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June 7th, 2012

2012 Part I

Today I finished indexing my forthcoming book Trick or Treat?: A History of Halloween. This probably doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment (unless you've ever indexed a non-fiction book, in which case you know the real meaning of the word "drudgery"), but for me this marks a major turning point. 

The last year has been undoubtedly the hardest of my life. With two non-fiction books that were being worked on simultaneously  (the other was the just-released Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times), a number of smaller fiction assignments, a major event to plan (the 2012 Bram Stoker Awards presentation), an increasingly difficult day job (being employed by the Iliad Bookshop now means you run as fast as you can for eight solid hours) and an elderly parent (mom) recuperating from a difficult surgery to be looked after, I've frequently been too tired to sleep. 

The event was finished in April, the parent is recovering (although a second surgery may be needed), and - as of today, and that index - the non-fiction books are done. DONE. D-O-N-E. 

Now I attempt to turn my attention back to fiction. Over the last year, I haven't completely forsaken the art of prose; I've managed a few short stories. But I've also made a lot of promises to deliver short stories, naively believing when I agreed to these deals (many months ago) that I'd have plenty of time. Yeah, right. I know.

I've missed deadlines already, but editors are kindly letting me take a few extra days to deliver. 

To motivate myself and do a little good in the process, I've signed up for the Clarion Write-a-Thon. If you don't know the Clarion Writers Workshop, you should; they are one of the premiere training programs for up-and-coming speculative writers. The Write-a-Thon will help them raise money to continue their magnificent program.

My goal: Four short stories and one novella in the next two months. 

I already know the plots and (in three cases) the titles of the pieces I'll be working on; these things have been sitting on the back burners of my brain's stove top, simmering away and waiting their chance to move up to the front flames. I plan on posting excerpts of these as I work through them, and I hope some of you might enjoy taking this journey with me. Here's a look at the works to-be-in-progress:

"Zolamin and the Mad God" - a dark fantasy (with a side helping of religious commentary) for an anthology of Hyperborea stories. 

"The True Worth of Orthography" - a contemporary horror fantasy about the power of the art of writing (meaning, writing as in the actual process of putting pen to paper to create letters).

Untitled - an after-death science fiction/horror hybrid about the unintended consequences of recording consciousness.

Untitled - a horror tale about a psychiatrist who starts absorbing her patients' psychoses.

And the big one - Summer's End - a Halloween horror novella about a Halloween expert who gets involved with some rather - ahem - uncomfortable new discoveries about the Celtic forerunner of Halloween, Samhain.

And who knows...I may even come up with one or two stories along the way that aren't on this list. I just know these are the ones I have now committed myself to completing. Wish me luck - if the first half of this year is any indication, I'll need it.