I Saw E Store!

I have an old rhyme in my head lately, so forgive the title. Still, did you know we have our own ebook store now? Sporting almost all of our titles? 

There are some exceptions.
Our HEMA titles under the Vulpes line; the Giganti, Alfieri and Docciolini do not lend themselves to e-versions.
Our poetry titles, Multiverse by Jan Siegel, And the Fox Crows by V.C. Linde and The Velocity of Constant by Hardeep Sangha, likewise make such a feature of the formatting we decided to offer them in paperback only.

Of course the FS Books of Monsters, touring the world continent by continent to explore the darkest lurking terrors, are designed as coffee table books and will only be released as paperbacks. 

Beyond that we have a few titles left to get caught up with:
Respectable Horror, Starfang vols 2&3, the last five fox pockets, and You Left Your Biscuit Behind, will all be joining the site soon, along with our new releases. 

Check it out, there isn’t a single book over £3.99, we will be doing some value bundles for £9 coming online in due course and if you Join the Skulk at the bottom of this site you can claim 10% of every basket. 

And if that isn’t enough! Our Buy Stuff page has links to other amazing small presses, art and merchandise by some of the artists we have worked with, quick links to find our books on Amazon and more. 

The best thing about our own estore, is even more of the money you spend goes to the authors you love!

Are we the hoarders?

I have been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and I have been watching book twitter argue up a storm, helped by inflammatory comments by a newspaper blogger.

The implication has been that Marie Kondo is telling people to get rid of their books, to only keep a few and that this is monstrous. This was not my interpretation. 

Firstly though, I have not in fact read the book, I just put the show on as soothing background. I then attacked my own clothing hoard and about halved it.  I feel better for that. I was hanging on to a lot of stuff that I never expect to slim back into, largely because being size 12 is no longer an ambition. I am 41 and more concerned with my blood pressure being acceptable than my size. I put some things that I love but that are too small for me away safely, I also got rid of some stuff that honestly if i do ever fit them again I don’t expect to want to wear. It makes me happy. 

I have no intention of going through my books. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that we don’t have a room big enough for all the books to be in at the same time.  The other is that books inherently bring me joy. I don’t bring books into the house that I find upsetting or offensive and outside of those instances books are a thing of joy to me. 

Marie Kondo keeps around 30 books in her home. She does not suggest this is the right number for you. In fact what I enjoyed about the show is at no point does she tell people they have too much of a specific thing (although some of the couples bicker about that).

There were two episodes that dealt with books in a significant way to my mind.  One was a widow who obviously needed help giving herself permission to get rid of all her husbands cowboy paperbacks. There was a huge bookcase taken over by these books that were clearly just making her feel bad and she had no interest in reading them. Marie gently ‘woke’ all the books (I understand this comes from her background with Shinto). I thought that was a lovely thing and if I ever get around to reorganising all my books I will take a few moments to wake them. Why not. She then essentially gave her client the ok to get rid of all the debris of a life she was no longer living. 

The other episode Marie visited a lovely couple where both guys were writers of various sorts. Although they didn’t have nearly enough books for my taste to begin with, they were hanging on to old text books and things they weren’t really attached to any more and they let some go. One of them actually had a much harder time letting go of every piece of paper he had ever written on. 

So all in all, I think there has been a lot of excited outrage at something that hasn’t been said and may not be what is actually intended. So what does that say about us? Why would the idea of getting rid of books be so abhorrent. Lots of people get rid of books. I have been book fairy to many a village and school event and charity shop, and my home is still over run. I am pretty sure at this point there aren’t many left I don’t want, that don’t for whatever reason spark joy. It would be a huge job to accept getting rid of three more books.

The shared horror at the KonMarie suggestion of actually addressing the books we have made me wonder, what are we pushing back against? Why does book twitter care so much about what other people do with their books.

Hans, are we Hoarders?

As someone said, this is not the firemen from 451 bursting into your home to destroy the written word, it’s an elfin Japanese lady telling you very gently, through her translator, that your books should bring you joy. To be honest, that is a message I am on board with. 

Christmas Countdown Day 23

Magic and traditions of Christmas by Penny Jones Part 3

He’s been, he’s been. Can I open my presents now?

My final tradition at Christmas is of course the Christmas book. As a child it was always an annual, and I am stupidly excited that this year “The Sinister Horror Co.” have produced a horror themed Christmas annual, it will be my first present opened on Christmas day, and I’m really excited to read it (during their launch at SledgeLit, I closed my eyes and stuck my fingers in my ears so that none of the wonder would be spoiled for me, before Christmas Day). Usually my Christmas book (one of the many of them) is by Stephen King. The one year he didn’t release a new book in time for Christmas, he ruined Christmas for me (still haven’t forgiven him). Christmas afternoon is usually spent playing games and being social, but the whole family are really just counting down the minutes until we can slope off to bed with our newest tomes, and indulge in the real meaning of Christmas. Books.

So if you are looking for something traditional to read this year, you can’t go wrong with Charles Dickens’s “The Christmas Carol”, John Masefield’s “The Box of Delights”, “The Sinister Horror Co. Annual”, or Stephen King’s “Elevation”.

Merry Christmas everyone, and remember… “He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake.”

Countdown to Christmas Day 8

Five Books That’ll Keep You Warm in Winter

by Lynn E. O’Connacht

For many of us in the northern hemisphere, December is often cold and dreary.
Personally I always feel that there’s too little snow to make suffering through the cold worth it, but at least we always have books. December is a great month to read books and I wanted to share some of my favourite December reads with you all. Hopefully they’ll lead you on to discover some fantastic new-to-you authors!

These five books are in no particular order, although there’s a definite ‘includes snow’ theme going on, but I hope you’ll find at least one that makes a great present for yourself or others this month.

Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis

Speaking of snow, this is a delightful wintery novella set in an alternate Earth setting where fairies and magic are real. This is a light read, perfect for those days when you don’t want to go out. Though it’s a gentle story with a strong romance, it also tackles some deep topics, such as the way women are often treated in academia. It’s a perfect balance, ensuring a lot of reread value.

As a bonus, it’s the first in a series, so if you enjoy it, there’s more to explore!

The Raven and the Reindeer by T. Kingfisher

We’re not done with the combination of winter settings and utterly warm writing yet. The Raven and the Reindeer is a brilliant retelling of The Snow Queen. Unlike some of Kingfisher’s other retellings, this one stays fairly traditional and, in doing so, enhances the smaller ways in which the story subverts the original tale. This story is worth it just for Mousebones alone. Add in a discussion about abuse and depression as well as a cute f/f romance and it’s sure to brighten up any dark December day.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Set in the heart of winter, this is the darkest book on the list, dealing as it does with mental illness, but the prose is so lush and pitch-perfect. I couldn’t imagine a better time to read Wintersong than in the heart of winter, which is currently is where I’m  located. Liesl is a powerful protagonist, determined to save her sister from the Goblin King.

This is the first in a duology, so if you reach the end desperate for more Jae-Jones has got you covered!

Wingborn by Becca Lusher

What’s this? A book with no snow?! Well, there may be some, but there are certainly plenty of clouds. Reminiscent of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall novels, Lusher deftly weaves a narrative of girls joining a previously male-only institution (yes, plural) with a Regency-inspired setting as Lady Mhysra struggles against social norms to follow her heart and care for her feathered companion. It’s lush and gorgeous and this series will make you long for the open skies.

Wingborn is the first in a series – and there’s a companion series – so readers who love getting stuck into a setting will find plenty to enjoy. (Lastly, this book also contains winged puppy antics and TEAM BUMBLE FOREVER.)

A Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams by Dax Murray

From clouds back to forests in this queer retelling of Swan Lake where nothing is exactly what it seems. If you’re looking for something to accompany Disney’s The nutcracker and the Four Realms as a seasonal fairy tale, do check this out. It’s very different, but touches on similar themes. The characters in this book were a delight, especially Princen Alexis and their relationship with their best friend, Tatiana. It’s a very sweet polyamorous story with some great twists on the original tale.

And that’s it. Five books that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and find comforting in months when the days are short, the wind is howling and there’s just not enough snow to make all this cold worth dealing with. If gifting any of these to yourself, add in a nice hot beverage of your choice, snuggle up in your favourite reading spot and enjoy!

Happy holidays!

Christmas Countdown Day 3

Christmas Books reviewed by Anna Thomas

Of all the books Ive read this year, I was particularly impressed with the novels by Japanese authors. Here are four of my favourites.

  1. Yoko Tawada, and Margaret Mitsutani (Trans.), The Last Children of Tokyo, (Portobello Books, 2018).

The Last Children of Tokyo is set in a post-apocalyptic future where Japan has isolated itself from the rest of the world. Vividly imagined, disturbingly so at times, it is the elderly, now long lived and healthier, who are tasked with the responsibility of looking after their fragile children, who often die in their youth. I was taken by the relationship of Yoshiro and his great grandson, Mumei, and the everyday struggle to survive. Its a short book at 138 pages, but the brevity lends additional weight to the dark undertones. Perfect for those who enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction and feel like branching out.

2) Hiro Arakawa, and Philip Gabriel (Trans.), The Travelling Cat Chronicles, (Doubleday, 2017).

I love cats, and while I primarily bought this book because the protagonist is a cat, the novel is both delightful and heart wrenching. Found as a stray by Satoru Miyawaki, Nana lives with him for five years. When Satoru is then faced with the awful prospect of having to rehouse Nana, a road-trip ensues, as he tries to find a suitable candidate. I enjoyed Nanas snark and his generally pragmatic personality, which succeeded in being rather endearing at the same time. It was interesting to view a person, or several peoples lives from the perspective of the cat, and see how deeply animals can be affected by their owners.

3) Sayaka Murata, and Ginny Tapley Takemori (Trans.), Convenience Store Woman, (Portobello Books, 2018).

Convenience Store Woman examines the life of Keiko, a thirty six year old convenience store worker, trying to get by when otherswants for her life do not match the life she wants to lead. Societal expectation is the main theme here, as an unmarried thirty-something is pressurised to give up the thing she loves. The author is a convenience store worker herself, and this intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the store shines throughout; you can almost smell the coffee. The writing is excellent, presented in an uncluttered manner. I read this book in an afternoon, and like good chocolate cake, it was rich, satisfying and I know I will come back for more from this author!

4) Hiromi Kawakami, and Allison Markin Powell (Trans.), The Nakano Thrift Shop, (Portobello Books, 2016).

Ostensibly, this a love story, but there is little caveat in this tale. A happy ending is not a given, and all the characters have to work at their respective relationships. Set against the backdrop of the Nakano Thrift Shop, Hitomi and Takeo struggle from the beginning. They struggle to understand one another, and sometimes fail completely, hurting one or the other without quite knowing what it was they did wrong. It is a human tale, and its human fragility is what stands out; the idea of love or being in love, not being as transformative as it is often made out to be. Sometimes the grass doesnt look greener, nor the sky bluer. Sometimes, you still feel lonely, or misunderstood. I did get a sense of hope as I finished this book though, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to read an unconventional story.

Blog posts needed for December

You know what makes a great gift? A book!! Books are amazing, you can pick them up all over the place, they fit into stockings and under pillows, and they provide endless adventures. So all this December we are inviting you to share a review of a favourite book or give us five of your favourite books with just a few lines for each.

We are not looking for reviews of Fox Spirit Books for this, (although if you pop those on Amazon or Goodreads we will love you forever, obvs).

Just send your submission to submissions@foxspirit.co.uk and title it ‘Christmas Books’. We are offering a £5 token payment for these posts so also include a paypal email.

We are looking for titles from any time, old or new and we are keen to see books proposed by under represented groups, such as POC and LGBT+ writers. 

 

A weekend of Words

Well the Foxes had a busy weekend.

Saturday we got up bright and early and headed to Nottingham in the light rain and chilly air for Other Worlds. A one day event run by the ever excellent Alex Davis and Nottingham Writers Studio. I pretty much spent the day downstairs, being on and watching panels. 

Among the guests were Gav Thorpe, J.R. Park, Alison Moore, Justina Robson, Stephen Aryan and Charlotte Bond. A stellar line up I was delighted to be part of. I moderated a discussion on short stories. As a huge fan of the short it was lovely to get writers takes on their role in the industry. I also sat on the Tropes panel which had some lively discussion around the role of tropes, for better and for worse. The other panels of the day were superb, with intelligent and varied contributions from writers who clearly really engaged with the subjects. Gav realised last minute that he was moderating but ran the panel brilliantly. I would later come to regret teasing him.

I wore fox ears. Of course.

Mr Fox and I then pootled off to get the train to Sheffield. After a very relaxed night at a premier inn which included pizza in bed and sleep, we were just about refreshed and ready for the final day of Sci Fi in the City. The book programme is run by Sam Stone and David Howe and they always put together an excellent and busy selection of treats for the event. 

I started with a one on one interview with Sam, which was up against cosplay so we had a small audience allowing for a very relaxed conversation with some input from others. I might have been a bit over excited about the colouring story book Zena the Zombie and tried to persuade Sam custom crayons were the way to go. 

After a break, during which pop up puppets did their hilarious version of Jaws (do see them if you get the chance), I moderated a panel on self publishing which looked pretty openly at the pros and cons, and why you might choose to self pub and the practicalities. Followed this up with what was originally posted as a small press discussion but ended up being ‘Aunty Fox and Ian Whates have a damned good catch up and chat about the stuff that goes on’. We covered a lot of the joys and hard truths of small press and while it felt very indulgent to spend a whole hour talking to the lovely Ian in this way the audience seemed happy to just occasionally provide a topic. A rare opportunity for those who attended to hear how it really is. 

Finally the afternoon wrapped for us with a writing SF & Fantasy Panel. I had to eat my words from teasing Mr Thorpe because I realised 5 mins before my 3 hour stint started that I was down to moderate this. I obviously stole some of the questions from the tropes panel, and honestly with the guests I had very little moderating was needed, it was more like throw something out and let them run with it. An absolute joy. I met some utterly delightful people, caught up with old friends including several skulk members and found some even bigger fluffier ears. We came home with lots more books and a whole load of others on my list to try. A fantastic weekend. My guests over the course over the day included Sam, Ian, Bryony Pearce and Rob Harkess among others.

I now have a couple of weeks for my voice to recover before Fantasycon at Chester, where I am pleased to say I am just a punter this year. If you are there I will be the one in giant fluffy ears. 

Just one final shout out for the weekender, to these fabulous cosplayers who went back for the cat. 

 

 

 

Living on the EDGE.LIT

Today is the day. Early start, loads of boxes, a day at the QUAD in Derby and for me a day behind a table in the dealers room getting to see some of the fabulous people who support our work in a myriad of ways, buying stuff not being the least of it.

It’s meant to be another warm weekend too. Todd and Reynard recommend books to help with the heat. 

At 4pm we will have the signing of Children of Artifice with the fabulous Danie Ware! There will be biscuits and books and badges, all good stuff. 

I am also pleased to announce that you kindle people should now be able to Skytown, Children of Artifice and Into the Blight to your collection. And you definitely should, they are wonderful.

If it is your first Edge.Lit have a blast, it is a lovely friendly convention, if you aren’t able to make it, maybe we will see you next year, in the mean time all our titles are available on Amazon and check out the guest list for some great writers to read. 

 

 

 

Edge.Lit is almost upon us

Normally at this time I do the ‘what panels am I on’ post for Edge.lit, but somehow this year I am not on any! I am free to do whatever I want, so obviously I will be behind a table all day in the dealers area and then almost certainly at Ask for dinner. 

We will have many many books by all sorts of fabulous people, some of whom are also at the event.

Particularly of note is Danie Ware who is having a low key launch of Children of Artifice at our table in the dealers room at 4pm. Danie will be happy to sign books or anything else you want, within reason, and there are fabulous Artifice cookies to devour from 4pm. 

I will be bringing some of our travel mugs, tote bags and notebooks to sell too, so if you are looking for gifts for bookish loved ones, or yourself, Fox Spirit can provide. Also look out for the Foxy goodies in your attendee goodie bags.

Now we are Six

Thank you to everyone who remembered our publishing birthday yesterday. We posted our very first post on June 2nd 2012, which I think makes us six. SIX! I had no idea we would make it this far.

Charlie Fox and the MutherFudger cakes

It’s been an incredible journey, working with any artists, hundreds of writers, our team of editors, formatters and the wonderful readers who keep coming back and supporting us.

We hope to continue it for many years to come. This years titles will start pouring out soon, in the mean time we have around 70 already out there for your enjoyment, SFF, a little crime and horror, books for kids and young adults, anthologies that are tightly drawn on theme and tone, others that meander through genres on a word, we have #ownvoices, new voices, experienced voices, the well known and the intrepid adventurers, all are fearless genre warriors! We have fencing manuals, and essays, we have illustrations and incredible cover art, we are more a militia than a cult. We have cookies.

If you are new to us, welcome to the Skulk! If you have travelled some of all of these first years with us, thank you for all your support. Strap in, there is much more to come. And plenty of pamphlets.