May 2022 Newsletter
It’s one way of being wise.”
Good morning from the Writing Cave!
As you may know, I’m currently living and working in the magical city of San Miguel de Allende Mexico. It is an extraordinarily picturesque place, one filled with hidden gardens, shady stone terraces, and lush parks filled with palm trees, flowers, and hummingbirds.
Perhaps because I spend so much time alone writing in my cave, going out into a sunny afternoon has become an essential part of my life. Walking helps me think, helps me relax, and allows me to see my life from a different perspective. I try (but don’t always succeed) to take out time each day to walk aimlessly through the streets. The other week, I went walking and found myself on this hidden stairway. It led me to a quiet, shady place to read and think. Click here to see where I ended up.
Here are some more photos from my walks, one an interior courtyard I stumbled upon and the other a classic Mexican saloon (with Hadrien standing in front of it).
While it may not seem like a big deal to most people, especially those who aren’t on social media, this last week I changed my profile picture. Here’s the new devilish me:
This is an NFT (YOU #738) designed by Jade Purple Brown for BFF, Blockchain Friends Forever. This NFT, along with a BFF friendship bracelet, gives me membership in an online community. I think this profile picture captures my essence pretty well, don’t you?
Maybe you’ve been hearing talk about NFTs and wondering what they are. If so, read this simple explanation in The New York Times.
My husband and I have been working on a project that takes our audio drama Crypto-Z to make an online interactive community. Stay tuned for more information on that!
One question I’m always asked after I publish a novel is: How much research did you do??
The answer is: A LOT. If you’ve read my books, you know that they are often set in far-off places where unusual things happen. My new novel The Puzzle Master is nearly finished, yet I’m already researching for my next novel. Here’s a stack of books I’m reading this month. Any guesses about what the next book will be about?
Lucky Turtle is the terrific new novel by my fellow Newport MFA faculty member, Bill Roorbach. The story follows teenager Cindra Zoeller at a reform camp in Montana after being involved in an armed robbery. She’s soon thrust into a world of mountains, cowboys, and miscreants. It’s a page-turner full of vivid characters and delicious suspense. The story has a big- hearted, deeply engrossing love story that I couldn’t stop thinking about. If you’re interested in reading it, make sure you pre-order on Amazon or search up your local indie bookstore to place your order. I’d love to know what you think about it, so drop me a line and let me know.
Readers and writing students like to ask me about what I’m reading in the online world of literature. So I’m excited to share a few recent articles worth checking out. Let me know what you think.
It’s never a bad time to step beyond Western expressions of spooky stories…
“Defying Classification: An Introduction to Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction”
A current star talks about other genre faves…
“Jeff VanderMeer on Ursula K. Le Guin, Tove Jansson, and Ottessa Moshfegh”
Will Shakespeare ever stop being super relevant?
“How Did Shakespeare Kill (And Heal) His Characters?”
I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the country house setting…
“The Enduring Appeal Of The Country House Murder”
For my Agatha Christie fans, how much do you agree with these picks?
“The Most And Least Satisfying Endings Of All Of Agatha Christie’s Mysteries”
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.
Science fiction, fantasy, and horror
Word Count: up to 7,500 words
Payment: 8 cents per word, minimum of $50
All things scary
Word Count: short fiction should be 1,500 to 6,000 words; flash should be under 1,500
Payment: 8 cents per word for original fiction, $100 flat rate for short story reprints, and $20 flat rate for flash fiction reprints
Publishes monthly, taking dark fantasy and horror
Word Count: 2,000 to 6,000 words
Payment: 6 cents a word
Word Count: 250 to 20,000 words
Payment: 5 to 8 cents per word
Crime, mystery, thriller, and suspense
Word Count: up to 20,000 words
Payment: 5 to 8 cents per word
Lastly, I again opened the floor to my friends on social media to receive any questions about my new books or the writing/reading/publishing world at large.
Where do you find inspiration?
SEE ABOVE – the photos of my walks! I’ve found endless inspiration by walking and being in nature.
How do you choose which books to review in your column?
For those of you who don’t know, I write the Dark Matters column for The New York Times Book Review. You can find my latest column here.
Deciding what to include is a complicated process. There isn’t one formula. It is really a mixture of collecting all the books that are coming out in the months around the column– all the books that I’ve heard about from publicists, from my editor– and choosing my favorite. If I don’t find what I’m looking for, I’ll often go hunting on Netgalley, where I can download digital galleys of novels. I also watch for recommendations from readers I trust.
Here’s a sneak peak at 2 of my favorite books from the forthcoming NYTBR Summer Reading Supplement: The Maker of Swans by Paraic O’Donnell (out 6/7) and The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (out 7/19). You can preorder both now.
Did you travel anywhere to do research for The Puzzle Master? Where was your fave?
I wrote The Puzzle Master (for the most part) during the pandemic, and so I did not travel to do research for this novel. It is the first one that I haven’t. With The Ancestor, I went to the Italian Alps and for Angelology I went all over the place–Bulgaria, Paris, New York City. One reason I did not travel (aside from Covid) is that The Puzzle Master is set in places I know well: upstate New York, New York City, and Prague, a city I’ve spent time visiting in the past.
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.