Hailing from Canada, Kim spends most her time either studying, fencing on her school’s varsity team or working, and writes in her spare time, both in French and English, though most of her published work is in French. Her genre of predilection is fantasy, both for writing and for the media she consumes, though she has dabbled in science fiction. She mostly writes short stories though she has hopes of one day finishing the novel she has been working on, which Aurelius originally comes from. She harbours love for anything related to creativity, from music to tattoos, without forgetting 50s fashion.
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Supervillians Always Order Off the Menu by Ana Gardner
Ana’s opinion pieces and reviews have appeared in online forums like SmartWoman and small local prints like Pumpkin Pie. She works as a teacher and researcher in New Jersey, where she also teaches critical reading and writing workshops for inner city high school students.
JW Troemner was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States. Since then, she’s spent most of her life orbiting around Indianapolis, where she can be often found gazing longingly at caverns and abandoned buildings. Her works include the Urban Dragon series, and more recently, a love letter to fairy tales by the name of Tatter and Shine.
Let me tell you a little about the podcast listener, reader, and audiobook listener I used to be.
I didn’t read, I devoured.
I would stay up until 11:30 pm and then went “well…I can just get the next book and like read the first chapter” and then it was 3 am and “well, I’m not going to sleep now so I might as well get the next one”…and then go to work and sneak off on every break I can to read and then do it until I finished the series. (I have now had to ban myself from reading novels during the work week or I will miss work.) I ruminated. I would spend days thinking about the world, the implications, and how it changed my life to have read that book. I totally wrote fanfic in my head (though I didn’t really call it that because I didn’t know). I would occasionally spend Sunday brunches rehashing all of that would a good friend.
I loved books. Books helped me survive breakups, job loss, and deaths. Books comforted me when I couldn’t get out of bed. Books were my friend when I felt utterly alone.
Podcasts and audiobooks?
I wasn’t just a listener. I never work out without them. Frankly I don’t know that I could leave the house without earbuds and something I’m looking forward to listening to. Every walk I’ve taken, every trip to the gym, every time I took the long walk home from work…It was always a podcast or audiobook.
Rethinking work? Planning a novel? Need a new organization strategy? A new to do app? Want to learn…anything? It was always podcasts and audiobooks. The amount I have learned and the ways I have changed my life thanks to podcasts and audiobooks is immeasurable.
But you might notice something is missing from how I interacted with those things. I never joined a Facebook group, emailed, joined an email list, visited a website*, or tweeted. I never interacted with the authors, creators, hosts, producers, narrators. I honestly never even thought about it for a moment. I never had any interest in connecting. I absolutely thought of those people as real, I would often see or hear their journies in ways that I could follow very closely. I never reached out to tell someone that they made a tremendous difference in my life. I never conveyed that someone helped me get out of bed when I felt like I was too depressed to get up. I never told an author, a podcaster or a narrator that they made me feel like I could do it, that they gave me the confidence in myself, that I stand taller because of them.
But they did. All those things. Authors, podcastors, narrators, creators. You did that.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person like this. Because people like this (me) don’t speak up and tell you they exist. Not everyone engages. Some just consume. We quietly download, buy, listen, and love. We cherish, adore, rage, and admire. Even though we never engage on social media.
When I am stressed, busy, tired, sad, whatever…I retreat to this position. Consuming, so much consumption. But not so much engagement. Because it’s something I don’t understand. It’s not intuitive to me. Consumption is intuitive.
I just wanted to let people who feel like only the engaged consumers care…others are out there. We just…are different.
*I have occasionally check show notes to follow a link to a story or paper, but usually just went right to google myself and only went back to the show notes when I couldn’t find it on google myself. And I would be more likely to give up than go to the show notes.
Olga Werby, Ed.D., has a Doctorate from U.C. Berkeley with a focus on designing online learning experiences. She has a Master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley in Education of Math, Science, and Technology. She has been creating computer-based projects since 1981 with organizations such as NASA (where she worked on the Pioneer Venus project), Addison-Wesley, and the Princeton Review. Olga has a B.A. degree in Mathematics and Astrophysics from Columbia University. She became an accidental science fiction indie writer about a decade ago, with her first book, “Suddenly Paris,” which was based on then fairly novel idea of virtual universes. She writes about characters that rarely get represented in science fiction stories — homeless kids, refugees, handicapped, autistic individuals — the social underdogs of our world. Her stories are based in real science, which is admittedly stretched to the very limit of possible.
I’ve been thinking about grief and loss a lot lately. I’ve experienced a personal loss that hit me really hard, is still hitting me. And I’ve been watching the experiences of grief that are happening around Puerto Rico. It’s different to watch how people respond to grief from a distance.
For the most part, people have been incredibly great to me. The appropriate amount of support, the kindnesses that work in the situation. There are a few who aren’t great and try to do weird things, but that’s kind of to be expected. It’s never perfect. I just hope for those with the most intimacy and power to be kind.
I want my boss to be understanding when I need time off or if I seem a little out of sorts or not quite up to my normal level. (And they have been absolutely.) I want the people I own things to (like responses, episodes, and the like) to be understanding if I don’t get things to them as quick as I’d like (or they would).
Those are the people in my life with the most power right now.
This is sort of a two fold thing. The people who are close to me but not close to the person who passed, I fully expect them to be supportive of me. I think that’s a reasonable expectation. They are not experiencing the grief of that loss and they are more likely to have the capacity to be supportive. This for me includes relatives on the other side of the family and close friends.
But this also means that I should be doing what I can to support those who are closer, doing what I can to offer those things up to those who are closer to that circle of grief. And certainly different people handle it differently. But in general I’m going to turn out and away from the people who are most impacted for my own comfort and support and I am going to try to turn in to offer comfort and support. Reach out to the people who need love, comfort, and assistance.
It really helps to have these rules and know (and have thought through them) ahead of time and know who are the people who are usually there for me? Who can I ask for support from? Who will support me? Then on the other side…who will need support? And then there is an element of do I need to provide it to that person if I can’t. (Sometimes I don’t have the capacity to handle that for some people and while I wish they had what they needed, I can’t be the person to do that.) Even beyond that making sure that I am doing the right things so that I am offering the kinds of support others need so when I need it they are willing to be there for me.
It makes me sad when individuals can’t follow these fairly basic guidelines. And it makes me furious when the person with the most power won’t be as kind as my bosses. They weren’t extraordinary generous. But they were very simply kind. Why can’t the president be simply kind? And why the fuck aren’t we demanding simple human kindness of the goddamn president of the goddamn united fucking states.
So to all of you who have been personally impacted by this incredible hurricane season in Texas and Florida as you clean up and try to get back to your lives, and especially to Puerto Rico still in the middle of trying to get back to existing in a way where basic survival is possible…You have my deepest sympathy. My heart is with you. (My calls to my senators are with you, the money I can is with you.) If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.
To those of you struggling like me through your own personal grief and loss of people you love, jobs you aren’t sure you can replace, homes you can’t, and more…ask for what you need. You can absolutely ask for help from those around you and if they are decent and they have the capacity they will. Never assume someone can’t help unless they tell you that they can’t.
To all the rest. Please, do some work. Offer some support. Money, calls, reminding coworkers that yes Puerto Ricans are American and HELL YES they need help and they need it now and anything, anything less than the most generous, thoughtful, and kind support is not enough.
Tori V. Rainn resides in Texas where she collects knives, or anything sharp, and pretends to be a ninja. She’s a music junkie, loves video games, a member of ACFW, and popcorn addict. She’s currently editing a completed fantasy that she’s darn proud of, well, at least until she goes back and rereads it. Other ongoing projects include yet another fantasy, a paranormal novella boiling hot under her fingers, and various short stories.
Tori writes YA fantasy, horror, sci-fi, paranormal, and speculative, and is always open to branching out to different types of stories, where ever the wind takes her. She has been on this amusing writing journey for nearly seven years, leading to two publications, a children’s story, “The Unseen” featured in The Caterpillar Magazine, and a small story won in a contest, “Pheoclex”.
Stacy Bennett grew up on the East Coast always knowing she was the ugly duckling in the flock of engineers she called a family. But never did she imagine she’d end up writing fiction. When she wrote her first full story, she thought she only had one story to tell. She soon realized that the rabbit hole ran much deeper. Now she writes everything from flash fiction to full-length titles in the genres of fantasy, paranormal and science fiction. Who knows maybe there’s a romance in there, too. This piece was written in tribute to the passing of her mother, her father having crossed over years before. Theirs was the love of a lifetime. Read more on Stacy’s website Facebook Twitter Tumblr
Matthew Rettino is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop. He resides in Montreal, Quebec, and serves as a managing editor for Scrivener Creative Review. He holds an Master’s in English literature from McGill University, where he wrote a thesis on the relationship between world literature and weird fiction.
George Nikolopoulos is a speculative fiction writer and poet from Athens, Greece and a member of Codex Writers’ Group. His short stories have been published in Galaxy’s Edge, Best Vegan SFF 2016, Grievous Angel, and many other magazines and anthologies in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. When not writing he is, among other occupations, a father, a husband, a reader, an actor and an engineer.