2018 Wrap-Up and What I Wrote

2018 was a wild and crazy ride, full of ups and downs in my writing and personal life. As a result, I don’t have as many short story publications as I did in 2017.

Still, I’m doing an awards eligibility post (for the Hugo,  the Nebula, the Stoker, et al.) and a year end wrap-up because some amazing things did happen.

Like, I got a book deal! *Screams*

My debut novel, TYING THE DEVIL’S SHOESTRINGS, is a middle-grade Southern Gothic historical fantasy about twins learning rootwork, protecting themselves from monsters, and finding their place in the world. And it’s full of Gullah-Geechee tradition and folklore. Set in pre-Civil rights era South Carolina, the inspiration for the novel is stories from my grandmother, my great aunts, and my mother. My writing is so influenced by the place I’m from that I’m going to start referring to this subgenre that I write in as Gullah Gothic.

They want a second middle-grade book as well, which I’m well on my way to completing.

But this is also a 2018 short story award eligibility post, so on to the short stories I had published this year!

  • Every Good-Bye Ain’t Gone (Strange Horizons): My first story with this spectacular magazine! A Southern Gothic w/ love, loss, & food as séance. “…the only time her mother ever cooked was when a person had passed on and someone needed to speak with the dead.”

 

For Southern Girls 3

 

  • One If by Sea (Augur Magazine): One If by Sea (pubbed by Augur Magazine) – Fantasy flash. How far would you go to get your child from the land of the dead? A mother gets instructions. “You want your little girl back or not? I’ma tell you how to do it.” {You’ll have to purchase a copy of the issue to read the entire story, but you can read an excerpt at the above link.}

One if By Sea Collage

 

If you haven’t already, give these stories a read and if any of them move you, please consider nominating them!

 

 

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My 2017 Awards Eligibility Post

Awards season is here and the nominations for the Nebula, Hugo, Horror Writer’s Association, and a number of other writing awards, have opened. Here is what I had published in 2017.

 

A CURE FOR GHOSTS — Fireside Magazine — read here

How do them ghosts smell? Like dirt and damp moss and dank places closed so tight no air ever enters. Like the end. Like everything and nothing.

FOLK — PodCastle #494 — listen here

It is the mark my people use for their handiwork — no, I lie. Only the women use it. It is the women who show their pride this way…

SHINE, BLACKBERRY WINE — Shadows Over Main Street 2 — buy here

My tentacled hair is waving around wildly, growing longer and thicker, then the stalks shoot upward, out of the dream and into… like… real life. 

SOUPIE’S LOVER — Truancy — read here

“You aine gotta worry ‘bout my help no more. I’mma let the hag getcha.”

CRICKETS SING FOR NAOMI — PodCastle #477 — listen here

She took the man’s face in her lap, pulling and tugging at the flesh. It gave under her gnarled fingers, softening like clay, and she smoothed it into something—no, someone—new.

GRAVEROBBING NEGRESS SEEKS EMPLOYMENT — FIYAH Issue #2 — buy here

I pried apart the corpse’s lips, their slackness telling me she’d been dead more than two days, and worked the tip of my finger inside her mouth.

SWEETGRASS BLOOD — Sycorax’s Daughters — buy here

I wound the strands tighter, using the sharpened spoon to push them through each other, the stiff grasses leaving tiny splinters invisible to the eye but not to the flesh.

A LONG WAY FROM THE RITZ — Forever Vacancy — buy here

It was then she decided to put him in a jar. She knew how, had watched her mom and aunties do it many times.

 

This year, I also released a second collection of Southern Gothic horror stories, Spook Lights 2.

In February, in collaboration with Graveyard Shift Sisters, I put together a collection of 28 BLACK WOMEN IN HORROR FICTION HISTORY. Bios, pics, links to their work are in a Google+ collection here.

 

***A huge thing to note is FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction is eligible for the Best Semiprozine category of the Hugo Awards in their first year! 

As such, please consider nominating:

  • Troy L. Wiggins and Justina Ireland for Best Editor, Short Form for FIYAH
  • Geneva B/Prinnay for Best Fan Artist for all of her stunning covers for FIYAH
  • All of FIYAH‘s fiction and poetry for Nebulas, Hugos, HWAs…

13 Dark Issue #1 Dead Voices: A Review

After an unlucky stumble with Kickstarter, followed by a successful Indiegogo crowd sourcing, the first issue of 13 Dark is out.

While this project had to change from its original concept of 13 individual stories, released separately, the final product is no less stunning. And it holds fast to its original promise of story theme: Light and dark. Sacred and profane.

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Comprised of short dark stories by three authors, each with an intro by editor Joseph Sale, 13 Dark also gives each tale searingly gorgeous artwork packaged with an eerie cover.

A bit about each…

Bethesda by Ross Jeffrey

From the Intro: This story is a dialogue, both interior within the narrator, and exterior, presented in the two key voices of the story: the ‘pale man’ (Joe) and ‘Captain Haddock’. One is an atheist who has turned to God in desperation (and subsequently vilifies Him when he seemingly doesn’t get what he wants) and the other is a devout religious evangelist who talks about the Bible stories as though they were things that happened to him on the way to the shop. We walk the middle road with our narrator, and witness something truly spectacular.

Jeffrey uses atmosphere to present differences so well in this story. The beach is our setting, but it doesn’t have the sun-warmed sands we think of for a vacation. It is cold; the wind is damp and clinging. I shivered when reading, feeling the cold slant through me. In a windbreaker with the vibrant colors of Jamaica, the pale man — in his three-piece suit — looks out to sea. As he has done every day…

Our narrator observes the pale man’s ritual and relays the event to the reader, and it’s all done smoothly, this style that is more typical of a bygone age. Perhaps this is why it works here. Save for some modern touches of barista coffee and the like, the story feels as though it could take taken place at almost any time. The narrator’s conversations with rusty-edged Captain Haddock, a local beachcomber, fill us in on the details of how long the pale man has come to this stretch of beach, and watched the tides.

Bethesda is about a man who has given up hope, who is floundering with the hardest thing he’s ever dealt with, while beachgoers walk by him each day. Never stopping, never looking, never really seeing. Until he finally makes a desperate decision. He lifts a frail, wasted young man into his arms and begins walking into the sea.

At once heartbreaking and uplifting, Jeffrey has written about sacrifice, love, and miracles.

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Under Soil by Tice Cin

From the intro: …A tale of love, it would seem, but scrape away that painted veneer (again a Gothic concept) and you will see a buried truth, a dark beating heart. It is this hair-raising moment of revelation, when the illusion of our desiccated world falls away and reveals something buried beneath it all that must be seen, that makes Under Soil so powerful.

Anyone who reads my reviews with any frequency knows I love Gothic tales. Beauty giving way to decay, family secrets, doomed loves and lives. Under Soil gives me all of that and more.

Cin’s writing style flourishes with this dark tale. The language is like bouquet of flowers, each one chosen specially to convey a feeling that is almost beyond words. The hopefulness of love comes with a crack, a sharp sting that our protagonist relishes. Feeds on. Quickly, love and lust weave together, become something unrecognizable, unwanted.

I am surprised to write these next words: Cin was written body horror is such way that leaves me with both a churning in my stomach and a breathless fascination with its delicacy.

Simultaneously sensual and unnerving, Under Soil shows that Gothic has moved from mist-shrouded castles to wear a new, and modern face.

Undertow by Samuel Parr

From the intro: Descending into hell is such a popular theme in literature that there is even a specific word for this trope: katabasis. And Undertow is one, a modern katabasis that takes us into the river of eternity itself. As with all of Sam’s work, however, all is not as it seems. That which seems grandest can be most fragile, most illusionary, and that which is most fragile-seeming can be made of steel.

Mirabel enters the sewer-like Undertow to save her brother. But she is no ordinary girl.

Parr has created a quest in this story, one where a young magic-user encounters creatures of the grotesque as barriers to her goal. They are at once fearful of and hungry for her, but she has armed herself well. With a soul to barter.

Another tale with a narrator watching from afar, Undertow creates a vision of Hell that will stick with me for a long time. Fearsome monsters clamor for the new, the fresh. It’s what they see so little of, and what they desire most.

Parr seamlessly moves through this world and its sinister beasties, allowing the narrator to come ever closer to Mirabel, revealing a unusual nature, and finally becoming part of her story. It’s a fascinating, engrossing read. A tale of redemption, of resistance, of sacrifice.

zombie crowd walking at night,halloween concept,illustration painting

 

Editor Joe Sale ends the collection with one of his stories first published in Storgy magazine.

“Night Drive” is a great fit for this collection of tales. It’s dark, even claustrophobic at times, making the reader feel the impending doom closing in on the driver, the former Reverend John. Perfectly paced, it winds between a frantic pace and moments of relief, where we drag in deep cleansing breaths before plunging back into the pit again.

Reverend John can’t outrun his past—of lust, power, and baneful gods. He can’t outrun what he himself has called forth through poorly advised ritual.

You can get a paperback copy of 13 Dark Issue #1 at Lulu. Use code LULU25 to get 25% off the purchase price.

 

My Interview on Talking With Authors

I do a lot of interviews, I rarely am interviewed myself.

But Curtis Anderson of Talking With Authors reached out and asked me for an interview. I’m so glad he did. We spoke about my influences, Southern Gothic horror in general, and why some people may shy away from horror as a genre. And of course, we spoke about my writing!

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Curtis is a phenomenal interviewer– enthusiastic and engaging, and his questions are thoughtful and fun. For those who are nervous about being interviewed on live audio, he also makes you feel comfortable, and if I may say it… really good about yourself and your work.

Thanks to Curtis for this amazing interview, and for reaching out in the first place. I appreciate all he does to boost and bring attention to our work. Listen to the entire interview below:

 

Graveyard Shift Sister: Rebecca R. Pierce

I’ve noticed a trend with my recent posts: there haven’t been many.

Usually, I’m pretty consistent with posting to this blog, but lately, I’ve been focusing on writing. Which is a good thing in the long run, but my contact with the outside world is suffering.

Time to catch up. I’ll be making a flurry of posts to bring the blog back up to date, then going forward…

Well, I’d better not make that promise.

I’ll just leave you with the link to my review and interview with the wonderful Rebecca R. Pierce on Graveyard Shift Sisters. While GSS’s tag line is: Purging the Black female horror fan from the margins, we celebrate the work of all women of color who love horror.

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13 Dark: A Fiction & Art Project

Are you ready for a journey into the dark? 

I’ve been asked to be a part of an amazing project.

13Dark (stylized to †3Dark) is a unique project that will showcase both written and visual artwork of some of speculative fiction’s greatest creatives.

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All of the work will explore the sacred and profane, the holy and damned, the beatific and the demonic. Think of the kind of subtle supernaturalism and religiosity of something like True Detective, or Craig Clevenger’s story “Act of Contrition” from The New Black.

 

Who are the writers?  Established names including Richard Thomas, Moira Katson, Veronica Magenta Nero, and Christa Wojciechowski as well as newer voices such as Matthew Blackwell, Andy Cashmore, Samuel Parr, Tomek Dzido, Anthony Self, Ross Jeffery, Jamie Parry-Bruce and Tice Cin. And myself, of course.

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The aim is to release 13 unique short stories monthly, in digital and paperback form, accompanied by custom artwork from Shawn Langley, and with cover artwork by grandfailure. These editions will be beautifully produced, melding the visual and written elements, offering unique insight into our world, and the darkness it holds.

Each story will be edited and have a foreword written by editor Joseph Sale. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of something colossal. Joseph has put together a YouTube video for 13 Dark, where he talks about the project and why he quit his job to bring his vision to fruition.

Here’s the Kickstarter link. Check out the amazing rewards, including magazine subscriptions from Gamut and Storgy, custom designed artwork, and professional editing for your novel or novella! Then share, and donate if you can. Talk about the project on your social media channels.

Keep up with new releases, artwork, and how we’re doing on Facebook and Twitter.

Oh, are you wondering what my story is about? (It’s scheduled for release in January 2018.) I have some ideas, but it isn’t written yet, so feel free to leave me a comment if you want to throw out a suggestion.

Cinched – A Release

It’s been a busy year for me, full of amazing experiences. I managed to get my short story collection Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror out this year, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get anything else out.

But I have!

I’m happy to announce that my short horror story “Basque of the Red Death” is in the multi-genre anthology Cinched: Imagination Unbound available now from Falstaff Books. (And it’s the first story in the antho!)

Cinched book cover
Contains my short story “Basque of the Red Death”. Yeah, you read that right.

 

This collection runs the gamut from steampunk to horror, from steamy romance to weird western, from victorian thriller to contemporary bondage. But they all feature the corset in some way.

My story was inspired by Poe’s classic short story “Masque of the Red Death”, but I’ve set the tale in the South and given it a few additional horrors. If you haven’t read Poe’s original tale, read it for free here.

Then check out Cinched: Imagination Unbound on Amazon for some twisted tales.

Featuring stories by:
John G. Hartness
Gail Z. Martin & Larry N. Martin
Misty Massey
Emily Lavin Leverett
Kimberly Richardson
Sarah Joy Adams
MB Weston
Herika Raymer
Dave Harlequin
RD Stevens
Andrea Judy
Nico Serene
Eden Royce <–That’s me!