Posts Tagged ‘novel’

I normally don’t make New Year’s resolutions. When I do, they usually don’t last longer than a month or even a week.  But this year, I decided to break from tradition and actually make a resolution: to try new methods to get people interested in my writing. This decision was partially spurred by my earlier decision to try and find a literary agent, as well as from reading a book on marketing and realizing that I needed to change my approach to how I was getting people interested in my fiction.

It’s a hard market out there. If what you’re doing isn’t working, maybe you should try something new.

So if you’re still here and you’re not thinking, “Oh, this is just one of those posts where he blathers on about what’s going on with him and his life”, then you’re probably thinking “How is he doing with that resolution, then?” and “How did he change his approach?”Well, I like to think that so far, so good. This isn’t the sort of resolution that can be objectively measured, like losing so many pounds or bringing your academic scores up. I could measure it by new followers, but not all followers read posts frequently, and only a small fraction are willing to spend money on my books. Book sales can be an indication, as can reads on Wattpad, but to base my success solely on those factors doesn’t seem the wisest course to me. And finally, building an audience is a long and arduous process. This blog took five years to gain as many followers as it has, after all. An audience of readers interested in my books might take even longer.

It’s easier to talk about what I’m doing different. One thing I’ve done is that I’ve stopped doing ads through Facebook and Twitter. Unless you have of big budget like Coca-Cola’s advertising department, ads through those sites usually don’t translate into sales. At the very least, I’m saving money, and that’s never a bad thing.

Another thing I’ve been doing is related to my goal of trying the traditional route again and finding a publisher. That is focusing more on my niche, which is horror. I know, I’ve written and published a lot of sci-fi, but I prefer horror, and what I’m trying to do now is to write more horror stories and trying to get them published in magazines and anthologies. I’m still working on Full Circle, the final book in the Reborn City series, but I’m also devoting more time to horror. The hope is that I can produce enough work and get it published in magazines, building my name as all or a writer, thereby making myself a bit more attractive to horror fans and possibly literary agents and/or publishers.

As of yet, I’ve only submitted one short story, and I’m still waiting to hear back on it. But the next time I take a break from Full Circle, I plan to do some editing and writing, and see what happens. The goal here is to at least get a couple stories published by the end of the year (fingers crossed!).

A third method I’m trying, and this is already producing results, is I’ve started publishing through Wattpad again. Last month, I published my sci-fi novelette Gynoid on that website, and so far I’ve had a positive feedback. There’s been quite a few readers, a couple of votes (which is kind of like “Likes” for that platform), and even a comment or two. One of those comments was from someone who was very relieved to see a certain outcome for one of the characters. That particular comment made me feel very happy, because it showed that the story I wrote and the characters within had people invested.

Sure, Wattpad doesn’t make me any money, but it does give me an audience. And based on Gynoid’s success, I may publish more stories through the website in future, especially for stories that might have a hard time getting placed in magazines.

So that’s what I’m doing right now. It’s a multipronged approach, which is usually what is recommended for any big endeavor like this. Later this year, after I finished the first draft of Full Circle, I plan on editing Rose and shopping that around to agents. Rose really represents not only my growth as a writer, but it is a prime example of the niche I want to write for, so I feel that’s the best novel to shop around to agents and publishing companies. I’m also considering different social media platforms to try out, like Goodreads and Reddit (I know one person who is very active on one of those sites, so I may ask her for advice). If it can work, anything’s on the table.

For now though, I’m just focusing on focusing on my niche and finishing Full Circle. Any resolution that is to be successful takes time, proper planning, and patience. I want this to go well, so I’m not going to rush any of the steps I’m taking to further widen my audience. Will any of it work? Tough to say. But I’m an optimist at heart, and I like to think that this new approach will eventually yield results.

And if you are interested, I’ll give an update in a couple of months or at the end of the year, and let you know how I’m doing. In the meantime, if any of you have any tips on expanding my audience, or places I can look for an agent/publisher, or places that I could potentially publish my stories, let me know. If they work out, I’ll credit you in any post I write about it.

That’s all for now, Followers of Fear. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, so wish me luck. And thank you, as always, for supporting me as I work hard on becoming a great horror novelist.

Lately I’ve been pondering something. Well actually, I’ve been pondering a lot of things, including how kissing is treated in different genre fictions and if swallowing the prize in a cereal box makes you a specially marked package (I ponder a lot of things, some of which are strange and some of which may appear in future blog posts), but this one thing in particular I’d like to explore. In a YouTube video I watched recently, the host of the video pointed out that a lot of movies start out with a protagonist walking in on their spouse having an affair, and how that is supposed to start a journey of transformation. This actually caused me to have an epiphany: a lot of fiction–not just movies–revolve around, or start off with characters being in, being caught, or thinking about having an adulterous relationship.

Like, a lot. A whole lot. Like if it’s not a main focus, then there’s a good chance an adulterous relationship will show up in a story at some point or another. I can think of four Stephen King stories that involve affairs as major plot points. One of the most popular TV shows out right now has an affair as a major plot point (*cough* Scandal *cough*). The novel Gone Girl, one of the most compelling mystery/thrillers of the past decade, has an affair as its catalyst. Adultery is freaking everywhere you read/view/listen!

So this got me thinking on three points. First, why do affairs show up so much in fiction? Second, is this a good trope, or a trope that should be done less? Perhaps even phased out? And third, how often do adulterous relationships appear in my own fiction?

Well, that first point is rather obvious (unfortunately). Adulterous relationships show up so much in fiction because they happen so much in real life (unfortunately). Of course, affairs have happened since the beginning of monogamy, but I’m not so sure they were discussed as openly as they are these days. Affairs were considered vulgar things, so the only places they were really talked about were places where it was okay to discuss that sort of thing: bars, raunchy plays (William Shakespeare was actually considered a very dirty and lowbrow for his time), and the occasional dirty poem (yes, those did exist). In polite society, they were only quietly discussed, and that kind of reflected how often adultery was discussed in fiction, and how it was treated when it was brought up.

Scandal, which revolves around an adulterous relationship (still love you, Olivia).

Nowadays though, for whatever reason, we’re a lot more comfortable discussing adultery. In fact, rather than being something discussed in hushed whispers, adultery can be a major and accepted talking point. When a celebrity or a politician, especially one who preaches family values, is caught having an affair, it gets discussed ad nauseum in checkout lines and on national TV. Websites that facilitate adultery are at the center of major scandals, and advice columns around the world regularly feature letters from people who had discovered their lover has a side lover. There are even people who think that having an affair is healthy, natural, or no big deal. It’s a thing, and it’s pervasive (unfortunately).

And as fiction tends to reflect the real world up to a certain extent–last I checked, there aren’t any real exiled queens with dragons calling her “Mother”– it makes sense that adultery would show up in a lot of fiction.

So that answers the first question. What about the second question? Is the adultery trope a good one, or is it overused to the point that we might want to use it less?

Well, that’s a tricky one. Affairs are so common (unfortunately) that it would seem weird to take them out of all fiction. It’s like war or murder; they’ve happened, and they will continue to happen, so you might as well base a story or two around them. Like it or not, adultery is a part of everyday life, so it will show up in fiction.

I think the thing to keep in mind is just to avoid certain clichés with adultery. Any mystery writer will tell you that the lover killing the victim over jealousy or an affair has been done to death (pun intended), so perhaps one should avoid using that cliché, or find a way to use it so that it actually comes as a surprise rather than being expected, like in Gone Girl. Another cliché to avoid is how finding out your lover had an affair is a signal to go on a journey of self-discovery, or to try something new and exciting. Like I said above, the cliché has been done quite a bit, and it really doesn’t make sense. Affairs can change lives, but I don’t think they are one of those events that suddenly change how you look at life or at yourself. A near death experience, or the realization that you become everything you didn’t want to be, maybe. But walking in on your spouse? I think that’s a more likely to cause a shouting match. Maybe an alcohol binge or a murder, but probably not a journey of self-discovery.

And while we’re on the subject, nearly all the affairs in that cliché I mentioned involve the wife or the girlfriend doing the cheating, which is odd because most affairs involve the husband or boyfriend. That’s not some anti-male sexism, that’s just statistics. We could balance it out a little more.

I guess the answer I’ve come to is that if you’re going to have an affair in your story, and it’s going to be a major plot points, make sure it’s not subject to tiresome clichés we’ve seen a thousand times.

And now to my final point how much does adultery show up in my own fiction? And yes, I have to make this a major point of this post. This is my blog about my writing, and all authors who share their work with others are a little narcissistic, including me. Can you blame me?

Surprisingly, not that much. I’ve thought about a number of stories I’ve written since I was ten years old, and of those, adultery shows up in maybe three or four. Only to really come to mind. One was a vampire novel I wrote in high school that was really me exploring my own sexuality before I was aware of it (see this post for more details), and the other was a recent short story. In the latter example, I only spent about a paragraph on the affair. It serves as one of the reasons why another character commits a double murder, but it’s far from the main focus, which is actually the environment of the characters. I actually have plenty of story ideas that involve adultery, but I haven’t gotten around to writing them, and they are a minority among all the other stories I’ve come up with but have been written yet.

Whether we like it or not, adultery will continue to appear in fiction for a long time to come.

I think this might be because adultery is just not an issue I want to focus on. Outside of a few shows I watch, I’m not very interested in adultery. This might be because I’m not interested in romantic relationships in general, or because they’re just other tropes that I would prefer to work with. Not only that, but adultery is rarely that scary. I am all or a writer, I prefer to write about scary things. Monsters, ghosts, the horrors that mankind is capable of, the fear of things that could happen to us if things were just a little different. Unless you’re dating a psychopath or something, adultery is not really that scary. The biggest fear is getting caught, and in most fiction, that is what happens. Not much incentive for a horror writer to focus on adultery. Or at least not this horror writer.

But who knows? Adultery could show up in more stories in the future. My style is still evolving, so anything is possible.

Adultery is sadly very common, which means it will continue to show up in fiction for generations to come. However, the way we use adultery in our fiction can be highly a versatile, and that ensures that it won’t be a trope that will get tired anytime soon. Just avoid the clichés, and if you don’t care to use adultery in your stories, don’t. For every writer who isn’t comfortable running about such a subject, there is always one who is.

What’s your take on adultery in fiction?

Reborn City

Reborn City

Well, this took longer to do than expected. I started writing this novel in November, and it’s late February now. I hope this isn’t an indication of how long the rest of the novel will take.

So if you’re unaware, for the past couple of months I’ve been working on Full Circle, the final novel in my Reborn City trilogy.The RC trilogy follows the Hydras, a superpowered street gang living in a dystopian future. Amongst its main themes are the horrors of prejudice and hatred, gang violence, drug addiction, and above all, learning to overcome what you and what others think of you.

I started writing this trilogy in high school, and it is so crazy that I’m finally on the last book. Even better, I made it to the first real milestone. Okay, technically with thirty-five chapters, there is no even point where it’s off the fourth of the way through, but being nine chapters and is close enough. And while as a first draft this novel is going to need a lot of work (pretty sure that the first two chapters are going to need lots of revision), I think I’m off to a very good start. I’m doing a good job of reintroducing the world to readers who haven’t been back in a while, introduce some really cool villains, and set up an intriguing plot. Plus, I feel like this novel is going to show how much I’ve matured as a writer. You really get this on mature sense of style and storytelling from reading this book. Even if it isn’t horror, this might be my best work yet in some respects.

All right, now for page and word count, which is something I always include with these updates. In terms of pages (which means 8.5″ x 11″ size pages with 12-point Times New Roman font and double-spaced lines), the total is 106 pages, with the average page number per chapter being 11.7. In terms of word count, the total is 30,313, a decent-sized novella, with the average word count per chapter being 3,368. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

So how will things go from here on out? Well, despite my worries at the beginning of this post, I’ve actually started speeding up my writing. This is in thanks mostly to Dragon, a speech to text software that I bought and downloaded onto my computer. Basically what I do is I narrate the story myself, and Dragon puts what I say on the page. What might take me two hours to write now takes closer to a half hour, forty-five minutes. It’s quite handy, and I plan to do a full post on it on Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors in the near future.

Book 2: Video Rage

Book 2: Video Rage

The point being, hopefully it won’t take another four months for me to reach the halfway point of the novel (which I’ll say is Chapter 18 for simplicity’s sake). And I have some interesting chapters coming up, so that’s even more reason to write. Chapter 10 is going to give us a look at most of the villains in this book, and I’m really looking forward to exploring them a little bit. I’ve actually made some of them a little scary. Like, Stephen King – style psycho crazy villain scary. And I always have fun writing those sorts of characters.

Plus we have some new revelations about certain characters, a little character development, and a location I’ve been saving to explore for this last book. Should be fun.

Well, that’s all for now. If any of what I’ve said here is made you want to check out the Reborn City trilogy, I’ll include the links below. And if you do decide to check out my books, please let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love feedback and I would love to hear yours.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares!

Reborn City:  Available on Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & NobleiBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

Video Rage: Available from Amazon, Kindle, CreatespaceBarnes & Noble, iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo.

Cover of Snake by Rami Ungar

I wasn’t planning on posting anything this weekend, but then this popped up on Amazon last night and, you know me, I have to post all the reviews. Either because of its length (576 pages in paperback) or because of its subject matter, Snake is one of my least reviewed books, which has always puzzled and surprised me, since I’ve always loved this book and enjoyed writing it immensely. The last review was from nearly two years ago! So I’m very glad I have a new review to feature today.

If you’re unfamiliar with Snake, this is a thriller/horror novel I wrote in college between Reborn City and Video Rage. Here’s the description from the back cover blurb:

How far will you go for love and revenge? When a young man’s girlfriend is kidnapped by the powerful Camerlengo Family, he becomes the Snake, a serial killer who takes his methods from the worst of the Russian mafia. Tracking down members of the Camerlengo Family one by one for clues, the Snake will go to any lengths to see the love of his life again…even if it means becoming a worse monster than any of the monsters he is hunting.

So yeah, this is one where you root for the serial killer. This novel was really influenced by slasher films and James Patterson novels (from before he sold out). I told you, some people look at the subject material and are like, “Nope.”

Anyway, let’s talk about the new review. It came sometime yesterday, and I noticed it this morning over breakfast. The reviewer’s username is Chasley T, and he gave Snake four stars out of five. His review is titled Most people ignore anything with 5 stars (hence the 4 star rating), but this book honestly does deserve 5 stars, and–wait, what? Is that true? I’ve never heard of that before. Do people actually ignore 5 star reviews or anything with a majority of 5-star reviews? I’ll have to look into that some time.

Anyway, here’s what Chasley T. had to say about Snake:

I’m someone who really enjoys horror stories/darker reads, and because of this I am very picky with my ratings of these types of books. I’ve seen most plots and plot twists, so I’m not taken by surprise very often and I am VERY stingy with positive reviews since the type of stories I like usually all have a similar plot.

That being said…I LOVED this book. I’ve seen this type of story before, but the way Rami Ungar crafts a cliché plot into a suspenseful, brutal, and rhythmic story puts Snake into a category all of its own. If you’re squeamish, you have been warned that there are some really graphic scenes in this novel.

If you’re a fan of dark plots, this book is a 100% must read.

I’m glad you liked it, Chasley. Part of my aim for this story was to give the typical slasher story and give it new life and a new perspective. I’m happy someone noticed that.

And this mirrors what a lot of other people have said about Snake as well:

I really enjoyed this book. When I selected “dark” for the mood, it was almost a toss up with suspenseful. You knew early on who the mafia killer was, but the question of how he was going to find his girlfriend and rescue her was suspenseful. I ended up choosing “dark” because of the level of violence our main character used in getting to the girlfriend. But he was a complex character. Even though he definitely had the dark side to him, there was a surprisingly good side to him, too. You don’t really see this until later on in the book. So early on, you might think this is an unredeemable character. But one of the most intriguing characters are those who aren’t what they initially seem, and for this reason, I enjoyed this character. The pacing was just right. It wasn’t rushed, and in no way did I ever feel it dragged, which is awesome for a book that was over 500 pages in paperback.

This book is violent, and it contains sexual situations. Some of it can be cringeworthy. So I wouldn’t suggest this for young readers. I’d recommend this only to adults. If it was a movie, it would be a strong R. There’s also swearing. These things don’t bother me as a reader, but I know it bothers some, which is why I mention it. But if you don’t mind these elements, I think you will enjoy this book. It’s a great thriller.

–Ruth Ann Nordin, author of Groom for Hire

This book is another awesome creation by Rami. This book is scary and brings the reader to the depths of how evil the human character can be and how anyone can be driven to commit acts of torture. The author does a wonderful job of developing the plot and characters and there are certainly twists and turns. I highly recommend reading this book if you love a good frightening thrill.

–ENJ

Rami Ungar makes a promise to (the reader) in all his writings: he WILL scare you, and if he does “his job is done.” Snake will scare you. I am a huge Stephen King fan, so this should give you some idea of my tolerance level for gore, death and mayhem – I was scared. Rami takes you into places you would never have believed possible, and manages to pull his hero (and eventually his heroine) out of them against all odds. If you like to be scared. If you LOVE to be scared. You should read this book.

Angela Misri, author of No Matter How Improbable

If you think Snake sounds interesting enough to read and would like to find out more, it’s available in paperback and e-book with the links below. And if you do read it, I hope you’ll leave me a review with your thoughts on the book. Positive or negative, I love feedback from readers, and it helps me improve my game as a writer.

That’s all for now. I’ll probably post again when the first part of Gynoid comes out. Until then, have a great weekend, my Followers of Fear.

Snake: Available from AmazonCreatespace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo

getpart

It’s been a while, but I’ve got a great interview for you guys. Today’s guest is all the way from the land down under. And no, it’s not Mad Max. This one’s way more interesting. No, she’s a fantasy writer originally from New Jersey who’s been writing since college, and making up stories well before then. Her current series is the critically acclaimed Shadow Stalker series, with three books out currently. She’s also a friend to other writers, helping them showcase and advertise their work on her websites. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Renee Scattergood!

RU: Welcome Renee. First question: tell us how you got into writing, and what draws you to your current genre.

RS: That’s an interesting story. I’ve always loved making up and telling stories for as long as I can remember, but it never occurred to me to write them down. Probably because I was terrible in English and thought you had to be good in English to be a writer. It wasn’t until I was in college, and my English instructor told me I should consider getting some of my work published that I started considering writing as a viable career. Still, it took me several years to build up the courage to do it.

As far as my draw to fantasy: well, as a kid I loved fantasy because it was an escape from the real world. What kid isn’t drawn in by magic and the possibility of the existence of fantastical creatures and worlds? As a writer, I love being able to create those worlds and allow my characters to explore in them. It’s a great outlet for my very overactive imagination.

RU: The Shadow Stalker series is about a girl who is destined to enslave the people of her world. How did you come up with that story idea?

RS: I wanted to do something different and write a story about someone who was a “good guy”, but had the potential to become the bad guy. This was long before I came up with the idea for Shadow Stalker. When I started developing the story for Shadow Stalker, the idea just popped into my head. Most prophecies are about a hero that will save the world. What if there was one about someone who was meant to destroy it? How would that person try to prevent that from happening…and is it possible?

RU: You have this main character named Auren. Tell us a bit about her?

RS: Hmmm… what can I say about her without giving too much away? She is very stubborn and determined. She is a free-spirit and doesn’t like to be contained. But she is in a position where these traits could lead her to do something she doesn’t want to do. Her determination makes her strong, though.

shadow-stalker-part-1-resized-large-72-dpi

RU: Where do you see the Shadow Stalker series going? How long do you think it’ll be in the end?

RS: Well, I don’t want to give away the ending. That would just ruin it for everyone. I can tell you the entire serial is a total of 24 episodes that are about the length of a short story. It’s further broken down into four parts of six episodes. I’m currently writing Part 4, which is episodes 19 through 24.

RU: If you’re lucky enough to be read hundreds of years from now, what would you like people to take away from the Shadow Stalker series?

RS: That no matter what, each one of us carves our own paths in life and choose our own fates. Even if we’re meant to do something, even if it’s something we don’t really want to do, we can choose how we do it and how we will affect the world around us.

RU: Tell us how you approach writing. Do you have a routine or any ritual you follow to write?

RS: I have a daughter with ASD and ADHD, so routines as far as writing are non-existent. I essentially write when I have time to do it. I try to write every day, even if it’s just a paragraph.

RU: Who would you say your influences are?

RS: This is always a hard question for me to answer because I’m influenced in some way by every author I read. As far as my biggest influence, I guess you can say George Lucas is the one who sparked my imagination and love for storytelling when I was eight. After seeing Star Wars for the first time, I was hooked on the idea of creating my own worlds and characters.

RU: What do you enjoy reading when you’re not writing?

RS: I read mainly fantasy, and in the last couple of years I’ve read mostly self-published books. I’ve found that I have an easier time finding a good book written by an indie author than something that is traditionally published.

RU: What is some advice you would give to other writers, regardless of experience or background?

RS: No matter what happens, don’t give up. The only way you can fail as a writer (or at anything in life) is if you stop trying. If you have a bad experience, learn from it and move on. You can only get better, and eventually you will succeed.

RU: Finally, if you were stuck on a desert island for a while and could only bring three books with you, which would you take?

RS: Wow, that would be hard. I love so many books. Maybe the first three books in the Emperor’s Edge series by Lindsay Buroker. I can read those again and again and never get sick of them.

RU: Well, thanks for stopping by, Renee. Great to have you here.

If you would like to check out Renee’s stuff, you can head over to her website at www.reneescattergood.com, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.  And if you would like to be interviewed, head to my Interviews page and leave a comment. I’m normally very happy to interview any author with a book or two out there.

Well, I’m writing this at a time I’m normally preparing for bed, but what can I say? When you’re on a roll and nearing the end, you just don’t stop writing.

Now, if you didn’t know, I’m taking a short break from working on Full Circle to work on some short stories. This particular short story, The Red Burst, is one I particularly had fun writing. The story is about a man and his husband who go to visit the former’s sister in a small town, only to find out that something that gives off bursts of red light (hence the title) is driving the residents insane. It’s definitely a dark story, and it’s special too for a number of reasons. One is that this story is very HP Lovecraft-influenced in many ways.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with HP Lovecraft, he’s a horror author who wrote during the first half of the twentieth century, and has become very influential since (see my posts on my forays into his work, Part 1 and Part 2). A lot of his themes include the idea that humanity are ants in the grand scheme of things, that there’s no real meaning to existence, and that there might be things in the universe that are bigger than us and might see us as a food source or playthings. This is called cosmic horror, and I tired to incorporate those themes into The Red Burst. I got so hooked on the Lovecraft aspect of the story, I actually started reading his work again, and I listened to Lovecraft-themed relaxation videos on YouTube while I wrote the story (yes, those are a thing. Look up Ephemeral Rift on YouTube if you’re interested).

Another thing I liked about this story was that I got to incorporate a gay couple into the story. Even better, a Jewish gay couple! I like having diverse characters in my stories, and I know a lot of LGBT Jewish couples, so it was interesting having that sort of couple in the story, portraying not just their relationship but also their faith and how the events of the story affect that faith. I have a feeling though some of those LGBT couples I know will be coming up to me asking if I based the characters on them. The answer to that, of course, is no, because they haven’t done anything horrible enough to warrant that treatment from me.

And a final thing that I enjoyed with writing the story was that I got to use a drone in it! I don’t know why, but including modern elements in horror stories is just a blast for me. It’s like, “look, there’s a powerful demon from Hell, and now there’s an augmented reality game!” Or, “there’s a ghost after me, but at the same time, superhero franchises!” It’s like they don’t go together, but at the same time you make them go together, and it’s an incredible result. Plus with some, like the drone, you feel like there aren’t that many stories with the same elements in them, so you’re kind of exploring new territory. It’s a real thrill.

So what’s next for this story? Well, I’ll give it some time and return to it at a later date to edit it. It’s around 7,500 words, but I’ve discovered quite a few Lovecraft-themed magazines that are open to longer stories, so I may find this one a home. And if it does get published, I think people will really enjoy it. Especially Lovecraft fans who like a story with his themes but without language that was prevalent in early 19th century.

In the meantime, I’ll return to Full Circle ASAP and get to work on finishing that. I still have quite a ways to go, but after working on some short stories involving werewolves, cars, and insanity-causing red lights, I think some gangster science fiction shouldn’t be too hard. I’ll let you guys know if there’s anything new going on when the time comes.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear! Pleasant nightmares!

Well, I’m doing that thing where authors look at the year before and be hopeful about the year to come. And I have to say, 2016 was not the easiest year to deal with. Even the people who called 2015 shitty say 2016 was worse. Many people we cared about, from celebrities to icons to just ordinary loved ones, died. The world was rocked by a number of incidents, big and small, that showed that hate and prejudice is still alive and well in many countries one would consider tolerant (let alone the openly-intolerant countries). Groups like ISIS, and events like Brexit and the American presidential election left people the world over confused and terrified about the future. Illnesses and conflicts and starvation raged, and people suffered.

And movies that were supposed to be great, like Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, and Ghostbusters, either were terrible or didn’t make the money they should’ve (stuff like that bums me out).

Yeah, this year has been tough. But there have been some amazing things, good things, that have happened this year. We have comedians like Trevor Noah and Jon Oliver and Samantha Bee, who are using their platforms to educate people about existing issues and even find ways to do some good. Thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria and other areas have found homes in more stable countries, and have started rebuilding their lives. Celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson are using their fame to fight for issues like feminism and equal pay. Hollywood is putting out more movies and TV shows that reflect their viewers, including black-ish, Speechless, and the Fast & Furious movies, to name a few, and while there are still missteps here and there, this shows that the makers of our media care about our opinions. And we nearly had our first female president! It didn’t happen, and it would’ve been cool if it did, but it still shows how far this country has come in terms of women’s rights. And the world got Tape Face from America’s Got Talent. I swear, I could watch his video every day, he’s so clever with the visual gags!

But wait, there’s more! This from YouTube and Vine star Thomas Saunders on reasons to smile:

God, that’s a lot of good, isn’t it? I wish he would’ve added Lucifer on that TV show listing though. That show makes my day!

On a more personal level, 2016 actually went pretty well for me. Yeah, all the nasty stuff I mentioned up above bummed me out, but there were many good things this past year. For one, my mother got married to her partner of several years, which was made possible by the 2015 Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage nationwide. That was a blast, and something I was glad to see finally pass. My mother and stepmother are so happy together, and I’m glad they get to be together in the eyes of the law as well.

Around that time, I got offered a couple of jobs/internships! One of them was here in Columbus, and it translated into a full position that I’m still working at right now. It’s a great job, where I’m promoting diversity in my organization with an office full of good people, and getting great pay and benefits while I do it.

In addition, my job has allowed me to move out of my dad’s house and into my own apartment, and even to buy new furniture and a new laptop. I’m paying all my bills on time and still have money to save, which is huge for me! And if things continue to go as they are, who knows? I could even get a cat or save up for a dream vacation to the UK and Ireland! I would love for those to happen.

My sciatica has improved! Yes, for those of you who don’t know, I have sciatica, a condition in which a nerve in the back is squished by spinal discs, causing severe pain in one leg and the lower back. I’ve had this since some time around graduation, but over the summer and through fall and beginning of winter, I started doing some new exercises and other stuff to improve my condition. At the time I’m writing this, I feel only mild discomfort, and sometimes not even that. By next summer, I could be completely cured of it!

This got published!

This got published!

But that’s not all. I released a new book, Video Rage, back in June, and it’s finally started to get some reviews! In addition, nearly all of my books have received new reviews this yer, and more people are discovering them every day. Heck, even my coworkers are reading my books! And on the social media side of things, my blog has grown, accruing nearly 900 subscribers, and passing the five-thousand like milestone. And pretty soon, I’ll be passing the fifty-thousand views milestones. One of my posts actually went kind of viral, garnering over nine-hundred views in the first five weeks of being published, and receiving more views since then.

But there’s more! I started the final book in the Reborn City series, and as of the most recent chapter, I’m a sixth of the way through the book! I could have it released sometime next year! I’ve also written several short stories, and I’ve had some great ideas, both for stories and for strategies to make sure more people discover and read my books. I can’t wait to put some of these to work.

Look folks, this has been a tough year. But for everything I’ve said above, and stuff I haven’t said, it’s been a pretty good one too. And while a lot about 2017 looks scary, we can do a lot to make it a great year. It’ll take some work, but we can make 2017 suck less than 2016 did (I can even post about some of my ideas on how to do just that in another post if you guys want), and to achieve all that we ream.

So will I make a thousand followers? Will I publish another novel and some short stories? Will I get an agent or a contract with a publishing company? Will I get a cat or that vacation? Will we cure AIDS, or improve education, or save the environment? Will the new American president be good at his job? I can’t say with any certainty. But it’s what I hope for. And if not, I’ll do all I can to improve that situation.

Happy New Year, my Followers of Fear. May 2017 bless you and leave you with plenty of reason to smile.