Penultimate Se’nnight

That sounds a lot more impressive than “next-to-final week,” right?

A note of explanation for those reliant on alt text under the pictures; there’s an eighth image without alt text, which concerns a small icon which added itself to the final entry this week. That thing doesn’t appear in the alt text, so I’m boring you with it here rather than there.

The Haunting Season

Guess what, everyone? I’m not doing the same thing for October as I did last year!

2020 is proving to be the year I have trouble scraping words out of my head. It’s not the fell Writer’s Block, as there is production, but it’s halting. I made the same conscious decision about trying to knock thirty-one stories this year as I have made about NaNoWriMo every year. Better to not offer disappointment.

However… the words are trickling out, and apart from the story under construction at the moment, I do have the necessary juice to produce Twitter-length material. There just happens to be a daily prompt for the month of fun, and so far I haven’t missed on (quality may vary, no guarantees offered, caveat lector).

What I’m going to do is present these in a clump each Saturday. Tomorrow’s clump will be a little above weight, but it’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and that’s the best time to be over-weight. 

…or something to that effect.

The final group will appear on The Great Day itself, which would normally be tactically unwise, but this year all sensible people are not going to be out partying, and probably not even dealing with swarms of kids on the doorstep.

Also, I have some good news which I’ve already unboxed on my other blog, but which I’m waiting for a couple of details to firm up before I shout about it here. I leave it to you whether you want to click that sidebar link or save it for a surprise.

There you are, then. Warnings of impending fate delivered. Back into the crypt with me…

Obedience to Authority

We’ve all, in some degree, been making decision lately about how low we bow to COVID-19 and the officially proclaimed responses to it. I, for example, have been going to work, as I’m essential (somehow), and can gad about freely in my off-time under local regs, as long as I’m not doing it with more than nine other people.

I have been sticking to the spirit of the rules and limiting my outings to “Gotta get some groceries.” My wife has asthma, after all, and we don’t really know what the long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 are other than “probably not good.”

With that as context, I saw this wonderful image on a Folk Horror group on Facebook:

At Wiremill Dam, in the rural outskirts of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England.

“This sign has always freaked me out a little bit!” said the person sharing the image. In the right setting, and to the right set of mind, I completely understand that. It took about fifteen seconds for the basic story of “Self-Policing” to flash into my mind, and since I owe this site a story, I huffed my warm authorial air upon it until it had kindled into a proper item of flash fiction.

An Actual Thing

At the end of the previous post, I mentioned in passing that an anthology I had a story in was now published.

I got my author’s copy in the mail.

The dramatic movie poster-style blue/orange effect was got by taking a picture in my kitchen on an overcast winter day.

Not pictured is me grinning like several fools, me clapping my hands with pure delight, my wife gazing admiringly upon me, or my son’s wait what how can this be a thing?!? expression when I showed him his old dad’s name in an actual book.

Like this:

I’ll mention here that I very much approve of the type-face choices made by the editor. That’s a good looking page, that.

I’m making a big thing of this because it is, in my life, a big thing. I have never had an author’s copy of a print book before. It rates as a big milestone in my writing career, which by the measure of “correctly making an effort to present stories to paying markets” is not very old.

So, I blow my party horn and wave my achievement around for all to see. I also litter this post with links to where you can get the book for yourself. I get no more money out of it, just the warm glow of offering entertainment to others. It is (ignoring my own splendid gem of deathless prose) a bunch of jolly good stories.

…and I got an author’s copy! {dissolves in giggles}

Sometimes They Arrive Late

This should have appeared on Christmas Eve. Or Christmas itself.

Or even Boxing day.

Alas, I have blown a deadline. But, as I characterized the story in a previous entry as “gestating”, it perhaps is allowable for the delivery to be slightly delayed. Here it is, then, “Nothing in the World is so Irresistibly Contagious.”

OH, ALSO– I find that an anthology I had thought was on the verge of printing actually got printed almost a whole month ago. Not only a late story, but a late notice of a story: Monsters in Spaaaace! contains, in addition to several other stories, my own “The Moon Forest”. It’s science fiction about as hard as I’ve ever done… and there’s also werewolves. I had a lot of fun writing it.

Extra BONUS Seasonal Joy

Still not a story announcement, although I am gestating something that may emerge from my brow tomorrow.

…although now that I reflect upon it, this is a story announcement, in that a story I wrote is openly available on the internet. It’s just not here.

So where, then? It’s in the current issue of Polar Borealis. For those who want to know what they’re getting into, it’s a quite short work which is like Steampunk, but instead of focusing on engineering marvels, the point of historical divergence is funeral practices.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Extra Seasonal Joy

This is not, alas, a story announcement. I have some suspicion that I’m not going to have something appropriate to the season to roll out this year, having distracted myself with other matters until it’s much too late.

Speaking of too late, I don’t believe item of news comes too late for last minute Christmas present seekers to act upon: I have a story appearing in Creatures in Canada, available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. It’s an anthology which presents one horrifying monstrosity for each of Canada’s provinces and territories. Yes, I am the contributor of the Saskatchewan story, and yes, it is set in the bleakest depth of winter just to add to the sorrow of the characters. Mon pays c’est l’hiver, y’all.

I have, of course, had a chance to read it already, and I think I can say with some confidence that there should be something for all tastes (as long as those tastes run to horror); it’s a nicely diversified anthology.  I also recommend it in full knowledge that I’m not getting any more money out of it than I have already done– I got paid ages ago, and there’s no royalties involved. Plus, look at this  cover. Don’t you want to know what’s lurking behind that?

This is a link, by the way.

Post Mortem (or, NaNoWriMoNoNoNoNo)

Having just produced a story every day for a month which is meant to be drawing-type people making a picture per day, I have some things to say about the exercise.

Gosh, I’m tired.

It was fun, to be certain, but it underlines why I’m absolutely not embarking on the author-centric NaNoWriMo which sets sail today. Even if I could maintain the energy, I cannot hope to find the time. This month saw me not attending to some important stuff in pursuit of staying ahead of the self-imposed daily demand, and…

OK, let’s talk boring numbers. NaNoWriMo’s goal is 50,000 words. Over the past month, I’ve managed just over 19,000 words, which even those who are not very good at math will notice is rather fewer. It’s possible that I could have managed more if my wife hadn’t also been directing a play for the local little theatre, because she needed rides and I spent the whole of last Saturday evening watching the production and someone needs to make dinner.

Even so, I really don’t think I have the energy for that. If someone else helpfully points out “Oh, it’s just first draft for NaNoWriMo,” I will respond that the whole of the last month is (as if no one had noticed) not particularly polished. I generally work to a three-or-more-draft plan:

      1. Get the thing on paper, long-hand;
      2. Get something sensible/coherent out of that, transcribing into the computer;
      3. After getting someone else to read it and point out that it’s not actually making sense, re-work the dopey bits.
      4. Repeat 3 if it seems needed.

There can be some repeats of steps 1 and 2, as well; I may get most of the way through the long-hand phase, realize that the point-of-view or the tense or some other foundational matter just isn’t working and start afresh, pen dancing across lined pages. I did ALMOST NONE of that over the past month, working on the keyboard directly like, someone living in the modern era (eugh!), and getting feedback perhaps by reading things aloud to my wife when she had five minutes she could give me.

So, “you only have to do a first draft” doesn’t buy me a lot of extra output. I don’t even want to get into the problems of those 50,000 words having to connect to each other somehow, one unified story rather than thirty-one little isolated events without any cross-referencing. Yike.

I also wonder if it has been entirely wise to thrust my partially-formed creations into the world. I’ve certainly had a lot of extra traffic here, but people also slow down and gawk at traffic accidents.

I also wonder, of those who have newly started following this little exercise of mine (Hi, by the way; I am glad you’ve come) might not have been give a false sense of my usual pace of update. It may be a little while before I make a noise here again folks. Like I said, I’m tired.

I may do it again next year, all the same, possibly starting on Hallowe’en rather that at the beginning of the month, so most of what I do happens in the writing month rather than the drawing one. I did enjoy it, after all, and I managed to get my wife to call me a monster at least twice, which is wonderful.

Gomez and Morticia Addams, from original TV show
An artist’s impression of my marriage. We occasionally argue over who fits which role better, but not with any bitterness.

To tie the whole thing up, I’ll mention that I have made good on my promise to create a permanent digest of the stories in The Back Files– there’s even a handy calendar-based table of contents.

I’m off to have a rest. Winter is upon us, here in the Land of the Devouring Living Skies, and sensible creatures should be hibernating at the bottom of a pond.