Athena's Daughters

ConGregate 2014: Official Athena's Daughters Launch Party & Panel

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to head to Winston-Salem, N.C. for a brief stopover at ConGregate, a new sci-fi and fantasy convention put on by some of the same folks who have extensive experience running RavenCon, ConCarolinas, StellarCon and Dragon*Con.

Most of the conventions I've gone to have been out-of-state (as in, I drive anywhere from 6-10 hours to attend) so it was nice to attend one that was relatively close to home! My con experience started on Saturday.

In the morning, I sat in on a fitness panel with @WriterMaggie (on which @janinekspendlove was a panelist. Meanwhile, Maggie and I functioned as the resident peanut gallery, and heckled her in a kind and loving way.)

In the afternoon, we went to a second panel about "The Myth of Strong Women," where I finally got to meet AD and Wynde author Tricia Barr for the first time! She, Janine, and several other fabulous ladies (plus our male moderator, who was an excellent sport) led the room in a discussion on what it means to write engaging female characters. (Hint: treat them as complex people, not types.)  They also talked about why representing all kinds of women is important in fiction, even if those characters aren't physically strong with typically masculine qualities. (Although we absolutely respect women who can do amazing physical feats: a reference to this video of Kacy Catanzaro completing the full American Ninja Warrior course came up more than once.)

After that, it was time for the official Athena's Daughters launch party! Authors Gail Z. Martin, Janine, Maggie, Tera Fulbright, and Tricia were all in attendance. We had a lovely spread of food ordered for the party, including a sheet cake, and had an excellent turnout considering the size of our cozy convention! I'm happy so many people were able to attend the launch. There was a free raffle with books and assorted prizes from some of the authors in attendance. We ate, drank, and signed our little hearts out.

Here are Janine and Maggie, setting up our head table:


Our beautiful paperback -- complete with art cover by Tietjen Alvarez--next to another Silence anthology:

And the fabulous sheet cake, chosen by Tera:

The next day, Sunday, was our main programming panel on Athena's Daughters. Silence in the Library's CEO, Ron Garner, was our moderator. For an hour, Gail, Janine, Maggie, Tricia and I fielded questions about why we got involved with this project, why we thought an anthology "for women, by women" was important, and discussed why writing stories about female characters was individually powerful for each of us.

We also chatted about the amazing communal experience we'd had during the Kickstarter itself, being able to promote the anthology with a group of enthusiastic, talented women. We gave background on our individual works from the anthology, made callbacks to a few of the other crowdfunded campaigns, and brought up topics ranging from newly-genderflipped Star Wars characters to Jezebel to Joanna Russ. (I brought up Joanna Russ. I always bring up Joanna Russ. :)  )

Overall, it was an amazing con experience. I was so pleased to have been a part of it, and I can't wait to head back for ConGregate 2015 -- this time in High Point, NC. Next year's guests of honor will include Mike Stackpole, Timothy Zahn, Albin Johnson, and Scott Rorie. Hope to see some of you there, too!

Athena's Daughters, Day 30: YOU GUYS ARE INCREDIBLE, A Message from our Project Managers, and A Word on Volume II

"Athena," copyright 2013 Ginger Breo. Created for the anthology "Athena's Daughters," published by Silence in the Library.
"Athena," copyright 2013 Ginger Breo. Created for the anthology "Athena's Daughters," published by Silence in the Library.

Day 30. All I can say is that YOU GUYS ARE INCREDIBLE. We have funded every. single. stretch goal of this Kickstarter campaign. We are producing three kick-ass anthologies about strong women: Athena's Daughters, Apollo's Daughters, and (as of three minutes ago) Athena's Daughters: Volume II!!

There is absolutely no way we could have done this without your generosity and your willingness to share about the project. Thank you for the campaign of a lifetime.

Wanted to point your attention to the official Silence In The Library post from this morning, by Maggie Allen and Janine Spendlove, our official project managers. They have done an incredible amount of work behind the scenes to get this anthology off the ground and to run a smooth campaign, and we owe much of this project to their tireless efforts!

Now, a note re: Athena's Daughters: Volume II. This anthology is special to my heart because it will be OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS. Yeah, you read that right. Any established or aspiring female author can submit their work for review to be included in this anthology. Submissions will begin in summer 2014 and Volume II will officially be published in 2015!

I'll be back tomorrow with a final total and some last minute details, but in the last ten minutes of this Kickstarter, let me say:

Interested in this anthology, or know anyone who might be? You've got ten minutes to back us or share about the project here.

Athena's Daughters, Day 29: A Betsy Waddell Illustration, and Apollo's Daughters in Hardcover!


Day 29 of our Kickstarter, and we're just over $38,000! We are poised to hit almost all of the stretch goals we created for the entire campaign -- an amazing feat! Athena's Daughters has been featured on Jezebel, io9, themarysue, the Kickstarter home page, Big Shiny Robot, and so much more. We commissioned a brother anthology, Apollo's Daughters, and added five additional e-books, seventeen e-short stories, four audiobooks and one music album to the backer swag pile along the way. In our wildest dreams, we could not have imagined being so successful in such a short period of time. Believe me when I say again that we could not have done any of this without your support and generosity!

The artwork at the top of the post is for another short story by author Maggie Allen, "Land of the Lost," the e-version of which was given as a reward to the first 500 backers who pledged our anthology. It is set in the same universe as Maggie's work "Lunar Camp," which is featured in Athena's Daughters. Take a look at the young woman on the left. Remember her? Little Bee's all grown up!

Additionally, for those of you not already on the backers list, I wanted to let you know that Silence in the Library has decided to produce hardcover volumes of Apollo's Daughters! Demand was so great, and the goal so close, that we wanted to go ahead and open that up as an add-on option for all backers before reaching $38K/the end of the Kickstarter. And as of a few minutes ago, we've already surpassed that stretch goal anyway! EVERYBODY WINS!

Only 24 hours left to go in this campaign. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a backer or sharing about the project, you can do so right here. Let's send this Kickstarter off in the strongest way possible!

Athena's Daughters, Day 28: RAINN, A Radio Spot, A SITL Post, and More...

Well, at this point we've got about 50 hours to go in this Kickstarter's final days. We are over $34K, which is amazing, and we hope to knock off a couple more stretch goals before this campaign closes on Wednesday. Instead of leading the post with links, I wanted to take this time to remind you that a portion of all proceeds raised through this Kickstarter are going to be donated to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN.) When constructing this campaign, Silence in the Library felt - as did the authors - that it was important not just for our project to be funded, but for the anthology to give back to the community in a greater way. So, I can't wait to find out our final total for a number of reasons, and want to thank you all again for being so generous. :)

Meanwhile, one of our authors, Maggie Allen, gave a radio interview with local station WSJS (600AM) yesterday morning. She was able to speak about Athena's Daughters on several of their segments. While they don't have the archived version up yet, I'm confident a link will be posted on ustream within a few days.

Still on the fence about pledging? The SITL official blog broke it down best in this morning's post:

"There are only a few hours left to get Athena’s Daughters -- featuring engaging speculative fiction stories by women about women -- alongside the companion anthology Apollo’s Daughters -- featuring female-centric stories written by some of the best male speculative fiction authors in the business -- for just $10 in eBook format, $45 in trade paperback, and $60 in hardcover form. You’ll also get an additional 5 eBooks, 16 electronic short stories, 2 audio books, and 1 music album at no added cost."

Seven e-books, seventeen e-short stories, two audio books, and one music album, all for the sweet price of $5. How on earth can you go wrong?

I only have two days left to say this -- sing it if you know the words -- if you like what you read, back us or share about the project here!

Athena's Daughters, Day 27: New Story Art, and an Alma Alexander Preview

2013 copyright Autumn Frederickson, for "Athena's Daughters."
2013 copyright Autumn Frederickson, for "Athena's Daughters."

Three days left in this Kickstarter campaign! We are almost at $33K and still climbing, which is amazing and still kind of unbelievable to me. Thank you all so much for your support and your generosity!

Linked above is some new interior art for you to preview. The plucky girl in that picture is Bee, 13-year-old protagonist of Maggie Allen's story "Lunar Camp." Look at her! How could you not be curious about this girl's adventures on the moon?

I also have another story teaser for you, this time from stretch goal author Alma Alexander. About her story for the anthology, "Vision," Alma writes:

Vision is a story like an onion, and you keep on peeling layers until you come to the heart and the core of it, or is it like a pearl, a pieceof grit which works its way into an oyster and allows layers of nacreto be wrapped around it until the grain of sand is changed intosomething rare and precious? A girl becomes a historical footnote,then a character in a fairy tale or a folk legend, and ends up as agoddess - or is it that the immortal goddess steps off the pedestaland becomes a protagonist in a story, and then someone hiding inobituaries of a generation ago, and then a Real Live Girl? Which waydoes life run? From the future, or into the past? You decide...

Reminder: you've only got three days left to be part of this journey. A $5 pledge will get you ten e-books of original short stories and novels, digital artwork, music albums, four audiobooks, and much more!

If you've ever wanted to own a collection of engaging action stories about awesome female characters -- featuring some of the best SF/F authors in the business, as well as promising new writers -- this is your chance!

Back us, or share about the project here:

Athena's Daughters, Day 23: Nobel Laureate Dr. John Mather, Christopher Ruz, A Podcast Appearance and More!

Hello, all! Remember yesterday's post when I told you I had some big news about our brother anthology, Apollo's Daughters? Well, I will officially spill the beans. You may recall that astronaut and former space shuttle commander Pamela Melroy is writing the forward for Athena's Daughters. So I'm happy to announce that we're bringing in another NASA veteran to write the introduction for our brother anthology -- astrophysicist and 2006 Nobel Laureate Dr. John Mather!

John Mather

John Mather

Dr. John C. Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, MD. He is also a Senior Project Scientist on the James Webb Space Telescope.

Dr. Mather was the Principal Investigator for the Far Infrared Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) on the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE). He and the COBE team showed that the cosmic microwave background radiation has a blackbody spectrum within 50 parts per million (ppm), confirming the Big Bang theory to extraordinary accuracy.

As winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics, chosen by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Dr. Mather shares the prize with George F. Smoot of the University of California for their work using the COBE satellite to measure the heat radiation from the Big Bang.

They proved the Big Bang Theory. How cool is that?! We are so glad and so lucky to have Dr. Mather on board with this project. In more Apollo's Daughters news, it now has its own Goodreads thread. Feel free to drop by and give the guys a shout! Christopher Ruz just posted a teaser there about the story he's working on for the anthology:

"I'm working on a project close to my heart, a near-future detective noir centered around a returned Australian soldier who finds herself working as a peacekeeper in her own country."

My reaction while reading about Christopher's story.
My reaction while reading about Christopher's story.

Athena's Daughters was recently given another press boost through Janine Spendlove's appearance on the Veteran Empire podcast. Veteran Empire's mission is to promote veterans and give them more exposure as they focus on "creative arts, business, and unique skill sets." Also featured in this episode is graphic designer/Marine Sean Riordan. You can listen to it here.

SEVEN DAYS. That's how long you have to become part of the Athena's Daughters journey. Whether you're reading this blog for the first time or the twelfth, please consider backing us or sharing news of the project with your friends and family.

We could not have done all of this without you, but we still have so many more awesome stretch goals and goodies waiting to be unlocked. Help us grab a few more of them this week!

Athena's Daughters, Day 22: Our Facebook Group, An Audio Clip, the Rewards Rundown, and More...

Our digital cover.

Our digital cover.

Hello, all! Hope you are enjoying the last few hours of 2013. I know I am - what a year it's been! The Kickstarter is hovering steady at $29K right now, and we've still got eight days to go until the campaign ends!

Have you checked out our Facebook or our Goodreads groups? There, some of our Athena's Daughters authors have started great discussions with our backers and other bloggers about why we wrote for this anthology, and what strong women mean to us, among other things! Come see what all the fuss is about!

Also, live for all you audiophiles, here's an excerpt from a reading of Danielle Ackley-McPhail's story, "Looking Back."

I've also got an updated list of stretch goals for you all. Let's hope we can knock down a few more of these! Personally, I want an Apollo's Daughters hardback!

At the $31,000 level, we will replace the graphic design cover of the print version of Apollo's Daughters with an original art cover created by artist Joe Corroney, and colored by Brian Miller

Joe has been providing Lucasfilm with official Star Wars artwork for books, games, trading cards, comic books, posters and magazines since 1997. Other comic books he's illustrated include True Blood, GI Joe, Fallen Angel, 24: Nightfall, Doctor WHO, Angel and Spike Vs. Dracula for IDW Publishing, Farscape for BOOM! Studios, Buckaroo Banzai, Kolchak The Night Stalker and The Phantom for Moonstone Books and Crimson Dynamo for Marvel Comics. Currently, he's illustrating for IDW's new Star Trek and X-Files comic books. He's also developing his creator owned comic book series, Death Avenger and continuing to create new Star Wars artwork for Lucasfilm.
Brian Miller, founder of Hi-Fi Color Design, has provided art for Marvel, DC Comics, Disney, and many others, and has worked with Joe on all of his current and recent artwork.

At $32,000, every backer at the $5 level or more will get a free digital download of Janine K. Spendlove's War of the Seasons short stories "World Spins Madly On" and "Fire and Rain."

At $34,000, backers at the $5 level and up will get a free digital download of Vicki Johnson-Steger's short story e-book, "When Dragons Fly."

When we reach $35,000, we'll begin adding stories to the Apollo's Daughters anthology! Starting with authors Joshua Palmatier and Donald J. Bingle.

Joshua Palmatier started writing science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories in the eighth grade, when the teacher assigned a one page Twilight Zone-ish short story. He wrote a story about Atlantis. He got an A. Joshua has never stopped writing since, mainly focusing on novels, including his popular Throne of Amenkor series.
Donald J. Bingle is an oft-published author in the science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller, romance, steampunk, and comedy genres. His novels include: Net Impact (spy thriller), GREENSWORD (darkly comedic eco-thriller), and Forced Conversion (near-future military scifi). Many of his three dozen short stories are available in hard copy and for Kindle and Nook, including his Writer on Demand short story collections: Tales of Gamers and Gaming; Tales of Humorous Horror; Tales out of Time; and Grim, Fair e- Tales.

At the $38,000 level, we will produce a limited hardcover edition of Apollo’s Daughters. The hardcover edition will be a run limited to this Kickstarter only. Backers will be able to order it as an add-on even after the Kickstarter ends, just in case we make this goal just under the wire.

Last, but not least, I have some very exciting news concerning Apollo's Daughters, our brother anthology. But I can't tell you what it is until tomorrow. Would you like a hint?

picard slow clap.gif

A) It concerns the subject of the show from which this GIF is taken. B) It's physics AND Nobel-laureate-related (aka, AWESOME.) I'll write more about this mysterious development - and reveal who the Apollo introductory writer is - in tomorrow's blog post!

At this point, you've got seven more days to share about or back our awesome project. So what the heck are you waiting for?

Athena's Daughters, Day 20: Rewards Rundown, ALL the Stretch Goals, and More Links

Day 20 of our Kickstarter! We are closing in on the home stretch! Let's do a quick Rewards Rundown, for those of you who may have forgotten. All backers at the $5 level and up are now receiving:

4 novels
3 short story bundles
4 short stories
2 audio books
1 music album
1 illustration of Athena (digital, and a physical 5×7 for people with books.)

Plus, we added 8 additional stories to the Athena's Daughters anthology, gained a brother anthology, Apollo’s Daughters, and will be producing a limited-run hardcover edition of both books!

Also, an updated list of upcoming stretch goals:

At the $30,000 level, every backer at the $5 and up will receive a free digital download of the eBook for T.S. Rhodes‘ novel Scarlett Sails.

At the $31,000 level, the graphic design cover for the paperback of Apollo’s Daughters will be replaced with an original art cover by artist Joe Corroney. Joe has been providing Lucasfilm with official Star Wars artwork for books, games, trading cards, comic books, posters and magazines since 1997. Other comic books he’s illustrated include True Blood, GI Joe, Fallen Angel, 24: Nightfall, Doctor WHO, Angel and Spike Vs. Dracula for IDW Publishing, Farscape for BOOM! Studios, Buckaroo Banzai, Kolchak The Night Stalker and The Phantom for Moonstone Books and Crimson Dynamo for Marvel Comics. Currently, he’s illustrating for IDW’s new Star Trek and X-Files comic books. He’s also developing his creator owned comic book series, Death Avenger and continuing to create new Star Wars artwork for Lucasfilm.

At $29K right now, I think this next batch of stretch goals is well within our reach!

Meanwhile, Caylie Sadin at Nerdy-but-Flirty was kind enough to link us this week, saying a lot of lovely things about our Kickstarter:

The book itself seems really awesome, but add to it that it’s all women? Oh yes, sign me up. FEMINISM, good writing, and new sci/fi fantasy stories!

Thanks, Caylie! We appreciate the shout-out!

Is this your first time on this blog? Or the fiftieth? Share or donate to our Kickstarter right here:

Athena's Daughters, Day 19: A Preview of My Story!

Day 21 of our Kickstarter! It's going to be a short post tonight (as I am recovering from food poisoning), but I wanted to give you all a preview of the story I wrote for Athena's Daughters, "Oh, Sisters, Let's Go Down to the River."

This story was inspired directly by family. When my grandmother was a little girl in Virginia in the 1920s, one of her routine chores was to scrub out the family well. As a child, she was lowered into the dark space by a hanging bucket in order to clean it. I always thought this was terrifying! Even now, it's fascinating to imagine the courage it took for a girl her age to do that on a routine basis.

When I was brainstorming the type of story I wanted to write about a strong female character, an idea based on parts of my grandmother's childhood was the first thing that came to mind. I also wanted to tie the other side of my family heritage into the folk tale I wrote. My paternal grandfather was Native American, and it was important for me to show that Native culture had significant influence on the Appalachian region.

An excerpt of my story is here on Wattpad. I have also posted a brief excerpt below. I hope you enjoy it!

“You be careful of them mean ol' ghosts!”
Staring into the dark mouth of the stone well, Mary felt her sister's hands grab her shoulders as like to push her in, and whirled around with a shout, gripping her small metal pail in one hand and swinging it round in an attempt to scare Virgie away. But all Virgie did was whoop as she jumped back quick, and the pail missed her by a mile. She grabbed her stomach and laughed like she was fit to die afterward, her loose scraggly blond hair hanging in front of her sunburned face.
Mary pushed her frizzy black hair out of her eyes with a frown.
“You shut your mouth! There ain't nothin' down there!”
But now she couldn't help thinkin' there might be. She glanced down at her feet to remind herself what was real, watched the way her own faded cotton dress, greenish with tiny brownish purple flowers, swayed in the wind above her muddy legs and bare feet. They'd run down from the house on the dirt path behind the outhouse, just after sunrise, pushing through thick bushes and red briars in the low light until they hit the small field clearing where the well was at. She was moving so fast to keep up with tall, leggy Virgie there weren't time to be scared. All Mary'd had sense enough to do was keep hold of her pail and put an arm in front of her face to keep from getting too scratched up.
Now, standing in front of the well, watching the sun shine through the green-leafed maple trees and listening to the wind whistle through the stones, making the hanging rope bucket creak and move, Mary felt a hard lump in the middle of her belly, and clutched the handle of her pail until it bit into her hands. She had to go inside that big old well and clean it. Her eyes flicked over the outside stones. One side of the well was covered in moss. There were dead leaves crunched up and rotting around the edge, where it met the dirt. Least that'd clean up fine. She was more scared of going inside.
The well didn't have no roof, just two big wood posts set into the stone, and a long wooden box with a crank on one end stretched across 'em and nailed down tight. The bucket dangled a few feet from the middle of the box, where the rest of the rope was at. Mary put her hand to the bottom of one of the posts. A couple black ants crawled up quick through her fingers, but she didn't care about them. The grey stuff keeping the thick wood in place against the stones was hard and rough against her palm. Some of it came off in little crumbly bits as she poked her fingers around the edges.
“Hit's the mortar,” Virgie told her quiet-like, coming up to stand beside her. “Daddy reckons it'll need fixing in a couple years.”
“Oh,” Mary said, snatching back her hand like she was burned.
She was afraid to ask the questions on her mind – the ones that'd been on her mind ever since Flossie and Virgie told her the well'd be her main chore. When she was no more'n four or five – before Flossie was married, before Bonnie was underfoot, before Mama went to heaven – she'd watched her sisters walk back to the house after cleaning the well. She knew Virgie was always the one who went in, cause her face and arms and dress were smudged with black dirt and green slime, blond hair sticking to her sweaty forehead, knuckles and hands scrubbed raw from the lye.
Ain't it scary to be down there in the dark alone? Hanging on to that rope with nothing to help you? How's it s'posed to hold a body up?
She was brought out of her thinking when Virgie tapped her arm, maybe feeling how Mary was nervous, and said,
“Come on, Mary E, let's go!”

As always -- if you like what you read, back us or share about the project here!