We rang in the new year an hour earlier than usual, from a JetBlue cabin in the Atlantic time zone somewhere over Puerto Rico, inbound to Ponce. Yes, we’re starting another work session on the house. (See The Ponce Chronicles for the beginning of this multi-year adventure.)
So, good-bye to 2019, and good frickin’ riddance. It was a tough year, no getting around it. In more-or-less-chronological order, it was the year my (former) publisher said, “So long and thanks for all the fish,” and cut me loose. (That event was not without its benefits, but it still was a shocker and with some difficult ramifications.) 2019 was the year my brother died: Charles S. Carver, big brother, author, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, and husband to the delightful Youngmee. It was also the year our beloved cat Moonlight died, at almost 21. Last year, my step-mother Carol passed away, and my mother-in-law Fay had to move into an assisted-living, memory-care facility, with rapidly declining ability to communicate. At the same time, we watched helplessly as a good friend developed serious memory problems, while her friends wondered what to do.
Nationally, the country I love became ever more deeply divided, as environmental and social-justice gains hard won over decades were systematically destroyed by a dangerous demagogue and by legislators afraid to stand up to him. You know who I mean.
Still, good things happened in 2019. I was able, after eleven years of work, to shepherd The Reefs of Time and Crucible of Time into print, to a favorable reception from those who have commented on them. I was seriously boggled at the amount of work it took to prepare the books for publication, especially the print editions. And that’s with much fine assistance from others—including proofreading, cover art, and cover design. (Thanks, Chaz… Chris… Maya.)
But publishing is one thing, and selling is another. I have the imprint and support of Book View Café behind me, but there’s no doubt the loss of my former publisher’s distribution network hurt the discoverability of the books. Published reviews were nearly impossible to come by, even from sources that have previously given me favorable press—though several colleagues lent generous quotes. I made a deliberate decision to invest a lot of time, money, and effort in the promotion of this work; and by and large, I’m still waiting for the return. I’m keeping the faith, but the candle is flickering a bit. I remind myself regularly that it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.
And so, work continues. Strange Attractors and The Infinite Sea are both out with new audiobook and print editions, and Sunborn is close behind. I am working on the next book, but what with all the life chaos, I haven’t made much headway yet.
But 2020 is a new year! And what better way to start than by tackling problems on the house here in Puerto Rico? (What do you mean, the hot water’s out AGAIN? Another cold shower??) I feel a trip to Home Depot coming on.