[New Release] Tales of Excellent Cats

Tales of Excellent Cats | Edited by Melanie Meadors

I’m so excited today! I have a new short story to share with you called “Arrows, Blood, and a Long Overdue Catnap”. This short story is set in the fantasy setting Monarchies of Mau and is part of an anthology titled Tales of Excellent Cats. The main character, Zach, is inspired by my orange tabby. Nicknamed “Lord Lardbottom” due to his unique features, he is a polydactal manx and I love him dearly. He doesn’t move around like most cats because he has no tail and extra toes–just like Zach in the story.

Preview of “Arrows, Blood, and a Long Overdue Catnap”

Zachary slumped against the side of the Sneakin’ Inn to wait for his next client in the
alleyway. He’d have preferred to meet inside at midday instead of outside at sunset, but
while the Sneakin’ Inn served award-winning mead, the noisy tavern was also a popular
destination for opportunistic thieves and spies. Zach hated all that cloak-and-dagger stuff
because he couldn’t sneak around or pick a pocket — even if he wanted to.

No, Zach was good at two things, punching and napping, but only liked one of them. If
he could afford it, the older orange tabby would spend his afternoons dreaming about his
younger days, back when he was a lithe scrapper taking on those oh-so-proud members
of House Korat. He didn’t have the fancy pedigree, house, or coin required to lie about in
his hammock all day. What he did have was an intimidating reputation. His closest friends called him “Lord Doglover” on account of his doglike meaty paws — seven digits on each one! — and extra heft in his tailless, round bottom from a love of dog mead. He hated the nickname, but he let his friends get away with it. When his massive fists landed a blow, most other cats didn’t say much of anything.

Thankfully, Zachary figured out a way his unique “talent” could earn him enough coin
to keep his thatched roof from leaking. Being a guard for hire wasn’t enough to get him
off a steady diet of dried cod and the occasional pinch of lake grass, though, not for a poor tomcat like himself. Oh, what he wouldn’t offer to the Temple of the Nine for a freshly cooked hen? Or a smoked duck! But Zach wasn’t the wishful-thinking type; he knew no amount of prayer could whip up an expensive feast. Coin was the only thing that mattered. He preferred to earn his coin legally, but sometimes he didn’t have the luxury of picking his clients. Hopefully, Zach still had a few lives left. If not? Well, he didn’t want to think about it. Nobody paid him to be a philosopher; his clients gave him coin to ensure their safety.

“Zachary? Von…Shadow?” A cloaked figure stepped from behind a stack of empty barrels, and the waning light of the sun behind them cast a long shadow as if to say: Be careful, Zach. This cat’s not to be trusted.

To read the rest of the story, check out Tales of Excellent Cats from Onyx Path Publishing which was edited by Melanie Meadors. This collection of short stories is now available in multiple formats. You can grab a copy of this fun cat-themed anthology on DriveThruFiction.com, Amazon.com, and the Barnes and Noble Nook store.

[New Release] A Happy Gnome to Benefit Extra Life!

A Happy Gnome | D&D 5E | Valentinelli

Back in November 2018, I had played in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition game that was live-streamed to benefit the Extra Life for Kids charity. A. Happy “Hap” Gnome is a silly multi-class (4th Level Rogue, 1st Level Bard) character created for an Extra Life Live Stream charity event during Gamehole Con 2018. The game, which was run by Mike Mearls, included John “JinJur” Kovalic, Lysa “Oooh, I’m an angry fish!” Chen, Pat “Pala-Dad” Kilbane, and Rob “Correllon” Wieland.

Now, I’m pleased to announce you can download Hap’s character, his sordid backstory, and a new Bard College called the “School of Bard Knocks” on DMsGuild.com. A. Happy Gnome was illustrated by John Kovalic. A portion of the proceeds will automatically be donated to Extra life.

Enjoy!

Read “My Name Is Cybernetic Model XR389F, and I Am Beautiful” for Free!

Uncanny Magazine Issue 25 | Cover art by John Picacio

Hey readers! Today I’m pleased to inform you that Uncanny Magazine Issue 25 in all its beautiful glory, is now available for you to read online. My short story, “My Name Is Cybernetic Model XR389F, and I Am Beautiful”, went live today along with “The Thing about Ghost Stories” by Naomi Kritzer.

There are a LOT of great stories, poems, and essays in this issue which also includes “How to Swallow the Moon” by Isabel Yap, “An Account in the Land of Witches” by Sofia Samatar, “Smile” by Beth Cato, “Monologue by an unnamed mage, recorded at the brink of the end” by Cassandra Khaw, and a primer for Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy by Steven Silver.

For the full Table of Contents, ways to support Uncanny Magazine, and free-to-read stories, poetry, and essays, you can visit Uncanny Magazine Issue 25. Huzzah!

[New Release] “My Name is Cybernetic Model XR389F, and I Am Beautiful” in Uncanny Magazine Issue 25

Hello readers! I am pleased to announce my short story titled “My Name is Cybernetic Model XR389F, and I Am Beautiful” is now available in the latest issue of Uncanny Magazine! The Table of Contents have been previously announced for Uncanny Magazine Issue 25, and I’m excited to cheer on my fellow contributors that include Steven H. Silver, Isabel Yap, Naomi Kritzer, Beth Cato, Cassandra Khaw and many more.

Today is new release day! So GREAT NEWS: You can pick up your copy of Uncanny Magazine Issue 25 today!

When you visit the Uncanny Magazine website, be sure to also check out previous issues. Uncanny Magazine Issue 24, for example, is a special edition called “Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction” and includes dozens of thoughtful, compelling, gut-wrenching essays and stories by authors ranging from Nisi Shawl to Fran Wilde.

Thanks for supporting my work and for checking out a nifty magazine. I hope you enjoy “My Name is Cybernetic Model XR389F, and I Am Beautiful”! Huzzah!

[New Release] Firefly TV Show Encyclopedia + Bonus Interview with Tony Lee!

Firefly Encyclopedia | Based on the TV Show by Joss Whedon

Today is the official U.S. release date for the Firefly Encyclopedia which is available wherever books are sold–including Target! This book is also a strange milestone for me, because this release marks the fifth year I’ve worked with this property. Thus far, I’ve also developed a line of tabletop roleplaying games and wrote The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse, too, which features an analysis of the language as well as an interview and Mandarin Chinese translations with the incomparable Jenny Lynn.

The brand new Firefly Encyclopedia presents a narrative retelling of the story thus far, new interviews, an essay about the scientific plausibility of the ‘verse, an homage to Ron Glass, and much, much more.

To celebrate the Firefly Encyclopedia‘s release, I’ve sat down with Mandarin Chinese translator Tony Lee, who lent his talents to provide additional translations. Please enjoy this bonus interview with expert translator Tony Lee! If you’re interested in hiring Tony, I’m happy to forward your information to him so he can follow up. Just use my Contact Monica page and make sure it’s clear I need to pass your message along. Thanks for understanding! He’s not on social media and I don’t want to put his email address on blast.

Interview with Mandarin Chinese Translator Tony Lee

Tony Lee hailed from Taipei, Taiwan but lacked the common sense to go into any profitable fields (like computer or medical), and chose the tabletop gaming industry instead. Over the course of 15+ years, he’s freelanced for Wizards of the Coast/TSR, Pinnacle Entertainment, Margaret Weis Productions, Z-Man Games, and several companies for TTRPG lines ranging from Dungeons & Dragons to the Firefly RPG. Tony’s latest contribution is to the Firefly Encyclopedia. He now works as a Mandarin-to-English translator of mostly—what else?—MMO and cell phone games.

You’ve been a Mandarin Chinese translator working in games for years. What was your first (or favorite) project?

My first in tabletop gaming was the titles for Z-Man Games’ Shadowfist CCG expansions. In mobile/computer, it was an MMO that I had no idea what was called; it was a rush job and to be honest, I didn’t do well because I wasn’t familiar with the terminology at the time.

What was the strangest phrase you had to translate into Mandarin Chinese?

Not so much strange as… paradoxical. I have already translated a considerable block of dialogue when the main character suddenly busted out some English, whereupon the other person replied: “I don’t speak English!” Now, the problem is, of course, they have been conversing in English this whole time in my translation, so that wasn’t going to make sense if I translated the source exactly as it was! Took me a while to figure out a solution: I changed the English line into Japanese, spelling it out phonetically (thankfully that was something my very miniscule Japanese could handle, with some help from Google), then translated the reply as “I don’t speak Japanese!” (It worked extra well since the main character had Japanese heritage.)

You’ve translated English-to-Mandarin and back again. Which process is easier? Why?

I’d say Mandarin-to-English is easier for me now. Even though Mandarin is technically my first and native language, I’m much more accustomed to English now and actually have better command compared to Mandarin. I can read Mandarin, no problem, but I don’t always come up with the best and proper word or phrase going from English to Mandarin. Often enough that it’s on the tip of my tongue but just can’t grasp it quite enough to put down on paper.

What are some important things to consider when hiring a translator?

Anybody can transliterate; you can just use Google for that. You want someone who translate by meaning, not by individual words, otherwise you get a funny, nonsensical appliance instruction manual. What you look for is how well a translator “localizes”, using all conventions of the target language that you can’t tell it was a translation. This involves attention to details as well. For instance, in China they put the dollar sign behind the amount (“10$”) but it’s the other way around here in America (“$10”), so it’s simple to spot a “translator” vs. a “localizer” with little things like that.

What’s the one thing Browncoats may not know about the Chinese in Firefly?

It’s been mentioned that nobody speaks Chinese like that in real life (or something to that effect), but I think Firefly Chinese would be easier to learn since, ironically, it’s somewhat heavy on transliteration and very simple in sentence structure (which is why no one talks that way). I can see the language changing to fit the new Sino-American society of the universe.

I’d like to thank Tony Lee for his contributions to the Firefly Encyclopedia, and am happy his work has the ability to shine. Yay! For additional information about the language used in Firefly, you can also find a wonderful interview with Jenny Lynn in the The Gorramn Shiniest Language Guide and Phrasebook in the ‘Verse. Shiny!

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