Celebrating the Equinox (an excerpt from The Copper Scarab)

The autumn is upon us, and it’s time to celebrate the harvest and wave goodbye to summer ~sniff~. I try to mark the quarter days (equinoxes and solstices) with something special. And there is stuff to celebrate! Those of you who backed the Sunspot Jungle Kickstarter should be getting your hardback copies of the book very soon! The paperback and eBook editions will be out on December 1 (and are already up for pre-order!).

I have a story in volume 1, a reprint of my Pyramids and Punk tale The Copper Scarab. When I was writing it I had this vision of how I wanted the last section of the story to go. I knew the sphinx at Giza would be involved, but needed some other element to make it all click. I went poking through all my research files and found an article I’d saved talking about the connection between the sphinx and the eastern horizon and the timing of the inundation of the Nile (which is a plot point in the story) and everything fell right together into this passage below.

This is from the last section of the story but does not include the end. It’s minorly spoilery, but I doubt the reading of it would be “ruined” for you if you read this.

Excerpt: The Copper Scarab

In the darkness before dawn on the equinox, Khemetans who came from across the delta and White Fortress region gathered around the base of the Great Lioness. Their voices quiet, reverent; their bodies newly wet with water from the still anemic Nile. They sat with eyes trained on the eastern horizon. Like the giant stone Lion of the Horizon, their faces would greet the dawn directly on the day marking the beginning of the harvest season. Most of them tried not to think about how poor that harvest would be this year, just as last year, and possibly all the years to come. Instead, they waited for the life-giving rays of the sun to warm their skin and remind them of the first eternal truth: Everything changes, but the dawn always comes.

Half a shade after the sun disk pushed fully over the horizon, the Lioness seemed, impossibly, to shudder. Sounds emerged from under the ground that ricocheted around the still quiet crowd–vibrations that didn’t make sense.

They had begun to murmur when the copper scarab emerged from the sand between the stone paws, hissing and clicking and gleaming in the sunlight. The people’s silence held for one breath, two, before everyone reacted at once. Amatashteret watched from a short distance as some scrambled away in fear, some fell to their knees in shock or in reverence, and some ran to get a closer look. The engineers surrounded the scarab, lifting the copper wings to the right position and ensuring the steam pressure stayed at the right level. Once they gave the ready signal, she and the other chariot riders rolled past the machine, heading into the desert and upriver toward the capital.


Pre-order Sunspot Jungle to read the whole story.

Pyramids and Punk DVD Extras

Background Sketch: Sitamun 1 – DVD Extras [Sneak A Peek Patrons Only]

Now that I’m moving into Section 3 of the book Sitamun, Ibi’s mom, is about to be on screen more. So I’m writing out some key interactions between her and Ziwat to give myself more context for the dramaaaaaaaaa that’s about to take place.

If you want to see the other background scenes leading up to this I now have navigation at the bottom of this and other DVD Extras posts so you can easily find them.

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Patrons on the Sneak A Peek level, click here to read the scene (you’ll need the password). Not a patron yet? You can read the rest of this piece and all the ones that came before by becoming one of my supporters on Patreon. Just click the orange banner above.

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Tempest Challenge – Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente [Patrons Only]

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The second Tempest Challenge book this month is Space Opera!

Click here to watch the video if you’re a patron on the Tempest Challenge level or higher (you’ll need the password). Not a patron yet? You can get access to this and other content by becoming one of my supporters on Patreon. Just click the orange banner above.

Originality 22: I Am Hugely Motivated by Spite with Kelly Sue DeConnick

Originality 22: “I Am Hugely Motivated by Spite” with Kelly Sue DeConnick

For this episode I got to interview Kelly Sue DeConnick, writer of the Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly comics, among many others. We talked a good deal about collaboration, especially in the world of comics, but my favorite bits are where she talks about the creative tools she learned while working in television and how she brought them over to her comics process. And, as the title indicates, we talked about how spite can be a good motivator for creating amazing art. Aleen and I had a great conversation around these and other aspects of the interview, and you should listen to the episode to hear it all :)

You can listen to the podcast below or on the episode page where you can see the show notes. Comments are always welcome!

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Goth Rose

Story Notes: August Patron Fiction

Sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected places.

Earlier this week I took an out of town friend up to the International Rose Test Garden here in Portland. In the Shakespeare Garden area we sat to chill and my friend, Shveta Thakrar, read to me from a book of faerie stories.

One of the stories she read was The Lothian Farmer’s Wife, a tale I hadn’t heard before.

The wife of a farmer in Lothian had been carried off by the fairies, and, during the year of probation, repeatedly appeared on Sunday, in the midst of her children, combing their hair. On one of these occasions she was accosted by her husband; when she related to him the unfortunate event which had separated them, instructed him by what means he might win her, and exhorted him to exert all his courage, since her temporal and eternal happiness depended on the success of his attempt. The farmer, who ardently loved his wife, set out on Hallowe’en, and, in the midst of a plot of furze, waited impatiently for the procession of the fairies. At the ringing of the fairy bridles, and the wild, unearthly sound which accompanied the cavalcade, his heart failed him, and he suffered the ghostly train to pass by without interruption. When the last had rode past, the whole troop vanished, with loud shouts of laughter and exultation; among which he plainly discovered the voice of his wife, lamenting that he had lost her for ever.

When she finished I said: “It’s a reverse gender Tam Lin except, when a man has to do the bold brave thing, he fails. This is why men ain’t shit.” And we had a hearty laugh.

Then I kept thinking about the story, and about Tam Lin, and about how I have never thought that dude was all that great despite really loving some arrangements of the ballad, such as my favorite one by S.J. Tucker[1]:

The more I thought about how the people in this story might have known the people from the Tam Lin ballad and how Tam was probably not the best husband a Janet could ask for, the more I started to spin a backstory on why the wife got taken and then the first draft of this month’s microfiction poured right out of me.

It is, as some of you are aware, not all that micro! It’ll likely get a bit shorter once I polish it and send it out into the world for publication. Patreon patrons get to read it right now.

Footnotes

  1. P.S. You can buy the studio version of this track, which is excellent, on Sooj’s website []
August Microfiction and the Faerie Queen

Monthly (Not So) Microficition – August 2018 [Patrons Only]

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This story came out of nowhere for me. There’s a post on the blog about what inspired it, if you’re interested. I plan to send this off to some beta readers and polish it up. If you have thoughts on it, please don’t be shy about letting me know.

The Farmer’s Wife and the Faerie Queen

Once, long ago and in a faraway place, there was a farmer who lived what he thought was the perfect life. He had a beautiful wife, a strong son, and a dutiful daughter. He had abundant crops, enough food to eat and to sell, and lived in the most bountiful valley in the county. He had everything he wanted and no complaints. Until the day the Queen of the Faeries came to town.

To read the rest of this story, become a patron on Patreon! If you’re already a patron, click here, then enter the password. Not a patron yet? You can get access to this and other content by becoming one of my supporters on Patreon. Just click the orange banner above.

Onyx Pages booktube

Watch My Interview on the ONYX Pages Booktube Channel

Back at WisCon I met a wonderful Canadian booktuber named Njeri whose YouTube reviews of books and interviews with authors are a delight. You should definitely subscribe after you finish watching this interview she did with me. She got me talking about social justice and art, spirituality and the role of the artist, Black Panther, Afrofuturism, and my own work.

Cultural Appropriation What It Is and How To Avoid It

New Webinar: Cultural Appropriation – What It Is & How To Avoid It

My next class for Writing the Other is a one day webinar on Cultural Appropriation. A topic that continues to be fraught and also continues to attract opinions on the subject that are wrong-headed, maddening, and just plain dangerous. Hopefully this class will alleviate some of those problems.


When: September 9, 11AM – 2PM Eastern (Click to see when this happens in your time zone)
Where: Online via Zoom meeting  (video only registration option available)
Price: $50

Most writers want to avoid Cultural Appropriation but worry that they don’t fully understand what it is or how to ensure their work does not include it. They wonder what the difference is between appropriation and exchange or between appropriation and influence. And they hope avoiding cultural appropriation doesn’t mean only writing stories about people from their same race, culture, or ethnic group.

In this 3 hour webinar, authors Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford will offer concrete answers to those questions and a set of resources to help authors navigate these tricky waters. The webinar includes two short lectures and a lengthy Q&A.

For all the details, including information on scholarships, or to register, go to WritingtheOther.com.