It’s a confusing and scary time. I don’t think I’m likely to get seriously ill from the Corona Virus due to my location, age, and health, but there are a lot of very vulnerable people, some of whom I know. And even those of us who do not get sick, or badly sick, still have to deal with the impact the pandemic is having on the economy.
They say that the best thing we can do to slow the spread of the virus is to stay home. So here we all are. Some of us are more used to avoiding the public than others. Some are more temperamentally inclined to stay home. Others are used to being out with friends and/or coworkers constantly and don’t know what to do with their time. Shelter in place, by itself, is certainly not the worst thing to happen to us, compared to what might happen if we didn’t all shut ourselves in for a little while.
Still, it can be frustrating, even for the most introverted among us. Many of my author friends have already offered some of their work for free for readers struggling to stay sane as they find themselves with more free time than usual. So in that spirit, I’m running a Kindle Free Book Promotion on my novelette, Antique Bed. It will remain free until Friday. Click on the thumbnail below to go straight to the Amazon page, where you can order the ebook to be delivered straight to your device for no charge.
I’m praying we get through this soon. Keep my sister in your thoughts and prayers, as she is a nurse on the front lines of this battle against the virus. They are low on supplies and are being forced to re-use their masks, which sounds absolutely crazy to me. I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. Please be cautious everyone.
Ok, so I guess the last couple years I’ve done an annual review and renew of annual goals set/met/failed. We’re already more than halfway through January and I haven’t written anything on my blog. Let’s see…
OK let’s look at those 2018 goals:
Get agent/publisher – Nope. Still working on it.
Finish Bigfoot novel – Again, no. I did write a bit more on it, but I made remarkably little progress.
Write more short stories (at least five) – Yes! Though I wrote very little on my novel, I actually completed six short stories throughout the year, totaling over 20,900 words. Still not as much as previous years (if you count novels), but not a total failure, and a big win for the short fiction goal specifically.
Attend StokerCon 2018 – Yeah, but I already knew I was going to do that.
The following comments do not necessarily describe events in chronological order:
My #1 desire of 2018 was to find an agent to represent my coming-of-age horror novel about a small town boy vs. a nefarious hypnotist, Schafer; alternatively, to find a small press accepting unagented submissions who would want to publish it. Unfortunately, so far I have not done either, though not for lack of trying. There are still good publishers out there that I am continuing to submit to. Maybe I’ll have better results this year.
I attended StokerCon 2018 in Providence, RI. It was both my first time at StokerCon and my first time in Providence. I blogged briefly about it and put up a few pictures when I got back. It was a huge encouragement to meet so many other creators and workers in the industry, and I hope to be able to attend again soon.
Some of you remember I announced that I was working towards my Master of Arts in Teaching. I am still gathering the required prerequisite undergrad credits that I didn’t get when I double majored in camping and theology. Last year I finished an Introduction to Linguistics online class through Rio Salado College. I also passed the American Literature CLEP Exam (thanks in part to Modern States).
The West Virginia Writers didn’t have a volunteer representative for the region I now live in (Region 2 = Pocahontas, Pendleton, Randolph, and Webster counties), so I signed up for that. I did try to get together a little kids’ writing workshop for our region, but, sadly, I wasn’t able to generate enough interest. Perhaps I misjudged my marketing skills.
I didn’t do too badly in terms of short fiction publications. “The Unknown Thing” was published by Australian-based Things In the Well Publications in one of their themed anthologies called Beneath the Waves: Tales From the Deep, which is available in both hardcover and paperback on Amazon. In June, I made a repeat appearance in Hinnom Magazine with “The Station Agent’s Wife, 1927”. I was later contacted by Max Ablitzer who was interested in producing one of my short stories for his new Horror Tales Podcast. I happily sent along “The Unknown Thing” when the rights became available. Max did his thing with it, and the sound effects and narration made for a pretty great episode (see Episode 4). In October, I published the short ebook Antique Bed: A Horror Novelette, which you can buy now for Kindle at only $0.99. Even though the BookBub ad and the discount is long over, I continue to see noticeably better sales numbers per week compared to before the ad.
If you think in terms of actual goals set and accomplished, it doesn’t look like a great year. However, some really cool things did happen to me last year, including a big boost in sales from a BookBub ad that helped qualify me for Active Member status in the HWA. In fact, gaining Active status was actually one of my 2017 goals, so I’ll count that win!
And this isn’t related at all to my writing career, but Emily and I visited El Salvador in September, which was amazing, so I just wanted to mention that and share a few pictures.
I’m still going to be sending out Schafer to publishers as long as I can find good ones to send to. I haven’t totally lost hope on that front. This year could be the year. Despite my false starts with it, I really think it is a good book—it is one of my favorite things I’ve made—and I really want it to find a good home.
I really need to finish this Bigfoot book. Like, really. So there’s that. However, I also have more going on in my life, including online school, doing a bit of writing for the local paper, and a new job at a coffee shop. Oh yeah, that’s something that happened last year I forgot to mention—I am now a barista at the new TipTop in Elkins (pics below taken from their Facebook page)!
It is great to serve that community and have fun making amazing espresso drinks, but it leaves me less time to write. We’ll see if I can squeeze in enough words here and there to finish a novel in 2019.
I’m hoping to get something cool going in 2019 to help increase enthusiasm for literature around these here parts.
In terms of my education, I still need to get some Literature credits on the cheap, so I’m going to try to pass the English Lit CLEP Exam. I’m more nervous about this one than American Lit, partly because I didn’t know what I was getting into with the American exam, and partly because I feel less comfortable with and am less interested in English lit than American.
Still trying to figure out what events I’ll be attending this year. Three of my go-tos that I’m pretty confident I’ll be at again are the Lewisburg Literary Festival, West Virginia Book Festival, and WV Writers Summer Conference. I’m still on the fence about some others. I really would love to go to Necon, but I’m not so sure I can swing it this year (and I’m not even sure registration is still open). More doable is Scares That Care, but I haven’t figured out my budget for stuff like that yet. We’ll see!
Since I mentioned vacations before, I’ll just say that El Salvador was an amazing adventure, but this year we are planning something a little cheaper and closer to home lol.
Finish the Bigfoot novel
Find a publisher for Schafer
Write at least five short stories
Plan a successful WV Writers literary event in my region
I kind of already said this, but HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Here is the jack-o-lantern Emily and I carved this season:
October is the best month for a variety of reasons. You got beautiful fall colors, crisp, cool weather, and yeah, Halloween (see above). I got in some good mountain biking, had tons of fun at the annual West Virginia Book Festival, and got to meet up for coffee with an old friend at Taylor Books, which is a pretty great coffee shop/book store in downtown Charleston that I recommend.
Also, this month I released a new Kindle horror novelette, Antique Bed, which you can get on Amazon for only $0.99.
And just in time for Halloween, Horror Tales Podcast released their fourth episode, which is my story “The Unknown Thing”, previously published in Beneath the Waves: Tales from the Deep. Click below to listen (it’s free): ***EDIT: I was just notified that my story has been listened to over one thousand times already, in just a few days! Cool!
One experience I had that was not enjoyable this month was the Witch’s Brew drink at Starbucks. This purple monstrosity was so awful looking that I just had to try it. There is zero coffee in this drink (not that anyone expected it), and I could only take a few sips before tossing it in the trash.
As I don’t live in a town where there is trick-or-treating (or a town of any kind, for that matter), sadly, my house is not stocked full of candy (also, I guess they don’t always do trick-or-treating on actual Halloween anymore?). However, Emily and I have some pretty fun plans involving our traditional viewing of Halloween is Grinch Night and some caramel apples that are sure to ruin our teeth but be wildly tasty (ironically enough, last night I had a dream in which two of my teeth fell out for no reason).
So go enjoy the holiday, however you do that—consuming tons of sugar, watching movies, listening to Horror Tales Podcast, or reading one of my books (I guess somebody else’s book is fine, too). Remember that tomorrow candy will be dirt cheap.
Surprise! Today you can buy my new Kindle-only novelette, “Antique Bed” for only $0.99! Tell your friends, your enemies, your pets… As kids we always used to say that the old hardware building was haunted. I don’t believe it no more—at least I don’t think so.