2023! It’s one more than 2022! Reviewing 2022 and new #amwriting goals for 2023

Happy New Year 2023

Every New Year’s Dayish I review the previous year and make new goals. Last year I posted a stock photo of a silly sheep, as well. No ewe this year.

2022 review

2022 had a lot going on. Job changes, moving, first-time homeownership—all this, to say nothing of writing-related goals. But we’re here to say something of the writing-related goals. So let’s get to it. What were my 2022 goals?

  • Finish Gobbler of Fire —Yes, though not nearly as early as I planned.

  • Write another adult novel —Not even close.

  • Write another short story or two — Yes, and it is… interesting.

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Speaking of a lot going on—I got an agent!

Near the end of January 2022, I received and accepted an offer of representation from Nikki Terpilowski of Holloway Literary. I’m so happy to have Nikki on my side. Soon after that, I received her helpful editorial notes on Garth on the Hearth, and I put Gobbler of Fire on hold and spent some time improving GotH.

By the time I finished the edits on Garth, Emily and I were getting ready to move. In a rather short time span that winter, Emily got a great new job offer, and we made plans to buy a house in Elkins, WV, where we had made a lot of friends and had been wanting to live for quite a while. We closed on the house in May last year. So pretty much between February and June, I was not really doing much on Gobbler of Fire, and it was hard for me to find my rhythm again. However, I did chip away at it, and in December finally had a draft I felt good about.

So no, I didn’t quickly bang out another MG and then go directly on to write an adult book, like I had expected. I did, however, write a short story. What kind of short story? I’m not sure. It’s definitely not supernatural or weird horror… though one might argue it shares some slasher genre elements. Thriller, then? It’s not what any thriller fan would expect. It’s based on true events, so… historical fiction? Well, again… sort of, but not like you’d expect.

In the early spring, I was puttering around in the garden, avoiding working on Gobbler, when I got to thinking about a chicken I had several years ago. A storm had blown in one summer evening, and I shut all the chickens in earlier than usual, and I didn’t bother counting them before locking up. It turns out that one of them, Emily (named after the Brontë sister who wrote Wuthering Heights), never made it to the coop. The next afternoon, someone found a single chicken foot (identified as Emily’s by her colored leg band), along with a few black feathers, in the pig pen.

And for some reason I’ll never quite understand, as I pulled weeds from the garden on that wet spring afternoon, I decided to write a story about this, told from a chicken’s stream-of-consciousness. So now I have this 2,200 word thing on my hands called "Onka Always Eat," and who knows what I’m going to be able to do with it. But hey, I said I wanted to write a short story last year, so… It counts!

Last summer was my very first time as a NeCon camper! What a great event. Everybody there is super cool and talented and there’s a very inclusive atmosphere there. I’ll certainly be going back, though not next year. NeCon is probably one of the best values when it comes to author conferences, but I can’t make it an every year thing, unfortunately. But I will be back. Thanks so much to everyone who made it a welcoming and fun experience.

Even though I didn’t write a lot last year, when you really look at it, I’m pretty happy with what happened. An agent and a new house all within a few months. It hasn’t even been a full year here in Elkins, but all that feels so long ago already. And now we’ve just celebrated our first Christmas and New Year in our first house.

Oh—almost forgot to review my 2022 publications! In August, my short story "What Grows Underneath Ends in Silence" appeared in Scare Street’s Night Terrors Vol. 21.

Not long after that, September saw "Animals," an older story of mine (originally published in 2017), become a podcast episode on Tales to Terrify. This was my third story produced for audio by them, and I couldn’t be happier. Tales to Terrify always does great work.

My last story to be unveiled in 2022, and certainly not my least, was "We Suckle," published online in October by none other than the legendary Saturday Evening Post! A few days ago, they announced their most popular pieces in various categories, and "We Suckle" made the top ten in Most Popular New Fiction of 2022. I really don’t know what to say except thank you to all of you who read and shared this story!

Last October, I also released a new edition of my weird horror novella, Unknowing, I Sink, since the first edition from Independent Legions Publishing went out of print. I’m now lucky enough to have four beautiful covers designed by the talented artist, Ben Baldwin.

I even got a couple other short story acceptances last year, the details of which I’ll divulge closer to their scheduled releases this year. And while I still haven’t made it into any Best of anthologies, as 2022 was winding down, I found out that my story "AV_NEST.CASEFILE" had been on Ellen Datlow’s long list for Best Horror of the Year Vol. 14, though it didn’t make it to the final selections.

Hoo, boy. Told you 2022 was big.

2023 goals

Honestly, my by-the-word writing productivity has trended downward over the last few years. I’m not real happy with that, but I also see that I’ve accomplished a lot and hit some major milestones. I can’t complain too much. Here’s what I’m hoping to get done this year:

  • Write another short story. Maybe not so chickeny this time!

  • Write another adult novel. I’ve got one stewing up in there already.

  • Write another middle grade book? Hope so! But I might try to tackle the adult book first. I have some good ideas for both!

  • Go to StokerCon 2023! Oh yeah, forgot to tell you—StokerCon is back on this side of the US, and in Pittsburgh, which is about as close as it could get to me without being in WV itself. I’m so happy to go and reconnect with friends and colleagues. I don’t go to events like this very often due to budget limitations, but being in PGH I knew I had to make it work this year.

Hey, that’s it. I stayed up late last night, and I’m tired. Heck, I’m tired from all of last year. Maybe I can catch up on some sleep now. If there are any doctors reading this, can somebody let me know if it’s okay to take a year-long nap?

#happynewyear #2023 #newyearresolutions #newyeargoals #amwritinggoals #amwriting #amwritinghorror #amwritingmg #horror #horrorwriters #saturdayeveningpost #thesaturdayeveningpost #satpo #talestoterrify #chicken

“We Suckle” makes The Saturday Evening Post’s Top 10 of 2022 👀

The Saturday Evening Post’s Most Popular New Fiction of 2022 – Number Ten Might Surprise You 👀

The Saturday Evening Post has rounded up their Most Popular of 2022 in various categories. Last night I was surprised and happy to see that “We Suckle” snuck into their top ten short stories!

(Can’t figure out why my screenshots are turning out with such poor resolution, sorry)

Thanks to everyone who read and shared this story. It is only because of you that it made this list. If you haven’t read it yet, find it here: https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2022/10/we-suckle/


#thesaturdayeveningpost #topten #top10 #horrorauthor #horrorwriter #wesuckle #weirdhorror #shortstories #shorthorror #augustusvalley

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from me, Emily, and Poe. We wish peace and joy on you.

For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (CSB)

Make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on onepurpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others. Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,

who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be exploited.
Instead he emptied himself
by assuming the form of a servant,
taking on the likeness of humanity.
And when he had come as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.
For this reason God highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
and every tongue will confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:2–11 (CSB)

“AV_NEST.CASEFILE” on Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror #14 long list

Every horror writer hopes for their story to be selected for one of Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year anthologies. While I still haven’t achieved that honor, her recently posted long list of works considered for volume 14 contains several stories from Dim Shores Presents Volume 2, including my own “AV_NEST.CASEFILE”. I’m very proud to be listed alongside many other talented friends and colleagues. Ellen Datlow is a legend. Check out her list at https://ellendatlow.com/category/news/.

(In case you missed this one, buy a copy of Dim Shores Presents Volume 2 to read it yourself!)

Let’s hang out tomorrow!

Saturday, October 22nd (tomorrow), I’m going to be in Durbin, WV, doing a Meet & Greet at the Durbin Community Library! Come on by at 2:00 pm and let’s hang out. I’ll have copies of Unknowing, I Sink to sell and sign. I haven’t been able to get restocked on my other books, though, having sold out of all my copies recently at the West Virginia Library Association Fall Conference. If you already own any of my books that need signing, by all means bring them by.

Sorry for the late notice—I sort of lost track of which week it was. What happened to October? This is the best month, and for some reason this year it seems awfully short.

I hope to see you there!

New #OctoberReads Short Story: “We Suckle” in THE SATURDAY EVENING POST

October is my favorite month for so many reasons, but here’s a new one: my short story, “We Suckle,” has been published online at The Saturday Evening Post. Click here to read about a young family that moves to Augustus Valley to ease their financial burden and finds something strange happening in their basement. Rather, they think there’s something weird going on, but they can’t ever quite remember what

# spookymonth #NewFictionFriday #TheSaturdayEveningPost #SatEvePost #shortfiction #shorthorror #octoberreads #shortstories #spookyreads #horrorfiction #horror #weirdhorror #weirdfiction

Listen now to “Animals” on Tales to Terrify

Tales to Terrify is coming at you again—this time, with my short story "Animals." Just released today, Episode 556 of the Tales to Terrify podcast will get you where you need to be, if where you need to be is creeped out and revolted. Might be a good one to listen to while you get dinner ready; just my suggestion. Or maybe sitting by yourself in the shed out back. Keep an eye out for rats.

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Meet me @ the Lewisburg Literary Festival this weekend

It’s back, baby!

One of my favorite events of the year, the Lewisburg Literary Festival, is finally happening, after, as with many things, a long COVID-related hiatus. I’m so happy to be seeing my friends again and meeting new ones. Headline speakers this year are CBS Sunday Morning correspondent (and native West Virginian) Conor Knighton, record-breaking Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis, and Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau. If you’re a writer, you’ll want to check out the free workshops from thriller novelist S. G. Redling and poet/professor Elizabeth Savage. Anybody familiar with the LLF will know that there’s also much more that will be happening all around town… A full schedule should be posted to LewisburgLiteraryFestival.com this week, but just trust me, if you’re anywhere close, you should make plans to come see it (it’s free).

Let’s meet face to face

Of course, I’ll be camped out in the vendor’s area in the GBV visitor’s center, along with other great authors you can meet and buy signed books from. Along with my novels, I’ll have some of the last available copies of the out-of-print first edition of my weird horror novella, Unknowing, I Sink. So don’t miss out; let’s hang. Can’t wait.

#lewisburgliteraryfestival2022 #lewisburgwv #greenbriarcounty #hashtaglewisburg #downtownlewisburg #wvwriters #garrytrudeau #conorknighton #jenniferpharrdavis #lewisburgliteraryfestival #books #HashtagWV