Big Publishing Milestone

The House on Concordia DriveMy urban fantasy novel The Red Eye and its prequel novelette The House on Concordia Drive (both 2014, Alliteration Ink) mark the publication of my 49th and 50th pieces of writing.

I didn’t actually realize I hit the big five-oh until I started working on some bio/promo things for querying something else. Suddenly I saw that my list had grown, and I decided to add number bullets.

The Red EyeThere it was. 49. 50. FIFTY.

For someone who used to write nonsensical (yet somehow endless) Dickensian soap operas every summer growing up, for someone who’s never quite felt “good enough” as any sort of artist (see my failed attempts as musician and painter), this is kind of huge. So even though I demur a bit and really don’t always feel like the most confident writer, I have to kind of say, “Good for me” for once.

I’ve had help. Every English teacher, from high school, college, and my M.A. program, and my colleagues in several arenas of my life certainly inspired this love of words and forcing them together into sentences and stories. I’ve had more specific help from the members of my writing group, my M.F.A. program classmates and mentors, spouse, and various helpful editors and publishers, some of whom even helped in their rejections.

Every day, I encounter something that makes me a better writer, whether it’s formal notes and edits on a story or something I read in which the author makes a particularly deft turn of phrase (or a not-so-deft one, one I then take pains not to emulate). I’ve learned from others’ success and failures, learned from others’ reactions and support and very occasionally the lack thereof, truth be told. But it’s both the acceptances and the rejections that make a piece of writing better, and I think sometimes in life it’s acceptances and rejections on a larger scale that make us better people, stronger people, more resilient people.

I was excited to figure out that I’d hit 50. A few years ago, I had a goal of trying to get 35 before I turned 36 (which I did do, but just barely). Once I stopped counting, something interesting happened. With this arbitrary goal gone, I just kept going, without real target in mind other than to keep writing and then sending things out. Once I stopped counting, I racked up more credits than when I was counting. Kind of funny how that works, huh?

The love of the craft is the goal, of course. That’s the real lesson. If I were only in this game for any reason other than the need to write stories, no matter the outcome, I would have either never started in the first place or kind of petered out after meeting that magic number. Instead, I just kept chugging away. The placement of a piece now is secondary to the thrill of really, finally getting a story into tip-top shape. Getting a full-length novel into truly tip-top shape is also paramount, which explains why The Red Eye was first due last fall but delayed a bit—I wanted it to be as perfect as I could make it more than I wanted to actually hold the thing in my hands.

When you do something for the love of it, some of the other stuff will come, too. Maybe not the way you think, the amount you think, the timing you think, but something will, and it’ll often be all the lovelier because you didn’t crave it quite so desperately but instead cherished it enough to wait until it was really meant to be.

Not gonna lie, though. Now I’m wondering if I can’t hit 60 in the not-too-distant future.

Publication News for January

My first full-length novel, The Red Eye, will be released soon from Alliteration Ink. Exact dates and details TBD, but I’m really pleased with the process, the book, the cover art, and the entire experience.

Over the past few months, I’ve been posting a lot of reflections on several pieces of horror literature. Those were part of a course I was taking in Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. I’m delighted to say that my final project for that course—a horror story featuring an off-the-beaten-path monster—was recently accepted for publication in Mocha Memoir Press’ The Grotesquerie, an anthology of female horror writers. I’m very excited and especially grateful to all those who read drafts and gave me great advice on how to make it the best story it could be.

I have another release coming up this year so far, a vampire story with a twist entitled “Method Writing,” which will appear in Static Movement’s anthology Night Hunters. Fellow writers will perhaps enjoy that one. I’m also working on a prequel to The Red Eye, and again I have to give kudos to my SHU classmates and mentors for helping whip that piece into shape.

I don’t have anything else out at markets at the present time, but I’ve lately been thinking about whether one of my unpublished novels is actually urban fantasy or if it’s secretly paranormal romance. That may change what markets I pursue. I never thought of myself as a romance writer. Then again, I never thought of myself as a horror writer, and yet I’ve published over a dozen horror stories and a novella. In fact, I’ve had more horror accepted than any other genre I write, and the genre I think of as my primary (science fiction) has been my least-published to date. Much of my work straddles the line between horror and fantasy, but I’ve never actively tried to market something as primarily romance. In many ways, genres are getting fuzzier, more specialized, and less meaningful. A good story is a good story, and that’s always what I aim to write, including those elements that I feel make sense for the plot and characters. If those elements are comedic, horrific, fantastical, or romantic, then so be it. Publishers obviously think more in terms of what their readers are drawn to, of course, and therein lies the trouble with more experimental, cross-genre work.

Writing and publishing news

Just a few odds and ends of news for those of you who may not follow me on Twitter or Facebook. My urban fantasy novel The Red Eye will be published later this year by Alliteration Ink. More details on that soon. Alliteration Ink is an ENnie Award-nominated publisher of fiction and non-fiction. If you haven’t already done so, pick up a copy of Sidekicks!, the anthology they released earlier this year; my short story “Doomed” is in it, as well as a bunch of other amazing stuff you should be reading.

The Red Eye was a labor of love for me, and I’m super stoked that it’ll be my first full-length novel to see print. More to come as we get closer to release.

My short story “Method Writing” will be showing up in the new Static Movement anthology Night Hunters, publication date TBD. My short story “The Found Girl” appeared in Wordhaus on July 24.

Working on reviving the Dayton-based literary reading event, possibly at a new venue. Stay tuned for news!

In other project news, I’m working away at The Curiosity Killers (SF), The Wraithmaker (UF), and other super cool books. My short story collection Grinning Cracks is still available, so get your meaty little hands on it!

New short story collection finally released!

My long-awaited short story collection, Grinning Cracks, has finally been released. This was a long road and went through lots of delays, but it’s finally here. I have to give some public thanks to poet Erica DeWeese and author/game designer Michael Burnside for providing some last-minute poring over eleventh-hour proof pages for me. By the end, I felt like I’d looked at that copy so much I just couldn’t it in anymore.

That’s not to say I’m not immensely proud of this collection. Think of this as an uber-chapbook, if you will. It includes my weirdest stories, my most experimental stuff that is light  years from the more mainstream urban fantasy and science fiction I write. If you want horror or dark fantasy, this is the place to get it. 29 stories, some of them previously published but many of them brand new, and all for only $6.99 print or $5.99 ebook!

I may do a few tiny local signing events for this collection; we’ll see. In the meantime, buy it now in print via Amazon (Prime members get a few cents off the cover price! Woo!). Ebook also available for $5.99; this should also be orderable in print at your local bookseller, if all the publishing wizards got their little acts together.

Life interfering with art

Busyness has caused me to delay my new short story collection, Grinning Cracks, several times. Originally, I had hoped this would come out over the summer, then pushed it to fall, then the holidays, and now we’re looking at March. Fortunately, as this is a small-press publication and the goal is to release the best product possible no matter the time frame, I have some wiggle room here. As life caused me to have to push this and other writing and editing projects back, I had the luxury of putting this collection on the back burner until I could get a better handle on my free time.

But there’s the rub. There is no such thing as truly free time, even if you’re spending an hour doing little more than staring at a wall. Sometimes you need to spend an hour staring at the wall because things are hectic and insane and you need some time to meditate on your place in the universe or something. The human brain can only process so much; stress and overextension are very real things. If you truly spend days, weeks, even months not writing because to do so would be to add one more item to an already over-full calendar, then by all means, don’t write. It’s okay.

Still, the whole concept behind NaNoWriMo and other such challenges is that not writing is, at its core, an excuse. An excuse to not indulge your creative side. An excuse not to risk failing at a project. An excuse to procrastinate or needlessly worry about things unrelated to writing. Basically, the lack of desire to write could indicate a whole lot of things, including but not limited to a serious problem of lack of enthusiasm for beloved activities, which is a symptom of something more serious. If you’re a writer who writes and writes constantly and you’re suddenly no longer inclined to do so? Something is stressing you out, probably.

Or maybe you’re not a writer. And that’s okay.

There are folks who think they’re writers but who actually aren’t. They’re in love with the idea of writing, the romance of living in a garret and pounding away on a keyboard to acclaim that only greets their reputation after their tragic death. Or they’re sure there’s a fast-track to fame and money, not realizing that, no, not everyone is going to be J.K. Rowling, especially these days, and that if you’re going to still go for it you have to love the process.

I can’t say that enough: you have to love the process. Because sometimes the process is the only reward for this endeavor.

With getting my short story collection released, most of the process part of things is long done and it’s just the proofreading part I’m hung up on, the final approval of formatting and putting the finishing touches on things. I’m not particularly worried that this lull in my output is because I don’t still love the process. In fact, I’m comforted by the fact that I’m not as worried about getting the final hard copy out there and in people’s hot little hands. For this very personal collection, the process of composition really was my best reward; everything else is icing on the cake.

That said, March. I promise. No later than March.

Steampunk October: Preface (and news updates)

Last weekend, I went to Pandoracon, a new multi-fandom convention with a steampunk bent to it. I’ve been to probably four different “brands” of science fiction/gaming/fandom conventions at this point, but I’m only just now getting kind of into the steampunk scene, as it were. As a recovered goth, I must say I find the neo-Victorian elements the most appealing part of the cosplay and literature, and I do enjoy the optimism and dedication to research that steampunk engenders in its fans. I would also hasten to say that my multi-part story series The Curiosity Killers (which I hope to turn into a composite novel) is something I’d definitely call “steampunk inspired.” Over the next month, I’ll be shining a spotlight on both steampunk in general and how my story both differs and adheres to various steampunk elements. For now, I’d love to hear about people’s favorite steampunk-inspired television, film, literature, music, and artworks. What do dedicated steampunks think are seminal works that one should become acquainted with in order to fully appreciate the genre?

In other news, if you’re local to the Dayton, Ohio area, please come to Ghostlight Coffee this Sunday, October 7th at 7:30 pm for the next installment of GHOSTLIGHT LIT. Ten authors will be reading horror stories in anticipation of the Halloween season getting into full swing. I’ll be serving as M.C. once more and debuting a little flash piece that hasn’t even been published yet. We’ve got a great line-up of poets and fiction authors, so grab a warm latté and settle in for some scares!

News and updates

It’s been a busy time lately. On July 1, I hosted another edition of Ghostlight LIT, featuring 8 Dayton, Ohio-based authors and poets in a relaxed coffeehouse setting. Like our April version of this event, this one was well-attended and a big hit. The next outing for this series will be in October and will feature a Halloween/horror theme.

My short story “Found Girl” will be appearing in a women’s fiction holiday anthology from Twenty or Less Press. More information that when I have it!

I’m writing up a storm lately, with many stories and novels in various stages of completion. I’m also very close to the release of my first full-length short story collection, Grinning Cracks. Unlike my chapbooks, this collection will be available in both print and ebook editions, for both Kindle and Nook. Look for more information on that soon!

I’m still working on editing Virginia Bower’s novel The World’s Your Jail, hopefully still coming out sometime in 2012 from Dioscuri Books, but I’ve lately had some very serious computer issues that may delay this slightly. The good news is I’m probably going to get a big system upgrade and learn the importance of making many, many backups in multiple places. The bad news is this may all take a while to get up and running, so bear with me. Let’s all take a moment of silence for my MacBook Pro, which the folks at my local repair shop kindly determined was “vintage.”