It is a matter of some oddity that while you may have read my words before, you probably haven’t heard me say any. Thanks to the power of uh, telephones, and the illustrious interwebs, you can now listen to an interview with me over at writer Andrew Marc Rowe’s podcast Holy Flamingo Poop. We talk about forests, mythology, magic, and what three books I’d take with me to Mars. While you’re there, be sure to check out Andrew’s books and see if there’s something you like.
In other news, I’m still venturing ever forward on my Enchanted Newsletter Side Quest. I bought a cover for my reader magnet, so there’s commitment involved, it’s happening. The reader magnet is going to be short story about a side character in the cozy fantasy novel I’m hoping to publish late this year. She’s an unusual witch that was inspired by this beautiful book dress designed by Sylvie Facon. I’d love to paste a picture here so you can share in my excitement, but for copyright reasons, you’ll have to click that link to check them out. Sorry!
I don’t want to leave you without anything to look at, so here’s a photo of what’s probably a bit of old man’s beard moss sitting atop a rotting log and definitely not some sort of lichen-beast crawling home to its forest lair.
Hey, did you know it’s spring? We have rainy day, wee green things popping up from the ground, and the promise of leafs taking form on trees. It feels good to step outside in the early morning and be greeted with birdsong again.
My biggest news for this month is to tell you my first ever poem, Mother/Murder is going to published in the fall issue of Augur. Poetry has always been there for me, even through terrible bouts of writer’s block, and earlier this year I decided to send a few pieces out for the first time to see if there was any merit to my poetic scribblings. Needless to say, I’m very pleased that a dream market like Augur picked one up!
I’m also excited that the 99 Tiny Terrors anthology is now available in the usual places after a few issues with the ‘zon. I have a tiny story in this horror flash collection and I’d love it if you nabbed a copy to read it, but there are some well-known authors (Seanan McGuire, Cat Rambo, Meg Elison) in this one that are likely to get your attention more. Check it out here.
Some of you know that this spring I’m supposed to be launching my newsletter. That’s been pushed back a bit due to me being incapable of launching a newsletter while plotting a book. I know myself well enough to know I have to chase the plot while I can and I’m giving myself some grace about this. Yes, I am jealous of you beautiful pantsers. The good news is that I should end up with a newsletter AND a book to write and that will make for a happy me.
Before I go, I’ll leave you with this raven I’ve been stitching. I did his head first and he’s been screaming at me to finish him ever since. Is there a writing equivalent to this? Because, dang, his screams are motivating.
It’s been a while, dear old blog and sorely neglected readers. My pandemic anxiety sent me into survival mode for a long stretch of blocks, walls, and other things toxic to writers like myself. Ironically, now that things are worse in Canada than ever before, I’m feeling the spark come back. I promise I wrote stories last year and even submitted them! But it felt like a Herculean effort and the rejections shattered me. So far this year I’ve finished a story, started plotting a new book, received four rejections that did not trigger any sort of depression, and made three fresh submissions.
In that bleak stretch, I did take up poetry again. I’d forgotten how poetry somehow ends up on the page when I’m struggling to write. In keeping with that, I’ve started submitting poems as well as fiction. I’m not sure what will come of this, but there’s something inside me that is very happy about this.
I’m also planning things! It’s been a while since planning felt like a safe thing to do without angering the pandemic gods. My youngest will be starting kindergarten in the fall which may offer me a few hours of uninterrupted writing time (gasp!) for the first time in a decade. I’m almost afraid to write that for fear those precious hours might evaporate. I’d like to use that time to write books. Publishing companies haven’t fared well the past few years and I’m seeing more and more of my favourite writers self-publishing to great success. I’d still like to leave behind a few shelves of books when I’m gone and if I wait for publishing to recover I might never get started. That said, the marketing aspect is daunting.
My good friend and Beta-buddy/crit partner Peter Foote has given me six months to set up a newsletter. That was three weeks ago, mind. I’ve been resistant to starting a newsletter, but it’s time. Over the past year I’ve been receiving newsletters I truly look forward to, such as Amal El-Mohtar’s musings that leave me feeling lovely and peaceful; Christopher Brown’s Field Notes that give this rural nature-loving lady a glimpse in the urban nature of Austin, TX. Plus, heron rookeries! My heart. Another newsletter I enjoy is my aforementioned friend Peter’s, wherein there’s an advice column from a prickly gargoyle named Grump. In short, I enjoy newsletters that are more than just an ad in my inbox: I want an experience.
All this to say that I’ve come to the conclusion that my newsletter-to-be needs to be an experience too. And, um, that’s all I’ve got so far. I still have five months and one week to go, after all!
Are there any newsletters you love? Should I be reading yours? Drop me a link in the comments!
My latest publication,Free Hugs, is now available to read or listen to at Metaphorosis magazine. I wrote this story in early days of this never-ending pandemic and it began as a response to several of my elder family members lamenting not being able to hug their grandkids. It was such a small, human lament, that I wound up writing a draft about an engineering grandson who designed a special robot to go give his Gram a hug on her birthday. He padded the bot’s chest and neck so that if she closed her eyes, it would feel like a real hug. Then, the idea kind of took on a life of its own, caught up in capitalism, the hugbots got sensors to measure happiness hormones, and suddenly they were EVERYWHERE.
And, you know, that story just never quite grabbed me. It seemed like something everyone would be writing during lockdown, so I put it away and went back to my pandemic depression. It wasn’t until I started wondering what would happen to all of those robots after the pandemic was over that I found the story I wanted to write. Free Hugs is that story. I hope you like it, I hope you’re well, and I hope you stay that way.
Today is June 1st, a day I’ve dreaded and anticipated in equal amounts, because today marks the release of Luna Station Quarterly #046 and inside this issue is my story, The Voiceless of Shalott.
This is the first story I’ve ever written about myself. Obviously, it’s highly stylized and a retelling of Tennyson’s The Lady of the Shalott, but at it’s core, there’s me, waving hello. Or probably hiding her face, if I’m honest, because this is a little terrifying. There’s certain things that, if you tell people about yourself, can overwhelm everything they know about you. Things that change how they see you. I stopped telling people that I was raised in a cult pretty quick when I started seeing that change. People on the outside call this ‘reserved’ and people on this inside call this ‘survival.’ I needed this to stop being the defining element of my life so I could learn how to live my life.
Then the apocalypse of 2020 happened. The upheaval of the pandemic churned up a great deal of cult mentalities and signals. If you’ve been inside and get out, your survival instincts hone in on these elements and set off mental alarms to turn and walk in the opposite direction RIGHT NOW. Except this time… I stayed. Heck, it’s the end of the world, I decided I might as well as engage and try and use my experiences to see if they can help someone. So I picked up my pen, started writing, and after twenty years of keeping this stuff inside, the anger and frustration that poured onto the page startled me. Spun inside my creativity, my fears and anger turned into something else all it’s own. I know that some people are going to be angry with me for writing this story, and there were others who wanted me to force this story into a more acceptable narrative framework, but that’s the thing, I was voiceless then and I’m not voiceless anymore. This is my story.
I also hope there’s no pitchforks in my future. I have this vivid memory from grade 5 or so, going into someone else’s classroom and spying a verse of poetry on the blackboard. We weren’t learning poetry in my class, so I stood there as long as I could, memorizing this one line: “I spread my dreams under your feet, tread softy…” (Yeats).
Today’s the big day, Worlds of Light and Darkness: the Best of DreamForge and Space & Time Volume 1 is released! Click here to check it out. This is the first time I’ve had a story included in a ‘best of’ collection and I’m so pleased. The Feline, the Witch, and the Universe seems to have struck a chord with its readers and I’m glad to see my workaholic witch, her trusty bike, and her missing kitty have made people smile.
In other projects, a wonderful writing group that I’m in, Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada, has put together a bundle of our previously published stories to send out into the world. I submitted my award-winning Gothic fantasy story, Dragon Crossing, into the bundle. I’ve written a few other blog posts about Dragon Crossinghere and here if you’d like to know more. We’ve titled this collection Realms of Fantasy and there are fourteen stories all told in the collection.
Here are Realms of Fantasy‘s links if you’re interested:
In a fun coincidence, these two particular stories, Feline and Dragon Crossing were originally published close together, just as their reprints are now. Coincidence or… magical linkage? Does my workaholic witch need to meet my Gothic dragon in the Underworld, uh… **jots down idea**
I hope all of you are doing well. Things seem to be winding down, pandemic-wise, but I know we’re all still dealing with the emotional scars. I lost my Gram a few months back and I’m still coming to terms with that, especially with what dying this year means and doesn’t mean. It’s been a hard year for all of us and I hope you, like me, are starting to let a little light in.
Writing is still hard, but I’m working harder. I have a deeply personal story coming out in Luna Station Quarterly this coming June and it marks the first story where I’ve written about my personal experiences of escaping a cult. I’m more than a little nervous of it’s reception for multiple reasons. It’s fierce and angry and… a retelling of the Lady of Shalott? It’s titled the Voiceless of Shalott and I will most certainly be sharing links here when it comes out.
After that, I’ve got another story coming out, my second story to appear in Metaphorosis, this one called Free Hugs. It also has a character who escaped a cult because I opened some sort of floodgate with Voiceless and now it’s all rushing out.
Do you have any good news or stories to share? I’d love to hear about them and I’d love to read your stories, so drop me some links in the comments.
I’m pleased to announced that my short story, The Moths of Luness, will be appearing in the Mythology from the Rock anthology coming out from Engen Books on April 30th, 2020.
In The Moths of Luness, a witch bespells a moth to tell her the story of its species; an original myth that stretches across the galaxy in the arms of a goddess named Luness. As some of you may know, I spend my summers in awe of the lovely moths that surround my forest home. Daydreaming a mythology for these fairy-like creatures was a wonderful escape from the reality of the pandemic, and I hope reading the story gives you as much of an escape as you might need, too.
In other news, I recently received an acceptance for a deeply personal retelling of Tennyson’s the Lady of Shalott, titled The Voiceless of Shalott, from Luna Station Quarterly. Voiceless will be coming out in their June issue and to say I’m on tenterhooks would be an understatement. I’ll reveal more about what this story means to me as we get closer to the publication date (I need to stock up on courage for this one, hoo boy).
My flash story, Hellion Babysitting Services, is now available to read in Speculative North Issue #4. You can snag a free e-copy of this one until Friday, February 26, 2021 so run don’t walk to this handy link right here.
Hellion Babysitting Services was born of my parental desperation for any possible babysitting service during the first lockdown. I mean, have you tried demon possession? Warning: tongue firmly in cheek.
And if that doesn’t pique your interest, look at this amazing cover. It has a ROBOT RHINO.
Okay, so 2021 hasn’t really lived up to our expectations just yet but it’s just a baby year and it had a terrible role model, let’s not lose hope. I can’t save the world but I can offer you a small respite in the form of not one, but two fresh stories.
The first story is The Mermaid’s Tale which just came out in Kaleidotrope, which you can read for free by clicking here. This story is about a biomedical engineer (prosthetics) and a strange sailor with a tall tale to tell.
Side note: Kaleidotropeis also opening to submissions this February for the first time since 2019 (hint, hint).
Might I steal a fangirl moment? Short story writer John Wiswell, author of Open House on Haunted Hill (link), gave The Mermaid’s Tale a shout-out on twitter. Established writers who give new writers a leg up are the best kind. Please read everything he writes.
The second story is Broke Down & Starside, my epistolary sci-fi story about a viral missed connection, from Issue 7 of DreamForge magazine. DreamForge has temporarily made Broke Down & Starside available to read on their website! Click here to go read now, but please be warned I don’t know how long this story will remain up.
Broke Down & Starside follows a broke down spaceship pilot (and their fish!) who posts in a Missed Connection feed to find the Starside Assistance Operator who saved their life and stumbles into something much bigger than romance. This is a good story to read if you’re feeling low. It is sweet and hopeful and I hope it will leave you cheering.