Year-end superlatives

As 2017 draws to a close I thought I would take a moment to look back at my writing efforts and highlight some notable happenings over the past year. Self-indulgent, sure, but ’tis the season for retrospectives and such.

This past year did not see me break any records in terms of the number of stories I managed to get published. So far the high-water mark for my personal output remains 9 stories, the number I unleashed upon the world in 2016. The total for 2017 was 5, which all things considered is not bad. And I did manage to set a personal record for the sheer number of submissions I sent out over the course of the year, a whopping 45. Of course this led to more rejections than ever before, too, but I think that’s also because I’ve been aiming higher at more competitive markets.

In amongst all those rejections, though, there were a few acceptances which were not published in 2017 but should be coming out in 2018. And there are a handful of personal firsts to call out there as well. My story “Food and Other Pleasures” represents a tripartite set of top rankings: it’s the shortest story I’ve ever sold, clocking in at just 2,000 words; it’s the first vampire story I’ve ever sold, which is a surprisingly late achievement for someone who works in horror more often than not; and it’s also the first piece of erotica I’ve ever sold (don’t tell my mother).

Another story with three distinctions is “Green Growing Things”, which I’ve actually written about pretty extensively. As I noted in the earlier post, this story was the first time I deliberately adhered to the legendary Lester Dent pulp formula, which resulted in the shortest-ever Kellan Oakes story (less than 6,000 words for my usually shaggy and meandering PI), and ultimately wound up finding a home with Lycan Valley Press, marking the first time I’ve ever sold two different pieces to the same publisher (as LVP published Final Masquerade including my story “Another Night in Paradise” back in 2016).

And speaking of LVP and Final Masquerade, in May of 2017 LVP re-released the anthology with brand new cover art. This was the first time a book my work appeared in received such refurbishment, and I was pretty stoked about it.

One of my personal goals for the past year was to work on getting some of my back catalog of stories re-printed. Fairly or not, I’ve always considered it a hallmark of a “real” writer to have stories not just published but published again and again. At the very least it indicates some writing effort that’s been going on for a good length of time, at least long enough to find a good home for a story, see it released, allow the period of exclusivity for that initial publication to elapse, start the process of finding another good home, and ultimately succeed in that endeavor as well. So I was very pleased when my fairy tale re-telling “My Name is Melise”, an oldie but a goodie, was accepted to be re-printed in Distressing Damsels this summer. The quest to see further re-printings will assuredly continue into the new year!

Getting back to those 45 submissions I mentioned above, not all of them are acceptances or rejections; some have yet to have their fate decided one way or the other. One among those is not a short story but a poem, the first poem I’ve submitted to a potential publisher, at least during this phase of my writing life (in other words, not counting one other attempt back in high school to fulfill a class requirement for a writing elective). If I can find a receptive editor, maybe this will lead to a whole new Poetry category on the Works page!

It took me a few years and eighteen or so stories getting published, but I finally got my first custom illustration art. It accompanied The Dying Desert Moon at Crimson Streets and it’s pretty awesomely evocative, if I do say so myself.

And finally, 2017 marked the first year that this humble little corner of the Web that my fictions and I call home received a visitor from Serbia! Whoever you are, I hope our moment of international online connection was enjoyable for you. And to everyone else, all of you from every corner, thanks for stopping by and supporting me!

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Weird and watery

Nearly a year ago I wrote a post about selling a story to Weirdbook Magazine, concluding with a necessarily vague indication that the issue in which the tale appeared would probably come out sometime in 2017. I am happy to announce that the long-awaited day has finally arrived!

“The Maiden Voyage of the Ariona” was an attempt on my part to do a pastiche of early science fiction adventure stories in the style of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. Nowadays a lot of folks would consider that to fall under the genre heading of steampunk, but nonetheless I choose to draw a line of distinction, however fine, between that category and what I ended up with. If nothing else, you should be advised that while the story is set in the past and features anachronistically advanced imaginary technology, it is not predominated by the most recognizable of steampunk signifiers, the flying dirigible fortress. On the contrary, since going against the grain is often a very large motivator for me, my retro-marvel vehicle of choice is a submersible locomotive.

Issue #37 of Weirdbook can be purchased from Wildside Press and from Amazon!

Investigators of the transmundane

Somewhere around the middle of 2016, an announcement was made of the intention to launch a brand new periodical of short genre fiction: OCCULT DETECTIVE QUARTERLY. This appealed to me on a number of levels, mainly as a fan who enjoys reading stories about square-jawed heroes facing off against the supernatural, and as a writer always happy to see a new potential market for my own work. I’d feel a certain amount of both consumer enthusiasm and professional gratitude for any new venture whether its focus were pure robots-and-aliens sci-fi or throwback sword-and-sorcery fantasy, but Occult Detective Quarterly was particularly welcome because, of course, my recurring character Kellan Oakes is a private eye who regularly tangles with figures from druid lore and other magical, mystical spheres; he is, by very definition, an Occult Detective.

ODQ, as it has since become affectionately known, released its first three issues over the course of 2017 (the cover to #3 pictured above), with more to come in 2018. And I’m exceedingly pleased to say that there will be a brand new Kellan Oakes story appearing in one of those 2018 issues, schedule TBD and further announcements to come when final decisions are rendered. But in the meantime, much as I plugged Weirdbook for its own sake before it was possible to obtain an issue with my work therein, I am eager to signal-boost for ODQ, thusly:

THE MAGAZINE: Here is a link to Doomed Meddler Central, where you can find more information about the publication’s mission statement and also make use of links to the various issues available on Amazon.

THE ANTHOLOGY: ODQ also has a Kickstarter campaign running right now for a 300 page anthology, Occult Detective Quarterly Presents, featuring stories similar in subject matter to the magazine’s regular contents but more expansive in length, if that’s your cup of tea. The campaign is nearly over but to my way of thinking this is the ideal time to throw in: the project is fully funded, so you would basically be pre-ordering the book (and potentially subscribing to the magazine for 2018 as well, which again, will guarantee you a new story of mine in due time), and your backing would help achieve the stretch goal of fully illustrating the anthology.