Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse, or Good Things Still Happen

As you may have seen on twitter, Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse, featuring my short story, “A Witch for the Chrome Furies,” is out! It’s been out for almost a month now, actually. Even in paperback!

This is a weird time to have something good going on.

It’s not that I think it’s frivolous to think about books at a time like this – personally, reading is the only thing getting me through some days, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I want to hear all about what new books are coming out, and what older books people are digging up. Now is the time for more books!

And it’s not that I don’t think I have a right to be happy when bad things are going on in the world. Sadly, there is almost always some horrible slaughter or human rights violation going on somewhere, and while it’s important to stay engaged and aware of that, we can’t wait for the world to be fixed. Happiness has to exist next to despair, or we’re all sunk.

I think I just don’t have the stamina to be excited for very long.

When my author copy of Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse arrived in the mail last week, I was over the moon! The cover is even more vibrant in person, and I picked up on all sorts of details that I hadn’t noticed on my computer screen. And the inside of the book has the most adorable drawings of cats wearing hats and/or goggles between some of the stories. It was absolutely amazing to hold it in my hands, and I get a little frisson of pleasure every time I see it.

But I never even posted to Twitter about having gotten the book. I’m not embarrassed to be promoting this anthology. I just forgot. My excitement keeps getting buried under the weight of Everything Going On In The World Right Now.

I imagine this is happening to a lot of people right now, and for a lot of reasons. To a certain extent, it’s probably unavoidable, given our ambient stress levels. But I also think it’s important that we do our best to hold onto joy and excitement when we can. The world is dark, so we owe it to ourselves – and to everyone else – to create and reflect as much light as comes our way.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Getting in the Zone

May 6 question – Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

Truthfully, the best way for me to get into the zone is writing with other people. Under normal circumstances, one of my favorite things to do it to meet up with a writing friend at a cafe, catch up over pastries and beverages, and then settle in for a nice writing session. Since both sitting in cafes and socializing is canceled for the foreseeable future, I have had to compromise.

Zoom is currently the best tool in my arsenal. I’ve been meeting up with one of my regular writing buddies almost every week, and Cat Rambo has been hosting writing sessions on Zoom for her Patreon supporters and members of her Discord community since the pandemic began. They are well-attended, and it’s nice to see the same faces on a regular basis. She’s set up a really nice format for the medium, and it’s a great community! It doesn’t always get me all the way into “the zone,” but it’s 1.5 hours of writing time that I would not have otherwise managed, which is pretty darn good, especially right now. While I would prefer to be in my favorite cafe, these writing sessions are the next best thing.

Other news

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse is out! My physical copy arrived in the mail on Monday, and it’s absolutely beautiful. This is my first anthology publication, and the first time I have seen my fiction in hard copy. It’s been a strange experience, to have this happen during a pandemic, but it’s a weirdly appropriate time for a book of semi-hopeful stories about the end of the world.

How are you all doing? I’m looking forward to reading some of the answers to this month’s ISWG question from other people! Maybe it’ll give me the inspiration to create a decent writing ritual of my own.

The Cats Story Bundle

Exciting news! My short story, “A Witch for the Chrome Furies” has been published in Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse! Right now, the anthology is only available as part of The Cats! Bundle, but it will eventually come to exist as an individual ebook and in hard copy.

What can you expect from Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse?

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse riffs off of the trope of a lone hero wandering through a post-apocalyptic wasteland with his loyal hound. Here, we see women taking control of their destinies and making choices to build a better future out of chaos. These stories are as much about relationships – between women and their cats, but also between and within communities – as they are about grim determination. When we were writing these stories, none of us knew how very timely the anthology would become, but we need stories of hope and survival and community right now.

Who wouldn’t want ten different cat books?

But even beyond my obviously biased favorite, this book bundle is a great value. You get ten different ebooks that feature cats, in a variety of genres, touching on romance, mystery, speculative fiction, and straight contemporary fiction. If you forgot to stock up on books before life turned topsy turvy, this would be an easy way to get new reading material into your hands without having to wait for shipping.

This bundle is just so. Many. Books. And so many cats! This is a particularly good deal if you like short stories, as seven of the ten books included are anthologies or short story collections. Sometimes, shorter fiction can be good for times when the real world is a little too high stress, since any fictional conflict will be resolved pretty quickly. But if you’d rather really sink yourself into a single world, the cat bundle still has you covered, with an entire twisted fairy tale romance trilogy, and two different murder mysteries.

Feel better about the world by contributing to charity!

The book bundle also let’s you contribute to a good cause. This bundle gives you the option to donate part of your payment to Ablegamers, a charity that helps people with disabilities to get custom controllers and other assistive hardware, so they can play video games. If there’s one thing that I hope we have all learned from the current pandemic, it’s that video games and other forms of entertainment are necessary outlets for mental health. Videogames can also be powerful tools to combat social isolation. Those of us who are able-bodied are only going to be isolated for a limited time, but many people with disabilities are curtailed in their freedom of movement and access to entertainment on a regular basis, and deserve access to the same tools that the able-bodied are using right now.

With the world falling apart, we all need hope and entertainment more than ever. Cat videos are great, but fairly brief. If you need relief that lasts longer than a thirty second cat gif, check out the cat story bundle for longer lasting relief! But act quickly, because this bundle is only available until April 14.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Life in the Time of COVID-19

April 1 question – The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

I almost don’t know how to answer this question. How is my world in the time of COVID-19? In many ways, it’s unchanged. My husband and I already worked from home, and I don’t have kids who are suddenly underfoot and trying to adjust to huge changes. Our recreational activities are curtailed – no more meeting at coffee shops to write with friends for me, and no more long-sword class for my husband – but the basic meat of our lives remains unchanged on the surface. I know that I am incredibly lucky for that.

But life is much more than the surface, isn’t it?

It turns out that I really, really need social contact and external obligations in order to function. My mental health has taken a swift turn for the worse, which particularly sucks because I feel like I only just got onto even footing with that a few months ago. So I find myself mourning that progress, and worried about what it will take to regain it.

I’m frightened. I’m afraid of what will happen if America in general (and Boston in particular, since that’s where I live) does not take this threat seriously. We could lose a lot of lives. I try not to think about that, but the awareness is still there.

I hope that we can use this crisis to build a better society, one where we value people over profit, but I’m terrified that we won’t. I certainly don’t know how to make that happen. I’m looking to see what small steps I can take to create the world I want to see, but it’s hard. That’s nothing new.

But life carries on! I’m checking in with friends and baking. I go for walks and I snuggle my cat, who is finally living her dream of constant human companionship. I’m knitting and reading and getting some writing done.

I even have exciting writing news! I’ll write a dedicated blog post about it soon enough, but I have a short story published in a new anthology, Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse, which has launched as part of a cat-themed story bundle! That runs until April 15, 2020. So if you need cat breaks, you can get ten different cat books, including Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse. I feel a little weird about doing self promotion right now, but I know that I have been craving light reading, so I assume that others are, as well. Cat books might just scratch that itch, so I figure it’s a public service at this point.

I know that I am very lucky to be able to weather this story in comfort and safety. I hope that everyone reading this is doing alright.

Good Lunar Tidings

July 30 started like any other day. I brewed a cup of tea and checked my email on my phone, skimming through newsletters and staring out the window. I saw a response to a story I’d submitted. “Ah, another entry for my folder of story rejections,” I thought, as I clicked the link.

Gentle readers, it was not rejection. It was an acceptance. And thus, my short story, “Tell the Moon Your Troubles,” was published at Enchanted Conversation Magazine this month.

It makes sense that this, of all the possibilities, is my first published work of fiction. I’ve always felt an emotional connection to the moon. Looking up at her in the sky fills me with peace and a sense of companionship that has helped me through some rough moments in my life, and of course forms the emotional core of this brief story, even if Leah’s problems are very different from my own. I hope this story will inspire someone else to look up at night and feel less alone, too.