Updating my bookshelf: 2014 in writing

IMG_6434I will confess, at the end of 2013 I thought this shelf (seen above in December of that year) would be filling up a bit more by the end of 2014.  But that would be ignoring the fact I was beyond thrilled to be included in the titles you’ll see on it at the bottom of this post, Long Hidden and Kneeling in the Silver Light. As one of my favourite teachers, Mr. Gillis, used to say: quality, not quantity.

Writing short stories took a back seat to getting my novel out the door in 2014, but I still tried to keep writing new stories and throwing ones I already had finished at new markets. I won’t talk about the markets I didn’t place work in – and anyway, I got some very encouraging rejections along the way, so I’ll be sending those ones something new when I get a chance.

That’s all quite vague, so I will burrow down into this: I hired freelance editor extraordinaire Julie Hutchings to take a hard look at what I considered my final draft of Bark at the Moon. She had a lot of perceptive and pointed things to say about what was and what wasn’t working, and this was a huge help in taking it from “as good as I can see making it” to “now this is firing on all cylinders.” Novelists, take note: this woman does fantastic work. It took me a while to go through my manuscript and incorporate her notes and suggestions (read: months, because I was also writing new short stories and working on a long-form journalism piece on Aboriginal soldiers in the First World War). But in the end, it was a much, much better novel, and I started querying agents in the fall.

As for short stories – well, I took a crack at some urban fantasy noir, a bit of folkloric revisionism, and far-flung future exploration. Those pieces are out there right now and I hope to have some news, good or otherwise, soon.

And hey, there were a few bumps along the way for stories that were accepted. One of them, “Caged,” has been delayed as the anthology it was accepted for finds a new publisher. Another, “The Harsh Light of Morning,” is due out in print shortly, though the Kindle edition was released just before the holidays. Would have been nice to include Tesseracts 18: Wrestling With Gods in the photo below, but that will have to wait until the 2015 wrap-up.

Still: very proud to have a story in Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, one of the more talked-about SFF anthologies of the year, and one in which I very much felt like I got to sit at the big kids’ table. Under SWFA guidelines, my story in it, “A Deeper Echo,” was technically my first professional sale; and furthermore the quality of the stories in this book is astounding. I was honoured to have my work in a table of contents with such fantastic writers.

(And, as I found out, “A Deeper Echo” made me eligible for the John W. Campbell Award, and you can find out more about the nominees here. I’m in my first year of eligibility this time around. Also, that story and “The Wolves of Vimy” have been submitted for possible nomination for a Prix Aurora Award for Short Fiction; more info on that here.)

In 2014, many countries marked a grim anniversary, namely the outbreak of the First World War. That didn’t go unnoticed in the speculative fiction world, and I was very happy to be part of the dark fantasy/horror anthology Kneeling in the Silver Light: Stories From the Great War. Just researching for that story opened my eyes to a lot of detail and context I had been unaware of; and there are many beautiful, haunting, and savage stories in the collection.

For any readers out there who are interested: yes, the majority of stories I’ve gotten published in the past two years are linked, and they are also linked to the novel. I wrote them all to stand alone, but if you read them all they may (I hope) add depth to each other. At some point I’ll post a timeline for them!

As to what the coming year holds — I hope to have a few more covers to add to my bookshelf by the end of December. I may even take a break from short fiction and plunge back into a new novel.

So, as of the end of 2014: here’s what my bookshelf looks like:

2014 year in writing

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