Author Archives: nancy_admin

New Books and Stories Out in the Wild

Very excited to announce that my first collection of poetry, The Acolyte, is now out. If you’re thinking, I don’t do poetry, then think again. These poems are rewritten biblical narratives from a twisty, feminist point of view. Haunting and often uncanny (think Anne Lamott meets Edgar Allen Poe), these persona poems gives so many women of the Old Testament a chance to tell their story–the men too.  The collection is only ten dollars and would make a cool gift come the holiday season.

The second fabulous piece of news is that my short story “Merea” in now in The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers. Best selling novelist Lauren Groff says, “The Lineup is full of ferocious, dark, and brilliant voices. The book as chorus both troubles and dazzles, as all great fiction does.”

Need Your Help: storySouth’s Million Writers Award

My super short story, “Till We Have Faces,” (only five pages!) is eligible for the Million Writers Award over at storySouth. The deadline for nominations is quickly approaching (August 1st). It came out with a very small lit mag, so it needs more readers to nominate it.

The title is taken from the C.S. Lewis book. My best friend and I lived in cities neither one of us belonged to. We couldn’t call them home. We were shadow sisters, fellow writers, and academic colleagues at one point. This is, essentially, the story of us, and the narrative we attempt to spin and unwrite in order to survive.

Nomination Site for the Million Writers Award:

Info you’ll need for nomination:

The journal I was published in is called Gone Lawn.

Gone Lawn’s website:

The url to my story:


Thank for you your support!

Samara, Galen Dara

Writing Process Blog Tour

This post is part of a blog post relay on craft, which the wonderful Heather Fowler invited me to join. Heather is the author of This Time, While We’re Awake and People with Holes. Her newest work, Elegantly Naked in My Sexy Mental Illness: Collected Stories, is forthcoming from Queen’s Ferry Press this May.


My take on craft:

1) What am I working on?

Right now I’m finishing up my small book of poetry, The Acolyte, for Port Yonder Press. These poems wrench the Bible out of right-wing political rhetoric and felt board metaphors learned in Sunday school to explore myth and ritual through a surreal, feminist retelling. Stress dreams, muted love, drought, childlessness, gang rape—my poetry doesn’t shy away from the grittiness of any tale, but rather seeks to show ways in which much of our culture battles the same issues. I’m also working on a few more short stories for my fiction collection Kinds of Leaving,  which was shortlisted for the Flann O’Brien Award for Innovative Fiction. In these stories, the surreal landscape becomes as much as character as the other humans and ghosts which haunt each other.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m an odd bird since my work spans all kinds of genres–I’ve published in the fantasy magazines as much as I have in the more “literary” ones. My novel Elementari Rising  is pretty much straight up epic fantasy, but I had artist Galen Dara create artwork to go along with certain scenes to help launch the book, which I think was pretty cool. My short fiction is more interstitial–not straight up fantasy nor is it completely realistic. I’ve probably taught Kafka and O’Connor so many years now that my work blends into those non-genre categories.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write my poetry because it comes from a place of deep faith and doubt. As a professed Christian, writing poetry that works on Bible stories constantly challenges me to see those stories in so many different ways–as myth, as metaphor, as cultural construction, and strange truth. My novel series on the Elementari comes from respect for ecocriticism and ways of looking at nature. It’s how I process my terror on climate change. And my short stories, well, those usually have to do in some way with growing up in the evangelical South and then going to college in the desert. Those two landscapes: Eden and the Wilderness, play out a lot in my fiction.

4) How does your writing process work?

I have a list of first lines and ideas in a story folder. Sometimes it takes me a year to finish a short story or even a flash piece–I just keeping taking a chunk out of it until it begins to talk to me. Novels and poetry are both different energies—I plot out the novel a little, but not too much, and create a character list and map to help me with world building. As a writing teacher, I think most true writing is done in the revision process. That’s the “nuts and bolts” answer. The down and dirty–I’m in the middle of moving and applying for jobs; it’s been a year of chronic physical pain. Everyone has the “ick bit” in their lives where everything is more important than writing, and yet still you somehow find your way back to the desk with that story fragment or poetry line that needs tweaking, and you get to it. At a certain point, it begins to generate energy back into you again.

Next up on the blog post tour come May 12th is Valya Dudycz Lupescu, the author of Amazon bestselling novel,  The Silence of Trees, and founding editor of Conclave: A Journal of Character. Her comic, STICKS & BONES was crowdfunded by Kickstarter and picked up by First Comics. She earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Valya is represented by Sara Crowe at Harvey Klinger, Inc. Her second book, The Supper Club, is currently on submission. Her website is

Elementari Rising on the Kindle on Sale!

Getting ready for all that holiday travel? Elementari Rising  would make some great airplane/train reading, and the Kindle version on sale right now for 1.99!  As of Monday night, it was #63 on Amazon’s  Best Sellers in Coming of Age Fantasy eBooks!

I also have some lovely publishing news–my story “Till We have Faces” has been accepted by Gone Lawn and my other short story “Bound” has been accepted by Bourbon Penn (which published my story Merea last year).

Stay tuned–am heading to Chicago on Friday for a reading and the Chicago Book Expo, but more on that later this week!

Elementari Rising Chosen As Debut of the Month!

Photo: Hey! It's Nancy Hightower getting called debut of the month in Library Journal! That's awesome!I love my Facebook book friends, especially when they let me know news that would otherwise have flown by me. John Klima let me know that Library Journal has chosen Elementari Rising as Debut of the Month for October!

That is the most awesome news, and I can’t tell you how pleased I am. But also, I hope this encourages you to go out and buy the book. Not only buy it but review it on Amazon or on your blog or anywhere a review can be found. 


I was up in Boston to Photo: Here's the fabulous Nancy Hightower, showing my students fairy tale art! They gasped when this one went up . . .guest lecture about Fairy Tales and Art at Boston University. The lovely Theodora Goss had invited me to talk to her classes about the way art can reinvigorate these stories, but also, she reminded me that there is something strangely timeless about these tales that keep drawing authors and artists back to them. My favorite piece to show is a rendition of Little Red Riding Hood (shown in the picture). It never fails to produce a gasp from students both shocked and delighted. I wrote about her work for Weird Fiction Review earlier in the year, and of course it’s always fun to introduce new art to students.

After another full take of talking to Dora’s classes, she and I went to hear Maria Tatar give a talk, “The Big Bad Wold Reconsidered: Predator and Prey in Fairy Tales Today.” It was insightful and touched on so many points that we had touched on earlier in the day. We followed up the lecture with dinner in Harvard Square with fellow writers Max Gladstone (whose new book Two Serpents Rise is coming out) and John Chu. Overall, it was a lovely New England time with good friends before heading back on a train to NYC. On to writing!


New Interview up over at the Mysteristas Blog

If you’re wondering about the story behind Elementari Rising or want to know more about the main protagonist, Jonathan, then check out my latest interview over at the Mysterista’s Blog! Find out who I would invite to the most awesome author dinner party ever.

Also, I just found out that my short story, “Bound,” has been accepted by Bourbon Penn, to be published in February or March. Bourbon Penn also published my surreal story “Merea” last year, which received a favorable review from Lois Tilton in Locus. 

Am busy writing more stories and poetry and of course, the sequel to Elementari Rising!


Elementari Rising Now in Paperback!

Am excited to announce that Elementari Rising is now out in paperback over at Barnes and Noble! And Library Journal gave it a starred review:

Library Journal

★ 10/15/2013
Since ancient times, the Elementarí, elemental spirits, have slept under the care of the guardian tribe of the Terakhein. Now that these caretakers have disappeared, the awakened spirits are bringing destruction as they roam the land. Only a young man named Jonathan, who dreams of a young Terakhein girl, the last of her kind, has the means to find her and, perhaps, save the world. Arrayed against him, however, are forces that wish to see the Terakhein exterminated. Hightower’s debut mixes elements of classic epic fantasy with ecological ideas. Jonathan is haunted by the loss of his brother and faces even greater losses as he struggles to protect the last of a dying race. VERDICT Interesting characters and an unusual world of deathless trees and common folk who are more than they seem make this a winner for fans of epic fantasy. With elements that should appeal to readers who enjoy Terry Brooks’s “Shannara” series and fans of weird fantasy.

And remember that you can also buy it for your Kindle over at Amazon. I’ve posted excerpts with amazing artwork by Hugo winning Galen Dara on this site if you want a sneak peek into some of the action scenes!

Elementari Rising Available on Kindle!

I’m very pleased to announce that Elementari Rising is available on Amazon  for the Kindle. There was a snag at the printers, so the paperback should be available shortly.

Also, my poem “She” is up at Prick of the Spindle. I will put a trigger warning for that one, since it deals with the horrible subject of rape, but it needed to be written, and I believe it needs to be read.

Prick of the Spindle also published my poems, “A Virtuous Woman” along with it.

Also, am happy to announce that Blast Furnace accepted my poem, “Flood,” for publication this month.

It’s been nice to see my work get out there a bit more. Am writing more and applying for teaching jobs amid a bit of ill health, so not blogging as much as I would like, but soon will be posting more about NYC adventures and such.