We're about to enter the four-year freeze I thought I have successfully escaped when I left Russia. I was mistaken. It seems the ugly head of the white male fantasy has reared itself once more, in all its blond balding glory, to remind us all that we're not infallible to this little evolutional leftover from the cave times: fear. We're terrified of change, and so we have conveniently slipped into the comfort of the fantasy that no longer exists. I have witnessed it (and wrote about it in Irkadura and in TUBE) in Russia when those most oppressed by the Soviet regime where the ones who took to the streets under the flapping red Soviet flags demanding Stalin come back (the beloved omnipotent father figure) and fix all their woes. Who were those people marching the streets? Retired women who bore the brunt of socialism on their bones, disillusioned war veterans who have lost their life possessions after Perestroika, and some young people who haven't had the chance to form their own opinions and believed what their parents believed before them: that there is a bright communist future out there, and one chosen man will bring to them if only they bend their knees and their heads hard enough to his mighty power.
Welcome to Trumplandia. The flavor of what America is facing in 2017 and beyond is decidedly different from what I grew up with, but it smacks of the same fascist tendencies, and so we got what George R. R. Martin has warned us of years before: The winter has come. The history repeats itself. You can say we're taking a step back, but once that bucket of ice-cold water douses us, we'll leap two steps forward. Or so is my hope. And that is what no regime can take away from us—hope. And it's hope that becomes reality when artists make it real with their art, and we all can see that it's possible.
SO WRITE THE FUCK OUT OF YOUR HOPES IN 2017.
I certainly will. I will write about the future I see and the world I want to live in. I will keep publishing my books and screaming about them from every roof (regardless of what anyone might tell me, what to write, what not to write, how to make my art, etc.). And I will keep holding your hand when you feel that life is so bleak, you can't possibly continue creating, continue moving forward. Yes you can. Together we will win.
Well then, on this cheery note, here is what's happened for me in 2016:
- I turned 40. Jesus Fucking Christ. Another decade gone. And next year it will be 5 years since I started writing full time. Time doesn't stand still.
- I've started editing to supplement my book sales income (which is minuscule). And it's going well. So well that I'm coming onto my fourth client and thinking about creating a publishing company by the name of Borscht & Bears (you were the ones who suggested it, by the way). It's not exactly what I want to do as it's taking me away from my writing, but it's a way for me to share my self-publishing knowledge with those who need it and make some bags of gold as an added bonus.
- Draft 1 of Janna (currently Zhanna, until it strikes my fancy to rename it again) is done—a lovely story about a serial killer that is now becoming a thriller about a young detective Erasmus Burke whose advisor is the killer herself (kind of like female Hannibal Lecter advising Sherlock Holmes), and who knows, maybe it'll turn it into a series (if I won't get killed first for writing a black character). I'm starting to get a taste for thrillers.
- Anya graduated! And is now available for all your cover design needs and beyond (blog, website, apps, anything). She will help me brand Borsht & Bears, if it will become a reality.
- The Badlings audiobook was published.
- Siren Suicides: Second Edition was published.
- Josey's story Shards of Glass was published in I'm Finally Awake: Young Authors Untangling Old nightmares.
- Draft 5 of TUBE is done (the title has changed to Tyubik and then back to TUBE again) and I'll need Draft 6 (revisions) and Draft 7 (polish) before sending it off to Sarah for editing.
- I have switched from being a pantser to being a plotter at the urging of my writing mentor who is grooming me to become a professional commercial writer (my goal is to end up on the New York Times Best Sellers list). And I have discovered Scrivener and using the hell out of it and loving it.
- I spoke at Brooke Shaden's Promoting Passion Convention, and it was fantastic. And I was photographed naked in the mountains, and that was fantastic too.
- I got to meet the founders of Ello! Ellowrites writing community has doubled since last year, by the way. It's at almost 80K followers now. Join us.
- Peter has turned 13. One more teenager in the house. And soon the only one, as Wyatt graduates this summer, and Josey turns 18 in the spring, so we'll be an empty nest.
- Rosehead won an Honorable Mention in the YA Category of the Indie Ebook Awards! The librarians who judged it gave it a rating of 7+, which means any child older than 7 can read it. Go buy it for everyone on your gift list, and give it to them with a rose and with words: "Don't read this book. Run! Or it will eat you."
- I had knee surgery and am now walking again, so that's good.
- I did two readings of The Badlings—at the University Book Store and at Third Place Books. If you want me to come to your local bookstore and do a reading, talk to them. Ask them to invite me, and I will come and crash on your couch and eat all your food and kiss you to death.
- My Patreon community is slowly growing. It's now at 83 patrons and $231 per month which pays for my books stock, which is awesome. Thank you, patrons!
What will happen in 2017:
- In January I'm going to the Indie Ebook Awards ceremony in Atlanta (at ALA Atlanta Midwinter Meeting). Tickets bought. Airbnb rooms booked. So excited!
- In February I'm going to Russia, to see my dying grandmother, my newborn nephew, my class mates at my high school reunion (25 years), to celebrate my birthday on February 6th together with my mother for the first time in thirty years (or close to it), and to visit the birch grove from TUBE and from my memories, the place where my father might have abused me for the first time. I don't clearly remember it, but I start shaking when I try to, so whatever I will remember there (or not) will go into TUBE. It's soft of already already in TUBE, but I realized that this is the real reason for my trip: to see the daycare and the pathway from the train to it, the place that caused me to stop talking and start soiling myself and dancing around with a dumb expression on my face, according to family legends. I was five back then. Wish me strength.
- Borscht & Bears will become a reality, maybe. I don't know. We shall see.
- TUBE will be published, probably some time in the spring.
- Zhanna will be published, probably closer to the end of 2017.
- I might start on Marquis and Plato. Yes. Finally a funny book. I'm somewhat tired of the darkness of TUBE and Zhanna, but since I started, I can't not finish them. Plus, they're therapeutic, but it gives me the willies each time I go into them. Oy.
- All presidents everywhere will die of a mysterious disease, all politicians will quit politics to become artists, and the mankind will migrate to the Moon to eat cheese and crackers while the Earth will be repopulated with colorful butterflies the size of an airplane, rainbow dragons, pink fluffy hedgehogs and other happiness-inducing animals that the aliens will bring with them on their first contact with humanity as gifts; and when we return, we will have a giant party with borscht and a special brand of intergalactic vodka, and there will be no more wars. Except maybe over who gets to ride the dragon first (such disputes will be easily extinguished with dragon fire).
- I will write more crazy short stories like the one above, and maybe there will be enough to publish my Short Story Collection as a book. Actually, I wrote one in the TUBE realm for a Wattpad contest thing (coming out in February), and am writing one for a Cthulhu anthology thing (if they won't accept it, I'll publish it here).
This is it. What about you? What good stuff happened to you in 2016? Give us the highlights. We ought to remember to celebrate our little victories. They give us a boost to keep writing against all odds.
I love you. Happy 2017. Make it count.