Well, it’s official. The first draft of my fourth novel is D-O-N-E! Continue reading
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.
Last year I set some goals for 2019. I did not meet any of them (well, I sorta met one).
- 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.
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!
“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!
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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
- 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
“The Unknown Thing” will soon appear in Beneath the Waves – Tales from the Deep, the next volume from Steve Dillon’s Things in the Well anthology series. Fans of my previously published short story, “Fischer’s Mouth” (Hinnom Magazine Issue 004, Dec 2017) might recognize this new story’s setting: the mighty river that runs through Augustus Valley, West Virginia. Can anyone bear witness to what sleeps beneath those churning waves and live?
Beneath the Waves will be available this April. Keep an eye out on my blog, the Things in the Well website, and their Facebook Page for more news and illustrations that will be included in the anthology. Until then, check out the rad cover and peruse the TOC:
You hear that? It could be the sound of my countdown until the release of Little One, and if you check it it will say there’s only 20 days until launch!
Or maybe it’s that old grandfather clock that Kelsea Stone found in the back of her deceased parents’ house—but isn’t it supposed to be broken?
I don’t know what will happen with this. I had been working on an idea for a novel set at the Moundsville prison, but this opening scene for a totally different story came to me the other day. I’m still keeping the prison novel in mind, but I think while this other idea has captured me I might follow it through and see where it leads. This is not part of my upcoming book, Little One, which I am currently finishing up and plan to publish in the summer. Soon I will share more of that. Until then, here’s the opening of—of what? A novella? Novel? I’m sure it will be longer than a short story. I don’t know where it will go and when it will end. Time will tell—or will it, if the watch is broken?