2011 was not my greatest year as a fiction writer.
Out of 44 submissions, I made a single sale: “Ascension” to AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review. While thrilled, some of the rejections were to markets I really wanted to be a part of, namely Mike Kelly’s Chilling Tales II and Blood Bound Books’ Night Terrors II.
Perhaps that’s because this year was mostly a year of revisions. I didn’t turn out as many original stories as I would like, instead going back to older stories and revising them, using skills I have sharpened to fix mistakes I hadn’t realized I’d made. In retrospect, this was not the best strategy. Some of these stories are too long to be marketable, and others are still not at a level I am happy with.
My career, however, gathered a lot of momentum.
In January, I was thrilled to hear Cast Macabre‘s version of my short story “While Gabriel Slept” (sold in 2010) after a number of other audio markets said they loved it, but didn’t know how to make it work. This rendition chilled me… and I wrote the story! (Download the MP3). Later in the year, Cast Macabre also accepted my ghost story “The Weak Son” (first published in Tesseracts Thirteen), but the site seems to be on hiatus and I don’t know when things will get rolling again.
In mid-2011, I learned “Touch the Sky, They Say,” published on AE, had been nominated for a Aurora Award. While I ultimately lost to my friend Hayden Trenholm, it was a great honour and great experience, especially the support D.F. McCourt from AE gave me. And my friends from ChiZine Publications Erik Mohr, Helen Marshall and Sandra Kasturi won Auroras for their work.
I also made a good friend in Adam Shaftoe, editor of the Page of Reviews site, who interviewed me twice for his podcast and ran reviews of my stories “Full Moon Hill,” “Touch the Sky, They Say” and “Ascension.” He also name-checked me in reviewing Contagion, using my thoughts on what makes a horror story (which was inspired by Gemma Files) to try to define the film.
Speaking of naming checking, Helen Michaud, non-fiction editor over at AE, called me out in her essay “Over the Transom: A Rose Without a Name is Not as Cool a Companion.” Her premise is that characters should be named. Trying to use nameless “he” and “I” and “you” in order to add a certain mystery to the story often falls flat. However, she used “Touch the Sky, They Say” and “Ascension” as exceptions that prove the rule.
In non-fiction news, editorials I wrote ran on AE (about “dark SF”) and The Page of Reviews (about whether we still need to vigoursly defend genre distinctions). Another editorial on the decline of science fiction and rise of fantasy, which I co-wrote with Adam, will appear in On Spec.
I attended Ad Astra, the World Horror Convention and SFCOntario, sitting on panels, catching up with friends and making new ones. Since attending Ad Astra 2008 as a nobody, I find myself run off my feet at these conventions, knowing so many people and often leaving with regrets I didn’t get a chance to talk to this person or that.
I am looking forward to 2012. I have learned a lot over this past year and hope to apply it in the year to come. My goal is to “bring the awesome” (as I am calling it). Not just writing what comes to mind, but telling chilling horror stories and thought provoking sci-fi.
In closing, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who made me feel welcome, appreciated and a part of the wonderful speculative fiction community. I’m looking forward to spending more time with you in 2012.
The ChiZine Connection: Brett Savory, Sandra Kasturi, Helen Marshall, Laura Marshall, Sam Beiko, Brent Hayward, Bob Boyczuk, David Nickle, Gemma Files, Nick Kaufmann, Claude Lalumière, Derryl Murphy, Mike Rowe, Doug Smith, Paul Tremblay, Erik Mohr, Barry King, Kevin Nunn, Tristan Joseph, Rio Youers, Ryan McFadden, Corey Beep
Authors & Editors: Mike Kelly, Madeline Ashby, Suzanne Church, Matt Johnson, D.F. McCourt, Helen Michaud, Diane Walton, Adam Shaftoe, Julie Czerneda
The East Block Irregulars: Derek Kunsken, Peter Atwood, Marie Bilodeau, Hayden Trenholm, Liz Westbrook-Trenholm, Geoff Gander, Agnes Cadieux
See you all next year!