Schoolbooks & Sorcery – The Home Stretch

Well folks, we’re closing in on the final days of the Schoolbooks & Sorcery Kickstarter, and I’m rather excited. Why? Because thanks to hundreds of backers, and the generous support of everyone who’s spread the word, boosted the signal, or showed interest, we’ve funded. We hit our base goal, and are steaming towards our first stretch goal. Woohoo!

With only a few days left, there’s still plenty of time for procrastinators and latecomers to get on board, though. We’ve added an amazing new reward level, where you can get a set of fantastic handmade buttons, and I think they’re spectacular. I’ve just informed the artist that I need several bags for publicity reasons…


Check them out! Aren’t they gorgeous?

My other big news is that, as far as I’m concerned, we’ve got ourselves a brand new Magic University story by Cecilia Tan, one which no fan of hers is going to want to miss. I’ve told her to start writing, so we don’t disappoint anyone. After that, if we hit our next goal at $7000, I can open up submissions for a limited period to seek out more awesomely, unapologetically, unabashedly, proudly queer stories. I won’t lie, I really want these stories. I need to read them…

In closing, I’d like to leave you with an excerpt from Eric Esser’s spooky “Fishing for the Dead.” I think it speaks for itself.


You have to get three things right to catch a ghost: the lure, the pole, and the spell. Tonight Carlo was trying for a dog. Most kids use a tennis ball or dried pig’s ear for the lure, but Carlo tied a stuffed squirrel with a fluffy tail to the end of his line. They’d been his dog Loki’s favorite. Every night for almost a year after Loki’d died, Carlo had sat beneath the stars on nights of the waxing moon, waving his pole over the corner of the backyard where they’d buried Loki beneath the acacias. He’d spend hours hypnotizing himself by swaying his line though the moonlight before he felt it brush Loki’s soul.

Four years later he was the best ghost fisher at Monte Vista High, and had dibs on the prime spot on the lowest level of the fire escape in the alley behind the SPCA. He shared it with his best friend Lyssa, their spider silk lines glistening side by side in the moonlight. Most kids preferred the strength of tarantula, but he favored the greater sensitivity of black widow; he could sense a guinea pig three months gone with that.

“Sorry about your boyfriend’s dad,” Carlo said to Lyssa so low no one else could hear. A half dozen other kids sat above or below in other fire escapes or on dumpsters. No one was down on the ground; elevating the line helps when you’re fishing, especially if the remains haven’t been buried but burned to ash and smoke like that which rose from the wide steel pipe at the back of this building. The spirits of dead dogs and cats and rabbits and most any animal you could think of suffused the air of this alley, at one time or another.

“Walter’s not my boyfriend. We just hang out sometimes,” Lyssa said.

“I think the phrase is ‘hook up.'”

“Asshole.” Lyssa swung her pig bone lure into Carlo’s shin. Lyssa had an edge to her with her powder blue hair and half a dozen piercings that Carlo found irresistible, but she went for the burly types, like Walter Resnik: varsity outside linebacker and only a Junior. Carlo was fit but slender and pale and his cheeks were almost as smooth as hers.

“So how’s he doing? Walter?”

“Hasn’t really talked about it. Tough guy.” She paused. “Fucking moron.”

Carlo nodded because he agreed. “I hear they can’t afford a fisher,” he said, trying to sound casual.

“Yeah, no insurance.”

“I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Catch a human soul? With that little pole of yours?”

She glanced toward his crotch. Carlo tried to look uncomfortable but it pleased him. He had crafted his fishing pole from the bough of a dying ash tree, then inlaid the handle with bone he fished out of dinner scraps, mostly cow he had sawn into slivers and polished down. He’d fitted it with a Shimano high speed spinning reel engraved with an invocation to Ereshkigal in cuneiform; he’d worked all last summer bagging groceries to afford it.


What does Carlo fish up? I think you know how to find out… Read it in Schoolbooks & Sorcery!

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