guest post on Pub(lishing) Crawl

I wrote a guest post on Pub(lishing) Crawl about writing horror and other dark things for children and teenagers:

The funny thing about writing a horror novel is that approximately 87% of the people you meet will tell you to your face they don’t want to read it.

Oh, there’s rarely anything malicious in this declaration. Sure, there are always a few “I only read serious books about serious topics” types with tiny minds who can’t fathom how a book about horror things can also be about other things, but nobody cares what they think. I ignore them.

For the most part the reaction from future non-readers is more along the lines of, “Oh, I don’t know if I could read that. It sounds–” And this added in an apologetic, almost conspiratorial tone, as though imparting a terrible secret from which I could have been protected, had circumstances differed: “–too upsetting.”

Read the rest of On Scaring Children on Pub Crawl!

cover reveal for SHALLOW GRAVES!

SHALLOW GRAVES has a cover! The cover was revealed today on Epic Reads along with a few more covers of beautiful Winter 2016 books. 2016 is going to be a good year for books, people. I just know it.

I am so happy with this cover. It’s so beautiful. I love the birds and the sky and the pink and the green. I love that it’s subtly creepy but not overwhelmingly dark. I love how all the stunning colors sneakily contrast with the death-doom-misery title. I love how perfect the balance of light and darkness is.

ShallowGraves_cover reveal

Breezy remembers leaving the party, the warm, wet grass under her feet, her cheek still stinging from a slap to the face. But when she wakes up, scared and pulling dirt from her mouth, a year has passed and she can’t explain the necklace of bruises around her neck. She also can’t explain the man lying at her grave, dead from her touch.

Returning home seems impossible. Her parents and sisters have clearly grieved and struggled to move on, and Breezy can’t begin to answer their inevitable questions. Her heartbeat comes and goes, she doesn’t need to eat or drink, she can see the inky memories of murderers, and she can somehow pull on this dark guilt to kill them. Haunted by the happy memories from her life and disgusted by the half-dead creature she’s become, Breezy embarks on a reckless quest to find answers and a dangerous healing magic…but the cure is as dark and terrible as the disease.

Set in a gorgeous, terrifying world, Shallow Graves is a stunning novel about the heartbreaking trauma of a girl’s life cut short and her struggle to reconcile her humanity with the creature she’s become.

January 2016! Mark your calendars! You can add SHALLOW GRAVES to your Goodreads shelf here.

new short story

My short story “The Proper Motion of Extraordinary Stars” is now available online at Shimmer Magazine!

Smoke rose from the center of Asunder Island, marring a sky so blue and so clear it made Aurelia’s eyes ache. The sailors had been insisting for days she would see the Atrox swooping and turning overhead, if only she watched long enough, but there was no sign of the great birds.

You can also purchase the entire issue here.

the red pen chronicles

The #SixteensBlogAbout topic for the month of April is “revision” and friends, let me tell you, I have a few things to say about revision. The things I have to say can be summarized like this:

  1. I love revision.
  2. There is no difference between revising and writing.

I know there are writers out there who don’t have a revision process prior to editorial input. They put words on the page, they proofread those words for mistakes, they send them off to magazines or agents or editors. I know these writers exist because they talk about their writing processes and that is what they describe and it works very well for them and how nice that must  be.

Well, no, it doesn’t sound nice. It sounds awful, because I love revision and I don’t ever want to skip it. But it’s probably nice for them, in the same way being a football fan or drinking Bud Light or having a career as a wedding planner must be nice for somebody, or any other life choice that is perfectly reasonable for other people but wholly incomprehensible to me.

In any case, it’s pointless to talk about people who don’t revise while talking about revision, so never mind them. “No revision” is not a writing goal. A writer’s job is not to write a story that comes out exactly right on the first try. Nobody cares how many drafts preceded the final version. A writer’s job is to write the best story they can possibly write. How that happens, whether it’s one draft or ten thousand drafts, is something every writer has to figure out for themselves.

Continue reading

anthologies and collections

I am delighted to announce that my short story “Water in Springtime” will be included in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2015 (edited by Paula Guran), to be published by Prime Books in July. The full table of contents is here. It’s an honor to be included with so many fantastic writers and stories!

And my short story “No Portraits on the Sky” is in the Clarkesworld: Year Seven collection, now available in both print and ebook formats. The full table of contents and buy links can be found here.

once upon a time

The #SixteensBlogAbout topic for the month of February is how and why we started writing, but I can’t answer that question. I don’t remember how or why I started writing. I was only a kid and it probably wasn’t a terribly momentous occasion.

I do, however, remember the first story I wrote. It was about alligators with pink eyes who lived in caves in the hills. At twilight their eyes would glow. The narrative was only a few sentences long and somewhat lacking in plot or character development, but I remember the setting being very important: those dark hills, those shadowy caves.

I like to think I’ve improved as a writer a bit in the intervening decades, although I will admit that I still secretly believe that properly communicating the ominous feel of dark hills and shadowy caves is often more important than pesky little things like plot. I wrote that story about the pink-eyed alligators when I was about seven. I don’t remember why. Why does a seven-year-old do anything? My father read to me and my sisters all the time, and he wrote his own stories, mostly dark fairy tale retellings in which nothing ever ended well for anybody, especially not frogs, so the possibility of putting words to page was always there.

I don’t think it’s that important, what I was thinking when I was seven. What is important is that once I started writing down my glowing pink-eyed alligators, I never stopped.


I still have nearly all of the stories I wrote as a child and teenager. They are amazingly bad. I love them for how bad they are. Mostly they consist of strange scary things happening right before people die horribly, which is exactly the kind of story I’m still writing nearly thirty years later, so I guess it’s true that you ought to start as you wish to go on.

Continue reading