Before I jump into a bout of nostalgia and reflection of the last ten years, I'd like to take a second to recognize the atrocious, pointless invasion that is occurring on the other side of the world right now. I recognize that it's one thing to observe tragedy from a distance, and another to live through it. There are numerous ways to show support if you are able and wish to. From fundraisers, to the Red Cross, to booking stays and tours through organizations like AirBnB to get direct support into the hands of those living through this... for lack of better words: complete and utter bullshit.
Right... So... Ten years ago I was sitting in my undergraduate capstone class, trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life (FYI - still no clue, but just chilling sounds pretty good at this point) when my phone buzzed with an email. My first acceptance for a piece of writing... ever. The piece, a short horror story that took place in a hospital (go figure) was accepted into an anthology. Unfortunately, like so many small presses, the group that put the anthology into the world is no longer active, and since it was three laptops and several email addresses ago, my only copy of the story is a contributor's ARC sitting on my shelf - but ALAS! That acceptance for Snow & Cognac was technically the start of my writing endeavors.
And now it's been ten years... Ten. Years. When you're standing at the front end of a decade, it seems like an immense amount of time that will take beyond forever to navigate through. Looking back though? Probably common sense to a lot of people but, stars above it goes by so fast.
One thing I wish I did, but whether for ego purposes or something else, I did not, was keep track of how many rejections I've gotten since then. I know it's well over three hundred. Well over. But, I couldn't tell you a hard and fast number. What I can tell you, is that in ten years I've scored some wins:
All of them are catalogued here if you're interested at what ridiculous titles I came up with. And, while acceptances are a great, tangible way to track my writing over the past decade (I still can't believe it's been that long) the major thing I want to highlight from the last ten years are the people I've met and subsequently become close with. Editors, booksellers, fellow writers - especially the ones who put up with me every two weeks during our writing group - it's been so much fun working/playing/and just genuinely having fun talking about books, publishing, and words on the page. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Ten years is enough time to thoroughly experience peaks and valleys. And while the pluses definitely outweigh the minuses, sometimes getting through those low points is, well, it's fucking tough. Whether it's rejection, a sour contract, imposter syndrome, lack of inspiration/motivation, or a general why am I investing so much time to just be handed rejections again? Those stretches can wear on you.
But in the end, the wins are worth it. Whether they come fast and furious for a little while or are stretched out over years with the next one shimmering in the distance like an oasis, leaving you to wonder if you'll ever reach it. You will. Just keep writing and you will.
So, if you're a friend or family member who's been along for the ride with me since that first email - thanks for sticking with me. And for anyone who's ever picked up a story or piece of writing with my byline on it, thank you for reading. In a world with so much going on, I'm immensely grateful that you chose to spend a few minutes with something I've put out there.
Stay safe - see you in another decade
It's cold. It's dark. It's February... And the tundra goes on forever. Well, only in my dreams and places farther north than I've had the chance to go... yet. The arctic circle is inching higher on the list, coming soon. But, that's another story. Right now? The first month of 2022 is over, a lot has happened, and a lot is in the works. But first? The January reads.
One month and five books, only one of which was eh. I'll consider that a win. But that begs the question - which was the best? I had no intention of rereading Station Eleven this year, but after only one episode of the new HBO show, I knew I had to dive back into this world (and all the subsequent ones *cough* The Glass Hotel). And Jesus am I glad I did (also, side note, see below for another Jesus reference).
If you haven't read Station Eleven and you can stomach a book about a pandemic, I implore you to pick this one up and read it. Through gorgeous, gorgeous prose, Shakespeare references, and a cast of characters that everyone will relate to in some way, Mandel will repeatedly show you why survival is insufficient.
Now, Station Eleven reread aside, if I had to not cheat and pick a book that wasn't already one of my favorites of all time, I'd have to give the best January read to The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard. Told from a unique perspective (first-person plural), the POV will either work for you or it will grate your very senses. Luckily, I was in the former of those two camps.
So... what else is happening you ask? And no, we're not at the other Jesus reference yet, hold tight. I promise it's coming.
Announced a few weeks ago, I've been working behind the scenes to assist fellow author and friend Liz Delton as the guest editor for Tourmaline & Quartz's first short story anthology Kingdoms of Wrath and Ice. To get a better sense of what we're looking for and hear a little bit more about me and what got me started writing - hint, fan fiction of some kind... check out an interview I did with Liz here.
And get those stories ready!
Well, till next time friends... oh wait, the Jesus thing. Apparently, according to what I've heard from Carla Marie & Anthony (You Look Great by the way) the 33rd year of your life is where you're reborn in some way, shedding something from your past and starting fresh. Or, if you're anything like that guy from the religious texts, it's the year you'll start a revolution and wind up nailed to a cross, reborn as a spiritual figure that's the focus of many, many years to come.
I'll settle for a glass of Macallan 12 year.
Here's to another year around the sun. Let's make it a good one, friends. Cheers.
There are three types of people in the world right now:
Little Fish follows a young couple (Olivia Cook, Jack O'Connell) as they navigate the world while a memory loss virus is spreading through society, threatening their relationship and the history they share with one another.
Overall, Little Fish, was a great movie. While there were some scenes and sequences that didn't jive with me, these were far and few between. Both Cook and O'Connell showed vivid emotion in their character portrayals and the relationship between them was what really hit home - though I'm a sucker for tears and slow burn tragedy. Give me millennial heartbreak and we'll be best friends.
While the story may have begun as an examination of Alzheimers or dementia, being released in 2020/2021, the content takes on another layer for those in the audience. While watching, it isn't difficult to see the parallels with the current state of the global health crisis, however I think it's important to note that memory loss is a real plague on families and loved ones, and I think Little Fish does a great job of respectfully illustrating that struggle. If you can stomach pandemic-esque media, I definitely recommend giving this one a watch. As of this post, it's available to stream on Hulu.
Cheers and be safe out there!
That wasn't the news or social media... That's the important question. I'm scared to look at how much time I wasted on either of those two black holes, but I digress. As far as reading actual books go, while I was able to hit my initial goal of 24 (yay!) I fell short of reaching the stretch goal of 36. Ironically, I wound up right in between them at 30 so I guess that's something.
Now, in terms of non-fiction... Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe was a phenomenal examination of the Troubles and the continued political and cultural fallout surrounding Belfast, London, and independence. Coming in close behind, was Alexi Pappas's memoir Bravey. Being in the head of a former olympian was enlightening to say the least. Definitely recommend it for anyone who has a competitive bone in their body.
I hope your reads were as entertaining and enjoyable as the ones I finally moved from TBR to my Read pile. And here's to 2022 (not 20-20-too)...
Be safe. Have fun. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
If there's one thing the pandemic has shown us, for those fortunate enough to have the opportunity, it's that we are in the golden age of media. Between books, music, movies, games... the supply is endless. Compounded by the high-stakes competition between streaming services, the push to bring quality entertainment to the masses is purely on fire. And we reap the benefits. While there are always shows, books, and the like we constantly return to (I should be an honorary cast member of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), the amount of new material thrust into the world is remarkable. In books alone the number is staggering. According to a UNESCO study (data from 2013) it is estimated that 2.2 million books are published world wide. It goes on to break down that number by country and by self/traditional publishing but holy shit, right? If you can't find something you love in that pool then, well, I don't know what to tell you. If you are looking for something new to read, here's a few suggestions from my favorite books so far this year.
Current recommendations all said and done, here's one more in a slightly different light: I'm thrilled to say I've had a short story accepted into Redwood-Press's horror anthology: The Lost Librarian's Grave. The story, Valhalla is a Lie, follows a trio of mercenaries as they make their way from Buffalo to Boston while being hunted by Valkyries. Little bit of Norse-inspired horror before Halloween. Can't go wrong there. I'm excited to see other acceptances roll in and the project taking off. More to come as it becomes available.
Until next time, cheers and all the best. Stay safe and well!