2017: A Year To Remember

As another year draws to a close I come to the conclusion that this might have been the best year since I restarted my fiction writing career in 2013. It certainly seems like the most eventful, at any rate. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a look back and review the highs, and the lows, that made up my writing life in 2017.


The 14th was my first grandson’s birthday, which seemed like a perfect day to pick to release Escaping Infinity. Based on how well that book has done alone, I may start making Jan. 14th my go to release date from now on.


I made my third appearance on The Writer’s Block on the 9th and talked about Escaping Infinity. Hanging out in studio with Jim Christina and Bobbi Jean Bell for an hour is a real pleasure.


I closed out the month by serving as a guest co-host for Bobbi Jean Bell on The Writer’s Block and the guest author was Oklahoma’s Ruth Ramsey. Although Ruth wrote more of a YA novel, she and I have quite a lot in common as we are both retired newspaper writers making our way as fiction writers. It was a fun show and a new and different experience being in the host chair. The very next day, the 31st, I was the guest on the Speculative Fiction Cantina and somehow managed not to lose my voice by the end of a very fun show.


A week after celebrating my birthday I was back on the radio, this time with Declan Finn’s Catholic Geek Radio Show. I’m not Catholic, but the show focuses on sci-fi and fantasy and it was a blast talking with a multiple Dragon Award nominee. On the 22nd, I was in a very strange place trying to promote my sci-fi and mystery-thrillers – the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival. I saw a lot of cowboys, a man who handmade a near perfect Clayton Moore Lone Ranger outfit and sold a few books along the way. Next year, I hope to have an honest-to-god western novel to promote. The month ended with a bit of a dud though. A book signing at a Starbucks in Simi Valley ended with 0 books signed/sold.


The month saw the conclusion of a long, dramatic issue between myself and my former agent. The divorce was slightly messy, I got the kids and I haven’t looked back – or regretted it – since. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom in May, on the 4thI hopped back into the co-host’s chair on The Writer’s Block and this time it was children’s book writer Bracha Goetz, who lives in Baltimore but still packs a mighty Brooklyn accent. Near the end of the month I completed a submission for a unique anthology. The nine-volume anthology takes all nine planets in our solar system (yes, Pluto is a planet!!!!!) and presents stories that are either set on that planet or have a theme based on that planet’s name. In my case, I submitted “At Homeworld’s End” for the Saturn volume (endings, passage of time) but my submission is set on Earth so it could end up in that one.


The month began with an opportunity to join forces with Jim Christina’s Black Dog Publishing and form Tuscany Bay Books. Not only will Jim and I continue to produce our own novels, but we are now set up to help first-time writers get their books ready for publication and out to readers eagerly waiting for their books. The month closed out with me completing my second submission for an anthology, this one my third Sherlock Holmes pastiche. “The Misplaced Mystery Writer” was accepted and actually led to my third anthology submission in July.


Was a quiet month as our grandson visited and we spent our time spoiling him – including a 2-day trip to Disneyland. Hey, writers need vacations too. But Escaping Infinity collected its first award, a second place ribbon in the East Texas Writer’s Guild’s Blue Ribbon Book Cover Contest. The cover for Escaping Infinity was the first of my books that I haven’t designed the cover for, but when I saw Adrijus Guscia’s book cover for sale on his website, I knew I’d found the perfect cover for my novel. I closed out the month by writing and submitting “Spinster’s Manor” which was accepted to be included in the anthology “My Peculiar Family 2” which came out later in 2017.


An ill Bobbi Jean brought me back into the Writer’s Block co-host chair for the third time, with Caroline Giammanco as the guest and she had a great story to tell. But the highlight of that night came 60 seconds before we went live. That was the moment when my phone lit up with the notification that Escaping Infinity had been named a finalist for the 2nd Annual Dragon Awards. On the 13th I was back on the Catholic Geek Radio Show along with several other Dragon Award finalists. The next day I finished and submitted my fourth anthology story of 2017, this one for Stairs In The Woods. “Nothing Ever Happens Here” was fun to write.

And the award season was not done with Escaping Infinity. On the 18th I got an e-mail that my novel – one of these days I need to write a non-fiction book about Escaping Infinity’s journey from initial concept to post-release news – had earned an “Official Selection” recognition from the New Apple Summer E-Book Awards. The next day, I was on the Sci-Fi Saturday Night radio show and man did those 50 minutes fly by. It was a very fun show.  The month closed out with an out-of-nowhere inquiry from a publishing company in Japan looking to acquire the rights to translate Escaping Infinity into Japanese and release it in Japan. Wow. Sadly, they decided to pass, but it was nice to know it was good enough for them to consider.


September started out on a high note on the very first day of the month when I was notified that Escaping Infinity had earned an Honorable Mention in the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. Two days later, the Dragon Awards were announced and my novel came up short to the incredible writing duo of James S.A. Corey, of Syfy channel’s The Expanse fame. Kind of hard to beat that. Then the month went to hell in a handbasket. On the very day I was making a two-hour guest appearance on The Writer’s Block, my very good friend and a 2016 Dragon Award Finalist, Gibson Michaels suffered a fatal heart attack. I cannot say with any certainty that the pain of that loss has faded yet, nor that it will ever fade away anytime soon. I also learned another friend had passed away. Ron Sarhad was a huge help in getting me in contact with former Turlock High football players and his insights on the 1957 State Championship team were huge parts of From The Fields. His friendship will also be sorely missed.

On the 10th I got the first 15-minutes sample of the Audiobook version of Escaping Infinity. A.W. Miller’s narration of my book is great. I was also named editor of the Pluto edition of the nine-volume Planetary Anthology, with Dawn Witzke stepping up to serve as a co-editor. The month drew to a close with me (finally) finishing up the final book of the Jack Del Rio series and getting it ready for its October release.


On the 6th I traveled back to my hometown of Turlock, California to participate in the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the 1957 Turlock High School football teams state championship. On Oct. 30th, Endgames, the final book of the Jack Del Rio series was released, along with an all-three-books-in-one edition of the entire series.


The last two months of the year were filled with a lot of writing, mostly for two books that won’t be out until the spring of 2018 – more on those two projects later – and a couple of additional anthology submissions that I hope will also be out soon in 2018. But Dec. 5th saw a release of a satirical parody of the Dickens’ classic – A Zombie Christmas Carol – and just two days later both volumes of Sherlock Holmes Adventures in the Realm of H.G. Wells was released by Belanger Books. You’ll find my story – the third Holmes’ pastiche I’ve written for a Belanger Books publication – on Page 148 of  the second volume – The Misplaced Mystery Writer. The month closed out on the 21st with my fourth appearance as a co-host on The Writer’s Block – first as a regular co-host as Bobbi Jean will be calling in from her new home in New Mexico – with Jack Adler as the guest. We all had a great discussion about his WWI adventure novel and about WWI itself. The amateur historian in me really enjoyed the show, as well as our pre-show discussion in the green room.

So that was my 2017. It was filled with ups and downs and some pretty wild and amazing moments. But all in all, I’d say it was a good year. And I very much hope you can say the same about yours. I hope we all have an even better 2018.

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