You just published a book, but you’ve been kinda quiet, what the heck?

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It’s been about a month since I’ve released Wine Bottles and Broomsticks. In that time, I’ve posted a single blog post about this, done a hand-full of tweets, paid for a bit of advertising on Amazon, and shared it on Facebook. Really, it’s not much, and I should be posting a lot more and working double-time on writing the next two or three books I intend to publish. I should also, at very least, be blogging about my experience launching a book impulsively and what I’ve learned. There isn’t any good excuse for why I haven’t. I mean, there is an excuse, but as with any excuse, it’s an excuse not really a good reason. To put it in a word – Anxiety. I can’t seem to get over it.

I am at the tail end of two weeks of vacation as I write this and just made the mistake of rechecking my work e-mail. I’ve been keeping half an eye on it just to make sure if something came up I had to deal with, I could. I went from a wee bit more relaxed to full-on stress-ball in the span of three heartbeats. It’s completely incapacitating. These past two weeks were intended to be time spent with the kids, write, blog, advertise, unwind, and generally catch-up on personal life stuff. None of that happened, really. I’ve been avoiding literally everything to the point where all I can do is play video games – which is usually a reinvigorating escape for me. Not this time. I have what I can only describe as a video-game hangover, and I don’t feel anything like rested up and ready to tackle work tomorrow (Tomorrow was supposed to be another day off, but things being what they are, I’ve got to go back a day early.)

There are what you could call extenuating circumstances here, making things worse than they might otherwise be. Right now, in the state of Alaska, my home, the governor has just vetoed hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. I believe it is the largest set of budget cuts ever for this state. Ostensibly, these cuts were made because the state can’t afford it. However, any state that can pay out thousands of dollars every year to its residents can’t possibly be so broke it can’t fund essential services – just one example is the emergency broadcast system – this for a state frequently beset by natural disasters and hazardous conditions.

I did keep my job after the cuts, and it’s looking pretty okay for the foreseeable future, but it’s not clear for my wife. Part of the cuts involved the elimination of all funding for the appellate courts. This is the state supreme court and all courts you might bring a non-criminal case to. I want that to sink in for a minute – he eliminated funding for the most critical aspects of the Alaska court system – if this part of the courts isn’t funded, Alaskan residents won’t have any legal recourse when something goes wrong. For any libertarians reading this-this is what happens when you don’t have a government, you don’t have a voice. It’s not a good thing. Reports are that the budget has the goal of reducing the state’s population. Read: Make it an unsuitable place to live for people with families, unless you’re already wealthy.

The bottom line is that this governor and the people who voted for him are working toward a place that is wholly impractical for my children to settle when they reach adulthood – no education, no services, no safety. I grew up here. This is home. In spite of the fact I make noises about moving to New Zealand or some other state, this isn’t realistic. I did leave for a year when I couldn’t find work, but I couldn’t make it elsewhere. I came back fully understanding that I might very well end up living in a shitty apartment, working two minimum wage jobs. As it was just the two of us at the time, we felt we could make that work. Now, with kids, the calculation is different. It’s not about me anymore. Regardless, this is home, and it will be, even if I’m holed up in a homeless camp at the edge of town with thousands of others in the same boat. The same can’t be said for the people making the cuts. They aren’t, actually, from here and will likely leave in the future anyhow. One of them came here specifically to implement these cuts and then leave immediately.

Even then, for me, it still gets deeper and harder to cope with. I do work for the state. Yes, I still have a job after the cuts, something conservatives say I should be grateful for, but for the first time ever, the cuts have been so dramatic that I’m unsure that I’ll be able to fulfill my obligations to the state, which are written in state law. The hard part about this is that it’s not my fault, but I get to be blamed for the failure. The politicians have taken away resources necessary to be successful and will then point their greasy fingers at people like me and say, “look at that lazy bastard.” So, when I look at my e-mail and realize that I’ve got six weeks of work due in something like the next 10 days. I’m feeling super extra fucked, a failure, and someone else made it so. I don’t like letting people down or just walking away from things, but I’m in a position to do just that.

Alright, so that’s the core of the anxiety, climate change is the other aspect, but I already went semi-viral on a particular rant there and don’t care to repeat the experience. The rest boils down to being impulsive and releasing Wine Bottles and Broomsticks when I did. I don’t actually think I was personally ready for this. I have had a lot of support and positive feedback, but I’m still learning, and it’s committed me to things that I’m not sure I can muster the energy to cope with. I mean, I will with a smile and as much gusto as needed, that’s how I am –recall that I build most of a house with just the help of friends in two years because I was too stupid to know I couldn’t. That house withstood a 7.1 earthquake. However, as it comes to writing, publishing, and marketing, I don’t know if I can pull it off. I’ve goofed around with advertisements and things, but it’s pretty clear that the only books being sold are to those folks I routinely interact with or know IRL. Which is fantastic, but it’s not getting reach beyond that. It’s a lot of effort to go through, and I don’t know if I’m doing it right.

As a result of all of this, I’ve been effectively immobilized. Every time I start thinking about something, the weight of everything else breaks in, and I just can’t properly concentrate. So that’s it. There’s my excuse and what’s going on with me. Now I’ve gotten it off my chest, I will (hopefully) be producing more content and really getting to work on more books.

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Wine Bottles and Broomsticks

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This is my second ever finished book, and here I am tossing it to the world. You can pick up a copy here: Wine Bottles and Broomsticks To say I’ve learned a lot during this process would be to understate things in the same way calling the surface of the sun hot. While technically true, it fails to grasp the essence of things. I would in no way call myself an expert or even ‘proficient’ at this publishing thing, and I can say with a considerable amount of certainty that I don’t know a damn thing about advertising, in spite of a lot of help from the writing community. The more important thing I learned about myself is the sorts of things that I like to write and I can do reasonably well.

My first (complete) book was high fantasy, with maps, cultures, languages and the whole 9-yards. However, that book sucked. I mean, really. This book, however, doesn’t suck. It was a throw-away project to try something different. I thought that if I tried something different, peraps I could improve my skill. What happened instead is I found where my writer’s voice lived. I wouldn’t call this book the finest example of my writing, but it’s a good indication. Current and upcoming projects have a slightly different voice but stick with the silly caper tone.

I hadn’t actually planned to promote this release. I’d meant it to be somewhat quiet. Really, I’d just intended to launch to learn how to publish myself. It’s a fantastically complicated endeavor that has absolutely stretched my creativity and technical know-how. That said, I’ve now got a bit more confidence to plow forward and do this a bit more often :). In any case, you can look for the next book in the coming months, and in the meantime – have a look if you’re interested.

Looking Forward

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In 2016, I had one real resolution for the year -Finish Wine Bottles and Broomsticks and get it published. I may as well have just gone with the old stand-by of ‘lose 30 pounds and run a half-marathon’ because that was going to be a hell of a lot easier to pull off. Sure, I did finish, but that’s as far as I got in the success bracket.

On Christmas, we had friends over for dinner. It was a pretty mellow affair on the whole and the usual get-together at the Koster’s – food, drink & conversation. The topic of Wine Bottles and Broomsticks came up with the question “so what’s next for Wine Bottles and Broomsticks?” I thought I had a good plan and answer for that, write book two, and self-publish both sometime late next year. That’s what I said. However, in the week since, I’ve been thinking about it more. I even had a lengthy discussion with a co-worker the other day on the topic. His perspective was something to the effect of: “It doesn’t matter if it’s un-edited shit. You just need to get your name out there, put it on Amazon.”

I got to thinking about that in preparation for this obligatory new year blog. There are a lot of perspectives out there and I’ve received a ton of good advice. Hell, most of the blogs I even bothered to write in the last half of this year have covered just that. All of the advice has basically been in the vein of, “Don’t give up!” It’s good advice. Being discouraged is not a route to success. However, at some point, you need to move on.

The real, honest truth about Wine Bottles and Broomsticks is that I don’t have a plan. Yes, I could spend a lot of money to self publish – annoy all of my friends and family with pleas of ‘buy my book’ …. again. I could try to go through the process of crowd-funding using a slightly different approach, but I’ve basically burned that option down. The fact is, I did everything I could this year and it just wasn’t good enough – I’m not sure which part was not good enough, but it was a big enough part that the book wasn’t going to catch anyone’s eye. The only practical plan is to move forward. Don’t look back, just keep looking forward. What’s done is done and I need to look to the next thing.

So, if you’re wondering what’s going to become of Wine Bottles and Broomsticks, the answer is nothing. I’m moving forward now. Other projects are  in the works, and no I haven’t been moping around kicking myself either. I’ve got 3 other projects in the air just now and I’m happily plotting them out and moving them forward. My hope for this year is that I finish at least one of those and I’ll have something new to share.

Happy new year.