Janet Harriett is often an editor, sometimes a writer, and always a lover of all things penguin. She is the senior editor at Apex Publications and editor-for-hire specializing in science fiction, fantasy and horror.

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Buy His Book — Irredeemable by Jason Sizemore

I have been remiss in plugging it, but my overlord and good friend Jason Sizemore has a book out. Irredeemable is a collection of his short stories, both previously published and new. There's some dark fantasy. Some horror. Some sci-fi. Scary stuff. Aliens. One unwitting drug mule. Lots of preachers. Step One of writing horror is to write what scares ya, so that explains the preachers.

Jason is from a part of Kentucky that can be summed up with "Population: 400," and while the stories aren't all set in the backwoods, his attachment to a sense of place is evident throughout. And some are set in the backwoods, but with aliens.

Buy it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local indie bookstore. Because hillbilly sci-fi.


Groundhog Day 2014 Results

Staten Island Chuck and Punxsutawney Phil both defied the temptation to give humans hope, and instead predicted more winter. Chuck took advantage of the new mayor's first Groundhog Day and tried to make a break for it mid-prognostication.

Closer to home - at least my home - Drina predicts at least four more weeks of hibernation.

Additional groundhogs added below as news becomes available.

Early Spring:

  • Buckeye Chuck (Marion, Ohio)*
  • Fred la Marmotte (Val d'Espoir, Quebec)
  • General Beauregard Lee (Georgia)
  • Holtsville Hal (Long Island, New York)
  • Malverne Mel (Long Island, New York)
  • Milltown Mel (New Jersey)
  • Shubenacadie Sam (Nova Scotia)
  • Winnipeg Willow (Manitoba)
  • Wynter (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Six More Weeks of Winter:

  • Connecticut Chuckles VIII
  • Gertie (Peoria, Illinois)
  • Mayzie the hedgehog (Oregon)*
  • Queen Charlotte (Charlotte, North Carolina)
  • Sir Walter Wally (Raleigh, North Carolina)
  • Wiarton Willie
  • Woodstock Willie (Illinois)

* - Indicates a groundhog not reported in the 2013 Groundhog Day roundup. Reliable information was not available for HuckyToo of Ohio, so she was not included in the 2014 report.


Note On Self: About the Writing Process

Yesterday, my email brought me an anthology invitation. The antho theme is something that one of my trunked stories would fit well with, given a little tweaking to parts of the plot that were among the reasons I trunked it to begin with (the other reasons can be summed up as "ran out of markets that haven't rejected it yet"). The changes were percolating in the back of my brain all evening, and as I drifted off to sleep WHAMMO! The solution hit me.

We'd already turned the lights out. I keep my iPad on my bedside table, but I didn't want to wake my husband up with the light from it. I usually keep a pen and paper on the bedside table, too, for just this sort of situation; however, the paper was nowhere to be found. I had a ballpoint pen, though, so I did the only thing that seemed reasonable in my half-asleep desperate-to-not-let-the-idea-go state: I started scrawling story notes on my left arm. And my legs. And belly. Really, any skin I could reach under the blankets. 

It worked. I didn't forget the idea, and it still seems like a good idea, at least what I can decipher of it. Because, while I have better handwriting half-asleep than I do while I'm awake, I seem to lose track of details like what patches of skin I've already written on. I'm a little afraid to shower until I sort out what appears to be six overlapping notes on my right hip.

And a lesson to remember for next time (aside from "put the notebook back"): if you're a tummy-down sleeper, don't scrawl notes on your belly. I nearly lost the new title of the piece that way.


I'm on SF Signal

This week on the SF Signal podcast, I get interviewed by the ever-wonderful Patrick Hester, live from WorldCon. The astute among you might note that WorldCon was five months ago. It was an SF convention; you can't swing a cat without hitting a time machine at one of those. So, yeah, we're live at WorldCon, discussing Schrodinger's Rocket, editing, and probably lots of other things.

So scoot on over to  and take a listen. You can also get the episode (free, of course) through iTunes. I'm in episode 227.


Legendary Confusion Schedule

This weekend kicks off the con pre-season with Legendary Confusion. Here's my panel schedule for the weekend. As always, if you can see me, feel free to talk to me.

Q & Apex with Janet Harriett

8pm Friday - Rotunda
Janet Harriett will highlight what’s new with Apex publishing. Have something you’d like to know about Apex? Curious about their magazine or book publishing? Only one way to find out….

Note: This was originally going to include the Apex Overlord, Jason Sizemore, but he is unavoidably detained running the company. Or he has more sense than I do when it comes to driving to Detroit in January. One of those.

Second Note: This is at the same time as the dessert reception. If prior years are any indication, you can come to this and still make it to the dessert reception in time to only miss 2/3 of the line-waiting.

Covers and blurbs for the self published

Sandra Tayler, Janet Harriett, J. C. Daniels, Laura Resnick, Rich Morris, Gretchen Ash
10am Saturday - Erie
One of the benefits of working with a publisher is all that they do to promote the book. Blurbs, reviews, and cover art do a lot to sell a book. When seeking to self publish, these aspects are just as important. This panel will discuss some of the best strategies for getting the most out of your options with marketing your work.

Updating the Canon

Sarah Gibbons, Myke Cole, Janet Harriett, Mike Carey, Peter Orullian
3pm Saturday - Southfield
Books, and those who write them, are sometimes elevated to the status of canon. In science fiction as in fantasy, there are works that are considered must reads for any serious student of the genre. Is this always a good thing? Seminal as they could be, older novels also often have structures and language that are far from conventions now, not to mention societal assumptions and prejudices  about race and gender that can shock a modern reader. Is there a point where a work is old enough to be safely retired from the conversation?

Fixing inconsistencies in your own works

Kameron Hurley, Ron Collins, Howard Tayler, Janet Harriett, Cherie Priest, Catherine Shaffer
10am Sunday - Rotunda
You have just discovered, upon rereading a previous novel in the universe you are writing,  a point that completely nullifies the plot of the book you are trying to write. What do you do? This particular issue comes up often, and the solution may make everything better. Our panel discusses how to proceed from this thorn, once you’ve calmed down...


Pardon the Dust

Things may get weird here for a couple of days. I'm making some changes to the site.


10 Influential Books

If you're on Facebook, you've probably seen the "List 10 Influential Books" meme going around. The official "Rules" of the meme are to list 10 books that have stuck with you or influenced you, without taking a whole lot of time to think about it or worry about them being the "right" books. These aren't supposed to be the 10 best works of lit-ruh-chur ever put to paper. They're the ones that have profoundly affected the listmaker individually.

Like Jason Sizemore, I thought this deserved more than a Facebook status, so here goes (alpha by author):

A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
To Each Their Darkness by Gary A. Braunbeck
A Pocket Guide to Correct Punctuation by Robert Brittain
Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm: Who Put the Witch on Our Roof by Horace J. Elias
Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader by John Javna
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker
Plow the Bones by Douglas F. Warrick
Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

Honorable Mention goes to the 1991 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia

I was going to make this list out with a blanket “No books by people I know” rule, but any list of books that have stuck with me would not be complete without To Each Their Darkness. And as awkward as putting a book by a friend on the list is, having a book I've worked on is even more awkward, but equally necessary for the truth of the meme.

I was also going to explain why each of these books is in my Top 10, but I prefer leaving a little mystery.


Talking Turkey

Thanksgiving is upon us once again. It's my second favorite holiday, behind Groundhog Day. I cook the full spread minus the abomination that is green bean casserole even though there is just the two of us, because I enjoy the memories of cooking the turkey as my late grandfather's turkey apprentice.

This year, more than most, I am seeing Turkey Anxiety, with is evenly split between people attempting a first turkey and people who watch whatever cable channel has all the cooking shows that apparently think beating tubers into submission with butter and milk isn't a good enough side dish. As a veteran Thanksgiving cook with more than a dozen solo turkeys under her belt and a decade of turkey apprenticeship before that, I'm here to tell you, RELAX. Turkey is big, but it doesn't need to be complicated.

The basic formula for cooking a turkey:

((turkey - giblet packet) + heat)^drippings containment = dinner

Take the giblet pack out, make sure the pan is both large and sturdy enough to hold the turkey leakings, and get the thick part of the bird (that would be the thigh meat, and middle of the stuffing if you've stuffed the bird) to 165F — on a meat thermometer, not that popup timer that I fondly refer to as the botulism button*. Everything else is, as they say, gravy. Speaking of gravy, that will hide a lot of so-called problems. Dry breast meat? Smother it in gravy or cranberry sauce. Bland bird? Gravy. And it will be bland. That's just turkey for you.

That really is all there is to it. There are more advanced options, of course. I cook my bird breast-down to minimize the dry white meat problem endemic to turkeys, and I rub a bit of garlic and herb olive oil under the skin for flavor. That's all stuff you can work out after mastering the basics.

Oh, and the bird will get done when it gets done. Do not attempt to time it so that everything gets ready at the same time. It will not work. Ever.

*-Turkey is more likely to have salmonella than botulism, but sometimes one sacrifices a bit of accuracy in favor of alliteration


The Potato-Industrial Complex

This isn't up there on the cosmic significance level of the last post about things we must stop doing as a society. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to request that we, as a species, stop trying to over-complicate cooking potatoes. In the past few years, a cottage-fried industry of potato baking products has sprouted, and it must be stopped.

First, it was the cling-wrapped "ready to microwave" potatoes. News flash: a potato is a "ready to microwave" potato. Take it out of the bag, knock the dirt off, stab it a couple times with a fork, and presto! A hot pocket has more complicated prep for the microwave than a potato out of the sack. Unwrapping the blasted Ready To Microwave potato takes longer that scrubbing it, and then you still have to stab it.

Then there were the spike carousels, special plates, and most recently the microwave bags for cooking the potatoes in/on. Again, put the potato in the microwave and let the non-ionizing radiation do the rest.

My father was fond of saying that if there is an easy way and a hard way to do something, Janet will find a third, yet more difficult, way to do it. And even I think this potato complication has gotten out of hand. A baked potato is not a difficult dish. Potato+heat=baked potato ... it doesn't need to be complicated or accessorized.


The Least One Can Do

It is not OK to wish violence upon another person for the views they articulate.

This should not be a controversial statement. This should be the minimum standard of acceptable behavior for a civilized society made of decent human beings.

People will think what they're going to think, and that's fine. Inside our own heads is sacrosanct. Outside of our heads is communal space, though, subject to the standards of socially acceptable behavior, and certain things are not socially acceptable behavior. There is room in the middle to debate what is socially acceptable behavior, but we as a society should be able to agree on the edges. For example, expressing a desire for someone to be killed or raped or maimed because of something they have said or written: not OK. Ever. Decent people just don't do that to other people.

Holding one's tongue or typing fingers rather than articulating a desire that a fellow human being should be the victim of violence is the least one can do. Literally. All it takes is not doing something. People are good at not doing things. We should be able to handle this one.