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New Year, New You: A Speculative Anthology of Reinvention

Created by Viable Paradise 2023

A diverse collection of SFFH stories that examine the hidden costs and complexities of becoming one’s better self.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

!!! LAST CHANCE! FILL OUT YOUR BACKERKIT SURVEY BY 11:59PM ET ON 7/19!
4 days ago – Wed, Jul 17, 2024 at 04:37:00 PM

Backerkit surveys are due Friday at 11:59pm! 

Hey, friends! 

This is it. We will be **locking your Backerkit survey responses on Friday, July 19th, at 11:59pm ET.**

If you recently received a reminder from Backerkit, please open up the survey and check that all your information is up to date. If you do not respond by July 19th, you may not receive the rewards you pledged, so please, please check your email. We want everyone to get their stuff!

If you ordered an ebook but you would still like your name in the acknowledgments, we need you to fill out the survey as well. We won't collect your address, but we want to be sure that we spell your chosen name correctly!

Love,

The Viable Paradise 2023 Cohort

ACTION REQUIRED: Backerkit surveys are due July 15!
21 days ago – Sun, Jun 30, 2024 at 07:19:02 PM

Backerkit surveys are due July 15!

Hey, friends! 

We're almost ready to send the New Year, New You anthology to the printer. After that, it will take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to put our order in, depending on how fast the printer moves and if there are any errors in our first proof. We anticipate mailing out all physical items in October! 

To make sure we can move along quickly, we will be **locking your Backerkit survey responses on July 15th.**

There are still about 50 of you who haven't completed your Backerkit surveys. In most cases, your addresses are marked as incomplete. You might think you already filled out the survey, but if you recently received a reminder from Backerkit, please open up the survey and check that all your information is up to date. If you will be moving between July 15 and October 31, please get in touch with us through Backerkit and we will make a note.

If you ordered an ebook but you would still like your name in the acknowledgments, we need you to fill out the survey as well. We won't collect your address, but we want to be sure that we spell your chosen name correctly!

Love,

The Viable Paradise 2023 Cohort

Update: Mark Our Words
about 2 months ago – Sun, Jun 02, 2024 at 05:39:15 PM

Big news: The stories are officially complete, and the book layout and typesetting are underway! Plus, most of you have completed your Backerkit surveys and will be getting your books this fall. If you missed your Backerkit survey email, please search your inbox so we can confirm your address and get you set up with shipping. 

We’re in the process of reviewing the first round of proofs for our Little Anthology That Could, and it is ~275 pages of speculative fiction from every end of the spectrum. If you like stories, there is 100% something you’ll vibe with here. We have your flavor of weird, no problem.

Want to grab an extra book or two to give to friends? Know someone who loves spec fic but missed our Kickstarter? There's still time to place a pre-order on Backerkit. Until we close our pre-order store, all proceeds will go toward increasing pay for our writers and we only have a few more books to sell before we hit pro rates for everyone. Help us out?

Bookmarks!

The artistic wizard Alec J. Marsh has finished the bookmark designs! And they are so damn cool. To up the awesomeness, the bright yellow portions will be gold foil for that extra sparkle. If you didn’t think jellyfish were elegant and mysterious, you will after getting these in the mail in a few months! 

Want to add a bookmark to your book order? There's still time to claim one on Backerkit.

Meet Trae Hawkins

This project has needed a lot of love from a lot of people, and we wanted to highlight Trae Hawkins, a member of the Editorial Team that helped shape a few of the stories in the anthology.

Trae Hawkins is a fantasy and science fiction writer whose stories incorporate themes that explore various forms of marginalization through Black and queer lenses. He graduated in 2021 from Penn State with a Master's in English and in 2024 from the University of Nevada, Reno with an MFA in Creative Writing. He is a student of the 2023 Viable Paradise workshop, the winner of We Need Diverse Books and Penguin Random House’s Black Creatives Revisions Workshop, and he teaches creative writing at UNR. He also works as a freelance sensitivity reader, where he reads fiction and nonfiction for issues of sensitivity and representation.

You recently graduated with your MFA, which you've been working towards the entire time you've been on our editorial team. What are some of your secrets to juggling teaching, writing, workshops, and career goals?

This might sound generic, but discipline is my secret! I have ADHD, so having a lot of responsibilities can overwhelm me easily. To fight this, I make detailed to-do lists every week, sometimes even making hour-by-hour schedules to make sure I get everything done on time. I probably stray from my to-do lists more than I’d like, but they help me keep everything under control. The lists must be written physically on paper and the tasks should indicate the deadline/urgency! Additionally, it helps to think of all my responsibilities as jobs (yes, even writing!). Otherwise, I’ll put them off. All of this sounds sort of clinical, but the other secret is to maintain a sense of passion for my work, too. As long as I love writing and teaching, workshopping with colleagues and pursuing career goals, I find joy in my responsibilities, even when they start to overwhelm me.

Your anthology story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, where reinvention is necessary not only on a personal level, but a societal one. What inspired you to choose this direction?

The story probably makes this apparent, but I’m a pretty hopeful person, and I like to center hope in my stories. As I was growing up, I found that a lot of sci-fi and fantasy stories are so cynical. So much literature posits that people are naturally inclined toward wickedness. I fundamentally believe most humans are born as loving creatures, so I wanted to center a society that operates on love, compassion, and community. I was partly inspired by N.K. Jemisin’s The Ones Who Stay and Fight, which details a utopian society and argues that humans are naturally empathetic people. I wanted to do something similar, with an emphasis on convincing the reader that they, too, can reinvent themselves. That society can still reinvent itself as long as we dismiss the notion that we’re inevitably selfish beings. In order to make a better world, we must first believe that we are capable of doing so—and that starts with a hopeful reinvention of ourselves.

If you had to pick one music album to listen to in the post-apocalypse, what would it be?

I imagine that if the world was falling apart around me, I’d want to listen to something hopeful and empowering to get me through tough times. My immediate thought was The Electric Lady by Janelle Monae, which has a song called "Dance Apocalyptic." It has the perfect blend of sonically interesting sounds, moving lyrics, and a vocal performance that never gets old. I think killing zombies or building communities would be easier with that album playing in the background. A world rebuilt with Janelle Monae singing “Categorize me? I defy every label!” would be a world worth living in!

Publication Corner

From Ash Howell, a new piece of poetic flash in Lightspeed Magazine [Chaos Theory]. You can also listen to it on Spotify and iTunes!

From Chris Campbell, learn about the Black authors who have helped define cosmic horror in this new Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine blog post [Afro-Cosmicism: On the Craft of Racial Consciousness Within Cosmic Horror].

Until next time, friends.

Love,

The Viable Paradise 2023 Cohort



 

Deadlines, they are a-comin’. (Don’t forget to complete your backer survey!)
4 months ago – Fri, Apr 05, 2024 at 06:42:52 AM

75% of you have completed your backer surveys and are all set to receive your rewards this fall! Gold stars all around! For those of you haven’t had a chance to respond to your Backerkit surveys, please search your inboxes and spam folders. Your survey should have come from Viable Paradise 2023 at [email protected]. The survey is simple. You’ll just confirm your shipping address, pay any shipping fees for physical goods, and add any additional rewards that strike your fancy.

Once the survey closes, we’ll be reaching out to our Lion’s Mane Jelly backers to connect you with a Viable Paradise alum so they can review your 8000-word writing submission. All other rewards will be fulfilled this fall.

Revising, Organizing, Editorializing

Our writers are busy, busy, busy.

A by-the-numbers anthology update from our Lead Editor, Chris Campbell:

Four writers were not satisfied with their first story and submitted entirely new stories. Nothing was wrong with the first ones, but all of the new ones are more ambitious and much, much weirder.

Three writers did what was effectively a page-one total rewrite of the stories they submitted. The results of these rewrites have been nothing short of amazing and are a real testament to how engaged and open these writers have been to the editorial process.

Seven writers have also made significant structural changes that helped everything snap into place. It has been very cool to watch these stories reach their full potential.

Some more fun numbers to share:

We have three timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly stories that are a lot of fun, four weird-ass ocean stories, four very cool AI stories, four prophets/shamen of various levels of repute, and four exciting space adventures. Plus, a few stories are so weird you'll just have to read the book yourself and decide what they are. 

Things are shaping up to make this anthology something special, and we’re excited to get the book in your hands!

Publication Corner

From F.E. Choe, an encounter with a stray dog on a dying planet forces an alien hive mind to wrestle with the dilemma of love. [“Swarm X1048 - Ethological Field Report, Canis Lupus Familiaris, ‘6’” — Clarkesworld]

From Chris Campbell, a haunting voice from the past warns about the mysteries lurking “In the Palace of Science.” [Asimov’s]

Meet the Publication Team, Part II

In this mini interview we’ll hear from pub team member Allison Pottern, who crafted New Year, New You’s marketing copy and promotional graphics—while being a general marketing strategist and cheerleader. 

Allison is a writer, marketing coach, writing instructor, potter, and parent. With over 15 years of experience in writing, publishing, and publicity, she can be found teaching craft and book marketing workshops at Grub Street Inc., Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and the MetroWest Writers Guild. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing and is a recent graduate of the Viable Paradise writing workshop. Allison is currently working on her second novel, drinking many cups of tea, and chasing after her two young children. Her writing can be found in The Rumpus, The Oakland Review, Sarah Gailey's Stone Soup, and her newsletter, Books, Marketing & More.

How do you navigate the intersection between marketing and your fiction?

Honestly, when I transitioned from book marketing and author events to writing novels and consulting, marketing often hindered my ability to write fiction. I knew how the book marketing sausage was made and I’d get so fixated on how my (not yet fully drafted) book would be promoted. Where would I have the launch event? Would readers show up to an event for a book like this? Would it make a bestseller list? Would it command top marketing dollars at a publisher?

In my years since, working on my own writing and supporting fellow writers in their work, I’ve learned to follow my own advice and, during the drafting stages, keep in mind the idea of audience. Instead of asking: would someone deign to buy or review this book? before I’ve even finished writing it, I instead consider: who am I writing this book for? How can I best reach those readers? Whose career/work do I find inspiring and what can I learn from them?

Much of what I write is, as a fellow VP writer put it, “dark, depressing fun.” It’s sometimes hard to remember that there’s an audience for that beyond me, party of one. But researching how and where I want my work to find its audience in the broader publishing landscape has led me to discover new stories and authors, literary communities, and all kinds of inspiration.

One other marketing tool I’ve found useful as a discovery writer, comes from my days working on press releases and marketing copy. Once I’m several chapters into a novel draft, I try to write the flap copy for the novel it will become. That audience I was talking about, how would I entice them to read this? I find this exercise does two things: 1) It forces me to summarize my plans for the story in an enticing way, and 2) it immediately reveals the most important aspects of the story, as well as potential gaps. This isn’t to say the draft I write has to fit this snappy synopsis, but I find it both illuminating and motivating. If my marketing copy gets me excited about my book? Then you better be sure I’ll want my draft to live up to the hype. 🙂

What's inspiring you right now? 

This is going to sound corny, but lately I’ve felt really inspired by the idea of creative community. It took me a long time to build a supportive writing community, and the last few years I’ve been especially grateful for both the directions it’s taken me and the way it’s expanded. Working on this anthology with Viable Paradise folks has been such a treat – I didn’t realize how much I missed truly collaborating on a writing/publishing project. I’m in a bookclub of ladies I’ve known for years who make sure I read at least one book a month. I host a free, monthly speculative fiction discussion group, and every month I’m in awe of our little community that consistently shows up to talk and expand our minds about geeky SFF stuff. And a couple years ago I took up pottery at a communal studio where learning, excelling, and failing are all celebrated. When making art feels hard, I’m so grateful that I have many different people I can turn to for inspiration, commiseration, and motivation.

Your anthology story is about time travel! Who’s your favorite fictional time traveler and why?

I love time travel stories of all stripes and could talk about them for days, but the time traveler I imprinted on was Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap. He’s a hyper-intelligent nerd, a musician, and just a really genuine person trying to do good in the world. I really dig the idea of the smaller, more personal time travel stories where we’re not trying to prevent an apocalypse or time-bending paradox; just trying to make someone’s life better.

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for more news as we chug onwards to getting this anthology completed! Deadlines, they are a-comin’.

Love, 

The Viable Paradise 2023 Cohort


 

How to Get Your Book
4 months ago – Thu, Mar 14, 2024 at 10:27:45 AM

Dear wonderful New Year, New You backers,

A quick note to let you know that we will be sending you each a backer survey this weekend from Backerkit so we can confirm your address, collect shipping fees, and ensure you get your anthology when it ships this fall. 

The survey will also allow you to add additional books and rewards to your order.

Please keep an eye on your inbox and be sure to complete the survey when you receive it. If you don't receive a survey within the next week, please let us know so we can problem-solve together.

We can't wait to share these stories with you!

Love,

The 2023 Viable Paradise Cohort