Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 End of Year Report

It's over! You've made it through!

Hard to believe that it's finished, isn't it? 2020 has been a year of strangeness where it just seemed liked nothing went right and this snowball of disaster kept rolling downhill only getting bigger and bigger. It wouldn't stop moving, but neither would it stop snowing. Would it ever let up?

And sure enough, for many it didn't. However, for creators, we had our work cut out for us. If there was ever a time escapism was needed in this world this was our chance to supply it it the world. Did we do it? Did we offer all we could in this year of mayhem and madness? Yes, and no. There were many who rose to the challenge, but there are just as many who didn't, or couldn't. There are many reasons for this, some valid, but for independents they had an excuse. Those whose job entailed being paid by the big dogs? Not so much. In fact, they spent time trying to destroy the internet archive and prevent readers from being able to read. It wasn't a good look for them.

OldPub and Hollywood were especially crippled by the pandemic and fallout, but those of us in NewPub and in the general independent space, were far quicker to take advantage of the need to lift others out of their doldrums. This was out chance to shine, and we did, and proved we are far more capable than the dinosaur industries are.

Even when we weren't putting out new product we were busy behind the scenes preparing yet even more for our audiences. Something was always happening. It was a very big year in terms of activity, and my best since I started writing.

So what did I do in 2020. I will take stock for this usual end of year report. This might take a while, so please be patient.

The first thing I did was release a book in January, the first time I'd ever done so. It was my fourth book, and it was one I'd been working on for some time. I couldn't quite get it out in 2019, so I instead spent the extra time polishing it for a 2020 release. Turns out it was worth it since reception for it was the best I had gotten to that point. This book was Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures.

Find it Here!

This was a novel containing 7 stories that tell an overarching story. They range from short stories to novelettes to full blown novellas. It was a challenge to write something of this magnitude and it was heartening to hear that readers connected with it. There will definitely be more projects of this type in the future. It was a lot of fun to write.

However, this was just the first release. It isn't close to everything that happened in January of 2020.

I also started a series of posts on the blog centered around these stories entitled Story Sheets, which is a line of articles where I talk about each individual story I've written. From inspirations to ideas to execution they were a joy to put together. Story Sheets helped contribute to making this the biggest year for Wasteland & Sky so far both in terms of traffic and content!

This is a blog abut storytelling, first and foremost, so I would be remiss to not talk about my own writing while I do so. I'm always going to put my money where my mouth is. Suffice to say, these articles also helped me solidify thoughts and allowed me to improve further as a writer, just as reader feedback does. Readers also appeared to enjoyed these posts and got some inspiration of their own out of them, so it was a win-win.

And yes, there will be more posts in that series in the future.

Oh, and it wasn't the first thing I was involved in during 2020. These might have been my first efforts, but I was actually involved in another project earlier. That would be the release of StoryHack Issue #5 which featured my story Black Dog Bend. It came out in the first week of 2020, which just goes to show how much creatives were already working for customers. StoryHack never rests!

This was a particularly great issue featuring many other great authors such as Dominika Lein and Jon Mollison. Definitely be sure to read this one. It's one of the best issues. Oh, and there will be more issues in 2021! So look out for that.

Issue #5 came out in the first week of the year, and was the first of two issues the magazine put out in 2020. Aside from Cirsova, they were the most active magazine that I could see in 2020. A few others actually shut down during this mess. Nonetheless, they've promised more in 2021, so be sure t hear more about them in the near future!

Stories included in StoryHack issue #5:

The Last Word by H. A. Titus
The Singer's Tale by Jon Mollison
The Lair of the Old Ones by Stanley W. Wagenaar
Acme Denton: Out of Time by Michael Haynes
The Last Contract by Dominika Lein
Makani and the Vulture God by Paul R. McNamee
Night of a Thousand Eyes by Deborah L. Davitt
Black Dog Bend by JD Cowan
Swimming with the Devil by William Eckman
Find it Here!

Keep in mind that all this was just in January.

In February I offered my first bit of free fiction on the blog (more on the way!) entitled Why Not: A Gen Y Fragment. This was a piece I had been wanting to write for awhile but was unsure if there was an audience for it. It isn't really an action or adventure story, really, but more of a time capsule and an attempt to show a specific place and time in as few words as possible.

This was inspired by stories by other authors such as Brian Niemeier and David V. Stewart who supplied their own examples of Gen Y. If there is one thing 2020 did it was raise awareness of this lost generation and give them the spotlight they need to finally be able to understand they have an identity beyond what entertainment corporations assigned to them in the 1990s. It was a hard idea to get across, but I believe many of us successfully did so. Either way, we won't stop beating the drum anytime soon.

Here is a reading of Why Not: A Gen Y Fragment that was done by David V. Stewart on youtube. I appreciate him bringing more life into this short story.

The Gen Y posts have brought a lot of discussion out in studying and questioning just what this lost generation is and why continuing to ignore them is actually doing damage to both their futures and to their very souls. I spent many posts about this subject over the year, but this small story was my first attempt in trying to define it in a time and place.

I'm sure the topic will get more traction next year. I know I am not done with it. In fact, you might get a Gen Y surprise sooner than you might think.

But of course,  didn't stop there. This is still the beginning of 2020!

March ended up being a big month for the entire world. However, I also ended up putting out even more content despite the madness. As I said, there is no point slowing down when people are asking for more escapism and you can give it to them.

The first release this month was Planetary Anthology Uranus which included my story Cold Heart of Ouranos. For those who don't remember, in 2019 Superversive Press's Planetary Anthology series was revived by Tuscany Bay Books and given a facelift. As a result, a story I thought might have been lost was finally released. Do you like sword and planet stories? Then why don't you own this anthology yet? It was a fun story to write.

Here are the stories included:

Serendi-bunny by Julie Frost
Forty-Two Years of Summer by Karina Fabian
Weather Witch of the West by Ben Wheeler
Muddification by Clint Hale
The Last Human by Richard Paolinelli
Blue Ring Beginning by Bokerah Brumley
Two Households, None Alike by A.M. Freeman
Creativity by Arlan Andrews Sr.
Kashika's Empty Nest by Sarah Byrne
The Long Dream by Caroline Furlong
The Morrigan by Christopher Wilson
Cold Heart of Ouranos by J.D. Cowan
Room to Breathe by Marina Fontaine
Find it Here!

The Planetary Anthology series is finally nearing the end after spending so much time in limbo. Much applause and kudos should be given to Tuscany Bay for pushing s hard with this project. All their efforts have borne fruit after much uncertainty. By February of 2021 the series should finally be complete after near half a decade of work. Check out this 11 volume project for yourself. There are around 100 authors included. But it won't be the final time I talk about it!

This wasn't everything that happened that month, as you are well aware. This was the start of a worldwide series of events still affecting us today. But that wasn't everything!

Also, in March, a bunch of us NewPub authors got together to offer something in the midst of the first widescale lockdowns. This was the Corona-Chan Anthology, curated by author David V. Stewart, which is still completely free to purchase to this day. Here you can read Someone is Aiming for You for free before you read the titular book I put out back in January.

But aside from me, you can find a host other stories inside that vary in tone and in length. Here is the entire author and story listing:

“Quarantine” by artist Jesse White
Anacyclosis by Brian Niemeier
"A Song of I.C.E. and Fire" by Jon Del Arroz
In the Forest of Wast by Alexander Hellene
"Exiled in the Desert" by John Daker
"Iron and Steel" by KP Kalvaitis
"Someone is Aiming for You" by JD Cowan
Immortal Thunder by Matt Wellman
"Bringing down the Mountain" by Nathan Dabney
"At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen" by Abraham Strongjohn
“Going Native” and “Warrior Soul” by Manfred Weichsel
The Battle of the Turasa Nebula by Yakov Merkin
“An Eye for Eligos” by Alexandru Constantin
Adventure Constant (full-length novel) by Jon Mollison
“Star Support” by Val Hull
"The Age of Petty States” by Rawle Nyanzi
The Crown of Sight by David V. Stewart
Find it Here!

For a moment it was even outdoing OldPub darlings in the amazon rankings, and is still doing quite well even right now. Not bad for a free anthology with little promotion and no outside support from the industry. People clearly wanted their escapism!

NewPub did not fail to let audiences down. Reminder that this was only the third month of the year. There is plenty more to go through.

At the same time as all of this I was busy writing between these releases. What some of the projects were I will reveal at the end of this post. But of what I can talk about here, you have certainly been made aware of from what I put out this year. There were two projects that came out in this span of spring and summer that are still listed on the sidebar to the blog.

The first is the free novelette Duel on Dalpha that you can get simply by joining my newsletter. This was a giant robot space horror adventure that was edited by Dragon Award winner Brian Niemeier. He knows his mecha and his space adventure, so you know you're in for a good time! He helped me to turn this into an excellent piece I still feel proud over today.

Find it Here!

And this is where things get really out there. Even for me.

Not too long after Duel On Dalpha came the quadruple #1 amazon bestseller that I was blown away by the reception of. It is still selling quite well even as we speak. This would be my first non-fiction book in The Pulp Mindset: A NewPub Survival Guide.

I can't say I expected this explosive reception, because I hardly expected the book itself. Between blog posts, editing other stories, promoting myself and other authors, and writing, I got the idea that a work like this was needed in the online space. What can we do to bridge the gap between what writing actually is and what conventional (and wrong) OldPub wisdom tells us it is? How can we reach readers hemorrhaging from the medium for other spaces? It's all about mindset.

We needed a guide that could adjust the mindset for new creators and let them know that the creative landscape is entirely different from what it was even a few years prior. We need to change how we write and how we think about writing itself. This requires a Pulp Mindset, being able to adjust to the wild west era of art and remembering what the masters once taught that we have forgotten. It requires reconnecting with the past so we can forge a new future.

One of the pieces in this was written for an upcoming book on pulp writing (which is still on the way!), however it then sparked the idea in me to expand it into a full work. This is what soon became The Pulp Mindset: A NewPub Survival Guide. The reception has definitely been worth the effort. I'm hoping this will be a work that will help a lot of artists in the future. We need more creators and we need more patrons! Art is about growth, so let us continue to grow together.

Find it Here!

It's at this point I should finally mention the blog itself. Output has increased this year from previous years. In fact, this year has had a 40% jump in posts from every other year of the blog's life, which you can see your yourself in the sidebar. In other words, I have objectively put out more content in 2020 than any other year, even if you're just counting the blog.

In addition to the free stories and promotion posts for NewPub authors I even crossposted my Halloween Cannon Cruisers podcast episodes for the entire week, and introduced some of my most popular pieces on the blog so far. 2020 was the year of content on Wasteland & Sky.

Speaking of Cannon Cruisers, despite having the main show delayed for most of the year, I instead recorded Gaiden episodes of my own to keep content up. Twenty-six in total, actually. This kept Cannon Cruisers content going while the madness with the world was still happening and we were unable to put out normal content. I used this opportunity to cover movies we wouldn't have covered in the main series, so be sure to check it out.

We have since gone back to our normal episodes (and have just finished our recordings for the season!) and are in the process of releasing our usual weekly posts. It's been quite the year for Cannon Cruisers.

Finally, in November, Planetary Anthology Sol came out, which is one of the last volumes of the series. This one was a long time coming.

Find it Here!

This was the second to last release I was involved with this year, but it is no less as good as the others. Sol is an anthology I know the editor spent a lot of time pouring over, and it shows in the final product. My story Judgement Sun was included inside which was one of my favorites back when I finally polished it up for submission.

Yes, this is the opposite of the story in the Uranus anthology, being about fire instead of ice, but it is no less exciting than the former tale. In fact, both stories are part of the same series of sword and planet adventurers. How many more are there? Two, actually. Four in total, and they follow a specific pattern. Can you figure it out with the two that are out so far? However, they aren't quite done yet. Will they be out in 2021? We will see . . .

For now be sure to check out the above stories. Sword and Planet rarely ever gets so hotblooded, ad coldblooded, I suppose!

Finally, in December, I included my hero story Under Suspicion in Summerside for FREE in the Superhero Mega Anthology.

Find it Here!

Inside of this massive release you will find prose stories, comics, and many others in its 600 page length. There is no shortage of entertainment, and it's all free! Not only that, but there are free offers and raffles inside for even more free stories and books (including some of mine!) so be sure to download. It's completely free, after all.

This brings us to now. So what else have I been working on that hasn't been released yet? There is plenty. I can tell you that you will find out come 2021, but let us be specific.

My long-promised short novel Brutal Dreams has been sent to an editor and returned with edits. That is my next project which will be out in early 2021, but probably not in January. Someone is Aiming for You & Other Adventures taught me that January is an uphill battle to gain traction with readers. Nonetheless, the book just needs editing and formatting and it is finished. It's been a long time coming and I am eager to have you read it.

As for the Gemini Warrior sequel, Gemini Drifter, I can only repeat what I did last time and say that it is written and in my editor's hands. The same with the third book, Gemini Outsider. Silver Empire has slowed down releases due to the current climate, but both are still on the way. Trust me, I enjoy writing these and definitely wish they could be out for you now, but it is what it is. 2021 should be quite a ride for readers of Gemini Man and the rest of the Heroes Unleashed line. Silver Empire has a lot in store for their readers!

That is all for the known factors. As for brand new, I have a project I am hoping to start in the new year that should be quite out of this world. It is the sort of wacky idea I've wanted to tackle for a long time now. I wish I could give you a hint as to what it is, but it's fairly bizarre, even for me. More on that in 2021. Be certain: it's weird.

There are other things I'm doing that I can mention, such as being in the upcoming Pulp on Pulp book of essays, spearheaded by authors Misha Burnett and Ben Cheah, but others are not quite in that stage to be discussed yet. Nonetheless, I can definitively say that you can look forward to even more from me in 2021. It's going to be quite a ride is we head into the new decade.

And that is it for 2020! I hope you had a good one, or at least as good as can be allowed, and are ready to move on to better days. There's much coming ahead.

Thank you for reading and for all your support! You've got even more to look forward to. I can promise you that!

I'm going to leave you with the interview I had on the superversive livestream back when The Pulp Mindset: A NewPub Survival Guide came out. It was a lot of fun to record and I hope you have a lot of fun listening to it.

Have a Happy New Year!


  1. Happy and rocking new year! The only card we need is the ACE OF SPADES!

  2. It was a good year for NewPub, that's for sure! I'm eager to write my own end of year review blog post. I published four books and a novella this year, and I'm very pleased with my output. Plus, they're superhero Youtubers with a side of Atlantis! What's not to love? :-)

  3. Congrats on your growing and ongoing success, JD! More and even better for you in 2021!

  4. JD

    Happy new year!

    I'm psyched for the next Gemini warriors book.
    And I look forward to the other stories you have in the pipeline.

    1. Thanks for posting, Xavier.

      Have a good new year!