I have a new poem up today at Liminality: A Magazine of Speculative Poetry. This poem is called “Acacia,” and it’s named after a plant commonly used in rituals and spellcraft.
Use to anoint torches and consecrate hope chests. Endows protection as well as psychic and mystical powers. If planted inside a fairy ring, it will bring prosperity to the closest home. If burned, it creates a hypnotic state that is often perilous.
TW: This poem deals with illness and cancer.
Read the poem at Liminality
She memorizes the little spaces she could hide in --
the white place between letters on the page,
the dashboard — a blushing radio throne . . .
Read the poem at Write Wild . . .
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about contests and writing fees, in one handy article. Writing contests abound. There are 695 contests on Duotrope’s listing of prizes and contests for poetry alone. There are writing contests run by big magazines and writing contests by little academic journals. Some contests pay a great deal, upwards of thousands of dollars, while others may pay a smaller amount. Some contests come with publication, others are a cash payout only. In some ways, this pay-to-pay model mirrors the way artists submit their work, often asked to pay a fee to be a part of an exhibition or gallery.
Read the whole article here . . .
There are many ways to play this game. In the forest of secrets, the past is always the first card drawn. To interpret the cards, one must keep in mind the divinatory and symbolic meaning of every single card. This works best in partners—an oracle and a querient. If a card appears upside down, its meaning changes, suggesting the opposite. These other meanings may be seen as yin and yang, black and white, dark and light, but the best oracles learn how to read between the lines...
Read the full story at Curious Fictions . . .
When you were a child, white skulls used to follow you through the woods. You tried to catch a glimpse of them, but when you turned your head their skeleton bodies would disappear, fading into the canopy. Only their bone-voices remained, clacking through the trees, knick knack, knick knack . . .
Read the full story at Curious Fictions . . .
We all have a little darkness inside. Except mine is real. I see it when I look in the mirror. I turn my head to reach for a towel after showering; the mirror is white with fog and from the corner of my eye my shadow moves—like it’s got a mind of its own. Like it’s waving hello. It’s not there when Benny comes to stay. I’ve been asking her over a lot more...
Read the full story at Curious Fictions . . .
I have a new poem up at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association mag Eye to the Telescope. It’s called “Now the Patient Recounts the Houses in Her Mind.” This poem is inspired by the work of author Shirley Jackson. It’s a combination of The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
Read it here . . .
Thanks to J.A. Sullivan for reading the Coppice & Brake Anthology from Crone Girls Press, and this lovely review of my story "The Red Shoes."
One of the stories I enjoyed most, “The Red Shoes” by Holly Lyn Walrath, is a perfect example of unexpected twists. Walrath gives us a story of a lonely old witch in a deserted forest. You would expect that when the witch finds a lost girl (“A lovely redheaded thing curled in the litter of the forest floor like a fairy in bracken”), she would immediately make a meal of her, as the witch had done with so many other helpless children through the years. Yet she doesn’t. Obsessed with the past when trolls, werewolves, and other sorcerers called the woods home, the old woman casts a spell on a pair of red shoes for the girl. But magic rarely brings us the things we most desire, especially not without a hefty price. This was a beautifully written story with sharp images, and it reminded me of being a child, listening to Grimms’ Fairy Tales for the first time.
Read the full review 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 . . .
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 . . .
I am honored to announce that my chapbook, Glimmerglass Girl, is the winner of the 2019 SFPA Elgin Award for best speculative poetry chapbook. I am grateful to the SFPA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association) voting members for supporting this little book of weird poems about womanhood.
Get your copy here . . .
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)