A look back, and a look forward

2010…

While, on a personal level, it was easily one of the worst years of my existence, I can’t deny that 2010 was my best year to date, professionally. I had seven short stories published within the year, almost double the four that were published in 2009 (I’m not counting those that were published as part of Broken Skin).

When it comes to longer pieces, Bloodletting Press released He Stepped Through in May.  Reviews were positive, and sales were solid.  Very gratifying for something I consider my best work to date.

While they were not released until just after the new year, I had two novels go up for pre-order this year.  Red Sky sold out its print run prior to release, while there are still a few copies of Bad Magick left.  I also sold a third novel, which I’m not quite allowed to discuss yet.

Other than that, 2010 was largely full of World Horror Convention planning.  I guess that brings us to…

2011…

Of course, 2011 begins with the release of Red Sky and Bad Magick.  Both books have been a blast from beginning to end, and it’s great to see both wind up in the hands of readers.

Also hitting stands at the beginning of the year is Shivers 6.  Five years back, I made it a goal of mine to land in a Shivers anthology, and this year I achieved it with my story “I Found a Little Hole.”  There’s an extra thrill with this one, as its my first anthology appearance alongside Stephen King and Peter Straub.  Those two names on the Table of Contents means a fair amount of exposure, so I’m pretty damn excited about the whole thing.

Another short coming in the first half of the year is “The Blisters on My Heart,” a wicked blend of horror and crime that will be appearing in Ellen Datlow’s Supernatural Noir anthology.  Dark Horse Comics is releasing this one, which I believe is due out in June.

Sometime in 2011, Burning Effigy Press will release my novella This Little Light of Mine.  This one’s a nasty little monster story.  I don’t want to say too much about it, but I think it’s a roller coaster of a story.

When April/May rolls around, I have to big releases lined up, both scheduled during the World Horror Convention.  The first is Focus, a novella I wrote with Lee Thomas, that will be released by Thunderstorm Books.

The other major release is a new novel.  I can’t tell you much else about it, so I’ll just say it’s a huge thrill.  I think you’ll dig it.

So that’s that, a look at both 2010 and 2011.  I hope you guys stick around for it.  Wouldn’t be a party without you there!

Where I’ve been and what’s coming soon

First off, sorry.  I know I’ve been neglecting my various corners of the internet.  My plan is to correct this in the coming weeks, but I’m afraid I can’t make any promises.  Between planning the World Horror Convention and various writing projects, I’m sitting in the slim-to-none category, as far as free time goes.

On Thanksgiving Day, I finished the latest draft of a novel that, while having some horror elements, is largely a crime piece.  It’s got at least a polish in front of it, but right now it leaves me feeling proud and stuff.  I really think it’s going to be something special.  I’m itching to jump back into it sometime in January.

In the meantime, I have a short story to write for an anthology.  I’ll also be spending much of December rewriting a novel that should be out next April.  I can’t say much about it other than there are a few hints floating out there and it’s a loose adaptation of a story I’ve already told.  It’s one folks have been asking for, though!

Also, December will be seeing my annual “Best Of” lists.  I’m thinking about doing one for movies in addition to my normal books and songs lists, but please don’t hold me to that.

That pretty much takes me through the end of the year.  2011 brings a rewrite on a horror novel and the first draft of another horror novel.  My novella This Little Light of Mine should be available in the early part of the year, and then Focus, a novella I co-wrote with Lee Thomas should also see publication at the end of April.  Other than that, I’m thinking about recording a record in my garage just for the hell of it (not that I expect it to be any good… best not to be delusional about these things).

And there you go.  That’s the next few months all laid out for you!

This and that and the other thing…

Oh, man.  I’m falling behind, and it sucks.  Okay, so the only thing I’m falling behind on is my October horror movie watching, and I’m only falling behind because I’m busy with the World Horror Convention, preparing for the blog tour and the pre-order period of Red Sky, and a rewrite of a novel that I think will be great.

On the other hand, my steampunk costum is ready to go, as is Shawna’s.  THere will be some last minute facial hair manipulation, but otherwise I’m good to go.

In other good news, I’ve got the dates and locations nailed down for the blog tour.  I’ll post them either later this week or early next week, and I’ll be posting the cover to Red Sky soon, as well.

Hmm… It occurs to me that I should tell you guys and gals a little bit about Red Sky.  I’ll be sure to do that… Soon.

Sprinting through exciting days

A lot on my plate, lately.  I’m about 50,000 words into a new novel, and I’m about seven weeks away from my first novel being available for pre-order (at least that’s what I’m told).  In less than three weeks, I’ll be hanging out at Fantastic Fest, enjoying weird flicks and promoting World Horror.  Add the actual planning of World Horror on top of that, and that’s one heaping plate.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Right now, everything is moving in a series of sprints and scrambles.  it keeps my head occupied, and it keeps me on my toes.  As I try to conjure ways to promote a collectors’ edition of a book with a low print run and impressive price point, I’m already looking down the road at what might be coming next.

Exciting days, folks.  Let’s see how they fly.

Hurry, Wait, Hurry, Wait

It’s Monday, and I just realized I forgot to charge my goddamn iPod. As irksome as this is, it won’t drag me away from the topic I wanted to blog about today.  Why?  Because I care, that’s fucking why (the word “fucking” brought to you by irksome iPod situation).

I’ve been publishing prose for six years now.  A lot of that early stuff is pretty rough, but that’s the nature of the game.  We can’t all start out awesome like Laird Barron or Sarah Langan, probably because those two are fucking amazing.  All that is neither here not there, though.  I state it simply to give you some idea of how long I’ve been taking this seriously (hint: six years plus a couple extra) and to clue you in to how little I’ve learned about patience.

See, it’s no secret that a lot of the publishing game is based on a hurry up and wait dynamic.  You crank out a story, invest all kinds of time madly rewriting and polishing, making it shine, and then you send it off and wait a few months to hear anything back.  It’s not a perfect scenario, but it’s the one we have, and I don’t mind it.  No, all the problems I have are on my end.

I’ve said before that I’m a hungry writer.  Every day I’m alive, every word I write, I’m constantly trying to improve both my writing and its visibility.  Now, the key to improving is patience.  If I just burn through my word count every day, I’m more a typist than a writer.  The key is to slow down and really think about the writing, really get into it and work to improve.  That’s why I’m currently re-writing a novel from page one for the third time.

But then there’s the antsy side of my personality, and it’s a huge side.  Its the side that smacks me around every few weeks and tells me I’m not working hard enough.  It keeps me awake at night, running to my writing room to scribble notes for the next day.  It  wakes me up at two in the morning, hungry to get started on the day’s writing, and it drives me crazy by telling me I’m not trying hard enough and that I’ll never amount to anything because of that.  It tells me I’m not doing the right things, and I’m not doing them fast enough.  It wants that book deal NOW.  It does things like writing a novelization of A Trip to Rundberg in under two weeks because a respected press is actively looking for zombie books.

Let’s face facts… that side of my brain is pretty goddamn crazy.

So I find myself constantly walking a tightrope between hurrying and waiting, trying like hell not to fall to one side or the other.  It’s hard.  Sometimes it’s damn near impossible.  It’s the right thing to do, though.  Giving in to the hurry will only make me a hack, and giving in to the wait will only make me lazy.

So it’s forward.  Straight line.  Don’t fall.

Hurry. Wait.

One week later

Well, I can walk without pain, and my foot’s more or less back to its original color.  I’ve received repair estimates from both the garage and my insurance adjuster, and I trust them to figure out the $300 difference between the two.

In the meantime, I’ve been cranking out words.  While I wait for edits to come back on a novella called This Little Light of Mine, I’ve been trying to knock out the third draft of a novel.  My hope is to have it in pitchable shape by the fall.

Sorry I don’t have much today.  I promise to try and come up with something interesting for later in the week.

Hit by a car…

Sadly, that’s not just a clever title.  Friday morning, I really was struck by a car.

Allow me to set the scene…

This past weekend was the Republic of Texas (ROT) Biker Rally.  I was excited to go, as it was my first rally.  On Thursday, I spent most of the day at the rally grounds shopping, listening to bands, and watching the Wall of Death show.  Friday, my plan was to head out on the bike while Shawna took the car so she could return home and look after pets.  Good plan, I thought.

So Shawna takes off and I follow.  I’m taking my time, and she has to stop at a bank, so we lose sight of each other quickly as I head east.

And then it happened.  I was crossing an intersection in the right hand lane when a woman pulled in from a side street without looking, swinging past the merge lane, and heading right at me.  I swerved left, but the left hand lane was full.  The woman was still coming, and there just wasn’t room to get out of her way.  We collided, my foot getting mashed between her car and my bike, my right foot control cracking, and her front fender tearing loose.

After fighting to keep my bike upright, I pulled over and started inspecting damage.  The frame appeared to be okay, but I had some worries about the transmission, as it seemed to want to stay in neutral.  The woman got out of her car, asked if I was all right, and gave me her info.  She agreed she was at fault, but I took her insurance down just in case.

Then I called Shawna to see if she could pick me up.  No answer.  Okay, no prob.  She’s probably driving.  I left a voicemail saying I was all right and that I was going to limp the bike to the nearest shop.

With my rear brakes out (cracked foot control, y’know!), getting to the Harley dealership was no easy feat.  The transmission ended up being fine, however.  At least it felt fine to my relatively untrained self.  I managed the trip slowly but surely, and once I sent the bike off to Harley’s service department, I called Shawna again.

No answer.

After leaving a slightly more irritated message, I called my insurance company (also my battering ram’s company), and got things rolling.  I grabbed a cup of coffee and went to sit outside.  After an hour had passed since my accident, I called Shawna again.

No answer.

And, as I left my third voicemail, I lost it.

“Hi, Shawna. I just got fucking hit by a fucking car, and it would be really fucking nice if you would ANSWER YOUR MOTHERFUCKING PHONE!!!”

Five minutes later, Shawna called.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hey,” she answered.  “What are you up to?”

“You didn’t hear me calling?”

“Nope.  Left my phone in the car.  Why?”

“Did you listen to my voicemails?”

“No.  Why?”

So that conversation went well.  After I convinced Shawna I was fine and that I just needed a ride back to the fairgrounds, she came and picked me up.  I ended up limping through the day, as the steel toe of my boot had badly bruised my foot, which had swollen up to something the size of a small football.  Shawna helped as much as possible, making me sit down and rest while she ran to get ice, food, or whatever.  The next morning, my foot felt much better.

At least I still have my health!  And now I’m one of the few people out there who can say they were hit by a car!

The Queue Grows

It never fails.  Seriously, it just never fails.  I get two or three days into a project (one that’s already got other projects lined up behind it, mind you), and I get an idea.  A big idea.  Possibly a great idea.

See, last Tuesday, I started work on a rewrite.  It’s an extensive rewrte, and it demands all of my concentration.  But then Thursday night, this amazing opening scene crashed into my head.  An interesting way to tell a novel followed right behind it, and soon I was at my laptop, pounding away on the keys to make sure the idea didn’t vanish.  That idea’s still sitting there, and it will probably sit there for a year before I can get to it.  It happens sometimes, but I think it’ll be worth it.

Ideas don’t collect dust.  They ripen.

At the grindstone

So here’s the part where I apologize for waiting until Thursday to update.  My original plan was to post some lovely pictures of the He Stepped Through and Darkness on the Edge copies I received last weekend.  Obviously, I didn’t do that.

I was at the grindstone.

All week, I’ve been preparing for a rewrite.  It’s not just any rewrite, at least it doesn’t feel that way.  This one feels important, and I’m determined to not go off half-cocked.  This one gets all the attention it deserves.  Now, I’ve been working on this bastard (this bastard being an outline and character descriptions) for a week, I have a notebook half-full of scribbles. 

This is all part of working toward The Big Goal.  Over the years, I’ve achieved lots of my other goals.  My first short story sale, my first pro-rate sale, my first anthology sale, the publication of my first novella and short story collection.  Later this year, I’m supposed to meet another goal when my first novel is published.  None of those are The Big Goal, though.

So what is?

Simple.  The Big Goal is to improve, to be the best writer I can be.  It’s unreachable, because I hope I’ll always be getting better.  The short stories I’ve written in the past year make half the prose in Broken Skin look like the ravings of a drunken spastic.  Part of The Big Goal is to make sure next year’s stories are even better.

So I stay at the grindstone, scribbling like mad, building momentum.  It’s like those first seconds of a funny car race, all smoke and squealing and smoking tires.  Soon, everything’s gonna catch, and then I’m off, flying straight for the finish line.

Until then, however, I keep spinning.  Keep working the grindstone.  There’s a goal out there, and it keeps moving.