You know the saying, insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result? Well, I went a little mad in 2017, repeating a time-wasting, fruitless effort over and over…and over. What was this thing? I checked my sales figures and Goodreads review counts multiple times per day, every day. This doesn’t seem like it would take very long–just a few seconds to pop over and see if anything had changed–but unfortunately, those seconds added up, especially coupled with the minutes spent staring at the screen and contemplating the moment’s success or failure. It was the successes–a tick up in sales, or a 5-star review–that drove me to keep checking. The reviews in particular were a lure into the madness. In 2017, A Wizard’s Forge received its share of rave reviews and awards, for which I was grateful. But it’s hard to not want more, and for every day that passed without a sale or a review, my dissatisfaction grew, and I let it interfere with everything else I should have done with my time. Household tasks, family obligations, day job commitments, and writing–especially writing–all suffered. A year ago, I thought I’d have sent my publisher the manuscript for A Wizard’s Sacrifice by now, and comments from my editor would soon be forthcoming. Instead, Sacrifice fell upon the alter of my madness, and I’m only halfway done.
So, in an effort to buck up and move on, I wanted to sum up 2017 and list some goals for 2018. I hope that with this public announcement, I can be grateful for what I have and accept what I can’t change, and get back to work.
My short story “The Weight of Bliss,” which follows a drug-addicted physician on the day he hits rock bottom, won first place in science fiction in the Writers Digest Popular Fiction Awards. This story features a 10-year-old Lornk Korng, who grows up to be the villain of A Wizard’s Forge. Moralen, the protagonist of “Weight of Bliss,” will appear in A Wizard’s Sacrifice.
A Wizard’s Forge won recognition from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards. The awards meant a lot to me because I was trying to write a multi-layered story with a subtext beyond the standard revenge tale in a fantasy setting.
An article I wrote for my day job as a freelance medical writer was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which is arguably the top medical journal in the world.
Book bloggers Cassopeia’s Moon and Critiquing Chemist have both put my work on some “notables” lists in 2017, and the Critiquing Chemist included Sacrifice on her list of most-anticipated books of 2018.
Forge was listed in Locus Magazine, a premier SFF publication. It was a small listing in the mini reviews section, but its appearance there was still pretty awesome.
Nearly every indie author’s bane is the dreaded Marketing (cue scary music), and it sure is mine. Let’s just say, efforts to support A Wizard’s Forge haven’t been as effective as I would like. Most experts say the best way for indie authors to boost sales of one book is to write more books. Unfortunately, between my failure to effectively promote Forge despite its successes, and my failure to finish Sacrifice, I’ve been caught in a demoralizing vicious cycle that’s left me wondering what’s the point of carrying on.
Also, I’d submitted Forge to three other literary competitions in which it didn’t place. Each loss was a real bummer and sucked me deeper into the demoralized swamp.
The lists above show that the good of 2017 outweighs the bad by a 3 to 1 margin, and I’m going to keep reminding myself of this whenever I’m feeling sucked into the Swamp of Desolation. As I begin walking the path of 2018, here are my goals. I hope you’ll all hold me accountable for them.
Finish A Wizard’s Sacrifice. Just as A Wizard’s Forge was a streamlined and punched-up rewrite of another book called Blade of Amber, Sacrifice is a leaner, meaner version of A Wizard’s Lot. The original Book 2 weighed in at a hefty doorstop word count of 210K. I’m want to trim 60K of its fat while adding muscle to the story. The first third already has more trouble per page than the original. Vic reaches closure on the leftover problems from Forge pretty quickly, but she faces a host of new ones, including her destiny in a major conflict with the indigenous Big Bugs of Knownearth. I’m about halfway through the rewrite now and really need to pick up the pace on it so I can submit it to my publisher while folks still remember it’s coming!
- Make the blog a regular routine. I’ve got three posts–transcripts of more interviews conducted during the Virtual Fantasy Con last October–ready to go (check out my other VFC interviews with Graham Ing, Edward Buatois, Mary Woldering, and Rob Matheny). I also see a lot of movies and watch a lot of TV, so I ought to have enough material for posts on a regular basis.
- Get more sleep. I’m too old to bounce around and be effective after only four hours sleep. I’ve learned this.
- Write more new stuff. I want to write a new short story a month. That should be doable, right?
OK 2018. Let’s go.