Happy New Weird 2: The 2015 State of the OTIS

December 31, 2015 — So I’m a little bit embarrassed. A year ago to the day, I was sitting in a cabin on the water in Maine, kicking dirt all over OTIS. And it made me write this post. Now, everything I wrote in it was true and still is. But let me tell you what has happened to me in the 12 months since then that makes me feel like a short-sighted jackass.

  • I won a major literary award. Like Stephen King walked up to the podium mere minutes after me to accept his own.
  • I got an agent. So far, our relationship has been me apologizing a lot for what she has to peddle, but she’s already opened up some interesting opportunities. 
  • Before I got the agent, I sold my fourth book project, this one about Salem, Massachusetts. Same publisher as my previous three books, sure, but a completely different staff after a shake-up at the publisher got the company pulled from Vermont back into its parent company’s digs in New York City.
  • I lived in Salem for all 31 days of October (see above).
  • I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time, and it was full of clouds.
  • I visited Costa Rica, the farthest point south I’ve ever been in my life. The wild iguanas were my favorite.
  • Even though it’s been 14 months since Poe-Land debuted, I’m still allowed in the Poe Club. I got to speak at the University of Virginia to the very society that Poe himself was a part of when he attended there.
  • And, probably most important, 2015 was the year of a New Star Wars movie and a Halloween Whopper.

That’s…a pretty good year. But notice the one thing not in those highlights: OTIS itself.

The site is still what it is. Not growing in readership. Just growing in content. I did make the site black-on-white, though. I’m told it’s easier to read but I think I liked the dark OTIS better. Dark websites always seem to have more of a destination feel to them, like they’re in a physical space. Anyway, this is how much work went into OTIS this year, not counting anything on the socials:

  • Number of OTIS articles: 84
  • Number of photos posted: ~700
  • Number of words mutilated: ~80,000
  • Number of oddity news stories stolen from other sites for Facebook likes: ~450
  • Number of new states visited: 3 
  • Number of new countries visited: 1

So the output stayed the same despite the past two months being a drought of original content (although I just about doubled the number of outside news stories I posted). That’s because I’m heads-down on the Salem book right now. Heads-down, meaning watching all ten hours of Making a Murderer, beating my Bejeweled record, and playing with the remote-controlled BB-8 that my brother got me for Christmas

So what do I know about 2016?

OTIS is still going to be kind of a dead zone for the first few months as far as original content goes. I’ll continue posting oddity news and random photos and making late-night drunken professions on the socials, though. I’ll also be visiting New Orleans and Barcelona in February. And The X-Files will debut in January. Lots of reasons for me to miss my deadline. But if I do hit that deadline, it’ll mean a new book out come Fall. So, all told, already an interesting year. Hopefully, though, not the kind that ends with me staring at a cold harbor in existential terror again.

But OTIS still lives. We’re at 8.5 years now. And I’m still not quite sure how many birthdays it has coming. I can tell you that once I’m done with my Salem deadline, I foresee an avalanche of original content. After all, I have more than 100 oddity adventures that I’ve not yet documented. And it’ll feel good to do some short-form, instant-gratification writing after the book project. If you happen to catch one and like it, pass it around for me.

So that’s it from me. I’ve gotta get back to making witch puns over and over again. I hope you guys have a Happy New Year and that we’ll all hang out in 2016.


  1. Yes, that post scared me somewhat. I've been reading your blog for around 7 years now and the loss of it would create a very sad hole in my life. I'll keep reading as long as you keep posting. Happy New Year to you!

  2. Happy New Year!

    Even though I'm a relative newcomer I would be a bit sad if you swept up and padlocked the doors so , buck up man.


    I frequent the boards at halloween(dot)com where the traffic is minimal on a good day, and it was founded in 1994.

    So even if you leave the site open, the true- blue will appreciate it.

  3. I, too, have been reading your blog for a few years now. I love all the articles you write! I would greatly miss your quirky, macabre insights. Keep up the great work, and looking forward to reading your next piece!

  4. Looking forward to another year of OTIS

  5. I'm so happy to read that OTIS will continue to grow. :) It would be so sad to see it end. Your blog has inspired me to go on many road trips and vacations with my family. The world just wouldn't be complete without OTIS! I love everything about it! I can't wait for the new book! You Rock! :)

  6. I stumbled upon OTIS a couple months back when I read your post about Ray Bradbury's home being demolished and I actually have the same collection as you do of the Martian Chronicles, Golden Apples of the Sun, and the Illustrated Man (saw it in your post about the bookends)! OTIS is simply wonderful and I love your tone of voice and terrible/dorky puns ;) - it makes your writing so original and personal. Just know that, although I don't comment, there are people like me frequenting the blog anonymously and checking up on it so please don't stop posting and never give up hope! ^_^