Time for the annual roundup, as I write the last post of the year. Hard to believe 2014 has already gone from Christmas Future to Christmas Past (and I hope yours was lovely). So, what do I have to show for another year on the planet?
Quite a bit, as it turns out. I completed my two challenges for the year, reading fifteen pure history books (actually more, but I stopped counting at fifteen) for the Sail to the Past History Challenge and twenty-six books from my To Be Read pile to sit atop the summit of Mont Blanc for the Reduce the TBR Mountain Challenge. Of course, I added two books to the TBR pile for every one I took off, but that’s what it means to be a bookworm. And doubling the number of books required for the status of historian in the History Challenge seems just about right for an actual historian. Most of my colleagues were rolling on the floor at the thought that anyone would read a mere seven full-length historical studies in a year.
In addition, of course, I conducted thirteen interviews for New Books in Historical Fiction, for which I read at least sixteen books. I published three of my own: The Winged Horse in June as planned, followed by a spur-of-the-moment decision to revise and release Desert Flower and Kingdom of the Shades to test the new Kindle Unlimited (KU) program introduced by Amazon.com in July. The last two books came out on August 29, just before Labor Day, and did very well their first month—while many people were using their 30-day free KU trial, I suspect. Since then, they have languished. Even my recent attempt to run a Kindle Countdown Deal on them was a flop, although this result seems to have more to do with the effects of KU than with me personally. Many authors are complaining of dramatic declines in their earnings from books enrolled in KU since October; for one example, see this post by M. Louisa Locke. In a similar vein, Countdown Deals unaccompanied by pricy ads apparently don’t do well.
Nonetheless, Desert Flower has garnered some good reviews, the whole thing was an experiment, three giveaways of The Winged Horse went much better, and my novels as a group sell slowly but steadily, so I have no inclination to complain. For the moment, I intend to wait and see what the next year brings. Meanwhile, Five Directions Press is growing: it now has eight books by four authors, with Courtney J. Hall’s Some Rise by Sin complete and ready for production in January. We hope to expand further in 2015.
With Winged Horse in flight, I turned to Legends 3, The Swan Princess. It took a surprisingly long time to get going, in part because I needed to research medieval medicine and certain specific medical conditions that play a part in the story, but more because I needed to figure out what the emotional story was. I knew which characters I wanted to feature from previous books, and I had an idea of what they should do, but I had a much harder time figuring out how they had grown since I last spent time with them and therefore what they next needed to learn. As a result, I spent months tweaking an outline that, as usual, I abandoned (except for the general direction) within twenty pages. But thanks to my inestimable critique group, I’ve more or less figured it out now, and with two lovely weeks of writing vacation to work with, I’m hoping to turn my initial four chapters into twice that by the first Sunday of the new year—at which time work returns with a bang.
Last but not least, I have written fifty-five blog posts since this time last year, including this one and several guest posts on other sites. I won’t say that has been my greatest triumph, because the interviews are fun and having five novels published and a sixth underway makes me feel pretty chuffed. But I do love these weekly posts, and I hope to keep them up throughout 2015. (For more goals, check back next week.)
Wherever you are, thank you for reading my ramblings for another year. May your holidays be merry and bright. And now, where’s that egg nog?
Image © 2009 Michael Wade, via Wikimedia Commons.
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