Posted in My books, Writer-ish

Anthologies: What’s the Use?

In publishing, an anthology can be defined simply as a collection of written work. It usually consists of smaller pieces–poems or short stories–that tend to come from several different authors. So now that you know what they are, why should you give a fig about reading one? Welp, I’m gonna try to unpack that a bit.

Short Stuff

Don’t get me wrong, I love novels. Everything about a story clicking together in about 80, 000 words is magic to me. But there is something to be said for shorter works as well. It’s exponentially more difficult to write a short story; because while every word in a novel-length work is necessary, every word in a short story is dire. The whole beginning, middle, and end must be seamlessly forced into something an eighth of the size of a novel. That means every element of the short story carries a heavier share of the weight, but it also means, there’s the potential to pack a mightier punch.

Take it or Leave it

I actually remember buying whole albums via cassette tape or CD. There’d always be a lot of songs I loved and maybe one or two that just weren’t for me. Did I throw the whole CD away or abandon it completely? No, I pressed fast-forward. And because an anthology is a compilation of sorts, readers have the option to skip entire portions too. Come across a writer whose style you’re not all that into? Skip it. Is one story a little trigger-y for you? Pass. With a collection of short stories or poems or whatever, readers can still get their money’s worth even if one story isn’t their favorite thing.

More Voices

I will read anything by Rainbow Rowell. If she scribbled a grocery list on the back of a CVS receipt, I’d read it. It’s fun to be a fan, but it’s also really, really fun to explore new things to be excited about. The other day I randomly picked up Shaun David Hutchinson’s memoir, Brave Face, and will now commence reading every other thing he’s ever written. It’s called branching out and anthologies serve up the perfect opportunity to do just that. Purchasing an anthology offers readers the chance to sample different writing styles. Maybe readers will find that new author who writes in a way that connects with their fluttery insides, who knows?

Okay, Sold.

Perfect. Yay! There are lots of options out there for you to choose from. Many small presses publish anthologies throughout the year. Indie authors do too, and so does the “Big 5.” Goodreads maintains a list for “Popular Anthology Books” if you’re on the hunt.

But here’s where I will take a sec to shamelessly plug a new anthology from Filles Vertes Publishing, where I work as an editor. Only this time, I left my editing hat on the rack and ventured into writing a short romance alongside this extremely talented group of writers that I’m happy to be sharing space with. I was super excited to have the chance to develop a new cast of characters falling in and out of love along the shops and cobblestones of historic (and fictional) Goldbug, California. It’s release is slated as just in time for Valentine’s Day. You can check it out and add it to your TBR over on Goodreads today:

Check out that author list, yo! This is gonna be good.
Posted in Randoms

Did you know the Great Valley Bookfest is a thing?

The Great Valley Bookfest is a small non-profit that organizes an annual FREE festival for the love of reading. It’s a day long celebration of books with loads of activities including costume parades, cooking demos, and street performers, oh my!

I’m so honored to be moderating the YA author panel this year, where we’ll be discussing among other things, Trends and Challenges in YA Today. And the rest of the day, I’ll be slinging The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh over in author alley.

^True. We can’t really argue with Steinbeck, now can we?

Click here for more information about workshops and other fun stuff planned for this year’s Great Valley Bookfest.

Posted in Randoms

I Heart Cover Art

To quote Astrid Lindgren, “I want to write for readers who can perform miracles. ” And so it is that Filles Vertes Publishing launches into middle grade lit with its first and newest title, Airily by Shay Emms.

About the Author

Shay Emms writes, draws, paints, and then writes some more. She was born in Montana but now lives in Oregon which provides endless inspiration… if you count moss growing on trees as inspiration. Which she does. Her obsessions include birds, books, and talking mice stories. She loves fantasy, magic, and witches, and left to her own devices would probably write them into everything. She’s a big fantasy geek and one day hopes to read all the books on her bookshelves. Shay loves anime, cartoons, manga, and fosters birds for a local rescue. Her natural habitat while editing is a coffee shop and she can generally be found there with a mug of tea and her laptop.

To learn more about Shay, you can follow her on Twitter: @ShayEmms; Facebook: ; website:

About the Book

Rule #1 Never get caught. Rule #2 Never be seen.

Airily isn’t too excited to follow the rules when humans move into the farmhouse her sparrow fairy family calls home. Tempted to the kitchen, Airily falls into the human boy’s trap. Although she doesn’t trust him, getting in trouble with Poppa is not on her agenda. She buys Josh’s silence with a binding promise of friendship.

Then, a deadly fae called a Cait Sidhe comes to the forest looking for a silver torc of great power. Airily’s Poppa rallies the local fae against the evil beast but gets kidnapped.

Airily and Josh must race against time to save Poppa and rid the woods of the ferocious killer. Between Airily’s knowledge of local fairfolk and Josh’s ingenuity, they just might have a chance.

What you’ve been waiting for…

It’s a beaut!

For more information about Filles Vertes Publishing and their books, you can follow them at Facebook: @FVpublishing; Twitter: @FillesVertesPub; Instagram: @fillesvertespub;

#shayemms #airily #coverreveal #fvpbooktours  #middlegrade #middlegradereads #middlegradefiction #fillesvertespublishing #bookstagram #bookish #bookworm #booknerd #amreading #amreadingMG #coverlove #TBR #writingcommunity #middlegradefantasy #middlegradelit #middlegradebooksuggestions #book #books

Posted in Randoms, The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh

Comp Magic

We were the kids that didn’t quite belong; a crew of drama geeks, Star Wars mega-fans, nerds, artists, and punks. Some of us wrote stories, basically our own zine/newsletter/fantasies, in which we were the stars. We had our own drunken parties, never even trying to invite the cool kids, and spent hours laughing and playing Euchre and talking til the birds started chirping. There were times things went too far; some of us blacked out, saying or doing mean things. Mostly, we apologized over greasy brunches. Sometimes, that wasn’t enough. But through it all there was a soundtrack. The music that matched. Songs that were gritty and underground, that felt like us.

Then came comp magic. Before anyone could slide into your DMS, there were comps. A system of communication that falls squarely under a version of Midwestern Nice, if only for it’s ability to mean something and nothing at the same time. The process could be exacting. Selecting just the right songs took hours of listening, an exhaustive knowledge, and a certain level of tenacity. Then, because this was prior to the ability to burn CD’s, one had to cue and record and click off double cassette players at just the right moment to get that first copy. Sometimes there was a theme, especially if a certain crush was in mind. Other times, it was just songs that were beloved and would make a good road trip mix. If you were on the receiving end of one, as you listened, you got to puzzle it together. Did it have meaning? Or was it trivial? Was this about feelings or fun? Who knew?

In The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh the idea of someone making a comp comes up twice. Two characters put music together in this way, Stu and his co-worker Shannon-from-the-record-store. The reader doesn’t get to experience Shannon all that much, so I thought it might be cool to provide the comp she made for Stu. It might provide more insight into their relationship, or not.


Posted in Randoms

I’m Bad at Titles

This project brought out some of the worst parts of my personality.

Someone gifted me this book a while ago. I opened it over the weekend and started assembling this portrait. As I painstakingly placed the tiniest of stickers into their assigned slots while desperately ignoring all my mistakes, I thought about the artist.

Kurt Cobain’s death marked my own first loss of an icon. I loved him because I knew I was supposed to love him. Deep down, I wondered if his lyrics were a joke he was playing on all of us. (Don’t @ me, I was a kid.) Nevertheless, he wrote stuff that made us feel like somebody understood something.

As a sophomore in high school, I’d been kinda hands on with death after losing my mom and half my grandparents in a short span of time. I had my own shit happening, having already glimpsed some big hurts. I knew losses were coming; that they would never stop coming. For my friends that didn’t know that yet, Cobain’s death felt devastating and hugely personal.

It’s been my experience that death either brings people together or tears them apart. So, in The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh it felt instinctual to write the beginning of Jeremy and Kasey after great loss. In retrospect, having them mourn together gave them a shared history and created the slack that they needed to give each other to grow up and remain friends.

Ignore the man-bun

Originally, the scene of them in middle school pouring one out for Cobain in her basement was a pages long flashback. In the finished version, it got chopped up and sprinkled around. Readers know of it but don’t participate in it. That was just for me.

I can see my mistakes but what-the-fuck-ever.

I won’t sit her and pretend to understand anything real about Kurt Cobain or glorify him toward sainthood. He was just another person. Like all of us, he had the capability to affect those around us in profound ways. He brought people together; he tore them apart. It’s what we all do every day.

Posted in Randoms

Cover Reveal!

I’m so lucky to be able to work with the super-talented C. Vonzale Lewis. Guys, seriously, she’s amazing. Her debut novel is slated for release later this year, but today we get to share that cover art!

I won’t drag this out. Listen to this…

Smart-mouthed Nicole Fontane has a way of getting herself into trouble. She’s been fired from every job she’s had but still refuses to work in her father’s apothecary shop because of his practice of Earth Magick. On Tulare Island where Nicole grew up, Magick has always been a way of life—one she’s determined to avoid at all costs.

With less than two hundred dollars in the bank and rent due, Nicole is forced to take a job at Tribec Insurance as a last resort. Little does she realize, the moment she sets foot inside the building, she becomes a pawn. A sinister force has set its sights on her and will stop at nothing to use her in a sadistic game.

Tribec’s proprietors, the Stewart family, are curiously preoccupied with the Naqada, the mysterious pre-dynastic Egyptian society. Nicole finds it creepy, but on the bright side, the job reconnects her with her estranged friend, Marta. Yet the eerie atmosphere, disappearing Magick wards, and the smell of blood inside Tribec bring Nicole to a startling conclusion—the Stewarts are practicing Blood Magick, the deadliest of the Five Principles. By the time Nicole uncovers the truth, Marta and her four children have gone missing, and all signs implicate the Stewarts and an archaic blood ritual to an Old One, a Naqada god imprisoned on Tulare Island.

Battling the evil of Blood Magick will demand Nicole to confront a hidden past and unlock the Magick buried within. But can she set aside her deep-rooted fears to work with a team of vigilante Mages? Or will the clock run out on Marta and her children—and on Nicole?


Lineage is book 1 in The Blood and Sacrifice Chronicles. Look for it this July!

I am here for it.

Posted in Randoms

Guessing About a Ghost

Monterey, CA has a vibe that speaks to me. I can’t totally put my finger on all the ways it touches a certain part of who I am, but it’s there. Undeniably. The coast. The wildlife. The water. Steinbeck. And a scientist named, Ed Ricketts.

As you walk along Cannery Row today, past the trinket stores and restaurants but not beyond the aquarium, there’s a historical shed of a building with a simple sign that reads Pacific Biological Laboratories. Being from the Midwest, I’d never heard of this place. Why would I? Monterey, CA seemed as distant as a moon when you grow up in a town known for pig farms and nuclear power.

Pacific Biological Laboratories has the untouched look of something that holds significance. It doesn’t fit anymore, existing as a place where one gets that whiff of past lives. A place where if you look close enough you can see ghosts still moving behind the windows.

There’s a little space between the lab and the building next to it. It’s an alley, and if you weren’t the curious-type, you’d bypass it completely. Back there, you come to Ed Ricketts’s backyard, a courtyard filled with a cement grid that held his collections from the tide pools just beyond.

Backyard View of Pacific Biological Laboratories

Overlooking the ocean, a couple of historical markers line the walk toward the back deck. They say the tide pools recall “Ricketts belief in the interconnectedness of all species.” And as the ocean courses all around, bringing the smells and sounds that oceans do, you think, of course. Sea gulls caw. Waves splash and crash along the rocks. Salty mists hang in the air. The sense of greater mysteries, a life beyond what we can see, lingers nearby. Your close to some real magic.

 There’s a line, from Steinbeck, about his friend; it describes Ricketts as a man whose “mind had no horizons, he has an interest in everything.” A quick internet search brings up more–Ricketts was a philosopher and an early ecologist, who wrote a really important scientific text. He was an observer. He didn’t finish his college degree and spent some months on walkabout, writing for a travel magazine. People, famous and not, gathered around him and his lab. He becomes the stuff of legend, his life having a profound influence in the arts and science. So much so, that seventy years after his car was struck by a train, I’m left on a deck overlooking the bay wondering what kind of life a person leads to be remembered for so long in such a way.

It had to be his world-view. The interconnectedness he saw in the tide pools, melded into his daily life. When people were around him, they must have felt it–that way in which we’re all attached.

But then, as I stand at one end of the country in Ricketts’s backyard, I realize I’m just kinda making that up. I’m only guessing about a ghost.