Looking Back & Forward

As so many others do at this time of year, this past week I’ve been reflecting back on the dumpster fire that was 2020. Not from a personal or political standpoint, but an authorial one.

Last year was the year I started tracking sales of my short stories, a category all the experts say is a hard sell. While I would have preferred to see higher numbers than I did, I was pleased every time someone took a chance on my writing. While I would have preferred more of those readers leave reviews, at least I did not get bad reviews. Self-publishing short stories, especially in the Speculative Fiction and Western genres, is always a crap-shoot, and I’m satisfied with the lessons I learned from my experiment.

One of the other things I learned last year is just how difficult it is to make new connections with new readers. I focused much more on my blog and newsletter over the past twelve months, and my mailing list saw a small increase in folks trusting me with their inboxes. I also dabbled a little more in flash fiction and even sent a couple of pieces out to flash fiction magazines. Both pieces were rejected, but both markets have high refusal rates so I tried not to let their rejections sting too much. 

I also invested more in learning my craft. The writing craft has more layers than baklava, and I don’t think writers ever stop learning. The past year saw me dedicate more time and focus on becoming a better writer. I reached out into the professional law-enforcement world and made connections with folks who answered so many questions about forensics, the law-enforcement world in general and how things were done in law-enforcement here in Canada. Because I want to be sure that I’ve done all I could to write my made-up worlds with as much accuracy as I can. My readers deserve that.  

I also submitted my mystery novel to a publisher. It was very politely declined and so I’ve been working on strengthening, adding layers and elements I thought of after it had left my hands (as is always the way) and just generally trying to make it stronger.

To my way of thinking, 2020 was the year of lessons. Not as successful as I’d hoped, but definitely not a failure either.

Looking forward, I’ve already decided on my goals for 2021.

  • Collect all my “Frizzle” dragon stories and compile them into an anthology. Release these in time for Easter.
  • Finish the rewrite on “Body In The Bush” (previously referred to as ‘the mystery’)
  • Collect and compile all my “darker” short stories and flash fiction into an anthology in time for Halloween
  • Outline the sequel to Body In The Bush
  • Collect all my holiday stories into a holiday anthology and release in early December
  • Build a collection of writing for my (still fledgling) Patreon patrons
  • Continue to develop my writing craft 

I think all of that should keep me fairly busy.

What goals would you like to reach for in the New Year? Let me know in the comments below, or in an email if you’d prefer.(dragonquillca@gmail.com) Either way, I’d love to hear from you!

Body In The Bush…Wait…Where?

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Here in the North, I am surrounded by the bush, so it made sense to have my Detective Anais Quinn live here too. But non-Northern readers may not be familiar with “the bush”.

So let me explain.

Wikipedia explains it best, “In northern Canada, “the bush” refers to the massive expanse of primarily coniferous trees that sprawl undeveloped. The term is not generally used in the southern parts of the country.

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Bush flying refers to aircraft operations carried out in the bush. Bush flying involves operations in rough terrain where there are often no prepared landing strips or runways, frequently necessitating that bush planes be equipped with abnormally large tires, floats or skis. (This is what Anne’s (Anais’ aunt) boyfriend, Jackson Orr does for a living.) It is, even in this day and age, a hard reality that many Northern communities rely heavily on this form of transportation for everything from mail, groceries, building supplies, medical care, and much more.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into a small part of what makes us Canadian. If you did, I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter. It comes out approximately once a month and contains news about my writing, tidbits of my world like this one, behind-the-scenes looks at the process of writing a novel, and from time to time, newsletter subscriber-exclusive goodies! You can find a link to sign up at the top of this page. Or failing that, drop me an email and I can sign you up.

Until next time!

Tim Hortons, Poutine and A Fake Romance

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I’m not normally enthused by ‘fake-romance’ stories, but honestly, what got me to give this one a chance was the cover. It reached out and grabbed me right away. Not only does it depict a city I am very familiar with and have fond memories of, but it is a gorgeous cover!

Through skilled storytelling, you get to know all the characters fairly well, with only a couple of exceptions. These are very minor characters, so it’s easy to understand. There are so many bits of Toronto in here that any reader familiar with the city will recognize them, but not so many that it will put off readers not familiar with the city. (I was especially thrilled to see Tim Hortons and poutine make an appearance!)
The author has given us not only well-drawn characters but two very determined main characters. One is a little more sure of what she wants than the other, but their dynamic is so real, that their determination carries the plot through the slower parts. It’s not all roses and unicorns though. There is pettiness, jealousy, courage, understanding, ambition and greed here. There is an undercurrent of society-induced hesitation about a business leader being a lesbian, but trust me, it works out better than you expect in the end.

I was almost as fascinated by the author’s notes at the end of the book. They added another dimension of enjoyment that was quite unexpected and refreshing.

This is absolutely, definitely, without question going on my ‘READ THIS AGAIN’ pile!

Thanks to Bella and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thanks also to Sheryl Wright for an absorbing and entertaining novel.

Concerning A Grimoire…

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I don’t normally read paranormal tales of Shifters and Elves and assorted folk who populate some Other-World. The story has to have a promising premise for me to even read a few pages. There have been a few that I couldn’t possibly turn away from. My last piece is evidence of that. But now, another novel filled with Other-Worlds has crossed my path and I wanted to tell you about it.

“The Grimoire of Kensington Market” by Lauren B. Davis lauren-b-davis

It tells the story of an otherworldly drug crisis wherein the city becomes consumed by demand for elysium, a new drug that lets users literally transport to another world. 

Bookstore owner Maggie is one of the few holdouts to the drug, which has a nasty tendency to turn deadly. Unfortunately, her brother Kyle isn’t so lucky and Maggie finds herself on a dangerous mission to rescue him from the so-called Silver World. A dark fairy tale for Toronto (based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”)

I’m a sucker for tales set in Toronto, having spent a good deal of my formative youth there. Throw in damaged and all-too-human characters and I’m willing to give it another look. And for that book’s author to have such a seemingly keen understanding of the timelessness of fairy tales to include this comment by C.S. Lewis, “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again”, promises me something a little different. A glimpse at the author’s blog gives me a good idea of the woman behind the novel, and that just set the hook, so to speak.

So I’m in. I’ll be picking up this book just as soon as I can.

 

What are you reading these days? You are reading, right?