Guest blog: Mehitobel Wilson on the Blue Alice

Blue Alice 1

Way back in the last century, when the Internet was still shiny, Mehitobel Wilson became one of my earliest online friends. She’s a great writer (the first story of hers that I read began, “Someone was fucking with the pigeons.”), and she’s just finished a new novella, Last Night at the Blue Alice. I asked her to write a little bit about her … Read More

Inspiration and “Copperhead Road”


When I teach writing classes, I often play the song “Copperhead Road,” by Steve Earle for the students. If you don’t know it, here’s the video.   When it’s over, I point out what makes the song so extraordinary. It tells the story of three generations of men named Conlee* Pedimore; grandfather was a moonshiner, father was a bootlegger, and … Read More

Guest Post: Nicole Winters on Writing for Teens

Jock and the Fat Chick cover

My friend Nicole Winters has a new novel, The Jock and the Fat Chick, coming out on October 13. She’s been kind enough to talk about the challenge of writing for contemporary teens in their rapidly-updating world. *** Writing for teens in an ever-changing environment; It’s not as scary as you may think You know that saying, “The more things change, … Read More

Review: Epitaph, a novel of the OK Corral

OK Corral sign

I loved, unreservedly, Mary Doria Russell’s 2012 novel Doc, about the life of Doc Holliday before the infamous events of the OK Corral in Tombstone, AZ. I was just familiar enough with both the history and mythology of the story to really appreciate the way she wove them together. When I saw she’d written a follow-up, Epitaph—subtitled A Novel of … Read More

A Couple of More Questions on Writing

Editorial assistant Sophie

Here are some more questions from readers, with the same caveat at last week: my answers describe my process, which may be totally different from yours. Neither is “right”; what matters is what works for you. From Donald Kirby: When you have two openings that appeal equally, how do you choose? That actually happened to me on Long Black Curl. I wanted … Read More

A Couple of Questions on Writing

computer keyboard

Recently I put out a call for questions to be answered on this blog. Here are a couple of the responses. Keep in mind, though, that these are my processes; your mileage may vary. In the end, all that matters is what ends up on the page. From Tamlyn Garrison: [How do you know] when to stop editing? I’m a … Read More

The Nature of Magic vs Science

Waterhouse Cauldron

Recently best-selling author Dave Farland wrote this article about the cost of magic. It’s an argument I’ve encountered before, and the short version is, everything must have a cost. If you cast a spell, the power has to come from somewhere. It’s the basic Law of the Conservation of Energy, one of the rules that keeps the universe ticking along. In other … Read More

Guest post: Logan Masterson on the Facets of Death

Death Plays Battleship

Logan Masterson (that’s not him above) is, like me, a Tennessee writer of speculative fiction. Below he talks about death in fiction, how it affects us, and why it’s important. Facets of Death No, not faces, facets. In fiction. Fictional facets of the very real human experience. Let’s get into that. The Tufa, they have an eye on death, and means … Read More

How everyone, deep down, is “Like Me”

Chely Wright with flag

So one time I met Chely Wright. It was around 1998. I worked in a Nashville mall at the Bombay Company, a repulsive chain store that sold overpriced foreign-made furniture and faux artsy knickknacks. I was the assistant manager, and took it as seriously as I did most of my other jobs, which meant that I worked no harder than … Read More

Thoughts on Black Widow and Joss Whedon, two months late

Hulk chases Black Widow

(I’m always behind the curve on whatever’s cool, which is why I’m posting about The Avengers: Age of Ultron while everyone else is discussing Jurassic World.) It’s no secret that many fans, particularly feminists, had issues with Age of Ultron when it debuted a few weeks back. Their ire centers around writer-director Joss Whedon’s treatment of Black Widow, a.k.a. “the … Read More