New short story forthcoming in DIM SHORES PRESENTS VOL. 2

I am very proud to tell you that I’ll have a new short story published in the upcoming anthology, Dim Shores Presents Vol. 2, due out sometime in the latter half of this year from Dim Shores.

“AV_NEST.CASEFILE” introduces a new character to Augustus Valley, an investigator who works for a top secret branch of the West Virginia state government who is tasked with reporting on mysterious goings-on around the state. It will appear alongside fiction from writers including C.M. Muller, Jennifer Loring, Mari Ness and a bunch of other winners!
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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!

NEW SHORT FICTION: Read “The Puddle Girl of St. George” in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers

“The Puddle Girl of St. George” is a unique kind of ghost story set in the beautiful, haunting St. George, West Virginia. I’m very proud that it was selected for publication in the annual Anthology of Appalachian Writers.

Even though this volume (Vol. XI), featuring guest editor Karen Spears Zacharias, was technically published back in June, I’ve been waiting to post about it until there was a working link for ordering the book. For some reason there was a listing for it on the Shepherd University Online Bookstore for a while now, but it has been listed as Out of Stock until this month. Well, better late than never—you can order it now!


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Why I haven't made progress on the Bigfoot novel

I started working on a Bigfoot novel either early last year, or perhaps even in later 2017—can’t remember for sure. So far, my word count is somewhere around the 5k mark. Which is terrible, considering I’m pretty sure I wrote the first draft of Little One in less than three months. In January, I reviewed my goals and again committed to finishing this novel before the end of the year—not a lofty goal!
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You know how much I’ve written on it since then? Zero. No, actually I do think I went back and changed a couple sentences. Switched a barred owl call to a screech owl, or something like that. What’s the deal, man? Am I still suffering from chronic writer’s block?
Well, not exactly. For one thing, I have been working at a specialty coffee shop in Elkins (TipTop, come check us out!), so I haven’t had as much time to write. Though I don’t work very long shifts (about six or seven hours in a day), the commute ads another two to three hours onto that. Since I’m not good at little spurts of writing without larger blocks of unstructured time, that means I almost never am able to come up with anything during the days I work at TipTop. Occasionally I’ll get a bit done before work, but it has never been more than three hundred words, and it usually is nothing at all.
However, I have not been as blocked up as I was last year. Though I have not made significant progress on the novel this year, I have been writing. In January I decided to start off by writing a short story to submit to Hinnom Magazine, very cool horror mag that is taking great strides in a good direction. (They have published my work twice before, see here and here.) I was aiming to finish the short story before their submission window closed at the end of February. A reasonable goal, you might think, despite the new job. I still get free days, and it shouldn’t take me a month and a half to finish a three to five thousand word story.
Well, turns out this “short” story doesn’t want to end just yet. It’s currently weighing in at over twelve thousand words, and doesn’t look to be finishing up extremely soon. Of course, I will try to cut much of the fat off of it when I finish, but now it is hungry, now I can only feed it until it is full. (I ended up sending a different, already finished story to Hinnom). So while I really wish I had more done on the novel, I am pleased to have broken out of that horrible funk I was in since at least the second half of 2018, when I struggled even to come up with 150 words in a day. I’m anxious to see where this novelette goes (will it become a novella?)—and I hope that it turns out good enough that those 12k+ words weren’t just a big waste!

Happy Halloween

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.
Antique Bed - home
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):
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***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.
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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).
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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.

Listen to "The Unknown Thing" on Horror Tales Podcast

My short story “The Unknown Thing”, originally published in Beneath the Waves: Tales From the Deep by Things in the Well Publications, has been turned into an exciting podcast episode on Horror Tales Podcast. They were going release it on Halloween, but they just couldn’t wait any longer—so here it is! Click the icon below to see all the episodes, including mine (Episode 4).
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Give the podcast a rating and review on iTunes if you have an account there, and it will help this new podcast reach more people.
Max Ablitzer does so much hard work in getting the best and most intriguing sound effects for the podcast and I love how it turned out. I think you will too.

Happy Early Halloween!

 

New interview, new fiction! – Hinnom Magazine 007 now available

In association with Hinnom Magazine‘s new issue release, Gehenna & Hinnom Books has posted an interview with me up at their website. Go on and check it out!
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Hinnom Magazine Issue 007 is now available in both Kindle and paper formats. Get it now to read my new short story, “The Station Agent’s Wife, 1927” as well as other fiction by Sarah Gribble, Pete Rawlik, David Turton, and poetry by Adam Bolivar and Deborah L. Davitt.
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"The Station Agent’s Wife, 1927" to appear in Hinnom Magazine Issue 007

In December we met poor Fischer, a boy with some disturbing body troubles living in Augustus Valley, WV (“Fischer’s Mouth”, Hinnom Magazine Issue 004). In April, we were sucked under the mighty Augustus River with Charlie the river guide and despaired at what he found beneath (“The Unknown Thing”, Beneath the Waves: Tales from the Deep). This summer, travel back in time to 1927, when Augustus Valley was at its height as southern West Virginia’s coal mining capital. Meet Anna Sullivan, new mother and wife of Jim Sullivan, the young new station agent at the C&O Depot. Mrs. Sullivan loves her new house provided by the C&O and is proud of her husband’s position. But as we have already learned, and as Anna discovers, sooner or later things get weird in Augustus Valley. Sure, you can try to ignore it…
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Read “The Station Agent’s Wife, 1927” in Hinnom Magazine Issue 007. The Kindle version is now available on Amazon for pre-order, and the paper issue should be available soon after the Kindle version goes live.
UPDATE: as of 6-30-2018, both versions are available to purchase and read! go get it! Also, read their interview with me here!

The new issue also features poetry by Adam Bolivar and Deborah L. Davitt, as well as short fiction by Sarah Gribble, Pete Rawlik, and David Turton. As always, up to date reviews and interviews regarding current trends and authors in horror are inside. See the cover and complete TOC at the Gehenna & Hinnom Books website. I’m honored to be in company with these cool cats!
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