brittni in ink

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

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!

writing retreat

This month is turning out to be a busy one! With packing and giving away stuff in preparation for our upcoming move, I haven’t had as much writing headspace as I would like, but I’m slowly getting through edits on the space novel.

One thing that helped me get back to the novel is the weekend writing retreat I attended! A group of us checked in with video calls twice a day and cheered each other on as we worked on our respective projects. You can read more about it on the Adventure Worlds Press blog!

Myself, Christian Laforet, Ben Van Dongen, and Elly Blake taking a coffee break during the weekend writing retreat!

I’ve also had a lot of motivation from the writing-related groups I’m part of through social media. It helps to know that I can check in with these groups when I’m sitting down to write or need to find another word for coffee table.

A new development is that I’m working on a new short story. Originally, I was hoping to write something for Augur‘s submission period, but now I’m doing it more for fun. It’s about a character from my space novel solving a murder. Did I mention I’ve been watching a lot of Shetland lately?

Peter and I also attended a zoom wedding, which was beautiful. As much as we wanted to be there in person, we were so thankful to have the technology to share in the celebration!

We dressed up to attend the ceremony – through zoom!

Also, if you wanted a signed copy of either of The Patch Project or A Place That Used to Be, please let me know by the end of the month. I’ll be packing up most of my stock for the move at that time. Copies are still available at Juniper Books, Biblioasis, and on Amazon.

moving

A lot has happened in the last month!

For one thing, our landlords have sold the house I’ve lived in for the past several years. We’re being evicted at the end of March, which is extremely inconvenient considering, you know, a global pandemic and all. Thankfully, we have wonderful friends who’ve given us support (and moving boxes!) and have made sure we have a place to live.

Peter and I have decided to move to Nova Scotia. If you’ve known us for awhile, this probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. It’s where Peter’s family lives, and we’ve spent some wonderful summer trips by the sea. Plus, Peter’s been accepted to a paralegal program out there, which is really exciting!

[Image description: Red and white lighthouse on a grassy hill overlooking the sea.]

The whole eviction thing has pushed up our moving date, so we’re trying to get on top of things like packing and travel plans ASAP. The stress has gotten in the way of my writing, which I don’t like at all. Still, it’s good to go through our things, reminisce when we find old letters or silly gifts, and give away most of our furniture. If you need any housewares, let me know!

I have been able to write and think about my novel in between all the moving bustle, on good days. I’m getting the space novel ready to send to another reader, and got some great feedback for both it and the other manuscript I’ve got on the back burner. Also, I have some online writing sessions coming up on the weekend with friends, which I’m really looking forward to. Will be nice to set all the life stress aside for awhile and focus on writing.

[Image description: Two books, The Patch Project and A Place That Used to Be, lean against moving boxes.]

As a side note, I still have quite a few signed copies of The Patch Project and A Place That Used to Be available. I’m happy to send you a copy before we move, if you’re interested!

a lot to look forward to

Happy 2021! Hope that you all had a rejuvenating holiday.

The past few weeks have been difficult for many of us. We’ve had to watch the attack on democracy in the States. We’ve had to talk about tough subjects with our friends and family. And although seniors and health workers are being vaccinated (yes! excellent!), it may be a while before vaccines are available for most of us.

Still, there’s a lot to look forward to. I always get reflective around the holidays – not only is it the end of the calendar year, but with my birthday at the beginning of January, it’s also the end of a personal year for me. Thinking back on 2020, there’s a lot I can be thankful for. Even though I stopped working, I had a lot more time to write and make things. Peter and I got to bike and go on river adventures, and we welcomed a housemate into our bubble. I also got to reconnect with friends and family through online games nights, letters, and video calls. It made me appreciate the kindness of others and focus on life-giving pursuits.

[Image description: A mug decorated with figures from famous artworks sits on a notebook, half obscuring the writing and doodles on the page.]

One of those life-giving pursuits is writing. I finished my fifth novel in November. I remember writing ‘The End’ on my first novel several years ago, and the satisfaction of completing something that seemed impossible back then. I don’t want to say that novel writing is easy now, but it feels more familiar. Now, I know that writing a book is going to take time, so I don’t beat myself up if I don’t make my word count goals. I feel more free to experiment and write scenes that are fun. When all the narrative threads come together, or the characters do something unexpected, that’s one of the best feelings in the world for me.

Here I am, standing in front of a cool wooden door in a stone wall, dressed in a long black coat, and being silly. What is my leg even doing? 🙂

That fifth novel is a sci-fi book set in space. I’ve sent the first draft to a few trusted readers. While I wait for feedback, I’m planning on returning to a manuscript that’s been in limbo while I’ve been writing. I’ll try to finish up edits on that one, using some great feedback from previous readers to guide me. Editing is its own process, but in a way is way easier than writing – the material is already there, I can shape and reshape it until it stands on its own. I’m looking forward to polishing these two books over the next year, and possibly starting a new one!

Who knows what 2021 will bring – but we can make it a good one by taking care of each other and our world. And by creating things! What are you looking forward to?

reflect

This past week, an article I wrote was featured on local author Regan W. H. Macaulay’s blog! It’s all about celebrating the holidays in two households when I was growing up. Writing about my family isn’t something I do very much, and it was a moving experience to reflect on how all of my parents made Christmas something special for my sister and I. I hope you give it a read!

[Image description: Two books on a bed of fall leaves. The Patch Project and A Place That Used to Be.]

In book news, I will be taking a break from book deliveries until January 2nd, 2021. You are still more than welcome to order a copy of The Patch Project or A Place That Used to Be from me before then, I’ll just get it to you after the holidays. Copies are also available at Juniper Books, Biblioasis, and on Amazon!

In terms of writing, my current work in progress is a space novel, the same one I was working on during NaNoWriMo last month. I’m hoping to finish edits by the end of January so I can send it out to my first readers and start working on another book!

Thank you for all of your support this past year! Wishing you all a peaceful and hope-filled holiday season!

chapter 1

After the word-writing frenzy of National Novel Writing Month in November, I took a week off to recharge and do all the things I put off while working on my NaNoWriMo project. But now, I’m back, and am super excited to share the first chapter of my novel, The Patch Project, with you!

[Image description: A hand holds a book in front of a festive wreath. The book cover features a forest half-obscured by fog and reads “The Patch Project, Brittni Brinn.”]

The Patch Project is a character-driven post-apocalyptic novel about five survivors who develop strange powers in the wake of a mysterious global event. It was originally published in 2018, and a revised edition was just released from Adventure Worlds Press.

The story begins on a quiet Christmas Day…

Chapter 1: Candles

” May was leaning against the kitchen sink, staring through the broken glass window. Her hands, still wrapped in strips of cloth, held a chipped porcelain mug to her chin as a faint whisper of mint wound its way around her face. As far as she could figure, they had enough tea to last a month, maybe two if they re-steeped the used tea bags. After that, they could mix the herbs into rice, use the filters for fuel. They had to keep everything now.

Isak stole in behind her, his arms warm around her midsection, his chin digging pleasantly into her shoulder. He saw what she did: a dull copper plain under a slate sky with nothing else for miles.

“Hey,” he said, rubbing her pale cheek with his dusky one. “Know what today is?”

“The end,” she replied, leaning away to sip at the weak tea. It loosened her throat, and she cleared it with a tense cough. Isak remained silent. She returned her attention to the dreary panorama that had once featured a fenced-off soccer field ringed with houses. 

“Happy Christmas.” He slipped something into the pocket of her cardigan as his arms vaporized into air. A couple seconds later she heard him appear in the living room with a gasp as his body settled into the back of the couch.

“I didn’t think it mattered anymore,” she said loudly enough, but he didn’t reply. Placing the mug on the counter, she reached up a bandaged hand to trace the hole in the glass. Through it, the sky was solid cloud, as if bolt after bolt of gauze had been draped over them; there had been no other sky, not for months. Not since that day. “

(Excerpt from The Patch Project by Brittni Brinn, 2020)

You can hear the rest of the first chapter over on my YouTube channel. If you’d like to read more, I have signed copies available or you can pick up a copy through Amazon.

Wishing you all a safe and peaceful holiday season!