January 01, 2017

Looking Back/Looking Forward

I almost started this blog exactly as I started last year's January 1st blog, by talking about Janus, the Roman god of thresholds.

Which shows how often I re-read my blog. That post was my only post for 2016. Something needs to change there!

Needless to say, that means I didn't post any new Trashlings stories. Nor did I finish my novel. I have some good directions in which to go; I just have to make time to go there.

I didn't quite average a short story a month, but I did finish seven new stories, five of which also saw publication, and I sold a reprint or two and found homes for stories I had previously written.

Chaosium's werewolf anthology with my story "Arcadia" finally appeared in 2016. I made another appearance in one of Flametree Publishing's beautiful Gothic Fantasy anthologies, this time in Murder Mayhem with a reprint of "Mr. Ted." Flametree has qualified as an SFWA professional-level market, so in 2017 I will be looking into joining SFWA and/or HWA at their entry level.

I had another enjoyable year with the fine folks at The Writer's Arena. In addition to judging for half the year, four of my published stories this year appeared in Arena competitions. "The Lights of Wasashe Springs" won, as did my first two entrants in the annual Arena Tournament, "Good Neighbors" and "My Mother, The Superhero" (narrowly, by the popular vote).

I made it to the final round of the Tournament again this year, competing once again against my friend David Webb. Dave's story won out against "Cloudcuckooland," crowning him as 2016's champ. (I still owe him the celebratory beer...) Shortly after the Tournament, the guys in charge of the Arena announced a hiatus for the Arena. I have great faith that "that is not dead which can eternal lie," but it will be missed in 2017, not only as a venue for my work, but also as a place to meet other awesome writers.

I've ventured into the realm of self-publishing through Amazon's Kindle Direct service. "In the Days of the Witch-Queens" and "Serpent's Heart" haven't had many sales yet, but when I offered them for free a lot of people did pick up copies. "Witch-Queens" is gathering some good reviews. I plan on releasing further KDP books in the near future, and perhaps having a larger library available will help sales. More on this soon.

Two of my proudest writing accomplishments for 2016 are my appearances in Cirsova Magazine. "The Hour of the Rat" ran in the very first issue--something I'm quite proud of. Cirsova was a perfect home for my tale of sword and sorcery told from the point of view of one who might normally be considered a minor character.

"The Sands of Rubal-Khali" is a spiritual sequel to "The Hour of the Rat," and appeared in Cirsova's double fourth issue. I'm even happier with this story, especially in its solid grounding in the planetary romance tradition. One of the most enjoyable parts of being a Cirsova author, however, has been getting to know the circle of writers and fans that have quickly grown up around this magazine. Think no one still writes adventure yarns in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Abraham Merritt, or Jack Vance? Get to know Cirsova!

My biggest blessing in 2016, however, has nothing to do with writing. In August, after years of trying to get pregnant, my wife gave birth to our first child. Baby Uitvlugt has changed our lives in so many ways, but there's one thing that he reminds me of each and every day:

Time is precious.

I can remember holding Baby Uitvlugt by my forearm alone with room to spare. Now I have a hard time managing him in his car carrier for extended periods of time. I remember wakign up to feed him every two hours. Now he sleeps through the night--once we can get him to fall asleep. Every moment with Baby Uitvlugt is precious in a different way, and no moment will ever come again.

I have less time to write than before he was born, so I have to make the time I do have count. We have formula and diapers to buy, and every little bit of extra cash helps, so I have even more motivation to write well. I need to become a better writer because Baby Uitvlugt is counting on me. I want him to be proud of his Daddy.

With that in mind, here are my goals/resolutions for 2017. I've broken them down into four headings.

1) Short Stories.
I will write at least twelve short stories this year, averaging one a month. I will publish at least half of these. At least two will be in professional venues.

2) Platform.
I will blog at least weekly. I will revitalize the Trashlings series. I will obtain at least 2500 Twitter followers.

3) Self-Publishing.
I will publish at least one new Kindle Direct story a month. At the end of this year, if self-publishing is still not profitable, I will re-assess it as a strategy.

4) Novels.
I will finish my fantasy novel. I will get it beta read. I will begin to market it. I will plan a second novel.

There you have them. Written down for all to see. Will I fulfill them? Stay tuned.

What are your goals for 2017, and what will motivate you to succeed?

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