Season’s Greetings and a Look Back

This year, 2021, was supposed to be better than the lockdown year of 2020. We had COVID vaccines, three of them, and it seemed as if we’d soon have COVID behind us.

Then came the surges. As soon as governments eased up on restrictions, the surges began and the variants formed. Governments were reluctant to reinstate some of the harsher lockdown requirements because of citizens’ complaints/whining.

And there were still COVID-deniers, and along came the anti-vaxxers. Deaths kept mounting until by the time you read this, we may be at 900,000 dead in the U.S. alone. We’ve had this year’s post-Thanksgiving surge (happening now), and the post-Christmas/post-New Years surges are yet to come.

Because we won’t say no to unvaccinated members of our family or circle of friends. Vaccinated, we can still carry COVID, and I can imagine those viruses lurking in our nasal passages and saliva, waiting for an un-vaxxed host body to come along so they can “jump” from a hostile environment to one where they can kill the host in a long and painful manner.

Gad, that was depressing.

This Look Back is a Bit More Joyful

Two of my books came out this year, Love Death in February and Spy Flash III: The Moscow Rules. A story that won first place in a contest came out in an anthology, Skyline: 2021. I completed the final rewrite of a trilogy (for now; it might become a series of four books) that should begin publishing in 2022. I finished the rough draft of a novel about The Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1979, and I completed another rough draft of a novel for National Novel Writing Month. My podcast grew in listeners and audience.

I marketed my entire backlist and got some great upticks in sales and downloads. I published a story in KDP’s new marketplace, Kindle Vella. That hasn’t received a lot of notice, but Kindle Vella became quite popular. I haven’t figured out how to make my story pop out to readers, despite consistent marketing. (By the way, that story is “Old Love Does Not Rust,” and you can find it HERE.)

I went to several virtual writing workshops, and, toward the end of the year, attended in person (masked, of course) four book events. It was so good to be among readers again, to talk to them about my work, and to sell a few books.

All in all, a productive and positive year for my writing, marred only by a divorce in the family and a personal loss a bit more than a week ago.

I do fear, however, that this continuing pandemic will turn me into an agoraphobic, germaphobic recluse. Somewhat of a trope or cliche about writers (think J. D. Salinger), but although it means a great deal of productivity, I honestly don’t want to become that.

But, hey, that’s what therapists are for, right?

A Look Ahead

Since it’s planning time for next year, I might as well commit to projects now.

  • Finish the final rewrites of yet another series (Enemies Domestic – somewhat of a sequel to A Perfect Hatred
  • Publish a novella (entitled Quadrille) of the reader magnets for A Perfect Hatred
  • Publish a reader magnet for Book One of the series starting in June 2022, Meeting the Enemy
  • Publish Book One of Meeting the Enemy entitled Terror (which involves having it edited, formatting it, having it proofread, prepping the cover, developing a marketing plan, planning the launch, etc.)
  • First edit of my most recent two NaNoWriMo projects
  • First edit of the Northern Ireland novel
  • Attend at least one virtual writing workshop and one residential writing workshop
  • Attend, safely, additional in-person book events

Okay, I think I’ll stop there. That’s. . .ambitious to say the least.

And I still have a non-espionage, quasi-mystery novel I was hoping to publish in 2021, but in my attempt to portray racists as racists, I’ve used some words that offend people, notably the white people who’ve read it. So, I have to figure out how to show racists as racists without offending anyone. Yeah, that’ll be easy. Not.

Unlike the current anti-hard work attitude, I’ve always done my best when working hard. Some might say that’s because capitalism brain-washed me to think that way. No. Hard work, challenging work, deadlines always brought out my best performance. Yes, there are times I’m a slacker, and I don’t feel guilty about it. It means my focus on working hard improves.

That focus, having hard, demanding work, got me through the death of my parents within two years of each other, the premature death of my brother, and two divorces of my own. My hard work has always produced something I’m proud of and makes me feel a sense of accomplishment beyond the superficial. And writing, marketing, publishing are all hard work that you have to be consistent and persistent about. There’s no better person to challenge me than myself. Someone at my old job told me I was “so driven” but in a way that indicated that was a negative.

I took it as a compliment.

Readers and fans, have a wonderful holiday season, and I’ll see you all again next year.