Category Archives: Publications

A Bit of Good News

This month has been quite the roller coaster. The downs were really low but the ups are pretty darn high!

Christmas In Bear Ridge will be coming this holiday season from Boroughs Publishing Group! I really like this story but it is something a bit different for me. All the myth and magic and romance and, somehow, nobody gets themselves murdered. There are a lot of parts that I really love and I can’t wait for people to get a chance to read it! You should meet Death’s favorite psychopomp too.

Seriously, this book has everything (and it takes everything in me NOT to hear that in Stefan’s voice), so, watch this space for release dates and such!

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Old Story, Old Thoughts

Grief has been on my mind a bit lately. I supposed that’s semi-normal for me, for the sorts of things I write, for the sort of life I’ve lived. You can’t avoid it when your grandfather is a funeral director – death is just a part of life. Sometimes, words get said and they aren’t exactly meant the way that they’re said. I think some people forget that words have power and sometimes the edges are sharper than they should be.

Instead of going on some little (or not so little) ramble about grief and the shape of it, the edges of it. I’m not going to go on at length about whether or not there is a wrong way to grieve (spoiler: there isn’t. Though I will say that avoidance is not dealing with it). Grief takes many shapes, many plateaus, and many forms. Grief isn’t always about death either. And I’ve already rambled more than I’d intended. No more rambling from me.

Instead, I’m going to put up an old story of mine that this train of thought always makes me think of. I was sitting waiting on an ultrasound for my youngest child and the story bloomed from there. It appeared in Flashquake in 2010 or 11, something like that. A long ass time ago but I still like it. Hopefully, you do too.

 

The Woman Next to Me is Dying

Sarah Wagner

Disinfectant does little to mask the scents of sickness and death, the inescapable odor that hovers beyond the reach of even the most thorough of cleanings. My nose rebels against the bleached vomit scent, threatening to make my stomach riot. I am at odds with these surroundings, carrying new life into this sick place.

The waiting room is bursting with people in line for their Rorschach images, their internal inkblots. Mine will show a beating heart, tiny fingers and toes, but the others in this room are not waiting for something so delicate or sweet. They’ve come to see the true breadth of what ails them, the lumps and bumps of scary things, lurking in the dark things.

The woman next to me is holding hands with her third round of chemo. As long as there is any offer of hope, she will be fighting. I admire her more than I have words for. What great strength must she possess in those frail, irradiated bones to face mortality with such hope.

She wears her baldness uncovered, a badge of honor, a crested buckler against death. She’s a fighter, deftly deflecting each coup de grace thrust in her direction. She won’t go quietly. Next to her, I’m a novice. I hope when the duel is mine, I am as strong as her, my will as sharp.

I am not here to parry, but to bring the next student into the world. I am waiting to hear that locomotive heart, to feel him moving beneath my skin, squirming against his prison. Anxious to begin his training.

He’s going to come out bald, like the woman next to me, and I hope he’s a fighter like her. I pray that my boy has the same strength to face life, the same steel will. I pray that the woman next to me finds her answer, finds remission in her IV bag, victory in hand.

*

I know it’s not exactly grief in the most obvious way, but for me, hope and grief spend a lot of time holding hands. The woman was more an amalgamation of people in that room and I knew none of them and I have no idea what happened to any of them. I prefer to think that each of them won the wars they were fighting.

 

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Monsters and Mayhem

 

Fall 1997's Threshold containing my first ever published story.

Fall 1997’s Threshold containing my first ever published story.

I love writing about myths, monsters, and the mayhem they leave in their wake. Which, if you’ve read Hunter’s Crossing, Guardian of the Gods or Eldercynne Rising, should be pretty clear. All the main characters are monster hunters in their own way.

 

I’ve been writing about monsters from the very beginning.

My first few non-school lit-mag publications were all in the same local zine. And technically, the first fiction in that school lit-mag was monster related too – she was a Scottish death goddess, yes, but very much a monster. Apart from her, I started with vampires like any good Poppy Z Brite and Anne Rice fan. A tragic, miserable vampire in his last moments before committing suicide by sunrise because his love is dead.

At the time of its publication, I hadn’t even met my husband yet so it is under my maiden name but, I think there are only a handful of publications under McBride. I was young and the writing definitely shows it. It’s all very purple and flowery and very different from the style I’ve grown into in the last two decades.

My first fiction publication (1997).

My first fiction publication (1997).

I have always been a mythology junkie. I’ve read up on the mythology from all over the world. Mythology speaks to the primal part of me, the stories still waiting to be told that live in my brain. I cut my literary teeth on the old Grimm fairy tales and all the books I could get my hands on about Greek, Roman, Scottish, Irish, and Native American mythology. Later I’d find Japanese, Chinese, and Mongolian myths.

Not all of my monsters are actually monsters – Leilani’s BFF is a very old vampire after all – but I do love a good monster. I like to find more obscure creatures or, on occasion, create my own entirely.

We all know vampires, werewolves, fairies, elves, and djinn but what about Kitsune or an aswang (and yes, that one is just super fun to say)? Old school sirens, harpies, and Russian style mermaids. There are so many neat mythological critters out there that sometimes I  wonder what it is about the vampires and werewolves that draw us all in so. Probably because, at least on the most basic level, nearly all cultures have something similar to a vampire or a werewolf.

Do you have a favorite underused monster? Something you’d like to see in a future story?

 

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Twenty Years and Counting

I don’t have an exact date for this particular anniversary but it’s sometime in the beginning of February. Around this time twenty years ago, I sent out my very first submission packet. I sent a jumbled mess that very clearly showed my age, I’m sure. This was in the days before I had a proper email address or consistent access to the Internet so the big envelope was mailed off with a little envelope inside it. It was about a month later when I received my very first rejection from a publisher (and rightly so! That poetry may have been good for my age but I cringe reading most of it now!). Two weeks later, I got my first acceptance (for two poems and a short story) so that softened the blow, even if it was a local zine that didn’t pay, everyone else in that publication was much more established than I and it was a balm to my ego.

From 1997 until 2004, I didn’t keep very good track of submissions at all. There were a handful of acceptances in that time, almost all poetry I believe, but mostly there were rejections. Rejection after rejection. On at least two occasions, I very nearly quit. Until I remembered that there isn’t much else I’m good at or passionate about. In late 2003, after accidently sending the same poem to the same market twice, I started my tracking spreadsheet so it never happened again.

From 2004 until now, I’ve had acceptances, rejections, withdrawals, and dead markets. I’ve had more failures than successes but those successes make it all worth it for me. So, in the last 13 years, I’ve sent out 769 submissions, not including query letters or work for the blogs I write for. Of those, 14 markets went dead while they had my submission, 12 got lost in the ether, 6 were withdrawn, 624 rejections, 76 acceptances, 1 rewrite request, and the rest are currently under consideration. The types of publications and publishers vary ridiculously widely. There are many “normal” magazines but there are ezines, experimental publications, gimmicky publications, and audio publications in there also. They run the spectrum of genres, I think I’ve done a little bit of everything actually.

The types of publications and publishers vary ridiculously widely. There are many “normal” magazines but there are ezines, experimental publications, gimmicky publications, and audio publications in there also. They run the spectrum of genres, I think I’ve done a little bit of everything actually and I don’t see myself narrowing that too much. Except with my novels – I will probably stick to genre work because I enjoy it more.

Let’s break down the acceptances. Some submission packets had more than one item in them, at least with the poetry, some things have been published more than once. I’ve had 25 short stories (plus at least 2 prior to 2004) and 1 short story collection (Hardwired Humanity). 8 essays, mostly about my mother. 51 poems (plus at least 6 from prior to 2004). And last, but certainly not least, the three novels: Guardian of the Gods, Hunter’s Crossing, and Eldercynne Rising.

Maybe it’s not where I had imagined I’d be in 20 years, but it’s not too shabby either and it’s not like I’m done yet.

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Holidays!

I love Christmas. Everything just feels brighter, lighter, more cheerful, at this time of year. It reminds me how lucky I am. I have a few thoughts mulling around about all that and I’ll probably get them down soon. I’ve been very busy – working on a short story that is fighting me, having my annual Make-A-Thon where I make neat stuff for the people I care for (and I’m particularly proud of a couple of them this year), and putting together a present for all of you. I put together a little sampler – a few short stories and a couple of profiles from my stories. You can find them here: 2016 Sampler. I hope you enjoy it!

 

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Passion Projects

Some projects have good sales potential and broad appeal, others, not so much. I’ve found it is most hit and miss with poetry. I’ve had a fairly decent number of poems published by various publications over the years and it’s something I write that I don’t necessarily share with everyone.

A few months ago, I got a bug under my skin about a particular project, a linked progression poetry chapbook mostly dealing with anxiety, depression, and letting go of the toxic stuff in life. I don’t know if there is much call for it but I feel like there might be, like maybe there are others who would find it interesting.

I’ve played around all day with formatting, binding options, cover options, and all that jazz. I’m probably going to offer the chapbook in a few formats but initially, it’ll be hand-stitched with a glossy cover. Release day will be soon but I want to make a fair number of copies to have on hand.

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Upcoming Events

Hunter's Crossing by Sarah Wagner from Boroughs Publishing Group

Hunter’s Crossing by Sarah Wagner from Boroughs Publishing Group

Next week, I’ll be participating in a Facebook party celebrating the release of awesome author Brooklyn Ann’s book, Unleashing Desire. I’ll be online from 10 – 10:30 PM EST so come along and ask me questions about my books, Hunter’s Crossing and Eldercynne Rising or anything else you’d like to chat about!

 

 

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Hardwired Humanity & Guardian of the Gods

I have now completed all the trailers for all my books so, until I have a new one out, I’m done making them! By the next round, I should be even more comfortable with the software and they’ll be that much better.

 

 

Thosha-Tol was chosen to be the protector of his goddesses. They know the Godkillers are coming for them. They trust Thosha to save them but will he still serve them when he discovers their betrayals?

Guardian of the Gods

 

 

We spend our days with machines in every pocket, on every wrist, jammed into every ear. We have become dependent on our technological wonders but, what happens when they start to wake? When they begin to talk back, to judge our actions. How will humanity measure up in the eyes of our creations? Follow these machines, or near machines, as they discover all that makes them human and what sets them apart. Standing on the threshold between man and machine, is it possible for a machine to be more more human than her creators?

Hardwired Humanity is a short story collection

 

I guess I need to get back to writing if I ever want to make more trailers.

 

 

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Eldercynne Rising

There are varying opinions on book trailers but my goal is to make one for each of my books. I’ll be posting two more next week: one for Guardian of the Gods and one for Hardwired Humanity but today is for Eldercynne Rising. If you like murder, dragons, warriors, magic, and a little romance, it might be something you’d like.

 

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Hunter’s Crossing

I’ve been working on this for a bit and want to share it.

 

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