2013 was an altogether odd year. Keep in mind that we weren’t even supposed to HAVE a 2013. The world was supposed to end on 21 Dec 2012, and… well, it didn’t. Kinda like that old roommate of yours from college who dropped by to stay “for a couple days” and now he’s been living with you for several months…. Yeah, it’s kinda like that. No one really knew what to do with this bonus year, and I can safely say that few people made the most of it.
So what exactly did we do with our bonus year?
Photobombing? Funny. But rude. But actually, quite funny. But actually, quite rude.
Twerking? Not sure why it’s popular now – I saw people doing that back in the 80’s, although we didn’t have a name for it then. Guess it couldn’t become popular till we had a fun name for it. Go figure.
Japan’s Fukushima Diaichi 3 reactor pissing radioactive waste across the ocean at the U.S.? That’s probably just a karmic debt for Nagasaki and Hiroshima. So the lovely chemical haze over Los Angeles will change from red to green, and maybe Hollywood will gain some superpowers of originality or something. But I still don’t think we deserve the Twerking. Although twerking can be cured, I’m not aware of a good method of putting out a Japanese reactor gone China Syndrome. What did they ever do with Cherynobyl? I think they just dumped ten thousand pounds of cement on it and some Febreeze and called it good. Have they tried that yet?
The Boston Marathon got bombed. Harlem got shook. Obamacare caused a government shutdown and an unintentional registration website shutdown. No one can explain to me why anyone should use Instagram when we already have a dozen well-known image delivery systems available. Pope Francis became the first Super-Pope. Nelson Mandela died, which helped his popularity immensely. (Note to self…) And we still don’t know “What does the Fox say?”
Compared to all that, my 2013 wasn’t bad at all. Here’s some highlights from a year in the life of a dark fiction author:
Pinky the Invisible Flying Pony – THE SERIES!
I’ve decided to go forward with my plans of world domination and publish a series of Pinky the Invisible Flying Pony stories. I met up with the lovely and talented Jen Silverman, and she is working on illustrations for the first story in the series, Pinky the Invisible Flying Pony vs the Giant, Carnivorous, Poisonous, Exploding Spider-Leeches.
The second story in the series is also completed. Pinky the Invisible Flying Pony vs the Alien, Robot, Zombie Dinosaurs has been critiqued, rewritten, and ready for editing/illustrating!
My goal is to release five short stories in an earth-shattering series of epic dark-fiction-fun.
Radio Interview on KFAI
In January 2013, I was interviewed on KFAI radio, along with fellow MNSpec members Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Joel Arnold and Dana Baird. The program was hosted by Terry Faust, and we talked about many writerly things. An interesting experience which you can read more about here.
MNSpec Writers’ Group
2013 marks my fifth year with the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group. I did quite a bit of administrating early in the year, booking our meeting space for a stretch, and hosting a few meetups. In January, I gathered a star-studded panel to talk about Successful Query Letters. In March, I brought in entertainment lawyer, Dan Boen to discuss Legal Issues for Authors.
The podcast that I make for the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writer’s Group was becoming a high-maintenance, low-payoff endeavor, so I changed the format to use Google’s Hangouts on Air technology. The goal was to add video and interactivity to the content, and reduce post-production time. Unfortunately, the frustrations of #HOA kept me from achieving the media-gasm I was hoping for. So I’m working on other methods to improve the quality of the online content.
The 2013 Speculative Fiction Writers’ Showcase
Definitely one of the biggest MNSpec events I put together in 2013 was booking/hosting/recording the 2013 Speculative Fiction Writers Showcase at Acadia Cafe in Minneapolis. It was great to “get the car out of the garage” for our members who don’t do a lot of public-facing events. Many people asked me if I planned to host the event again, and it was such a success that I see no reason we can’t make it a yearly event.
2013 Bloomington Writers Festival
In March, I worked a booth with my MNSpec cohort at the Bloomington Writers Festival and Book Fair. Results were less than awesome, so in 2014, I’ll be attending the myriad of author/writer seminars instead of working a table.
TEN YEARS of conradzero.com? SEO much?
Believe it or not, conradzero.com goes back to the 90’s, but it wasn’t till 2003 that I started the blog (via blogger) and started posting on whatever nonsense filled my noggin. I’m working up a Best Of the past decade of conradzero.com, so check back for that.
After such a long run of focused material, conradzero.com has a metric ton of SEO, and still occasionally taps the #1 spot when you search for “Dark Fiction Author” (among other things.) This also means I’m getting railed with requests for reviews, link-backs and advertising. I had to eventually create a review policy. But entertainment companies are giving me free DVDs, Blu-Rays and movie tickets to hand out to members of the Cult Of Zero in exchange for promotion on my blog, which is a rare case of advertising where everyone wins. But I have to be careful not to let my site get watered down and lose the SEO I’ve worked so hard to build up.
Oh, and with the help of my graphic-savvy friend James, I’ve created my own ‘seal of approval’, the Shadow of Approval award for Arts of Darkness.
Jagged Spiral – Fire and Dice
We were playing these songs back in 2008. But somehow, it took us 5 years to finish our second album. In Winter of 2011, we handed the raw tracks over to a studio for mixing/mastering, and in the spring of 2013, the audio master was approved by the band and CDs for Fire and Dice were finished.
Unfortunately, the band members have gone their separate ways, and now it would be a challenge to have us all meet in the same place for a drink, much less make any kind of music. Even more unfortunately, there were no venues willing to have a CD “listening” party for a band that wasn’t going to actually play the songs live. So in order to meet the “2013” release date in the album graphics, I finally just picked out a date in late December, shared the audio online, and called it a Virtual release. (What did we do before the internet? It’s so handy!)
Z.B.C. – Trouble With Green Eyes
The collaboration between myself and B.C. (called Z.B.C.) was low maintenance, high payoff. In less time than it takes Jagged Spiral to pick out what they’re going to wear to band practice, we had jammed, arranged, wrote, recorded, mixed and mastered this tiny gem of audio fun called Trouble With Green Eyes:
Skyrim – Complete!
Over 2 years in the playing. Over 376 hours of gameplay. 100% of the 75 steam achievements accomplished. I feel I can now safely say that I finished Skyrim. I feel like I should get a tattoo or a trophy or something. I suppose I get my writing/sleeping time back, which I am grateful for.
In 2013, I declared the word Glorious is the new Awesome. It might take another year for that to catch on…. or not.
Joe Hastings Speed of Light Video
The music video project Xtna and I helped with was finally released on youtube. Check it out!
What Does 2014 Hold In Store?
With both Skyrim and Jagged Spiral behind me, you’d think that now I’d have plenty of time to work on writing and you’d be almost right. But I also have a backlog of projects that were set aside for these things. Music projects. Video projects. Writing projects. Trust me, I have no shortage of things to shock and eww you with.
Writing-wise, Pinky will probably need a kickstarter, and I should set aside the novel Evil Looks Good and the short story Lure. But I won’t.
Video-wise, I’m building my production chops on the writer’s group, live author readings and a secret project (code name: Uberbullet).
Audio-wise, I still have to do some spring cleaning of the Jagged Spiral archives before I can put that WMD (Weapon of Musical Destruction) completely out to pasture, but I do have an audio project of fairly epic proportions to rock the city of Minneapolis. (If the world doesn’t end first.)
Blog-wise, as I mentioned, there’s a conradzero.com 10-year retrospective coming soon, so stay tuned!