Monthly Archives: December 2022

2022 in review

I guess I’m joining all the cool kids in writing a 2022 retrospective. Oh well, it’s one of those traditional things that happens. I don’t make resolutions, per se, but looking back at the year does serve some sort of purpose. So here goes.

I started 2022 with a lot of energy, somewhat akin to 2020 when I vowed that what eventually became the core of the Martiniere Legacy series would be my breakthrough book into traditional publishing. I signed up for World Fantasy, planning to network my little heart out and push my book.

Well, we know what happened in 2020. And, ten or so books later, the Martinieres have become a major chunk of my catalog, have a Substack of their own, and all.

2022 had a lot of promise. I was going to republish the Netwalk Sequence series for various reasons, including dated references, dated interior formatting, and, most of all, covers that didn’t match. I had five cover artists across six books and that doesn’t really work.

I was going to get aggressive about promoting my (now decent-sized) backlist.

I was going to publish a bunch of my story ideas that had just been sitting around, partially completed, on my hard drive. I had a whole plan based on serializing those stories on Kindle Vella, moving them to Kindle Unlimited for 90 days when they were completed, then publishing them wide. Some of those stories would launch new series–Weird West, space opera, urban fantasy.

I was going to start the new Goddess’s Vision series–finally.

I was going to start selling fabric art and start making jewelry art again, selling it on line.

A lot of plans. A lot of ambitions. And, well–

Some of it happened, but a lot of it didn’t.

What did happen:

The Netwalk Sequence reissue came off, but nothing much happened with it. When my regular cover designer ran into life issues, I ended up making my own covers in Book Brush. It was a slog to reissue a book a month, especially given some of the issues I was dealing with. I still don’t have the paperback copies up yet, but that will happen in 2023. At least I can look at those books now without flinching.

Some of those languishing stories got published. They got a little attention on Kindle Vella, but nothing much otherwise. Beating the Apocalypse, Bearing Witness,¬†and Becoming Solo (huh. All “B” titles) are out there but not much is happening with them.

I published two more Martiniere books–The Enduring Legacy, which in my personal opinion is an award-worthy standalone conclusion to the core Martiniere Legacy series and the book of my heart–and A Different Life: What If? where I pursued a sideline into the possibility of a Martiniere Multiverse, with digital thought clones vying for control of the future. A third Multiverse book: A Different Life: Now. Always. Forever. will come out in February, and there will probably be a third in the A Different Life series at some point. But it will be very dark. Meanwhile, I’m working on a separate Multiverse book that may be a standalone, may not be–The Cost of Power, which will serialize in rough draft on the Martiniere Stories Substack. I’m not going to run out of Multiverse ideas anytime soon, but I will be working on other things.

I wrote some new short stories that are making the rounds. I started submitting my backlist of short stories again.

I joined SFWA as a full member.

I sold a quilt through a friend.

What didn’t happen:

By April, the cataract in my right eye that ended up sapping a lot of my energy was making itself known. A fast-developing cataract that started blocking the vision in the inside corner of my right eye. If I had a drink of coffee, the cup blocked out the cataract so that I could see clearly around the rim. The minute I lowered the cup, it was back to right eye blur. I was just starting up the backlist promotion campaign but between the cataract and my MacBookPro becoming unusable, leaving me to fall back on my iPad when traveling to Portland for business, family, and medical stuff, I couldn’t do much. It was a slog to keep up with the Vella and Substack serials and edit the Netwalk books, keeping to my production schedule. I had no energy for promotion. By summer, I was needing to take breaks of 1-2 hours with a cold pack over my eyes to relieve the strain. I worked much more slowly because I just couldn’t do things. I couldn’t read much. My depth perception was messed up so I couldn’t do a lot of outside stuff, and I stopped working on fabric art.

Surgery happened in October, fortunately after I went on Medicare. But it’s taken me a good two months to get back up to speed on things, and I’m still scattered, with focus issues. Pushing through with the cataract has taken a greater toll on my ability to work than I realized.

I’ve started poking at fabric art designs again. I plan to have something figured out by August for holiday sales, but also want to have a bunch of stuff ready to enter in the local County Fair. That includes figuring out something to do with my photography.

I didn’t develop those new series. The Vortex Worlds series is still somewhat difficult, though I have notes on paper for it (that’s the Weird West Multiverse series). I have notions for the Bright Star Fair Witches series but nothing written. Federation Cowboy is only now in development, and I hope to get episodes up on Kindle Vella by February if not mid-January.

Right now I feel swamped and overwhelmed. I’m still looking for the right structure to build that helps me do stuff and stay organized. The Twitter meltdown hasn’t helped, as I’ve been experimenting and checking out new social media for promotional purposes. Right now, the new additions appear to be Tumblr (jreynoldsward) and CounterSocial (joycereynoldsward). Mastodon continues to be a source of annoyance and frustration and I look at it maybe once every two weeks, then go “bah!” and move on. But Spoutable appears to be a thing, and I’m waiting to see how that works out. I’m looking around at my office and trying to figure out how to set things up. I have a lovely new MacBookAir that needs to be taken for some extensive writing work, even though I don’t care for the version of Word on it.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about what I’m planning to do in 2023. That planning will be part of today’s work.

 

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Getting out and about

Yesterday when driving back from a ride and visit with the old mare, I suddenly had the thought “it’s nice weather and gonna be for a few days, so maybe it’s time to take a drive.” Easy enough to do here, where it’s possible to get out and see stuff but not go much more than forty-fifty miles.

Great minds think alike because that’s what the husband suggested when I got up this morning. Now, being on the older side, that doesn’t mean that we got out of here all that quickly–needed to pull things together before we headed out. But soon enough, we were off for a short cruise around the County. After the morning visit to grain the old mare, give her some attention, and provide entertainment for the horse herd, we were off. We headed out the Zumwalt hoping to get out there and see some critters.

Well, we saw some hawks. I took some pictures with my camera setting on artistic shots–like the one above of the Seven Devils.

And then we encountered THIS.

I didn’t take the pic from very close because as soon as we saw that first big drift and no tracks past it, we KNEW. Before I could jump out and take a pic, husband was backing the truck. So this is a very long range zoom shot. The drift in question looked to be about three feet high, and since we’re a.) old and b.) the closest house was ten miles back on the road and c.) we’ve done our share of getting stuck and having to walk out and we’re (see a).

So we turned around. On the other hand, on the way back, we spotted these big boys.

They know it’s not hunting season.

So we cruised around elsewhere. Spotted two big family groups of bald eagles, ranging from first years to full adults. But also spotted a small flock of pheasants–two roosters and three hens. Encouraging to see. I hear those roosters crowing all the time when I’m riding Mocha on the roads, so it was cool to see them in a group. For some reason, vehicles don’t spook them as much as a horse and rider seems to. I’ve seen those roosters drop to the ground and sneak along at a pretty good clip.

It was a nice break to the day, and I got some good pix. Did some thinking about the new Martiniere serial that begins tomorrow over on Martiniere Stories, The Cost of Power. Also started thinking about a historical set in the Martiniere backstory–the origins of the Double R Ranch and the love story of Ben Ryder and Mollie Bennett. Might be a straight historical…or not. Hard to say. Probably will be just short works. But who knows? It seems to work for Yellowstone, and the Martiniere books, no matter which series (The Martiniere Legacy, The People of the Martiniere Legacy, Martiniere Multiverse) are basically near-future Yellowstone meets Succession meets Willa Cather meets Ivan Doig.

The other piece was considering just how to represent the somewhat different relationship between Gabriel and Philip Martiniere in that book. Power is the story where they end up collaborating against someone worse–but Gabe has to look really hard at himself and what he will and won’t do in the name of power. Not sure what that’s gonna look like, but I’ve decided that serials are where I let my pantser flag fly (as opposed to something I’m not serializing).

Anyway, it was a much-needed break, and a nice change from driving to Portland to do medical/family stuff.

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Winter rhythms

The rhythms of winding down from fall into winter this year have been rather odd. It seemed to take forever for the trees and bushes to change their leaves, and we had flashes of cold and wet followed by dry and warm (for the season).

The plants are confused as well. The tamarack (western larch) trees on the mountains changed late, and they’re still holding onto their needles so that there’s a faint gold glow under snow. Our big burning bush never completely changed before wind blew off half its leaves, and there’s still leaves in various stages of change clinging to the brush.

Nonetheless, we have snow on the ground, and after cataract surgery, a flurry of appointments tied to the surgery and other medical needs, and a vacation trip to the Coast over Thanksgiving, it’s time to settle into the winter routines.

Fog lingers late in town, while it’s bright and sunny out at the ranch. The mares have settled into their winter patterns, quiet for the most part with no drama. Old Mocha waits until I’ve come to what she thinks is the proper distance before she begins walking toward me. The snow isn’t deep enough yet that she follows trails in it, but she’s in no hurry to move, either. Between hay and the grass the herd is still pawing for, she’s well-fed and satisfied. The treats and grain she gets from me on a daily basis are just dessert, along with the attention she gets on a non-riding day.

Mocha slowly savors her mite of grain, just enough to add flavor to her supplement. She chews steadily but doesn’t frantically grab at the grain–another indicator that all is well in old mare world. She’s not ravenous. She issues occasional, contented grunts as she eats, occasionally jerking her head out of the bucket to look at something. Then back to the bucket, half-closing her eyes as she works through the pellets.

At last she’s done with the grain. Then it’s pick the hooves to monitor how well her front rim pads are working and check growth on the hinds, followed by a light brush to make sure there’s no injuries and work out itchy spots. She’s feeling good today–high noon seems to be her best time these days. After attention and final treats, I turn her loose. She visits the heated waterer, goes over to the selenium block for some contemplative licks, then back for a second drink before wandering out to the herd. No need to hurry. It may be sunny but it’s still 18 degrees F, and not a time for old mares to get too snorty, unless they get cold and go for a run to warm up.

Back home again, to the foggy depths of town. Hoarfrost clings to the long needles of the Jeffreys pine. I eat lunch, and gaze at the white outside.

It’s peaceful.

Slowing down.

Staying warm.

I return to my office and begin to work. Stories start to stir. Perhaps I’ve been waiting for this winter quiet.

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