31 December 2012

The 2012 Recap

To give myself some motivation for 2013, here's a recap of everything that went on in my life (writing and otherwise) this past year. I'll try not to make this come off as a "holiday letter"...

January: Mindflights published my short story "Sweet Embrace" in their January issue.

February: I was sent off to Bangalore, India by my employer for a two-week excursion, which I documented day-to-day in my "Banglalore or Bust" segments. Ironically, I spent a lot of my free time coming up with story plot lines which I still have sitting around here. Some ended up being worked, and others didn't. Maybe next year.

March: The e-book version of Death Brings Victory, the third in the Aston West series of novels, came out after a nearly two-year hiatus since the last novel.

April: I was hard at work on a few short stories, mostly featuring Kasey Reynolds, one of which was accepted for an anthology to appear later in the year. I also attended the spring edition of the Renaissance Festival here in Wichita.

May: Attended the ConQuest science fiction convention in Kansas City, which was the first public debut (and fresh off the presses with the paperback version) of my new novel Death Brings Victory.

June: Attended the Author Extravaganza at Town Crier Books in Emporia. Completed my story "Supply and Demand" (which ended up in my second Triple-Shot).

July: I began my experiment in serialized fiction, by providing my short story "Genesis" as a weekly episode in the SFFS loop. Also, my second Triple-Shot featuring "Temptation" was released as a 99-cent e-book. I decided to test out the KDP Select program with this one. One of my Kasey Reynolds stories appeared in an anthology from Ring of Fire Books. Worked on an Aston short story "Crossfire."

August and September: I slowly began to sour on the KDP Select program, deciding to exit the program when my 90-day period was up. Worked on an Aston short story "Downtrodden."

October: Attended the fall edition of the Renaissance Festival in Wichita.

November and December: Heroes Die Young passed the 400 sales mark in my November sales update. Work continues to progress on my fourth series novel, Resurrection, which I hope to complete this coming year. Completed an Aston short story "Adrift" (which I've agreed never to let see the light of day).

Well, there's the year in review. Probably could have finished a few more short stories, and the work on Resurrection has been lacking until the last few months. Guess it's time to get back into my goal-setting.

21 December 2012

My Upcoming Reads

With the day job now done for the year...it's time to kick back, get a little work done around the house, and get some reading (and maybe writing, but we'll see) done. I generally load up a handful of books or so at a time, and then read through them all before loading up another handful. So, what's on tap?

I'm currently reading Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. So far, it's been a real bear to get through, with all of the things I despise the most about hard science fiction. There have been a few redeeming points to the plot, but I'm still struggling through at the half-way point.

And what's on deck? The following titles, in no particular order:

Year Zero by Rob Reid. I picked this book up on the advice of a friend who has read my own books.

Fearless by Jack Campbell. I'd previously read the first book in the Lost Fleet series, and enjoyed it quite a bit (even though I'm still trying to get my head around paying so much for e-books). So, I decided to plunk down a bit more money (actually, it helps that I received a gift card for my birthday last month) for the next book in the series.

Flank Hawk by Terry W Ervin. Again, I picked up the above book on the advice of a friend (who, by chance, is the author of the next book listed).

Renegade by Angie Lofthouse. I've known Angie for some time now, and if I'm correct, I believe I actually beta-read this manuscript prior to it being published.

Looking forward to all of these reads. Hopefully I can get through my current one in good time, and have plenty of vacation left to get most of these others finished as well.

15 December 2012

Random Musings - 12/15/2012

Since it's been a bit since I've done just a post of general musings (which I mention under the title of the blog), I figured today was as good a time as any to do one. So, here goes...

On the general life front, everything is getting prepared for Christmas. Gifts have been (mostly) acquired, and wrapping should be accomplished this next week. Looking forward to some time off from work, although my guess is that I'll be spending some time finishing up work in the basement (new paint and flooring).

I have decided to re-implement my boycott of Best Buy. I'd originally put one in place after some nonsense involving an attempted return on a video game that wouldn't work on my computer, but negated it when I discovered that other stores had implemented the same draconian regulation on their game returns. However, this week, while attempting to replace a busted television, I learned that the staff at the store has no knowledge of the products they sell, but passes themselves off as having said knowledge. Much to my chagrin, I found out when installing the TV that I'm now going to have to go pick up a new DVD player and an RF modulator...sigh. So long, Best Buy, it was nice knowing you...

Work is going well, though hopefully things improve in the economy at large. The aircraft industry still seems to be limping along, and it's always been a tenuous one to start with. That said, I keep working hard and things seem to be going my way. I only wish writing and publishing was that easy. There has been some talk of a life-altering change, with my name on a list for overseas assignment (though I've been told that a lot of people have their name on that list, so I shouldn't feel too special :-P ). With the amount of other life events taking place next year, this change would definitely cause issues...

On the writing front, I learned this week that one of my favorite online magazines (where several of my stories have been published in the past) went on semi-permanent hiatus. The fact that it's been two months since they announced this change makes my heart ache that I haven't been keeping tabs. Sadly, this was their second chance at launching the magazine, and all of my stories appeared during their first incarnation. I'm not entirely sure why, but my submissions there during this second run all incurred rejections, even though said stories were picked up in other magazines. At some point, I stopped submitting...and stopped visiting the magazine itself. It still makes me sad that they couldn't make a go of it this time.

Well, it's been fun, but that's enough for this week...perhaps I'll work out a schedule for these posts to take place more regularly in the future.

07 December 2012

SFFS: A Snippet From SEEKER

Welcome to another installment of Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday on the blog. Thanks for all the feedback you give on my snippets, and be sure to go visit all of the other writers through the SFFS link above as well.

For those who like a little romance, this is pretty much as close as I get. Aston faces off against a mind invader (sort of like a mind reader, but a lot more involved) who could find out every criminal activity he's ever committed in my novella Seeker. And for those who don't like to pay for their books, I'll point out that this novella is currently discounted down to FREE over at Omnilit (and who doesn't like free?).
I was privy to a lot of information not meant for anyone to know, much of it illegal activities. I’d mistakenly thought my present innocence would lead to freedom. Now, it seemed past misdeeds might be my downfall.

Fear building, I followed the officer, who watched with a subtle laugh under his breath. He hadn’t reprimanded his subordinate this time, which meant I’d used up my one get-out-of-being-assaulted-free card.

He let loose his chuckle. “Afraid of a pretty woman?”

I didn’t bother to answer, instead figuring out my options. I couldn’t fend off another mental invasion.

In other words, I was screwed.

Poor Aston...he has enough troubles in life without being subjected to a mind invader. Hope all of you are enjoying the holiday season, and we'll catch you next week with another snippet.

05 December 2012

Making Yourself Into Something

I was just over reading Tanya Eby's latest blog, and felt compelled to write one myself. I, too, have felt like a slug lately. Maybe it's the holidays, maybe it's the other stresses in life. Trying to fund the wife's college education. The wife signing up for substantial surgery this coming year. Home repairs. Potentially life-altering changes at work (not to mention an economy in the toilet that has it out for my industry). It makes my head hurt thinking about it all...but I do have it better than most, though, so guess I shouldn't complain. Stay positive and all that...

Despite my continued book sales, it's been a rough couple of months lately all around on the book front. This has made it difficult to focus on getting any new writing done. In fact, other than a few pages here and there, there's been no progress on the next novel for some time. Short stories have been a little better, but even these last few months have been a bit dry.

Trouble is when the issues compound each other...my sluggish feelings have made me more antisocial than usual, so I don't feel like interacting with people (which is okay, because other than a few folks, not many people want to interact with me either). And as I've learned over the years, selling books without a huge bookstore presence requires a lot of social interaction. So, when I don't talk to people, the sales don't show up. When the sales aren't there, I don't feel like writing (why bother writing it if it won't sell, right?). And when I don't write, I feel like a slug, which makes me feel like talking with people even less and the cycle keeps on turning.

I wrote down an interesting thought the other day: When you spent an entire life making yourself into something, what do you do when it turns out poorly?

This is me and writing, in a nutshell. I've been seriously writing for almost 20 years now. Could I just give up writing altogether? Doubtful. But if my self-image has used writing as a major cornerstone this long, what happens when it starts crumbling?

One of the bright spots, though, is some recent workplace success...which has been good (even though stressful). Since I figure that has to be another cornerstone, at least there's that. But it also gives me an excuse toward the fact I'm not writing.

Maybe I'll find the solution soon. Until then...