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December 29th, 2017

A Look Back at 2017

We are putting another year to bed, a new year about to begin. As is my way, I want to look back at 2017 and take a trip down memory lane, specifically the events pertaining to my life as a writer.

It has been a good year for writing. I spent the majority of the year on two larger projects. I started the year working on the novella THE UNHOLY EUCHARIST, my first major vampire project since I started publishing professionally. I took the kernel of an idea I’d had back in my youth, my college years, and twisted it around to create my own brand of vampire with their own hopefully unique origin story. I span several time periods in the story, and I had a lot of fun doing the research. I didn’t do a bunch of research beforehand; I did the research as I went along. I would start a new section in a new time period, then I’d do the necessary research for that part, write it, then move on to the next time period and start the research again. The novella came out just shy of novel-length, and I put it with two other novellas—KRONOZ and THE PRICE OF SUCCESS (written with my friend Shane Nelson)—and sent the collection off to a publisher.

My other large project for the year was the novel 324 ABERCORN. This was an idea I had years ago, and at one point I had started writing it, getting a few chapters in and putting it aside for reasons I don’t entirely remember anymore. I dove back in and spent the last half of the year finishing it. I had a blast, and I fell in love with my characters a little bit, which is always the ideal for a writer. At a certain point, I was thinking this would be a novella and would be part of the novella collection, but it grew and became a novel in its own right. I finished this novel recently, earlier in December, and I sent it to a publisher for consideration as well.

As always, I also wrote several short stories throughout the year. Since I started publishing, I’ve begun to focus more on longer works (novellas and novels), but short stories remain my first and truest love and I will never stop writing them.

It was also a good year for publishing. I started out the year with the February release of my novel THE CULT OF OCASTA through Evil Jester Press. This book is a sequel to my earlier novel THE QUARRY, and I think is a more complex and deeper story. I also used it as a swan song to my favorite location for my fiction, Limestone College. OCASTA felt like a culmination of all the different Limestone stories I’d told, so it felt right to make it, as the subtitle suggests, The Final Limestone Story. I’m very proud of this novel and was so happy to see it out in the world.

At the beginning of October, my novella #MakeHalloweenScaryAgain was published as the longest piece in the digital collection HALLOWEEN CARNIVAL VOL. I, released through Random House’s imprint Hydra. It appeared along with stories by Lisa Morton, John R. Little, Kevin Lucia, and one of my idols Robert McCammon. I can’t tell you what a thrill that was! Editor Brian Freeman did a great job, and the collection did very well. Probably the most feedback I’ve ever gotten for a work.

Between these releases, August saw the rerelease of two of my older titles. First Apex Publishing decided to put out a new edition of my zombie novella ASYLUM. The book got a gorgeous new cover, and I even penned a follow-up short story (“Lunatics Running the Asylum”) that was included in the new edition. At the same time, Etopia decided to give my time-travel romance novel THE EXCHANGE STUDENT a facelift. It too got a beautiful new cover and reentered the world.

In addition to these projects, I had a handful of short stories appear in various anthologies and magazines. At the very beginning of the year, my story “Take Me to Your Cheerleader” appeared in the anthology DREAD STATE, edited by Eugene Johnson and Michael Paul Gonzalez and released through Thunderdome Press. The big thrill there is I appeared alongside a reprint from Ray Bradbury. In April, Things in the Well released the anthology BETWEEN THE TRACKS, edited by Steve Dillion, and featured my short story “The Toll.” October featured three appearances: “The Basement Apartment” in Things in the Well’s BENEATH THE STAIRS, the poem “Halloween Carnival” in Dillion’s Halloween magazine TRICKSTER’S TREATS, and “A Rain of Autumn Leaves” in the Unnerving Press chapbook ALLIGATORS IN THE SEWERS.

This year I also started writing a sporadic book column for THE CHEROKEE CHRONICLE in Gaffney, SC, my hometown. I have such a love of all things books, and growing up in Gaffney I didn't exactly feel that I was surrounded by like-minded individuals, so I thought this would be a good service to the community for other book lovers in town.

I hosted a few events this year as well. In February, I held a writer’s workshop for Greer Relief, as part of their program where clients who use their services take classes in exchange for vouchers for food and clothing. In March, I hosted a campus-wide scavenger hunt at Limestone College where I also did a talk and book-signing for the students who participated. In September I hosted another literary scavenger hunt at Joe’s Place, which served as a fundraiser for the Greenville Literacy Association, and it was probably my most successful event to date and earned a nice chunk of change for the GLA. Finally in October, my friend and fellow writer James Newman and I cohosted a horror discussion panel at the Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg. I made a few appearances on WYFF, the local NBC affiliate, to promote some of these events.

It has been a good and productive year, and as always I got through it with my husband Craig Metcalf by my side. His support and encouragement makes all the professional progress possible. We celebrated our first anniversary this year, and it’s the first of many more to come.

I look forward to the challenges and opportunities 2018 presents, and I will continue to write and publish and live my dream.