On Being 33, Job Hunting, and Publishing

AUTHOR OF NIGHTMARES

So . . . today’s my birthday. Thirty-three trips around the sun so far, with at least thirty-five more in my future before things get sketchy. As with my other birthdays in recent years, I find I’m reflecting on the past, where I’ve been, how I got here, where I am, where I want to go.

It’s been a while since I’ve written here. Now seems as good a time as any. So . . .

I’ve been busy on a project with Anthony J. Rapino. It’s going to be announced at the end of this month. We’re both pretty excited about it, as we’ve put a lot of hard work and long hours into this thing. I can’t say more than that, but I think you will all be surprised in a good way.

That said, where I am is a scary place. I don’t talk about my day job much, mainly because I don’t want there to be a public association between Todd the Writer and Todd the Employee of a Nameless Corporation. And lately, talking about my day job is the last thing I’ve wanted to do because, well, things aren’t great there. I’ve been passively looking for another job since January, and actively (e.g. multiple resumes out into the world) for the last several weeks. This is a job I’ve held since 2007. I’ve grown up here. My coworkers are like family to me. Leaving them, leaving my comfort zone, scares me.

But . . . when I think back on where I was ten years ago, and where I am now, it’s disheartening to find that not much has changed on the job front. Sure, the place of employment has changed, but the overall feeling of dread and unhappiness has risen again. I used to like this job, but now I find I loathe it.

The problem is, I’ve built my financial life around it. I can’t leave without finding something to take its place. As I said, I’m actively seeking employment elsewhere. It sucks. I’d rather have my toenails ripped off. Slowly.

So that’s where I am. Let’s talk about where I want to go.

That project I’ve been working on could lead to something bigger. It’s the start of something that could potentially be a career. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately, and I’ve realized that I will never truly be happy unless I’m doing what I want to do, and that’s work in publishing. All facets of it. Not just writing.

Don’t get me wrong—I still love writing, and I still intend to finish book #3, but this is bigger than that. For me, anyway.

Again, I’m being vague because I have to be. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

For now I’m going to ask for two things:

1 –  Good vibes. I’m going to need lots of luck if I’m going to succeed at finding something else in the job market.

2 – Support the project that’s coming up, in any way you can.

I think that’s all for now. Thanks, everyone, for the birthday wishes. They mean the world to me.

I’ll see you all again in three weeks. Stay tuned.

TK

Let’s talk about Gamut Magazine.

Just dropping in to provide a quick FYI about a new Kickstarter project hosted by author Richard Thomas. It’s called Gamut Magazine, and it promises to be a hell of a thing. Here are the details:

Richard does great work as an editor and as a writer. For examples, check out AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF by Stephen Graham Jones (Richard edited that one) and Richard’s own novel, DISINTEGRATION. I don’t back many projects these days, but every once in a while I’ll spot one that’s a sure thing. This is one such project. I backed it on day one, and I admit that my sharing it here is partially selfish because, well, it’s a potential venue to which I intend to sub my own fiction somewhere down the line. Paid writing gigs are hard to come by these days, and Richard’s looking to make a honest go of it.

Selfishness aside, it’s hard to pass up simply because of the magazine’s initial lineup. Just look at this:

To date, here are the authors that have given me a verbal commitment to publish original and/or reprint fiction at Gamut:

Stephen Graham Jones, Laird Barron, Brian Evenson, Usman T. Malik, Matt Bell, Damien Angelica Walters, Letitia Trent, Mercedes M. Yardley, Alyssa Wong, Benjamin Percy, Lindsay Hunter, Axel Taiari, Amanda Gowin, Laura Benedict, Nathan Ballingrud, Dino Parenti, Ted E. Grau, Rebecca Jones-Howe, Sarah Read, Paula Bomer, Kelly Luce, Livia Llewelyn, Josh Malerman, Carmen Machado, Peter Tieryas, Kevin Catalano, Paul Tremblay, John Langan, Nina McConigley, Nik Korpon, Craig Wallwork, Steve Himmer, Antonia Crane, Steve Rasnic Tem, Kristi DeMeester, Tara Ison, David James Keaton, Cassandra Khaw, Nikki Guerlain, Lucy A. Snyder, JS Breukelaar, Helen Marshall, Amelia Gray, H. L. Nelson, Craig Davidson, Jacklyn Dre Marceau, and Lincoln Michel.

Poets will include:

Jeffrey Skinner, Nickole Brown, Cate Marvin, Paul Guest, Blas Falconer, Carrie Jerrell, Gary Jackson, Erica Dawson, Laura Van Prooyen, Simone Muench, Charles Jensen, Ace Boggess, and Jeannine Hall Gailey.

Each and every one of these authors is a voice that moves me, innovates, and takes risks on the page.

Yeah. I’m not kidding, folks. If you have any interest in neo-noir, horror, or weird fiction, you want this thing to succeed. As I write this, the project is at $16,293 of its $52,000 goal, with 23 days left to go. Let’s make it happen.

TK

I haven’t forgotten about you.

I Appear Missing

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.

That’s all I’m willing to say for now. More soon.

TK

 

2015: Where Have We Been? Where Are We Going?

Toddthulhu

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.

WritersOnWriting

  • 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.

Tony_LoveTrain

  • 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:

hill_arc

 

  • 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.

TK

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.