Happy New Year, dear readers!
I hope you all had a lovely holiday season, whatever you are celebrating.
I enjoyed myself, though the celebrations were all too fleeting.
Oddly enough, I received some complaints on social media for saying ‘Happy Holidays’ in the photo I posted, instead of ‘Merry Christmas’.
I would just like to say that, even though I celebrate Christmas, I know for a fact that many of my Eagles and Dragons, and Writing the Past, readers are of different faiths, and that is a wonderful thing.
My readers here, and across social media, are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, Wiccan and more, and I am honoured that each and every one of them should take the time to read my words and interact with me during their busy schedules.
This time of year is sacred to many faiths, so whether you celebrate the Winter Solstice, Yule, Hanukah, Saturnalia, Christmas or another celebration of life and faith, these are indeed Holy Days for many of us.
So, a heartfelt Happy Holidays to you and yours.
I wasn’t going to do a post about the year to come at the beginning of 2016, but I reconsidered. It’s a good thing to review what has gone before, and set goals for what is to come. And all of you will keep me accountable!
To be honest, 2015 got off to a rough start for me. It was certainly a year of contrasts.
In mid-January, my father passed away suddenly and that plunged me into realms of despair that I had never experienced before. I know losing a loved one is a trial that we must all face, but I had expected to face that trial much later in life.
It was a difficult time, but we banded together and got through it. I also discovered that my writing was a big part of the healing process, and that the plumbed depths of those difficult emotions did indeed enrich my storytelling.
Then there was the History Channel.
Yes, that History Channel.
At the end of November 2014, a New York casting director contacted me to ask if I would be interested in screen testing for a show on ancient ingenuity for the international H2 Network. She said they were looking for an ancient history expert, and that they had seen my books and this blog, and thought I would be a good fit to be the host of the upcoming show.
I said yes right away. Then I panicked.
After a lot of prep, I did a half hour screen test over Skype with the casting director asking me about twenty questions. It was fun and nerve-wracking all at once. She then asked me to send loads of photos of me from my travels around the world so that she could put together a package for the executives at History Channel.
For a couple months I waited, but then in mid-January I got the call that even though the folks at the casting agency liked me a lot, the executives wanted to go in a different direction.
I have no regrets about that though. I left everything I had in the arena, so to speak, and had a fantastic new experience. When the casting director asked me if I would be interested in future projects, I said ‘Yes!’ and I meant it.
I reviewed my post from last New Year to see what I said I wanted to accomplish in 2015. Of course, I didn’t know the year would start the way it did, but I did get a lot done.
I came, I saw, and even though I didn’t necessarily conquer, I certainly put up a good fight and won a few battles in the war of art.
I did manage to finish the first draft of Thanatos (Third and final part of the Carpathian Interlude) which will be going to the editor very soon.
I also finished a prequel novel to the Eagles and Dragons series. It is with the editor now and is called A Dragon among the Eagles. That should be out this winter, so stay tuned.
Warriors of Epona (Eagles and Dragons Book III) is still being edited but I absolutely want to have that out in 2016. I’m afraid I didn’t meet my rewrite goals on that this past year, but it has turned out to be a gripping story!
I said that I wanted to write more in the Mythologia series, and I have outlined a couple of stories, but not yet set them down on paper. They are coming!
The big project in 2015 was Heart of Fire: A Novel of the Ancient Olympics. Reading back over my post from a year ago, I said that I probably wouldn’t finish that book in 2015, though I did think (perhaps in a delusional way?) that I would finish that during my five weeks in Greece. Seems like my original prediction was more accurate, as at the moment, I’m nearing the end of writing Heart of Fire, and it promises to be a great read! I’m really excited about it, and hope to have it out before summer 2016.
Two other things I did not get to this year were Isle of the Blessed (Eagles and Dragons Book IV) and the final two thirds of the Killing a God series about Alexander the Great’s campaigns in the east. I have mass of notes on both, and a lot of first draft material, so they are coming. I hope to get back into them both later in 2016.
In hindsight, I think I was probably overly optimistic as far as my writing schedule for 2015. But that’s ok! We roll with the sword thrusts.
This year I also made some changes in my process that have allowed me to be more efficient as an author and publisher.
The first thing is that I stopped writing first drafts long-hand. Even though this felt good as far as creativity, it was really slowing down my production, so I’ve started writing on my phone with a wireless keyboard. It’s making a world of difference!
I also started creating much more detailed outlines of every story and chapter before I start writing. Whereas before, I was more of what they call a ‘pantser’, now I’m outlining, and it’s helped me to move quickly through my stories without leaving any gaps. That’s not to say things don’t change along the way. Of course they do! The outline is not chiseled in stone, but it does provide me with a reliable guideline and sketch of the story arc.
The great thing about this year, and something which I really needed after last winter, was my trip to Greece.
I hope you all enjoyed the photos I was posting on Instagram. It had been six years since I’d been there to see family, friends, and the historical sites that have inspired me for years.
I had almost forgotten how important a part of my creative process the travel, research, and inspiration of site visits are.
Yes, I did set an unrealistic goal of finishing a full-length, historical novel in just a few weeks. It was more important to reconnect with the people and places that mean a lot to me. I even went to an all-night Greek wedding where I made my best attempt at Greek dancing. Opa!
The pressure I did put on myself to get writing done actually held me back from the relaxation I needed for the first half of the trip. But, once I let go and began to absorb and chill out, I felt a lot better. I enjoyed myself more, and in the background of my creative brain, the ideas were percolating more smoothly than ever.
Next time, I’ll be sure to relax from the get-go and let inspiration seep into every one of my senses so that I can use it later when I sit down to write. Needless to say, I’m not waiting another six years before I head overseas!
2016 is going to be the year of publishing.
In the coming months I hope you and others will follow along with the releases of Heart of Fire, Thanatos, A Dragon among the Eagles, and Warriors of Epona, as well as a discussions about a lot more history here on the blog.
Who knows what the future will bring?
Whatever happens in 2016, I want to thank you all for following, and for taking the time to read, comment, and review.
I hope that 2016 is a year of brilliance, peace, and inspiration for all of us.
Cheers and Happy New Year!
Thank you for reading.