2019 – The Year in Review on Writing and Publishing

Posted: December 29, 2019 in writing
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2019roundup
Overview

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of accomplishments of the past year and reflect on upcoming goals.

In general, 2019 was packed with exciting books, TV and movie releases in horror and other genre fiction. There are plenty of lists out there detailing some of the standouts (here and here, for example). Overall, the wealth of genre stories hitting mainstream audiences is encouraging for those of us who toil in realms of the fantastical and strange.

Personally, this was a productive year of writing for me. I wrote a number of short stories in 2019 as well as two novellas. With a demanding full-time job and wild two-year-old to take care of, I found it more important than ever to carve out writing time.

Before having a kid, I was a little worried that balancing my attention between my job and offspring would result in zero time for writing. This year proved the opposite. I realized that my increase in writing is not despite caring for a two-year-old but, in part, because of it, contrary to what many assume (including myself at one point). Being a parent forces you to manage time better and appreciate mindfulness: you multitask like crazy and value solitude so more. When I had all the time in the world to write I produced very little; now that writing time is more precious, I’m forced to focus and make the most of my writing time. 

Having a kid is like strapping a ticking clock to your head; the list of to-dos is endless and time is always short. At the same time, you relive your own childhood again through their eyes. This heightened sense of mortality and reduced free time makes me write more urgently. And when your identity is consumed by parenthood, writing (or any other passion) is a way to replenish the self that day-to-day living can wear down.

Aside from parenthood, three things of note helped my writing kick up a notch this year:

1. Writing Workshop

I was accepted into the 2019 Borderlands Bootcamp, where I connected with other authors for an intense weekend of beta reading and story feedback in Baltimore. This genre-focused writing workshop featured instructors Tom Monteleone, Douglas E. Winter, F. Paul Wilson and Ginjer Buchanan. I can’t stress enough how helpful this was for me to get myself in gear, accumulate helpful feedback on a scifi novel-in-progress, and continue to experiment with and refine new short story ideas.

2. Flash Fiction Writing Community

From the workshop, I connected with fellow writers and started doing a low-pressure, weekly flash fiction contest at various points throughout the year, run by the talented Donna J. W. Munro. Participating in this forced me to write (and complete!) a number of short stories. It also seeded the idea for a Labyrinth-inspired novella, “The Final Hour,” about a captive forced to rule a goblin realm.

3. NaNoWriMo

“National Novel Writing Month” is a worldwide effort that happens every November. Free to participate and open to everyone, NaNoWriMo is an online and in-person community where writers aim to finish a novel (50k words) in one month. Something as simple as a collective word-count tracker helped me outline and draft a story idea I had been kicking around for a while. While I fell short of the 50k goal in one month, I accomplished my personal goal: to write at least a few hundred words nearly every day of the month and complete a second novella/novel, a weird west horror adventure.

Additional factors that helped boost my writing:

4. Outlining

For a long time, I’ve written without a formal outline (“pantser”) but for NanoWrimo 2019 I tried the snowflake method of outlining, created by physicist and author Randy Ingermanson. This method was a perfect middle ground for me: not as detailed as notecards but focused enough so I didn’t get hopelessly lost in the weeds. This method helped me stay on track on my fantasy adventure western story and find a path through the difficult middle spots.

5. Local Writing Community

As always I am thankful for the group of local writers through the Horror Writers Association and other writing groups, as well as the San Diego treasure Mysterious Galaxy, a bookstore haven for genre writers and readers.

Year-End Roundup

As for my numbers, in 2019 I wrote 14 new stories and had 7 acceptances. Reprints in 2019 included “Better Halves” to the debut issue of Macabre Museum magazine in October and “A Dusty Arrival” in Uchronia: Alternate Histories & Alternate Worlds, available this month.

New stories accepted in 2019 included “Vermin” in Unnerving Magazine; “Protection” in Frozen Wavelets issue #1; and “Cup of Holiday Cheer” in Christmas Lites IX, all published in 2019. Two new stories were also chosen for publication in 2020: “Minor Malfunction” in Running Wild Press Anthology of Stories, Volume 4; and “Maternal Bond” in a soon-to-be-announced anthology.

In addition to the 14 new stories (two of which are novellas), I pitched, wrote and published three fiction-related essays in Aurealis Magazine throughout the year: “What’s Next for the Weird West,” “A Horror Renaissance,” and “Legendary Women of Horror.”

I am incredibly grateful for the writing and editing community, particularly in the areas of genre fiction. I am also indebted to friends and family who provide support in this tough craft. I hope the coming year leads to new stories that provide respite, intrigue or food for thought.

Happy 2020! 
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Keep writing! Keep reading!

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