Far in advance of the release of my debut novel in September, I did all the things you’re supposed to do to promote visibility to make the book a success. I began setting up readings and signings, trying to get onto con panels, etc. Then the pandemic hit. Funny how timing works. The week before March showed up with a plague doctor’s mask strapped to its face, I’d written a starry-eyed post about all I was doing to prepare, and perhaps it will be of some use to new authors when we reach the After Times.
2020 was a year that felt like the world finally burped (or worse) after holding it in for a century. Here’s Paul Rudd and Michael Peña explaining just how awful the year was, but you know, like, funny! A taste:
I felt a lot of guilt in undertaking the act of Writing Fiction amid a catastrophic global pandemic, the spread of white nationalism, climate armageddon, cop violence (arguably a feature of aforementioned white nationalism), the attempted murder of democracy, and everything else. I wrote about that too and included *homemade pie charts*!
Then my book came out. Was it like it would have been absent a pandemic? Urr, no. Like so many other debuts this year, I missed on the things that I’d daydreamed about long before I ever had a first draft of anything, much less a single word of what eventually became THE PHLEBOTOMIST. You only get one debut and so it sucks when the world falls apart just in time for it to arrive on shelves.
But it did come out. It got published. So more than anything, I am immensely thankful for the opportunities I did have. I’m thankful that Angry Robot adjusted so brilliantly to the pandemic on the fly and didn’t miss a beat. That’s a group of wonderful people, by the way.
The nice thing about writing is that there’s always more ahead if you want it. 2020 happened to everyone. I’ll write the next thing and hopefully if the fates cut my way, I’ll get back some of those experiences I missed out on the first time around. If not, then I’ll count my other blessings.
I recently noticed on Writers’ Twitter™ that a lot of authors were sending out these “Awards Eligibility Posts” where they listed stuff they published this year. So I thought “Hey, Chris, you’re a writer, you should do one of those.” As most of 2020 was spent working the final revisions on the novel and then cowering in existential dread, my usually steady short story output slumped some. That said, I’m extremely proud of the stories I did put out this year in addition to the novel. I always try not just to improve my craft, but to push the boundaries of imagination and story. These four short stories represent that progress I hope. If you’re in a reading mood, I’d love to share them.
“The Eighth Fathom” – Metaphorosis, March 2020. A story about rival octopus clans of questionable origin. 9000 words. Science Fiction.
“Warden of the Sun” — The Molotov Cocktail, May 2020. Placed Fourth Place in Molotov’s Apocalypse Flash Contest. I still tear up reading this one. 1000 words. Science Fiction.
“Following Walls” — The Molotov Cocktail, August 2020. Placed Fourth in Molotov’s Odyssey Flash Contest. 1000 words. Horror/Suspense.
“The Skin of Aquila Cadens” — Metaphorosis, December 2020. A tale of an audacious effort to save humanity and a scientist who has to cope with failure 25 light years away from home. Science Fiction. About 3400 words.
And, then there’s my near future sci-fi novel THE PHLEBOTOMIST, published on September 8, 2020 by Angry Robot. It’s available everywhere and pinker than poison.
Book Reviewers are Awesome
Debuting a book during the pandemic really put a spotlight on the work that book bloggers, bookstagrammers, etc., do to help spread the word before and after a release. I can’t express how hugely important—especially for debuts—the book-reviewing community is in lifting a book’s profile beyond what most authors can manage with their mostly tiny Twitter audiences. So thank you from me. I included a little collage of various insta-shots of THE PHLEBOTOMIST. Photo credits down below.
That’s it for me, for now. Stuff in the works. We’ll see what happens.
I hope this post finds each of you well. Hold your friends and family close (even if it’s figuratively). There is far more good in this world than evil. The evil’s just louder. Remember that.