And that's a wrap
2021 is over!
This year was a rough one for us as it was for so many of you.
Jules and I both got Covid and she dealt with some pretty serious issues afterward
I was going through a lot of testing because it was thought I had non-alcoholic cirrhosis. Turns out it’s just fatty liver but the scarring of my liver still has doctors concerned I may be heading toward advanced stages of liver disease
Jules started having major problems with her back, hips, and head (all of which could require some sort of surgery - the first two started because she thought she was still a young gymnast and tried to show off in front of some teenagers and did a backflip - her body collapsed like an accordion but didn’t open back up like one)
My younger brother, Kyle, passed away this year
Jules’s Granny, who practically raised her, passed away and so did one of her best friends back in Nashville
My youngest brother, Kody, got in a wreck and broke his collarbone and several ribs
I still haven’t been able to see my kids who are living in Panama with their mom
And to top it off, Betty White didn’t live to see her 100th birthday
But now that all the bullshit of last year’s shitshow is over with, let’s move on to some pretty great stuff about 2021 and why I can’t wait to get started with 2022.
She said yes!
Let me back up a bit.
Jules and I decided not to buy anything for each other for Christmas this year. Instead, we spent money on our 7 kids (yes, 4 on my side and 3 on hers). We agreed that we’d rather have our Christmas present be a great New Year’s weekend alone, in a decent hotel (nothing fancy), just the two of us, spending time together. The kids got their Christmas. We get our New Year.
So we set off New Year’s Eve, just the two of us. We stopped off at the liquor store and picked up some Southern Comfort for me. I mix it with Dr. Pepper Zero. It’s not something I drink very often, but it’s a special occasion, so I splurged. If my great author friends Sean Moriarty and Izzy Sweet are reading this, yes, I know. Even I’m surprised I’m trying Southern Comfort again after the last time I got super sick (drank way too much way too quickly). For Jules, we bought some Fireball and Sprite Zero. We stopped by Walmart for some snacks, grabbed a pizza, and headed to the hotel.
It was approximately 9 p.m. when Jules said, “Okay, we took our New Year’s Eve pics. I’m ready to change into pajamas.”
Now, in my backpack was a ring I’d bought her. I was planning to propose, but I wanted to do it at midnight so it could be a fresh start to 2022, not a 2021 thing. But she looked gorgeous in her dress, with her glittery lipstick, and her makeup all done up. So I said, “Wait, you can’t change yet. That’s the whole point of dressing up. We have to stay dressed up ‘til midnight.”
She was like, “No way. I’m changing into pajamas.”
It wasn’t like I couldn’t propose to her in pajamas but I figured she might want to take pictures with her ring and might want to call her mom and stuff like that and that would make more sense if she was still dressed. Not if she was in a nightie.
I was kind of able to talk her into staying in her dress, but she headed toward the bathroom saying something like, “Well, I’m at least getting out of this bra because you wouldn’t want to have to hang out ‘til midnight with your balls in a wire contraption.” Or some shit like that. I don’t even know what the fuck she was saying, but it had something to do with my balls being in an uncomfortable device. Pretty romantic stuff.
At that point, I figured it might be the best chance I’d get, so I got the ring, dropped to a knee, and waited for her outside the bathroom door. Then when she stepped out of the bathroom, I popped the question. And she said yes.
We still have to pick out a date and all that, but the woman I’m madly in love with agreed to be my wife at the very end of 2021, and we should be getting married sometime in 2022. I think that’s a pretty good way to round out that year.
Thank you for being a friend
Believe it or not, I consider myself to be an introvert. I used to work at a very well-known jewelry company. I wasn’t good at making small talk, even when I was a manager and had to discuss golf and horse racing and other shit rich people were into, I had to bullshit my way through it long enough to find a corner to hide in. I can talk horror movies all day long, but anything else, and I’m kind of a weirdo. I’m quiet. I can sit in a car on a long drive and barely say a word. In the real world, I don’t have many friends. At signings and stuff like that, I can turn it on and talk to people and have a good time, but my normal day-to-day I don’t really go anywhere.
So I’m so thankful for all the online friends I have. For all my readers who reach out and who comment on my posts and who watch my YouTube videos and stuff like that. Online, I feel like I have a great group of friends. And I honestly feel like I could count on, depend on, most of you to come through for me if I really needed you to. I don’t ask for help often or even share negative news about myself or the struggles I’m going through all that often, but when I do - when I have - you’ve always been there to remind me that you care. That means the world to me. I’ve made some amazing friends this year. I could never say everyone by name. Of course, starting the Written in Red podcast with Aron Beauregard, Daniel J. Volpe, and Rowland Bercy Jr has allowed me to form a special friendship with those fuckers.
On Written in Red and my own YouTube show, First Chapter Freakshow, I’ve tried to thank everyone who has commented or gotten involved or shared my work or the episodes of the shows. I’m sure I’ve missed people. So thank you to all the readers and authors who’ve befriended me this year and years past. You make every day much better, and you help this guy who often feels alone in a crowd to not feel so lonely.
I saw this comment below, on Facebook earlier today (or yesterday really, I suppose), and it made my day. I love finding these kinds of comments. They crack me up. Thank you, Tara.
Accomplishments in 2021
2021 was a slow year for me when it comes to writing. My head was all over the place. Oftentimes, when I’m in a dark place, I do some of my best writing, but I think I wasn’t prepared for some of the places my mind went in 2021. I kept finding myself in a bit of a numb state.
Most years, I publish a handful of books at least. In 2021, I only published one. The interesting thing is I wouldn’t say I wrote much less than I did any other year. I just couldn’t keep my mind on one project. So the good news is I managed to write pieces of a lot of stories.
Slaughter Box, which is really the 4th book in my Diablo Snuff series, was nominated for a Splatterpunk Award in the novel category in 2021. I believe it was the only self-published book in the novel category. I didn’t win, but I was up against some amazing works by some awesome authors, so I’m proud to have been nominated.
I published the 5th and final book in my Diablo Snuff series, The Maddening, which is a full-length novel and clocked in at over 130,000 words. I’d definitely consider The Maddening to be my best book so far. It’s a wild book. All five books in the series are available in ebook and paperback on Amazon. If you click the image below it’ll take you straight to the series page.
I also had a short story called Blueberry Hill published in an anthology put together by Candace Nola. Uncomfortably Dark presents Baker’s Dozen. This was a really cool anthology that centered around baked goods and some pretty sick desserts. Some of the stories are pretty extreme and come from the minds of authors like Jeff Strand, Christine Morgan, Ruthann Jagge, Aron Beauregard, Lee Franklin, Chris Miller, Patrick C. Harrison, III, Kenzie Jennings, Daniel Volpe, Rowland Bercy, Jr., Candace Nola, M. Ennenbach, and myself. Click on the image below to be taken to the Amazon page for Baker’s Dozen.
I also wrote a pretty cool article called Broaden Your Horror Sexpectations that’s in the winter edition of House of Stitched Magazine. This is my first article in a horror magazine so I’m pretty excited about that.
In addition to these written works, I also joined authors Aron Beauregard, Daniel J. Volpe, and Rowland Bercy Jr. as a co-host on a podcast called Written in Red: The Horror Reader and Writer’s Podcast where we discuss the ins and outs of the indie horror world. It’s still a relatively new podcast but we’ve already put out 20 episodes. Click on the image below to be taken to our YouTube channel where you can watch the video version of the show but you can also listen to the podcast version most places where you’d listen to podcasts.
I also started my own YouTube show this past year called First Chapter Freakshow where I read the first chapter or two of my horror author friends’ books. I don’t review the books. I just have some fun reading them for the first time and hopefully introduce my readers/viewers to some authors they haven’t read and introduce some authors to new readers. Some of the readings are extreme in nature so be careful watching with little ones in the room. Here are the episodes I’ve put out since my last newsletter:
Episode 34: Poisonous by Tommy B. Smith
Episode 35: Reciprocal Evil by Scott Dyson
Episode 36: Fearless by Ashley Lister
Episode 37: Pipe Dreams by CM Genovese
Episode 38: Out With A Whimper by Michael Noe
Episode 39: Death Gets A Book by Frank J. Edler
Things I appreciate from 2021
Going back to the beginning episodes of The Horror Show with Brian Keene. I’ve learned so much and have had a great time listening to Brian’s show. I also appreciate that Brian mentioned my books at Killercon and on Twitter. Thank you, Mr. Keene.
Being nominated for a Splatterpunk Award at Killercon, being invited to do a live read, and getting the chance to be a part of a panel with some of my peers and horror idols. It was one helluva show and I had a blast.
All the great info I’ve gathered listening to The Mando Method with Armand Rosamilia and Chuck Buda. You guys are great.
Tommy Clark and his crew interviewing me on their Necrocasticon podcast. Had a blast even if I don’t know a lot about metal music lol.
Frank Edler interviewing me on his Bizzong podcast. Frank makes it all seem so easy.
Candace Nola inviting me to join her and so many other awesome authors in her Baker’s Dozen anthology. I’m proud to be part of it.
Lisa Vasquez allowing me to contribute in her winter edition of House of Stitched Magazine. I can’t wait to frame my copy and hang it on the wall.
Bridgett Nelson allowing me to join the West Virginia chapter of the Horror Writers Association and all the other members of the chapter for being so friendly.
Jeff Strand being kind enough to reach out when I got sick and had to miss the Haunted Majestic signing. That was really cool.
My friends at GAD DAM Brewing here in Summersville, WV, for giving me a home away from home to sit and enjoy some coffee while I write. A friendly atmosphere makes a world of difference. You guys rock.
Lucas Mangum mentioning my name in his book, Bone Cider. Lucas is one hell of an author and a true gentleman. Seeing my name in his book really touched my heart. Thank you, man.
Ryder Kinlay mentioning me in her book REHAB. It was her first novel and to know I influenced her enough, or was a good enough friend to mention, really means a lot to me. Thank you, Ryder.
Author Eric Butler and his wife for sending baked goods and a copy of his newest collection, Donn, TX, during the holidays. Thanks for being a friend, Eric.
Finally starting to understand TikTok and thanks to everyone who has followed me on that site. I’m learning, and I’ll get better at it
Seeing my books mentioned in several people’s Best of 2021 lists. When that damn imposter syndrome creeps in or I’m feeling down, that kind of stuff boosts me way up. Thank you for that.
Getting to join my Written in Red brothers Aron Beauregard, Daniel Volpe, and Rowland Bercy Jr as we chat about the indie horror world.
Chris Jones setting up the Written in Red Podcast Discussion group so we didn’t have to. It’s awesome knowing there’s a place for people to talk about our show and we can just pop in and out and be a part of the chatter without having to manage it. Thanks Chris. And thanks to everyone participating in there.
Having so many authors trust me with their words on my YouTube show: First Chapter Freakshow. I know I fumble and stumble over the words sometimes, but you get the chance to make fun of me for it later, right?
Each reader who has sent a gift of any kind or has taken the chance to cross genres and read the books from my other pen names. That means more to me than you’ll ever know. You’re following me everywhere, and it’s definitely noticed. Thank you.
Every reader who has read one of my books, written a review, shared my work on any social media site, or has ever told anyone about my work. All of that matters and it’s all so appreciated.
All the bloggers, vloggers, TikTokers, Bookstagrammers, Twitter(ers?), and all others who talk about books as their main job, hobby, or way to pass time. Thank you for every picture you’ve shared of my books, review you’ve done, and attempt you’ve made to spread the word.
And of course, the members of my Carver’s Block group on Facebook. You guys are always there for me. I know I don’t do enough in the group, but I will get better at it.
I think that’s about it for this issue. If you’re not already following me, make sure you’re hitting me up in all these places:
Facebook Author Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/carverpikereadergroup
And please make sure you subscribe to this substack and share it with your friends.
Congrats on all the good and I really hope this year brings so much more good than bad 💜