After such a productive 2021, the pressure was on to replicate the effort in 2022. Realistically, that was never going to happen, especially after I started a new day job and took on a couple of large and very time-consuming freelance editing projects in the first quarter, but I had to give it a shot.
First on the agenda was to finish the second draft of Cuts, book two in my rapidly evolving series involving a character called Ben Shivers, a paranormal investigator who lives in a camper van with a cat called Mr. Trimble. In my experience, the second draft of a novel is almost as time-consuming as the first. The first draft is all about getting the words down anyway anyhow, while the second is more about choosing the right ones and putting them in the right order. There are always things you wish you’d said but didn’t, and other things you said but wished you hadn’t. All this suddenly becomes clear after you type THE END. On top of that, you have to further develop the characters and sub-plots and sharpen the story to a point. With the difficult second draft out of the way, it’s all about refining and polishing.
As I worked on the second book, I started submitting the first, The Wretched Bones, to some selected publishers. I pitched it as part of a series, and one of the first I sent it to, a publisher I highly respect, liked it enough to give me a contract. I’m resisting giving out too many details yet because anything might still happen, but all being well The Wretched Bones: A Ben Shivers Mystery, will be out later this year.
This bit of encouragement brought the writing bug back, and in double quick time I thrashed out a horror Western novella featuring the same character I introduced last year in a to date unpublished novella called Silent Mine. This time, in a story provisionally entitled Meeting at Blood Lake, our intrepid drunken gunslinging hero, who’s name has now morphed into Dylan Decker, helps a remote village ward off a terrifying thunderbird/mothman-like creature.
I wrote half a dozen or so new short stories, too. I am very happy with them. I think some of them are among the best things I have ever produced. The thing is, they are also possibly among the weirdest things I have ever produced, so we’ll see if anyone is brave enough to publish any of them.
As far as publishing short stories goes, the year started with a reprint of an old story called Night Visitor in Siren’s Call. All Tomorrow’s Parties was included in SFS Stories, The Hiraeth Chair in Shelter of Daylight, Eeva in the anthology Trigger Warning: Speaking Ill, and The Whole of the Moon in Daikaijuzine. I love writing drabbles (stories exactly 100 words long) and contributed Cat’s Eyes to Heartless: Holiday Horrors and The Hungry to Drabbledark II. My fifth collection of short fiction, imaginatively entitled X5 also dropped, and picked up more pre-orders than any of the other X books. I call that progress.
In the realm of non-fiction, a couple of my reviews appeared in Phantasmagoria magazine, which was one to chalk off the bucket list as it has a great reputation in horror circles, I turned a bit introspective and wrote about how haunted my childhood home was in the anthology Out of Time and reflected on how my first book was published in Author’s Publish. I also wrote a piece for them about recurring dark fiction markets, which may be of use to other writers out there, and in Writer’s Weekly, one of my semi-regular outlets, I asked whether a frenemy of yours might be sabotaging your writing career. It’s more common than you think. Jealousy is such an ugly emotion.
Back from the Dead, which was released last year, picked up a nice review on Ginger Nuts of Horror and I did a five-part series of posts about the Greatest Eighties Horror Movies EVER, taken mainly from my ongoing RetView series of classic horror movies, and an interview for Meghan’s superb Haunted House of Books blog.
By the way, more recent entries in the Retview series, published right here on this blog on 13th of every month, include Death Line (1972), Re-Animator (1985) Little Devils: The Birth (1993), and the wacky and wonderful Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead (2011). If classic horror movies are your thing, or you just like making me smile, subscribe.
I think that about covers it. As always, thank you for all your continued support and encouragement. And to the haters, you keep me going. I just love proving you wrong.
I wish you all a happy and prosperous 2023 and remember, the harder you work, the luckier you get.
Thank you, Pete Waterman.
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