Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: Year in Review

Hibiscus Outside The Bunker 2
Hibiscus outside Tre Amici at The Bunker.

As in any year, 2009 came with its challenges and rewards. For me and for Mary, those have been ramped up a notch.

Mary has gone through two hospitalizations, the first for major surgery and the second for an intestinal blockage that resolved without surgery. Unresolved health issues remain that carry us into 2010, leaving us with uncertainties on multiple fronts.

The silver lining here is that we are now moving forward in various ways, with the help of medical and social service professionals. I am also thankful for several dear people who know the many details of this particular journey, and who have been there for me when I needed someone to talk to.

Mary's first hospitalization coincided with my learning -- helped by some online digging -- of the demise of Aisling Press and its parent company, Oculus Media. I've written about that unfortunate circumstance here. Mary's health issues also put that circumstance into perspective for me. On the one hand, I've had to move on in the face of some radically-changed publication plans. On the other hand, my intolerance of certain unsavory behaviors increased that much more when accompanied by other curveballs thrown my way.

Faced with the prospect of more caregiving, less travel, and the need to connect with people just as life events were making me more isolated, I made the decision after much soul-searching to release my Deviations series as free e-book downloads. I am immensely thankful to everyone who has downloaded the books, reviewed them, contacted me online, stopped by to say hello at events, and clicked the PayPal button on my website. Thanks to everyone at Oasis, Anticipation, Deep Carnivale, the Florida Writers Association, Necronomicon, and Tre Amici at The Bunker; and to Citrus County Library director Flossie Benton Rogers and staff, both for their unwavering support of local authors and for the library's free WiFi. I remain on dial-up at home, so I truly appreciate having that high-speed option available nearby.

Just as the curveballs were coming in early 2009, the cavalry came to my rescue -- in the form of classmates from both high school and grade school who emerged out of the woodwork, otherwise known as Facebook. Finding almost everyone about whom I'd wondered, "Whatever happened to...?" seems nothing short of miraculous. We all shared a collective voyage of discovery, re-establishing old and very special ties, many of those connections going back to Kindergarten. Our online reunion came just at the time when I needed it most.

Opportunities to connect also came my way in the form of Internet radio, including Mark Eller's Chronicles, Cyrus A. Webb's Conversations LIVE!, and Glenda and Tony Finkelstein's Andromeda Library back in late 2008 (which aired this year). I am also thankful for Ed Patterson and Operation E-Book Drop, and for Books For Soldiers, which have made Deviations available to more potential readers.

Thanks also go to Matthew McClintock at Manybooks, which began carrying Covenant and Appetite in May and Destiny almost a month ago. Roughly two hours before 2010 begins where I am, those volumes have had 794, 757, and 377 downloads from that site, respectively. They've had 103, 96, and 103 downloads from Smashwords in a little over a month. Thanks also to Tony Stanton for carrying the work on, to Susan Crealock for linking to my books over at Online Novels, and to other websites that have pointed readers to the series. Back in May I registered my Deviations site at Google Analytics, which tells me I've had 1,078 unique visitors (2,220 pageviews) since then, from 59 countries/territories on all continents but Antarctica. Thanks so much to everyone for stopping by!

I am also grateful for the publication of additional work: "Where Relativity Ends" (poem) in Strange Horizons, "Frightening the Horses" (poem) in Aoife's Kiss, "Neighbors" (poem) in Vampyr Verse, "Derivative Work" (poem) and "Flotsam" (novelette) in Asimov's, creative nonfiction in the "Short Takes" section of New Plains Review, "The Unexpected Answer" in Of Poets and Poetry and then in Harp-Strings Poetry Journal, "Sijo Sequence for Larry" in OPAP, and the article "Social Networking and the Found Poem" in Poets' Forum Magazine. My photographs appear in OPAP, We'Moon 2010, and a now-archived article on the Gardening in South Africa website. In addition, I am thrilled that three publications in which my work appeared have won awards: a Hugo Award for Electric Velocipede, a Bram Stoker Award for Unspeakable Horror: From the Shadows of the Closet (Dark Scribe Press), and an IPPY Silver Medal for Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory (Scriblerus Press). Added to that sweetness, my story "Hermit Crabs" in EV #14 is on the recommended reading list in The Year's Best Science Fiction, 26th Annual Edition.

Forthcoming work includes poems "Lepidoptera in Space" in Star*Line and "Butterfly Woman" in Goblin Fruit, and story "Judgment at Naioth" in the Dybbuk Press anthology She Nailed A Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror.

I plan to release Bloodlines, the fourth Deviations volume, in mid-2010. Thanks to my fellow panelists on "The Business of Books: Fantasy" (Conversations LIVE!), I am learning my way around audiobook production and hope to produce Covenant for upload to Podiobooks some time next year.

My goals for 2010 pretty much repeat those for 2009, with some reordering of priorities. Mainly, I need to concentrate more on my own health, which has been good thus far, knock on wood. There are areas in which I can do better, and on which I've already started. Several times this year I've had to coccoon, which is therapeutic in moderation, but I also need to be careful not to withdraw overly much.

On balance, I feel extraordinarily blessed, at the same time I know that much work lies ahead.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! Take care and be well, and thanks for being there -- Elissa

2009 Holiday Card
Photo collage of full Moon and Spanish moss.

Elissa Malcohn's Deviations and Other Journeys

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Vol. 1, Deviations: Covenant (2nd Ed.)
Vol. 2, Deviations: Appetite
Vol. 3, Deviations: Destiny
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