2021: The Year I Did the Thing

The hardcover (!) of TIDEPOOL, adorned with a pendant I bought from Pyrrha.com with part of my royalties.

So. What a year it’s been. Not all good, of course—I still haven’t gotten a job, and I truly thought COVID-19 would be far in the past by now. But this is the year my first novel came out, and that makes up for a lot. A dream I’ve had almost all my life, and which began to crystallize in 2011 when I wrote my first novel during NaNoWriMo, finally came true in 2021. I did the thing. 

By contrast, here was my end-of-year entry in 2018, when things seemed so bleak after my Pitch Wars triumph in 2017. Nobody wanted Tidepool. Nobody wanted my next novel, The Keeper of the Key, either. 

Three years later, Tidepool is my successful and well-received debut novel, and The Keeper of the Key finally found its way to an agent who believes she can sell it. And Tidepool will be coming out in a Spanish edition in October 2022. (That in particular is so, so cool. I never expected to get that kind of interest!)

I’ve had people bare their teeth and snarl at me when I’ve talked about persistence over on writing Twitter, but I’m sorry, folks. If there was a shortcut, I’d tell you. But the secret to whatever small success I’ve had is being too goddamn stubborn to give up. 

There is no magic formula for publication. There was me working on and workshopping these books and pursuing every and any opportunity for them until something panned out. Yes, some luck was involved in connecting with the right publisher and the right agent at the right time. But I had to put myself in the position to capitalize on that luck by being in the right places with manuscripts that were ready to go. 

My biggest fear with Tidepool was that it would be released and promptly drop off the radar, unread by anyone who didn’t know me personally. Unloved. Unnoticed. Forgotten.

I think by now it’s safe to say this did not happen. I got my first royalty statement a few weeks ago, and Tidepool’s first three months of sales were way higher than I expected given that I’m with a small publisher. The novel is still selling at a steady clip. The number of ratings, reviews, and to-reads continues to climb on Amazon and Goodreads. 

And according to Goodreads, 90% of readers liked the book as of this writing. Its overall rating on Amazon is 4.2 out of 5 and it recently surpassed 100 reviews there. My original review goal was 50, and I thought I was going to have trouble reaching that.

I’ve been genuinely touched by the people who’ve reached out to me on social media or via email to tell me they liked the book. I’ve been carrying this story around for a long time. I thought it was good, but I don’t trust my own judgment, and so it’s been amazing to hear people I don’t know tell me they thought it was good too.

If you’ve bought and read Tidepool, I thank you. Even if you didn’t like it, I appreciate that you gave it a chance. If you posted reviews or talked about it to your friends and/or on social media, I’m extra appreciative. (Yes, even of negative reviews. I don’t read them, but I’m thankful for anyone who took the time and trouble to write and post any review.) 

What’s coming in 2022? As I said in my last entry, I have hopes that my agent will be able to start sending my next novel out to publishers pretty soon. What happens after that isn’t in my control, though. But in addition to working on my next next novel, I’d really like to write and publish more short fiction. Maybe even some poetry, something I’ve only dabbled in. 

And finally, I’m thankful that most of my favorite places weathered 2020 and I’ve been able to visit some of them again this year. I’m also grateful we were able to celebrate the holidays with family members in person; the Zoom holiday calls were getting old.

Have a happy and safe New Year. May 2022 leave us in a better place than we were when it first found us.

Portrait of the author holding her first book for the very first time. August 2021.

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