October Reads: Something Written This Way Comes

Happy October! Let’s get spooky!

With October comes all the autumn and Halloween feels. I want to look at changing leaves, sip cinnamon-spiced tea, burn sweet-smelling candles (it’s not quite cold enough for our fireplace yet), eat winter squash, and curl up with some good reading.

October is the coziest month for me, which is probably why I like to read special books for this time of year — horror books, of course, but also folklore and stories set in autumn. It’s a time of year I’m more deliberate about what I want to read, more than any other month.

Here are some of the books I plan to read this month:

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell — I actually read this already, on Monday evening. It was a delight. I loved the setting of the pumpkin patch. Rowell’s attention to cheerful details, like the snacks and the scents, made me feel so warm and at home in a state I’ve never even been to. I can easily see this becoming an annual autumn read.

Washington Irving: An American Original by Brian Jay Jones — I engage with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow every October (usually with the Disney cartoon, but also with the original story), and decided to finally read this biography about the legend’s author. I’m reading it now as part of a buddy read and enjoying the history lesson.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving — see above. Also, can we talk about how great the cartoon is? The scene where Ichabod rides home alone before the Horseman appears is a mastery in mental horror made visible.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury — I adore Ray Bradbury, but have never read this one! My mom gave me a paperback copy and I look forward to reading it.

Video Nasties by Duncan Ralston — I’ve had this short story collection of extreme horror on my shelf for awhile now. I love old, gruesome, and crazy horror films; and this literary tribute to them seems like the perfect read for October.

Devil’s Hill by E. Reyes — a collection of Halloween-themed stories I can’t wait to dive into.

Bunnicula by James Howe — I read this in either 4th or 5th grade, and think of it whenever I see a white carrot in the heirloom varieties at the farmers market. I recently purchased an anniversary edition with an adorable red velvet cover.

Witches by Donna Lynch — fellow author Erin Sweet al-Mehairi recommended this book of poetry to me, and I can’t wait to read it.

What are you reading this month?

Summer Reading: Pride Edition

Happy Pride! The entire month of June is a recognition, celebration, and honoring of LGBTQIA individuals. While there are many ways to celebrate, I plan to spend part of June reading books by LGBTQIA authors.

One of my 2019 resolutions was to read at least one book per month that someone recommended to me. I put out a request on Twitter for recommended reads by queer authors. One user recommended White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi, which is on its way to my front door as we speak. I look forward to reading that one!

As far as my own recommendations, here are some books I’ve enjoyed that were written by LGBTQIA authors. I recommend them for Pride month and, of course, for any month.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado — a fascinating collection of feminist horror. My favorite story was “Inventories.”

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay — another great collection of short fiction. My favorite story was “Water, All Its Weight.”

Dry by Augusten Burroughs — Burroughs is one of my favorite authors, and you really can’t go wrong with any of his books.

Letters for Lucardo, Vol. 1 by Otava Heikkilä — a tender, erotic comic about a May-December romance between a human and a vampire.

F4 by Larissa Glaser — a wild, crazy, sexy creature tale that’s perfect for summer.

The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag — a graphic novel about a young boy who yearns to be a witch.

I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé by Michael Arcenaux — a wonderful, funny collection of essays.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby — I laughed now just remembering this book. The essays within are a scream.

The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Allison Bechdel — a “best of” treasury of Bechdel’s amazing comic.

Do you have any recommended reads for Pride? Leave them in the comments below!

Progress Report: Let’s Keep It at Two

Happy 2018, everyone! It feels like it’s later in the year than it is. I always want January to go pretty quickly, as it’s cold and grey and makes me feel like a sad hibernator. I like to be out and about, enjoying my walks to the Metro or late evenings out with my husband. Enjoying my time out helps me feel happier indoors, where I do my writing.

But alas, I cannot change the seasons. I can, however, keep up with the writing. I am still working on multiple projects, but have gotten into a better balancing act of a) keeping it at two active ones, and b) working on one at a time.

I am making more progress on Without Condition, my second novel. I’ve outlined several sections and written out a few. I like having notes not just to help me remember things to write later, but to see how far the story’s come since my initial ideas. I save all my notes, even ones I know won’t be used, as keepsakes throughout the process. Like my old drafts, I find it fun and amusing to revisit them — especially once the final version is out in the world.

I also find the notes useful in focusing my efforts on other projects that need to be done first. I am at a point in Wretched Heroesthe graphic novel I’m working on with Doug Puller — where I need to just focus on finishing a first draft of the current script, rather than switch between projects. I reached this point in part by forcing myself to write through unknowns, putting me on a better-known path towards finishing. I still have ideas for the book, though; and writing down the notes helps me feel better about putting it aside for a week or two while I finish the first draft of the next Wretched Heroes script.

So, I’m currently in full-on script mode. It’s a very different experience writing a script for a graphic novel, even with my fondness for dialogue in my books. Among other things, I’m learning to divide scenes into panels as opposed to just moving through them with motions and words. I need to account for scenes happening in blocks as I write — something that takes practice.

Both projects give me something exciting to work on when I’m stuck inside on a cold day. I look forward to sharing both with you later in the year! Stay warm, everyone.

Progress Report: Wrapping Up 2017

The end of the year is upon us! And what a year it’s been. I both wrote and published pieces this year, and it’s been an experience doing both.

I am readying another short story collection for publication in 2018. It is currently called Wither and Other Tales, and will feature five short stories. Four of them are with my editor, and the fifth is going through one more pass with me before I send it along to her. I look forward to sharing them with you once they’re complete. I anticipate publishing the collection in mid to late 2018.

While those stories are being edited, I’ve begun steady work on what I hope will be my second novel. I got the idea over the summer, a time when I was swimming through lots of ideas and trying to form them into their own pieces. I got some short stories, the beginning of a novella, and some “just for me” writing out of that time; but during early fall, pieces of the ideas from the novels I began combined with the one big idea I got over the summer. All are slowly but surely shaping into my next book. I will reveal more of the plot as I write more of it down. But, in the interest of not strictly speaking in vague terms, I will say that it’s currently called Without Condition, and more similar in tone to my darker short stories.

I am also working on a bigger project with Doug Puller, who drew the covers for The Crow’s Gift and Please Give. I am working with him on a graphic novel called Wretched Heroes, currently a four-volume work. Volume 1, The Man in Rags, is set to come out in mid to late 2018. You can learn more about it on Facebook, where you can like and follow the page for more updates (and also see some of Doug’s amazing artwork for the series).

2018 promises to be busy, but busy with something I love to do. Thank you all for reading and following along this past year. Happy New Year!

Also, a reminder that both Please Give and The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales are available to purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.