It’s been a pretty interesting year for me as a writer, so I thought I’d take a look back over it and take a moment to remember everything that’s happened.
After the end of 2013 I had looked back on my writing goals, accomplishments, and shortcomings. I gave myself a self-appraisal, taking a look at what I had done in three categories: Content Creation, Learning, and Networking/Marketing. It was an extremely thorough analysis (probably to a fault), and it left me in a state of wondering what I really wanted to do next. What was I going to take aim at in 2014? I had many options before me and grappled with which route to focus on.
Fortunately, it seemed that 2014 had its own plans for me. Here are some highlights:
- January: I took my second completed novel (Crossfade, a modern day detective/sci-fi mashup) and applied for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award
- February: I received an email from Harper Voyager expressing interest in publishing my first completed novel (Unexpected Rain, a space-age noir murder mystery). I had sent them the manuscript in the autumn of 2012, so the response was a shock to say the least.
- For several months I sat on the news of my publishing while the details were hammered out. It was a challenge, and my mood rose and sunk drastically with each step forward and each stumble.
- Meanwhile, Crossfade made its way through ABNA into the quarter finals. There it received a full read and review. It didn’t progress to the semi-finals, but the Publisher’s Weekly review I received was very encouraging. It ended with: “Readers who enjoy a little mystery and a lot of psychological hijinks will have a blast unraveling this mystery. While the start is slow and a little odd, the build up is worth the initial investment and this hard-to-classify book becomes a real page-turner.”
- July: I participated in the Sledgehammer Writing Contest. I didn’t win anything big, but my story was awarded Best Origin Story for a Female Crime Lord.
- August: The Harper Voyager deal became public and I was able to announce the news
November: The Northwest Independent Writers Association does an anthology every year, and this year one of my stories was selected. Underground: A Collection of Short Fiction
was released at OryCon 36.
- The next weekend I was invited to participate in the British Film Institute and Harper Voyager crossover virtual conference called #BFIVoyager. I got to do a post about my love of sci-fi film and literature, and another post introducing my version of the future, found in Unexpected Rain.
- The past several months: I’ve been working the sequel to Unexpected Rain (which is going to be a trilogy).
- Keeping putting work out: despite the year’s highlights, I also gathered piles of rejections. I’m always sending out short story submissions, and the more you send, the more you get rejected. My success this year has taught me that it’s worth it. If anything, I need to ramp up my submission rate.
- Stay connected with other writers: We’re all in this ride together, and we all have something to teach each other. I’m extremely thankful for the friends I’ve made through local critique groups, NIWA, writing conferences, and others at Harper Voyager, just to name a few. (Special shout-out to Brian and Wes – Writers With No Name will always have a place in my heart.)
- Always be writing: And not necessarily for the sake of your career, though that’s a great reason to, but do it for what it gives back to you.
My best friend Charlie passed away this summer. He was an old dog, but was so full of life, energy, and humor that when it happened, it was very unexpected. I was there with him right at the end. Once the initial shock wore off, I found myself in a much deeper hole than I realized. It took months to climb back out. When I finally did, it was writing that help lift me back up. That’s not to discredit the support of my wife (my best human friend), nor other family and friends, but as everyone who has dealt with loss comes to understand: it has to be resolved internally if you are to move on. Creativity is this force that requires you to put energy in, but then repays that energy exponentially, and by getting back to creating fiction, I rejuvenated.
Ride the Unexpected
There’s a reason that Unexpected Rain has the title it has: there is a major theme in the book that suggests when unplanned events happen, you can fret and sink and cry, “woe is me,” or you can accept the situation, confront it, and even embrace it. And that’s what the characters choose to do: they fret and cry, but then they fight, and they find opportunity hidden within turmoil.
Because if everything always went as planned, goddamn would life be boring. So tonight I’ll be raising a glass of bubbly to old friends and new friends, to missteps and opportunities, to all the ups and downs of the year, and looking forward to all the ups and downs that await in 2015.
Photo of Writer wearing Darth Vader apron holding Dachshund and standing near Yule-tree