Part of the milky way from the Trouvelot astronomical drawings (1881-1882) by E. L. Trouvelot (1827-1895)

A Winter Update

The last few months sure have been SOMETHING, haven’t they? I don’t even know where to begin this post. I’ve never been great at small talk–a condition that’s only grown more pronounced this past year. How do you respond to, “How’s it going?” when the inside of your brain is just alarms, Swamps of Sadness, and one long, guttural scream that started sometime in the early 90s? You don’t. Thankfully, Zoom makes it easy for me to briefly embody my favorite emoji (😬) and move on. So let’s just pretend I did the same thing here, with a bonus, “I hope this finds you well…” (because I do).

Lacking any immediate solutions to offer for deadly global pandemics and/or deadly domestic terrorism, I can only (again) urge you to look for ways to help others in your community. Volunteer, donate, signal boost–whatever you can do with the time and resources you have. Small changes are all most of us can offer, but they do add up.

On to the update…

[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.

[Art by: Alexis Goble]

Cast of Wonders surprised and delighted me earlier this year, by selecting my story, “The Half-Life of a Broken Heart,” as a 2020 Staff Pick. This story originally appeared in Factor Four Magazine (gone, but never forgotten) and then appeared on Episode 413 of Cast of Wonders in May 2020. You might recall that editor and host, Katherine Inskip, brought me to tears with her gorgeous commentary at that time. Well, Cast of Wonders is two for two now, because host Denise Sudell, the Cast of Wonders Community Manager, did it again with her moving commentary, specially recorded for this Staff Pick reissue. Denise’s analysis captured the heart (pun!) of this story as I originally imagined it and you can’t ask for a better feeling as a writer–or, as a person–than to have your heart be so clearly seen and understood. “The Half-Life of a Broken Heart” is one of my favorite stories and I’m so grateful it found such a wonderful second home…twice! Listen at the link below…

Cast of Wonders 446: The Half-Life of a Broken Heart (Staff Picks 2020)


In February, as part of the Women in Horror Month festivities, I was thrilled to join Nicole Givens Kurtz, Meghan Arcuri, and Kaaron Warren for HWA-NY’s Galactic Terrors reading series. Watch the recorded event here and subscribe to the Galactic Terrors newsletter for info on future readings.


In April and May, I’ll be leading a new slate of workshops for young writers (Spellcasters, Cryptozoolapalooza, and Super Spies & Top-Secret Tech) at The Center for Fiction–read all about it here!

Note: These online sessions sold-out last time, so if you have any young writers (ages 9-12) in your life who might be interested, please don’t wait to register! Also, please help spread the word on Twitter (and anywhere else)!


Finally, I have several exciting new short story publications coming up, but I don’t think I’m supposed to officially announce any of those sales yet. So I’ll just say this: these stories are three of my absolute favorites (which I know I say a lot, but I think I only try to publish the work I love the most), involving (respectively) haunted hotels, nature vengeance, and a taxi driver who transports the dead. More details coming soon!


[Image art by E. L. Trouvelot]

Upcoming Reading: Galactic Terrors, February 11th

Guess what? I’m reading tomorrow night (February 11th, 2021) with Nicole Givens Kurtz, Meghan Arcuri, and Kaaron Warren as part of HWA-NY’s recently launched Galactic Terrors reading series!

Watch on YouTube at 8 p.m. EST and if you’d like to keep up with Galactic Terrors,  subscribe to the Galactic Terrors newsletter!

Can’t make it tomorrow? Fear not! All episodes are archived on YouTube!

Click below to watch, subscribe, and/or set a reminder on YouTube!

Awards Eligible Stories 2020

Yay! A 2020 awards eligibility post! I had four new stories published in this hellfire year and I’d be thrilled if you’d read and consider them for your Bram Stoker/Nebula/World Fantasy/Hugo /Shirley Jackson Award nominations, recommendations, and reading lists, and/or for any Best of 2020 anthologies.


THE WORDS I STARVED FOR
Horror / Dark Fantasy
Fireside Magazine
January 2020 | ~2,300 words

“It’s powerful, and wrenching, and beautiful.”
Charles Payseur, Quick Sip Reviews

I can’t promote a story in Fireside Magazine without also talking about how it and its publisher, Pablo Defendini, recently treated Dr. Regina N. Bradley and her work, publishing a racist audio adaptation of her essay (described as an “audio version of blackface“) without her knowledge, input, or consent. The publisher issued a standard Dude in Publishing™ apology, but declined to comment for this Washington Post piece covering the lack of communication and oversight that contributed to this aggressive failure. Rather than allowing Dr. Bradley’s writing to be further overshadowed by the publisher’s behavior, please take a moment to read “Da Art of Speculatin’” and consider preordering her forthcoming book, Chronicling Stankonia: The Rise of the Hip Hop South, from your local bookstore on Small Business Saturday (or on any day of the week).


TAG, YOU’RE IT
Horror
Don’t Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
September 2020 | ~1,400 words
*Please reach out via my contact form if you are reading for awards and need access to a review copy.


LET IT STAND
Horror / Dark Fantasy
Lovecraft Mythos: New & Classic Collection
November 2020 | ~3,000 words
*Please reach out via my contact form if you are reading for awards and need access to a review copy.


DO NOT WRITE TO WRONG
Fantasy
Community of Magic Pens
May 2020 | ~2,800 words
*Please reach out via my contact form if you are reading for awards and need access to a review copy.


 

Out Now! Lovecraft Mythos

Lovecraft Mythos, from Flame Tree Press, is out now and includes my new story, “Let It Stand,” alongside stories from Ramsey Campbell (who also wrote the foreword), Caitlín R. Kiernan, Victor LaValle, Rachael K. Jones and many others. To celebrate, Flame Tree Press recently posted interviews with contributing authors about the inspirations for their stories as well as a series of Q&As. They’ve also got video interviews in the works, which will post on December 6th.

Usually I write a little about my story and its genesis here, but since I’ve already done that on the Flame Tree blog (hint: it includes dudes behaving badly on Twitter), I’ll cut right to the shopping info. As of this posting, there are many (many, many) Black Friday deals going on (and a huge Am@zon strike), so shop wherever works best for your budget. But I’d like to highlight that Flame Tree Press is offering free shipping over $19.97* and these gorgeous hardcovers (with foil FX!) make extra fancy and excellent gifts.

Lovecraft Mythos is available from:
Flame Tree Publishing
B&N
Kew & Willow
Astoria Bookshop
IndieBound
(Amazon Workers are Striking Today, But You Can Buy It There Too)


*and also a 3-for-2 sale on journals!!! Save me!

**[Reposting my take on “Lovecraftian” from an earlier entry] 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.

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.

 

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.