My Year So Far, and Updates

I keep making promises about how I’ll take some time to share what I’ve been up to lately, and I’ve been wanting to reflect on how my year’s gone up to this point. So, this is an attempt to do a little of both. You’ll have to forgive me if this post seems scattershot and doesn’t all make complete sense–that’s what the inside of my head has been like for a while. Also, I tend to ramble, and this is won’t be a quick read. You’ve been warned.

Should I start with the good or the bad? Let’s do the bad first, then we can move on and talk about better things.

I started this year off by saying that I wanted to read and write more, but the results are mixed. For a while, I was reading at a good pace, maybe not as much as I could have but still a decent amount. I wasn’t having trouble finding books I wanted to read (and I’m still not, actually) and I had lots of time to read them. At some point I slowed down, and since then I’ve gotten busier with work. I know I could have read way more than I have this year, and I’m cursing myself every day as my list of books I want to read keeps growing.

As for my writing, it’s been a trial at times. I’ve been making a conscious effort to think about my stories more, focus on what I’d like to accomplish, and finish more of the pieces that I start. I’ve had some success, there’s no denying that fact. Big picture, though…I feel like I can, and should, be doing more to improve my craft. At the end of the day, no one can hold me accountable for my writing goals aside from me. I just don’t think I’ve been doing a good enough job of that.

I’ve got a couple of self-published stories available on Amazon, both of which took a lot of work and a bit of good fortune to get made, but I was hoping that I’d have at least one more published by now. Obviously, things didn’t work out that way, and there’s no sense in dwelling on that or throwing a big pity party over it. I’m trying to take away something positive from it, and it’s this: I still have plenty to learn, and a big area where I can improve is managing my expectations. I believe it’s important to set goals, and to accomplish them whenever possible, but I’m also figuring out that sometimes it’s about setting goals that I can manage better.

One last topic before I move on to all the good stuff. In spite of my insistence that it wouldn’t continue to happen, my habit of letting projects grow beyond my ability to keep up with them remains. I launched a series, published two stories that are part of the series, and created a blueprint for how I wanted to outline the setting, flesh out the characters, and get things in order, all to ensure that I’d make regular progress on the series going forward. For the most part, that hasn’t happened, and it’s partially due to my failure to carry out these preparations. I have several of the next few stories in my series planned out, but I haven’t done enough to actually make them a reality. Again, I can’t blame anyone except me for this.

But, now, for the flipside to all of that.

In terms of my growth as a writer, author, person, etc., this has been a landmark year. I can sit here and bitch about how I wish I’d published more, read more, finished more of my stories…yet, I did publish earlier this year. Catch and Release, the first story in my series, came out this past April. I put a ton of work into writing that story, and then even more into getting it out into the world. It’s a short story, and it’s only scratching the surface of where the series is going, but, dammit, I accomplished something.

(For more about Catch and Release, read this, this, and this. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, chances are you already read those, but if not, maybe take a look.)

Rune: Barin-Bál

Rune: Barin-Bál

I don’t always give enough credit to my accomplishments, and I’d be lying if I told you that I take every opportunity I get to talk about my stories with people I meet. Basically, without letting it rule my thoughts, I need to focus more on what I’ve achieved. Add to that the following: I’m currently working on a couple of new projects that hold a great deal of promise.

One of these new projects is still in the early stages–so, I won’t go into much detail about that right now. I will tell you, A) it’s a weird mix of horror and western, and B) I’m writing it as a serialized story. There’s a whole lot more to it than that, but I’ll save that for another time. I’m excited to be working on something horror-related, I’ll say that much.

The other project is something that I briefly wrote about here on the blog early last month. I’m writing a short story for an anthology called Rise of the Europan, along with five other authors: Dan Hunt, Eugene Kelly, Kitty Sarkozy, Don VanAusdoll, and Tracy Vincent. This anthology is set in The Dryden Experiment’s shared science-fiction universe, and it focuses on the end of an era.

Each of our stories revolves around the titular event, in which an ancient life form inhabiting the moon Europa revolts against human occupation of its land and begins a war against humanity’s growing colonization of the universe. What’s great about this story collection is the range of stories that will be included. All of the authors are working in the same setting, but we’re all developing different aspects of the Europan’s rise. For example, Eugene is working on a story from the perspective of the Europan itself, while Kitty is writing a story about a working-class man who gets caught up in the conflict.

My contribution centers on the military resistance put forth by humans on Europa, led by the forces of Terra Corporation. It’s a war story, showing what life is like for soldiers on the alien moon during the fighting. The protagonist is an aging special ops fighter who’s been sent to Europa as the result of her body rejecting the latest round of enhancements given to her by her employer. She arrives on Europa thinking that she’s going to spend the rest of her days in non-combat duty, until the Europan’s assault on the human population forces her to take command of the Marines stationed there, and attempt to fight a resistance against the powerful being. I’ve had ideas for these kinds of stories in the past, but this is my first attempt at actually writing one.

The deadline for our first drafts is September 1st, so, somewhere around then, I should have more news regarding this. We haven’t set a release date yet, since our stories aren’t finished, but I’ll keep everyone up to date on all of that as soon as I find out something definitive. What I do know as of right now is that it will be published in both electronic and print formats. I dunno how the other authors that I’m working with feel about this, but I’m thrilled, since it will be the first time one of my stories is in print.

Look for more posts related to Rise of the Europan as we get closer to its launch, including more info about my story and the other stories that are part of the anthology.

As you’ve just read (if you made it this far, congrats! …what? no, I don’t have prizes, sorry), I’ve been busy. I wouldn’t say that I’ve improved much in terms of doing orderly and timely work, but I’m still trying to get there. I’ve enjoyed working with other writers lately, and I’m hoping that being part of a group will help me improve my process. It’s difficult to force accountability onto oneself, so I appreciate that I’m involved in a project that will keep me focused.

For now, I’m going to keep on the way I have been, juggling various things and occasionally throwing another object in the rotation, all while hoping I can do it without dropping something and ending up buried under a pile of crushing almosts. There’s always more to do, and never enough time to do it all the way we’d hoped.

While I’ve had some serious stretches of time that felt hopeless this year, when I step back and do my best to be objective (as much as anyone can), I feel pretty good about what I’ve done. Could I have done more? Sure, but I didn’t. All that’s left for me is whatever I can transmute into some form of wisdom that might aid me in the future, or might not.

I’m gonna shut up now, but if you’re curious and/or have questions about anything, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email:

  1. I think the fact that you’ve put yourself out there and have published two stories so far is very telling on your progress. You’re also in the middle of your busy season at your day job. AND you’ve started writing a story in horror as well as writing the short story in the anthology. SO by year’s end, you’ll have at least 3 stories in print. That’s better than GRRM who’s lucky to print one a year.

    • Well, yes, that’s technically true. But GRRM writes books that are weighty enough to be used as improvised melee weapons. I get what you mean, though, and like I said, I do need to try and keep things in perspective more. A few years ago, I wasn’t published at all, so this is huge compared to that.

  2. Donna said:

    Very exciting!!!

  3. Donna said:

    Very exciting!! You’re writing accomplishments this year have been an amazing start to a bright future!!

    • Thanks, Donna. I’m happy to finally see some results from all of the years I spent thinking about this, and glad I can share it with everyone.

  4. Brian said:

    Really interested in the Europa story. I’ll have to check it out. Curious about the horror/western too. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks.

      I’ll be putting some more stuff about the horror universe on here soon, and I know it’s something you’ll be interested in once you read more of what I’m working on.

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