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Sunday, January 1, 2017

This I Resolve . . .

          "This is the moment of embarking.  All auspicious signs are in place."
                    ~ DENG MING-DAO
          I've never been one for New Year's Resolutions.  Oh, I see the attraction of hanging up a new calendar and saying, "Let's accomplish something big during this cycle," but it always seemed to me that if you intend to accomplish something, you don't need to wait for a new calendar to do it.  However, perhaps due to the coincidental proximity of the new year, I'm going to jump on the band wagon, and offer up a brief handful.
          First, there's the usual stuff.  I'm pre-diabetic, which pretty much means that I don't have it yet, but if I eat like I already do, I probably won't get it.  I've been doing very well with that, and obviously, I resolve to keep that under control.  Also, I've added about ten pounds to my already obese frame since I retired, not surprising, as my job entailed a lot of field work which is now completely gone.  So I resolve to get that under control, mind my intake, and spend more time on the pricey stationary bicycle which is currently parked in my living room.
          Second, eight months into retirement, I hereby resolve to cease involvement in all projects and activities which are not A) enjoyable, or B) productive.  Xbox is enjoyable; that stays.  Exercise is productive; that stays.  My writing activities are another question entirely.  Writing itself, the creation of worlds and plots, the construction of stories, that part is enjoyable; that stays.  I can't honestly say, however, that jumping through the hoops of self-publishing's templates and the never-ending cycles of promotion and marketing that follows has been either, and I am accordingly placing that in the same category as helping you move or dropping what I'm doing twice a day to feed your cat while you're on vacation:  Off my list of things to do.
          I'm going to share a piece of information that is nobody's business, but I'm not embarrassed by it; it's simply a fact:  I haven't had a book sale since October 5th.  This is despite having ad campaigns on a number of well-read sites, including some whose sole focus is steampunk, and a new release with a well-publicized giveaway supporting it.  I'll admit, when I finished my first book, I had this fantasy about becoming one of those celebrity authors who has the world on a string, and not a care to speak of.  I mean, people break out of the pack and begin the rise every day; why not me?  Alas, things didn't turn out that way, and I then had to decide whether to let that particular disappointment fester inside and make me bitter.  Well, I didn't.  I still love to write, and even more than that, I love to be read.  The writing I can do anytime, anyplace; being read has been another matter.  Even though my books are priced at the minimum allowed by Createspace, even that modest cost has proven too great an obstacle to potential readers, so I'm going to shift gears on my whole publishing strategy.
          Astute readers will have already noticed that all of my Beyond the Rails stories, including the new book, have been transferred here where they can be read for free by anyone with a screen.  I am currently transcribing my first book, 1998's Temple of Exile, to the page, and the other four that were never published will be following.  The tabs at the top of the left sidebar will take you to the stories.  I would only ask that anyone moved by the work leave a comment or critique, and offer your thoughts; you'll find me an eager conversationalist.  I'll continue to promote in all the usual places, and welcome anyone who cares to partake with open arms and mind, but seriously, all it does when I show up with a W-2 for $12 worth of book royalties is confuse my tax preparer, and irritate the IRS.
          Another thing I'm not going to do any more of is book reviews.  Most of the books I have read in the last year were written by friends.  I have posted several glowing reviews, because that's what I felt about the books.  But what about the ones that don't get me spun up?  What am I going to say about a poor book by an author I like and respect?  This writer can't handle a plot?  Dialogue is forced and stilted?  I was repeatedly yanked out of the flow by ten-page information dumps?  I'm not going to agonize over that anymore.  I'm not doing public reviews, so don't ask me.  If you'd like a private critique, that's another matter, and you need only inquire.
          Finally, in an unrelated note, the results of the poll:  60% of respondents felt I should enlarge the font, and one suggested making the text as bright as it could be, so I have done both those things.  Anyone find it helpful?
          And there we have it.  No "Year In Review;" I don't have the stomach to relive that one.  Just a brief notice of what to expect going forward.  The main thing to focus on is that you will soon be able to read my entire portfolio for free, including the old, pre-publication material; since it isn't going to cost anything, you may as well get the whole journey, right?  And if you enjoy it, tell your friends.  There's a lot of free reading here, and most people who've read it claim to like it.  So you pitch in to the bright, shiny new year, so ripe with promise, and I'll get working on more of it.
          Have a great 2017!  That isn't chance, it's a choice.  Look for me when you least expect it.  So long for now...

~ Blimprider


  1. Hi Jack and happy new year. I'm here wishing 2017 will be a more clement year than 2016, which was - let's face it - quite roiugh in so many ways (including personal ones for me). It's true that we don't need the beginning of the year to make changes in our life, but I've been slowly deciding things about myself lately, and my writing and would-be writer's career too, so this seems like a nice place to get something going.

    I feel like you about the promotion/selling part of a publishing career, not because I dont' like it, but rather because I don't think I understand it yet. I published my first book last March and anything I've tried has fallen flat. Like nothing seems to have worked. I'm quite puzzled by it, because I would think mere chance would have had at least one thing work, no?
    So I decided that I'll just leave it for the time being, especially considering I only have one book out. For sometime I considered writing a series especially for self-publishing, but in the end I decided against it. I'll do it in the future if I'll feel like it, otherwise I'll do something else ;-)
    I will never live off my writing, so why fussing about it?

    I hadn't realised you're offering all your Beyond the Rails production on this site. I'll be sure to read it as soon as possible (which, I have to tell you, won't be very soon, I'm afraid). I'll get to it ;-)

    So... I don't want to hijack your comment section with my resolutions ;-)

    Happy new year, Jack!

    1. Happy new year, Jazz. No fair, you started early! Yours is a gratifying first response. I was so concerned that people wouldn't get it; after all, the Grand Purpose of Life is the amassing of wealth if we're to believe everyone from Madison Avenue to the new American president. But as in so many areas, I don't fit the mold. I believe in the amassing of fun, a word that in no way describes the pounding of my head against the brick wall of public indifference. I gave it three years, years of writing promotions, paying for promotions, scouring the web for new places to market, enough hours, I believe, to have written another book, but it didn't work out. Now I'm going to write that other book, and give it away to anyone who will read it. The best part is that, with these simple words I've posted here, I feel like I've been let out of jail.

      I don't expect anyone to follow my lead in this, but I implore you to follow your heart. You are a wonderful writer - I know this, people, I've read her work - and I look forward to the day when I can read The Old Shelter in its entirety, but my suggestion is don't do anything that doesn't bring you happiness. From what you say here, it sounds like you're on the right track.

      Enjoy Beyond the Rails at your own pace. I hope you like it. And darlin', you can hijack my comment section anytime!

      May 2017 be your best year ever. Qapla'!