Reflecting on a Year Not Done

I’m having a weird weekend. I’ve spent the day revising the latest draft of my manuscript. My editor gave me some great notes and overall, she said I had made some great improvements in my story and my technical skill. While I never set out to “improve,” my writing, this year, I did take risks to expand myself as a writer. It reminded me that this year has been one packed to the brim with amazing opportunities.

This year I…

Published the first book in the Children of Nostradamus series. Nighthawks is my first sci-fi novel and revolves around a dystopian future and the superpowered people trying to survive. I’m proud of it because it focuses on the humanity of an archetype under stress. It also begins my falling down the rabbit hole asking, “In our darkest moments, are we still human?”

Published the second and final chapter of the I.Am.Maine project. I have mixed feelings about this. If you hear me speak about writing, I’ll be the first to say this book has a weird place in my bibliography. Many of my writing fans are geographically based in Maine or have strong connections to Maine. It has given me issues trying to break out as a sci-fi writer. However, I have had the opportunity to connect to so many people who either shared in my story or have a similar tale to tell. It remains the book that speaks to who I am today.

Wrote, submitted, and had my first three horror stories accepted to anthologies. I wanted to get my name in front of more people. This started as a marketing tactic, but this is where I think growth happened. I do not define myself as a horror writer. My first story, “Access Violation,” in Wicked Witches: An Anthology by the New England Horror Writers relies heavily on fantasy and sci-fi elements and lands solidly in the cyberpunk realm. I got great feedback and had to knuckle down and rewrite a significant amount of the book to be accepted, but I grew. When I submitted “Purgatory Junction,” for Northern Frights, I delved into traditional ghost stories and the unnerving sense of isolation. I walked away from writing that story catching myself jumping at shadows. The third submission gave me the opportunity to write my first serious zombie piece. “We Cease to Exist,” takes place in Only the Light We Make, Chris Philbrook’s universe of Adrian’s Undead Diary. The challenge of writing a story in a person’s world other than your own is a challenge. The crowd is not my norm, and it took some calibrating. However, I’m proud to say it was submitted. All three stories were accepted.

Received my first rejection of the year. In total I wrote four short stories and three were accepted. The fourth story was one of 800 submissions and while I was disappointed, how could I feel bad? A year ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to submit a humorous tale of office politics and superheroes. Now, the rejection letter sits in a pile with others and I’m moving forward.

Attended my first, second, third, and fourth comic-book convention as a vendor. It started with Bangor Comic & Toy Convention. I met geeks. I met people I connected with. I got to see people excited to be with their own. I felt at home. The sensation was amazing enough I attended three more throughout the year, both as a solo act and with the New England Horror Writers.

Participated in my first public speaking at Pandemonium Books. Reading “Access Violation,” amongst a group of writers was one of most unnerving acts I’ve participated in. I’m still relatively new to this and each of these “first moments,” are small hurdles toward the end of the race. I think I did fairly well. I got a rise from the audience, and laughter where needed. The sarcasm of my writing works well when spoken.

Attended a genre conference for writers in New England. NECON as it is referred to was filled with writers relating to horror specifically, but always some fringe writers in fantasy and science fiction. There were Bram Stoker winners and nominees and the names of authors who I grew up reading in attendance. I was a bit in shock to realize I went from admiring these people to being one of their peers. That transition continues to boggle my mind.

Wrote the second installment of the Children of Nostradamus series. It’s always questionable if a series will continue. I’m proud to say the story and the arcs resulting from book one will carry the series on for a few more books. I wanted a world I could write in for a while, and it looks like I’ll get what I wanted. Night Shadows gets the benefit of having the kinks worked out of it by writing short stories this year. I get to feature more characters I like and the story takes a dark turn which is letting me work out some angst.

Met some amazing writers. As I posted my annual Facebook “year in review” video, I realized that all but one person I added to my friends list are a direct resulting of my writing. I’ve befriended authors I admire and several I read growing up. I’m happy to know there is a community out there wanting you to succeed. Advice is never more than a text message away and there’s always a drinking buddy when you need one.

I’m sure there is plenty more. The year has been action packed. Where many people would say, “Where has the time gone?” I’m left saying, “How’d I manage so much in one year?” Next year is proving to be even more action packed. January is the only month where I’ll get some down time. From there it’s off to the races to see if I can put 2016 to shame.

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