In 2015 I set up Weird Bard Press and we published the Torn Pages anthology. Christopher Fletcher down-played his role in the anthology, but in these endeavors I've felt incredibly grateful to have his guidance, insight, and good taste to call on, and once again it proved invaluable. Torn Pages was a unique and important project to me and to my family. I enjoyed publishing stories not restricted to a particular genre that fit together as well as these did. If you check out one thing in this post, I hope it's Torn Pages.
The ratings and reviews were positive but exposure proved to be the most difficult part of the small press equation. I still haven't figured this out. I'll keep Weird Bard active but if I continue as a small press entity I'll return to an annualized version of Fantastique Unfettered. An annual project allows me the time to devote to my writing while building the same IP over time, so I like this idea. FU hit its stride once we had a nice little group working together. If we can do it again but on a more workable schedule, I think that'd be awesome.
In 2015 I didn't see The Teratologist's Brother published...yet. The Apex staff tells me it will probably be in the March 2016 issue. Looking forward to that.
My study of absurdity in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy, This Will Destroy You, was published in The Lovecraft eZine. VanderMeer is absolutely uninterested in Lovecraft, so it seems an odd venue on the face of it. But Mike at the eZine published my earlier article, This Inscrutable Light, and I thought he'd get what I was doing with this one. I have written the odd review from time to time on my blog, and I intend to write something on either Goodreads or Amazon for books that I read--as karma dictates I should. But generally, I am not interested in writing book reviews. Using books as jumping-off points to cover compelling subjects is fun, though. Looking back at This Will Destroy You, it meanders a bit getting started and ends abruptly, but the pith of it communicates what I intended and I'm happy with this short work that is necessarily faulted. Getting these subjects 'right' ain't easy. Getting close matters, though. Check it out it you get a chance.
Finally, my biggest personal accomplishment is reaching the 50k mark in my novel, well over half-way to first draft completion. I've written a short novel, and I've worked on three failed novels, so I have a hard time thinking of this as my first novel, but first complete, coherent, full-length novel... yep.
It still is nestled between two names, A Bellian Arcology or Nithska, and will probably end up named something else entirely, but unlike short stories--which I name early in the process--I'm finding the novel won't accept naming until I know it in full. Sunyata, Emma, Coyote, and the other characters are very cool cats: among the most interesting people I've discovered in my stories. And... I write weird fiction, so it is also about wooden puppets with strings stretching up to eternity, post-human tribes warring with gods, and the power of names and of art.
I'll finish the novel in 2016, then hit hard on the process of rewriting/editing, and getting feedback from first readers. I want to get some short stories written, but will move quickly on to the next novel. That might be Bardonauts (first contact + rakshasas), Return to Themis (Aether Age novella), or a novel in the Elegant Threat universe.
It's important to consider why we do a thing. Why we devote time to an endeavor that occupies so much of our resources. At some point I sell a blockbuster and am able to make a living at writing. Barring that, I have to maintain a day job. There are other paths that involve diversification. Editing this project, writing articles, acting as instructor. I'm open to possibilities. And... those possibilities are enticing, but not my justification. I find myself the most common type of specimen in a society in which we are mass fed media, mass fed political opinion, mass fed culture... I want better. I want to think and dream and understand and communicate beyond the bounds handed down to us. It is not easy. But I think that's worth the effort.
Here's to another year of deeper thinking, dreaming, understanding, and communication for us all.
More from Brandon H. Bell:
Read my article about Absurdity in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy
Buy the Torn Pages Anthology (Look Inside option allows you to read the introduction online)
More of my work (as author or editor) in print or my short novel Elegant Threat in the MBrane Double