A time it was, and what a time it was, it was
How 2021 provided me with a new writing journey—and where 2022 might take me
In this week’s Story Cauldron let’s look at some of the things that have been brewing in the cauldron over the past year and what new ingredients I have for 2022.
Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you’ve survived most of 2021, which is almost as big of an accomplishment as surviving 2020.
And I don’t mean to trivialize what 2021 meant for many people. The past couple of years presented a significant challenge for many people in terms of health, finances, relationships, and opportunities. It’s been stressful and scary as much as it’s been anything else.
As someone who lives alone, the past couple of years have weighed pretty heavily on me in lots of different ways, but to the extent that I’ve been able to do so, I’ve tried to make the most of it, using the shutdowns and crowd avoidance to focus more on my writing. And in many ways, while I don’t see many big events of 2021 as things to celebrate, on a personal level the year has been reasonably good to me as a writer.
How my writing changed in 2021
After years of treadmill writing (creating stories without concrete goals in mind), 2021 for me was a game-changer.
First, I have a great writing group that has continually inspired and pushed me, allowing me to get a lot more writing done—and by ‘done,’ I mean, actually completed and polished.
But 2021 offered up a couple of new opportunities to push myself even further. This year brought me both Kindle Vella and Substack and I’ve been using both platforms to put my work in front of bonafide readers. I simultaneously published my first Favor Faeries novel The Girl Behind the Camera on Vella and here on my Substack (for paid members). Given that it’s just a novella-length book, it has earned out over $400 on Vella and contributed to several people joining my paid newsletter here.
For those unfamiliar with Vella, I wrote up an article explaining it back in June. Since then we’ve learned a bit more about the platform—most importantly the fact that Amazon is paying out monthly bonuses to authors. While I had soured on the platform for a while because my reads were minuscule, the bonuses made me think twice, and I think I may be adding my current novel The Boy Who Can Taste Color to Vella in the new year.
I started Story Cauldron in May 2021 as a way to share my nonfiction and short stories, and build an audience who might one day like to read my novels.
As a ‘serial newsletter killer,’ I had failed every previous attempt to produce a newsletter for and about my writing. Substack offered me an easier interface, the opportunity to write articles rather than just personal updates, and a phenomenal community of fellow writers. Because of all those things, I’m proud to say that I’ve delivered a newsletter consistently every single week since I started.
In case you missed them, here are a few pieces I’m especially proud of:
Other newsletters I’d recommend
Since I started Story Cauldron, I’ve encountered a number of entertaining newsletters here on Substack. Here are a handful of my favorites:
Garbage Day - a newsletter about weird and quirky things on the Internet
Behind a Door - the most beautiful literary magazine in a newsletter
Time Travel Kitchen - recipes from old cookbooks that are fun to try today
I’m fine I’m fine just understand - N.D. Stevenson’s “quiet comics about gender, mental health, and getting older”
Story Hoarder - my friend and fellow writer Nicole Rivera has unlocked her story hoard and is sharing her excellent stories with the world
Fictionistas - a newsletter for fiction writers on Substack, run by myself and Geoffrey Golden of Adventure Snack, a choose your own adventure newsletter. On Fictionistas, we’re featuring links to every fiction Substack we can find, so I encourage you to check them out and show my fellow authors some love!
If you want to find other cool newsletters, check out The Sample, which allows you to choose your interests and then sends you introductions to newsletters you might never have seen otherwise.
What’s in store for 2022?
Well, one thing’s for sure: I’ll be doing a lot of writing.
I’ll continue to serialize The Boy Who Can Taste Color here, and I’m hoping to wrap up a draft of The Boy Who Dances With Faeries early in 2022, and get it revised to drop when the current book is complete. The next book, about a witch who falls in love with the Green Man of legend, is partly drafted and will be my next project. My stretch goal is to complete all of these books by the end of 2022 or early in 2023 and publish them as a series on Amazon.
In an exciting development, I’m also hoping to be a regular contributor to NextSTL, a St. Louis-based site that focuses on the development, transportation, public policy, and history of our region. The publisher reached out to me and wanted to republish the sulphur springs article, and we’ll see where things go from there.
And as for my newsletter itself: in 2022, I’d dearly love to grow my Story Cauldron audience to 1000+ readers. To achieve that goal, Story Cauldron needs some tweaks in terms of content, design, and possibly the frequency of emails. If you have suggestions on what you think works well or could use improvement, or if you have suggested topics you’d like to read about, I would sincerely appreciate the feedback. You can comment here or email me.
To help me reach my goal, I’d be so grateful if you’d share Story Cauldron with your friends.
As always, thank you so much for your continuing support. Without you, Story Cauldron couldn’t exist. You’re the best!