2022 in Review

Looking back over the last year

It’s been an interesting year.

Today is Dec 31, 2022 and for me, it’s a day to look backwards to see where I’m coming from and where I’ve been. I assess the things that worked, the things that didn’t, and use that to lay out my goals and resolutions for the coming year.

2022, was a year of beginnings for me. For the first time, I started treating writing seriously,as something more than “Oh, that’s something I’d like to try. Following some great advice I got at the tail end of 2021, I wrote and sold a story. Since then, I’ve tried a few more, but nothing else has sold.

And that’s okay; I’m still learning this author gig.

I stepped outside of my comfort zone, and did some things differently. Lissa and I went to several conventions this year, and instead of focusing on having fun, I began to emphasize learning more about the job and craft of writing fiction. That journey culminated in 20Books Vegas, where I met some amazing people and learned exactly how much I need to learn to make this a success.

I recorded an audio version of my story and sent it out to a fe volunteers who listened and gave me some very encouraging feedback. I’m incorporating their suggestions in the final edit, and will post it on Amazon soon.

For the coming year, I’m setting several ambitious goals for myself, and I’ll share those tomorrow.

There are plenty of regrets and lots of things I wish I’d done differently, but the only thing I can do about those is learn, and do better moving forward.

And that’s what tomorrow’s post will be about!

Crow Moon cover

Crow Moon by Cedar Sanderson

.Crow Moon coverCrow Moon is a collection of eight short fantasy tales by writer, editor, artist, publisher, and lord knows what else Cedar Sanderson. Sanderson, who did the art for the cover, also produced artwork for each of the stories. something that set this book apart, and made it worthwhile to purchase a physical copy instead of just the ebook.

Each one of the stories carry with it a sense of wonder, sometimes sweet, sometimes sad, and sometimes awful, in both meanings of the word. The characters span a wide range, from simple people and quiet heroes to monster slaying avatars of dark gods, but they are each defined by their sense of duty, or obligation. The stories revolve around what they are willing to do, what sacrifices they are willing to make in order to fulfill that duty. In other hands, these stories could easily become heavy and overbearing, but Sanderson uses a lighter touch. Instead of bearing down on the weight her characters carry, she focuses instead on how they carry it, showing that courage is not always found in fighting a dragon; sometimes it’s in answering a simple question for a little boy.

Sanderson writes these stories almost like an artist’s sketch. Rather than go into great detail about the settings, the characters, and the backstory, she chooses instead to provide just enough detail to bring the reader into the story. Her deft touch leaves plenty of room for the reader to fill in scenes with their own imagination, and to integrate their own emotions into the story. Reading is always a collaborative process between the writer and the reader; Sanderson brings the reader more deeply into that collaboration, which magnifies the emotional impact of each story.

All eight stories are good reads, but for me, three stand out above the others.

First is Milkweed. I’ve never read anything that so well evokes what it means to be a woman, a wife, and a mother.

Second is A Breathe of Air. It’s short, but Sanderson packs so many emotions into each sentence. The impact builds slowly then hits you right between the eyes. It’s a gorgeous story.

Finally, The Domovoi’s Blessing. Styled as a Russian fairy tale, this charming story is a sweet reminder that trust and perserverence can go a long way towards finding a happy ending.

Those are my favorites, but you may like other stories better, and that’s one of the best things bout this collection. There truly are stories here for everbody, no matter your taste.

Highly recommended!

Crow Moon cover

Weekly Update

First of all, do you like the new digs? If you’re reading this via the link on Facebook, awesome! Welcome to my website. I plan on moving more and more of my posts over here. I’ll post links on Facebook back to here, but I prefer doing mjost of my longer posts fropm here.

There’s a couple of reasons for that. First, this is going to be my home on the web. Facebook is fine for short posts, sharing memes, and interacting with folks, but my posts tend to run longer than Facebook readers typically like. Most Facebookers are looking for 20-30 second interactions that they can like and then scroll along. When I write one of these updates, or post a review, I like to take a bit of time and space, and that simply works better here.

Second, I have a much greater degree f control over how my posts look. I can add inline images, host a video, link to a book or somebody else’s page, and all without worrying about Facebook throttling the post because I’ve triggered one of the algorythmically generated and unidentifiable landmines.

Which brings up the third reason, Facebook tends to be somewhat arbitrary in applying their standards and I’m putting too muich effort into these posts to allow them to just disappear becaue a bot doesn’t like a particular word choice I make.

Of course, as I post more here, I’ll be tweaking things to make them work better, and look better. I’ll be doing some other things, like building a mailing list, creating a newsletter, and stuff like that along the way, so keep your eyes opened!

Now, to the update!

  1. Weight – I weighed in at 265 this week for a loss of 3 more pounds. That’s a total of nine pounds lost. We leave for vacation in under 6 weeks and I’ve got a ways to go yet. Onward!
  2. Non Fiction – Everything is still on track. I’m hitting my goals and making my deadlines and interacting on social media. Growth is very slow, but it will come with time and persistance!
  3. Fiction – Horrible week. Truly horrible. And it’s all my fault, of course. I just had to write a post on maintaining a routine. Yep, things happened and my routine took a huge hit. Monday, I had family things to deal with, Tuesday and Thursday I lost to illness, Wednesday, I guess I’ll blame on illness as well. Friday, I got some writing done, but my word count really suffered for the week. But a once established, a routine has it’s own momentum and the only way to really lose that is to sit back and let it happen. So I wrote on the weekend and made up for some lost time, and I’ll be right back at it tonight at 9pm.
  4. Ukulele – I’m working on Hallelujah still. Such a powerful song about love and loss! I’m trying to meld a strumming pattern with fingerpicking, and singing at the same time. If I can nail this, it should be awesome!
  5. What I’m Reading – I finished Cedar Sanderson’s short story collection, “Crow Moon” this week and it is amazing! My full review will post tomorrow, and I’ve submitted an Amazon review as well. The short version is simple. Buy It! Each story is like an artist’s sketch; there’s enough detail to protray the story and to evoke an emotional response, but it invites you to supply details from your own imagination and emotions from your own experiences until it almost feels like you are collaborating with the writer in crafting the story. I’ve started “The Debare Snake Launcher” by Joelle Presby. Presby spins a tale of old and new cultures coming into conflict as the world’s first space elevator is being built in Africa.
  6. I mentioned before that I was working on an audio version of my short story. I finished the raw recording and did a basic edit last weekend and it has gone out to my alpha listeners. Based on their feedback, I will either continue to pursue recording my own stories, (and maybe do some recordings for other writers) or retire from voice work, never to be heard from again. (No pressure, alphas. Just my career. That’s all!)

And that’s it for this update! Remember, tomorrow is a full review of Crow Moon, then Wednesday will be my weekly craft post, then Friday, writer’s choice. WHo knows?

Have a great week!

David Carrico: The Blood is the Life

So what happens when a nice Jewish boy becomes a vampire?

First of all, if you’re Orthodox, like Chaim Caan, you have an immediate problem. Consuming blood is forbidden. He reaches out to a Rabbi who connects him to an organization that can help him.

And use his new abilities.

What struck me most about this story is that being a vampire is not glamorized in any way. No angsty, sparkly pedophiles here. These vampires are fierce, strong predators. Fortunately for Chaim, he finds his way to an organization that helps him harness the predator he’s become, channeling his aggression into the defense of others.

But it’s not easy. The list of deficits severely circumscribes his life and his relationships. There’s certainly no glamor in dealing with blood breath. He’s also limited in his ability to form relationships. He can’t eat, or go out drinking with classmates, nor can he have a girlfriend. And since he has an indefinite lifespan, anybody he manages to form a bond with will grow old and die, while he remains the same.

It’s a bleak prospect, and Chaim must find a reason to live and to fight off the anger that comes with his transformation.

He’s helped by Mordechai, an older vampire who mentors him, as well as a Jewish organization which acts to defend Jews from persecution throughout the world.

I got the feeling that Carrico has more to say in this world, as there are several questions raised, not least of which is discovering who selected Chaim to be turned and why. Turning rarely happens accidentally; it takes effort.

I don’t know whether Carrico is Jewish or not, but he clearly did his homework as Judaeism permeates every facet of the book. Chaim is devout and observant, and this is well communicated to the reader, so much so that I found myself placing my own Christian faith into a new context. I gained a deeper appreciation for the Jewish faith and those men and women who walk in it. It makes me want to learn more about their faith and their culture.

That’s not what I expected from reading a vampire novel, but it was a welcome surprise!