I expect we’ll hear a lot about resolutions over the next few days. I rarely make New Years’ resolutions—not because I don’t find them worthwhile, but because setting goals is easy. Achieving goals, on the other hand, is hard, and I’d rather focus on that. Also, we have 365 days a year to decide to make changes, so why limit ourselves to just one day?
That said, the last time I set a resolution was in 2016. The previous year, 2015, had been difficult for me. I needed a “win”, so to speak, so on January 1, 2016, I resolved to publish Warrior of Light that year. There are now more resources than ever before available for independent writers, and when I’ve discussed this in the past, I always issue the caveat to beware instant gratification. I still hold true to that statement; however, a number of years ago I had the pleasure of meeting James Owen, author of The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica. Regarding when an author is “ready” to publish his or her work, James made a simple statement: “When you decide you’re ready, you’re ready.” Well, Warrior of Light was a steaming pile of garbage on Dec 31, 2015, but the following New Years’ Day, I thought about James’ words and said to myself: “okay, I’m ready”. I took the manuscript off the proverbial shelf, decided then and there that I would fix it—and I did. What resulted was a manuscript I’m proud of, and one that’s been received positively by Kirkus, VandiMag, and others. How did I fix the problems? Well, there’s some technical answers (switching chapters one and three comes to mind), but a large part of it stemmed from the moment on January 1, 2016, where I decided I was simply ready to fix it.
When we set resolutions, there are two traps we can fall into. The first I call the Mount Everest problem: we set a big goal for ourselves, but become intimidated by the magnitude of the challenge before us. The second trap is the procrastination problem: we decide our goals, but then say, “I’ve got 365 days, I’ll put it off until tomorrow”. In both cases, we successfully make our resolutions, but avoid achieving them because we never start. Also in both cases, the goals would have been achievable through nothing more than steady, consistent effort. Want to write a book for your New Years’ resolution? Say a novel is 80,000 words. If you write 220 words a day, by December 30 you’ll have a manuscript of 80,080 words, and you can take New Year’s Eve off to get good and drunk while celebrating. (For what it’s worth, the previous two paragraphs in this blog run 304 words, if you want to visually estimate how much you’d have to do each day.) That’s the beauty of regular, consistent effort—it builds over time.
What are my plans for this year, then? Well, as I’ve mentioned previously, I’ll spend the bulk of my time getting the sequel to Warrior of Light ready to publish. My best estimate is November 2018. Once I reach the point of sending drafts to the editing team, I’ll have downtime between revisions that I can use to start outlining a third novel. As of now, a third book is the last I have in mind for the characters from Warrior of Light, though I’m not ruling out returning to them at some point.
I’m also targeting at least six conventions this year. Conventions I’ll attend for sure are Fargo-Moorhead Comic-Con in February, iMagicon in April, and Tampa Bay Comic Con in August. The other three spots are still in flux, but I’ll announce them via my website as I receive confirmation and/or near the dates of attendance.
Next, social media. It’s time for my regular reminder that you can both follow me on Facebook and subscribe to my blog; however, I’ve decided to add a third social media account. I expand into new mediums very carefully, as I would rather spend time managing one platform effectively than multiple platforms poorly. However, I decided that I’ve had both my blog and Facebook for over eighteen months now, and am ready to try adding a third platform. Social media can be an incredibly powerful tool for building reach and maintaining consumer engagement. As such, I’ve launched an Instagram account here. It’s one of the fastest-growing social networks, and I think it’s well-positioned to help me capture new readers.
Last, I have one side project in the works, though I haven’t settled on what it will be. I might work on two short stories that would be parallels to Malichon Manor; or, barring that, I have a contemporary suspense novel, with a mild supernatural element, percolating in the back of my head (think Jack Reacher meets The X-Files). The short stories might win out—they are achievable for 2018 publication, whereas a novel wouldn’t be—but we’ll see.
Anyway, if you’ve set resolutions of your own, good luck. The most worthwhile things in life take a bit of effort, and that’s okay. Happy 2018 to all.