Happy New Year from Shaggin the Muse and my 2012 Booklist

Wow, so this is the second New Years Eve for this site. I’m planning a 2012 in review post for later this week, but for now I can just say that 2012 was a great year for my career. I published a second novel and a plethora of short works and attended my first show. I managed to crank out half a million words. More than that, I began to get my legs under me and figure out what I’d like to see out of the next few years. Next year I’ll be releasing a short story collection and another novel and attending a few shows, with an April show already confirmed. More information coming on those in the near future. For now, I just feel that I have some decent momentum going into 2013.

I hope you’ve had a great year and have a lot to look forward to next year. We only get so many of them and as I get older I realize just how important it is to do the most you can with the time you have. Yeah, I know that’s something of a cliche, but it begins to settle into your bones as you approach middle age, that’s for sure.

Now, enough of that. It’s booklist time! This year I set a goal to read 60 books (up from last year’s 50). That meant I would have to read, on average, more than a book a week. I hadn’t done that in many, many years and wasn’t sure if I would make it. I’m happy to report that I’ve exceeded that goal, hitting 64, which means I’ll probably keep my goal static next year. Let’s see what I read…



Room 3 Web Tour!

Hello again, readers…still here, still not feeling GREAT, but I’m pushing forward anyway. I have a few theories about what’s going on with me physically, but have to wait for the doctors to figure it out. In the meantime…

It’s time for Room 3’s web tour! And so far the book is getting great reviews. My personal favorite is from Lizzy’s Dark Fiction (and there’s a site I need to follow – so much of what she reviews speaks to me): “When the ending finally came, I was shocked.  Totally did not expect that ending, but looking back it explained everything.  Every doubt I ever had in the sincerity and plausibility of the story explained within a single scene.  You won’t guess the ending, but if you read this book, you’ll be happy you stuck through it the entire way.”

Now THAT is a review! Very pleased. Go on over there and check it out, and in the process, you can sign up for the giveaway. I’m giving away a $20 Amazon gift card and a $10 Amazon gift card – I imagine you could think of a few ways to spend that this time of year.

I have so many things to share with you. It’s really frustrating that I can’t concentrate enough to give it to you guys. Look for a flood of content once I feel better – including the next part of Open Slay.

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Illness and Other News

Hey readers. It’s been a little while, and I’m still not feeling 100%. Okay, I did for awhile there but seem to have picked up a bug over the weekend. This isn’t inconsistent with food allergies; they can often weaken the immune system. I’m hoping that’s all that’s going on, but keeping an eye on things just the same.

Anyway, this means that I’m not up to my usual lengthy entries and may unfortunately lead to a slight delay in this week’s Wednesday Fiction. I’m hoping that’s not the case, but sometimes you have to listen to your body and just take it easy.

That said, there’s a tour on for Room 3, and I’ll be sharing some information on that tomorrow. For now…I just hope all are well. See you soon.

Shadows, Shadows Everywhere!

Greets, readers, and welcome back to the ongoing show. Hope you Americans had a great holiday, and for those of you abroad, sincerest apologies for the radio silence last week. I took the week off, for whatever that means to 90% of writers. In my world, it just means that the word count took a temporary dip (as it does every year) as I spent time with family and friends. I continued to chew at my stories as a dog will chew at a bone, and I even managed to start writing the next story for Wednesday Fiction, a fun holiday story titled “Open Slay” (heh). Here’s a little hint as to the story’s subject matter:

Hmm. What could it be? Anyway, look for the first part on Wednesday, with the next three parts following on each week, culminating in the final “episode” on December 19th. This is the last story that will make the short story collection due out next year.

Speaking of which, big news on that front! The collection now has a title, as brainstormed with the lovely wife: Shadow Boxes. Shadow boxes, of course, are “enclosed glass-front case(s) containing an object or objects presented in a thematic grouping with artistic or personal significance” (Wikipedia). The title seemed especially fitting given that each of the short stories in this collection are played out on a single stage.  Continue reading

Room 3 Launch Winners, Holiday Crush, and Planning a Tour. Whew!

Evening, readers. First of all, congrats to Cinta García de la Rosa for winning the $25 Amazon gift card in the Room 3 launch. If you missed this one, don’t worry – we’ll have a tour in early December for the rest of you folks. I’ll talk about that one shortly.

In the meantime, of course it’s a holiday week, and I’ve decided to take this week off from my day job. We’re heading out of town on Thursday to visit my parents and spend time with friends, so I don’t know how much I’ll be updating the site. Hopefully “enough” will do the trick? I don’t know. I’m focusing especially hard on City of the Dead right now, in hopes that I can get the first draft of that completed before the end of the year. Can it be done? I don’t know. I’m about halfway through, but it’s flowing out in a fairly steady stream, and it seems pretty good so far.

Fans of the series (all five of you) should enjoy it, based on how things stand now, and it’s far from having the early problems that I experienced with Room 3. The new characters are a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying spending some time with them. I’ll talk about them sometime in the future, but for now…a slight teaser: I think that the cover weapon (as it was a pistol for Corridors of the Dead and a sword for The Station) will be a scythe. Consider what that one might mean. Continue reading

Getting Back Up Again

Hey readers, sorry for missing my post yesterday. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned it on this blog before, but I’m gluten and casein intolerant. For those who aren’t familiar with those terms, it basically means that I can’t eat wheat products or dairy products because the fire up my immune system and my body essentially starts attacking itself.

To explain what it feels like for me to get dosed with casein, think of the last time you had the flu. Now, not the full-blown flu, but the day or two when you knew it was coming but had no way to stop it. It’s that sort of thing – achy and dizzy, with a head full of mucus.

Gluten – well, that’s a whole different ballgame. That makes me shake all over and makes it difficult to even speak.

Yeah, it’s not the most fun life, but at the same time I do feel like it’s turning my poor eating habits around, so a silver lining to everything, right?

Anyway, I tell you this because I missed yesterday’s post after getting a huge hidden dose of butter. Not an excuse, but I had trouble concentrating on much more than putting one foot in front of the other, and even that had some iffy moments. I’m still not 100% today, but it’s an improvement, and I’ll take it.

In the meantime, things are getting close on Room 3. I’m expecting the edits back tomorrow, and will be working double-time to get them as soon as I can. From there it’s straight on to release, and the print version is just about ready to go once they’re in.

Hang in there, things are about to get exciting. Just a little more…

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Recharging the Batteries with a Trip to the Dark Side

Everybody, you ready for another week? Ready to paint that smile on your face and press forward valiantly  I’m not sure that I am, but as usual lots of coffee and writing should get me through in a semblance of sanity. Let us pray that it works.

Now, I typically don’t talk too much about my weekend, or even day-to-day, activities on this blog. It’s hard to cite any one reason for my reticence. I guess I just don’t feel that many of those activities relate to the goals of this site, save for my writing and writing-related activities, and I mean, what am I going to do, update you on my daily word count? Nah. I don’t roll like that. I do enjoy telling you good folks about the development of my works, but even that can get tedious after awhile.

But hey, I’m lucky this week, and very happy to share something of my weekend with you folks. You see, this past weekend the wife and I attended first the Cox Farms Fall Festival, and then something called the Fields of Fear. Given the connection to horror and to the sorts of things that inspire my writing, I felt there was some relevance to offer to you, the reader. And if it’s not relevant, at least you can enjoy the pretty pictures.

So let’s be clear on one thing: I love Autumn. Seriously. My love of the season dates way back to at least age nine or ten. Back then I loved creeping around the deserted streets of my small hometown, watching the place settle down as the sun first set and then night fell. I thrilled to the sound of the wind through the skeletal branches that towered over me. I loved the aching feeling that I got in my bones when I saw nice warm lights in houses. It was desolation, but a nice sort of desolation.

It’s become very important for me to celebrate the arrival of Autumn and Halloween; every year I try to find some way to mark the passage of time, as my thoughts increasingly turn to my own mortality and the idea that I have one less Autumn remaining in my lifetime. Sure, that sounds morbid, but it reminds me of just how important it is to relish these things and celebrate them. It helps me to understand the root of the Halloween celebration.

This trip has become one of our shared traditions, and we both relish it. Thus, I feel fortunate to share some of it with you.

Let’s start by talking about the Fall Festival. This is, essentially, the more family-friendly, child-friendly version of Fields of Fear. We’re talking farm animals, lots of talk about what goes on down on the farm, hayrides, and…well, I’ll let some of the pictures talk for themselves.

The trip had an inauspicious start, as I first forgot to dig out the directions and then compounded the problem by not accepting the wife’s offer to print directions (male pride, hoooo). The real coup de grace on my dignity, however, happened when the GPS on both of our phones crapped out. So there we are in the sticks of Virginia, trying to find this place and knowing that they would stop allowing new visitors through the gates in the next 20 minutes. Moods were not exactly high, but I managed to stumble upon the right path, and we arrived with minutes to spare.

Hey, this guy was happy to see us.

We both really enjoy the day-time version of the festival – it’s “soft”, yes, but it has an enjoyably cheesy quality to it. And I mean, hell, who doesn’t want to see fluffy ducks and baby pigs? I don’t want to meet the person that doesn’t enjoy that sort of thing.

And I mean that.

Continue reading

News of the World: Bits and Pieces

Lots of irons in the fire right now – both on the “work” front and on the WORK front, if you know what I’m saying – so I’m going with something of an abbreviated post format today. Besides, I haven’t shared any news with you guys in a few weeks, so I figure I’m due. Here’s what’s up in my world at the moment:

  • Room 3 is nearing completion with my editor. She’s told me to expect the manuscript back early next week. Once that happens, I’m going to dive into making those changes and some that I’ve noted in my proofs.
  • Speaking of proofs, the Room 3 proof is in great shape. Still a few lingering issues, but they’re ones that always get cleared up with editors’ changes. The most important parts of the early proofing process, the cover and front matter, are all just how I want them. This hopefully means that we get one more proof and the book is ready. All this leads me to believe that I can get this book out on 10/24. That’s not a firm commitment just yet, but it is, however, the most solid date that I’ve had to this point. Only six months late, but what’s a delay here or there between friends? I believe that this may be an ebook-only date and the print book may be a week later, but I’m going to bust my ass to try to get both out on the same date.
  • In other news, On the Air should be out around roughly the same time, as part of the Somewhere in the Shadows anthology. There’s not a whole lot of information out there about the project yet, so I don’t want to be the one to break all of the news. Let’s just say it’s in the works.
  • I’m also working on a short story called Servant Girl that will appear in the first Emissaries of Speculative Fiction anthology. It’s a dark little tale with a neat twist (if I do say so myself). I really can’t tell you too much more without spoiling it. We’re shooting to get that anthology out in December, and I’m going to be handling formatting for both the ebook and print editions.
  • That reminds me, I’ve also agreed to take on the task of helping Marie Loughin create a print version of her excellent book Valknut: The Binding. I have to admit a certain selfishness to this project; I want to see a printed copy so I can get it autographed. I do, however, also think that it deserves a print run, and I’m glad to help Marie make it happen after all that she did to help Room 3 during its painful birthing process.
  • I will be at the Maryland Writers Conference on October 20th. I’m trying to get my books sold in the authors’ room, but still trying to work that out. If you’re attending, look for me, and I’d be happy to sign books or even just exchange business cards. It sounds like a blast.
  • If anyone has open slots on their podcast, I’d love to do another podcast interview. I’m actively asking around about this, but also throwing out a net here to anyone who might have an open spot and reads this blog.

So lots of exciting things going on and coming up, with some even more ambitious plans for 2013. I’m geeked, and I hope that I get to include a lot of you in this. See you soon, somewhere out there.

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Still Kicking – With News!

Hey all, you may have noticed things have slowed down just a tad on the blog. That’s a very deliberate choice, as I’m now very close to the final phases of my editing on Room 3. This means that I hope to have the book in my editor’s hands by the end of the week, targeting a late September release for the book. Finally! I can’t wait to see what you folks have to say about it. I’ll have a big promotion to go along with the launch, including your chance to get copies of each of my books and short stories for free. Still more news to come on that…but in the meantime, my stories The Station and the Kayson Cycle are going to be free starting tomorrow and until Thursday! You can get to those by clicking the links above.

I’ll still have a story for Fiction Wednesday this week, but with the holiday weekend I’m still not sure of how my posting schedule will look. Stay tuned for more information.

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A Word About Silence

Just a heads-up, this is going to be something of a quiet week here on the site. I have several posts planned, but I’m not sure I’m going to have time to do much with them, as I’ve been in crunch mode both in my fiction writing and at work. I just sent my anthology story, On the Air, to the editor for inclusion, and am now bearing down on getting Room 3 finished, so those things must take priority right now. So it sucks for the site at the moment, but it’s good for my fiction. And I’ll be back. Promise!

As way of apology, please accept this kitten.

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