Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Behind the Mask by Kelly Link, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, et al. (VBT, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

I am delighted to have a guest post by the fascinating Seanan McGuire, who answers the question...
(without any mention of exotic reptiles or the like, sigh)

ELF: What is your writing process?

SMcG: I get up; I sit down; I write.  Occasionally, I get distracted by something on the internet or by one of my cats.  I try to ride the distraction out without allowing it to consume me.  This is not always easy.  I resume writing.  I reach my goal for the day; I stop writing.  I do other things, television or video games or reading.  Usually, sadly, in that order, because by the time I finish writing for the day, I want to let my brain have a little vacation from thinking too hard.

 Here is a secret: your writing process will never look exactly like mine, and your writing process will be perfect.  Here is another secret: if you followed me for a week, made notes of every single thing I did and how long it too for me to do it, you would still not be able to follow my writing process exactly the way I do, because for you, my writing process would be wrong.  Your process, your perfect process, is not and never will be mine, and that’s good.  Your stories are unique.  Your writing process should be too.

 Here are the things that help me:

Deadlines.  Some authors find them to be an incredible amount of pressure, but for me, they are exactly the right amount of pressure, because they let me plan my time.  Without a deadline, I am capable of distracting myself endlessly.  If you find yourself becoming unfocused, try setting deadlines for things that otherwise wouldn’t have them.  Setting little goals helps you figure out what helps you and what hinders you, and both those pieces of information are invaluable.

 Low-balling.  I am capable of writing X words per day.  So when I am figuring out my work load and holding it up against my deadlines, I assume that I will write X-y words per day.  That way, I am slowly but surely gaining on myself, and can either finish early, decide to take a day off, or just have a bad day without my careful calculations falling apart.

Standing alone.  I said “X words per day” up there, rather than giving a number, because we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to one another.  It’s toxic and it’s dangerous and it doesn’t help.  Just because I can do X words doesn’t mean you have to.  Maybe your comfortable cruising altitude is half that and maybe it’s twice that, and either way, if you’re getting your work done and you’re doing good things, it’s perfect.  You do not need to be anyone else to be perfect.

Standing together.  I have my beta readers and my cheerleaders and my friends and my critics, and they all read my work, and they all help me improve.  Sometimes they do it by keeping me going; sometimes they do it by holding me accountable.  Put together your own super team to help you.  You’ll be amazed by how quickly you improve.

I believe in you.  You can do this.

All you have to do is work for it.


Behind the Mask

by Kelly Link, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Cat Rambo, Lavie Tidhar and others




Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.



Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.



Excerpt from Pedestal by Seanan McGuire –

. . . did you see what Lady Thunder was wearing at the Oscars? Puh-LEEZ, she needs to start dressing her age and not her maturity . . .

. . . OMG, met Shock Star, and he is SO AMAZING, your favorite could NEVER. . .

. . . all six Moths are suing each other over their name, and it’s like, grow up, people, life isn’t just about merchandising . . .

. . . perfect . . .

. . . problematic . . .

. . . so pure . . .

. . . such a skank . . .

. . . they asked for this, you know? That’s all I can think when one ofthem pretends to be upset about the paps.  They asked for this, and we gave it to them.  You’d think they could manage to be grateful.  They owe us.

We own them.

You can do this. My reflection looked back at me dubiously, as if it wanted to argue with my self-affirmation. I did my best to ignore it, staring into my own eyes and firmly repeating the thought. You can do this. You can put on your coat. You can pick up your keys. You can leave the house.

“This is a terrible idea,” said my reflection. “I want to register my objection ahead of the crowd. And there will be a crowd.”

“Maybe there won’t be,” I said.

My reflection tilted her head and looked at me through her—through my—eyelashes. I glared and turned away. Somehow, I can never manage to look quite as judgmental as my reflection. It’s not fair. I’m the real person. I should be the one with the full arsenal of expressions.

Instead, I get to be the one with the full arsenal of anxieties and expectations. The blue light on my phone was blinking, signaling that more email had come in while I was arguing with myself. I bit my lip and threw the phone into my purse. If anything important came through, it would trigger an alarm, and I’d drop whatever I was doing to race off and save the world. Until then, I was going to focus on saving something a little closer to home: myself. I hadn’t been outside the house when I wasn’t in costume in over a week. The thought of pizza was starting to give me acid reflux. I needed a change.

I needed to go grocery shopping.

Fresh bread. I took a step toward the door. Lunch meat. Another step. Grapes, green grapes, that haven’t been in the back of a delivery van. That was the last nudge I needed. The team delivery service was all too happy to keep me fed and healthy, but the person they used to pick their produce always went by perceived shelf life, and not by potential tastiness. One too many shipments of rock-hard pears and tasteless tomatoes had driven me into the comforting arms of takeout, which at least never pretended to be good for me.

Fruit, fruit, fruit. The silent chant got me through the process of putting on my shoes, willfully ignoring my reflection making faces at me from the shiny brass surface of the umbrella stand. Fruit, fruit, fruit. I shrugged my coat on and put my headphones in, blocking out anything my reflections had to say.  Fruit, fruit, fruit.  Fruit and ice cream.





Seanan McGuire lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest, in a large, creaky house with a questionable past.  She shares her home with two enormous blue cats, a querulous calico, the world’s most hostile iguana, and an assortment of other oddities, including more horror movies than any one person has any business owning.  It is her life goal to write for the X-Men, and she gets a little closer every day.

Seanan is the author of the October Daye and InCryptid urban fantasy series, both from DAW Books, and the Newsflesh and Parasitology trilogies, both from Orbit (published under the name “Mira Grant”).  She writes a distressing amount of short fiction, and has released three collections set in her superhero universe, starring Velma “Velveteen” Martinez and her allies.  Seanan usually needs a nap.  Keep up with her at her website, or on Twitter at @seananmcguire.

All other authors in the anthology:

Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and several small agents of chaos disguised as a dog, cat, and child. She works as a cover designer and video game writer. Her fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres, and other venues, and her YA survival thriller I Am Still Alive is forthcoming from Viking. You can find her online at katemarshallwrites.com.

Chris Large writes regularly for Aurealis Magazine and has had fiction published in Australian speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. He's a single parent who enjoys writing stories for middle-graders and young adults, and about family life in all its forms. He lives in Tasmania, a small island at the bottom of Australia, where everyone rides Kangaroos and says 'G'day mate!' to utter strangers.

Stuart Suffel's body of work includes stories published by Jurassic London, Evil Girlfriend Media, Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, Kraxon Magazine, and Aurora Wolf among others.  He exists in Ireland, lives in the Twilight Zone, and will work for Chocolate Sambuca Ice cream. Twitter: @stuartsuffel

Michael Milne is a writer and teacher originally from Canada, who lived in Korea and China, and is now in Switzerland. Not being from anywhere anymore really helps when writing science fiction. His work has been published in The Sockdolager, Imminent Quarterly, and anthologies on Meerkat Press and Gray Whisper.

Adam R. Shannon is a career firefighter/paramedic, as well as a fiction writer, hiker, and cook. His work has been shortlisted for an Aeon award and appeared in Morpheus Tales and the SFFWorld anthology You Are Here: Tales of Cryptographic Wonders. He and his wife live in Virginia, where they care for an affable German Shepherd, occasional foster dogs, a free-range toad, and a colony of snails who live in an old apothecary jar. His website and blog are at AdamRShannon.com.

Jennifer Pullen received her doctorate from Ohio University and her MFA from Eastern Washington University. She originally hails from Washington State. Her fiction and poetry have appeared or are upcoming in journals including: Going Down Swinging (AU), Cleaver, Off the Coast, Phantom Drift Limited, and Clockhouse

Stephanie Lai is a Chinese-Australian writer and occasional translator. She has published long meandering thinkpieces in Peril Magazine, the Toast, the Lifted Brow and Overland. Of recent, her short fiction has appeared in the Review of Australian Fiction, Cranky Ladies of History, and the In Your Face Anthology. Despite loathing time travel, her defence of Dr Who companion Perpugilliam Brown can be found in Companion Piece (2015). She is an amateur infrastructure nerd and a professional climate change adaptation educator (she's helping you survive our oncoming climate change dystopia). You can find her on twitter @yiduiqie, at stephanielai.net, or talking about pop culture and drop bears at no-award.net

Aimee Ogden is a former biologist, science teacher, and software tester. Now she writes stories about sad astronauts and angry princesses. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Asimov's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, Baen.com, Persistent Visions, and The Sockdolager.
Nathan Crowder is a Seattle-based fan of little known musicians, unpopular candy, and just happens to write fantasy, horror, and superheroes. His other works include the fantasy novel Ink Calls to Ink, short fiction in anthologies such as Selfies from the End of the World, and Cthulhurotica, and his numerous Cobalt City superhero stories and novels. He is still processing the death of David Bowie.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the 2015 Nebula Award winning novelette "Our Lady of the Open Road." Her novelette "In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind" was the 2014 Sturgeon Award winner and a 2013 Nebula finalist. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Galician. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife and dog. She can be found online at sarahpinsker.com and twitter.com/sarahpinsker.

Carrie Vaughn is best known for her New York Times bestselling series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, who hosts a talk radio show for the supernaturally disadvantaged, the fourteenth installment of which is Kitty Saves the World.  She's written several other contemporary fantasy and young adult novels, as well as upwards of 80 short stories.  She's a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R.
R. Martin and a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop.  An Air Force brat, she survived her nomadic childhood and managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado.  Visit her at www.carrievaughn.com.

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her second novel, Hearts of Tabat, appears in early 2017 from Wordfire Press. She is the current President of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of America. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, see http://www.kittywumpus.net

Keith Frady writes weird short stories in a cluttered apartment in Atlanta. His work has appeared in Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology, Literally Stories, The Yellow Chair Review, and The Breakroom Stories.


NOTE: THE PUBLISHER IS OFFERING A SPECIAL CONTEST – ONE COPY OF THE BOOK (CHOICE OF Epub or Mobi) WILL BE GIVEN AWAY TO A RANDOMLY DRAWN COMMENTER AT EVERY STOP (Drawing will be held 5 days after the stop’s date and is separate from the rafflecopter drawing – to enter, the entrant must leave a comment at the stop).  Thanks!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

 The tour dates can be found here



  1. Thanks for hosting! And I agree, how were there no exotic animals in this post! We are Meerkat are HUGE fans of Seanan McGuire so we were thrilled she agreed to write a story for the anthology.

    1. You're welcome. I was delighted when I saw her name, especially since I had the pleasure of listening to her at the recent LA Times Festival of Books. She definitely has a weird and wonderful way of looking at the world, lol.

  2. Loved the post. I've read one of her books because someone told me about the talking mice and I totally loved that aspect of the book I read.

    1. The Aeslin mice are some of my favorite creatures, although I don't think I'd like to deal with all of the things that they chronicle, lol.

    2. Mary Kirkland, you are the winner of the random drawing for ebook! Contact us at info@meerktpress.com to claim your prize!

  3. Thanks :) I'm really digging that cover!!

    1. Glad you like it, Lacey! Thanks for coming by.

  4. Replies
    1. Great to see you, Victoria! Thanks for coming to visit.

  5. What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  6. This looks like a very interesting collection.

    1. I think it's a fun combination of authors, Mary. Hope you get a chance to enjoy it!

  7. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)