Glitter and Hope StoryBundle

The Glitter and Hope Bundle, curated by Cat Rambo, is available from StoryBundle. It’s a pay-what-you-want/can model, starting at $5, and you’ll receive DRM-free ebooks.

Collage of the covers of the books available in the Glitter and Hope Bundle

I originally conceived of it as a hopepunk centered bundle, but as I sorted through possibilities, I found less punk than plenty of hopeful stories that reminded me that hope comes in all sorts of forms, not all of them as in your face as hopepunk…So this is a bundle centered on hope with a touch of glitter, rather than grit, and I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I did. It’s a range of flavors as well as forms: novels, including some beginnings; connected short stories; sequential novellas; and an anthology of stories connected by theme.

Cat Rambo

The anthology mentioned is Community of Magic Pens; I’m proud to be a part of it, and it’s one of the bonus books you unlock at $15. The rest of the bundle features titles by E.D.E. Bell, Rebecca Diem, Seb Doubinsky, Jason A. Holt, Alanna McFall, Susan Kaye Quinn, Cat Rambo, Joan Marie Verba, and M. Darusha Wehm. It’s on sale for the next two weeks.

So if you find yourself in need of a little hope nestled in your reading-device-of-choice, this may be a good use of a few bucks.

“Shared Space”: Community of Magic Pens

Today is the official publication date of Community of Magic Pens. You can find the anthology at various retailers—Amazon, Bookshop, Kobo, etc.—or buy direct from the publisher, Atthis Arts.

This project has been a delight. I was charmed when I saw the Kickstarter. A lot of the stories kicking around in my head have trended dark, lately, and this was a nice break. The editorial back-and-forth was great—I don’t think I’ve ever had a story edited so thoroughly or thoughtfully (note that I’m not just counting the short list of fiction under this byline). At some point, I told Emily that the anthology and production experience felt like the indie press equivalent of Bob Ross. Just contemplating it made me feel warm and fuzzy. (Admit it, you felt the same way when you read the name “Bob Ross.”) Some days, we all need happy little trees.

In 2020, we could use a forest.

Cover art for Community of Magic Pens

That brings me around to my story, “Shared Space.” Set in a cube farm, it’s about cubicle life. All the little ways that people negotiate fitting into corporate culture without sacrificing their individuality, all the tiny ways they find satisfaction, all the small soul-sucking realities, and the surprising ways that community can sneak up on you.

I began writing the story at the end of last year, shortly after I started a new job. (The bio in the book states that I currently work in a cubicle. That was true when the book went into production, though I was subsequently among the millions of folks laid off.) While less than fulfilling, in the manner of many jobs, I still kind of liked it. People were friendly, the cube farm wasn’t bad for a cube farm, my executive function largely executed, and there was sufficient flexibility and personal interactions that I could work there without constantly being confronted by my status as cog. As has been noted, we are steeped in capitalism no less thoroughly than the divine right of kings. Finding a not-uncomfortable niche within that system relieves some of its stresses, and writing the story was kind of a way of saying “this is fine.”

“Shared Space” has now become historical fiction. The idea of routine work in a cube farm no longer computes. Maybe in a year, after a vaccine and widespread testing and contact tracing, the old normal might be somewhat conceivable. But none of those things are in the offing in the United States, though other countries are dealing with the pandemic more successfully. Aside from the practical barrier, there is also the emotional landscape: will people accept working at close quarters after this, or be forced to do so—or will this be a catalyst for positive systemic change? Either way, there is likely to be fear, and masks, and (as always) disproportionate suffering of marginalized groups.

Some events make for a bright-line “before” and “after,” and a pandemic most surely counts as one of those events. We can’t be certain how this moment will be remembered, but we know that it will cast a shadow. Plagues can make themselves felt through silences and absences, no less than detailed data and vivid accounts.

And so at least for me, one minuscule piece of remembering this time will be to see how rapidly a story I wrote changed from a picture of banal drudgery to one of a happier past. Memory, like community, has a way of sneaking up on you.

r/Fantasy’s Virtual Con

Reddit’s r/Fantasy is hosting Virtual Con events, and despite having given the site many side-eyes in the past I’m going to pop in on Thursday, March 26. Atthis Arts will be doing an AMA, and I’ll be there in my capacity as a contributor to Community of Magic Pens and out of curiosity to hear what they’re up to with other projects. If this sounds like your sort of thing, please do swing by and say hello.

r/Fantasy Virtual Con schedule for March 21 - 27

Cover and TOC: Community of Magic Pens

Cover art for Community of Magic PensIt’s time for updates on Community of Magic Pens, edited by E.D.E. Bell, coming in May from Atthis Arts (and available for preorder now). The cover art was revealed, in a low-key fashion, on Twitter. It’s by Journey, a young Detroit-based artist. (She also produced artwork for the Kickstarter campaign.) It’s happy and charming and cartoonish in all the right ways.

My story about cubicle life will share a table of contents with work by Z. Ahmad, J. S. Bailey, E.D.E. Bell, Gustavo Bondoni, Kella Campbell, Minerva Cerridwen, ZZ Claybourne, M. R. DeLuca, Anthony W. Eichenlaub, Joy Givens, Beth Goder, Ethan Hedman, Andrew K Hoe, Victoria Hollis, Stella B. James, M. Kaur, Ava Kelly, Robert Kingett, Adam Kissel, N.R. Lambert, Nicole J. LeBoeuf, Gerri Leen, Lawrence Miller, Avery Montavon, Ether Nepenthes, Lena Ng, Robert Perez, Mikko Rauhala, Rai Rocca, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Lorraine Schein, Holly Schofield, Elizabeth Shaffer, Jannae’ Sifontes, K. Alysee Simon, D.A. Xiaolin Spires, Tlotlo Tsamaase, Vijay Varman, and Dawn Vogel.

Community of Magic Pens

I’m very pleased to announce that my short story “Shared Space” will appear in Community of Magic Pens. I think the anthology’s going to be a lot of fun (I backed it on Kickstarter before submissions opened). It’s available for preorder now, with publication expected in May.