Modern Deity Release Date!!

I got the good word yesterday that The Modern Deity’s Guide to Surviving Humanity officially has a release date! The book is coming out on July 15th, alongside its two sister anthologies, Derelict and When Worlds Collide. Each one features upwards of 14 short stories from a fantastic roster of science fiction and fantasy authors. Which I guess means if you got all three, you’d have enough short stories to last you the rest of the summer, at the least!

The Modern Deity’s Guide is a collection of stories that imagines how ancient gods could have adapted to the modern day. If you’ve ever seen the show American Gods or read the book by Neil Gaiman, this is right in the same ball park. My story, “The Teotl of Gaming,” is about the Aztec god of games Macuilxochitl trying to run an MMORPG company. But day jobs don’t necessarily come easily to deities. Throw in Macuil’s moonlighting as a gambler, and things quickly spiral out of control…which is just how the god of games likes them.

Since this is a little bit of an untraditional release cycle, I wanted to take a minute to give you an update on all the different places and times that the anthology will become available. Zombies Need Brains is a small press that publishes three themed sci-fi/fantasy anthologies annually, funded by a yearly kickstarter. They’ve been doing this sort of thing for upwards of a decade at this point, and their anthologies are beautiful. I’m beyond excited to have my first published piece of fiction be a part of one of their books.

So, where can you get it?

The Modern Deity’s Guide to Surviving Humanity is currently available for preorder in two places. The first is on Amazon, where you can preorder the book for Kindle. The second is directly from Zombies Need Brains’ website, where you can preorder a physical copy as well as ebook. The print version you can preorder now, from ZNB’s site, is a limited edition mass market paperback. This is the ‘first edition,’ so to speak, which is also what everyone who backed the kickstarter will be receiving. The kickstarter edition is a limited printing of only 500 copies. Once they are gone, they are gone. They will hopefully be shipping out before the July 15th release date as well, so not only is this a limited edition, but you’ll be getting it early. If you order the ebook directly from Zombies Need Brains, the link will go out around the same time that the kickstarter editions start shipping. (Again, hopefully. We’re at the mercy of the printer’s schedule, and everything in publishing is running a little bit behind since the pandemic. But as of now, it’s looking likely that the kickstarter editions will be going out ahead of release day.)

Come July 15th, the book will become widely available on other ebook platforms, and it will be getting a general trade paperback release that same day…which means that if you missed the kickstarter edition, you can still get a physical copy of the book. There is no preorder for the trade paperback or the other ebook platforms, so if you prefer to go for one of these formats, all you need to do is go to your retailer of choice on release date and order it.

I’m in the process of laying this info out all nicely with links and such on the Fiction page for future convenience, but wanted to give you the details immediately. [Update: All preorder information, including for Nook and Kobo, is now up on the Fiction page.]

Thank you for taking this journey with me. I can’t wait to share “Teotl” with you, and to see how you react to all the other amazing stories in the anthology as well. I’ve had the chance to read a few of them, and am totally humbled to be among such incredible company.

Adding to the excitement: now that we’re closing in on release day, we can share more about the book. So here’s the full cover artwork, including the back copy!

And there you have it. The Modern Deity’s Guide to Surviving Humanity, out on July 15th! I hope to see you on the mountaintop, where I will be shouting about this regularly for the next few months.

The Teotl of Gaming

The news is out! My short story “The Teotl of Gaming” is going to be published this summer, as part of an anthology called THE MODERN DEITY’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY. The anthology is being published by the indie press Zombies Need Brains, and contains 15 fantastic stories by sci-fi and fantasy authors exploring how ancient deities might adapt to the modern world. You can find the full announcement from the publisher, including pre-order info, here. I’ve also posted a small synopsis of “Teotl” over on the Fiction page. And just in case you missed it, here’s another look at the gorgeous cover art for the DEITY’S GUIDE by Justin Adams of Varia Studios.

I thought it might be kind of cool to mark the occasion by taking to the blog and talking a little bit about the origins for this story. “Teotl” follows Macuilxochitl, the Aztec god of games, as he tries to adapt to modern times by running an MMORPG company. It feels pretty appropriate then, to admit that I first learned of Macuilxochitl from a video game.

The first time I became aware of the god of games was while playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 2019. In that game, you pick up various relics as you explore a lost mesoamerican city, and they often have small bits of flavor text about various gods and goddesses or ill-fated expeditions. One of them referenced a god of games, and no doubt I chuckled to myself about how cool that concept was before I promptly continued tomb raiding and forgot about it.

Then in early 2020, Zombies Need Brains announced the themes for their three current anthologies. Short stories are something I’ve long struggled with as a writer, but I had decided that this was the year I was going to try my hand at one and submit it. I wasn’t totally sure what to write, however. I really wanted to submit to THE MODERN DEITY’S GUIDE, because writing about gods and goddesses wrangling with deific quandaries is kind of my jam…but I struggled to come up with anything original or interesting enough to pursue.

That was when the god of games tickled at the back of my memory. I sat down with Tomb Raider again until I came back across the relic that talked about him. Now I was in the right mindset for it to all click together. Finally, I had a name and character to rally behind.

Macuilxochitl. God of games, gambling, music, dance, and the sacred ball game (among other things). He also punished those who followed such pursuits to excess.

Screenshot from Shadow of the Tomb Raider. And yes, Patolli is in the story.

The idea came to me that Macuilxochitl could be running an MMORPG company, in essence trading in his roving ways for a “steady paycheck of worship.” I have been a World of Warcraft player since 2005, so I knew pretty firsthand how loyal the fanbase for those kinds of games can be. It seemed like it would be a totally natural progression for a game god trying to get by in the 21st Century. Plus I knew that the more out-of-the-box the idea, the better my chances of being selected for the anthology…and I was willing to bet that there wouldn’t be many other stories about the Aztec god of games running a video game company.

From there, it became a matter of storycrafting. I am an outliner, even with shorter works. I developed a scene-by-scene breakdown of the story, the conflicts, the characters. I did research. A lot of research. “The Teotl of Gaming” is the first story I’ve ever written that wasn’t set in a secondary fantasy world. It was drawing on real-life mythology, and I felt that I had an obligation to do right by and be respectful of the material and culture that I was drawing inspiration from.

It didn’t all go exactly as planned, of course. There were plot elements in my original outline that just didn’t work out; others that worked better than expected. An organic conflict arose out of Macuilxochitl’s character, and then made itself known as the main arc which the story was revolving around. The tale changed in the telling, as they often do. It is an exact science, after all. (Said no writer ever.)

The result is a piece that I’m really proud of, and am so excited to share with you. Only a few more months until you can read it!

Welcome to my Domain

Hello there! By some stroke of the fates, it seems you’ve stumbled onto my new website. First off, thank you for stopping by and checking it out! I’ve blogged in the past, but never exclusively about writing. I’m pretty psyched to finally have a space for that. Really, it’s pretty crazy that I never have until now.

And why now? If you’ve come here from Twitter or Instagram, the chances are good you know that I recently hit the milestone in my writing career of signing with a literary agent. That, combined with a few other exciting developments like selling my first short story (forthcoming later this year), made it pretty clear that I could no longer avoid starting a website for my writing.

I say “avoid,” because I have most certainly been one of those writers who refrained from starting a website because I wasn’t quite “there yet.” I hadn’t sold a story, didn’t have books on shelves. Even when my freelance work was getting almost 100,000 views in a month, I still found excuses. Why would anyone care enough to go to a website dedicated to my writing? I didn’t have the street cred!

Obviously, there’s plenty to be said about imposter syndrome. Enough to write whole posts–which I will most certainly be doing here at some point in the future. Because this blog, this space…this is for sharing deep thoughts and musings with you. Thoughts about writing and the publishing industry. About books and shows and movies I’ve loved, events I’m taking part in, and the process of nurturing a story from the seed of an idea to a completed work cultivated by blood, sweat, and tears.

In short, this is a space for me to just nerd out. And hopefully, for you to have fun and nerd out with me. Because creating stories is freaking cool. I love talking about them, and if you’re here, I’d wager you do too. I’m looking forward to discussing them with you, and sharing all the exciting moments that lie ahead in my journey as an author.

As Deckard Cain would say…I hope you’ll stay a while and listen.