Hello lovely readers! Did you miss me? Based on some messages I’ve received lately, at least a few of you have.
My last post was in April 2019, and that’s when life got crazy. Not in a bad way, just a bit overwhelming. Being a writer can pull you in many different directions at once. You want to do everything, but to retain any semblance of sanity there are tasks that must be pushed to the side. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to my blog.
So, what the heck had me so busy? Last year was a year of firsts, which had me learning a lot! In future posts I’ll be sharing more details of knowledge and skills I picked up, but for now here’s a run down of what kept me from blogging.
Thirteen Doorways, A Novel: Edits, Submissions & Rejections
Way back in November 2016, I finished writing the first draft of my first novel, titled Thirteen Doorways. It was a monumental task! Then I stalled, having no idea how to even begin editing. Eventually, I figured out what I was doing, what still needed to be done, and got cracking. After several drafts and invaluable input from beta readers, I had a fully polished final copy in early 2019. Time for the next step, submitting to publishers.
Fear almost stopped me right there. I fell into a dismal hole of self-loathing, certain that I had wasted time on something no one would ever want to read, let alone publish. Thankfully, critique buddies, friends, and family all chipped in to kick my butt – and as always, they were right.
In May, I attended StokerCon in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While I was excited to be in the same space as horror heavy weights, I was also petrified because in a moment of confidence I had signed up for pitch sessions. I’d have to sit across a table from real, live editors and convince them to take a chance on reading my novel. What the hell was I thinking? But every agonizing moment leading up to that day was worth it. Four different editors liked my pitch and asked for my manuscript! Then came the waiting.
Since then, I’ve had three rejections and am still waiting to hear from one more editor before I start the whole process again. Funny thing is the rejections themselves boosted my confidence. No one has said I should burn my manuscript, bury the ashes, pretend my novel ever existed, and give up on writing. Instead, while my story wasn’t quite right for these publications (either in timing or in brand tone), these editors encouraged me to keep trying.
Short Story: Don’t Open the Door
On Twitter I met Cory Mason, a writer looking to pull together a charity horror anthology to support the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The core concept was to have a collection of stories which focused on horrors that lurk in places where people should feel safe. Intrigued I offered to join Mason’s team, and in July he published Don’t Open the Door, featuring my story “Heart of Stone.”
If you’re interested, Cory and I put together a little promotion piece which was featured on Kendall Reviews. The post includes my full story, so feel free to take a read, if you dare to look behind the door: kendallreviews.com/feature-exclusive-fiction-dare-you-open-the-door
Book Reviews: Kendall Reviews
Beside the Don’t Open the Door promotion, I’ve been linked with Kendall Reviews for other posts too. In July I saw a call out on Twitter by the site’s owner, Gavin Kendall, looking for reviewers to join his talented team. I’d been following his account and other team members for quite some time and thought I might fit in. Kendall Reviews is 100% horror based – book reviews, author interviews, movie recommendations, plus other fun and spooky posts. How could I resist? It’s been fantastic working with Gavin and the team. So even though I haven’t been posting on my own blog, I’m still a nerdy, horror reading bookworm, and have been contributing book reviews and a few short stories to Kendall Reviews.
If you aren’t familiar with the site, here are a few links of my book reviews and short stories. Take your time to explore and subscribe if you don’t want to miss anything new.
Black Shuck Shadows: kendallreviews.com/book-review-black-shuck-shadows-collections-12-13-14
Halloween Story “I Dare You”: kendallreviews.com/halloween-feature-i-dare-you
Christmas Story “Eddie’s Evil Elf”: kendallreviews.com/christmas-feature-exclusive-fiction-eddies-evil-elf
Be sure to check back for my Valentine’s story “Shackles” which I’ll post a link to in a separate post!
Advice Column: Aunties of Agony
One of the team members from Kendall Reviews and I also started writing an advice column together. When trying to come up with a name, Tabatha Wood (my partner in crime) made a comment about an “Aunt Agony.” Being Canadian, I had never heard that term before and started googling for a specific advice columnist going by that name. If you’re not from North America, you’re probably laughing as hard now as Tabatha did. Turns out it’s just a nickname for a “Dear Abby” type column. After a few chuckles, and since we are two female horror writers, the name “Aunties of Agony” stuck.
In November we launched our new column and have been posting monthly. Here’s our advice for January: kendallreviews.com/feature-blood-sweat-fears-with-the-aunties-of-agony-3
Anthology Editor: Black Dogs, Black Tales
Tabatha is so great to work with that when she was looking for volunteers to help her edit a new charity anthology, I knew by joining I’d be on an incredibly talented team. And I was right! We’ve been reading through submissions to select the very best for Black Dogs, Black Tales, a dark speculative fiction anthology which will support the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.
Right now we’ve got an impressive list of authors and artists included in the book, and you can find out all about it on our Facebook page: @blackdogsblacktales @blackdogsblacktales
Our open call for submissions closes February 29, so there’s still time to send us a story! For full information visit tabathawood.com/open-call-for-submissions-black-dogs-black-tales
Second Novel: Don’t Save Me
And if that all didn’t already have me run off my feet, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November and finished the first draft of my second novel. Feels like a good one, but I need to sit on it a bit longer before I start editing. I’ll tell you now, if I disappear from the blogosphere again in early Summer, it will be because I’m trying to make Don’t Save Me something worth reading.
Yes, 2019 was a busy year! I think I’ve got a better handle on this crazy writing life now (at least for the moment), and hopefully 2020 will have a lot more blogging so I don’t have to try and summarize an entire year in a single post again.
Thanks for reading and checking out the above links. Hope this new decade is treating you fine so far, and I’ll post again soon, promise.