Looking back at 2021 and ahead to 2022 with weary yet open-eyed optimism for the new year

I can honestly say I have mixed feelings about 2021. I think its one of those years I can’t wait to put behind me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no 2020. My God, that year will forever burn on the ash heap of life. I have a lot of memories of 2021, some good and some not so good.

First, the good . . .

I published my fourth book in 2021, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart, beginning a new fantasy/steampunk series under my pen (or rhetorical keyboard). Not only did I spend most of 2021 finishing this book, it was also the first work of mine where I hired and editor and a cover artist. This book means a lot to me, and winning first place in the 2021 Firebird Book Award for Steampunk was a big deal. Being recognized by your peers cemented my career as a writer.

Speaking of awards, The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series, won second place for fantasy in the 2021 Firebird Book Awards. Again, it was wonderful to be recognized by your peers and I really want to thank my publisher, Austin Macauley, for all their support in 2021. This book was released just as the COVID pandemic hit, so promoting it was next to impossible beyond social media. I’m just so happy they continue to work with me.

Williamsburg Arts and Music Festival, November 2021

The great thing about 2021 was that I was finally able to go out and meet people in public. I attended book fairs, book signings, comic-cons, and arts festivals, talking about my books to those interested and even selling a few along the way. Thanks to the Moravian Book Shop, Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival, Southern Maryland Comic-Con, and 2nd Sundays Williamsburg for their support. It was great that, after nearly two years in hibernation, I could tell my stories to anyone interested. I sold more books in 2021 at all these combined events than I did since my first book was published in 2009. That shows how much effort independent authors have to put in beyond social media! I am looking forward to doing even more events in 2022.

The last good event of 2021 was having my short stories published through The Publishing Room and being signed by two great independent publishers, Revolutionary Press and Curious Corvid Publishing. The Publishing Room published two of my short stories for their fantasy and horror anthologies, Of Distant Worlds and From Dark Corners. Revolutionary Press will be publishing my steampunk/historical fiction novel, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, in 2022. Curious Corvid will be publishing my fantasy novella, The River of Souls, which I wrote with poet Ashley Valitutto. I am looking forward to working with these publishers in the coming year and beyond!

Now for the bad . . .

I experienced some loss in 2021, especially here at the end. I’ve had friends and distant relatives die, but this year it hit close to home. My dog, Sully, died in July. He was only 13 and our family pet for all 13 years. If you want a great family pet, I highly recommend a West Highland Terrier. They are the best. And just a few days ago, my older sister, Trina, suddenly passed away. It was totally unexpected. She has been fighting illness of one type of another this past year, but she was fighting it so she could retire to Florida in 2022. It’s a terrible way to end the year, especially just days after Christmas. I never saw eye-to-eye with my sister on many things, but she was still my sister and I loved her no matter what. Her death has given me some perspective on my own mortality, to hopefully take better care of myself so I’m there for my family. No more snacking on Twinkies and Pop Tarts for me.

I guess a bad thing professionally would be my email inbox full of rejection letters from publishers and literary agents. I mean, I got two good ones in Curious Corvid and Revolutionary Press this year, but the constant flow of rejection is a little disheartening. It’s like that one bad review your book gets. It just gnaws at you even though its just one in a hundred. I’ve always done what’s best for me and file it away and just move on.

Looking ahead to 2022, there’s so much to look forward to. I’ll be publishing two new books and submitting two more for consideration (fingers crossed). You can find me at multiple conventions and festivals next year, starting off with Katsucon 2022 anime convention at the Gaylord Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland, February 18-20. It’s right in my area so this will be a blast. The only other confirmed event for me so far is the Imaginarium Fantasy Book Festival on Saturday, May 21, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. I’ve waited two years to be at this event so I can’t wait! You can keep up-to-date of my other appearances through my Events calendar.

So let’s end 2021 with this . . .

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of 365-page book. Write a good one.”

Brad Paisley

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, coming soon from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid PublishingThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of my current fantasy book series, coming soon.

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