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A life in boxes

So I’m now t-minus two days from the movers arriving to put 95% of my possessions into a couple of shipping containers where they’ll live for the next couple of months until I get my living situation in Colorado settled. And t-minus five days from embarking on the long drive back up to Colorado. (Without my cats; the boys are staying with Mike until, again, my living situation is settled, and bless Mike for that.)

I used to think that moving was pretty much the worst thing in the world, but I’ve stumbled across something even more awful, which is moving while you have a hideous cold. I wish I could regale you with awesome anecdotes from my first ever Nebula weekend, but to be honest it’s mostly a cough-syrup-colored blur, though I do remember Alyssa Wong’s absolutely fabulous dress. And that I managed to hand her award over to her without either dropping it or getting snot on it, so I feel like I stuck my landing as a presenter.

Here’s hoping I can make the Nebula weekend next year (fingers crossed for gainful employment) and not be sick for it this time so I can actually talk to people and shake hands and stuff.

For now, I’m going to go back to wandering around my apartment, searching for things that still need to be tossed into a box before the major project of packing my portion of the kitchen tomorrow.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Thank you, dear friends, THANK YOU.

No shit, we did it.

Some time as I was dozing in a cold medicine fog while being shot through the sky in a pressurized metal tube between Chicago and Houston, the Kickstarter finished, and we not only had full funding, but we hit all three stretch goals. So y’all are gonna get 24 stories that I love to pieces, plus a piece of line art to go with each story, plus I get to pay my writers more. This latter is incredibly important to me as someone who is also a writer. Any time writers in general get a bigger paycheck, I’m happy.

At this moment I’m finally home, fighting off the mucus demon that has taken up residence in my sinuses. My cats have gone from vengefully ignoring me to clinging, and half of everything I own is in boxes. This has been a crazy, incredibly stressful month (and over the next week as I get ready to move back to Colorado, it’s only going to get crazier and more stressful), so seeing this project of mine finish strong has been a welcome boost.

I’m stunned and ecstatic that 466 people wanted to support this book. Thank you. Thank you.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.


IT’S THE FINAL STORY

The Kickstarter is almost over, but you still have a couple days, and here’s the final reason you should support us if I somehow haven’t convinced you yet with the other 23 amazeballs stories. How about this for a slice of fried gold: Skinwalker, Fast Talker by Darcie Little Badger.

There are so many ways in which I love this story, because it’s got so many layers to it. Mel, an Apache woman who is a “journalist” for a National Enquirer-style rag called Bimonthly Weird Online gets shown a video of a guy who just scammed her nephew out of a bunch of money and may or may not be Coyote himself. So she does what any journalist would do: she investigates.

On one level, it’s funny as all hell–Coyote dresses like a PUA and drenches himself in Axe body spray. And I love a good human versus trickster story, cunning versus cunning. On a deeper level, it touches on the struggle to maintain culture and memory in a world where Mel’s nephew is more likely to learn about “skinwalkers” via garbled Hollywood film efforts than from people in the know. It’s about the problems Mel and her nephew face in a society that doesn’t always treat them kindly because of who they are.

This is a fun, clever story with a big heart hidden just under the gross pelt quilt and the Axe body spray. I loved it from the first line, and I think you’re going to love it too.

Train is leaving the station, guys! Support the Kickstarter, get the book cheaper and earlier than those who miss the deadline.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

No Sh!t, There I Was: Blush Response

So no shit, there we are, a couple hundred bucks from the first stretch goal for the Kickstarter! WOOHOO, EVERYONE! Go go go, let’s get illustrations in this baby and then a pay raise for the writers.

There are only two stories left in the table of contents, so which one will RNGesus pick today? It’s Blush Response by E. Catherine Tobler.

I was surprised and incredibly honored to see a story from Elise land in my slush pile. I’ve read her short stories for years, and if you’re not familiar with her work–well, what’s wrong with you? Go work your way through her bibliography, you won’t be sorry. She writes absolutely beautiful prose, words that are rich and alive and just a bit alien. She’s got a way of looking at things, of writing stories that provides them such depth, and I’m unabashedly envious of her skill.

And she did not deviate from that record in the slightest with Blush Response. It’s a black and white, roaring 20s gangster movie of a story. Quite literally black and white, a world of grayscale, in which color is a foreign mark left by the hands of “Shine Girls,” used as a torture and a warning. Our pin curl and suit-sporting main gangster Lola has gotten her hands on one such Shine Girl, named Wonderly, by the simple mechanism of having kidnapped her from the control of another gang. Lola? Is not a nice person.

Wonderly and Lola are fascinating characters with a dynamic I might have mentally written some fanfiction about. This is another of those stories where I hope, hope, hope there’s more, because Elise has given us a fascinating world driven by deep currents of emotional struggle.

And the main character is a female gangster named Lola. I AM ONLY HUMAN, PEOPLE.

All this begins with Lola’s “No shit, there I was…” Support the Kickstarter and you get this and 23 other awesome stories. Time’s running out, go!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

No Sh!t, There I Was: Dropped In

Ready for one of the last three pieces from the table of contents for my amazeballs anthology?

It’s time for another slush jackalope fave, this one titled Dropped In, by Jo Robson. As story opening lines for the anthology go, this is my favorite second only to the necromantic weaselsNo shit, there I was, hip deep in watermelon and about to get eaten by the dog.

Well come on, if you’re going to start out like that, I have to keep reading.

Dropped In is definitely to the lighter side of the No Shit spectrum. It’s the story of a little green robotic PDA (PaD technically, in the story’s terms) named BeBop. He might seem like an innocent electronic device with no will of his own, but he’s got a snarky personality and an extremely mischievous sense of humor that’s guaranteed to get him in trouble and does. When one of his pranks backfires, he has to figure out how to fix his unwitting mistake or risk being given to his owner’s nose-picking, young nephew.

This story is cute. BeBop is a  perfect snarky narrator who isn’t allowed by his programming to say even half of what he thinks out loud. (And don’t we all know how that feels.) The decision he ultimately faces is true to life in its own way as well. It’s one tiny green robot against a large and hostile world.

Sound fun? You’re still got a week to get in on the Kickstarter and make sure you get your book in whatever format pleases you best!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

No Sh!t, There I Was: First of the North

We’re down to the last four stories in the No Shit table of contents! If you haven’t supported the Kickstarter yet, what are you waiting for? I guarantee, these four are just as awesome in their own way as the previous twenty.

Today’s story is First of the North by Andrew Barton. It’s probably the most brutally realistic story about superheroes that I’ve ever read. When the jackalopes and I were figuring out the table of contents, there was some disagreement on if First of the North is our bleakest story, or The Pursuit of Happiness. To be honest, I’m still not certain which of them wins. They’re both the sort of stories that hurt you in absolutely necessary ways.

First of the North imagines an economically desolate Vancouver and a superhero named Alpha Borealis who has lost her day job to the inevitable march of automation. To anyone who has ever been laid off, made redundant, or been victim of a force reduction–so many names for the same adult horror–this is a story that hits close to home. It certainly sucker punched one of my jackalopes, and me as well. As if that’s not difficult enough, First of the North posits a logical extension to the current poor treatment of the blameless victims of the economy and asks what good a superhero is against odds like that.

Andrew tends to write very stark stories, and it’s something I respect about him. He doesn’t waste words and he keeps everything feeling intensely real. It’s a style that serves this story well and makes it hurt.

It’s a good story, and well worth reading. And well worth supporting!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Well, holy shit. I went in expecting a hot mess that I’d love anyway (hello, Age of Ultron) and instead got a movie that I feel like I need to make dying seagull noises about and then place it on a shelf next to Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

I’m not going to write a more standard-ish review. I fucking loved this movie, end of story. If you liked CA:TWS, you’ll probably love it too. Instead, I want to scream about some very particular things, so this is going to be nothing but SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT.

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Time for another offering from the No Shit table of contents! Today it’s Salted Tongues and Salted Lashes by Rachael K. Jones.

Not going to lie, I was excited as hell to see a story from Rachael in my slush pile, and she did not disappoint. Salted Tongues and Salted Lashes has one of the more playful interpretations of the opening line out of all the stories. And the concept that provides the speculative motor for the story is fun and quirky: the main character, Leah, speaks Doom on people. Curse words are literally curses, Dooms waiting to be unleashed by Leah’s power. It’s her job, in fact, to speak Dooms on unwitting victims who have pissed off someone enough that they’re willing to pay Leah’s employer for the service.

Like I said. The concept is fun and quirky and a few degrees off the world as we understand it. But this being from Rachael K. Jones, with the concept comes an almighty emotional sucker punch. It’s a story about the grinding toll anger and misery and hopelessness take on a person. But it’s also about the toll that giving and pushing back against the darkness, of being the person who always has their shit together can take as well. It’s a story that hit me incredibly hard when I read it and I knew I needed it in my anthology. I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

We’re so close to our funding goal! So close! Support the Kickstarter and make sure you get this and the other stories. Push us across the finish line!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

No Sh!t, There I Was: Leaving Bordeaux

Today from the No Shit ToC, I bring you a favorite of one of my slush readers: Leaving Bordeaux by Lou J. Berger.

On its face, Leaving Bordeaux has a similar feel to The Pursuit of Happiness: gritty, military-ish scifi. This one’s just got some added time travel in it, and the aliens are both less and more disturbing, depending on how you think about it. It rolls along, with battles, man pain, people smoking in silence, just like you’d expect.

And then you get to one sentence that you could probably miss if you were reading too fast. When I hit it, I burst out laughing and literally shouted: “Lou, you son of a bitch!”

This is the problem with this story. I love it, but if I tell you any more detail about why I love it, that’ll ruin the fun. I may have already said too much. Lou did an incredible job putting this story together and building it in just the right way. He made it just as long as it needs to be to make the denouement work well. And beyond that, the concepts he’s come up with for this world are fun.

But the punchline. The goddamn punchline. Hats off to you Lou. You got me fair and square.

Want to see what I’m trying so hard not to spoil? Support the kickstarter, and you get the anthology for as little as $5!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

Ready for your daily dose of awesomeness from the No Shit ToC? It’s the generally titled Really, I’m Like St. Francis That Way, What With Holding Bird­Like Creatures And All by Adrian Simmons.

Really, I’m Like St. Francis That Way… is the most traditional No Shit, There I Was story in the entire anthology. It’s about an innocent guy who’s just trying to do the right thing, saving an alien creature from certain death from certain death in a hostile environment. And like anyone just trying to do something right, it all goes wrong at every turn.

I really don’t want to spoil the amusing series of events that this story encompasses, but what did it for me is the last line, the most traditional thing about a No Shit story. All this crazy stuff happened, and that is the reason why something almost completely unrelated occurs. You can easily imagine listening to this entire story of compounding mistakes while drinking a beer and nodding sympathetically. Adrian nailed the format and involved cute, fuzzy, alien creatures.

I’m a sucker for cute, fuzzy, alien creatures.

Think that sounds fun? Kickstarter is right here, and you can get 23 more very different stories for as little as $5!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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