Music Monday: “Lawyers, Guns & Money” By Warren Zevon

It’s barely a week into January and I can already feel this winter starting to get to me. I’ve run out of places to pile snow and there’s no break to the cold in the current forecast. At least the days are getting longer. In the meantime, a little Zevon is always good.

Now I’m hiding in Honduras
I’m a desperate man
Send lawyers, guns and money
The shit has hit the fan

Write on!

New Year, New Goals: 2017 Edition

How’d 2016 go?

Now’s the time to check back in with those yearly goals:

  • Systematic finishing of the short stories I’ve started writing but not finished. I would like to get at least six new stories out the door this year.
  • Draft, revise, and submit an entirely new novel.
  • Complete first draft on An Excuse for Wolves.
  • Revise 2015 WiP for submission to agents and editors.
  • Keep my short fiction out on submission.

Stretch goals!

  • Edit one of my fallow novel first drafts.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo

And for December:

  • Finish my WiP novel
  • Clean and organize my office. (One of these years this won’t be necessary)
  • Finish a chapter of An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Finish revisions on three short stories, so that I hit my 6 new stories goal for the year

Well, December didn’t go as planned (nor 2016 as a whole, amiright?) I did spend what feels like a significant portion of my December shoveling, but still, I’d hoped to do better.

The WiP didn’t cooperate, many moving parts led to me feeling like I was treading water for most of the month, but I do feel I’ve got things in order now, and so the last scenes I was waiting on writing/revising should be done soon.

I didn’t do a holiday-themed Thunder Road story this year, which, while it wasn’t one of my goals this year, was not for lack of trying. The first one didn’t work, the second I liked, but I didn’t have time to revise to my satisfaction, and a third–well I finally figured out how to do the story I’ve wanted to tell since I set out to write “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” so hopefully you’ll get to see that one next year. I wrote this story on the bus, or when I should’ve been sleeping because the damned Yule Lads wouldn’t stop harrassing me.

Here’s what my year in writing looked like, thanks again to Jamie Todd Rubin, from whom I poached this template:

2016-words-per-day-screenshot

In 2015, the first year I used this simple spreadsheet to track my words, I vowed to write every day, and I did that. For 2016, I didn’t concern myself with the “write something everyday”, so much as trying to finish projects. This led to quite a few thousand less words as I spend more time editing than drafting. But that’s okay. I finished revising a novel, submitted (and sold) it. I started another novel end of March, and finished my discovery draft early in May. Outside of the final polish of Graveyard Mind over the summer, most of the rest of 2016 was spent revising that beast. I can’t say much about the book yet, but it’s close to getting done. So close that I wish I would’ve started it in February instead of March, but hey, as a wise man once said:

fry-2

Codename: An Excuse for Wolves/Whiskey didn’t get finished but we got close to a first draft, more because of me than Sandra; deadlines kept me away from the book from August to November. I’m waiting to get the next chapter back from Sandra before I dive back in, but we’re definitely closing in on the book’s climax.

The big news of 2016 was that I sold Graveyard Mind to ChiZine Publications, and you’ll be able to read it in October 2018!

On the short story front: my story “Midnight Man versus Doctor Death” appeared in Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe, and “A Door in the Rock” appeared in Those Who Make Us: Canadian Creature, Myth, and Monster Stories. I’m quite proud of both tales. Midnight Man is tangentially related to the world of Graveyard Mind, and A Door in the Rock is set in the Thunder Road ‘verse. I’m stoked for digging deeper into the world of Graveyard Mind, and of course, I’m still enjoying fleshing out corners of Thunder Road.

I revised or completed three old stories for submission, drafted two new stories that are ready for submission after one more round of revisions, and submitted a brand new story. I also spend time revising one other story, and a novella that I couldn’t quite get to the point where I was content to let other eyes see them. Very close to hitting my short story goals for the year, despite my novel focus.

2016 saw me attend quite a few events–more than 2015 for sure. I tried a number of cons and festivals for the first time. Returned to a bunch more. Creative Ink Festival was definitely a highlight. Plus, I got to meet Galen Dara and Carrie Vaughn, and both of whom were awesome!

I got to do a bunch of business with friends!

business

Clare Marshall designed my new convention banner:

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Samantha Beiko and I did a comic together, (Mythfits!):

mythfits

and Sam also helped GMB Chomichuk, James Gillespie, Jonathan Ball and me put together Shared World Volume 2!

sharedworldcover2-copy-2

And! Kevin Madison did another Thunder Road image and a character design for Midnight Man!

Ted!

day-212-of-a-year-of-drawing-2016

Check out that Kirby Crackle! One of these days I’m going to write a story about how Ted ended up in this situation, which will be a neat reversal of Kevin illustrating my words more directly.

Midnight Man!

midnight-man

I really need to write another story about this guy, ’cause I love the loony bugger.

Samantha and I had a busy and fun year with ChiSeries: Winnipeg and I’m looking forward to 2017 being the same. Between readings, workshops, and panels, we hosted seven events in 2016. Pretty good for a reading series that’s supposed to be quarterly. If you haven’t checked us out, I hope to see you at one of our forthcoming events.

All said and done, I feel pretty good about my creative 2016. I would’ve liked to have written more words, finished more stories, finished more books, and gone to more conventions, but that is always going to be the case.

What’s on deck for 2017?

  • Write, revise, and submit a book within the 2017 calendar year.
  • Keep my short fiction out on submission.
  • Complete first draft of An Excuse for Whiskey.
  • Systematic finishing of the short stories I’ve started writing but not finished. I would like to get at least six new stories out the door this year.
  • Plan out a sequel to Graveyard Mind

Stretch Goals for 2017:

  • Edit one of my fallow novel first drafts.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo.
  • Write a few comic scripts.

For January:

  • Finish and submit my 2016 book, which came close, but was not quite ready to submit.
  • Keep my short fiction on submission.
  • Finish revisions on one new story and submit it.

That’s gotta be enough!

Write on!

 

December Goals

How’d I do?

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Reread An Excuse for Whiskey so me and Sandra can get to the end
  • Get my WiP to my first readers

November did not cooperate. I spent entirely too much of my energy following the US election, and I couldn’t muster the concentration to revise a novel. I’d stare at chapter headings and do nothing.

November was also distracting for positive reasons, as I sold my novel Graveyard Mind to ChiZine Publications! Or as Brett Savory, co-founder of ChiZine put it, “New fam, y’all!” I spent a few days overwhelmed with the good news and thank you to everyone who made a point to say congrats, it was appreciated. Very stoked for people to be able to read this one, and to be sharing a publishing house with amazing writers like Michael Rowe, Gemma Files, David Nickle, and so many others whose work I admire tremendously.

It was looking like I wouldn’t get anything new done in November, and then mid-month I had a short story idea. I ran with it, drafting the story over three days, which is unusually fast for me, and then kept at it, to polish it up in time to submit to a themed anthology closing to submissions at the end of the month. It’s a Thunder Road ‘verse story–Loki making a new protagonist’s life “interesting” (as is his custom).

I also figured out how I wanted to fix an old draft of another story, and got it done in time to send off to my writing group for critique (they loved it! YAY!). This one is also a Thunder Road story, featuring the ravens Huginn and Muninn.

Finally, there was another themed anthology closing at the end of the month, and I had an existing story that was close, but not quite suitable, and so I revised that one as well. It was a near thing, but I got the story in (like an hour before deadline). I really wanted to stop working on it because that would have been easier. The revisions I set out to do made the story better (I think) but they were difficult, and I ran the danger of saying something I didn’t intend as I attempted to disentangle some of the tropes in the story. I think it worked out, and fingers crossed the editors feel the same.

I’ve never got two new stories sent away to two different anthologies in the same month, I’ve come close a few times in the past, and then gave up on polishing the second story, so I’m pretty happy about that. I paid for it the day after with a raging headache, but it was worth it.

I did finish my reread of An Excuse for Whiskey and I think I know what I need to write next to get the story going. Funny thing when you’ve got your head down, sometimes you forget you already wrote 7 pages of that next chapter. Hey, I’ll take it. Those seven pages mean I’ll be done sooner, and get to hand the job ball back to Sandra and bug her about finishing the next chapter. Of course, considering, She’s been waiting on my submission since the end of July, if I want to maintain my health I should probably not be too big of a jerk when I’ll get to read her next chapter.

Now’s the time to check back in with those yearly goals:

  • Systematic finishing of the short stories I’ve started writing but not finished. I would like to get at least six new stories out the door this year.
  • Draft, revise, and submit an entirely new novel.
  • Complete first draft on An Excuse for Wolves.
  • Revise 2015 WiP for submission to agents and editors.
  • Keep my short fiction out on submission.

Stretch goals!

  • Edit one of my fallow novel first drafts.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo

Not too shabby!

Not sure I’m going to hit the short story goals, but I’m a lot closer than I was the last time I checked in. I’ve revised or finished three old stories and submitted them, and finished drafting two new ones. I’ve also done revision passes on a novella, and another short story. So…doable, I think. I’m crossing off the keep short fiction on submission, because I’ve been consistent with that all year, and I generally don’t submit stories in December.

I have a new novel, drafted, and have done some revision passes, but it’s not ready to submit yet, but that’s still definitely doable. Unfortunately, I really doubt Sandra and I will finish our first draft of An Excuse for Whiskey this year, but we’re close. So close!

As for those stretch goals, yeah. No way they’re happening this time around. If I’d had the  new book done by November, I would’ve taken a run at NaNoWriMo, but given how the month shook out, I wouldn’t have got to 50K.

And for December? Every year, I try to do too much. Every year I think I’ll get more done during my holidays. I’ve gotta try and be more realistic than I have in the past, December always goes faster than I expect.

  • Finish my WiP novel
  • Clean and organize my office. (One of these years this won’t be necessary)
  • Finish a chapter of An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Finish revisions on three short stories, so that I hit my 6 new stories goal for the year

Shit. I did it again. That’s too much. But here I go anyway.

Write on!

C4 2016 Roundup

Another Central Canada Comic Con has come and gone.

Me and my boothmates! Clare C. Marshall and Samantha Beiko! (Photo by Scott Henderson)

2016 wasn’t my best year at C4, and I’ve been hearing that from a lot of other vendors, despite record attendance, anecdotally speaking, most folks I’ve talked to were down in sales from last year. I imagine those of us in Artist’s Alley were hit the hardest. The last two years, Artist’s Alley was on a separate floor than the Exhibitor Hall, and that worked out great (for me at least) as almost every attendee walked through Artist’s Alley before getting to the Exhibitor’s Hall. This year, not so much.

It was the first year in the newly renovated convention centre, so we’ll have to see. Just as in Saskatoon at Sask Expo, my booth was facing out into a very wide aisle, and there wasn’t much directly across from us, which didn’t help in encouraging people to slow down and linger. A reminder that table placement is always important and unfortunately, not something you can really control. I suppose I could shell out for an endcap booth, but the costs of those are definitely prohibitive for what I’m likely to recoup at one of these events. Maybe if two or three authors pooled to take it on, that would work. Or it might be too many books all in competition in too small of a space.

This year presented me with a lot of variables to think about before next year’s con. C4 wasn’t a disastrous weekend by any stretch, I covered all my costs, made a bit of extra scratch, and got to talk to some returning readers and make some new ones, but it sure didn’t meet expectations.

I hate to be doom and gloom, because I did have a ton of fun. I got to rub elbows with some awesome creative folks I’m fortunate to call friends. On the plus side, I got to share a booth with good friends Clare and Sam, and lots of my convention pals were nearby, even if we were all too busy to hang out much during the show. I was also right beside Shared World colloborators GMB Chomichuk and James Gillespie, who are an amazing font of creativity and energy. Jonathan Ball, the elusive fourth creator in Shared World 2, joined us on Sunday. It’s always nice to have great neighbours.

Also, huge congrats to Scott Henderson for winning a C4 Storyteller Award at C4’s Industry Night celebration!

scott-storyteller

(Photo by Scott Henderson)

Scott’s been a huge supporter of my work from pretty much day one of Thunder Road’s life, I’ve commissioned a bunch of artwork from him, and I’m sure to ask him to do more in the future.

Shared World authors put their editor to work numbering the limited edition print copies.

Halloween hats courtesy of Sam’s mom. Thanks, Mrs. B!

We formed Knife Club, which was mostly wearing promotional temporary tattoos for Jonathan Ball’s The Politics of Knives, and pantomime knifing each other when we weren’t jug banding (sans jug).

Also amazing, Sam and I launched Mythfits #1 and people bought it!

So cool to have a comic we created together out in the world! It was birthed a couple of years ago at C4 when Sam and I shared an Artist’s Alley table, so it was cool to launch the book here as well.

Having a booth instead of a table required a different setup than I normally use, and led to more stress and consternation than I would’ve liked on Thursday night, but I thought I had the problem licked, and the table looked good.

By mid-Saturday, I wasn’t happy with it. Despite being a bookseller for more than a decade, I am not a natural “active” seller. I’ve known this for years, that I’m more comfortable selling other people’s work than my own. It’s a different sort of taxing, and being “on” when you’re inviting people into the booth instead of having the separation of the table between you. It’s something I’ll think on for next year, or the next show I do.

I did an emergency rebuild of my table on Saturday. I think it helped. It’s hard to say, but I was happier with the result, and sales did appear to tick up from that point on.

After my redesign:

I didn’t have as much time as I’d like to peruse the floor and see what everyone else was doing, but I did still come home with a few gems:

It’s like Jessica at Sweet Adeline cross-stiched this just for me!

My contributor’s copies of Spacepig Hamadeus and the Captive Planet, which in addition to several talented creators, includes my story “The Great Martian Train Robbery”  featuring art by Nyco Rudolph! Collectors take note, this is the first sequential comic work for both of us. We were over the damned moon to finally hold the book.

spacepig-copies
Photo by my official-unoffical convention photographer, Andrew Lorenz.

Still getting caught up on Andrew Lorenz’ Legacy but I’m really digging what September17 productions are putting out. Also, can’t wait for Canadian Corps #2!

Once again, C4 fell on the same weekend as the World Fantasy Convention, and as I’ve been to a WFC in Columbus before, I chose the home con to try and make some money rather than spending it. On the plus side, it looks like next year’s conventions will be back to back weekends, not simultaneous, so that’s good (especially since I’ve already bought my membership for World Fantasy in San Antonio)!

Okay, now, for the cosplay photos!

Amazing Deadpool and Wonder Woman!

I am back on a Venture Brothers tear, and the Season Six Blu-Ray was my gift to myself for making it through C4, so it was cool to see The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch representing.

Killer Zatanna and Constantine. Zatanna has always been one of my favourite DC characters, and this duo was great.

Holy shitsnacks, it’s Pam!

There was somebody inside that Tardis, slowly shuffling around the convention floor.

The sons of Lugh were there in force.

This Hawkgirl was amazing. Easily my favourite costume of the year. Her wings could unfurl to probably 15′ across.

Fun Potter family cosplay!

Don’t see a lot of Scientist Princess Bubblegum costumes, and I love that Marceline chose to wear the floppy hat (she was out in the daytime).

R2-D2! I know it’s just a remote controlled giant toy, but it’s still damned hard to resist giving the bucket of bolts a hug.

Lots of Manitoba Ghostbusters out and about this year.

Not as much Thor and Loki cosplay as I’ve seen in previous years, (hopefully I’ll see more when Thor:Ragnarok releases…) but these two were great!

And let’s end the post with a sweet ride, it’s no GTO, but then, my first car was an Impala, so…it’ll do. What a beauty!

Write on!

November Goals

How in the hell is it November already? Seriously. This year has just flown by.

So…how’d I do in October?

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Keep querying agents
  • Prep for C4
  • Finish revising a short story I’ve been noodling with and send it out
  • Get my WiP ready for first readers

Well. That didn’t go as planned.

There’s lots of reasons (excuses) I could list–illness, travel, events, autumn yardwork, birthdays, dayjob eating my spoons–all true, but they don’t really matter. I didn’t get anywhere near what I wanted to accomplish in October.

I didn’t have any short stories come back this month, so I didn’t have anything to send back out. I also didn’t send out any new stories. There’s still a few stories that are under consideration, so that’s okay. I didn’t get my next round of agent queries out, and I’ll probably wait until the new year to start querying again. That book is still under consideration with a few agents from my initial rounds, so we’ll see what happens there.

Got my C4 prep done, but it was a near thing! I was still some printing signage on the opening day of the con, but I got done what needed doing. C4 was fun. It was awesome to spend an weekend hanging with Samantha Beiko and Clare Marshall at our booth. Lots of cool stuff happened. More on that later in my C4 2016 Roundup post.

I finally finished a story I’ve been puttering with since January, and got it to my writing group for critique. I’m counting that because I badly needed a victory this month. The story still needs a bit of a spit polish, but it should be out on submission soon. It’s a fun one (I originally started it for a comedy anthology) set in the Thunder Road ‘verse, but with a completely different voice, and a protagonist inspired partly by one of my writer pals, who I hope won’t hold this fictional pastishe of her misadventures with wildlife against me (or at least, will only seek revenge via Tuckerization).

The big one eluded me again. The novel WiP is nowhere near ready for my first readers. Inserting the new scenes and smoothing things over has taken more time than I’d like, and I’ve been more distracted/exhausted than I’d like. It’s coming along though. I’m hopeful that I’ll still have this one out on submission by year’s end.

And for November?

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Reread An Excuse for Whiskey so me and Sandra can get to the end
  • Get my WiP to my first readers

Write on.