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Reflections on 2016 and Goals for 2017

Reflections on 2016

People have been saying dire things like 2016 was "the worst year in history." But in the grand scheme of humanity's track record, 2016 was a cake walk. No warlords tore through the U.S. razing fields and enslaving farmers. No dictatorships with aspirations of world domination stormed our shores to slaughter twenty million people. Our next president, whether you like him or not, was duly elected; he didn't invade the White House with a rebel army and name himself Emperor, forcibly take the First Lady and her daughters into his harem, and then command a bloody purge of the country's liberal scholars and their families. Considering what humans are capable of when they lose their heads, I think we're doing pretty darned well.

On a personal level, 2016 was a big year for Sweetie and me. We had a lot of adventures and went through a lot of "firsts."

  • We rented and drove a U-Haul from drizzly Portland, through treacherous Mount Hood, to sunny Central Oregon.
  • We moved into a house with a garage and an enclosed backyard.
  • We learned various things about taking care of said house, and Luna went out to play in said backyard after eight years sitting in the windows of apartments.
  • We made friendly overtures to our neighbors.
  • We graduated to a queen-sized canopy bed.
  • We got new tires for the car.
  • We learned how to use snow chains.

As a librarian, I moved up to an administrative position with more responsibility than I've ever had before. As a web developer, I took on contract work for the first time.

As a writer, I wrote the bulk of my first cozy mystery. I have only five chapters to go and hope to finish two of them before the ball drops on New Year's Eve. I feel like I've made significant strides since the days of Kagemusha, when I cut out whole chapters because they were too hard to write.

Goals for 2017

My goals for 2017 are simple, yet ambitious.

1. Secure an agent and a publisher for my cozy mystery.

I'm confident I'll be able to find at least one literary agent willing to represent my cozy mystery. Unlike my previous novels, Whacked in the Stacks ("WITS") is in an established genre that generates steady, though modest, sales. Two years ago when agents read the manuscript of Kagemusha, they said, "I love it, but I can't sell it." Hopefully this time they'll say, "I love it, and I know several editors who might want to buy it."

2. Write my second cozy mystery.

I have the sequel to WITS planned out, and I intend to start writing it as soon as WITS is polished and ready to go. Though I write comparatively slowly because I work full-time, if I stick to my daily writing schedule, I can finish a novel of this type within six months. I'll start in January or February and aim to finish by June or July.

3. Start on the first book of my fantasy trilogy.

The steampunk wuxia trilogy will be much more challenging to write than the cozy mysteries. (A) The setting is an exotic fantasy world. (B) The plot is an intricate epic of intertwined romances and mysteries. And (C) the scenes will be packed with high-flying sword fights and heartbreak. I can write comedy easily enough, but action and tragedy are challenging for me.

After I finish the WITS sequel, I'm going to take another stab at Book 1. My first stab missed the mark because I tried to write it in the third person. Then I read The Moonstone and realized the key to pulling off this story will be to create distinct first-person voices. I don't know if I can finish Book 1 by the end of 2017, but I can at least start the first half. I'll be very proud of myself if I can finish the first book by my thirtieth birthday in March 2018.


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