This spring has been a big one for new fiction from me, and I’m delighted to announce the release of the anthology The Secrets of Harrowgate Valley, which features my short story “Pressure Games.” This anthology also features stories from bestselling author Traci Douglass, Hieronymus Hawkes, Sheri Queen, J. Bigelow, S.R. Brown, Annika Sundberg, and the anthology’s editor Carrie Gessner (who is also my cohost on the podcast PosPop). This project was a long time coming and involved so much collaboration and work from each contributor. I am so honored to be in this collection, which is a shared world anthology set at a university in Pennsylvania where lots of strange things happen! My own story is about a succubus who feeds on her partner’s magic use, which leads then both down a dark path.
Big publication news, readers! I have released a new Sam Brody novella today. That’s right, a sequel to my urban fantasy series, which began with The Red Eye, is now out as a Kindle exclusive ebook. This novella is available for free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers and for only 99 cents otherwise.
This novella, entitled The Skittering, has been in the works for several years, but during our period of self-isolation and quarantine, I have managed to get a big writing push going and completed it just a couple of weeks ago. The Red Eye and its prequel, The House on Concordia Drive, were originally published by Alliteration Ink, which unfortunately has gone out of business. I had planned to bundle The Skittering with the previous Sam Brody adventures and release an omnibus edition, ideally shopping it around to new publishers. I may indeed still do that at a later date, but I also felt that releasing The Skittering now, while we’re all cloistered and in desperate need of reading material, felt like the right thing to do.
If you have not read the previous Sam Brody pieces, you don’t really need to know much to dive into The Skittering. Sam is a radio show host of a late night program called The Red Eye. His show is about debunking the supernatural, which becomes ironic when he discovers he is actually a telekinetic dragonslayer. His girlfriend, Heather, is the producer for his show, and he has a complicated relationship with a mysterious woman named Bridget, who is a seer and a witch. In The Skittering, Sam and Heather are attending a podcasting convention, when one of the organizers goes missing. Sam is called upon to help the convention investigate the disappearance.
I hope you enjoy this story! It’s definitely for fans of urban fantasy, quippy anti-heroes, and adventure. Stay safe and healthy, everyone!
Greetings, readers, and I must apologize for not blogging in a hot minute. Things have been hectic this year, and while I have discussed a lot of this in other social media, I figured it was time for a near-the-end-of-the-year wrap-up of things I’ve been working on and releasing!
First of all, late this summer, I started a podcast with author Carrie Gessner. It’s called PosPop: Positively Pop Culture, and you can find it on all your favorite podcasting apps. We discuss several pop culture things every week (new episodes drop on Wednesdays), all from the perspective of being enthusiastic and happy about what we’re watching, reading, and listening to. Every few episodes, we also watch the same old TV pilot and discuss how it holds up. You can follow our Twitter account for all the latest info about new episodes! I will also soon be appearing as a player on an RPG podcast to be released soon. More info on that when I have it!
Secondly, I released a Kindle exclusive ebook this month called Advent Writing: 24 Creative Prompts to Get You Inspired This Holiday Season. This is only 99 cents or free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited member, and it walks you through a prompt a day from December 1st through Christmas Eve. By the end of Advent, you’ll have written multiple poems and short stories. This would make a fun alternative (or supplement) to NaNoWriMo!
In other publishing news, I got three peer-reviewed articles accepted in academic journals and anthologies this year and two short stories accepted into anthologies. My drabble “Control” appears in Worlds: A Dark Drabbles Anthology (Black Hare Press), and my horror story “Parasomnia” will be in Dark Lane Anthology Volume 9 early next year. My short story “Doomed” was reprinted in FreedomFiction over the summer (originally published in the fabulous anthology Sidekicks!, which went out of print this year). I also appeared at two academic conferences and also PulpFest in Pittsburgh, which was super fun.
I wrote a lot of stuff this year that’s still out on submission, and I’ve been chipping away at several large-scale fiction and poetry projects, including The Girl with Mechanical Wings (the sequel to The Curiosity Killers), as well as The Skittering (the sequel to The Red Eye, which is now unfortunately out of print). Once the latter is complete, I’ll be working on a Sam Brody omnibus volume and seeking a new publisher for it.
The big thing that’s occupying a lot of my writing life right now is my Ph.D. dissertation. As of today, I’m about 80% done with the full first draft. This has been a long journey. I started my degree in 2016, and I’m still hoping to graduate sometime in 2020. I’ve learned so much about writing during this process, and I’ve started to think about what kinds of writing and creative goals I have when I’m done.
Wishing you and yours a fabulous holiday season! If you subscribe to my podcast or buy any of my books (they would make great gifts!), I hope you enjoy them.
Ragnarök Unwound is the new novel from Kristin Jacques, just released this week from Sky Forest Press, a publisher with whom I act as a consultant. The book is about a young woman whose estranged mother left her with the power to unravel the binding threads of fate. According to the publisher, this means our heroine is “stuck with immortal power in a mortal body,” resulting in her “turning her back on the duty she never wanted.” The problem comes into play when Ragnarok begins. Our heroine then joins forces with several magical creatures and has to save the world. While this sounds like a lot of chosen one stories, I love that this one is set in a world that includes Valkyrie, goddesses, and a rich mixture of mythology. Author Kristin Jacques got her start in the Wattpad Stars program and has since written for major media properties, including Warner Brothers and Hulu. Sky Forest Press is committed to putting forward voices of diversity and inclusion, particularly by publishing work with primarily female protagonists. You can read more about their mission on their website. The novel is available through major outlets, including Amazon, in paperback and ebook formats.
I’m proud to consult for Sky Forest Press, and I believe their mission of bringing certain stories and voices to the speculative fiction market is vital.
My horror novella, We Shadows Have Offended, is now newly available as a Kindle ebook exclusive. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can get this title for free; if not, it’s just 99 cents.
This work began life as a writing prompt many years ago, probably as far back as 2009 or so. In a writing group, I was given the concept of “shame” to work with, and for the longest time this piece was a story titled “The Beginning of Shame.” The bones of the piece are based in the facts of an obscure court case from the 1950s wherein a young military man was shot and killed by a stranger just outside of Chicago; the stranger was not found guilty, and yet the facts of it were confusing to me and seemed somehow obscured. I love reading about odd true crime tales, but I decided to infuse this one with outright supernatural horror, combining other things like ethnicity and class difference in subtle ways. In a lot of my early horror, I am clearly being influenced by the dialogue acumen of Stephen King, and this is no exception.
The original edition of this novella was released in 2011 by Etopia Press and later anthologized in their paperback horror collection A Touch of Darkness. Both of these versions are now out of print, but this new release is the same text, just now available through my Dioscuri Books imprint. If you didn’t get a chance to read it before, I hope you’ll give it a shot now.
It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this site with my writerly goings-on, and the main reason for that is school. In 2016, I began a new chapter in my scholarly life as a Ph.D. student, which involved a whole lot of coursework early on, new teaching preps, and living part-time in a new city. Fortunately, the coursework phase of my degree is now done, which has allowed me to live back in my primary residence full-time; let me tell you, splitting my week between two homes is not the glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle of the rich and famous, and I’m delighted to be done with it. Currently, I’m preparing for my qualifying exams, teaching online, and writing a lot, including a more regular return to creative work.
Today, I’m delighted to announce a guest post on the blog Unbound, in which I discuss common misconceptions about feminism. I also have some exciting new pieces coming out, including my contribution to Carrion Blue 555’s third volume of fifty-five word short stories, 555 Volume 3: Questions and Cancers. My contribution to that anthology was quite challenging: fifty-five short stories of fifty-five words each. I wrote the bulk of them during my few few terms at grad school, lonely and away from home, and I think that stress shows through (to good effect). I’ve also resumed work on the sequel to my science fiction novel The Curiosity Killers (Dog Star Books, 2016), tentative titled The Girl with Mechanical Wings. Sadly, that novel had to take a backseat to my studies, but I’m delighted to be back in the thick of it, with a goal of finishing a first draft by the end of summer 2018.
In other fiction news, I’m releasing a new edition of my 2011 novella, We Shadows Have Offended, through my own Dioscuri Books imprint. This will be a Kindle exclusive and likely available through both Kindle Unlimited and as a regular Kindle ebook, priced very low. I’m delighted about this and can’t wait to wrap production on it.
In the past two years, I’ve also been doing a lot of scholarly writing and presenting on everything from TV shows (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Travelers) to paranormal romance novels, women in punk rock, feminist imagery in music video, and Victorian prison design. I love the fact that my degree program (focusing on cultural studies, film and media, and gender) allows me to explore such a diverse array of subject areas, and yet I’m also excited to have the breathing room to do some original fiction and poetry work this summer, too. My next adventure that combines my love of popular fiction and my scholarly work will be to present at a science fiction conference this summer.
Watch this space–I should have an announcement about the new edition of We Shadows in the next month. Until then, wish me luck as I buckle down and do some heavy lifting on preparing the digital copy.
The Curiosity Killers was released on May 5, and broke Amazon’s top 100 in the Steampunk category. Many thanks to those who pre-ordered! If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, it’s now also available not only in paperback but in ebook format. You can find it from the publisher or at your favorite online book retailer. You can also purchase a copy at Blue Jacket Books on May 28th, when I’ll be signing copies and reading excerpts alongside my fellow Dog Star Books authors Matt Betts and J.L. Gribble.
Speaking of other fellow DSB authors, Heidi Ruby Miller has some news about The Curiosity Killers on her blog, and she’ll be appearing at Copyleft Gallery in Pittsburgh tomorrow, along with six other fabulous authors and an editor from Parsec Ink Books. If you’re in that area, you should absolutely attend! Miller’s novel Starrie was released in March.
From now until May 26, you can enter to win a Goodreads Giveaway for The Curiosity Killers, and even if you’ve already secured your own copy, you should still enter! This book makes a great gift, after all! Just hit “Enter Giveaway” from the Goodreads page.
Finally, some big news for Raw Dog Screaming Press: S. Craig Zahler’s Wraiths of the Broken Land will be adapted for film, helmed by Ridley Scott and Drew Goddard, the team behind The Martian. Zahler is also the co-author of the Dog Star title Corpus Chrome and several other titles. I feel very honored to have The Curiosity Killers in the same company as such shiny, successful works! Wraiths of the Broken Land has subsequently zoomed up to the top of the Kindle charts as a result! Way to go!
Dog Star Books authors Matt Betts, J.L. Gribble, and I will be reading and signing our latest releases at Blue Jacket Books in Xenia, Ohio on May 28th, 1-4 pm. This event is free and open to the public.
Dog Star Books is the science fiction adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press, and publishes smart, fun, evocative, and dynamic new voices in SF.
Matt Betts is the author of the steampunk novel Odd Men Out, the dark urban fantasy Indelible Ink, and the brand new collection of subversive poetry, Underwater Fistfight.
J.L. Gribble made her debut with Dog Star with 2015’s urban fantasy Steel Victory. She will have advance copies of the second volume in this epic alternate history world, Steel Magic, available at Blue Jacket.
I’m appearing on the heels of the May 6th release of my steampunk time travel novel The Curiosity Killers, a work set partially in Dayton and featuring appearances by the Wright Brothers.
Blue Jacket Books in Xenia, Ohio, is the premiere Miami Valley retailer for a carefully selected inventory of used, rare, and out-of print books on a variety of subjects, with a new café space and frequent events. For updates and more information, see our Facebook event page, share it, and express interest or RSVP your attendance!
My first science fiction novel, The Curiosity Killers, can now be pre-ordered. Release date is May 5, just 15 days away! I could not be more excited about my debut piece with Dog Star Books, who have been absolutely fabulous to work with.
Writing a time travel novel is no easy feat, and I tackled a lot in this book, but I think there’s really something here for everyone on the SF fan spectrum. What do SF fans like? To lump it all in as one amorphous genre is impossible, of course, but here are some fun trends I’ve seen in popular fiction and media lately that I managed to hit upon, though this is admittedly a bit tongue in cheek.
– Dudes in velvet: CHECK.
The Curiosity Killers is something I’m calling “dystopian steampunk,” stemming from a quasi-Victorian future with limited technology. Other parts are set in 1888 and 1910, so there is certainly more of legitimately Victorian/Edwardian vibe. And dudes in, yes, velvet. And bowler hats. And tweed. And ladies in long skirts. It’s all very fetching fashion, believe me.
– Time travel to stop Jack the Ripper: CHECK.
This is a bit of a trope. If it’s not saving JFK, it’s stopping or figuring out who Jack the Ripper is, right? But in The Curiosity Killers, I’ve taken this to a bit of a different place, and integrated several other famous unsolved murders into the mix.
– The threat of paradoxes: CHECK.
Some of the best time travel novels seem to ignore the concept of paradox problems, whereas I had a beta reader whose sole job was to find paradox problems for me and help me avoid them. Did I succeed? I hope so, and boy was it tough! There’s no Marty McFly getting erased from existence moments here!
– Weird X-Files creatures: CHECK.
Do you like cryptids? Do you wonder what lurks out in the darkness late at night? Do men in black and the thought that maybe–just maybe–the Mothman was an alien tickle at your subconscious? You will be delighted with a subplot that manages to link these mysterious creatures with one of the most famous mass disappearances in American history.
– Tough as cookies heroines: CHECK.
This book features several amazing women, from the Wright Brothers’ sister Katharine to FBI agent Violet Lessep and time travel agency assistants Kris Moto and Alison Keller, ladies hold their own in this novel, and perform admirably.
What else are you looking for in a SF novel? Comment away, and I’ll tell you why The Curiosity Killers is sure to fit your reading needs.
Just a quick thing today: I’ve given this advice before, but I think it bears repeating. Writing with an eye toward publication means rejection. If a piece gets rejected but the editors or agents gave no notes, unless you yourself really think there’s something needing some tinkering, get that back out on the submission rounds ASAP. Ideally, when you were choosing where to submit to, you picked out more than one market in the first place, so on to the next one. If that file isn’t getting emailed to another editor within the hour, you are going to languish in the morass of “woe is me”-isms and not make any progress.
New writers, seriously. Perseverance is what separates someone with a big publication record from someone without one. Rejection is not about you as a human, you as a cool person, you as a smart person, or you as anything other than the writer of the words on that page. It does not speak to your overall value and may indeed have way more to do with the fit between your piece and that market. Yes, if a piece gets notes back or keeps getting rejected, maybe it’s time to rework it (note I did not say “delete” or “retire” it; a lot of work can be salvaged more than you think). But if you get one “no,” that in no way means the next response won’t be a “yes.” Chill out and re-send it.