Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 and its life-changing twists and turns

This was one of those years that tested my resolve but I am rather proud of how it worked out. Last January began with great upheaval and uncertainty. I fought, adapted and overcame in ways that surprised even me. It may be common practice to say something like "It was a blessing in disguise"---that is crap. There is a tremendous difference being pushed to excel and excelling in spite of efforts to push you down. Make no mistake, this year could have destroyed me if I did not dig in and refuse to be anything less than who I am.

As I prepare for my return to CES I have to admit I let myself think like a bottom-feeder for far too long. My work sharpened up considerably this year; it is nice to be in demand as a reporter. It's even nicer to see blogs run by The New York Times and The New York Observer piggyback on stories that I break. This is a whole new landscape for me and I am enjoying the journey. I'm working in a different stratum than before and it is great to have that competitive hunger back.

If I continue on my current trajectory, I will move much closer to New York though probably on this side of the Hudson River. Jersey City is one of many possibilities.

As far as my fiction writing goes, I think Black Saturday throws people off because it's urban fantasy that dares to use a hoodlicious setting with a protagonist who is not all ripply-muscled and tattooed. The whole rich vs. poor struggle might also be too heavy for some who expect a romance novel  dressed up in vampire's clothing.

One pretty savvy agent called Black Saturday "good writing and I enjoyed reading it" however she was at a loss how to sell it. And yes, she read the whole book. Editors have also praised Black Saturday (and requested my other work) so it is frustrating this story has not found a home yet. It ends up being about getting enough traction in the market.

Root Haven (a.k.a. Riding Ten Thunders) has found new life, which is surprising for me. Rewrites continue, editors and agents who want to see it will have to wait until I've worked on it a lot more.

I do worry that the market is obsessed with copying successful books with pale imitators. I see a lot of Hunger Games-clones that may sell a few copies initially but offer no long-term prospects for their authors. Give it a year and the clones will be forgotten.

I am not in this for the quick cash in or hope to be some kind of overnight success. In fact, I don't "hope" for much these days; I believe. Hope is similar to "someday" and if you read Black Saturday you know my feelings on that particular word.

I believe 2012 will be an extraordinary year with a lot of hard work ahead and I am thankful for the people who are on my team.

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Flame and Bone

When I was made from fire
Poured into the tender vessel of caution
That keeps my smoke from rising
Quickly did I discover that apart from crisp drizzles or falling snow
The world chilled my touched
Walking the narrow cornered gap between girders and cut stone
One learns to tuck his shoulders in or risk
Jostling a neighbor passing by rapt with want
For a clear path without the distraction
Of another man's boiling eyes
The tip of a finger
That oldest of all weapons
Grown deadlier and pristine in its invention
Gathers a mote of a cinder on its bare flesh
And turns pondering how best to scratch the impious itch
Prying open the tender seam
Where the oil of thought dews
Offering a new wick to ignite
Squirming alive as a salamander of mischief
That yearns for a taste of air it is so ready to devour
The steam of breath betrays me
Before the glint of orange spreads
In popping bright waves
Eroding the fibers feeding it
Leaving naught but ash
As my shell of quietude falls away