Monday, January 2, 2017

Begin Again: The End of the Year Wrap-up and Beginning of the Year Aspirations

2016 was a shit year in a lot of ways. For an arbitrary collection of days a lot of bad things happened and I, for one, have been looking forward to the chance to reset my goals and expectations with the arrival of the new year. But in order for the magic that is assigned meaning to work, I have to not only make plans for the future, but look at where I've been for the last twelve months. (Figuratively. We all know I've been right here.)

So, before I lay out goals for this new series of months, let me, briefly look back at the past year.

I started the year off with the publication of my collection of short stories, The Weather's Always Fine in Paradise. While the majority of these stories had been published elsewhere previously, many of them had disappeared from the web as various markets closed down or took down older content. And it gave me the opportunity to share three stories that had gotten a lot of "nice, but not quite" rejections over the years.

The release of that book was quickly followed by a contract with Falstaff Books for a trilogy of Southern Gothic novellas, Touch. And the first, Of Lips and Tongue, was released at the end of June.

I also began co-writing a series of short stories with Eric S. Brown for the Grantville Gazette, featuring his characters, The Monster Society. Altogether we have written five short stories and three have been published to date (with the last two forthcoming a little later in the spring).

In addition to those short stories, I wrote the second Touch novella - Of Shade and Soul, forthcoming January 2017. And I finished the first volume of an SF epic, Survivor, that is steampunk and post-apocalyptic and character driven and has no magic whatsoever. It's also close to 700 pages, by far the longest thing I've ever written. (There was also the Sparkly, Emo, Vampire Goat story I wrote in the week leading up to Christmas - 8k words worth of funny, subverted fairy tale.)

So those were the positive personal things I accomplished in 2016, which leads me into my goals for the new year.

A couple of years ago I moved away from more general goals to focus on project-oriented goals. This was in part because life is chaotic and I was beating myself up for the portions of the year (and they are there no matter which year it is) when I can't get my butt in my chair and write every day or I just can't get as many words on the page as I'd like. (See this past September when I battled carpal tunnel issues and dropped my weekly wordcounts to about 1/10 of what they were in July and August.)

There are two projects already on my plate for 2017.

1. The third/final novella in the Touch trilogy (Of Flesh and Bone) which will come out late spring or early summer if things go as planned. (There will also be both an audio book and print collection of all three novellas, following the release of the third novella in eBook format.)

2. A super-secret project that I'm hoping to be able to announce by the end of January.

I'd also like to:
- Start the second volume of the Epic Not Fantasy.
- Polish off a couple of novellas I've drafted over the past couple of years and then shelved because they weren't quite right.
- Work on an idea for a creator-owned comic book series.

In order to make that happen there will likely be daily and weekly wordcount goals, but those will be negotiated with myself as the year progresses and various deadlines present themselves. Due to the recovery from the carpal tunnel issues, I've found that 1k a day is pretty doable, but higher daily goals tend to aggravate.

But these are just the concrete goals, the tangible things that if I achieve them I can actually show folks "Here is this thing I've done and you can see it." I have other goals that are more personal and less quantifiable.

The biggest, and scariest, is writing the things I've been afraid to write*. I am encouraging myself to write those things that cut deep and challenge and are not safe at all. This latter is a thing which makes my anxiety plow through the roof because all of these word-things (books and short stories and various scripts) are meant to be building a career out of this work that I really love. But not safe can, sometimes, also mean not-sellable. And not-sellable is a difficult piece to fit into a burgeoning career.

But there are things I want to write that will not be written unless I stop trying to stay in the safe parts. And that's my primary goal for the year: to not write safely.

So, with all the assigned meaning I am capable of giving it, welcome to the new year. May 2017 be a year of keeping ones real-world loved ones safe, and making ones words decidedly dangerous.

*There are always projects that crop up that I have doubts about in regard to technical skill. But the really frightening ones are the ones that push social and political and spiritual boundaries. You know the ones, they always involved writing about That One Subject That is Very Personal For You.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Award Eligibility: 2016

Hey, folks.

My publication activity this past year is pretty simple.

I self-published a collection of short stories in February - The Weather's Always Fine in Paradise. Of the stories in that collection, two were previously unpublished. (The others were all reprints from my semi-pro/pro sales in previous years.)

These two are all shorts and eligible for awards where the criteria is "published between Jan 2016 - December 2016". 
Made
The Weather's Always Fine in Paradise

If you are interested in reading any of these for consideration, I am offering a free eBook copy on request. You can reach me via email annagrace(dot)carpenter(at)gmail(dot)com

Also published in 2016 was my Southern Gothic/Horror/Dark Fantasy novella - Of Lips and Tongue. If you are interested in a copy for consideration please contact my publisher, John Hartness, at Falstaff Books - john(at)falstaffbooks(dot)com or contact me at the email address above.

There are also several short stories that were published in the Grantville Gazette which I co-wrote with Eric S. Brown.
 - An Army of Scarecrows
- The Monster Society: Snowbound
- The Lost Monster

The Monster Society stories can be read for free via the above links. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Cover Reveal: Of Shade and Soul

I am so very pleased to share the cover for Of Shade and Soul with y'all. Are you ready?










This is the second book in the Touch trilogy and we are working hard to bring it to you in January of 2017. It will be available on Amazon, Kobo, B&N.com, and other fine retailers of ebooks.

In the meantime, enjoy that shiny cover. (And, if you haven't bought a copy of the first book, Of Lips and Tongue, you can check out the opening pages on Amazon.com HERE.)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Resistance (Update 11.14.16)

Things have been quiet on the blog as I have spent the last several months working on finishing up two different projects.

The most recent was the full draft for "Of Shade and Soul" the forthcoming sequel to "Of Lips and Tongue". We don't have an official release date yet, but we're aiming for early January. (Assuming my health cooperates. The carpal tunnel issues I've been struggling with are slowly improving, but I am not back to where I was earlier in the year. And, as with most stress injuries, rest is the best cure when it starts to flare up.)

So, look for updates on the release date, plus a cover reveal coming in December.

I've also finished up a second draft of "Survivor" - the epic post-apocalyptic SF book I've been working on since the spring. I finished the first draft mid-summer, but after taking a step back and talking to my agent, I realized I was cutting the story short. So, I did another pass to flesh out some of the areas I had glossed over in the madness that is a first draft and in the process added another 46k words to the manuscript.

*insert desperate laughter here*

The latest revision pass is now tightening up the action in the last third of the book in prep to put it out on sub. But, with current events in the US the past couple of weeks, I was reminded of this sequence from an earlier section of the book. It has been on my mind a lot so I thought I would share it with y'all.

---------------------------------------------------------


Izzy checked the compass heading, fluttered the pedals underfoot to adjust course. "We are doing the right thing, aren't we, Reese?"

"Pursuing the talisman?"

"Protecting humanity." Her cheeks flushed, guilty.

"Ah." He swung his legs over the edge of the hatchway and looked down at her. "Are you tired, Isabenne?"

"Yes." She frowned. "But that's not... none of this is new, is it? The war. The politics. You've seen it all before."

He rubbed his head, thoughtful. "There is nothing new under the sun. But it is not continually worse. Not unless we cease to try."

"Is that we're doing? Trying to hold back the centuries of all the worst of humanity in the hope of a few more years that are good?"

"Perhaps."

She could hear the concern in his voice, but refused to look up at him. "Perhaps. Then we are believers after all. Fighting for something that history says we will never reach."

"And what is that, Isabenne?"

"Peace." Her voice cracked and she glared out into the darkness, blinking away tears.

Reese was silent for a while. "Perhaps we are not meant to fight for it."

That made her look up at him, startled. "You think we should surrender?"

He shrugged. "No. I think..." He shook his head. "Not all resistance is war. Maybe we are meant to save humanity some other way."

"Some other way."

He spread his hands. "We are destined to live. If we remember that..." He fell silent again.

She licked her lips. "Maybe." She locked the controls and let her feet swing free. "You should rest. We don't know what tomorrow brings."

Reese sighed. "Aye, captain." He drew his feet up, settling back against the wall of the corridor.

Izzy took a few deep breaths, forcing herself to relax. We are destined to live. She stared out toward the stars twinkling on the horizon. That might be worth fighting for.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Something Witty (Update 10.23.16)

After spending the last six weeks struggling with carpal tunnel, last night I finished up the main draft for Of Shade and Soul. This is the sequel to Of Lips and Tongue, and continues the story of Delaney Green. I'm very excited about this novella and can't wait to share it with you all, but the release date is likely to be sometime in early January.

In the meantime, Of Lips and Tongue is eligible for nomination for the Bram Stoker Award. If you are an HWA member and would like a copy for consideration you may contact my publisher - john (at) falstaffbooks (dot) com - and he will be happy to provide you a copy for free.

If you are not an HWA member (or you just want to help support a starving author) you can always purchase a copy through Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Kobo.

Continue to watch for updates. I'll be revealing the cover for Of Shade and Soul before long. (I think y'all are going to love it.) Plus there will be some "behind the scenes" posts on how I tackled writing and pitching a series.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Update on Galaktika

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has issued an update on the situation with Galaktika Magazine.

You can read it here: http://www.sfwa.org/2016/09/the-galaktika-situation/

I have a further update of my own coming sometime this weekend. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Apply Constant Pressure

A month or so ago, I got into a discussion with some folks about stress dreams. Well, less of a discussion and more of a sharing of anecdotes about stress dreams. Which ones folks had most frequently, how they changed over time, ways in which we dealt with them (and the stress that triggered them).


I mentioned that although I had the very common "get to school and discover there is a class I didn't know about and today is the final test" dream when I was younger, it wasn't until I reached college and was actually in a school environment that I began to find it actually a stressful dream. (Thank you twelve years of being schooled at home for making that dream funny the first few times I had it.)


Then I mentioned that more recently my stress dreams usually resolve with me pounding on whatever (or whoever) is causing the stress in the dream until it yields and is no longer stressful.


One of the other folks said they couldn't imagine being violent enough to hit something or someone else. Even in a dream.


That made me chuckle a little. Not that someone else would respond differently than myself - that is rarely a surprise.

I chuckled, because the propensity to beat my annoyances in the dream world into submission says a lot about my personality. I do not easily yield. (And yes, this is both a strength and a flaw.)

Writing is frequently a very solitary pursuit. It requires time and thought and research and a certain amount of opening veins (figuratively) and bleeding (figuratively) on the page. Having friends and family that encourage and support you in this seemingly simple endeavor is crucial, but at the end of the day no one can write your book except for you.

And that is daunting. Because the only real and solid credential for a writer is that they have written something.

A short story.
A poem.
An article.
A novel.

Words on the page, beginning to end. A writer is someone who writes. And that is a thing that sounds easy, but for most of us never is.

There's always another hurdle.
The thing that we wrote? Not really meaningful until it's published. (Because we tell ourselves publication is validation.)
The thing that was published? Not really successful until we're paid for it. (Because we tell ourselves compensation is validation.)
That thing we were paid for? Not really anything more than a hobby until we can quit the day job and live off our creative work. (Because we tell ourselves that recognition is validation.)

There's always another hurdle, another step, another goal, another writer who has done more or better than you have.

Writing is the stress dream to beat all stress dreams. But it's not a thing you wake up from. This is the real life version with film at eleven and a viral media tail that leaves folks saying "I couldn't make this shit up."

I have found success in some measure by using both fists (figuratively) to beat the shit (figuratively) out of the obstacles in my path.

Chris Pratt went viral with an Instagram post a few months back in which he talked about doing the things he loved and pursuing his dreams. He concludes with "Apply constant pressure for as long as it takes. It will break before you do. Go get it."

It's easy to only see the obstacles and think "I'm not strong enough or bold enough or aggressive enough to break those down."

I used to wake up in a panic after dreaming I was back at work with the asshole boss from hell. Until one night I realized I had nothing to lose by trying to beat them into submission because it was all in my head. And sure enough, when faced with the constant pressure of my (dreamworld) fists, they yielded. Sometimes they come back. My fists are still here; they still yield.

You have nothing to lose by pursuing your desire to write. If you want publication, pursue it. If you want recognition, pursue it. But don't let the things you want (publication, validation, recognition, and sweet, sweet cash) keep you from the thing that you need (to open those veins and bleed on the page).

Apply constant pressure. The obstacles are all in your head.