Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Retrospective and the Kendricks 800

December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve

As I begin this entry, I think it's significant to note it's number eight-hundred here at Between the Keys. I wonder what reasoning the universe had for arranging for the Kendricks 800 to fall on New Year's Eve? One shouldn't discount any possibility. 

The word 'retrospective' conjures a bit of nostalgia. We tend to view the past through a rosy lens when we keep our focus on a brighter future. Some years, achieving that rosy glow on past events takes a little longer. Sometimes there is no rosy glow. So it will be for parts of 2016. 

I had BIG PLANS for 2016. I put eight books in development, all set in the fictional town of Marionville. I figured I could write four in 2016 and four in 2017. Now I think the project will run into 2018. 

The Year of our Lord Two Thousand Sixteen dawned with the anticipation of the release of Fly By Night at Amber Quill Press. Day 2 of 2016 saw that vision crushed with the announcement Amber Quill was shutting down, ceasing operations. I was, in a word, dismayed. I knew having forty books with one publisher was a gamble. I knew, given that the quality of the covers and editing had slipped, something was a bit off. I'd already self-published Hey, Joe and a couple of the old Rayne Forrest books to test the do-it-yourself waters. Darn good thing as it turned out. 

And now it seems 2016 is closing on a similarly dismal note. On December 28, 2016, Lori James announced the closing of her company, All Romance eBooks on December 31, 2016. The fourth quarter settlement she's willing to give publishers/self-published authors is laughable. I immediately pulled all the titles I have control over off her storefront. (How can you lose money on just a digital storefront?) It looks like the prophecy is coming true. Amazon is the only viable game in town.

Now to recap the year that was - 2016.

Scramble mode. With Amber Quill closing on March 30, I had ninety days to improve my Photoshop skills and get covers made. Then my mother had surgery and my world really went to hell. 

January 22 also brought us the Blizzard of 2016. On January 23, my county had its fourth-highest twenty-four-hour snowfall since records have been kept - 21.4 inches. Everything took a backseat to keeping our 975-foot long lane passable. 

In 2015, I had contacted several Labrador Retriever breeders in Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Remarkably, the one a mere ten miles from my home finally emailed with the news she had a litter, and did I want to come to select a pup? I broke every speed limit getting there. Did I choose Deuce or did he choose me? I don't know or care. If I survive the extended puppyhood Labs have, he'll be a great dog. 

Work continued on SABRE, as did making covers to self-publish the back list.


Amber Quill closed on March 30. On March 31, Fly By Night went live. Fly By Night had been under contract but never released. I've often wondered why AQP even issued a contract on FBN. 

We brought Greenbrier Smokey Deuce home on March 14. I'd like to be able to say I kept working, but I think I spent at least two weeks spending every moment with the puppy so he'd bond with me. What was I thinking???? I now have two shadows. 


The first batch of books was republished, including Double Deuce, Deuce of Diamonds, Ace Deuce Trey, and Circle of Steel. I was thrilled to get the ball rolling. 

In years past, I enjoyed participating in the annual A to Z Blogging Challenge. In 2016, not so much. I made the decision this would be the last year. 

Bored, Stroked, and Blueprinted was re-released through Loose Id. I was with LI many years ago. My experience with the editorial staff wasn't positive, then or now.  It's like dealing with a used car salesman. It's "upper management" this, and "upper management" that. If one's editor is being micro-managed then you are being micro-managed multiplied. Just admit it - big mistake. 

SABRE was released in May. Confession time - I saw this guy and had to write a story for him. I rifled through the ideas folder and realized he was perfect for a "secret agent" idea. The downside of this tale is I wanted to do a SABRE series. That got put on hold when I had to shift gears and indie publish the backlist.  Now I know a SABRE series won't happen. I told his story in one book.

SABRE reached No. 7 on the All Romance eBooks bestseller list. I was thrilled! Then I realized I'd never checked to see how Fly By Night did on the list. Live and learn. 

My spring vacation was spent playing with Deuce and not writing. Priorities, you know. 

With a good portion of the backlist republished, I finally got to work on the plan to revisit Marionville with The Right Brew. 

The Right Brew was released and immediately hit the All Romance eBook bestseller list! It really gave me a much-needed mental and emotional boost. 

This month found me still re-publishing backlist items and lazing in the pool. Things were busy at the day job as everyone filled in for others to cover for vacations. I picked and pecked at my ideas folder to flesh out character bios for the next Marionville book, and got Where There's Smoke underway. 

What's not to like about a month that starts with a week off from the day job? Yes, I finally got my turn and I only used four vacation days. Waiting until last gives me Labor Day as part of the vacation. It also gave me the opportunity to do a lot of work on Where There's Smoke. 

Then I tossed a new paranormal into the mix. It's a shapeshifter, but it's not part of the Sundown saga.

Where There's Smoke was released on the 22nd and immediately climbed the ARE bestseller list to #5. Deuce posed for his first book cover. He's a twitchy little doggie model. Extremely difficult to work with. And he demanded food after every shot. In the end, he did give me what I needed. What's male for diva? Divo? He is one.

I also started on the next Marionville story. The character of Kory was introduced in WTS and savvy readers will pick out the crossover scene between Leon (Smoke's dad) and Kory. 

With my mother in an Alzheimer's care facility, my personal life is in a time of transition.  As the holiday season approached, I was tempted to throw my hands in the air and run away from home.

As the month progressed, so did work on Kory's story. I decided on a title, made a cover, and did the template for a page at my website. I got Undeniable formatted and then decided, with the holiday season upon me, to wait until the new year to release anything else.  

I will admit it. December isn't my favorite time of year. The weather turned cold. Work continued in the realm of Marionville - when I worked. The day job had me pulling my hair out, and I breathed in something that sent me into fits of coughing that lingered for days. After I recovered from whatever airborne spore laid me low, I did some good writing. I just wish it had all been on the same story! (I spread it around in December.)

And so we've arrived at the eve of the new year. My beloved and I have no great plans to celebrate. We'll ring in 2017 quietly - or as quietly as Deuce will allow. I suspect we'll select a favorite movie, settle in front of the television, and do our best to stay awake until midnight. With or without us, 2017 will arrive. 

As always, to those who follow along here at Between the Keys I wish you health, happiness, peace in your heart, and great joy in the New Year. 


 KC Kendricks

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