My buddy, author Jon Fesmire (check him out on my Top 24) did this, and I liked it, so here goes:
Dear Readers(assuming that by this time I have a few),
It’s Christmas Eve here in Afghanistan, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about my life and how much it’s changed in the past year. I can honestly say that this year, the 24th since I popped out of my mom’s crotch, has been my finest yet. I can honestly say that I didn’t expect myself or my family to come this far in a year, especially a year spent apart.
For the first six months I served as a network administrator on what basically amounts to an outpost. That was really rewarding work, and I’m not going to get into details, but I made full use of my skills. Also, I had a lot of time to rediscover one of my favorite activites, writing. I hadn’t written in about five years. Between Army stuff and the stress of my first marriage and subsequent divorce, I just didn’t have the drive.
I can’t say I missed it really, at the time. I filled my life with a bunch of other things, and it never occurred to me to write. There just wasn’t time. I pissed away my first deployment, to Iraq, playing video games and bass guitar and watching movies. The best thing that came out of that year was getting to know the woman who would become my wife, Consuela. And while choosing to spend the rest of my life with her was the best decision I ever made, the rest of 2005 was a waste.
So in Afghanistan, since Connie and I had promised to be productive this year, I devoted my time to writing. In June I made my first sale to an editor, not for money, but for something even more valuable: exposure. The story, The Devil’s Due, didn’t appear until August (in Twisted Dreams Magazine), but a shorter version was selected to appear on the Horror Library website in July. My relationships with the Horror Library and the editor of Twisted Dreams, Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc, have borne a variety of fruits. Andrea published another story of mine in the December issue of Twisted Dreams, and members of the Horror Library office on Zoetrope have critiqued most of my work. Andrea, as well as several members of the HL have also contributed to my editorial debut, Our Shadows Speak.
Around the same time, I made the acquaintance of Jonathan Fesmire, one of the best fantasy writers you probably haven’t heard of. He’s given me a lot of advice throughout the year, helped me with a couple of projects and contributed a story to my anthology. Fran Friel is another good writer friend I met, a talented lass who’s work can be read in the HL archives. She also had an excellent year, selling out of her debut novella, Mama’s Boy, and being nominated for a Stoker. She also wrote the introduction to Our Shadows Speak. I’ve been blessed with meeting a lot of great people that I don’t have room to list here.
I’ve published a story every month since June, with the exception of November, but I published twice in October, so that balances it out. I have three great stories already lined up for 2007, and several short stories underway that I have no doubt you’ll be enjoying in the near future.
My crowning achievement this year, however, has been the publication of Our Shadows Speak, an anthology I put together during the last few months of this deployment. It’s available for FREE as an e-book, or as a paperback ($9 and some change for a 250 page book… top that!). So many people came together to help me with words of encouragement, cover art and design and of course, some of the most excellent stories to ever hit paper. This is just the first of many projects I hope to have the privilege of helming as my literary career progresses.
As far as my ‘other job’, the Army, is concerned, this year was pretty significant also. I competed in several Batallion and Brigade level boards, winning a few and showing well in the others. I also attended a promotion board, which means in a few months I should be a Sergeant. I had a lot of fun talking shit to my competitors, studying with my buddies and facing a variety of physical and mental challenges.
On the homefront, things have been even better. My wife has done an excellent job of decorating our new home, and we have lots of new furniture that I get to enjoy when I get home, including my Precious, a 47” big screen TV ($1200… can’t beat that with a stick!). She also won the United Way Community Spirit award for raising a lot of dough for charity at her workplace. My daughter Cheyann made the honor roll this semester, and will be interviewing with a modelling agency when I get home. My daughter Abigail is growing up to be a pretty little girl. I hope she never takes after her mother, my ex-wife, may the Devil take her soul. I’m really proud of my three Dorknerds! Our investments are doing great, my wife and I will be working on finishing our degrees when I get home, and I’ll be completing the process of adopting Cheyann. Yeah, we’ll be busy!
Next year is shaping up to be great! I have several writing projects in the works, and I hope you’ll join me for the ride. I promise not to let you down!
December 24, 2006