I’ll be at MileHiCon as a Guest of Honor!

I’m a Guest of Honor at MileHiCon in Denver in two weeks–the weekend of October 1. I’ve got a packed three-day schedule with lots of interesting panels.

  • 6 pm — Opening Ceremonies

  • 12 pm — Gender Beyond the Binary Panel, a panel
  • 1 pm — An Hour with Rachel Swirsky
  • 4 pm — Art as Resistance, a panel
  • 5 pm — Starfish Out of Water, a panel about alien biology
It’s exciting–and a bit intimidating!–to be going to a convention in person again. (Don’t worry, I’ve got a mask, my shots, and doctor approval.) It’s kind of hard to believe there’s even still a world outside Portland. Well, really, it’s kind of hard to believe there’s even still a world outside of like a couple miles from my house!

Is anyone going? Any experiences from MileHiCon to share? Any thoughts on what I should make sure to cover on my panels? I’d love to hear it all.

milehicon53 banner, rocketship in left corner, october 1-2-3 2021 and additional information in right corner

Check Out Apex Magazine’s Issue 125

Terra stands alone in the middle of the room, staring at nothing. She moves sometimes like someone dreaming, but never reacts.

My poor sister, locked in her own world.

Apex Mag Issue 125 CoverExcited to be back in Apex Magazine‘s table of contents with a surreal mystery about a sister’s struggle to wake her twin from a dream world

“Wake Up, I Miss You” won’t be freely available to read online until September 29, but if you can’t wait that long, Issue 125 is already available for purchase!

Haiku Roundup for August 2021

I posted this a few years ago, but I think it’s worth posting again.

A while back, during a phase when I was having trouble writing fiction, a friend of mine showed me a haiku they’d been working on. I couldn’t manage something like a whole story, but writing seventeen syllables of poetry came easily, and felt right. 

These poems are only sort of traditional haiku. For one thing, I used English syllables instead of trying to adapt English words to Japanese morae which are similar to syllables, but not the same. I did use a seasonal reference in the first line of each, but they aren’t necessarily the kind of seasonal imagery that would have been used in a traditional poem. Also, I talked a lot more directly about what I was feeling, instead of using the metaphors to convey it.

However, I did try to convey my thoughts as I experienced them in that transient moment. I also tried not to revise, to just let them be as they were. (I think I cheated a couple of times, though.)  

These haikus aren’t necessarily in order, and they’re from a bit ago, so they won’t match up with the current weather, but I hope the words mean something to you.


Light through naked trees.
My dreams were not peaceful, and
I just want to sleep.

In night’s deep belly,
midnight is a great crevasse,
dark but sheltering.

Pet me, please. Now, please.
Stop tapping on that machine.
I’m here; I love you.

Evening starts at three.
I have a day’s work to do
in the waning light.

The twilight sky bleeds
to deeper and deeper shades
of thoughtful Winter.

Half-naked branches,
black, with yellow flags waving
gently in the wind.

Bitter, windy, dark,
clattering cold strikes the rain,
sharp, overwhelming.

Hasten through the cold,
the wind pushing you backward.
The windows are bright.

Zombies Need Brains Kickstarted Three New Anthologies!

shattering the glass slipper cover image green background with various items in corner such as a broken glass shoe and dented lamp

Live happily ever after… or don’t. It’s up to you.

Zombies Need Brains (@ZNGLLC) is kickstarting three new anthologies, including an anthology of fairy tales that have been smashed up and remade into something new, SHATTERING THE GLASS SLIPPER.

I’m one of the authors who’s signed up to participate, along with awesome folks like Alethea Kontis, Cat Rambo, Jose Iriarte and lots of others whose work I’m excited to get to know. (The editors also plan to consider open submissions once the kickstarter funds.)

At the same time, ZNBLLC is also funding two other anthologies, NOIR and BRAVE NEW WORLDS.

I’m contributing some rewards!

I’m offering up to three backers a printed copy of one of my short stories with  margins full of ridiculous, hand-drawn doodles. When I’ve done this in the past, I’ve drawn on copies of my flash stories “Death and the All-Night Donut Shop” and “Again and Again and Again.” Not sure which story I’ll pick this time!

Early backers who contribute before the Kickstarter reaches its goal will get an original poem that’s not available elsewhere online. If the Kickstarter reaches its stretch goal, I’ll send all backers a copy of a short chapbook including six flash fiction drafts and an original poem. 

As for my story, I’m planning a Rapunzel set in an urban fantasy version of Seattle–not my usual thing! However, I’m also working on a Little Mermaid retelling about alienation, fish reproduction, and the combination thereof. Hopefully, I’ll be able to offer the editors a choice.

I adore fairy tale retellings, both writing and consuming them.

As a child, I obsessed over Shelley Duval’s Faerie Tale Theatre, Datlow & Windling’s fairy tale anthology series, and Tanith Lee’s collection, Red as Blood.

Here are a couple more recent retellings I adore:

And here are a couple of mine (I swear not all my retellings are NSFW!):

  • All That Fairy Tale Crap” — NSFW post-modern Cinderella
  • Tea Time” — NSFW (especially if you happen to be working in a Victorian time travel situation) romance between the Mad Hatter and March Hare

Thanks to ZNBLLC for doing the work to keep small press anthologies alive!

Check out the Kickstarter for SHATTERING THE GLASS SLIPPER and its siblings, NOIR and BRAVE NEW WORLDS.

You can follow Zombies Need Brains on Twitter for updates regarding the kickstarter and anthologies.

Check Out “Innocent Bird” in Lightspeed

I’m really excited to be in Lightspeed again with my new short story, “Innocent Bird!”

It began with Shoko finding feathers in her bed. It was her third year of high school. She’d just turned seventeen.

She was falling in love, and her wings were coming in.

I wrote the first draft of this story as part of the Codex message board contest Weekend Warrior. The prompt was to “Write a story inspired by your favorite video game. Stay away from anything copyrighted, but use the sounds, activities, or setting for inspiration.”

At the time, I was playing a rhythm game based on a Japanese anime, Love Live, about girls in a musical performance club. 

During rough times in my life, I’ve often found myself inclined to media about friendships. Love Live is a very gentle universe where conflicts are low stakes and kindness wins out. 

My story isn’t like that–but I loosely used it as a point of departure for creating a contemporary fantasy world. I’ve written a couple of other stories in this setting, about the girls coming to terms with magical abilities as part of their adolescence. I’m not sure how they all fit together as a whole yet. I greatly admire Isabel Yap’s “Hurricane Heels” which is a multi-part novella, written in a literary style but following the characters in an imaginary magical girl anime. I want to avoid putting together something that’s too close to hers in structure, but it’s definitely an inspiration for me when I’m thinking about how to put the two conflicting genres in tension–and harmony–with each other.

I also went to another of my common inspirations for this story–reversing a common storytelling element. In this case, I wondered about reversing the themes that resonate in selkie stories.

I hope you enjoy this story! I talk about it more in my spotlight over at Lightspeed. My many thanks to Akemi Marshall for her advice and expertise. 

At first, there were not so many feathers, but soon there were more and more. She’d assumed they’d be white; in drawings, most people with wings had feathers like swans or doves. Hers were like a sparrow’s: tones of warm brown like her skin in summer, speckled with olive-black like her hair and eyes.

Day by day, Shoko’s feeling of incipience rose. She wanted to kiss Ichika. She wanted to hold her close. Love fluttered inside her as her wings soon would in the air.

She was desperate to stop it.

Lightspeed July 2021 Issue 134, dragon with rider

MileHiCon Guest of Honor

I’ll be attending MileHiCon October 1-3, 2021 as guest of honor!

It’s exciting to attend a convention in person after more than a year of staying home. I’ve heard so many good things about this one!

I’ve had several new pieces come out, and a few which are forthcoming, so it’ll be exciting to talk to fans and peers! What pieces would you like me to read? (I’m also happy to read old ones, of course!) Additionally, I get an hour to do just about anything! Let me know if there’s something you’d be excited to hear me talk about.

I’ll post an update once the schedule has been released and what I’ll be doing throughout the convention. As always, it’s an honor to be selected!

milehicon53 banner, rocketship in left corner, october 1-2-3 2021 and additional information in right corner

How the World Became Quiet Review at the Rutland Herald

Randal Smathers reviews of my collection, How the World Became Quiet, at Rutland Herald!

I rarely read short fiction except in anthologies, especially by unfamiliar authors. So I’m not sure why I picked this one up, but I’m glad I did. A really fine collection of short stories … a mix of fantasy & sci-fi elements. Lots of the stories are dreamlike. These are not your grandpa’s stories about rocket ships and ray guns. Definitely worth a read.

Read more reviews of collections by authors such as Maria Dahvana Headley.

The Dragonet Prophecy graphic novel won a 2021 Young Readers’ Choice Award!

I am super excited to announce that the graphic novel adaptation The Dragonet Prophecy, with artwork by Mike Holmes, has won the 2021 Young Readers’ Choice Awards (YRCA)!

Barry Deutsch and I adapted the graphic novel from The Dragonet Prophecy, book 1 of the Wings of Fire series, written by Tui T. Sutherland. The novel is the first in a fifteen-book series.

Not every dragonet wants a destiny … Clay has grown up under the mountain, chosen along with four other dragonets to fulfill a mysterious prophecy and end the war between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. He’s The Dragonet Prophecy Graphic Novel Book Cover, five dragons in a red skynot so sure about the prophecy part, but Clay can’t imagine not living with the other dragonets; they’re his best friends. So when one of the dragonets is threatened, all five spring into action. Together, they will choose freedom over fate, leave the mountain, and fulfill their destiny — on their own terms. The New York Times bestselling Wings of Fire series takes flight in this first graphic novel edition, adapted by the author with art by Mike Holmes.
The Dragonet Prophecy graphic novel Amazon description

The YRCA is the longest-running North American youth book choice award voted on by children living in Alaska, Alberta, British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, and Washington. The Dragonet Prophecy graphic novel won the Junior Division category, voted on by 4th-6th graders. Read more about the 2021 award and winners here.

Thank you to everyone who loves the original books and the graphic novel adaptation, to parents, teachers, and librarians who have helped get these books into the hands of children, and to the Pacific Northwest Library Association for making the YRCA possible.

“Placed into Abyss” Review at Locus Magazine

Karen Burnham reviews “Placed into Abyss” at Locus Magazine!

While normal family drama transpires in the background, Chris is tormented by memories of the abuse he suffered there, which he’s drawn into more deeply with every room he moves through. He will have to wrest control of time and space back to be able to escape. This story is so intense in terms of what Chris is experiencing that the science fictional moves Swirsky is making are almost subliminally in the background.

Read more of her review — she looks at short fiction from Samovar, Tor, and Strange Horizons!