Jingle Spells, award recs, and more

Hi subscribers! Lovely to see you here - and a particular welcome to those of you who are new to this newsletter. It’s been a busy writing month for me, trying to finish the first draft of my science fiction novel Carnival while also making a start on the third in the Windflower series (it’s called Alpaca and Apparitions! you’re gonna love it!).

I have a few things in the newsletter today, so please keep reading for a free ebook and some recommendations.

First up: it’s a freebie! Most of you will be aware of the Witchy Fiction project - a group collection of novellas set around Aotearoa featuring witch protagonists and a dash of romance. A few of us wrote short stories about what our characters got up to a Christmas, and collected them into a little anthology called Jingle Spells.

Jingle Spells is free on Kindle just for a few more days. Please head over and grab your copy even if you prefer to save it to read next Christmas - it’s a great taster of work by seven New Zealand writers.

I previously gave some novella and novel recommendations, which I hope you got a chance to have a look at - and maybe found something you loved among them. I’m running a bit late here, but I have a few all over the place recommendations and Hugo and Sir Julius Vogel award nominations are still open so…

Laya Rose* (Laya Mutton-Rogers) 110% deserves to be on the Hugo Fan Art shortlist. Her art is gorgeous and filled with a fannish generosity and enthusiasm; I’ve had the privileged of commissioning a couple of pieces of work from her and she was a delight to work with. She makes an effort to depict marginalised characters in a way that reflects not tokenism but genuine excitement and joyousness. She made the longlist last time, and I believe we can push her one better this time.

I read Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delights* too late for my novel post, but I would recommend sneaking it into youth novel sections - and Chloe into new writer categories. TVD is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920’s Shanghai, and has one hell of an aesthetic and historical positioning.

Also for best newbie awards - I’m not sure about their eligibility for the Hugos but HG Parry* (author of A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians) and AJ Lancaster* (author of the Stariel series) are definitely going to be on my Best New Talent list for the SJVs.

I didn’t read nearly as much short fiction from 2020 as I’d have liked, partly because I was busy catching up on 2019 short fiction and partly because 2020 was… well, a bit 2020. However, I loved:

There are SO MANY good contenders for best fan writing. I’d suggest considering Charles Payseur who writes SO MANY reviews even after stepping back a bit, Maria Haskins for her passionate promotion of short fiction and Sandstone for her work distilling and collecting academic and historic works. Please also consider Nibedita Sen for Best Related Work for her essay Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Excellenceand Alexander Stronach* for “Aotearoa is not Middle-Earth”.

Lastly, while the Hugos (disappointingly) has no good category for collected work as far as I can tell, the Sir Julius Vogel Awards do, and both Cinrak the Dapper by AJ Fitzwater* (dapper lesbian capybara pirate hell yeah) and Ghost Bus by Anna Kirtlan* (weird shit happens in Wellington because it does) are fucking delights and deserve to be on the ballot.

*asterisks indicate NZ authors and thus eligibility for the Sir Julius Vogel awards.

(Disclaimer: I’ve seen Laya’s art mostly online but have commissioned her work in the past. I borrowed These Violent Delights from a friend, bought my own copies of HG Parry and AJ Lancaster’s work, along with copies of Cinrak the Dapper and Ghost Bus. I read the short stories and article mentioned free online. I back Charles and Sandstone’s Patreons.

You can assume I know many of these people and am friends with some, but I have no financial interest in their work other than stated.)

Honestly everything here is a fraction of what I’ve loved, and I don’t have a perfect process either. Assume it’s a slice of my mind, not definitive, and definitely don’t assume I didn’t like things that didn’t make it here.

Last things: in case you missed it, my short story “I Will Teach You Magic” is still free to read in Cossmass Infinities. And if you haven’t yet had the chance to download my freebie witchy short for newsletter subscribers, you can do that here.