The last few weeks, I’ve been getting an increasing number of emails from people asking, “What the hell is up, you knucklehead?” I’ve been quieter than usual on Twitter, and my blogging, never frequent to begin with, has been even less frequent. The fact that friends are noticing and asking is really nice. It gives me a warm and fuzzy.

The simple answer is I’ve been busy. But as some of the questions I’ve received have been specific, I thought I would answer them in turn, and then just for the heck of it drag out a tale for its annual holiday visit.

The questions then, in no particular order:

Are you okay, dude?

Yes, just busy. I said yes to a lot of things this year, lots of volunteering with this and that. All things I am enjoying, but in retrospect, I probably should have spaced this all out a bit. My To Do List is a mountain. While I’m closer to the peak than I was a month ago, I’ve got a lot of climbing ahead.

What are you working on?

At the moment, mostly nothing. At least, mostly nothing when it comes to writing. One of the things on the To Do List has been a particularly huge project which, while related to writing, involves no actual writing by me at all.

Still, I have a few works-in-progress back-burnered. For a while I was tinkering with Skin’s origin story this fall. It kept getting longer and messier, and my life was getting busier and messier, so I put it on hiatus. I have no idea when I’ll begin to even make sense of it, let alone finish it. But sooner or later, … probably.

I’ve also started another Skin tale set post-County Line which is slated for an anthology. The due date is in February, so the story will be done in …  er, February. (Ah, deadlines.) I am not working on any new novels at present, but I do have some notions in the back of my mind.

To the extent I have been writing as I climb the To Do List, I’ve been focused on poetry. Right at the moment I am struggling to write my first ever sestina. I have no idea what I’m doing, but it’s fun. Odds are very high no one but me will ever see it though.

When is your next book coming out?

Lately, I’ve been asked this a lot, which is great. I’m thrilled readers are anxious for what’s next. But, I’m afraid I don’t know. The novel is done. It is out on submission. When I know more, you’ll know. Promise.

Are you going to do another favorite reads of the year post?

I don’t know. I might, if I can grab a free moment. Probably not until after the first of the year, at the earliest. And maybe not then. It will mostly depend on whether I have the energy after I plant my flag and pose for pictures atop the To Do List.

Would you consider blurbing my novel?

Honestly, this is one of the most flattering things anyone can ask me. As a rule, I always try to read novels from those who ask, and it’s almost always been a pleasure. But right now, alas, I simply can’t add anything more to the To Do List. I am hopeful that in the spring I will have time, should anyone ask.

What tale are you dragging out for its annual holiday visit?

Okay, this last one isn’t a question anyone has asked. I just decided to stick with the formula.

The story in question is The Practical Christmas, which I’ve posted in past years here on the site. This year, I’m offering “The Practical Christmas” as a free ebook download. The ZIP file linked below has the story in .epub, .mobi, and .pdf formats, so virtually all reading platforms should be covered. The story also has fancy new cover art because, well, … fancy! For those who want to, you can still read the story online here.