I first made a serious attempt at fiction in 2014 with a short story called Gargoyles & Absinthe. A steampunk adventure that married magic and steam tech with alternate history, G&A was a mess. After receiving multiple rejections, one editor wrote that the story seemed like the first chapter of a longer work. I revised it, workshopped it, and send it back out with the same results.
Dejected, I shelved the story for a few years and worked on my other short stories and a few novels that I ultimately trunked.
Before receiving my Master’s degree in Writing, my stories lacked structure or depth. They were classic science fiction and cosmic horror, each one an old fashioned relic to a bygone pulp era where sensationalism sold stories instead of well-written, engaging fiction.
Only after I expanded G&A into a novella at the request of an indie publisher did I understand the power behind story structure and creating sympathetic characters. Relatable characters you root for are better than cardboard cutouts with stiff dialogue and hackneyed arcs.
In 2022, I fulfilled several milestones as a writer. These end of the year blog posts aren’t meant as humblebragging (although I’m not objecting to that) but as a way I can examine the past 365 days and measure any progress. Moving forward is good. Stagnation is bad. Unlike last year where I saw only one story published, this year I fared significantly better.
Here are my noteworthy writerly accomplishments from 2022:
- My debut novel was published. Since high school, I’ve always yearned to be a published author. Accursed Son, an urban fantasy with horror elements, is my first published novel, thanks to Shadow Spark Publishing. Gargoyles & Absinthe technically was my debut novella in 2020 and a totally different animal. With Accursed Son, I have a deep story about an embalmer trapped in his uncle’s funeral home, but a series of mistakes leads him to a monster-hunting biker gang he eventually joins. The book is a meditation on the disharmony between a heritage cultural and native-born American culture. The protagonist, Armand, experiences intragroup marginalization with his Armenian-American family. Even though he’s American, the practices and behaviors associated with the Armenian culture govern most of his life. I wrote Accursed Son to examine the distance one can put on their heritage culture when growing up American. For years I was told by family that I must gravitate towards Armenian customs; attend the Armenian church, speak Armenian, date only Armenians. Maybe this pushing me towards something actually drove me away from it. Why was it important to my family that I did this? Surely, they were worried about retention of their heritage culture, but was that really up to me? I was a suburban kid in the 1970s and 1980s who looked different and had an unpronounceable, foreign-sounding last name. This realization that I wasn’t like anyone else made me feel isolated. It’s this isolation I wished to explore with Armand in Accursed Son. He questions his family, questions his position at the family funeral home, questions his domineering father. Then he manifests a special ability and realizes he was an anomaly all along, but uses this ability to help others. Writing Accursed Son not only fulfilled my dream of being a published author, it revealed a bit of my own past and what it’s like raised between two cultures. Exploring this through fiction provided me with some closure regarding upbringing, generational clashes, and familial expectations.
- Three of my short stories were published. My Peter Pan-turned-incel story, “Panned Peter,” was published in Panthology by Shadow Spark Publishing in June. Also in June, my short story “Never Meet Your Heroes” was published in the Three Time Travelers Walk Into… anthology by Fantastic Books. “Make Lovecraft, Not War” finally found a home after two years when Lost Boys Press published it in their Great Wars anthology in September. Another short story, “Muskrat, Hunter,” will appear in an upcoming Conspiracies & Cryptids anthology in 2023.
- I signed two more contracts. At the end of the year, I signed two publishing contracts with Shadow Spark Publishing. The one in September is for a book that I finished writing and sent to the publisher in December. That’s right. It took me two months to write an 81,000-word novel, my personal best! We’ll announce this novel in January. For now, let’s say this was a character I wanted to explore since his first appearance in Accursed Son. The second contract, signed in December, is a story for an anthology. That announcement will hit in a few days. This one isn’t what I usually write, so I don’t know how it’ll turn out. Writers should challenge themselves and write out of their comfort zones and this is way out of mine.
- I attended the Association of Writers & Writing Programs convention in Philadelphia. I’ve been to the AWP convention before, in Washington, D.C. Philly was a blast and I enjoyed meeting other writers and attending a reading from Glassworks, Rowan University’s literary magazine. Attending a big conference in person during a pandemic was scary, but I survived unscathed, while others weren’t so lucky. Still, it was great seeing people from Rowan’s Writing Arts program and talking shop.
- I attended a virtual Second Draft Retreat sponsored by the #5amwritersclub. These retreats offer an intimate environment where writers can work closely on their own work and converse in a friendly, no-pressure space. I printed out my mystery novel and gained insight on how to create a cohesive plot and improve the character by raising the stakes and making things worse for them.
- I got married. Not a writing-related goal, but a personal one. My beloved and I tied the knot in April. We met back in college and lost touch for almost two decades, but she contacted me on Facebook in 2010 and we’ve been inseparable since. It was time for marriage. We had a small ceremony and reception. Wedding cake. Italian food. Photos. Basically, your average low-key springtime wedding bliss.
- I taught three composition courses this year. Fall was my first semester teaching two community college composition courses, one online and the other on campus. The great thing about teaching over multiple semesters is that you can evaluate your course and make improvements. If something doesn’t work, change the lessons and integrate more focused activities. I’m support activities and discussion over dry, repetitive lectures. Give the students writing exercises, group activities, and simplify things. Keeping them engaged staves off boredom and apathy.
There Might Be Big News on the Horizon
I received an exciting offer for Accursed Son. It might be big news for my debut novel, so I’m not jinxing it and letting the cat out of the box. Yes, that was a clue.
I ordered bookplates for those who bought the paperback edition of Accursed Son. If you want an autographed copy but can’t get to any book signing events, I can mail you a signed bookplate. More on this when the bookplates arrive.
First Review Is Here
Accursed Son received a glowing review from the Texas Book Nook blog on Dec. 19:
“I really enjoyed this incredible story! It’s intense in so many ways. Eric Avedissian has managed to bring together a compelling story with real problems that really draw the reader in. You are along for the ride through this adventure and it really FEELS that way. It’s dark in the best way, a superb read!”
Thank you, Texas Book Nook!
As this busy year draws to a close, I just want to thank you, the few people who actually read these words. This blog is really a labor of love, and I don’t have that many followers or readers. I toil in obscurity, unaware of any impact my stories have, but I still create. I’m still writing, still experimenting with style and genre, still hoping my work will reach a wider audience. Writing is a journey, and I’m in this for the long haul. Each year brings its own set of surprises, victories, and setbacks.
Maybe next year I’ll finally strike gold.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and successful 2023.