Sadie and Marlowe

Marlowe, Sadie and the mystery of doors.

Sadie and MarloweMarlowe is very sweet and tractable, but not always the brightest cat. At the age of 15, he still has no figured out that you push doors open from one side and pull from the other. My other cats have all figured out that if you hook a claw under the door, you can pull it open.

So, this morning, Marlowe followed me into the bathroom, as he does. And the door shut, but didn’t latch behind him. He did his usual routine of standing on his hand legs and pawing at it to get it to open, which only makes it thump repeatedly against the frame.

And then the door magically opened.

Sadie, standing on the other side, pushed the door open and let him out. So… okay. Fair enough, Marlowe. When you bat the door long enough, it WILL open.

Sadie, by the way, is starting to reach for the doorknobs. It’s a good thing she doesn’t have opposable thumbs, is all I have to say.

 

stancinbeach

SALE! “Like Native Things” to Asimov’s

I am very, very happy to have sold this short story to Asimov’s. I have to give a really big thank you to all the people who beta-read for it when it was titled, “Wary of Iguanas.” In particular I need to thank Daniel, who finally unlocked a problem with the story for me.

It’s like this… For months I’ve been trying to fix a problem with the story. There’s a type of power station that takes its energy from ocean waves, and I have one in the story. I kept getting comments like, “I don’t understand why the wave generator is such a big deal.” So I kept trying to tweak it to make the wave generator’s importance to my main character clear.

Then Daniel commented, “So to me, wave generators, are things found in amusement parks, and scientific reproductions, it would be pointless in open ocean.”

D’oh! All of those people thought it was a machine that created waves, not a power station.

God. I could fix that with three words. MONTHS of effort because of a definition.

Meanwhile… here’s a teaser.

The iguana was probably some kid out for a joyride. A wetware patch covered nearly its full back in a web of gold and silicone. Tilda opened the window and leaned out to pluck the iguana off the branch. Thank heavens animals with amateur mind-riders tended to have slow instincts.

She dropped the iguana into a carry-crate and threw a cloth over it. “No trespassing signs apply to anything with an intelligence on board, but I’ll drop your critter near a street sign.”

“Most people would euthanize the thing.” Helmut pulled a fresh wetware patch out of the fridge and opened the sterile packet. “You’re a softie.”

“It’s not the iguana’s fault his person is an idiot.” Still, given the nature of her contract with the government, it was better to be on the safe side. Tilda carried the crate past the row of benches that dominated the saddle room and set it outside in the hall. “Go ahead and start calibrating and I’ll join you in a minute.”

My Favorite Bit: Michael R. Underwood talks about THE YOUNGER GODS

My Favorite Bit iconMichael R. Underwood is joining us today with his novel The Younger Gods. Here’s the publisher’s description.

The first in a new series from the author of Geekomancy (pop culture urban fantasy) and Shield and Crocus (New Weird superhero fantasy).

Jacob Greene was a sweet boy raised by a loving, tight-knit family…of cultists. He always obeyed, and was so trusted by them that he was the one they sent out on their monthly supply run (food, medicine, pig fetuses, etc.).

Finding himself betrayed by them, he flees the family’s sequestered compound and enters the true unknown: college in New York City. It’s a very foreign place, the normal world and St. Mark’s University. But Jacob’s looking for a purpose in life, a way to understand people, and a future that breaks from his less-than-perfect past. However, when his estranged sister arrives in town to kick off the apocalypse, Jacob realizes that if he doesn’t gather allies and stop the family’s prophecy of destruction from coming true, nobody else will…

What’s Michael’s favorite bit?

The Younger Gods-c1 (1) (1)

MICHAEL R. UNDERWOOD

The Younger Gods is a supernatural thriller that combines elements of Greco-Roman Mythology, Abrahamic Cosmogonies, Lovecraftian Cosmic Horror, urban legends, and other world folkloric traditions, to create a single, integrated magical world, where the white sheep from a monstrous family has to stop his sister from ending the world. That’s My Favorite Bit about the novel – the conceptual bricolage that forms the underpinnings of the world and the impetus for the story.

Let’s unpack that a bit. When I was in undergrad, I came up with the whacky idea to create my own major. I wanted to combine elements from Creative Writing, Classics, Folklore, Anthropology, and more to make a degree in Creative Mythology. I got leave to study mythologies, cosmogonies, and hero tales from around the world, trying to find commonalities and to learn ancient storytelling lessons from world cultures.

Add a M.A. in Folklore Studies on top of that, and it’s almost inevitable that I would end up writing a novel like The Younger Gods, stitching together various traditions to form a new but familiar cosmology for a contemporary fantasy series.

The Younger Gods came out of a smaller idea – the white sheep in a family of apocalyptic cultists. When I started moving forward with the idea for the novel, I had to fill out the background. Who did Jake’s family worship? What kind of apocalypse were they trying to usher in? And to understand an apocalypse, the ending, you have to understand the beginning, aka the cosmogony. It was then that I put my comparative mythology hat on in a big way, stitching together the idea of succession myths (where the younger generation of gods overthrow their parents), the story of the Garden, as well as a war between different sub-sets of divine beings (Aesir vs. Vanir, Gods vs. Titans, Angels vs. Demons, etc.), and the Lovecraftian idea of sleeping gods who will destroy the world when they finally awaken.

Add that all together and you get the cosmology of The Younger Gods, with my hero, Jacob Greene, placed smack dab right in the middle of it all, hailed as being part of the Greene family prophecy that will awaken the Younger Gods and bring about the end of the world.

Small problem – Jake doesn’t want the world to end. And roll tape. One totally overwhelmed sorcerer caught in the middle of a complicated cosmology.

That’s My Favorite Bit.

LINKS:

Amazon

Nook

iBooks

Kobo

BIO:

Michael R. Underwood is the author of Geekomancy, Celebromancy, Attack the GeekShield and Crocus, and The Younger Gods. By day, he’s the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books. Mike grew up devouring stories in all forms, from comics to video games, tabletop RPGs, movies, and books.

Mike lives in Baltimore with his fiancée. He is also a co-host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show. In his rapidly vanishing free time, Mike studies historical martial arts and makes homemade pizza.

 

Sadie put on her winter coat while 8 was away.

Pictorial evidence of the difference three months can make in the life of a cat.

This is Sadie when we brought her home on June 27th. She’d been living on the street before being taken in by CARF. Her fur was coarse and had no undercoat at all.Meet Nellie, our new kitteh. Marlowe hasn't met her yet, but they've sniffed at each other under the door.

This is Sadie on October 10th. While she’s put on a little weight, going from seven pounds to nine, most of what you’re seeing is the recovery of her fur. She’s so soft that it’s like petting a warm cloud. And she purrs now. She didn’t when we got her.

Sadie put on her winter coat while 8 was away.

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Why is the Writing Excuses “Out of Excuses Retreat and Workshop” now on a boat?

Well, for the first two years, we hosted it at my parents’ home in Tennessee. The location had a lot of things going for it, but we had to limit attendance to 24 people because of the size of the venue. This meant a lot of stress for people as they tried to register for those few slots. We sold out in less than three minutes last time.

So we wanted a bigger venue, but we also wanted to address the other things that keep people from being able to attend workshops. One of those is that people get limited vacation time, and taking a week off to be away from family is hard.

Being on the ship means that you can bring your family with you. We have a dedicated space for the seminars, but the rest of the ship is designed for vacations. There’s even a complimentary Adventure Ocean® Youth Program, so your kids can have adventure while you’re improving your writing. There’s a discounted rate for family members, and while all ages are welcome on the ship, we particularly want to encourage young writers. So anyone between the ages of 12-17 can attend the seminars at the family rate, instead of paying full price.

One of the things that’s hardest about being a professional writer is learning to balance family and fiction. It only makes sense for us to help that balance from the get-go.

There’s a ton of other reasons to be on the ship. Like… the Caribbean.

For those of you who haven’t cruised before, allow me to say that I poo-pooed the idea before I started going on the Steampunk Cruises. The ship we’re on is like a giant floating resort, and every day we have a different tropical destination outside our door. So we’ll have instruction, time to write, inspiration, and time to unwind.

You can read all about it at the registration page for the 2015 Out of Excuses Workshop and Retreat for, but if you have any other questions, ask away.