RIP Chewbacca Flufferton Yant, 2008-2017

It’s taken me a few weeks to be able to write this. I haven’t been able to look at pictures until now, and even now looking at them really, really hurts. Those who have had that special companion, that animal who was more than a dependent and amiable tenant, but who was your legitimate friend–you’ll get it. Those who can put the words “just a” and “cat” together in a sentence won’t.

Meeting Chewie at the shelter, 2008

I saw him on Petfinder in early 2008 and immediately knew we were each other’s. He’d been left in the night drop at the shelter; he was probably six months old at the time. He was with me for nearly a decade, through some very shitty times and some incredibly good ones. He grew from a fairly timid and skittish kitten into an incredibly affectionate, confident, reliable friend with so much personality.

Chewie is having absolutely none of your shit. None of it.

He and Suki got along great from the start. Before the other cats came along, if I asked Suki, “Where’s the cat?” she’d eagerly bound over to him and boop him with her nose. (On the other hand, when we added Jack, our Aussie mix, to the family he made a very big show of attempting to climb the fence and run away from home. He couldn’t get over the fence, and quickly learned to ignore Jack.)

Chewie is never coming home. Not EVER. Unless he gets hungry. Or it gets damp.

When John came into our lives Chewie immediately adopted him as his own, and eventually even warmed up to all of these interloping kittens we kept bringing home. Yoda was his go-to cuddle buddy, but everyone wanted Chewie’s attention.

But human people were his favorite. He had a way of sitting on you while somehow channeling gravity to make himself heavier while he settled into a good long purr. Purring was really his default; he could purr contentedly, indignantly, furiously, or anything in between. Preferably while sitting on you and being petted.

Photo by Remy Nakamura

He also liked clothes. Our guess is that it made him feel special and more like one of us, being the only cat who got to wear clothes. He would practically strut in his walking harness.

 

Safety Officer Chewbacca Flufferton is on the case

None of these pictures really do justice to the sheer volume of cat that was Chewbacca. For scale, here he is with my daughter, who then was roughly 5’1:

On September 14 I found him on the bed, with Yoda sitting next to him looking at me like it was MY FAULT his friend wasn’t cuddling with him. He was just gone; there was no more Chewie animating all of that floof. It was totally unexpected. We’d had two other cats in and out of the vet over the previous weeks, but Chewie was fine. He was down to a good weight and perfectly healthy. Except for the part where his heart stopped and he died. I cried for fifteen hours straight (I didn’t even know that was possible) and continue to, off and on, almost a month later. I’d had the good fortune over the past few years to have forgotten what a broken heart feels like.

Chewie was one of a kind, absolutely irreplaceable, and nothing feels the same without him.

I miss you, buddy.

By Faerie Light reviewed

Nerds on Earth has reviewed the anthology By Faerie Light, in which I collaborated with Jeffrey Scott Petersen on “Blight.”

From the review:

“A township is in dire peril as a seemingly unkillable beast terrorizes and consumes their citizens. Their only hope might be a tenuous bargain with a dreaded creature of legend.

really dug the approach to this story, as a fable held the key to a possible savior for the village. Will the party believe the young child who offers it as a solution? Will they risk an alliance with one evil to defeat another? And will things go as planned…?”

I’m tickled that the reviewer called out “Blight” as potential “campaign fodder”–especially since I’m currently working on one of my own as my D&D group crawls toward the end of a six-year campaign. That forest of bone might have to make an appearance…

By Faerie Light is available for the Kindle for $4.99.

The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound

The Sum of Us final cover This week the cover for the upcoming anthology The Sum of Us was revealed! I am delighted to have my story “Things That Creep and Bind” included. The theme of the anthology, as described on the Laksa Media site:

If we believe that we are the protagonists of our lives, then caregivers—our pillars—are ghosts, the bit players, the stock characters, the secondary supports, living lives of quiet trust and toil in the shadows. Summoned to us by the profound magic of great emotional, physical, or psychological need, they play their roles, and when our need diminishes . . .

Fade.

These are their stories.

The book will be available in September 2017. More information, including the complete Table of Contents, can be found here.

A Hopeful New Year

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I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a new year with quite this much uncertainty before. It’s hard to imagine what the world is going to look like a few months from now. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been focusing inward lately, on the things I can control: on home and family; growing, making, and preserving food; trading social media for video chat and hand-written letters; canceling professional travel engagements and planning family trips instead.

And getting back to writing. In 2016 I finished and sold a short story for the first time in three years: “Things That Creep and Bind” will appear in The Sum of Us, edited by Susan Forest and Lucas Law, in mid-2017. I was thinking of my grandparents when I wrote it, about their struggles caring for my mother in her illness. Those memories also brought up things that I learned from them about home-making, frugality, and self-sufficiency under adverse conditions, things that I’m finally learning to apply.

2017 will also see the publication of my first two comics issues: Pet Noir #3, co-written by Pati Nagel and myself, and Pet Noir #4, my first solo script. Both were capably edited by Kymera Press founder Debbie Lynn Smith.

As 2016 grinds to a close, there are still so many things waiting to be created, whether they’re books or stories or comics or gardens or events or any other form of art, craft, or expression. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that I can’t find it in me to greet the new year joyfully this time, to ring it in with champagne and cheers. So I’ll see it in quietly instead, with hope, creativity, and effort.

Here’s wishing you and yours a safe, healthy, creative and hopeful New Year.

 

Now on Kickstarter: Strange California

Editors Jaym Gates and J. Daniel Batt are Kickstarting a new anthology of speculative fiction that I am super excited about, Strange California.

Strange California is 26 tales of strangeness, lavishly illustrated, that will pull you into another world, a world where migrant girls stand up to witches who live in orange groves, where trickster magpies try to steal souls from Russian sisters in the early days of Fort Bragg, where water is both currency and predator, and Gold Rush-era ghosts wander the streets of San Francisco alongside panther ladies.” (From the Kickstarter page.)

If it funds, it will include a story of mine set in Temperance, the fictionalized version of my hometown that originally appeared in Fireside #1, fifty years after the events that established the Temperance Society for Historical Preservation.

We’re about a third of the way to our goal of $14,000, which will pay for the content and production of this lavishly illustrated anthology of West Coast Weird.

And check out this line-up you’ll be making happen:

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Back the Kickstarter if you can, and help us spread the word!

Dusting off the old blog

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And wow, was this thing ever dusty.

A bit has happened since my last post: that’s a British Fantasy Award (Best Anthology: Women Destroy Science Fiction!) and a Hugo Award (Semiprozine: Lightspeed) in that picture, respectively. The BFA actually only arrived a few weeks ago, having been mislaid somewhere on the other side of the Atlantic for a while. It is a very strange feeling, even months later (in the case of the Hugo), to look up and see those there with my name on them. I’m so grateful to all of the people who supported WDSF!, and those who chose to honor it this way.

In other news, I’ve started working for all-women independent comics press  Kymera Press as both a writer and editor–I’m editing two titles and writing one. Without hyperbole, this is a dream come true: my original career goal when I started writing was to write comics. I took a detour into short fiction to hone my storytelling skills, and somehow never made it back until now. Comics by nature have a lot of moving parts, and my roles fall right at the start of the pipeline, so it’ll be a little while before the issues I’ve worked on make their way to the masses. I’ll post updates here when I have them!

WDSF is a British Fantasy Award nominee!

At 9:00 a.m. GMT (1:00 a.m. PDT) it was announced that Women Destroy Science Fiction! has been nominated for the British Fantasy Award in the Best Anthology category.
Nice way to start a Tuesday!
Nice way to start a Tuesday!

The full list of nominees can be found here:

The BFA is a juried award. The results will be announced at FantasyCon 2015 in Nottingham, U.K., on October 25.

Every time I think WDSF! has done all it can do, it goes and does more.

Congratulations to each and every one of our amazing contributors. You earned this.