Another Quiet Afternoon Is Coming Your Way!

Just like last year, I think we can all use a Quiet Afternoon or two. Well, good news for all of you out there who enjoy lo-fi fantastic fiction (and contributing to good causes), I am pleased to announce my appearance in A Quiet Afternoon II, now available for pre-order. I think the story I contributed is one of the funniest I’ve ever done (What? Liz is funny?) and I’m really proud of it. Just follow the link, pre-order, and enjoy!

http://graceandvictory.ca/

It’s Launch Day!

That’s right, today’s the day that Distant Early Warning is finally available for purchase. Due to the pandemic, we’re holding the launch party virtually at Penguicon, but that just means that we can pack in more friends and fans than ever before.

Buy the Book

Here are the links below to where you can buy the book. If you already bought the book in the pre-order phase, first of all, thank you! Please consider leaving an honest review of the book, which helps authors in a ton of ways whether you liked the book or not.

Printed Book

eBook (mobi or epub)

Launch and Related Celebrations

Penguicon 2021

We’re having a virtual launch at Penguicon 2021, with readings, giveaways and fun! I’ll also be appearing on a lot of panels over the weekend, because Penguicon has some great programming. You don’t want to miss it!

Friday April 22

8:00 pm – Help! My Characters Have Taken Over

Saturday April 23

12:00 pm – Read Like a Pro

4:00 pm – Distant Early Warning Book Launch

6:00 pm – Why Aren’t I Writing: Dealing with Imposter Syndrome, Writer’s Block, and Other Muse Killers

7:00 pm – Attending a Major Writing Workshop

8:00 pm – Creating in the Time of Isolation

Ginger Nuts of Horror Author Profile

I’ve been profiled by the amazing Ginger Nuts of Horror blog! In this interview, I reveal some of my writing tips and secrets, my feelings about the horror genre, and some surprising personal facts about me.

https://gingernutsofhorror.com/interviews/elizabeth-hirst-gives-a-distant-early-warning

Brockton Writers Series Appearance and Blog Guest Post- May 12 at 6:30 pm

I am so excited to be appearing at the Brockton Writers series next month, and my guest blog, with a sample from Distant Early Warning, should be up sometime today.

https://brocktonwritersseries.wordpress.com/

April/May Appearances

April and May are shaping up to be busy months, in no small part due to the Distant Early Warning book launch on April 15. Below, I’ve listed some of the confirmed events I’ll be part of, but don’t be surprised if some other fun things pop up later on. I don’t have exact panel times for some events yet, but I will make separate posts as they come in.

April 15: Viral Video Launch

Join me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as I release a short, funny video to launch Distant Early Warning. There will be cute dogs and low-budget special effects.

April 22-25: Penguicon Panels and Virtual Launch Party

I’m excited to be a part of this year’s Penguicon, an open source arts and maker convention in Chicago, as part of their virtual programming. I’m doing a lot of interesting panels about the art and business of writing throughout the weekend, and you can also join me and my host, Nathan Frechette, as we celebrate the launch of Distant Early Warning with an online shindig. Prizes will be a thing.

May 20-23: Stokercon 2021

If you’re attending Stokercon’s virtual edition, be sure to catch my reading from Distant Early Warning, which will be available to stream throughout the weekend.

Distant Early Warning Launches April 15

That’s right… we’ve got a final date for The Distant Early Warning launch, and because I love you all so much, we’re not doing just one event. There’s going to be a viral video launch that I know all my fellow dog lovers are going to dig, a virtual launch party with giveaways at this year’s Penguicon, and possibly even more! I can’t write about the rest of what we’re planning because it’s still in the negotiation phase, but we should have even more goodness happening in the weeks around the launch date. Meanwhile, if you want to support the book, pre-order info, the trailer and the synopsis are below.

Pre-order on Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/distant-early-warning-1?utm_source=FNACSpain&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=detailpage

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpR4AYPOmAQ&list=PLnhLvcaGPgg4qXGmbgcDVxWn-jeCURajS&index=33

Synopsis:

Canada is in crisis. Climate change has taken hold, and amid the flooding and the super storms, the dead begin crawling out of the ground at night, screaming out strange gibberish songs that entrance anyone who hears them. The north quickly becomes a wild west, without the west.

Denny’s life changes forever one day when she sees her dad on TV, dead and screaming. Denny gives up her job, buys supplies, and heads out with her dad’s dog, Geoff, to discover the truth behind his death, but truth always comes with a cost. What Denny discovers in the wilds of Northern Ontario will shatter all of her assumptions about her life, and what lies beyond.

Check Out My Article at Divination Hollow!

In my last post, I hinted that I would have an article coming out this month for Women in Horror Month, and here it is!

https://divinationhollow.com/reviews-and-articles/women-character-diversity-surrogate-hirst

In this essay, I make the argument for being aware of our reading choices and making sure that we are including works with more difficult protagonists that have their own distinct personality and don’t exist solely to act as an audience surrogate. I feel that this is an especially important topic when we are reading stories about women, because difficult women protagonists push back against the notion that women must always perform desirability.

That’s the summary, but there’s so much more good stuff in there. Jump in and have a look for yourself!

Happy Women In Horror Month 2021!

So, I have a legitimate question for all of you… where did January go? Somebody please tell me. I was definitely hibernating, but now I’ve come out like the cozy groundhog that I am, and my shadow wasn’t visible so I guess I’ll stay awake. It’s good timing, too, because February is Women In Horror Month!

This is my first year celebrating Women In Horror Month, but I am glad it is catching on as an idea. Not only are there so many great authors, both classic and contemporary, to discuss and enjoy, but I love that it’s a time when women horror creators and fans can step up and be seen.

I’ve been a little bit behind on my reading (as well as on my writing, mumble mumble…) so this month I am going to purchase at least two books by women horror authors I have not read before and give them a boost on my social media. If you’ve got any good recommendations, especially for releases within the last three years, let me know! I love ghost stories, cults, monsters, cosmic horror, hybrids with other SpecFic genres, and weird magical-realism type stuff.

In Other News…

I think a lot of people hit a wall with the whole COVID thing in January, and I am no exception. My adrenaline ran out and all I wanted to do was work on my Animal Crossing island and knit. I did get 60 pages edited on a new manuscript that is almost ready to be sent out into the world, though, and I don’t want to discount that. It wasn’t what I had hoped, but it was at least something. And I haven’t stopped my journey through the French-language version of The Hobbit, either! It’s been a really good skill sharpener for me and I find myself more prepared for my next French course as a result of doing so much independent learning.

After a lot of rest, I am back and more motivated than ever. This month has it all. Short stories? Check. Editing two books? Check. Getting geared up to finish The Singing Bones trilogy ender starting in March? You bet that’s a check. I’m excited about what the new year is going to bring in terms of new writing adventures and new friends.

If you happen to be attending Capricon this weekend, you can also find me doing a wide variety of panels, from talking about libraries in fiction to digging my way out of ever more outlandish fictional scenarios for the entertainment of our audience. It should be a good one, so I hope to see you there.

Year-End Wrap-up: 2020

So I know some people aren’t doing year end wrap-ups out of a sense of self-preservation because of how bad 2020 has gone, but I think for me personally, I’ll feel better if I do. Some good things have happened this year, and I think that acknowledging them is a positive thing.

Sitting here, with 2020 almost over, I feel proud of myself for everything I have overcome this year, for not giving up, and for experiencing a lot of personal growth. 2020 is still reminding me that it’s not quite gone yet, but regardless, I will always have hope for the future and I am going to do my best to make 2021 the best year yet.

Writing

I did have one short story published this year, “It’s All in the Sauce”, in A Quiet Afternoon. I have also attended more conventions this year than I normally do, and gotten to meet some excellent and engaging writers from other parts of the world due to the ease of virtual meet-ups. I made the hard decision to postpone Distant Early Warning’s launch to next Spring, a decision which I am blessed to have the full support of my publisher on. I think that choosing to launch a book this year, where there was a choice, is a very personal one, and for me, Distant Early Warning has a history of not getting the publicity it deserves due to unfortunate circumstances, and so I couldn’t bear to have that happen again for the second edition. I thought it would remain a quiet year for publications, but December packed a punch! I made my first pro-rate sale to Halldark Holidays in mid-December, and the book has hit the top Horror Anthology spot on Amazon.com twice since its release and is getting great reviews. I have also received an acceptance from another anthology which I am excited about, but that will have to wait for January as details are still being finalized. All this has me thinking that the short story market could be a promising route for me, and so I have committed to writing more short stories to answer anthology calls and send to general markets.

Life/Career

I am very blessed to say that no one I know has gotten sick or died this year related to COVID. My uncle did pass away last month of unrelated causes, and he will certainly be missed. With the restrictions brought on by lockdown, I have discovered some new and wonderful hobbies that bring me joy, none of which will be a surprise to anyone who reads here regularly. I have expanded my knitting and crochet practice, started a food garden, and learned to can my own food. I found that engaging with living, growing things, and doing something to help others actually filled me with more joy this year than previously. Because everything was so dark, I had to make a conscious turn toward the light, and I think that was very good for me. It feels as though I have re-discovered my heart. I have also stayed busy by bettering myself with education, starting on the journey to fluency in French, updating my animation software skills and, next month, starting a certificate in Marketing. My career goals for this year, as far as day jobs go, were completely shot. There is no nice way to say how badly things went versus my projections, and that has caused me a lot of emotional pain. I’m 35, I want to get my life back on track career-wise, and it has just eluded me all year long. I know I should feel thankful, because I am doing much better than many having stayed employed, and on some level I do. But it’s been hard on the old self-esteem that things have gone this way. I also know a lot of really high-achieving people who have continued to slay this year and it has been hard fighting FOMO and a feeling of ‘what’s wrong with me that I don’t have that life too’. Yes, I know most of you reading this will think I’ve got a ‘cool’ life to start with, and I do. And that is probably what I should promote here for my image. But it’s just the honest truth that I’d like to do even more.

What About 2021?

Ahh, 2021. I don’t think anybody really knows how that will turn out! There are definitely some things I am looking forward to, though. Number one, of course, is the launch of Distant Early Warning in the Spring. And I also already know that I will have at least one short story coming out, but I want to add to that number if I can. I’m also hoping to get more novel manuscripts done, of course, making up for the lost time this year in which I pursued other projects. I’ve already got lots of yarn craft projects planned, including a crochet narwhal, more warm winter items for charity, and many pairs of socks. I’m definitely also doing the garden and the canning again, although the canning may not be on the same scale next year, depending on how food prices go and how the pandemic shapes up. I am looking forward to the peace of mind of being vaccinated, and chances are good that it will happen this coming year. In 2020, before the pandemic even started, I decided to chase joy more often, and I am pleased to say that I did that regardless of the world situation, and it has enriched my life. I would like to cultivate more joy and happiness on a daily basis in 2021, perhaps above and beyond anything else. I also want to remember the lessons 2020 has taught me about myself. Having said all that, my fondest wish for 2021 is that I can meet and interact with folks who understand my true capabilities and want to help me reach my career goals. 2020 seemed to be the year of meeting people who only saw part of the picture, and I want to expel that energy right out of my life. I also want to finish writing the third book in the Singing Bones trilogy, at long last.

So, that’s it! Wherever you’re reading from, I hope that 2021 brings you renewed hope, joy and inspiration for the future, and that you are safe and housed and well-loved. Together, we can make 2021 a historic year for good things, rather than bad.

Halldark Holiday Cheer

So if you’ve been following my Twitter (and I hope you have) I’ve got some big news. 

I had mentioned in previous posts that I was having fun responding to anthology calls. One such call was for Gabino Iglesias and Cemetery Gates Media’s exciting Christmas anthology, Halldark Holidays. I considered it a long shot, but guess what?

My story, ‘Somebody Always Hears You’ made the cut, pun totally intended! I’ll follow Gabino’s lead and not reveal too much about the story now, but it involves an ill-fated wish on a Santa imposter and an aesthetic that is 13 Going on 30 meets Krampus. And check out this cover, you guys…

More details on purchasing and release dates as they become available.

Sometimes it’s good to follow your heart. Uncle Mike, this one’s for you.

December Weekly Update #1: Shorts Galore and Sanity Secrets

I can’t believe it’s December already! If someone had asked me what I thought a year being stuck inside would be like, I wouldn’t have guessed this at all. The time has just flown by! Maybe I didn’t factor in my personality enough. I’m the kind of person that always likes to be productively busy, so I just sort of switched directions and did things that were useful in the pandemic.

One of the ways I have kept busy is by continuing a robust schedule of appearances. Most recently, I would like to thank the AELAQ Book Fair for having me and many of the other Renaissance Press authors in for a Q&A this past Sunday. We had a wonderful engaged audience, and I got to reminisce about some of the books that had touched my life and really connected me to reading. I also got to comment on the connection between the restless dead and climate change in Distant Early Warning, which was a great question and I may write a whole article on it when I get the chance.

Another way I have been keeping busy in the past month is by following my heart and writing some fun short stories for anthology calls. Shorts aren’t usually my main focus (I write and submit about 1-2 a year) but they are catching my imagination right now. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I finish one by the deadline, and the opportunity to write tailor-made pieces based on quirky prompts. I’m going to start editing Undead Princess WIP in December, but I think I will also keep an eye out for any intriguing short story calls that come my way.

Although I have also been keeping busy with French courses and software learning upgrades, the third biggest sanity saver this year which has kept me happy and busy is my knitting and crochet hobby. I haven’t posted a lot of photos because most of the things I have been making are gifts or charitable donations and it’s against my beliefs to use good deeds for public attention, but I have been staying busy and learning new things by making socks for a relative who only wears the handmade kind, and making hats for the homeless. Luckily, I am working on personal projects for December and January, so I can show off my skills a bit.

 

This little fellow will join over sixty others, in various combinations of red white and green, to become a new set of Christmas stockings for my family. I have been looking forward to this project for two months now, and it is my first time doing a dedicated Christmas knit or crochet pattern. I am also planning to crochet myself a stuffed narwhal (supplies permitting), and knit myself some socks.

Knitting and crochet have given me a sense of accomplishment, and a set of small goals that make the time indoors not seem so formless anymore. They give me something to look forward to and make me feel like I am contributing something to the community in this difficult time. Reading magazines that feature others’ projects and new ideas also provides a feeling of community. I absolutely love the UK magazine Simply Knitting and it inspires me to keep going and trying new patterns. I am starting to feel like I may even have the expertise to design a few simple patterns of my own.

In summary, if you’re feeling a bit lost and lethargic during this pandemic, you could do worse than to give knitting or crochet a try. It’s a great confidence boost to make something, and you can help your community, too. Plus, with all the tutorials you’ll need offered for free online with a quick search, it’s relatively inexpensive. 

That’s all for now! See you next week.

November Update: New Projects and Old

Ahh November. Whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo, thinking about the holidays, or just kicking back and enjoying the last days of fall, it’s a time when many people, myself included, start to take stock of their year and take a look at what’s to come.

This year could have been a lot worse to me. I feel very blessed not to have lost too much income, to have had the time and the flexibility to prepare and protect my household during the pandemic, and to have had the opportunity to learn and improve myself even with the restrictions in place.

Still, like everyone, there are some things that I am grieving. Anyone who knows me personally will know that I am a planner, and I had earmarked 2020 as a watershed year of personal growth. I really wish I could talk more about the details of what I wanted to do, and there will be a day in the future when I can, but unfortunately that day has not come yet.  Suffice it to say that due to the changes brought on by the pandemic, a large portion of my plans were ruined and although I still gave it my best effort, the circumstances were far beyond my control.

The state of things this year also affected my goals for social media engagement. I have run into a lot of toxicity when sharing and socializing on the internet in the past, and I am not one of those people that reacts well to being shouted down or being the subject of a pile-on. As such, one of my major challenges as an author has been moving past my aversion to making statements online and my fear of causing a stir.

Needless to say, the climate on social media since about mid-year has not been conducive to mending my relationship with social media. I do want to specify that it’s not about my personal politics– it’s just that this kind of discourse, where I am terrified all the time if someone is going to take issue with something I said that was previously considered perfectly harmless and no one gave me the memo, the kind of discourse where if I cross that invisible line the only option for me is to abjectly apologize in public and discussion is not encouraged, is bad for my personal mental health. It also didn’t help that early on in the year I had a few folks who were determined to be negative on anything I posted simply because they were having a bad day.

Nobody needs to jump in the comments telling me I need to have a thicker skin– believe me, I know. It’s an ongoing process and something I am actively working on. But regardless of who I may grow to be in the future, I am who I am right now, and the climate on social media this year was probably the biggest challenge that could have arisen to my goal of being more active online. Although I didn’t totally flub it (I did manage to pop on to promote events I was doing and places I was going to be published) I do feel that I fell short of my overall goal and was unable to push through, and I take full accountability for that. I am only just now starting to pick up the pieces and re-commit to my original posting goals. I hope all of you out there reading this will wish me well, because as this year has shown, it takes a lot of concerted effort to form a new habit.

My writing life also went on a large detour this year from what I had originally envisioned. I had hoped to produce three manuscripts, and so far I have one. I feel like 1.5 manuscripts and some shorts are about where I will be by the year’s end. This one I am not feeling particularly bad about because unlike the social media posting goal, which didn’t happen because I froze, my smaller writing productivity was a conscious choice. I just wasn’t ready to give up my larger goals for this year, and in order for my big-picture hopes to even be a possibility due to the pandemic, I had to make some tough choices about where to spend my time. My efforts did not ultimately lead to the results I was hoping for, but taking my best shot was still worth it and has led to some fruitful personal growth.

So what am I doing? What is actually going on in my life, you ask? Well, a lot of stuff.

I have finished a couple of personal growth projects recently, and I’m now planning a few shorts. This is fun for me because I’m not a terribly prolific short story writer (although I’ve had good luck with placing the ones I’ve written) and it is nice to play with a format I don’t do as often, and to have some new ideas. One story is a fantasy which is primarily about knitting, and the other is a super freaky horror piece called The Night People which has been turning over in my brain for quite a while now and is materializing into a possible novella.

It also occurs to me that if I want to raise my productivity with shorts, I should consider story prompts, because I am discovering that they really work for me. It’s the same with anthology invitations, (wink wink to any editors in the crowd) as I love to write stories to order. I want to explore this new direction and see where it goes.

I’ve also got some interesting novel work coming up in the near future. Undead Princess WIP is verrrrry slooowly clearing the beta readers and I am cautiously optimistic that it will only need a few minor tweaks and copy/stylistic editing and then will be ready to go. The initial feedback that I am getting is very promising, and I am pleased. I’m also still holding out hope that I can get to roughly the 50% mark with Singing Bones #3 by the New Year, which isn’t too far behind at all, as far as I’m concerned.

So, in conclusion, I think that this year has still been a moderate success for me despite everything going on in the world. I know you either love him or hate him, but I am a big fan of Dr. Phil, and his measurement for yearly goals is something along the lines of: has your life changed for the better this year in a significant way? Even though some of my most cherished goals took a big hit and I didn’t have the big, bold, self-help success story kind of year that I wanted to have, I would say that yes, I have changed things for the better and I am as ‘on the right track’ as I can possibly be right now.

And there’s still more year to go! Stay tuned for more announcements on appearances late in the year, because I do still have at least one more in the works.