Update: #amwriting – fall, weird, bigfoot

#AmWriting in Autumn

The leaves have been fantastic around here the last few weeks. We’ve had some beautiful blue-sky days lately, though they have been a bit warmer for my tastes. Even though I’ve been going through some really hard stuff lately, I’m doing my best to get out and enjoy the greatest season in West Virginia. I even got me a brand new set of overalls. Autumn is probably my favorite time of year, especially here, though I do not think it would be so special if it were fall all year round (a guy’s gotta ski sometime). The last two years, we’ve had some biblical-scale infestations of those pseudo-lady bugs. This year I have a plan to keep them out, and, so far, the lady bug problem has been subdued. Crossing fingers. Other than that, the only negative I can think of regarding Octobers is being reminded that there are still people in this world who think it’s OK to say/write/think to one’s self, “Happy Fall, Y’all!”. (If you’re that person, please note: it is never OK). Otherwise, it is pretty much the perfect month. Here are some pictures from my walk to my writing spot a couple days ago, though my old smart phone needs to be replaced. It is not capable of really capturing the brilliance and beauty. I wish I had some pictures from a bike ride I took up on Burner Mountain, but I suppose I’ll have to be satisfied with memories, like a healthy human being.

#AmWriting Weird Fiction

I finished a very strange Augustus Valley novella recently. I started it in February, planning for it to be a 3k-5k word short story for Hinnom Magazine (before the editor there had some kind of personal emergency and kind of disappeared from the internet—come back, C.P.! We miss you. Seriously, hope you’re OK).

At first, I had trouble with it, getting in words in fits and starts. Slowly, it grew—and kept growing (much like something in the story that… well, isn’t generally supposed to). Next thing I knew, it was past 10k words, then 15k… and this September I buckled down and knocked out the last of it, coming out to around 21,300 words after some editing. I guess I might dare say the story is a touch Aickman-ey. I hesitate to make that comparison, because I would not presume to lift myself to his level. It’s super weird, though.

I’m not great at pitches and summaries for even my more traditional stuff; I really don’t know how to pitch this one. A kid goes to work cleaning a mansion for a very strange man, who tries to mentor him in his off-the-wall philosophies on science and religion. Then crazy stuff happens. You will be amazed! Disturbed! Confounded! Horrified! Anyone interested yet? I hope my trouble to summarize it in a compelling way does not mean that it is actually a dud. I was afraid it would be, after all the trouble I had finishing it, but when I went back over it, I found myself quite happy with it. Hopefully readers will also be pleased. I do not know when it will be available for you to read, but if you sign up for my emails, I will notify you as soon as possible.

#AmWriting Bigfoot

After that, I got back to work on the Bigfoot novel at last. Once again, I find it unlikely that I will finish it this year. However, I’m actually starting to make some progress on it, which I could not say until this season. Sometimes it feels like writing this book is more difficult than tracking Old Sassy over Cheat Mountain.

get it

Other notes and news

The West Virginia Book Festival was a whole lot of fun, as always. Big thanks to my buddy Stephen Golden for lending me his couch and food. Thank you, all who made it out to support me, and hello to any new readers who might be visiting my blog for the first time. Thanks to you guys, I sold out of all the copies I brought of Little One, the first time I’ve ever done that. Next time I’ll try to plan a little better.

On November 1st and 2nd (aka Halloween Weekend, despite it being November), I’ll be signing books at the Haunted Majestic in Huntington, a floating haunted house on the river. I am psyched to go and meet more people and check out this awesome event.

If you haven’t picked up the latest Black Static (#71), I highly recommend grabbing a copy. I found Stephen Hargadon’s “Dixon Parade” quite enjoyable. Shades of Thomas Ligotti and Ramsey Campbell. I have not finished the rest of the magazine, but I was very pleased to discover a new author and seek out more of his work.

It's a New Year?

new-years-eve-3884311_1920
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…

2018

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.

antique bed banner 1

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!

hwabutton

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.

2019

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.
Goals:

  • 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
  • Pass the English Literature CLEP Exam