A Note About 2011

A couple weeks ago, I lamented on how 2011 has not been the banner year for me, as far as writing goes. 2010 had been a boon and I thought things were looking up. Then came 2011 and, well, I came back down to earth (in a meteor crashing from outer space kind of way).

In that blog I also mentioned something about things may be changing. I’m here to tell you now that something good is on the way.

We’ll start with a few publications that accepted stories that have either recently came out or will be coming out very soon.

I know… I know… some of these I probably should have mentioned before, but, like I said, it’s felt like a down year so the enthusiasm hasn’t always been there to blog about it.

Shame on me.

Not again, though.

I’m almost positive I did throw a blurb up for this first publication, but just in case:

The Horror Zine picked up a story I co-wrote a couple years ago with Diane Smith (a very talented lady I may add) after entering it in a flash fiction contest that I had no business writing for. Interestingly enough our stories were as similar as they were dissimilar. The story, The Third Edge of Power was submitted by Diane and accepted by Jeani Rector for The Horror Zine. It came out in August and I’m quite proud of the story.

[Side Note: I must add that Diane did most of the work on this after it was written, so I really can’t take much credit for the story finding a home. This was all Diane’s doing and I thank her for pushing on with this one. End Side Note]

Back in October of 2010, Necrotic Tissue picked up my story, Picket Fences for Issue #12. It was the editor’s choice, chosen, I believe, by Daniel Russell. It was my first pro paying story and another reason to believe I was finally on the way up (if only by one rung of the ladder).

Sadly, Necrotic Tissue shut down after Issue #14 (which came out in April, 2011). When I say sadly, I really mean it. NT was my favorite horror publication and I have several of their issues. I wish I had all 14 of them.

There is a good note to this. R. Scott McCoy, the owner of Necrotic Tissue, decided to put out a best of NT earlier this year. It came out in October. My previously mentioned story, Picket Fences is in there, along with some very good writers (Nate Lambert, Cate Gardner, Robert Eccles, Daniel Russell, Greg Hall, Brian Hardin, to name a few).

You can find this collection at Amazon, but I’ll make it easy for you. Just follow the link:

Best of Necrotic Tissue

[Side Note #2: In 2012 I plan to rewrite Picket Fences, detailing more of what the story is about. The original version was an experimental story trying to use what I considered ‘future tense.’ Though I love the story in it’s current state, I want to go down that road again and write it in a more traditional style. It may even end up being a novella or… something longer. End Side Note #2]

In November, A Hacked-up Holiday Massacre came out. This is a Pill Hill Press publication, edited by Shane McKenzie, who has recently left PHP to start his own publishing company: Sinister Grin Press.

As the title suggest, all the stories are based on Holidays. Mine was Mother’s Day and it’s a story titled Remember What I Said About Living Out In the Country?. Yeah, long name, I know. Better than my story appearing in this anthology is that it appears in there with the likes of Jack Ketcham, Joe Lansdale, Bentley Little, Wrath James White, Nate Southard, Kevin Wallis, Steve Lowe, Lee Thompson and others. I was thoroughly honored to get into this publication.

Again, I’m going to make this easy for you. If you want to check it out, you can follow either the above referenced link to Pill Hill Press and check out their bookshop or you can follow the following link to the Amazon page where it can be purchased as well:

A Hacked-up Holiday Massacre

Just recently, my short story, Skipping Stones was published by Dark Moon Books in an anthology titled Frightmares, A Fistful of Flash Fiction Horror and edited by Stan Swanson. All the stories (and there’s a LOT of them totaling a whopping 129) are less than 500 words in length.

Skipping Stones is a reworked story after having let it sit and stew for a couple years. In it’s original form, it was less than 200 words.

You can check out Dark Moon Books from the link above and you can check out the Amazon page by following this link: Frightmares, A Fistful of Flash Fiction Horror

[Side Note #3: This not so banner year looks like it hasn’t turned out so bad after all. End Side Note #3]

Coming soon from Blood Bound Books, my story, In the Shadows They Hide will appear in the anthology Night Terrors II, edited by Marc Ciccarone.

In the Shadows They Hide is one of my favorite stories that I have written. I think the title tells a lot about the story. And you readers, I really think you’ll dig this one. I’ll keep you updated on it when it comes out.

If I haven’t bored you to tears yet, let me throw in a couple of other stories that have come out during the year that I know I’ve plugged, but while I’m at it, I may as well do so again.

Flowers In Her Hair came out in the spring, published by Liquid Imagination, which is edited by Kevin Wallis. The story also has an audio version, read by Bob Eccles, another talented individual with a great radio voice.

You can read or listen to the story here: Flowers In Her Hair

After a couple years and over a dozen tries at finding a home for Summer Jumpers it was finally picked up by The Gloaming earlier this year. This story had been accepted twice previous, but both of the zines folded before the publication dates. It was short-listed half a dozen more times, so it was good to finally give the story a place to be read. Sadly, I can’t seem to link to it because it no longer appears to be on the website.

[Side Note #4: If you would like to read Summer Jumpers as it appeared in The Gloaming, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do for you. End Side Note #4]

One of my favorite stories to write over the last couple years has been a series titled Dredging Up Memories. This series has been so generously put out by the good folks over at Tales of the Zombie Wars. It’s (kind of obviously, given the site name) a zombie tale and follows the trials of a lone man dealing with the world gone to Hell in a hand basket, the loss of family and friends and what he discovers about the zombies… or, rather the people who have turned into them. You can find the first six parts of the ongoing series here: Dredging Up Memories

I’m going to end this blog tonight with a simple thank you to those who have read my work this year or in the last five years or so that I have pursued this dream of being a writer. It’s an up and down roller coaster that would never go up without all of you. For the writer, having no readers is the worst thing that could happen. If I have touched just one person with any of my words of fiction, then I’ve succeeded at being a writer. If you’ve liked one of my stories (or even if you didn’t) thank you for reading.

As the New Year rings in, I have some good news, which I had originally intended to share here, but I seem to have gone on a different path with this blog. So, in order to avoid turning this into a 3000-word piece, check back here in the next day or so.

For now, I’m A.J. and I’m out…

The Not So Banner Year: 2011

Wow, here we are at the end of another year. Christmas is a week or so away and the New Year is right around the corner. I have to admit, 2011 has not been a banner year for getting stories published. In all honesty, 2011 has been one of my more down years since I first started out.

Can I blame the economy?

Maybe for a couple publications, but not all of them.

Honestly, if there is anyone to blame, it would be myself.

What? Yeah, I know, right?

It is what it is and right now, it would be mostly my fault that more stories didn’t get published this year. I have my reasons for this:

I set my goals very high this year, maybe even too high to even come close to accomplishing them. To be honest, I’ve only accomplished one goal this year: to write a novel.

I did a lot of rewrites, going back and looking over stories I wrote years ago when I had no real desire to pursue publishing my work. Oh, the horrors I read—and not because the stories were horror stories, either. Some of the stories were old favorites, while others weren’t liked all that much. However, after a bit of reworking and stretching my writer’s fingers, those stories are solid… keepers.

I read a book this year. Okay, I know what you’re thinking: ‘A.J., you only read one book this year?’ Ummm… no. I read more than that (at least two), but one book had a profound impact on me, the writer. That book was Stephen King’s On Writing. The part that really stuck with me more than anything is to learn to tell the truth in our stories, in the lies that we make up for folks to read. Also, as writers, we have to enjoy the writing process, let the story lead us along, take us for a ride.

I’ve always said that I like to let my stories breathe, let them stretch their legs and run with me tagging along behind them to see where they go. But, this reaffirmed my belief in telling a story all the way through. Damn the rules that say you have to make a story compact and all action oriented. I’m a long-winded person. I can talk. Ask anyone who knows me even somewhat well. I never shut-up. I like my stories to be rich in this way, to develop my characters and scenes and hopefully… hopefully, pen a good story.

By doing so, my stories have become increasingly longer. That’s okay with me. The problem is there are not many publications that take 10-15 thousand word stories these days.

Here’s another reason, this one bothers me more so than most of the others: I may not be good enough to crack the bigger publications.

Ouch. That stings.

By changing the way I write, by not going with the standard, boring stuff and standard action, action, action stories, I have found a style I really enjoy writing in. And, I think… I think, mind you… that the readers would like the style if given a chance to read the stories.

Thankfully, that chance is coming soon. More on that later.

Part of that style I’ve developed is story telling in a rustic voice, so to speak. Kind of like Shawn Mullins in his song, Rockabye.

It’s a voice thing that I like, that I hear when writing. Its one thing that I hope comes through in the handful of stories I’ve written with that voice.

By developing a different style and voice it has taken me out of the market for constant submissions to the various publications that still remain out there.

There is the little fact of the economy. No, not my fault, but the economy effects us all, including those publications that pay money to their writers. In many cases the money just isn’t there to go around. So, what happens? Publications fold. My favorite publication (Necrotic Tissue) went under this year. I was saddened by that, but it’s the nature of the beast.

The fortunate thing is I’ve had quite a few stories shortlisted, many of them coming up on the short end of the stick (no pun intended). Still, a shortlisted story is still better than a first opinion rejection any day.

Though the publications have been few this year, I think 2012 may shape up nicely. I’ve changed a few of the goals, made a couple of them a little more attainable.

One of those goals is to post something on the blog every week, and hopefully a couple times a week. I admit, sometimes I’m lazy when it comes to maintaining the blog/website. It can be tedious work and, honestly, sometimes I have nothing to talk about. I know. I know. Me with nothing to talk about? Right…

I’ll post those goals at the beginning of January and make it a point to keep folks updated, maybe even with a running tally of the submissions and the responses.

To go along with the blog/website thing, I would like to ask you, the readers, for your opinion. What would you like to see on Type AJ Negative? What would you like to see more of? Less of? Would you like to see more of Herbie (I hear he’s dressed as a sexy Santa Clause this year)?*

I’m nearing 1000 words now and I’ve heard that a lot of folks don’t care much for overly long blogs–not from any of you, but just in general. So, I think I’ll close up shop for the day and save the rest for another post.

Until then, Herbie says ‘Hi’ and I say have a good day.

I’m A.J. and I’m out…

[[*Herbie’s Note: Sexy Santa Clause is a reference to the television show The New Girl. If you haven’t seen the Christmas episode, you have no clue what I’m talking about, thus making this an inside joke.]]