Now Available! Read about 5 Magical Creatures on Charmed at Tor.com

Hello, everyone! I’m so pleased to mention you can read Five Fascinating Magical Creatures that Debuted in the Original Charmed on Tor.com. I wanted to write this post as a follow-up to talk about my love as a fan of classic Charmed and the new show that debuted in Fall 2018.

Classic Charmed gives me a lot of fond memories. It was a show that broke a lot of ground for both female empowerment and the positive depiction of magical women. After watching the new Charmed show, I have a lot of feelings about what could still be done to bridge the gap between the two. I do feel both are strong shows—certainly, the new Charmed explores powerful interpersonal relationships, contemporary themes, and authentic practitioners—that approach story and setting very differently. Classic Charmed‘s narrative arc had more space and the stakes swelled with each season, but they were small and more personal in the beginning. The new Charmed, on the other hand, has a LOT of story in every season that significantly changes the world, the characters, and the stakes are very high.

That (ultra-high stakes) is an approach I fear will smother the show by the end of a third season.

Though I regard each show to stand on its own merits and can be critiqued separately, I want to point out that all of the actresses did a great job exploring witchiness from their characters’ perspectives. I do think there is one improvement that can be made to satisfy both older fans and new ones while giving a little oomph to the possibility of more seasons. One word: CROSSOVER! Why not lean into the parallel/alternate universes aspect they’ve already introduced? Wouldn’t that be awesome! Hell, I’d write a crossover miniseries (2-6 episodes) that bridges the best of both shows while introducing a new wrinkle going forward. Do I have ideas? Hah. YUP!

Regardless, I hope the crossover idea would be/has been considered for many, many reasons. There’s a really powerful statement that can be made by showing the true power of witchy sisterhood is not only intergenerational, it’s also intersectional.

More on Paracelsus

In my Tor.com article, I mentioned Paracelsus when talking about gnomes. Paracelsus is/was a key and controversial historical figure, both as an alchemist and physician, but he was also extremely misogynistic and racist even among his contemporaries because he drew from medieval perspectives. For example, there was a pervasive medieval view shared by physicians, such as Ambrose Pare, that women were responsible for the birth of monsters. I covered him more in depth for my newsletter subscribers at: https://booksofm.substack.com. You can join the conversation there. Yay!

Again: Thanks so much for reading and supporting my debut Tor.com article! EVEN MORE YAY!

Save the Date! Learn Campaign Planning with Gaming Veteran Valentinelli

Captain Whinypants Saves the Day

Did you know the elements of campaign planning are rooted in narrative design? In this workshop, gaming veteran Monica Valentinelli introduces her “Spiderweb Method” for campaign planning and walks you through how to use it for longer story arcs. Also included is a list of tips and tricks to help manage your players to avoid railroading, give them what they want, but keep your story on track.

This workshop is appropriate for first-time or veteran GMs. Fans of Monica’s work will be familiar with the concept introduced in the Kobold Guide to Game Mastering.

Classes through the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers are taught online and require a reliable Internet connection, although in the past participants have logged on from coffee shops, cafes, and even an airplane; a webcam is suggested but not required.

Date: Next class date is Saturday, December 12, 2020, 9:30-11:30 AM Pacific Time.

Cost: $99 ($79 for returning students and Patreon supporters, which includes classes/workshops with the Cat Rambo Academy in other venues, such as conference or convention workshops and mentoring sessions).

To sign up for this class, visit: Planning Your Tabletop RPG Campaign with Monica Valentinelli. Your email will be sent to the class administrator, Cat Rambo.



My Clarion Write-A-Thon Project

Hiya! This year, I signed up to help the Clarion Write-A-Thon raise funds and support the workshop. I just decided what I’ll be writing about and have opted to select six, unique Italian fairy tales to retell. I want to share with you what this means to me in the hopes you’ll follow along and support my work.

Clarion’s six week-long Write-a-Thon is the perfect opportunity to explore a part of my identity while consciously avoiding tropes. I’m pledging six short story drafts in this time period; I’ll be releasing the drafts, one per week, under a password protected area on my website for sponsors to read. The rules? Simply, this: for the project, I will not include cisgendered white male characters.

I have complicated feelings about being Italian-American and the daughter of an immigrant due to past experiences. I’m also fed up with media depictions that focus on a razor-thin section of the entire culture, both here and abroad. In America, the dominant Italian-American stereotype in artistic media is a cartoonish “wise guy” or sometimes “gal”. Over and over again, these stereotypes of Italian-Americans depict cisgendered white men and few cisgendered white women. Of the men, Italian-Americans must be the hyper-masculine, violent tough guy/hottie or the devoted, politically shrewd Catholic priest. Of those few Italian women, we must be sexy mothers or nuns.

In exchange for your support, you’ll read how I process this part of my identity through my brainstorming, story selection, and first drafts. If you’re keen on following my progress, warts and all, I encourage you to become my sponsor and sign up for my newsletter.

If you’re not, that’s okay! There are dozens of other writers you can support, too, and I will always encourage you to back the writer you want to read. Here’s the link to the full list.



Writing in the Chaos Timeline

Morning Pages at the Magical HouseI had a list of personal writing, dietary, and fitness goals I wanted to accomplish when I left for Florida on March 1st. The original plan was to celebrate my birthday here (my friends were going to surprise me with a trip to Disney World), then go to a conference, then home. My next six months were already set—I knew what I’d be working on, what gigs I’d need to look for, and which personal projects I wanted to finish. I had already decided my summer would be taken up with household stuff I’d long put off, because I needed room for growth. Back in January, I had opened myself up to change on a lot of fronts for many different reasons. I just didn’t know COVID-19 would escalate to global and deadly proportions.

Everyone I know is affected by COVID-19 in some fashion. Gigs evaporating, contracts uncertain, convention-centric vendors going out of business, the inspiration to make art evaporating because what’s the point when a catastrophe is going on. I’ve also been affected by COVID-19. Wonder Stories was supposed to debut at SXSW; I’ve also experienced a few lifestyle changes due to my friends and family who are immunocompromised.

I’m not home yet. I travel back this week from Florida where, to be perfectly blunt, a whole lot of people are not taking this seriously despite the panic buying that’s happening right now. I hope/pray/etc. that my trip will be uneventful. I had planned to return earlier, but unfortunately I came down with something that took me out for a week and a half. I wanted to be well (which I am now, thankfully) because I didn’t want to travel being immunocompromised or putting others at risk. Once I do get home, I’m on strict quarantine for two weeks and then for the rest of April.

Despite all the chaos, my “plans” evaporating, and lost gigs, I’m still writing. The words are trickling slowly. My first drafts, which I normally write in my head, are shitty. I don’t feel guilty about it. I put pen to paper, write morning pages, and scribble a few poems. But I am writing, organizing my concepts, and identifying where I want to grow.

Pre-outbreak, I had a plan. Now? It’s far less determinate. Rapid change is simply guaranteed and, unfortunately, that means the only way I can keep writing is to accept the unknown, make the best use out of the time I have now, and remember to have fun. Because without that? It’s going to be a long quarantine and an even longer summer.

I hope you’re doing well. I know this isn’t a fun situation, by any means, for anyone. If you want to connect I’ll be checking into Twitter periodically and am posting pictures on Instagram @booksofm. Other than that? I’ll be blogging again. I miss LiveJournal, and I suppose the only way to tap into that nostalgia is to simply journal.

‘Til next time!

[New Release] Haunting Shadows Anthology for Wraith: The Oblivion

Haunting Shadows | Anthology | Wraith The Oblivion

Now available for your spooky reading pleasure! Haunting Shadows is an anthology for Wraith The Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition. I’m pleased to mention I have a haunted tale called “Scritch, Scratch” told from a wraith’s perspective about a group of ghost hunters investigating House on the Rock.

Remember those nice stories they told you about what’d happen after you died? They were wrong. There is no Heaven and there is no Hell. There’s only the Underworld, with the ravening maw of Oblivion at the bottom and the impossible dream of Transcendence at the top. And, somewhere in between, are scores of Restless Dead. Are you ready to join them?

This collection of short stories is inspired by Wraith: the Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition. You’ll explore the Underworld, roam the streets of Stygia, the eternal city, visit a haunted museum, and walk new and exciting locales. This anthology includes tales by classic and new Wraith authors such as Richard Lee Byers, Jackie Cassada, Rich Dansky, Monica Valentinelli, Catherine Lundoff, Joe Nassise, and more!

The anthology is now available to purchase online through DriveThruFiction.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com.



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