My essay “A Girl’s Guide to Sexual Purity,” which ran in print in the Los Angeles Quarterly Review last fall, is now online at Los Angeles Review of Books. It feels good (and intense and strange and scary and weird and wonderful all at the same time) to have it out in the world. A special thank you to my editor, Michelle Huneven, who walked me through every step of revising this essay.
Editors Michael Kelly and Kathe Koja have just released the complete Table of Contents & the cover for Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 2. I’m so excited to be in such good company!
- “The Atlas of Hell” by Nathan Ballingrud
- “Wendigo Nights” by Siobhan Carroll
- “Headache” by Julio Cortázar. English-language translation by Michael Cisco
- “Loving Armageddon” by Amanda C. Davis
- “The Earth and Everything Under” by K.M. Ferebee
- “Nanny Anne and the Christmas Story” by Karen Joy Fowler
- “The Girls Who Go Below” by Cat Hellisen
- “Nine” by Kima Jones
- “Bus Fare” by Caitlín R. Kiernan
- “The Air We Breathe Is Stormy, Stormy” by Rich Larson
- “The Husband Stitch” by Carmen Maria Machado
- “Observations About Eggs From the Man Sitting Next to Me on a Flight from Chicago, Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa” by Carmen Maria Machado
- “Resurrection Points” by Usman T. Malik
- “Exit Through the Gift Shop” by Nick Mamatas
- “So Sharp That Blood Must Flow” by Sunny Moraine
- “A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide” by Sarah Pinsker
- “Migration” by Karin Tidbeck
- “Hidden in the Alphabet” by Charles Wilkinson
- “A Cup of Salt Tears” by Isabel Yap
On the writing front, 2014 has been a very fruitful and exciting year for me:
This summer, I attended my first-ever residency at The Millay Colony of the Arts in Austerlitz, NY. It was there that I fulfilled one of my resolutions from last year: completely a draft of my novel Venus Would Freeze. I also attended Sycamore Hill – a speculative fiction writers’ retreat in the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina – with some wildly talented people, and workshopped my novella “The Resident.”
In October, I received the 2014 – 2015 CINTAS Foundation Fellowship in Creative Writing. This fellowship for writers and other artists of Cuban descent will help me spend the upcoming spring revising/working on my novel and other projects. I also received Honorable Mentions for my applications for the Speculative Literature Foundation‘s Diverse Worlds and Diverse Writer Grants, was a finalist for the American Short Fiction Contest, and was a runner-up for the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. Additionally, my story “Inventory” was selected as a finalist for the 2014 storySouth Million Writers’ Award, and is currently in the running for the top prize. (You can vote for “Inventory” here.)
I taught a lot this year. At Rosemont College’s MFA program, I ran classes on horror & mystery writing and 21st century literature, and a fiction workshop. At Moravian, I taught a speculative fiction course to undergrads, and gave a lecture on writing with constraints during the inaugural Moravian Writers’ Conference. Over the summer, I traveled back to my beloved Iowa City where I taught a speculative fiction course for a group of bright, talented high schoolers for the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio and flash fiction and YA courses for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. I’m also a thesis advisor for several of Rosemont’s MFA candidates. It’s been a busy year re: teaching, but a great one.
On the fiction front, I published six short stories in 2014: “Mothers” in Interfictions (also a finalist for the American Short Fiction Contest, judged by Amy Hempel), “The Husband Stitch” in Granta, “Ekphrasis” in the Yalobusha Review, “Please Help Me Follow My Sister into the Land of the Dead” in Help Fund My Robot Army and reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine, “California Statutes Concerning Defrauding an Innkeeper” in AGNI, and “Observations About Eggs from the Man Sitting Next to Me on a Flight from Chicago, Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa” in Lightspeed Magazine. “Mothers” and “The Husband Stitch” in particular received a lot of attention and praise.
As for nonfiction, I continued to write a lot of criticism this year, including reviews for Kirkus, Women’s Review of Books, LA Review of Books, PANK, and NPR. My favorite book I reviewed this year was John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van, a blurb from which landed in the print edition of The New Yorker. I also published a series of essays this year, including “A Girl’s Guide to Sexual Purity” in the LARB Quarterly Journal and “The Afterlife of Pia Farrenkopf” in The New Yorker. I also published a humor piece at one of my favorite online publications, The Toast: “What the Color of Your Urine Says About You.”
Throughout the year, I gave a series of readings and lectures alongside some really exciting writers, including Diane Cook, Stephanie Feldman, Julianna Baggott, and Helen Klein Ross. Perhaps most excitingly, I also gave the keynote address at my high school alma mater’s National English Honors Society induction ceremony, which was very affirming and lovely.
Last year, I had a series of writing resolutions: Finish a draft of my novel, take on no more than three unpaid freelance assignments, seek out more paid freelancing assignments, get back into my old pre-move writing routine, and read 1 novel or story collection per week. I fulfilled all of these with one significant exception: I didn’t come close to reading one novel or collection per week. I really overscheduled myself this year, and had almost no free time to do much of anything, including read. That’s going to change in the spring.
Here are my 2015 Writing New Year’s Resolutions:
- Take on no more than two unpaid freelance assignments. (Must be for very good reason.)
- Read one novel or story collection per week.
- Complete 2nd & 3rd drafts of Venus Would Freeze.
- Review more short fiction/novels/etc. via social media & this blog.
- [Redacted for superstition’s sake – I’ll let you know in a year’s time if I manage to achieve this very lofty final goal.]
So far, I have a few pieces forthcoming from various places in 2015:
My story “Difficult at Parties” will be reprinted in Latino/a Rising, published by Restless Books. My brand-new short story “Transcription of An Eye” will be featured in the surveillance-themed anthology Watchlist from OR Books. Another new short story, “Descent,” will be in Nightmare Magazine. And my essay “On Kevin Brockmeier & Michelle Huneven” will appear in A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors from University of Massachusetts Press.
This spring, I’m teaching a class on Form & Content in Fiction at Rosemont, which I’m very excited about. I’m going to try and do for this course what I did for 2014’s Mystery & Horror Writing course – talk about the readings and exercises week-to-week on this blog. I’ll also be working hard on the personal projects I had to neglect this summer & fall because of my schedule. And this fall, I’ll be teaching at Rosemont and St. Joseph’s.
There’s been some rough personal stuff this year, but with the help of my patient and loving partner, Val Howlett, my incredible agent, Kent Wolf, my stalwart siblings, Mario and Stefanie, my mentors, including Michelle Huneven, Kevin Brockmeier, and Sam Chang, and an innumerable number of friends, co-workers, fellow writers, editors, and loved ones, I managed to get through it, and then some. Bring it on, 2105 – I can’t wait.
In 2014, I published half my stories at SF/F-specific venues (Lightspeed twice, Interfictions) and half at non-genre places (Granta, AGNI, Yalobusha Review). All of them were non-realist, and some mix of fantasy and horror. Here are my Nebula-eligible stories for the upcoming awards cycle. Thank you, as always, for your consideration.
“The Husband Stitch,” Granta. This story has gotten more love than anything else I’ve published this year. J.Y. Yang said: “I started reading. And then kept reading. And kept reading. The beauty of this story is the way it takes urban myth, freshly scraped off the walls of the Internet, and kneads it into something electric.” Over at SF Signal, A.C. Wise wrote: “Nearly everyone knows how the story will end, how it must end, and yet the sense of impending doom, the question of when crawls beneath the reader’s skin and leads them through the story.” K. Tempest Bradford included it in her “Best Short Stories for the Week of November 10th – 15th,” saying: “This is exactly the kind of SF you’d expect to find in a magazine like Granta — language spun like gossamer, linear narrative dipping in and out of some other mode, be it the past, the future, or the stories of others, a mysterious truth held tight in the hand, a surprise to people unfamiliar with fantasy or horror but sweetly expected by those of us who are.” And perhaps most excitingly, Ellen Datlow mentioned it during a World Fantasy Convention panel when asked about her favorite work of the past year.
“Mothers,” Interfictions. This story was a finalist in the American Short Fiction Contest, judged by Amy Hempel. Gillian Daniels at Fantastic Stories calls the prose “tight and gorgeous,” and says “the main character of ‘Mothers’ [functions] in worlds where explanations hide behind curtains that are never lifted. [She] can only do the best with the circumstances offered to [her].”
“Please Help Me Follow My Sister into the Land of the Dead.” First published in the John Joseph Adams anthology Help Fund My Robot Army & Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects, and later reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine. K. Tempest Bradford included this in her “Best Short Stories for the Week of July 7th – 12th” post at io9, saying “The concept is interesting but I had my doubts about whether or not it could be pulled off without seeming gimmicky. I should have known that Machado’s story would be brilliant and work exactly right, given that she’s already proved her skill at spinning great tales through unconventional story structures.”
“Observations About Eggs from the Man Sitting Next to Me on a Flight from Chicago, Illinois to Cedar Rapids, Iowa,” Lightspeed Magazine. Lois Tilton at Locus Magazine recommended this story: “Eggs as cosmic metaphor and pickup line – unusual and original premise.”
“California Statutes Concerning Defrauding an Innkeeper,” AGNI. A genre- and form-bending romp through a magic-realist road trip gone terribly awry. (Print only – available on the SFWA forums)
“Ekphrasis,” Yalobusha Review. For the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure enthusiasts out there.
My personal essay “A Girl’s Guide to Sexual Purity” – about adolescence, sex, and faith – is in the LA Review of Books’ Quarterly Journal’s Fall 2014 issue, which is hitting shelves soon. You can pick up a copy via amazon.com, indiebound.com or b&n.com, or become a LARB member and receive the issue. I’m in there alongside of amazing company: Aimee Bender, Michelle Huneven, Mona Simpson, Daniel Handler… couldn’t ask for a more exciting lineup. Check it out!
Also, my story “The Husband Stitch” is now up at Granta! A special thank-you to Mark Mayer, Val Howlett, and Granta editor Yuka Igarashi for their indispensable feedback and thoughtful edits and advice. This story is better for their presence.
Last night, a friend let me know that a blurb from my NPR review of John Darnielle’s amazing new novel Wolf in White Van is on page 53 of the October 13th issue of The New Yorker. So exciting! So I just spent half my morning hunting down a copy. I finally found it, and was a huge nerd and had a librarian here at Moravian take my photo with the magazine.