2011 In The Rearview, 2012 In The Mirror Of My Shades

Looking back, staring forward. Standing on this head-of-the-pin moment between two years — an arbitrary distinction, perhaps, from when one calendar becomes useless and a new one must be hung, but a distinction just the same and a fine enough moment to pause and reflect.

Personally, it’s been a good year. Nah, fuck that, it’s been a great year.

Double Dead hit shelves. And is, I’m told, selling well. Well enough where — well, I won’t spoil any of that news right now, but oh, there shall be news. Blackbirds and its protagonist, Miriam Black, found a home after a small but confidence-boosting bidding war, and now sits comfortably nestled in the arms of an Angry Robot. Further, it has a jaw-dropping cover that still geeks me out to this day. (You can totally read the first chapter of that book at the Angry Robot site, by the by.) The transmedia project I co-wrote with Lance Weiler, Collapsus, got nominated for an International Digital Emmy. Our short film, Pandemic (watch here!) was at Sundance and continues to get lots of attention.

I also self-published this year — six books starting last January. Sales have, on the whole, been excellent. Curiously, they’re weakest for my fictional offerings. Shotgun Gravy sold well in the beginning but has since tapered off — I’ve got Bait Dog waiting in the wings to receive a good clean polish, but I want to see if I can get some more readers on board with Atlanta Burns #1 first. We’ll see.

I read some fucking awesome books, too. I’m a picky finicky dickhead of a reader, but this year has been a bounty of great books –Robert McCammon’s The Five and Hunter In The Woods; Christa Faust’s Money Shot and Choke Hold and Hoodtown; Adam Christopher’s Empire State; Anthony Neil Smith’s Choke On Your Lies; Duane Swierzcynski’s Fun and Games; Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City; Matthew McBride’s Frank Sinatra In A Blender; Matt Forbeck’s Carpathia; John Hornor’s Southern Gods; Stephen Blackmoore’s City of the Lost and Dead Things (the bad-ass sequel, and it’s a toss up as to whether it or Zoo City were my year’s favorite reads). Certainly some I’m missing.

Of course, the biggest and craziest and most wonderful thing was the birth of this little dude:

The boy is a constant source of amusement and adoration, and even when he’s not sleeping or karate kicking me in the trachea or accidentally drooling into my open mouth (seriously, that just happened the other day), he’s an endless delight and so cute he’ll turn even the hardest charcoal hearts into a big gooey wad of marshmallow fluff. We love him very much. I mean, duh.

Of course, a month before my son was born and a few days after my birthday, my dog of 13 years, Yaga, passed away. That was hard on us and sometimes, still is (I had a dream the other night I was playing with him in the snow — both a wonderful dream to have, and sad to wake up from and realize that it wasn’t quite true), and it was strange that in the span of a single month my dog died and my son was born. Parity and opposition: life and death in all its finery.

Not everything worked out perfectly. The television pilot officially fell through with TNT, and our film project has momentum, but it’s the momentum of a slowly-rolling kickball rather than the pinball’s swiftness we’d hope for. Almost had an LA agent; that didn’t quite click. Some friendships were made stronger this year. Some were decidedly not. Life progresses just the same.

I’ve said in the past and I’ll say again: I don’t truck with regret. Regret is perhaps one of the most worthless emotions we have as humans — we are who we are and all the moments and choices and happenstance has formed the equation that adds up to the sum of us. For good or bad, for better or for worse. Like who you are? Keep on keeping on. Don’t like it? Change something. But don’t get mired in regret. Your boots will get stuck there and you soon start to realize that it has no value, offers no function. Regret doesn’t let you rewrite anything. You don’t get a mulligan. It’s one thing to find a lesson and to learn from it, but regret is something altogether more insidious and, at the same time, worthless.

So, fuck regret in the ear with a meerschaum pipe. Mostly because I wanted to say “meerschaum.”

Onward, then, to 2012.

What will that bring?

Well, I can’t know for sure.

Blackbirds and its sequel, Mockingbird, will land.

I’ll continue to self-publish. I’ve got a novel — a creepy li’l something called The Altar — that begs to have the DIY treatment, I think. The outline is done, I just need to write it. (I make it sound so easy! Yeah. No.)

I’m almost halfway through Dinocalypse Now, the Spirit of the Century novel for Evil Hat. It features love triangles and professorial apes and psychic dinosaur goodness. It’s a challenge to write, honestly — a good challenge, but a challenge just the same.

Speaking of Evil Hat, I’ve got a wealth of stories in from the Don’t Rest Your Head anthology, called Don’t Read This Book. Got some great authors on that one, so keep your grapes peeled.

I’ve got more plans for the website (Kickstarter, quite possibly) and for some other writing books that both do and do not come out of posts here on the blog.

More to come, more to come.

Thanks all for coming here and making for a great 2011.

Here’s to 2012, then.

What’s on your agenda for the new year?

32 responses to “2011 In The Rearview, 2012 In The Mirror Of My Shades”

  1. Thanks for having us here and being both entertaining and educational.

    If it’s wrong that I read “psychic dinosaur goodness” as “a psychic dinosaur goddess”, I don’t want to be right.

    2012… mostly trying to survive the rigors of the day job, which seems to be getting harder and harder. Writing seems to literally keep me sane alongside the medication, and I’m planning on finishing my first two books that I actually would be proud of—all the way through rewrite, revise, and edit. But I’m afraid (like all the other years in my life) that 2012 is going to be mostly about surviving.

  2. You’ve had a truly terrific year in my book. Mine was a bit of a downer, but yeah, lessons learned and plans made for imminent changes. I look forward to the new year, because I now that things will change.

  3. Hi there
    Happy New Year to Chuck and everyone.
    A white witch in Cork said everyones new year starts on their birthday so if your new years resolutions fall through you could try again on your B.day.
    Unless of course its on Jan 1st! Then your buggered.
    I find it easier not to try and make any changes in the winter. Just don’t have the give-a-shitedness. Happy writing.
    Aren’t you prolific Chuck. All those different projects.I got some catching up to do.

  4. Ach, the regret thing. The truest words, yet I get so mired. Regret and grudges. I say I’ll give them up, but like a meth head to the pipe, I go back. Maybe this time…

    Glad you’re having a good life and many happy returns.

  5. Here’s to a fantastic year behind you, and even better ones ahead!

    Since you asked, here is The Agenda:

    1. Keep the goddamn dayjob.
    2. Write something that’s worth publishing, be it self or traditional.
    3. Join a gym.
    4. Learn to play guitar (and perhaps get back to playing piano again, too).
    5. Achieve at least Gold-level status in StarCraft 2.

  6. You’ve done so much this year! I half expected you to write, “and I climbed K9 and joined an accordion band.”
    BLACKBIRDS cover is so goshdarn beautiful. I would buy it just for the grace it would add to my shelf.
    Congrats on your success. And congrats on your not-so-successes. Proof you’re definitely living in the arena.

  7. It has been a crazy year – full of ups and downs. Mine started slow and picked up steam as the year progressed.

    By March I had my pilot in development with one of the producers of Battlestar Galactica and Caprica, only for him to quit the business days before taking it out.

    By April I managed to land myself an L.A. lit manager.

    By September had a two more pilots in development and landed a decent rewrite gig (By permission of the original writer) – So that felt good.

    By December I had all of my works put on the back-burner for and indeterminate amount of time and my manager just informed me he might be leaving for a development executive gig at an upper-level production company.

    So – come the New Year I’ll be right back where I started this time last year.

    My agenda for 2012?

    Read “Double Dead” over the New Year weekend, write till my fingers bleed and start knocking down doors once again.

    Another writer and friend of mine gave me some pretty good advice recently – He told me “That in this business you need to feed it to them gently and if that doesn’t work, shovel it down their fucking throat”.

    So here’s to knocking down doors with a big-ass shovel in your hands.

    Good luck in the New Year everybody!

    My one piece of advice for 2012 – Don’t accept any answer other than the one you’re looking for.

    • @CE:

      I cannot stress enough how fortunate I was to get Joey Hi-Fi to do such a whup-ass cover.

      I’ve no idea what the cover of MOCKINGBIRD will look like, or if he’ll even be the dude doing it, but I am a lucky ducky.

      — c.

  8. Regrets… you’re right. No sense dwelling on ’em.

    As for 2012, it promises to be an awesome year. My first novel comes out in August. It’s called SEND and is a YA about a former bully trying to cope with the suicide he caused.

    More writing! Will finish WIP and start planned trilogy already outlined. *rubs hands* I can’t wait!

    Spend more time with Mom before the cancer wins.

  9. 2011 rocked like meerschaum pipe depicting the heads of the first lineup of Kansas. It was the year where I declared, “I am writer, hear me scribble.” I finished two books and epublished a collection of essays. Next year, I intend to promote myself more, blog more and write two more books.

  10. You had a good year, Chuck. This one’s for the ledger. You done good.

    We should talk more about regret, you and I. I firmly believe you’re right to skip the stuff. I also believe I’d be an unbearable asshole if not for the lessons I’ve learned through regret. Reflection isn’t an emotion, after all. Regret’s just the emotion I feel when I reflect, so often, because I want to believe that I can be better than I was yesterday. Some days I even am.

    Some days.

    Here’s to 2012. Cheers.

    • @Will —

      Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? You reflect and learn the lesson, that’s the win. But regret’s a thing that lives on — “I shoulda done differently” is meaningless, because you can’t go back and change it. “I can do differently in the future” is meaningful, because it’s within your power to course correct. The former is the conclusion given by regret, and for me, it serves naught but to make me dwell. I see no point in dwelling. That whole “cry over spilled milk” thing is twee, but powerful in its lesson. The milk’s there. You can either hover over it and be sad you spilled it or you can clean it up and figure out how the glass slipped out of your hand.

      — c.

  11. Regrets? Hallelujah. You’ve said just about the wisest thing anyone can say about them. That needs to be shouted from the rooftops and printed on t-shirts. (Admittedly, it’s a little long for the latter, but hey — you’re a writer, that’s what revisions are for!)

    Wishing you lots of good health, creativity, prosperity and familial bliss in 2012!

  12. 2011 was a really roller coaster year.

    On the personal side of things, my life imploded with a speed and gravity that left me a little shell-shocked. Of the two major collapses, the human one hurt and still does more than I admit and the other, the dog one, hurts in a different way. I’m quite Sisyphus about each of them.

    Professionally, 2011 was THE year. Biggest year in the black I’ve ever had in fifteen-plus years. And really, it only got mucho-serious in the last third.

    1. Put out two TV pilots this year. One died quickly, but honorably, and the other is still very much alive. Pages get written and notes exchanged everyday. Every morning it’s a wonderful discovery.
    2. I wrote THREE plays this year, and two have already been on stage (to great reviews) and the third goes out in three weeks. I didn’t even know I liked writing for the stage, but it’s a different creative hydra to wrestle.
    3. Having started speaking up for myself and my business lately, I’ve cleared my plate of poorly-paying, rarely-worth-it jobs and taken on much bigger healthier bites of work that I find SUPER rewarding.
    4. I dusted off and re-energized my blog, finding a home for a synthesis of game development, writing theory, and critique. It’s eclectic, but she’s all mine, and I love her.
    5. To pay back the industry that has been so good to me, starting in January, I’m taking on 2 apprentices. And that makes me…..incredibly happy.

    This really feels like the year I came out of whatever crazy shell, exploded onto several scenes and left very awesome fallout everywhere. Wait, I probably mean that in a good way.

    2012 is going to be…..beyond amazing.

  13. Congrats on a stupendous year, Chuck! Sorry about your dog, I have an elderly dog that is starting to have issues and it is tearing my wife up, but generally it’s been a banner year.

    My eldest got a full ride to a great university and is doing very well, and the other three offspring are also kicking ass and taking names academically. Socially they are turning into fine people (unless they are dealing with each other).

    For myself, professionally I am doing very well in my paying job, another promotion and another potentially coming in 2012. I make too much now to just give it up to be a writer, and although I am successful and adequately skilled, it doesn’t butter my bagel so to speak. Writing does. 2011 marked the completion of my first novel length work, at least the 1st draft and major revision.

    2012 has a lot of question marks. I may switch tracks in my day job and it will be a major life changing event, which will include uprooting the family with a move to another state. I also look forward to marketing my novel and getting a 1st draft done on book 2. I also plan on making a second attempt at a Master’s. This time in creative writing. Life is good though, and although I have a few regrets, I don’t dwell on them. I try to focus on the things I can change.

    Good fortune to all of you!

  14. Thanks Chuck for all that you do.

    Last year we had to put down our 14 year old Lab, Hershey. Then last month her little sister Maggie died all out-of-the-blue for no good reason that we could find. Vet said it was her heart. She was 9.

    So, for Christmas, we got a new puppy. Oliver is awesome and growing like a weed.

    To every thing, turn…

  15. It has been a pretty awesome year for you! Congratulations on ALL the things. 🙂

    This year was kinda awesome for me too. I got an agent and a two-book deal! *does crazy, happy dance* But my book doesn’t come out until the beginning of 2013, so….next year will be about promotion and covers and all that fun stuff, I guess.

    Also, my husband is graduating with his bachelors in math next semester, which means we have no idea (yet) where we’ll be living or what he’ll be doing for work. But at least the internet is always here, right?

    Here’s to a good 2012!



    So very glad you’re getting what’s yours, Chuck. You’re an inspiration. By that, I mean you bring feeling to my life. I wanna have you near me. I wanna have you hear me saying, “No one needs you more than I need you.”

    I think? That may not be what I mean.

    2012 for me kicks off with three months focused on Streets of Bedlam, moves into three months of novel work, three mini-supps for Little Fears Nightmare Edition, and some other things. Maybe more video game work. I do love writing video games.

    I spent 2011 focused on being better all around and I think I succeeded. My aim for 2012 is more of that, much more of that.

  17. You certainly have an awesome year, Chuck. I suppose I did – after all, I did get a novella published, even if I’ve learnt more about the negative side of publishing houses than I really wanted.

    2012? Well, I have another novella contracted. I’m halfway through a story due to be subbed elsewhere (and I have hope for) and others going to Champagne as they’re finished. I’ve also got a big project that I’m going to spend several months planning.

    A busy year. Bring it on 😀

  18. Oh my gosh I just want to nom that baby’s ears. He’s so darn cute.

    This Year
    1. Found your blog. Definitely a highlight.
    2. Only got involved in fifteen or so Internet flame wars. An improvement. Sadly.
    3. Trained the dog. She’s very well behaved now. As long as she sees a treat in my hand.
    4. Got a metal detector for Christmas. Dug up a rusty bolt yesterday. Oh yeah.

    Next Year
    1. A SUPER SECRET PROJECT(TM) that you partially inspired and I can’t wait to tell you about.
    2. Write. Three more novels planned, plus a couple general nonfiction books.
    3. Find Montezuma’s treasure. Cuz I have a metal detector.
    4. Go to my first steampunk convention. Learn steampunky things. Eat steampunky food. Meet steampunks

    • @Angela: You are rocking it out loud. Looking forward to hearing about SOOPER SEKRIT thing!

      @Misa: Congrats! Have you ever spoken on the subject of the negative side of pub houses? You should, just to illumine.

      @Jason: Dude, you’ve got the perfect attitude. That’s the proper outlook, far as I’m concerned. And you’re doing the Lord’s work. And by the “Lord,” I mean, the little evil man that pilots all us writer-types.

      — c.

  19. Agenda? You want an agenda? Okay, I’ll give you an agenda.

    I need to write more. Full stop. Period. Spend less time reading crap on Facebook (entertaining though it may be), and more time putting new words into my computer thing. And to sharpen up some of the words that are already in there.

    Oh, and I’m doing a NaNoWriMo type thing, called 100k in 100 days, run by a pal of mine. Should be fun. Between now and when it starts (Jan 1st, natch) I need to decide which of the 3,428 different ideas I’m going to select to Be The One.

    That’s about it. Thanks for reading. Thanks for your blog. I love you, man.

  20. 2012 will be the year that I:

    get my novel, Fallen Things, ready and out the door for queries, submissions etc. on the road to publishing,

    kick my graphics and fantasy cartography side hustle into full gear,

    and seek funding (likely through IndieGoGo) to delve into an experimental publishing project that will either be brilliant or a total flop, but an interesting experience either way.

    All of which I will hopefully manage without starving or losing the roof over my head 😛

  21. That J-shaped exponential curve? It seems to me that you, Chuck, are just about to go straight up. And the publishing industry in ebook form is going to do that too, maybe. Me, too, why the hell not?

    ps was browsing in a Barnes and Noble in Twin Falls, Idaho, couple a days ago and was attracted to some brightly colored books. Double Deads, standing tall on that shelf. Read the first chapter, and it’s beautiful. Gonna by ebook from here, cause you gets all the gold, Chuck. If it’s possible.

  22. Regrets are like a fresh baked loaf of bread – nice the first day but the longer it hangs around, the harder it gets unless you keep it in a plastic bag and then it just grows moldy and stinks. I allow a regret to hang out a little while I wallow in self pity but I just can’t stay there for much more than, oh, ten minutes or less. It’s a waste of time and energy. Most of my friends know I don’t stand much for their regrets either. If they want to complain, go find a dead tree.

    2012 – less talk, more words; keep the piles of books to one side of the coffee table; finish what I start.

  23. First:

    1. Sincere condolences about Yaga (similar situation with a 13-year-old dog a couple years ago, still see him sitting in his chair sometimes when i walk in the door)
    2. Sincere congratulations on the pink and bald family addition (have 2 of my own, 8 and 10, both boys . . . they’re no longer pink and bald but alas, the farther they retreat from that, the closer i get to it)
    3. Sincere congratulations on the book successes (i’m agreed on the cover of Blackbirds, and will be placing an order in the near future)

    Second (my agenda):

    1. Finish the 2nd novel (about a train-jumping real estate developer) so I can hand it off to the incomparable Stacia Decker and see what happens (working title: A Different Ending)
    2. Start the 3rd novel (something about murders in a high tech-city in South Dakota) that keeps creeping into my subconscious
    3. Exercise, work harder, be a better person, blah blah

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