2014 On The Cookfire (While 2015 Paces In Its Cage)


HA HA HA, SUCK IT, 2014.

*flings 2014 in front of a passing subway train*

*a train piloted by 2015*

*splat*

Actually, I shouldn’t be too hard on poor 2014 — while I know many others had a hellish year, I was actually pretty fortunate. The year past was full of good stuff. I did a lot of traveling — Toronto, Vancouver, Tucson, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, and more. Did quite a lot of writing, too: Zeroes, Thunderbird (aka the next Miriam Black book), The Harvest (the third Heartland book), a YA thing (as-yet-unpublished) called Dust & Grim, and I finished up my serialized novella, The Forever Endeavor. Mucho big grande word count, there. Plus: wrote a couple new short stories — “Big Man” for the Dangerous Games anthology, and “Queen of the Supermarket” for Trouble In The Heartland (which is a Springsteen-themed anthology, not one related to my young adult Heartland series). Oh oh oh, and let’s not forget that me and Adam Christopher penned the first couple issues of The Shield reboot for Archie/Dark Circle, thus fulfilling the ancient blood pacts and allowing me to have done work in novels, games, film, television, and now comics. WITH THE GATEWAYS OPEN THE WORLD SHUDDERS LIKE A DYING, FEVER-BITTEN ANIMAL AND ALL SHALL SOON END.

Or something like that.

I wrote about 750,000 words this year, between bookish stuff and bloggy things.

This was also the year I got to share a stage with the likes of Lev Grossman, Erin Morgenstern, Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood to celebrate her 75th birthday in New York. (My life is super-weirdo-amazing, you guys.)

Did I have a writing shed installed? Why yes, I did:

(Haven’t moved into the shed yet — still needs furniture. This week!)

On a personal level, everything has been pretty damn great. B-Dub is growing at an alarming rate, suggesting that by the year 2016 he will be gleefully stomping cities underneath his kaiju feet. Christmas with the tot was a wonderful time — he has now graduated to the BIG KID LEGO sets, leaving his Duplo bricks in the dust. (His first sets in the larger LEGO space were, of course, Minecraft because holy shit is this kid obsessed with Minecraft.) My wonderful wife continues to be fooled by my ruse, and has not yet realized that I am a terrible human being and bearded weirdo. (And this was also the year we took our first family vacation.)

The one personal hit this year was the loss of our little taco terrier, Tai, who wrestled for months with a gastrointestinal disorder that ultimately forced our hand and so we had to put our little poochie to rest. A sad day and I still sometimes hear her little paws clicking on our floors.

One thing I know for sure? 2014 was hella busy. And 2015 will be the same.

But, let’s be honest. That’s a damn good problem to have.

The Books of 2014

Publishing-wise, I had a few books out this year — The Cormorant (Miriam Black, book #3) technically released on 12/31/13, but it didn’t really reach shelves until 2014, so fuck it, I say it’s fair to call that a 2014 book. (Releasing a book on the very ass-crack of the annual transition is not ideal, by the way. Sadly easy for your book to get lost in that fissure.)

Blightborn, the second Heartland book, came out over the summer. It’s a book I’m very fond of, honestly — and no, I don’t say that about all of my books, many are books I’d like to go back and pick at again and again like a monkey grooming its child of ticks and mites. But Blightborn is for me a complete package, and is a book I’m content to psychically let it exist as it is. (I’ll note too that Blightborn is like, two bucks at Amazon right now until the end of the year. So too is the first book, Under the Empyrean Sky.)

At the same time Blightborn released, so did a short story — “The Wind Has Teeth Tonight” — a little $0.99 endeavor that is actually set before the entire series begins, chronicling the, erm, cornpunk mutant-rat-infested meet-cute between Cael and Gwennie out in an old Empyrean corn processing facility.

Finally, I self-published a couple new writing books this year, too: 500 Ways To Write Harder, and 30 Days In The Word Mines. Thanks to all those who came along and checked those out.

Plus, I sold a lot of books this year, too — many of which will come out in 2015.

Which leads me to…

The Books of 2015

What’s coming up?

Well, that’s a darn good question, isn’t it?

January, 2015: Atlanta Burns. My YA crime noir story — Veronica Mars on Adderall, Nancy Drew with a shotgun, Winter’s Bone set in Pennsyltucky. (For those asking, this is indeed a re-edit of Shotgun Gravy and Bait Dog — it takes the two of them and turns them into one more cohesive story.)

First-quarter 2015: the re-release of the first three Miriam Black books come out with Saga, the new SFF imprint under Simon & Schuster. New covers, new polish (meaning, proper copy-edits and formatting). Blackbirds, MockingbirdThe Cormorant both come out in digital first, soon followed by print (I believe trade paperback).

July, 2015: The Harvest, the third and final Heartland novel. After the Saranyu disaster and the rise of the Empyrean Initiative, how will the Heartland recover? Is Cael alive? Will the people of the corn fight back and rise up against the Empyrean?

August, 2015: Zer0es, a hackers-versus-an-NSA-artificial-intelligence thriller. Given a lot of the hacker news that’s going on, I’m pretty excited to have this one come out. Hardcover.

Fall, 2015: Thunderbird, the fourth Miriam Black novel. Hardcover, I’m told!

Fall, 2015: [REDACTED] — nope, can’t talk about this one, yet.

Plus, I’ve got scads and buckets and buttloads of writing to do this year — stuff I’m super-excited to write and finish. I get to tackle new Miriam Black, new Atlanta Burns, a SF-thriller I’ve been geeked to write for years but never had the chance, and that little [REDACTED] thing up there I mentioned, too. Plus I might end up releasing my short story collection (Crass Menagerie) and a story-focused writing book I’ve been working on, The Penmonkey’s Guide To Giving Good Story. And I’m sure some other tricks and treats will trickle in along the way.

The Travel of 2015

Gonna be all over the map in 2015, so, let’s get to it:

4/30: Paradise Lost writing workshop in San AntionioTX.

6/27: Seton Hill University to give a talk

7/15: Camp NECon, Portsmouth, RI: writer guest of honor!

7/23: Midwest Writer’s Workshop (Muncie, IN) as faculty

7/30: GenCon, Indianapolis, IN (Writer’s Symposium; tentative)

9/12: Bethlehem, PA RWA Keynote

9/25: Context 28, Columbus, OH: writer guest of honor

[edit: Context is done, apparently — they had issues with a sexual harassment case that wisely caused the board to dissolve and a new one to form, except now the new one is being blocked and the convention is game over, goodbye, according to Steven Saus]

Probably some other stuff I’m missing there, too, and surely more will pop up.

Most Popular Posts of 2014

The blog hits were up again this year, from around 3.5 million to 4 million — which is, y’know, pretty darn happymaking for me. I’m glad as hell you people have been fooled again and again into thinking I’m saying anything at all of value, and further, it’s nice to see people coming by here and creating a kind of slapdash, impromptu writers-and-other-miscreants-style community.

I published 361 (!) posts.

Top 10 posts of those published in 2014:

1. 25 Things You Should Know About Toddlers

2. A PSA About Nude Photos

3. Not All Men, But Still Too Many Men

4. On The Subject Of Cultivating Empathy

5. Art Held Hostage: Why Sony Not Releasing “The Interview” Is Scary

6. The Cankerous Slime-Slick Shame Pit That Is GamerGate

7. Ten Things I’d Like To Say To Young Writers

8. Ten Things To Never Say To A Writer

9. In Which Amazon Calls You To Defend The Realm

10. Boy Toys, Girl Toys And Other Cuckoopants Gender Assumptions

What’s interesting is that only two of the posts above are writing-related, and only one is publishing-related. Many are all social issuey stuff. Optimistically, maybe people actually give a shit about my opinions or, at the least, believe I’m not a total boner when it comes to talking about larger issues. More pessimistically, some have suggested 2014 was the year of outrage, and maybe blogging about hotter-button issues just gets clicks. (I occasionally get emails from people who suggest I write those posts because they get me advertising clicks. Apparently they don’t realize I don’t have advertising on the site, so the clicks are in no way monetized.)

That being said, some of the actual top ten posts weren’t from 2014 — a post from 2011, 25 Ways To Plot, Plan & Prep Your Story saw a huge resurgence in views this year (~61,000!?) out of nowhere. Other big bumps to posts about aspiring writers, writing horror, writing YA fiction, and on writing your first chapter.

And That’s That — How About You?

Thanks for coming by here and reading the blog and (hopefully) scouting my books, too. Writers aren’t jack shit without their readers, and, in fact, writers aren’t jack shit without other writers, either. So: I am made better by all of you. Except you, over there, in the corner. You’re bringing us all down. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. *gives you the side-eye*

Ahem. So!

How’d 2014 go for you?

What’s coming up for 2015?