31 Dec

Looking back, looking forward

In some ways, my massive retrospective is the post I wrote a couple of weeks ago called How I Used Kickstarter to Reboot a Book Series, My Career, and Maybe My Life, where I talked about how funding, writing, and delivering The Apocalypse Ocean dominated most of 2012, and in a very good way.

But, it’s New Year’s Eve, and my birthday is January 2nd, so for me this time of year is always very reflective as the year ends and my age officially bumps up a notch. So here is some reflection about the year.

Actual writing of words

The core part of my year, I actually wrote a lot this year. In fact, I sort of dedicated myself to experimenting with ways to achieve more work. Using the ideas explored in the blog entry Productivity in Bursts and Work Habits I was able to train myself to write more words.

Productivity isn’t the most important thing in the world. I could rush myself faster than I was capable. I view writing as training. Some people can keep good form and run faster on the track than I could when I ran, because they’d been practicing. Some would be able to run fast right off the bat. Some trained themselves up. Some were sprinters and some were marathon runners. Some were naturally faster than others, some had taught themselves to be faster. Some were weekenders, some were walkers. I spent this year trying to train myself up faster, but without losing my form or burning myself out.

I wrote two novellas, three short stories, and co-wrote a short story with David Klecha, though he did most of the heavy lifting.

I began the year revising a novel for younger readers called The Star Tree, redrafting the opening third and writing four new chapters, as well as going through the whole book with an eye toward making it stronger.

I wrote The Apocalypse Ocean, the 4th book in my Xenowealth series.

I wrote The Trove, another book for younger readers.

I began work on Hurricane Fever, which follows in the same vein as Arctic Rising. Unusually for me, I decided to spend a whole month (November) outlining the hell out of this, and have a 16,000 word outline, as well as 6,000 words written so far. I’ll be honest, I was hoping to get a very, very rough first draft done by today (or at least a 30,000 word chunk), as I had the outline in hand. But due to not getting some checks I’d hoped for, I had to spend December hustling freelance gigs pretty hard as I ran out of money in November, so I wasn’t able to focus on fiction like I had from January through October. But 22,000 words of work on this book in two months isn’t shabby. And by having an outline in hand, I’m expecting the writing ahead on Hurricane Fever to be quick, as I’ve puzzled through a lot of stuff that usually then hangs me up in the draft process. Plus, I’ve been researching and filing away tidbits for this book for a year and a half now, so I’m ready to be writing it.

All in all, this is the most productive I’ve ever been in my life (just shy of 200,000 words of new fiction), and it’s thanks partially to making more money off fiction and being able to focus on just that, and to the burst methods I was blogging about. I didn’t exhaust myself, and I did this despite a) a month of traveling for the release of Arctic Rising and b) a month of vertigo that made looking at a screen impossible and c) December freelancing.

Were I to maneuver myself into a similar high writing income situation as I did for 2012 down the road, I know I’m capable of blowing previous years out of the water.

Stuff that was published this year

Arctic Rising, my near future eco-thriller, came out. Good reviews, including a very nice one on NPR, rocketed this one up to graze the Bookscan extended bestseller list. The gamble when my editor and I mutually decided to go in a new direction seems to have been a good one. This book sold out two printings and when into a third. It was assigned reading to all incoming freshman at my local university. I did a small book tour to promote it, and promptly got horrifically sick before getting to the East Coast and spent two days on C.C. Finlay and Rae Carson’s couch, which was as close as I got to the airport before fever hit.

As Arctic Rising dropped in February, a lot of people are already thinking of it as a late 2011 book, which saddens me. But the paperback just came out, and I’m hoping this gives it a second round of fresh life, as the first round was pretty awesome.

Arctic Rising is also the first novel of mine to get some interest from Hollywood, though nothing has firmed up to announceable levels yet (publishing, everything is slooowwww, until it’s hyper fast). It was nice to be spending a couple months forwarding inquiries to my agent, though.

I love the book, I’m grateful it’s selling on a new level. It means I smile whenever I get the occasional ‘you’re a libtard hippy who believes in the global conspiracy of global warming’ sort of email rage that the book engenders.

The Apocalypse Ocean launched to backers in the middle of the year, and print copies got mailed out later in the year. At my store, there are still some limited editions available. The eBook is out for all the platforms and selling (as I write this, it’s in the top 100 of Amazon’s Space Opera books, which it has popped onto right when I first pushed it live, and then slowly fell off of, then popped back onto thanks to some linkage and reviews, so thanks!).

Since it really launched to the general public a couple of weeks ago, reviews and word of mouth is only just now gearing up, so I’m not really sure what the impact of this one was. Hopefully fans of Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose find it a worthy addition to the series. Enough so that I can entertain doing the 5th book to wrap the series up.

I also put together a new short story collection, Mitigated Futures, for Kickstarter backers. It’s going to be available shortly for the general public, but all Kickstarter backers got the collection. I was thrilled with the amazing cover that Jenn Reese did for it, and the physical copy is just amazing to hold. Backers set out to make me write two new stories for it. One, A Game of Rats and Dragon was reprinted at Lightspeed Magazine (where it became my most commented story on evar!), and the other, The Rainy Season, ended up being a fun challenge to write as the concept and idea where dictated by an outside source. A new experience!

I also got to check off something from my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to edit an anthology. Joe Monti and I put together one for Lee and Low Books called Diverse Energies. This YA collection features lots of characters of color, writers of various backgrounds, and hopefully adds some new voices to the conversation. Certainly the reviews have been strong, and I’ve gotten some feedback from teachers who would love to use something like this in the classroom for younger readers who like genre and are starving for diversity. I’m very proud of having put together an anthology that could fill that gap.

Last, but not least, six short stories appeared this year:

-The Found Girl (w/ David Klecha) – Clarkesworld Magazine (September, 2012)
-The Rainy Season – Mitigated Futures (August, 2012)
-A Game of Rats and Dragon – Mitigated Futures (June, 2012)
– – reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine (November, 2012)
-Jungle Walkers (w/ David Klecha) – Armored (March, 2012)
-Press Enter to Execute – Fireside Magazine #1 (Spring, 2012)
-A Tinker of Warhoon – Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom (Spring, 2012)

Also, a short story I wrote with David Klecha, A Militant Peace, appeared in The Year’s Best Science Fiction #29. So that was cool.

Metatropolis: Cascadia, the audio anthology I was a part of with several other writers, won an Audie Award for Original Work.

All in all, a very, very good year.

Looking forward

Right now my plan is to finish writing Hurricane Fever while juggling the new extra freelance gig I have started, and watching how things go with The Apocalypse Ocean and Mitigated Futures, the two direct books I’ve just launched. I’m waiting on some potential news, stuff that I need to know is in hand before making plans going forward. So to be honest, other than writing Hurricane Fever, most of next year is sort of a blank to me.

Due to the fact I agreed to work this freelance job, I know this year won’t be as productive as 2012. But I’ve put enough hard work last year, I’m hoping that it pays off and puts me in a good position to pay off debt. I didn’t incur much in 2012, but I did have to use a credit card a few times here and there, and I wasn’t paying down debt incurred while ill in early 2009 and recovering in 2009/2010 that has been a weight on my shoulders still (I paid off a big chunk in 2010 and a lesser chunk in 2011). Working the extra freelance gig assures some financial stability and a period of building savings.

I’m planning on making sure my existing Xenowealth books get into more people’s hands in non-US territories where I have the rights floating around for them (more on that to come later in January) and I’m planning something pretty cool for the launch of Mitigated Futures (more on that to come in January).

I have a secret, small hope that I can write 200,000 words again. But I’m not going to kick myself if I don’t get it. I’m also hoping to do better at posting at this blog, however it does get sacrificed on the altar of that 200,000 words. I post in between writing, not before. I can see the loss in traffic when I drop off posting regularly, but I have to prioritize the fiction, of course.

And that is what I’m up to, moving forward.

As to what new books will be coming out when, when I know things for sure, I will of course post about it here!