Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Revisited

At this time of year, although I eschew formal New Year’s resolutions about losing weight or exercising more, I do like to conduct a brief review of what I planned for the year and define a new set of expectations for the year to come.

For 2017, I had the following goals:

(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 2017—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.

I actually did pretty well this year. I finished The Vermilion Bird as planned, and Five Directions Press published it in December 2017. I also finished The Shattered Drum—a surprise—except for one set of comments from my writers’ group. Once those come in, I’ll do another revision and read-through, then off it goes to typesetting. Most likely it will appear in print and e-book sometime between May and September 2018, depending on what else we have in the pipeline. And I have begun work on Song of the Siren, set in 1541–1542 and the first book in my new Russian series, Songs of Steppe and Forest. Siren has a long way to go: right now it is a full set of story events and main character profiles plus about two serviceable chapters and some scenes, but with luck, it will reach first draft status sometime in 2018.

So much for my own work. Five Directions Press did bring out five books, although The Duel for Consuelo replaced A Holiday Gift, which will come out next year. I did conduct a full set of interviews, from Helen Rappaport talking about her companion volume to the PBS miniseries Victoria, now entering season 2, in January to Heather Webb discussing her Last Christmas in Paris, co-authored with Hazel Gaynor, in December. In between we traveled to the US South, Shakespearean England, early twentieth-century Egypt, World Wars I and II, and Viking-era Norway, as well as other times and places. My thanks to all the authors who spoke with me, and I’m looking forward to a new crop of guests next year.

In web-related things, I did manage to maintain my blog schedule and stay up-to-date on the Five Directions Press site; I even updated my own site for the release of Vermilion Bird, although it lay pretty dormant until then. I did my bit on social media, including running two book teaser campaigns (the second still underway) for Five Directions Press and lurking in various GoodReads groups whenever possible. So between that and the interviews I can claim to have done reasonably well on Goal 7. As for marketing, I’m not sure I will ever really get a hold on it, especially since the techniques that work seem to change without warning every few months. But my limitations in that area aren’t for lack of trying, more a result of having only so many hours in the day.

Check back next week, and I’ll have a new list of goals for 2018. Meanwhile, I wish you all a safe and joyous New Year!

Image: Clipart no. 110076193.

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