Two stories in Eleven Eleven

I’ve got two stories in the recent issue of Eleven Eleven: “Feeding the Skeleton Cats” and “Tornado Season.”

I wrote “Tornado Season” during, well, tornado season, after obsessively checking the TorCon and worrying over the arrival of my storm shelter, after crouching in my hallway with a mattress pad over my head while tornado sirens sounded, after setting up five weather alerts on my phone. I’m terrified of storms. To try to take some of the power out of that fear, I wrote a story, an exercise in free writing, about a couple in a weather-ravaged post-apocalypse trying to escape the weather and their memory.

I wrote “Feeding the Skeleton Cats” as a third in a skeletons series (“Skeletons” and “The Mammoth” are the other two stories). Every time I thought I was done writing about walking, living skeletons as metaphor, I come back to them. I’m not scared of skeletons, but I am scared of failing as a writer, and the main character in this story is a failed writer whose house is infested with the skeleton cats of the title.

Read them both here:


Achievement Unlocked! Agent Representation!

I’m happy to announce that I’m now represented by agent Ann Collette at Rees Literary Agency.

One of my friends asked me how long it took from query to contract; it took about five months. That’s not including the time to write the novel, revise the novel, write the query, revise the query, and research agents. I started writing this particular project in February of 2014. In other words, if you’re going through the process right now and starting to feel a bit hopeless–as I did–try to remember that it takes a long time, this writing business thing.

For those curious about the novel itself, it’s called The Last Siren and it’s based on my short story “The Siren,” which appeared in Strange Horizons in 2013.

Audio reprint, Clarkesworld Year Seven, and “Doors” illustration

I just returned from a week-long camping retreat with fellow writers Julie Day and Michael DeLuca. We viewed the Marfa lights, walked in the Big Bend hot sun, seared vegan marshmallows, and half-slept in a haunted tent. I returned sunburnt, exhausted, but inspired.

IMG_1867 IMG_1875

While away, a few writing bits filled my inbox.

  • My story “An Exodus of Wings,” which originally appeared in Daily Science Fiction, has been reprinted in the audio magazine The Drabblecast. Listen to it here.
Art by Melissa McClanahan
Art by Melissa McClanahan


  • I saw a first glimpse of the art for my forthcoming story “Doors” from Interzone. I’m thrilled to see the whole issue.
Art by Richard Wagner
Art by Richard Wagner

Art & Words Show Success

The third annual Art & Words Show Reception, which I created and now coordinate, took place on Saturday, September 27, 2014, with the written and visual work from 13 writers and 13 artists. Each artist created a painting or sculpture in response to a story or poem. Each writer created a new story or poem in response to a visual work. This silent collaboration culminated in 52 original works of art & words, which will be on display until October 4 at Art on the Boulevard in Fort Worth, Texas. (With enough interest, Art on the Boulevard may extend the show one week.)

For rights’ sake, we can’t show you all of the written work, but to view the visual works from the show and read the work that was previously published online, take a look at the public PDF document: Art & Words 2014 — public document. It also has links to the writers’ websites.


At the reception, a live jazz band (Peter Brewer, Jake Dester, and Bruce Bond) also performed three literary-written collaborative compositions. It was a great night.


For more pictures from the event, visit my Facebook album:

For information on how to submit to next year’s show, visit the Art & Words page of this site:


Happy New Year from Short Story Review!

Cover art by Yang Xueguo

Yang Xueguo
Yang Xueguo

I don’t post a lot of personal info on Short Story Review, but at this time of year, when so many are reflecting on and reviewing the last twelve months, I’d like to share my own brief reflection.

2013 was both the worst and the best year of my life (so far).

It was a great writing year; in February I saw my first professionally published stories appear in print. In total, I had three poems and six stories appear, three in professional-paying magazines. (For a listing of those stories and poems, please visit the Stories & Poems section of my website.)

Unfortunately, February also turned out to be the scariest month. My current-husband, then-fiancé Peter underwent spinal surgery to have two tumors removed. The tumors were, thankfully, benign, but the day after his surgery, I totaled our recently-purchased car in a wreck and broke my ankle. I was forced to undergo ankle surgery. This left Peter and I unable to fend for ourselves. Luckily, some of our amazing friends and family came to our rescue, helping us clean up our house, driving us to appointments, and giving us some much-needed moral support.

Katie Crumpton & I, before walking
The good side of being off my feet for eight weeks was it gave me time to work on my thesis, a short story collection entitled Strange Monsters, part of my final requirements for the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing. Then in July Peter and I took the train to Maine for graduation, where I gave my first full reading. I read “The Wanderers,” that first published story of mine. It went better than I ever could have expected.
In April, my second nephew was born. In May, I changed jobs and went to work for an educational company where I wrote lesson plans and taught creative writing to kids. In July, Peter got a full-time job, making us much more financially secure. Over the summer, we helped my family prepare my late grandmother’s house to be sold. In August, I attended my first WorldCon in San Antonio and had a blast. In September, I put on the second Art & Words Show.
Post-wedding, dazed and relieved
In October, I was on my first convention panels at FenCon. A week later Peter and I got married; we asked our friend, poet Evan Klavon, to officiate, and he delivered a beautiful and fun ceremony, complete with The Top 5 Big Lebowski Quotes on Marriage (# 4: “Strikes and gutters, ups and downs”).
After we returned from our honeymoon, our cat, Don, ate two feet of ribbon and had to have emergency surgery, putting us in further debt. In November, I was laid off. But in December, I found a new, better job. We spent the holidays with both sides of our family.
Obligatory cat photo
It’s a lot for one year. There were moments when I thought I would break. But I didn’t. I struggled with seeing the positive, with feeling sorry for myself and Peter. I spent way too much escapist time on the Internet. But I also did good, productive things; I channeled emotions into writing. I wrote a whole host of stories about people reaching their breaking point, and breaking. I made daily gratitude lists. And here I am, here we all are, at the end of 2013, heading into 2014. I wish all of you more of the good and less of the bad, but more than that I wish you all the ability to process and channel the bad, when it comes your way, into something good, something beautiful.