New year & writing – last years success and next year’s goals

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In January of 2019, I announced that I’d be publishing The Dark Queen of Darkness in September of 2019. That didn’t happen, and that’s part of the learning process. I’m still aiming for a Feb 14, 2020 release. What I realized sometime in April or May of last year was that I didn’t have the foggiest idea of what went into self-publishing. Lots of people do it and it looks easy, but until I’ve had my hands on something, it might as well be magic. To prepare myself, I decided to self-publish what I’d come to consider a terrible throw-away book: Wine Bottles and Broomsticks (I did a series of author interviews and a series on what I learned and I recommend you have a look if you’re prepping yourself for indie publishing your first book). Wine Bottles was a book I first shopped to 40+ agents and got a lot of help from author friends on that with no luck. Then, I tried to crowd-source, still no luck. I reckoned that my failure here meant this book had no real appeal. Wine Bottles and Broomsticks surprised me by doing spectacularly well for a debut indie-published book. At least by my reckoning. So far, here’s where I am with it:

  • 100 copies sold over 6 months, 80% were paperbacks,
  • Picked up by a book-club, I’ve been invited to attend this month and discuss the book,
  • More than one reader, who I have never met, has reached out to me to tell me how much they liked it – if you’re one of these readers, you’ve got no idea how much it means for me to hear that. You are the reason I do this and I thank you,
  • I was standing in Black Birch Books, the only place Wine Bottles and Broomsticks is available locally and the woman behind me had actually purchased and read the book!
  • I was hosted for a meet the author event at Black Birch Books for Wine Bottles and Broomsticks, and it went great.

All of this came with a totally botched launch and poor planning on my part. My take-away is that no I’m not Richard Castle, and I’m not a viral success, and that’s totally fine. I understood this going in. The win for me, as an author, is a foundation to build on and the knowledge that the series I’d planned for Rick Basket does, in fact, have an audience. The bullets I’ve put up there exceed my expectations and I call that a success. I suppose that 2019 was a good year for me, and I just need to remain focused as we go into this year. My goal for 2020? Repeat 2019 and take it one step further. Can we do 2 books? Who knows, but I’m going to try.

Trying to pull it together in 2019

In looking back at my writing progress in 2018, the best thing I can say is that I didn’t totally give up. I got super close, but not quite. Every attempt to get back on track was half-hearted and generally cock-blocked by something to do with work. In general, I’m not keeping up at work like I need to, and it’s stressing me out, which is making it harder to focus and even less seems to get done. Then, all tired and pissed off at myself for doing far less than I should be, I get home and don’t write. Not writing is also stressing me out and then I get mad at myself, so I avoid the whole thing. On top of that, I’ve got serious parent guilt about not being there enough for the kiddos’ activities or spending enough time on them. Really, by the end of the day I’m at the point where I’m ready to just check-out. Hence, the new gaming computer (Bonus picture below) I built this spring, which I’ve upgraded at least 5 times since June.

In any case, I can’t keep being this way. I seriously need to focus on getting back to a level of getting shit done that will make me feel less like a hopeless slacker and maybe provide some encouragement and motivation. To that end, I’ve got a strategy, but first – some mostly accurate background.

Last month I got a bullet journal for work. (That’s not what happened. My wife got it decided she’d never use it so stole it.) I thought if I had something that would help me identify, organize, and track shit I need to do, that I could do a better job of managing my worktime. In theory, the same thing could be achieved using MS outlook or other productivity tools. While productivity tools may sound compelling, they’re just plain overwhelming. Really, just about the only sane response is to just ignore all of it.

When I was at my last job, we had a trouble-ticket system. Ostensibly, they’re are designed to fill the same kind of niche as something like a Bullet Journal, by tracking and organizing tasks. Really, I find systems like that are so full of dates, numbers, and oh-so ‘helpful’ reminders of how many outstanding tasks you have, it’s more stressful than helpful. I don’t need smug-ass software telling me that I’m not getting shit done. I do, however, need a tracking system because I’m getting old and fat, my brain has become somewhat leaky and I’m also not getting shit done.

Anyhow, this is where the journal comes in. I started using it for work and within three days I realized that what I REALLY need to be using it for is writing. Well, and work too, I’m still using it for work. The idea I had was to write down all of the things I want to do with writing and set a few goals. Since there aren’t any dates, it basically stays evergreen until I start ticking off some boxes. It gives me a canvas to write down things I want to do, maybe over time add in things I think of and just sit on those until I can focus on them, then when I’m ready to deal with them, BAM I’ve got a list with check-boxes. Plus, the way I’ve got it structured, I don’t have to flip through all of my unfished stuff to get to the active project. Out of sight, out of mind.

Anyhow, that’s a long way of saying, I’m getting organized with my goal setting and here’s what’s on the docket for the year: Get The Dark Queen of Darkness through editing and published by September. The other goal I’m setting for myself is to do more blog posts (hence the 2nd blog post this year and it’s still actually January). So, that’s where I am. Trying out some optimism. I hope it fits.


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Computer: Ryzen 1700x overclocked to 4Ghz, 16GB DDR4 3400Mhz, AIO water-cooler (push-pull fan configuration), MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, Gigabyte AB350N Gaming motherboard, 1TB SSD, Thermaltake mini-ITX case, corsair 550w semi-modular PSU, and also lots of LEDs.