A Celebration of Women Writers

In 2016, I won the HWA Scholarship. It changed my life. Sometimes, I think it might have even saved my life. The news came just weeks after a bicycle accident that left me with substantial physical and cognitive damage I still struggle with to this day. The depression and pain nearly won. But then, I was rescued.

That simple phone call gave me hope. It gave me purpose. As part of my introduction to the Horror Writers Association, I met women who were compassionate instead of competitive. It was an experience unlike any other. These brilliant, bold, creative women opened doors to paths I’m still walking today.

I met other women, too. Remarkable women who held me up and guided me towards the realization of my dreams. I am lucky, indeed, to be blessed by the presence of the female friends who surround me. My life has also been enrichened by mentors who believe in me, even when I forget to believe in myself.

How can there only be a single month to celebrate the accomplishments of these women who I hold so dear? How can a mere 28 days lead to the discovery of new writers, all of those inspiring and imaginative women who I haven’t even met yet?

The answer, of course, is that a single month is not enough. It will never be enough.

There is not a day that passes when I feel alone. There is not a day, not a single one, when I am not graced by the presence of these beautiful, brave women. It’s a community I cherish with every fiber of my being. We are legion.

I feel it is important to add to this community in any way I can. One of those ways is to support writers whose work I admire. I’m also ardent in my attempts to discover new authors to follow. Even when times are tight, I figure I can purchase a book or two a month. And when I’m flush, I’m a madwoman. Books show up every few days.

As part of my reading endeavors, I’ve preordered several books scheduled to be released in February and March. Some of these writers are familiar, and some are new to me. However, I’m eager to read them all, and I hope they will be of interest to you, too.

Subterranean Press is releasing The Best of Elizabeth Hand in February. When I was at Stonecoast, I had the incredible opportunity to work under the mentorship of Liz Hand on several occasions. She was the first writer to recommend my work to an editor. Even though I was still struggling with the cognitive issues linked to my brain injury, Liz believed in me. Not only that, but she guided me away from the familiar with new ideas and challenges. She was a pivotal force behind that first step into developing a voice of my own. I have a book shelf dedicated to her work, and there is a spot waiting for my personal copy of this limited edition gem.

I remember the first story I read by Isabel Yap. It was “An Ocean the Color of Bruises,” which was published by Uncanny Magazine. I loved Isabel’s voice, so I made sure to keep her work on my radar. In addition to supporting new voices, I also make an effort to support small presses. When I saw that Small Beer Press was publishing Isabel’s debut collection Never Have I Ever, I knew I had to preorder a copy. It’s described as a collection of “Spells and stories, urban legends and immigrant tales .” Luckily, it’s also coming out this month. I can’t wait to dig in.

I love it when the stars align, which is exactly what happened when I met Julie C. Day. Her stories are magic–pure and simple. Vernacular Books included one of Julie’s stories in the future crime anthology The Way of the Laser. The stunning splendor of her world-building skills in that story led to the development of the mosaic novel project Shattered. A new installment is scheduled to come out each month in 2021. (You can read the first installment HERE.) The world Julie has built is terrifying and gorgeous and brilliant. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Several years ago, I read the title story of this collection. It was one of those pieces that haunted me for a long time. So, when I saw that Veronica Schanoes was releasing Burning Girls in March, I knew I had to have it. In addition to the darker side of fantasy, I have a passion for fabulism. Veronica’s work reminds me of stories I’ve enjoyed by other fantasists including Kelly Link, Carmen Maria Machado, and Aimee Bender. I briefly met Veronica at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, where I awkwardly admired her creative work. She is kind and brilliant. And I think she is simply fabulous.

One of the most anticipated books of spring is All the Murmuring Bones by A. G. Slatter. Although it won’t be released until March 9, I preordered my copy way back in October. It is described as a dark, Gothic fairy tale, which is right up my alley. However, it’s also by one of my favorite authors of all time. I met Angela Slatter online back in 2016, just a few months after my accident. Not only has her work inspired and informed my own, but she has also become a valued mentor and friend. I encourage you to read her work. I promise you’ll be glad you did.

It is easy to purchase books by writers whose work I admire, but I also try to make a point of discovering new (to me) authors. In addition to dark fantasy and horror, I enjoy collecting non-fiction books on subjects of interest. It just so happens that Jess Zimmerman is releasing Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology on the same day All the Murmuring Bones comes out. This seemed like a sign, so into my shopping cart it went. This book is described as a cultural analysis of monstrous women in Greek myth through a feminist lens. How could anyone resist that?

Publication Announcements & End of the Year Round-Up

I just received a parcel delivered through Royal Mail! Inside were my contributor copies of Bitter Distillations: An Anthology of Poisonous Tales, which was edited by Mark Beech and published by Egaeus Press. It is a beautiful book, and I’m beyond thrilled that my story “An Embrace of Poisonous Intent” closes out this gorgeous array of tales. I’ve been adding titles put out by Egaeus Press to by bookshelves for a couple of years now. The fact that copies of their newest anthology showed up on the last day of the year makes this story success that much sweeter.

Although 2020 has been a challenging year in many ways, it has also been one of my most productive. I finished my first novel, which I’m currently editing under the guidance of the amazing Angela Slatter. (If you have the opportunity to work with her, take it. Trust me on this.) I also wrote five original stories including “An Embrace of Poisonous Intent” and “The Stages of Monster Grief: A Guide for Middle-aged Vampires,” which came out in the October publication of Coffin Blossoms.

This year was a year filled with firsts for me. My story “Rotten” was the final story in the Crystal Lake anthology Arterial Bloom, edited by Mercedes M. Yardley. I also had a story listed as the opening story with the publication of “An Authentic Experience” in Wild: Uncivilized Tales from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. The linked vignettes I wrote for The Lost Citadel Roleplaying Game were published by Green Ronin Publishing in December. And I also celebrated my first translated story with the Japanese publication of “A Seed Planted” in Night Land Quarterly, Vol. 21.

In the end, my work came out in nine publications (including two reprints) in 2020. Although I only published two stories in 2019, they both received mentions this year as well. My story “Burning Bright” from Gorgon: Stories of Emergence received a nod from the renowned editor Ellen Datlow in The Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 12, and Terror at ‘5280, which includes my story “Gaze with Undimmed Eyes and the World Drops Dead,” won Best Anthology at the 2020 Best Book Awards (BBA) by¬†American Book Fest.

In addition to my own publications, I co-edited the charity anthology Weird Dream Society: An Anthology of the Possible & Unsubstantiated in Support of RAICES, and I was a judge for the HWA Poetry Showcase, Vol. VII. I also had the wonderful opportunity to share my favorite books of 2020 at Vernacular Books.

My planner is full of hopes and dreams for 2021, and I look forward to the creative challenges ahead. Happy New Year!