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News and updates about Alis’ books, Alis’ site, and Alis herself.

Free short fiction.

Well, there’s something to tick off that I’ve had sitting on the todo list for, er, ahem. Years. I have finally compiled a page of my random short fiction. It’s taken me so long to get around to this, mostly because I kept telling myself I was going to To Something with these stories and then… never did. So, failing that, here they are.

Almost everything here counts as backstory to Liesmith, and scratches my Sigyn/Loki OTP itch. In rough chronological order, the stories are:

  • “Fairytale”, Sigyn’s meet cute. Sort of. Also a rewrite of the original introduction to what would eventually become Liesmith (and at the time was called CORNER, because titles, what even are they?), and thus technically the Very First Piece of the Wyrd.
  • “Vartari”, a.k.a. the aftermath of Loki’s lip-stitching incident.
  • “Vow”, in which Sigyn and Loki are obnoxious tourists in the Abbasid Caliphate.
  • “Mothers”, because I can’t get enough of Sigyn and Angrboða (and their kids) conspiring against Ásgarðr.

There are also two contemporary stories:

  • “Blue Sky Mine”, set before Liesmith, and in which Travis is trying to launch a tablet, has an unplanned visit to the Pilbara, and Lain gets named.
  • “Focus Group”, set a little bit after Liesmith, and in which Sigmund learns the secret of LB’s success (and I show I can predict the tech industry).

Of these, “Mothers” and “Blue Sky Mine” are probably my favorites.

Finally, “My friend Vic was a weird kid.” is the non-Wyrdverse story. I went through a phase about a year ago of obsessively reading r/nosleep, and this story was the result. It was originally posted anonymously to that community, but the copy archived here is the slightly edited and cleaned version as opposed to the “I wrote this on my phone in one sitting then posted it straight away” version.

All-in-all, I think that’s something like 20k+ of free words to keep you amused so… enjoy!

Thursday, 20th July 2017|Tags: free fiction, wyrdverse, xp|2 Comments

One day left to back Mother of Invention!

So there’s only one day left in order to back the awesome feminist AI anthology, Mother of Invention!

Mother of Invention will feature diverse, challenging stories about gender as it relates to the creation of artificial intelligence and robotics. This ambitious anthology from award-winning Australian publishing house Twelfth Planet Press will be edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Rivqa Rafael.

From Pygmalion and Galatea to Frankenstein, Ex Machina and Person of Interest, the fictional landscape so often frames cisgender men as the creators of artificial life, leading to the same kinds of stories being told over and over. We want to bring some genuine revolution to the way that artificial intelligence stories are told, and how they intersect with gender identity, parenthood, sexuality, war, and the future of our species. How can we interrogate the gendered assumptions around the making of robots compared with the making of babies? Can computers learn to speak in a code beyond the (gender) binary?

If necessity is the mother of invention, what exciting AI might come to exist in the hands of a more diverse range of innovators?

Sound amazing? Of course it does! And for a mere $10 (or less, in US dollars!), it can be yours.

Want more? Of course you do! Which is why for a measly $18 you can get Mothre of Invention and the award-winning Kaleidoscope and Defying Doomsday books as well. Seriously. $18 for three books worth of diverse speculative fiction; what more could you possible want? A cool bookmark? A mug? Some jam and tea?

Well, hah! Fooled you! You can get those, too!

So what are you waiting for? One more day, people. Do it!

Friday, 30th June 2017|Tags: books, kickstarter, sff, type: photo|Comments Off on One day left to back Mother of Invention!

PROBLEM DAUGHTERS intersectional feminist SFF anthology? Yes pls!

So for the last month or so, Futurefire.net Publishing and its co-editors Nicolette Barischoff, Rivqa Rafael, and Djibril al-Ayad have been fundraising for a new pro-paying speculative fiction anthology.

Problem Daughters is a collection that seeks to amplify the voices of women who are sometimes excluded from mainstream feminism. It will be an anthology of beautiful, thoughtful, unconventional speculative fiction and poetry around the theme of intersectional feminism, focusing on the lives and experiences of marginalized women, such as those who are of color, QUILTBAG, disabled, sex workers, and all intersections of these.

If that sounds like your bag, fundraising for the anthology–plus a whole bunch of other awesome perks–is still available at IndieGoGo for the next three-ish weeks. You can grab yourself a copy for the low-low price of $5. Five bucks! To support marginalised voices and kickass feminist literature. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

Well, fine. If you still need convincing (or even if not), then Djibril al-Ayad is here with smart words to explain a little more1

(more…)

  1. And also, psst, go check out the rest of the articles in the series while you’re at it. ↩︎
Saturday, 28th January 2017|Tags: books, culture, sff, xp|11 Comments

The Wyrdverse glossary.

Confused about the Naglfar? Never quite sure what a goði was?

Then never fear, dear reader! The Wyrdverse Glossary is (finally) here!

The glossary is a list of terms used in the Books of the Wyrd, Liesmith and Stormbringer. It previously appeared at the end of Stormbringer, but now it’s here, for all your delicious internet goodness!

For bonus points, it also features some super-badass illustrations from the mega-talented Neogeen. I will not lie: Neogeen was my number one monster design influence when writing the Books, so it was an amazing experience to work with her to bring characters like Lain and Hrímgrímnir (pictured above, and as seen in Stormbringer) to life.

What are the Books of the Wyrd, you ask? Why, they’re a post-Ragnarøkkr, Norse Mythology-inspired, queer urban fantasy, set in modern-day Australia and featuring more geeky pop-culture references than you can poke a stick at.

Queer? Geeky? Sound like your cup-of-tea-with-Tim-Tam-slams? Then you are in luck, my friend, because the first Book of the Wyrd, Liesmith, is on sale for 99c for a limited time only.

Not sure? Then no worries! Because an opening excerpt is available, as well as an extended outtake of one of the book’s chapters. Still not convinced? Well, here’s the beginning of the second bookStormbringer, while you’re at it.

Seriously, though: Queer. Geeky. Australian. Urban fantasy. Oh, and there are anthropomorphic feathered dinosaurs. I mean, really. What more could you ask for?

So. Liesmith. 99c. Get it. Boom!

Anime ending Lain by Neogeen.

Thursday, 8th December 2016|Tags: liesmith, neogeen, wyrdverse, xp|4 Comments

Elias speedpaint.

Speedpaint done at Conflux 12 in Canberra. Unfinished, because I didn’t get to enough panels, and… dark? Because Procreate, I guess.

Done with Procreate and iPad Pro with Pencil.

Wednesday, 5th October 2016|Tags: art, conflux12, speed paiting, type: video|Comments Off on Elias speedpaint.

Conflux 12: The sketch post.

Elias Drake.

Elias Drake.

So because I didn’t get to many panels at Conflux 12, I didn’t get much art done. Nonetheless, I dutifully lugged my iPad around for the entire weekend anyway, and this is the result.

Still unfinished… and also super, super dark. I swear it didn’t look that dark on the iPad. What the hell, Procreate?

Wednesday, 5th October 2016|Tags: conflux12, my art, type: photo|2 Comments

I survived #Conflux12 and all I got was…

The Haul!

… this badly-photographed pile of awesome stuff!

So yeah. I survived my second year of Conflux; go me!

Special big shout-outs this year to:

  • Elizabeth, for babysitting me and letting me crash her Dungeon World game1
  • Alex, for listening to me rant about Marxism, Evil Ernie, and pro wrestling
  • Rivqa, for WoW squeeing and letting me hijack her Ancillary Justice panel with my this-book-is-really-about-the-American-War-of-Independence/-Civil-War conspiracy theory
  • and Elanor, for sharing my love of Paul McGann’s Doctor and rage over Children of Earth.

I didn’t end up going to very many panels this year, mostly because I kept getting sidetracked by ranting at people in the bar (lots of ranting… lots and lots of ranting). On the other hand, I did get to do a workshop on the Friday where I had to create a YA character and book plot on the fly while being live critiqued by a panel of teenagers, and that was kind of traumatising, not gonna lie, so I pretty much needed the rest of the three days to recover.

Since it wouldn’t be a Conflux without a book haul, you can find the full list at GoodReads. I’m super-jazzed about Tansy Rayner Roberts‘ Mocklore books and Kaaron Warren‘s The Grief Hole in particular (and also super-jazzed that I got them signed). Tansy’s one of those people I secretly stalk online and absolutely fail at talking to in real life because I’m too busy dying of squee, while I fell in love with Kaaron’s writing after the last Conflux because ohmigod Australian female horror writer gimmie gimmie gimmie.

My other discovery this year was Meri Amber, who’s both adorable and writes adorable geek-pop you should totally go and listen to. She’s also the one who sold me my single most expensive purchase of the con: a set of metal rainbow Level Up Dice. Because seriously nothing says “beware the DM” like when she destroys your dining table by rolling her razor-sharp, heavy-as-shit, candy-coloured metal dice across it.

Zoltan says, "Showing up is METAL!"

Zoltan the Dungeon World Bard says, “Showing up is METAL!”

Metal was actually a bit of a theme of the con, I guess. Poor Zoltan, the Elf Bard with the power of METAL!. We hardly knew ye. (Also, I’m kinda glad you got killed off halfway through because holy shit was my voice wrecked from death growling the next day. Good thing I had no panels on the Saturday!)

Oh, and next year? Next year, we’re getting ribbons.

  1. Even if she did kill me. Twice. ↩︎
Tuesday, 4th October 2016|Tags: books, conflux, cons, fandom, xp|2 Comments

Publishing “diversity” (with an aside on The Wyrd #3).

Crane Hana on the state of diversity in publishing.

I haven’t really spoken about it much, because I’ve essentially been putting off making an “official announcement” for the last six months, but this is effectively what happened to BAD MEME, the third Wyrdverse book. It exists and is written, but didn’t push the Lain/Sigmund m/m hard enough for the publisher. BAD MEME is more of a supernatural thriller (I guess?) set in Melbourne, and while Lain is the lens through which the story is told, it’s mostly about a group of three friends–Roxx, Bich (a.k.a. Brianna), and Taylor–who make a creeypasta YouTube series called vicwalks. The antagonist of vicwalks is a monster called the Tooth Girl who, because this is the Wyrdverse, is summoned into reality by the show (hence Lain’s involvement).

Sketch of Bich from BAD MEME.

Sketch of Bich from BAD MEME.

The problem with the BAD MEME is that the entire conflict revolves around the different things Roxx, Bich, and Taylor want to get out of vicwalks. Roxx, an abuse survivor, uses the story as a way to deal with her past pain. Bich wants to be “internet famous” and get movie deals in Hollywood. Taylor is a young tans boy at an all-girls school, who’s looking for a hobby away from the suffocating femininity of his home life. Meanwhile, Lain spends most of the book as “Elle” after Bich reads his gender as female when they first meet.

So on the scale of “queer urban fantasy”, BAD MEME still fits into that box. The box it doesn’t fit into is “m/m romance”: Sigmund only appears as a cameo character in a few scenes, and the few hints of romance that do exist mostly come from Bich crushing on “Elle”.

Unfortunately for yours truly, the publishing contract for the Wyrd series was more on the “m/m paranormal” side of the scale than the “urban fantasy with queer protagonists” side. The publisher didn’t want BAD MEME as-is, and requested I rewrite large sections of the book to include Lain/Sig. I ultimately decided I didn’t want to do this; BAD MEME deals with some heavy themes (i.e. abuse survival, gender dysphoria) that I felt it would be inappropriate to sideline in favour of writing relationship melodrama between two dudes. My other option was to write another book entirely; essentially selling the fourth Wyrd book in place of the third. I outlined something (codename: TRUTHTELLER) that ended up being like 95% love triangle. The problem was it didn’t really have a villain. Because, yeah. The other thing BAD MEME did was establish the long-term antagonist for the Wyrd series.

So TRUTHTELLER got trunked alongside BAD MEME, and that was the end of that: for the foreseeable future, the Books of the Wyrd will number two.

… That turned out into much more of an update than I intended. Oh well.

Finally, for anyone who’s interested: have an excerpt from BAD MEME, in which Bich and Elle encounter the Tooth Girl. Enjoy!

Monday, 12th September 2016|Tags: publishing, wyrdverse|9 Comments

CSFG panel recap: Authors vs. blogging.

So last night I was invited by our local specific author’s guild, the CSFG, to be on a panel about Blogging For Writers. My fellow panellists were the wonderful and talented Ian McHugh, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, and Nalini Haynes, with the ever-prepared Leife Shallcross directing the discussion and keeping us all in line.

It was a pretty awesome fun night. I was there as the tech geek and “longest running longitudinal study on blogging ever” (I’ve been blogging, more or less consistently, since 1999), though I ended up digressing into a bit of neepery on publishing in general in the middle, mostly because it’s a topic my dead black heart finds endlessly interesting.

Anyway, I’m not going to recap the entire discussion, but have some summary thoughts nonetheless:

  1. Despite “conventional wisdom”, you do not need an established social media presence to get a publishing contract. This was one of those memes that was going around the industry a few years back, and has now (mostly) run its course. Having a big pre-existing following used to be attractive to publishers under the assumption it would allow already tight marketing budgets to stretch further (you don’t need to do much marketing on behalf of someone who already has a platform… right?). However, this has proved to be not as much the case as publishers originally hoped. Basically, the link between “follow someone on Twitter” and “buy someone’s books” isn’t as tightly coupled as publishers hoped. (It’s not nothing, but it’s not everything either.)
  2. That being said, yes, your publishers expect you to be an active participant in your own marketing, and that will include being able to write blog posts. Better start practicing now.
  3. Everyone on the panel used blogging differently. Elizabeth started her blog to promote her freelance editing services1 and then fell into the wonderful world of book blogging. Ian uses his blog as a portfolio and a platform to answer craft questions.2 Nalini runs Dark Matter Zine. I  blog because I always have and I like to fiddle with the tech. The point is, find your own use for your online presence, even if it’s just a single static page saying “here I am and here’s what I do”.
  4. Blogging (in the conventional sense) is kinda dead… but a lot of the industry still hangs around on places like Twitter and LiveJournal. There’s probably a broader discussion to be had in here about “social media for fan outreach” versus “social media for professional networking” that we didn’t get into last night, but… hmm.
  5. We didn’t really get too much into the different platforms, but continuing on the theme above: different blogging platforms reach different audiences. Know which one you’re going for and target accordingly.
  6. Never forget that, as an author, your online presence is your professional presence, and to act accordingly. What that means, in a nutshell, is don’t publicly trash-talk other people in the industry: editors, agents, fellow authors, publishers, reviewers, whatever. (Panel-agreed exception: Vox Day. No-one likes that guy.)
  7. Speaking of: controversial opinions, having them. Being outspoken on a particular social and/or political topic can be part of your online “brand”. If you can work it for you, then work it for you, but be aware that’s what you’re doing.3
  8. On the same topic, online harassment and blacklash sucks. The panel swapped some war stories and discussed their strategies for dealing with it. Mine, for better or for worse, is that I tone down my public persona quite a lot.
  9. Finally, it’s never too early to start any of this. In fact, start yesterday. Start ten years ago.

… And by the time we’d covered all of that, it was 9:30 and we got kicked out of the room.

All-in-all, it was a fun night and a good discussion, and I hope people got something out of it. Particularly all the new people (there were a lot of new people, which is rad). I’d especially like to thank Leife and the CSFG committee for inviting me to speak, and to everyone who showed up to listen.

See everyone next month!

  1. Which she’s awesome at, plug plug. ↩︎
  2. Ian teaches writing short courses at CIT, which are also awesome, plug plug. ↩︎
  3. This, incidentally, is one of the reasons I’m always… conflicted about writing publicly about diversity in books/publishing. It’s something I believe in promoting, quite strongly, but because it’s something I believe in it’s something I struggle with writing about authentically rather than as a marketing gimmick. ↩︎
Thursday, 18th February 2016|Tags: blogging, csfg, fandom, sff, writing, xp|1 Comment