Incredibly—or so it seems—2016 is about to head for the hills of history. And what a year it was, full of surprises big and small. So, as has become my habit on this blog, I will use this last post of the year to check in on how things went and set some new goals for next year. The list for 2016 included:
(1) finishing the final draft of The Swan Princess and seeing it in print and e-book formats;
(2) making significant progress on The Vermilion Bird, preferably to the point of a full rough draft (even if it’s very rough);
(3) chairing a roundtable on the uses of historical fiction in the classroom, scheduled for November 2016 but not yet approved by the sponsoring organization;
(4) upping the number of my New Books in Historical Fiction interviews to one every three weeks, yielding eighteen for the year;
(5) maintaining my website and the Five Directions Press website—which means expanding the number of authors and titles available, filling out the More Books Worth Reading page, and keeping the news & events page up to date;
(6) posting to this blog every Friday;
(7) maintaining and strengthening my relationships with fellow writers;
(8) continuing to improve my grasp of marketing, on both my own behalf and that of Five Directions Press; and
(9) completing three GoodReads challenges.
I actually managed to fulfill most of these goals. My NBHF interviews topped out at seventeen rather than eighteen, and the first draft of The Vermilion Bird is still only about halfway done—largely because the project has demanded more research than I expected (I am currently reading up on the complicated history of the Moscow Kremlin, for example, thanks to Catherine Merridale’s Red Fortress) but also because of a delightful development that I did not anticipate at this time last year: Five Directions Press has doubled in size, with six active authors and three associates.
As a result, we put out four books last year, with five to six planned for next year. Five Directions Press also added a monthly feature called “Books We Loved,” in which we recommend those titles we especially enjoyed: small-press, self-published, traditionally published fiction and nonfiction. The list goes up around the middle of each month. You can find it at http://www.fivedirectionspress.com/newsletter or by liking us on Facebook. (You can also follow us on Twitter.) While there, don’t forget to sign up for our quarterly newsletter. We send messages only for new releases and the newsletter itself, and we never sell addresses. It’s the best way to stay informed about what we’re doing and to learn about us and other authors through our regular interviews. You also get access to free coloring pages based on our books and a chance to win our annual Christmas basket.
Which brings me to next year’s goals. I decided not to take on more reading challenges next year, because between research and my own books and interview preparation and 5DP authors and “Books We Loved,” not to mention the occasional library book group session, I barely have time to breathe. I’m also forced to cut back on the interviews again: every three weeks proved really hard to sustain. That leaves the following writing/reading goals for 2017:
(1) completing The Vermilion Bird and seeing it in print;
(2) starting The Shattered Drum, the last of my Legends of the Five Directions although I also plan a spinoff series set in Russia around the same time;
(3) conducting twelve New Books in Historical Fiction interviews;
(4) typesetting/proofing, producing e-books, and in some cases editing the Five Directions Press titles scheduled for next year—Rewind, West End Quartet, The Falcon Strikes, The Vermilion Bird, and A Holiday Gift, more or less in that order;
(5) maintaining my website and the Five Directions Press website—which means keeping track of the “Books We Loved” posts, expanding the number of authors and titles available, and keeping the news & events page up to date;
(6) posting to this blog every Friday;
(7) maintaining and strengthening my relationships with fellow writers; and
(8) continuing to improve my grasp of marketing, on both my own behalf and that of Five Directions Press—including finding more ways to get reviews.
Let’s see how I do. Meantime, Happy New Year, everyone!
P.S. Cat #3 is on his way home. In the end, it was a very successful visit, and Cat #1 hasn't had that much exercise in years. In fact, he is sleeping it off as I write....
Images: “Happy New Year 2017” Clipart no. 109785399, Sleepy Siamese © 2016 C. P. Lesley