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!

Women in Horror 2017 Discussion Coming Soon!

Women in Horror Month is finally here, and I am super thrilled that this blog will be participating in a big way this year! Throughout the month of February, I will be interviewing an illustrious group of female authors and editors who are writing some of the very best horror out there today!

And who might those fantastic writers be? Well, let me tell you all about them! Here are the nine authors who I am honored and excited to have interviewed for this forthcoming feature! Big thanks to each and every one of them for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m looking so forward to sharing their responses throughout the rest of the month!

Kristi DeMeesterKristi DeMeester is a horror author based in Atlanta. Her fiction has appeared in Apex, Shimmer, Black Static, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction, among others. Her chapbook, Split Tongues, was released last year through Dim Shores, and her debut novel, Beneath, is coming soon from Word Horde. Find her at her author website.

KZ MoranoK.Z. Morano is an author of short fiction and poetry. Her collection, 100 Nightmares, was released in 2014 to rave reviews. The collection, which blends folklore and fairy tales, features one-hundred stories told in exactly one-hundred words and includes dozens of illustrations. K.Z.’s fiction has also been featured in The Sirens Call, Vignettes from the End of the World, and Gothic Tales of Terror, among others. Find her at her author website.

Miracle AustinMiracle Austin is a novelist and short fiction author. Her stories have appeared in The Sirens Call, Sanitarium Magazine, and The Wicked Library, among other outlets. Her debut YA novel, Doll, was released in 2016, and her fiction collection, Boundless, is coming soon. Find her at her author website.

Julia BenallyJulia Benally is a short fiction author based in the Southwest. Her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, The Wicked Library, Mantid Magazine, and more. She recently completed her first novel, Pariahs, a dark fantasy set within an American Indian world. Find her at her author blog.

Scarlett R. AlgeeScarlett R. Algee is an author based in Tennessee. Her work has appeared in Sanitarium Magazine, Morpheus Tales, and numerous Popcorn Press anthologies. In addition to her writing and her steampunk-inspired jewelry line, she is also an editor who has worked with numerous fiction writers as well as small presses including Woodbridge Press. Check her out online at her author site.

Eden RoyceEden Royce is an author of short and long fiction. Her novella, Containment, debuted in 2013, and her short fiction has been released through Spider Road Press, Blood Bound Books, and The Sirens Call, among others. She is also the author of the acclaimed fiction collection, Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror, as well as its sequel, Spook Lights II. Her nonfiction appears regularly at Graveyard Shift Sisters. She is the recipient of the Speculative Literature Foundations Diverse Worlds grant. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, she now resides in England. Find her online at her author website.

Wendy WagnerWendy Wagner is the editor of Nightmare and Lightspeed as well as an author of short fiction and novels. Her short stories have appeared at Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Farrago’s Wainscot, among others, and her novels, Starspawn and Skinwalkers, have been released as part of the acclaimed Pathfinder Tales series. Find her online at her author site.

Lori TitusLori Titus is a speculative fiction author and editor out of California. Her novels include The Bell House as well as books in The Marradith Ryder series, including Hunting in Closed Spaces and The Art of Shadows. She has also had multiple short stories published, and she has worked as the editor of Flashes in the Dark. Find her at her author website.

Farah Rose SmithFarah Rose Smith is the editor of the acclaimed Mantid Magazine as well as a fiction writer in her own right. Her work incorporates elements of surrealism, eroticism, and death and decay, among other themes. In addition to her writing and editing, she is also an experimental filmmaker through her company, Grimoire Pictures Studio. Find her online at her author and filmmaking site.

So these are the amazing women who will be appearing on my blog throughout February! Definitely head on back here every week for the entire month to read more about their inspiration and favorite authors as well as how they got involved with the horror genre and where they hope to see it go from here!

Happy reading, and happy Women in Horror Month!

Ashes to Ashes: Interview with Lindsey Beth Goddard

Welcome back! Today, I’m pleased to feature author Lindsey Beth Goddard. Lindsey’s work has appeared in Dark Moon Digest, The Wicked Library, and The Sirens Call, among other outlets.

Recently, Lindsey and I discussed her inspiration as a writer, her short fiction collections, and her new book, Ashes of Another Life, available now from Omnium Gatherum.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

Lindsey Beth GoddardI don’t think I ever decided to become an author. Ever since I can remember, I wrote. In first grade, I won the Mother’s Day poetry contest for the entire school (grades K-5), and that’s when I realized I could touch people with my words. Through poems and essays and stories, I had a voice. I’ve always been introverted – private, shy. Writing things down was a good way to think, to vent and to communicate. Much easier than expressing myself verbally. Yeah, I’d say it was love at first write.

Some of my favorite authors are Robert McCammon, Ray Bradbury, Oscar Wilde, Emily Bronte, Gary Braunbeck, Lisa Morton, Stephen King, Graham Masterton, Poppy Z. Brite, Clive Barker, Shirley Jackson, Philip K Dick, Richard Laymon, Poe, and many, many more.

Congratulations on the recent release of your book, Ashes of Another Life! What served as your primary inspiration for the book, and how long did it take you to complete the project?

Thank you. It all started when I began reading the biographies of former FLDS cult members. They are brave and enduring individuals. Literally trapped, kept under constant surveillance, and forced to marry men several decades their senior, escape was not easy for the females. And males are liable to be shunned by their families and cast out of the community for the smallest infraction. A teenage boy caught with a collection of “worldly” possessions such as CDs could be thrown, penniless, into the outside world with nowhere to go. Rebellion is met with harsh consequence, and physical and mental abuse is used to eradicate free thought. I became so obsessed with studying this cult, I had to write a story about it. The process took over a year, but I love the results.

You have several collections of your short fiction available, including The Tooth Collector and Other Tales of Terror and Quick Fix: A Taste of Terror. What was your process in selecting the stories for each collection, and do you have plans for another fiction collection in the future?

Selecting the stories was easy. I chose the best of my reprints. A lot of these stories appeared in anthologies by small-press publishers who have since disappeared, so I wanted to give them a permanent home. In my latest collection, The Tooth Collector, I included a story that had previously appeared on an episode of the Wicked Women Writers Challenge podcast. I chose that one for the same reason: to give it a permanent home in print. My stories are like my children. I must take care of them!

In about a year, I’ll have another collection available through Burning Willow Press called Secrets of the Slain. What makes this collection interesting is that it’s a mixture of poems and stories and will include two unpublished stories that have never appeared anywhere else, one of which is a novelette. So, yeah, keep your eyes peeled for Secrets of the Slain. It’s a good one.

Ashes of Another LifeYou’ve written both short stories and now a longer fiction project with Ashes of Another Life. Does your process differ from short versus long fiction? Do you find yourself drawn more to the compact arcs of short fiction or the more complex arcs of long fiction?

Oh, yes, the writing process differs between short and long fiction. You have to make every word count in a short piece, a challenge I’ve always enjoyed.

For me, writing shorts has been more of a necessity than a preference. Raising three children has left me with very little free time. Short stories have allowed me the instant gratification of being published without the endless hours of work. The story arc of a novel is preferable, though. It allows more room to explore my fictional world and all its characters. That’s definitely the direction my work is heading now.

If forced to choose, which part of the writing process is your favorite: developing characters, crafting settings, or writing dialogue?

Characters. I love developing characters.

What upcoming projects are you working on?

I’m trying to focus on a novel at the moment. I’ve had fans request a poetry book, but I’m not a prolific poet. I’m a sporadic poet at best! Haha. So I’m sure we’ll see a novel before that poetry book ever happens.

Where would you like to see your writing career in five years?

In the hands of the masses!

Big thanks to Lindsey Beth Goddard for being part of this week’s author interview series! Find her online at her official website as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Happy reading!

“Reasons I Hate My Big Sister” is on the Preliminary Bram Stoker Awards Ballot!

So January ushered in a seriously wonderful surprise: my Nightscript, Volume 2 story, “Reasons I Hate My Big Sister,” made it onto the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot!

NightscriptNow it’s important to note that appearance on the preliminary ballot is not a nomination. The official nominations will be coming in February! But even making it this far and sharing the company of such fantastic authors are truly the biggest honors I’ve had in my writing career.

If you’re an Active or Lifetime Member of Horror Writers Association and would like to read “Reasons I Hate My Big Sister,” please email me at gwendolyn@gwendolynkiste.com, and I will be thrilled to send you an electronic copy of the story!

And if you’re not an HWA member (and really, you should be!), then consider picking up a copy of Nightscript, Volume 2. The anthology “of strange and darksome tales” includes so many amazing stories from the brilliant likes of Kristi DeMeester, Michael Griffin, Rebecca J. Allred, Ralph Robert Moore, Malcolm Devlin, Matthew M. Bartlett, Jose Cruz, and many more.

Happy reading!

One-of-a-Kind: Interview with Alex J. Murd

Welcome back! For this week’s interview, I’m thrilled to present artist Alex Murd. Alex’s work has appeared in venues such as The Wicked Library and The Lift, among others.

Recently, we talked about Alex’s inspiration, process, and all those amazing upcoming projects through Crazed Pixel Comics!

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become an artist, and who are some of your favorites in your field?

Alex MurdI love icebreakers, especially when they involve a rocks glass, good bourbon, and a dash of bitters.

My pursuit of art can’t be defined by a single moment, as I always knew I wanted to do something art-related. I didn’t always know what kind of art I would be creating, but held firm to the certainty. I was supported in my endeavors, and let my artistic niche find me. I’m only a lucky fool that it ended up being such a sexy one.

Artists that I admire, and can’t hold a candle to, consist of dead-and-gone to walking-around-town: Schiele, Klimt, Stuck, Tom of Finland, Mignola, Fyodor Pavlov, Los Bros Hernandez, Seatlleites Laura Graves and Eli Tripoli, Portlander Scott Roller.

Every creator feels like they are missing people in their ‘thank you’ speech, but these are off-the-cuff entries. Each of these artists have some facet I admire and respect.

What is your process as an artist? Do you work at a certain time of day or for a certain length of time? Do you work with music playing or without? Any other habits about your working style you’d like to share?

Process, oh goodness, how much time do we have here? Not very much, I’m guessing, so I will try and be concise. The take away from this is: what process?

I am a creature of whim. I can be very taken by some kind of inspiration or a moment, and run with it. My creative bouts are fickle. Inspiration and I play games with each other. Sometimes I win, sometimes it is the victor.

It’s all about the music. Music, as a medium, has inspired more characters, scenes, feelings, drawings, and carnal acts than any other medium, for me. I enjoy being a creative hedonist and seducing myself into creating: mood music befitting the project, twilight into the night, giving myself a mental massage before I begin. I’ll create a scene for myself, before I gorge myself on the artwork. And when I’m spent, that’s it. I’m done. Tapping out.

I enjoy being ‘taken’ by something and exploring its surfaces and inner workings before sinking in. If that sounds like an innuendo, it’s because it is. It’s totally like foreplay and sex.

There, that’s a way better analogy: my process is like taking someone to bed. You set the mood, you both have fun and explore, then you get down to the dirty work until you’re so worked up into a fervor you can’t possibly take anymore, then post-coital cigarette and ‘was it good for you’s’ all around.

And then there are always those projects that are fast and dirty, just to get the itch scratched. Sometimes, even in public. Lunchtime sketches, and have to jump out of the shower to jot down that idea, I’m lookin’ at you, you naughty, naughty ideas.

You have created a number of gorgeous pieces for The Wicked Library and The Lift (your cover art for Brooke Warra’s “The Dance” seriously stopped me in my tracks). Is your process different when you’re designing art based on a specific story, and how do you pick which image or scene to depict?

I’m flattered, and thank you for that. My Lift piece for Brooke’s “The Dance,” was one of my favorites to create. I enjoyed trying to conjure a good image from that story to best show Tommy’s feeling of isolation in his handicap.

The best aspect of creating individual illustrations from these amazing stories, is the selection of what to portray. I try and let the stories tell me what image or scene will best encompass their overall feeling, and engage a reader/listener. I read it once, off the cuff jot down the first images that impacted me, then process of elimination. What one has the best combination of honesty from the text, intrigue, and most important: mystery. I want to get people hooked on these tales. From there I think of an engaging style to draw the piece in, befitting the text. For example; I didn’t draw a garish cartoon for Aaron Vlek’s disturbing tale, “The Wet Man.” That style would be inappropriate for the weight of the story.

Alex MurdI work with Dan, since he is a gateway to the authors, and see how everyone is feeling about the idea I submit. Dan is an excellent backboard and I enjoy his collaborative efforts very much. He now knows how I work well enough to give me more free reign on a piece. But, it still never hurts to submit an idea. He’s told me I disturb him. I’m still proud of that one.

Creating illustrations from such a wide variety of voices is an absolutely different process, than creating of my own volition. I very much enjoy the challenge and exercise involved, trying to help bring someones’ words to visual life. The biggest impact is hearing how the author feels about it. If they enjoy it, duty finished.

Every artist sometimes faces that awful moment when it is either difficult or altogether impossible to create something new or keep working on a given project. When this happens to you, how do you work through these creative blocks?

I’ll let you know, when I know, dear. The best I can. Switching gears and trying to make myself walk away, which is no easy feat. When this happens I latch onto any fresh wave of inspiration: music, movies, books, a conversation. I take it and run, to try and break the spell. Even if it is simply a small sketch, or jotting down some words. The first strike is the hardest. Any time you create, no matter how small, it’s worth something.

Deadlines, as we all know, can be a lifesaver. Sometimes, even at a moment of losing inspiration on a project, if someone else is counting on it, you fortify and finish the damn thing. Then collapse and go brain dead with pointless and lovely guilty pleasures.

Out of your body of work, do you have a particular favorite piece?

I’m really not the kind of fella that ‘kisses and tells’, but there are pieces that tug deep on different heartstrings.

My first collection of ‘Cinder’ comics, along with my first ‘Little Black Book’, are two works that I hold dear.

‘Cinder’, my slice-of-life comic filled with alternative characters of every sexuality, and my collection of alternative and queer porn art, ‘Little Black Book’, helped me break artistic barriers, within myself. Being queer, these works give me a chance for catharsis and experimentation. I love exploring sexuality, and figure work, so these titles have become a perfect match. They remind me to keep playing around, and stay true to what I like.

If my putting my fetishes out there for others to read gives some other strange soul solace, my job was done well. Nothing like encouraging the freaks to stay freaky.

On a more saccharine note, an illustration of my ‘Satan’ character, Jasper, reuniting with a long lost lover, is warming. A creature spending eternity watching favored souls blink in and out of its existence, running into a now very old flame, and sparking as if it were yesterday. I find it very sweet.

I may revel in drawing dirty pictures, but it is no secret I am a hopeless romantic.

What projects are you currently working on?

My selection process is as follows: take yourself out of the frying pan, and place directly in fire. Too much is what. I have such a web of reserves, I pull out depending on my mood. Rotating artworks that can be added to, until they are submitted to print before CrazedPixel Comics takes to the road for con season.

Always room for more erotic and pornographic artworks for my ‘Little Black Book’ series. Some fresh pieces for ‘Cinder’. New prints. And I have a written horror comic that is dying to get drawn. Now if only a certain artist would get off of their ass, and give it some attention before it becomes a poltergeist…

An ongoing project is a series of original artworks for charity, specifically reputable women’s or any kind of minority rights funds. In lieu of payment, I ask for proof of donation to said charities, and I mail the original artwork. Something small I can do to help combat small mindedness.

And always The Lift or The Wicked Library artwork, time permitting.

Where can we find you online?

Our main comic hub, with most of our work, is available to read at crazedpixel.com. On it you can find our social media links.

My NSFW tumblr page, Smolder Sessions, where I house my art pieces, erotic, and risqué art, is alexjmurd.tumblr.com.

Physical copies of artwork and comics available through our store https://squareup.com/store/crazedpixel-comics.

And thank you, Gwendolyn, for the interview and for keeping your awesome lady-writing-self out there, for the world to read: you better keep that in here!

Big thanks to Alex Murd for being part of this week’s artist spotlight!

Happy reading!

The Bride Wore Black: Interview with Faith Marlow

Welcome back! Today I’m pleased to spotlight author Faith Marlow. She is the prolific scribe of numerous short stories and novels, including the Being Mrs. Dracula series.

Recently, Faith and I discussed her inspiration as a writer as well as her plans for the future.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

Faith MarlowI fell in love with writing very young, in the fifth grade, but I didn’t pursue it until many years later. I think I started entertaining the idea of writing a full novel in around 2002, something like that. Being Mrs. Dracula didn’t come along for quite some time after that. I love to read similar stories to what I write, things that are a little on the dark side, but I will read from just about any genre. Dean Koontz and Douglas Adams are my favorite large press authors. I mostly read indie and small press authors, and I try to read as much as I can from fellow CHBB/ Vamptasy authors. Felicia Fox, Skye Knizley, Rue Volley, Lily Luchesi, just to name a few.

Released in 2013, your first novel was Being Mrs. Dracula. When did you first read Dracula, and what in particular drew you into the story of his brides?

I think the first time I read Dracula was somewhere around 2009, when I first started searching for background information on the brides. I have watched countless movies and documentaries about vampires and Dracula (the fictional character and the historical figure) because I have been fascinated with vampires since I was a child. I began to notice that in just about every movie or story, Dracula has three beautiful women at his side. They usually don’t have much to say or do, aside from being loyal followers and eye candy. I had watched the 1931 film of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi years earlier and remembered the brides were not really explained or explored. I wanted to read the book because I was certain there would be more to learn about them there. I was stunned to discover little more is revealed about them. Bram Stoker did not even give them names. I was further shocked to learn that the name of Vlad Tepes III’s (Vlad the Impaler) first wife, whom most believe had at least some influence on the character of Count Dracula, had also been lost to history. Little more was known of her than the circumstances of her death and I found very little information on his second wife, Ilona Szilagyi. Although one is fictional and the other was historical, the women in both of these stories are overlooked. I wanted to know their story and since I could not find one, I decided to write one that would intertwine the information that I did have available with my own imagination. That was the moment of conception for Being Mrs. Dracula.

You’ve written both short fiction and novels. Do you find your approach is different depending on the length of the story?

It is a bit different because in short fiction, I have to find a balance of enough detail while not getting too wordy. In a full length novel or even a short novel/ novella, there is a little more room to stretch. I can give a little more detail, paint a more precise picture as opposed to giving a general impression. I think writing both is good for me, since I try to keep a brisk pace in all of my stories. I have a short attention span and get bored pretty quick, so the last thing I want to do is drag something out for thirty pages that could have been well told in ten. The last thing I want a reader to do is get bored because the pacing was too slow to hold their attention.

If forced to choose, which is your favorite part of the writing process: drafting new concepts, crafting a first draft, or polishing an almost finished piece?

Being Mrs. DraculaI would probably say polishing an almost finished piece. Coming up with new stories is fun, but it may or may not get off the ground. I have folders full of halfway developed ideas waiting to become stories. The first draft can be stressful because I am still trying to connect all the dots and get from point A to B. When polishing that first or second draft, I can add or remove details, make sure everything is consistent and flows well, add a little dialogue if necessary. It’s when I really start feeling some pride in my story.

You are such a widely published author with stories and novels out from various presses. With so many accomplishments, what writing goals are left on your to-do list?

There are so many things that I want to do! My to-do list never stops. First on my list is finishing the third installment of the Being Mrs. Dracula series. It is my top priority. After that, my next goal is to continue The Dream Journal series and see where Anne and Maddie end up. I have a pretty good start on that. I also have a few new projects in mind that I will have to see how they develop. I know others will pop up that I have no idea about right now. Couples Therapy took me completely off guard and happened very quickly. I started writing it around the end of January or beginning of February, completed the story, my editor (EAL Editing Service) shined it up, Rue Volley created another fabulous cover for me, and it was published in September. For me, that is lightning speed. Books in the Being Mrs. Dracula series always take longer because I try to add in as much historical references and nuances as I can because I want Valeria and company to feel like they are a part of that world. It’s a lot of work, but she is worth it.

What projects are you currently working on?

My current WIP is Being Dracula’s Heir, the third installment of the Being Mrs. Dracula series. For those who have read Being Mrs. Dracula and Being Dracula’s Widow, they will recognize a few familiar faces in Valeria, Lamond, and Emil but will also be introduced to a couple new characters; particularly a young vampire named Astrid and a human with a score to settle named Tackett. Both of these new characters will be instrumental when Valeria is challenged by her newest adversaries. All of this is set against the glamour and decadence of the late 1920’s New York City, as well as the country’s devastating crash into The Great Depression. If there is one thing we know about Valeria, it’s that her past is never too far behind her, even after crossing an ocean to escape it.

Where can we find you online?

All of my work is available at Amazon.com and is available for purchase or Kindle Unlimited users can read them for free.

I am pretty active on social media, particularly Facebook. I post information about my own books as well as other titles available from my publisher, other author friends, and things that I just find fun and interesting. If you like creepy, unusual, or think bats are amazingly cute, you will probably like following me on social media. I am trying to be more active and connect better with readers, so I am always open to suggestions on things that readers want to see more of.

Big thanks to Faith Marlow for being our featured author this week! You can also find her on Twitter and Tumblr!

Happy reading!

A Year in Fiction: 2016 Awards Eligibility Post

2016 is at last behind us, and here I am with something I’ve never done before: an awards eligibility post. This is a weird thing, mostly because it’s strange to say, “Hey, consider nominating me for things!” but at the very least, it is nice to do a roundup of this past year. So let’s just say that is the overarching point of today’s post with the added caveat of “If you enjoyed any of these stories, feel free to share them in whatever way you would like!”

2016 FictionIn 2016, I’m thrilled to say that I had fifteen works of original fiction published! That’s in addition to eleven reprints, which made for a busy year. It’s also super exciting that a number of those stories were my first appearances in fantastic publications including Shimmer, The Lift, Interzone, Daily Science Fiction, and Bracken, among others.

So here, for the curious, are all those first-published-in-2016 tales, broken down by format!

ONLINE (& FREE!)

All the Red Apples Have Withered to Gray” (Shimmer, March 2016)
Poisoned apples, sleeping girls, and a dying kingdom lead a young woman down a perilous path in this dark revisionist fairy tale.

Baby Bird” (Triptych Tales, February 2016)
A YA fantasy of teenage friendship, bird skulls, and learning how to finally take flight.

The Little Girl Who Came from the Sea” (Kraxon, March 2016)
Two seaside siblings discover a little girl dozing in the sand in this childhood ode to the ocean and all the strange gifts the waves send to shore.

Through Earth and Sky” (Bracken, March 2016)
Sisterhood, loss, and whispering bones. While there be magic here, this one is inspired by my husband’s grandmother and her real-life struggle against reeducation as a Native American woman in the early twentieth century.

All the Mermaid Wives” (87 Bedford, September 2016)
Mermaids dragged from their home and made to conform as good wives and mothers. But one “reformed” mermaid isn’t like the rest…

Holiday Playlist for the End of the World” (Daily Science Fiction, November 2016)
A playful apocalypse tale, perfect for a chilly December evening while you’re decorating the tree or reinforcing the windows to keep out the monsters.

PRINT & eBOOK

Reasons I Hate My Big Sister” (Nightscript, Volume 2, October 2016)
A young girl documents her older sister’s transformation into something grotesque. Think The Virgin Suicides meets The Fly.

The Tower Princesses” (Interzone, May 2016)
A weird fantasy tale of adolescent girls trapped in towers and the lonely outsider who dares to befriend one.

Find Me, Mommy” (LampLight, April 2016)
Little Emma Jo likes the darkness. Unfortunately for her doting mother, the darkness likes Emma Jo, too.

Horseshoe” (The Haunting of Lake Manor Hotel, April 2016)
A disgraced jockey discovers the ghosts of her past are a little more literal than she realized in this installment from Woodbridge Press’s shared world horror anthology.

Gingham Curtains and Electric Shock” (Mental Ward: Experiments, May 2016)
Psychological experiments go awry when two ostracized patients develop an unlikely bond.

The Neighborly House” (Robbed of Sleep, Volume 5, September 2016)
A gossipy small town contends with a miniskirt-wearing enchantress who decides to teach the cruel locals a supernatural lesson they won’t soon forget.

AUDIO

Girl, Alone at Play” (The Lift, Season One, January 2016)
Strange pictures and a misfit photographer mark my first foray as a contributor to The Lift universe.

Storkson Candy: The Perfect Treat for Kids of All Ages” (The Lift, Season One, March 2016)
A glut of candy, a wayward bunny, and a sprightly specter named Victoria make for one devilish Easter.

The Last Costume Change” (The Lift, Season Two, October 2016)
Two teenage cousins sneak out on Halloween, only to find themselves in a haunted building where they must at last face their fears of the past.

In other writing news, 2016 saw the completion of my debut horror novel, Festival of the Lost Girls, a creepy 80,000-word tale of small-town teenage friendship, mysterious disappearances, and ethereal girls who giggle inside mirrors. Also, as I announced in November, my debut fiction collection, And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe, was accepted at the supremely awesome JournalStone and will debut this spring!

And that was my 2016. It was a profoundly strange year, seeing that it was the most successful of my professional life, despite the intense and often terrifying upheavals in the world. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep writing when the world grows darker and more dystopic than any fiction, but I also believe with the utmost conviction that the most trying times are when we have to push back the hardest, no matter how difficult that battle may be from day to day. So to all you wonderful writers out there, keep up the good fight. Now more than ever, we need you at your best.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!

A Writing New Year: Submission Roundup for January 2017

Welcome back, and welcome 2017! For my first post of the New Year, let’s dive into some very cool submission calls that are currently seeking stories! But first, a quick note: I am not a representative for any of these publications; I am simply spreading the word! Please direct any specific questions about submissions to the respective publication!

And here we go with this month’s Submission Roundup!

Submission RoundupFlame Tree Publishing
Payment: Advances unknown
Length: 60,000-120,000 words
Deadline: Ongoing
What They Want: Open to horror, fantasy, science fiction, and crime novels. Flame Tree is happy to accept novels directly from authors; no agent required.
Find the details here.

Liminal Stories
Payment: .06/word for short fiction; $50/flat for poetry
Length: up to 10,000 words; any length for poetry
Deadline: January 15th, 2017
What They Want: Open to “strange and unsettling” stories of any genre, in particular magic realism, weird fiction, and tales that live between categories.
Find the details here.

Nightscript, Volume 3
Payment: $20/flat
Length: 2,000-7,000 words
Deadline: January 31st, 2017 (preferably sooner)
What They Want: Editor C.M. Muller is seeking uncanny horror tales in the vein of Robert Aickman, Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor and other authors of weird fiction. Please note that Nightscript often closes before the deadline, so sooner is better for submitting those stories!
Find the details here.

Ride the Star Wind: Cthulhu, Space Opera, and the Cosmic Weird
Payment: .08/word
Length: up to 1,000 words for flash; 3,000-6,000 words for short stories
Deadline: January 31st, 2017
What They Want: Stories that combine space opera and cosmic weird horror with the Cthulhu mythos.
Find the details here.

Hyperion and Theia
Payment: .01/word for fiction; .25/line for poetry
Length: 1,001-40,000 words for fiction; up to 100 lines for poetry
Deadline: January 31st, 2017
What They Want: Stories and poetry based on the theme of Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival of merrymaking and chaos that occurs in December. Various genres as well as works that bend or defy expectations are welcome.
Find the details here.

The Golden Key
Payment: $10/flat
Length: up to 3,000 words for fiction; up to 100 lines for poetry
Deadline: January 31st, 2017
What They Want: The editors are currently seeking fiction and poetry that focuses on “Resurrected Things.”
Find the details here.

Tales from the Lake, Volume 4
Payment: .03/word
Length: up to 7,000 words (4,000 is preferable)
Deadline: February 1st, 2017
What They Want: Open to non-themed horror stories.
Find the details here.

NonBinary Review
Payment: .01/word for fiction; $10/flat for poetry
Length: up to 1,000 words for flash; up to 5,000 words for short fiction; up to 3 pages for poetry
Deadline: February 1st, 2017
What They Want: Stories and poems inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. All submitted work must have a clear through-line to the characters/settings/themes of Poe.
Find the details here.

Happy Submitting!

Evil Cats and Bewitched History: Interview with Jill Hand

Welcome back! For our final interview of 2016, I’m pleased to feature author Jill Hand. Jill’s fiction has appeared widely in publications including The Wild Hunt, The Literary Hatchet, and The Sirens Call, among other outlets.

Recently, Jill and I discussed her inspiration as a writer as well as her process behind crafting her longer works.

A couple icebreakers to start: when did you first decide to become a writer, and who are some of your favorite authors?

Jill HandI first became a writer when I was about five and decided I needed a pony. I wrote a lavishly illustrated little book, setting out the many reasons why I not only needed a pony, but deserved one, and presented it to my parents. The pony wasn’t forthcoming, but I got so much enjoyment out of the project that I kept on writing. (The book is long gone, unfortunately, but as I recall I pledged to be good forever if I were given a pony, and — rather cleverly, I think — proposed that I would probably be able to earn enough money to pay for the pony’s upkeep by renting it out to other children for their birthday parties.)

All writers first must learn how to read.  I taught myself to read when I was three, reading Little Golden Books with the aid of a flashlight under the covers at night when I was supposed to be asleep. That’s probably one of the reasons why my eyesight is so terrible.

Interestingly, my mother attempted to prevent me from reading when she found out from a neighbor that the teacher in our local kindergarten preferred to get her students as completely blank slates, untutored in anything except our first and last names and possibly, our addresses. She wanted to teach them the alphabet and eventually, the basics of reading, herself.

Like the oppressive fundamentalist Christian patriarchs in The Handmaid’s Tale, my mother set about preventing me from reading by removing all of my books and even taking away the cereal boxes when she found me reading what was written on the back of them. She eventually gave in and let me read again, worn out by my whining and pleading, thank goodness.

My favorite authors are, in no particular order: M.R. James, Shirley Jackson, Donna Tartt, Michael McDowell, William Thackeray, P.G. Wodehouse, H.P. Lovecraft (horrid old racist and misogynist that he was), Kage Baker, Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, and Frank Baker, author of Miss Hargreaves, one of the best speculative fiction novels ever written, IMO.

There are lots of other authors whose work I like, too many to list them all. I read about one book a week. I LOVE to read.

Your story, “Home Improvements,” recently appeared at The Wild Hunt. What was your process for this piece, and what inspired you to create the protagonist’s cat Evil George?

It developed out of something I read online about a house being swallowed up by a sinkhole. It made me wonder what would happen to someone in that situation (assuming they weren’t home at the time and got swallowed up, too.)

The protagonist has a cat named Evil George who is, as she admits, a terrible cat, but she keeps him because no one else would want him. I have no idea where that came from. The cats I’ve owned were all very sweet. It just seemed funny to create an awful cat who is always biting and clawing people.

Evil George gets loose and attacks two men in the woods behind his owner’s new home, who happen to be dressed as eighteenth-century fops. After that, hijinks ensue. Again, I have no idea why fops were involved, unless I was thinking of the actor Hugh Laurie in his role as Prince George IV in Blackadder. Hugh Laurie made an absolutely hilarious fop, with his powdered wig and silk stockings and gormless expressions.

The Blue HorseMany of your stories featured speculative elements. Do you remember the first speculative fiction story you read as a child, and what in particular draws you to the fantasy genre?

Usually what I write has some element of speculative fiction, although some are horror stories, and some are fantasy and some are science fiction. The first speculative fiction I ever read was probably something by Ray Bradbury, although the argument can be made that The Cat in the Hat is speculative fiction.

Tell me about a couple of your favorite published works.

I like history, and if I can work some long-forgotten weird thing or person into a plot, so much the better. My first book, Rosina and the Travel Agency, is about time travel and mentions in passing an actual barometer that was powered by leeches. It also has an adventure in 1947 San Francisco, complete with forties slang and an attempt to run a private detective agency based on one of the characters’ admiration for Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon.

The sequel, The Blue Horse, from Kellan Publishing, features a bachelor party in two very weird nineteenth-century Paris nightclubs, and a batty English lord who scandalized society by marrying a circus bareback rider. The nightclubs, the lord and his wife, as well as the one-of-a-kind blue horse were all real. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Where can we find you online?

I can be found online on Facebook as Jill Hand, and on Twitter, @jillhand1_gef. There are bonus points for anyone who knows who (or what) the original Gef was.

Big thanks to Jill Hand for being part of this week’s author interview series!

Happy reading!

Deck the Halls with Literature: 10 Last-Minute Holiday Gifts for Book Lovers

December is winding down, and in my little nook of the world, ’tis the season for gift giving and festive revelry! And if you’re like me, you might not have done all your shopping for those friends and family you adore so much. Fear not! I have the perfect list for you! And even if you’re personally not celebrating any holidays this December, a new book is a reason to rejoice any day of the year! So check out these ten great titles, and consider giving the gift of literature this December. After all, there’s nothing better!

For the fantasy devotee:

The Lilies of Dawn

The Lilies of Dawn by Vanessa Fogg

This gorgeous novelette from rising star Vanessa Fogg is a poignant tale of love, lilies, and family. And that beautiful cover by artist Likhain only makes this unforgettable book even more perfect. Vanessa is rapidly proving herself to be one of the strongest new voices in speculative fiction, so check out this book today and keep an eye out for her forthcoming works. If you love truly original fantasy as much as I do, then you will not be disappointed.

For the nostalgic mystery lover:

Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew Anthology: Writing & Art Featuring Everybody’s Favorite Female Sleuth by Various Authors

This Nancy Drew anthology is a perfect throwback to the fun mystery stories of yore. Nearly 100 contributors from around the world united to make this book possible, and one of those writers includes the incredible Geosi Gyasi, an awesome author and interviewer who I previously featured on this blog. Suffice it to say, this sweet and loving tribute anthology to one of literature’s coolest sleuths is most certainly a book you don’t want to miss.

For the fan of creepy anthologies:

Killing It Softly

Killing It Softly by Various Authors

Women in Horror Month is just around the corner, so why not get a head start with this anthology featuring a litany of talented female authors? This beautifully creepy tome includes tales from Elaine Cunningham, Jess Landry, Rose Blackthorn, Nancy Holder, and others, and is sure to make your holidays a little bit scarier. And who wouldn’t want that?

For that pal of yours who adores all things bizarre:

Hate from the Sky

Hate from the Sky by Sean M. Thompson

Eraserhead Press is the gold standard for fabulously strange fiction, and its New Bizarro Author Series gives you a taste of all the best up-and-comers in the industry. Case in point: Sean M. Thompson’s newest work about a man who is battling the very sky above him. This is most definitely a book to read and an author to watch.

For that special someone who likes nightmares with their eggnog:

100 Nightmares

100 Nightmares by K.Z. Morano

This acclaimed horror book from author K.Z. Morano is a breathtakingly unique creation. Included are 100 stories, each told in 100-word drabbles, and these frightful tales are inspired by ghosts, fairy tales, and the creatures of Japanese folklore. If all that wasn’t enough to draw you in, there are also fifty haunting illustrations to accompany these bite-sized morsels of terror. A wonderful horror collection penned by a truly fantastic author.

For the romance fan:

Love Under the Harvest Moon

Love Under the Harvest Moon by Various Authors

Not everything on this list is creepy and crawly. Love Under the Harvest Moon is a charming anthology for the romantic at heart. In addition to a number of other great authors, the table of contents includes a story by the awesome Nemma Wollenfang who appeared recently on this blog. A great gift for anyone who needs a little more love in their life (and really, who doesn’t?).

For the on-the-go reader:

Trick or DeathAny of the awesome Kindle short stories by Calvin Demmer

In our insanely busy world, sometimes there isn’t nearly enough time to chill with a good book. But that doesn’t mean awesome literature should fall to the wayside. For that busy book lover on your list, consider the gift of a perfectly terrifying short story from rising star Calvin Demmer. For less than a dollar (seriously!), you can delve into worlds of hungry ghosts, disturbing trick or treat festivities, and other holidays gone horrifically awry. An ideal gift for any busy horror lover.

For the YA Fan in your life:

Doll

Doll by Miracle Austin

First off, Miracle Austin is awesome. She is a fantastically imaginative writer and a fantastically wonderful person. In her first standalone novel, Miracle puts her incredible imagination to use as she crafts a tale of high school revenge that at once feels familiar and completely original. With the perfect amount of scares and the proverbial high school angst, you won’t find a cooler young adult horror novel this season.

For that person who can’t get enough ghost stories:

Shadows at the Door

Shadows at the Door by Various Authors

There’s something about the wintry holidays and ghost stories that just go together too perfectly, like devilish peanut butter and jelly. And if ghosts stories are what someone on your shopping list loves, then look no further than Shadows at the Door. With beautifully unnerving illustrations and a roster of talented artists, this is one gorgeously fearsome anthology sure to make anyone’s winter a little bit more shiver-inducing.

For that flash-fiction-loving fiend on your list:

Dark Flash

Dark Flash by Maria Haskins

I’m personally a huge fan of flash fiction, and I truly believe that there aren’t nearly enough outlets for it. Fortunately, if you or someone on your Xmas list agrees with me, then author Maria Haskins has got you covered. This super cool new book includes eight short tales that run the gamut from dark fantasy and horror to science fiction. And honestly, where else are you going to find a single work that manages to blend cats, demons, and unicorns? A great gift for lovers of flash fiction, the bizarre, and well-written prose.

Those are my top ten picks for awesome fiction this year! And if you still can’t get enough cool literature, you could always give a gift subscription to a superb magazine! A few of my favorite publications include LampLight, Nightmare, and Shimmer!

Happy reading, and happy holidays!