Weird Sisters and Friends

Weird Sisters and Friends

By Jan S. Gephardt

Weird Sisters and Friends are going on the road again at the end of September. All through this convention season, Weird Sisters Publishing has been experimenting with having a dealers table at the science fiction cons I’ve attended in person. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you’ve seen the posts.

But we’re still in start-up mode as a micro-press publisher. And we had some production issues during the winter and early spring (mainly, Jan can only do so much) that meant we had to postpone some projects. Thus, the options on our table looked to be pretty thin. However, we know some wonderful writers who can’t regularly make tours of science fiction cons. “Why not let us offer your books along with ours?” we asked.

Why not, indeed? It would be a potential win-win situation. So, throughout the summer, we’ve been promoting not only our own four published titles, including my sister G. S. Norwood’s 2023 release Deep Ellum Duet, but those of our friends as well. We’ve been calling them our “Kansas City Writer Friends.” But for this last show, Archon 46 in the St. Louis area, we’ve added another. Thus, we’re now “Weird Sisters and Friends.”

This rectangular image is made up of two square promotional images. At left, on a deep violet background, the name “G. S. Norwood” is positioned over 3D views of “Deep Ellum Duet” as both an ebook on a tablet and a slender trade paperback. Their covers say, “Deep Ellum Duet. Two Amazing Stories in One Volume,” with the quote from Nebula-Award winner Elizabeth Ann Scarborough: “‘Some of the best stories I’ve ever read!’ G. S. Norwood. Cover art © 2022 by Chaz Kemp.” At right, A square image with a turquoise background shows the covers of ‘The Other Side of Fear,’ ‘What’s Bred in the Bone,’ and ‘A Bone to Pick.’ Above them the words say “Meet Jan S. Gephardt’s XK9s.” Below them, three lines of much smaller type acknowledge cover artists Lucy A. Synk ©2020 and Jody A. Lee ©2019 and 2020.
The four Weird Sisters titles. See credits below.

The New Addition to Weird Sisters and Friends

If you’ve read my prequel novella The Other Side of Fear you’ve seen the artwork of Lucy A. Synk, because an example is right there on the cover. If you’ve read What’s Bred in the Bone, the first novel in my XK9 “Bones” Trilogy, you might have noted that the book is dedicated to her. Lucy is one of my very best friends. She’s a member of my three-person “Brain Trust,” who helps me turn my novels into something readable. And she’s made a lot of illustrations for my world that have shown up on this blog and on my newsletter.

This summer she launched a new venture: jigsaw puzzles with her artwork on them. She has produced two which I think will be fun puzzles to put together. I’m pleased to announce they’ll both be available for sale at the Weird Sisters Publishing table during Archon. She used to live in Kansas City, but that was a few decades ago. She “belongs” to Michigan now, so we’ve modified our group’s moniker to “Weird Sisters and Friends.”

Both of Lucy’s puzzle designs celebrate beloved holidays. Her Halloween design was modified from Halloween in Oak Park, 2021, the first major painting in her “Rejoicing in Our Differences” series. I featured the original painting in some detail on this blog, back when she released it for exhibition. Since then it has been juried into national and regional shows. The other “puzzle” piece is Checking it Twice, based on a colored pencil drawing Lucy produced in 1993. Updating it for the puzzle required considerable “Photoshop magic,” which may get a post of its own later this year.

Here are two promotional images for Lucy A. Synk’s jigsaw puzzles. At left is her “Halloween” puzzle promo: the square image is mostly dark blue in the background, with a yellow glow around a puzzle box shown in a straight shot down at the cover and also as an open box with a bag of pieces inside. On the cover, costumed children have arrived on the doorstep just at moonrise, to greet the viewer with a gleeful “Trick or Treat!” Behind them the neighborhood is alive with children (and a few adults) who portray an array of characters from traditional roles, such as princesses and spooks, to others drawn from popular media, such as Star Wars, Black Panther, Star Trek, and more. The overprinted white words read, “Halloween” above the box image. At right is her “Checking it Twice” promo. The square image is mostly dark blue in the background, with a yellow glow around a puzzle box shown in a straight shot down at the cover and also as an open box with a bag of pieces inside. The cover shows the puzzle image. Based on her colored pencil painting “Checking it Twice,” it depicts Santa, Mrs. Claus, and several elves preparing for the big night. Outside, reindeer and an empty sleigh await in the snowy gathering dusk. Presents and stuffed toys surround Santa’s group, while playful kittens romp through the painting and a Golden Retriever snoozes in a dog bed, oblivious to their antics. The overprinted white words read, “Checking it Twice” above the box image. On both, the words “Lucy A. Synk Puzzle Designs Now Available!” appear below the box image.
Our friend and frequent XK9 illustrator, Lucy A. Synk, has produced two new puzzles! I designed promotional images for both. Now available online. See credits below.

What Else is on the “Weird Sisters and Friends” Table?

All through our “sf con season” so far, we’ve offered a blend of science fiction and fantasy books by our Kansas City Author Friends that are compatible genres. They also are great stories, written by talented writers. I’d like to take a moment now to describe their work in more detail, with links to more information. That way, if something catches your eye you can find it even if you aren’t going to Archon.

I first met Lynette M. Burrows about 1983, through the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society (KaCSFFS). Both of us were just “baby writers” back then. We’ve supported each other’s growth and development in the craft ever since, and our publishing journeys have been oddly parallel. We are both in the process of finishing science fiction trilogies at this writing. Hers is the Fellowship Dystopia, which is science fiction set in an alternate universe that sometimes has uncomfortable parallels to our own. The first one is My Soul to Keep, followed by If I Should Die. She’s currently hard at work on the third, And When I Wake. A companion novel, Fellowship, also is set in this universe.

Another member of my “Brain Trust,” Dora Furlong has one published title, but has many more in the works. Her “Thavir Imperium” ideas span generations and galaxies, but One of Our Own offers a first taste of her unique vision. Not everyone would send a young assassin to stop a civil war. But protagonist Aethan Ghais is no ordinary assassin. His approach – and his problems – are not exactly “ordinary,” either.

This image consists of two square promotional pieces. At left, The words say, “Lynette M. Burrows.” The first two books of the Fellowship Dystopia Trilogy by Lynette M. Burrows, “My Soul to Keep” and “If I Should Die,” are now available, along with companion novel “Fellowship.” This graphic shows all three book covers. At right, The cover of “One of Our Own” shows protagonist Aethan in an enviro suit, wading into a glowing green stew of debris. The words say, “One of Our Own, A novel of the Thavir Imperium. Dora Furlong.” Cover is ©Dora Furlong, via Amazon.
Science fiction works by Lynette M. Burrows and Dora Furlong have been featured on the “Weird Sisters and Friends” table all summer. See credits below.

SF, Science Fantasy, and Women-Centered Fantasy

That’s the “science fiction” end of things, at least mostly. But if anything, Weird Sisters and Friends have struck their roots even deeper into fantasy fiction of various types. And they’ve come up with some fantastic tales from those realms.

Author M. C. Chambers has been my fellow KaCSFFS and writers’ group member during our friendship, and we also share our birthday. She has one ecological science fantasy novel in print. It’s Shapers’ Veil. The protagonist is a shapeshifter who can manifest as either human or hawk. It was published a while ago, but she has a sequel in the works now. She’s also the author of a romantic historical fantasy novelette, Midsummer Storm. We’ve carried the two books through the summer. She’s also written several short stories that have been anthologized. We often have copies of her anthologies Return to Luna and Ruins Excavation on the table, depending on their availability.

My friend Karin Rita Gastreich is a fellow member of a different writers’ group. She’s also a professor at a local university and a working ecologist. Her enthusiasms combined in her fantasy Silver Web Trilogy about a “maga” (in the pre-Trumpian sense) named Eolyn. Heiress to a forbidden, female-centered, nature-based magic tradition, she must repeatedly confront an entrenched and powerful patriarchy. The first book, Eolyn, traces the title character’s origin and earliest challenges. Sword of Shadows continues her tale at another crucial turning point in her life. The penultimate book, Daughter of Aithne, recounts a dramatic tale of civil war between rival magic traditions that won an Ozma Award from Chanticleer Reviews.

These two square promotional images highlight the works of M. C. Chambers and Karin Rita Gastreich. In the one at left, we see the cover of “Shapers’ Veil,” an almost psychedelic vision that shows protagonist Kawi in both his human and hawk forms, against a surreal landscape of forest and clouds. Artwork by Rachael Mayo. The words read, “Shapers’ Veil, M. C. Chambers,” and “Hadley Rille Books.” The cover of “Midsummer Storm” is fairly simple, mostly pastel green hues. Through the center runs a stylized image of a forest and a couple in silhouette holding crossed swords. The words say, “Midsummer Storm. M. C. Chambers.” The square image at right, covers of the three books of the “Silver Web Trilogy” by Karin Rita Gastreich center on the first book, “Eolyn.” To its left viewers see “Sword of Shadows,” (book 2) and to the right is (book 3) “Daughter of Aithne.” Each has a somewhat different primary color (green, red, or purple), but all are dominated by a variation on the interlocking Celtic-knot swirls of the “Silver Web Trilogy” logo image. The author’s name, Karin Rita Gastreich, is printed above and below the book covers.
The Weird Sisters and Friends table offers these books by M. C. Chambers and Karin Rita Gastreich. See credits below.

But Wait! There’s One More Friend!

Kansas City artist Randal Spangler is best known for his whimsical fantasy art. It often features his chocolate-chip-cookie-munching Dragling™ characters Dagmar and Dewey, their friend the Wizard Ladnar, and others. Randy has spent the better part of the last four decades traveling to art fairs and Renaissance festivals throughout the Midwest, East Coast, and western plains regions of the United States. He’s ranged from Arlington, VA to Arlington, TX and beyond – sometime with my husband Pascal along for the companionship, when he could get away.

Of course through the years these paintings that so clearly tell stories needed more verbal expressions. Randy has worked with several writers (including me, in the 1990s) to tell “Dragling Stories.” His current children’s books, The Draglings Bedtime Story and D is for Dragling, written in collaboration with Lauren K. Duncan, were perhaps inevitable. They also have been some of our top sellers at the table. So has his first (but probably not last) coloring book. We were delighted to add his books to our traveling collection!

All in all, the collaborations within the Weird Sisters and Friends group have been pleasant and sometimes even profitable. For a number of reasons the 2023 season is probably our last one with a presence at a dedicated dealers table – most notably because Pascal won’t be traveling with us to conventions after Archon. But with ties to such a talented group of friends, this is probably not the last time you’ll see their work highlighted on The Weird Blog.

These two square promotional images focus, L-R, on Randal Spangler’s books and Weird Sisters Publishing’s traveling show with our Kansas City Writer Friends. At left, on a black background, under an ornamental line with a centered cluster of jewels, it reads “Randal Spangler. Under that are pictures of his three books: in the middle is his coloring book. At left and below is his children’s book, “The Draglings Bedtime Story.” At right and below is his book “D is for Draglings.” Images are ©Randal Spangler, courtesy of his Facebook Page. At right, the words say, “Look for Weird Sisters Publishing and Kansas City Writer Friends in the Dealers Room at the Convention!” The imagery includes covers for books by WSP authors Jan S. Gephardt and G.S. Norwood, as well as Kansas City-based writers Lynette M. Burrows, M.C. Chambers, Dora Furlong, Karin Rita Gastreich, and Randal Spangler.
Here’s our social media feature for Randal Spangler’s books, as well as the one for our original group. See credits below.


All of the design work for this post was perpetrated by Jan S. Gephardt. Find the Weird Sisters books Deep Ellum Duet, The Other Side of Fear , What’s Bred in the Bone, and A Bone to Pick on the Weird Sisters website. Lucy A. Synk provided all of the photos for her puzzles. As of this writing she was still building her new website. But her store page sells the puzzles. We’ll try to pass along more information via Weird Sisters Publishing social media anytime we get updates.

Many thanks to Lynette M. Burrows for the photos of her book covers My Soul to Keep, If I Should Die, and Fellowship. The cover image for Dora Furlong’s One of Our Own is courtesy of Amazon.M. C. Chambers contributed the cover image for Shapers’ Veil. The Midsummer Storm cover image is from Amazon. Also from Amazon are the three Karin Rita GastreichSilver Web Trilogy” covers, Eolyn, Sword of Shadows, and Daughter of Aithne. The cover images for The Draglings Bedtime Story and D is for Dragling came from Randal Spangler’s website. Amazon provided a good picture of the coloring book’s cover. Many thanks to all!

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