A Year in Review — Writing in 2020
As every year, I’d like to go through and offer a place to check out the writing work I’ve been most proud of over the last year.
2020 hasn’t been the easiest year for anyone, and the same holds true of me. We’ve all been through a lot, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be proud of the work we’ve accomplished this year. I’ve published a lot at various outlets and publications. I’ve had stories in online literary journals and short stories published in anthologies. I’ve done some work I’m very proud of and want to reflect back on it and see if I can’t do better in 2021.
The biggest thing was the publication of my first novel in the BattleTech universe. Honor’s Gauntlet tells the tale of a Jade Falcon Warrior who is torn between his duty to his clan and the sensible actions of a leader. This was the big prelude to the major event in the universe, the Battle for Terra, which will be released on New Year’s Day in the book Hour of the Wolf.
Honor’s Gauntlet was a thrill to write and it was even better to see how it’s been received in the BattleTech community. Even better than that, though, is how many people have read it because I wrote it and found that they took their first steps into BattleTech because of it.
If you want to snag a copy of the book, Amazon is the easiest way to do so. Be sure to leave a review.
But that wasn’t the only thing I did in the world of fiction this year. As far as short stories, I had a lot of publications over the course of the year. I hope to have many more next year.
The first of note came in January. “Snow Fell Silent” was a winner in the monthly flash fiction contest for the Salt Flats online literary journal. You can read it at the link below:
In March, “The Last Supper” appeared in a collection called By Virtue Fall. It tells the tale of a vampire hunter and a vampire who actually wants to die. You can get a copy here.
The next story was published in April. “Paris, 1921” appeared in the online magazine A Work of Fiction from the Assemblage family of literary journals and publications. It tells the tale of a young Hemingway-like writer and his wife, an artist in her own right, as they settle into Paris in 1921. You can read it by clicking the link below:
I won an award for a story called “Hippocrates” that was published in a collection called The Function of Freedom and was a collection of stories assembled to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the League of Utah Writers. It won first place in the Historical Fiction category at the annual League of Utah Writers contest. It’s about a rural French doctor hiding partisans in his basement during the Nazi occupation. When a pair of Nazis arrive seeking his medical help, he’s left in quite a dilemma. Copies of the collection are available here.
“Anything” was the next short story published that I’m proud of. It appeared in a collection called The Witching Time of Night just in time for Halloween. It tells the tale of a man who is willing to do anything to save the life of his dear, departed daughter. You can snag a copy of it here.
In November, I was able to contribute a story to a BattleTech collection covering the events of The Battle of Tukayyid. “The Lions of Prezno” is another tale of the Jade Falcons as they fight against ComStar forces on their advance to win the proxy-Battle for Terra. Currently, it’s only available straight from the publisher. I believe it will be collected in print sometime in 2021.
The last short story of note was “The Secret Fox”. It’s another story set in the BattleTech universe and published in December in the third issue of Shrapnel: The Official BattleTech Magazine. It was a real thrill to see my name on the cover. It tells the story of a young woman on a backwater planet who wants more than anything to be a MechWarrior. And she just might get her wish. You can get a copy here.
This wasn’t all of the fiction I wrote this year. I’m still plugging away on my Patreon, providing readers with a brand new story every month. For $1 a month, you can see all 12 of the stories I’ve written for 2020, as well as everything dating back the last few years. You can support me that way by signing up here.
I’ve written a lot of work I’m proud of in the realm of criticism and essays and I’ll walk you down my favorites in chronological order.
First, I’ve been doing a lot of teaching lately. I’ve been teaching writing all year at the University of Utah and for Writer’s Digest’s online university. This first piece from February 2020, Three Dialogue Tips for Better Screenwriting, is indicative of a lot of my work there.
As the pandemic started, I did quite a bit of writing about how to survive it. Stories to Survive By was a piece I wrote for the Salt Lake City Weekly in April to help get people through the harshest lockdowns we saw here in Utah.
May 2020 was the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and the 15th anniversary of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. I wrote about both of those milestones for SyFy and interviewed a lot of cool people for their takes on those films. Click to read the piece on Empire and Sith.
I wrote quite a few pieces over the year for my “Movies that Made Star Wars” column that runs close to monthly over at /Film. My favorite, though, was from July, exploring the barely talked about Francis Ford Copolla film The Rain People and the documentary Filmmaker that George Lucas created while on the set. It was a fascinating window into creativity and the mind of George Lucas. You can read that piece here.
In August, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing the producer of The Umbrella Academy, Jason Neese, for Script Magazine. He was such a fun interview subject and I think the interview hit on a lot of things writers will want to know. You can read that piece here.
Over the course of the pandemic, I took to watching M*A*S*H from the beginning as a comfort and a learning experience. As I watched, I found it problematic in some ways, but so impossibly relevant to our current political situation even more. I wrote about it in November for /Film and am very proud of how this particular piece turned out.
And what would a look back at my work for the year look like if it didn’t include a window into Luke Skywalker. His appearance on the December finale of The Mandalorian left a few people thinking that this was somehow a repudiation of Rian Johnson’s masterwork with Luke’s character in The Last Jedi, and I broke it down for /Film readers here why that wasn’t the case.
One of the biggest surprises for me over the course of 2020 was that I would take to writing poetry. Poetry has always been a bit of an enigma for me, but I’ve found that practicing that art has helped in my prose considerably. For writers considering a way to improve their work, poetry is an excellent path.
I’ve assembled below some of my favorite poems of the year.
The Siege of the River City
Hollow doom echoes in the distance where goblin war drums beat causing fear in all who hear them in the swelling summer…
I hope you’ve enjoyed all of these and I hope my stories, analysis, and poetry have helped get you through what has been a difficult year.
I hope 2021 is better, but I’ll have even more stories for your enjoyment to help get you through it even if it’s not.
If you want to support me in the next year, there are two convenient ways to do that. First, sign up for my newsletter on my website. The second is just as easy but might cost you the tiniest bit of money. Go support me on Patreon. It’s $1 a month and you can get a new short story from me every single month. It may not look like much, but it helps.
Here’s to the end of 2020 and looking at the hope of a better tomorrow.