Status: Bogged and Confused

stressI don’t know how other editors select stories for their “year’s best” anthologies. I am not sure, really, how I do it.

But this is the tenth time I’ve gone through the process for The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror series. (Plus I’ve done four other “best of” volumes) and I am beginning to sense a least a part of a troubling pattern.

I think I am close to being finished with the selections and I begin to get bogged down. Time slows down, progress limps along as if there is no deadline. I feel as if I am treading water in a deep and endless pool of dark fiction.

Part of the problem is practical, primarily word count. (Even determining how many words are in a story can sometimes be time consuming.) Word count equals pages and I am very lucky in that respect as I have a relatively huge number of words (usually a bit over 200,000) and pages: over 500). But at this point, I could easily do 300,000.

And no, I don’t do an “honorable mentions” list for several reasons, one of which that is another source of similar frustrations.

Other practical matters include pondering if I have too many of one type of story or another, and deciding which of several by one author to choose, and taking into consideration if particular stories have already been selected by other editors for similar tomes. The latter doesn’t necessarily stop me from choosing a story, but I do have to feel strongly about a “duplicate.”

Then, let’s be honest, there is the matter of “names.” No, I don’t have to worry about that too much, but potential readers do judge at least somewhat by the authors they recognize on a cover.

Then there are the stories you discover at the last minute, the stories that make you worry if you’ve missed other gems. They send you back to the files for even more reading to make sure you haven’t overlooked something.

Of course, one re-reads. A lot.

I bog down.

Doesn’t help that I also begin to forget to do those things one is supposed to do for oneself like exercise and eat properly.

But I survive. And finish.

And find something else to feel stressed about.


Feature: As Irish as the Vampire

small-shamrock-knot[This essay was originally published in February 2000 on Universal Studios Horror Online. I've updated it a wee bit for this Saint Patrick's Day.]

Forget the leprechauns and the green beer. If everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, then consider celebrating that most Irish of modern monsters, a true creature of the Ould Sod—the vampire.

Aye and begorrah, ’tis the truth I am telling ye, though it may take a while in the telling, so settle in… [Read on]



Mythic Journeys: Myths & Legends Retold
ISBN: 9781597809580
Trade Paperback – $15.99
Forthcoming: 05/07/2019

Pre-order now at:
Barnes & Noble
Or your favorite local bookstore

Cover art by BreeAnn Veenstra and design by Claudia Noble

“Lost Lake” – Emma Straub and Peter Straub
“White Lines on a Green Field” – Catherynne M. Valente
“Trickster” – Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due
“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” – Brooke Bolander
“The Memory of Wind” – Rachel Swirsky
“Leda” – M. Rickert
“Chivalry” – Neil Gaiman
“The God of Au” – Ann Leckie
“Faint Voices, Increasingly Desperate” – Anya Johanna DeNiro
“Ogres of East Africa” – Sofia Samatar
“Ys” – Aliette de Bodard
“The Gorgon” -Tanith Lee
“Dreams in the Mondream Wood.” – Charles de Lint
“Calypso in Berlin” – Elizabeth Hand
“Seeds” – Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter
“Wonder-Worker-of-the-World” – Nisi Shawl
“Thesea and Astaurius” – Priya Sharma
“Foxfire, Foxfire” – Yoon Ha Lee
“Owl vs. the Neighborhood Watch” – Darcie Little Badger
“How to Survive an Epic Journey” – Tansy Rayner Roberts
“Simargl and the Rowan Tree”- Ekaterina Sedia
“The Ten Suns” – Ken Liu
“Armless Maidens of the American West” – Genevieve Valentine
“Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” – Maria Dahvana Headley
“Zhyuin” – John Shirley
“Immortal Snake” – Rachel Pollack
“A Wolf in Iceland Is the Child of a Lie” – Sonya Taaffe

A reprint anthology collecting classic myths and legends, retold by today’s top fantasy writers.

Myths and legends are the oldest of stories, part of our collective consciousness, and the source from which all fiction flows. Full of magic, supernatural powers, monsters, heroes, epic journeys, strange worlds, and vast imagination, they are fantasies so compelling we want to believe them true.

The authors of fantastic literature create new mythologies, heroes, and monsters. Retelling, reinventing, mixing the old with new insight and meaning. Their stories, like the ancient tales, entertain and often offer readers new ways to interpret and understand the world.

Drawn from diverse cultures, modern legends, and mythic tales are told in a variety of ways—amiable or acerbic, rollicking or reflective, charming or chilling—as they take us on new journeys along paths both fresh and familiar.

This new anthology compiles some of the best modern short mythic retellings and reinvention of legend from award-winning and bestselling authors, acclaimed storytellers, and exciting new talents in a captivating collection. Adventure with us on these Mythic Journeys


Editors’ Roundtable

Wonderbook-cover Interested in writing and/or editing? Here’s a link to a unique Editors’ Roundtable that features general and specific comments on a promising story from some of the most respected editors in the field: Paula Guran, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Liz Gorinsky, James Patrick Kelly, Nick Mamatas, Ann VanderMeer, and Sheila Williams.” It has been published as part of the “celebration” of the release of the expanded, revised edition of Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer at We editors did this over five years ago for the first edition, but I think you can see why it never made it into the book. Great idea, but it is a bit much for a print edition!

Lots of other writing goodies at the site, too. And the book itself is both helpful—if you want to write imaginative fiction—to study and lovely to look at—even if you aren’t interested in writing.

- – -

Style Note:
*Why use an apostrophe to make “editors” possessive? Associated Press style would probably not use the apostrophe. The Chicago Manual of Style probably would use the apostrophe. The style question is whether “editors” should be possessive (the roundtable belonging to the editors) and thus take an apostrophe or attributive (it is just a roundtable of editors). How do you decide? In theory, you ask: is possession clearly indicated? Not much help, is it? Okay, are ALL editors included in this roundtable? Mmm, no. So, add the apostrophe.


Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2018 ToC

“Sunflower Junction,” Simon Avery (Black Static #57)
“Swift to Chase,” Laird Barron (Adam’s Ladder: An Anthology of Dark Science Fiction)
“Fallow,” Ashley Blooms (Shimmer #37)
“Children of Thorns, Children of Water,” Aliette de Bodard (Exclusive for The House of Binding Thorns preorders/Uncanny #17)
“On Highway 18,” Rebecca Campbell (F&SF 9-10/17)
“Witch Hazel,” Jeffrey Ford (Haunted Nights, eds. Ellen Datlow & Lisa Morton)
“The Bride in Sea-Green Velvet,” Robin Furth (F&SF 7-8/17)
“Little Digs,” Lisa L. Hannett (The Dark #20)
“The Thule Stowaway,” Maria Dahvana Headley (Uncanny #14)
“The Eyes Are White and Quiet,” Carole Johnstone (New Fears, ed. Mark Morris)
Mapping the Interior, Stephen Graham Jones (
“Don’t Turn on the Lights,” Cassandra Khaw (Nightmare #61)
“The Dinosaur Tourist,” Caitlín R. Kiernan (Sirenia Digest #139)
“Survival Strategies,” Helen Marshall (Black Static #60)
“Red Bark and Ambergris,” Kate Marshall (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #232)
“Skins Smooth as Plantain, Hearts Soft as Mango,” Ian Muneshwar (The Dark #27)
“Everything Beautiful Is Terrifying,” M. Rickert (Shadows & Tall Trees, ed. Michael Kelly)
“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™,” Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex #99)
“Graverobbing Negress Seeks Employment,” Eden Royce (Fiyah #2)
“Moon Blood-Red, Tide Turning,” Mark Samuels (Terror Tales of Cornwall, ed. Paul Finch)
“The Crow Palace,” Priya Sharma (Black Feathers, ed. Ellen Datlow)
“The Swimming Pool Party,” Robert Shearman (Shadows & Tall Trees 7, ed. Michael Kelly)
“The Little Mermaid, in Passing,” Angela Slatter (Review of Australian Fiction, Vol.22, #1)
“Secret Keeper,” Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Nightmare #61)
“The Long Fade into Evening Steve,” Steve Rasnic Tem (Darker Companions, eds. Scott David Aniolowski & Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.)
“Moon and Memory and Muchness,” Katherine Vaz (Mad Hatters and March Hares, ed. Ellen Datlow)
“Exceeding Bitter,” Kaaron Warren (Evil Is a Matter of Perspective, eds Adrian Collins & Mike Myers)
“Succulents,” Conrad Williams (New Fears, ed. Mark Morris)
“The Lamentation of Their Women,” Kai Ashante Wilson ( 8.24.17)


Yes, I Know: First Post in Many Months

Well, I’ve been busy. I downsized from a BIG old house (with a lot of STUFF in it) to a smallish apartment. I sold the big house. I settled into the apartment. As you can see from the photo, Nala—although very upset that she can no longer go outside—has also more-or-less settled in.

And I take more time to take care of myself physically these days because I have to. (Better late than never.)

And yes, I’m still looking for that job! I have picked up some freelance work, but it is not regular or sufficient. Someone asked me the other day if I was retired. Uh, no. That will not happen. Have to earn the kitty treats for Nala. I wish, but I am pretty much a poster child for how to not plan your financial life.

Otherwise, right now (among other things) I am finishing up the content for THE YEAR’S BEST DARK FANTASY & HORROR: 2018 Edition (covering fiction from 2017). So, back to work…


Strap on those swords & swash all buckles!

SwordsAgstDark300Swords Against Darkness snuck out in late July! Prime Books has had some major schedule changes, but things are now rolling along and books are barreling down the old retail trail. So if you’ve been waiting for this one—or are just now getting excited about it—you will find its glorious thickness (in print) in bookstores online and off or its tons of text (in ebook) in the usual places! I’m rather proud of this one. I think I (inadvertently) took a fresh look at sword & sorcery while paying homage to what you usually think you might find in such a tome.




Fantasy Stories from the City That Never Sleeps
Edited by Paula Guran

Trade paperback: 424 pages | $15.95
Night Shade Books (November 7, 2017)
ISBN-13: 978-1597809313
(Also available in ebook)

An intriguing but insular man with telekinetic powers becomes New York City’s greatest superhero . . . A love affair blossoms between the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building . . . There are tunnels under New York that do not appear on any map . . . Being a Manhattan real estate broker for supernaturals is a real challenge . . . Editor and anthologist Paula Guran collects a diverse array of unusual and memorable tales set in the Big Apple. Anyone who’s visited New York, New York knows what a “magical” place it is; these stories reveal just how marvelous, extraordinary, mysterious, and even occasionally eerie a truly fantastic city can be.

Introduction: A Place Apart – Paula Guran
How the Pooka Came to New York City – Delia Sherman
…And the Angel with Television Eyes – John Shirley
Priced to Sell – Naomi Novik
The Horrid Glory of Its Wings – Elizabeth Bear
The Tallest Doll in New York City – Maria Dahvana Headley
Blood Yesterday, Blood Tomorrow – Richard Bowes
Pork Pie Hat – Peter Straub
Grand Central Park – Delia Sherman
The Land of Heart’s Desire – Holly Black
The City Born Great – N.K. Jemisin
La Peau Verte – Caitlín R. Kiernan
Cryptic Coloration – Elizabeth Bear
Caisson – Karl Bunker
Red as Snow – Seanan McGuire
A Huntsman Passing By – Richard Bowes
Painted Birds and Shivered Bones – Kat Howard
Salsa Nocturna – Daniel José Older
Weston Walks – Kit Reed
The Rock in the Park – Peter S. Beagle
Shell Games – George R. R. Martin

[click image for larger version]


The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2018 Call

Call for Submission

As the editor of the anthology series The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror (Prime Books) I am reading for the 2018 edition, which will include material published in 2017.

We define “dark fantasy” and “horror” broadly. Try reading the previous volumes and read this introduction to the first volume. And yes, we select dark SF as part of the mix. You can see the most recent ToC in this post.

Guidelines: The work must be published during the calendar year of 2017. If serialized, it may have begun in the previous year and ended in current. Direct submissions to the editor as well as suggestions are greatly appreciated. PDF, Word doc, or RTF are preferred, ebook if needed to, subject: YBDF&H. If a physical copy is submitted please email for mailing address

Deadline: November 1, 2017. If your work/publication is being published late in the year, please try to get it to me in some form by that date. Overall: the earlier I get the material the better.

Please post and/or pass this on to others.