biopicbwA half-human, half-vampire hybrid in a world where humans exploit vampires. A prostitute at the end of the world. A mediocre mercenary whose only edge is the fact that she will do the one thing other female Hired Swords refuse to. A former stripper whose carefully constructed facade of normalcy is shattered by tragedy. A female slave in ancient Rome who finds herself fighting as a gladiatrix. And a young peasant woman claiming to be the reincarnation of an enigmatic ruler–and the dark goddess she carried within her.

Exceptional women. Extraordinary stories.

The child of a librarian and a teacher, I’ve had a love of the written word for longer than I can remember. Never bound by one genre in my reading, I found it impossible to restrict myself to one genre when writing. If I feel like a story within me that needs to be told, I tell it in the best way I can, whether it’s fantasy or historical or literary. The only thread that connects those stories is the women at the heart of them: strong yet vulnerable, outsiders searching for their own place in the world.

My current work-in-progress, a fantasy novel tentatively titled The Wild Daughter, tells the story of that young peasant woman. Rianna ni Powell wakens from a deathlike slumber saying that she is Sable, Suverena Eistantsor, back from the dead. When the Holy Council learns of her existence, they order her brought before them. Initially captivated by the idea that they might be witnessing a miracle, the Council members quickly become alarmed by Rianna’s assertions about the gods–assertions that throw their entire understanding of the universe into question. After an exorcism fails to stop her from claiming she is the suverena, the Council places her on trial to prove that she is not. She is ordered to give a full account of everything she “remembers” from what she claims is her previous life. Witnesses who knew Sable will then be brought in to testify. If their testimony does not match Rianna’s, proving that she is not Sable, the Council will ask her to recant both her claim and her statements about the gods. If she refuses, she will be found guilty of heresy. The penalty? Death.

Council guard Torin mac Eamon knew Sable—intimately. He and a priestess named Aislinn ni Quinlan had been assigned to bring Sable’s son Daric to the sacred isle of Sorsha Tiev to help save the world during the New Year’s ritual nineteen months ago–the same ritual that cost Sable her life. Torin believes Rianna is Sable, and though it puts his job and his life in danger, he believes her proclamations, too. But he also knows when to keep his mouth shut. Believing he can be trusted, the Council assigns Torin to guard Rianna while she is on trial, ordering him to accompany her whenever she leaves her cell and to be present when anyone visits her. Having relied on him once before and wary of the Council, Rianna now asks him to record everything: everything he knows from his brief time with Sable before she died; everything he sees and hears at the trial; and everything that happens to Rianna now. Everything, she says, including the truth about what happened that day on Sorsha Tiev.


Short Stories

“After the Fire” — originally published by the magazine Dreams of Decadence in 2000. Included in their anthology, The Best of Dreams of Decadence, in 2003.

“Prima Facie” — first place winner for fiction, Southern Connecticut State University’s Folio Art and Literary Magazine, 1997.


“Troublemaker and Caretaker: The Trickster in Four Shakespearean Plays” — senior thesis for Departmental Honors in English, Southern Connecticut State University, 1997.

Family News

I come from a family of people who can’t seem to help writing. My 90-year-old mikegrandmother wrote a fascinating autobiography covering the span of one of the most tumultuous centuries in history. My father, Michael Simonds, wrote two autobiographical essays included in collections of writings by Peace Corps volunteers who served in India in the 1960s, The Other Side of the World and Return to the Other Side of the World.

vineAnd now my sister, Susan Simonds is a published poet! In 2013 her poem “Old Dixie Down” was published by Blue Ridge Literary Prose and her poem “Rebel” was published by Vine Leaves Literary Journal and included in their Best of anthology for 2013. Congrats!


Recent Posts

It’s Not My Fault

I got good grades in school, but it wasn’t because I worked hard and studied and applied myself. It was because I knew how to be invisible so that I didn’t get called on in class, I had an intuitive ability to figure out the correct answers on multiple choice tests, and I could bullshit my way through an essay. I never felt like I’d applied myself 100% on anything I ever did, even the 80-plus page novel I handed in for a creative writing assignment in grammar school (which I’d already been writing on my own), because I felt like it needed editing and the plot was weak. I was lucky I did as well as I did because I was easily distracted, I made careless mistakes, I had trouble following instructions, I procrastinated like it was my job. I was a model terrible student, and all of my bad habits followed me right through to my adult life.

At some point it occurred to me that maybe I had ADD, and I took an online quiz which said, yep, you certainly do, but online quizzes tell you that everything is wrong with you, so you don’t necessarily go searching for psychiatric help because of them. It wasn’t until I realized that I suffer from mild bipolar disorder (I always mention the mild because it is actually pretty different from full-blown bipolar disorder) and my psychiatrist, in the course of treating me, screened me for ADHD, that I found out that I officially have ADHD without the H, or old-school ADD.

She asked me if I wanted to do anything about it. I said, Let’s focus on the bipolar, and hey, maybe it’ll get better once that’s out of the way. And when that medication started to work and I started to come out of my mild depression, I did become more productive, so that was cool. But I was still easily distracted, still made careless mistakes (which is a problem is a detail-oriented job like mine), still did all those lovely little ADD things. So I bought a bunch of ADD books and even read one of them, and I made schedules like I’ve been doing for years and I didn’t follow them and I set alarms to remind me to stay on track and I still wandered off into emails and websites when I was supposed to be working and I still made careless mistakes and said things without thinking and all that fun stuff.

After it seemed like the bipolar medication was working pretty well, my psychiatrist came back to the ADD, and I had to face the truth: I couldn’t accept my ADD as a medical condition. I know that ADHD is a real and legitimate disorder. I didn’t question the validity of ADHD or ADD. I questioned the validity of my ADD. My whole life I had thought of myself as scatterbrained, lazy, disorganized, a procrastinator.  This wasn’t a disorder, something outside of my control. It was a flaw in my personality, something that I could control if I just tried hard enough, and I obviously wasn’t trying hard enough.

I think the hardest part, the part that made it most difficult for me to deal with the diagnosis, was the hyperfocus. When conditions are right, I can focus on a good book or on writing or even a good movie or TV show to the point where the rest of the world disappears. It’s pretty much the same as flow. But since I can focus on things that are fun or engaging, shouldn’t I also be able to focus on things that are boring? Other people can focus on difficult tasks or conversations (I can’t even concentrate on conversations with people I want to talk to!). Why can’t I?

Because there’s something wrong with me. And it’s not my fault.

I think it’s going to take a long time for me to accept that, but for now I’m trying to move on despite my reluctance. I’ve been taking Adderall for about a week and I’ve actually accomplished things, reasonable, normal things. I haven’t cleaned the house from top to bottom but I’ve done the laundry and the finances. I haven’t single-handedly done six months’ worth of work, but I’ve cleaned out my email inbox. I didn’t finish my novel, but I did a good amount of writing. And this is my first non-ROW80 blog post in four months. This is apparently what I’m capable of. I still have to decide to actually do a project, but once I start, I know I have a good chance of finishing it, and finishing it in a reasonable amount of time because I won’t go wandering off for an hour looking at Facebook or my email. I can still get distracted, and I still have trouble following a schedule, but I feel like now I have a chance. I may never be able to put in that 100%, but maybe now I can put in 90 or 95%. Even 85% would be an improvement. And if I try hard enough, maybe someday I’ll be able to accept that this is okay, that I’m not cheating, I’m not using medication to make myself better than everyone else, but to make myself the same. To make myself normal. I used to want to be special. I still do, just in a good way. A functional way. Hopefully this will help get me there.

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