2017 was a decent year for me writing-wise. My first published story came out in print - though the publisher still didn't manage to correct the spelling of my name on the Amazon listing, so you won't find it unless you drop an "h" or click here:
You will find "Handymen" in the middle somewhere - where my name actually is spelled right, but the story title isn't. It stings a bit that my "Hey! I got published!" moment is then qualified by, "but my name is spelled wrong" when someone asks me how to find it.
Shortly after this appeared on Amazon, I was invited to read at an event by Writers and Words, a Baltimore reading series held in a trendy coffee shop called Charmington's. This would be the first time I was invited to read a story I'd written, rather than required to do so. The organizers were excited to have an author of mysteries and thrillers and I was given the "wildcard" slot for July. I couldn't have been more thrilled! I read a piece called "Swim Trials" which had been the result of the previous winter's NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge prompts and I provided my spooky story "Office Hours" for the chapbook. "Office Hours" had been my first contest-winner back in 2015 and may eventually be included in a collection of Plant Hall pieces. In the meantime, you can read it here on my friend Steven Thomas Howell's blog. Plus, the blog is awesome and worth checking out anyway.
I had a piece of microfiction published on ScrawlBrawl, a site described as a "100-word battle to the death." Microfiction, it turns out, is a blast to write! You can read "Hell's Kitchen" here. While you are there, check out some other stories, particularly by the Despot (a talented, zany presence in the writing world) because they're awesome, and it takes but a moment to read a 100-word story. Seriously.
The fall brought a third place win for "Close Neighbors," and the opportunity to read my work (again!!!) by the "ghost story fire-pit" at Toast Among Ghosts. This was a nail-biter because it was dark, I had to hold pages and a microphone, and speak up over the nearby band. And I said the word "masturbation" in front of strangers. You can read that story and learn more about the event here. If that wasn't crazy enough, I was interviewed by two local papers! Of course, one spelled my name wrong, so...
The event staff spelled my name right at least, but they had another unfortunate spelling error on the posters. I'll let you find it on your own.
In December, Gimmick Press took an essay and a flash fiction piece for their Worthless Treasures project. You can read them both here. "Beedancing" is my first published (by someone else) nonfiction piece, so I was super-excited. "Stupidhead" had earned an honorable mention by Glimmer Train, but had not gotten picked up by any of the places I'd sent it before, though I'd had my best "good" rejection letters for it.
In August, I attended the Writers Digest Conference which you can read about here. I pitched my novel, which was celebrating its second birthday, to literary agents in a massive zoo called "pitch slam." I followed up with requested pages, synopses, and queries. And nothing. I am due to send out another batch of queries, but that nagging doubt that anything will ever happen always lingers, clouding the edges of my joy when a piece get accepted. The novel is sitting there, judging silently and gathering virtual dust.
One agent asked me for my "series" pitch - how will I continue these characters through more adventures. I quickly wrote one, summarizing the next tale and the opportunities my premise provided for a successful, sustainable continuation of mayhem. I have dreams of my own Hallmark Movies and Mysteries series with a spunky female writer spinning wit and solving murders. It would fit right in with the bakers, librarians, and antique dealers solving crimes.
I guess that means I have another novel to write. In the meantime, I'll keep sending queries, praying that I'm not exhausting all possible chances for representation. And I'll keep writing my short stuff. NYC Midnight is kicking off the Short Story Challenge soon. Wanna join? You can read about it here.
2018 will be a year of perseverance I suppose. I wish I had access to a writer's therapist who could coach me through novel-despair and encourage me to keep going while I wait for lightning to strike. In the meantime, I'll just keep typing.