Cover art by Carlota Suarez

New Story at Fireside: “The Words I Starved For”

Cover art by Carlota Suarez

Cover art by Carlota Suarez.

Wow…and I thought publishing a story during an inauguration was difficult! In all seriousness, I hope you and yours are safe and well and that you’re doing everything in your power to flatten the curve. If you can spare money or supplies, please consider helping others in your community. As I mentioned in a previous post, local food banks need money, food, and household basics, find one here, here, or here; or support World Central Kitchen in their relief efforts.

Okay, so today’s the day! My story, “The Words I Starved For” is out on Fireside Fiction. Even though this is technically a ghost story, at heart, it’s also a deeply personal one. So writing it, submitting it, and publishing it, all felt slightly-to-entirely terrifying at times. But I was lucky to have the supportive company of many fine people (including my wonderful therapist!) along the way…

First up, big thanks to the Draft Zero writing group, which at the time included Frances Rowat, Beth Tanner, Asha Bardon, and Shannon Fay, who are all incredible writers and you should read their work immediately.

Also, special shout-outs to Allison Escoto, Karen Bischer (preorder her book!), and Richard Shealy who lent their years of professional experience to me while working on this story.

Of course, last but not least, heaps of gratitude to Fireside’s Pablo Defendini and Chelle Parker (and everyone at Team Fireside), to Daniela Acitelli who narrated the audio version (available on podcast apps and libsyn), to Winter 2020 issue artists Kieu Vo, Carlota Suarez, and Omar Gilani, to Julia Rios who acquired this story, and especially to Dominik Parisien, who edited it. Thank you, all!

I hope you’ll take a few moments to read (and share) “The Words I Starved For.” Also, please consider supporting another very cool project from Fireside, Puestes pa’l Futuro on Kickstarter. Even if you can’t back this project, you can help by spreading the word!

Be well and be kind, all!


If you’d like the Winter 2020 print edition of Fireside Quarterly, I believe you can still get one by subscribing here. To purchase the digital edition of Issue 77, click here.

Cover Reveal: Don’t Turn Out the Lights

I started this post 18 years ago, i.e., Wednesday. Things here in the U.S. (and abroad) have changed dramatically since then, so before we talk about this awesome cover, a brief message:

If you are in an area affected by COVID-19 (and even if you’re not…yet), please actively practice social distancing to the best of your ability. Also, if you can spare money, food, or household basics, please consider donating to a local food bank (find one here, here, or here) or to World Central Kitchen.

Okay, back to our previously scheduled programming:

I’m super excited to share the cover reveal for Don’t Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, edited by New York Times bestselling author, Jonathan Maberry, with illustrations by Iris Compiet, and (a creepy AF) cover design (and hand lettering!) by Laura Mock. Obviously, it’s completely perfect…and wait till you see the interior illustrations! Last week, I got a sneak peek at the art Iris Compiet did for my story, “Tag, You’re It” and it is terrifying in the best possible way–I can’t wait for it to give you all nightmares!

That’s all for now–thank you for taking a moment to share this little spot of joy with me! Please be safe and be well.

If you’d like to pre-order* Don’t Turn Out the Lights, take your pick: 
HarperCollins
Books-A-Million
IndieBound
B&N
Amazon

*and/or “preorder;” it seems the world hasn’t landed on a preferred spelling for this redundant phrase.

Art by Kristine Scheiner.

Women in Horror Month Reading at KGB Bar

I know I’m taking a risk calling this early–what with an extra day in the month an all–but the absolute highlight of my February was the opportunity to read at KGB Bar with the New York Chapter of the Horror Writers Association to celebrate Women in Horror Month.

Photo credit: Jim Freund

Photo credit: Jim Freund

I was thrilled to join Randee Dawn, Amy Grech, Carol Gyzander, Barbara Krasnoff, and K.E. Scheiner at the KGB podium on February 12th. [Updated to add…] I wrote more about the evening over on the HWA-NY site (in a post that includes lots of additional pictures) so be sure to check that out.

Photo credit: Lorraine M. Escoto

Photo credit: Lorraine M. Escoto

But before you go, please enjoy the (impressive af) talents of artist Kristine Scheiner, who sketched all the readers (and our emcees, Carol Gyzander and James Chambers) that night. Also, be sure to check out Kristine’s shop on etsy.

On Stands Now! Entertainment Weekly: The Ultimate Guide to the Office

This was the magical-rainbow-glitter-unicorn of assignments: one that requires I rewatch hours of a beloved television series in order to write it! (My only regret? No chance to reference one of the greatest cold opens in all of human history.)

The Office, adapted from the UK show of the same name, premiered 15 years ago. So it’s the perfect time time for Entertainment Weekly to give it the Ultimate Guide treatment, to which I contributed a fun overview of the Scranton branch’s various Regional Managers (and the occasional Assistant to the Assistant to the Regional Manager).

Entertainment Weekly: The Ultimate Guide to the Office is available on Amazon and pretty much wherever you buy magazines, including in Japan, if you’re feeling wanderlusty…

So if you somehow missed the first run (perhaps you were busy being born! 😬) and want a taste of The Office before you make a marathon commitment; or if you simply need a break from TTDT (this, the darkest timeline) and prefer to take one by immersing yourself in some well-earned nostalgia; or if you’re ready to just bang out* a nine season rewatch and would like a handy companion guide as you do so, go on and get yourself a copy of Entertainment Weekly: The Ultimate Guide to the Office.

*That’s what she said.**
**You had to know that was coming.***
***That’s also what she said.

Art by: @ArtisticJ0urney

Preorder This Book! Community of Magic Pens

Cover of The Community of Magic Pens. The background is a soft buttery yellow, with doodles on the border. Four anthropomorphized writing instruments pose under the title: a tan mechanical pencil using a cane; a purple marker, a black roller ball pen wearing a rainbow hajib, and a wood fountain pen in a jaunty beret.

Cover art by: Artistic Journey

I’m delighted that my story “Do Not Write to Wrong,” will be published in Atthis Art’s forthcoming anthology, Community of Magic Pens.

The official cover copy isn’t up yet, but on the preorder page, Atthis Arts describes this anthology as: “Stories of joy and hope. A collection to celebrate community.”

Our wonderful editor for this collection, E.D.E. Bell, has been sharing additional details about Community of Magic Pens online. Rather than paraphrase her, I encourage you to check out this thread (partially quoted below) and to follow @edebellauthor and @atthisarts for further updates. [ETA: Full TOC up now–so excited to be included in this stellar list!]

If Community of Magic Pens seems like a book you’d love to read, go ahead and preorder it today! If you’re not in a position to preorder right now, consider asking your local library to order it and spread the word on Twitter (or the social media hellscape of your choice)!

Community of Magic Pens will publish in Spring 2020!

**Since I cannot get the alt text or image description copy to show in WP’s new block editor, herein lies the image description: Cover image for Community of Magic Pens. The background is a soft buttery yellow, with doodles on the border. Four anthropomorphized writing instruments pose under the title: a tan mechanical pencil using a cane; a purple marker, a black roller ball pen wearing a rainbow hajib, and a wood fountain pen wearing a jaunty beret.

The Rest of 2019…

I definitely should have stuck with my plan to do quarterly updates. But you probably know how it goes by now and have come to expect (and adore?) this kind of feast-or-famine communication from me. Here’s what I’ve been up to since the Spring 2019 update.
[Updated with new photos!]

StokerCon 2019

StokerCon is always a good time, but this year was especially fun owing to the reading and panels on my schedule. So, without further ado, I present, What I Did at StokerCon 2019…

I did a reading!
I was incredibly honored to share a reading slot with Shirley Jackson Award Winner and StokerCon 2019 Guest of Honor Kaaron Warren. She read from “The First of Many Shudders,” which was recently published in The Unquiet Dreamer: A Tribute to Harlan Ellison (PS Publishing) and which was, of course, so SO good–I still think about it regularly. Also, go check out her new novella, Into Bones Like Oil.

Kaaron Warren.

For my part, I read a horror story inspired by my time working in hotels and in travel publishing…and I didn’t die from nerves. Actually, during this reading, I discovered that I really enjoy doing readings. Who knew! I don’t know if it’s the therapy kicking in (finally) or one of the delightful  zero-f*cks-to-give side effects of aging, but I had a truly wonderful time and I hope the folks in the audience did too (even though, let’s be real, I was the one thing standing between them and a legend).

Photo by Douglas Peyton.

I also moderated two panels!
Kicking off the weekend, Coming-Of-Age Horror In The Era Of Netflix–a full house with my delightful, insightful, and wonderful panelists, Kyla Lee Ward and Tom Deady. I have zero pictures of this one, to my eternal regret. (I’m sorry, all!)

*Unrelated to this panel, Kyla also stepped in as a pinch hitter during Bedlam Hall: An All Female RPG Game, GM’d by Karen Bovenmyer, and featuring Joanna Nelius, Lee Murray, Kaaron Warren, and Kathleen Kaufman. Easily one of my favorite “panels” of StokerCon–and by far the funniest–I would 100% subscribe if these ladies made it a regular event on YouTube (or whatever the kids are watching these days…it’s TicTac, right?).

The Bedlam Hall family: Lee Murray, Kyla Lee Ward, Kathleen Kaufman, Karen Bovenmyer, and Joanna Nelius. Not pictured: Kaaron Warren.

My second panel of the convention, Writing Horror For Kids and Teens, was another standing-room-only event, no doubt because we had Lucy Snyder, Gaby Triana, Daniel Kraus, Jonathan Maberry, and Josh Malerman all on the same stage! Someone posted a great shot of this on FB, but I want to get official blessings before I link to it. Thanks to Mark Matthews, I have a picture proving this dream panel happened (at least in this timeline/dimension). I may be biased, but I thought these peeps packed a lot of great insight and advice into a mere 50 minutes. Also, this was just a whole lot of fun. I don’t think anyone recorded it, but if so, I will add a link.

Photo by Mark Matthews. Left to right: It me! (N.R. Lambert), Josh Malerman, Daniel Kraus, Jonathan Maberry, Gaby Triana, and Lucy Snyder.

Thanks to everyone at StokerCon 2019 for an amazing weekend! Looking ahead, I’m planning to attend StokerCon UK in 2020 and will post my schedule here once I have it.

Artist-In-Residence at Fire Island National Seashore

Hot on the heels of StokerCon, I left for a two week residency at Fire Island National Seashore, courtesy of the U.S. National Park Service. I’ve got a detailed post here, but for the tl;dr set: it was an incredible experience, both as a writer and as a human who loves this planet. During my time there I started a new novel, revised a novel-in-progress, and wrote several new short stories. (So productive! Who was that person and how do I get her back?) I also got *really* into bird watching, dabbled in being a morning person, and collected approximately ten million balloons from the beach. (Seriously, #banballoons forever, peeps.)

The folks at FINS were amazing and supportive, and really made sure I enjoyed every minute of my residency. If this sounds intriguing to you, please consider applying for a 2020 residency at Fire Island or check out one of the many other NPS residency programs.

In the bungalow at Watch Hill. Photo by NPS.

Summer Dark Reading

Later in June, literally days after (reluctantly) returning from my residency, I took part in the Summer Dark reading series, hosted by the Horror Writers Association’s New York Chapter. On a lovely New York City summer evening (with requisite 3000% humidity), Steven Van Patten, Carol Gyzander and I read creepy stories in a gorgeous little gem of a garden–the appropriately named, Oasis Community Garden. If this sounds like something you might have enjoyed, fret not! The Summer Dark reading series will be returning in 2020, so keep an eye out for updates from HWA-NY.

Photo by Carol Gyzander.

Short Fiction NEWS

In case you missed it, Fireside Quarterly‘s Winter 2020 issue is shipping now and includes my story, “The Words I Starved For.” I’m in especially excellent company in this issue, so if you’d like a copy, it’s not too late to subscribe!

Cover art by Carlota Suarez

Cover art by Carlota Suarez.

***

New Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark has a pub date and a new title! Look for Don’t Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, which will include my story, “Tag, You’re It.” I’m guessing we’ll have cover art soon and I’ll do a separate post when we do. Don’t worry, I will never shut up about this anthology. Never.

Other writing news

For my day job, I worked on a few new magazine projects this year, including editing for PBS’s Secrets of the Dead (available now!) and writing for Entertainment Weekly’s The Ultimate Guide to the Office (February 2020). For more news from the freelance realm, visit my other site, wordcenary.com.

Coming Up in 2020…

Plenty of tears, anxiety, and insomnia!
JK, JK!
(Not kidding at allllllll!)

Seriously. Please make sure you are registered to vote.  You can check via vote.org or through your local board of elections.

If you are registered to vote (YAY!), consider volunteering to help others vote in upcoming elections. Rock the Vote, Carpool Vote, and When We All Vote offer lots of ways to volunteer, including by hosting voter registration events or offering rides on election days. There are also opportunities to volunteer with your local election board.

If you are not registered to vote, please register to vote. Do it now.

If you’ll need an absentee ballot, plan ahead.

Generally speaking, let’s just all try to do a better job taking care of each other and the planet we share in the new year (and beyond).

Happy 2020, all!

Cover art by Carlota Suarez

Sneak Peek at Fireside Quarterly Winter 2020

Cover art by Carlota Suarez

Cover art by Carlota Suarez.

The Winter 2020 issue of Fireside Quarterly, which includes my story, “The Words I Starved For,” begins shipping soon! It’s not too late to subscribe for Winter 2020, plus a whole year’s worth of incredible writing and art from Fireside.

This issue, edited by Dominik Parisien, with stories acquired by Julia Rios, also features cover art by Carlota Suarez and work from Taimur Ahmad, Annika Barranti Klein, Amy Griswold, Veronica Brush, Vajra Chandrasekera, Sam Kyung Yoo, nwaobiala, H. Pueyo, Michael Robertson, LH Moore, Mike Loniewski, Hal Y. Zhang, and Nibedita Sen, as well as illustrations from Kieu Vo, Carlota Suarez, and Omar Gilani.

I’m delighted to be included among all these talented authors, poets, and artists. As for my contribution to this issue…”The Words I Starved For” is, in many ways, a story that has taken me years to tell. It’s a ghost story that also happens to be some of my most personal, belly-baring writing, and I am hella excited about it being out in the world. I hope you will subscribe, read, and enjoy!