2013: The Year in Review

Each year I set out goals rather than resolutions, and as part of that, I monitor my progress and make some assessments at the end of the year. So, how did I do this year?

My writing goals this last year were to
1) Publish two new novels, and I managed only one: Ships of My Fathers
2) Write two new novels, and I only managed one and a half: Shattered and part of Stone Killers
3) Keep up the blog, and I feel down on that more than I wanted.

In more detail, I probably could have pushed Hell Bent (the first of my urban fantasy series) out the door this year, but I decided I should be focusing my efforts where I already have an audience in space opera, so I spent the latter part of the year focusing on getting Debts of My Fathers out the door. It is not out yet, but I did make progress.

As for the writing, I did crank out a draft of Shattered, my first attempt at a mystery, but it will need a lot of work before it can even make it to the beta readers. I started on Stone Killer, the sequel to Hell Bent, but when I decided to delay the release of Hell Bent, I put Stone Killer on hold. It’s still sitting in the draft mode about halfway through.

On the blog, it fell apart over the summer for one reason and then again in the fall for another reason. A full schedule of posts would have been 156 posts, and this little gem will bring it up to 107, or about 68%, compared with last year’s 135/85%.

I also had a few other goals where I had varying levels of success. I wanted to do better multitasking, so that when I was blocked (or waiting on someone) with one project, I would be working on another. I did some better this year, but there was plenty of room for improvement. I also set the goal of doing a little bit of marketing/promotion this year, and I dipped my toes in with some success. I think my biggest boost, however, came from Nathan Lowell pointing me out to his many fans – in whose number I am proud to count myself. Mostly, though, it was having some business cards and a book-promo card that gave me a more professional feeling.

I also had a vague goal of making friends with more writers, particularly those who are cohort, i.e. those in about the same place in our careers. This, I must say, was one of my greatest successes of the year. Between Google+ and a local Meetup group, I befriended several authors who are about as early in their careers as I am, give or take a couple of years. Some are coming up fast, and some are racing ahead of me. Others can use a hand up, and I’ve done what I can to pass along the help that other writers have been so generous to grant me.

I did battle two problems throughout the year that severely impacted my ability to make progress on these writing goals. First, as bad as my health was in 2012, it was worse in 2013 and included a hospitalization and then later on, some long-delayed sinus surgery. As if to make a point, as I write this, I am running a low fever from a GI bug that’s been working its way through the family since Christmas. I do have some plans to make this better in 2014, but only time will tell.

The second problem was from my kids. I don’t talk about this much, but I have special-needs children. This year, the eldest (who is autistic) took something of a turn for the worse in August, and it has made the rest of the year much more difficult. I don’t want to gripe with the details, but it as the kids say these days, my difficulties here are “totes legit!” I do not have much of a solution going forward except to stay the course and keep trying.

Still, I did start seeing some commercial success this year. At one point, an agent challenged me by saying it was not quite “quitting the day job” money, but I was able to reply that it was enough to pretty much pay all the monthly bills short of the mortgage, i.e. electric, water, phone, cable, etc., with a little left over. Some of my favorite people sold well and even won some awards. I also put out a novel that I’m very happy with, and I’m very grateful to live in a time that I can choose to do that rather than merely hope to do that. So, while I’m a little unhappy with the things I did not get done, I’m full of warm fuzzies for things I did get done.

Check back tomorrow where I plan to lay down some epic goals for 2014.

Got Busy

Sorry for the missed posts the last couple of weeks. I do most of my blogging on the weekends, and I was travelling (actually camping) the last two weekends, and then I got caught flat-footed when the week arrived. I’m getting back to the content queue now.

In other news, my self-publishing efforts are moving forward. I setup my publishing company, Quantum Forge Press. It has a domain, a blank website, a bank account, and ten ISBN numbers. I’m starting on the book cover now. While I missed my self-imposed deadline of April 1st, I’m still hopeful about getting it out this month.

See you later!

One Righteous Smackdown

While I have written a couple of novels, I have not yet published them. In truth, I have not yet submitted them, but they’re both still in the editing phase – more on that another time. Publishing through the large New York houses has become harder and harder in recent years, both for economic reasons and simple changes in the Industry. Of course, various forms of self-publishing are available (from Lulu.com to Lightning Source and Kindle/Nook e-book options), but being selected by an established publishing house has great emotional appeal. Fortunately – no, not really – there are countless scammers ready to feed on those frustrated writers, promising fame and riches while only delivering shame and expenses.

Fortunately – really – there is a team that sorts out the good from the bad. The website Writer Beware has been shining the disinfecting light of truth onto this problem for years. They keep lists of legitimate agents and publishers as well as calling scammers on their scams. Even on some that fall somewhere in between, they point out the areas of concern and tell you what to watch out for. They get some support from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), but mostly it’s a labor of love.

Most scammers either keep on scamming or scurry away into the corner only to return under a different name, but a few have been doing what they can to muddy the water. A largely anonymous group called The Write Agenda has been making claims against Writer Beware for a while. It’s not really enough to completely undo their scam-busting work, but I guess these scammers hope to reduce their stature to being merely one of two mudslinging opponents. Writer Beware has mostly ignored this in the past. After all, why point folks towards your worst character assassin? However, now the Write Agenda is apparently going after a number of other folks who support Writer Beware or even SFWA.

I guess if you can’t bully someone into submission, you start going after their innocent friends.

Well, that’s probably not the best idea when you’re trying to bully the righteous, because they will haul out their wrath and deliver one righteous smackdown. Earlier this week, Writer Beware did just that. In addition to documenting many of The Write Agenda’s illegitimate activities, they are making some attempt at breaking through the group’s anonymity to reveal the true scammer’s sour grapes. It would appear that he has done battle with Writer Beware before and lost.

So as we move away from newspapers, perhaps it’s time to update the adage: Never argue with someone who buys his electrons by the barrel, especially if his friends do too.