Cursed Collectibles Anthology to Be Released October 1st

I’m so excited to share I have a story coming out in the Cursed Collectibles anthology and it’ll be available for purchase on October 1st – just in time for Halloween!

The story I have in this anthology, entitled “The Garden Party” is actually one I wrote way back when I was going to UCSD – and then rewrote and submitted for this! I love the theme, the cover art, and can’t wait to read/hear the rest of the stories. Thanks for all the hard work Jace Killan!

Authors with stories in the Cursed Collectibles anthology are Dave Butler, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Joy Johnson, Martin L. Shoemaker, Gama Martinez, Mike Jack S, Lyn Worthen, Shannon Fox, Karen Pellett, Jessica Springer Guernsey, Jennifer Blair, Steve Ruskin, Tanya Hales, Frank Morin, Lauren Lang, Jo Ann Schneider Stringer, Kelly Lynn Colby, Heidi Andrus Wilde, Adric Mayall, Chris Abela, Martin E Greening, John David Payne

Edited by Angela Eschler

Cover art by Novae Caelum

And audiobook narrated by Shaun Smith and Hillary Andrus Straga

All profits from the sale of this anthology go to the Don Hodge Scholarship Fund (which is a scholarship that helps people attend Superstars Writing Seminars)

The anthology and audiobook will be available for purchase on Amazon.

 

The Booker Prize Shortlist and Other Bookish News

All the bookish news for September:

-This year’s Booker Prize shortlist features Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie. Check out all the nominees here.

Buzzfeed published a list of the top 15 books every fantasy fan should read.

-Eight new releases in horror this month.

-HBO’s adaptation of His Dark Materials gets a release date! November 4th – so close! Click here to watch the star-studded. trailer

Seventeen compiled a list of the sixty-five best YA novels so far this year. Check it out.

-The BBC put together their own list of ten books you must read in September.

EW previews forty books coming out this fall.

-Finally, the NY Times published a list of seventeen books to watch for this September.

Saved as Draft

Saved as Draft by N.D. Chan

Born in Chinatown, New York, Chan was sent to China after her father was murdered in a random street shooting. She lived with her grandparents in Guangzhou, until her mother sent for them after marrying a dentist and becoming a wealthy and successful businesswoman. Life should have been happy in the privileged enclave of Long Island, but with a distant mother and a feeling that she no longer belonged, Chan began to look for acceptance elsewhere—the relationships she shared with her family, her friends, her lovers.

Saved as Draft is that search for a sense of “rightness” and a place called home.

(A copy of this book was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review)

For those of you who don’t know, I went to UC-San Diego and majored in Literature-Writing which was a DREAM. I really enjoyed the program and my time at UCSD. One of the things I ended up really liking about the program (though I didn’t know this at all when I applied to UCSD) is that their program offered a lot of instruction around experimental writing. Basically, the kind of writing you won’t see at Barnes & Noble because rather than guiding the reader through a carefully orchestrated plot, experimental writers are pushing the boundaries of language, writing, and story-telling, charging you with the task of connecting with the story and pulling your own meaning out of it rather than telling you what to feel.

Saved as Draft instantly brought me back to those days at UCSD, where I was reading things that exploded what I knew about telling stories and challenged me to think differently. Saved as Draft is a memoir constructed of short notes and poetry, the kinds of things you would “save as draft” in an email or as a note on your phone. Unlike other memoirs that have a clear progression from Point A to Point B, Saved as Draft invites you to sift through the author’s pile of thoughts to extract meaning from her journey of self-discovery as a Chinese-American girl who doesn’t quite fit in. It explores issues of identity, parental abandonment, the death of a parent, and the author’s awakening sexuality as a queer woman.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and only wish it was much longer!

Writing Updates: Starting the Query Process for Shadow of the Magician

This month I’m starting the agent querying process for Shadow of the Magician. I got feedback from most of my beta readers back and made all my changes to the manuscript from there. I also finished doing the grammar line edits so I feel like this is a solid, clean draft. I’m now at the point where anything else I might do it just feels like picking at it to procrastinate on moving on. I still have a few readers I haven’t heard back from yet, but unless I get some significantly new and different comments, I’m done with this for now.

So next stop: try to find an agent for it! I’m going to the Fallbrook Writer’s Conference on Sunday where I’ll have the opportunity to pitch it to one of the agents there. I also have a few other agents that are my on first round query short list so I’m working on creating all the submission documents I’m going to need.

If you’re not familiar with the agenting process, all agents represent different kinds of projects so it’s important to spend time researching agents so you approach the right people. They also have their own submission criteria of things they want you to send to them which differs from agency to agency. From there, if they like what you see, they can ask you for more pages or the whole book to read. So before you start querying, you need to have a number of things ready to go besides the full manuscript itself. Query letters, summaries, synopses…and all of differing lengths and formats too! Sometimes actually finishing the book feels like the easy part!

I’m also planning to get another short story written for another writing contest this month. Maybe even two. And I have some new edits I want to make to the flash fiction that earned me an Honorable Mention recently. Feeling more encouraged and believing I’ll find a home for it eventually.

Beyond that, I have few more short story ideas I want to write and then I’m planning to start my next book soon. I’ve had the outline done since May and am still feeling really eager to dive in with that one which is a good sign. I’m excited to see how the writing process goes on a new novel now that I can try out all the things I learned from writing Shadow. If I haven’t mentioned this before, Shadow is really special to me because it’s the book that more than anything else I’ve ever written, really taught be how to construct a story, write a book from start to finish, and also how to revise. I learned so much from the process (*cough* hell *cough*) with that one so I’m eager to see what all that learning looks like on a new book!

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.

I’ll be honest, I picked this one up purely because someone who read my book said it reminded them of the movie, Something Wicked This Way Comes. As I’m still on the hunt for good comp titles, I decided to check out the book the movie was based on.

I think the only Bradbury book I’ve read prior to this is Farenheit 451 and it was sooo long ago, I don’t remember it well at all. I definitely don’t remember Bradbury’s language being like this, but maybe it was. In any case, one of the things I really enjoyed about this book is the way Bradbury plays with language and upends what we know about how English should be written. He slams words and verbs together in topsy-turvy ways that honestly really fit the atmosphere and tone of this book. It’s quite something to read even if I wasn’t always 100% sure what he meant by something. If you love experimental writing and/or language poetry, definitely check this one out. It’s really, really interesting to see language used like this in a story that otherwise seems very mainstream.

As I’m sure you can tell from the back cover copy above, the plot is super intriguing, dark and fun all at once. All of that I enjoyed. But what I enjoyed more was the way Bradbury resisted turning to the conventional with this story. Every time the story seemed to fall into a tried-and-true wagon rut, he changed course to lead us toward something entirely unexpected. The result is a story that takes one of the most fundamental truths of life (the young can’t wait to grow up while the old wish to roll back the clock) and presents in a fresh and fun way against a chilling backdrop of increasing horror.

If you haven’t read Something Wicked This Way Comes before or it’s been awhile, add it to your TBR stack for October!

 

Debut Novel Pick for September: Serpent and Dove

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Starting a new series on the blog this month! Each month I’ll be sharing a new debut that catches my eye. This month I picked Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin.

I saw this book on Facebook of all things. There was a video promo that stopped my scroll and when I saw that Sarah J. Maas was blurbing it, I knew I wanted to look the book up.

And it sounds GREAT.

Somewhere I read that this world is inspired by 17th century France, which, sign me up. Also a forced marriage between a witch and a witch hunter who doesn’t know his wife is a witch? DRAMA. Then I scanned through some of the advance reviews on Goodreads and people are loving this book which makes me very excited. And that cover is just gorgeous.

Though I haven’t seen much hype elsewhere for it, I’m interested to see if this one starts popping up on bookstagram. I’m looking forward to getting a copy myself…though probably not right away as my book collection is a little bit out of control (but what else is new).

Serpent & Dove is scheduled to be released on September 3rd from HarperTeen.

 

Recap: Superstars Writing Seminars 2019

2018 Shannon thought her review of Superstars Writing Seminars was crazy delayed.

2019 Shannon said, “Hold my beer.”

Superstars Writing Seminars 2019 took place the first week of February.

It’s *cough* nearly September and this review is just now being published.

But I don’t think it makes sharing my experience any less valuable, especially since this year I was experiencing it as an alumni, not a newbie.

I still think this is the best writing conference I’ve ever been to. It’s by far the most encouraging, supportive, and positive experience around. I was talking to my friend K recently and we were both remarking how a lot of writing conferences can leave you feeling discouraged and a little beaten down by the process and the amount of luck that is required to get a book all the way to publication if you’re going the traditional route.

Which isn’t to say Superstars doesn’t tell it like it is. They absolutely do. They just reinforce the messaging with a heavy dose of encouragement and support.

I keep thinking of this quote from Game of Thrones: “A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing.”

And I think the same could be true of writers. Though writing is a solitary endeavor, writers need community if they’re going to survive the process. There’s no other way. The odds are too heavily stacked against you to carry that weight on your own. You need people around you to wipe your tears, give you a hug, and cheer the loudest for you when you succeed.

That’s what Superstars is all about. Come for the knowledge, stay for the lifelong friends you’ll make and the tribe that welcomes you back year after year.

Though the details of this year’s event have gotten fuzzier with time, I do want to mention a few highlights from this year’s conference:

-Craft day continues to be the best investment in terms of learning craft that you can make. This year I got to listen to Jim Butcher talk about developing characters and it was mind-blowingly good. Also Jim Butcher is a great storyteller – and not just on paper. If you ever have the chance to see him talk, you should take it. 10/10 would recommend.

-The VIP dinner continues to be one of the highlights of the whole conference. Yes, it’s an extra expense. Yes, there’s no guarantee you’ll get to sit with your first or even second choice author or editor. But the people who come to Superstars are of such high quality, your evening won’t be a waste no matter whose table you end up at. Just make sure you study the faculty list before you go so you don’t *almost* end up asking Jeffrey Deaver who he is. Not that I know from experience or anything.

-If you can afford it, absolutely stay at the hotel. Again, this isn’t cheap. But Superstars is the middle of winter and after the conference ends for the day, the lobby bar is the place to be. Friendships are cemented, writers groups are formed, and books are birthed with the help of a cocktail or two. It’s worth it to be able to part of that experience and not have to worry about driving somewhere in the snow at night.

I’m planning to head back to Superstars again this year for the third year in a row! If you’re interested in learning more about the event and snagging a discount code, reach out to me!