Of course I'm a week behind in getting up a New Year-style post, so I'll make it a good and thorough one!
So here goes...
Last year was definitely my best year yet author-wise. It saw the release of Spirit of Fire, the third book in my Fires in Eden Series, and there were a number of very enjoyable and successful convention appearances ranging from Mid South Con, to ConNooga, to MystiCon and others. I also served as the literary track director for Fandom Fest during what was a breakthrough year for the event that saw over 16,000 attendees and guest stars like Sean Astin, John-Rhys Davies, and many others. I did my biggest ever promotional campaign for Spirit of Fire in a 48 day blog tour, which involved a number of fun posts and videos.
I made many new friends, some of whom I will be doing some close work with in the future. In the last part of the year I was part of a Kickstarter Campaign that secured a wonderful project for Seventh Star Press called the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which features contributors like Neil Gaiman and Orson Scott Card. The editor for the project, Michael Knost, is a wonderful fellow and I definitely hope we work together more in the future. I'm looking forward to working on the promotions for the release of this project very soon.
2013 looks to be extremely productive on the writing front. A new Rising Dawn Saga book will be out sometime in the Spring, and we are hoping to squeeze in the next Fires in Eden Book before the year is out. In addition, there will be a number of short stories released, from steampunk (latest Harvey and Solomon tale Gift of Light to appear in Dreams of Steam III), to horror (my new Hellscapes series), to epic fantasy (several new additions coming to the Chronicles of Ave), to urban fantasy (several new additions coming for the Annals of the Rising Dawn). There is also a very good chance that the first book of a new YA cross-genre trilogy will move forward this year.
With all of the writing and commitments I have, my appearance schedule may be a little more modest than it has been in the past. I am slated for several wonderful events, and will be returning to ConNooga, Mid South Con, MystiCon, and others, as well as doing a literary track again for Fandom Fest.
I also plan to do a little more blogging, especially with some non-fiction topics. As those who read my Rising Dawn Saga would probably guess, I don't have the most positive of outlooks regarding the direction the world is heading in. Along those lines, I think my home country, the US, is chugging straight for the proverbial iceberg. Even worse, it appears that the US is accelerating towards a very disastrous situation.
While all of this gives me a great deal to think about in regards to the themes I write on, there is a frustrating side to it as well. I've long thought that true journalism is largely dead when it comes to the mainstream media, and this is a travesty as many people are not being warned of the consequences regarding the things politicians in Washington are doing. The whole "Fiscal Cliff" issue recently was a big charade and prime example of political theater. It accomplished nothing, in terms of addressing the real problems.
To add insult to injury, it added a ratio of 41 dollars in spending for every 1 dollar raised in "revenue" (I despise the term revenue when it comes to taxes, as it makes it seem like the government is engaging in market-based transactions of a voluntary nature. Let's call them what they are: Taxes. Language has suffered enough casualties in this age of spin and sugar-coating.)
The real fiscal cliff is crossing the 17 trillion bridge and soaring higher. It baffles me why so few people put the same urgency and focus on this monstrosity that they did on the political theater version of the "Fiscal Cliff". We are heading right towards inflation, downgrading of our national credit rating, devaluation of the dollar, and a whole lot more while we are on this entirely unsustainable path.
The economy is worsening. Make no mistake about that. As I've mentioned before, every small business person I deal with is closing, consolidating, and downsizing. I rarely see startups and almost never encounter a small business expanding. Small businesses are the engine of employment in the USA, and when you have the small business world in decline nothing good is going to come out of it.
Further, when economies are in decline and hardship spreads, crime begins to rise fast. This is the untold story across the US. Also, residents of many cities are facing a fast-rising nemesis in the form of gangs. Common estimates are that there are well over 1.4 million gang members in the USA and their numbers are increasing fast and will continue to rise with widespread unemployment among young adults. Gangs are behind the bulk of gun related murders in cities like Chicago.
So what kind of discussion are we having here in the USA right now? Disarming law-abiding citizens aka gun control. I always find it disturbing that the actions of a crazy individual inevitably turns into an outcry to take rights away from law abiding individuals. Do you really think that the gangs and criminals are going to be disarmed? Laws have worked so well in keeping illegal drugs out of their hands (heavy sarcasm intended).
This debate has also put on display an appalling lack of knowledge in the American public about the 2nd Amendment and why it was placed in the Bill of Rights. I plan on doing a major post about this in the hopes that people will research this for themselves, but the 2nd Amendment is not about sporting or hunting, or just home defense. It is a unique recognition of the right of free people to have the means to defend themselves against a government gone tyrannical. This reality of the basis for the 2nd Amendment has largely been ignored in the mainstream media. In my opinion this is because it does not fit their agenda to advance gun control legislation.
If the 2nd Amendment rendered worthless, the way is clear to roll over any other right that is inconvenient at a given time. There is also a terrible side effect of this gun control agenda. The efforts to disarm law-abiding citizens are successful, it will give rise to countless tragedies as people who otherwise might have had a chance to defend themselves and their families are going to be subjected to home invasions, burglaries, assaults, and rapes, all of which are going to rise greatly in number with the lethal combination of a terrible economy and disarmed, soft targets everywhere.
Of course, the Feinstein and Bloomberg types out there who believe they know best how you should live your life will not take any responsibility for the proliferation of tragedies in the wake of their draconian gun control agendas. Also take particular note that these kinds of elites are always protected by armed guards, and send their children to schools that have armed guards. They just don't want the masses to have the same kinds of protections for their kids or themselves. This hypocrisy is mind-boggling to those who are willing to see it for what it is.
To put it simply, the bad guys are not going to cease what they do. If anything, a disarmed US populace is a criminal's dream situation.
There are times when I stop and think of the kind of fiber in the leaders at the foundation of this country and the clowns we have in Washington today. It is debilitating to think we've gone from individuals such as George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Thomas Paine, and the like to those such as Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Chris Christie, Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, and Eric Cantor.
The contrast between the two groups couldn't be more stark, and it would be laughable if it wasn't both sad and distressing to see how the quality of leadership has sunk so very far One set in motion a nation that embraced individual freedom like no other an history, the latter illustrate Franklin's warning when asked what kind of government had been formed. He had responded, "a republic, if you can keep it."
Well, we are well on the way to losing it, and we are also facing another of Franklin's declarations, namely that those who "can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
So I hold to the thoughts I expressed after the election, in that we are going to see a major military conflict in the near future, continued economic erosion, and nothing being done to address the fundamental problems. I know this sounds gloomy, but how can you expect anything different when you make no changes in foreign policy, in economic policy, and double-down on the things choking entrepreneurship and small businesses like rising taxes and unnecessary regulations.
Our inane foreign policy continues. On one hand we are told relentlessly that intrusive surveillance and heavy-handed security presences are there to "protect us" from Islamic militants, and in the next breath the US aids and assist the very same kind of Islamic militants in taking over Libya, and gives the same support to the same kind of militants in Syria. From Tunisia, to Egypt, to Libya, to Syria, and all across this region government authority is falling under a united and much more extreme ideology that is not going to lead to anything good for he world. Yet even after the Benghazi incident most people still can't see what's going on or who's coming to power across the region.
Iraq is still highly violent and unstable, the Taliban is alive and well in Afghanistan, and at the end of the day one has to ask why so many good men and women are dying at the behest of the politicians who do not even have the decency to follow the Constitution and declare war.
I could go on and on, but seeing all this insanity at home and abroad can be pretty frustrating, especially in the light of history. Great lessons are there to be learned, and what they have to teach bodes very ill for the United States. One can only hope that the Liberty Movement continues to educate and gain steam, and that sovereignty is pulled back to local levels, that individual liberties are defended, that people regain self-determination, and much more. A stop can be put to the ills that plague us and the things that made us strong can be restored. It just takes people with willpower to make it happen.
As for me, I will move forward, and do my best in everything I do. Nobody can say for certain what the future holds, but at the end of the day it is about what you choose to do, not what others choose to do.
I do hope that success, peace and happiness finds everyone this year, but I think a time of struggle is ahead. Yet sometimes hardship brings out the best in men and women, and many heroes will rise to the occasion. Hang in there, keep your head up, and continue to pursue your dreams!