I’m just busy. Offline matters have claimed most of my free time, but I am writing here and there when I can. No, it’s not Monochrome, and no, it’s probably not ULT, either. It’s something different. It’s something weird. Really weird. Weirder than anything else I’ve done, and slightly experimental for me. Tony Rapino is partially to blame. So is my day job. Mostly my day job.
It’s a short story I’m calling “We Have Always Worked for the Company.” I’ve got about 2k words on it so far, and I expect another 2k before completion. It expands on the ideas presented in my flash story “Human Resources” which was published in Journals of Horror: Found Fiction a couple of Octobers ago.
I didn’t plan for this. It just sort of fell into my lap. It’s rare that something like this does, so when it happens, I have to see where it leads me. I’ll know more in a couple of weeks, once the dust has settled and I have a clearer picture of what it is. For now it’s a short story, possibly part of a bigger concept, and it pays homage to the works of Ligotti, Lovecraft, and Barron, with a tip of the hat to Jackson as well.
I’m crawling out from my cave to stretch my limbs and reflect on the year. And what a year, guys. It was long, for sure, but so much happened. My God, so much happened.
2015 was supposed to be my so-called “Year of Getting Shit Done,” and I think I did, but not in the ways I expected, or in some cases, wanted to. Remember the Whiteboard of Woe? Yeah, it was outlined with all sorts of goals, broken down by quarter. Several goals were met—admittedly the easier ones—and several were put aside due to more immediate concerns. Namely, buying a house. Yeah, that happened.
Erica and I started the year with a goal of finding a new home. We’d lived in our apartment for nine years, and after a number of headaches (change in management, shitty neighbors, and stolen mail to name a few), we finally had enough. We started looking in January, found a place in March, and bought said place in May. Buying this house was simultaneously one of the most stressful and most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
Naturally this focus meant putting other things aside. I’ll come back to that in a minute.
What else happened this year? Let’s see . . .
Precipice had three releases: ULT: Volume One, ULT #5: The Other Land Express, and ULT #6: House of Nettle and Thorn. I put the series on hold after this so I could focus on other projects.
Much progress was made on my project with Anthony Rapino. We’re almost finished, and expect to have an announcement for you sometime in Spring 2016. I don’t have any pertinent images to add here, so instead I’ll just include this image of Tony as the Love Train.
I started drawing again, resulting in a number of “Monochrome” portraits. Some turned out better than others; I want to take another crack at Donna Candle and Albert Sparrow (especially the latter—he looks too much like Walter White).
Buying the house afforded us more living space, so one of my first orders of business was rebuilding my book collection. I’ve purchased more physical books this year than eBooks. My collection has significantly more horror than before, and it’s better for it. My most recent acquisition was this unexpected ARC of Joe Hill’s N0S4A2:
I dug a hole in my back yard and built a patio. This may or may not be my cover story for the bodies I buried there.
We adopted a pair of cats from the local Humane Society. They’re named Lear and Balthasar. They’re a couple of moody assholes, but we love them anyway.
Erica and I got to hang out with Tony and Karah a couple of times at the Mahoning Drive-In—first for Camp Blood, and again for a double-feature of Evil Dead 2 and Night of the Living Dead. It was a lot of fun, and I hope we get to do it again next year.
The Geeky Writer Gang had several wonderfully awkward broadcasts. Eryk, Tony, Mercedes: I love you guys.
Many of you are probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned a certain book I was supposed to be working on. Yeah, about that. It’s one of the things I put aside (again), mostly out of frustration. There were several coaching sessions with Amelia, many venting sessions with Mercedes and Tony and Nikki, and a lot of wordless nights.
If you’ve ever had the wind knocked out of you, you know those few panicked seconds afterward where you’re trying to breathe but can’t. My issue with the final Monochrome novel is a lot like that. I want to write it, but the story isn’t coming. I’ve never had this problem with a story before—especially one so close to me—so I’ve spent most of my “off time” trying to work out different ways to approach the groundwork I’ve set for myself. In the old days, I’d sit down and just write, letting the story come on its own. That’s how I’ve always done it. I can’t do that with Book 3 because there’s a lot of ground to cover and story to wrap up.
So . . . a few weeks ago I read this interview with Joe Hill about the struggles he went through after Heart-Shaped Box was published. The bit about him writing by hand reminded me of something I’d forgotten: I used to do that, too. Most of ALT was written that way. Parts of TLM’s first draft were, too. In light of that, I’ve decided to get back to basics and stick with longhand for a while, to see if that makes a difference. I hope it will.
That’s my goal for 2016, folks. Write as much of Book 3 as I can, with a few shorts scattered here or there when I need a break. I’m at my happiest when I’m telling stories, and I need to get back to doing that. Because if you aren’t happy, what’s the point?
And on that note, my friends, I’m going to wish you all a Happy New Year. Lift your glass and drink deeply of 2015’s successes and follies. Revel in what you accomplished, and learn from what you did not.
Catch you all on the flipside.
P.S. While proofing this, Zach (aka Z-Dubbz) from The Mouths of Madness tagged me on Twitter with a link to his year-end “Best Of” list. He named UGLY LITTLE THINGS: VOLUME ONE his #1 Short Story/Novella collection of the year. I’m fucking honored, dude. Thank you so much.
I really enjoyed this book. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I wrote a review for it—which isn’t something I normally do. Here’s what I had to say:
I won’t recap the plot because you owe it to yourself to discover it on your own. All you need to know going into this is that the story walks a fine line between light and shadow, heartache and triumph. Are there demons? Oh yes. Some of them are amusing; others are terrifying–and caught in the middle is Luna Masterson, the smartass, hard-edged, and entirely likeable protagonist.
What I enjoyed most about novel is its pacing and the author’s style. The book is plotted well enough that you’ll find difficulty in putting it down. Seriously. I finished the latter 50% of this book in a single sitting.
Although Yardley’s style has been described as “whimsical,” I personally think “disarming” is a better way to describe it. The prose is light, quick, snappy–and catches you off guard when the darkness seeps up from the cracks, bringing with it all sorts of nasty, vile things filled with hate and malice. Yardley utilizes this to great effect, structuring the plot around a series of escalating events that put Luna through the motions until you’re left wondering if she can hold it together.
I’m not telling–but what I will tell you is that Mercedes Yardley’s debut novel does not disappoint. Why not step into the shadows and find out for yourself?
After much deliberation, I’ve decided to unplug for the remainder of the year. Okay, that’s a lie—there wasn’t much deliberation at all. I’m feeling a little burned out and frustrated with my writing, and I think I need to step away for a few weeks and start fresh next month.
There are some things coming up that you need to be aware of, though:
I’ve been mostly quiet on the writing front these last couple of weeks. The cause is a familiar one: I find myself at a crossroads, faced with a number of different ways to approach a much larger plot problem with Book 3. So in the face of indecision, I decided to sit down in the middle of the road and think about things for a while. And like all the other times I’ve been stumped with a riddle related to a work in progress, I’ve turned to other projects to stretch my creative legs.
In a nutshell:
I sent out a query for the first time in . . . shit, I don’t know. Years? Almost a decade? The odds are against me with this, but it seemed like the right thing to do. I won’t say anything else about this unless I get good news–and if that happens, it won’t be until sometime next year.
NaNoWriMo began this month, and I got to thinking about a novel I started for NaNo 2012 that got shelved. I opened up the Word document and dusted it off to discover I’d written almost 13k words, and the plot actually made sense; furthermore, I figured out how to get around the problem I ran into, and . . . well, I’m seriously considering putting Monochrome 3 aside to work on it. Right now I feel too constrained with Monochrome 3, like I’ve boxed myself in and can’t see the forest through the trees, if that makes sense? Probably not. In any case, I think a palate-cleanser is exactly what I need.
Speaking of submissions, I intend to pull out one of the unfinished ULT stories from last year and complete it for the upcoming submission window for Crystal Lake’s third volume of the Tales From the Lake anthology series. I’m not sure which one yet, but when I figure that out, you’ll be the first to know.
I’m also in the process of wrapping up a project I’ve had in the works with Tony Rapino for over a year now. There’s just a tiny bit left to go, and then . . . well, I can’t tell you. Not yet, but soon. Next year’s going to be an exciting one.
That’s about it. The TL;DR version boils down to me needing to stretch my legs and work on something else for a little while until I can think my way out of a plot jam.