The Allure of Print

It has never gone away for me despite all the advances in ebooks and technology more generally. The convenience, the accessibility, the portability of electronic texts are undeniable, but so are the risks of the corruption, obsolescence, and their relative invisibility when so much else is competing in the digital space.

I guess I’m old-fashioned in that I like to hold paper in my hands, feel the weighted slide of the pages, and rub my fingers over the text. When it’s something that bears my name, the effect is magnified, and for a moment I feel connected with the larger world in a way that’s impossible on my own.

That’s why the novelty never wears off whenever a story of mine comes out in print. Last week, author copies of two different magazines arrived. The first, DreamForge Magazine, has a brand-new fantasy story from me called “Sing! And Remember.”

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I talked about it briefly here, but that was back when the magazine was still in production. Having now seen the Founder’s Issue after their successful Kickstarter firsthand, the quality of the magazine has exceeded all expectations. It doesn’t hurt that my name’s on the cover–a first for me.

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The second magazine is also a new venture. Serial Magazine specializes in pulpy genre stories, and their third issue just came out, featuring “No Regrets on Fourth Street,” which I’ve mentioned before.

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My mash-up of science fiction and romance kicks off the glossy issue, and the rest of the volume features a number of great love stories to celebrate Valentine’s Day. You can check out the table of contents here and learn more about my fellow contributors.

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Both magazines are now available in print and digital, with a variety of subscription options. Be sure to check them out! Happy reading!

Implanted shortlisted for the Compton Crook Award!

I’m thrilled to announce that my novel Implanted is a finalist for the 2019 Compton Crook award for best first science fiction, fantasy, or horror novel. The award has been presented through the Baltimore Science Fiction Society since 1983. File 770 has a good overview of the award, along with the BSFS site.

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When I first received notice of the award the day before, I kept rereading the email, wondering how on earth I finaled in a field of over 100 SF/F/H debuts. Even as the announcement went live yesterday to a flurry of congratulatory tweets and RTs, it still hasn’t quite sunk in. I mean, just look at the other finalists:

•    S.A. Chakraborty – The City of Brass
•    R. F. Kuang – The Poppy War
•    Rebecca Roanhorse – Trail of Lightning
•    Rena Rossner – Sisters of the Winter Wood
•    Nick Clark Windo – The Feed

These are all impressive writers with equally impressive debuts. Needless to say, besides some kermit flailing, impostor syndrome struck hard, but as with anything, the only antidote is to keep writing. At least that’s how it’s always been for me.

But the one thing that didn’t surprise me was Rebecca Roanhorse’s presence on the list for the electric Trail of Lightning. We were able to do some joint bookstore events when Implanted released, and we’re also in the same NM-based writing group. I’ve seen her work up close and personal, and I’m here to tell you she’s the real deal if you haven’t (somehow) read her stuff yet.

Anyway, I want to congratulate all of the finalists, give my thanks to the Baltimore Science Fiction Society for the time they’ve invested in curating this award over the years, and encourage everyone reading this to go out and support a debut novelist!

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Implanted wins a 2018 SFR Galaxy Award!

Yesterday, I received the happy news that my novel Implanted won a 2018 SFR Galaxy Award. The Science Fiction Romance community may be small relative to other genres but it is mighty, and every year for the past seven years, the SFR Galaxy Awards highlight “standout” books in the field.

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You can learn more about the awards here, but basically:

The SFR Galaxy Awards is an annual, multi-award event for science fiction romance books. The theme of the SFR Galaxy Awards is inclusiveness. Instead of giving an award to a single book, this event will recognize the worth of multiple books and/or the standout elements they contain. Each of the seven judges are reviewers, book bloggers, librarians, editors and/or avid readers. Authors do not enter to win and are not aware they have won until the awards are announced.

Judge Lee Kovan singled out Implanted for the way in which I incorporated communication technology into my story, saying, “Teffeau presents the possible consequences of the evolution of smartphones. She also shows how much maintenance time we have to put into our technology, a cost we rarely think about critically.”

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It’s always so wonderful to know when someone not only gets what you’re writing but appreciates it too. I put a lot of rigor into building the world and technology of Implanted, and I’m grateful that effort was recognized. Needless to say I’m thrilled, and my thanks go to Lee, the other judges, and the organizers of the SFR Galaxy Awards.

Be sure to check out the other winners across seven different judges and add them to your TBR pile stat!

New Story in DreamForge Magazine

I’m happy to announce I’ll have a short story in DreamForge Magazine’s Founder’s Issue that will be available this February. My short story “Sing! And Remember” is set in the same fantasy world as “Those Who Wear Their White Hair Proudly” that was published in Flame Tree Press’s Heroic Fantasy Short Stories anthology. It’s a sweeping tale of swords and sadness, monsters and mayhem, and the occasional bad rhyme. And if that’s not convincing enough, it’s illustrated by Hugo award-winning artist Elizabeth Leggett!

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DreamForge is a brand new SF/F market looking to inject more optimism in our world, and it’s an honor to have been selected to appear in their founding issue. In their own words:

We’re a new quarterly magazine of science fiction and fantasy on a mission. We believe words are important; that the stories we tell ourselves affect the present and become the future. 

At DreamForge, we are about hope in an age of dystopia. Our goal is to encourage the abandonment of the dystopian mindset and promote the ascendency of reason and humane values, civility, community, and scientific advancement. We see the human challenge through an optimistic lens.

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Be sure to check out the rest of the Table of Contents featuring some serious heavy hitters in the SF/F field and consider helping their Kickstarter to bring more amazing stories into the world!

For Your Consideration – Implanted

It’s awards season, the time of year that strikes fear into the heart of every writer while simultaneously stoking the flames of what-ifs.

The only thing I have that’s award-eligible this year, is my debut science fiction novel Implanted, that was published by Angry Robot this August in trade paperback and ebook. An audiobook version came out at the end of October from High Bridge Audio. I’m immensely proud of it, between its mash-up of cyberpunk and solarpunk elements, the homage to espionage and romance, and a deep-dive into communication theory.

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After all, when you’re writing about the future, you can never have too many ideas in my opinion. And mine tend to come to me snarled together, interwoven and inseparable, or in great big chains like dominoes falling into place, one right after another.

It’s gotten some great reviews, between the ambitious world and a turbo-charged second half, but I’d love for it to find even more readers. In case you’re still on the fence about the book, here’s a look at some of the themes I explore in Implanted:

This is a story about the coming climate apocalypse.

So many different potential futures stretch out before us. But as recent reports suggest, it’s increasingly likely we’ll have to pay the piper for all the damage we’ve wrought to Mother Nature, and god help us when that debt comes due. In the world of Implanted, the worst has already happened. After too many years of storm-leveled towns, receding coastlines, drought, flood, pollution, and devastating fighting over food and resources as governments try (and fail) to provide for their people, domed cities have become humanity’s only option to escape the ravages of a world pushed to the brink after so many years of abuse.

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What would make such a disruptive population shift into a constrained environment successful? Think about it. If you had to bundle up your life, abandon your home, and take refuge in a domed city, what would bring you solace?

This is (also) a story about hyperconnectivity.

For the citizens of New Worth, it’s neural implants that make day-to-day life more bearable along with the network that provides them with an unending array of information, entertainment, and ways to connect with other users. After all, when you lose everything, what’s one more piece of your humanity?

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Roughly two generations later, when the book starts, the tech has matured with the city. While everyone in New Worth is granted equal protection from the hostile environment outside, their lives inside the dome are dictated by status, credit balances, and career potential. Those with the right credentials have every advantage as they literally rise through the ranks, living out their lives on the city’s luxurious upper levels. Everyone else remains landlocked below – choked off from light, constrained by space, and constantly inundated by others tied to the same fate. The one bright spot on the horizon is Emergence – the day when the dome finally comes down, and they can return to the land.

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After all this time, implants are still most people’s go-to choice to cope with living under glass. But taming the network’s growth has become virtually impossible – too much of the city’s infrastructure relies on it – which in turn has made data security increasingly difficult.

So… this is also a story about information security.

The government and business sectors have been sinking so much money and manpower into chasing down bugs and backdoors and staying on top of new advances, they’ve had to come up with a new way of doing things. Getting back to basics, with a twist, of course. Physical instead of digital delivery of information, the twist being the DNA-encoded blood cells as the new format.

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Enter Aventine Security, a clandestine organization that specializes in shuttling information too sensitive for the network across the city. What makes their elite couriers so special isn’t the state-of-the-art training or gear they’ve been provided with, but a special property of their blood that allows them to carry encoded information that makes it undetectable, unhackable, and untraceable. And people are willing to pay top dollar for their services…and their discretion.

And perhaps most importantly, Implanted is a female-centered cyberpunk story.

Which in my mind at least we need more of. Men’s visions of our technological future dominate the field, too often filled with oversexualized women with problematic characterization (dentata’s anyone?). The list of women publishing cyberpunk is short though memorable (frex. Pat Cadigan, Laura Mixon, Madeline Ashby, KC Alexander), and I humbly add Implanted to that list, where I tried to cram together as many things I love as I could, including high-tech gadgets, light espionage, romance, and hard questions about the future, while centering the female experience.

And I very much hope you’ll join me on the adventure…