It’s the end of another year, so, first and most importantly, I hope the last one went your way and may you have a great next year!
Now, because life isn’t always as obliging (and there was enough pain and suffering this year), it’s probably a good time as any to remind ourselves of our little successes and bright lights. So here are some personal reflections on my past year as an author, and my plans for the coming one — including a massive teaser!.
Last year (2018), I published two books (my In Numina and Eric Klein’s The One), as well as a free novella (Aquae et Ignis). This year I published two new pieces of flash fiction (The Soul of Tech and My Execution), but most importantly I finished the first draft of In Victrix,
as well and most of the initial edits!
Next year I plan to finalise and publish In Victrix, going through all the professional editing, cover, design, etc., to hit stores by September. I’ll put up a proper page here when I do the cover reveal. I do have some evil-genius marketing ploy which might cause a delay; will be worth it if it pans out but too early to talk about.
In between I also plan to put down a good chunk of the next novel — which, it may surprise you, will not be a Felix adventure. I already have a lot of the prep-work ready, but more on that later.
My blogs, plural, have also hit their milestones, balancing my Three-R’s:
- Reading: book reviews of both indie authors and traditionally published; you can see everything on Goodreads
- Writing: with plenty of columns of thoughtful musings about anything from how to make the muse work to writing action scenes
- Romans: for the love of antiquity. Felix’s house floor plans are probably still top of the list.
I normally get good feedback on these posts, so I’m going to keep it up. If anything, there were times that I had well over my usual 10-12 posts in my buffer. So book reviews got published on weekends, making way for more of in-depth content. Right now my buffer is almost empty, as some of life got in the way. Still, I hope to keep up regular blogging next year as well.
Lastly, my mailing list has broken 2,000 subscribers. Yay! So to celebrate I sent yesterday a year’s-end newsletter with:
- A shout-out to four of my favourite indie-published books of 2019
- A massive teaser about In Victrix…
So if you like Felix, you should definitely check it out. You could also consider subscribing, so you don’t miss out. I only send the newsletter quarterly, and they always include fun stuff. You will even get a free Felix novella if yo subscribe.
I’ve met my challenge of 50 books / 15,000 pages. I probably read more, as I read a couple of unpublished betas. About one-third of the books were indie published, either received from the author (looking for reviews) or bought out of interest. Half were Roman themed (the glorious Corvinus series) and the other half fantasy; a select few fall under literary fiction. I gave a shout out to my favourite ones in the newsletter.
I probably added more books to my TBR than I removed from it, but like I always say — my TBR is longer than my life expectancy, so I read capriciously whatever catches my fancy at the moment. If you’d like me to add your books to it (or contract me for beta-reading), just contact me.
Yeah, pretty happy about that aspect too. Though I haven’t published much (only two pieces of flash), I did complete the third full novel (about 80% of the first draft was written this year; finishing it was my new-year’s resolution). I wanted to complete self-editing as well, but it’s taking somewhat longer then expected (life and all).
I can see my skill improving, which is a good thing. This goes to both writing and editing — not only putting more coherent plots and engaging characters down the first time, but also in recognising and addressing issues later. As I practice and work at it, I learn to make better use of language, write deeper emotions, and keep building even twistier plots. I’d like to measure myself against Jim Butcher — when I read the first couple of Harry Dresden novels I thought they were OK; as his series progresses his skills skyrocket, and the writing style explodes (in a good way) to sheer brilliance. If I can grow at the same rate, with or without a trade publisher, I’d be ecstatic.
This is partly why I blog about writing advice. It’s not out of hubris of thinking I know better, but it’s a learning exercise — you never quite learn something as comprehensively as when you try and teach it. Forcing myself to review, condense, and summarise my writing journey is helping me learn (and still helping others, based on feedback — double yay).
This is the second year I try to learn better Latin but get distracted on the way. I’ll get to it, one day… And then read Caesar and Cicero in the original (yeah, right). In the meantime, I at least found a way to celebrate Saturnalia in this day and age.
On the plus side, I did get some time to do online courses in history and archaeology, and I do trawl news and articles on the subject. That’s definitely far removed from proper, formal education on these subjects — but it keeps me happy and informed, provides for anecdotes for Felix, and fits my available time. It’s one of those 80/20 things, where I get 80% of what I need for my writing, and can research specific points as they come up. It’s a good balance for writing Antiquity-inspired fantasy.
Next year, next decade…
Seems to me I’m on the right track. I’m in no danger of reaching JK Rowling or GRRM tax bracket — or even retiring to write full-time — so my “track” is a dedicated hobbyist writer. “Hobby” doesn’t imply less professionalism in the quality of output in this case, merely the recognition of viability as an income stream.
If you look at statistics about writing for a living, one of the key aspects is writing 20+ books. I certainly have ideas enough, but time to write, polish, publish, and market is another thing. So just like with my reading, I’ll keep writing for the sheer enjoyment of it.
And that, my friends, was very obvious while I was editing In Victrix. As I was reading through it, regardless of the editing work, it was sheer enjoyment. Simply put, I like the stories I write, which is why I do it in the first place 🙂
That said, the next novel I’m writing isn’t a Felix mystery… Don’t worry, calm down, it’s not the end of squid-onna-stick with fish-sauce. There will certainly be more Stories of Togas, Daggers, and Magic. It’s just that now I want to try something else, a fantasy world of a different kind. More news about it to follow this year.
That’s it for now. I won’t take you away from your seasonal celebrations. I’ll be back during the first week of January, with your regularly-scheduled articles.
May you have the best of coming years, filled with good books!
(ps. If you want me to hurry up with In Victrix, check out the swag store — nothing motivates me quite as being able to pay my editor 😉