brittni in ink

Author of The Patch Project and A Place That Used to Be

the story and where it wants to go

Some great news! I had a breakthrough with my case of writer’s block – I really was writing around something instead of trusting that the story would take me where it needed to go.

I finally gave in and am making the third Patch Project book about Pinot. I was really struggling with finding my way into the story, considering all the possible characters and arcs the book could include. But it hit me the other day that this book had to follow Pinot, and once I accepted that, the garden started to bloom. I guess I was resistant to the idea of focusing on Pinot because she became the main character of the last book and I somehow got into my brain that readers were tired of her. But even if that is true, it doesn’t matter (apologies to the hypothetical readers); what matters is the story and where it wants to go.

I have a rough timeline worked out and am now following Pinot as she prepares to go to Summerland, the mythical city mentioned in previous books but never visited. I will have to include at least one other POV character for the subplot, and maybe a few scattered around the wasteland (as a writer, I get bored writing one POV for a whole book haha). In any case, you can look forward to more of Pinot in book three.

My new glasses arrived this past week! My last pair was literally falling apart, so it’s nice to have a pair that fits again!

Other than that, I’ve had a few days off to do things like clean the house and binge episodes of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Hastings, Miss Lemon, and Hercule Poirot are characters most charmants, and I enjoy making connections with the books and how the screenwriters adapted the material. I’ve also set up a mini-studio to record audiobooks – if you are interested in having your book narrated or have voice work you’d like done, let me know!

I’m also hoping to order a batch of the sequel to have on hand before the holiday season rolls around, as it sounds like the printer is also going to be raising prices in November. I’ve updated my Ko-fi goal to reflect this – for every donation, I’ll make a thank you video. For donations over $10, I’ll send a personalized card in the mail!

With Inktober to keep my little grey cells engaged and NaNoWriMo just around the corner, the fall is turning out to be quite a busy one! Thanks for stopping by, hopefully I’ll have more updates on the third Patch Project book soon!

Happy fall! This sunflower is growing in a vacant lot by my house. Lovely to see nature in the city.

the “in” scene

Today, I’m thinking about chairs and if they exist.

Also, I ordered a new notebook, hoping that it’ll be the inspiration I need getting into the third Patch Project book. I have yet to find the “in” scene that’ll unlock the story, help it flow a bit better. A lot of my writing so far has been world-building, stage maps of where everything is, where characters are. Just throwing my thoughts on paper when they surface and trying to make the most of my time in my office space.

New office set up! A rolling turquoise office chair, a table for my computer, keyboard, and coffee, and some art up on the walls, including a portrait of Pinot by the incredible Al Hess!

Still, it’s frustrating. This is probably a bout of writers block, though I tend not to like the term. I’m writing around what I should be writing about, is more what it feels like. But I’m a gardener when it comes to writing books: I tend to approach my books without much of a concrete plot, and a lot of my best stuff comes out of discovery writing. So I’m trying to go along with whatever my brain is doing right now, hoping that whatever it’s cultivating will poke its head out of the soil soon.

Maybe it’s because the first two books have set up a lot already, and working within that framework is starting to feel constrictive. My own fault, really! For example, I don’t want to focus on a particular location, but it’s where all of the character arcs converge, so it’s necessary to creating something that fulfills the previous two books.

Still, I got a killer opening scene, a new character who I love, and some vague idea of how the plot is going to go. So that’s something! If only I could go to the Green Bean cafe and spend a couple of hours writing it all out…

Cookies, coffee, dipping sauces, date squares, and brownies all the way from the Green Bean Cafe! The homemade belt underneath is for the fantasy AEW wrestling league my husband and I are part of – he is the current champion!

Speaking of the Green Bean, some of our dear Windsor friends sent my husband and I a care package including a bunch of Green Bean treats; another one of our friends sent a pack of specialty coffee our way a couple of weeks ago. Those, plus some wonderful friendship mail and art swaps, have been keeping us hopeful in spite of some difficult life things – I’d forgotten how hard it can be to adapt to a new city.

To get through the changes and find my way into the third book, I’ll just keep writing and hope for the best.

ideas when they surfaced

After two weeks visiting family, I’m back in my office, listening to Cobra Poems, drinking coffee, and making plans.

I didn’t get much writing done while I was away. I got back in the habit of carrying around a notebook and scribbling out ideas when they surfaced: waiting in the car, falling asleep, or early in the morning when my mind had room to wander. I had a bit of a breakthrough on the flight home about a major plot point for the third Patch Project book.

My inspiration shelf: fake quartz, a silver triceratops figure, a slice of aquamarine, a shell, a skeleton key, and a pillar of picture jasper.

But before I get back to working on the novel, I’ve got a few works in progress to read and give feedback on. It’s one of the best things about being a writer, this mutual community of creative people I can share the journey with! I also have some agent queries to check in on – some agents email, but many submissions time out after 8 weeks or so. I’ve learned a lot through the querying process, and I hope it’ll make my next batch of queries that much better.

Also, I’m thinking about making some short videos to include on my Ko-fi page as a thank you to donors. Extra special coffee thank you to everyone who’s supported me through that platform so far, it really means a lot!

I’ll hopefully have a vlog post up early next week with more updates. A reminder that if you order a copy of The Patch Project from me before October 1st, it’ll come with a free book or pin!

metaphorical cup of coffee

So, the floor desk I wrote about last time has been replaced by a more standard set up; being over 30, it turns out it’s uncomfortable to sit on the floor for more than twenty minutes at a time! I have a table and a swivel chair now, which is helping me get more on top of this author thing.

This week was pretty busy! For one, I did a vlog post for the first time in forever. It’s a touch longer than I usually like to do, but there was a lot to cover: moving to a new city, querying agents, projects that I’ve finished and am starting. It was also really fun to edit some video/ audio material again! I used to put together a weekly podcast, and my husband and I used to make short films pretty regularly, so it’s kind of nostalgic.

My current mug of choice, a white ceramic cup with a slim handle, featuring a painted rosemary plant.

I also started a Ko-fi page. It’s a platform where people can buy creators a metaphorical cup of coffee. I have a few friends who use it, so I thought I’d give it a try. For every donation to my page, I’ll drink a cup of coffee! And maybe film it. We’ll see!

Two versions of The Patch Project (2020 and 2018 printings) and two button options, one featuring the original cover, the other a picture of the character Pinot. Both covers designed by Peter Brinn.

If you’re interested in reading The Patch Project, now is the time to order a copy! Each order comes with a free copy of the original printing of the book or a limited edition Patch Project button, your choice! Only copies ordered directly from me, not Amazon, come with this offer. The book is $15 CAD + shipping.

And that’s about all the happenings going on this week! Hope you’re all enjoying the last few weeks of summer!

facing the future

Well, it’s been awhile! Most of my summer was spent at a cottage with poor internet. But I’m back in a city with a lot more connectivity, and some exciting updates!

Pinot, by artist and author Al Hess

Please join me in marveling at this stunning portrait by the wonderful Al Hess! When I saw he had a commissions spot open, I knew I had to ask him to draw Pinot. It was a lot of fun discussing Pinot’s character, and getting to see a little of what goes into making a portrait like this one! I’m so happy with how Al captured Pinot and the detail and care that went into the commission. I’m planning on hanging the portrait in my office, to inspire me as I start work on the third Patch Project book!

[Image description: A two-shelf desk at sitting level holding a laptop and assorted knick-knacks.]

Speaking of, I’m very fortunate that our new place has a room that I can use as an office space! I built a little desk to use for my writing, and so far, it’s been a good set up. Lots of room to put rocks and shells and things 🙂 I’m waiting to hear back from agent queries and short story submissions, and now that we’re (mostly) unpacked, I’m getting back into a writing schedule. I’m looking forward to online writing sessions with my friends, and starting on the new novel.

The Patch Project book amongst leaves!

I just unpacked a ton of copies of The Patch Project! If you’d like a signed copy, let me know. I’m offering a free pin or original printing copy (your choice!) with each order for as long as my supplies last. You have to order from me though, not Amazon. If you’re interested, you can send me a message through Facebook!

That’s all for now! I’m hoping to get back into regular posting, maybe once every couple weeks. It’s exciting to be facing the future here in a new place, with a new novel project about to begin. I’ll do my best to keep you updated! Until next time!

far, far away anthology review

Hello everyone! I usually don’t post book reviews on my blog, but I’m making an exception for Mirror World Publishing’s new anthology Far, Far Away.

In today’s post, I’ll be giving a quick review of each story including a content warning (cw), so you know what to expect if you pick up a copy of the anthology.

And folks, it’s going to be my legit reviews. I encourage you, if you read this book, to also post your reviews on whatever platform you use, even send them along to Mirror World. They’re planning a volume 2 of this anthology, so I’m sure they’d appreciate the feedback.

Cover design by Mirror World Publishing

“Piece of Mind” by L.R. Braden

An interstellar ark for human minds goes on a journey to save the human race. But as time drags on, what makes the minds human begins to degrade.

Really enjoyed the concept of this one, though I felt like the story could’ve been a bit longer. Strong P.O.V. and deft writing made this one a solid starter for this collection.

cw: isolation, memory loss, violence

“Songs and Superstitions” by Shana Scott

Now an outsider, Krem returns to his home planet to work a job with his best friend Max and her insufferable companion, Commodore McFlufferton. When the job goes wrong, they discover that they’re not alone in the underground tunnels.

This may have been my favourite story of the collection. The characterizations are strong, there’s a vibrant streak of humor throughout, and the world-building feels effortless. There were so many little details that made this story a delight to read, as well as a satisfying arc overall.

cw: underground, cave in, guns

“Black Spire Isles” by Barend Nieuwstraten III

Shipwrecked on an island no one ever leaves, the group of survivors uncovers centuries-old secrets. There is magic at work here, but will they find out the truth before it’s too late?

I wasn’t sure about this one when I started. The preamble before the story was a bit much to take in, and the writing had an archaic flavour common to high fantasy stories. However, as the story got going and the style loosened up a bit, it really drew me in and became one of my favourites from the collection. It reminded me of parts of the Odyssey. And the end was satisfying, very well-crafted. My only qualm was that the people already living on the island are portrayed as a group, with little individual characterization apart from their roles in the community. Given that it was a short story, though, I’ll give it a pass.

cw: gender roles, shipwreck, injury recovery, themes of loss

“Field Notes from the Unknown Planet” by Brittni Brinn

When Idylwild finds herself on a dangerous planet under strange constellations, she’ll have to use all of her skills as a surveyor to survive the resident predators.

I wrote this one, so I’ll leave the reviewing to you all!

cw: isolation, childbirth, death

“The Colour of Roses” by Kelly D. Holmes

In a world where only Soulmates can see colours, a young woman discovers the nature of soulmates isn’t so obvious after all.

Think of the part in The Giver where the kid sees red for the first time, then move that concept out of a dystopic YA novel and set it instead at a supportive writing group in the suburbs. It was a sweet story, and fit nicely in the middle of the book. Some stand-out imagery work, especially playing with the title. Given that this is Holmes’s first publishing credit, I say bravo.

cw: heteronormativity, themes of loss

“The Prime Crusade” by Buddy Young

Time travelers aboard the Hindenburg fight to save time itself in the face of impending disaster.

So. This is a story that takes place almost entirely on the Hindenburg, an airship that crashed in 1937. This is fine. It’s a historical event that would definitely draw time travelers to experience the famous airship before it was destroyed. The story itself is well-written, with attention to detail and historical tidbits ingrained into the story. And who doesn’t love a good time travel story? Well, I did not love the part where the heroes wore Nazi armbands and their main contact was a time traveler pretending to be an SS officer. You could argue that they were all just playing a part and their use of Nazi imagery didn’t mean anything. But the thing that really stood out was how not one of the time travelers wanted to punch the Nazis on board. Even if it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of the story, shouldn’t at least one time traveler be there for the sole purpose of punching Nazis? If Indiana Jones had time to fight Nazis, I should think someone on that airship would have made time to do so too.

It CONFOUNDS me that this story was chosen to be included in this anthology. With fascist ideologies gaining more ground in the United States and Canada, these “harmless” and “neutral” stories featuring Nazi imagery aren’t really that neutral at all. If memory serves, this author had two stories shortlisted for the top ten stories that were submitted. Why was the one featuring Nazi imagery, as window dressing as it was, chosen? Maybe this doesn’t bother anyone else, but I found it concerning. And don’t even get me started on the Crusades.

cw: Nazi imagery, sexual harassment, war, violence, the Crusades

“Fatestorm” by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

When her village is destroyed by a colonizing military force, Deneige tries to help her people by falling in love with the soldier in charge.

The framework of a Roman-esque soldier leading a massacre of a village, enslaving the survivors, and taking their spiritual leader captive doesn’t really feel like a set up for a love story to me. But, to each their own.

cw: genocide, slavery, colonization

And that’s the anthology! I told you these would be my legit responses. I also wanted to provide a place for content warnings, because I believe it’s important to recognize the elements that may be triggering to readers. If I missed anything, let me know! I hope that if you pick up this anthology, that you’ll join the discussion about the stories inside. Words are how we shape the future as writers and as readers, after all.

anthology launch

This Thursday, June 17th, Mirror World Publishing is launching Far, Far, Away, a sci-fi/fantasy anthology including seven stories of escape and adventure! And one of those stories is one that I wrote!

Mirror World Publishing is hosting the all-day launch on Facebook, including a Live event at 5 pm EST. I’m excited to hear more about the stories and authors who contributed to this collection! You can join the event here.

The anthology is available in paperback and e-book formats, and can be purchased on Mirror World Publishing’s website.

A peek inside the anthology! Here’s the opening page of my story “Field Notes From the Unknown Planet”!

Now that you know everything I know about the launch, I can tell you a little bit about my story, “Field Notes from the Unknown Planet!” I’ve been working on a space novel for a little over a year, and when Mirror World posted about an anthology contest last summer, I thought, what the heck, and sent them the first section of the book as a short story. (Edited up a little of course to make it a self-contained narrative.) I was really proud of it: I’d been reading a lot of Ursula K. Le Guin and wanted to write something that was small in scope, and focused on relationships in space: relationships to the environment, between strangers, and to death. How does the need to survive shape these relationships?

[Image description: A hand holds a copy of Far, Far Away: 7 Stories in 7 Realms of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Vol. 1) in front of a pebble-scattered beach. The book cover features an astronaut, a pocket watch and a suitcase suspended over a tilted horizon.]

I don’t know if I succeeded in emulating Le Guin, but something about the story must’ve worked, since it made it into the anthology. I’ll be interested to read the other stories and think about why they were picked as well!

Hope to see you at the book launch!

back to it

Hello from the East Coast! Since my last post, my husband and I have relocated to a cottage near the ocean. Our two week quarantine was full of around the house projects and getting used to starting a fire in the woodstove every morning! It’s been a good time, and a wonderful break after the month of moving prep.

We also have been going on nature walks!
[Image description: Tree in the woods with three shelf mushrooms growing up the trunk.]

Now that we’re settled, I’m excited to get back to writing! I jotted down the beginning of a short story last week, and have been slowly doing last edits on my space novel. I’m most looking forward to setting up a workspace at the kitchen table and finding out which times are best to block off for writing.

I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot write early in the morning. I’ve tried enough times to know that my body doesn’t work that way. I need time to sync up with all my dreamstate thoughts, have coffee and breakfast, maybe go for a walk. Now that I’m an hour ahead of one of my writing groups in Ontario, I have a little bit of extra time to get ready for our weekly morning writing session 🙂 Afternoons are usually good for writing, unless there are errands or things to do. Evenings are good some days, and nights are special. Night time writing is usually for a purpose, like a deadline, or word count, or if I’m feeling inspired. Night time writing has a magic about it. Generally, I’m too tired at the end of the day to make the commitment to it.

All this to say, I’ll probably carve out writing time when I can, with preference for late morning or early afternoon. And days we go into town for groceries or laundry may be busts writing-wise. I have the summer to figure it out, and some ideas brewing, so I’m not too worried. As long as I spend some time every week working on something, I’ll be content.

My morning routine usually involves coffee, breakfast, and some time outside.
[Image description: a woman with short brown hair and glasses, wearing a multi-coloured scarf, purple shirt, and black hoodie, holds a mug and stands in front of a yellow forsythia bush.]

Also, I’m very much looking forward to the release of Far, Far Away, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy anthology from Mirror World Press! My story “Field Notes From the Unknown Planet” won a spot in the anthology last summer, and I’m excited to see it in print along with six other awesome stories. You can pre-order the paperback or ebook here until its official release on June 17th!

Far, Far Away cover reveal!

Today is the official cover reveal day for Mirror World Publishing’s anthology, Far, Far Away!

Read all about this amazing collection of science fiction and fantasy coming out on June 17th, 2021!

About Far, Far Away:

“In a land far, far away… In a distant galaxy… Once upon a time…

These are all ways to begin fantastical tales of love and adventure. Gateways into the realms of imagination. In this anthology, we bring together authors from all over this world to transport you into the worlds they’ve created.

Travel through space and experience infinity three hours at a time. Explore dangerous caverns for the source of a deadly disturbance. Get stranded on a mysterious island from which no one returns, then learn to survive on a distant planet while you hope for rescue.

In this far-reaching, magical collection love allows you to see in colour, time is vast but fragile, and changing minds and hearts in Ancient Rome is only one stop on an epic journey across time, space, and reality.”

Stories Included in the Anthology:

“Piece of Mind” by L.R. Braden

“Songs and Superstitions” by Shana Scott

“Black Spire Isles” by Barend Nieuwstraten III

“Field Notes from the Unknown Planet” by Brittni Brinn

“The Colour of Roses” by Kelly D. Holmes

“The Prime Crusade” by Buddy Young

“Fatestorm” by Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred

From Mirror World Publishing:

“It’s 2021. The pandemic drags on and we’re all stuck inside. Blegh. Reality sucks.

So why not take this opportunity to escape into fiction?

A year ago we ran a contest and we asked writers to submit stories set in other times, places, and versions of reality.

Then we had our judges pick the best ones to include in this anthology. Therefore, the seven stories you are about to read are windows into other worlds, but also into the minds of eight extremely creative and talented individuals. We’ve included their bios and a few words from each of them so you can get to know the people who have created such imaginative stories to take us far, far away, if only for a little while.

So pack your bags, or don’t because you won’t be needing them for this journey. Instead, sit back, relax, and turn the page to find distant galaxies, alien cultures, mysterious magical islands, unknown planets, the value of colour, the fragility of time, and the fickle nature of fate.”

Far, Far Away comes out on June 17th, 2021!

The anthology is now available for pre-order on Mirror World’s website!

a short story

I’d like to tell you the tale of a short story that will be appearing in Mirror World‘s Far, Far Away anthology!

The story is called “Field Notes from the Unknown Planet.” I started writing it back in 2019, when I was working as an admin assistant in a law office. Although the job was good, and the people were great, sometimes the stress was really intense. On my breaks, I’d scribble away or type up things on my super slow tablet. It was a kind of escapism, diving into a world completely outside of the cubicles and file folders and red binders piled up on my desk. I remember typing out the first scene of “Field Notes” and getting completely absorbed by the character stalking through a strange world. How did she get there? What were her goals? What would happen if she discovered another person after being alone for so long?

It was a story that expanded beyond its initial vision, and eventually grew into the space novel I’ve been working on. But for the Mirror World anthology, I edited the first section of the book, gave it a name, and submitted it. I’m still blown away that it was accepted!

I’m very excited for the anthology, and hope you all are too! The anthology launches June 17th, 2021, and includes several science fiction and fantasy stories based around the title Far, Far Away. Stay tuned for the cover reveal later this month!