2021 is upon us. I’ve never written a year-end wrap-up before, but all the cool kids are doing it, so I thought I’d give it a try.
The college where I teach closed down and shifted to remote learning in March. I’ve taught from home ever since (which means I’ve gotten very familiar with Zoom!). My wife and I MAY have had COVID in March. We weren’t officially tested, but our family doctor thinks it’s likely that we had it. I’m almost never sick, and when I am, it’s for a very brief time, but I was pretty damn sick for two weeks, as was my wife. All the conferences and appearances I had lined up were canceled or shifted to remote delivery. My five-year-old dachshund Bentley needed two back surgeries. He’s fine now and getting into all sorts of mischief, as usual. My fifteen-year-old dachshund Lucy has various health problems, and her vet said she had only a few weeks to live. That was back in Spring, and Lucy is still running around the house like a puppy (when she’s not taking old lady dog naps). My wife and I intend to enjoy however much time we have left with her. My older daughter finished graduate school with a degree in music performance (oboe) and now she’s working on a certificate in arts management. My younger daughter is taking art classes, working at a local library, and trying to figure out what to do with her life. My wife is a falconer and raptor rehabber, so we’ve had two red-tailed hawks and a horned owl living with us at different times during the year – sometimes inside the house, which is weird but cool. My short story “A Touch of Madness” was a Bram Stoker Award finalist, but it didn’t win. My agent continued circulating various novel proposals, and while some came close, no editors bit in the end. I wrote a number of novel pitches for a new media-tie publisher, but for one reason or another, they all fell through. I’ve put together a new pitch for them, and hopefully this one will work out.
COVID caused the publishing industry to slow way down this year. Books were postponed and editors slowed down (or stopped entirely) acquiring new books. Hopefully, things will start getting back to normal – or at least a new normal – sooner rather than later.
My how-to-write-horror book Writing in the Dark came out in September, and it’s been well received. It’s more than a little nerve-racking to write a how-to book since it leaves you open to judgment. Why does this guy think he knows so damn much about writing horror? But I’m so glad people have found the book useful.
People continue to write me asking when there will be a fourth Nekropolis book. The original publisher of the series, Angry Robot, long ago chose not to continue it, and it’s difficult to get a new publisher interested in bringing out books that have already been published. I keep thinking that maybe someday I’ll write and self-publish more Nekropolis books, but I’ve so busy with other projects that I haven’t gotten around to it. Maybe some day.
Psychologically, the year was tough for me writing-wise, despite how much I produced. COVID and America’s political situation wore on me, of course, which didn’t help, especially since I’m prone to depression. I turned 56 this year, and I watched as a number of writers in horror – some my age, some younger – broke through to a new level in their careers, and I started to feel like I’ve already peaked and the only place to go from here is down. I know I have a good career and should have nothing to complain about. I’m hoping my outlook improves next year.
Here’s what I wrote and published in 2020:
Books Written in 2020
· A Hunter Called Night for Flame Tree Press. Horror.
· We Rise Again for Flame Tree Press. Horror.
· Film Novelization for Titan Books. Under NDA. Movie got delayed due to COVID, so the book did too. Horror.
Books Released in 2020
· Writing in the Dark, my how-to-write-horror book from Guide Dog Books.
· Some Kind of Monster, novella from Apex Publishing. Horror.
· The Forever House from Flame Tree Press. Horror.
I wrote a hundred pages of a novel called The Atrocity Machine, the first in a potential series based on some concepts in my dark fantasy/horror novels, along with a synopsis. My agent will start submitting in in January.
Stories Written/Sold in 2020
· “Feeding Time.” 99 Tiny Terrors. Horror.
· Unannounced novella for Dark Regions Press. Dark fantasy.
· Unannounced dark fantasy story.
· “The Girl Who Bled in the Tree.” Tales of the Lost 3. Plaid Dragon Publishing. Horror.
· “The Sharp Edge of Midnight.” Campfire Macabre. Cemetery Gates Media. Horror.
· “Negative Space.” Nightmare Magazine. Horror.
· “Slashback.” It Crept From the 80’s. 2020. Horror.
· “Feathers.” Weird Tales 2, 2020. Horror/Dark Fantasy.
· “Blood and Desire” as by Brianna London. My first foray into self-publishing. Horror/Erotica.
Stories Released in 2020
· “Raiders of the Poisoned Plains” for Wendigo Tales anthology. Pinnacle.
· “The Crying Man.” Tales from Arkham Asylum.
· “In the End.” One of Us: A Tribute to Frank Michaels Errington. Bloodshot Books, 2020.
· “Forever.” Tales of the Lost 2. 2020.
· “Ashes of Our Fathers.” Borderlands 7. BP Press, 2020.
· “The White Road.” The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories. 2020.
· “A Touch of Madness.” Reprinted in Year’s Best Hardcore Horror 5, Red Room Press, 2020.
· “Skin Man.” Anathemas, Black Library, 2020.
Nonfiction Written in 2020 (also released in 2020)
· “Don’t Forget the H.” SFWA Blog.
· “The H Word: The Rational vs the Irrational.” Nightmare Magazine.
· “Paul Kane: Horror Master.” Introduction to Tempting Fate by Paul Kane
· “Speaking of Horror.” The Writer.
Short Articles Written to Promote Writing in the Dark
· “Five Ways to Build a Better Monster” at Horror DNA.”
· “Five Horror Clichés to Avoid in Your Fiction” at This is Horror
· “Hurts So Good” at Gingernuts of Horror
· “Weird Ideas” at The Horror Tree
· “Voices of Horror” at Ink Heist
Short Story Collection
· I’ve out together a collection of my fantasy stories titled The September People, which I plan to self-publish in 2021.
I wrote 12 blog entries (13 if you count this one) and put out 15 newsletters. I started a YouTube Channel and made 8 videos.
I took on my first freelance editing gig to help pay for Bentley’s surgeries. I edited a suspense novel for a client. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, but I’m in no hurry to take on any more editing projects.
I taught composition and creative writing classes at my college Spring, Summer, and Fall semesters. I presented several online workshops, and I mentored a couple writers via the Horror Writers Association’s Mentor Program.
Interviews and Podcasts
I did a ton of these to promote Writing in the Dark, and I hope people aren’t sick of listening to me talk about myself and my work!
On that note, I guess I should wrap this up. Happy New Year, and let’s hope it’s a better one for our weary world.
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