Category Archives: Book Promotion

Coming in 2018: My Debut Novel, THE RUST MAIDENS

Yes, that headline is indeed true. Next year, I will be taking the big, thrilling jump into the novel world with my debut, The Rust Maidens.

Seriously. This is going to be a reality.

As if having a novel isn’t awesome enough, The Rust Maidens will be released through Trepidatio Publishing, a division of JournalStone. After the fantastic process of putting together And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, I couldn’t be happier to work with both JournalStone and editor Jess Landry again. It’s an honor, a privilege, and a dream come true as a writer.

Trepidatio Publishing

The Rust Maidens delves into all the horror territory I love best as a reader and writer. There’s body horror, there’s coming-of-age, there’s a bevy of girls who are monstrous and dangerous and incredibly powerful. It’s also at once a love note and a poisoned pen letter to my Rust Belt roots, both the good and the bad of my home state of Ohio. It’s a very personal story, and one that readers will hopefully find very, very creepy.

Anyhow, let’s get down to it with the official description for The Rust Maidens!

Something’s happening to the girls on Denton Street.

It’s the summer of 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, and Phoebe Shaw and her best friend Jacqueline have just graduated high school, only to confront an ugly, uncertain future. Across the city, abandoned factories populate the skyline; meanwhile at the shore, one strong spark, and the Cuyahoga River might catch fire. But none of that compares to what’s happening in their own west side neighborhood. The girls Phoebe and Jacqueline have grown up with are changing. It starts with footprints of dark water on the sidewalk. Then, one by one, the girls’ bodies wither away, their fingernails turning to broken glass, and their bones exposed like corroded metal beneath their flesh.

As rumors spread about the grotesque transformations, soon everyone from nosy tourists to clinic doctors and government men start arriving on Denton Street, eager to catch sight of “the Rust Maidens” in metamorphosis. As the neighborhood withdraws from the attention and paranoia permeates the crowded split-levels, Phoebe and Jacqueline band together with the other unchanged girls, all of them as terrified they’ll be the next to change as they are terrified they’ll be the only girl left behind. But even with all the onlookers, nobody can explain what’s happening or why—except perhaps the Rust Maidens themselves. Whispering in their untrimmed backyards, they know more than they’re telling, and Phoebe realizes her former friends are quietly preparing for something that will tear their neighborhood asunder.

Alternating between past and present, Phoebe struggles to unravel the mystery of the Rust Maidens—and her own unwitting role in the transformations—before she loses everything she’s held dear: her home, her best friend, and even her own body.

So, yeah. This is real. As you can probably guess, you’ll be hearing much, much more about The Rust Maidens throughout the rest of 2017 and into early 2018 as we announce the official release date and reveal the cover. So keep an eye on this blog in the coming months for even more details! *squeals with horror writer glee*

Happy reading!

The Ghost in the Turntable: The Story Behind “Songs to Help You Cope When Your Mom Won’t Stop Haunting You and Your Friends”

Welcome back! Today is all about ghosts, turntables, and bittersweet odes to mothers. Yes, the May/June issue of Black Static is almost in the archives, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to talk about “Songs to Help You Cope When Your Mom Won’t Stop Haunting You and Your Friends,” my story that appears in the recent table of contents. And here’s the issue now, with one very red-lipped author holding on for dear life!

Gwendolyn with Black Static

This release is a super exciting one for me. First off, it’s my debut in Black Static! I’ve adored TTA Press for years, and I’ve long dreamed of selling a story to Black Static. It was one of my four “white whale” markets—Nightmare, Shimmer, and LampLight being the other three—so it’s beyond thrilling and humbling to have finally accomplished this goal. And sharing the table of contents with authors like Helen Marshall, Mark Morris, Tim Casson and Joe Pitkin only makes it an even more auspicious experience.

Secondly, this story is also quite a personal one. It was written as a Mother’s Day gift to my own mom. Some gift, right? A lonesome tale about a dead mother who returns to haunt her difficult daughter in the family’s rec room. No offense, ma. Of course, she’d be the first to agree with that “difficult daughter” part, but this is my blog, not hers, so we’ll just move along now…

This is also my first story set in my home state of Ohio. For a long time, I’d shied away from writing stories about the places I’m from; I tend to leave settings more open-ended, in the sort of fairy tale tradition. But in crafting this story, I wanted to give it the specificity of a certain time and place. Given my own connection to the northeastern Ohio area, it seemed like Cleveland in 1980 at the dawn of the Rust Belt era would be an appropriate backdrop for a story about decay and loss and perseverance in spite of everything. I also got to dive into research mode and scour for time-period photographs and anecdotes. There was definitely montage music to accompany Montage Gwendolyn.

Speaking of music, as the title of the story suggests, songs are integral to this tale, serving as the wraparound, as the narrator copes with her loss and her subsequent haunting by listening to tunes from Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, and Pink Floyd, among others. Thanks to my mom, I grew up loving music, especially albums on vinyl and in particular 1970s classic rock, so this story gave me a chance to integrate those elements in my fiction. And David Bowie even ended up in the artwork for my story! A Very Ziggy Hooray!

Gwendolyn with Bowie artwork

(As a nobody-cares-but-me side note, all the songs that serve as the wraparound were released in the 1970s, but since I wanted the story to take place in the icy cold of January, it would technically have to be January 1980, since Pink Floyd’s The Wall didn’t come out until fall of 1979. There’s your piece of you-didn’t-want-to-know trivia. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post…)

Unlike so many of my projects that threaten to drag me into the deep and drown me there, this story was an incredibly joyous process. It also had my quickest ever turnaround: from the day I started the first draft to the point when it was finished, submitted, and accepted was only ten days. Seriously. That timeline still seems unreal typing it even now. But part of the reason the story came together so quickly in the early drafts was that this particular tale had truly lived inside me for years. When I was sixteen, I had my very own party room like the narrator in the story (hers is the rec room; mine was the basement). For the curious, check out that Polaroid of the graffiti-tinged walls of my party-spot basement. Though faded from time, they’re still marked up to this day.

Ever since those early-2000s days, I knew I wanted to write about that experience of being young and feisty and trying to find your way in the world, even when it’s hard. Even when you don’t want anyone, especially your mother, guiding your way. Even when you especially want your mother guiding your way, though you’re too sour to admit it. So when it finally came time to write it all down, this story was not only a wonderfully smooth process, but also one that reinvigorated me to return to a previous, unrelated project that had stalled entirely. So yeah. It was definitely a fantastic time. So thanks, Mom, for the inspiration. I owe you one.

Finally, if you’re looking for more horror fiction after reading the May/June, be sure to pick up the new July/August issue of Black Static! With stories from no less than three fabulous female writers that I’ve had the pleasure of spotlighting (Kristi DeMeester, Damien Angelica Walters, and Sarah Read), the issue is sure to be a great one. And yes, it’s true: there’s also an interview with me in there, talking about my collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, so if you’re so inclined, you can check that out too!

Happy haunting, and happy reading!

Dystopia and Unexpected Endings: The Story Behind “The Five-Day Summer Camp”

Welcome back! Today, I’m highlighting another original story from my collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. This time around, we head to a childhood vacation spot that isn’t quite so welcoming as it seems with “The Five-Day Summer Camp.”

The Five-Day Summer Camp

Now sometimes, when I do these behind-the-scenes blogs, I like to give insight into the story’s origin (mostly because I love to read blogs from other authors that discuss inspiration). Then there are times when it seems more pertinent to discuss the story’s development or its quest toward publication, because let’s face it: these beasts can often take on lives of their own. So it went with “The Five-Day Summer Camp,” which—with its two unusual sisters who must endure a world brimming with oppressive terror—might be best described as a little bit Shirley Jackson and a little bit George Orwell.

And Her Smile Will Untether the UniverseFrom the get-go, this was a story that I loved writing. It includes elements of my other work—sisters, outsiders, coming-of-age—but it also takes a different, and at times darker and more precarious, path to get there. That made this one both a challenge to write and a joy to take to fruition as a storyteller. But that was pretty much where the joy ended, because when it was finished, I had no idea where to submit this tale. It’s a bit of a between-genre piece with echoes of dystopia, horror, and the weird. As many of us short fiction writers lament, there aren’t a ton of markets for those stories that bridge those hard-to-define gaps. So last summer after completing this story, I was incredibly morose about its future, fearing it might never see the light of day. I mean, seriously morose (there might have even been some moping involved). After a day or two of my said moping, it was my husband who told me with complete confidence, “Don’t worry. It’s a great story. Just hold on to it until a publisher asks you for a fiction collection.” I promptly scowled and told him in my most dismissive tone, “No one’s ever going to ask me for a fiction collection.” (I probably rolled my eyes at him too, though fortunately we were on the phone at that time and he didn’t see that part.) But it’s true that I didn’t think there was much chance of me having a collection in the foreseeable future. Because when it comes down to it, I’m still such a relatively new writer; my first published story only came out in 2013, so why would anyone ask me for a collection?

But then, someone did. An awesome someone. Less than a month later, my beyond fabulous editor Jess Landry contacted me and asked me to send her a fiction collection. Naturally, “The Five-Day Summer Camp” was included in the book. So basically within a matter of days of claiming I’d never have a fiction collection, I was proved quite merrily wrong, and my husband likes to point this out whenever we discuss this particular story. Well played this time, husband. Well played.

To top it all off, I’ve already had several readers tell me how much they enjoyed “The Five-Day Summer Camp.” Over at her blog just earlier this week, Maria Haskins named it as one of her favorites from the collection and called it “a gut-wrenching story about resistance and rebellion.” If only every tale of author woes ended so happily, right?

I wish I could say this story has taught me something about endurance during the submission process, but truth be told, the next time I have a story that I love that can’t find a home, I’ll probably mope around the house all over again. But it is nice to be able to look back and remember a time like this one when it all worked out in the absolute best way. So maybe that’s something of a lesson in itself.

Happy reading, and happy submitting those strange stories that you love so much! Keep at it, because they’ll find their homes!

Women of Horror, Dark Fantasy, and the Weird: A Recommended Reading List

Welcome back, and happy Monday! Today, let’s celebrate with some awesome books you should add to your summer reading list. Because why not?

Now earlier this year, I returned to Horror-Movies.ca with an article celebrating Women in Horror Month, and since that list was so fun to write (and hopefully a fun one to read!), I would like to share a few more fabulous horror, dark fantasy, and generally weird books penned by female authors. In particular, since far too often Women in Horror celebrations are confined to one month a year, it’s important to shine a light on those ladies who are working twelve months and around the clock to bring readers the latest and greatest in strange and haunting tales. As a quick note, I was fortunate enough to receive review copies of several of these books, and I can tell you that each and every one of them is most certainly worth checking out!

So let’s get started with today’s Recommended Reading List!

Never Now AlwaysNever Now Always by Desirina Boskovich
Desirina Boskovich has spent the last few years steadily making her indelible mark on speculative fiction. With stories published everywhere from Nightmare and Lightspeed to Kaleidotrope and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, her work has been easy to find and impossible to forget. Now, with her debut novella forthcoming from Broken Eye Books, she tries her hand at longer fiction, and of course, knocks it right out of the park. An incisive story about identity and the tenuous line between dreams and reality, Never Now Always is as brutal as it is beautifully written. Although I don’t want to spoil anything here, suffice it to say that this is one story that will break your heart and open your eyes with its incredible blend of science fiction, fantasy, and the weird. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy stories that are anything but simple and predictable.
Get Your Copy Here.

Feeding the DeadFeeding the Dead by M. Brett Gaffney
Released earlier this year from Porkbelly Press, M. Brett Gaffney’s horror and dark fantasy chapbook is supremely beautiful. The delicate pages and binding along with the lovely cardstock make for a truly magical reading experience. And of course, the selected poetry from Gaffney’s ever-building (and incredibly impressive) bibliography is exquisite. My personal favorites include the horror film-themed, “The Scream Queen” and the dark fairy tale, “Hunter,” but truly, each and every piece in this book is an absolute work of art unto itself. Brimming with hauntings and otherworldly creatures, these poems will stay with you long after you close those gorgeous pages.
Get Your Copy Here.

BoundlessBoundless by Miracle Austin
I’ve said it before, and I will be quite happy to say it again: Miracle Austin is always awesome, always surprising, and always worth reading. So naturally, her latest book—the fiction collection, Boundless—is a rollicking good time. A combination of short stories and poetry, these tales explore darkly fantastic worlds and characters who come to unexpected crossroads where they must make the ultimate choices that decide their fate. But through even the most dire circumstances, Austin’s writing brims with flair and whimsy, making Boundless a supremely enjoyable ride from first to last.
Get Your Copy Here.

Seeking SamielSeeking Samiel and The Bookseller’s Secret by Catherine Jordan
Catherine Jordan is an author to watch. Thanks to Horror Writers Association, I’m proud to call myself the mentor of this fantastic writer, though truthfully, working with her has undoubtedly taught me as much about the craft as I have taught her. Need proof of her immense talent? Look no further than this pair of horror books—the devilish Seeking Samiel and its equally engrossing sequel, The Bookseller’s Secret—which are both enthralling explorations on the nature of good and evil. A perfect two-for-one, I would recommend these titles to anyone who enjoys fast-paced and dark horror that takes inspiration from the varied worlds of Gillian Flynn and Ira Levin. Jordan’s work is ambitious and effective, and her name is one you’ll see for years to come in the horror fiction world.
Get Your Copies Here and Here.

Spells and PersuasionsSpells and Persuasions by S. J. Budd
Over the last few years, S.J. Budd has been making appearances in numerous publications as a short fiction writer, and she’s also a devoted reader and reviewer at her regular blog. Now, in her debut collection, Budd goes all in with these nine beautiful dark fantasy stories of magic and loss. A wide-ranging group of tales, you’ll find broken friendship, lost dreams, and a variety of strange beasts and bargains in these pages. Eminently readable, Spells & Persuasions is the perfect bedside book, one that will unnerve you just enough to ensure you keep the nightlight on.
Get Your Copy Here.

In the Crocodile GardensIn the Crocodile Gardens by Saba Syed Razvi
Saba Syed Razvi is an author I only recently discovered—once again, thanks to Horror Writers Association—and wow, am I so incredibly grateful for having found her work. This beautiful book of poetry, released from Sundress Publications, weaves an intricate tapestry of fairy tale imagery, cultural explorations, and political discourse. Her faculty with language is undeniable, and the ease with which she crafts her words is as lyrical as it is profound. These poems never take the simple way out and instead challenge readers to look beyond and ponder the all-too-difficult world in which we live. A weighty journey to be sure, but quite a beautiful and worthwhile one.
Get Your Copy Here.

Blood RelationsBlood Relations by Lori Titus
With a new and always fantastic book out nearly every few months, it’s no stretch to say that Lori Titus is one of the most talented and hardest working authors in dark fantasy and horror today. She crafts spell-binding stories steeped in history, magic, and mystery. Blood Relations is among her most recent releases, and it’s a beautiful and haunting novel that will burrow beneath your skin and stay there long after you’ve read the final pages. Also, if somehow you’ve missed Titus’s previous novels, including her fabulous Marradith Ryder series, then Blood Relations might be a perfect place to start, since it’s a standalone novel. But really, once you read this one, you know you’ll want more, so be sure to check out all her many other books, each of which is absolutely worth moving to the top of your to-read list.
Get Your Copy Here.

The Kraken SeaThe Kraken Sea by E. Catherine Tobler
Last year, I featured E. Catherine Tobler and her work on this blog, but it bears repeating: read The Kraken Sea. Read her other incredible Traveling Circus stories too. Read pretty much anything E. Catherine Tobler has written or edited. She is a fabulous storyteller, and her fiction should always have a place on your bookshelf. The Kraken Sea in particular has stuck with me since I first read it many months ago. This gloriously strange and gorgeous novella interweaves aspects of Tobler’s wider Traveling Circus universe while still delivering a standalone story, which is no easy feat. But of course, her mastery as an author makes this a highly readable story that gets its claws in you and never lets go. And that cover seriously haunts both my dreams and my nightmares, a perfect combination that fits the tone of this beautiful tale all too well.
Get Your Copy Here.

Happy reading!

Fear in a Flash: The Story Behind “By Now, I’ll Probably Be Gone”

Welcome back, and happy Friday! Hopefully, you’ve got some fabulous plans heading into the weekend! Here in Gwendolyn-Land, I’ve sadly been marooned at home with strep throat all week, meaning that the last five days are a blur of doctor offices, giant pink pills, and the proverbial water drinking and rest. A majorly boring way to spend a week, but hey, we authors must soldier on, right? Especially when we’ve got books to talk about!

So it’s now been a month since the release of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. Happy one-month birthday, my book! And as promised in my post last week, let’s dig into the stories that are original to the collection! We’ll start small… as in the shortest of the brand-new tales: “By Now, I’ll Probably Be Gone.” Without divulging too much (it’s only 900 words, after all), this is a dark—and darkly humorous—breakup tale that features one of the most whimsically wicked characters I’ve ever created. How’s that for a teaser?

By Now, I'll Probably Be Gone

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I will say it again: I love flash fiction. The table of contents for And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe includes two flash stories, the other being the mother-daughter horror tale, “Find Me, Mommy” (perfect for the impending Mother’s Day holiday, if I do say so!). As for the only new flash story from the book, “By Now, I’ll Probably Be Gone” started as a weird love letter to my husband, but immediately turned into something… more sinister. My husband, of course, thinks this is particularly humorous—in a wonderfully diabolical kind of way—and takes it as a serious compliment. So perhaps “a poisonous Valentine” is the best way to describe this story, which contains perhaps the most sweetly caustic voice of the entire collection. Because you need at least one mordant narrator to round out the protagonists, no?

And Her Smile Will Untether the UniverseUnfortunately, in my never-ending searches for places to submit, I’ve found there aren’t nearly enough markets out there for bite-sized fiction. I’m not sure what it is about flash fiction that puts off some editors and readers, but ever since I was young, I’ve always been a major fan, especially of super short horror tales. Packing a creepy wallop in less than 1,000 words has always seemed to me to be quite an underrated skill. Furthermore, as a writer, I’ve found that flash fiction has been incredibly helpful to my own development. I have no doubt that my longer fiction has benefited from my writing flash. The word limit forces me to whittle down a tale to the bare essentials of storytelling while still focusing on character development, plot, voice, setting, and theme (and all those other important elements that make literature so fabulous). So while flash might not be exactly en vogue right now, I will always adore it nonetheless, both as a reader and a writer.

Do you love flash fiction as much as I do? Here are six fantastic markets where you can submit your own flash fiction as well as read other authors’ flash stories!

Grievous Angel
An eclectic blend of tales, Grievous Angel focuses on genre (namely, fantasy, science fiction, and horror). Also, flash fiction stories are capped at no more than 700 words, so plan your submissions accordingly (and keep in mind that the editors accept poetry too!). You never know exactly what kinds of wonderful and strange tales you might find at Grievous Angel, but one thing is certain: the stories are consistently unique and entertaining. So if you’ve got an especially pithy flash story, this might just be the market for you.
Read More Here.

LampLight
Although LampLight’s bread-and-butter fiction tends more toward short stories, that doesn’t mean there isn’t flash lurking in the magazine’s pages. LampLight has long been one of my very favorite horror markets, and I can’t recommend it enough. So if you’ve got a short and terrifying work of “quiet horror,” then get submitting to LampLight; submissions close on May 15th, and won’t reopen until September.
Read More Here.

Mithila Review
One of the newest publications on this list, Mithila Review is only a handful of issues into its run, but already, this magazine is proving itself to be among the very best speculative fiction markets out there today. While the publication does not focus solely on flash fiction—the editors look for a wide variety of submissions, including poetry, short stories, novelettes, and visual art—at least one or two flash stories make the cut each issue, so this is definitely a publication to keep in mind for your super short submissions in need of a great home.
Read More Here.

Bracken
Like flash fiction, there aren’t enough markets for magic realism. Fortunately, Bracken has you covered for both. Word count for general submissions tops out at 2,500 words, so Bracken most certainly makes the list for awesome markets that accept flash fiction. And while the editors are currently open to regular submissions, the magazine is also running a flash fiction contest (judged by yours truly!), so if you’ve got a magic realism tale looking for a home, then consider sending it Bracken’s way!
Read More Here.

Daily Science Fiction
When it comes to flash stories, Daily Science Fiction has long been a favorite of speculative fiction readers—and for good reason. The bite-sized stories featured on the site run the gamut from humorous to deadly serious and include everything from fairy tales and swords-and-sorcery fantasy to hard science fiction and horror. This site is a joy to read and an absolute must for flash writers looking for places to submit their work. After all, it’s quite the badge of honor to have a rejection from this market but just keep on submitting.
Read More Here.

Flash Fiction Online
One of the few pro-paying markets out there that focuses solely on flash stories, Flash Fiction Online lives up to its name, providing an outlet to a wide array of speculative and literary flash tales, all of which are available to readers for free online. Each issue features a terrific table of contents (I love Maria Haskins’ new story this month!). So read Flash Fiction Online (if you aren’t already), and send your best flash fiction to the editors, too. It will be great literary times all around.
Read More Here.

Happy reading!

Even More from the Collection Trenches: Updates Galore!

Welcome back! So it’s now been three weeks since my debut collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, was unleashed upon the world, and let me just be honest: I’m still every bit as thrilled and honored and ineffably giddy about it as ever. You’d think the enthusiasm might wane with the weeks, but nope. Not at all. Not even a little. After all, a writer only gets a first book once, and I’ve been savoring every moment of it.

And Her Smile Will Untether the UniverseThe paperback copies of And Her Smile are still arriving, so if you’ve ordered one and haven’t gotten yours yet, fear not! They are on their way. Also, I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again for good measure: if you have a copy of the collection, I would love it if you shared a picture of it! It brings this writer’s heart a tremendous amount of joy to see the book out in the wild with readers!

So what’s new in these parts? Plenty! My podcast interview with the awesome guys at Miskatonic Musings is now available; it was a super fun and wide-ranging episode that covered everything from Ava Gardner to Amish Romance. I was also recently spotlighted over at Unnerving Magazine in a very lively interview with editor Eddie Generous.  We talk outsiders, Shirley Jackson, and The Berenstain Bears, though not necessarily in that order. And finally, a fantastic new review at Hex Libris says the stories in And Her Smile “show a familiar world with deep currents of bizarre beauty, pain, and sheer anomaly running through it that create a tapestry of weird horror unlike anything I’ve read before.” Big thanks to Aaron Besson for those incredibly humbling words!

Starting next week on this blog, I’ll be highlighting each of the brand-new stories in the collection. It will be great to talk more about those tales, since all five of them are quite near-and-dear to my macabre little soul. That means if you like my posts about the behind-the-scenes development of my fiction, then you’re in luck! And if you don’t like those posts, consider yourself warned!

Also, speaking of updates, now is the perfect time to announce that I’m currently a guest judge at Bracken Magazine! That’s right: I’ll be at the helm for the flash fiction contest! The theme is home, and I’ll be looking for beautiful and devastating stories of magic, forests, and faraway places. If this sounds up your alley, then please find all the details here!

So that’s my month so far! A couple big writing announcements are forthcoming (even though I’m bursting at the seams to announce them now!), and I’m also working on a spotlight on my favorite recent releases from a host of talented speculative fiction writers. So head on back here soon for more fiction-loving goodness!

Happy reading!

From the Collection Trenches: The Reviews (and Paperbacks) Are In!

So it’s been a week since the release of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. And what an insanely exciting week it’s been! I mean, I have a book that’s been turned loose upon the world!

And Her Smile Will Untether the UniverseI’m also thrilled that I’ve been hearing back from those reviewers who received advanced reading copies, and I couldn’t be more honored and thrilled at the responses so far!

It’s an almost mythical ride through the Weird, blending and deconstructing different themes to create some powerful tales and lasting images.” — greydogtales

The voice and themes here shake the expected and reinvent the norms so easily the fantastical aspects fit everywhere… If there’s another collection as good as this in 2017, I will be surprised. I certainly won’t hold my breath on it.” — Unnerving Magazine

If you like to think and feel deeply about the weird quiet places of the world, then Gwendolyn Kiste’s work is for you. It was written for you. You should read it.” — Ancient Logic

It’s like a quiet horror that builds with every page. Tales that you will want to read again and again.” — Book reviewer, S.J. Budd

Obviously, as a writer, you always hope that your work will resonate with readers, but the initial response to And Her Smile has definitely been above and beyond what I’d hoped for/dreamed of/demanded from the Elder Gods, so I want to thank everyone who’s read the collection so far, and I hope that the stories continue to resonate with readers as they delve into the collection.

There are several more reviews over at Goodreads and Amazon, so head on over there for even more collection-y goodness. In particular, visit the Goodreads page for the awesome giveaway that JournalStone has set up; ten lucky readers will receive copies of the paperback edition! Hooray!

Speaking of paperbacks, they have started arriving (as evidenced above!), so if you pre-ordered the collection, it should be arriving forthwith! Also, if you did support this very enthusiastic author right here and purchased the collection, I would seriously love it if you shared a picture of the collection on Facebook and Twitter, so that I could see my stories, nestled happily in their new home. It will do this little writer’s heart good to see the book out and about in the world!

Next week, I’ll be checking back in with more collection updates as well as a feature on a few of the very cool books I’ve been reading this year, in particular from some of my favorite female authors of horror, dark fantasy, and the weird. The official Women in Horror Month might be over, but around here, we support those ladies of the macabre year-round!

Happy reading!

RELEASE DAY: My Debut Collection Is Now Available!

And it’s official: I have a book. An honest-to-goodness, this-is-for-real, my-name-on-the-cover, out-in-the-wild book. And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe is now available, both at the JournalStone website as well as through Amazon.

Seriously. This is real. And surreal.

And Her Smile Will Untether the UniverseToday is truly one of the most thrilling and overwhelming experiences of my life. Even as I’m writing this blog, I wonder: how do you encapsulate all the highs and lows that lead up to an author’s first book?

Well, for one, I want to give a major shout-out right here and now. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again (and again and again): tremendous thanks to Jess Landry, my amazing editor at JournalStone. If not for her, this book would not be making its debut in the world. While there were certainly plenty of challenges over the course of writing these fourteen stories, the experience working with Jess was nothing short of a dream. She is the most wonderful, professional, and extraordinarily talented editor (and writer!), and it was beyond an honor to work with her on this project. I’m still in awe and shock that I had such a fantastic editor and fantastic experience for my first book. Writing’s a tough, tough business, but every once in a great while, the stars align in your favor. Jess made those stars align, track changes and all.

While today marks the official debut of the collection, this is hardly the end of the journey. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be back at this blog to highlight the stories from the collection, in particular the five brand-new tales. I’ll also be making a few virtual appearances elsewhere. I recently recorded a very fun and very lively interview with the terrific guys at Miskatonic Musings; we discussed the collection in-depth and also talked about everything from Oscar winners and outsiders to the terrors of childbirth. Good, gory stuff all around!

Also, please check out my interview on Hellnotes where I give a peek behind the curtain at the making of the collection as well as a second feature that spotlighted “All the Red Apples Have Withered to Gray,” one of the fourteen tales that appears in And Her Smile‘s table of contents.

So as if it weren’t already obvious, you’ll be hearing lots from me in the next month, both here as well as out and about in the great ether of the internet. After all, a writer only gets their first book once, and I plan on relishing every minute of this process!

In the meantime, if you’re one of the very awesome people who purchased the collection, please let me know what you think! Obviously, reviews are always terrific, but if you’d rather just drop me a note via my website or in a message on social media, that would be incredible too. I’d absolutely love to hear your thoughts on the stories! After all, books are merely dead trees if they don’t have readers to enjoy them!

And if you don’t have a copy yet, head on over to the official Goodreads page, and enter to win one of ten paperback editions of the collection! Hooray for free books!

Finally, to everyone reading this post, I want to thank you so much for your support of my writing. I appreciate it more than you will ever know!

Happy reading!

Monstrous Nature: The Story Behind “Green with Scales, Gray with Tar”

Welcome back, and happy Ides of March! Today, I’m thrilled to announce the debut of “Green with Scales, Gray with Tar,” my new dark fantasy story that appears in the Gaia: Shadow & Breath, Volume III anthology. *cue fireworks & stabbing Caesar in the back!*

Gaia: Shadow and BreathSeriously, though, this is quite an exciting release all the way around. First off, this anthology is from Pantheon Magazine, and I adore working with editors Matt Garcia and Sarah Read. They are such fantastic people, and I’m so incredibly honored to have another story in a Pantheon publication after last year’s gorgeous “Hestia” issue. As if that wasn’t enough, the table of contents for this anthology is wonderful; it’s always such a treat to be published alongside the supremely talented Rose Blackthorn and other great authors like H.L. Fullerton, David Tallerman, Tim Major, and Sandi Leibowitz. As usual, the anthology’s interior illustrations from Luke Spooner at Carrion House are simply divine. And just take a gander to your left at that gorgeous cover from Verboten Valley Art! *swoons*

Since the Gaia: Shadow & Breath series focuses on nature-themed horror and dark fantasy tales, this call was exactly up my alley. Here in southwestern Pennsylvania, living amidst the ravages of nature on our former horse farm provides endless amounts of strange inspiration. How could it not when you hear coyote howls at midnight and routinely discover inexplicable animal bones spread about the earth, all beneath a canopy of green? And that’s what my Gaia tale is all about: a foreboding forest and the things who dwell in its shadows.

Against this ominously gorgeous background, “Green with Scales, Gray with Tar” focuses on Dani, a young girl who is navigating life in her dying village while coping with the unwanted attentions of a monster. The story follows her from the age of six up through adulthood. Somewhere along the line in my short fiction, I realized how much I enjoy tracking characters over many years as they grow up in tenuous worlds. This is true of “All the Red Apples Have Withered to Gray,” which follows the nameless protagonist over fifteen years at her family’s bewitched orchard. Likewise, in “Ten Things to Know About Ten Questions,” the two main “deviants” start out the story in middle school and end up in their senior year of high school before it’s over. It’s always a challenge to condense such a long period of time into the compact form of short fiction, but when it comes to writing, I love nothing more than pushing myself to—and sometimes past—the breaking point with ideas. So with “Green with Scales, Gray with Tar,” I once again focused on the protagonist’s coming-of-age, all while exploring what consorting with a monster would mean to her as a child and how that meaning would change as she grew older.

Green with Scales, Gray with Tar As I mentioned above, I’ve been looking quite forward to this release. I am so proud of this story, and as we bid farewell to 2016 last December, I knew this was one of only a few tales on tap for the New Year that would be forthcoming in magazines and anthologies. When it comes to writing, 2017 is already shaping up to be an entirely different kind of year for me. “Green with Scales, Gray with Tar” is only my third story released so far in 2017. Not too shabby certainly, but not the whiplash speeds I’ve released work in the past. Now of course, my short fiction will be getting its biggest boost yet next month when my debut collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, hits shelves. With five brand-new stories featured in the table of contents, original short fiction won’t be in short supply (consider yourself warned!). But again, “Green with Scales, Gray with Tar” is particularly special in my little writer heart, and I’m so happy to finally see it released to the wilds of the publishing world.

So if all this talk of monsters has piqued your interest, then please head on over to Amazon and pick up a copy of Gaia: Shadow & Breath, Volume III. All proceeds benefit The Nature Conservancy. Because who’s going to protect the glorious monsters of the forest if we don’t?

Happy reading!

Cover Reveal and Presale for my Debut Fiction Collection!

So. You might have already heard (because sometimes, I’m a little loquacious) that I have a book coming out. In fact, I have a book that has an official release date (APRIL 14th).

I have a book with a beautiful cover (see below, because for real).

I have a book with my name on it.

Seriously. This is actually happening.

In a way, I don’t know where to begin. The whole process of putting together this collection is a bit like waiting up on Christmas Eve. It’s nerve-wracking and thrilling in equal measure. And I still have trouble believing that such an amazing press like JournalStone is publishing my work. A whole book of my work. And speaking of books—in this case, book covers—allow me to swoon and squeal from behind my keyboard as I unveil the cover for my debut collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe!

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe

That gorgeous photograph is the work of the amazing Nona Limmen. All of the covers from JournalStone are absolutely incredible, so I knew when editor Jess Landry approached me for this collection, that no part of this process would be anything less than stellar. But to feature such a breathtaking image from an extraordinary talent like Nona on my cover is completely out of this world. I’m in awe of the design every time I look at it.

But that fabulous cover isn’t the only news about the collection. As of this past weekend, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe is available for preorder on the JournalStone website! And for the first time, here is the official table of contents for my debut collection! (Again, how is this really happening?!? *head spins*)

TABLE OF CONTENTS
“Something Borrowed, Something Blue”
“Ten Things to Know About the Ten Questions”
“The Clawfoot Requiem”
“All the Red Apples Have Withered to Gray”
“The Man in the Ambry”
“Find Me, Mommy”
“Audrey at Night”
“The Five-Day Summer Camp”
“Skin like Honey and Lace”
“By Now, I’ll Probably Be Gone”
“Through Earth and Sky”
“The Tower Princesses”
“And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe”
“The Lazarus Bride”

These fourteen tales are a combination of my stories that have previously appeared in Nightmare, Shimmer, LampLight, Interzone, Bracken, and Three-Lobed Burning Eye, among other venues. There are also five brand-new tales that are original to this collection. Of course, I’ll be talking more about the process of creating this book as well as the story behind many of these pieces, but in the meantime, I have to give another shout-out as well as tremendous thanks to my editor Jess Landry for championing these stories. Without her devotion to my work as well as her incredible attention to detail, this book would not be a reality. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have such an incredible editor like Jess, but I truly couldn’t be more grateful.

So if you’re so inclined, head on over to the JournalStone site and check out the preorder page for And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe. And keep an eye on this blog in the coming weeks for more posts, giveaways, and promotions than you can shake a horror-loving stick at!

Happy reading!