All That Is Dark and Beautiful

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imageimageimageimageAutumn goes fast!! Sometimes it’s too full to keep track in words and posts, so here’s a quick cram session of all the things wonderful and a bit unbelievable that happened along with crunching leaves, bonfires, trick-or-treat, PTO Vice Presidency (shut up), soccer season, Apple Festival, a NINE YEAR Wedding Anniversary, a new legit job at A.L. Terry Jewelers, Back to the Future Pt 2 celebrations, reading amazing stories at Menacing Hedge…. you get the idea, things are booming!! In the midst of all that, there’s also this:

MORE!! At Booked.

Halloween means the annual Spookedtacular, and this year was a two hour NyQuil and beer fest of The Final Girls, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, urban legends, serial killers, and sincere love and vitriol splattered in all directions between Robb Olson, Livius Nedin, Jesse Lawrence and myself. Is a Christmas special coming, with the four of us? You bet! AND! At the beginning of 2016 while Robb and Liv take a Disney Cruise (or whatever it is they do when they can’t record) Craig Clevenger and I will be holding down the Booked. fort and co-hosting an episode ourselves. It should be hot. But more on that later! Click HERE to be taken to the Spookedtacular 2015,

Pantheon Magazine Winter Edition

A little sad, sweet piece of mine has been accepted at the lovely Pantheon Magazine. “Orphans” will appear in the “Hestia” edition. It’s a beautiful publication and I’m honored I’ll be found in its pages!

UPDATES for ‘Gutted: Beautiful Horror’ Table of Contents

If you don’t know what the anthology is about, click HERE to find out a little more about the depths of darkness and beauty coming from Crystal Lake publishing in 2016. It was incredible enough when I learned Neil Gaiman was on the roster, along with authors John F.D. Taff, Brian Kirk, and (one of my own) Richard Thomas – who needs a shout-out and huge thanks for tossing my name their way – THEN editors extraordinaire Doug Murano and D. Alexander Ward announced on Halloween that along with all of us, Clive Barker will be including a story. It’s a bit surreal at this point, and I can’t wait to hear who’s announced next!  My story, “Cellar’s Dog,” is gangly and bizarre and pretty in its own way, and I’ll be forever grateful the editors could see what I saw when that black dog walked into those headlight beams.

So there you have it. The leaves are barely gone and already the Autumn is so full of goodness, I’m not sure where to go from here! Up? Or maybe I’ll just swim awhile. Float. Hug my lovelies and enjoy the laughter and the warmth. I think this is the top.

Thank you all so much for reading!

Amanda

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Awful Big Talk for Such a Little Thing…

From an email to a friend, and honestly how I feel about This Thing We Do…

“But what if no one ever recognizes your efforts? That’s a distinct possibility. It doesn’t make the things you do of less value, or the work you’ve done in vain. Fame and appreciation are just matters of timing and luck with sometimes-talent added, based on whatever the pop culture climate is into at the moment. Picasso was appreciated in his lifetime and Van Gogh was not. But that doesn’t make Van Gogh’s work less amazing. And there are thousands of Picassos and Van Goghs that we’ve never heard of, and just because their paintings only hang in someone’s house or the canvases are stacked in a closet somewhere, that doesn’t mean the work wasn’t worth making, or breaking themselves into pieces for. Because it’s still worth it, because we can’t help it. That’s all there is to us, making things. You’ll itch under your skin if you don’t write stories, and you’ll just take up cooking or buy a bedazzler and put sequins on things. And in a few years you’ll catch yourself with a notebook of half-scribbled stories. Because it’s just what you are. You make things. You have to shrug and accept it. Even if you give up the marketing side, and submitting side, and just do it because it’s what you do. That second part – the whore part – is really unimportant in the actual scheme of making things.

So there’s your lesson for the day. You don’t ever have to submit shit if you don’t want to, ever again. Buy a fireproof trunk and seal all your work, finished and printed and also on various types of hard drives, in the trunk. Let someone else sort it out later. Focus on making it. Or take a break and make things when you damned well feel like it. Compulsion can also be euphoria.”

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A Seriously Big Day

So.

I’ve had a lot of good news recently.

Let’s jump right in!

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In 2016, Crystal Lake Publishing is releasing an anthology called “Gutted: Beautiful Horror” that editors D. Alexander Ward and Doug Murano describe as “A series of stories that explores the tension between beauty and horror, wonder and terror, sorrow and transcendence. It’s a book of scars, regret and loneliness. But through it all, it’s a book where hope can still exist and beauty can still thrive.” They’ve only made a few Table of Contents announcements – four names thus far, to be exact, and they go as follows:

Neil Gaiman (you read that right)

Brian Kirk

John F. D. Taff

ME! YES, ME!!

The story they accepted is my much-labored-over, genre-crossing, over-long and painfully dear to me “Cellar’s Dog.” It clocks in at over 6k words and involves Appalachia, hounds, drugs, myth and the tiny glimmer of hope for redemption. I couldn’t be prouder that it’s this story out of everything I’ve written that will be included alongside these incredible people. And I can’t WAIT to find out who else will be in the book.

And! AND!

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Artwork by Brian Despain

The beautiful people over at Menacing Hedge are bringing me on as a Fiction Editor to sift and slush with Craig Wallwork, which is kind of like being asked to come over to best friend’s house to play as your JOB. I love Kelly Boyker and I love Craig, and it’s incredible to be helping choose the short fiction for a journal I submitted to with crossed fingers!

I’ll begin reading now-to-soon-ish, so send us your best!! The Fall Issue will be up soon with more specifics…

So.

I guess I’ll go to sleep, and see if this is still true in the morning.

Seriously, Autumn 2015, I frickin’ LOVE you….

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Well Hey, September

And in a blink, summer disappeared!

It’s cool, though. I’ve been selling jewelry and being Mom, and as the leaves get crinkly and the toads disappear I’ll slide back into my writer-bubble and my skin will feel settled again….

Speaking of!!

The last week I’ve had a good run.

Firstly, Kevin Catalano did an article for Entropy Magazine about 25 Badass Female Short Story Writers, and BOOM! I was in there. Click the link to the article for sure, because all these females kick some short story ass and there are links galore to their stories for proof of their prowess, including to my story “Teetotaler.”

5 + 20 Female Short Story Writers You Should Be Reading RIGHT NOW

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And then today I sorta accidentally found out my story “The Line Forms on the Right” from the Burnt Tongues anthology (edited by Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Rhomas and Dennis Widmyer, Medallion Press) was Long-Listed for the Best Horror of the Year, Volume 7, edited by Ellen Datlow. Not only were some of my bestest and most favorite writing peeps on the list, but also the likes of Caitlin Kiernan and Etgar Kerat! I fully realize there are a lot of names on there (it’s called a ‘long list’) but that’s just more good company to be in. Check this out:

Full Rec List – Best Horror of the Year,Volume Seven, edited by Ellen Datlow

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And of course get the ACTUAL REAL VOLUME SEVEN, it’s obviously amazing. As is Burnt Tongues, which had SEVEN stories on the long list!! The link for BT is in the Links tab above.

I’m a happy girl!!

More news to come, but we’ll talk about that in October. For now, I’ll leave you with a little Bobby Darin – the song that inspired my story in Burnt Tongues, and one of my favorites of all time.

Love to you all!! ❤️

 

 

Where I’ve Been…

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Don’t Call It a Comeback

Don’t Call It a Comeback.

NEW Curiouser and Curiouser interviews begin next week – click over to the sister site via the link above for details…

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Ocean

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‘Exigencies’ Available NOW!

arkThe baby came a little early, and she’s available on Amazon in paperback right now:

Exigencies – an Anthology from Dark House Press

here are some pictures and things:

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We have a lot of beautiful stories in here – the line-up is fabulous, and I know quite a few of the authors (myself included) had extra-special precious work that somehow found its way between these covers.

Happy June!!

I Forgot Stuff

So, Radium Girls is 99cents on Kindle and $9.99 for Paperback through the rest of May, but I forgot that I didn’t already do a blog post about it… So here it is! Click that pretty green book to the right of this post and it’ll take you there.

Also, to add to the promotion that I forgot to follow-through with (this can be further explored in my previous post under the confession about my lack of ambition – once the creative act is over, it’s really hard for the Push to hold my attention span, hence not doing any of this last year), I collected a bunch of pretty words from people. Ben Whitmer gave me some which immediately began transforming themselves into a story which isn’t finished, but will eventually see the light of day. For now, the beautiful words:

Radium Girls is like a midnight visitation from the ghost of that corpse you thought you had buried out under the honeysuckle, the night your brother told you that thing about your mother. It’s a brilliant collection, word by perfect word.
– Benjamin Whitmer, author of Pike and Cry Father

Ben and I share the same hometown. Which is really odd. He (along with several other amazing writers I know) makes me better, because I have to live up to that confidence in my ability to line up words.

To share this post, I also know today that Leah Rhyne‘s self-published Jo just got picked up and is becoming Heartless, Richard Thomas just released Disintegration, Letitia Trent is coming out with a new book but I don’t know anything else about it because I found out about it on my weekly Twitter-check last night and she was mid-ramble about many things and probably doesn’t think anyone read all those tweets but I totally did, Tracie Morell‘s book of poetry Matilda’s Battle Waltz comes out in June (I always feel pretty dumb about poetry, but Tracie transcends the “getting it” idea of poetry and just goes right for your guts), Stephen Graham Jones has been granted his werewolf-book wish has come true and Mongrels is Big News for next summer, and of course Exigencies is coming up on June 19th. There’s other stuff but it would require use of search engines and maybe even pen and paper, and that’s a lot of work to put in for what is essentially a catch-up post.

And I write these little…capsules, little punchy paragraphs sometimes, where I try to distill a distinct sensation or feeling. Usually I just store them in documents and pull from them for story prose, but I sent one that seemed particularly apt to the Response column prompt in Nailed MagazineSKIN – and I’ll be damned if I didn’t sorta kinda just get a poem published. Click this – and keep in mind the magazine’s called Nailed, if that’s not your thing, then don’t click – mine’s at the bottom: Response: SKIN – Nailed Magazine Editor’s Choice

I hope anyone who reads this had a fantastic weekend, and is kicking their summer off with sunshine and sloth. I’m going to eat leftover grill-food, fold laundry, and continue to avoid shoes. Happy beginning-of-summer!

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Confessions

This is inspired by an email I just received, and also that segment they used to do on the old Conan, called ‘Secrets,’ where Snoop Dogg would ‘confess’ he’d never actually smoked weed or David Bowie would talk about how he liked to stick his hand up in the straw dispenser at McDonald’s and touch all the straws.

Meaning there’s no way a court of law could ever prove any of these things true or untrue, I just feel like making a list of crap that might not ever get brought up in conversation:

* I don’t ever remember wanting to ‘be’ anything when I grew up, except maybe being in movies, though I knew I was supposed to want to be stuff and made up all kinds of things. Pretty sure I said veterinarian for awhile…

* Played with some dead animals as a child. Not in an effigy sort of way, in a baby doll sort of way. Still haven’t killed anyone, though.

* All of my dreams are very complicated and convoluted romance dramas with celebrities, or about errands and household tasks I need to do. No in-between.

* Rod Serling was my first major crush. And it turns out my husband is related to him – by marriage, I think.

* I don’t respect dogs. I like them, but I don’t respect them. I respect cats.

* I still want an initials tattoo of “HM” for Herman Melville and Henry Miller, my first and always true writing loves.

* Domesticated birds terrify me, and I’ve never met one that didn’t try to physically harm me.

* Almost all my ex-boyfriends are gay. There aren’t many of them, and I think some of them are still…not being gay, if that makes sense, at least part of the time.

* I’ve peed next to nearly every water tower in Jackson County, under the cover of darkness.

* Somewhat related to the previous post, I never, ever, litter – but I did go through a brief period in highschool when throwing beer bottles at road signs out moving vehicle windows didn’t count as littering.

* I talk about highschool like it was crap, but I had really beautiful and amazing friends and we made the best of it. Substance abuse helped.

* Cigarettes are awesome and I will always miss them.

* Courtney Love had two really good albums so shut up.

* I sweep the living room and kitchen floor with a broom a minimum of three times a day, but I don’t dust. Dusting is ridiculous.

* If I could go back in time, I would’ve done a lot of nude photo shoots because I’m 35 and damn I really didn’t appreciate everything where it was when I was 19.

* I have no ambition. But it’s in what I’ve come to realize is a good way – I have no long-term goals to reach. I don’t want anything material. I dunno. Maybe a pool?

* I lie about my brain chemistry and how all that business works on a pretty much daily basis.

* People terrify me, so I try to be stupid/crazy/funny right up front as an icebreaker.

* I got kicked in the forehead by a cow when I was seven or eight. We (I won’t name the ‘we’) were all trying to milk it at the same time. I still have the scar. Can’t remember what lie we made up to cover up what happened.

* Looking back, my childhood was charmed, and what wasn’t, I conveniently erase.

* I spend more time in a given day thinking about Tom Hardy and Andrew Scott (Jim Moriarty) and Adam Levine than is probably healthy.

* Two-thirds of what I write gets trashed.

* Jack-in-the-boxes are an abomination, and if I could go back in time and kill the person who decided it was a good idea to make weird-faced dolls and jester-looking monsters pop out of boxes on a spring, I would, without a second thought, even if the person was still a child.

* If my son ever wants to join the circus or a sideshow or wander aimlessly looking at the world in any sort of creative profession, I will support him with all of my being – unless the circus involves animals, or the profession involves weird dolls like marionettes or ventriloquism.

* I’ve been email pen pals with my friend Craig for almost four years.

* Sometimes I still want big boobs, but just for the day, so I could wear tube tops now and then.

* Nathaniel Hawthorne sucks.

* I loved that show The Simple Life.

* Simultaneously, I wish guns had never been invented and I LOVE LOVE LOVE shooting. I’m good at it, too.

* I like James Franco, I think he has a lust for life in the spirit of that Iggy Pop song.

* I think food and eating and all that is an inconvenient hassle, even though I’m not supposed to say that stuff because I’m skinny and our culture says I’m supposed to have suffered and worked for skinniness. In reality I just don’t eat every much, and have always wished, since I first saw the Jetsons, that they made food/vitamin meal replacement capsule things.

* My kid is the best kid, and I hope he always likes me.

* Once when I was like 9 or 10 I licked a cookie so no one else would eat it, and my mother still tells that anecdote to every human being every chance she gets, and it’s one of the only times I feel what True Rage is like, and think I could kill another human being.

* But okay yeah one time I did try to hit someone with a truck but they totally deserved it.

* My husband is the first and only person I ever dated that I already liked, going into the relationship, before that I just sort of fell into relationships where I thought I had the upper hand.

* I hit my head a lot. A LOT. Like bottoms of cabinet doors, corners of table or chairs, undersides of porch swings, window sills, door knobs, etc. I don’t tell people unless there’s blood involved or I get caught because I’ve greyed out; I just can’t see how adding x-Ray radiation will help.

* If I could write one story as eloquent as any John Prine song, I think my stomach and soul would ease off me a little, and I could die happy.

* If I could switch bodies/physical emodiments with any human it would be Rose Byrne, I think she’s perfect.

* I don’t find the idea of death to be particularly disturbing or scary.

* Raw meat is disgusting. I think I like crock pots just so I don’t have to cut chicken.

* I have an arsenal of embarrassing stories that I tell (hair on fire in church, stood in the corner when I was 16 in history class) so I don’t have to tell the real ones.

* Alone in the car I have all the arguments with people, loudly, that I don’t allow myself to have in real life, just to get it all out of my system.

* Most of the time I believe in ghosts. The times I don’t, I want to believe…. 🙂

* I considered going back throguh this post and editing it for length and to make it more funny and less offensive here and there, but didn’t. I don’t think there’s anything really offensive in it. And so what it’s long? It’s my damned brain dump.

 

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Allow Me to Buy Your Love with Free Books in Honor of Sunshine!

Last night I discovered two things:

1. Goodreads has an author stats page thingie

2. LOTS of people have Radium Girls marked on their “To Read” shelves.

So! The only thing to do is come up with a plan to gently shove Radium Girls over to allllll the “Currently Reading” shelves. Summer is coming. There’s no reason my glowing green baby shouldn’t be on your tablet or in your tote bag, ready and waiting when you reach for some good words.

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In honor of so many well-intentioned readers, and the upcoming One Year Birthday of Radium Girls, I talked to my lovely friend and publisher Mike Gonzalez, and…

Here’s the Plan

From May 5th through June 5th we shall hand out e-books like candy. As a show of good faith and even better intentions, all you need to do is TAG ME in a photo of ANY OTHER copy of a paper publication I’ve been in that you already have in your possession. Doesn’t matter where – post in the comments here, or tag me or Thunderdome Press on Facebook, or Twitter: @mandajoon (me) or @monkeywright (Mike Gonzalez) or @ThunderDomeMag (the Press), or on Instagram: @mandajoon (me). I don’t care if it’s actually even a pic of you with RG, we’ll still collect your email address and give you an ebook to pass on to someone else!

Here’s the List

Post a pic of ANY of the following with a tag:

Exigencies

Burnt Tongues

Radium Girls

The Booked. Anthology

Cipher Sisters

LA1K

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Warmed and Bound

And! When that giveaway is over it’ll officially be my birthday and we’ll give away some paperbacks, too! And and! There will be a 4-day Free Radium Girls for Kindle weekend. I want these stories in your hands!

Last year when we were getting Radium Girls together I really didn’t want to do any…um, well, promotional work, so I didn’t blurb-hunt or really advertise or whatever, but since the release I’ve gotten a lot of cool reviews and whatnot, so I’ve collected that and shall put it here, in a “Don’t Take My Word for It” section:

Praise for Radium Girls:

“These stories glow in the dark.”
– Craig Clevenger, author of The Contortionist’s Handbook and Dermaphoria

“I loved it, that’s for damned sure. Radium Girls is a great book.”
– Benjamin Whitmer, author of Pike and Cry Father

“Her work exists in the rarified air only found at high altitudes…Gowin unfolds a series of portraits of exquisitely flawed and powerful characters.”
– Kelly Boyker, author of Zoonosis, editor of Menacing Hedge

“Gowin is the tornado, lifting the flotsam of society and spinning it around and around until it lands just south of Kansas where magic and colour are just beyond reach.”
– Craig Wallwork, author of The Sound of Loneliness and Quintessence of Dust

“Radium Girls puts beauty in places you probably shouldn’t find it and makes the reader question the norms they’ve come to accept.”
– Livius Nedin and Robb Olson, The Booked. Podcast

May your Spring and Summer be be full of sunshine and words. Thanks for letting me be a part of it!

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… In Progress…

Happy Spring!

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Link

International Women’s Day 2015: Holly Madison

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And good day to you, too!

I haven’t really been rolling with these posts in the New Year, but the sun is bright and the snow is melting and I REALLY wanted to do a post on International Women’s Day – and I thought, post ABOUT someone. Someone important, someone who changed things, someone representative of progress.

Holly Madison was literally the first person to pop into my head. Yes, Holly Madison, ex-girlfriend of Hugh Hefner (while he had many other girlfriends), former resident of the Playboy Mansion and star of the “reality” series The Girls Next Door. She currently resides in Las Vegas, married and with a little girl named Rainbow (named after a little girl who was her neighbor when she was a child in Alaska, and Holly thought it was the coolest name ever), more and more behind the scenes in burlesque as she seems to be embracing her 30s and motherhood and I hear, writing a book. Yes, I know all these things because I care about Holly Madison, and I keep up with what’s going on in her life. She’s one of maybe three celebrities whose lives I actually follow, and whose happiness is something I think about.

Now, of course, when Holly popped into my head I immediately tried to backpedal out of it. There are SO many other women I could post about, on today of all days:  teachers I’ve had, my mother and grandmothers, writers, activists, even actresses… But that would be disingenuous, wouldn’t it? To tailor my Women’s Day feelings to better fit with what I THINK I should feel?

Because Holly Madison is important TO ME. She represents a change in me, a very important shift in views towards my fellow women and my acceptance of other women for who they are and want to be, the shedding of disdain and feelings of aloofness or better-ness, judgmental ways I didnt realize I had until I began to shed them.

The Girls Next Door first aired in 2005, and I think it was probably intended to be Barbie TV, to pull more male viewers to the E! Network. Holly, Bridget, Kendra and sometimes Hef shuffling around in the background, pools full of playmates, lingerie parties, etc. It was eye candy, the Walking Dolls Show – and I’ll admit, that’s how I went into it, how I approached the viewing. Let’s make fun of the silicone girls. Watch the bimbos try to do stuff in pretty dresses. Playmates are going to cook and talk!

But surprise! For me, and everyone else. The viewership and fanbase was largely female, the show’s stars were compassionate, layered, lovable and flawed women. There was no conflict, no cattiness, no competition. They struggled, they failed, they tried again, they voiced their problems, supported each other. Holly in particular struck a chord with me. I worried for her as she turned thirty (just a few months after I did), I ached with her as she tried to be taken seriously and be heard and still be a blonde with implants in low cut dresses. She was smart and funny and moody and could never seem to work out exactly what she wanted, and I identified with her. She wanted acceptance and validation, but also to do her own thing and do things on her own and be taken seriously. Surprise, again: like most females, she wanted it all. To not have to choose to be beautiful OR capable.

Holly Madison humanized an entire population of women for me. The girls and women of the Playboy mansion, on the pages of magazines, the ‘sexy’ women who had plastic surgery and obsessed over their bodies became, for me, real women. I had derided and disrespected them for all the reasons one should never judge others: I didn’t understand them and they were nothing like me. But it didn’t and doesn’t make them less human or less worthy of common decency and respect. And Holly was my window into my own skewed view of women – and helped lead me out of it and to a more respectful, accepting place.

Happy International Women’s Day, Holly Madison.

And to all of you!

– Amanda

A New Year, In Photos

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Bring on 2015!

My son is WAY more excited about the New Year than you. It’s a fact. Allow me to illustrate:

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2015 is the year of hoverboards, power laces and flying cars. Or, in my kid’s mind, the year it all becomes POSSIBLE. So cross your fingers that the designers of sneakers make a knock-off cheap kid-size replica of those multi-thousand dollar power laces they HAVE promised.

There are plenty of “best of” lists of this and that, so I’m just going to skip it and do a pimp recap post of things I’m writerly happy about from 2014 and link ’em all here. Because I’m ready for 2015, too, so let’s just skip the nostalgia for 2014 (of which I’ll have none) and get one with the new! Shiny clothes and dehydrated pizza for everyone!

Offerings:

Radium Girls

My firstborn! Full of cicadas, mental institutions and beauty.

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Order Radium Girls

 

Cipher Sisters

Technically this is from 2013, but I’m still pretty proud of it. Mike and I stitched this quilt with twisted beauty.

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Order Cipher Sisters

 

Burnt Tongues

My brush with fame! Edited/selected by Chuck Palahniuk. And no, my story here is not in RG 🙂

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Order Burnt Tongues

 

Exigencies

Coming April 2015, but there’s a Goodreads giveaway going on this very moment to win one of ten free Advanced Reading Copies! (This story isn’t in Radium Girls, either!)

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Enter to win an advance copy of Exigencies

 

Curiouser and Curiouser

Author interview site, sister site, home of my nosy alter ego Alice. Author interviews that have nothing to do with writing. The schedule is erratic, but recently there’ve been interviews with everyone from Karen Abbott (Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy) to Ben Whitmer (Cry Father). No money necessary, it’s merely collected anecdotes and gorgeous information.

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Read author interviews at Curiouser and Curiouser

 

Booked. Podcast

Robb and Liv were crazy enough to have me on THREE TIMES this year – once to talk about Radium Girls, and twice for holiday specials with my fellow space cadet, Jesse Lawrence. The Radium Girls review/interview is the only episode of these three I can recommend if you’re under 18, related to me, or know me through my son. The holiday specials are full of horrifying language and subject matter, extremely fun, and rated a strong R leaning towards NC-17. Free entertainment!! Booked., I love you….

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Click to listen: Booked. #209 – Radium Girls

Click to listen: Booked. #225 – Halloween Spookedtacular!

Click to listen: Booked. #231 – Christmas Extravaganza Spectacular!

 

I hope you find some enjoyment here!

Mainly, I hope you kiss your loved ones, take a deep breath and jump headfirst into 2015.

Happy New Year!

– Amanda

 

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