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.

Before the Year Ends

After a nice long stretch of updates, this blog went silent again. I think I’ve identified what causes these occasional dark periods here — it’s not that I have nothing to say, but that I’m pressuring myself to review a long list of books I’ve read. I don’t always have time to write reviews, so I hold off on blogging at all until I’ve had a chance to catch up.

Having recognized this problem before, I’ve tried a few tricks like writing very short reviews, or throwing several mini-reviews into a single blog post.

I’ve decided to let myself off the hook on book reviewing. I still want to recommend books that seem worthwhile, but I don’t necessarily need to review every book I read. When something strikes me as especially worthwhile or notable, I’ll mention it. I may even be inspired to write something that could be called a “review.” I just need to relinquish this self-imposed expectation that if I read a book, I’ll take notes, formulate an opinion, and express it in a formal or semi-formal review.

Having said that, I’m currently assembling a list of the best and most notable 2013 books. This has been a great year for dark, weird and horror fiction. Some of this top 10 I’ve already reviewed, and I’ll link to those reviews. Those I haven’t already reviewed in depth, I may write about in greater detail after posting my list of 10. Others I may not. I’ll post that list within the next couple days.

Updated Stories Page

I have updated the STORIES page on this blog to reflect the latest two acceptances, one of which has already appeared.

Those two additions are:

“Her Very Shape and the Way She Says My Words” published 9/2013

“No Mask to Conceal Her Voice” accepted 9/2013

Also, a sort of sub-page to that STORIES page is the version of my story “The Need to Desire” which is free to read here. I changed the formatting to make it legible with this new blog template. If you tried to check it out previously and couldn’t read it because the text was black-on-black (like my soul!) give it another look.

Recent Past and Near Future Activities

After yesterday’s post about my story “No Mask to Conceal Her Voice” being accepted for the King in Yellow themed issue of Lovecraft eZine, I realized I may have created some confusion. Last week I posted about being cheered-up about having received word of a story acceptance I couldn’t talk about yet. These are actually two separate stories.

I thought this might be a good time to recap some of my recent publications, and also talk a bit about some of the things I’ve been working on, and a few things that may be coming up.

Just recently I made this post, If You Want to Read My Work, which summarized some of my recent publications. Read that for basic information about (and links to) four things I had published in April, May and June.

I have three things presently accepted, but not yet published.

1. The story I announced this morning, “No Mask to Conceal Her Voice,” is bound for Lovecraft eZine in the next few months.

2. The acceptance I hinted about last week. I don’t want to name the story or venue until I hear back from them about when that will occur.

3. My story “May Dawn Redeem What Night Destroys” is upcoming in the Current 93 tribute anthology Mighty in Sorrow, edited by Jordan Krall and to be published by Copeland Valley Press. It’s been a while since I heard an update on this one, so I can’t speculate on a publication date. The book should include some really cool stuff.

I’m still at the stage of this writing endeavor where much of what I write is “on spec,” and may or may not wind up being published, depending on the whim of the slush pile gods and goddesses. What I’m working on is a question distinct from what I’ve published, or will publish soon.

I’ve spent the past 5 weeks working on “No Mask to Conceal Her Voice,” which was written in response to an invitation from editor Joseph S. Pulver Sr., for the special King in Yellow themed issue of Lovecraft eZine. The way such invitations work is somewhat variable.

A writer always hopes an invitation means “I know what a good writer you are, and if you send me something as good as I expect from you, I will accept it.” Sometimes, that’s what the editor actually means.

Other times, an invitation actually means, “I believe you’re good enough that I don’t mind getting something from you, which I will add to a pool of stories, basically a slightly more exclusive slush pile.”

Writers hope the invitations they receive are more of the former, less of the latter. Most of the time, we don’t really know until you get the acceptance, or the rejection.

Sometimes, the invitation is something in between. Maybe the editor invited 50 people to submit for 20 slots, and 40 of the 50 actually submitted something. So the editor has to reject about half of what he received — far better than slush pile odds, but still not close to a sure thing. In this case, your story has to be above the average for that pile. Again, you don’t really know until you get the YES or the SORRY.

Before the King in Yellow thing just finished, submitted, and accepted the same day, my nine most recently finished stories had met so far only with rejection. I mention this in case it’s of interest to writers coming up, seeing a writer seeming to find a bit of success. That writer may have a bunch of acceptances to crow about, and several books and magazines appearing with their work in it. That writer might also still be receiving far more rejections than acceptances.

Before the acceptance for “No Mask to Conceal Her Voice,” finished yesterday, the most recent “finish” date of any of the stories I’ve had accepted is 14 months ago! In other words, everything I’ve written since last summer has met with nothing but rejection so far.

So far in 2013 I have made about 55 submissions:

2 acceptances (‘Arches and Pillars’ which I finished in June 2012, and ‘No Mask to Conceal Her Voice’ which I finished yesterday)
43 rejections
10 submissions still pending

I consider myself lucky that I’ve had so many people interested lately in my work, so I don’t intend this post’s focus on rejections to seem negative. I thought it might be of interest to other writers to see that someone whose work is starting to appear in some nice books and magazines still continues to get quite a few rejections.

One Great Photo, and the Matter of Subsequent Con Reports

I intend to post some more stories and photos to document NecronomiCon, but probably won’t do the exhaustive and chronologically sequenced rundown of everything that happened, as I did at HPL Film Fest in Portland this year.

More likely I will find a few interesting or provocative pictures that seem to go together, and tell a bit about what was happening in the scene where the pictures were taken.

This event ended up with quite a few “blind spots” for me, where I took no pictures. I may be able to find and borrow a few photos to help me document such events. Many people are still just settling in at home, and just starting to post photos.

Here’s one of my favorites, taken on the steps of Providence City Hall late Saturday night. Left to right, that’s me, Cody Goodfellow, Nick Gucker and Justin Steele. Photo by my wife, Lena Griffin.


We’d ventured out to see Lustmord and Neurosis. After, we walked down to the canal to see the Water-Fire thing, which was interesting in a quiet, meditative way, if a scene can be quiet and meditative with swarms of people on concrete walkways along the shore. Lena wanted to see a band perform, but we went to the wrong location and missed it. Rumor has it that the band experienced performance issues, and their crucial elements of their act fell limp.

NecronomiCon Providence Preliminary Report

The NecronomiCon Providence event was incredible, wonderful beyond all expectation.

I met an amazing roster of weird/horror talent, interacted with great writers, editors, publishers, critics and artists. Below, I’m showing off for Richard Gavin, Scott Nicolay, John Langan and his mentor Bob Waugh, Jack Haringa, Michael Cisco, Selena Chambers and Simon Stranzas.


I attended a reading by two of my very favorite writers, Laird Barron and Joseph S. Pulver Sr., and was surprised to be asked to step up and read some of my work for the crowd that had gathered to hear the big boys read.

I experienced a live performance by Lustmord, one of the giants of dark ambient music, and a primary influence on my own efforts as founder of Hypnos Recordings, and as a recording artist.

I bounced off any number of inspiring people, sights and sounds, so much humor and fun and inspiration, it was like the best and craziest 4 days of college distilled into one long weekend.

I was able to drag my lovely wife Lena along, and bask in her giddy enjoyment of the same pleasures.

At the end, I was swept up into the kind of mind-blowing all-star room party you see people bragging about in con reports, and you think, “Oh shit, I missed THAT!” Laird Barron and John Langan’s room, filled with all manner of madness. Barron’s Big Chair, Langan and Nicolay’s Cuddle Corner, and even Jerad Walters of Centipede Press, perhaps the finest creator of dark genre books we’ve got. Mix in an appalling abundance of very good Scotch whisky, and ohhhh golly!


I intend to write about this in greater detail, and offer more pictures, once the world stops spinning so fast.

Blog Shift 2013

For a couple years or so, I’ve been blogging at WordPress, Livejournal and Dreamwidth simultaneously, in a setup that mirrors the same content all three places.

Given the decline of the social network aspects of Livejournal and the failure of Dreamwidth to achieve promise of same, I’ve decided to focus in on a single blog, and give up bothering with mirroring content.

I’m getting more eyeballs on my entries, partly because of my reviews posted here and partly because my own fiction writing has begun to gather more attention. I think it’s time to create a single blog, keep it organized and up to date, and make sure it looks nice. I haven’t finished working on a redesign yet. For now, I’m just using a fairly generic template.

Another change is the domain on which the blog is located. It used to be griffinwords.wordpress.com and I’ve set up my own domain, griffinwords.com effective today.

HPLFF Con Report Coming Up

I’ve been preparing my blog report on the recent H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, and have had to break it into several parts. So much happened. It’s hard to keep everything straight, to remember the sequence of events, which people I met on which days.


Here’s the statement I made on the event’s Facebook page:

Two primary impressions remain in the aftermath of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival:

1. Wow, I got to have fun with SO MANY cool and amazing people!

2. There were SO MANY other interesting and cool folks I barely spoke with, or didn’t even get to meet!

All weekend, such a great whirlwind of stuff going on. Such abundance of opportunities for friendship and learning and amusement and exchange of ideas. Seriously, if you’re at all interested in this kind of stuff and don’t attend next year, you’re missing out on something great.

While I get my memories and words organized, here are a few other HPLFF con reports by people I met along the way.

Wilum H. Pugmire – More HPLFF Memories

Molly Tanzer – fun times at the h.p. lovecraft film festival

Orrin Grey – Tripping

You can also scroll through the event’s Facebook page for all kinds of pictures, observations and reminiscences about the con.

My own report will begin soon…

Catching Up With Incoming Words

No, I have not written three entire book reviews in under 24 hours.

I’ve been way behind on posting reviews of some of the books I’ve read, including some I finished reading months ago. This backlog was stressing me out! Some of the reviews were mostly written and just needed to be assembled. In other cases, handwritten notes just needed to be typed up.

It feels good to clear the decks a bit.

I will probably cut down on the number of reviews I’ll write for a while… after I get through a few things like At Fear’s Altar and Jagannath and Staring Into the Abyss and Hair Side, Flesh Side.

I do love to talk about books and writers, and possibly help in some small way to boost those that deserve it. I also think it’s helpful, in a selfish way, for writers to think carefully and critically about other people’s writing. What works, what doesn’t, and why. It’s always seemed to me that writers derive more benefit from giving critiques than receiving them.

Despite my enjoyment of this book review thang, I need to scale back, at least for a while, the self-imposed sense of obligation. I’ll still talk about the books I’ve read, probably more briefly and off-the-cuff.

Review Backlog… Yes, I Know!

There are many, many books i have finished reading and not yet reviewed. This is no big deal if it’s just a book I bought and read, and figured I might as well review, but I feel kind of bad about it if I asked for a review copy, only to drag my ass in producing a review.

In many cases the reviews are partly written and just need to be polished a bit. In other cases I have notes, and even creating a brief review from existing notes is pretty easy.

I’ve read so many great books in the past year or so, especially story collections, and my to-be-read pile still tempts me with a mountain of other cool stuff. My plan is to start finishing and posting 1-2 new reviews a week until I’ve caught up.