Category Archives: Fantasy

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!

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!

Adamara, by Galen Dara

Elementarí Rising Excerpt

A burst of violet light, and when that purplish haze finally cleared, in place of the serpent a woman stood, dressed in white, hair piled high with golden ringlets around her face. Something was odd about her eyes. Almond shaped, slanting slightly upwards, the green within them was dazzling. The girl turned and ran towards the trees. The woman laughed, dashed after her, catching one little arm before the girl dove into a mess of thickets.

Sneak Peek

The little girl was near Jenna’s age, perhaps a year younger. Her dress and sleeves were ripped from the thickets, leaving scratches on her arms and legs. She stopped to shake the snow from her short dark hair while a whimper escaped her lips. Then she bowed her head and sprinted forward. A blast of wind swept the white flakes side to side, making wispy snow snakes that followed her. Another gust and the snakes writhed, each piece blending into the other until one large serpent began to slither behind her, closing in….

Excerpt from Elementarí Rising, with artwork from HUGO winning artist Galen Dara. Each week I’ll be posting a new excerpt and new artwork. Launch date for the book is September 17th!

WorldCon Schedule and (more!) Publishing News

I leave Thursday for WorldCon, so please come say hi if you see me! I’ll have some lovely postcards to hand out. And wow, I’m on some great panels that I’m very excited about!


11:00, Author by Day, Poet by Night               102A (Convention Center)

1:00,  Like a Metaphor: Ongoing Relations between Poetry and Science, 102A (Convention Center)


11:00 But is it Science Fiction?             008B (Convention Center)

2:00   Almost Nominated                101A (Convention Center)

Monday 1:00 Reading   (come support me!)

002B (Convention Center), 13:00 – 13


Also I just got three more poems accepted. Two to Prick of the Spindle and one to Crack the Spine. What a whirlwind fall this is turning out to be!

Paxton Gaten2

California Trip/Nebula Weekend Recap

Me, Cameo Wood, Maria Dahvana Headly


I am just back from a 10 day road trip in California, and am about to hop on a plane to WisCon, where I’ll be reading my short story “Beauty Unleashed” at the Oxford Comma Bonfire with Vylar Kaftan, Michael Underwood, and LaShawn M. Wanak, Fri, 9:00–10:15 p.m. at Michelangelos. “Unleashed Beauty” will be reprinted in Gargoyle, #60, so am excited to finally get to read it in front of an audience!

Also, reading with a host of other splendid poets such as Sofia Samatar, Amal El-Mohtar, Katherin Koehler, and more at the Open Secrets Speculative Poetry Reading, 2:30 pm Saturday, Senate Room B.

But now, on with the CA recap! As you can see, from the pics, I had a lot of fun dressing up. I met a host of wonderful people, including Cameo Wood, a film director and producer, and Saladin Ahmed, whose Throne of the Crescent Moon was up for a Nebula and is nominated for a Hugo! My friend Maria Dahvana Headley’s short story, “Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” was up  up for a Nebula as well (and is one of my favorite stories).


Me and Christie Yant, Nebula Reception

I also met a host of other lovely people at the Nebula Award Weekend such as Carrie Ratajski, Amy Sundberg, Derek Kunsken, and the fabulous Juliette Wade.  Also got to hang a bit Twitter friend Christie Yant (whom I have adored so long–in short, because she’s full of awesome, and a kick-ass writer). Despite being exhausted from travel, Jaym Gates corralled a group of us (Sheila Williams, Greg Bossert, and Francesca Myman) to try out Single Barrel, a most awesome Speakeasy with the tastiest of cocktails.  During the con I got to catch up with NYC friends Maria Dahvana Headly and Liz Gorinsky and discovered that John Joseph Adams and I were twins separated at birth, given our obsessive love of sugar. He is the Jedi of MM’s, and reminded me that the con suite is always stocked with them. Also, stayed with the Locus peeps Liza Trombi and Francesca Myman during the convention—some of the best roomies ever, though I will still never, ever understand how Liza is able to get up so early in the morning (I was always the last one in for the night).

Also, I got a glimpse of the cover art for Elementari Rising! Not going to post it just yet since it still needs a few tweaks, but if you’re going to WisCon, be prepared for me to whip out my phone and show you a pic.

Now, I didn’t come to CA just for the Nebula Awards Weekend. I had people and Caliplaces to see! So, I started out in San Diego to visit my wonderfully adventurous aunt (she was in the Peace Corps in Botswana–the woman seriously rocks). I had planned on a day in the city, but my aunt’s place was nestled in Palomar Valley, and I had messed up my shoulder earlier that week so instead just rested for a few days at her place and wrote. With a few like this, how could I not?

I then drove up to LA, where I met up with Ashleigh Ruhl, one of my ex students from the grotesque class I taught at the University of Colorado. Together we drove into West Hollywood to meet up with the incomparable Laurie Lipton, whose work I’ve written about and who is, by far, my students’ favorite artist.

Andy Romaine, Carol Penn-Romaine, Christie Yant, Tracie Welser, me, and John Joseph Adams (aka The Shadow). Pic taken by John Remy

Andy Romaine, Carol Penn-Romaine, Christie Yant, Tracie Welser, me, and John Joseph Adams (aka The Shadow). Pic taken by John Remy

The next day I joined Andy Penn Romaine, Carol Penn Romaine, Christie Yant, John Joseph Adams, Tracie Welser, and John Remy to watch an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.  What a lovely visual escape into one of my favorite novels! And what a fabulously fun group to have dinner with beforehand! The next day John  R. drove me all around the Irvine area so that I could see some of the glorious beaches. I love the ocean, and it had just been too damn long since I had seen it.

Me and Sophia

But then, it was off to Santa Barbara, where I grabbed a quick lunch (with beach -side view, of course) with Sophia Quach McCabe and Joe McCabe, whom I first met through John Picacio at the 2009 World Fantasy Convention. Then I drove  to San Francisco (can we say whirlwind road trip?). The net day  I met up with David Edison for lunch and later, Blake Charlton  for coffee. David’s book The Waking Engine is coming out from Tor in 2014, and he is my future roommate in NYC! (more on that later). Blake wrote the Spellwright Trilogy and has just published a beautiful piece in the New York Times about defining dyslexia.

Paxton Gaten2

In between those two meet and greets, I visited Borderlands Bookstore and discovered Paxton Gate, the best Cabinet of Curiosities in San Francisco. I could have spent hours in there!  I could have spent a few more weeks in CA, certainly, but now I am soon off to the airport to have more adventures!


Oh, and one more pic of me a sundress, since I’ve been promising them. 

Recap: ICFA, the big move, and new adventures

Valya and I, image by Andy Duncan

Valya and me, photo by Andy Duncan

March was a month of traveling madness, first to NYC for the Armory Arts fairs and then to Orlando for the International Conference on the Fantastic in Arts. The first night there, I got to see Amanda Palmer play her ukulele and serenade the bar with Radiohead’s “Creep.” Very decent way to begin a writer’s conference.

My reading/panel “Transforming Fact into Fiction” with Greg Bechtel lost two members to the flu, but the amazing Valya Lupescu, author of The Silence of the Trees, stepped in as our third panelist. It was only on the plane to the Florida that I suddenly realized I hadn’t told her it was a reading, too. But Valya was amazing, and read from her novel, and we had a great panel, despite the unforgivable hour (8:30 a.m.) on Thursday. The wondrous Sofia Samatar even got up early to hear us talk about about the intersection of memoir/fiction/myth/and history. It was my first time reading my work at a conference, and it was my first time coming as a writer as opposed to a scholar, so it was really a rather special ICFA.

Sofia Samatar, Valya Lupescu, me and Kat Howard. Photo by Jim Kelly

Sofia Samatar, Valya Lupescu, me and Kat Howard. Photo by Jim Kelly

I also heard the lovely Kat Howard read part of the script from her collaborative project with Megan and Shannon Kurashige, “A Thousand Natural Shocks.” And then saw Dora Goss read (no! perform is a more accurate word) an excerpt from her work in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s anthology, Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells.

I also wore a lot of cute dresses, if you can’t already tell by the pics. I’m an academic. I’m mostly covered in chalk and hidden away in a classroom, but this conference is held in Orlando, and so I worshipped the sun gods as every writer should when they get the chance.

Sofia and me

Sofia and me


One of the highlights of this trip was finally meeting Sofia Samatar, author of the forthcoming A Stranger in Olondria, whom I had recently found on Facebook. But I knew I had found soul mate, when, at last call on our second night of the con, she turned to me and was like, “We need to buy a bottle of wine. What is up with this last call nonsense?” We, of course, closed down the bar that night. And the night after, and the night after. We also went to war for S’mores and bought magic rings our last night in town. Conferences such as this are made for adventures. 

Kat, Maria, me, Sofia at the Saturday night banquet. Photo by Andy Duncan

Kat, Maria, me, Sofia at the Saturday night banquet. Photo by Andy Duncan

Speaking of which, included a possible tornado our last day there. Liz Gorinsky, Maria Dahvanna Headley, Dora, Sofia, and Lara Donnelly and I hunkered down in the Tavern (not for drinks, really, but to get away from the windows). The hotel was nice enough to bring us complimentary champagne and chips while the storm blew over. But it was Jeff and Ann VanderMeer, who rescued Sofia and I since they took the Weird Fiction Review team out to dinner in Winter Park. 

Jeff VanderMeer, me, Sofia, Ann VanderMeer, Edward Gauvin

Jeff VanderMeer, me, Sofia, Ann VanderMeer, Edward Gauvin

Lovely dinner with good wine, laughter, excellent port, and snippets of conversation about a possible future conference on the Weird and Grotesque. It was so fabulous finally getting to meet Edward Gauvin, whose articles I have read over the past year. What a wonderful crew to be a part of, and I can’t wait to see what the next year for Weird Fiction Review bringsAnd serious kudos to Jeff for his book and movies deals!


Francesca, Valya, me, and Sophia. This was pre-S’more us

Now, there were all other sorts of glorious people I got to hang out with, including Chris Barzak, who also has a new book and a movie coming out (but this gang totally rocks). It was lovely to see Liz Gorinksy, KeffyKehrli, Liza Trombi, Francesca Myman, Ellen Datlow and a whole gang of folk that I only get to visit with once or twice a year (the NYC folk, a bit more). Hearing Andy Duncan and Neil Gaiman read was nothing short of sublime (oh yeah, did I mention Neil Gaiman was guest of honor there? And that he read from his new novel? Jealous?). So, quite the trip, and I am leaving out all sorts of grotesque stories about possums and placentas. And perhaps you are being quite thankful that I have left them out. 

house in summer

One last thing is that I came home and packed up the rest of my beautiful house. I closed on Thursday, and so beautiful house is no longer mine. But I now have the means to go to NYC, starting in July, for about 8 months and write like a motherfucker. What shall I write, you ask? The sequel to Elementarí Rising, for one. A proposal to write a book on the Grotesque, too. I am hopefully going to get more stories and poems published. There are  Weird Fiction Review Articles to write, and art exhibits and KGB reading to attend. We shall then see where this path leads. All I know is that I’ve finally found the rabbit hole. And I’m ready to jump in.

Liturgy and Speculative Poetry

While I am typing up an ICFA recap post, I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about liturgy (because this is something every writer gal likes to talk about on Friday night). Except it happens to be Good Friday. And there was a time when I wrote a weird kind of liturgy for my church. There was a year I spent pouring over the stories from the Bible, and rather than judge them or pick them rhetorically apart or start arguing with them or using them to back up my world view, I simply listened to them. I wondered what it would be like to hammer a man’s head into the ground in order to save a battle or to have ordered the killing of another human and having to live with that decision for the rest of your life. I wondered what it was like to be the outcast, the cannibal, the other, and the oppressor. And from that year came a manuscript of these monologues, some of which have recently been published, or are forthcoming. Here a few you can read online. The “PTL, circa 1981″ isn’t part of that series, but thought you might be interested since it’s the story I came from.

“Jael,” Strange Horizons

“Tamar,” Strange Horizons

Paul: An Unpublished Letter (for Stephen), Liquid Imagination (link is fixed)

“On Eating a Child,” Danse Macabre

“Jericho,” Danse Macabre

“Jepthath,” Danse Macabre

PTL, circa 1981,” storySouth

And “Magdalene” will be forthcoming from Neon soon.

Beautiful Monsters

cover-art-by-siolo-thompson3.jpgI start teaching again in a few days, and there is already too much to do! But oh, wonderful readers and teachers and writers and artists, I’ve got plenty of visual delights for you while keeping you updated on book news, reviews, and interviews soon to appear.

First lovely thing: I caught a glimpse of my book cover by the wonderful Siolo Thompson, a fine artist who lives in Seattle. This is a portrait of the amazing Morgan, one of the fiercest water spirits that you get to meet in Elementarí Rising.  I hope to have a book trailer done by May that I can post here as well.

SpellwrightSpeaking of epic fantasy, I get the chance to interview the fabulous Blake Charlton for Fantasy Matters and will be reviewing his novel Spellwright. I wish I could make every student who has struggled with writing read this book. There is something so lovely about watching the magical way that actual words come alive and erupt from the very sinews of the body in this story.

Since you will have to wait a couple of weeks for that interview to Neil G. Interviewappear, I’m making it up to you by giving you an interview with Neil Gaiman, now out in Origin Magazine. You can purchase a print copy at most Whole Foods or Barnes and Noble, or get a digital version of the January/February issue here. Neil talks about Twitter, social media, the audio adaptation of Neverwhere, and the influence of Joel Peter Witkin. Go. Get. It.

For Weird Fiction Review, I’ll be writing on two fabulous artists: Digital artist and sculptor Micheal Rees and Jessica Joslin, a brass and bone sculptor. Articles will go live on the 15th and 29th. Watch the video! 

8 Legs from Michael Rees on Vimeo.