This is an old-fashioned kind of place in the heart of a new-fangled kind of city. I always pick the place for us to meet. Ducking through the door, I push aside the black velvet curtain meant to keep out the cold and I shake my head as the host tries to take my coat. For a moment, I smile grimly. I don’t get cold. . .
Read the full story on Curious Fictions for $1 . . .
So, I broke my knee in January. Which means that I have pretty much been inside for all of 2020. And you know what I’ve been doing? Catching up on trashy reality shows and finding comfort in soft things.
What I mean by that is media that doesn’t ask much of its viewers. Media that has all the feels, but none of the pain. That show that you go back to again and again, even if you feel like Netflix is judging you for watching it once more. We all have our favorite comfort movies and TV. I love edgy, dark, hard-edged things too. But we all need a little softness sometimes.
I know what you’re thinking. Wait a second, this is just a list of your favorite movies, isn’t it?
Why yes, yes it is.
Read the full article here . . .
Featuring My Retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson tale, The Red Shoes
By all rights she should have died years ago. A clever child should have come and burnt her up to a crisp, the right way to go, the decent way. But no such child ever came. Or at least if they did, it was her that did the burning. A woodsman should have done it — yes, with a big shining axe like thunder, snapping her neck. Or a knight on a horse as pale as moon rings, banishing her away to the farthest depths of the kingdom. Instead, the depths of the kingdom crept up on her in the night.
— The Red Shoes by Holly Lyn Walrath
I have a new short story forthcoming in the Coppice & Brake anthology from Crone Girls Press! This is one of the oldest stories in my bag, so I was really thrilled to see it accepted by this amazing small press.
This story looks at the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairytale “The Red Shoes” — except from the perspective of the crone. I was interested in looking at how the older women in fairytales are treated. It’s a dark, creepy, and strange story, so I hope you consider reading!
The stories in this anthology are the glimpses of the dark places between the forest and a dream. They are the shadows seeking the last notes of a dying violin. They invite the reader into a world where a condemned man faces his fate over and over and over again. Coppice & Brake is an anthology of dark fiction, featuring tales from the borderlands of horror, speculative fiction, and the nightmare fears that linger even after you turn on the lights.
Pre-order your copy today on Amazon!
About Crone Girls Press
Crone Girls Press originally began as a Facebook Group for fans of speculative fiction, hosted by speculative fiction author and writing coach Rachel A. Brune. As the idea took hold to publish an anthology of horror fiction in honor of her favorite fall holiday, Rachel began soliciting stories of dread, despair, and doom, all of which made for some uplifting reading. Upon receiving some truly terrifying–and excellent–material, she decided to go for broke and start working on an anthology series that would feature work by established and debut authors … from the darker side of speculative fiction. Follow us on Twitter, or visit on the web at https://www.cronegirlspress.com
Want a review copy? Leave me a note with your email and I’ll send you one.
In case you haven’t heard of it, AWP is a major conference and bookfair that focuses on small journals and presses, writing programs, and literary communities. It’s a huge event, the largest in the country, drawing upwards of 15,000–20,000 writers a year.
This year AWP took place in San Antonio, Texas one day before the city declared a public health emergency because of Coronavirus. And I went, on crutches and with a wheelchair.
Read the full article here . . .
I’ve been a freelance editor now for five years. It’s a big milestone. I’ve probably read hundreds, if not thousands of manuscripts at this point. My focus as an editor is science fiction and fantasy, young adult, and poetry, but I also often work with nonfiction clients.
As an editor, my job is to try and serve the manuscript and give the best advice I can, for that writer. I very much take into consideration what the writer wants to achieve with a book and why.
I’ve worked with small presses, indie authors, new writers, and experienced writers. Despite how different we all are as writers, we usually all have an inability to look objectively at our work. That’s why editors can be so valuable.
And there’s one thing that never gets easier to tell a writer.
Read the full article here . . .
Last year in February I wrote 28 tiny love poems on post-its. Valentine’s Day is coming once again and I’ve once again decided to write a poem a day in February to celebrate. Last year I was surprised by how many people enjoyed my tiny poems. I guess there is something simple and sweet about the concept of love — and that translates well to short poems.
Read the full post here . . .
I’m reading the poetry book submissions for Interstellar Flight Press, it occurs to me that a lot of writers struggle to put together poems for a collection. But when the right congregation of poems appears, it’s so exciting as an editor. Poems, when collected, have the ability to speak to each other in new and interesting ways not explored in their individuality.
Read the full article here . . .
I am sharing excerpts from my new poetry chapbook over on my Instagram page, so I thought I would combine them here for easy reading. I will update this as new translations come in! My new chapbook is called Numinose Lapidi and it will be published soon by Kipple Press.
Read the full article here . . .
When I was little, say four or five, I used to make my Mom write out things in cursive on little cards for me. I’d tell her what to write, then sit next to her at the coffee table in our den and watch her fingers and pen make the loops of cursive words, in neat lines with round letters. My mother has excellent penmanship. On the other hand, my father’s handwriting started out graceful and thin, but more spindly the older he got. Soon he switched to making block letters — in all caps. By the time the Parkinson’s had taken over, he was unable to write at all...
Read the full article at Coffeelicious . . .
Every year at the end of the year I post a review of all the articles, poems, stories, and books I’ve published that year. 2019 was a big year for me in writing. While I felt like I wasn’t getting a lot done, I was surprised when I looked back and realized I really had written a great deal.
Most of my time was spent working on two novels-in-progress. But I did manage to send out some poems for publication too. I’m very honored by the editors who recognized and published my work. Here’s to 2020 and another year of writing.
Glimmerglass Girl — Won the Elgin Award for best speculative chapbook
Numinous Stones — To be published in Italian in 2020 by Kipple Press
The 2019 Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association Contest, Winner: Short Form Category: The Fox and the Forest (Erasure of Ray Bradbury)
The 2019 Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association Contest, Winner: Long Form Category: The Mining Town
Apparition Lit #8 (October 2019) — Belly of the Beast
Mirror Dance Issue 44 (Spring 2019) — Farewell Dead Men
Not One of Us #61 (April 2019) — A Book Is a Tomb and Words Are Souls
The Avenue: Issue V: Music (April 2019) — Chopin Falls in Love with the Night (1827–1846)
The Knicknackery Issue 6 (February 2019) — Bayou Dream
Dreams & Nightmares Magazine (Issue #111, January 2019) — An Unknowing Breach of the Law
Kaleidotrope (Winter 2019) — “All the Glory of Her Earthly Shell”
Medium (12/18/19) — My NaNoWriMo Was a Mess
Writing Hacks (11/27/19) — Tricking Yourself into Writing
Bulletproof Writers (11/28/19) — The End of the Year Sometimes Sucks for Creatives
Storymaker (11/25/19) — Reluctantly Writing About Death
Interstellar Flight Press (11/15/19) — Defying Genre in The Dream House
Daily Muse Books (10/24/19) — NaNoWriMo Isn’t Just for Books
Medium (10/15/19) — Does Publishing Short Stories Matter?
Medium (9/4/19) — The Writing Life: An Infographic
Medium (8/28/19) — 40 Writing Milestones to Celebrate
Medium (8/21/19) — Queries, Contributors, and Common Terms: An A-Z glossary for submitting writing
Horror Writer’s Association Newsletter (7/1/19) — Darkness & Light
Medium (5/16/19) — Fighting Rejection & Imposter Syndrome
Medium (5/3/19) — Switching Genres
Medium (4/3/19) — Creating a Writer’s Mission Statement
Medium (3/27/19) — NaPoWriMo: A Poet’s Challenge
Dream Foundry (3/14/19) — The Cone of Silence
Medium (3/11/19) — These are a Few of My Favorite Rejections
Medium (1/31/19) — Forming a Critique Group 101
If you are a member of the SFPA, my poems are eligible for the Rhysling Award. Click here to download a PDF version for reading.
Do you ever think as humans we’re just afraid to get our hands dirty? That we’ve engineered our lives to be as perfect, pristine, and efficient as possible? And that maybe, if we aren’t perfect, then we’re failures?
I’m trying to abolish this idea from my creative life. The idea of perfection.
Read the full article here . . .
I'm offering $150 manuscript reviews in the month of December only for NaNoWriMo participants. Here's what you get:
The normal cost for this kind of consultation is upwards of $500-1,000, so this is an utterly mad deal (and I sometimes feel utterly mad for offering it!)
Finishing NaNoWriMo can feel really like a letdown sometimes. It's like the day after Christmas. But getting a second set of eyes on your manuscript can help you approach revision.
How To Sign Up:
To sign up, send me an email to hlwalrath (at) gmail (dot) com in the month of December with the following:
I am a freelance editor with 5+ years of experience helping writers level up their words. I am based out of Houston, Texas. I am a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Codex, SFPA, and Writespace, a local literary non-profit where I regularly teach writing workshops. I love working with writers of all genres, experiences, and backgrounds, but I love new writers best. I have won NaNoWriMo once(!) but I always participate because it's my favorite writing event of the year.
Around November, Writing Twitter starts talking about the end of the year. It’s NaNoWriMo, so people are often talking about writing anyway. But also, it’s the time of the year when, if you’re a writer in science fiction or fantasy, you should be posting your “What I Published This Year,” or “Awards Eligibility” post.
A lot of writers use this time to celebrate the works they’ve published over the year and encourage others to nominate them for best of lists and prize consideration, like the Pushcart Prize or Hugo Awards. Journal editors on the literary side announce their nominations for the Pushcart around this time. 2019 is also the end of a decade, so now people are also posting encouraging writers to share what they accomplished in the last decade. We’re sharing pics of ourselves in 2009 and 2019 to show the passage of time.
But I know that a lot of creatives struggle with all this.
Read the whole post here . . .
I love the above image. It’s a photograph taken at Natural Bridge State Park, where someone has carved this quote from J.R.R. Tolkien into a walking path. J.R.R. Tolkien probably never imagined the life his work has taken on after his death — that someone would take the time to carve his words in a public space. In fact, I know he didn’t.
John Hendrix, an artist, recently posted a quote from Tolkien’s diary while he was writing Lord of the Rings. It reads:
Friday 14 April: ‘I managed to get an hour or two’s writing, and have brought Frodo nearly to the gates of Mordor. Afternoon lawn-mowing. Term begins next week, and proofs of Wales papers have come. Still I am going to continue “Ring” in every salvable moment.’
Read more here . . .
A year and a few months ago, my father died. Today, I signed a contract for a small poetry book on grief and dealing with my father’s death that is going to be translated into Italian and published in Italy. The world spins in weird ways, I guess.
Before my father died, I always looked on books about the death of a loved one in, I’ll admit, a pretty messed up and slightly dismissive way. I hated cancer memoirs, books that dived headfirst into the nitty-gritty details of death: bodies and hospitals and medicine and the grotesque humanity of grief. Also, there was a connotation with these books. When they were written by women about caring for loved ones, they often got lumped into women’s fiction, whereas a man writing about grief was somehow reinventing the wheel.
Read the full article on Medium . . .
Confessions of a Supermassive Black Hole
You can’t escape my body.
I deform spacetime, invisible.
I collapse, even as everything surrounds me.
I am the center of you, of your galaxy.
I sieve particles, radiation, light,
searching for the ghost of my former self.
My gravity is also my weakness.
New post for Curious Fiction Subscribers: Handmade Rebellion: Dispatches from Zine Fest Houston and Women’s Radicalism
I have a new early reveal post for subscribers at Curious Fictions. Last month I participated in Zinefest Houston — one of my favorite local events. In this event, local paper artists create zines to sell — small, hand-made, individual books, pamphlets, and other paper ephemera. I’ve participated twice and I always enjoy this well-crafted event (ba-dum cha). What I like about Zinefest is the audience. It’s mostly young people who are interested in meeting other writers and artists. It’s also one of the most diverse and well-attended events I go to every year. I always end up meeting some lovely folks!
Read the entire post here . . .
It’s my favorite day of the year, so I thought I’d share a poem from my back catalogue of published work. This poem is an erasure/blackout of Shirley Jackson’s book We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
In case you’re unaware of this form, erasures are a type of found poetry where you “erase” words from a found text and the words left behind form a poem.
Read the poem here . . .
I have a new poem in Apparition Lit #8 (October 2019) - Belly of the Beast. This one is kind of romantic, which I felt like fit the theme of the issue, Euphoria. What is euphoric to you? For me, it's being with the person you love in the weirdest place you can think of.
Let’s live in the belly of the beast.
You can bring a strong IPA
so smooth it’s like milk frothed.
I’ll bring Atwood and Ishiguro and Dickens.
We’ll watch Netflix in the blood vessels
and make love in the open mouth
with the krill and saltwater
pooling at our knees . . .
Read the entire poem here . . .
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November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an online community and yearly event where writers make the goal of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. This year, I’m encouraging you to burn the frigging thing down.
Read how here . . .
Stellar news today! My poem "The Fox and the Forest" (an erasure of Ray Bradbury) is the winner of the SFPA: Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association contest short form and my poem "The Mining Town," is the winner in the long form category! Very much bowled over by the judge's kind comments on my poems:
"Hybridity brings in endless possibilities when it comes to crafting and interpreting creative work, and these short pieces showcase the complexity of hybrid, speculative poetry."
"When the container for our work is expanded, there’s room to explore braided narratives. These longer poems convey multiple specific stories while still opening themselves up for the audience to imprint their own experiences onto the work."
The Mining Town
by Holly Lyn Walrath
is all bric-a-brac now. Tourists cram into houses-turned-stores, drink beer on the corners from the new microbrewery in the old mill, buy sweatshirts that say “I mined the deep and all I got was this stupid shirt,” but few take the walk up there, into the hills. It’s better to stay down here, safe among the ghosts of houses, to plunder their wares with big white thumbs and buy things, there are always more things to buy in a ghost town.
What happened to this town?
bell rings at dawn and dusk. The men paint the white brick black and red roof black and burn the picket fence. They stand to survey their work, cigarettes dangling from their slack jaws, hands black with pitch. At home, they do not wash the darkness away with silver soap but place those hands on the bodies of wives and backsides of children and hips of back-alley lovers and blank pieces of paper longing for ink. You must remember, this was a different time.
Why did they paint the church black?
The General Store
at first sold normal goods. Tack and seed, hay and hen egg. Slowly, strange objects appeared upon the shelves. A single deer’s antler, painted gold. Ant farms, pre-made, the little red bodies within tunneling deeper and deeper. A dozen wooden tokens carved with other Gods. Silver machines, alien in origin. Jars of body parts. Flower buds encased in glass. Japanese swords. The souls of men disguised in clock faces. Irony. Joy. Peace, if you could afford it.
Where did the objects come from?
There is no library. It sank into the ground years ago. Perhaps an industrious young man might dig his way down, find it deep beneath the sod and worms, and crawl in through a back window, left open by the librarian on a summer’s day, to bring in a bit of the fresh mountain breeze, and there he might find her still, humming a bit, rocking in her chair behind the card catalog, waiting for someone to ask for a book.
Why is there no library?
The Abandoned Mine
The most prominent feature being the stores of abandoned ore. Some piled in carts like great mounds of jewels, other still half-buried in the walls, their shiny faces masks waiting to be removed and to reveal the monster within. Once, the ore was necessary to the planet’s deepest life, and once, it was necessary to human life. Now, it’s merely lonely. It creeps out in tendrils, seeding its jeweled body through the earth, down the path, to the town. It puts out feelers in tidy bed and breakfast gardens, a blue-flame flower here, a ruddy weed there, in with the wheat in the farmer’s fields and creeping through the cracks of the brick on the cobblestone streets.
Why is the ore no longer needed?
The Trail Leading Away from the Mine
is overgrown with brush and wing, birds hopping along moss-covered logs, blooming glens of clover where bunnies forage, deep tufts of ash from the death trees, who burn each night in twilight and then like the phoenix, regrow each morning. The ash is the bodies of those long gone souls—yet a bit of their yearning still remains. The fire is the mountain’s heart rained down. And every curse it whispers is made new again, every morning it awakes forgetting what it forgot.
Why do the trees burn?
The Tenement Roofs
are where the miners went to smoke, and sometimes drink, when their wives didn’t want them around, which was often. Their feet dangled over the edges, all in a row. They said nothing to each other, nothing, except to whisper, “You see the blue light?” and one would say in response, “Aye, I seen the blue light, down in the depths, I seen it.”
Who was the first to follow the light?
The Drummer Boy
used to play on the corner for ha’pennies, picking out a rhythm on his bone-cage banjo and tapping the beat with his foot on his man-skin drum. He made a deal with the devil before such things became unnecessary and then he got curious, and when a boy gets curious all hell breaks loose. He followed the men and picked out each one for the killing, and then ran to the bridge where the bats roosted to tell them the news. They listened, curious, and then swarmed out into the twilight on the hunt.
What were they hunting?
was afraid of the dark. He sent his men down to the caves and tunnels with only a canary and other men for company and he expected no philandering with either, but he never laid eyes on the ore in his own life time. He watched them leave his little cabin, one by one, walk up the trail and disappear into the maw, and he turned away, turned the crank on his music box, and listened to Clementine over and over again. Oh my darling, he sang, oh, oh.
Who gave the foreman his music box?
tends the local pub. But he never seemed to have any purpose except to serve another round. He was lonely, dreadfully lonely. His lover died and he kept her picture over the till and dared any man to look upon it without weeping. He once lived in a brighter place, was once a wealthy man with bigger plans. But the devil didn’t realize that once he’d won out, he’d be bored. Now he poisons the well out back with his tears, only a few each night. It’s the least he can do.
Who loves the devil?
I have a new article up at Medium today on the economics of short fiction, how commercialism is changing what writers write, & a bit of advice from Shirley Jackson.
“The very nicest thing about being a writer is that you can afford to indulge yourself endlessly with oddness, and nobody can really do anything about it, as long as you keep writing and kind of using it up, as it were.” — Shirley Jackson (“Memory and Delusion,” Published in Let Me Tell You.)
Read the entire article here . . .
What if you woke up tomorrow knowing without a doubt you could write a bestseller? Paint a picture worth a million dollars? Release an album that was guaranteed to go to #1 on the charts?
What would you do?
This is the question behind Yesterday, a charming movie that pays homage to the works of The Beatles by erasing them from the world. Yesterday is a “what if” movie — What if The Beatles never existed? Himish Patel (best known for his work on the British soap Eastenders) plays down-on-his-luck musician Jack Malik, who wants someone to like his music other than his best friend Ellie (played by Lily James).
Read the entire article at Medium . . .
Holly Lyn Walrath is a freelance editor and author of poetry, flash fiction, and short fiction. Find her on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath
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Holly Walrath's books on Goodreads
ratings: 19 (avg rating 4.21)
Our Space: Shorts & Poetry from the Houston Community
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)
In Medias Res: Stories from the In-Between
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.50)
The 2017 Rhysling Anthology: The Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Poetry of 2016 Selected by the Science Fiction Poetry Association
ratings: 16 (avg rating 4.31)
ratings: 9 (avg rating 4.67)