradbury
Serialized audio dramas:
The Sea in the Sky (2020) by Jackson Musker
Steal the Stars (2017) by Nat Cassidy
No lineup could encompass the full diversity of sci-fi literature, and there are certainly problematic elements in some of these works, but I think these texts would serve as useful conversation points for analyzing the myriad ways sci-fi stories function, whose voices are being represented, and how the genre of “what if?” has evolved and will continue to evolve over time. Hopefully I’ll get to teach this class someday!
Sherri: I’d love to teach that class, too!
Sherri: I’m also happy to share that both Kelli and I have stories in the newly released anthology THRILLING ADVENTURE YARNS 2021. TAY 2021 is an array of 27 stories in the classic pulp style, replete with action and adventure, chills and thrills, mystery, Westerns, and much more! It can be purchased here, or you can enter the GIVEAWAY. Kelli, what was your inspiration for your story?
Kelli: My sci-fi noir story is titled “The Shadow Lady of Docktown” and it follows the adventures of a mercenary spy and her flying robot sidekick who uncover a police conspiracy. The story is set in the shadow of a great bridge, and a good chunk of it takes place inside a cathedral. I wanted to create a setting that channels the high-contrast aesthetic of noir as well as a kick-ass female anti-hero readers could root for.
Sherri: Awesome! Where can people find your stories? Where can folks sign up for your author newsletter or find you on social media?
All I want for Christmas (or Hanukkah or Winter Solstice) is more reviews of Walking Through Fire BECAUSE there is an urban legend among authors that if you have 50 reviews on Amazon then it jiggers the algorithm to show ads for your book. If I hit 50 then I’ll let you know.
I mean, also world peace and a solid Democratic party candidate and a plan for endangered species.
In the meantime, I’m going to post book reviews to hopefully help people with their holiday shopping. I’m not the most voracious reader because of the whole having kids and animals and a day job thing, but when I cast my mind back over the past year I thought of CHARM CITY SPEC in Baltimore and realized that’s been my reading list.
Gabe displays SONG OF BLOOD & STONE and SUPREMACY’S BOUNTY
First up is SONG OF BLOOD & STONE by L. Penelope.
Genre: Fantasy, epic and romantic
Premise (back jacket copy): The kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar have been separated for centuries by the Mantle, a magical veil that has enforced a tremulous peace between the two lands. But now the Mantle is cracking and the True Father, ruler of Lagrimar and the most powerful Earthsinger in the world, finally sees a way into Elsira to seize power.
Jasminda has been branded an outcast by the color of her skin and her gift of Earthsong, but when a group of soldiers wander into her valley she learns from Jack, a spy, that their only hope to restore the Mantle lies in uncovering the secrets of the Queen Who Sleeps.
Who would love it? Me! I would love this book. Also, readers who enjoy world-building. Besides the kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar, the world has a religious order of the Sisterhood and an anti-religious order of Dominionists, secret societies (Keepers of the Promise), academics from Fremia, etc.
Who else? Readers who love the blurring of traditional genre lines. Against a backdrop of what is 1920’s technology, the characters are worried about war, worried about duty to family, worried about loyalty. But the big questions of life are really the small, daily decisions and Penelope really explores what it means to love. That is, perhaps, my favorite part of this book. Jasminda and Jack, Benn and Ella, even Oola and Eero are wrestling with how to love another person, how to have boundaries, how to sacrifice and when not to…this is so real against the beautifully fantastic world sung into a novel.
Finally, this book would appeal to people who enjoy the “feel” of the Pern series or the Broken Earth series in terms of ancient secrets, advanced societies that made mistakes and then generations pass…and our characters have to figure out how the sins of the parents have created the current conflict.
Favorite character: Zaura nyl Herrsen
Would you like to meet her?
The radio hissed. “Lt. Ravel, this is Private Teraseen. The old woman got away.”
“Yes, sir. She was here one minute and then she told me she needed the privy. I turned my back while she set off behind a tree, and the next thing I know, she’s stolen my vehicle and driven off. High tailed it out of here like a woman half her age. I’m sorry, sir.”
Final Thought: Book 1.5 is titled BREATH OF DUST & DAWN; Book 2 is titled WHISPERS OF SHADOW & FLAME
Next Book for review is: SUPREMACY’S BOUNTY by T. Eric Bakutis
Genre: science fiction, grimsnark and military
Premise (back jacket copy): “I just saved your life, cowboy. You owe me.”
As a feared and respected bounty hunter, Mackenzie Flores enjoys the finer things in life: a dependable rifle, a clean glass of dirty whisky, and a reputation that leaves her flush with contracts and the freedom to pick and choose her jobs. At least until the Supremacy blows up everything she owns and takes her girlfriend away.
To rescue the woman she loves, all Mackenzie has to do is take down three crime lords, one planet of super soldiers, and a human trafficking base on the moon. Fortunately, she has powerful armor and smart bullets. Unfortunately, they’ve all gone missing.
Who would love it? Me! Okay. Maybe you predicted that, but I got to read an advance copy and I emailed the author in the middle because I couldn’t STAND it. I had to talk about what was happening. This story is that jerky roller coaster at Hershey park. The one that puts a crick in your neck even before you take the first hill. It’s nail-biting exciting and I finished it in two days because there is no place to stop. Seriously. Every scene is rushing your forward to a new, bigger disaster, but you can’t stop rooting for Mack.
Techies. Look, I’m a luddite, but the introduction of new weapons and technology did not slow down the story in any way. Nor was it incomprehensible. Somehow the author manages that fine balance of having the tech add to the story in a way that makes the reader complicit. I’m biting back a spoiler right now so PLEASE read this so we can discuss.
Readers who like to be messed with. Look, the author does that thing where he jerks you back and forth in time. (The Mousetrap, remember?) and IT WORKS as a device because you think maybe things will turn out differently if you don’t look away.
Those who like heist narratives. Who like not knowing who to trust. Who like hidden motivations and double crosses and simple contracts that turn out to be verrrrry complicated.
Favorite character: Jinx
Jinx was her support, communications, and tech expert, and she was sitting in a warm shuttle a half klick into the forest. “Alarms disabled, camera feeds cloned, comms monitored. Is there a problem?”
(spoiler: there IS a problem) (Second spoiler: this is the first page.)
Final Thought: This is a stand-alone book, but is in the DUELING PLANETS universe along with Supremacy’s Shadow)
I hope you’re enjoying Fall. It’s my absolute favorite time of year. Don’t come at me with your beach pictures or your bright white snow or even those cute little flower buds. AUTUMN IS THE BEST SEASON.
I have a couple of exciting upcoming events:
I’m being interviewed by Bob Mumby and Leslie Greenly Smith. The radio show will air live on Friday, 9/20 from 9-10 AM and then again on Saturday, 9/21 from 9-10 AM. It will repeat on 9/27 and 9/28 from 9-10 AM. The radio station is WAMN 970 AM.J You can listen on the radio or online at http://khztv.com/WAMD/.
On Saturday, September 28th the Bel Air Public Library is hosting a Comic Con with a ton of free activities for the entire family including costume contests, video and board games, and a fandom scavenger hunt. I’ll be giving a talk from 11am – noon and then selling/signing copies of WALKING THROUGH FIRE. Comic Con
October 18-20 I’ll be at Capclave, a literary convention in Rockville, MD that focuses on the short fiction form. I don’t have my programming event schedule yet, but will share when I do.
Nov 1st and November 3rd I’ll be at the Baltimore Book Festival 2019. I’ll be at both the SFWA area and the inspire stage. I’ll also be fangirling because the lineup of authors is INCREDIBLE. They’ve combined with the annual Light City Festival this year so will be interesting to see how this plays out.
For two months now I’ve been promoting my debut novel, Walking Through Fire, through orders, interviews, and readings. I made sure copies were in the local library and I gave a talk to the local Rotary Club. I spoke on panels at the Baltimore Book Festival and I’m participating at the World Fantasy Convention. I will attend Charm City Spec as an author instead of an audience member. So, there are a lot more events, but we are making progress in introducing my book to the world.
For example, a new review came in today from Booklist:
“Woosley gets off to a running start in this debut series starter, and she draws on a mix of mythology and religious allusions to create a post-apocalyptic world caught in a battle for control and power.”
AND, Walking Through Fire was longlisted by Booknest for Best Debut Novel of 2018. The prize was an engraved sword so I’m pretty steamed that I didn’t win…(just kidding).
Plans for this week:
I will be in costume on Halloween as part of Charm City Spec’s reading series. The reading is at Bird in Hand, Charles Village Baltimore and starts at 7pm. Sam J. Miller (TheArt of Starving and Blackfish City) and Julie C. Day (Uncommon Miracles) will also be reading.
Then I will commute to the Inner Harbor Thursday through Sunday to attend the World Fantasy Convention. My reading is at 4:30 PM on Friday.
On Saturday I will leave the convention to drive to Towson and I will sign copies of Walking Through Fire at Ukazoo Books (8641 Loch Raven Blvd.) from 3:30-5pm. Then I will join my family to celebrate my son’s birthday.
On November 7th I’ll drive to Hagerstown Community College in western Maryland for an author event: reading, answering questions from the writing students, and judging an impromptu poetry contest (or so I’ve been promised).
Thank you to everyone who purchased a copy, attends a reading, or leaves a review on Amazon. There are other novels that have huge marketing machines, or big publishers, but my little story is making progress. Thank you for believing in me!
I’ll be at author events September – December and……….(Drum Roll)
My book, Walking Through Fire, is finally out in the world. Thank you to everyone who purchased a copy! We get to have fun now! Last night was firestorm yoga and the audience was as silly as I was — we had a lot of laughs as I led a class with poses modified to reflect the story in Walking Through Fire. The next event is Friday the 14th at Barnes and Noble in Bel Air, Maryland. And, on September 18th we will have a PARTY at Julie Ellyn Designs on Main Street in Bel Air. Special cupcakes, you ask? Maaayyybe.
Now, I need you to do one more thing: If you liked Walking Through Fire then please, please, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Even just rating with stars gets the Amazon AI to recognize traffic and then boosts the page higher on a search results list.