Hugos, Nebulas, Bram Stoker Awards, oh my!

Big news here from my writing desk: my short story "The Sound of Children Screaming" has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker Awards for Best Short Story! To say I'm flabbergasted would be an understatement; try disbelieving? Awestruck? Part of me is convinced that they've all got the wrong Jones--it's a very common last name, after all--and are all just too embarrassed to admit their mistake.

But if I had to pick a story to get more eyeballs, this would be the one. You see, I came up with the idea for this story during an actual school lockdown. There were sounds of gunshots in the neighborhood nearby. It was just months after the Robb Elementary shoot in Uvalde, Texas, and my mind was suddenly racing with the reality of being an educator in the school shooting era. I began to read everything I could get my hands on about the phenomenon of school shootings, and how schools have responded in a literal arms race of school safety. What I found disturbed me even more: that most of what we do amounts to "security theater," designed to soothe our fears and make us feel like we're doing *something* useful, while not actually making us safer. Even worse, I've watched firsthand how much lockdown culture terrorizes children, even when most of the time it amounts to a false alarm. Now a gun doesn't even need to enter a school to make its presence known.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, and nothing has changed. Instead, we seem to have accepted a new reality, one that children in other countries don't have to experience. I'm sure we all remember the infamous footage from Robb Elementary of cops in the hallway using hand sanitizer, and underneath the video, the legion The sound of children screaming has been removed. This cuts straight to the truth of what we've done. Instead of fixing the problem, we just eliminate the sound of children screaming. After all, if we don't hear it, it can't be happening, right? 

This is a hard topic to grapple with. Before this story was published, I had trouble finding people to read the rough draft and give me feedback because if you have kids, if you work in schools, if you have children you love in your life, the last thing you want to think about is school shootings. It feels impossible to move the needle. If my story does nothing else, I hope it pushes back against that numb feeling that nothing can ever change. Because this hasn't always been a problem in the United States, and it's certainly not a universal problem on our planet. We can do better. We should do better. I believe it starts with what works in every country that doesn't have this problem: sensible gun regulations that even most gun owners already support. We can't let a minority of adults continue to insist that is on children to pay the price, or that school safety can ever keep pace when increasingly high-tech weapons flow freely into the hands of people intent on bringing them through school doors.

If you would like to read this story, you can find it in text and audio online at Nightmare Magazine.

New Interview: Think Out Loud with Oregon Public Broadcasting

I'm on OPB's Think Out Loud! This is the second interview I've done for the Dispatches from Anarres: Tales in Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin, an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories by local Portland authors in homage to the much-missed Ursula k. Le Guin. I'm interviewed along with fellow author Curtis C. Chen, a former student of Le Guin's, and Susan DeFreitas, the anthology's editor. The wonderful Allison Frost conducts the interview. Check it out for a big dose of my Le Guin nostalgia, and some behind-the-scenes notes on "The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles."

Everything Old is New Again

Welcome to my new website! Which is a bit like the old one, except updated and polished, with all the fluff cut away.

The old WordPress was starting to show its age, and I wanted something cleaner and ad-free as I crank up for several big, upcoming projects which will be rolling out over the next few years. I'm feeling a sense of wistfulness as I let the old site go. It has been years since I updated it, and the longer I went without touching it, the stranger it got to go back, like picking up a journal five years out of date without acknowledging the long gap in between. Events gone unacknowledged, years slipped by without a record. 

Still, the site was serving its main function of giving people a way to contact me outside of social media, and for that I'm grateful to it, and wishing I could hold it a wake and honor its years of service.

So the old site is dead. Long live the new one! You'll find everything useful from the old one (a contact form! A bibliography!), as well as some more useful stuff (you can now sign up for my newsletter and get alerts when I have a new story out!). If you're new to my work, check out Selected Stories to read some fan favorites. Maybe I'll even blog about the writer life here and there, and share more information about the ups and downs, my own process, and things I learn along the way.