look back year 4

Looking Back: Year Four in the Books

look back year 4

What a blessing to have spent another year writing and editing, in creating new worlds and pouring thoughts and emotions and experiences onto the written page. It truly is a sacred privilege to be able to write. I don’t think I’ve ever been more aware of that than I have been this year. And, as is my custom, I’d like to take a look back at all the ups and downs, all of the travails and triumphs, all the mess and the majesty that was this 2016, year four in the books.

The Chronotrace Sequence

The year started off with a bang as Ascent of the Nebula was released in January, the final book in The Chronotrace Sequence. This was (in my humble opinion) my best novel to date. It had an awesome cover, an action-packed plot, a plethora of twists and revelations about the main character Adan, mind-bending technological gadgets and…hardly anyone read it.

No doubt this was largely my fault. I learned when launching Through the Viscera that I have no idea how to market a series. Into the Vast did okay for a while, but when it came time for the second installment in the seriesI had no idea how to get the word out to those who had read the first book. I still don’t. The whole time I was writing Ascent I knew there would be no magical pot of gold waiting at the end of that rainbow. These are not stand alone books. And since no one had read the second book, I was pretty sure I was in for a repeat trip to the skinny man’s buffet.

But I had to finish telling the story. And I’m glad I did. I grew so much as a writer through that experience. And from the few people who did read it, I’ve heard very positive things. I don’t believe the book failed because it wasn’t a good book. It failed because I put almost zero effort into promoting it.

Doing the Math

So why didn’t I bother to market it? Why spend months of my life writing a book, release it, and then, KERPLUNK, drop it into the backyard ditch? It’s because based on my experiences marketing Into the Vast I have at least some kind of a feel as to what sort of return on investment I can get from spending time marketing. And I determined that it would be a better long term investment to focus on improving my writing rather than trying to flip a few greenbacks my way.

That said, since my next book, The Last Motley, is not a sequel or a threequel (stop nagging me spellcheck, it’s a word, I looked it up!) I do plan on marketing it more heavily. It’s also fantasy, a new genre for me professionally, so it feels like a bit of a fresh start. And because I’m going to focus more on promoting it, this one will take much longer to get out of the kitchen. This is crockpot fiction, baby. Slow-cooked for that down-home fantasy flavor. I still hope to release it sometime in 2017, but I’ll keep you posted.

silmarillion awards

Year of the Silmarillion

Probably the most outwardly “successful” thing I did this year (and certainly the most fun) was to participate in The Silmarillion AwardsThese were a two month long fantasypalooza, something like the “Fantasy Oscars”, where the recipients of the awards were fictional characters from our favorite books. Ten authors, loads of fantasy characters, and some shiny online medallions. All that made for some Middle-Earth sized mounds of fun. If you missed out on all the literary shenanigans, or the article I wrote in praise of J.R.R. Tolkien in honor of the occasion, hold on to your pointy wizard hats and magic rings because it will be back next year! In July, to be precise. Can’t wait.

Year of the Head Slam

And finally, this year was marked by a very unpoetic, very ungraceful, and very non-fictional tumble I took in August, in which I bonked my noggin and came up foggin’. I’m still not over it. Still dealing with head pain. But thankfully I have able to write these last few weeks. Perhaps not for as long and tirelessly as I’d like yet, but I can write. And for that I am ever so thankful.

So that’s a big reason why I am so appreciative of the ability to write. It’s not something to take for granted. If you are a writer, or a creative, or even just have a hobby or vocation you are passionate about, savor each moment you are able to pour into it. Don’t see it as a grind. Or as a chore. See it for what it is—a privilege. You are not guaranteed your next breath. Or the ability to do what you love. Life is but a vapor that is here a little while and gone tomorrow.

Jonathan Edwards, one of my heroes of the faith, wrote several resolutions as a young man and a new believer. One of them bears repeating here. It’s number five on his list:

Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

Edwards believed, as I do, that the chief end of man is “to glorify God and enjoy Him fully.” For me that means writing stories about transcendent truths, that point people to their Creator, and which seek to reflect his goodness, truth, and beauty.

And that is just what I intend to do.

S.D.G.

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Comments (6)

  1. Deborah O'Carroll December 9, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Loved this post and looking back at your year! So sorry you’re still not 100% but glad to hear you’ve been able to write a little all the same. <3 Still in my prayers!

    That's too bad about Ascent of the Nebula… it does look amazing though! I hope to read Into the Vast sometime (I do have a copy!) and once I do I suspect I'll wish to continue the series, I just have a lot of reading to do and I'm afraid sci-fi is not always the top of my list… *shame* But I think it's always a risk doing a series, since it's hard to bring people in unless they read the first (or in this case the first two) but it's a worth it risk to finish the story that needs finishing. 🙂 I'm personally very excited about your upcoming Fantasy endeavor, and I'd like to put myself at your disposal and say that if I can help at all (reviewing, promoting, whatever) I'd love to do so, especially if it captures my imagination how I suspect it will from what I've seen of your writing and imagination through this blog! 🙂 A standalone fantasy (is it a standalone) should have higher returns than a sci-fi trilogy, I'd imagine (unless I'm just biased and only notice the fantasy fans. ;)) so that should be worth extra promotion!

    Thanks for your great reminding words on writing being a privilege and to enjoy it, because I don't nearly often enough and really should. Great thoughts!

    Awesome post and take care! Wishing you the best for the coming "year in books"! 🙂

    • DJ Edwardson December 9, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      Such an encouraging note! Thank you, Deborah. I so appreciate your taking the time to share these kind words. And I deeply appreciate your prayers. They are working. I am getting better, just not as fast as I’d like.

      I hope you get to read Into the Vast at some point. I know scifi is not your forte, but it’s closer to Star Wars than Star Trek, if that helps. Not quite as mystical and ‘wizard’ as SW, but not quite as hard core quantum theory as ST. In any case, if you do ever get around to it, I’d love to hear what you think.

      Thank you for the generous offer to help with my foray into fantasy. I will take you up on that for sure. If anyone would know if a fantasy book is up to snuff, It would be you!

      I am amazed at how supportive and generous you are with your writing and reading time. And the volume of books you read and review…how do you do it? I think I would need an app to read books to me in my sleep to keep up with you!

      Keep writing and thinking and reading and believing!

      • Deborah O'Carroll December 9, 2016 at 8:06 pm

        Good to know (even though I actually haven’t seen Star Trek yet… I know, I’m a disgrace. XD). I usually do enjoy sci-fi when I actually start reading it. 🙂 I’ll definitely let you know what I think!

        Haha, I’m by no means a fantasy expert, just a fan. 😉 And aww, thanks. 🙂 I don’t know how, but I guess the answer is that I’m after school and before a regular job so I can devote more time to reading and writing than most people, at the moment. And I love helping people with their books and just can’t help it. XD It usually ends with me not reading a lot of stuff that I want to read “just because” but it’s fun all the same. 🙂

  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt December 10, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    The easiest way, now, to get people who like one book to read the next in the series when it comes out, is to have a short note at the end of each book that says, “To be notified when the next book comes out, follow me on Amazon,” with the link to the author’s page on Amazon right there.

    I intend to use that – right now the link points to the book’s site – because I trust Amazon to keep track of all that better than I trust myself. If I stay all in Amazon, that will work, and I won’t be going elsewhere or wider until the books are selling (or borrowing on KU) a lot better. Mailing lists, etc., are another thing I can’t afford the energy for.

    I figure a satisfied reader can give you ONE click – so make it an easy one for them, and productive for you.

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