2021. The year that looked at 2020 and said, “Hold my beer.” With a failed insurrection under our belts, a pandemic still rolling across the country, vaccine reluctance giving the virus fertile soil to mutate into nasty variants, and an unexpected job loss that had us hunkering down and counting pennies until we had income coming in again, to say it’s been stressful has been an understatement.
So, with *gestures wildly* everything going on, what have I managed to accomplish? Surprisingly, a fair amount. We won’t discuss the unhealthy coping mechanism of disassociation, right? Right. So, ignoring that possible mental health crisis, let’s dive in.
As folks might have noticed, the website has been busier than it’s ever been. Back in June, I settled on a monthly theme, Romance Tropes, pre-wrote the articles, and scheduled them for the last Tuesday of the month. It was a lovely excuse to recommend some of my favorite books, examine the tropes I enjoy (and those I don’t), and fill in some space here which, let’s be honest, has been pretty barren up to this year.
On top of that, I’ve started adding weekly flash pieces when I can. Most have been micro-flash, coming in at 200 words or so, but a few longer pieces have snuck in here or there. Nothing in November, of course, since that was dedicated to a NaNoWriMo project.
And lastly, I did a bit of reorganizing of the site. All the individual series pages were combined into a book page with links to the series from there. Currently, I’m concentrating on two active series set in the same universe: The Edgeworld Chronicles which are M/M SciFi Romance (or maybe they’re Space Opera? I’m not certain) and the Wolves of Sorrow which are M/F SciFi Romance (again, possibly Space Opera). Free shorts and a list of my flash pieces are linked in the top menu as well as on the Books tab. Any short/flash piece connected to a series is linked from that series. Hopefully, it’s easier to navigate this way.
Also, if there’s anything you’d like to see on the page, drop me a note! I’ll see what I can do.
Writing has been really good for me after the disaster that was 2020 (and, let’s be fair, at least a year or so before that). I’ve written and published one short novel/long novella—Wolves of Sorrow: Shoba, finally completed the major rewrite of Draxton (Edgeworld Chronicles #2), and have wrapped up the rough draft of Brienne, second in Wolves of Sorrow.
First off, Shoba. I’m incredibly pleased with this book. She’s a snarly wolf who’s never really belonged anywhere. He’s the offworlder ship captain who answered their distress beacon. It’s short, barely over 50K words, and resulted from a writing prompt given by a crafting group I’m part of. After writing to the second prompt, the rest of the story just unfolded. The Wolves of Sorrow are stories about one pack of the descendants of the original Genetics Modification experiments before they perfected their process enough to create Petri. There are other packs remaining on Earth Prime, other species such as the cougars and the adders. Fertile ground for all sorts of adventures.
Once Shoba was in the hands of the beta readers, I started banging away on Draxton’s Destiny. The second in the Edgeworld Chronicles, Draxton started as a flash serial. And like Petri, it needed severe revision. What works in serial format doesn’t always work in a novel format, especially when you’re writing to prompts. So, after trying to shoe-horn new material into the old, I decided to start with a clean slate. Draxton became less of a revision than a full rewrite and fought me all the way. I prevailed, but I’m still not pleased with all of it. But words on the page are better than nothing at all, and I have a better starting point for my next round of edits. Now that NaNo’s over with, Draxton will get my full attention.
Edited before this went live: After the initial pass through of Draxton, it doesn’t suck as badly as I feared. I’m still tweaking but it’s getting closer and will put out a call for beta readers soon. The third in that series, and probably last, will center around the Ravyn. The mysterious Velen’Daar pirate who’s searching for his lost brother will wrap up the story nicely. I know there’ll be at least one short story/novella centering on Fieryl and Ta’Naii and possibly some flash pieces, but I haven’t thought beyond that. Draxton’s fought me enough.
Finally, Brienne. Midway through the year I’d considered doing NaNo again, and this seemed like the perfect project. Wolves of Sorrow are on the shorter end of the word count needed to make a novel—novels are 40K and up, novellas 17K-40K. It started off well, and then stagnated when I realized I wasn’t sure who Brienne really was and what drove her. Once I got that in mind, it went fairly easily. I ended NaNo at just over 51K, a perfect length for this series. This book takes place four months after Shoba. I’m hoping the beta readers will let me know if the first is a requirement or if Brienne can be read as a standalone.
So…what’s next? It’s a toss up between the third and final book in the Edgeworld Chronicles centering on the Ravyn, the third Wolves of Sorrow book (possibly Peter’s book), or something new. I need to work on the Ravyn. I kind of want to work on the next Sorrow book. I’ll make a decision next year after I’ve beaten Draxton into submission.
And here is where I’ve fallen down. I haven’t been able to get into new series. At all. I’ve enjoyed books set in established series. I’ve done a massive shit-ton of re-reads. But completely new stuff has been difficult, especially after the job loss mentioned above. I’ve needed things I knew I could trust. Nalini Singh remains my go-to author for a comfort read, and I’ve reread most of her Psy/Changeling series this year, but there have been a few standouts.
Currently Reading (as of 03Dec2021): Fated Blades, Ilona Andrews. This is set in a lesser-known Andrews series, the Kinsmen – more space opera than true science fiction. I’m only 39 pages in and should be finished by the time this goes live. Right now, though I can’t comment too much on the story, but it’s Ilona Andrews. They’re a solid team who releases great books. I don’t expect to be disappointed.
Update 20Dec2021: Fated Blades was as awesome as you’d expect from the Andrews team. Ramona is a badass, and Matias is a good match for her. It was a lovely return to the Kinsmen world, and I’d love to see more…especially centering around Ramona’s brother, Karion.
Most Anticipated Book: Hands down, Archangel’s Light, Nalini Singh. The fourteenth (14!) book in her Guild Hunter series, Archangel’s Light is the one book I didn’t expect to ever get from her. It’s the ultimate “friends to lovers” trope—a same-sex romance between Illium and Aodhan, two angels who’ve known each other since they were children. It’s been a slow build over the series, and while it’ll have its objectors, I think she set the stage for it well leading up to this book. Gorgeous cover, lovely book, highly recommended.
Biggest Surprise: Suddenly Psychic, Elizabeth Hunter. Call me ageist, but I’ve put off reading any of the Paranormal Women’s Fiction books being released. While the characters are close to my age, they’re a little too close for comfort. I don’t enjoy menopause, hot flashes, dealing with mouthy teens, etc and wasn’t keen on reading about someone else doing that even with a backdrop of the paranormal behind them. But some authors are just so good you’re willing to take a chance. I won’t say it’s my favorite book of hers, and I doubt it’ll be placed on a re-read cycle, but it was enjoyable, and I’ll grab the others in the series. Wow. Run-on sentence runs on and on.
So, that’s it for 2021. Publication schedule for early next year depends on the depths of this next editing pass on Draxton versus the beta readers’ comments on Brienne. I’d hoped to get Draxton out first, but if it continues to fight me, it may have to be pushed to Summer, 2022, with Brienne taking its late winter spot. Releasing two books in a year will be a first for me, so regardless of order, I’m giddy.
For those who got this far, thank you for reading. Thank you for hanging in there when I went dark for so long. And finally, if you’ve bought a book or told someone to buy a book or left a review anywhere, thank you a million times over. It means so much to me.
Happy New Year and may 2021 yeet itself into the sun.