So, 2021. Quite a year, huh? It seems like most people I talk to have said good riddance. A lot of things did not go well. It was our first full year living in a pandemic world, and naturally, it sucked in numerous ways. Even so, looking back I can find some good things that happened to me and to some of my friends. I’ll share a few of those, and then we can talk about the very exciting stuff on the horizon for 2022.
1. Domesticating Dragons
Right at the start of the year is when my book Domesticating Dragons came out. For me, it was especially meaningful. This is a book I’d started writing in 2014. It evolved from a novella into a full-length novel. I overhauled the thing multiple times. The story changed a lot, and ended up with something that I take immense pride in. It also has more of me in it than anything else I’ve written.
What a thrill it was to have my science fiction debut with a legendary sci-fi publisher. Would I have chosen to schedule in the heart of a pandemic shutdown? Probably not. But I have to say that Baen Books did a wonderful job. They produced a lovely book and did actual marketing to get it in front of readers. Thanks to their efforts, Domesticating Dragons was named one of the Best SF/F Books of 2021 by Library Journal. That was really the highlight of my year.
Oh, and to bookend the year, Baen published a mass market paperback of DD on December 27th. It’s the first time I’ve had two print runs for the same book, and I’m kind of excited about it (my offer to mail a signed book plate to anyone who buys DD in print still stands).
2. Three Short Stories
I had three short stories published in 2021 as well, which is well above average for me (I actually thought it was only two, and remembered the third while writing this post). Though I’ve dabbled in short-form fiction since I got started, it’s never been my focus. Honestly, I think I’m better at novels. Yet I really enjoy writing short stories and because the SFF short story market is so competitive, I celebrate what little successes I have.
“Rooks” (Arcana, ed. Rhonda Parrish, July 2021) was the first short story I ever wrote. I revised and rewrote it numerous times, even more than the dragon book. I even submitted it a few magazines (most of which sadly don’t exist any longer). I kept working on it over the years, though, and had it in my back pocket when famed anthologist Rhonda Parrish came calling. Arcana is her passion project: one story inspired by each card in a standard Tarot deck.
“Infinity Drive” (Uncanny Valley, July 2021) is another science fiction piece, a borderline dystopian tale about the future of (our addiction to) technology. It was published in Uncanny Valley, a science fiction anthology from Distant Shores Publishing. They not only bought my story, but asked me to write the Foreword for the anthology.
“The Watcher in the Vale” (Nature Futures, Feb 2021) is my first published flash fiction (<1000 words). It’s a short little science fiction jaunt I wrote on a whim during Writer in Motion. To land it at Nature was a sheer delight, especially when I learned that this meant it was indexed by PubMed, the database of biomedical research publications. It’s a rare intersection of my day job and my writing hobby, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
None of my stories are going to win awards or anything, but if you like my writing you should check them out. There are lots of other good stories in those publications, too.
3. More Science in Sci-Fi, Fact in Fantasy
The blog continued with more than a dozen new guest posts, including several from new contributors. Some of my favorites were:
- Pottery and ceramics for sci-fi writers by studio artist Lisa Harnish
- Horse psychology 101 by horse expert Debby Lush
- Quantum mechanics for authors, a 3-part series by Casey Berger
- Hypothermia in fiction by veteran contributor Rachel Berros
I track my website statistics (naturally) and every year the most-read posts surprise me. Here were the top five from 2021; each of these enjoyed more than 4,000 page views last year:
- Female Professions of Medieval Europe
- Writing Characters with ADHD
- Designing Realistic Magic Academies
- 10 Things Writers Don’t Know About the Woods
- A Quick and Dirty Guide to Feudal Nobility
Granted, there are many caveats that influence page views, most notably their search engine presence and social media footprint, but I think it’s an interesting mix at the very top. You can expect many more outstanding blog posts in 2022 as we gear up for a book release. More on that in a minute.
Looking Ahead to 2022
In conclusion, 2021 was pretty much a dumpster fire but there were some bright spots. Like virtually everyone who’s made it this long in the pandemic world, I’m hoping this year will be better. There are good reasons to believe so.
First, about forty of my closest friends and I are looking forward to the release of Putting the Fact in Fantasy in May. This volume will be a companion to Putting the Science in Fiction. It’ll not only be published in trade paperback and e-book but also produced as an audiobook by PRH Audio. Related side note, if you’re a book reviewer/tuber/instagrammer, please drop me a line and I’ll see if I can get you an advance copy.
New Novels, Too
I have another book coming out later in 2022 that I’m still not supposed to talk about; with luck it’ll be announced soon. And yet a third book that’s slated for late 2022 / early 2023. That’s still unannounced, too. One of those books might even be a sequel. It’s too soon to say more, especially since my focus will be on PFIF for the next few months.
Great Blog Reads
As noted earlier, I have an exciting slate of guest posts planned for the Science in Sci-fi, Fact in Fantasy series. Here’s the approximate lineup:
- Dress and fashion of the middle ages, with Rebecca Shedd
- So you want to bury a body, with Terry Newman
- Raising and writing gifted children, with Victoria Flynn
- How to keep a horse, by expert Debby Lush
- Historical artifacts in fantasy and real life, with Graeme Talboys
- Life, magic, and the space in between by Sarah Sover
- Self defense versus martial arts, with Ember Randall
- Revolutions and how they fail, by Kate Heartfield
And if you’re looking for more good reads, my friend Michael Mammay has put up several good posts recently on vetting literary agents and a behind-the-scenes look at how authors sell books to publishers after breaking in. He’s also opened his blog for guest posts for published or soon-to-be-published authors. Go check it out.
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