2010: reflecting on the year that was

Ok, so I’m posting this out of order, but I thought it important for my first blog post this year to be about looking forward with a steely gaze and having the sparkle of hope in one’s eye. This post is about reflection. I always find the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day to be a time of reflection. Perhaps I’m morbid, but I like to acknowledge that which has passed on before turning my attention to the path ahead.

2010 was the year I took off from work. I know some people have been following my progress in this regard. In short: the year of novel writing was a mixed success but other unexpected writing successes and opportunities filled the void. That’s life, though, isn’t it?

I *almost* completed the first draft of my Japanese fantasy novel, Circle of Tears. Even with the encouragement of mates like Nathan Burrage (and Angela, of course), I didn’t finish it. But I came damn close! Even though the novel stalled in September (Worldcon kind of knocked me for a six in this regard), I only have the home straight to write, and given that the holidays have restored my mojo, I’m looking forward to knocking off book 1 and getting a solid start on book 2. My deadline for a polished third draft is the end of February, when I’m likely to return to work.

There were plenty of distractions but none that I offer as excuses. The Australian Shadows Awards and the AHWA kept me busy, although I stepped down as AHWA Vice President in September. Once this year’s Australian Shadows are concluded (and boy, has the last fortnight been busy!), I’ll be stepping down as Awards Director, too. After four years involvement with the Australian Shadows, it’s time for new heads to take the awards in exciting new directions. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved as AHWA Vice President and Awards Director, but it’s time to focus solely on being a professional author. So far, I’ve been functioning as an author and *something* else (editor, publisher, reviewer, awards judge). 2011 is the year when I’ll be closest to *just* an author, which could be very bloody interesting.

HorrorScope had a lively year, first separating from the AHWA as official news provider, and then with Keeper of the Dead Chuck McKenzie forming the splinter site NecroScope. I threw myself back into reviewing late in the year. Most notably, I’ve been reviewing 2010 Australian horror comics (and writing for them, too!). More on that later …

Brimstone Press released its (and Australian horror’s) biggest ever anthology, Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears. This book is a landmark, a monster, and a top notch read. It deserves to win every award out there, but whether it will is doubtful (not jaded, just realistic). Regardless, I’m bloody proud of my involvement with it.

Publishing-wise, I had a pretty good year:

  • “Requiem for the Burning God” (novella) was published in Cthulhu’s Dark Cults.
  • “Dark Heart Alley [An Urban Fable]” (novelette) was published in Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears.
  • “Memoirs of a Teenage Antichrist” and “Love in the Land of the Dead” (short stories) were reprinted in ASIM’s Best of Horror Volume 2.
  • “A Picture of Death” (short story) was reprinted in Eclecticism #13.
  • “Ian” (short story) was reprinted as a standalone story by LegumeMan Books.
  • “Wrack” (short story) was translated and reprinted in French zine Borderline.
  • “Spin the Witch Bottle” (comic book story) was published in Decay #3.

I also compiled and edited my full length collection, The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After, which included writing the title story (original to the collection), but subsequently had it rejected by two publishers. Now it’s in limbo for the time being.

Then there was the anthology Tales from the Sunburnt Realm, which took up the early months of my year. I championed it even after the original editor withdrew (I was brought on late as co-editor), but after months of work, I couldn’t find a publisher worthy of the lineup (Lanagan, Jamieson, dePierres, McMullen, Hood … a who’s who of Aussie SF) willing to take the anthology on, so I reluctantly let it die.

So where to from here? Well, forthcoming, I have:

  • “Razor Blade Anthropology [Guerdon for the Beautiful People]” (short story) to appear in Dark Discoveries magazine.
  • “R U OK?” (flash story) to appear in Antipodean SF.
  • “Love in the Land of the Dead” (comic book story) to appear in Eeek!
  • “Midnight on the Jetty” (illustrated prose) to appear in Eeek!
  • “The Cutting Room” (short story) to be translated and reprinted in French anthology series Ténèbres.
  • “The Garden Shed Pact” (short story) to be translated and reprinted in French Canadian zine Horrifique.
  • More reviews in the 2010 Australian Horror Comics series on HorrorScope (two more issues of Decay, issues of Kagemono, and The Sixsmiths, which will wrap that review series up).
  • But more importantly, several in-the-pipeline projects which I can’t yet discuss, including the e-books in the  ‘Grand Experiment’!

All in all, I could have done better in 2010, and my focus was all over the place, but I’m hoping with fewer ‘hats’ on this year, 2011 is going to be a more productive and successful year. I’m really looking forward to what the next 12 months will bring. My goals: sell Circle of Tears, find more success in comic books, and get some traction with e-books in the all-encompassing adventure of the Grand Experiment!