New Poem at Strange Horizons

If you’re really that bored, you can read my poem “One Fabric” in the latest issue of Strange Horizons.

Here’s what the critics are saying:

“I’m not sure I really understand what this is about…” -my mother

In real life, I am home again after four months of working as a housekeeper and waitress on a cruise ship.

Happy holidays! If you live somewhere where winter exists, stay warm.

Where’s Zella?

A) At home in Wisconsin
B) Commuting between the states of Post-Graduation Excitement and Post-Graduation Anxiety
C) Going somewhere exciting soon, hopefully
D) Not on the internet very much
E) All of the above

Surprise! I’m Still Here.

I’ve maintained radio silence for three months now, but don’t worry, you haven’t missed much as far as writing is concerned. At the moment, I have three short stories and a poem floating around the internet looking for homes, but no luck so far. If one of them does get picked up, you’ll hear about it–and all of my friends and distant relatives will probably get an excited phone call, too.

In real life, Virginia is rainy, my senior year is full of classes and swiftly approaching deadlines, and it’s been raining for days. Did I mention the rain?

Stateside Again

After nearly a day and a half of travel, including three flights and a ten-hour layover, I’m back home in Wisconsin. I had an incredible semester, mostly because of the people I met while I was in Spain. Now that I’m home, I’m looking forward to the chance to do more writing and reading than I did while I was abroad (for reasons I explained in my last post).

I’m focusing on my creative writing thesis this summer, which I’m hoping to finish before the end of this academic year. Like a lot of writing I’ve done lately, my thesis is heavily inspired by the “Hansel and Gretel” fairy tale. Also, space. Unfortunately, I don’t think imaginary whales (my other favorite thing, if my brief publication history is any indication) are going to make an appearance in this project.

As usual, I’ll update this website as more of my work is published. I’ve already sent a few pieces to wander in the dark woods of the internet in search of publication, and hopefully I’ll be sending some more out soon. Wish me luck!

Excuses, Excuses

As of today, my poems “Anniversary” and “The Winter Whales” are up on Portage Magazine‘s website. Portage is a little different from the markets I’ve published in before: Its specialty is art from the upper Midwest of the United States (not just speculative fiction/poetry!). My home state of Wisconsin falls into this category, and it’s also home to Carroll University in Waukesha, where Portage is headquartered.

If you look at the dates between this post and the last one, you’ll notice that I’ve been even worse than usual about updating this website. There’s a super exciting reason for that, which is that I’m spending this semester in Spain! While I’m here, my goals are to 1) practice speaking Spanish, 2) spend as much time as I can meeting new people and enjoying Spanish life, and 3) pass my classes so I can graduate on time. None of that’s really compatible with spending all my time staring at books of poetry and Word documents (except when I’m writing essays), so my writing output has been…nil. You can expect more from me when I come home in June.

Until then, here’s a pretty picture of Spain. Have a good spring!

Street at Night

New Stories + Writing Inspiration for 2016

First things first: Happy 2016! I think my New Year’s resolution will be try to remember what year it is now and write the date accordingly (rather than date documents with “January 2015,” which is what I’m currently doing).

My first published pieces of 2016 are two super-short stories at Nailpolish Stories, a website that describes itself as “A Tiny And Colorful Literary Journal.” All stories published at Nailpolish share two interesting features: They are exactly 25 words long, and they use the names of real nail polish colors as their titles. If you think that means they have titles like “Red,” “Pink,” and “Magenta,” you should take another look at your nail polish bottles!

I’ve always liked very short stories and poems, so I had a lot of fun with Nailpolish’s simple concept. I’ve actually published stories in Nailpolish before (April 2014), but I enjoyed looking through the bottles of nail polish on my shelves again to find inspiration for a new set of stories this month.

Using the names of nail polish colors for titles is a pretty swell idea, but I think there are other sources of inspiration out there just waiting to be tapped. Here’s a list of my favorites.

  1. The subject lines of spam emails
    • I use these a lot as poetry titles, and they are gold. I’m frankly not comfortable sharing some of them, but a couple I’d love to figure out uses for are “Release Your Soul with Angelina Jolie” and, more simply, “hey!”
  2. Other people’s names
  3. Dreams
    • So maybe the cigar is just a cigar…or maybe your subconscious is telling you that your protagonist should smoke one. Either way, write down your dream-ideas as soon as you wake up to keep from forgetting them.
  4. Eavesdropping
    • As if you needed an excuse!
  5. Photographs
    • I’ve seen this one used a lot at writing workshops. Where is the scene in the photo set? What kind of mood, time period, or political climate does it suggest? If there are people in the scene, do they look happy to be there?
  6. Phoning a friend
    • Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary endeavor! If you get stuck, ask around for ideas–someone will almost certainly be able to help you out.

How do you get inspired?

Website Revamp and in the News

Hello, all! I haven’t written anything here for awhile, and my latest excuse is finals. The semester is coming to a close, so things are busy around here. Also, no writing news, except that I did manage to send out three stories for publication in November. I’ve been checking my email compulsively for responses since then, even though I probably won’t find out for weeks or months whether any of the pieces were accepted. Time to move on and keep writing…

In other news, a recent class project that involved creating a website has convinced me that I seriously need to revamp this website, so look for some changes around here soon. Graphic design is really not a strength of mine, so we’ll see how it goes.

And finally, here’s an article on BuzzFeed about the awesome way a student at my school responded to a tense situation on campus earlier this week. Hugs for everyone!

November So Far

This morning, I finally took a deep breath and sent the story I’ve been calling “creepy Hansel and Gretel” out into the world (into the woods?). My personal goal this month was to write three short stories and send them out for publication. That means…

One down, two to go–and just ten days of November left. Wish me luck!


November first passed me by somehow, but today is November second, and you know what that means…

Halloween decorations come down! Christmas decorations go up! (I know, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!)

And for a certain faction of writers, it means NaNoWriMo has arrived. The goal of NaNoWriMo (NaNo for short, National Novel Writing Month for long) is pretty simple: Participants try to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November. It’s a lot of fun, a great way to deal with writing slumps, and an awesome chance to meet and compete with other writers. NaNo prioritizes quantity over quality, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t produced some fabulous literature. A handful of bestselling novels started out as NaNo projects.

This year, for the first time in a long while, I’m sitting NaNo out. I’m hoping to ride the wave of NaNo energy (and take advantage of the write-ins going on around my campus) as I work on some other, long-delayed writing projects. By the end of November, my personal goal is to have submitted three new short stories for publication. I’m revising the first of these, a creepy Hansel and Gretel, and I’ve started working on the second, which so far involves two guys sitting in a barber shop. (Hopefully that description will sound more exciting when it’s finished!) Expect further updates as the month progresses!

Good luck NaNoers, and happy November!