2016 postmortem and highlights reel

/ Monday, January 2nd, 2017 / No Comments »

Overall, 2016 was a pretty mixed year for us. We lost our dog, Loki, a sweet soul who’d been the cheerfully goofy center of our household since 2003. I had injury-related health issues that haven’t fully gone away and Anita had an unwelcome surprise on the employment front. Long-time friends of ours died too young.


On the other hand, it had some pretty amazing highlights. I shared a first place Virginia Press Association award for a photo-story package that bested an offering from The Washington Post. I managed to knock out about 98% percent of the incredibly complex obligations from the Clockwork Phoenix 5 Kickstarter despite a number of unplanned-for obstacles. Anita and I had some great adventures and got to spend time with folks we love and admire.


And the following things happened:


Frankly, I can’t think of any moment in my entire career as a publisher that compared to hearing Gordon Van Gelder announce Claire Cooney’s book as the World Fantasy Award judges’ choice for best collection of 2016.

Proud publishers bracket a World Fantasy Award-winning author! Me, C.S.E. Cooney and Anita after the World Fantasy Award ceremony in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Amal El-Mohtar.

Proud publishers bracket a World Fantasy Award-winning author! Me, C.S.E. Cooney and Anita after the World Fantasy Award ceremony in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Amal El-Mohtar.

I make no bones about Mythic Delirium Books essentially being a hobby — yet I take my duties as a publisher very seriously, and try to take each project as far as my own resources and the industry environment will allow. Anita and I take great pride in our track record, and publishing Bone Swans by C.S.E. Cooney was an experiment that had already exceeded expectations. As the award ceremony drew closer at what had already been a pretty darn wonderful World Fantasy Convention, Claire and I had conversations (at dinner, the evening before, and lunch, a couple hours prior to the announcements) about how Bone Swans had likely gone as far as it would go. We agreed, against its competitors, it was a dark horse candidate.


But of course I had my fingers crossed that Claire was going to win. Anita and I came hoping to see it happen, and we got our wish.


A not-so-distant second, in terms of exhilarating highlights, has to be the realization that dawned on me as the Clockwork Phoenix 5 launch reading geared up to start that we were going to be playing to a packed room. (For more objective confirmation, see the File 770 article about the reading(!); or photographer Melissa Beckman’s album on Facebook.)

The crowd gathering at Commons Café in Brooklyn for the Clockwork Phoenix 5 launch the evening of April 5.

I didn’t begin the CP5 Kickstarter with a plan to launch the anthology in New York. Credit for that goes totally to Jim Freund, host of radio show Hour of the Wolf and organizer of the New York Review of Science Fiction reading series, of which our launch became a part. We had seven contributors from the book there to read — Rob Cameron, Shveta Thakrar, Barbara Krasnoff, Sonya Taaffe, A.C. Wise, and C.S.E. Cooney and Carlos Hernandez — and an eighth to help sign books, as cover artist Paula Arwen Owen also made it! All the writers gave terrific readings, and much to my delight, the audience was totally down for the challenging, poetic experiences that Clockwork Phoenix stories provide.


(The level of unexpected triumph left me so discombobulated that not only did I forget to call the contributors present together for a post-reading group photo, but I left Brooklyn Commons without my cellphone, which had to be mailed to me in Roanoke.)


On a broader scale, Bone Swans became the second book I’ve shepherded to break 5,000 copies sold. (The first was my own debut short story collection Unseaming last year.) And, gratifyingly, Clockwork Phoenix 5 became the fourth book affiliated with me to surpass 2,000 copies sold. (The first in that quartet is Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness, strangely, steadily selling since 2008.) For the curious, BookBub promotions figure prominently in the most recent of those totals. Consider that statement an endorsement.



Can you spot Unseaming?

Speaking of Unseaming, a sharp-eyed colleague spied a copy on Guillermo Del Toro’s bookshelf. Not in person, mind you, but in a photograph published in At Home with Monsters, the catalog that accompanied an exhibition of Del Toro’s personal collection of monster-related art and artifacts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Yeah, I was pretty happy about that…


On the writing side, I got to attend an incredibly useful retreat organized by Beneath Ceaseless Skies editor Scott Andrews. I enjoyed taste-testing what seemed like an infinite supply of craft beers with my fellow retreaters (Kris Dikeman, A.T. Greenblatt, Rajan Khanna, and Devin Poore) and, even more importantly, were it not for the chance to attack the rewrite of my novel Trail of Shadows without interruption, I wouldn’t be starting 2017 at the 46,500 word mark in said rewrite, my highest priority through the spring.


(And a special extra thanks to Scott, who loaned me a laptop after I meticulously packed my own and then, hilariously, forgot to put it in the car before driving up. Do you see a pattern here?)


More cool thing happened, but as a highlight list, this will certainly do. Time to armor up and get on with this new year’s doings. Anita and I won’t be coming to many cons this year, except for the big one, which we’re really excited about: Worldcon 75 in Helsinki.

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