Jan 27, 2023 3 min read

Years are arbitrary lines, but they help.

First off, for our newest subscribers, many thanks for joining our mission and opting to keep tabs on us.  Also, apologies to our new subscribers for signing up and then getting...nothing for the month of December; that's on us.

In October we launched our submissions portal and we've been awash, overrun, inundated, even overwhelmed with submissions.  We've been rather preoccupied with these stories and making sure we're picking really good ones for the upcoming year, which has been pretty challenging to do - there are so many wonderful writers with beautiful stories.  That all said:

Our very first original story from P.A. Cornell is out now!
If you're paid subscriber - you'll get this and future stories a week earlier directly in your email.

Some more updates.  We launched another author interview podcast with the wonderful Greta Hayer.  For those of you who are new to her work - check them out & for those of you writers in NOLA, she and her crew run Third Lantern Lit.

There are more things that have taken up our planning but we'll keep the suspense going for a bit, but keep an eye out for something fun coming out first week of April 2023.

Final bit: if you know of others who would appreciate joining our mission and following along - please forward this email for them to sign up.  Lastly, if you've already subscribed, help us pay writers for their stories (we're keen on paying them pro-rates).  You'll get some additional benefit by upgrading to an annual Support tier or the Publisher's Council.

Okay; on to the main course.

Writing Excuses - Interview with DongWon Song

The folks at Writing Excuses are a treasure, in our opinion.  Their encyclopedia of episodes are a constant source of inspiration and guidance, so we're always excited to shout them out.  This interview with DongWon Song, who is now a permanent cast member, is so valuable.  In the episode, they talk about how they approach being an editor and an acquirer of stories; what matters to them, and more.  They also have a newsletter around publishing which is very insightful.

Vaccinated Bees

Vaccinating small animals - very small animals - is not something one thinks about on a daily basis.  Obviously we are hyper-aware of vaccinations and necessarily so today, and we might even be aware of vaccinations for a lot of larger animals in our orbit such as our pets, livestock, etc.  But insects?  Not so common a thought.

We know bees and other pollinators are in trouble today because of climate change and habitat loss and diseases.  So this first vaccine for honeybees is a major thing.  It protects bees from a particular bacterial infection that can wipe out colonies and current approaches to stop or limit the spread involve antibiotics (expensive, time-limited effectiveness, and time-consuming to apply) and burning entire hives to contain the spread.  So this vaccine is really hopeful and not only for bees.  If the methodology and process prove effective, it can be replicated to help other insects.

One by-product of reading this article was a shift in my mindset: the realization that our definition of "livestock" should include bees and other pollinators.

Rituals & History

Writing any fiction, let alone speculative stuff, requires piecing together a believable world.  I was drawn to writing speculative stories because they felt like amazing blank canvases.  To write fiction based on our world felt scary because "what if I get things wrong?"  That said, I wasn't prepared for how much work creating a world that is not based on our world was going to be.  Creating a speculative world requires first-principles thinking - asking why and what for until it works together for the story.  

Where I've seen this done really well are in stories that use rituals and rites because they instantly provide us with plot devices, history, and emotional investment all at once - if done right.  We wrote about this this week with some examples and tips.  Take a look and let us know your thoughts!  Interestingly, this brings us back to the title of this letter - since New Year rituals are so steeped in what we believe about the past and future.

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