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2011 is in the history (e)books...

Well, 2011 was a so-so year. I suppose every year really trends towards the middle, with various ups and downs. The ups never seem to have as much as an emotional impact on the downs--a sign that I am a pessimist.

The day job is stable, though as of December, I was forced to undertake new responsibilities due to a co-worker being out on disability. This has meant working weekends. The work, at least, is not hard or very stressful, just dull. But I received a year end bonus. But my health costs triple next year.

My father's health has shown a steady decline that is snowballing as of late. Unfortunately, his decline has been debilitating for his caretaker, my mother. I have never seen her so tired. At 76, she should not have to exhaust herself doing everything for him. It's hard not to resent the man, especially since he takes all she does for granted.

Daulton remains 50% appetite, 25% purr, 25% tyrannical overlord. Which is adorable, really. Twenty years...my longest relationship is with a cat. But what a cat. He makes me laugh (and swear) every day. But when I think of the cute little murmurs he makes while sleeping, I know that there is something good happening nearby.

I had zero dates in 2011. I don't think I attended any social events, parties, either. Wow. Another gay failure. And three sexual encounters, all of them deeply disappointing if not downright insulting. I regret every one. I don't know if I should just give up... but then, considering how little effort I can muster into socializing with other gay men, maybe I cannot do better. This, more than anything else, depresses me despite medication.

Oh, and the medication. So many new pills. Nexium for GERD. I really should go back on the statin, but I stopped because of finances. I cannot fall asleep unless I take Xanax. I think I need to go back on Ambien. I was forced to double the milligrams of Pristiq because I was still depressed. Now, I am more maudlin. I would ask for something to boost my mood, but the ads for Abilify scare the heck out of me.

Lethe experienced some ups and downs, the latter mostly being some part-time volunteers who were helping me decided to retire or cut back on their work. So, I was left with either finding freelancers (expensive), learning InDesign myself (impossible without the costly program) or cutting the forthcoming schedule in half. I had to do the latter. Some authros were understanding. Some howled. Sorry, but, really, Lethe boils down to a one-man operation. Sadly, I wanted 2012 to be devoted to more writing. Instead, I will have to be doing more Lethe work to take up the slack of the loss of volunteers.

That said, the ups for Lethe were darn good. We had 6 finalists for the Lammys, tied for most with Bold Strokes Books, which is a much larger operation. And we won for Sandra McDonald's first story collection, Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories. That felt momentous.

Last night, as I lay in bed, I realized that I should feel a measure of satisfaction and...well, not pride, but some other positive emotion that I could not label...at fairy godfathering many books in 2011 through Lethe. Here are some I am especially glad we released (in no rational order):

The German by Lee Thomas = Lee came to me with a book that other publishers had admired but admitted they did not think would sell well for them. All because of a sympathetic gay Nazi. I've always enjoyed Lee's work and buying this book was a no-brainer for me. The fact that it has been cited by so many horror websites as one of the best reads of 2011 is vindication for Lee and my decision.

The Abode of Bliss: Ten Stories for Adam by Alex Jeffers = Alex is more than a dear friend, he’s an inspiration. He writes evocative and literary fiction (and spec fic). He also deserves more readers (hint, hint).

A+E 4ever by Ilike Merey = This graphic novel came to me as a cold query. I took a chance (POD graphic novels are expen$ive!) because I believed in the storyline and the cool artwork. My gamble was rewarded with a starred review in Booklist and good sales.

Hellebore & Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic ed. By Catherine Lundoff and JoSelle Vanderhooft = The editors had come to me to get a paperback edition of their ebook anthology. I made that happen as part of Lethe’s commitment to queer speculative fiction.

Fog: A Novel of Desire and Reprisal by Jeff Mann = This is Jeff’s debut novel. Of all of the authors I have dealt with over the years, none has been more grateful than Jeff; he often embarrasses me with his many “thank you”s. This from a guy who likes to tie people up! That the book has been selling well is gravy.

Wilde Stories 2011 = That I can continue to release an annual anthology featuring the best gay male themed spec fic is a dream come true.

Heiresses of Russ 2011 = The last release of 2011 and an important one. Years ago, I wanted to do a lesbian companion book to Wilde Stories but an author told me that there weren’t enough lesbian spec fic short fiction written in a year to choose from. That certainly is no longer the case. As so many women write spec fic and so many women have no issue with writing The Other, the number of lesbian spec fic stories published in a calendar year has become many more than their brother gays. To title it after the late Joanna Russ seems fitting.

Additionally, I was able to sign many exciting books for 2012 release: Brit Mandelo’s anthology (and first book!) reprinting terrific genderqueer spec fic; Catherine Lundoff debut novel featuring an older woman as the protagonist; a short story collection from Hal Duncan, among others. We also released four more issues of Icarus, which really hangs by a thread with such a small subscription base. It’s a labor of love.

Lastly, my writing… sigh. No new novel, despite a few people asking, pleasing, demanding me to write another one. I did edit a book of LGBT inspirational YA fiction, Speaking Out, which has earned some nice praise. A far as short fiction, here’s what I accomplished:

Wrote ”Gomorrahs of the Deep, a Musical Coming Some Day to Off-Broadway" my story that features the homoeroticism of Herman Melville along with high school students. This will be the lead-in story in Best Gay Romance 2012

Wrote "Arose from Poetry" another gay YA tale which will appear in the 2012 anthology Brave New Love.

Wrote "Bottom of the Menu" a meta-fiction story that features nothing graphic but intended for a gay erotica anthology. It has been sold, I think, but I am not at liberty to say where.

Wrote "Steeped in Debt to the Chimney-pots" another story about the sprite Tupp and the human thief Lind (who first appeared in The Faery Reel anthology). I think this one has been sold, though I have not been given permission to announce where.

I had original fiction appear in Teeth and Hellebore & Rue and reprint sales to Heiresses of Russ 2011, Wilde Stories 2011, Best Gay Stories 2011 I continued my column on The Guide to Lost Gay Cinematic Characters in the pages of Icarus. I still have a couple stories out there that have not been accepted.

I also sold another gay YA anthology to Bold Strokes Books: Boys of Summer. In fact, this weekend I have to finish my story for the book. Sigh. 5k more words to go.

So, that’s been my year in a ramble.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 31st, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
I am sorry to hear about your father's health and your mom's burden. I have friends who are struggling to do caretaking for their parents on top of working so I know how difficult it all is. Is there a support network in their community for caretakers? It can impact her health if she doesn't get some support or respite. There are organizations springing up across the country to help caregivers now, some online resources and so on.

Dec. 31st, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
Ahh, but father does not want anyone else helping him.
Jan. 1st, 2012 03:38 pm (UTC)
I am tempted to say, "too bad, beggars can't be choosers." It's time for him to stop being selfish and think of your mother's well-being too. And it's not like he truly has a choice if someone comes in for a few hours other than to refuse any help during that time.
Dec. 31st, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC)
I hope 2012 proves to be a bright, shining year for you.

Hey, mate, where can I buy the ebook for Heiresses of Russ (via paypal)? I couldn't find it on Smashwords.
Dec. 31st, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you, hon. And in no way do I wish to suggest regret in releasing your partner's book. I really am pleased with every book we did. Promises, Promises is terrific.

The ebook of Heiresses is not done yet.... again, the problem with so much on our plate and so little staff.
Jan. 1st, 2012 03:55 am (UTC)
Ah, okay, that's why I can't find it! Can you plz announce it on your lj when it's available? I want to read it!

And no worries -- PP was a standard fantasy but not a benchmark for the GLBTQ movement the way Heiresses is; obviously, not every Lethe book is going to have a purpose other than to entertain, and that's just fine!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 31st, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)

Alas, as you'll discover, no one thinks of you as a real writer unless you have finished a novel. And if you have not written one in the past 5 years, you're forgotten.
Jan. 1st, 2012 03:57 am (UTC)
Dude, I think of you as a real writer. Heck, I only recently got my hands on Vintage, so in that respect you're a new, debut author to me! (and yes I'm recommending the book to friends; it's excellent.)

Though I wouldn't be at all displeased if you were to write and publish another novel, I'm a short story junkie so I fully consider short story writers to be real writers in every sense of the word.
Jan. 1st, 2012 03:19 am (UTC)
I never win in all categories. Personal stuff has been low for me as well. Hang in there.
Jan. 1st, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC)
AND YOU HAD MEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (although not as one of your 3 disappointing encounters of course!)(I'd never disappoint, cough cough)

Struggling with my own dad, who remembers me and not much else so I know your difficulties.

But Lethe is going from strength to strength--it's a very respected press now, one could hardly call it a small press any more. One thing - thought about getting a new website though? ...

Hope 2012 is better for all of us--it could hardly be worse, writing wise for me, anyway!
Jan. 3rd, 2012 01:39 am (UTC)
Very nice year-end wrap-up post. I'm glad to hear things are going (mostly) well. I recently had a query for a graphic novel at Cheyenne but had to decline even considering it, because graphic novels are completely out of my area of expertise.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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