Should Odd Acquaintance Be Forgot: The 2017 State of the OTIS

December 31, 2017 — This year, I’m taking the State of the OTIS in a slightly different direction. I just want to talk about cool stuff—my favorite OTIS and OTIS-adjacent things of 2017. And that’s because talking about the year’s disappointments is, well, a bummer. So let’s get to it, in no particular order, other than #1.

1. Death and Douglas: Hands down so hard they turn red and swollen, my favorite thing about 2017 was this book getting published. That one event officially made me a novelist and a kid’s author. That's been dreams of mine since I was a teenager. D&D getting published also specifically represented the goal line of a seven-year journey from word one of that manuscript. So thanks, thanks, thanks, and thanks to everyone who picked up a copy. And to those who haven't yet, here's the inevitable link.

2. 2017 OTIS Halloween Season: The OTIS Halloween Season is a highlight for me every year. Period. Period with a little jack-o-lantern face in it. Not just experiencing the season, but also sharing it with you guys. And this year’s was an all-around great time—visiting Sleepy Hollow sites in Kinderhook, New York, seeing Kirk Hammett’s It’s Alive! exhibition in Salem, hitting up Haunted Overload and Nightmare New England, trying out the first ever Halloween Die-ary. Already miss that time of year.

3. Ten Years of OTIS: June 2017 was the tenth anniversary of this site. I wrote about that milestone already here, so I won’t belabor it—as much fun as belaboring is. You guys know what OTIS has done for me and the important part every one of you has played in it.

4. The Black House: This technically falls more under the “personal” category than OTIS, but we moved into a new house this year. I’m including it on the list because home is where the art is and it’s where I do all my writing, but also because it has cameos here and there on OTIS. Basically, this past year I’ve lived in an awesome house in an awesome spot that has done more for my peace of mind than the entire catalog of Simon and Garfunkel.

5. The OTIS Club: I’m completely indebted to my fellow OTIS Club Members. We are in week 83 of the OTIS Club, and we’ve more or less maintained our membership levels. We even survived a Patreon scandal together! It also helped me get to know some OTIS readers much more personally. These days, thanks to the weekly OTIS Club Newsletter (83 straight weeks!), I write as much for the club as I do for OTIS. Join us. Seriously. As little as a dollar gets you a membership card and one issue a month of the weekly newsletter, in which I way overshare about my life and oddity hunting in general.

6. UK Trip: We took some good trips this year—Charleston and Nova Scotia stick out particularly for me—but our UK trip was my favorite. I saw the Lindow Man. A crystal skull. Returned to Highgate Cemetery (where I saw Douglas Adams’ grave for the first time). Ate at an almost 1,000-year-old pub in a cave connected to the castle where Robin Hood is supposed to have been imprisoned. Stayed at a 13th century monastery turned hotel with its own pet cemetery. Little wonder I’m such an anglophile.

7. Guillermo del Toro’s “At Home with Monsters”: I wrote about my visit to this exhibition of the movie director’s private monster collection on OTIS, but it was probably my favorite oddity of 2017.

8. The Nightmare Before Christmas Storyboards: This year, I added a piece of one of my favorite movies to my collection—original storyboards from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Made a video about ’em here.

9. Getting an Agent: Signing with Alex Slater (Trident Media Group) this year was a big deal for me. So far we’ve spent our months together in 2017 mostly strategizing, as D&D stayed the main focus, but 2018 will see our partnership gear up in earnest. Already, having a partner like him in such a lonely field as book writing has been invaluable. Don’t tell him he’s on this list, though. He’ll leverage it against me.

10. Author-y Things: This year I wrote my first cover blurb for another author's book, received cover blurbs for a book of mine for the first time ever (including one from none other than Jay Asher), wrote an introduction to somebody else’s book, and spoke at a university, a writer’s conference, a national park, and a library. I’m inch by inch feeling like a real author.

With those being the highlights of 2017, I’m excited to see what 2018 is hiding. A lot on that list above I had no clue were going to happen going into last year. The new year certainly has the potential to be my best year ever, completely par for the course, or absolutely tragic. You know, like every year.

Thanks to everyone who hung out with me 2017, read something I wrote, attended a talk, bought a book, joined the OTIS Club, dropped me an email, or followed me on the socials. I really hope you stick around these parts. Wouldn’t be the same here without you.