Tag Archives: Books

Aunty Fox Reads…. quite a bit really

I have been asked about books. Not the ones we publish, but what I buy outside of Fox Spirit and specifically what other small presses I look to for my reading material.

I went for quite a long time since starting FS without reading much outside of it, then I changed jobs. Just over six months ago I found myself with a commute by train and it has been heaven. So let’s start with a list of books I have read and enjoyed since August and the reasons I read them.

A note before I start, every one of these books was excellent and I would recommend them all so assume high stars all round. I am bad at reading books that don’t draw me in quickly.

books delicious books

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough – I know Sarah a little and have read her work before, so was happy to buy and read her recent releases, confident I would enjoy them.
The Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho – Zen did a story for us which was superb. I like to support writers who have supported us with their stories by buying their books, add to which, I really like reading all the writers we work with so it’s a low risk strategy.
Burning Embers by James Bennett – James is a friend, a Fox Spirit writer and a fantastic story teller. No brainer.
Sparrow Falling by Gaie Sebold – I loved Gaie’s earlier novels, I nearly died of squee when she did a story for us so obviously I had to have this.
The Tiger and the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky – Adrian is a fantastic writer and again, has worked with FS.
Alice by Christina Henry – The original Alice always struck me as darker than people think, I was intrigued. I was also looking for interesting novels by women.
Lost Girl by Adam Nevill – Apt 16 terrified me, Adam is a great writer and a lovely man, we must try and weedle a story from him one day.
Wolf in the Attic by Paul Kearney – this one just looked interesting and Paul’s name is one of those where I am always a bit, have we met? Or have I just come across his name so many times I think we have met?
How to be Dull by Basil Morley Esq – Basil Morely is actually K.A. Laity who writes and edits for FS among others and never fails to entertain me.
The Red Tree By Caitlin Kearnan – Picked this up years ago because it looked interesting, and it languished on the shelf. I thought I would give it a try as part of my bid to make my reading more diverse and I was rewarded richly.
Geekerella by Ashley Poston – recommended and indeed supplied by a publicist friend who knows what I like
Escapology by Ren Warom – Ren is amazing, which I know because we published her novella so obviously I had to read this.
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran – Rare occasion where I actually got around to the book group choice but a fantastic book that has set me off collecting up more feminist non fic.
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac – Part of my personal challenge to be more diverse in my reading. Joseph is a Native American writer and I loved the sound of this particular book. It’s great btw.
Nemesis by Agatha Christie – I love Christie, I love this story, charity shop comfort read.
Clockwork Heart by Dru Paliassotti – Bought this forever ago, and it appealed when I did a shelf search.
Miss Peregrine’s home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Briggs– enjoyed the film but was curious as a friend who loves the books was very cross about the changes.
Love across a Broken Map by The Whole Kahini – A friend was involved in editing and producing this and so I had great confidence in it being excellent. It was.
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough – see previous Pinborough. Also one of the main characters is called Adele, how could I resist?
The Red Queen by Christina Henry – Sequel to Alice which I loved.
The Ocean at the end of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – again it’s been on the shelf a while, but I have read a number of Gaiman’s books over the years and had no doubt I would enjoy it. 
The Stars and Legion by Kameron Hurley – Read God’s War as a BFS judge, loved it, read the next one, love Kameron’s fiction and will just keep buying and reading them.

 

Books I am dipping into

They do the Same things Differently Here by Rob Shearman – Shearman is an incredible short story writer and possibly the loveliest man alive.
Nasty Women by various – Saw a lot about this and with the world as it is it felt like a must read.
Frazzled by Ruby Wax – Because I am basically.
The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla – Part of my efforts to challenge my reading habits. Enjoying this greatly.

So you will start to see a pattern.

I like to support writers I know, especially ones I have worked with or who I enjoy chatting with on online of F2F, which is helped by the fact that I am confident I will enjoy their work.

I buy from small presses and indie authors a lot at events, it’s not well represented here but I have a stack of books I have read or want to read from the likes of Grimbold, Kristell ink, Newcon and others both past and present. Things I look for in small presses tend to be that people running them I know share some of my tastes or values, or writers in common as that is a good sign I will enjoy the stuff they put out. Some of the presses I love, like Boo and Jurassic sadly closed, which I talk about at length in the Sisyphus post, so I won’t go back over it here. Not all indie presses are so small of course, Angry Robot and Titan, along with Abaddon and Solaris often make their way onto my shelves, I recently discovered Quirk and will be going back there again. Then there are specialists, like 404Ink and Dhalia who offer something more specific but from time to time overlap with my genre preferences or just hit my needs in the moment and who are doing high quality work. There are lots I haven’t mentioned but browse the dealer room at any genre con and you are surrounded by people I would buy from. 

At bookstores I have a system. Check for new books by people I know/like already either F2F or from reading their work. Then browse for writers that expand my reading, so at the moment looking for books by non white writers is a big part of my store search technique for or openly LGBTQIA writers, writers of colour or non fiction books. Finally, anything that just looks interesting or a bit different (harder than it sounds tbh). I have been known to purchase books for their covers, or indeed because of the cover artist.

Monday Methods: Promotion

If you’re one of the Skulk, the hearty band of Fox Spirit authors, there’s good news. The hard work of promotion is helped by being a member of the Skulk. We’re all in this together! The rising tide — and hey, it’s definitely rising! — associated with the AWARD-WINNING quality of Fox Spirit Books helps every one of us. But it’s not the be all and end all.

YOU NEED TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOK.

Look around you. Small presses are closing their doors in frightening numbers. Why? The very best of small presses are all living on a short margin. Fox Spirit Books is held together by the sheer determination of Adele and a handful of intrepid folk who work well below cost (we have ridiculously talented editors and artists). When they put together a book, it’s because they believe in its quality.

Your job is not done when you hand in the manuscript: it’s just begun. You could have the best book in the world, that’s ever been written, that will make the planets align, feed the hungry, end all wars, or even one that could make the world finally join hands, sing hallelujah and bring peace on earth, but it won’t happen if nobody knows about it.

Fox Spirit will feature it on the website, Facebook and Twitter. Adele usually makes the effort to pull out interesting extracts to tempt readers. THAT IS NOT ENOUGH.

  1. At the very least you need to retweet/share all the things that Fox Spirit does on your social media platforms. It doesn’t have to be all at once: stagger them throughout the day. Not just on your release day, but afterward continue to follow up.
  2. Follow the other Fox Spirit skulk members. We are mighty. We generally retweet other skulk members’ stuff when we see it. Include @foxspiritbooks in your tweet in some way like ‘Wow, my awesome book has just come out from @foxspiritbooks #fantasy that includes capybaras!’ If you’re in a collection, tag the other folks you know who are in it. You’re not on your own: you’re SKULK! Rahr! Be proud.
  3. Be creative: don’t just tweet out boring ‘here’s my book, buy it!’ Has that ever worked with anyone? No! What made you interested enough in this story to write it? Do you just think ‘Capybaras are awesome!’ There are bound to be other people who think so, too. Find communities who will be interested in what you’ve written. Maybe you already belong to a group that shares your interest. Let them know! Join in a bigger event: there are all kinds of hashtag topics that occur weekly — for instance, I write a lot of folklore & fairytale stories, so I am an enthusiastic participant in #FolkloreThursday. Find your people.
  4. Blog: the death of the blog, much like the death of the novel, has often been suggested to no avail. Blog on your own site (you do have a website, right? if not what are you waiting for?) but also consider other places that could use your expertise — including the Fox Spirit blog. Got a topic for one of our features: Monday Methods, Five for Friday, What I Learned from Cult TV? Let Adele know. There are oodles of genre blogs out there, many of them happy to take outside content that fits the interest of their readers. Think bigger than yourself: community is what it’s all about.
  5. Offline and local: bookstores can be tough for small press. They only generally buy from distributors. Some local independent stores carry local authors. Get in touch and find out. Send out press releases to local radio and television emphasising the local author angle or something newsworthy. Glom onto a popular topic in the news (‘Are Capybaras More Popular than Cats on the Internet?’). Don’t overlook your local library: many love to draw on local authors for talks on popular topics or how-to talks. Writer organisations in your area can also be something to look into both for promotion and for sharing experiences.

Writing is a career. You don’t just do it for a day. Everybody talks about ‘branding’ these days: all that means is letting people know who you are and what you write. Let your personality shine through: don’t think of it as ‘selling’ (which is hard for some people) or just promotion, but communicating.

Just remember: your book’s success reflects the effort you put into it. Don’t go to the trouble of writing a book only to let it languish in the shadows. Step out into the spotlight and let the world see your work!

And make Adele happy!

Happy Skulk Leader

Heading into a new year with books!

As we reach the end of 2016 and stumble blinking into a new year, I thought instead of the usual
‘what did we do, what are we planning’ round up, I would simply gather some recommendations of
books to take you into 2017. These came in response to a shout out on twitter for people to tell me
what books they want people to take with them into the new year.

We meander through many excellent genre titles, occasionally stepping out of speculative fiction
and even into non fiction as people share titles that have excited them and that you might want to
consider. There is a good mix of getting away from it all and getting ready for whatever 2017 brings. 

I have added amazon uk links where possible, in case you want to know more about any of the books or add them to
your reading for the new year.

Names and quotes included with permission.

My choice is ‘How to Be Dull: Standing out next to genius‘ by Basil Morley Esq (K.A. Laity).  The only self help book you will need in 2017 tells you how to be taupe in a world full of primary colours. 

Kev McVeigh (@kevmcveigh) recommends ‘Will Do Magic for Small Change’ by Andrea Hairston as a great fantasy read to start the year with. Loving the title so will be checking this one out myself.

Infomocracy’ by Malka Older is suggested by Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) as a cyberpunk novel to help us through the challenges of 2017.

Will Ellwood (@fragmad) recommends ‘2312’ a sci fi by Kim Stanley Robinson ‘because society can be better’ which seems a good starting point to me. Also the collected short stories of J.G. Ballard.

Zero World’ by Jason Hough is recommended by Steve Taylor Bryant (@STBwrites), SFF with super spies. 

The Sorcerer to the Crown’ by Zen Cho, a sword and sorcery fantasy about English magic, wizards and breaking down barriers. Recommended by the wonderful Juliet E McKenna (@JulietEMcKenna).

Children of Time’ by Adrian Tchaikovsky which will have you siding with the spiders gets a shout out from Juliet E McKenna and Tade Thompson (@tadethompson)

On the Edge of Gone’ by Corinne Duyvis, young adult fiction, was recommended by Lynn O’Connacht (@lynnoconnacht) 

All the Birds in the Sky’ by Charlie Jane Anders recommended by Rob Haines (@Rob_Haines) it includes a witch who talks to animals and time travel. 

Image courtesy of Adrian Tchaikovsky

Shona Kinsella (@shona_kinsella) recommends ‘Blindside’ by Jennie Ensor, ‘The House of Shattered Wings’ by Aliette De Bodard and ‘The Good Immigrant’ by Nikesh Shukla

Alasdair Stuart (@AlasdairStuart) draws your attention to ‘Six Wakes’ by Mur Lafferty which is describes as a ‘note perfect locked room clone murder mystery in space’. (Sold!)

The Memoirs of Lady Trent’ by Marie Brennan is recommended by Margret Helgadottir (@MaHelgad) It has Dragons!

The Briefcase’ by Hiromi Kawakami while not spec fic also gets a big recommendation from Margret as does ‘Earth Abides‘ by George R Stewart.

Terrible George (@monster_soup) recommends the grim, violent reimagining of Alice in Wonderland, ‘Alice’ by Christina Henry. (I loved this one too!)

Alec McQuay (@Vampiricchicken) ‘Absolute Pandemonium‘ – Brian Blessed’s autobiography. ‘It’s the absolute nadgers’.

Mongrels’ by Stephen Graham Jones is recommended by Paul Michaels (@paulmichaels) as dark and wry.

The seasonal Jingling Nerdish (@whirlingnerdish) recommends ‘Geek Feminist Revolution’ by Kameron Hurley and ‘The New Jim Crow‘ by Michelle Alexander.

Das Kapital‘ by Karl Marx gets a recommendation from Damien Walter (@damiengwalter) for those leaning toward something a bit more serious for new year’s reading.

Lynda E Rucker’s ‘You’ll Know when you Get There’ a collection of stories, comes from James Everington (@JHEverington)

Shana DuBois (@booksabound) suggests ‘Desert Songs of the Night: 1500 Years of Arabic Literature’ edited by Suheil Bushrui and James M. Malarkey with the comment ‘Exploring the roots and beauty of other cultures is paramount today’. (Couldn’t agree more).

Mr Fox (@TJEverley) recommends ‘The Minotaur takes a Cigarette Break‘ by Steven Sherrill, a novel that sees the Minotaur working as a chef and living in a trailer. Also ‘All you Need is Kill‘ by Hiroshi Sakurazaka which sees the lead caught in a timeloop, reliving his death. 

V for Vendetta‘ by Alan Moore & David Lloyd makes it into the facing 2017 category with a call from Steve Birt (@EvilStevieB)

The seasonal Santa Runny (@runalongwomble) suggests ‘The Fifth Season‘ by NK Jemisin.

Beckett’s ‘Eden trilogy‘ or Walton’s ‘Thessaly trilogy‘. ‘I think we’ll need in 2017 the reflections they bring’. from C. (@solinthesky)

Chris Nguyen (@ChrisGNguyen) suggests Animal Farm by George Orwell and ‘All the Light We Cannot See‘ by Anthony Doerr

The Complete Worse Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Piven & Borgenicht because according to Chloe Yates (@shloobee) ‘we might fking need it’.

Recommended by Joyce Chng  Starhawk’s ‘Dreaming The Dark‘, a book on magic and spirituality.

From Dylan Fox (@foxie299) ‘Watership Down‘ by Richard Adams. ‘Teaches us to listen to our instincts, to believe, to fight, to keep fighting… and to accept death’.

So there you are, a few ideas to get you going as we head towards 2017, swords raised and flag flying and books stockpiled!

It’s almost Christmas

Well the festive season is well under way. People are swamped with office parties and festive fun. Here at Kettu Talo we are trying to balance the social commitments with all the end of year tie up. It’s certainly keeping us busy. The cats are ‘helping’. 

I just wanted to take a moment to say books make great gifts, so if you are thinking of buying anyone books for Christmas we thoroughly endorse that, and ask that you give some thought to maybe supporting a small press (any small press) and/or diverse writers this year. It’s been a tough one for a lot of us on practical and emotional levels. 

If you are thinking of buying a Fox Spirit Book this Christmas, you can find a list of available titles here and links to them on Amazon here. We also wanted to remind you that we are a print on demand operation, so even with Amazon Prime titles may take a few days to arrive. 

May you all have a wonderful festive season, however you spend it! Please be kind to retail workers and make sure you find lots of time to tuck yourself away for a read. 

Party Time, Excellent!

It’s almost time!

Volume 9 of the Fox Pocket series ‘Evil Genius Guide’ edited by Daz Pulsford, is live, Reflections will be hot on its heels. We are close to the whole series of ten small and perfectly formed volumes of flash and short fiction being available.

pockets

To celebrate we are having a bit of a do at the Secular Hall on Humberstone Gate in Leicester.

We’ve got a panel to talk about writing and publishing and then to take audience questions, followed by local comedian Ishi Khan Jackson who will be doing part of her popular ‘I’mMigrant’ comedy set, then we will be opening the floor for people to do five minute readings. All for £5 including some refreshments.

Get your tickets here so we know how much wine to buy!

5:20-8:30 Thursday 25th August in Leicester

Video killed the radio star

In the last couple of weeks Hannah Kate has interviewed both Aunty Fox and Kate Laity on Hannah’s Bookshelf.

The shows are a couple of hours and the interviews cover a wide range of bookish stuff including the Library at the End of Days.

Check out Aunty Fox talking genre, small press publishing and the Art of War.

Hannah’s Bookshelf with special guest Adele Wearing – 30/01/2016 by Hannah’s Bookshelf on Mixcloud

You can also listen to Kate Laity talking books, managing identities and more here.

 

Hannah’s Bookshelf with special guest K. A. Laity – 23/01/2016 by Hannah’s Bookshelf on Mixcloud

Five on Friday : N.O.A. Rawle

1 Involution Ocean by Bruce Sterling. My introduction to sci-fi and an eye-opener to the world of addiction, I think I was about 11 when I read this story of John Newhouse’s quest to find a supply of Flare an illegal drug. Well worth searching for it! (The book not the drug…)

1

2 The Whispering Knights by Penelope Lively. Here was my introduction to fantasy. I loved the thought that kids (William, Sue and Martha) could do battle with witches like Morgan, then there were ancient stones and the English countryside. This may well be a little outmoded now there’s so much stuff on the market in this genre for kids.

2

3 Death bird Stories by Harlan Ellison. This is a psychedelic trip of an anthology with lots of his best inside. My personal favourite is ‘Along the Scenic Route’ because you are in the action and you know just what George, a middle-aged family man, is going through!

3

4 On Writing by Stephen King. The ultimate kick in the butt for any procrastinating talent lingering in your closet.

4

5 Jean Michel Jarre, ‘Oxygen’ and ‘Equinox’. They fuelled a thousand fantasies in my raw pre-teen mind. I’d put the repeat button and drift off to sleep with these now I can write for hours with them playing.

5

Foxy Friday : Kate Jones

Please send your Foxy Friday recommendations to submissions@foxspirit. co.uk, now over to Kate.

For 2015, I’ve resolved to review and recommend more works of fiction with diverse casts which feature issues of diversity as character notes rather than plot points. I want to see these characters starring in gripping stories which don’t necessarily revolve around their experiences of being a person of colour, a non-heterosexual, a transgendered person or someone struggling with illness. For my Foxy Friday, I’ve chosen five works that are gloriously entertaining which also provide a platform for characters who don’t fit in and aren’t necessarily trying to. Here’s my celebration of the misfits, the geeks, the sex workers, the BDSM community, the people of colour, the working classes, the chronically ill, the injured, the disenfranchised women, the old folk and my hope for everyone who may have struggled to find a story with a central protagonist who is just like them.

Fantasy Novel

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Give me this over any 50 shades book any day! A wonderful and complicated political intrigue, set in a world where sex work is considered an honourable career choice. So refreshing to read a fantasy book set in a world where women can enjoy power within sex, where their right to say ‘no’ is sacred and their wish to enjoy physical pleasure is not shamed. If you are looking for a book which respects diversity in sexual taste and also tells a compelling story, this one is for you.

Kushiel's_Dart

Short Story

Chivalry by Neil Gaiman

I love old tales and legends, myths that have endured and seeped into our consciousness. In this story, I loved the idea that they are still here, not strange and distant but part of our own small worlds of charity shops, families and daily life. This story reminds me that the fantastical can be part our everyday lives, and that our everyday lives can be improved for their accidental brushes against it. It also reminds me that not all heroines are necessarily young and beautiful, although they may still remember the days when they once were.

Fantasy Novella

Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold

#WeNeedDiverseBooks and this one is a great starter! Cordelia Vorkosigan, plunged by marriage into an archaic, socially divided world, struggles to fit into her new home. She faces prejudiced behaviours which are new to her, including sexism, homophobia, institutional class bias, poverty and ableism. With help from a misfit band of social outcasts, Cordelia defies these social rules and restrictions, a course of action which culminates in a covert mission to rescue her infant son during a revolution and change the world for all future generations of Barrayarans.

Barrayar

TV Series

Spaced

Priot to becoming megastars with epic geek credentials, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost starred Spaced. With only two series, each containing six half-hour epsiodes, you could watch the lot in an afternoon. Meet Tim and Daisy, two artistically inclined and utterly hapless twenty-somethings, who along with their diverse cast of friends and acquaintances are trying to avoid growing up. Each episode is a miniture jewel, littered with delicious geeky references to sci-fi, fantasy, horror and all things cult and classic. If you’re a young geek who hasn’t figured out where life is going yet – watch Spaced, and know that you’re not alone.

Film

Attack The Block

Forget the army, forget the police – it’s up to a South London gang of teenage hoods to save their neighbourhood from an alien menace. Clueless but determined, lead by Moses (John Boyega, now confirmed for a lead role in Star Wars VII), the gang aim to defend their territory with a little help from a nurse, a couple of drug dealers and some teenage girls. Attack The Block is a raucous comedy, but also touches on more serious issues, such as racism, crime, child neglect, poverty and distrust of the police, alongside positive ideals such as honour, bravery and loyalty.

attack