A Look Back at 2015

Now that the ball has dropped for the new year and all the confetti has fallen, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year. 2015 was filled with a bunch of amazing new experiences, new friends, and new stories. Here are a few life-changing events from last year, some good, some bad, everything memorable.

Plenty of Trips

We were fortunate last year to have the World Horror Convention be hosted in Atlanta, GA. It was the first time it had been there since the early 1990s when it was first getting started. I had never been to a writing convention before, let alone one dedicated specifically to horror, so this was a very new experience for me. It had a huge impact on my writing. For the first time I felt more comfortable in the genres that I work in and with how difficult my writing can sometimes be to categorize. [May 2015]

In June I went on a family trip down to the beach, introducing them to a quiet little island I love to visit near the border of Florida known as Amelia Island. I got to see my nephew, who wasn’t quite a year old at the time, get to see sand and the ocean for the first time. It was really hard to get him out of the water! Even though the temperatures were unusually high (over 100ºF every day), everyone had a blast. [June 2015]

September was quite a busy month for us. We decided to go to DragonCon for a single day last year since we couldn’t book a room for the whole weekend. (Every major hotel sells out typically in a matter of minutes each year.) Still I love going, and this time I even tried doing a cosplay. We took Marta up, which saved us the headache of trying to find parking, but we did end up standing in line for over an hour to get tickets. Atlanta is damn hot in September, so I did somewhat regret my Victorian gown, but it was still lots of fun. We also found a new friend and then got asked to pose for *so many photos*. The rest of our evening was put on hold because we found ourselves getting interviewed by a news group and then had to pry ourselves away from fans to grab some food. I think that was when I started to love cosplay. We’ve already booked rooms and bought tickets for next year by the way, and we may even be putting together a panel. [early September 2015]

Later that month, our awesome new friend convinced us to go to AWACon, just north of Atlanta. We were dubious at first, because the only fan convention we had been to was DragonCon, and this one was much lower key. However we had worked on our cosplays a bit more by then, and even attended some group photography sessions while we were there. That was so much fun, that we’re already planning to go next year as well with even more updated cosplays. [late September 2015]

The following month, we were off again on another family trip, this time down to Disney World to enjoy the Halloween event. We had never been during Halloween before, but this was such a surprisingly good time that again, we’re planning to go next year as well. Their musical number this year featured the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus (they change it up each year), and it was such a blast!

They had a special parade and fireworks displays and we even got pictures with Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. On top of that, we ran into some friends completely by accident. They had to move across the country a few years back. We ended up spending a whole day with them in Magic Kingdom. Obviously that trip was meant to be. [October 2015]

New Stories

I was so inspired after going to the World Horror Convention in May, that I went into Camp NaNoWriMo with an attack plan. I outlined 4 weird horror stories and then set about writing them. I finished them all. Three of them I got edited and shipped out to publishers, and one of them was picked up almost immediately (“Tiny Necks” due out in February). Another horror story, one I had almost given up on, also got picked up too (“A Slippery Customer” due out in January). Both of these stories made it so I could get membership into the Horror Writer’s Association as an Affiliate. Honestly, it’s all been going so well, I’m still rather shocked. I also finished up a fantasy story recently that had some very high praise from several critters on Scribophile. If you’ve been on that site much, you know that positive feedback must be earned haha.

On top of these shorts, I also finished up a very dark YA werewolf novella that I’ve been struggling with for years and started shipping that around. I also finished up the final draft for Beyond the Treehouse (aka. Madam Cloom’s Garden) which has been a work in progress for at least two years. It too has started making the rounds, and I’m pleased with how far it’s come.

Friends Lost and New Ones Made

SalemFluffy

Salem 9/29/2009 – 12/4/2015

Last year wasn’t all cheerful though. I had made a post back in September about my sweet kitty Salem’s declining health and how worried we were about him. We thought he would get better, but that didn’t happen. His health only went downhill, and throughout several of our trips he had some worrisome issues.

I got a call from the vet while standing outside of Pirates of the Carribean with my friends who I hadn’t seen in ages. In a corner beside plastic swords and jolly rogers plaques, I talked with a vet about whether it was time to put him down or not. Thank goodness I was in the Happiest Place on Earth, otherwise I probably would have broken down into tears that moment. While my friends went to go ride on a roller coaster, I watched a parade pass by and had some time to do some thinking. Sometimes being away from home helps you analyze what needs to be done.

Salem had gotten to the point where he couldn’t even jump up on the couch without stopping to breathe hard for a long time. His lungs just couldn’t take in oxygen easily, and you could tell he was suffering. On December 4th, we made an appointment to euthanize him. That was such a difficult decision. Our parents were there, surprising us as we were about to walk out the door, and their presence really helped us get through it. Our kind vet, who helped us from the very beginning, said that at least we can choose to end his suffering. That was a long and difficult two weeks afterwards for us while work wound down and the Christmas holidays approached.

Quickster_UpsideDown

Quickster — Adopted 12/19/2015

Knowing what we would have to do, and having a second kitty at home who would be very lonely without his friend, we had already been in touch with a family who needed to rehome their deaf cat. They were worried about putting her up for adoption with her disability, and we were happy to step in and help. So we now have an adorable little deaf kitty, named Quickster, running wildly around the house. It took about a week to get her and Watson used to each other, and now they play regularly. She can get rather cranky when she doesn’t get her wet food in time, but she loves to snuggle and is such a sweetie. Since she’s deaf, she tries to look at everything all at once (as you can see from the picture), which I think is a pretty smart way to do anything.

All in all, 2015 was a heck of a year with lots of ups, but some very deep lows. I’m hoping 2016 is full of even more high peaks as well. I know I’ve been absent for a while, but life’s been a little chaotic. To get back on the blogging wagon, I’ve signed up for WordPress’ Blogging 101 event this year, so you’ll likely see me posting a lot more often. Especially since I’ve got two anthologies coming out soon!

The Promise of the Pantheon

Have you guys seen the Gods of Egypt trailer? If so, then you’re probably just as confused about how it reflects ancient Egyptian mythology as I am. If not, then here you go:

Now my first reaction was at how white the actors were for this film. This is ancient Egypt, right? In fact, an article on that topic was the first hit when I did a Google search for the film just now. My second reaction was, wait, are those supposed to be Egyptian gods? And that shield is breaking in slow-motion, right?

The only main woman I saw wasn’t even willing to do anything herself. She just wanted to convince the male protagonist to do it instead. Coming from a land where you had awesome ladies like Cleopatra, Nefertiti, and the goddess Isis, I kind of expected a more interesting female character, even if she isn’t the main protagonist. Yes, I haven’t seen the film yet of course, but so far it’s ticking a lot of boxes for me that make me want to avoid it.

I expected more from a film that was supposed to focus on the Gods of Egypt, or at least ancient Egypt. I guess I’ve been spoiled by the awesome stories covered over at HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast such as Under the Pyramids starring Houdini and The Mummy’s Foot. Sure they’re both kind of ridiculous stories in a way, but they still have at least some respect for the original culture and lore.

One of the best comparisons I’ve read for this film came from a CinemaBlend article:

Basically what we have here is the recent Clash of the Titans remake with the serial numbers filed off and the geography changed to Egypt in order to change the names of the characters.

Bingo. That’s what this movie feels like, and that makes me sad. The ancient Egyptian pantheon has so many interesting stories and unique characters that there are endless entertaining tales that could be spun regarding them. Just reading over Isis’s Wikipedia page gives plenty of interesting ideas, like how she creates a golden phallus for her dead husband. That’s true dedication there.

So my sister and I came up with a challenge. I told her that if she wants to see more interesting stories with the Egyptian gods in them, then we need to write them ourselves. So that’s what we’re going to do.

We have until the end of the year to each write a short story (doesn’t have to be anything long) that includes one of the many gods. Personally I’m leaning toward Thoth, and it’ll likely include something horrific, because why not? He’s always been one of my favorites. Did you know they used to mummify ibises in his honor? They found a ton of these guys (estimated at 1.5 million) in one of the catacombs.

Anybody else wish there were more interesting ancient Egyptian stories around?

A Spark of Light in the Rain

I feel like I’ve leveled up, despite the fact that I’m sitting here on the shoulder of I-75 waiting for a police officer to show up. It’s pouring down rain, lightening occasionally streaks across the sky, a long line of brake lights builds to my left, and the people who hit me on this imposing night sit in a darkened vehicle behind me. It’s not exactly the most enjoyable place to be blogging, but honestly I have nothing better to do.

Despite this turn of bad luck, I do believe things are getting better. When I sold my short story, “A Slippery Customer”, to Creepy Campfire Quarterly, I qualified to become an Affiliate member. Hence the new fancy icon on the sidebar over there. I now have access to their resources and their expertise to help me climb the slow and steady writing mountain.

To be honest, I’m still pretty floored about it. A membership like that felt like an impossibility a few years ago, back when small horror presses like Pill Hill Press and Wicked East Press were disappearing. Horror felt like an impossibly tough nut to crack, but now it appears the tides are turning – which is good news to the horror fans out there!

I took a moment earlier today to thank Jennifer Word, the editor of the upcoming anthology, to letting her know that as a writer I really appreciate her work. I think it’s because of small presses like hers that the horror genre is slowly coming back to life.

 

* Note: Most of this was written on the side of the road, but since the police showed up, I had to cut it off mid-draft and finish it the following day.

More Frights on the Way!

Whew, now that all the excitement from Dragon*Con has passed, I think I have time to give another horror story announcement, jam packed with far more monsters than I saw at the con. (I did see a ton of War Boys and Jokers though! We also passed a gaggle of assassins from Assassin’s Creed and saw a bazillion amazing Deadpools.)

Their numbers were legion…

Just as I’m still reeling from having one horror story picked up for Creepy Campfire Quarterly, I find out another one has been picked up!

It’s quite a dark tale with many feathers and unforgettable characters. “Tiny Necks” will soon be published in Not Your Average Monster Volume 2, set to tentatively be released around the end of February 2016. *Cue the confetti!*

I’ve always been a fan of monster stories. I think a good chunk of that is due to my mom, who I have many memories of getting ready for work in the morning with some strange monster flick on TV. As such, monsters have a way of creeping into my imagination, and show up in all sorts of ways in the stories that I write. When I saw this anthology was being put together, I knew the exact story I wanted to toss into the hat!

If you want to see the full list of stories set to be included in Volume 2, check out the full listing.

And if you can’t wait that long to get some good old fashioned monster horror stories in your hands, don’t worry. Volume 1 will be having a cover reveal soon, which I’ll be sure to post here too don’t worry.

For now I’m going to try to remember how to live in the real world again post-con.

Cover Reveal and Kitty Update

It has been a ridiculously crazy few weeks! Sometimes it feels like I’m barely able to keep afloat of everything that’s going on, and when that happens I find myself at a loss for words when I finally come back to blog. Now I have to figure out how the heck to even start.

Why not begin with the good news? Take a look at this fabulous cover that’s coming up for Creepy Campfire Quarterly #1, which will feature my gruesome horror story, “A Slippery Customer”, set to be released January 20, 2016.

Creepy Campfire Quarterly #1 -- Cover

Isn’t it awesome? I’m really looking forward to reading all the other spine-tingling short stories too! Be sure to drop by the Facebook page and drop a Like, so you can stay abreast of this series. They’ve got additional horror books set to come out soon, including a Science Fiction horror themed one.

In other news, my cat Salem who I’ve had for 6+ years has been diagnosed with severe asthma. This was after he had to spend a weekend in an oxygen tank at the vet’s office, poor kitty.

SalemWe’ve got him on pills daily, which he absolutely loves to take trust me, and he’s doing better. He’s still coughing regularly and gets out of breath too, but at least he’s not having to live in an oxygen tank anymore. We also learned that he’s probably much older than we thought. When we adopted him they told us he was around 2 years old, which would make him around 8 now. Instead the vet estimates he’s at least 11. It’s just one of those things you can’t predict when you adopt fur babies. He’s been getting lots of love though, and other than his daily pill, we let him do pretty much whatever he wants.

Here’s hoping he keeps feeling better!