February 3, 2016

Gamut Magazine's Kickstarter

Hi friends! How are you? What's been going on?

I'm excited right now. Want to hear why?

It's because one of my favorite writing pal's, Richard Thomas, is trying to start a brand spankin' new literary magazine/web site for transgressive, interesting, genre-bending fiction!

Called Gamut Magazine, when it gets off the ground, it'll publish new fiction, reprints of cool older work, poetry, and essays. It will focus on the darker side of the world - neo-noir, or the new black, so to speak.

And seriously - it's got some of my favorite writerly people involved.

First we've got Richard Thomas, who I've worked with at LitReactor for several years. Richard's a fabulous writer and editor - a short story anthology he was a part of editing, Burnt Tongues, went pretty much off the charts last year. He's also a publisher at Dark House Press, so to say that Gamut has someone at the helm who's been in the trenches and knows what's up would be an understatement. Richard is also kind and generous with his time, and he's been like a literary big brother to me.

Also on board is my awesome bud, Dino Parenti. He'll be one of the fiction editors, which is great, because I've never read work from Dino that hasn't ripped open my soul. We met when we were both taking part in a weekly writing contest, and though the entries were always anonymous, I'd know Dino's voice anywhere. Dark and tragic, while still funny and engaging...he's someone special. Trust me. Oh, and he's a total sweet pea who'd do anything for anybody, too. So yeah. Good to have on staff, to say the least.

Other staff members include Keith Rawson and Max Booth, two razor-sharp writers I've traded jabs with at LitReactor. They're fantastic.

And the lineup Gamut has planned? Jeeeez. They already have amazing writers promising to submit stories and other work...like the aptly-named Sarah Read (her stories will make you ache), Rebecca Jones-Howe (her short story collection garnered her an angry email from a granny, calling her a "dirty girl" or some such nonsense) and the ever-amazing Amanda Gowin (who's one of my favorite people with whom to karaoke). Transgressive master Stephen Graham-Jones is on board, along with Laird Barron....and oh man, I could go on and on.

The pay rate is totally professional ($0.10/word), so you can make some cash if they start publishing your work, and they even hope to run some novel serializations (Richard, talk to me about this, because I can't write short form anymore! Hahahaha!!).

Oh...and if you don't want to listen to me babble on about it, why not listen to Fight Club author, Chuck Palahniuk, who says:
Now that short fiction has become as standardized as the SATs and Common Core—all in order to 'judge' and 'rank' writers—I'm excited to see what Richard Thomas brings to the game. Gamut will be the new magazine not written for the little old lady in Dubuque.
So. Gamut Magazine. Go check out the Kickstarter (which has raised over $8k in two days!), and support it if it sounds like your thing. And it should sound like your thing! After all, you're friends with me, aren't you? 

Happy reading, and good luck to Richard, Dino, and the amazing Gamut gang! 

January 29, 2016

A Friday Funny - Mixed Up Song Lyrics

Here's some (mildly) NSWF fun for your Friday morning.


My parents didn't believe in censorship, even when I was very young. My mom believed that we kids would understand what we could, even from mildly "inappropriate" content, and what we didn't understand...we'd find something cool to learn, and figure it out as we went. 

This was the 80s, of course. There was much to learn from everything around me! I saw boobs on TV (no biggie back then) in movies like Stripes (Bill Murray!!!) and Carrie (Stephen King!!!), so boobs were never a big mystery to me. Never a big deal. I learned curse-words early, so that I knew how and when to use them appropriately. Since it was kind of normal, I didn't take much glee in using those words around adults, and kept myself out of trouble.

In short, I loved the fact that I wasn't censored. 


And now that I'm an adult....

...I'm struggling to allow my child the same freedoms. Because! Her sweet and innocent brain! Do I want to corrupt it?

(Who am I kidding...of course I do...I'd rather she learn stuff at home than out and about...but I digress...)

That said, I have a certain song I sing to her in the morning when I have to drag her out of bed for school. It's "Good Morning, Starshine," from the musical Hair. I grew up on the movie version, watching it over and over and over with my dad. (There are boobs here, too. Boobs everywhere in the late 70s, early 80s!) It was one of our favorites.

This morning, I *almost* pulled out my DVD copy to finally play the song for reaslies for my Zoe. I thought, well, maybe it's time she sees one of my all-time favorite musicals...

And then I remembered...

There's a song called "Sodomy."

The lyrics are sooooooooo dirty. Here they are, unedited, in all their glory...


Father, why do these words sound so nasty?

Can be fun!
Join the holy orgy
Kama Sutra

That's it. I kid you not.

How could I let my sweet child watch a movie in which there's THIS SONG??? OY!

Until I remembered...

...allllllll this remembering on a Friday morning before breakfast....

....and I've had the giggles ever since....

....because, true to my mom's theory....I've always known all the lyrics to every song in the movie-version of Hair. I've been singing these songs since I was bitty.

But this song? This dirty, icky song, with a word I actually just had to look up? (Pederasty...no idea what that one was until just now...ick.)

Here's what I thought it said, when I was a kid. These are the words I sang to myself, over and over and over....

What do you think?

The way she goes....
Gonna linger....
Ever after...

Father, why do these words sound so nasty? (I didn't understand why they sounded so nasty! They were normal words!)

Masturbation (I got this word right, but I had no clue what it meant)
Can be fun!
Join the holy order
Come on, supra...

Seriously. That's how my brain translated words I didn't understand.

So yeah. There's something to my mom's theory for sure.

That said...

...Zoe still can't watch Hair

Not till she's at least nine.


January 15, 2016

Thinking out loud

Good morning, friends! I know, I know, I don't blog much lately. Or, like, at all. Forgive me.

I felt like I had to say something today, though. Like I had to speak out, at least a little, to say what's on my mind.

Here's the thing. It's been a weird, sad, bizarre week. It's been full of death (Bowie! Rickman! You will both be so missed! So many others, too! F-you, cancer!). It's been full of public displays of grief that are both heart-wrenching and cathartic. I sometimes think that these kinds of deaths can bring us together, at least briefly, as we all collectively mourn the passing of...well...of art, I guess. And brilliance. And people we admire.

For me, though, this week has been full of life, too. Anxiety. Terror. Panic.

Because I wrote a thing on LitReactor, and that thing was about rape, and I swear...I'm so programmed to try to make people happy that it's HARD for me to know something I wrote might piss people off.

I had a panic attack the day the piece went live. I knew it would reach a broad audience, and I knew some people wouldn't like it.

I even begged my editors to read it carefully before they hit the Publish button on it; I was so afraid I'd done something wrong. 

Because here's the thing: whenever I write, it's my own Leah-ish brand of thinking out loud. Even this. I work through things by writing about them. Every book, every story... every single opinion essay I've ever written. I figure things out by writing. I think out loud. I muse. I almost never know what I'm going to write before I write it.

I start with a question, and I see if I can find any answer to it.

Since I suffer from a supreme lack of self-confidence, so I always doubt that I'll get to the Single Right Answer.

But I try to figure stuff out.

It's what I do.

Read anything I've written and you'll see the struggle. In the zombie books, I'm figuring out how far I think I would go if facing certain situations. What would I do, facing the end of the earth. That's why that series is written entirely in the first person narrative, though the character perspective switches by chapter. What would I do in these situations? I think about that, and then I usually have the character do the opposite.

In Heartless, you'll see me musing about a lot of things. Life, death. Self-sacrifice. The love of a daughter. The love of a best friend. Gah! You even see me working through my own college relationship with my first (real) boyfriend through the tumultuous struggles of Jo and Eli.

I think out loud. It's what I do.

So that's why I panic when I think out loud (and very publicly) on super-sensitive subjects like rape.

Because here's another thing: lots of people on the Internet think they know everything. Lots of writers out there, when they publish inflammatory blog posts about sensitive subjects like rape, think they have the Single Right Answer. And they DO NOT LIKE IT when your answer(s) differ from theirs.

So honestly. I was terrified I was going to get  beat up by the Internet this week, simply for asking questions and posing a few possible answers.

But something amazing happened instead. Something incredible, even.

People read my post, my questions, my possible answers, my theories...and they started offering their opinions. Not their Single Right Answers. Their own theories. Their own questions. The discourse on the actual article on LitReactor was (mainly) polite and respectful. The comments were long and almost as think-out-loud-ish as if I'd been writing them. (I wasn't. I didn't know any of the commenters, I don't think.) 

The article's been viewed by thousands (which blows my mind). Chuck Palahniuk shared a link on his Facebook fan page, which always drives hits way up. There was a Reddit thread about it. The comments everywhere have been startling in number. There have been some nasty-grams, of course. There always will be.

But the discussion? The actual, reasonable discussion? It's been incredible.

I've learned so much this week. So much from survivors. So much about the way people view fiction. So much about how much we ALL care about this issue.

This morning, I saw a tweet from a stranger. "Thanks for writing this," he said. "It really made me think. Made me work my brain muscles."

And that, my friends, made it all sooooooo worth it for me.

I guess I'll continue to think out loud. I guess I'm doing it at this very moment. 

And so long as, every so often, I can make other people think, too...then I guess I'm doing my job.

Happy musings, everyone!

December 14, 2015

Map of Fates by Maggie Hall: Giveaway

I love meeting other authors. I love sharing their books. I haven't done anywhere near enough of it in 2015, so look for more from me in 2016!! In the meantime, the below post is courtesy of YA goddess Dahlia Adler (if you don't know her and you're into YA, you really should seek her out and MAKE FRIENDS, PEOPLE! SHE'S SWEET!)...go ahead and check it out, and check out Maggie Hall's books! They sound exciting and fun!! :D :D :D


If you've already read The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall, you probably don't need to be told that its gorgeous, thrilling, sexy-as-hell sequel, Map of Fates, releases in three months. What you do need is an Advance Readers Copy of it, and some signed swag, and this is where you can get it!
(Photo: Sofia Embid)
To get your hands on a beautiful ARC, signed postcard, signed bookmark, and tattoos, you have to make the same tough choice as every Conspiracy fan:

Team Jack?
Team Stellan?

Pick one of the below pictures (with thanks to creator Diana Sousa!) and share it – on Instagram and Twitter – with the hashtag #MapOfMates, and tell us where you’d want to be swept away on an all-expenses-paid trip!
On January 2, five ARC winners will be selected, and yes, the giveaway is international!
  • 1 #TeamJack from Instagram
  • 1 #TeamStellan from Instagram
  • 1 #TeamJack from Twitter
  • 1 #TeamStellan from Twitter
  • 1 from either team who has one of the pics as their Twitter avatar
Haven’t read The Conspiracy of Us yet? Buy it now, and/or enter to win it (until 12/17) here! (Prefer paperback? That releases on February 2nd!) (Whether you enter or not, please spread the word; Maggie’s an amazing, generous, and talented member of the YA community, and due to emergency circumstances, she's unable to promote her own books right now, so please give all the support you can!) (But, like, you should enter, because these books are pretty damn good.)
Winners will be notified on January 2, 2016. See you on #MapOfMates!

October 26, 2015

Surprise! Cover Reveal for HEARTLESS!

Dude. You guys. I know I've been quiet for a while, but man, do I have news today!

I HAVE THE OFFICIAL COVER FOR HEARTLESS!! Yes, my first YA horror novel, aka the re-package/re-vamp of my old, dear friend JO, officially has its cover! I'm so excited to share it with you!

But first, I have to say some amazing things about both my publisher and the incredible artist behind this cover. So...to get to the actual cover, you can scroll down, but really, I'd love it if you read what I'm going to say. 

First. My publisher. When Jason Pinter at Polis Books told me he wanted to publish HEARTLESS, I was so thrilled. To take a chance on me, when he's publishing amazing books from incredible authors around the world? Could it really be true?

It was. 

And then, when he told me he wanted custom art work for the hardback cover?  Yeah. I almost died. I probably cried. This opportunity is perhaps the most exciting thing to ever happen to me (marriage and child aside, of course), and I'd be completely remiss if I didn't express my gratitude at least a hundred more times.

I. Am. So. Grateful. 

Thank you, Jason!

Now. For the cover art. That custom cover designed by a renowned tattoo artist because super cool aesthetics. Yeah. That one.

For a long time I didn't know the name of my cover artist. I only saw drafts, sketches, of a human heart made of nuts and bolts and stitched together with long and winding thread. It was cool. Steampunk.

Perfect for my Frankenstein-girl, Jolene Hall.

Future drafts that included color blew me away. Seriously. Though they were top secret, I'd sneakily show them to my husband, my parents, my child. We all agreed - they were amazing!!! So from there, it was only tweaks, minor changes...and we wound up with...

Well, first I have to tell you who the artist is, of course!! I only found out today! She's a tattoo artist, painter, and muralist based in Staten Island named Magie Serpica. Her studio is Milk & Honey Tattoo Parlour, and if you're in the area, you should definitely give her your business. Trust me. Next time I'm in NJ, I'm taking a pilgrimage across the river to meet Magie, and to get this heart tattooed on me somewhere! Because I HAVE TO! 

Okay. Are you ready to see it? I know I'm ready to show you! 



Sorry for the all caps. I'm SUPER pumped right now, in case you couldn't tell. I never in my life dreamed of having a cover like this!! It's gorgeous! Magie, I can't thank YOU enough, either! Whew! This is incredible!

If the cover has you convinced, check out the link on Amazon, where HEARTLESS is available to pre-order! The release date is May 10, 2016, in ebook and hard cover.  WHAT??????

Seriously, you guys. I can't wait to hold this book in my hands!! I hope you feel the same! And tell me what you think of the cover! I'm dying to hear!!!!!!