I’m going to get a kick-start on my end-of-year reminisces to beat the New Year’s rush.
This has been an action-packed year. You’d never know it from looking at my blog, which I tend to neglect when life gets going, but a crazy (and good) number of things have happened.
The biggest and most momentous event was my manuscript THE NEW EMPIRE winning gold in Pitch Week for When Words Count and being offered publication with the fabulous Woodhall Press. This book was my first NaNoWriMo win many years ago, and it’s undergone a ton of changes and additions from that initial 50k words.
Here's the blurb:
Below is my new book cover, which I'm super excited about.
Depending on how the first book is received, a sequel is being planned to that book to follow the first one, which I'll talk about more next year.
As if that weren’t enough, I’ve also started writing on Medium this year. I’m thankful to my 900+ followers who read my articles, essays, fiction, poetry, and comics – I’ve published about 100 pieces so far on a variety of topics and genres. Check out my profile HERE to get access to all my articles. And here’s to even more next year!
I’m also thankful for a number of short publications in various journals, anthologies, and magazines from 2021. Since there’s a fair number of those, I’ll do a second blog post about them soon.
And, finally, I’ve got to add one more event of significance. I actually started writing again, which had stopped completely in 2020.
As some of you might know, I got sick with the coronavirus in 2020, right when it first hit the U.S. Long COVID took over my life, and I was unable to write for a number of months. In fact, it was pretty hard to function and take care of myself, let alone my kids.
I’ve come out of that period of my life, and I'm mostly back to normal. The vaccine helped with a lot of the physical ailments, and I also got a booster, which helped.
Last but not least, my kids were too young to be vaccinated until recently, so I continued to homeschool them. Now that they’ve gotten their shots, they’ll be returning to school with the new year. This will be good for them to be able to get our lives back to normal – both for my kids, who have done amazingly well with relative isolation and putting up with "Mrs. Mom" as their teacher, and for me and my own writing, which I had to squeeze into the bits and corners of my day after teaching my kids.
I’m thrilled to be able to enjoy the holidays with my friends and family, and I’m very excited to see what next year brings, too.
I've been continuing my writing experiment with the platform Medium, and have published several articles there. I'll update the Articles & Essays section on my website here so you can take a look, if you'd like.
But the big news so far this month has been the remnants of the storm Ida hitting the Northeast. In Connecticut, we had flooding in our basement and the nearby (actual) river overflowed and created a (pseudo) river in our yard, knocking down one of our neighbor's fences and also breaking the garage door of our other neighbor, due to the massive force of the water. It was quite something to see (...I say in hindsight, looking back and knowing we're okay. At the time, I was completely freaking out).
The good news for us is that there was nothing we lost in our basement or garage this time, and we never lost power. After the flood 3 years ago that filled our basement with 5-6 feet of water, we don't use the downstairs for storage anymore. Our garage back then also got filled with about 3 feet of water, but only got a tiny bit of water by the door this time. Even though the water outside was higher and swifter than that flood 3 years ago, we had less damage because we'd taken more preventative measures. And after the flood this time, we know what extra measures to take for next time.
My heart goes out to everyone who lost more, including the families who lost loved ones. It makes me think about what went wrong and why none of us were prepared for what happened.
One problem was that the warnings were inadequate; Hurricane Henri was a week before this storm, and everyone seemed to prepare only for that storm. After announcements and warnings and government emergency declarations for Henri, which turned out to be a nothingburger, everyone I knew (including myself) expected Ida to bring a bit of rain, and that's it. We kept on seeing news reports talking about New Orleans, and we didn't worry about ourselves, since the storm (supposedly) would peter out over land.
But that was not the case, and we got caught in a disaster. I hope that next time we won't be, but I'm happy to say that my outlook for all future storms will be: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
I signed up a while ago for the platform Medium, which highlights work by creatives. There are writers, journalists, artists, and bloggers who call the website home, plus a lot of great articles, essay, fiction, poetry, and artwork, among other items.
But I never did anything with my membership other than read a few articles. That changed yesterday - I've published 2 pieces on the website, with the idea of making this a regular endeavor.
First off, as a writer with 100+ publications, I'm often asked for advice on aspects of submitting. I decided to start out with a series of practical articles to help out new writers. First one: "How to Submit Your Short Stories, Poems & Essays for Publication: Query Letters." I'll also cover formatting submissions, how to find places to publish your work, the un-fun reality of rejections, and pretty much anything else that comes to mind that would be helpful (if you have an idea about what would be helpful to new writers, suggestions in the comments below would be very welcome).
I'm also doing a series of short personal essays (500 words or less) for Medium's Writing Contest. There are four subjects: Reentry, Death, Work, and Space. There are some kick-ass judges, including Natalie Portman, Roxane Gay, and Saeed Jones, among many, many others. It's a fun challenge, since I tend not to write nonfiction very much and the themes are very open-ended.
Over the past few months, there's been a bit of radio silence on my blog. Not because things weren't happening behind the scenes - perhaps because too much was going on!
I've had a number of acceptances and publications, which I'll post about later on. I changed over my newsletter mailing list, since I was using a service that was discontinued. And, finally, I rejoined a competition that I had to delay taking part in last year because I was sick with coronavirus and homeschooling my kids.
The competition I'm doing is called "Pitch Week," and it's held by the When Words Count Retreat, located in picturesque Vermont. There are two parts to it - "Meet the Judges" is the first part, which will be held next week virtually. It will include each author (there are 6 contestants per cycle) running through their presentation material and getting feedback and help from the staff of editors. The second part is when each author presents their final material for their book to the judges and gets their scores (which will take place at the end of September in person). Top prize is a publishing deal, literary agent, and a national PR launch.
I'm both excited and nervous to be a part of this competition. I chose it because, however contrarian it is, it played to my weaknesses. I am a white-knuckler when it comes to speaking in front of people. So, to challenge myself, as soon as I saw that this competition was pretty much 100% presenting your material in front of both judges and audiences, I signed up (although not without a TON of butterflies in my stomach!).
While I have most of my material ready to go, I am doing the perfectionist author thing and obsessively checking things over and over. It will almost be a relief to get this week started!
So wish me luck - I'll see you on the other end. :)
Welcome to summer! I'm going to kick it off at the Norwalk Art Festival, and I hope you'll join me. It's taking place over this upcoming weekend, and in addition to fabulous art, there will be fabulous literary readings at the Poets, Writers & Storytellers Stage. Check out this lineup:
The festival is completely free, and the readings are too - hope to see you there!
I'm extremely thrilled to talk about a new literary magazine called Scribes*MICRO*Fiction. I'm one of four editors running the show, which includes our head honcho Edward Ahern and our fabulous submission editors P.M. Ray and P.C. Keeler. The magazine is 100% online and free to read and publishes on the 15th of every month. There have been 2 issues so far, featuring an amazing array of writers, poets, and artists.
We wanted to highlight writing that gives readers a brief glimpse into another world - actually, many other worlds and viewpoints. As such, we publish very short writing, about 100 words per piece. Each work is like a handshake - enough to introduce a reader to a writer, but with the full conversation yet to come.
It's wonderful to be part of a magazine from inception, and here's to many more issues forthcoming. Check out brand new issues HERE on the 15th of each month. Hope you enjoy reading them!
I'll probably have a lot to say at some point, but I've been glued to the TV screen since about 1pm today, and I'm tired. I need a drink, badly. Or something mindless to watch on TV that doesn't bring tears to my eyes. A nice comedy where people fall down and other people laugh because it's silly and no one got hurt. While I've been watching DC go nuts, I drew a comic, which I'll leave here as my only commentary about today.
To everyone in DC, stay safe. To everyone who, like me, are having eyeball problems while glued to the TV, I hope you can unglue yourself at some point. I don't know if I can sleep tonight, so that's all I'll say for now. Have a goodnight, everyone.
This has been a crazy year, but I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas from my family to yours.
Last night, my kids and I had a quiet dinner together. Usually, we have a nice Christmas dinner of quiche and salad and dessert and wine with family and friends, but this year it was just us. The kids picked what they wanted to eat, and we had takeout Chinese. While I'm not a superstitious sort, I do always enjoy the fortune cookies at the end of the meal. We have a tradition that whenever we get fortune cookies, we each read our fortunes out loud, and my kids save the ones they like on the fridge.
I don't usually save a fortune, but I got one last night that I felt was worth saving. It said, "As one grows to understand life less and less, one learns to live it more and more."
I feel that this is true. I don't have any great understanding of life after this past year of the 3 P's: pandemic, politics, and protest. Whatever side of the divide you fall on, America has more problems than answers right now, and it's hard to imagine what's on the horizon.
However, because of the pandemic, I've had to scale back my work. I'm homeschooling my kids. And a year that might have passed in a blur of work and events and lessons and always rushing, rushing, rushing, has slowed down. It's become a time that I will look back upon as the year that I learned how to live day by day and learned what it truly means to appreciate the strange journey of life.
May you have a healthy and safe end to the year, and a bright and peaceful New Year.
I am proud to announce that I am one of the editors for a new literary magazine called Scribes*MICRO*Fiction. Our magazine is looking for fiction, creative nonfiction, and poems all between 90-110 words. We'll be publishing once a month, and be open to submissions year-round.
For a full list of guidelines and how to send in your writing, please visit our magazine's website HERE.
So... it's been a while. July, in fact, since I was last on this thing, LOL. The year has been simultaneously terribly slow without the usual assortment of author events and summer camps and back to school things that we usually do during the year. My two youngest kids are homeschooling with "Mrs. Mom" as their teacher, and my oldest is doing distance learning. So our household has stayed busy, even though it's an unusual kind of busyness. Like everyone, we're looking forward to a more normal future when the vaccine can be distributed, although I'm sure some things have permanently changed.
For example, has anyone noticed their kids haven't been sick at all? Since we mostly stay home, and wear masks every time we go out, we've had exactly 1 cold so far this season (and I have no idea where THAT came from). Yes, we got our flu shots, but on top of that, we just haven't had the same exposure. I'm wondering if wearing masks will continue to trend, even after the vaccine helps tamp down the numbers of coronavirus. Last winter, we were sick pretty much for 5 solid months. So life has been more pleasant without the constant illnesses.
Hope everyone has stayed healthy & safe in the meantime, and will continue to do so through the winter. Love and virtual hugs to everyone!
Who the heck is Alison McBain?
I am a freelance writer and poet with over a hundred short pieces published in magazines and anthologies. If the Walking Dead isn't on, I draw pictures and do origami meditation in Connecticut, where I live with my family. If the Walking Dead is on... shhhh! The Walking Dead is on! For more info, please check out my "About Me" page.
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