At the close of a year that affected us all so intensely, I wanted to do some self reflection and look back some of the major ups, downs, every-which-ways from my trip through 2020.
I rang in what I thought was to be an amazing year at a fancy party in Warsaw with friends. We were the youngest people there by about ten years and thankfully at least one of us was actually Polish so communication was at least possible. There was lots of food, drink, and fun. By the end of the night, two things were clear. 1: We’d squeezed every ounce of awesome out of the evening and 2: Our vodka based celebration skills were not up to Eastern European standards. No need to go into further details.
I also took a trip back to Paris with my wife to do some photography for Instagram and other promotions for RADIO. It’d been a long time since I’d been back and it felt really good. We even planed to get back once a quarter but a certain virus had other plans.
February was filled with book work and more travel. We spent a few incredible days in Budapest and as I usually do, I did a ton of location scouting for future stories. I fell in love with that city and it will definitely pop up in my next project.
RADIO was going through final edits as well as extensive cover art design work. I got to play art director but all of the skill came from my amazing wife. The results speak for themselves.
We ended the month with a series of vaccinations in preparation for a trip to Thailand that was not to be. Who knew getting three vaccines at once while also going through the oral cholera and typhoid series would make a person so sick for so long. I recommend splitting those up. Live and learn. At least the coming Covid 19 vaccine will be a breeze compared to that experience.
Speaking of Covid 19, March sucked.
It was an entire month of fighting. Fighting with airlines to get tickets refunded or at least rebooked as the threat of the virus was spilling over international borders. A fight to finalize my very first published novel. And above all, a fight to understand just what one is supposed to do and how they are supposed to act during a global pandemic. How bad is this going to get? How should we manage our supplies? How should we be interacting with others? March was a mental battlefield.
April was not much better. On April 3rd, the ebook for RADIO went live. It should have been the best day of the year for me. Instead, I discovered that in an ongoing storage issue with Google Drive, I’d managed to delete almost ten years worth of Google Docs and Sheets. Thankfully after about three weeks of back and forth, they were able to find them all. So lucky but the stress…THE STRESS!
It wasn’t all bad though. There was strong interest in the release of RADIO and the rest of the month was spent gearing up for the launch of the paperback. I also got some media attention making it onto A Roundup Of New Genre Books For Your Self-Isolation Reading Lists by Comic Years as well as doing an interview with my buddy and fellow writer K.M. Alexander on for his Prose Palaver series.
By May, things were looking up. RADIO launched in paperback, summer was setting in, and life during Covid Times was starting to settle into a groove. It was also the month where we made our most life altering decision since our move from Paris to Zürich. We decided to get a dog. We’d been dog people before and we were waiting until the time was right. When both of you are stuck working from home at the same time for months on end, there’s no better time to train a puppy.
Aside from being an author, I’m also an amateur luthier. June saw the completion of my first 100% from-scratch bass build. This one’s called the “Fracture” because it’s an absolute, chest-shaking beast.
We got to visit our pup twice before we brought him home. Here’s a pic because who can resist a puppy pic.
We live outside Zürich in a town called Baden. Aside from being a former hot tub retreat for the Romans while they got their asses handed to them by the Germanic tribes across the Rhine, it’s also nestled into what is essentially the Swiss portion of the Black forest. As such, its elaborate network of nature trails was a godsend for outdoorsy people stuck in an apartment all day.
The biggest event of the month was entering RADIO into SPFBO 6 (the sixth annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off), and it got off to a great start. It was chosen by my assigned blog, The Fantasy Inn, as having one of their favorite covers. It went on to receive a final judges vote putting it in the top 14 covers out of the 300 in the field. Here’s a link to the cover competition. I was very proud but even more excited that my wife’s work got the recognition it deserved.
Radio was also listed in the first installment of The Fantasy Book Critic’s Intriguing Titles in SPFBO.
Doggy adoption day came and we got to welcome Gnarlie or, more properly, King Gnarles the King Charles Spaniel into our family. He even had the prerequisite genetic defect (a mild wonk eye) to make the royal title official. Here’s another pic. I know you won’t complain.
That’s it. This month was basically devoted to a very small creature that was as frustrating as he was heart-melting.
In early August I received my first review from The Fantasy Inn, my assigned blog for SPFBO6. Clicking on that link was intense but I could not have been happier. Travis’ take on my weird little story was wonderful. It was a very fair and positive review and the few negatives he pointed out were impossible to argue with. To me they were necessary evils and he didn’t seem too put out by them so all in all, I considered it a major win.
I ended the month with a trip down into the Italian portion of Switzerland with our closest friends here. They also happened to adopt our dog’s brother. We stayed isolated in a little villa, hiked, laid by the river, and tried our damnedest to keep our dogs from killing themselves. It was pure stress and pure fun all at once.
The highlights of September were both book related.
I got to sit in with author Allegra Pescatore on her Plot Mom Youtube channel along with Anne C. Miles to discuss the Dark vs the Light in fantasy. Of course, I was representing Team Dark. It was a great discussion and I definitely recommend checking it out.
I also received a great review from author Ryan Howse on Before We Go Blog. I’m really proud to be featured and appreciate his kind words.
Toward the end of the month we moved to a new apartment. Granted it was only two doors down in the same building, but still it managed to be exhausting and so ridiculously time consuming. Moving is the the worst but an additional large room for not much more a month was too good to pass up. Plus, aside from the new room, the apartment is identical so there wasn’t much rearranging to do.
As November neared and more and more blogs were choosing their semi-finalists and finalists the anticipation for my own results pressed down on me like gravity. Then, with less than a week to go, I checked my phone while walking home and learned that I was chosen as an SPFBO semi-finalist for The Fantasy Inn. I don’t think my feet touched the ground for the rest of the walk. While I didn’t end up being their finalist I’m still very happy with the results and so thankful to have been a part of such a great competition.
With the stress of the move, SPFBO, and the US election behind me, November was spent settling into the new apartment. Our new, additional room was split into a gym and a home office for my wife. Our covid pod is now complete. Here’s hoping the isolation won’t be necessary for too much longer.
In early December, Grimdark Magazine picked up and republished Ryan Howse’s review of RADIO which was really exciting. I’ve always known RADIO was at least Grimdark adjacent but it’s nice to have that stamp of approval from Grimdark Magazine. It will help with shelving and recommending RADIO to readers. It’s definitely a genre stew and any clarification or certification is always helpful.
I also launched my social media booksharing experiment #WheresRADIO. It’s an international book tracking experiment using community bookboxes and little libraries. Look for that hashtag on Instagram and Twitter to see where the copies are traveling and to see if one is near you. It’s a great opportunity to read RADIO for free.
The Holidays were strange and the distance from family was hard but tech really saved the day. My grandma tried her first Zoom family gathering for Thanksgiving and loved it so much she’s been a full on ringmaster for two more calls. While in person is always better, at least the distance can help ensure that there’ll be future chances to see one another.
The final highlight of 2020 came with the purchase of a car. We’d spend the last 7 1/2 years using only plane, trains, and rented automobiles but with the new pup and airline uncertainty, we decided that hitting the road the future for our travel. As an American, looking at distances on a European map still blows my mind. One day’s drive gets you from Vienna to Zürich and another gets you to Barcelona. Just amazing. Back home, one day’s drive barely gets you out of your own state.
The future is looking brighter. While I won’t be releasing another book in 2021, I’ll be working hard to make it happen in early 2022. What book you ask? I’m not divulging that just yet but stay tuned for lots of updates as the new year unfolds.
I’m also planning new content for the blog and will be expanding #WheresRADIO throughout the year so be sure to follow me here on this blog, or my social media channels to stay informed and entertained.
Happy New Year to all and may 2021 make up for the dumsterfire that was 2020.