brittni in ink

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

Category: reading

some moments of rest and joy

How’s 2022 so far? I keep writing “2021” when I’m dating things – that’s normal right? Time is even more wonky this year. In any case, hope you all had a gentle and lovely holiday.

We were very lucky to spend a couple days with family, and to visit my favourite place in the world – the ocean! I’ve now been to the Northumberland Strait in every season, and will be writing a short addition to my Notes at Low Tide blog about that experience. For now, I’ll just say it was very cold, and very wonderful.

Happy to be visiting my favourite ocean (don’t tell the Pacific)

After relaxing so much, I was excited to get back to writing! I tweaked an older manuscript to submit to an open call with a big publisher, did a beta read of Ben’s thrilling new novella, and got a rejection from a horror magazine. But I’m not letting it get to me. Book Three of the Patch Project series is filling out to be a mid-sized novel featuring some simply devastating encounters, but also some moments of rest and joy. Writing about the future, there’s gotta be some hope!

Speaking of, I started reading a fantastic collection of essays: An Ecotopian Lexicon mindfully borrows words from other languages, fields, and genres to help us imagine a better future and a better relationship with our planet. A few essays in, and already my mind is being blown. As someone finishing up a post-apocalyptic series, it’s causing me to reassess how I use the genre: do I challenge or support the tropes we’ve come to expect from such books? Are there ways I can highlight community more through my writing, portraying mutual aid and environmental themes with hopeful solidarity?

My first read of 2022: An Ecotopian Lexicon!

I’m hoping to be better at sharing what I’m reading this year and keeping my Goodreads list updated! What’s your first read of 2022?

Wishing you all the best for a new year!

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!

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!

photo album

Oh, hello! It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. Partly because although there is a lot of stuff going on with A Place That Used to Be and writing in general, most of it’s every day tasks like putting together spreadsheets and mailing out orders. Part of the process for sure, but not super exciting for you to read about!

So this post is going to be more of a mini-photo album of what I’ve been up to the past couple of weeks!

A box of A Place That Used to Be

A new batch of books arrived! It’s such a thrill to receive these deliveries from the printers and wrap up each book to send off into the world!

Afternoon writing session in the backyard!

I’ve been working outside a lot, which has really helped with the social distance blues. The weather’s been perfect for walking by the river and finding a bench to sit and write on (or sketch!). I’m currently picking away at a 30 000 word space novel but am actually kind of stuck. Hopefully, the next couple of weeks will bring some new inspiration!

Artist Trading Card by Dawn Supina

Speaking of inspiration, I’ve been getting back into visual art as a way to relax and be creative! I’m part of an art swap group, and we’re currently trading circus-themed ATCs. I’m also participating in an online workshop series featuring various artists and styles, and I try to doodle daily pictures based on Inktober prompts.

Inktober, Day 2 Prompt: Wisp

Working through my to-read list, I finished The Black Veins by Ashia Monet, a YA urban fantasy about magical Guardians on a road trip rescue mission! It was wonderful to read about an ensemble of LGBTQ+ characters who had well-defined personalities and goals. The character interactions are by far my favourite part of the novel and I highly recommend it if you like YA fiction! “It’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for.”

The Black Veins by Ashia Monet

Although I am inconsolable about Dune’s release date being delayed until next year, I’m enjoying the book. I can’t help but imagine the David Lynch film (which I love in the way great bad movies should be loved) while I’m reading, but the world and the characters are way more fleshed out. I have thoughts, but I’m going to wait until I finish the book to discuss 🙂

Sci-fi classic Dune

Although our household is staying pretty close to home, we occasionally venture out to pick up coffee from The Green Bean Cafe (which is now open limited hours)! Here’s a picture of me wearing a mask and holding a View-Master from my friend Sarah!

Hope you enjoyed this brief overview of what’s going on in my creative life! Some days, I feel like I get nothing done and I’m definitely feeling the self-quarantine cabin fever – probably why I’m trying to get outside as much as I can before winter arrives. Trying to listen to what my creative self needs, and stay connected with people. I would love to hear about the everyday things you’re doing to stay creative and stay grounded!

Thanks for reading!


Did you like this post? Many of these photos were featured on my Instagram account, if you’d like to read more!

Follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading and share what you’re reading! What should I read next?

If you’re interested in a signed copy of A Place That Used to Be (or its companion book, The Patch Project), let me know! Copies are also available at Juniper Books, Biblioasis, and on Amazon!

Sequel Update #9 – Record

Last week, I said I had some news about a project connected to The Patch Project.

Since the book was published in 2018, I’ve been asked intermittently if the book would ever be available in audio format. I was really thinking about that a couple of weeks ago. Thinking led to doing, and as of today, I’ve recorded the first three chapters of the book. It’s nothing fancy, just me reading the words. I would have loved to get some actors involved to bring the characters to life, but given our pandemic-riddled world, it was easier to limit the recording to one reader.

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Photo by Peter Brinn

I can’t say for sure when it’ll be done, but the plan is to have the recording available on bandcamp.com sometime in the next few weeks. It will be a limited edition, so to speak, as the revised edition of The Patch Project will be coming out in the fall with Adventure Worlds Press. But until then, the book will be available to listen to, just in time for the sequel’s release.

Speaking of the sequel, I’ve been informed that test copies of A Place That Used to Be will arrive shortly. Once I’ve looked them over, the book will be ready for online sales. However, the online book launch will take place later on, once I’ve received the first official order of books to sell by hand.

Front cover

Cover design by Christian Laforet

Thanks for your patience while the book’s been in printing limbo – printing and shipping times were both longer than usual as (hopefully) social distancing and other precautions have been at play.

Hope you’re all staying safe and well out there! If you are looking for films to watch and have Netflix, some Studio Ghibli films were recently added to their streaming library! All of them are good (except for Tales from Earthsea. Just….don’t) – Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are good if you like epics, Howl’s Moving Castle if you like magical adventures, Castle in the Sky if you like airship pirates and nature-loving robots, and Whisper of the Heart if you want a coming of age story about being creative!

 

Sequel Update #3: Q and A!

Welcome to this Question and Answer post brought to you by: you! Thanks for sending in your questions via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even through spoken word. If you have more questions or if you want to see another post like this, let me know!

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Photo by Sarah Kivell

If this is your first time here, welcome! My name is Brittni Brinn (she/her) and I write post-apocalyptic fiction (most of the time). My book The Patch Project came out from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing in early 2018. The sequel is called A Place That Used to Be, and is forthcoming from Adventure Worlds Press.

Without further ado, let’s get into the questions:

Can you tell us how you got your new publisher?

Yes! Adventure Worlds Press is a Windsor-based publisher that specializes in genre fiction. I got to know Christian Laforet and Ben Van Dongen, the co-founders of the press and authors in their own right, through local book and writing events. When I found out that A Place That Used to Be wasn’t going to be published by another press, they offered to publish it as an Adventure Worlds Press book!

Did you find the second book easier to write than the first?

Writing A Place That Used to Be was a very different experience from writing the first book. I wrote The Patch Project over a long period of time: I initially wrote it in 2011/2012, and didn’t revisit it until I reworked the manuscript in 2016/2017. It was the first novel I actually finished writing, which was a huge breakthrough for me. Knowing that I could write a novel from beginning to end made writing the second one a lot easier.

A Place That Used to Be took around 8 months to write. After a break, I took a few months to edit the manuscript. I had a better idea of the world I was writing in, and had learned so much from publishing the first one. But the second book came with its own challenges too.

Do you have an expected release date or pre-sale?

At this point, I’m hoping for a June release. Given our current global situation, it’s hard to be sure of a date since so much depends on printing and delivery capabilities. As soon as I know, I’ll post the release date. Hopefully, we’ll have an online launch around that time as well!

What was your favourite part of the book to write?

I really enjoyed writing a dream sequence that features in the latter part of the novel. It felt like it was a dream I was personally experiencing (and I suppose in a way I was—isn’t fiction like a shared dream?) and I didn’t change much about the chapter once it was written. There’s a kind of freedom writing about the surreal, describing visions of the subconscious.

Have your views on love and romance changed from the first book to the second book within the post-apocalyptic world?

When I wrote The Patch Project originally, my experience with romantic relationships was mostly observational. I am older and wiser now (am I?) and am married, which I think did change how I wrote about relationships in the second book.

But I’m not sure if my portrayal of love and romance in the post-apocalyptic world has changed: relationships that are built on mutual survival and opportunity. People in a world like the one in these two books sometimes go weeks or months without seeing another human being. Many of the characters crave words, touch, thoughts, from someone outside of themselves. To be seen by another. A connection with someone tangible, even if it’s not for very long. And I think that’s what brings people together most in the world I’m writing about.

How do you feel the book engages with Road Trip and Western genres?

It’s an interesting question, because I think that the Post-Apocalyptic genre as we know it today, especially in North America, grew out of these two genres. Thinking of books like The Road or Station Eleven, the main plot driver is movement. Moving through the wild lands between settled places, in search of safety or belonging. Road trip epics like On the Road are pervaded by this restless searching for the self through experience. The Western looks at ideas of civilization and wilderness, often portraying a colonialist view – for example, the show West World demonstrates the colonial Western fantasy and upends it. All of these genres are traditionally male-oriented or focused.

I think A Place That Used to Be especially engages with and hopefully challenges the expectations that come with the Post-Apocalyptic genre by including varied points of view and different ways of organizing communities.

How much change do your books go through from early drafts to final draft?

Early drafts are often skeletal: I tend to want to get the main gist of a scene down before I forget. Sometimes these appear simply as snippets of dialogue scrawled in my notebook with a couple of trailing notes at the end of things I want to add. Editing is mainly filling in the scenes, ordering them, and reordering them. With another book I’ve been working on, this has included writing extra chapters and expanding on areas of the plot that are not clear enough. I don’t do a lot of planning before working on a novel, so the plot is often the thing that changes the most. The characters grow along with the book, and they generally stay the same between drafts.

Any sneak peeks?

You’ll have to wait a little longer, but I’m hoping to feature a reading of chapter 1 in the near future!

 

Thank you so much everyone! Feel free to send more questions along, and stay tuned for next week’s update!

art in the time of social distancing

In this time of social distancing, I’ve been getting back to art. I adore making art and learning about art. The DIA is currently one of my favourite places in the world (though I have yet to catch van Gogh’s self-portrait – literally every time I go, it’s out on a travelling exhibit, or just missing?) A couple of friends on Facebook have been posting links to online art exhibits and tours of museums. A stand out has been Faces of Frida – up until going through the exhibit, I knew very little about Frida Kahlo and her art. I learned that she spent time in Detroit – right across the river! – and how her life and art shaped each other. Fascinating!

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I’ve also been working through a free online art workshop called Sketchbook Revival – there are two instructional videos every day relating to different art journaling techniques – everything from lettering to binding an old book into a journal. Some of the exercises haven’t been for me, but the ones that draw my attention (pardon the pun) have been really fun.

All that being said, now that I’ve had a week and a bit at home, I’m starting to miss meeting up with people to write or have coffee together. And I’m trying to find a writing project to focus on while the sequel to The Patch Project goes through one last round of edits. Either finishing up a set of short stories I’ve scribbled at for the past couple years, or continuing the space opera I started writing for NaNoWriMo this past fall. Just something to keep me feeling productive and grounded while waiting to see what the next couple of weeks are going to look like.

I think there’s a lot of pressure to be productive during this time. I’m trying to balance it with the acknowledgement that this can also be a time of rest and contemplation. How do I want my life to change once things go back to relative “normal”? What is bringing me clarity and fulfillment during this time? What is important to me? How can I find time to ask these questions when things become busy again?

Also, I’m getting back to reading. Currently I’m reading An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, and am rereading The Left Hand of Darkness with my sister over video chat. I’m also looking forward to reading The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, which just came out – we’ll see if the copy I ordered arrives.

What are you reading? What are you getting back to during this time of self-isolation? How are you approaching being productive/ resting?

so much news

 

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Meet my new author photo! This film portrait was taken by Sarah Kivell, who does astounding work and constantly inspires me with her contemplative and creative approach to life! I like this photo because I’ve been taking myself too seriously lately; it reminds me that there is fun to be had with creativity, that art is a place to be humble, to play, to listen. This photo is a gift.

I’ve been lax in posting on here lately, but I can promise that that will change very soon. I have so much news in regards to my writing and upcoming books. I can’t reveal some of those things yet, but I’m so excited to share them when the time is right!

I can tell you that my website has been updated! If you want to be the first in the know about upcoming events, readings, and giveaways, you can now sign up for my newsletter!

Also to note is that The Patch Project is going out of print. Limited copies are available for sale at Juniper Books and Biblioasis, with some paperback copies available through Amazon. I also have copies I’ll be selling at upcoming events. If you would like to purchase a signed copy, I’m happy to send/ deliver one to you.

Speaking of upcoming events, the Windsor Small Press Book Fair is going to be held on April 18, 2020 at University Community Church. More details to come!

I’m also really excited for Emily St. John Mandel‘s new book, The Glass Hotel. Her previous book, Station Eleven, is one of my favourite post-apocalyptic novels of all time, but I think she would agree that now is not the best time to start reading it. Stay safe out there, friends!

 

out in the world

This month, I’ve been focusing on The Patch Project. This book has been out in the world since 2018, and I’ve enjoyed hearing all of the feedback, online and in person. My favourite review compares the book to a ’70s psychedelic film. It was a two-star review, but I love the comparison, and that the person felt strongly enough to leave a review at all!

I’m in the process of planning a reading for the spring, and looking at other ways to put myself out there as an author. Maybe I’ll start carrying my book around, just in case people want to read a chapter. Self-marketing is a huge part of having a book, but I’m terrible at it. At least I have business cards now.

I’m really enjoying working on my next draft of my work in progress. After this weekend, I’m going to take a couple weeks to overhaul the entire manuscript. We’ll see if I can keep to my goal of getting it out for beta reads by March.

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Have you read The Patch Project?

The Patch Project is available online through Amazon, or locally at Juniper Books. I also have copies on hand I can sign. If you do give it a read, let me know what you think 🙂

*

If you’re making creative things, you may be interested in the following developments: 

The Windsor Review is open for submissions!

The Windsor Endowment for the Arts is taking grant applications until March 31, 2020. If you’re in the Windsor area, you should consider applying!

summer times

I took a bit of a break after finishing a first draft of my work in progress. It was good to have time to unpack my life a little, to slow down and focus on the day to day things.

One highlight was attending a reading my friend organized, FILR, at the Green Bean Cafe. Amazing poets and writers, a night that had a special kind of weight to it, the energy that says something important has happened here. Who knows what kind of important, maybe different for everyone. Connection, maybe.

Another highlight was taking a weekend to be by a lake with Peter. Having lived all my life in cities, I adore getting out of them. Finding new rhythms, waking up early to sit outside and listen to birds. Seeing more than three stars when I look up. Leaving my bike unlocked and the window open. A simple way of looking at these spaces, granted. But being in them gives me rest like nothing else.

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I’ve also had a ton of time to read. Breathing the Page by Betsy Warland, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Steering the Craft by Ursula K. Le Guin – all books lent to me, I’ve just realized! It is wonderful to read writers who engage with their practices of creativity, and live with the paradoxical nature of making stuff. Highly recommend all of them if you need words from someone on the path.

I’m getting back into writing – I’ve been tinkering with a couple of post-apocalyptic short stories (one including a robot <3) in the interim, but I’m itching to get back into a bigger project. Maybe about black holes, because they are fascinating. Do you know what they call the stretching and squeezing effect on matter that gets pulled past the event horizon? Spaghettification. Amazing.