Sunday, December 28, 2014

Saying goodbye to 2014

Hi. Let me catch you up.

2014 happened.

A year ago I was married, I had a house, I was unemployed (beyond getting paid to narrate stories occasionally), I volunteered as the Podcast Manager at Every Day Fiction, and I was hoping to get into Clarion West--a six-week intensive writing workshop. I lived with two cats.

Almost everything that could have been different is now different except, thankfully, my health. My health remains the same. Well, I could stand to lose a few pounds.

At the end of 2014, I find myself divorced from a very nice man. I am dating another very nice man--a vegetarian who made me meatloaf! And it was good! I live in a different county. I no longer have a house. I have a full-time job. I resigned from Every Day Fiction to focus on paid narration work, taught myself to edit/master audio, and now have recorded five audiobooks for sale through Amazon, iTunes, and Audible. I also recorded stories for two of John Joseph Adams' anthologies, and more stories for Beneath Ceaseless Skies. One of my own stories was podcast (a first!) by Tina Connolly at Toasted Cake. I attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop over the summer, met a bunch of fantastic classmates, administrative staff, and instructors, and wrote six short stories in six weeks. I was on my first panel at StoryCon in Portland, OR, as an authority on flash fiction. And I live with a dog, instead of cats.

Basically, 2014 looked like this: Maybe I should learn how to record and master an audiobook? Did I get in to CW? OMG I got in to CW, read all the books to prepare! Record 3 audiobooks before ACX changes its contract! Whoops, my marriage fell apart, what happens now? Find a place to live! Okay, found! CW is very challenging, and now it's done! Move move move all the crap forever! Find a job! Go to court, see a judge, dissolve the marriage! Sign up for retirement plans! Go go go!

Other items of note:

  • TRAVEL: I went sightseeing in Washington, D.C., after attending World Fantasy Con. Participated in a couple of writing retreats. Strolled through the Hall of Mosses in the Hoh Rain Forest out on the Olympic Peninsula. Saw the Pacific Ocean from a Washington state shore for the first time. Flew out to San Diego, CA, for a couple of days. Explored the Swap Meet. Visited the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore on their last day before moving to a new location. Oh, and I attended the World Horror Convention in sunny Portland, OR. Ate my first Voodoo Donuts, served from the side of a squat pink van.

  • WRITING: Two of my short stories ("The Man at the End of the Chain" and "Arkquarium") came out in print anthologies. My poem, "Shag," was published online. Wrote and submitted my first ten-minute play in years.

  • PROMOTION: Had a reading at Norwescon in SeaTac, WA. Whoo!

  • PHOTOGRAPHY: Shot more author portraits. Sold a few more licenses through my stock photo agency.

  • READING/LEARNING: I discovered how much I love Jack Vance's fiction. Then spent the first half of the year reading works by the CW instructors. Discovered how fun it is to take classes through the Coursera website.

All that said, I'm not gonna lie. 2014 was hard. (Haaaaarrrrd, so says the whiny pirate). It'll take a while for the dust to settle, but I feel like the changes have been overwhelmingly positive and necessary.

But after a year like this, I'm wary of what 2015 will bring. I hope that I'll be able to wrap up the last of the loose ends from this year. That I'll get back into the rhythm of taking care of myself--both mentally and physically. That I'll figure out how to be less cranky after the 1-2 hour commute home from work. All of that equals my 2015 forecast in a nutshell.

It's been a long time since I've taken myself off auto-pilot and looked around at my situation. This year I'm going to try to get back to basics and think about where I'd like to go next. So far so good. All of these changes were tough to live through, but overwhelmingly positive in the end.

Finally, I leave you with my traditional New Year’s wish to you: May you get everything you desire and only some of what you deserve. Happy nearly 2015.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Publication News

Hello! I have news. I just had a new Lovecraftian short story, "Arkquarium," come out in That Ain't Right: Historical Accounts of the Miskatonic Valley (Mad Scientist Journal Presents).

And look! The back cover features a quote from my story. How cool is that! This book is available in print from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and as an ebook for Kindle and for Nook and from Smashwords.

And I have another short story, "The Man at the End of the Chain," coming out at the end of this month in The Beast Within 4: Gears & Growls. Take a gander at this cover:

Cover art: Shane Tyree
Cover layout: Matt Hults
Release date: 31 Oct 2014

The theme of this anthology is steampunk and shifters -- creatures like werewolves who can turn from a human into some other form. My story features a were-capuchin from Brazil.

Lastly, a story I narrated for Beneath Ceaseless Skies has just been made available. Butterfly House by Gwendolyn Clare. Runs 34 minutes. It was a lot of fun to read. I hope you like it.

Thus ends my commercial.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

Birthdays are one of those deep introspection opportunities for me, and since mine is tomorrow, I guess it's that time again.

A lot has happened during the past year. Most of it in the last six months. Clarion West ended a week ago, which was an amazing exhausting overwhelming encouraging experience. I am moving into a new place. I am making plans to return to the workforce. I started narrating audiobooks. And I sent in my resignation as the Every Day Fiction Podcast Manager--that was a hard decision and I will always be grateful for the experience, but at the end of the day it was a resource issue and something had to give.

Not to get too much more personal, but life is good and bad and in between. Change is change is change. I am just plain grateful to so many people for being a part of my life, and I am grateful to Jeremy for more than I can say here.

So, happy birthday, me. I look forward to seeing where I/me/we end up on the other side of all this crazy. 

Now I think I'll go get drunk.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Week 6 of Clarion West 2014

It's Sunday afternoon, beginning of week 6, here at the 2014 Clarion West Writers Workshop in sunny Seattle. My fan rotates lazily behind me. Cars whoosh down the street outside my window.  My stomach is full of ham-and-egg scramble from the Mexican restaurant nearby. My tree puppet continues to be supportive, and uncannily wise.

And so we begin our week of lasts. Last critiques, last provided meals, last hanging out on the couch watching Kurt Russell movies. I have an annoying tendency to become sentimental about events as they're happening, so I'll try not to do that too much more. But even as I'm excited to go back to the real world again, I'm also sad to be leaving this place behind. Already I have one foot in and one foot out and I'm struggling to keep my focus on the present.

Tonight we meet our last instructor, John Crowley. We just said our goodbyes to Charlie Jane Anders.

Only 1 more story left to write. Only 17 more critiques left to deliver.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Starting week 5 of Clarion West

I'm sitting at my desk in my room at Clarion West on a Sunday afternoon. After a stretch of hot dry days, the weather has turned cool and I am enjoying a chance to wear jeans again, my old uniform. We're starting our fifth week, which means I only have two stories left to write and up to 34 stories to critique.

Not that I'm counting.

Time is strange. It simultaneously feels as if I've always been here and I've just arrived. The absence of television is probably a factor. The constant nap-taking definitely adds to the disorientation. Not to repeat last week's post too much, but I continue to be in awe of everybody's talent and work ethic and so happy to have been included in this experience. But I can feel the exhaustion tugging at me, the real world reasserting itself, and I am trying to cushion the landing by eating regularly, taking naps, being kind to myself.

Some days I am more successful than others.

Last night I lay in my bunk listening to party sounds from the street--mostly dudebros shouting at each other over terrible pounding music. A young man's voice rose above the din--aggressive, slurred, and slightly desperate. He shouted, "What fucking street is this? How did I get here? Where the fuck am I?"

I rolled over and fell asleep.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week Four, Clarion West

Hello, world. We've just passed the half-way point here at the 2014 Clarion West Writers Workshop. It is hot outside for Seattle and I am not used to this stifling heat so I am drinking a cold beer (Obsidian Stout from Deschutes Brewery) and sitting in a basement (have I said too much?) trying to write my fourth week story.

There's a paper cutout of a gray turtle taped to the wall.

There's not much else to say. This is an amazing experience. I am in awe of everything all the time. They're feeding me well. I'm drinking a lot (both alcohol and water). I sleep on the lower bunk of a bunk bed. I brought two fans from home. When I leave I will probably be lonely because there is always somebody doing something and I haven't taken enough advantage of that yet. Later, will the quiet unman me? Stay tuned.

There is a lot of work to do here. Sometimes I nap. Often I nap. Sometimes I feel old and out of touch. I stare off into space. I read crazy wonderful prose and think about why it works and why it doesn't. I formulate opinions and express them. I eat. Things happen. Time contracts, expands. I make a fancy salad.

The hand crank on my window broke off. That is the worst.

So you see, everything is fine. Situation normal. I am working on my third short story out of five, in the basement, with an ice cold bottle of beer and Colonel Mustard. I am surrounded by clever folks. I am possibly going mad.

And that about sums it up through week three.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Why the month of May is busy


Here it is an overcast Saturday morning after a string of warm dry days. I'm listening to the coffee gurgle in its maker and willing the process to go faster--which is a pretty good metaphor for my life right now.


In the next week I am delivering an audiobook to its rights holder for approval, and if all goes well, the audiobook will be available for sale on Amazon, iTunes, and within a few weeks. This will be my third project through ACX, and my second narrated novel. This one clocks in at 77k-ish words, but I am still mastering the audio so I do not have an official time length yet. It is fantasy, where the previous novel I narrated was horror.

Narrating audiobooks is fun, but make no mistake, it is a LOT of work.

Because I am ... ambitious --definitely not some other less favorable word-- I have also accepted the great honor of narrating Cat Rambo's two short story collections: Eyes Like Sky and Coal and Moonlight and Near + Far.

Basically my life is all audio, all the time.

I am not complaining! I really really enjoy narrating stories and novels. Let me add in one more "really" to drive the point home. But I am super busy right now, and I feel like I should mention how busy I am for future reference, and why there's a chance I might be slow to return emails.

On the plus side, I received my first royalty statement for the first month of audiobook sales. It isn't much, of course, but I can see how it could add up and that is encouraging. Passive income, here we come.

Lastly, I have carved out some time to attend the World Horror Convention in Portland, OR next week. I will be bringing my laptop and headphones along, so when I am not hanging out or attending con-related activities, I can go hide in my room and master audio, and stay on track.

Optimism -- it's what for breakfast. :) Also coffee.