a collection of stars

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Five years before I started work on my current WIP, THE BONE HARVEST, I wrote a short story called A COLLECTION OF STARS. My original reason for writing it was in response to a call for submissions for an anthology titled, Defy the Dark. My story didn’t make the cut, but I did receive a completely unexpected and heartfelt response from anthology editor and author-extraordinaire, Saundra Mitchell, that remains some of the most-meaningful praise I’ve ever received. She said:

“I loved this story. Really rich science fiction can be a rare thing in YA, and I think you did a beautiful job here. The world building is fantastic, the characters are strong. Your language is evocative—I really did think this story was great. I had to put it aside because not because of its flaws, but because I already had a ship-bound science fiction story in the anthology.

As an editor, that breaks my heart. As a sister author, it drives me absolutely crazy. So I wanted to drop you a note and let you know, this story is *great*, and you really, really must submit it elsewhere. There's a home for it out there, and it so deserves to be seen by the world. I wish you the best of luck, and I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.”

Responses like this can be heartbreaking for an author. But it made me realize I wasn’t alone in feeling this story was special. It’s one of my favourite pieces of my own writing. Maybe I wrote it for that anthology, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t belong somewhere else. So, I did as Saundra suggested and submitted it to a few places, but the response was always the same: Thanks, but not what we’re looking for right now. So, eventually, I filed it away. And that was that.

That is, until I stumbled across it again one day and my writer brain started firing on all cylinders. I’d been carrying an idea for a YA sci-fi in the back of my mind for a while, but I could never seem to fully flesh out the plot. Re-reading this short story suddenly made everything click. And so, THE BONE HARVEST was born into a universe directly linked to A COLLECTION OF STARS.

As I said, I never did find a home for this short story, so I figure it’s time to give it a home right here. Because I really do love this little story about a teenager’s first night on-planet after living his entire life on a passenger spacecraft, and I hope you love it too.

Here’s a snippet from the text, which you can read in full at the link below.

A few feet ahead, Natalie is nothing but a silhouette in a pale sheath of fabric. She’s walking faster than me, her pace confident and sure. I jog to keep up, terrified of losing her in this creeping dark, but the unthinkable happens. I stumble, tripping over a section of rutted ground, and though I don’t fall, I lose enough balance to send the torch flying from my grasp. My reaction is like the victim of a landslide—panicked, desperate and ultimately incapable. The torch lands in a puddle of muck that extinguishes the flame on contact.

“Dammit,” I hiss, the word a crumbling pillar. I crouch to the ground as though I can somehow retrieve the lost light, but every last ember has gone out.

My world is black and cloying. I’m choking on claustrophobic thoughts, my lungs filling with muggy air and this terrible thing called night. My breath hastens as I open my eyes wide, but I can’t see a damn thing and it makes me miss the stars. It terrifies me.

Please click here to check out A COLLECTION OF STARS in its entirety.

friday5 special edition: interview with debut author Hayley Stone!!

I'm beyond thrilled to have a very special guest here on the blog today for a very special author interview edition of the Friday5. Please welcome my agentmate, and sci-fi writing superstar, rockstar extraordinaire (girl did a signing at this year's SD Comic-Con!), debut author and all-around awesome person, Hayley Stone! Hayley's stunning debut, MACHINATIONS is out now, and you guys, YOU GUYS, you seriously need to check out this whirlwind of thrilling sci-fi goodness! 

Before we get to today's special edition Friday5 Q&A, here's a little more about rockstar Hayley, and Machinations:


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Hayley Stone has lived her entire life in sunny California, where the weather is usually perfect and nothing as exciting as a robot apocalypse ever happens. When not reading or writing, she freelances as a graphic designer, falls in love with videogame characters, and analyzes buildings for velociraptor entry points. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in German from California State University, Sacramento.

Machinations is her debut novel from Hydra/Random House. Its sequel, Counterpart, releases October 11th, 2016.

Admit it, you adore her already, don't you? :) Well, just wait until you hear about Machinations!

Perfect for fans of Robopocalypse, this action-packed science-fiction debut introduces a chilling future and an unforgettable heroine with a powerful role to play in the battle for humanity’s survival.

The machines have risen, but not out of malice. They were simply following a command: to stop the endless wars that have plagued the world throughout history. Their solution was perfectly logical. To end the fighting, they decided to end the human race.

A potent symbol of the resistance, Rhona Long has served on the front lines of the conflict since the first Machinations began—until she is killed during a rescue mission gone wrong. Now Rhona awakens to find herself transported to a new body, complete with her DNA, her personality, even her memories. She is a clone . . . of herself.

Trapped in the shadow of the life she once knew, the reincarnated Rhona must find her place among old friends and newfound enemies—and quickly. For the machines are inching closer to exterminating humans for good. And only Rhona, whoever she is now, can save them.

"A tension-filled story of loss, loyalty, and forgiveness, with abundant Terminator-style shoot-em-up scenes and a snarky, kickass female warrior. I inhaled it!”
Jennifer Foehner Wells, bestselling author of Fluency

Welcome to the blog, Hayley!

I'm delighted to have you here to answer five questions for my first ever Friday5 author interview! Let's get right down to it :)

Question1> I love hearing about authors’ journeys to get where they are today. When did you decide you wanted to be an author, and how did the idea for Machinations first come about?

Hayley> I’ve always wanted to be an author. Always. There was never a time before that goal, although I did toy with the idea of becoming a storm chaser (too dangerous) and/or a veterinarian. From a young age, I was telling stories, however I could. Over time that transformed from picture books to short novels to fanfiction to roleplaying and then, finally, to full-fledged novels. 

Machinations was born from a fusion of several different sci-fi stories that dealt with the idea of doppelgängers and/or resurrection of some kind: Doctor Who, Girl with the Third Eye, and Mass Effect 2. With those tales percolating in my brain, I had a dream about my own clone essentially stepping in and taking over my life—with my blessing. It made me wonder: what circumstances could lead to something like that happening? 

I’m not sure where the machines came from, but they showed up when I started writing,and I went with my gut. As it turned out, combining two possibilities for artificial life (robots and cloning) ended up working very well, allowing me to explore some interesting themes of personhood.

Question2> Machinations is a thrilling, futuristic adventure full of everything I personally love in a good sci-fi read. What do you love about the sci-fi genre as it exists today, and what would you love to see more of in the future?

Hayley> Thank you! I love the curiosity of the sci-fi genre, and it’s ability to be both challenging and political while also telling a damn good story. To me, the speculative genre is all about asking questions (about humanity, about our future and our past), without necessarily providing clear-cut answers. It leaves room for interpretation, and I think many SFF readers bring their own experiences into that space, thereby personalizing the story.

I’d love to see more female authors writing under their own names, breaking down that bias against feminine-sounding names. I’d like more diversity, and more portrayals of women as fully-realized characters: full of flaws and fears and passions, who don’t fall into easily quantifiable definitions of “likeable” or “unlikable.”

Of course, there are some fantastic authors already doing this: Kameron Hurley, N. K. Jemisin, Victoria Schwab, Jennifer Foehner Wells, to name a few. Hopefully I can follow in their footsteps.

Question3> You probably get lots of clone questions, but I have to ask—if you had a perfect clone of yourself at your disposal, which one task would you ask her to perform? (And yes, given the times we’re living in, getting her to play Pokemon Go on your behalf is a perfectly acceptable answer.)

Hayley>I have to confess, having her play Pokemon Go wouldn’t have even occurred to me, but that’s brilliant! Apart from that, I would probably have my clone work a normal 9-5 job, so that I could stay at home and write without worrying about money.

Question4> If you were to play matchmaker for your main character, Rhona Long, how would you describe her to the person you’re setting her up on a blind date with?

Hayley> A quick-witted redhead who wears her heart on her sleeve and isn’t afraid to sacrifice for the greater good. Enjoys debate, not being brutally murdered by sentient machines, and pop culture references.

Question5> Machinations is set in a world where the machines have risen up against the human race. When—I mean if—this (cough*inevitably*cough) happens on earth as we know it, what would your first course of action be?

Hayley>One of the reasons I set the book in Alaska was because I thought the remote location and treacherous winter climate would give the machines some trouble. So in the event of a robot apocalypse, I’d probably grab my loved ones and book it into the wilderness as fast as possible, getting away from any major technology.

Thank you so much, Hayley! It's been a pleasure having you on the blog today. And for anyone who now can't wait to get their hands on MACHINATIONS, either for your own reading pleasure or for the sci-fi lover in your life, you can order your copy today!

In Canada: Amazon | Chapters-Indigo 

In the US: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

And don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads!

Happy Weekend!

a collection of stars

Just a quick post to share my entry in HarperTeen and Figment.com's Defy the Dark contest. This is quite possibly the best contest ever! I'll take a chance to be published (alongside a slew of my fav YA authors!) over a cash prize any day (and this one actually has both!).

Actual contest aspects of this aside, this short story was just what I needed--something new and different from the book I  just finished, a challenge, a chance to experiement with a male POV and a different tense than I usually write in. I'm very pleased with the end result. It's also my first completed work of sci fi.

Here it is: A Collection of Stars