by Charleigh Brennan
Hi everyone!I wanted to update you all on how the Vermont Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo went. In one word: Amazing!
In many words: I had so much fun. There were more booths than last year, I got to see some familiar faces from last year, and I made some really amazing new friends. I got to speak on a couple of panels. Both panels ran on both days, so I got to do them twice.
The “Creating a Character” panel was fun because I was on it with some of the same people I was on the panel with last year, and we got some really great questions. I mentioned the Brian Jacques Redwall series when someone asked about how to write non-human characters, which got another member of the audience really excited. She was so adorable and clearly read even more of the series than I have (it’s a fantastic series and I highly recommend it, btw.) There was another person who asked some fantastic questions, and when I talked to him later on, I was so impressed by the projects he was working on. I really hope to see him get published some day.
The second panel was “Mental Health and Gaming.” Anyone who knows me outside of my writing knows that mental health is my thing (or maybe my other thing. I have so many things.) The two other panelists were fantastic, and we had great discussions on how to utilize games to help treat things like trauma and mood disorders (both were developing therapeutic D&D style games) and we also talked about how games are a great place to practice positive cognitive and social skills in a low or no risk environment. They’re great for trying on personas and discovering sides of our identities that we don’t always get to safely explore in our day to day lives.
Someone randomly gave me a set of gaming dice with little pizzas in them (seriously cute dice!), I got to hang out with the sweetest therapy dog, I exchanged books with a fellow author, I bought some gorgeous wooden coasters, and I got to dress up, not in full cosplay, but in some fun costumey outfits.
I’m hoping to do more events, and if you know of any you’d like to see me at (and are within my budget, of course), let me know! I’m already in the process of looking at some library readings and may be looking at local renaissance faires or literary expos.
Charleigh Brennan lives across the street from a cemetery. She’s grateful to have such quiet neighbors, as they give her plenty of time to be creative. Well, except when they get a little out of hand and knock items off her desk.
Charleigh has lived an unexpected life, veering off into odd and unexpected paths on more than one continent. She misses the temperate weather of her Northern California upbringing yet loves seeing actual seasons in her present home in New England. If only it didn’t snow for quite as long as it does. You can find Charleigh on Facebook page at charleighbrennanauthor.
Eighteen-year-old Josh Buckmilter knows what he wants: to level up his life. Go to college (+4 INT), get a steady job (+50 GOLD), and marry his dream girl, Harriet (+20 LUK). In other words, he wants a normal life, something he missed out on growing up.
But college is an epic boss battle he’s not ready for yet, not without some grinding. So while he saves money delivering pizzas in a car held together by duct tape and dreams, most of his thoughts center around gaming, pizza, and Harriet.
As far as Josh is concerned, pizza is a goddess and Harriet is her handmaiden. Much as he wants to, he can’t summon the courage to ask her out. But he’s not worried. With a little more grinding, he’s sure he’ll get there.
Until he gets a phone call that changes the game.
In his town, a long-abandoned mansion sits at the top of a hill. Kids sometimes sneak in with their friends for thrills, and it’s known as a frequent party spot for the high schoolers.
Only, it isn’t abandoned anymore. Word around town is, a glamorous young couple has moved in: beautiful, suave, and wealthy.
Most importantly, the new tenants are hungry.
And they’ve called for a pizza delivery boy.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bringing Bolivar Peninsula to Houston: Award-Winning Author Georgina Key to Sign Novel of Hope, Resilience at Blue Willow Bookshop
Houston, TX—Local author Georgina Key will be signing her award-winning book, Shiny Bits in Between, on May 21, 2022, at 1 PM at the Blue Willow Bookshop (www.bluewillowbookshop.com) in West Houston.
Winner of Best New Voice, Popular Fiction in the 2020 Kops-Fetherling International Book Awards and a Top 5 Finalist in the Author Elite Book Contest, Shiny Bits in Between casts a light on what it means to move forward after a life-changing tragedy. Set in both Houston and Bolivar Peninsula, Shiny Bits is a story of two women who regain their sense of self and hope through their connections with the Bolivar community.
“We’ve all been struggling during the past two years as we navigate our way through this pandemic. Always looking for those shiny bits in between the darkness is what keeps us going,” says Key.
Having relocated from her 1915 home in the historic Houston Heights to Houston’s historic Riverside Terrace neighborhood, Key’s commitment to preserving history through art remains at the forefront of her life. “Our house was built in the 1930s, and it was love at first sight for me. Places and respect for the lives of those who lived there are vital to me as both a writer and a lover of older homes and communities. My books center around this; whether they’re set in a remote community on the Texas Gulf Coast or in a small village in England, I write about places I know and love,” Key says. “Shiny Bits in Between is my love letter to Bolivar Peninsula.”
Blue Willow Bookshop, which will be hosting Key’s book signing, has been a community gem in West Houston since 1996. Named after the “blue willow” china pattern to reflect its comfortable, cozy feel, the bookshop is an intersection where local authors and readers connect.
“We love to connect readers and authors and are happy to welcome Georgina to the shop,” says Valerie Koehler, owner of the Blue Willow Bookshop.
“Living in COVID put a damper on travel and live events, but we’re back in full force now. It means so much to be sharing my story of resilience and transformation to a public audience for the first time in person. I’m a huge proponent of independent bookstores, and being represented by an independent press, Balance of Seven, it’s even more important to spread the word,” says Key.
For details on the Shiny Bits in Between live reading and signing, visit https://www.bluewillowbookshop.com/event/georgina-key-shiny-bits-between
ABOUT BALANCE OF SEVEN
Established in 2018, Balance of Seven, LLC, is a small independent press dedicated to keeping the magic in publishing. Our readers crave magic, and we aim to bring it to them by providing a platform for new voices and perspectives. We are owned and operated by a cis woman and a trans man: diversity and allyship are at the very core of our makeup. We bravely venture beyond genre; when publishing emerging voices, we find they often do not fit “inside the box.” Many of our books are award winning or #1 Amazon bestsellers, sometimes both. Come say hello to us and discover the book you didn’t know you loved at balanceofseven.com.
by Sarah V. Hines
I wrote Hubris in a dark, bleak time in my life. I was dealing with unbearable struggles both inside and out. Hubris was a way to give a face to the pain and hopelessness that I battled with daily, as well as a discourse on the struggles humanity faced as a whole. I always meant for Hubris to be a statement to how difficult and yet how crucial it is to face the monsters that hold so much power over our everyday lives, who can act with impunity while innocent people pay the price.
We see a very real example of this in Ukraine today, as well as many places throughout modern history: the innocent people of a country must suffer, lives are sacrificed and courage is defined by everyday people’s resolve to stand up to face one madman’s ego and power. As the men and women of Ukraine—many of whom have never even served in the military—take on the monster whose power seems absolute, we see a struggle playing out in front of the world that has gone on for decades, sometimes with very little fanfare from our media. Today, we should recognize the horror and shame of invasions and occupations of people in Ukraine and around the world and stand strong in solidarity with those that fight for their right to exist.
In light of the invasion of Ukraine, I am honored to support Balance of Seven in their decision to donate 40% of all box sales to the charity Sunflower of Peace, who provides dire needed medical supplies to medics and doctors in Ukraine, saving lives when there is little time and resources to do so.
Our “Reading is Magic” box contains a copy of Hubris, as well as a handcrafted beanie, a handmade resin Libra pendant, a meditation for inner calm, and a holographic sticker drawn by yours truly. It is a great gift for readers in your life, as well as those that enjoy books about facing the monsters in the world. In these times, we need these folks more than ever.
Sarah V. Hines was born in Ohio where she lived the first 17 years of her life before moving to Florida for a spell and then heading over to Washington, D.C. She is slowly working toward her bachelors in International Relations and Anthropology. She loves topics on fantasy, feminism and foreign policy. She also loves languages and is currently learning Russian, Spanish and Arabic. She is currently working on The Siren Tragedies Series, of which the first book, Hubris, will be published in April of 2022. Throughout the series, she combines various mythological themes to tell her stories.
Telese’s yearning for freedom and Eric’s passion for knowledge bring them together in a dangerous alliance. They must challenge their old beliefs to bring together the warring Light and Dark Worlds, reveal magic to humans, and rally the Sirens against the father-leader who wrote their rules. Can Eric and Telese save humans and create a united, harmonious system of rule, or will the worlds they must align fall victim to their hubris?
40% of each purchase of the Reading is Magic Book Box will go to the Sunflower of Peace Foundation.
Each box contains:
READING IS MAGIC BOX WILL SHIP APRIL 2022
by D. Ynes Freeman
by Dr. Nyri Bakkalian
In Grey Dawn, we meet two transgender men from central Pennsylvania, Caldwell Simmons and Nate Yoder, who are Chloë Stanton’s bunkmates in the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Just as Chloë learns, modern language on gender identity and sexual orientation is not the same as the language that existed in the 1860s, but that doesn’t mean that people with those identities didn’t exist.
So this week, readers, I’d like you to learn about a man named Albert D.J. Cashier (pictured, 1843-1915). He was from Ireland, and immigrated to Illinois with his parents at a young age. In 1862, he enlisted in Company G of the 95th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and served through the end of the war, discharged as a private and a veteran of many battles, including the fighting at Vicksburg, Mississippi. And it wasn’t until a car accident, and then committal to a state institution because of dementia, that Cashier’s assigned sex was discovered, when he was 71. Modern language on gender identity and sexual orientation did not exist yet in Cashier’s time, certainly. But when we consider that there were more than a few women who—like Chloë does in Grey Dawn—briefly assumed male guise in order to fight as Union soldiers, it becomes all the more noteworthy that Cashier simply went on with his life as a man. This was not a game or an expedient means to him—it was an identity.
Some may think this surprising. But to me as a queer person, it is not so surprising. Language has changed, it has evolved. But as long as there have been people, we have been here.
We always will be.
Dr. Nyri A. Bakkalian is an Armenian American queer woman by birth and a military historian by training. She is proud to have called both the American and Japanese northeasts her home. She has produced nonfiction, fiction, and photography content for more than a dozen publications, as well as for Eisner Award-nominated author Magdalene Visaggio’s Kim & Kim. What’s her secret, you ask? Garlic and Turkish coffee (but really, mostly Turkish coffee). Come say hi to her on Twitter, Facebook, and Patreon at riversidewings.
Grey Dawn is a tale of war, abolition, union, and women who forge ties that carry them from one life into the next. When the grey dawn breaks on a new era and a new cause, who can you trust to fight beside you?