private stuff


cupcakeTax Day (in the U.S.) seems like the ideal release date for my novel about… death. I mean, I hear both are the only things we can be certain of, right?

Anyways, Vermilion is officially… official. It’s available on B&N.com, Amazon.com, and maybe even some stores (though the chances of you finding one in your favorite local bookseller are increased if you ask nicely!).

I’m excited. I feel kind of weird, actually… I began this book so long ago, and knowing it’s out there in the world is wonderful. But it’s also a sad moment for me. My father passed away when Vermilion was just a draft, before I even had an agent, before a single editor had looked at the manuscript. But my father believed in my writing, and was always so proud of my successes; I know one of his biggest regrets was that he would not live to see it published. I suppose these are weird, macabre thoughts to be having on the official launch date of my first novel, but at the same time, while I would not claim Vermilion is autobiographical, my grief helped me write about grief, and my loss helped me write about loss, and those are… I think writers call them “motifs” in the novel. Fancy.

But, grief is but one aspect of Vermilion. When I look out my window, I can see the Rocky Mountains, whose majestic beauty I tried to do justice to in the novel. The sight of them chills and enthralls me every single day, even though I’ve lived at their base for years now. The aspens are still ghostly and bare, as they are in Vermilion, but they’re putting out the weird little vegetative caterpillars that announce their imminent leaves. And this weekend I’ll be celebrating the release at StarFest/HorrorFest down in Denver, which should be a hoot—I’ll see people like Carrie Vaughn, Stephen Graham Jones, Mario Acevedo, and other authors whose determination and spirit inspired me to keep going throughout the process of writing and editing and shopping and whatever else.

Before I go, I’d like to thank again those whom I mentioned in Vermilion’s acknowledgements… but I’d also like to thank my readers. For those of you who pre-ordered, thank you very much for your support. For those of you who have ordered via an online retailer, I am really and truly forever grateful. Anyone who’s put it on their Goodreads list, entered the giveaway, or is just planning on reading it at some point when they have time/space/funds/whatever, your enthusiasm is much appreciated.

Okay… I’m off. But, thank you again, everyone! And yay, book release day!

The end of the year is fast approaching, and as usual it has inspired me to make a fruitcake and do fruitcake 2a little housekeeping, taking stock of what this year has meant for me as a writer, a reader, and just a person, too.

I confess that 2014 has been a difficult year for me. Sort of like Longfellow’s little girl with a curl right in the center of her forehead, when this year was good, it was very good indeed, and when it was bad it was horrid.

I struggled with personal relationships this year, with both friends and with my family, but I also reconnected with several old friends, and was privileged to witness a truly amazing event in my immediate family—my uncle surviving a bone marrow transplant from my mother.

After enjoying performing lion dance over Chinese New Year I decided to take a leave of absence from my kung fu studio for personal reasons both physical and mental. And while I felt less fit overall this year since 2011 (the year I committed myself to taking time for fitness) I ran my first triathlon and achieved the times I wanted.

I wrote a novel that is a total mess, that I may trunk forever, but I also wrote one that I believe may be my best yet.

As is apparent from that last point, I struggled with my writing this year, aesthetically and emotionally, but I also sold a handful more short stories than usual, ones that I like more than usual, even, and I also sold my first novel, my second novel, and a novella.

Though I struggled with feelings of career stagnation, I achieved some other firsts this year. I edited my first ever magazine edition (in spite of being Managing Editor/Assistant Editor of several magazines over the years, I was never invited to take part in actual fiction-selection), and was invited to edit two more projects, an issue of another magazine, due out next year, and another project which has not yet been announced.

Though I did not have a book come out this year, I saw seven short stories published, one of which earned me my first-ever mention in Publishers Weekly, and I sold seven more. I also began (and completed, more impressively for me) a blog series for Pornokitsch, where I am now a regular contributor.

For the first time since 2009 I did not attend a single con, but I was invited to be a guest—an actual guest, not just a participant—at a con next year, a first for me. I turned down cons for good and bad reasons this year, a learning experience, but I also traveled to Japan, which was an amazing experience.

I read more this year than I have in many, many years, in part due to a concerted effort to do so. I kept track of my adventures on Goodreads, which was enlightening. After beginning the year at a good clip I had hoped to read 75 books this year. I’m currently at 65 and I’m not sure I’ll be able to squeeze in ten before the new year, but I’ll try–and whatever I achieve will be extremely rewarding, I’m sure.

I also played video games for the first time in years—Dragon Age 2, and I just started Dragon Age: Origins. As this was also a rewarding experience, I hope to play more games in future, as I am woefully ignorant of the state of gaming, having never owned a video game system that wasn’t Nintendo. Onward to Skyrim, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect, and more!

2015 should be an exiting year. Having my first novel come out, and my second, is already a thrilling but intimidating prospect. I’ll be doing two other blog series for Pornokitch, which I hope to complete with the same or greater level of success as the last. I’m enthusiastic to do more races, to have new adventures (didn’t get to my annual 14er this year), and to begin new writing projects with more confidence and self-assuredness in what I do best, rather in what I wished I did better.

I hope you all had wonderful years, and if you didn’t I hope your 2015 is better. Cheers!

Dad passed away. I got there in time to say goodbye, and help Hospice as much as I could, and be there for my mom, who handled things like a champ … but that’s about it. He went into a coma the day after I arrived, and did not come out of it again.

His last conversation was with my mom, and I’m glad they were able to say a few last things to one another. And I’m glad he went peacefully in the end. He deserved it, after fighting an unwinnable battle for 30 months.

I miss him like hell. It was strange having so many family friends gathered together without Dad there. I don’t know if I’d ever felt an absence so keenly before. He was always so very present during gatherings like that, keeping people on schedule, teasing everyone and taking it in equal measure, laughing, telling stories, cooking amazing food, and handling any and all situations that required knowledge of which roads to drive on, what technology to use, or which cars to take. And he loved it. One of the speakers at his service remarked upon how much Dad enjoyed everything about life, citing as an example his enthusiasm over even the little things, like buying a new kind of light bulb. It’s so true, and it made me smile—as did hearing his former co-workers at the Tampa Courthouse giggling over my dad’s love of his pedometer (“I’ve gotten in 12,000 steps today!”) and always eating the same sandwich for lunch every day (“It’s good. Why change?). And I know Dad would have wanted us to be smiling. He loved to laugh, and to make people laugh, too.

I think it always surprised him to see how much he was loved by so many different kinds of people. Dad always thought of himself as being a gruff, matter-of-fact kind of person, the guy you’d go to when you wanted to hear how it really was. And we who loved him saw him as that, yes, but also as an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, a photographer, a brilliant financial and legal mind, a great appreciator of the natural world, a husband and a father, a mentor, and a friend. And that doesn’t even begin to cover it. He was the definition of unique. I loved him so much, and still do, and always will.

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