Welcome to Smugglivus 2015: A Year In Review. Tomorrow, January 7, 2016, is our bloggoversary–so to get ready for Smugglivus-proper, we’re taking a retrospective look at the exhausting, amazing, exhilarating year that was 2015! (WE ARE SO OLD! EIGHT YEARS OLD!!!)
Our Top Accomplishments of 2015
In which we list our most valued accomplishments of the past year.
In 2014, we embarked officially on our mission as publishers as well as bloggers and reviewers. In 2015, we raised the stakes with more stories, novelettes, and made some pretty big announcements–it was intense. (That’s an understatement.)
1. Publication of Speculative Fiction 2014
Cover art by Kenda Montgomery
Last year marked our first endeavors as publishers of the Hugo Award-nominated Speculative Fiction series–an annual collection that celebrates the best in online Science Fiction and Fantasy non-fiction. You may recall that we were the editors of the 2013 edition of SpecFic–so when Jared Shurin of Jurassic London (former publisher of the series) offered us the chance to continue to publish the series under our very own Book Smugglers Publishing mantle, we readily accepted.
Last year, we published the 2014 edition, edited by the dynamic duo Renee Williams and Shaun Duke–with a foreword by Kate Elliott, wicked cool cover art by Kenda Montgomery, and featuring over 50 all-star contributors, we couldn’t be prouder of Speculative Fiction 2014.
2. Publication of “First Contact” Season
Cover art by Yasmin Khudari
In 2014, we kicked off our publishing program with an open call for short stories following the theme of “Subversive Fairy Tale Retellings” and published 6 subversive reimaginings of fables from around the world. This year, our annual short story call returned for its sophomore season–this time with the theme of “First Contact“–that is, tales of first encounters in any SFF-flavored subgenre.
In 2015, we published four stories around this new theme, including:
- Application for the Delegation of First Contact: Questionnaire, Part B. by Kathrin Köhler–an experimental short story in the form of a questionnaire that poses questions about sentience and existence;
- The Merger by Sunil Patel–a traditional science fiction interpretation of First Contact between a married couple and an intergalactic mega-conglomerate–with a comedic twist);
- Luminous by A.E. Ash–a science fiction romance between a scientist (who may be the last human alive), left behind to mind the fort on a distant planet, and the fallen star who interrupts her solitude;
- The Vishakanya’s Choice by Roshani Chokshi–a historical fantasy that follows a vishakanya (poison maiden assassin) as she is sent on her inaugural mission, to kill a formidable leader (Alexander the Great), but seizes her destiny and makes a choice.
We’re pretty damn proud of editing and publishing these four awesome short stories…
3. And a Sequel (Fighting Demons)
Cover art by Kristina Tsenova
The very first thing we published in 2014 was a short story called Hunting Monsters by S.L. Huang–a YA LGBT retelling of Beauty and the Beast-meets-Red Riding Hood-meets Snow White, featuring a biracial protagonist named Xiao Hong. We couldn’t let Xiao Hong and her world go–especially with the bittersweet ending to her mother and Rosa’s love story–so we commissioned a sequel.
Last year, we published Fighting Demons, the second tale in the Hunting Monsters series. This time, the fairy tale leaves the west and heads eastward in a retelling of the Chinese fable The Legend of the White Snake–and includes a new character as one of the story’s narrators.
4. And our first ever Halloween Tale
Cover art by Kristina Tsenova
We also started what we hope will be an annual tradition last year, with the publication of our very first Halloween Tale, The Bridegroom by Amelia Mangan! We received (and fell in love with) The Bridegroom as part of our First Contact call but decided that this would be an excellent way to ring in All Hallow’s Eve. We commissioned gorgeous art from Smuggler fave Kristina Tsenova–including a variant cover, which we used for our Halloween Week poster this year.
5. Spindle City Mysteries: Serialized Novelettes
Cover art by Melanie Cook
2015 was also the year that saw the publication of the Spindle City Mysteries! We received Carlie St. George’s The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper as part of our Subversive Fairytales call in 2014 and saw huge potential for Jimmy Prince, his girl friday sidekick Jack, and all of the deadly dames who run Spindle City. So instead of publishing one short story, we asked Carlie to write us two more novelettes–The Price You Pay is Red and The Long and Silent Ever After — which we serialized and published over the course of the last few weeks of 2015.
6. Our Very First Limited Edition Print Run
Cover art by Julie Dillon
We are huge fans of Kate Elliott’s work, especially her Spiritwalker trilogy. So when she approached us about publishing a new prequel story–written in iambic pentameter–starring Kat and Bee in a feminist retelling of The Aeneid, WE WERE ECSTATIC. This marked our very first foray into printed chapbooks, with a cover art from no other than Julie Dillon, and we sold out in 24 hours. We are immensely honored to have published Kate Elliott, and even more thrilled that people scooped up the print book.
We cannot wait to do more–and will be offering up more copies of The Beatriceid very soon.
7. New Features
We launched and enhanced many of our Book Smugglers blog columns and features last year, in addition to our publishing work! We read more comics, added new Smuggler columnists with Catherine Faris King and her Decoding the Newbery column, as well as Octavia Cade’s brand new Food and Horror column.
8. Rereads of Old Favorites
PLUS, we embarked on some systematic rereads for the first time last year! We devoured and jointly reviewed all of the books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and Thea got through the first five books of Stephen King’s Dark Tower opus (books 6, 7 and The Wind Through the Keyhole coming soon this year). Phew.
9. A BSFA Award Nomination and a couple of Anthologies
One of our inaugural short stories – The Mussel Eater by Octavia Cade – was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Short Fiction! The same story was included in Paula Guran’s BEYOND THE WOODS: Fairy Tales Retold. Another one of our stories, In Her Head, In Her Eyes by Yukimi Ogawa was included in Mahvesh Murad’s The Apex Book of World SF: Volume 4 anthology.
10. A Vuelio Award WIN
The inaugural Vuelio Awards–for the best and most influential UK blogs–was presented this year in London and The Book Smugglers won Best UK Art and Film blog!
11. A Podcast
12. Lots of Other Cool Things
- This was also the year where Ana made it across the pond twice to continue our traditional Biannual State of the Union Meetings;
- Sadly, we could not make it to WorldCon this year but Ana attended Nine Worlds in London as well as the Reykjavik Literary Festival as an invited guest;
- Thea not only attended BEA but also moderated the keynote panel at the BEA Bloggers Conference! She got to hobnob with cool folks like Kameron Hurley.
- Thea was also the guest speaker at Book Machine’s 5th Anniversary celebrations in New York to talk about the Next Five Years in Publishing. (Terrifying.)
- Our blog reached another milestone – over 9,500,000 page views. TEN MILLION page views, here we come!
- Despite this being the year that we reviewed, collectively, less than we’ve ever reviewed before, we still managed to tally up reviews of over 190 novels!
This has been yet another incredibly busy, challenging, amazing, REWARDING year–and that’s just the way we like it.
Thank YOU so much for being a part of it.
Tomorrow, we celebrate our eighth anniversary and we will talk about our goals and plans for 2016. We have a lot of exciting news to share and–WHY NOT–a new book to launch!
Until then, we remain….
~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Smugglers