Where There’s Smoke

Holy hell, Mikey makes a post? He does. And there’s actual news, I promise; you’ll just have to skip past all the rambling to get to it, because it’s a new year (for some 25 days now), and at least a modicum of reflection is in order.

So 2013. That was a hell of a thing.

Honestly, I’m not sorry to see it go, even though there was some good in it, some mystique, some rabbit-hole diving. I came out of it dirty but alive, and despite my pushing forward with goals like school, writing, and self-improvement, the former part was sort of all I was hoping for. I just wanted to climb out with my sanity intact.

2014, though—this is a different beast altogether. While I’m not entirely sure about the exact destination, the focus is narrowed to a smaller network of roads, and the engines are orange-fired, soaked in gasoline, choking me, bathing me in smoke. I have every intention of, pardon my Français, kicking the shit out of this year, and for the first time in a long while, I’m excited without reservation. Because whether I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be (there are some opinionated voices on that subject, but really, who’s to say?), I’m someplace good, and headed for better.

If nothing else, 2013 taught me about self-reliance, the real difference between willing support and what we use as a crutch, and learning to actually accept the support people offer. Because it’s not all about pride, or even its more noble derivatives, especially when people love you. It’s rare that people enter uninvited, and if you spend all your time peeking from the windows, waiting for someone to play cat burglar, the inevitable realization that you could have just opened the door feels all the more idiotic.

So right, enough of that. On to real news.

The year closed nicely with not one, but two of my pieces appearing in the latest issue of Sheepshead Review. While not available online, you can read both of these more literary short works, “Dog Training” and “As Simple as Teacups” (which I promise is a whole lot less frills and lace than the title might suggest), in the beautifully laid out print edition, filled with other great stories, essays, and art. If you aren’t anywhere near Green Bay, you can order yourself a copy for the remarkably cheap price of five bucks right here—shipping included.

The funny part is that I didn’t realize both stories were appearing. A miscommunication led me to believe only “Teacups” had made the cut, and it wasn’t until after publication that I discovered I was in the TOC twice. Because of this, there may yet be a chance that “Dog Training” will appear elsewhere in the near future. I’ll keep you posted on any happenings.

Secondly, Peristalsis has finally finished another draft cycle, and after much waiting, there’s a chance it may be on its way to publication. Negotiations haven’t officially begun, and I can’t say yet whether or not anything will ultimately come of it, but at least the intent is there from both the authorial and editorial parties. The novella has been a labor of love, and I’d really like this to be the year I can say something reasonably definitive about its future.

Lastly, other work goes well. There are several pieces in hopeful editorial review, I’m making a hard push toward that giant writer-bloodied wall of professional markets, and I’m knee-deep in new work that’s about as dark and sanity-deficient as anything I’ve ever written. Plague Thieves continues to be relegated to the shelf too often, which is an ongoing frustration, but the novel is by no means forgotten. As soon as the more pressing writing and school backlogs are addressed, work will continue.

In closing, I suppose I’d be remiss not to at least give a quick update on the heart condition: everything we’ve tried has proved pretty well useless, so it looks like the next step is likely to be a cardioversion. Which means they’ll knock me out and do the whole Frakenheart shock thing to get him back to doing what he’s supposed to be doing. Future treatments will be debated from there.

Yes, I know. As a vegan with no bad cholesterol and generally great health, this whole genetics thing is a real drag. I guess it’s all part of being human.

So that’s it for me. How’s your 2014 turning out so far? I always love to hear from you guys, and it’s been too long, so keep me in the loop.

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