A Year of Horror: 2023 Awards Eligibility Post

Welcome back! So here we are with another year and another awards eligibility post. As I always say every year, these posts are a little strange to do, but it is nice to put together a roundup of the year’s accomplishments.

In terms of published work this year, it’s been all about short fiction! A total of a dozen new short stories of mine came out this year, and I honestly couldn’t be happier with them, especially since they appeared in some truly fabulous publications. Here they are in all their horror glory!

The Hungry Wives of Bleak Street” (American Cannibal, Maenad Press, March 2023)
The women of 1950s Bleak Street have a not-so-secret ingredient they’re expected to add to every meal: a slice of their own skin. That is, until one woman starts to question the status quo. This anthology got such a tremendously positive reception, and I’m so honored editor Rebecca Rowland invited me to be part of it.

Hear, Hearth, Heartbeat” (Forbidden Magic: The Cellar Door, Issue #2, Dark Peninsula Press, April 2023)
A woman returns to her hometown for her class reunion, only to discover that some friendships last far longer than she ever expected. This one’s a little bit witchy and a little bit weird and definitely a lot of creepy fun, especially for anyone who knows what it’s like to find you can’t go home again. After working with Dark Peninsula Press with the Violent Vixens anthology several years back, it was wonderful to work with them again on this anthology.

Melting Point” (Cosmic Horror Monthly, Issue #35, May 2023)
Set at Three Mile Island during the infamous meltdown, two women who are adrift in their lives become inextricably linked, as nuclear fallout seeps through their town and their bodies. This is one of the weirdest body horror stories I’ve ever written and also one of my personal favorites, especially since this tale rattled around my head for a while before I finally got the opportunity to send it to the great Cosmic Horror Monthly.

Welcome to the New You” (No Trouble at All, Cursed Morsels Press, June 2023)
In a dystopic version of reality, everyone has a doppelganger, and once yours shows up, only one of you can continue to exist. At least that’s the story everybody is told. This story is based on my longstanding theory that if I ever met my own doppelganger, we may or may not end up best pals. No Trouble at All is such a fantastic anthology with such fantastic editors, so this one was a joy all the way around.

A Sweet Soiree on the Last Night of the World” (The First Five Minutes of the Apocalypse, Hungry Shadow Press, July 2023)
If the world is ending, why not throw a party to celebrate its demise? That’s the premise of this weird horror story about a woman attending a fete at a graveyard on the last night on earth. However, it turns out the hostess has one final grudge to settle before the world devolves into flames, and our narrator soon realizes that even during an impending apocalypse, there’s still time to pay for the the sins of the past. Hungry Shadow Press is putting together some brilliant books, and it was great to be included in this one.

Ides” (Shakespeare Unleashed, Crystal Lake Publishing, July 2023)
An all-female take on Julius Caesar, a group of cult members at a remote compound realize their leader has apocalyptic longings, so they band together to murder her before she can wreak even more havoc. Her death, however, doesn’t seem to take, and they’re soon trapped in a cycle of violence, death, and rebirth. Weird, mythic, and queer, this is one of my favorite stories I’ve ever written, so I’m so incredibly happy it found such a wonderful home in the magnificent Shakespeare Unleashed.

Leonora Drive” (Never Wake: An Anthology of Dream Horror, Crystal Lake Publishing, September 2023)
A woman’s nightmares become sentient, terrorizing and isolating a small town, who blames her, even as they overlook their own complicity in her predicament. As the title of the story suggests, this one is a bit of an homage to David Lynch, Leonora Carrington, and the surrealism of the twentieth century. Needless to say, it was a blast to write, and it was so cool to be part of this wonderful table of contents.

How to Win a Dance Contest During an Apocalypse (In Nine Easy Steps!)” (Pseudopod, September 2023)
A decidedly cosmic horror take on 1980s dance movies like Dirty Dancing and Footloose, a teenage girl hides out with her family at a hidden resort in the mountains while the world falls apart around them. But even as the adults are panicking and the slimy tentacles of otherworldly creatures draw nearer, the girl finds solace with a new friend on an abandoned dance floor and learns that even during the apocalypse, it’s not too late to fall in love and find your place in the world. Always a honor to have a story featured at Pseudopod.

Twin Flames” (October Screams: A Halloween Anthology, Kangas Kahn Publishing, September 2023)
After a long estrangement, two sisters meet up at the family home on Halloween night, only for long-buried ancestral secrets to start emerging from the darkness. Halloween anthologies are always a blast, and that’s certainly true of this one, which was so neat to be part of.

The Sea Witch of the World’s Fair” (Novus Monstrum, Dragon’s Roost Press, October 2023)
Set during the 1939 World’s Fair, an unusual sea creature masquerading as a young woman finds herself as part of Salvador Dali’s infamous the Birth of Venus exhibit. Now if only she and the other girls can survive the NYC vice squad, which ultimately proves more dangerous than all the literal monsters in the world combined. This is one of my strangest and most high-concept stories in a long time, and I’m so glad it found a home in the fabulous Novus Monstrum.

The Eleven Films of Oona Cashford” (Morbidologies, Bleeding Edge Books, October 2023)
Told through the format of a film festival retrospective on fictional filmmaker Oona Cashford, this story explores her unusual life and even more unusual films. A female version of William Castle, her horror movies all had fun gimmicks, or at least they were fun until some of her audience members started to mysteriously disappear. This one lived in my head and my heart for a couple years, so my horror cinema-loving soul was so thrilled to have it find a home in Morbidologies, which is such a cool anthology.

How to Survive a Birthday Party at the Dragonfly Dining Terrace” (Back 2 OmniPark, December 2023)
Set in the shared world of the fictional OmniPark, a middle-aged woman looking for a way out of her dead-end life soon learns that her escape might come with a price as the park’s ominous history comes back to haunt her and her friends in supernatural ways they never expected.

I’m super proud of all of these stories—in fact, I’ve never had a year in my entire career that I’ve been so happy with so many short stories. That being said, in terms of favorites, “Ides” and “The Hungry Wives of Bleak Street” have gotten the most positive feedback from reviewers. Either way, as always, I’d be pleased to send any of these stories to anyone who’s considering for awards.

In other news, I also wrote over two dozen nonfiction articles, the vast majority of which were published at The Lineup. I don’t think any of those are quite long enough to qualify for the short nonfiction categories at any awards, but I’m still super proud of the articles, so if you’d like to read any of them, just head over here to see the full list!

This year also focused quite a bit on my 2022 novel, Reluctant Immortals. It went on to be nominated for three awards—the Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Fiction, the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel, and the Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel—and it ultimately won the Lambda Literary Award. Honestly, that still seems so surreal and wonderful to me. What a huge honor for my novel all about forgotten heroines reclaiming their place in the world.

Looking ahead to 2024, next year will be all about my new novel, The Haunting of Velkwood. It’s available now for pre-order, and it makes its official debut in the world on March 5th.

Already, a starred review in Booklist has said that Velkwood is “sure to be one of the most original and riveting horror novels of 2024,” and Library Journal calls it a “breathtakingly original modern ghost story laden with humanity and heartache.” The Haunting of Velkwood is one of my most personal and favorite works to date, so I’m so thrilled that it will soon be making its way into the world.

So that’s it for 2023. It was certainly a year with ups and downs, but there were some truly wonderful moments throughout the year. I’m looking forward to 2024, and I hope all of you are too.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!