It’s a New Year?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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
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Leaving for the Allegheny Trail; also, some pictures from this summer

I want to let everyone on here know that I will soon be away from the internet, for most of September. For our fifth wedding anniversary, Emily and I are using up all of her paid vacation days to attempt a thru-hike of the Allegheny Trail.

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Not to be confused with the Appalachian Trail or the Great Allegheny Passage, the Allegheny Trail is a 300 mile hiking route that stretches from the PA border of West Virginia to the VA border. We plan to finish in three weeks. I will be bringing my phone primarily for emergencies, as well as a section where the trail isn’t finished that I might need to call someone nearby to drive us from one section to the other, unless we decide to walk the gap. I might turn my phone on in a non-emergency setting during our scheduled resupply days at certain towns, but if I do that, the most I’ll probably do online is delete junk emails and perhaps post on Instagram—but don’t hold your breath. If anyone comments, tweets at me, emails, or whatever, don’t expect a prompt reply. In fact, though we plan on getting back for the last week of September, my inbox will probably be so swamped (mostly with junk) that it will take me a while to get back to anyone who has tried to contact me. If you email and don’t hear back after the second week of October, try contacting me again (I might have lost your message in all the junk email I’m sure to get, and accidentally deleted it).

For more information on the trail Emily will be backpacking, peruse these websites:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegheny_Trail

https://www.wvscenictrails.org/

Emily and I also went to the WV State Fair this summer and I got some cool pictures. Some of them are kinda creepy so I thought somebody out there might like them.

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This one is my favorite. I waited a while for crowds to disperse so I could get a clear shot of this creepy blackface clown trash can. Why would anyone make this thing unless they are trying to creep kids out???

I love the lights of the carnival, and stuck around until dark primarily just to see it. A raptor specialist came to show off his birds. Owls are my favorite animals (and the novel I’m working on features a pretty creepy barn owl), so this was the highlight of my day. There was a tiger show, but it was so crowded (and I’m not a very tall person), that I missed most of it.

I’m excited but nervous about the trip. I’ve still been feeling some pain from an injury I got cross country skiing last winter. But most likely, a trip like this is now or never, so I bought myself a brace and have been wearing it for a couple days and it does seem to help. Pray for me and my leg, as we need to average fifteen-mile days to complete the trail in time.

Here are some parting pictures for you, of my chickens and the camp’s goats this summer:

 

Going “radio silent” (or internet silent, I guess?). Later.

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