Here is a little sneak peek of my new poetry chapbook 16 Flavours of Ghost.
The Ghost with a Thousand Suits
Workdays: Dark grey suit, wool tie
Weekends: Cords, jumpers, jeans
After I died, I decided to get a piercing.
Set my heart on a big, Roman nose with a ring
through the right nostril.
Slipped into that youngster and wriggled
his fingers. His skin was like soft leather gloves.
Maybe it should’ve felt wrong
to push my face into the mask of his skull
and peep out, but I did it anyway.
My new nose caught the light.
I went to bars I’d always avoided
and moved through the crowd,
body to body, borrowing
tattoos of tigers
hair in great spikes and waves
black nail polish
Each outfit had something new –
an unfamiliar ache, itch, gravity.
A way of being looked at.
A way of growing, shrinking, swelling, tensing
under different pairs of eyes.
Now and then, I take a moment
to dance badly in booze-laced flesh.
I am sweat-drenched, ecstatic.
I have never been or seen so much beautiful.
I hope you enjoyed that. Many of my ghosties are pretty much the same person in death that they were in life, but I also liked the idea of someone being liberated to try things they’d always feared – in this case, experimenting with appearance and perhaps exploring gender identity.
If you would like to read more about the post-death shenanigans of my sixteen spooks, I am selling chapbooks to anyone with a UK address for £8 (postage included). You can message me on Twitter @corastillwrites if you’re interested.
Aside from being a talented, witty, and modest blogger, I am also a writer of fiction and poetry. Yep, this is a marketing post. To make it as painless as possible, I’ve made little mini guides to each of my works, with crucial info such as genre, length, and whether it’s free to read. I’ll start with my most recently published stuff and work backwards.
Length: Short story
What’s it about? Beverly chats with Tyler – a troubled teenage boy whose dad may or may not be a vampire.
Where can I read it? HERE, in the February 2022 issue of Electric Spec
Read it if you like: Blurred lines between humans and monsters.Protagonists who are out of their depth but doing their best.
Don’t read it if you don’t like: Ambiguity. General creepiness.
Any content warnings? Domestic abuse, blood.
Monster Hunting for Girls (Ages 8-14)
Length: Chapbook with 18 poems
What’s it about? The monsters under the beds of tweenage girls, and how those girls defeat, befriend, or learn to live with the monsters.
Price: $8 / £6.09
Where can I read it? You can buy it HERE, from the Dancing Girl Press website.
Read it if you like: Witches, zombies, obscure folklore, mythology.
Don’t read it if you don’t like: Acknowledging that young girls have inner lives that aren’t always adorable.
Any content warnings? Gory imagery
Other People’s Butterflies
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: (Short) novel
What’s it about? 17-year-old Gwen f*cks up royally by kissing her best friend’s crush, then f*cks up even more by snooping on her classmates. Basically, she’s an aro-ace disaster figuring things out.
Price: $14.99/£11.07 for paperback, $4.99/£3.69 on Kindle (FREE with Kindle Unlimited)
Read it if you like: Harriet the Spy. Seriously, it owes a big debt of inspiration to that glorious book. Also, read it if you like ace rep, aro rep, complicated m/f friendships or 1940s spy novels.
Don’t read it if you don’t like: Protagonists who do bad things. Asexual characters having asexual thoughts (sometimes mistaken for sex-negativity).
Any content warnings? Sexual assault, animal death.
Spacegirl and the Martian
Genre: Superhero. I’m never sure if superheroes are sci-fi or fantasy or both – they seem like their own genre these days.
Length: Short story
What’s it about? A superhero and her nemesis wander drunkenly around London and come to realise why they can’t escape each other.
Price: $13.92/£11.35 for paperback, $7.90/£5.99 on Kindle. Pretty steep for a short story, except…
Where can I read it? In the anthology Common Bonds – a collection of 20 short stories and poems focussing on aromantic characters and platonic relationships. You can buy it HERE on Amazon.
Read it if you like: Read this anthology if you like diverse characters and exploration of queer identity in fantasy settings.
Don’t read it if you don’t like: Stories without kissing (It’s OK, I’m not judging!)
Any content warnings: The editors of this anthology gave my story the most content warnings by far – I’m so proud! They are *takes a deep breath*: Alcohol, animal abuse, roofie mention, PTSD mention, forced prostitution mention, abuse mention, thoughts of arson.
The Problem with Magic Shows
Length: Single poem
What’s it about? Human connection, relationships, and Las Vegas magic acts.
Where can I read it? You can buy it HERE on the Moment Poetry website.
Read it if you like: Poetry in unusual formats. This one comes in a sleeve like a vinyl record, with artwork by Martina Egedová.
Don’t read it if you don’t like: Pink
Any content warnings: I don’t think so.
Thanks for reading my lovelies, and remember – every time you support an indie author by buying/sharing/recommending their work, an angel gets its wings.
My short story VOCSS (Yes, I know it’s a shit title. It’s an acronym.) is now published in Electric Spec and you can read it here. I’m not sure if horror stories are supposed to have trigger warnings, but I know a lot of people struggle with themes of domestic violence. If you’re one of these people, take care with this story.
I won’t say too much about the plot, but I will say that Tyler is a troubled and complicated kid, his dad is a bad bastard (and possibly a vampire) and Beverly is out of her depth!
I’ve been pussyfooting around the horror genre for years. Way back in 2015, I joined a writers’ group and wanted to make a good first impression. So of course I introduced myself by reading one of my creepy poems, full of gruesome imagery. Another member of the group asked if I ever wrote horror, and I was rather taken aback. A creepy poem was one thing, but horror? I’d never even watched a single Saw movie!
In retrospect, I had a pretty narrow idea of what horror is, and I suspect this is true of many readers. Seven years and an anxiety disorder later, and I’m ready to write about fear. I want to explore where it comes from and how it affects us, and of course I want to write about ghosts and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. VOCSS is my first attempt – I hope it scares you a little!
Hi friends, welcome to 2022! I hope your hangovers aren’t too bad and your new year’s resolutions aren’t broken yet.
To be honest, 2021 was a more challenging year for me than 2020. During 2020 I was mostly a smug introvert, making the most of lockdown by reading a lot, learning coin tricks and getting worryingly obsessed with MMA. But 2021 has been a rollercoaster, with some high points (publications, a new baby niece) and some low points (a break-up, a bereavement).
Here’s a sum-up of my 2021 writing and reading adventures:
After publishing absolutely nothing last year, I managed to publish two books this year! The first was my debut novel, Other People’s Butterflies, published by Art Over Chaos. It’s a YA contemporary about identity, friendship, and trying to understand the world around you. Also 1940s spy shenanigans.
I got my first reviews, my first royalties, signed a few copies (one of them was actually for a fan rather than a family member!) and generally felt very much like a Proper Writer. I hope people continue to read it through 2022 but in order for that to happen I’ll have to get my arse in gear and actually do some marketing.
My second publication was a poetry chapbook called Monster Hunting for Girls Ages 8-14, published by Dancing Girl Press. It’s about the monsters that plague us during childhood and early adolescence, and the slow process of befriending them, defeating them, or learning to live with them.
Fiction-wise, I recently finished a 16,000 word sci-fi story called Goons. It’s weird, character-based, and contains the most dysfunctional found family I could dream up. It turns out that 16,000 word sci-fi stories are difficult to find a home for, so I’m thinking of publishing this on my blog.
Poetry-wise, I finished another chapbook called 16 Flavours of Ghost. It’s a bunch of character poems, each one from the perspective of a ghost. They’re a spirited bunch, with a lot to say about life despite being dead. I’m hoping to get some interest from chapbook publishers and I’m waiting to hear back from two of them, so wish me luck!
I read 21 books in 2021, which is pretty poor by my standards. I’ll aim for at least 24 this year, since 2 per month is usually do-able for me. I’ll also aim to keep reading plenty of fabulous indie and self-published books. As for 2021, my Book of the Year Award* goes to…
HMS Expedient by Peter Smalley. I couldn’t quite believe I was reading a nautical adventure and not wishing it was a Patrick O’Brian. I will definitely be following the careers of Captain Rennie and Lieutenant Hayter in future.
Thanks for reading my lovelies. Roll on 2022!
*Not an actual award. Book chosen was not published in 2021. Purely a reflection of what Cora likes best rather than objective quality.
My poetry chapbook Monster Hunting for Girls Ages 8-14 is now available to buy from Dancing Girl Press. If you’d like a taster of the kind of poetry it contains, here is one of the poems. It’s about the Wulver, which is a wolf-ish, human-ish creature from Scottish folklore.
There’s fish on the windowsills this morning. Tins of tuna, cans of salmon, fresh and cold in the dawn chill. Nan says it used to be whole fish, straight from the net, shining like silver and glass. She says half the town is broke now. Covid cutbacks, withered businesses, universal bloody credit.
On telly, there’s American towns with werewolves. Nice towns, big houses, beautiful bedrooms for the girls, beautiful cars for the boys. Vicious werewolves that bite very sexily the bit between a boy’s ribs and hip. Mysteries that grip like jaws, murders that don’t feel permanent.
Us, we’ve got the Wulver. A man’s body, buck-naked, beer gut and hairy chest. Three crappy tattoos, arms full of fish. A wolf’s head, teeth soppily smiling. Wet nose, soft ears, always here to help out and to howl for us when we’re too busy or tired to howl.
I was wondering how many different monsters and mythical figures there are in the chapbook, so I made a list. It contains:
A whole bunch of ancient Greek gods and monsters
So, if you’re looking for poetry to read this Spooky Season…
I just got my first royalties, woop woop! And while they haven’t exactly made me rich, they are making me feel like a Proper Writer. If you are one of the people who bought Other People’s Butterflies, read it, reviewed it, tweeted about it or added it to your TBR – thank you so, so much.
OPB has been out for over three months now, so I’m taking stock. Firstly, and most importantly, people are actually reading the damn thing. And judging by reviews, the majority of readers are enjoying it. For example…
“The dialogue is witty and sassy; events funny and poignant” – Ultraviolet, Amazon
“Gwen Foster is a force of nature and seeing the world through her eyes is a pleasure” – Kierstin Shea, GoodReads
“A fresh take on high-school drama!” – Andre Boone, GoodReads
Secondly, readers are responding to the themes of asexuality and aromanticism, which is awesome. It’s so heart-warming to hear people of all orientations say that they learnt something, or that it made them think about the importance of platonic relationships; but best of all is when ace-spec or aro-spec readers say it made them feel seen.
I barely read any YA when I was an actual Young Adult because I couldn’t relate to the protagonists. Like, you’ve just found out vampires exist – why is your first instinct to date one of them?!* So if I can make a small contribution to ace and aro representation in YA books, I’m a happy bunny.
Finally, this book has affected my life in ways I never anticipated. I’ve made friends because of it. I’ve had conversations with family members that I never expected to have. I feel more confident and comfortable in my identity. Seriously, if you’re sitting on the fence about writing an #ownvoices book, just go for it! The work is hard but the rewards are amazing.
*I should point out that this was the noughties. YA these days is much more diverse, both in terms of storylines and LGBTQIA representation. There’s still a way to go, but that’s a whole other blog post.
Having been delayed and then un-delayed, my poetry chapbook Monster Hunting for Girls (Ages 8-14) is now published! Check it out here if you’d like to buy a copy or get a taste of the kind of poetry it contains.
I’m slightly in love with the front cover. Dancing Girl Press wanted to make it look like a vintage biology textbook, which works well with the horror elements of the book. Though I’m anticipating having to answer the question “Why is there sperm on the front cover?”
As the title would suggest, this chapbook is about childhood and early adolescence. Specifically, it’s about the slow realisation that monsters exist outside the pages of Goosebumps books and episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Contrary to the title, it is suitable for all genders but probably not suitable for eight-year-olds!
Just a short post today to share two bits of good news. Firstly, my poem The Problem with Magic Shows has been published by Moment Poetry and is now available to buy. The sleeve for the poetry card is illustrated by the very talented Martina Egedová, and I feel like the neon colours and quirky imagery (that poor bunny!) really suit the tone of the poem as well as the content.
Secondly, my contributor’s copy of Common Bondshas arrived, hooray! I’m going to whizz through Little Women as fast as I can, then dive in.
October has been a bloody good month, writing-wise. This post is basically just me bragging about all the exciting stuff that’s going on in my writing life, so if you find that distasteful (or if you’ve already heard me crowing about it on Twitter) feel free to skip it.
Back in the time before COVID-19, I had my short story Spacegirl and the Martian accepted for publication in Common Bonds – an anthology of speculative fiction and poetry centred on aromantic characters and platonic relationships.
After an inevitable COVID-related delay, this beautiful book is now available for pre-order and will be released on the 1st April, 2021. It has witches and demon-hunters and superheroes and queerness and all the good stuff!
Poetry news #1
Onto poetry news, and I’ve had two things accepted for publication that I’m super excited about!
The first is my poem The Problem with Magic Shows, which is going to be published by Moment Poetry. The cool thing about Moment Poetry is that they publish individual poems in a really unique way. They print the poem onto a card, then put it into a cover sleeve, like a vinyl record. The sleeve has an original artwork on it, plus a quote from the poem in the poet’s handwriting.
All this means that the poem becomes a beautiful object as well as something interesting to read. I’ve never been very good with aesthetics (there’s a reason why I’m a writer instead of a painter/crafter/photographer) so I’m looking forward to seeing one of my poems transformed into something visually lovely.
As for the poem itself, I won’t say too much about it because I feel like poems should be as open to interpretation as possible. But I will say it was inspired by watching a David Copperfield show in Las Vegas.
Poetry News #2
The second thing I’ve had accepted is my poetry chapbook Monster-Hunting for Girls Aged 8-14, which will be published by Dancing Girl Press in 2021 (most likely in June or July). Dancing Girl Press has been publishing chapbooks by women writers since 2004, and they have a fantastic collection that’s really worth checking out.
This chapbook contains eighteen poems, all written during the height of lockdown when I was staying with my parents. Returning to your childhood home after almost a decade away from it can do weird things to your mind, and a combination of nostalgia and pandemic anxiety resulted in poetry about the fears of childhood and early adolescence. Plus a lot of literal monsters.
Thanks for reading all my happy ramblings. I’ve got more good news to come but I’m not supposed to announce it yet…
In the meantime, I want to hear all your positive writing news. Finished a first draft? Got something accepted? Had some encouraging feedback? Share in the comments – this is a free pass to brag about any and all writing victories!
Due to a combination of publishing delays and imposter syndrome, I was beginning to think my novella would never see the light of day. I kept expecting to get an awkward e-mail saying “Errr, actually, we’ve changed our minds and have decided not to publish you.”
But today, Issue 10 of The Fantasist went live, containing two novellas, one of which is mine. Also I got paid, and getting paid anything more than a fiver for my writing still gives me a thrill.
The Misfortunes of Oscar Goldberg started out as a failed NaNoWriMo project and became something I’m pretty damn proud of. It’s a coming-of-age story, cunningly disguised as an urban fantasy.
It follows the adventures of nineteen-year-old Oscar and his best mate Mitch, over the course of one eventful night out. I threw everything but the kitchen sink into this one, so it has mystery, adventure, supernatural shenanigans, romance, bromance and lots of humour. I hope people enjoy it!