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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#StokerCon2018 pictures

StokerCon was great. It felt strange and encouraging to be around so many other horror  enthusiasts and creators, from beginners to veteran stalwarts of the genre. I made some new friends, and I learned a lot from the helpful panels. I also pitched a novel to a couple editors, and they both showed interest.

You know I’m not much for taking a lot of pictures, but I did bring back a few.

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Above is the first picture I took in Rhode Island. I took it at a rest stop, but the moon looked really cool.

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These two I took from the window on seventeenth or eighteenth floor of the Biltmore Hotel, where the conference was located. You see the center of downtown Providence below. I hate driving in and out of cities, but once I was in, I loved it. I didn’t take as much time to walk around the city as I would have liked, but as you’ll see, I did explore a few blocks from the hotel.

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This is an Episcopal church building not far from the Biltmore. I love the architecture. I don’t know if that’s Gothic or not, but it’s cool.

IMG_20180301_191633718The PPAC. Love the lights. This month they’ll be showing the Tony Award®-winning musical An American In Paris, and I really wish I could be there for that. But I don’t have the money or the desire to drive all the way back to Providence so soon after this trip!

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Here’s guest of honor Ramsey Campbell starting things off the first night. I am much shorter than this picture makes me seem. Thanks to Dan Rabarts of Raw Dog Screaming Press for taking this photo over everyone’s head.

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Not exactly part of the conference, I guess. I drove past these turkeys in Tiverton on the way from my friends’ house to Providence one morning. I figured Dad would like this one, then I forgot to text it to him.

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By the time I convinced myself that I would always regret it if I didn’t get a book signed by Ramsey Campbell, the table in the dealer’s room was sold out. So I ran around Providence with only hours left of the conference looking for a book. Finally found one! Took it back to the conference and got it signed. Mr. Campbell is super friendly!

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This is not where I found The Kind Folk, but it is a very cool little used bookstore stuffed full of all kinds of old paperbacks and hardcovers. Oddly enough, after going through this door, you have to walk up two sets of stairs before finding the bookstore.

IMG_20180304_171311990Huge thanks to David and Wendy Friend for letting me stay with them at their house in Tiverton, and for taking me to see the coast, which brought to mind Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth“.

Well that’s all I got. Really looking forward to continuing the relationships I made at StokerCon. Hope to come back again!

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Stoked for StokerCon

#STOKED

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(Do people still say that anymore?)

Tomorrow I drive from Bartow, WV, all the way to Providence, RI (H. P. Lovecraft’s hometown), to attend StokerCon 2018™. This will be my first time attending the conference, as well my only chance for the foreseeable future. HUGE thanks to my good friends, the Friends (haha), for letting me sleep at their place, helping me save money in a big way and make this trip doable. Also, I’m as excited to see you guys as I am to go to this conference.

Tons of learning to do! So many panels and talks they cram into a day. It was hard to pick between conflicting events sometimes. Also looking forward to meeting other horror writers and industry peeps. This will also be my first ever chance to pitch an agent and an editor in person. Kind of nerve-wracking, but I’m very excited about that opportunity. I just keep reminding myself that I’m the only current expert on my own book, so I’m the best person to tell them about it, and they put their pants on one leg at a time (whereas I have been practicing my unique superskill of putting on pants with both legs at once…jk).

Anybody else going? Looking forward to meeting new people!

PS: Happy birthday to my beautiful, amazing wife, Emily! I love you! ❤ You are so old now!