Huntress now available for pre-order!

Huntress smallMy upcoming ebook Huntress is now available for pre-order in epub format!

If that title sounds a bit familiar, yes, the ebook includes my novella “Huntress” that was originally published in the anthology Five Fortunes — but it also includes three new short stories set in the same world. (I’ll be sending out a preview of one of those new stories to my mailing list later this week.)

You can now pre-order Huntress on iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.  Release date is September 15, but if you pre-order, you’ll be getting the special $2.99 pre-order price. (After release, the ebook’s price will be at least $3.99.)

If you need Kindle format, don’t worry, you won’t miss out — pre-orders at Amazon are planned for early September, and the best way to keep up to date on that is to join my mailing list. I’ll be sending out an email there as soon as the book’s available on Amazon. (My mailing list is always the best way to keep up with all my new stuff, exclusive fiction, giveaways, appearances, and whatever else I come up with to share — plus, it’s free!)

Blurbage:

All her life, the young lioness Leya has dreamed of becoming one of the karanja, the proud huntresses of her people. But there’s more to being karanja than just learning to throw a spear. Life among their tents means giving up family, safety — even love. How much is Leya willing to sacrifice for a place in the sisterhood? Does she truly have the heart of a huntress?

Author Renee Carter Hall takes readers into the veld for this coming-of-age anthropomorphic fantasy for teens and adults. This ebook includes the novella “Huntress” (nominated in the 2014 Ursa Major Awards and Coyotl Awards), as well as three brand-new short stories set in the same world.

And if you’d like a sample, you can read the opening of the original novella at my website:

http://www.reneecarterhall.com/huntress.html

 

Two recent publications…

Two new story publications to highlight today, both of which feature anthropomorphic characters and have themes of discovery and exploration, though they’re pretty different in terms of character and tone.

The first is “Tesla Mae and the Lost Tribe,” written for the furry anthology PULP! Two-Pawed Tales of Adventure. A taste of the opening:

The island was not supposed to be there.

pulp coverTesla Mae squinted at her charts, checked her compass, double-checked her course, and looked once more out the front window of her airship’s gondola. Ahead, just a green smudge on the blinding blue horizon, was an island where nothing but open water should have been. She could even smell it, for Pete’s sake; her canine nose picked up the scent of trees and maybe a hint of smoke amid the endless salt.

She went back to her maps, muttering softly. She often talked to herself on these long voyages, mainly by way of the fact that there wasn’t anyone else on board to talk to. She’d tried various crewmates and navigators, but all of them had rubbed her the wrong way or spent too much time in the speakeasies or had just been plain fools, so she’d figured she was better off by herself.

Her mother had been horrified at the thought of her gallivanting all over creation alone—which, to her mind, meant “unchaperoned”—whether you were flying over open water or just going to a movie house. Unladylike, regardless of the danger. Her mother was quite proud of her purebred English foxhound heritage, though when she’d married a man with a little Irish setter in the line and a whole lot of other things besides, her only child wound up a floppy-eared, molasses-colored mutt. Not that her mother would ever use such a word. “Even a mixed-breed,” she always reminded Tess, “can be a lady.”

But her father had understood, as he always did. It was the Professor, as she called him, who’d named her after his favorite inventor, though her mother had insisted on the “Mae.” He’d simply installed the latest radio system, made her promise to write as often as she could when out of range, and helped her secure provisions before every voyage. She wished he could have come with her, but even if he’d been able to leave her mother, one didn’t walk away from one of the most prestigious universities in the country to go … well, gallivanting around.

This particular trip was her longest yet, and she’d planned it very carefully, down to the last mile, the last ounce of fuel, and the last cracker and bologna sausage. It was her first trip that involved being out of sight of land for the majority of the voyage, and out of radio contact for a good portion. And no one—man or woman, she thought with satisfaction—had made it solo before.

At least, not yet.

“Tesla Mae and the Lost Tribe” is something of a tribute to a couple of my favorite film franchises — Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park. It’s got Tess and her airship, talking raptors, a volcano — really, what else do you need in fiction? Published and sold by Rabbit Valley.

For something a bit more serious, here’s the opening of “Signal,” published in STRAEON 1: Malady Fare

straeon cover mediumIt was Jak who found the thing. That didn’t surprise anyone in the least, since he was always stuffing his den with anything unusual: a pebble glinting with mica, a particularly bright maple leaf, two acorn caps joined at the stem, a withered chrysalis. The rakuun expected such behavior in kits, who couldn’t keep their eager little paws off anything whether it was useful or edible or not, but one expected more sense from him now that he was considered an adult and had a den of his own.

The nursing sows all shook their heads whenever he showed off his newest find. He would never find a mate that way, they said. A shame, really. He was young and might father strong kits, but what female would risk her children inheriting such an odd habit?

Jak had been searching for acorns when he saw an unusual glint of light in the dirt. True to form, the acorns were instantly forgotten, and his nimble fingers scraped the packed soil and leaf litter away. He thought at first it might be a black rock, but once it was free, it wasn’t like any rock he’d ever seen.

He turned the thing in his paws, watching how the sunlight bounced off its surface. It was shinier than a beetle’s shell. He put it in his mouth and nibbled experimentally, but it didn’t taste like much of anything except for the earth it had been in. It did make an interesting sound against his teeth, though.

Then he realized the thing opened like a mussel shell, hinged on one side. He pried it open carefully, hoping for a morsel of chewy meat inside, but instead there was a segmented pad like the underside of a turtle, with strange little spots in each section. He pressed the sections and found them slightly spongy.

Was it a shell? He sniffed and pried and poked, but nothing came out. Perhaps the living thing inside had died long ago.

Jak had no idea what it was–except that it was, without a doubt, the best thing he had ever found.

The novella “Signal” is set in a posthuman Earth, vaguely inspired by the Life After People series that aired several years ago. That human artifact Jak has found leads to visions, but he begins to wonder if he’s seeing the humans’ past, or his people’s future — and more importantly, whether his mind will survive the connection.

As always, it’s especially nice to be part of the launch of a new publication. You can purchase STRAEON 1 in ebook format from Amazon.com (other countries’ links are here). And of course, if you pick up either PULP! or STRAEON, reviews at the seller’s site are always greatly appreciated!

 

Now available: “Wishing Season: Holiday Tales of Whimsy and Wonder”

WishingAs Frosty would put it, “Happy birthday!” My newest ebook Wishing Season: Holiday Tales of Whimsy and Wonder is now available at Amazon and Smashwords (coming soon to B&N, iBooks, and other online retailers via Smashwords).

Wishing Season is a collection of seven short stories with a holiday theme, including two that have never before been published — the fable “The First Winter” and the tale of “Santa’s Summer Vacation” (hint: it doesn’t go as planned). It’s about 26K words — or about 88 pages, according to whatever sorcery Amazon uses to figure that — and will run you about the same cost as your peppermint mocha.* **

“The Gingerbread Reindeer” – When Santa finds himself one reindeer short for the Christmas run, the frost-elf Boreas enchants a replacement. But there’s more than elf-magic being worked, and when an ancient foe threatens them all, the gingerbread reindeer finds he’s made of more than just flour and sugar.

“Special Delivery” – It’s Christmas Eve, and Phillip Cottington–a.k.a. the Easter Bunny–is already planning for spring. But when a letter intended for Santa gets delivered to him instead, Phillip has to make sure it gets through in time.

“Holly’s Jolly Christmas” – All the young reindeer Holly dreams of is to be part of Santa’s team, but no one will give her the chance–until a child’s letter starts her on a path that will take her places she never imagined.

“An Older World” – Jakob the toymaker lives in a world of grief, until a special toy gives him a chance at a new life.

“The First Winter” – A mother bear tells her cubs the story of how First Bear defeated Death.

“Nativity” – An orphaned girl finds an unusual place to belong.

“Santa’s Summer Vacation” – By order of Mrs. Claus, Santa and his head elf Fussbudget travel to the magical island of Serendipity to relax on the beach. But Maelstrom, evil King of the Eighth Sea, has other plans for Santa.

Buy Wishing Season at Amazon (Kindle format, of course)
Buy Wishing Season at Smashwords (all ebook formats)

 

*I don’t know why specialty coffee is the standard cost comparison, much in the way a Big Mac is the standard unit of measurement for how bad some particular food is for you. I’m just a writer; I don’t make the rules.
** (Homer Simpson voice) Mmm, peppermint mocha…

 

Coming soon: “Wishing Season”

WishingI’m getting together a new short story collection for the holiday season, available soon as an ebook from Amazon and Smashwords! Wishing Season: Holiday Tales of Whimsy and Wonder will feature several previously published stories, including “The Gingerbread Reindeer” (first published in audio form in the Anthro Dreams podcast), “Nativity” (runner-up in one of Women on Writing‘s flash fiction contests), and more, as well as two brand-new stories — the fable of “The First Winter” and the tale of “Santa’s Summer Vacation.” Various real-life issues have delayed it a bit, but (fingers crossed and Christmas wishes) I’m hoping to have it all ready for release by next weekend. Watch this space!

Now on Kickstarter – Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things

Didn’t mean to be so long between posts — it’s been a busy summer and fall — and I’ll be back very soon with some updates of my own. Right now, though, I want to help spread the word about a new literary journal of stories and poetry, aimed particularly at young writers and readers ages 10-18.

ember titleIt’s called Ember, and in addition to just plain looking like a gorgeous publication with a worthy purpose, they’re also planning to reprint my story “The Frog Who Swallowed the Moon” in their spring 2015 issue (after it appears first in their sister publication Spark: A Creative Anthology).

They’ve commissioned beautiful cover art for the spring issue, inspired by my story. (I’ve already pledged to get a print of it.) 🙂 Please have a look at their Kickstarter campaign and contribute if you can:

https://www.kickstarter.com/project…..uminous-things

 

“Huntress” in Five Fortunes

fivefortunesmed

The first time she’d seen them, she had been very young, but she hadn’t been afraid. The other cubs, male and female alike, had hidden behind their mothers, frightened by the huntresses’ fierce eyes and sharp weapons. Where the villagers wore beads or stones, the karanja sported necklaces of bone and hoof and claw, and their loincloths were made of zebra hide in deference to Kamara’s first kill, a material only they were permitted to wear. They were all mesmerizing, exotic and dangerous and beautiful, their eyeshine flashing like lightning-strikes as they took their places around the fire.

-from “Huntress”

The furry anthology Five Fortunes, containing five new novellas from five authors, is now available for pre-order from the publisher!

My contribution, “Huntress,” follows the young anthro lioness Leya as she struggles to become one of her tribe’s warrior women and yet begins to question if it’s truly what she wants. It’s part coming of age, part romance, very much a character-based story, and it’s also kind of my personal rebuttal to the furry fiction that often includes female characters tangentially or not at all. Writing “Huntress” was an emotional experience and a learning experience, both in terms of craft (for one thing, understanding at a gut level the difference between a short story scene and a novel scene) and in terms of challenging myself to complete something on a tight schedule but still to the highest degree of quality I was capable of. I consider it a great success, and while I know I can’t control how it will be received, I hope it finds some sympathetic readers.

The other works included are “Chosen People” by Phil Geusz, set in his Book of Lapism world; “Going Concerns” by Watts Martin, set in his Ranea world; “When a Cat Loves a Dog” by Mary E. Lowd, set in her Otters in Space world; and “Piece of Mind” by Bernard Doove, set in his Chakat Universe. (Yeah, mine is the only one that isn’t written in a storyverse I’d previously created. But you never know — I might return to Leya’s homeland someday for another story or two.)

Pre-order Five Fortunes at FurPlanet.

Fictionvale Episode 1!

fictionvale-ep-1There’s always something kind of special about having the chance to be in a publication’s first issue, and this one’s no exception. Fictionvale, a new short story magazine, debuts today, and I’m proud to say it includes my story “The Claw in Her Heart.”

“Claw” is something of a dark take on the ‘portal fantasy’ genre (Narnia, etc.). But in this particular fantasy world, a brother and sister find out that those talking animals might not be telling them everything — and all their magical adventures might hide a darker purpose.

Fictionvale is a digital magazine, with each episode (or issue, in less imaginative terms) published as an ebook. You can get the Kindle version direct from Amazon, or you can buy epub, Kindle, and PDF versions direct from the Fictionvale site (using PayPal). This first episode is a genre free-for-all, but future ones will narrow things down to one or two. Episode 2 will be devoted to science fiction and Westerns (and mashups thereof), and Episode 3 will be alternate history.

(Want to know more about Fictionvale and those behind it? Check out “Who Are We?” And to find out more about the people behind those names on the cover, Meet the Episode 1 Authors! Because we’re awesome.)

One month on…

Well, By Sword and Star has now been available for just over a month. Unfortunately, sales so far have been slower than I hoped for (yeah, I know this is the sort of thing that authors probably aren’t supposed to mention in their blogs), but I’ll be putting an ad up on FurAffinity soon, which tend to get a good amount of traffic according to the stats, and the first four chapters of the book are now in audio form via the Anthro Dreams podcast, so my publisher and I are hoping that’ll snag it a little more attention from its target audience. On the brighter side, I did also finally get my first reader review on Amazon (which was also cross-posted to Goodreads), and — besides, of course, being pleased that it was positive — I know that’ll help potential readers decide if it’s something worth picking up.

In non-book-related writing news, I did recently get a short story acceptance from the UK-based horror magazine Black Static, which will publish my story “Horseman” in their next issue if everything works out. (I believe this will have the distinction of being my first short story sale in foreign currency.) “Horseman” was originally accepted to an anthology that folded, so it’s good to have a home for it again — especially one that Ellen Datlow apparently once called “the most consistently excellent horror magazine published.” This is particularly interesting considering that I’ve never really thought of myself as a horror writer, as much as I often enjoy reading the genre — but in the end, I’ll let the readers decide if the story qualifies as horror, dark fantasy, whatever. *shrug*

I’m also working on a rewrite of another short story for a pro-level market, one I’m really really really keeping my fingers crossed about, but we’ll see.

At this point, my writing time seems to mostly be about trying to find some kind of balance — between time spent promoting By Sword and Star and time spent writing, deciding which project (out of several) to work on next, and figuring out how much I should concentrate on promoting By Sword and Star to the furry fandom (which is, after all, the audience I was writing it for, from the very first draft), and how much I dare to strike out and try to promote it elsewhere, even at the risk of people not getting the whole talking-animal-people thing and/or ripping the thing to shreds. It’s been stressful at times lately, but I’m hoping it’ll all pay off in the end, in one way or another.

I did have one fun experience last Friday, that I’ll close with… I was browsing in Barnes & Noble and found myself in front of the science fiction/fantasy anthology section — and there on the shelf was a copy of Bewere the Night, with my story “Swear Not By the Moon” inside. So far, that’s only the second time my work has been published in something that you could actually walk into a bookstore and pick up, so it was kind of nice to stand there in B&N and open the book up to page 302 and see the story that I remembered scribbling down in a notebook a couple years ago. 🙂 If the brick-and-mortar bookstores survive, maybe one of these days I’ll still get to have that experience with a book of my own instead of just a short story in an anthology.

In the meantime, though, I have a rewrite to get to…

By Sword and Star now available from Anthro Dreams

It’s official! My anthropomorphic fantasy novel By Sword and Star is now available from Anthro Dreams. More info and ordering links:

http://www.anthrodreams.com/wordpress/2012/03/20/by-sword-and-star/

Many, many thanks to my editor Will Sanborn, book designer Jessie Tracer, and cover artist Sara Miles for all their hard work in getting this published.

The first four chapters can be read on my website.

And if you’re on Goodreads, so is the book. 🙂 I’m planning on doing two giveaways of free signed copies via Goodreads, so keep an eye out for those in the coming weeks.

I’ll have a lot more introspective stuff to say about all of this later on over the next couple days, but for the moment I’m still running around the Internet making announcements. 🙂 (Retweets, reposts, suggestions of possible review venues, and general signal boosting are all very much appreciated, since I have a rather limited marketing budget.)

Updates and announcements

Or, “what I did over the rest of the summer.” 🙂

July and August wound up being pretty busy for me. I moved from part-time work to full-time at the end of June, and that took a bit of adjustment to get my rhythm back as far as reshuffling my free time for writing.

In August, I got a chance to see a short story of mine adapted into graphic novel format. “The Wishing Tree” is the story of a raccoon who plays a trick on two hunting hounds–and winds up getting a surprise himself–and it was first published in the summer 2008 issue of New Fables. Earlier this year, artist Jennifer Fromm (“Nimrais”) put out a call for possible stories to adapt for her final project for college (a short graphic novel), and I was honored when she chose “The Wishing Tree.” It was only printed in a limited hardcover run, but you can see a few sample pages from it on her sketch blog. (You can also find her website here, though I can’t see it because Norton keeps blocking it as a malicious website. Not sure what’s up with that, but she also sells prints of her artwork here.)

Camp NaNoWriMo kept me busy during August, as I cranked out 50K words in 26 days on a novel called The Second Life of Bartholomew T. Lion, a story taking place in a world populated entirely by cast-off toys. The draft isn’t quite complete yet, since I’m letting it sit for a while as I figure out what’s supposed to happen. (The draft I wound up with was much rougher than I’m used to, but there was a nice freedom in that.) Bartholomew is going to take a lot of rewriting and refining before I even get to the beta-reading stage, but I’m excited about its potential. It feels like the sort of story that only I could write, and that makes it a lot of fun, even knowing all the work that’s still to come.

September brings an announcement I’ve waited several months to make: my first novel, By Sword and Star, is slated for release late this year by Anthropomorphic Dreams Publishing. It’s a medieval fantasy with a bit of a twist, in that all the characters are anthropomorphic animals–the main character, Tiran, is a bipedal unicorn. (Think Redwall, but written with more of an adult audience in mind.)

The blurb:

Prince Tiran of Silverglen may be heir to the throne of all Asteria, but he’s always felt more at home among the villagers, no matter how many lectures he gets from his father. But when the elk-lord Roden slaughters the royal family and claims the throne, only Tiran is left to avenge their deaths and take his place as the rightful king. His journey will lead him from the shadowed heart of his forest home into the treetops with the squirrel-clan of the Drays, across the western plains, and among the mysterious and deadly wolves of the Northern Reach. With his allies’ help, Tiran must become the king his people need him to be–or risk fulfilling an ancient prophecy that will spell the end of Asteria itself.

Anthro Dreams is noted for their furry fiction podcast and also for the Different Worlds, Different Skins anthologies. They’ve published/reprinted a number of my short stories in one format or another, and I’m pleased to have them putting out my first novel-length work. At this point, it’s still too early for an exact release date, but we’re hoping for November or December. Watch this space for updates.

And in other news, I have tickets to see Stephen King accept the Mason Award next Friday night, as part of this year’s Fall for the Book festival. Better yet, I wound up getting one of the randomly awarded “golden tickets” for his book signing, so I’m pretty excited about that. 😀

Next month, I’ll start planning for NaNoWriMo in November. I’d like to get another book’s first draft knocked out before I close out the year and go back to short stories/novellas for a while. I’m also planning to get another Smashwords release out in the next several months, but we’ll see how it goes. There’s always something to work on, at least. I never have to worry about running out of ideas. 🙂