Ahoy March! Surgery, The Ninth Rain, Mass Effect & Bats. Bats!

How did it get to be March? How did it get to be the middle of March, in fact? Timey wimey nonsense.

Actually, for me personally I will blame this particular space/time cock-up on the fact that I spent much of February recovering from surgery, and then the last bit of it launching a book (and having a birthday) which is a lot to fit into one month. Having surgery was interesting. I am, at heart, a coward, and I remain faintly stunned that I went through with it at all, and there were a few days afterwards, where Marty still had to help me in and out of bed, that I was convinced that I was in much more pain than was usual and it was all a bit outrageous. However, that proved to be me being overly dramatic and I must express my gratitude to Marty and my mum for looking after me, and all the lovely friends who sent me books and sweets and DVDs – what lovely people you are, I don’t deserve you.

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Me, signing like a boss, in my new favourite jumper.

Luckily, I was up and about in time for the launch of The Ninth Rain, which was handy because it was a brilliant night, with so many people in the queue at Forbidden Planet I suspected more timey-wimey shenanigans. Thank you again to everyone who came out to celebrate the publication of this epic fantasy with bats, bad-ass ladies and explosions, I had a completely amazing time and was very moved by all the support.

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So how’s it doing? Quite well, it seems, which is a lovely surprise. Everyone worries every time a book comes out, I suspect, but The Ninth Rain was quite a different beast from the Copper Cat trilogy, and a riskier undertaking in lots of ways. There have been some lovely reviews, and yesterday it popped up in a ‘best recent SF, Fantasy and Horror books’ round up in the Guardian, which you can see here. The word ‘eldritch’ is used! Hooray! If you have read it and enjoyed it, a review plonked up on goodreads or Amazon is always hugely appreciated – it does make a difference and helps get the book in potential reader’s faces. IN THEIR FACES.

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In other news, Den Patrick and I have stepped down from running Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. We have wrestled with the decision for a while now, but ultimately we are both horribly busy at the moment and we didn’t feel we could put in the time that SRFC deserved. The good news is that SRFC isn’t going anywhere: the running of the thing is being passed over as we speak, and you can expect monthly events of fantasy fun and booze to continue for the foreseeable future. We’re very proud of what we’ve built, and the little community of SRFC regulars should be very proud too. Watch out for updates on twitter, via @SRFantasyclub.

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I will be spending late March with these awesome dudes. YESSSS.

So, March then. March will see me working furiously on The Bitter Twins, which is the sequel to The Ninth Rain, whilst also furiously playing Mass Effect: Andromeda, which I am ridiculously excited about. The original Mass Effect trilogy is my favourite piece of SF ever, and I can’t talk about it for any length of time without staring moodily out of windows, heroically holding back tears. If you don’t see me on social media much, this will be why.

See you on the other side, and remember, Isaac Newton is the deadliest son of a bitch in space…

Where am I? What’s going on? Cons and wotsits UPDATED

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Yes, you too can witness me awkwardly signing books, IN FLESH SPACE

I’ve been putting off writing this post slightly, because I haven’t actually known what I’ll be doing, really, over the next few months, but August is suddenly looming and it occurs to me that I should probably get my finger out. As I gradually learn stuff, I will update this post, and wave it about some more. So this is the rough draft, as it were.

So! Hello! Convention season is upon us. What am I up to? Where can you find me should you need a dragon drawn in a book?

6th of August Fantasy in the Court

Come and hang out at Goldsboro Books, one of the loveliest bookshops in London, with a bunch of fantasy authors. What could be better than that? I always look forward to this event.

7th to the 9th of August Nineworlds Geekfest

On the Friday I will be chatting dragons and griffins and giant spiders on the “It’s ALIIIIIVE: Creating a Monster” panel, 1.30pm to 2.45pm

On Saturday morning, I’ll be on the panel for The End of Author Mystique, where possibly I realise that after 105K tweets, I am probably not that mysterious any more. From 10am to 11.15am.

On Sunday morning, the excellent writer Den Patrick and I will be hosting a special “pastries and coffee” edition of the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. Readings tbc, and there will be a chance to win a copy of The Folio Society’s gorgeous edition of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. Chat and shenanigans will take place from 10am to 11.15am, and we hope to see you all there. Our early morning wakefulness will be sponsored by Orbit!

Then, on the Creative Writing track, Den and I will be making another appearance on the “Support Groups for Writers: How to make them work” panel, at 1.30pm to 2.45pm.

On September the 26th I will be at the lovely Bristolcon, and from the 23rd to the 25th of October I will be at the fabulous Fantasycon. I’ve no clue what I’m doing yet, but I am always ready and willing to sign books, draw in people’s books, or generally bore on about Dragon Age or Mass Effect, so please do say hello if you see me.

 

My Complicated February; Or, my book is nearly here, HALP

This is going to be one of those posts where I have a lot of different things to tell you, so I’m chucking them all together in one place. Efficiency FTW!

Firstly, enormously excited that The Copper Promise was featured in FantasyFaction’s Top 50 Fantasy Books of 2014, and it made the top 5! Seriously, I spent all of yesterday in some sort of stunned daze about this. There are so many great writers on that list, it has blown my tiny mind.

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Secondly, Sorrow’s Isle is out now and available to download for 99 of your human pennies. It’s a short story set in the world of The Copper Promise before the events of the first book, and it also includes a little preview of The Iron Ghost (which is out in 26 days, ye gods, the terror).

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So yes, tomorrow is February, which is the month where I officially start to panic in a big way. The Iron Ghost, the sequel to The Copper Promise, is out on the 26th. Aieeeee. So if you haven’t read The Copper Promise yet, that’s practically loads of time to catch up… I’m doing a few signings and stuff where I will attempt to scrawl a dragon in your copy (please note I am usually very nervous at these things so the dragons may be somewhat wobbly. I think it adds to their character).

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First up, on the 21st of February Den Patrick and I will be teaming up to chat about books and nonsense at Kingston Waterstones, where you can pick up copies of Den’s excellent books in the Erebus Sequence, The Boy with the Porcelain Blade and The Boy Who Wept Blood. It’ll also likely be the earliest you can grab a copy of The Iron Ghost too!

Then on the 24th, Den and I will be taking over Super Relaxed Fantasy Club for the evening, with readings and Q&As and lots of chat. As usual we’ll be at the Sky Bar at the Grange Hotel in Holborn from 6.30pm.

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On Thursday the 26th of February, it’s the big one for me – launching The Iron Ghost at Forbidden Planet! We had such an excellent time last year with The Copper Promise I am super excited to do it again, whilst also slightly terrified at the same time of course. There will be pub shenanigans afterwards, and possibly the spectacle of an overwhelmed author clutching both books to her bosom and calling them her “precious babies”.

So, February. Highly likely to kick my arse all over the shop, but I’m very much looking forward to seeing The Iron Ghost out in the world as well as catching up/meeting people for the first time. I hope I will get to see you all at some point!

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My 2014: A Year in Pictures, Books, and Cider

It feels odd to say it, because I’ve never really been the sort of person to look back over a year and judge it on its merits or disasters (mainly because I have a terrible memory) but I think 2014 has been an incredible year for me.

The year before last I was pootling away writing novels that I confidently expected no one would ever read. I was happy doing that, because I’d worked out that writing was what I was supposed to be doing, but the next stage – the getting an agent and selling a book stage – seemed cheerfully impossible, the sort of thing that happened to other people.

And so, 2014, which thanks to the wonderful Juliet Mushens and Headline, saw my book sitting on the shelves of actual bookshops. I’m still, in my heart, a tiny bit stunned.

Here are a bunch of pictures from this year, with some of the people and moments that have made it a special one for me (I did that My Year thing on facebook but it generated a whole bunch of incredibly unflattering photos and none of my book launch, so bum off, facebook)

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Forbidden Planet London, February

We launched THE COPPER PROMISE in Forbidden Planet on my birthday. I was sweaty and terrified, but there was cake and lots of friendly faces. And they sung me happy birthday.

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SRFC, Royal Festival Hall, February

Shortly after that, I attended my first ever Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, having missed the first one thanks to a chest infection. As with everything, I imbued it with my sense of class and dignity. Den Patrick reads from his book, and does a better job than me as usual.

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Blackwells, Charing Cross Road, March

In March, Den and I did a joint event at Blackwells where we were interviewed by the fabulous Jared from Pornokitsch. Many copies of The Copper Promise and The Boy With the Porcelain Blade were signed.

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A Bookshop

The book is now in bookshops! I have no idea where this photo comes chronologically, but it has The Copper Promise in a Scott Lynch, George R R Martin, James Oswald sandwich so I’ve gone with this one. I have LOTS of pictures of my book in bookshops. It is amazing.

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Pyra, Tyrant and Tummy Lord

There have been a lot book photos, so here is a random photo of the cat on the day we let her out in the garden. She looks very pretty here, but promptly came inside and puked. Thanks Pyra.

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Lambeth Country Show, in a time and place known only as cider

Marty and I attended the Lambeth Country Show in the summer and drank vast amounts of Chucklehead cider, as is now traditional. I think the fact that this picture is on its side is appropriate.

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10 years in the iso cubes is a bit much for “loitering near the bar”

August was the Month of Conventions! At Nineworlds I ran into a Judge.

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Here I am, demonstrating that you can’t looked composed for a photo whilst talking on a panel

At Fantasycon I talked about Grimdark on a panel and apparently managed to say some sensible things (“lol Grimdark”, in summary) and managed to turn up late to SRFC.

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Land’s End, in lots of sun

At some point we took a holiday, and there was much relaxing. Cornwall was amazingly sunny and we bought several plastic dinosaurs.

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The Iron Ghost, sequel to The Copper Promise

And towards the end of 2014, my next book baby arrived! The Iron Ghost in all its blue glory. There are times when publishing seems to take forever, and times when everything seems to happen at once. I can’t believe we’re here already.

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My awesome Christmas zombie av, by the amazing Crispin Young

In the end, there were a lot more photos I could have put up here, most of them involving alcohol, but I have to stop somewhere. I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone who has helped make this year such an excellent one, and all those people who read The Copper Promise and said kind things about it – and above all thank you to Marty, who has kept me going this year with a mixture of support, booze, and inappropriate jokes.

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Books, together at last!

I ATEN’T DEAD

Okay, so this is just a post to let you know that I am, in fact, still alive. Waving behind a mountain of editing and post-cold weariness, but still here.

Edits on THE IRON GHOST are progressing as edits normally do, with lots of hot chocolate, lots of flicking back to previous chapters and muttering “I said what exactly?!”, and lots of angst about whether everyone will unanimously hate the book, perhaps forming some sort of giant club where haters of the book can gather together to look at copies of THE IRON GHOST and shake their heads mournfully or throw things. So as expected, really.

Once that’s done with, I’ll be jumping back into Book 3, the final book in THE COPPER PROMISE trilogy and as yet, probably the craziest of the lot. Good times.

I spotted this quote today on the Tor blog, from the wonderful Sarah Rees Brennan, who was kind enough to entertain us with a reading at a recent Super Relaxed Fantasy Club:

“I love a trilogy: the setup of all trilogies is book one: set up, book two: make out, book three: defeat evil. All trilogies, including The Lord of the Rings (hello sexy maids of Rohan and the romantic complications thereof!) conform to these rules.”

This tickled me quite a bit, for reasons that may or may not become clear with the second book. Hope you are all well and groovy. x

EDIT: Oh, just noticed that the Kindle edition of THE IRON GHOST is now up for pre-order. Woohoo!

 

Fantasycon 2014: Cloaks, Curry, and Karaoke

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We did not actually go to this pub, but it is my favourite, so here’s a picture.

This last weekend I attended by very first Fantasycon, which just happened to be in York, one of my very favourite places. I was initially quite nervous about the whole thing – my lovely bloke wouldn’t be attending this one, I’d be staying in the B&B on my own, and I had both a panel and the super mega bumper edition of Super Relaxed Fantasy Club to attend. I suspected I would get lost, or not know anyone, or feel terribly homesick, or simply fail to interact with people successfully. My experience of talking on panels in the past has been somewhat mixed, and I have to admit that over the last year I have wondered whether it’s something I should do at all, given it seems to be against my nature in lots of ways – I always enjoy listening to people, and having opinions on things (ye gods, do I ever have opinions on things) but I’m generally better at writing these opinions down, rather than managing to verbalise them in a witty and concise manner in front of a whole bunch of people. That, I’m not so great at.

As it happens, I think this time I managed to get away with it. The panel, which was titled “Beyond Grimdark”, featured me, Adrian Tchaikovsky, James Oswald, and Martin Taylor, with David Moore moderating. There appeared to be lots of people attending (I can only be vaguely certain of this, as once I’m in the chair I’m usually too scared to look at the audience) and the discussion was lively and interesting, AND, get this, I even managed to say a few things that might have made sense, and that were quite important to me.

My attendance of Super Relaxed Fantasy Club was almost scuppered by dinner at a curry house that had a) the cheapest glasses of wine I’ve ever seen b) narn breads so big they hung them from metal trees c) a casual approach to actually bringing the food, wine, or the bill, and c) a window seat that was apparently cat-nip to all of York’s drunkest and most exhibitionist citizens (thanks to Lucy Hounsom and Max Edwards for a dinner I won’t forget in a hurry). Having finally coaxed the waiters into bringing both the cheap wine and the bill, we necked the booze and made a hurried and dignity-free journey back to the hotel (who coincidentally had the most expensive glasses of wine I’ve ever seen) so that I was just in time to stumble apologetically into the room just as Den Patrick was contemplating throttling me, no doubt. Luckily, the event itself went swimmingly, largely thanks to Den, and as well as top readings from Laura Lam, Ed Cox, Emma Newman and Niel Bushnell, we also had a bonus section where James Barclay interviewed Simon Spanton – a lot of great people, talking about great books. It was fab, and I felt a tiny sliver of pride at how this odd little joke on twitter has turned into an event that people actually enjoy. (A note for newcomers to SRFC – the fantasycon edition was somewhat less chatty than usual, partly because we were overexcited and packed our time with readers, but normally there is a greater ratio of sitting around drinking cider)

Other highlights for me included my first ever win in Cards Against Humanity, watching the marvellous Juliet Mushens and Andrew Reid belt out “A Whole New World” at the Karaoke (some things cannot be unseen), almost getting Adrian Tchaikovsky to recite some Dr Seuss for me, the excellent lady who ordered a copy of my book on her tablet while I was standing next to her (hooray 21st Century!), being a nuisance in the sword shop, and listening to Charlaine Harris talk – she has the most wonderfully reassuring voice. I chatted with tons of marvellous people and caught up with lots of friends (I won’t attempt to name them all here because I will forget loads) and now I am absolutely knackered. Really, fantasycon has broken me. Big thanks must go here to the Redcloaks, as ever, who were simply fabulous. Roll on next year!

Fantasycon and Super Relaxed Fantasy Club

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Big and Little

 

It’s been a crazy busy month, so crazy busy in fact that I’ve completely failed to blog about the Mega Genre Fortnight of Events – Fantasy in the Court, Gollancz Fest, LonCon – but in an effort to avoid a meandering blog post where I attempt to summon memories from my incredibly tired brain, I will just say that I had an awesome time and was very lucky to chat to a lot of fabulous people.

Talking of awesome conventions, Friday sees me venturing up to York for Fantasycon. I love York: it has lots of history, lots of pubs, and you can buy mead and swords there. Obviously my sort of place. On the Saturday I will be taking part in a panel called Beyond Grimdark, which should be interesting, and in the evening at 9pm we have a special bumper edition of Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, including readings from Laura Lam, Ed Cox, Emma Newman, Niel Bushnell, AND the excellent James Barclay will be interviewing Simon Spanton for us, Gollancz editor extraordinaire and all round good egg. This along with all the usual chat and relaxed attitudes.

Guys, it’s going to be epic.

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club – York edition!

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EDIT: Unfortunately Adrian Tchaikovsky can no longer make it to the York meet, although I am pleased to tell you that David Tallerman will be reading instead, along with some other authors yet to be confirmed.

Exciting news! Super Relaxed Fantasy Club is heading up to York (only one of my favourite places ever). Details below!

WHEN: Saturday 2nd August

WHERE: Brigantes Bar and Brasserie
114 Micklegate, York, North Yorkshire YO1 6JX

MORE WHEN: the first reading will be at 5pm, so best to turn up before then.

WHO: the amazing Adrian Tchaikovsky, author of the Shadows of the Apt series, will be reading and doing a Q&A, with further readings to be confirmed.

WHAT THEN: drinking, chat, the usual SRFC shenanigans

HOORAY!

 

The Next Month in Book Events – come one, come all! And so on.

There’s so much going on in the next few weeks that I’m going to have to sum it up in a blog – not just for Useful Informational Purposes, but because I feel like my editing-addled brain might just forget something, and it would be fairly embarrassing to forget to turn up for my own launch. But it’s not all about me and my mead-fixation! A number of very cool books are about to smack you in the face with their awesome… Firstly though:

Wednesday 19th February The Copper Promise Launch at Forbidden Planet posting coverCome and join me (on my birthday, no less) in one of my favourite places in London as I launch my first ever book. Expect an awkward reading, progressively untidier dragons scribbled in copies of the book, and then later on, my tearful lurching out of the pub, possibly hugging a copy of my own book and telling passers-by how I’ve had a dream come true and it’s all amazing and where can I get a burger around here?*

Tuesday 25th of February The Super Relaxed Fantasy Club meet-up

Come to the Royal Festival Hall and hang out with like-minded genre fans, while we discuss/chat/gossip about everything going on in the SFF community at the moment. Assuming I don’t have a chest infection this time round (ye gods no) I will be doing a reading from The Copper Promise and then possibly answering questions about it. (Please note: I do not mind if these questions are of the “Would you like a drink?” variety)

Thursday 27th of February Banished by Liz de Jager launches at Foyles

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Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s living with her unorthodox cousins and sharing their strange lives. Especially since their home-schooling includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons. But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies. As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.

Liz is my agent bro and a very cool lady, and her first book is going to knock your socks off.

Thursday 6th March The Burning Dark and Hang Wire by Adam Christopher DOUBLE LAUNCH

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In The Burning Dark, Idaho Cleveland has one last mission before early retirement – decommissioning the Coast City, a distant research outpost orbiting the toxic star Shadow. Once there, Ida’s only contact with the outside universe is through his ham radio—which begins to tune itself to the banned and sinister dimension known as subspace. Fighting isolation and paranoia, Ida hears and records a disturbing transmission over the radio—a woman’s thousand-year-old mayday call. But, when the voice on the recording begins speaking to Ida just as the station is attacked by mysterious forces, Ida realises he is about to face an enemy far more evil and insidious than anything he’s ever faced before.
In Hang Wire, Ted Hall is worried. He’s been sleepwalking, and his somnambulant travels appear to coincide with murders by the notorious Hang Wire Killer. Meanwhile, the circus has come to town, but the Celtic dancers are taking their pagan act a little too seriously, the manager of the Olde Worlde Funfair has starting talking to his vintage machines, and the new acrobat’s frequent absences are causing tension among the performers. Out in the city there are other new arrivals – immortals searching for an ancient power – a primal evil which, if unopposed, could destroy the world!

Adam is writing books unlike anyone else at the moment, and this evening is the perfect opportunity to check out the sheer crazy variety of his books – from ghost story space opera to serial killer thriller – and get him to sign them for you.

Monday 10th March Den Patrick and Jen Williams Debut Fantasy Author Talk at Blackwells – featuring The Boy with the Porcelain Blade and The Copper Promise new Blade imageAn ornate yet dark fantasy, with echoes of Mervyn Peake, Robin Hobb and Jon Courtenay Grimwood, The Boy With The Porcelain Blade is a beautifully wrought story of a young man finding his way through the dark heart of fantasy state not unlike a Renaissance Italian city state. There’s an intriguing back story, terrifying levels of deceit and a horrifying secret at the centre of it all but the star of the piece is the brilliantly engaging hero: Lucien. Lucien de Fontein has grown up different. One of the mysterious and misshapen Orfano who appear around the Kingdom of Landfall, he is a talented fighter yet constantly lonely, tormented by his deformity, and well aware that he is a mere pawn in a political game.

Another debut fantasy author you’re going to want to get to know, Den Patrick’s The Boy with the Porcelain Blade comes out on the 20th of March, but you can pick up early signed copies at this event, as well as listen to us answer questions and waffle on. Hooray!

 

Well, that’s my social calender sorted for the next month. What will I see you at? 😉

 

* Not really, I promise to behave. And I know exactly where to get a burger.

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club needs YOU! *big pointy finger*

Ha, you thought I’d forgotten about this, didn’t you? You thought I’d have a couple of glasses of wine and wipe such things from my memory (and I couldn’t blame you for thinking that) but no! Plans are afoot, my lovelies. We’ve had a bit of a talk about potential website stuff, and thanks to the marvellous Den Patrick, we’ve poked some people about potential meeting up spaces (still wrangling that), and thanks to the fabulous Jenny Haines, I’ve seen a little teaser of what could well be the best badger-related badges in all of existence. So despite the Super Relaxed nature of SRFC, things have been happening.

It’s come to that stage now though, where we’re starting to need to know exactly who’s going to be involved, and how. So let’s see some hands going up in the comments, and let’s see some of your feedback.

Do you want to be part of SRFC?

Would you perhaps be prepared to submit our very first “This fantasy book is amazing and you should read it” articles?

What sort of website would you like to see? A straight up blog, with articles from a wide range of people, along with updates on when/where the next meet-up would be? Or perhaps a forum based thing, with articles on the side?

Would you come to a meet-up? What would you like to see at one? Will you buy me a drink?

Would you be interested in a short story anthology? At some point it would be ace to have actual physical badges to give to people, and one way of funding that would be a little ebook anthology. What do you think?

Let me know in the comments! SRFC needs you, and your laid back ideas, dude.

(please imagine The Dude from The Big Lebowski, except now he’s a badger. Got that? Excellent)