Newsletter 2023.2: Nathan Ballingrud's The Strange, T. Kingfisher's A House With Good Bones, FantaSci 2023 with Richard A. Knaak and Howard Andrew Jones, and more

Posted on 2023-03-22 at 18:19 by montsamu

Vol 11 No 2. Wednesday, March 22, 2023: New events, new books, awards news, let's get right to it!

New events since the last newsletter first, since the first of these is literally tonight: Asheville's Nathan Ballingrud (North American Lake Monsters, Wounds) is back in Raleigh to visit Quail Ridge Books, for his debut novel, the Mars-set weird-sf The Strange (Gallery/Saga Press). And he's brought a friend! The absolutely fantastic Dale Bailey (In the Night Wood, "The End of the End of Everything", "A Rumor of Angels") will be in conversation as these two masters of the short form set up for what should be a wonderful evening.

Cover art for The Strange by Nathan Ballingrud (Gallery/Saga) Cover art for A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher (Tor/Nightfire)

And! under a week from now, Tuesday, March 28, Chapel Hill's Flyleaf Books welcome back Pittsboro author T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon) for her newest novel, A House with Good Bones (Tor/Nightfire), the latest of Kingfisher's big-time horror novels after 2022's What Moves the Dead and 2020's The Hollow Places.

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Newsletter 2023.1: Leigh Bardugo, Grady Hendrix, new and returning conventions, new books, and more

Posted on 2023-01-11 at 19:48 by montsamu

Vol 11 No 1. Wednesday, January 11, 2023: OK, so, the past three years have been... something. (Understatement much?) As we navigate how to have in-person events again, there's a few of note this month, along with a year of conventions ahead, and plenty of books to read and talk about.


11 (Wednesday) 8 pm -- A virtual event ahead of MarsCon in Virginia Beach this weekend, Raleigh's own Madison Metricula Roberts hosts a "tailgate and preview" Facebook live stream which asks: "Excited for MarsCon? Join us Wednesday night to hear previews of the music, events, friends coming, and more!"

13 (Friday) 7 pm -- Quail Ridge Books presents an off-site event at NC State's McKimmon Center, Leigh Bardugo | Hell Bent (OFF SITE). Alas, the event is sold out, but it's quite the keystone to kick off the in-person events calendar this year.

18 (Wednesday) 7 pm -- Again at Quail Ridge Books, Culley Holderfield in conversation with Heather Bell Adams | Hemlock Hollow (In-store). Holderfield is a Durham author, and this "haunted cabin" novel is his debut.

19 (Thursday) 7 pm -- He's baaaaaaack! Quail Ridge Books hosts Grady Hendrix | How to Sell a Haunted House (in store) as the oft-visiting author returns with his newest novel.

19 (Thursday) 5:30 pm (signing) / 6 pm (talk) -- Flyleaf Books hosts Joanna "Jo" Sisk-Purvis presents THE WATCHERS, another debut novel from a local author, this time a YA fantasy adventure.

20 (Friday) 7 pm -- Chapel Hill's Epilogue Books/Chocolate/Brews presents Cool. Awkward. Black. with Karen Strong and Tracy Deonn at the Varsity Theatre. "Blerds and Black creatives are invited to an evening of expression to center and celebrate the many experiences of being cool, awkward and Black. This event coincides with the January 10th release of Cool. Awkward. Black., a YA anthology of short stories. Karen Strong, the anthology’s editor, and Tracy Deonn, a contributor to the anthology, will be joining us as special guests. There will also be light refreshments, spoken word, swag, and more! Friends, family, and all ages are welcome."

30 (Monday) 6 pm to 8 pm -- Books and Beer at Charlotte's The Casual Pint (14236 Rivergate Pkwy) with authors John G. Hartness, Rachel A. Brune, Patrick Dugan, and James P. Nettles.

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Review: Queen of None by Natania Barron

Posted on 2020-11-17 at 15:25 by montsamu

In which a publisher sends an advance review copy of Chapel Hill author Natania Barron's forthcoming novel to me, but my wife claims it as her own:

Queen of None by Natania Barron (Vernacular Books, December 2020)

When Anna Pendragon was born, Merlin prophesied: "Through all the ages, and in the hearts of men, you will be forgotten."

Posted in reviews | Tagged kendra montgomery-blinn, natania barron, vernacular books

Newsletter 2020.1: Voices Rising, Kwame Mbalia, Scott Reintgen, Kim Stanley Robinson, Madeline Miller, and more

Posted on 2020-01-21 at 17:34 by montsamu

Vol 10 No 1. Friday, January 10, 2020: Well. It's been a while, eh? It's a good thing absolutely nothing happened since May of last year, or else this newsletter would get quite unwieldy! Seriously though, there will needs be omissions from the second half of last year to get this out sometime this (new) decade, but what a year we had and are going to have, with books, readings, conventions, awards, and more.

First, if it feels like we should have been meeting up in person this past weekend, but somehow weren't, that's because illogiCon took a year off to reorganize and secure a new hotel for 2021.

Second, do see the last section of the newsletter for the complete upcoming events listing, but before the end of January we'll see the multi-author "Voices Rising" reading at Flyleaf, Kwame Mbalia at the Chapel Hill Library, a Jeremy Whitley comics workshop at Quail Ridge Books, and the launch party for Scott Reintgen's newest book, Ashlords. And! Some highlights of the further-ahead events include Kim Stanley Robinson's February appearances at the NC Book Festival, the Flyleaf Books reading with Dept. Of Speculation author Jenny Offill for Weather, and (again at Flyleaf) Madeline Miller visits for the paperback release of Circe.


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May Newsletter: Zeno Alexander, Valerie Nieman, Lewis Shiner, Free Comic Book Day, Star Wars Day, and more

Posted on 2019-05-04 at 14:30 by montsamu

Vol 9 No 2. Saturday, May 4, 2019: May the 4th be with you. (And also with you.) It's Star Wars day, it's Free Comic Book Day, it's book release party day for "secretive" Durham author Zeno Alexander's The Library of Ever at The Regulator Bookshop, and there's plenty more as the summer event calendar really begins to get started. Readings from Valerie Nieman (To The Bones) and Lewis Shiner (Outside the Gates of Eden) being the highlights as we head into the convention season. As always see the full events calendar, with everything from more readings to a meeting of the Tolkienist Society. But before that... some awards news!


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  • Mur Lafferty's adaptation of Solo: A Star Wars Story has earned her first Scribe Award nomination, presented by The International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.
  • Dale Bailey's novel In the Night Wood has been nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award for "exceptional work in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and dark fantasy."


Posted in newsletter | Tagged newsletter

January Newsletter: Robin Kirk, Holly Black, illogiCon with Annalee Newitz, and more

Posted on 2019-01-06 at 20:58 by montsamu

Vol 9 No 1. Sunday, January 6, 2019: Happy New Year and welcome to 2019! From upcoming events both this month and next, new local and regional conventions, some long-omitted news, and even a few new books, here's what's happening as far as I know:


Obviously I'm omitting dozens and dozens of things since last February, from piles of new books to additional awards news and so very, very many story publications. But to get a new newsletter out for the first time in so long, some short cuts were taken; my apologies for that.


Posted in newsletter, Uncategorized

February Newsletter: Colson Whitehead, John Darnielle, John Kessel, the Playthrough Gaming Convention, and more

Posted on 2018-02-07 at 11:24 by montsamu

Vol 8 No 1. Tuesday, February 6, 2018: It really has taken this long to emerge from my illogiCon-induced contemplations. So many news books and authors that I had to retroactively add back in to The year in NC science fiction and fantasy, part 2 of 3: The Rest of What’s Best from the Triangle and The year in NC science fiction and fantasy, part 3 of 3: Beyond the Triangle, starting a proper 2018 events calendar, and! getting this year's Manly Wade Wellman Award prospective eligibility list out. Let's dive in, starting as usual with the most imminently upcoming events, shall we?


On Wednesday February 7 at 6 pm, Duke University hosts The Underground Railroad author Colson Whitehead for the Weaver Memorial Lecture. "Colson Whitehead is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of "The Underground Railroad" (an Oprah's Book Club selection and winner of the 2016 National Book Award and 2017 Pulitzer Prize). His other books include "The Noble Hustle," "Zone One," "Sag Harbor," and "The Intuitionist," among others. Whitehead is the 2017 Weaver Memorial Lecturer, a series hosted every other year by the Duke University Libraries in memory of William B. Weaver, a 1972 Duke graduate and former member of the Library Advisory Board. Copies of his books will be available for sale at the event. Tickets for the event, which is free and open to the public, are available through the Duke University Box Office."

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The year in NC science fiction and fantasy, part 3 of 3: Beyond the Triangle

Posted on 2018-01-13 at 19:55 by montsamu

Picking up as promised from part 2, which was a deeper dive covering new books from the greater Raleigh-Durham area, let's take a look at the incredible variety (and volume!) of speculative fiction published last year from across North Carolina, organized into five geographic areas: Charlotte (and surrounds), The Triad (Greensboro and surrounds), The Mountains (Asheville and Boone and so on), The Coast (Wilmington and New Bern and so on), and, of course, "Other." Enjoy!


The domain of Gail Z. Martin, A. J. Hartley, Renee Ahdieh, John Hartness, Darin Kennedy, and more, Charlotte's speculative fiction scene continues to flourish.

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1) Cathedrals Of Glass A Planet Of Blood And Ice Firebrand (Alternative Detective, #2)

On the heels of her immensely successful The Wrath and the Dawn series, Ahdieh this year launched a new series with Flame in the Mist. Billed as Mulan meets 47 Ronin, the book follows the daughter of a prominent samurai as she infiltrates the group of assassins who waylaid her on her way to an arranged marriage.

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The year in NC science fiction and fantasy, part 2 of 3: The Rest of What's Best from the Triangle

Posted on 2017-12-31 at 20:6 by montsamu

Wait, what's this? New non-newsletter content at! Yes, indeed! But, you say, part 2? Where's part 1? I'm glad you asked!

I was very pleased indeed that Indy Week editor Brian Howe invited me to contribute another "local books in review" column this year, as he also so graciously did in 2015 and 2016. Entitled "Though the Triangle Produces All Kinds of Books, Its Genre Writers Make the Most Noise. Here Are Some of Our Favorites of 2017.", this year's edition covers my "top 10" of local science fiction and fantasy (and a couple more genres, just in case), including science fiction by Durham author Mur Lafferty, Cary author Gray Rinehart, Raleigh author John Kessel, Durham author Michele Berger, and Pittsboro author David Drake, fantasy from Chapel Hill author Natania Barron, Lewis Shiner's collection Heroes and Villains, John Darnielle's Universal Harvester, and Eryk Pruitt's "Southern-fried Fargo noir" What We Reckon, as well as Lafferty's fantastic writing-workshop-in-a-book I Should Be Writing: A Writer's Workshop.

Heroes and Villains by [Shiner, Lewis] 

I'm not going to repeat what I wrote for Indy Week, so visit them online or (until the current issue disappears on Tuesday) pick up a copy somewhere out and about in the Triangle area. (Or, you know, subscribe to Indy Week, ok? Ok.)

Still, as an article intended for print, there were limits: word count, column inches, photo sizes, etc. Here online, I can go on and on -- and you know I will -- about everything else book-shaped in terms of science fiction and fantasy from the Triangle this year.

I'm going to start with the year in YOUNG ADULT speculative fiction, because I just couldn't figure out a way to fit it into my Indy article, and these books really, really should be considered right up there with the best of the year in local books:

Posted in articles | Tagged Holiday shopping guide, triangle

November newsletter: NC Comicon Bull City, Leigh Statham, Michele Tracy Berger and Nicole Givens Kurtz, Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower: The Opera, and more

Posted on 2017-11-10 at 21:6 by montsamu

Vol 7 No 7. Friday, November 10, 2017: Well, this one's coming a bit later in the month than I'd like, but what else is new, eh? Hopefully not too many of you missed the Zine Machine Printed Matter Festival or the Fall Steampunk Picnic last weekend?

Anyway, last month seemed to really fly by, and there was a fantastic event towards the end of the month as Arcana Durham hosted Books & Brews with a big roster of Falstaff Books authors (John Hartness, Misty Massey, Natania Barron, Michael Williams, on and on!). Books were bought, cocktails were imbibed, stories were read, conversations had. (And apparently after I left, pub style Indian food was consumed?) All in all a lovely time. And to completely put a "bow" on October, HonorCon returned to the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown.


And now, November! And it's packed with events, from the book launch for Leigh Statham's Daughter4254 tonight at Flyleaf Books, to NC Comicon Bull City (already underway!), to Michele Tracy Berger and Nicole Givens Kurtz both reading at Ngozi in Durham tomorrow, and plenty more including! the world premiere of Octavia E. Butler's The Parable of the Sower: The Opera at UNC's Memorial Hall, readings from Scott Reintgen and Marissa Meyer, and even a science fiction card game launch (Pulsar Event at Atomic Empire, Saturday at 7 pm).


Posted in newsletter

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