Free Bones of Faerie short story

Happy holidays! “Invasive Species,” a short story set in my Bones of Faerie universe, is now online. It’s also FREE this month wherever ebooks are sold.

You can download a copy now from Amazon Apple Barnes and Noble Kobo or Smashwords.

[Invasive Species: Book Cover]

The Bones of Faerie trilogy is set in the aftermath of a catastrophic war between the human and faerie realms, one that has left behind a world filled with deadly magic: stones that glow with deadly light, trees that seek blood and bone to root in, dark forests that can swallow a person whole.

While the main trilogy is set in the Midwest, “Invasive Species” is my look at what the war with Faerie might have looked like here in the Arizona, where even without magic, the plants know how to bite. Here’s an excerpt.


I held tight to my little cousin’s hand as we walked the road through Summerhaven, scanning the broken asphalt for weeds. Alex tugged at a stray thread on his faded Cookie Monster T-shirt and scuffed his sneakers against the ground. He’d been fidgety all day, like his skin felt too tight. Maybe it was the heavy gray clouds, promising rain, but giving us only another sticky summer day.

Maybe it was that for five years—since before Alex was born—our entire lives had been lived within a couple miles of this road. Thinking about it made me want to crawl out of my skin, too.

Alex spotted a fuzzy pink thistle poking through a crack in the pavement. He reached for it. I pulled him back. “Gloves on?” I asked.

Alex looked down at his bare hands, as if he had to think about that. He pulled leather gloves out of his jean pockets, tried to put them on, and got his thumbs stuck in the finger holes. I helped him straighten them out.

“Gloves on,” he said, as if it had been his idea.

“Go for it, then.”

Alex grabbed the thistle and pulled, throwing all his four-year-old strength into the job. The stem came up in his arms, wriggling like a thorny green snake, while the fluffy bloom at the end thrashed wildly, trying to break free. I opened my leather weed-gathering bag, and Alex threw the thistle in. Once it was dead, we’d feed it to the goats and rabbits, just like all the other weeds.

“Take that, stupid plant.” Alex laughed, as if hunting down killer weeds was all in a day’s work. He’d never known a plant that was safe. He’d never known a world more than a few miles wide, either.

I knelt beside him and dug the thistle’s roots out with my knife, ignoring the strap of my quiver as it dug into my shoulder.

Sweat plastered my I Love Mount Lemmon T-shirt to my back. “Never forget the roots,” I said.

Never forget the roots.” Alex threw them into my bag, too, grinning like a preschooler learning his ABCs. Except Alex hadn’t been to preschool, either, hadn’t learned his letters and numbers anywhere but by the fireplace with Aunt Anna and Uncle Doug.

I sighed and stood, looking at the familiar cabins that dotted the hillsides east and west of us, the snags of burned trees punctuating the earth between them. Beyond the houses, terraced fields of beans, squash, and corn moaned as they reached for the sky. Most of the town was up in those fields today, reinforcing the scorched rings of earth that surrounded the crops and kept them from marching down the hillside into town.

Five years ago, if someone had told me plants could march, I’d have told them they’d been streaming too many bad movies …


Read more! Download “Invasive Species” from Amazon Apple Barnes and Noble Kobo or Smashwords.

Infecting an Entire Elementary School with Covid Is My Personal Choice

Hey, it’s me, the brave local mom who went viral for defying the city’s mask mandate last year. As you know, I suffered lots of persecution for that, including dirty looks from my fellow shoppers at the Grab and Go and that one cashier who snapped, “Lady, just take your Diet Coke and Twinkies and go!”

But when it comes to personal choice, I don’t compromise. I only have one face, and I choose what does and doesn’t go on it, even when that face is shedding airborne particles of a potentially lethal virus. I declined the Covid19 vaccine for much the same reason — I choose not to inject unknown substances into my body. Except for Diet Coke, Twinkies, and the cheese sauce on the fries at my favorite poorly ventilated dining establishment, of course …

Read the rest at Frazzled.

Kids React to FDA Vaccine Approval: It’s About F*cking Time

The FDA approved a lower dose of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for five to eleven-year-olds today. How do area kids feel about getting the jab?

“It’s about f*cking time,” said Ava Phillips, age nine, speaking from the bedroom where she was waiting for the health department to lift the quarantine on her fourth-grade class

Read More at Frazzled.

“Do you believe that spring will come?”

Bones of Faerie, the first book of my Bones of Faerie trilogy, is about uncontrolled growth: plants that bloom in every season, crops that fight their harvesters, trees that seek human blood and bone to root in.

[Faerie Winter Cover]

Faerie Winter, the second book of the trilogy, tells the opposite story. It’s about endless winter, failure to grow, and the fear that spring might never come.

During our current physical and psychological winter, Faerie Winter is the book I’ve been thinking about.

The story’s protagonist, Liza, is surrounded by adults who remember countless other winters, followed by countless other springs. Liza was born after the war between faeries and humans banished winter from her world, though. She’s never known anything but deadly, unbounded growth. When that growth stops at last, Liza’s first thought is about how much safer the forests have become. Later, when she realizes that those forests have also stopped producing the things humans need to survive, she has no mental roadmap for what might happen next.

When Jayce, a member of Liza’s town’s council, talks about preparing for spring planting, Liza wonders at the fact.

If he feared that the spring crops wouldn’t grow, he gave no sign. Adults believed, somewhere deep inside, that spring would come, for all that they were careful of our rations. Some part of them couldn’t imagine that green wouldn’t return to the world, as if green was something we were born to. I did not understand it. Deep inside I felt as if this gray had surely gone on forever and the forests I’d fought all my life had been merely illusions.

Not all the adults in Liza’s world share Jayce’s certainty, though. As the story progresses, Liza flees a danger that comes from beyond the dying forest with Karin, a fey survivor of the War. Karin is a plant mage, keenly aware of the changes winter has brought to the world, and she asks aloud the question that human adults have not.

The grasses sighed wearily and retreated back into the snow. “They’re not dead,” I said. “Not completely, not around you.”

“They are not dead.” Karin sounded as tired as the grasses had. “But they are dying. Tell me, Liza, do you believe that spring will come?”

Why ask me? I was no plant mage. “The adults in my town believe it.” They believed in spite of the gray trees and the gray skies, the failed crops and the too-long winter.

“So it is with the human adults in my town as well.” Karin held a hand out to the falling snow as we walked on. Snowflakes melted against her skin. “Yet I have never heard the trees so quiet. They yearn for darkness, and some have given way to it. Others slip into sleep, accepting that they may never wake. I am told this is the way of your world. It is not the way of mine. I have never known a forest that was not green. What do you believe?”

Do you believe that spring will come? It’s a question I’ve returned to many times since I wrote Faerie Winter. It’s a question I was asking before I wrote that book, too, before fiction led me, as it so often does, to put into words the things I was already saying.

Because Faerie Winter is fantasy, the question of spring’s return is not merely metaphoric. It turns out the danger of endless winter is real, and so Liza’s inner crisis is echoed by the world’s outer one. Fantasy does that, sometimes—lets us transform internal struggles into external realities so that we can face those struggles head on and in a more concrete way than other types of stories allow.

Do you believe that spring will come? Things have changed so much already—in Liza’s world, in our world. There’s no changing them back. Do we believe that forward change will continue instead, leading us on to someplace new, someplace viable, someplace where things can grow once more?

Do you believe that spring will come? There’s a strange comfort simply in putting the question into words.

On one level, I know the answer, always have known it. If I didn’t believe, deep down, that spring—that the future—would come, writing a book where spring was called into question would have been too much to bear.

On another level, I need, just as deeply, to hear the question asked, and I need to travel the hard path toward its answer, again and again, not just in the books that I’ve written but also in the countless books that I’ve read through the years, ever since I knew how to read. Stories were the thing, after all, that got me trough childhood and adolescence and all that came after. Every misunderstood kid who had adventures and saved the world and found their place in that world was, in their way, another needed answer.

An answer, and also a map—the map Liza lacks—for what the journey might look like. Spring comes. Not always easily, not always painlessly, not always as quickly as we want or as we need, but in the end and at the last. Spring comes. Deep down, I know that.

After all, I’ve taken this journey before.

“The only way to cope with something deadly serious is to try to treat it a little lightly.”

1. I have a piece in the Weekly Humorist this week.

Buy My Book, It Will Protect You from the Coronavirus, Says Author Whose Public Appearances Have All Been Canceled

(For the record, I didn’t have any launches or appearances planned. But a great many authors have, and you should totally buy their books.)

2. Good Unicorn, Bad Unicorn.[Good

(Good Unicorn: “Feeling ill? Here, let me cure you with my magical horn.” 
Bad Unicorn: “Get your unicorn-purified hand sanitizer here—just $500 a bottle!”)

Hang in there, everyone.

Faerie Winter’s new edition

Faerie Winter

Faerie Winter has a new look—and new paperback and ebook editions! If you missed this sequel to Bones of Faerie the first time around, now is your chance to revisit Liza’s post-apocalyptic world and its treacherous, haunting magic.

Order the new Faerie Winter paperback online or from your favorite brick-and-mortar bookstore (ISBN: 978-1798950708). Order the ebook edition from Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo Books, or wherever ebooks are sold.

Missed the first book? You can still order the first edition of Bones of Faerie from your favorite offline or online bookseller, and you can still order the ebook wherever ebooks are sold.


More about Faerie Winter

Liza is a summoner. She can draw life to herself, even from beyond the grave. And because magic works both ways, she can also drive life away. Months ago, she used her powers to banish her dangerous father and rescue her mother, lost in dreams, from the ruined land of Faerie.

Born in the wake of the war between humanity and the fey, Liza lived in a world where green things never slept, where trees sought to root in living flesh and bone. But now the forests have fallen silent, and even Liza’s power can’t call them back. Winter crops won’t grow, and the threat of starvation looms.

And deep in the dying forest a dark, malevolent will is at work. To face it, Liza will have to find within herself something more powerful than magic alone.

This sequel to Bones of Faerie will thrill both new readers and fans eager to return to Janni Lee Simner’s unique vision of a postapocalyptic world infused with magic.

“Simner paints a hauntingly exquisite portrait of a postapocalyptic world. Fans of both fantasy and dystopian fiction will devour this one.” —School Library Journal


In Tucson? Book signing Saturday!

I’ll be signing the new paperback of Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer at Mostly Books this Saturday.

Where: Mostly Books, 6208 E. Speedway
When: Saturday, December 15, 2:30-4:00 p.m.

Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer coverStop by and get a copy personalized for the adventurer in your life—even if (especially if) that adventurer is you.

Copies of Bones of Faerie will also be available, and Jennifer J. Stewart will be signing her Twelve Days of Christmas in Arizona, which makes an excellent gift for out-of-town friends.

Can’t make the signing? You can find Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer in stock at both Mostly Books and Fourth Avenue’s Antigone Books.

Not in Tucson? You can also order Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer at your favorite local bookstore, or you can buy a copy online.

New in paperback: Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer

Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer coverTiernay West, Professional Adventurer is now in paperback!

Order a copy your favorite young adventurer online or from your favorite bricks-and mortar bookstore (ISBN 978-1719955553).

Originally published as Secret of the Three Treasures, this classic book about a would-be adventurer who isn’t about to let anything stop her has a new look and has been updated for a new generation of young readers.

Get one for the kid in your life today—and for yourself, too. For a limited time, when kindle users order the print book, they can add their own e-copy at no additional charge.

Do share with anyone in your life who might enjoy a bit of adventure this winter holiday season.

Dear Bully

The Dear Bully anthology, edited by Carrie Jones and Megan Kelly Hall,with essays from 70 different authors (including me) talking about their bullying experiences, is out this week.

My own bullying experiences–which didn’t involve any specific person, but pretty much my entire school, through elementary school and junior high–pretty much defined my school experiences. I’ve never made any secret of them, and I never saw them afterwards as a source of shame. In a strange way, I see them as a source of pride: because here I am, still standing and happy and living my life and no longer defined by those experiences; and also because through all those years I never gave up pieces of myself in an attempt to fit in, something many of my supposedly more fortunate classmates can’t say.

But I also don’t wish those experiences on anyone, which is why … even though it feels strangely exposing to share my story in so public a place … I knew I had to do so. I don’t honestly know how much difference a single anthology will make, but if we don’t try to do what we can we’ll make no difference at all, and even if all the book does is tell a handful of kids, hey, other people have gone through this too, that’s no small thing.

I’m grateful for all the work the editors put into gathering our narratives together. It’s no small task, and it was done entirely as a volunteer effort (all editor/author proceeds are going to the charity Stomp Out Bullying), and it’s good to see it out in the world.

“Many elves have indeed gone West, to Minnesota and thence to California …”

So back in the late 80s there was this wave of urban fantasy novels suddenly (it seemed to me at the time) coming out, pulling various bits of faerie and magic and fairy tales into the contemporary world in a way that I hadn’t quite seen done before. I remember it as beginning with War for the Oaks and Moonheart and Wizard of the Pigeons, and of spreading out from there, into many of the books that I devoured as they were passed around among my circle of college friends, books that seemed, well, just different from the books I’d devoured in high school. I kept reading these books as I graduated and started writing more seriously. I don’t remember when, amid all that reading, I first picked up Terri Windling’s Bordertown series, but it’s always been tied up in that time and those books, for me.

Which is why there was some serious squeeeing when I was invited to write a story for ellen-kushner and blackholly‘s new Welcome to Bordertown anthology. Because getting to play in Bordertown is, well, like getting to go back to the place I was when (before when) this whole writing journey began.

Earlier this week I had word that my story had been accepted for the anthology. I double-checked about five times, to make sure I’d understood properly, and to make sure no faerie dust had slipped in and changed the words.

Welcome to Bordertown is due out in 2011 from Random House, and I’m beyond thrilled to be there!