Coming Soon! Horror Writing Workshops for Kids at the Center for Fiction

Illustration of a castle at night background for HalloweenI’m thrilled to be leading a new series of horror workshops for young writers at The Center for Fiction next month, kicking off the Halloween season *AND* the CFF’s KidsWriting program!

We’re going to have a lot of fun exploring some of the genre’s most popular branches and playing around with its most infamous tropes. Halloween is my very favorite holiday and even though I know this year will be different, I’m still all-in for celebrating the spooky season, and, IMHO, this is a perfect way to do that safely and creatively.

We’ll be meeting via Zoom beginning on October 10th, with the first of three sessions (detailed below), which can be bundled or taken individually. Registration is open now, but attendance is limited, so please don’t wait.

Additional info from the CFF event page:

Designed for young writers, ages 9-12, these writing workshops will focus on fostering creativity in a fun, encouraging environment. Each session breaks down a different branch of horror and will include writing sprints, interactive discussions of story structure and common tropes, and opportunities to share and review our work. Parents are encouraged to register for individual sessions based on their child’s interests or for multiple sessions at a discount.

Saturday, October 10, 11:30am – 1pm ET
Haunted Places & Ghostly Faces
In this workshop, we’ll be writing ghost stories, urban legends, and crafting original “local lore” about hauntings, cursed places, and other spooky, unexplained phenomena. Poltergeists welcome!

Saturday, October 17, 11:30am – 1pm ET
Movie Monsters & Creepy Creatures
From vampires, werewolves, and zombies, to shape-shifters, ghouls, and mummies–and everything in between–in this workshop, we’ll be writing stories about the terrifying things that go bump in the night (or in your closet)!

Saturday, October 24, 11:30am – 1pm ET
Scary Science & Techie Terrors
Whether it’s extraterrestrial invasions or evil scientists, destructive blobs or sentient computers—in this workshop we’ll be writing Sci-Fi Horror about the places where science and technology meet the unknown and the unexpected.

 

Out Today! Don’t Turn Out the Lights

Don’t Turn Out the Lights is here! Edited by New York Times bestselling author, Jonathan Maberry, with illustrations by Iris Compiet and cover design by Laura Mock, Don’t Turn Out the Lights is a tribute to the middle grade horror classics, Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

I can’t overstate how influential the Scary Stories books were in developing my reading and writing tastes as a kid (or how influential Stephen Gammell’s original art was in developing my nightmares). So, if it’s not obvious, I’m beyond thrilled to be part of this tribute.

In Don’t Turn Out the Lights, Iris Compiet does an amazing job capturing the spirit (PUN!) of the original books, while creating a whole new canon of nightmare fodder with her illustrations, just as my fellow contributors do with their fantastically creepy stories.

Title page for "Tag, You're It" featuring black and whit illustration (by Iris Compiet) of a creepy baby doll.

Art by Iris Compiet; design by Laura Mock.

Speaking of the authors, it doesn’t get better than this line-up: Linda D. Addison, Courtney Alameda, Jonathan Auxier, Gary A. Braunbeck, Z Brewer, Aric Cushing, John Dixon, Tananarive Due, Jamie Ford, Kami Garcia, Christopher Golden, Tonya Hurley, Catherine Jordan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Alethea Kontis, N.R. Lambert, Laurent Linn, Amy Lukavics, Barry Lyga, D.J. MacHale, Josh Malerman, James A. Moore, Michael Northrop, Micol Ostow, Joanna Parypinksi, Brendan Reichs, Madeleine Roux, R.L. Stine, Margaret Stohl, Gaby Triana, Luis Alberto Urrea, Rosario Urrea, Kim Ventrella, Sheri White, T.J. Wooldridge, and Brenna Yovanoff.

To celebrate the release of Don’t Turn Out the Lights, Jonathan Maberry has organized a series of panels with the authors featured in this anthology. I’ll be joining him today, September 1st, for an event hosted by Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, register here! The full list of events is up on Jonathan Maberry’s site and the previous panels will be posted on his Facebook page.

[UPDATE: Our panel is up on YouTube!]

If you didn’t preorder your copy of Don’t Turn Out the Lights, not to fear! Mysterious Galaxy is selling copies signed* by Jonathan Maberry;  my local bookshops, Kew & Willow Books and Astoria Bookshop, will ship most places; and it’s also available at bookstores and online retailers everywhere, including:
HarperCollins
Books-A-Million
IndieBound
B&N
Amazon

UPDATE: I AM NOT GREAT AT THE “NEW” WP EDITOR AND SOMEHOW DELETED MY THANK YOU BOX:
Huge THANK YOU to the Draft Zero writing group (line-up at the time: Frances Rowat, Beth Tanner, Asha Bardon, David Bruns, and Shannon Fay–go read their stuff!), Allison Escoto, Lorraine Escoto, and Doug Peyton for their excellent feedback while I was working on this story. Also, shout outs to everyone at HarperCollins Children’s (especially Alyssa Miele), and the Horror Writers Association** for making this anthology happen. Biggest thank you of all to Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell for scaring the crap out of us.

UPDATE: HarperCollins Children’s talented marketing/PR team posted this awesome trailer gif on Twitter this morning:


*Mysterious Galaxy’s instructions on how to order a signed/personalized Don’t Turn Out the Lights (books will be signed by Jonathan Maberry only, not the other contributing authors): At checkout under “Order Comments” write if you would like a signed or personalized book and to whom it should be personalized. Personalization requests are due one week after the event.

 

Coming Soon! Events for Don’t Turn Out the Lights!

It’s heeeeeeeere…almost!

As you may have heard me mention, I’m EXTREMELY excited about Don’t Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which includes stories from a staggering number of my horror writing heroes and–to my eternal glee–one of my stories. It releases on September 1 and we’re doing a bunch of stuff to celebrate that!

Edited by New York Times bestselling author, Jonathan Maberry, with illustrations by Iris Compiet, and cover design  by Laura Mock, Don’t Turn Out the Lights releases NEXT WEEK. But it’s not too late to preorder! If you want to be terrorized in a timely manner, I highly recommend reaching out to your local bookshop or library and requesting Don’t Turn Out the Lights, or preordering it from one of these bookstores:
HarperCollins
Books-A-Million
IndieBound
B&N
Amazon

To celebrate the release of Don’t Turn Out the Lights, Jonathan Maberry has organized a series of panels with the authors featured in this anthology. I’ll be joining him on September 1st for an event hosted by Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego! The full list of events is being updated as we speak, but keep an eye on Jonathan’s Facebook and Twitter pages for details up on Jonathan Maberry’s site!

Coming Soon! Lovecraft Mythos: New & Classic Collection

Exciting news! My story, “Let It Stand,” will be included in Flame Tree Publishing‘s upcoming cosmic horror* anthology, Lovecraft Mythos: New & Classic Collection, available in Fall 2020. The folks at Flame Tree recently announced the full TOC and…whoa! I’m seriously thrilled to be part of this roster. The details, from their release:

We’re delighted to announce the line-up of authors for our upcoming book Lovecraft Mythos: New & Classic Collection! Due for publication in October 2020 (November in the US/Canada), this anthology features a foreword by Ramsey Campbell and acts as a companion volume to our earlier collection: Lovecraft Short Stories.

Along with a few key Lovecraft tales and early influences, this latest anthology includes work from a number of authors who have emulated or expanded on the Mythos since Lovecraft, among his contemporaries and also our own. See below for the selection of tales by modern authors chosen for inclusion…

Lovecraft Mythos

Cthulhu-Seltzer by Hal Bodner

Offspring by Evey Brett

The Franklyn Paragraphs by Ramsey Campbell

Foxfire Future by Helen E. Davis

Grave Secrets by JG Faherty

He Opens a Window by Cody Goodfellow

The Innsmouth of the South by Rachael K. Jones

The Damage by Scott R. Jones

Black Ships Seen South of Heaven by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Always a Castle? by Nancy Kilpatrick

Let It Stand by N.R. Lambert

Up from Slavery by Victor LaValle

The Whisper of Stars by Thana Niveau

My First Abomination by John Possidente

By Any Other Name by John Llewellyn Probert

A Gentleman from Mexico by Mark Samuels

Usurped by William Browning Spencer

Entirely Surrounded by Water by R.S. Stefoff

Shed a Tear for Asenath by Jonathan Thomas

Cloaca Maxima by Donald Tyson

Tracking the Black Book by Douglas Wynne

New, recent and classic work by these authors will appear alongside stories by H.P. Lovecraft and the following: Ambrose Bierce, Robert Bloch, Robert W. Chambers, August W. Derleth, Lord Dunsany, Robert E. Howard, Henry Kuttner, Fritz Leiber, Frank Belknap Long, Zealia Bishop, Hazel Heald, Arthur Machen, Clark Ashton Smith.

Lovecraft Mythos: New & Classic Collection is scheduled for release in October 2020 (UK) and November 2020 (US & Canada) and is available for preorder now at:

Bookshop.org
B&N
Indiebound
Amazon


* I’m a big fan of the movement within the horror community for using “cosmic horror” to describe this branch (tentacle?) of the genre. It feels increasingly unnecessary (and inaccurate) to tie it to a known racist and bigot when–with every new voice and story–cosmic horror continues to expand far beyond the constraints of its early foundations.
UPDATED (8/5/2020): Adding a link to this excellent piece on the subject from Tor Nightfire.

Glowing golden sparkles and stars rising from an old, opened wooden treasure chest. Darkly lit on a planked surface with black chalkboard background.

Out Today! “The Half-Life of a Broken Heart” on Cast of Wonders

[Art by: Alexis Goble. Glowing golden sparkles and stars rising from an old, opened wooden treasure chest. Darkly lit on a planked surface with black chalkboard background.]

The year was Tuesday, May 5th, 2020. It might have been the same day that drinking bleach as a means of preventing illness was suggested by a sitting president of the United States…or maybe that happened on a different day. Linear time is more of a gesture in 2020.

ANYWAY. I’d written this post, then failed to publish it before being sucked into the next void and for that I am truly sorry, because this is one of the big highlights of my year. My story, The Half-Life of a Broken Heart appeared in this week’s edition of Cast of Wonders (alongside a gorgeous story by Kelly Sandoval), in an episode appropriately titled, Little Wonders: Hearts in Boxes.

When I wrote this story, I was utterly lost in grief. So it always felt like it held an extra little bit of my soul. I couldn’t have entrusted it to better hands. Narrator Caroline Reid perfectly captured the heart of this story, and Katherine Inskip, who hosted this episode, shared a piece of her heart, with a personal story that moved me beyond words. I encourage you all to take a listen and then subscribe for more. The Escape Artists family of podcasts have been doing incredible work for years and I don’t believe they’ve received even a tenth of the credit they deserve for their contributions to speculative fiction.

My deepest gratitude to Caroline and Katherine and everyone at Cast of Wonders who was involved in this episode’s production, especially audio producer, Jeremy Carter; co-narrator Nichole Goodnight; and artist, Alexis Goble. Also, a big thank you to editor Richard Flores IV, who first published this story in Factor Four Magazine.

Subscribe to Cast of Wonders:
Apple Podcasts
Google Podcasts
Spotify
Android
Stitcher
iHeartRadio
RSS

Art by: @ArtisticJ0urney

Out Today! 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 know it’s been a minute (2.7 decades in pandemic years) and that here on Earth we’re still firmly in the vice-like grip of these “Unprecedented Times” (© 2020). As always, I encourage you to help wherever and however you can, either in your community or on a national/global scale. Consider supporting a local food bank (find one here, here, or here) or support World Central Kitchen in their relief efforts.

But, it’s not all bad news, good things are still happening and I’m excited to share one of these good things–Atthis Arts’ latest anthology, Community of Magic Pens is out today!

Community of Magic Pens includes my new story “Do Not Write to Wrong,” which I first drafted back in 2018 as an outlet for my rage frustration rage re: certain stable geniuses in America. After I submitted it to my crit group (of excellent humans who are also excellent writers), and revised it based on their notes, I immediately…just…stalled…out. I loved the story, but I wasn’t sure where it would fit and I froze in an indecision loop. Flash forward almost a year, to when I saw the submission call for Community of Magic Pens. My quirky story (about a magic pen) seemed a perfect fit for a new anthology entirely about magic pens (interpreted in all sorts of inventive and unexpected ways), and, to my delight, the editors agreed.

I am thrilled to be part of this hopeful, joyful collection, alongside so many fantastic authors, especially during such grim times. Huge thanks and mad props (the kids still say that, right???) to our wonderful editor for this collection, E.D.E. Bell, and everyone at Atthis Arts.

Community of Magic Pens is available in print and ebook format from:
Atthis Arts
Bookshop
Apple Books
B&N
Kobo
Amazon

If you’re not in a position to buy this book right now, please consider asking your local library to order it, adding it to your “Want to Read” list on Goodreads, and/or spreading the word online!

Please stay safe and well. (Also, please wear a mask/face cover in public spaces–all the cool, considerate humans are doing it.)

Image description (since I still can’t get the bleeping alt text to appear): Image is the cover art 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 in a jaunty beret.

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.