I hadn’t felt much desire to round up my year, because it began with much heartbreak, with my mother passing away the day after my birthday. The rest of the year felt like one hammer blow after another: a friend dying, my science writing work hours halved, my first book on submission being shelved despite its glowing feedback, and various and sundry smaller heartbreaks and unpleasantness.
The fog of grief especially from Mom’s passing, just under three years after Dad passed away, settled over me and my siblings as we tried to navigate this new, cold reality. This is ongoing, as I suspect it always will be. I’m grateful for my brothers and my sister, and the friends and family who were there for us.
But being the measure of a year, there were bright spots. And many of them heralded new things for me. So I’ll focus on those for this post.
I Wrote Three Novels in One Year
It’s true that I wrote three books this year. I wrote a dragon fantasy, a speculative thriller, and a campy horror within a year’s time. I told my agent I could do it, and I did. (Also, I wrote several new short stories.)
Note that it took longer with the second of the three because I was writing it during Mom’s declining health. It took a couple of visits to Tennessee to be able to finish it, since I had a mental block on it due to my sadness. But much of the book actually takes place there, so I finally reached enough peace to finish that. And with the third book, I pushed through to get it done before the holidays. I actually quite enjoyed that one because of its dark humor.
My Books Went on Submission
After signing with my literary agent in autumn 2022, we began our partnership to expand my literary career. Hence the three books mentioned above. To that end, in January 2023, my epic dragon fantasy became my first novel ever put on submission to editors at publishing houses. And while the book did get some offers, and received universal praise, it didn’t land the way we hoped it would. Strategically, it made more sense to shelve it for the moment.
After that, my agent sent my speculative thriller out in October 2023. It will continue its course, while we also submit my campy horror novel elsewhere in January 2024. It’s been a fascinating process, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes crushing, but never dull. We shall see how the new year treats the three novels, plus whatever new ones I write.
My First Traditionally Published Books Debuted
In summer 2022, before I got my agent, I received two book offers on the same day: likely never to happen again, but that was quite a day. This led to those books being published in 2023 in March (THE SHADOW GALAXY via Trepidatio Publishing) and October (THE INN AT THE AMETHYST LANTERN via Android Press). These were written by me under my old pen name J. Dianne Dotson. It was a powerful and empowering experience to make the jump from my self-published novels, with my space opera epic series THE QUESTRISON SAGA, to traditional publishing, cementing me as a hybrid author.
I met so many wonderful people at the signings! And I had a rather epic cake for my LANTERN launch at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego.
As I have always done, I matched my outfits with the covers in some regard for both my debut books.
My First Collection
THE SHADOW GALAXY is my first short story collection, and it also contains some poetry. It features stories across science fiction, fantasy, horror, and Appalachian tales. Published March 3, 2023, by Trepidatio Publishing (JournalStone). I’m honored for it to have been compared to works by Bradbury, King, Le Guin, Asimov, Carpenter, and Gaiman. Wow! Available in paperback and ebook from your favorite bookseller.
My First Young Adult Novel
THE INN AT THE AMETHYST LANTERN is my first young adult novel, featuring actual teens and their elders on an epic fight against villains who want to take over their future Lunarpunk utopia. Published October 24, 2023, by Android Press. This book has garnered praise as well, and more than one comparison to L’Engle, as well as to movies and shows like The Goonies and Stranger Things. Available in paperback, ebook, and hardcover from your favorite bookseller.
My First Media Tie-in Story
The wonderful high fantasy role playing game Thrones & Bones, created by Lou Anders, now features an anthology, TALES FROM STOLKI’S HALL, and I’m so thrilled to have a high fantasy short story in this called “The Tower and the Raven”…and that raven I came up with is now part of game lore! How cool is that?
My First Published Comic
I was delighted to be brought into the comics fold by PJ Holden, whose NullSpace webcomics feature several luminous writers. My comic, “The Blood Garnet Crown,” is a dark fairytale with PJ’s great art and my script (which is part of the post).
My First Royalty Statement
The year ended with my receiving my first royalty statement as a traditionally published author, for THE SHADOW GALAXY. This was a most satisfying crystallization of a new phase of my career, and obviously, I hope it’s the first of many.
I’m probably forgetting some other firsts, but these were the big ones, and I’m so glad editors and readers believed in me and my work. I want to keep writing in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and thriller realms, with some sprinkles of my Southern Appalachian heritage thrown in. Here’s hoping I get to do more of this in 2024 and beyond. I already have two short stories publishing in the new year so far, one in an anthology, and I’ll announce those when it’s time.
Thanks so much for following along and supporting me and my work. You can find links to my books and short stories here on my book page (including other stories I didn’t mention here), and you can find me on various social media here via my LinkTree.