I’m thrilled to announce that my 4,100-word cozy fantasy story “Epilogue” appears in the inaugural issue of Wyngraf Magazine! It features eldritch wine, delicious leftovers, reminiscence, glimmers of magic, and long-overdue kissing.
Have you ever been so immersed in an epic fantasy world that you never wanted the story to end? Because ending meant a return to the ordinary world, without magic, without purpose written in prophecy, without thrilling possibility? What if the characters in that epic fantasy felt the same way?
In my middle-management day job, “measure what matters” (the title of a book by John Doerr) is an oft-uttered phrase. In business, “what matters” is an articulation of the real goals, the things that, if achieved, will enable the business to succeed, and if not, may cause the business to fail. You can measure a lot of things about your business, some more easily than others. And when you consider yourself to be “metrics driven,” you’d better be sure you’re driving from the right metrics, not just the most accessible ones. Choose the wrong metrics, and you can win battles but lose the war.
[EDIT: It should be “I’m a SFWA Member Now”–members pronounce it “sif-wa.” But the URL generated from the title is out in the world now, so there we are.]
I’ve always loved to write, but it was only as an adult that I became serious about it. That word, “serious,” made it weird. “Serious,” to me, meant committing to improving my craft and increasing my output. The latter goal served the former. “Commitment” meant setting up structures of internal and external accountability. I took night school classes. Wanting some tokens of accomplishment, I finished two, 2-year certificates in the Creative Writing of Fiction at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. And finally, in 2012, I submitted my first story for publication. It was rejected, and I didn’t try again until 2016. That was when I got three acceptances–and the validation to keep trying.
What I didn’t realize was that “getting serious” about something, at least in my mind, entailed shaping it into something that looks serious to others. Academic credentials. Product. Revenue. Exclusive community membership. During the dry spells, when those things didn’t come easily or at all, I made a philosophical commitment to stop distracting myself with activities that were adjacent to writing, but not actually writing. That lasted as long as my next set of completed stories, and an ego-driven impulse to see if I could sell them. One sold, and I was back on my bullshit.
Wyngraf, a new magazine of cozy fantasy fiction, has released the story lineup for its inaugural issue.
Cozy fantasy is having a moment. Readers are curling up with tales of community and family, featuring lush settings and low stakes. Into this growing movement comes Wyngraf, a magazine dedicated to cozy fantasy in all its forms. With the carefully curated selection of tales in its first issue, Wyngraf gives cozy fans what they’re looking for, welcomes curious new readers, and helps define the genre itself.
I’m thrilled to showcase the range of cozy fantasy in the first issue of Wyngraf. From old pros to rising stars, our writers are as diverse as their stories—the one thing they have in common is talent!
I came across this Facebook post that made a convincing argument that Mary Poppins and Pennywise the Clown (the monster from Stephen King’s It) were members of the same species. In my head, the story immediately started writing itself:
“Spin your little nightmares all you like,” Poppins said. “But I expect my charges back in their beds by 9 o’clock.” She rapped Pennywise on the head with her umbrella. “Intact, mind you.”
“Oooh,” Pennywise said, his eyes widening to the size of saucers. “And what if I took one teensy weensy BITE, Maaary? A spoonful of sugar, and all.”
I listen to a podcast called “Your Undivided Attention” by a group called The Center For Humane Technology. Their core premise is that technologists should be using technology to help people achieve their own goals instead of hacking behavioral science to addict them to devices and programs.
It made me think of the game Wordle that is sweeping through our feeds. It’s an example, I think, of Humane Technology. By limiting its play to once a day (for 5-15 minutes, usually), it resists aiming for success metrics of constant engagement. It’s not about ads. The way you share your results isn’t even a direct means of promotion–there’s no link or tracker. (It’s telling that this was created by a software developer for his girlfriend.) It succeeds by being a short, daily delight.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”
“Closing Time,” Semisonic
“There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.”
The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan
Sometimes, someone articulates an idea that has been rattling around in your brain with such simple clarity, that it unlocks a new way of looking at familiar things. That’s what Darren Mooney did in The Escapist Magazine when he said that all of The Lord of the Rings is one big ending.
Season one of Amazon Prime Video’s adaptation of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time has two episodes left. The show has departed in significant enough ways from the books that I don’t know how the season will end–and that means that it’s time for SPECULATION THAT I ALWAYS GET WRONG. That’s how I have fun with this stuff–seeing how well I can glom onto what the showrunners are doing. There will be SPOILERS for season 1, episodes 1 through 6 of Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time, and some spoilers from Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World. (This post will be updated with what I got right and wrong after the episodes air.)