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I wasn’t planning to write one of these, but it occurred to me, almost too late, that while 2017 has been a horrible year for many people (for reasons outside the scope of this blog), for me, professionally, it has been not only successful, but actually profound. This was the year that everything changed, maybe forever. With that in mind (and because, like all writers, I’m just obsessive about these things), I’d like to list some of my achievements over the past twelve months.

Summarily, I sold five short stories this year, one of which was a reprint. I had four stories published, mostly those I sold last year. Just as importantly, however, I sold a record number of copies of my various self-published books, particularly in the fourth quarter. I hope to see this trend continue in the new year.

But sales were only part of the story, and not the largest part. Where a novel used to take at least a year, in 2017, I published two, and am dangerously close to finishing a third. One was written in less than two months. This represents a huge leap forward in my production, and opens up an new business model where self-publishing may become a viable part of a hybrid career path (self-published novels/traditional short stories).

I also expanded my authorial presence this year, appearing on three panels at my second consecutive Loscon as a guest. At no time did I faint, get horribly sick, or otherwise condemn myself to 1 million hits on Youtube.

And last but not least, two of my stories appear on the Tangent Online Recommended Reading List for 2017.

All in all, I’m pleased. I’m writing, I’m selling, and I still have a few ideas on the drawing board. So to all of you out there who support me, or support other writers, and especially to those who are trying so hard to make it when all the odds seem to be against you, have a Happy New Year. Make 2018 the year you want it to be.

#SFWApro

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I was going to call this article “Loscon Post-Mortem,” but that sounds like a real downer; I mean, the con is over, but it’s not dead… So then I thought, “What do you call it? I can’t call it a ‘post-Loscondom’…” So never mind. It is what it is.

It seemed to go very well. I had three panels, one per day (unlike some who had back-to-back panels, which is not fair), and I participated significantly in all three. Only one time did a question set me back, and I managed to make a joke out of it while I organized my thoughts and came up with something tangentially related to the subject under discussion. People even took notes, which I found gratifying.

The convention itself was typical of its ilk, small but enthusiastic, and I thought the programming choices were above average. The age range extended further than normal, with more younger folks attending–always a good sign.

Personally, I was surprised to find that being on a panel made me feel more like a professional than actually selling stories. When you sell, you may see the numbers, but there are no individuals attached to them. When you’re a panelist at a convention, you are face-to-face with people who paid money to see you speak (or as one of my peers put it, “paid money to see Tim Powers speak,” but you’re part of that package). And when they come to see you, they pay attention and take notes and ask questions as though you have some authority on the subject.

To paraphrase Uncle Ben, “With authority comes responsibility.” Those folks are there to learn from you. That means you’d better be professional and prepared. You may think you’re a nobody because you haven’t published 10 novels with New York houses, but those people in the audience? Most of them haven’t published the 35 short stories you have, and they want to be you. I should have realized that earlier, because it wasn’t long ago that I was just like them (still am, but with loftier goals), but until I sat in one of the chairs behind the table, I didn’t really know it.

I was mostly prepared this time, and when I wasn’t, I extemporized. Next time I’ll do better.

Because that’s my job.

#SFWApro

 

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I have been given my tentative panel assignments for Loscon, at the LAX Marriott November 24-26, and as I know that my appearances have long (well, since last year) been a highlight of the early holiday season, I wanted to list them here. They are, of course, subject to change, but if they do, I’ll let you know. (We don’t want a repeat of last year’s near-riot at the Star Trek panel when I didn’t show up!)*

I self-published my first book, and I didn’t die! (11/24, 5:30pm) I believe this panel was specifically named to exclude posthumous-American indie authors from attending. I will be taking this up with the committee on behalf of all of my writer colleagues who feel like zombies (which is pretty much all of them).

Blending mystery and speculative fiction. (11/25, 5:30pm) As far as I’m concerned, everything was speculative when I was trying to become a published author. It’s how I did that which remains a mystery.

Writing & Intuition: What happens next? (11/26, 2:30pm) As faithful readers of my blog know, it’s really the characters who write the story and the author simply takes the credit. So I’m going to allow one of my characters to sit on this panel for me–as soon as I can find one who lives in this century…

Given my schedule, I should be around for most of the con. Look me up and ask me to autograph your e-book. I’ll sign a piece of paper and you can tape it to your Kindle.

 

*Oh, wait, there was nearly a riot at the panel because I did show up. If I’d realized Star Trek was that popular, I wouldn’t have said those things…

#SFWApro

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As we wave good-bye to the tragi-comedy that has been 2016, I present you with the summation of my writing year, for whatever it might be worth. (Probably more to me than you.)

Submissions: 96. Trust me, this is a lot more than I thought. I credit the dozens of markets available today; when I started, there were three. Twelve of these subs are still outstanding.

Sales: 9. This is a record. Four original stories, five reprints. One of the original stories, moreover, was solicited by an editor. That was a first. (Woohoo!) The most-rejected of the original stories, “Hoskins’ War”  (appearing in Cirsova), had been rejected five times. Of the reprints, “Grinpa” (appearing in an upcoming volume of Digital Quick Fiction) had been rejected eight times before it first sold; this will be the first time it is reprinted.

Words written: 72,433. This is not in and out itself an impressive number, but in my own defense it only counts original works, not the extensive re-writing of older stories (some of which I sold). I would guess the true number to be closer to 90,000. The bulk of these words (66,000) are contained in The Cosmic City, which will be done very soon. I promise!

I also appeared on a panel, for the first time in, oh, let’s just say since I began selling, at Loscon. It was on what life would have been like without Star Trek. I was the guy who half-seriously pointed out how Star Trek had delayed some technical innovation. Nobody threw any tomatoes.

So that’s how I spent my free time. This is the first time I’ve added up these numbers; there are some surprises. Next year, I want to write more original fiction (easier when you’re not concentrating on a novel), and of course I want to sell more. With any luck, those things will go hand-in-hand.

I guess it’s up to me.

Happy New Year!

#SFWApro

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So I was on this panel at Loscon, and it didn’t go all that badly. I made a few points, got a laugh or two, and didn’t feel at all uncomfortable, except the hotel kept the rooms too cold. But we had a standing room only crowd, and lots of audience participation (which actually kept me from saying some things I wanted to, but hey, we were there for the crowd, not vice versa). No fistfights broke out (no matter how I tried), no one raised his voice, and no tomatoes were thrown. All in all, a pretty good return to convention speaking after 33 years.

Also, if you are a writer, I recommend getting on some panels, because you get to use the green room. The food is good and the conversation was lively.

And I used my new contacts to get a line on applying to be a guest at another con next year! I’m afraid I may be becoming addicted to fame…

#SFWApro

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After a hiatus of 33 years, I will be making my re-entry into the world of convention panelists at Loscon. This is actually the first time I have been a guest at a con, since my previous appearances were due to my being on the convention committee.

What if Star Trek Had Never Existed?” will debut on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. It explores the fannish, cultural, and scientific ramifications of a world where Star Trek never aired. I don’t doubt that the discussion could occupy the entire con, but we’ll try to bring in a definitive answer in less than an hour. (Yeah, right.)

Personally, I think that without Star Trek the entire bedroom-poster industry would have collapsed years ago. I mean, without that picture of Jeri Ryan in her Seven-of-Nine outfit…

#SFWApro

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