50 at 50

It’s been a turn or two since I’ve unblogged. In that time, quite a bit has happened, so I thought I’d finally get off my keister and do something about it.

In August, I mentioned the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition (SPSFC) held a cover contest. A month later, the results were in, and BLOODLINES came in 7th place out of 100 entrants! Such a great showing by the wonderful cover created by Lance Buckley Designs! Both it and the PIECES OF EIGHT covers accentuate the tenor and flavor of each story in so many unique and subtle ways. In this case, I do think you can judge a book by its cover!

Earlier this month, BLOODLINES hit 50 ratings and reviews on Amazon! I’d been languishing in the 40s for a long time, but the release of PIECES OF EIGHT in July coinciding with a free Kindle promotion for BLOODLINES successfully pushed both books out to a wider, more international audience. I’m so thankful for all of the positive feedback to date! Whether the book’s visibility has grown on Amazon specifically now that I’ve surpassed the so-called “magic 50” number, or perhaps it’s been my semi-regular advertising on social media, there does appear to be a consistent number of daily page reads on Kindle Unlimited, something I hadn’t had in previous months.

Following on the heels of that milestone, I officially released the BLOODLINES audiobook on Audible. Narrated by the brilliant voice acting skills of Todd Menesses, just hearing my words brought to life by someone else still gives me chills! I have plans to work with Todd in early 2022 on PIECES OF EIGHT, and expect that release sometime in the Spring.

And then this happened:

Thanks to my wonderful editor Liz Heijkoop of ARC Editing, my two book babies appeared on an actual shelf at Aesop’s Fable, an independent bookstore in Holliston, MA. To say that a lifelong dream was finally realized is an understatement. Every time I look at the photo, I get chills. Sure, I’m still a self-published nobody, but it’s the littlest of things that can make all the difference in the world. Never lose hope, intrepid writers! You don’t need to score that big-time book deal (although that ain’t bad, neither) to be an author. You wrote a book. You’ve climbed the mountain. That unto itself is (and should be) reward enough. And most days for me, it is.

Speaking of reading and writing…

While I haven’t worked much on THE DEVIL’S SHARE, I have been reading a bunch. Check out the What I’ve Been Reading tab to catch up on all my latest reads. From science fiction to urban fantasy, I’m so happy to be back in a steady reading groove. Most of what I’ve read this year have been indie authors found as a result of making connections via Twitter. The unbelievable quality in self-publishing is staggering! So many incredible writers, from Krystle Matar to T.A. Bruno to Douglas Lumsden and more, and the numbers continue to swell thanks in large part to the book bloggers and reviewers making their thoughts known via social media giving readers insights into the wonderful world of self-published stories!

Still, THE DEVIL’S SHARE isn’t far from my thoughts. I recently joined a small critique group in the hopes that it will spark both my creativity, as well as personal accountability. I’ve been in longer creative funks than the one I’m experiencing now, and I fully anticipate pulling out of it with the help of the critique group. The story is there; I just have to coax it back into the light. Once I get into a writing groove, that’s when the real magic happens.

But the biggest news came on October 21st…

BLOODLINES is a quarterfinalist in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition! Team Tar Vol On sifted through thirty eclectic books to come up with their group of ten. Now, BLOODLINES gets to slug it out with nine other very worthy, well-written science fiction stories in the hopes of becoming one of three to make it to the semi-finals, which are supposed to be announced sometime in early 2022.

The journey is long, and I’ve crossed every crossable body part I can on more than three occasions. Will BLOODLINES make it? We’ll find out.

I turned 50 nearly a year ago. I was excited to release my second novel, embracing the self-published route whole-heartedly and I had no intentions of tossing my book into a competition. Hell, I detest them (still do), principally because they’re so subjective. Competitions like these are the literary equivalent of Russian roulette. You have no idea who the judges will be, their interests, backgrounds, predilections. You have to hope whoever they are that they like what you wrote.

I think this book is special. These characters are special. This series is special. It has gained greater visibility in the Twitter Writing Community, and that attention has a broad reach. It has an appeal that defies age groups. It reads easily and well. It crosses genres, never defined as one thing, but comprised of many different, almost disparate parts.

But can it win the whole enchilada?

Why not?

And that’s all I can hope for.

3 thoughts on “50 at 50

  1. Ha! Mr. Hartog: There truly is a FIRST for everything and Doc Holliday’s inclusion of Led Zeppelin as a “classic” is, well, just that: CLASSIC! Loved book one and am about to dive into your second offering! Keep ’em coming!


    1. Thank you so much! I’m working on the third one, although it’s slow going these days. Real life gets in the way, unfortunately, and watching the Bruins get kicked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs is still hurting. Hopefully, The Devil’s Share will release in 2023. Thanks again!


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