The New Math

The New Math – All the Numbers of the bEast (so far…)

Some of you may have noticed, the internet is leaking madness. Today is Pulver day! Here, find a collection of links to all those offerings, in approximately the order I discovered them.

Laird Barron – https://lairdbarron.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/the-numbers-of-the-beast/

Michael Cisco – http://michaelcisco.blogspot.com/2016/04/a-poem-for-joe-pulverday-2016.html

Ross E. Lockhart – http://www.haresrocklots.com/shrubberies-for-joe-pulver/

Allyson Bird – https://www.facebook.com/allyson.bird.52/posts/10207740792174269?pnref=story

Jeffrey Thomas – http://punktalk.punktowner.com/?p=2023

Damien Angelica Walters – http://damienangelicawalters.com/numbers-of-the-beast/

Daniel Mills – http://www.daniel-mills.net/2016/04/numbers-of-beast.html

Justin Steele – http://www.arkhamdigest.com/2016/04/rejoice-in-madness-of-xpulver.html

Mike Davis – https://lovecraftzine.com/2016/04/16/tales-of-the-king-in-yellow/

Selena Chambers – https://selenachambers.com/2016/04/16/numbers-of-the-beast-xchambers/

sj bagley – http://heksenhaus.tumblr.com/post/142893146091/the-number-of-the-beast

Robert Levy – http://therobertlevy.tumblr.com/post/142897964195/the-second-second-comingthe-numbers-of-the-beast

Nadia Bulkin – https://nadiabulkin.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/the-number-of-the-beast-is-999/

Michael Wehunt – https://michaelwehunt.com/2016/04/16/numbers-of-the-beast/

S.P. Miskowski – http://d-o-cat.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-numbers-of-beast.html

Cody Goodfellow – http://perilouspress.com/blog/2016/04/16/the-neighbor-of-the-beast/ OR http://perilouspress.com/blog/

Christopher Slatsky – https://christopherslatsky.com/2016/04/16/numbers-of-the-beast/

Orrin Grey – https://orringrey.com/2016/04/16/numbers-of-the-beast-the-one-we-keep-secret/

Matthew Bartlett – http://www.matthewmbartlett.com/2016/04/xpulver.html

A(W) Baader – https://abaader.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/the-numbers-of-the-beast-or-how-dame-did-me-wrong/

Rebecca J. Allred – https://diagnosisdiabolique.com/2016/04/16/numbers-of-the-beast/

Brian O’Connell – https://conquerorweird.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/number-of-the-beast-2016/

John Claude Smith – http://thewildernesswithinbyjohnclaudesmith.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-numbers-of-beastan-appreciation-of.html?spref=fb

Yves Tourigny – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154088011461085&set=a.63517091084.89810.743261084&type=3&theater

Ritchie Tenorio – https://www.facebook.com/the.ritchie.tenorio/posts/781225894922

Rodney Turner – https://daringdefenders.wordpress.com/2016/04/16/the-numbers-of-the-beast/

Duane Pesice – https://moderan.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/beastliness/

John Langan – https://johnpaullangan.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/the-numbers-of-the-beast-gripped/

My own entry into the madness sweepstakes – https://griffinwords.com/2016/04/15/numbers-of-the-beast/

(…to be continually updated as more appear.)

pulver-wtm

Numbers of the bEast

Numbers of the bEast; or, the bEast Who Came to Portland (for Joe Pulver)

In the old days, we met people in person, and that was the way we became friends. Even people who lived somewhere other than where we lived ourselves, those people remained strangers until we met. Then once some kind of relationship had been formed via face-to-face interaction, we might stay in touch via phone calls, or the occasional handwritten letter.

But these are no longer the old days. Now we meet a million people online, and the few that become true friends, we eventually end up meeting in person.

That’s how it was with Joe Pulver and me. We’d become internet buddies after getting to know each other for a year or two on Facebook. We compared notes on favorite ECM records, shared ranked lists of the all-time best Brian Eno drones, and endlessly debated the best songs by our mutual favorite band, Duran Duran. I always ended up winning our arguments and debates, as I’m sure Joe would agree, but despite this, Joe was always gracious, fun and grouchily good-natured. Like a cool, wild uncle or zany big brother.

And for a long time, I thought it would be fun to meet Joe in person, though it didn’t seem too likely to happen. Joe was American, but he resided in Berlin, which from what I’m able to tell on Wikipedia is a little country near Germany. I was living practically on the opposite side of the world, in Portland, Oregon, on the West Coast of the US. But that was OK. We could just remain internet friends.

Then out of nowhere, I received a bizarre late-night visit. A yellow-robed figure knocking on my door. I figured this must be somebody playing a weird trick. Though I’d always had lots of nice, normal friends earlier in my life, once I became involved in writing weird stuff, suddenly everybody I knew and hung around with was crazy. When I answered the door, it must’ve been after midnight. All the street lamps outside had gone dark.

The robed figure spoke from behind what appeared to be a mask, without identifying himself. Or maybe it was herself.

“Joe Pulver is going to be coming to Portland,” the voice said, “to be a guest at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. It’s a convention, you know, a bunch of people dress up, drink too much. Maybe you’ve heard of this kind of thing? We need you to let Pulver stay here, at your home. Show him around Portland. Make sure he gets to the panels on time.”

“Really?” I thought about it only a moment, my puzzlement turning to interest. This yellow-robed figure had to be one of the organizers of the convention. Maybe they’d scheduled more guests than they had hotel rooms to go around. That made sense. This was their way of trying to get places for guests to stay, having this weirdo in a yellow robe show up at the home of somebody the guest knew on Facebook, and suggest the idea like it would be fun, letting the guest stay in the person’s home.

“Sure, yeah,” I said. “We could do that. Joe can stay here. We’ll take care of him.”

Lena, my wife, knew Joe too, and liked him a lot. She wouldn’t mind.

“Really?” The masked figure seemed at first to be mocking my own initial response.

Then I realized he — or in fact, I kept thinking, maybe it was she, because how many dudes really want to go around town running errands, dressed all in matching yellow? — anyway, maybe he or she was just surprised at how readily I’d agreed. This should have tipped me off that things wouldn’t be so simple as I’d guessed. Yet still I entertained the idea this would be fun, not a problem.

“Joe Pulver has…” The figure leaned close, apparently trying to intone ominously. “…most unique… requirements.”

Blithely I blundered onward. “It’s no problem, we’ll take care of him. Make sure he’s comfortable and fed, at least.”

“Fed…” This person was difficult to read, concealed as they were by mask and hood and many-layered cloak. Did I mention it was yellow? It was really quite the elaborate get-up for a stunt like this, trying to arm-twist an invitation for a con guest. But from what I could read of body language, I guessed this yellow person almost turned and ran off without another word.

I realize now they felt guilty, sticking me with such a terrible burden, without at least some hint of what lay in store, for me and for Lena. For our household. For our very sanity.

“Unique requirements,” the figure enunciated. “Very particular. You might say extraordinary. You should be prepared–”

“I think I know Joe Pulver pretty well,” I interrupted. Have I mentioned my blithe, blundering dismissive overconfidence? Ah, such ignorance. The sweet bliss of unknowing. “Joe and I Skyped for nine hours, just this week. It’s weird, though, he never mentioned anything about this.”

The masked figure made a dismissive farting noise with his or her lips, or what I assume must have been lips. “You know nothing, Mike Griffin. Everyone who Skypes with Joe Pulver always Skypes for nine hours. Always, everyone. He Skypes in nine hours blocks, four times a day. I know what you’re about to say, that’s mathematically impossible. Four Skype calls, nine hours long each one, that doesn’t fit into a twenty-four hour day. That’s what you might believe. For most people that would be true. Pulver is different. And if you understood him one-millionth as well as you like to believe, you would at least know that.”

This response knocked my blithe, blundering overconfidence down by half. Still, this person seemed bizarre. I was more worried about this odd character occupying my doorstep at the Witching Hour than I worried about Pulver himself. That, of course, would change.

“Very well.” The robed ambassador of night steepled his or her hands, gloved yellow of course. “Most of his needs, he will tell you himself when he arrives. But for that first night, you should have ready at minimum, the following.” He produced from within his billowing wizard’s sleeve a list scrawled on a sheet of legal paper. Yellow, of course.

I scanned the listed requirements as well as I was able by the squalid illumination of our flickering porch light, slowly dying.

“Eight gallons of brewed green tea — NO SUGAR! Sixty-four ounces of Cajun trail mix. Three dozen eggs. Five pounds of bacon.” I looked up, about to tell my visitor that while this seemed like lot of stuff for a first night snack, we could certainly accommodate such a list.

But when I looked up, my visitor had vanished!

The remainder of the list, for it contained far more items in full than what I listed above, I saved for the following day. With the good humor of blithe, blundering overconfidence, Lena and I shopped, enjoying the process of buying unusual foods and drinks we might not normally purchase for ourselves.

“What kind of person eats so much bacon?” I asked.

“I can’t wait to meet Joe!” Lena said, her own blithe overconfidence nearly identical to my own, though slightly less blundering. “But eight gallons of sugar-less green tea… Why don’t I just brew him up some real tea?”

But she knew the answer. The list… was the list.

At the appointed date and time, we showed up at Portland International Airport, and waited outside the gate for Joe to arrive from his flight. By then, I had forgotten my strange night visitor. All that occupied my mind was a pleasant anticipation of meeting an internet pal for the first time. Within my wildest fancy, there existed no hint at all of the manifold terrors yet in store for us.

Joe came drifting past the security gate, in sneakers and shorts and a tye-die t-shirt. When he saw me and Lena waiting, he seemed surprised, but delighted. He claimed he’d been led to believe someone from the obscure and secretive HPLFF organizing committee was supposed to pick him up. “I heard from this strange figure in yellow,” Joe said, and shivered. “A few nights ago, we Skyped. Nine hours! Anyway, it’s so great to finally meet you guys.”

We exchanged pleasantries and hugs, happily chatted about Joe’s flight. All of us enthused about our anticipation of a fun three-day convention. We piled Joe’s luggage into the Griffinmobile, and as I drove the three of us out into the night, Lena mentioned we’d obtained all the items he needed. Everything was ready, at home.

“How did you know about all that?” Joe asked, and clarified. “My special list of requests.”

“That strange character,” I said, finally recalling. That night meeting now came back to me. How I had tried to forget, to wipe it from my mind! I wanted to ask Joe what he thought about the person in yellow. But before I could speak, Joe made his first declaration.

“Pickles,” Joe said. “Were those on the list? Pickles?”

Lena and I both stalled, waiting for the other to answer. We had both memorized the list, had shopped carefully to obtain every bizarre item, to be exact in the quantities procured, yet neither of could remember pickles being on the list.

“There are… no pickles,” I gasped.

“No pickles!” Lena cried.

A grim and horrible expression overtook the face of the Author and Editor, Joe Pulver. He trembled, seeming to enlarge and to redden, expanding with the growth of all his hunger and desire, all his unmet craving and unsatisfied need, which had accumulated too long within him and sought satisfaction or release!

I thought, Great, this must be what the yellow weirdo was talking about. Joe’s going to rage now, because there are no pickles.

Joe’s face remained red, and his eyes bulged, his rage seeming imminent, ready to erupt. But what issued forth was not complaint, not recrimination, not foul epithets. Just a single word.

“Bubbies!” he cried.

This desperate word contained not a trace of rage, not disappointment, and did not even seem to derive precisely from hunger. His longing was plain. “Can’t get real American food over there. All I think about when I come here is this stuff, my list. I have to have it, or I’ll go mad. And number one, that’s Bubbie’s beautiful, wonderful dills. So garlicky. So tangy. So delicious.”

Now I could see his emotional outburst was not that of a demanding guest, not some literary prima donna, but merely a man driven mad by cravings for such exquisite delicacies, now lost to him in his adopted homeland, as garlic dill pickles, Cajun trail mix, real Italian sausage, hot dogs, and a giant simmering pot of my notorious Death Chili.

Yet there remained the matter of Bubbie’s pickles. This seemed a dilemma, a conundrum. As so often happened, Lena explained things simply, and what seemed to my mind an overcomplicated, insurmountably vexing problem with an obscure, ineffable and unreachable solution, was in fact simple. To sate this greatest of Joe Pulver’s overwhelming needs would be, in fact, as simple as stopping at Fred Meyer One Stop Shopping Center on our way home.

Oh, if it had always remained so simple!

“Just one jar of Bubbie’s!” Joe wailed as we stood looking through the misted glass of the refrigerator case. He trembled with need, with anticipation. I was reminded of Gimli, asking the beautiful Elven queen Galadriel for a single strand of her golden hair.

This man-poet Pulver, this bEast from the East, asked me for one jar of Bubbie’s.

I gave him three.

At home, we witnessed the emergence of his true, childlike bliss. Our guest clutched the enormous plastic container of Cajun trail mix, cradled it like a newborn baby. The first gallon of green tea may have been sugar-less, but Joe clutched it sweetly as a lover, caressing the plastic bottle against his skin with an almost perverse fondness. He held open the door to our refrigerator and marveling, he counted the eggs, numbered the packages of bacon, inventoried consumables. Such bounty. Such pleasure. “One… three… six… nine.”

Lena and I exchanged a look. Relieved, even happy. This wasn’t bad, wasn’t bad at all. Our guest was pleased. It was just Joe, after all. Our friend. Nothing bad was going to happen.

That first night, we planned to rest. In the morning begin our convention fun.

And it was fun, what I remember of it now. Three days passed in a wild blur, half our time spent in the brewpub across the street. The bEast Joe Pulver was in his element, standing outside the theater, smoking cigarettes and holding court. He told stories of earlier conventions, times when Lena and I had not been present. At this very theater, meeting Laird Barron, Michael Shea and Marc Laidlaw. Times like this, Joe might satisfy himself for hours with only cigarettes, and stories with friends.

But with the passage of time, inevitably there arose again that inexplicable, animal need. I admit, it was a need to which I contributed by feeding. Hell, I don’t know, I must have even encouraged his sick madness.

Yes, as I write this, I remember what I said. I cannot deny my own words. “Whatever you want, just ask. You’re our guest.”

So Joe asked. He was not at all greedy, the foods were not fancy or expensive. His requests were very specific, frequently disgusting, in measured quantities, designed to fill some specific, occult need. Ingredients in a potion of his own design.

“Three slices of that sausage pizza.”

“Madness!” I cried

“When we get home, I want two more liters of your damn Death Chili, SuperSTAR.” Joe had taken to calling me SuperSTAR, after seeing my spangled suit, and watching home video of my ice skating routine.

“You’ll spoil your tummy!” Lena warned.

“And hot saucesssssss,” the bEast hissed. “Forty-two kinds to try!”

“Now that sounds good,” I agreed.

“Nine habanero hot wings! Nine in cheese sauce! Nine more, sweet Kentucky BBQ style!”

“Twenty-seven wings,” I gasped. But I could not escape, not since I had made my initial pact with that that weird fucker in the yellow robe, hood and mask. Really what kind of person showed up outside somebody’s house in the middle of the night, dressed like that?

After the convention’s end, because Joe’s return flight to Berlin didn’t depart for several more days, Lena and I took him the hundred miles west to visit Lincoln City, on the Oregon Coast. If I had been deceived by any foolish notion or ridiculous fanciful wish that this yellow madness might cease at the convention’s end, that delusion was soon utterly and jarringly shattered!

We sat in the Kyllo’s bar, overlooking the Pacific. Our waiter arrived.

We let Joe order. We gave ourselves over to the mercy of his desires.

“Six oyster shooters, two for each of us,” he said.

That was only to start.

“Calimari. How many do you suppose there are on a plate? I bet there are ninety-nine.”

And more.

“Shrimp salads all around, with Thousand Island.”

This was not yet the end.

“Three cups of clam chowder.”

Still not finished! Oh, fie!

“Crab cakes. How many of them come on a plate, per order?”

And here, because they had no plastic bottles of Splenda green tea, it was real Earl Gray, no sugar. Cup after cup, beyond number. That is, I did not count them. I’m sure Joe did.

And the last thing, the very last final object he requested, was a quantity of only one. A single object, and yet, piled on at the end of a week of such overwhelming excess for us all, only the fact that we were, all of us, already provably insane prevented us from being driven insane right then, that moment. Actually, I’m realizing as I write this that being insane in advance as a way of preventing yourself being driven insane later doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Anyway…

Yes, the last thing. A solitary excess. One gruesome extravagance, piled on top of too much everything. Oh, my aching belly.

“Okay, then,” Joe said, “one slice of your key lime pie. Three spoons.”

Insanity! Lena and I teetered on the edge of irrevocable destruction. A black abyss…

It was terrible, wonderful. What might have outwardly resembled gluttony was not that, but a finer thing. It was an expatriate’s love for familiar American foods inaccessible in his new home. Nostalgia taking the form of food and drink. Not a desire for fine, expensive things, not delicacies, but a need to revisit the comforts of memory.

I shall never forget bEast Pulver’s many requirements, and the gruesome smorgasbord we visited alongside him. The variety of treats, which I had been compelled by otherworldly forces not only to procure, but to share. The set quantities, specific measures, a convoluted menu suitable for a madman! This is how we came to know… the numbers of the bEast.

(Bowie – Blackstar ; Michael Nyman – Decay Music ; The Necks – Aether ; David Sylvian – Sleepwalkers)

LC-mike-and-joe

What’s Coming Up in 2016?

I just updated the STORIES page of this blog, and it struck me how much work I have coming out the rest of this year. So, if you don’t look at that page, what’s the current outlook for my upcoming work in 2016?

These are in approximately chronological order (though in some cases I’m not exactly sure when a book or magazine will actually appear):

THE LURE OF DEVOURING LIGHT (short fiction collection to be published by Word Horde)
~ FORTHCOMING: April 30, 2016 ~

“The Smoke Lodge” in Autumn Cthulhu, edited by Mike Davis
~ FORTHCOMING: 2016 ~

AN IDEAL RETREAT (chapbook novella to be published by Dim Shores)
~ FORTHCOMING: September 2016 ~

“The Carnival Arrives in Darkness” in Nightscript 2, edited by CM Muller
~ FORTHCOMING: October 2016 ~

“The Human Alchemy” in Eternal Frankenstein, edited by Ross E Lockhart
~ FORTHCOMING: October 2016 ~

“Meriwether” in Darker Companions: Celebrating 50 Years of Ramsey Campbell, edited by Scott David Aniolowski and Joseph S. Pulver Sr.
~ FORTHCOMING: Autumn 2016 ~

“Endure Within a Dying Frame” in Lovecraft eZine
~ FORTHCOMING: 2016 ~

“Miles and Kathrine at the Crimson” in Leaves of a Necronomicon, edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr.
~ FORTHCOMING: 2016 ~

This represents a total of almost 160,000 words of fiction, and as it’s still possible other work will appear in 2016, this will obviously be my busiest publishing year by a wide margin.

Sending Messages Back in Time

I sometimes blog about things I’ve learned along the way about writing and publishing. I don’t do this because I consider myself an authority. Further, I believe so many different ways exist of approaching these things that anyone presenting themselves as an authority, or their advice as definitive, is probably not to be trusted or believed.

I write about these things partly because it’s fun to look back at my own entries from years ago and see how much I’ve progressed. The biggest reason is that I remember how useful it was, when I was much less experienced myself, to find blogs in which more experienced people explained things they’d come to understand along the way.

In particular I remember blog entries by Paolo Bacigalupi, Jay Lake, Elizabeth Bear and Laird Barron, back in the last 2000s. Blogs about process, about gradual breakthroughs and continuing frustrations. I remember meeting Jay Lake and David Levine at a writers’ retreat and being surprised to hear they both still often received rejections (at the time, Lake was being published everywhere, and Levine had won a Hugo award) and still experienced their share of defeats.

On social media it sometimes seems people are posting everywhere all about their latest acceptances and upcoming publications. People don’t talk nearly so much about their rejections. I think in fragile moments, a writer may be tempted to believe they’re the only one still getting rejected among their peers and the writers they follow and admire.

Anybody can fall into the trap of thinking, “Now that I’ve begun to get some traction, and found some editors who like what I do, I’ll never fail again.” When you find this isn’t true, that it isn’t so easy, it can be painfully disruptive to a developing writer’s confidence.

The bottom line is that making any progress as a writer is much harder than anyone imagines in advance than it might be. Once you start publishing a little, building on early successes will take a longer time and more arduous toil than you might guess.

Even if you work harder than ever before, improve your skills, refine your voice, write better stories, and get your name out there in front of new editors and publishers, advancement will still probably be slow and halting.

If the improvement is real and your diligence doesn’t wear down, that hoped-for progress will be made. Just nowhere near as easily, as quickly or as smoothly as you might hope.

Keep going anyway. Work harder. Don’t stop.

Maybe I can’t send this message back to myself in 2011 or 2012, when I could’ve really used it. At least I can leave it here for someone who’s at the right stage in their progress to possibly find these observations of some use.

Uses and Abuses of Social Networking

A lot of people are talking about the downfall of Facebook and the need for newer, better social networks. This talk, roughly coincident with the rise of a new social net called ello, has me thinking a lot about how these social networks operate, what we can hope to derive from them, and why so often things go wrong.

Everyone seems to assume that because social networks start out small, and there’s not a lot of money to be made, the founders tend to be idealistic and focused on human-scale goals, such as creating a solid user experience and giving people a compelling virtual environment in which to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones.

Then the story goes, with the growth of a user base and monetization of the attention of millions (eventually tens or hundreds of millions) of members, focus shifts from optimizing user experience to maximizing revenue growth. I agree this is true. Part of what went wrong with MySpace and what’s going wrong with Facebook has to do with what I perceive to be management seeing their user base increasingly as a very large data set, rather than human beings.

The more I think about this and look at how things work on Facebook and Twitter and others, though, the more I become convinced that the biggest problem, the greatest factor which causes the deterioration of the user experience on a social network, is us.

You might imagine that we would primarily “follow” or “friend” a person on a social network because we want to interact with that person, be entertained by them, or get to know them. Increasingly, though, people send out friend/follow requests on a wholesale, indiscriminate basis, not looking for what interaction might be had, but instead seeking what they can gain by receiving that person’s attention in return.

On Twitter, the “follow-back” seems to be almost a given for most people. They follow you, not because they want to see what you post in their Twitter feed, but because they expect you will follow them back, and they can then impose their promotional efforts upon you in spam-like fashion.

At the very least, even if they don’t think you’ll see or notice their posts, you’re increasing their “followers” number, which actually seems to be important to many people. I’ve seen self-published writers, or “indie” bands, whose work clearly is not widely-known or “bestselling,” yet they have a number of followers in the tens or hundreds of thousands. There is simply no way to achieve that number of followers, if you’re not a famous person, except by gaming the system. These people either “buy” sham followers from services who sell them, or they mass-follow huge numbers of people with the expectation of receiving an automatic “follow-back.”

On Facebook, the problem is different, because the “one-way” connection is almost unknown. If you send me a friend request and I accept it, then we are BOTH friends. So if someone reaches out to you and sends you what seems like a friendly gesture, seems to say “I want to know you,” the friendly thing would seem to be acceptance. Then you’re friends. The problem is, most people are not sending you friend requests because they want to get to know you. In many cases they’re doing it because they want to promote themselves and want a large audience to receive their message.

The problem of accumulating numbers of followers as on Twitter is less of an issue on Facebook, because personal accounts can’t have more than 5,000 friends. What happens a lot, though, is total strangers sending out lots of friend requests, then as soon as the request is accepted, firing off a request to “like” their page. Again, the transaction feels very much like spam or junk mail, nothing like what a true social interaction is supposed to feel like.

The newest thing is ello, a new, comparatively small and minimal social network. I was an early member there, and during the first week, it felt like such a breath of fresh air. I only had a few “friends” there, but everything that I saw posted in my friends feed was interesting, relevant, funny, or something. Generally, it felt like socializing. We goofed around with ello, posted things, talked about the interface and features. It was so refreshing, I felt tempted to believe that the problem was the system itself, and not the users.

But with the initial success of ello, much publicity has followed. Suddenly there’s an influx of spam type accounts, mass-following everyone in sight. If someone has an account just 8 hours old and is already following 3,000+ people, that’s a fairly good clue that the person didn’t create an account to socialize. They’re finding random lists of people and clicking “friend, friend, friend, friend” all the way down the list, for hours on end.

These people are operating completely in bad faith, hoping the tricks that allowed them to game the system with Twitter and Facebook will apply with ello. In fact, it could be worse, as there’s no 5,000 friend limit. It’s my intention not to follow anybody who can’t approach ello like a true social network, trying to get to know people and communicate with them one on one, rather than just harvesting a huge mailing list to spam their self-promotional bullshit.

This lesson learned through ello is something I’m taking back to Twitter and Facebook. I’ve been going through Twitter and unfollowing several dozen people every day. On Facebook, I’m doing some unfriending, some un-liking, and some un-following. It’s partly my own fault that the experience on these networks has become so unpleasant. My news feed is full of garbage and spam because I have allowed people like that to hook me into their “I’ll follow you, so you follow me” game. That’s a recipe that ends up ruining the whole thing for everyone. From now on, I opt out.

ReaderCon Travel Upcoming

I’m going to ReaderCon! If you don’t know, it’s a convention about books and stories and writing and reading, and it’s in Boston.

readercon

I think it will be fun. I plan to post some pictures and silly comments with my phone while I’m there, so if you want to see those, you should follow or “friend” me on one of the social network-y things that show my photos as soon as I post them.

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Really, you should be my “friend” anyway. Come on, it’ll be fun. You’re already reading my blog, anyway!

Looking Ahead to 2014

Having completed a look back on 2013, how about what’s coming up?

READING

I plan to read a lot of books, but probably won’t review as many.

WRITING

I intend to write at least as much as I did last year. In the past, I mostly searched for upcoming themed anthologies, and wrote stories I thought might fit.

This year, at least some of my work will be written for invitations. In the past seven months or so, I’ve received five invitations. I’m usually capable of writing one story a month at best, so at this rate I’ll barely have to do anything but write for the invites I get.

I also intend to write another novella (I wrote one late in 2013 which hasn’t appeared yet), and begin a novel.

PUBLISHING

I’m also eager to see the publication of several things written last year. Of these, I can mention “No Mask Conceals the Sound of Her Voice” which will appear in a special King in Yellow themed issue of Lovecraft eZine, and “May Dawn Redeem What Night Destroys” in a Current 93 themed anthology Mighty in Sorrow. There are several others pending consideration or acceptance or other variables, so I can’t be more specific on those. One of them will be my first reprint.

My main publishing goal for the coming year is to assemble a short story collection and start the process of discussing potential publication. I’m fortunate to have several friends who are knowledgeable and experience in this area, and who don’t hesitate to nudge me onward, and try to help make this happen.

EVENTS

Speaking of crazy friends, I’m most looking forward to several conventions this year.

First, the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & Cthulhu Con will be held in Portland, April 11-13. I’ve been accepted as a guest again this year, and I’ll have much more to say about this event as it approaches. It really is a wonderful fun time, and anybody who enjoys weird fiction (not just Lovecraft) should absolutely attend if they’re able.

This year, the World Horror Convention will also be in Portland, May 8-11. That’s right, two world-class collections of weirdos convene in Portland in less than a month!

Last year, Lena and I made it to two conventions. This year I’d like to make it three or four. It’s possible I’ll attend something on the other side of the country, like Necon or Readercon.

Looking Back on 2013

2013 is over. It was a very good year.

I read a lot of great books, and reviewed many of them.

I wrote a lot, and wrote much better than ever before.

I published more than I expected, and began to encounter less resistance to my work. I received my first invitations to submit to projects, experience my first “pro” publication, and my first print magazine publication, and overall saw my work appear in higher profile venues than ever before.

I attended the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland in May, and NecronomiCon in Providence in August, both accompanied by my wife Lena. At both events we met lots of great people, including writers, editors, readers, publishers, artists, filmmakers, musicians and assorted other cool folk. At HPLFF, I did my first public reading, and at NecronomiCon, I was surprised to do my second.

2013 was a much better year by every measure than 2012. I will be very happy if 2014 continues the trend.