I usually don’t like talking about the hardships of writing (or anything else, really) online because it feels like, with the inherently performative nature of social media, I’m only doing it to illicit pity and sympathy. And sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re feeling down, sometimes misery does indeed like company, and it really can make you feel better to share your pain with other people. Unfortunately I’ve always been one of those suffer-in-silence types, in large part because I know my problems are miniscule compared to those of others.

There’s a line in the survival-drama movie The Edge in which Anthony Hopkins, who plays a billionaire mogul, tells Alec Baldwin: “Never feel sorry for a man who owns a plane.” In my case, I would say, “Never feel sorry for a man with a Netflix deal.”

I’m writing this because I’ve had a lot of people — family, friends, and strangers — ask me about the Every House Is Haunted film coming soon from Netflix, as well as when the book itself will be reprinted. Production on the film begins in the not-too-distant future, that’s all I can say about that. The reprint of the book… well, that’s a bit more nebulous.

There are those who would think it would be easy to sell a book with a Netflix movie coming out, especially one produced by horror legend Sam Raimi. I know — I’m one of them. Unfortunately, it turns out this is not the case.

The difficulty of finding a home for EHIH has been more than a little mind-boggling to me. Not everyone has turned it down, my agent is still shopping it, but enough publishers have taken a pass that it has shaken my confidence, which, to be honest, has never been terribly strong in the first place.

I’ve never demanded, much less expected, anything from my efforts to make a career as a writer. I’ve worked hard for what I’ve achieved, and even then, I know I’m not owed anything for that work. My creativity and my passion live cheek-by-jowl with crushing doubt like a next-door neighbour constantly banging on the wall telling me “Give up! You’re not going to make it!” This is how most authors feel. Hell, this is how most PEOPLE feel.

I’m confident EHIH will find a home eventually, but the experience so far has made me take a good, hard look at my writing career — what I thought it would be in my naïve youth, and what I thought it would be in my (still naïve, frankly) adulthood.

I’ve had some great successes — I’ll say it again, “Never feel sorry for a man with a Netflix deal” — but I’ve also paid my dues and taken some pretty big hits. Wanna hear a good one? A few years back, I was VERY close to selling my first novel to a Big 5 publisher. The editor loved the book, spoke to me on the phone about a few changes she wanted, was impressed when I was able to come up with those fixes on the fly, and said an offer would be forthcoming. The offer never came and the editor proceeded to ghost me and my agent for the next several months until I finally realized the offer wasn’t coming. It would not be an exaggeration to say I was heartbroken.

I’ve always known that horror is a hard sell in publishing, especially when you’re dealing with the Big 5 publishers (or the Big 4 now, I guess). Horror collections are an even harder sell, and a reprint horror collection? Fuhgeddaboudit! Most horror books that aren’t written by the big names in the field are published in the smaller presses. But like most writers who start out headstrong and confident, I thought I would be the exception. That I’d be the guy who breaks through to rub shoulders with my idols on the best-sellers lists.

The funny thing is, I never really cared about the money or the fame. Still don’t, actually. I just wanted to write and see my work published. Fans are great, but it’s not really about that, either. Looking increasingly inward, as I’ve been doing the past few years, I’ve come to realize I just want to tell stories. That’s it. And if the only audience is my wife, my family, and a few friends with whom I decide to share them, then so be it. It has taken a long time — and I haven’t given up on publishing yet — to realize that my joy comes from the writing, not the publishing. Seems like that should’ve been obvious to me from the start, but I never claimed to be the brightest bulb in the box. Still, I’m catching on.

So for those who thought “The Netflix author thinks he’s really hot stuff!” I really don’t. Honestly. I feel like I wrote a good story, but the journey it took to Sam Raimi and Netflix is not based on any great skill on my part. It was luck and timing and good people (Ellen Datlow is one of them) who helped me out along the way. The lack of crossover success in publishing hasn’t knocked me off my high horse. I can assure you, I was never on that horse in the first place. But it has opened my eyes. Made me reassess my position in the publishing world and the role I want to play in it.

Like life, there are no guarantees in the creative arts. Even though I’ve been published in the past, and even though I’m fortunate to have a Netflix movie being made from one of my stories, there is no guarantee I will be published again in the future. And the strange part? I’m not bitter or angry about it. I was at first, but now I’m just a bit miffed. It’s like getting hit by a car and your first reaction isn’t “Where’s that jerk who hit me?!” It’s more like “What the HECK just happened?”

This is my very, VERY long way of saying that although there are no plans yet for Every House Is Haunted to be reprinted, I’m sure it will be, by someone, at some point, by the time the movie comes out. But will I be able to publish anything else? Like my “Blair Witch” meets “Jacob’s Ladder” supernatural thriller? Or the sf-comedy that I describe to people as “X-Files” meets “Arrested Development”? Or any of the books in the Black Lands series that I love so much?

The short answer is: I’m not sure. And that puts me in the same boat as any other writer (except the big ones, I suppose) who don’t know if they’ll ever be able to publish another book after their last one. Publishing is a tough business, even for the writers who make it look easy.

I apologize if this post comes across as downbeat. I can assure you, I’m not sad. I’m a little frustrated, but I think that comes with any hard realization in life, when you find out things aren’t the way you thought or hoped they would be. But some things do remain the same. Even though I can’t say for sure you’ll see any more books from me in the future, I still intend to write them. Right now that’s enough for me.

(I’ve turned off comments on this post. While I appreciate the sympathy and support from my family, friends, and fellow writers, this isn’t why I decided to write this. I’m not leaving social media, or even taking a hiatus — your regular dose of cat photos will not be interrupted, I promise! — I just want to bring people up to speed on what I’m doing and where I’m going. Thanks for reading and for caring.)

From Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: Netflix has landed Every House is Haunted, a script by Jason Pagan & Andrew Deutschman that will be directed by Corin Hardy, helmer of The Nun and Gangs of London.

An insurance investigator tries to debunk claims that a couple’s death was caused by a haunted house, but his doubts are challenged by a psychic and the mysterious occurrences he witnesses with his own eyes.

Producers are Sam Raimi and Zainab Azizi for Raimi Productions, and Roy Lee for Vertigo Entertainment and Vertigo’s Andrew Childs exec producing. Raimi has a financing deal with Starlight, which optioned a collection of short stories called Every House is Haunted. The Ian Rogers short story The House on Ashley Avenue is the basis for what this project has become. The project was shopped to the town this week and got a number of bids, with Netflix coming in strongest.

The scribes separately are writing Classified, a pitch set at New Line with Chad Stahelski attached to direct. The scribes are repped by Underground’s Trevor Engelson and WME, Hardy is repped by WME and Range and Raimi by CAA.

My new horror novelette, “Shards,” is now available! 

You can read it for free on the Tor.com website, or if you prefer to read on a device, the eBook is available for only a dollar at all the usual places. Here’s the wonderful cover art by Greg Ruth and a description of the story, along with links to where you can find it.

A group of five friends rent a cabin in the woods—the next day only four are alive. What happened and why is something the survivors are desperate to unravel.

Read it for FREE on Tor.com!

Or buy the eBook for only a dollar at: 

B&N Nook | Google Play | Kindle
Kobo | eBooks.com | iBooks

Hope you dig it! 

In 2020, I read 30 novels, 32 novellas, and 219 short stories.

Instead of limiting my favourites to lists of ten or fifteen titles, I’ve included everything I liked. (As usual, not all of these were published in 2020.)

Favourite Novels

Worse Angels — Laird Barron
Even the Wicked — Lawrence Block
The Long Tomorrow —
Leigh Brackett
Save Yourself —
Kelly Braffet
Bone Dance —
Emma Bull
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
— Becky Chambers
Ex-Heroes — Peter Clines
House of Leaves — Mark Z. Danielewski
Don’t Get Caught — Kurt Dinan
Sharp Objects — Gillian Flynn
We Sold Our Souls — Grady Hendrix
Angel’s Inferno — William Hjortsberg
The Absence of Sparrows — Kurt Kirchmeier
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane — Laird Koenig
I Wish I Was Like You — S.P. Miskowski
Knock Knock — S.P. Miskowski
Wilderness — Robert B. Parker
The Atrocity Archives — Charles Stross

Favourite Novellas and Novelettes

Trapper’s Valley — Ray Cluley
Within the Wind, Beneath the Snow —
Ray Cluley
The Thyme Fiend — Jeffrey Ford
The Guardian — Philip Fracassi
The Floor of the Basement is the Roof of Hell —
Stephen Graham Jones
The Life of Chuck —
Stephen King
At Home in the House of the Devil —
John Langan
Lost in the Dark — John Langan
Sefira —
John Langan
Looking for Laika —
Laura Mauro
The Pain-Eater’s Daughter —
Laura Mauro
Astoria —
S.P. Miskowski
Delphine Dodd —
S.P. Miskowski
In the Light —
S.P. Miskowski
Stag in Flight —
S.P. Miskowski
Black Flowers Blossom
— Vina Jie-Min Prasad
A Series of Steaks
— Vina Jie-Min Prasad
Contact Sports —
Eden Robinson
Notes from the Dog Walkers
— Paul Tremblay
Sicko — Stephen Volk
Everything Is Beautiful and Nothing Bad Can Ever Happen Here — Michael Wehunt

Favourite Collections and Anthologies

Enough Rope — Lawrence Block
Best Horror of the Year, Volume 4 — edited by Ellen Datlow
Sefira & Other Betrayals — John Langan
Let the Old Dreams Die — John Ajvide Lindqvist
Sing Your Sadness Deep — Laura Mauro
Strange is the Night — S.P. Miskowski
The Secret of Ventriloquism — Jon Padgett
The Man With the Barbed-Wire Fists — Norman Partridge
Traplines — Eden Robinson
Growing Things and Other Stories — Paul Tremblay

Favourite Short Stories

“The Hearts of All” — Gregory Norman Bossert
“We’ll Always Have Paris” — M.R. Carey
“The Castellmarch Man” — Ray Cluley
“In the Wake of My Father” — Ray Cluley
“Sideways” — Ray Cluley
“Steel Bodies” — Ray Cluley
“Turtledove” — Ray Cluley
“The Whalers Song” — Ray Cluley
“Elo Havel” — Brian Evenson
“The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell” — Brian Evenson
“Workday” — Kurt Fawver
“each thing I show you is a piece of my death” — Gemma Files and Stephen J. Barringer
“The Blameless” — Jeffrey Ford
“Blood Drive” — Jeffrey Ford
“Witch Hazel” — Jeffrey Ford
“Cleaver, Meat, and Block” — Maria Haskins
“The Nimble Men” — Glen Hirshberg
“You Become the Neighborhood” — Glen Hirshberg
“Roots and All” — Brian Hodge
“A Redress for Andromeda” — Caitlin R. Kiernan
“The Eight People Who Murdered Me (Excerpt from Lucy Westenra’s Diary)” — Gwendolyn Kiste
“The Diane Arbus Suicide Portfolio” — Marc Laidlaw
“Bloom” — John Langan
“Yellow and Red” — Tanith Lee
“The Cloud Cartographer” — V.H. Leslie
“Lacunae” — V.H. Leslie
“Eternal/Love” — John Ajvide Lindqvist
“Let the Old Dreams Die” — John Ajvide Lindqvist
“One of These Nights” — Livia Llewellyn
“The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” — Usman T. Malik
“Letters from Elodie” — Laura Mauro
“In the City of Bones” — Laura Mauro
“In the Marrow” — Laura Mauro
“When Charles Sleeps” — Laura Mauro
“With Graveyard Seeds and Wolfsbane Seeds” — Seanan McGuire
“A.G.A.” — S.P. Miskowski
“Death and Disbursement” — S.P. Miskowski
“This Many” — S.P. Miskowski
“The Infusorium” — Jon Padgett
“Murmurs of a Voice Foreknown” — Jon Padgett
“In the Porches of My Ears” — Norman Prentiss
“Diamond Saw” — Sarah Read
“Krazy Krax” — Naben Ruthnum
“The Show” — Priya Sharma
“Last Rites and Resurrections” — Martin Simpson
“No Good Deed” — Angela Slatter
“The Somnambulists” — Simon Strantzas
“Forwarded” — Steve Rasnic Tem
“The Ice Tower” — Paul Tremblay
“The Thirteenth Temple” — Paul Tremblay
“Replacements” — Lisa Tuttle
“We Didn’t Always Live in the Woods” — Jack Westlake
“And the Carnival Leaves Town” — A.C. Wise
“Final Girl Theory” — A.C. Wise

So, that was 2020. 

There’s not much to say about the Year of the Plague that hasn’t been said elsewhere, so I’ll try to stick to the personal notes. 

2020 was a strange year for me, as it was for pretty much everyone on the planet, and yet it was also oddly normal. Seeing as how I’ve been writing full time for the past three and a half years, working from home due to Covid-19 didn’t upset my world as much as it did virtually everyone else. 

When the first lockdown came into effect back in March, my wife suddenly found herself working from home. Like everyone else, we thought it would only be for a few weeks until the world got its shit together and we got a handle on this pesky coronavirus thing. 

Of course, we all know how that turned out. A few weeks turned into the rest of the spring and the entire summer, and my wife only ended up returning to the office in the fall, and even then it was under the new guidelines that are now in effect everywhere (masks, social distancing, etc.). 

While the race for vaccines went on, and people tried to acclimate to our scary new world, I started work on a short story called “The Dead Girl’s Sleepover.” Over the weeks and months — while my wife turned our dining room table into a workstation before finally moving into the guest-bedroom-turned-home-office — the story grew into a novelette, and then into a novella. When it was finally finished it had become a 75k novel. 

It’s a very different story for me, but I’m pretty happy with it. No idea when, or if, it will ever see the light of day. It’s been so damn long since I’ve had a book out that I’m kinda done with talking about the future of my writing career. If you’ve read any of my previous year-end reviews, I imagine you are as well. 

On that front, all I will say is that I’m still working, still writing, still trying my best to “make it.” I’ve got an excellent pair of agents who really believe in my work, and I actually do have some pretty cool stuff happening in 2021. I just can’t talk about it yet. Story of my life! 

Speaking of which, my 2020 ended on a rather pleasant note, with a very big story sale that came in right on December 31st. Unfortunately I can’t tell you about that yet, either (sorry!).

This is my way of saying that I can’t complain about my current situation. Especially as far as the pandemic goes. Many people have it much, much worse, and although I am the furthest thing from a religious person, I am definitely counting my blessings. 

I’m married to an incredible woman, my best friend and the most incredible person I know, and someone who managed not to murder me during the lockdown of 2020. I’m still writing and I still love it. And I’m still excited by all the stories I have yet to write. 

2020 sucked for a lot of people, and while it was no picnic for Kathryn and I, we are very lucky, very fortunate, and if we have any virtue at all it’s that we know that. We have great family and friends, and we look forward to seeing them all in person again very soon. 

Take care, folks, and be safe. 

See you on the flip-flop. 


I’ve got a new novelette out today called “Go Fish,” a pseudo-sequel to my story “The House on Ashley Avenue,” which was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award.  

You can read “Go Fish” for free on the Tor.com website, or if you prefer to read on a device, the eBook is available for only a dollar at all the usual places. Here’s the wonderful cover art and a description of the story, along with links to where you can find it.

A team of psychic investigators are assigned to examine the grisly death of a night watchman in an abandoned fish processing plant.

Read it for FREE on Tor.com!

Or buy the eBook for only a dollar at: 

B&N Nook | Google Play | Kindle
Kobo | eBooks.com | iBooks

Hope you dig it! 

In 2019, I read 34 novels, 20 novellas, and 180 short stories.

Instead of limiting my favourites to lists of ten or fifteen titles, I’ve included everything I liked. (As usual, not all of these were published in 2019.)

Favourite Novels

Black Mountain — Laird Barron
American Elsewhere — Robert Jackson Bennett
Burglars Can’t Be Choosers — Lawrence Block
Fellside — M.R. Carey
The Black Angel — John Connolly
Chasing Darkness — Robert Crais
The Forgiven Man — Robert Crais
Come Closer — Sara Gran
Afterparty — Daryl Gregory
My Heart Struck Sorrow — John Hornor Jacobs
The Institute — Stephen King
Gidget — Frederic Kohner
Moonlight Mile — Dennis Lehane
Boy’s Life — Robert McCammon
Black Fairy Tale — Otsuichi
Behind Her Eyes — Sarah Pinborough
Dreadnought — Cherie Priest
Monkey Beach — Eden Robinson
Résumé With Monsters — William Browning Spencer
Wanderers — Chuck Wendig

Favourite Novellas and Novelettes

Six Months, Three Days — Charlie Jane Anders
The Ghoul Goes West — Dale Bailey
The Butcher’s Table — Nathan Ballingrud
6/6 — Ray Cluley
Errantry — Elizabeth Hand
Faun — Joe Hill
The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky — John Hornor Jacobs
Hammers on Bone — Cassandra Khaw
Tainaron: Mail From Another City — Leena Krohn
The Autopsy — Michael Shea
And This Is Where We Falter — Robert Shearman
All Reality Blossoms in Flames — Simon Strantzas

Favourite Collections and Anthologies

The End of the End of Everything — Dale Bailey
Wounds — Nathan Ballingrud
Creeping Waves — Matthew M. Bartlett
Errantry — Elizabeth Hand
Full Throttle — Joe Hill
A Lush and Seething Hell — John Hornor Jacobs
All the Things We Never See — Michael Kelly
Furnace — Livia Llewellyn
You’ll Know When You Get There — Lynda E. Rucker
Nothing Is Everything — Simon Strantzas

Favourite Short Stories

“The Bluehole” — Dale Bailey
“The Horror of Party Beach” — Dale Bailey
“I Married a Monster from Outer Space” — Dale Bailey
“Keller’s Horoscope” — Lawrence Block
“Keller on the Spot” — Lawrence Block
“The House That Jessica Built” — Nadia Bulkin
“Wish You Were Here” — Nadia Bulkin
“Bloodchild” — Octavia E. Butler
“Barcode Jesus” — Brian Evenson
“Virtual” — Brian Evenson
“The Dark” — Karen Joy Fowler
“Bait” — Michael Kelly
“A Guttering of Flickers” — Michael Kelly
“Some Other You” — Michael Kelly
“Allochthon” — Livia Llewellyn
“The Last, Clean, Bright Summer” — Livia Llewellyn
“Worlds That Flourish” — Ben Okri
“This Time of Day, This Time of Year” — Lynda E. Rucker
“Who Is This Who Is Coming?” — Lynda E. Rucker
“Shades” — Lucius Shepard
“Ghost Dogs” — Simon Strantzas
“It Won’t Go Away” — Paul Tremblay
“Something About Birds” — Paul Tremblay

This was another quiet year for me. 

Okay, that’s not entirely true. There was one particularly exciting thing that happened — that is still happening, actually — but it’s not something I’m permitted to talk about yet. I know it’s a tease to say something like that, but I mention it only because there really isn’t much else to say about 2019, at least as far as writing and publishing goes.  

Welllll, that’s not entirely true, either. 

In addition to the news-that-cannot-be-revealed, I did end up selling a novelette to Ellen Datlow for Tor.com. It’s called “Go Fish” and I believe it’s scheduled to appear online and as an eBook in April of this year. This was one of only two sales I had in 2019, but it’s easily the biggest short fiction sale of my entire writing career. The sale aside, it’s been a real honour to work with Ellen, which is something I’ve wanted to do since I started publishing. 

My second fiction sale of the year was a Black Lands/Felix Renn story called “A Glass Darkly” to Space & Time magazine. It always makes me happy to have more Black Lands stories out there in the world. Especially now that all of my writerly focus is on the Felix Renn novels. 

Speaking of which, over the past month or so, I undertook a massive edit of the first Felix novel, Sycamore, and it’s now back with my agent. I also wrote a very strange standalone novella called “Grey,” that I’ve been describing as Good Omens meets Get Carter. It’s a pulpy action fantasy story about a mysterious celestial entity called Grey, Heaven’s hatchet man, who’s hired by God to retrieve the last human soul which has been stolen by the Seven Deadly Sins. It was a lot of fun to write, partly because it’s not like anything I’d ever written before. Not sure if it’ll find a home because it’s just so damn weird, but time will tell. 

I’m currently working on a few short stories, and once those are done I’ll be back to work on the next Felix novel. I’m also working on a new Felix novella, “The Sun Never Rises,” which takes place between Sycamore and Book 2. Felix first appeared in a series of chapbook novellas, and as a long-time lover of the form, I always knew I’d continue to write Felix novellas alongside the longer novels. 

On a somewhat related note, Kat and I went to Seattle in May of last year, and we had the chance to visit a number of the locations from one of our favourite TV shows, Twin Peaks. I’ve been a huge Peaks fan since it originally aired, and I count the show as a major influence on my own work, so it was really great to see so many of those iconic locations. And the trees! Those big, majestic Douglas firs! 

I think the reason it feels like not much happened for me in 2019 is partly because I spent the better part of the year looking for new representation. Ask anyone in the biz and they will tell you that trying to find an agent is a long, stressful, soul-sucking task. I like to think it’s one of those things that decides how serious you are about your career, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s really no fun at all. 

On the plus side, I did end up signing with a new literary agent and a new film/tv agent, both of whom are fantastic and enthusiastic, and I’m excited to be working with them.

I tend to keep my expectations low, because disappointment has a habit of striking when you least expect it, and it has no qualms about hitting you when you’re already down, but I’m still hopeful and optimistic for the future. You have to be in this business, or any creative endeavour, for that matter. The fact is, I’d write even if I wasn’t trying to get published, but I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t my dream to have some sort of writing career. I don’t need to be rich, but it would be nice to make enough money to pay my share of the bills and have enough left over to treat my wife, go on the occasional vacation, save for retirement, etc. 

I feel this is a modest dream, an attainable dream, despite all the blog posts and advice columns that will happily tell you that a career as a fiction writer is virtually impossible. Since there’s a new Star Wars movie out, I will respond with a quote from that lovable scoundrel Han Solo: “Never tell me the odds.” 

It isn’t that Han doesn’t want to hear the odds, he knows the chances of survival are slim, but he also knows he’s going into that asteroid field anyway, so he’s saying keep your doomsaying and negativity to yourself.

I think anyone who has a dream of a career in the creative arts needs to have that attitude. We don’t try because it’s easy, and we don’t try because it’s hard, either. We try because this is what we were made to do. It’s the thing that, no matter how much it might hurt us or disappoint us, we always come back to in the end. It’s our passion. And even if I never publish another book, I can tell you the odds of me giving up writing: slim to none. 

Okay, that’s not entirely true, either. 

It’s actually none. 

See you on the flip-flop. 

Random Writing Quote

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit."
Richard Bach

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