Wyrd Words 2015

Wyrd Words Moonrise 2015 (photo by Stephen H. Segal)

It’s nearly the Autumn Equinox, and I’ve yet to write about so many Summer adventures.

After more than a year of planning and months of drafting, revising, and exchanging manuscripts, the inaugural Wyrd Words Workshop was held in July. We ate, drank, and danced around the kitchen (Well, ok, maybe that was just me); we workshopped brilliant beginnings and provocative plots; we used technowizardry to traverse miles; we strolled under the full moon, and we sauna’d; we talked about creativity and inspiration, punk rock and K-pop, politics and fairy tales. There were bees, rockets, and skeletons in the trees…


Most importantly, we did good work. I’m so excited to see the books that will eventually make their way into the world from this workshop. Such good stories. Such excellent writers. Such dear friends.





Writers spend so much time alone at the laptop that in-person connections of quality are a real gift. Thank you to everyone at the workshop and behind the scenes who gave it shape and filled the weekend with such wonderful, wyrd words. 

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I’m going to quote from one of my favorite children’s books, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, because it fits so well for this dear group:

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”

Wyrd Wordians, you are both. Thank you.


Things Literary and Fantastic

This past weekend I returned to New York City to spend time with the wonderful Nancy Hightower (who just signed her poetry collection, The Acolyte, with Port Yonder Press).


I also met with my new literary agent, Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc.

Sara represents children’s fiction and adult fiction and non fiction. Her clients include NYT Bestselling author Jonathan Maberry and USA Today Bestselling author Jeff Hirsch; her authors have been nominated for Edgars and the Morris Award, and have been on the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults list and in the Top Ten. She is consistently ranked among the top three YA and MG agents in Publishers Marketplace.

We had a lovely chat, and I know that my next book, The Supper Club, is in good hands.

Following our meeting, I headed to WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn with Nancy and Brooke Bolander to attend Jeff VanderMeer’s reading from his new book, Annihilation.


Jeff is a terrific reader—clever, witty, and well-spoken, and it was a fun event (so be sure to attend a reading and get your book signed if he comes to a town near you). I love stories where the setting is a character, so I’m especially excited to read Jeff’s newest novel, set in an eerie version of southern Florida’s wild coastline.


Friday was all about Electric Velocipede. Run by John Klima for twelve years, the beloved magazine published quality genre fiction by more than 250 writers, including Catherynne M. Valente, Jeffrey Ford, Rachel Swirsky, Jeff VanderMeer, and Jay Lake.


A release party/memorial service at Bluestockings Bookstore celebrated the 27th and final issue of Electric Velocipede and featured readings by ten writers who have been published in Electric Velocipede over the years:


After Bluestockings, people were invited to an after-party at David Edison’s place in the East Village. Earlier in the day, with the help of Stephen Segal, Nancy, Brooke, and I had gotten to work transforming David’s apartment with red lights, blue lights, and hanging skeletons.


The space invites that kind of playful decoration, so we turned the three floors into a “Danse Macabre” backdrop for writers, editors, and other creatives to gather and celebrate John’s magazine and the excellent writing he published over the years. It was a full house and a joyful last hurrah.





The following day, we were lucky enough to enjoy a lazy afternoon with friends, the perfect way to wind down and end my visit.


I caught the plane back to Chicago early the next morning (narrowly avoiding the next snowpocalypse-vortex), to come home to the family and a visit from the lovely Maura Henn, who was traveling through Chicago on her way to Minnesota.


I think back to 2008 when I was living in Germany and feeling such a lack of creative community. Just over five years later, and I am grateful to be surrounded by talented, innovative, imaginative writers, editors, agents, and artists. Some are in different cities and others are in the same neighborhood, but we are a community.

It is certainly possible to navigate these waters alone, but for me, it’s so much more enjoyable to have a cherished circle. We do the work, we make our art, we tell our stories, we support one another when we can, and when we come together, sometimes we make magic. Together, the journey becomes as meaningful as the destination.

Two Sides of The Slush Pile

While I was revising my second book, The Supper Club (update on that soon), I spent a lot of time last year reading and writing short stories and poetry. I wasn’t quite ready to delve into the next novel, and I wanted to sharpen some skills and exercise writerly muscles I hadn’t used in a while, so I wrote poems and short stories, flash fiction and prose poems.

In the second half of 2013, I began to submit work to literary magazines, something I haven’t really done since graduate school. My recent experience with literary journals was from the opposite side of the slush pile–with Conclave: A Journal of Character, the literary magazine I founded back in 2008.

You can read the Foreword from the first issue of Conclave on my tumblr account. But I wanted to quote one part of it here:

“When we decided to create Conclave: A Journal of Character, we knew that our focus would be on character-driven writing and photography, so we sought out a name for our literary magazine that would reflect the assembly of all those characters, as well as the artists and writers who dream them up. We chose conclave because it means a gathering, a private chamber, a room that may be locked. It has the Latin roots of com(meaning “with” or “together”) and clavis (meaning “key”).”

With a really wonderful volunteer staff of more than 20 people, we put out two issue before I came to the decision to sell the magazine. I was spending more time editing than writing, and I wanted to be writing. While I loved having a place to publish these great character-driven works, I didn’t really have the time to keep it going. Fortunately I sold the magazine to a brilliant writer who had been published in our first issue, Savannah Thorne.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Conclave recently because Electric Velocipede published its final issue this month. Founding editor John Klima published 27 issues of the award-winning journal for more than 12 years before he decided that it was time to cease publication. You can read John’s final editorial note here.


Magazines like Electric Velocipede and Sybil’s Garage inspired me to start Conclave in the first place. I understand the kind of sacrifice and dedication Matthew Kressel and John put into their issue, the same kind of energy that Savannah devotes to Conclave today. When it boils down to it, most of these journal and magazines, online and in print are labors of literary love.

Savannah has done an amazing job with Conclave, better than I could have done. With the help of many of the editors from our first issue (Tom Gill, Michael von Glahn, Rebecca Kyle, and others), she has built upon the idea of a literary magazine with a character focus, and Conclave continues to feature new and seasoned writers and terrific photographers. Their work is full of provocative, powerful, unforgettable characters. I’m so proud to be a part of its history, and I’m really excited to see where she takes Conclave into the future.

You can buy the current issue in electronic and print format on Amazon, and I encourage my writer-friends to check out their guidelines.

After submitting, I’ve finally started to receive notices of acceptance. This year, I’ll have work forthcoming in Abyss & Apex, Fickle Muses, Mythic Delirium, Scheherezade’s Bequest, and hopefully more to be announced soon!

This month, I have one poem, “Daughters of Melisseus” in Abyss & Apex, and two poems, “For collectors not children” and “Singing the Dirge” in Fickle Muses.

I’m excited to publish shorter writing as I get to work on book #3, and it’s nice to be able to point people to my work online. Plus poetry is a passion of mine–the evocative imagery, the music of the words, the rhythm of the lines. Reading poetry is such a joy; and writing it…is like being engulfed in a sensuous maelstrom of language.