The Last Post – 2014 Sucked. There, I said it.

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(I basically wore this face all year)

Dear baby Jesus, please let 2015 be better than 2014 because this has been my hardest year as a writer.

2014 had Strange Chemistry Books going bye-bye back on June 20th leaving all their authors left to muddle through a shit show on an intergalactic scale. I had a project I’d just pitched to them a week before, too – oh well – it’s six months after and I’m still waiting to get my rights back for Poltergeeks and Student Bodies.

Will there be a third book? Right now, I’d like to say yes but I still need the old rights back before I decide to survey the lay of the land. In truth, I’d like to get the pair of books out as reprints with another publisher but I’m not against self-publishing them instead. More to follow on that front, yo.

I became a bona-fide hybrid author in 2014, self-publishing all my back list on Amazon and Smashwords. It’s brings me in a couple of hundred bucks a month in cash money so let’s just say that self-publishing your old stuff generates enough for a car payment. I can’t say anything  bad about the experience other than it’s a huge learning curve and discoverability is the biggest BIGGEST challenge because Amazon is so damned flooded with self-published books. And it makes me wonder what a guy has to do to get noticed? I’m thinking a YouTube show with me in my underpants smoking a cigar and talking books. Call it “Old Fat Bald Guy Book Reviews” – cue the Masterpiece Theater theme in the background.

I also self-published a new book,  THE NORTH.  I made it free for a couple of weeks to see if that will garner any reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. I’m convinced the key to discoverability on Amazon is reviews. What I did learn is that by making the book free, there was NO bump in sales to my other books. Draw your own conclusions with that.

I’ve had a bit of writer’s block this year. I think brought on because of constant worry about getting rights back, my career as an author and working my tail off getting stuff onto Amazon and Smashwords. So a bit of a break from that in 2015 I hope as I’ve been writing like mad over the last month and I’ve got a few new ideas brewing away.

2014 did show me that I have some amazing, wonderful and supportive friends in publishing, though. Every single author from Strange Chemistry has been a class act despite losing out on forthcoming books and the associated trauma of a publishing house shutting its doors. We have been in constant contact with each other since June.

Strange Chemistry published books by the following authors. These are fantastic, amazing, talented people wholly deserving of your support. Do order one of their books, won’t you?

Rosie Best

Gwenda Bond

M. G. Buehrlen

Cassandra Rose Clarke

T. L. Costa

Eliza Crewe

Kim Curran

Amalie Howard

Jonathan L Howard

Danielle Jensen

Ingrid Jonach

Laura Lam

Rachel Neumeier

Lisa O’Kane

Bryony Pearce

Sarah Raughley

A E Rought

Christian Schoon

Julianna Scott

Martha Wells

On the plus side of things, I’m still plugging along. I do have forthcoming book news … it’s kind of fun and happy. Just say the word “psychedelic” and keep saying it until I announce. A small ray of light in an otherwise crummy year. And yesterday I got some other super pre-advance preliminary forthcoming book news on a project that is very near and dear to me. I have to do a bunch of emailing today. More to come on that front, too.

I also have a core group of wickedly talented authors in my writer’s group,  Saskatoon Writer’s Meetup. I would be freaking lost without them. They’re just brilliant people, so a shout-out to:

Nicole, Courteny, Pearce, Cynthia, Jenna, Elizabeth, Jen, David, Anita and Rachel Astor (who is a bestselling author so go buy her books.)

Well, there you have it. Some good news at the end of a downer of a year. I’m fortunate to have great friends, and amazing wife who supports me as I muddle through the ups and downs of being a published author. I still haven’t written that breakthrough novel yet. So … come on 2015. I hope to hell it’s a great year for you and yours.

Happy New Year!

 

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Here’s what I’m up to this year

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me

(Revisions Face. Every Author Wears This Face When They Are Revising A Project.  There’s Usually Swearing Involved.)

 

It’s 2014 and time to issue a small report on my activities, so here we go:

I’ve had two books released in two consecutive years – that’s a pretty decent accomplishment that wouldn’t have happened without the hard work on the part of my agent Jenny Savill. And she’s working hard again with one project that’s currently on submission – I’d love to tell everyone about the plot, but I can’t … its just too cool.  What I can say is that’s it’s not Young Adult, it’s good old fashioned urban/dark fantasy that doesn’t feature a teen witch and her dorky boyfriend. It’s got a hard as hell to kill  main character – a guy I could write about until the cows come home and it takes place in a port city. That’s all you’re going to get out of me for now – I hope like hell the book sells because I’ve already started on a sequel to it so there’s that.

But fear not, YA fans – I’m just finishing up revisions on a YA project that’s about a thousand miles away from my books POLTERGEEKS and STUDENT BODIES. It’s dark, terrifying at times, bleak and if I do say so myself, probably will raise a few eyebrows if we sell it because it’s … well, it’s different from a hell of a lot of YA these days.

And I’m still writing other stuff. Last year I completed a middle grade project – the first time I’d ever tried something middle grade. There’s a hippie grandmother with wild conspiracy theories, her intrepid albeit sceptical granddaughter, a heck of a lot of missing cats and possible alien abduction. I’ve plotted a second book with the same characters involving Bigfoot and a rogue moose on the loose.  I might even write an experimental first chapter these weekend to see if it brings a smile to my face like the first chapter in the first manuscript

I’m also plugging away at another YA project – this time a contemporary one involving a shoebox filled with letters from the Second World War and a very basic premise: once upon a time, young people saved the world.

I’m also spearheading a monthly writer’s meetup here in Saskatoon. I’m planning day-long writer’s workshops on a quarterly basis this year – I did two last year and they were well attended. I have my old day job of course … one day I hope to make the jump to full-time author. That day ain’t here yet, though.

So there’s lots going on. I hope to report a book sale one of these days and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that.  To everyone who’ve cheered me on over the past couple of years – thanks for everything. I’ve had two trips to the UK thanks to my two books from Strange Chemistry. I met some amazing people. I’ve watched English Premier League football in England – that’s sort of like living the dream for a fan who lives on the cold Canadian prairie. It’s been a hell of a ride and I hope for some authorly success to report in 2014.

Have a great year, all!

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