Friday, January 4, 2019

That Time Again

The year 2018 turned out to be a great writing/publishing year for me. I completed two novels, gave one a thorough revision, entered minor revisions to two more, and produced a pair of e-book box sets for people who like to read entire series on their tablets. I also made significant progress on a third novel, which has reached complete rough draft status as of this week. All of which raises the question of whether I can—or should even try—to top myself in the year to come.

Well, probably not. I do have to earn my living, after all. But it never hurts to set a few goals besides the usual weight loss and exercise targets that seem to be both perennial and cyclical (yes, for me too!). So here, with comments, is a list of what I hope to achieve as a writer in 2019.

(1) Publish Song of the Siren (Songs of Steppe & Forest 1), on schedule in late February. This novel, which follows the life of Roxelana from the Legends of the Five Directions series at the Polish court in the early 1540s, is ready except for one last read-through, minor corrections, upload, and check.

(2) Produce a final manuscript of Song of the Shaman (Songs 2) and sketch out book 3, Song of the Sisters. At the moment, I see the novels in this series coming out annually and have plans for one or two additional books, for a possible total of five. But it’s a more free-form series than Legends and can grow as ideas present themselves. Song of the Shaman follows the attempts of Grusha, another Legends character, to balance her Russian heritage with life in a steppe horde. I hope to have it ready for publication by the end of the year, so that it can appear in or around February 2020.

(3) Conduct twelve New Books in Historical Fiction interviews. One never knows what the future will bring, of course, but since I already have eleven interviews scheduled between January and August, this should be doable. Some great candidates, too—both known (some very well known) and less familiar. Also remember to check the Literary Hub ( on Fridays for featured New Books Network (NBN) interviews. (Hint: enter “new books network” in the search box at top right of the main page to go straight there.) Not all of them will be historical fiction, by any means, but you can expect to find great conversations on many topics, including G. P. Gottlieb’s New Books in Literature, Gabrielle Mathieu’s New Books in Fantasy and Adventure, and Rob Wolf’s New Books in Science Fiction. There is also a full range of nonfiction podcasts under the NBN umbrella. Both fiction and nonfiction interviews are perfect accompaniments to those exercise sessions we’re all going to complete in 2019.

(4) Typeset/proof, produce e-books, and in some cases edit Five Directions Press titles scheduled for 2019. The exact lineup is still in play, but in addition to Song of the Siren (historical fiction/romance), lovers of historical fantasy should look for the first book in Gabrielle Mathieu’s new series, Berona’s Quest. Girl of Fire will come out in the late spring or summer.

(5) Stay current with online marketing efforts and outreach. This goal combines several from previous years, as marketing in a twenty-first-century environment changes rapidly and constantly. At a minimum, I plan to keep up my weekly blog posts, maintain my website and the Five Directions Press website, and participate regularly if not every month in such group features as “Books We Loved” and “Five Directions Press Authors Dish.” I’m also reassessing my engagement with social media, focusing on platforms and posts that work at the expense of those that seem to have little or no effect. Alas, with all these writing projects, something’s got to give, and daily visits to Facebook may be that thing. But I do have friends there with whom I’d like to keep in touch, so I’ll still be around—just less often.

And as always, I wish everyone a splendid new year, with love and success and happiness for you and those you love!

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