Publication: “A Time of Loneliness” in Horror Tree

The park bench was abandoned even before the plague.  Then, when the zombies walked with flowers in their hair and fallen leaves trailing after them like so many lost puppies—the sense of emptiness grew.

Every day, Sharon would come and watch the newly risen dead walk.  They would hang around the bench she sat on like flies around rotting meat. 

“A Time of Loneliness,” by Varian Ross

My short zombie story is now published in Horror Tree’s Trembling with Fear series! I wrote this back in 2014, and it finally found a home. The inspiration for this story was a picture of an abandoned park bench, and the artist zombie character sprang to life from there.

Stephanie Ellis, the editor of Trembling With Fear, describes it as “one of the most beautiful and touching zombie stories I have ever read. This tale brings back the humanity to those often thought of as nothing but rotting flesh, reminding us that maybe, just maybe, there is something still left behind.”

You can read “A Time of Loneliness” here [link]. (It’s the second story.)

Upcoming Publication: “It Won’t Be So Bad”

I’m pleased to announce that my sci-fi/horror short story “It Won’t Be So Bad” is going to be published by Ghost Orchid Press! It’s being published in Blood & Bone: An Anthology of Body Horror by Women and Non-Binary Writers. This story is my worst nightmare put to paper, and it still feels surreal that it sold.

Content warnings: pregnancy, gaslighting, unreality, death, discussion of gender dysphoria.

Blood & Bone can be pre-ordered here [link].

Publication: Where The Heart Is

I’m very pleased to announce that I have a poem “Where The Heart Is,” is Home: Hundred Word Horror by Ghost Orchid Press. Ghost Orchid Press [link] is a small indie press located in the UK, and Home is their debut anthology.

“Where The Heart Is” is an acrostic poem inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. Longtime readers of my work on places like my Patreon [link] will note that acrostic poetry is one of my favorite types to write. And where better to put a beating heart than under the floorboards?

Get Home HERE [Amazon link]

Goodbye (Sonnet for 2020)

This year was a dumpster fire; plague ravages the planet.
Hospitals filled, political corruption, the world ending
Isolation, dinners alone, climbing up walls trying to manage,
but sometimes it feels like this is not worth mending.
These dark days surround us–are there darker days ahead?
What’s coming down the timeline, what blood soaked
horror waits to fill our world with dread (and the dead.)
In hopeful words I write I keep my heart and mind cloaked
but in horror stories I found solace; pen to paper to bring fear.
It was something else to be scared of, I could close the book,
when things got too intense, I could control novels. I must hear
the news, even when trying to step back, I had no choice but to look
Though there was some good, this year has been mostly pain;
there’s been so much loss, and next to nothing in gain.

This poem was originally posted on my Patreon [link]! Patrons get this post, and all others like it, three days before the rest of the world does, as well as access to exclusive writings. A huge thank you to my patrons; you’ve inspired me to keep writing, and helped me get things like coffee and a new mouse for my computer.

Top Books of 2020

I read a wide variety of genres when it comes to books, but romance and horror are two of my favorites. One of my goals for this year was to read from a wider variety of authors–more indie press and more marginalized authors, especially. Looking at this list, I’d say I accomplished that goal! All links within this post are to GoodReads pages of the books in question. (The reviews are short because the word count for this post is already over 900 words.)

I’ll be making this a top 10 list, but it’s not in any particular order.

The Four Profound Weaves, by R. B. Lemberg

I had no idea how much I needed a book with trans characters who were elders, until I read The Four Profound Weaves [link]. This book is not only a fantastic fantasy novella, it’s also a very comforting read. Being trans myself, seeing characters like me mostly in young adult books gets…tiring? I’m not sure what the word I want is, but seeing truly *old* characters who’d transitioned was something I *needed* to see.

The Blind Owl, by Sadegh Hedayat

I genuinely do not know how to describe the plot of this book [link]. The meme of “it has no plot, but the vibes are impeccable” applies well to The Blind Owl. It is bizarre, written in a stream-of-conscious style of narration, with lots of repetition of certain elements (i.e. the black horses.) The writing is beautiful in a really odd way, but part of it could be due to translation (this novel was originally written in Arabic) and being written in the late 1930’s.

It reminds me a lot of both Edgar Allan Poe, and House of Leaves. Considering that Poe is one of my favorite authors, and House of Leaves left me scared of the dark–that’s very high praise to give to a book.

The Good House, by Tananarive Due

I’ve never read a horror novel [link] that treated voudu and the lwa with such respect as this. If this wasn’t incredibly well written, book would make my top reads list, just for that. Voudu is often used in horror as “oh, spooky” shorthand, ignoring the very real religion that’s still being practiced today.

I picked this up on a whim, and found an author who’s now one of my favorites. I loved this so much I bought my own copy after I returned it to the library.

The Worm and His Kings, by Hailey Piper

I wrote a review [link] for this book [link] not long after it was released. As I said to Hailey on Twitter, “you had me at ‘queer cosmic horror’.” Making the list of “books so queer I hugged my Kindle” is something that means a book is almost guarantee to get 5 stars. My review can mostly speak for itself, but this is a book that I highly recommend to any fan of cosmic horror.

The Queen of Cups, by Ren Basel

Another book that was so queer I hugged my Kindle in joy. This is a short story [link], which sets it apart from the longer novels on this list. But it brought me so much happiness in a short 30 pages, that it had to go on this list. I love the fantasy, the growing queerplatonic relationship, and seeing a fantasy story with an autistic main character.

Knit One, Girl Two, by Shira Glassman

Despite being a knitter myself, it took me way too long to realize the title of this novella [link] is a pun on “knit one, purl two.” This is a very sweet f/f romance between two Jewish women, and introduced me to a wonderful author. There wasn’t much to speak of in the way of conflict, but that was what I wanted when I picked this book up.

Slave to Sensation, by Nalini Singh

The title of this book [link] sounds ridiculous at first. But, given that Sascha isn’t supposed to feel any emotions, let alone (romantic) love, it makes sense. This book had something I wish more paranormal romances had–characters who are *truly* not human, who have different norms and cultures than humans. I’m also very happy to hear that the first part of this series is complete–season one is a 15 books long! Season two has four books out right now. I’m really excited to read more of these.

Ayesha At Last, by Uzma Jalaluddin

I confess, despite being a romance reader, I’ve never read Jane Austin. I picked this book [link] up because I was seeing rave reviews, and there was also a lot of Shakespeare influence (and some Rumi) as well. I do wish there was another chapter or an epilogue that showed Khalid and Ayesha together as a couple, rather than they “they’ll get married next year” comment.

The Luckiest Lady in London, by Sherry Thomas

This book [link] was recommended to me when I was looking for a historical romance that was a proper courtship, rather than wacky shenanigans. I’ve never read a historical romance with such a tight focus on the main couple before. No side plots. No random kidnapping thrown in during the last quarter of the book. Beautiful, beautiful writing.

Hate to Want You, by Alisha Rai

I normally don’t read a trilogy of novels [link] one right after the other. But, I flew through the Forbidden Hearts series in about a week. I was invested in learning what had happened to cause a family rift so deep these people wouldn’t even be seen at the same grocery store. And when I learned what happened, I understood why these people hated each other so much.

The Rising Lights of Winter [Part II]

Julian had chosen to forego the mask; he instead wore all black, with a simple crown of silver leaves in his hair. He left his hair down, and Melissa had said he looked like an elven prince.

Lu, the clockwork jackal, was asleep by the fire. Julian had no idea how Melissa had gotten the thing inside the ball with her, but she had. He kept his gaze on the creature, waiting for Melissa to arrive.

He reached for the glass of water on the table. He kept looking at the envelope, it had indeed been an invitation to a ball. The correct name had been on it as well.

He knew his fears of rejection were irrational. But constantly looking over his shoulder for over twenty odd years of pretending to be someone he was not had given him a feeling of sinking into a void of his own mind...

Read the rest of the story here [link] on my Patreon! Subscribers get this, and all other works, three days before the rest of the world does.

Part one of this story is here [link]

We Are Wolves: First Impressions

I normally wait until I’ve finished a book to review it. When I picked up We Are Wolves [link], which is edited by Gemma Amor, I had plans to spend my Saturday casually reading, taking notes on the stories, and then typing a review on Monday. I love horror anthologies, both as a way to find new authors, and for a quick, creepy story.

As you can see, this is the “first impressions” review. I think this book will take a few weeks to read through all the stories, since I found myself needing to take a break after the second story. I got about a fourth of the way through the book, and realized I should probably slow down and space out reading this collection.

If I needed one word to describe the stories I’ve read so far, it’s “Intense.” The stories are beautifully written, and there are amazing authors are in here. But the stories are also visceral. I can almost feel some of these sticking with me.

I’ll be back with a full length review of this in the future. For now, I’m giving it two very enthusiastic thumbs up, and going to read something fluffy for a bit.

The Sea Claims All

Trembling in the night time air,
half dozen gulls fly away. This
evening I wait for the moon and the
stars. They shall light my way, to an
enchanted land under the sea.
A clock strikes midnight, the
currents recede, the tides low.
Long ago I dreamed of this place,
and now I shall attend to my fate.
In this still night, I shall stride to
meet what I am meant for, the
siren song of leaving this wold behind.
And the sea shall claim everything,
least of all my doubts and fears.
Least of all, it shall claim all I hold dear.

This poem was originally posted on my Patreon [link] in October.

Site Update, 12/9/2020

Hopefully this is the last *update* post I need to write for a while.

I tried hosting the site myself. I had no idea at all that doing such a thing would mean having to do all the coding and such myself. Any time I tried to fix something, something else would go wrong. Instead of spending much of the weekend knitting and continuing my binge of The Magnus Archives, I spent it trying to figure out what the fuck I broke now.

So I went back to WordPress, did some math, and invested in their Business plan. Expensive, yes, but it would save me a million headaches in the long run.

Then I installed plug ins.

And my site crashed.

So after a very helpful convo with the WP costumer service person, I’ve gone back down to the premium plan. This does remove plug-ins, but the one I was using the most was causing my site to crash, so I’d end up not using them anyway.

This *does,* however, give back the ability to follow my blog via WordPress again, as well as by email! Like and reblogs are back!

Shout out to the WordPress customer service, they were seriously awesome! They helped me determine that the Business plan wasn’t for me, and helped me set up a refund without any pressure to stay on the plan. Super big help!

So that has been my site maintenance adventures over the last few days. I apologize for an inconvenience.