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!

Patterson-Gimlin, 1967

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!

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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.

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!

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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

New #horror ebook release, Beyoncé style

Surprise! Today you can buy my new Kindle-only novelette, “Antique Bed” for only $0.99! Tell your friends, your enemies, your pets…

Antique Bed - small

As kids we always used to say that the old hardware building was haunted. I don’t believe it no more—at least I don’t think so.

In desperate need of housing after her boyfriend dumps her, Sandy finds an apartment in Augustus Valley for a price she can hardly believe. There are rumors that the place is haunted, but she knows that’s all nonsense. Sure, the building is old and has its quirks—but it’s a killer deal.

“Antique Bed: A Horror Novelette” is a shorter work that should take between thirty and forty minutes to read… But this disturbing tale will stick with you long after.

Click here to buy for $0.99

 

PS: If you were subscribed to my newsletter, you would have heard about this early! But hey, no worries, go ahead and buy the ebook anyway.

Other PS: If you don’t have a Kindle, you can still read it. Amazon offers free Kindle reading apps for your computer/phone/tablet.

2018 Youth Writing Workshop

A bit of news that I managed to forget sharing with you (I think I’ve forgotten—now I forget if I forgot!) is that I am the new Region 2 Representative for West Virginia Writers, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to promoting literary interests and writing activities as well as giving voice to the West Virginia people. I’m honored and proud to serve our region (Pocahontas, Webster, Pendleton, and Randolph counties) and support writing and literary efforts here.

One of my duties each year as a regional rep is to organize a local event. After a bunch of emails back and forth about schedules and venue availability, I’m finally pleased to publicly announce the upcoming Youth Writing Workshop for middle and high school students!

The 2018 Youth Writing Workshop will be held at Camp Hidden Meadows in Bartow, WV and will consist of two FREE classes for each age group: one class hour focused on writing fiction, the other class hour focused on writing poetry. Students may attend only one of the hours, but attending both is strongly recommended! Fiction classes will be taught by Eric Fritzius (of Lewisburg, WV), and Poetry by Doug Van Gundy (of Elkins, WV). For more details and to sign up, please visit https://youthwritingworkshop.wordpress.com/. Register soon! It is free! Can’t wait to see you!

We do need to know how many to expect, so please don’t put off registration if you plan to attend 🙂

Writer Resources pencils

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Less than two weeks!

I hope everyone had a great July 4th celebration. Now that the commotion has died down a bit, I wanted to chime in to remind everyone that Little One will be available in thirteen days! (Lucky number, right?) Remember to check Amazon on the 18th. And if you have an ereader and want to get a head start, click here for a sneak peek (current mailing list subscribers should already have received the free preview. If you are on the mailing list but missed it, shoot me an email – contact@tghuguenin.com).

Little One ebook2

 

Coming up for fresh air and sunlight, and winning a #NGHW challenge

Well hello! Didn’t expect to see you standing there next to my hole! Wow, doesn’t the sun  hurt your eyes up here? So bright… I’ve been down there for so long, tunneling away…

I’ve been making good progress on my WIP. Today I passed the 50,000 word mark! And there is still plenty left in the story. I’m happy to be so sure that this will be my longest novel yet (When the Watcher Shakes is somewhere around 60,000 words, and Little One is around 55,000). At the beginning of this, I was really hoping that I would be able to make it to 80,000. Right now, I’m feeling that goal could become a reality in as little as a month! (And I still don’t have a good title! That’s okay, I usually don’t come up with one until after the story is finished anyways.)

But the real goal is not necessarily to reach a certain word count, but to tell a good story at a good pace.

In other news, I’m still competing in the Next Great Horror Writer Contest over at HorrorAddicts.net. I can’t say that I’m really doing great overall, at least so far, but I am glad to finally say that I won the most recent challenge, which was to create a short spoof radio commercial script for a fake horror-related product. The judges really liked mine. You can read the script here: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2017/05/22/nghw-winner-of-commercial-spoof-timothy-huguenin/

If you want to read the top eight spoof commercials, here’s the link for that: https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/nghw-top-8-commercial-spoofs/

Alternatively, you can listen to their recent podcast episode, and hear my commercial acted out at the end!

Well, back to digging. I’ll see you again sometime soon, I hope.

 

A reminder to those interested: Little One will be released in July! You can mark your calendar and hope to remember—or you could just sign up for my email newsletter, and make sure you don’t miss it or any future publications!

Reading List: “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell

I found an old box of discarded books and fished out Eight Modern Essayists, edited by William Smart, noticing George Orwell in the Table of Contents.

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Orwell is one of my favorite writers (in fact, his 1984 greatly influenced my direction in writing When the Watcher Shakes), but I had not read any of his nonfiction. Being a writer, I was immediately drawn to “Why I Write”, which I would recommend to anyone wanting to understand more behind the man and his work. However, I loved “Politics and the English Language” even more. In it Orwell decries what he sees as the English language’s decline into unintelligible jargon and vague, nonsensical circular sentences. His purpose is to show how we obfuscate our language in “defense of the indefensible” by softening starkly dishonorable politics with “euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.” As our expression becomes lazy and vague, he argues, so does our thinking, which leads to even more lazy writing and speech, and so the cycle spirals downward.

While Orwell is primarily addressing political writers here, and not necessarily fiction authors (“I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought”), his condemnation of unclear writing and advocation for concrete, precise language is gold for any writer, whether he be a journalist, essayist, or novelist. He kicks the writing crutches of jargon, dead metaphor, pretense, and passive writing out from our feet and tells us to learn to walk on our own effort, because that is the only way we’ll reverse the destructive cycle.

After going into detail on weak kinds of writing, he gives some basic rules to writers to help cure our disease:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

I would quote more excerpts but I’m afraid I would only end up copying the majority of the essay. Fortunately, you can read the essay in its entirety online. I guarantee it will improve your own use of language, and if you can do that, he says, you may also improve your and others’ thinking.