Happy New Year: 2019 in review, and 2020 #amwriting goals

Boy, 2019 was rough for me, for reasons which I will not detail in this post. But ever since I’ve started this blog, I’ve done one of these year-in-review/looking-ahead posts, so here goes. Please forgive my lack of pictures and GIFs—the internet connection where I live is exceedingly slow and unreliable, and I must avoid that kind of thing unless I’m at the library or coffee shop or some other place with high speed internet that won’t poop out on me in the middle of my work.

2019

Last year I set some goals for 2019. I did not meet any of them (well, I sorta met one).

2019 goals:

  • Finish the Bigfoot novel – Nope.
  • Find a publisher for Schafer – No. (but to be fair, this is not completely under my control)
  • Write at least five stories – Yes…ish.
  • Plan a successful WV Writers literary event in my region – No longer the Region 2 Rep.
  • Pass the English Literature CLEP Exam – Haven’t taken it.

This Bigfoot story is becoming about as elusive as Ol’ Sassy himself (have I made that joke before? I feel like I’ve made that joke before). I did make some progress in the fall, after finishing a novella (more on that in a bit), but I ended up putting it off again. I came up with another book idea I was more excited about at the time. My wife and some other people also think it is a pretty good concept, so I decided to set aside Sasquatch in favor of this one while I have some enthusiasm and creative juices flowing (kind of a gross expression, right?). So, thanks especially to Emily and John Little for encouragement in making this decision and telling me there might be something special in my new idea. I’m already making quicker, steadier progress on that book than I had been on Bigfoot. I’m not totally scrapping that one, though. I have some really good writing already done for it, and if I can pull off the rest of the story well, I think it will be a good one. I’m just not ready to finish it, I guess. But I have a good feeling about the new book.

Still have not found a home for Schafer (a novel I wrote in 2017 about an evil hypnotist, though I have yet to hear back from a number of publishers, any of which I would be very happy to work with.

I had planned on writing at least five short stories in addition to finishing the Bigfoot book. This is the only sorta check-mark on the list. At the beginning of the year, I started on a short story that I just could not finish. While I wrote in fits and starts, and did not make quick progress on it, it continued to grow into something exceedingly strange, ungainly, and lovely. At last, in September, I wrote THE END on this little monster, which came out to 21,300 words. So, it’s the length of five short stories, even though it is a single novella.

This is actually kind of cool, as I have been interested in writing a novella sometime in the future—only I ended up actually doing it by accident. As my 2019 goals were otherwise unmet, I’m going to fudge this one and give myself the credit. A novella is cool, yo. I’m not sure yet when or how it will be made available to the public, but I have some ideas.

For a moment I was the Region 2 Representative for the West Virginia Writers, and had some plans for that which never panned out. Coincidentally, as of November, I don’t even live in Region 2 anymore.

English Lit CLEP exam hasn’t happened yet. Should be soon, though. Transportation issues are complicated at the moment.

I’m not going to get into all the reasons that 2019 was hard on me. One of them, however, was an unexpected job change for my wife and a move from Bartow to Parsons. Emily and I are glad we were able to stay in West Virginia (and we love being in Tucker County), but the last part of the year was extremely chaotic and stressful. I am surprised I don’t have any noticeable gray hair after all that happened (I did catch one or two strands during the ordeal, but they’re gone). We still don’t have it all figured out, but we’re getting used to our new situation, and are both extremely grateful to God for what we see as His quick provision in a very uncertain and desperate time. I try to use this website to focus on my fiction rather than religious commentary, but I feel I would be wrong if I did not briefly utter a quick word of thanksgiving here. Things could have looked much worse for us at the end of 2019. We are greatly relieved.

In fact, there were some very bright spots to 2019. I had a whole lot of fun at all the book events I attended. At the Lewisburg Literary Festival, I broke my total sales record for that event. Same at West Virginia Book Festival, where I should have brought more books—I sold out of Little One! I was honored to be guest at the Haunted Majestic this October, a haunted house boat floating on the Ohio River near Huntington.

And, like I said before, it felt good to write my first novella. It is a very weird story, though. Who knows what will happen with it.

I saw only one of my short stories in print for 2019, “The Puddle Girl of St. George” (ironically, my wife’s new job is located in St. George).

And while I only saw one story newly published, I received some really encouraging responses concerning other unpublished work about which I’m not ready to go into detail. Suffice it to say that I finished the year with greater confidence in my ability and the quality of my short fiction. I hope to have some more exciting, less vague-blogging news for you later this year.

2020

Honestly, while I do have some writing goals to set forth, there is some practical, real-life stuff which is going to have to take precedence over my writing. But related to my continued pursuit of a profitable fiction writing career, I reckon the following are worthy targets:

  • Finish the new novel (and maybe get a bit more done on the Bigfoot story)
  • Get Schafer published
  • Get the weird novella published
  • Attend Camp Necon

Yeah, I already put down my deposit on Camp Necon. It will be my first time attending, and I’ve heard great things. This year, it will be held in Salem, MA, which is pretty cool, because I don’t think I’ve ever been to Salem.

Other than that? I feel like I’m forgetting stuff that should be in this post. But I gotta tell you, I’m too tired right now to care. Have a happy new year, everybody.

one more thing

PS — I haven’t drawn up a “Best of 2019” list yet, and I don’t know if I will—even less likely to do a “Best of the Decade” list. But I wanted to quickly recommend Michael Wehunt’s newest novella, Everything is Beautiful and Nothing Bad Can Ever Happen Here, published by Nightscape Press last September. You can click that link to buy it directly from the publisher, as a limited, numbered paperback, autographed by the man himself, Michael Wehunt, one of my favorite contemporary writers. Only 118 copies remain at the time of this writing.

OK that’s it. I gotta go make dinner. So long!

Lewisburg Literary Festival THIS WEEKEND

Whoah! I have been so busy that August (and with it, the Lewisburg Literary Festival) completely snuck up on me. Can you believe that August starts this Thursday?
Refer to the website and Facebook page for details on schedule, speakers, workshops, and all that jazz! (Unfortunately, there is no literal jazz, as far as I know. One of the few things that could make Lewisburg cooler is a jazz lounge).
Come out on August 2-3; I’ll be there. More excitingly, so will Tobias Wolff and Sarah Vowell. And other cool people.
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This is one of the coolest literary events in WV in one of the coolest small towns in WV (nay, in all of America!—see Budget Travel Magazine‘s 2011 list). Everything’s so cool.