New Year's Resolutions are like Perpetual Motion Machines. Both sound great in theory, but they lack the warp and woof of reality. Put another way, resolutions and machines require a reliable energy source to work. Gas. Electricity. Reaction Mass. Commitment. Good habits plied across time. Hustle. Energy only shows up if we bring it to the party. So, why don't we dispense with NYRs and PMMs and instead sketch out several realistic goals, and then later allocate the time and resources to accomplish them.
For starters, my first goal for 2017 is to write a monthly newsletter, which to this point I have not done, not once. Funny how my Mail Chimp account and auto-responder sat month after month, doing nothing for me. You signed up for my newsletter but you never got one. That's because I didn't add energy to the system to make it go-go-go.
Here's to my maiden newsletter and the first goal of 2017 checked off a few days before the year begins.
Playing more. That's a great goal.
Christmas at the beach with the boys ended with a crab broil feast. (Heather took the photos like she usually does) We don't have sand and surf in the Rocky Mountains. But we have copious mountains, and trails and untouched earth to trod. My dog's leash does a lot of hanging on the wall; I should really take it out, hook it to the dog once in a while, and make her earn her chow. The boys would love it. I would love it. The dog (Bailey) would love it. My waistline would love it.
What else? Writing more is a good goal.
Authors don't write more because they fear the blank page. I fear the blank page. It's BLANK. I have no idea what's supposed to go there. The truth is this: I don't need to know at first. That's pretty good advice. Maybe I should take it. Writing, like any artistic endeavor, is an exploration of the unknown. Really? My right brain doesn't believe my left. There's nothing so terrible as being double-minded. Ahem...foreknowledge is not a prerequisite for the creative enterprise. All creatives, including you and me, start with a canvas of sorts, and a subject matter, and perhaps some initial thoughts, or even a detailed synopsis, but what's there is still unknown. Art is built upon unknown unknowns.
Why don't we celebrate our unknown unknowns this year. I bet you have your own blank page, whether it's a book to be written or a piece of furniture to be built or a model airplane to be glued, or even a relationship to be mended. Let's celebrate our unknown unknowns by diving in. Would you do that with me?
What else? This one is easy. I need to sell more books. Selling more books is a very good idea.
My first two books received good review attention and sold between modestly and modestly well, depending upon your point of view. I'm pleased with the results so far. Here's a quick recap:
Book one, in hardcover/ebook/audio has already sold enough copies to earn back my author's advance. In the biz that's called "earning out" the advance, and it's an important milestone in an author's career
Book one, UNBREAKABLE, was an Amazon and B&N, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, best-of-the-month pick
UNBREAKABLE, a debut, was published in hardcover AND downloadable audio read by the fabulous, Audie Award nominee Andi Arndt
German language rights are sold and published (INDOMITABLE releases in Deutsch in February 2017)
Many outlets praised the books including: RT Books; The Verge; Asimov's; Light Speed Magazine; for more see here
The "sold modestly well" part is where I'm stuck but only for the moment. In my book, "I'm stuck" is an opportunity for growth, not a final destination. Books three and four in the Chronicles of Promise Paen are plotted and waiting for the next yes. Even though books one and two were profitable, and well-reviewed, they didn't sell to Tor's expectations. For the present, Tor is taking a let's-wait-and-see approach, which is a polite way of saying "If you sell more, we will come."
All to say...I need to sell more books. My first two books are no longer the latest volumes on the shelf. Publishing favors the new. But in a sense there's no such thing as an old book either. Books don't grow old so much as they become old when people stop reading them. My challenge is to find new readers. In the words of our first princess Carrie Fisher, "Instant gratification takes too long." Thank God. I've got time on my side.
What else? I need more spiritual discipline like scramjets need oxygen. Prayer and practicing the presence of God are very good things. For me, this amounts to setting aside a daily time to pray and read my Bible. I don't do either enough. I'm a big believer in the inevitability of service. We all serve something or someone whether we like it or not. I've tried serving a career, and I've tried serving the opinions and cares of others. Both left me empty. Serving God is the one practice that's filled the void.
So, that's a brief, 50,000-foot view of some goals for next year:
What are yours? Don't know yet? Take thirty minutes and jot them down. Use pen and ink. Yes, really. Crossing your own T makes all the difference.
More to come. For now, I have a vacation to finish. Heather and I try to get to Florida once a year to see her folks (I'm blessed with great in-laws), and extended family (high caliber people), and the beach (who doesn't love surf and sand?). H is never in enough photos, which is something else to address next year.