June 2022 Newsletter
Thank you for opening my newsletter. It’s great to see you here. It’s a minor miracle, with so much mail hurtled at us, that we get to spend a few minutes together. It means a lot to me that you’re taking time to hang out and hear about what’s going on in this writer’s life.
First off, in case you missed it, my column, “Hauntings, Exorcisms, Incantations and Transparent Spiders,” is in The New York Times Book Review and in stores now (the June 5th paper). I reviewed 8 books, which you may want to check out. Sorry about the paywall, but that’s how the NYT rolls. If you can’t get in and want to read it, send me a note and I’ll email you a pdf!!
This past month was filled with excitement and some travel. It’s hot here in San Miguel de Allende (May and June are the hottest months of the year) and so I’ve been spending time outside. Here’s a shot of me in the Charco del Ingenio botanical gardens.
Hadrien and I went on a research trip in Oaxaca earlier in the month with my friend and fellow writer Tim Weed. Here are some photos of our trip. We went to Monte Alban to see the pyramids. Here’s me in front of one.
Oaxaca is renowned for food, and Hadrien and I tried everything. One of my favorite restaurants was Tierra del Sol, which had the best molé I’ve ever tried. The food was truly incredible, and I may go back just to eat there again. Check out that wall of peppers!!
It’s no coincidence that my forthcoming novel is called The Puzzle Master: I love jigsaw puzzles. I started a new one this month. It’s one is the smallest 1000 piece puzzles in the world. Seriously. The pieces are TINY. It’s going to be so fun.
I’d also like to recommend the work of my friend and Newport MFA colleague, Ann Hood’s new memoir Fly Girl. The book follows the adventures Ann had working as a TWA flight attendant. As the airline industry changed over the years, Ann wrote down what she noticed. In this book, she reveals how the job empowered her, despite the overt sexism. Ann’s book is funny, moving, and shocking all at once, while capturing the nostalgia and magic of air travel at its height. Ann is an amazing storyteller, and I’m sure you’ll love it. You can grab your copy at bookshop.org, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.
Readers and writing students often ask me about what I’m reading about books and literature. I’m excited to share a few recent articles to check out. Let me know what you think…
Sometimes book research digs deep…
“Annie Harnett on What Living in a Cemetery Meant to Her Novel”
It’s never too late to jump into a magical series…
“Every Witch Way”
Who doesn’t love a short story now and then…or often!
“10 Speculative Short Story Collections To Enjoy In 2022”
Some articles are just so easy to relate to…
“Ann Leary Likes Scary Stories”
For those of you who enjoyed The Ancestor’s landscapes…
“Eight Thrilling Books To Read About Mountaineering”
I am part of the incredible low residency writing program at Salve Regina. As such, I’m always on the lookout for submission opportunities for emerging writers. I know many of you are writers, and might be interested in sending out your work. Check out these select opportunities for getting your work published.
Highly imaginative stories with a healthy dose of the odd.
Length: 2000 – 7500 words
Payment: 3¢ per word
Hugo, World Fantasy, and British Fantasy Award-winning science fiction and fantasy.
Length: 1000-22000 words
Payment: 12¢ per word
Innovative prose and poetry for chapbooks.
Length: up to 10k words or 8 poems
Payment: $20 per piece
Deadline: Rolling, routine chapbook scheduling
A speculative fiction magazine published online (thrice per year) and in a print anthology (every other year).
Length: Short stories: 1001–7500 words; flash fiction ≤1000 words
Payment: $100 for short story, $30 for flash fiction
Deadline: Rolling, circulating issues
About people (or things) out of place in their surroundings; outsiders, social misfits, aliens, etc. Length: 5k words or less, poems of 40 lines or less
Payment: $8 to $15
Finally, I opened the floor to my friends on social media again this month to take any questions about my new books or the writing/reading/publishing world at large.
Will The Puzzle Master and its sequel, The Puzzle Box, come out around the same time next year?
Great question! The short answer: no. The Puzzle Master will be released in June 2023 and (if everything goes as I’m hoping) The Puzzle Box will be published the year after, in June 2024. I’m done with The Puzzle Master, but it takes a whole year between the time when an author turns in a book and when it’s published. There’s a lot that happens in that year. There are all the stages of production (cover design, laying out the interior, copyediting, and so on) and then there is marketing and publicity. It’s hard to believe it takes so long, especially when we live in a world where a self-published book can come out in a month or so after the author finishes. But then again, there is something absolutely incredible about the path from idea to composition to final draft to publication, a kind of rhythm that helps me prepare to see my work out in the world.
How do you choose which books to review in your NY Times column?
I do a lot of reading! Some of the books are from authors whose work I’ve read and loved, and so I’m watching for their latest. I always try to include a debut author, and so I’m often contacting publicists, watching on twitter for “most anticipated’ lists, and generally keeping my eyes open for books that people are talking about. My editors at the NYTBR also send me books that have come to them, and that they feel is a good fit for the column. A lot of factors go into appearing in my column, but one thing is certain: I’m always looking for great writing.
As always, a big thank you to everyone for spending the time with me here, on my website, and across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. My books wouldn’t be possible without your support! Please stay in touch and let me know how you’re doing.