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What a year! Take that however you’d like. There were ups, and certainly downs, and that’s how this crazy thing we call life goes. I like to keep looking and moving forward. I try to learn from, but not dwell on, the past. Some days are definitely more successful than others, in those respects, but trying is the important part. That’s how habits, happiness, and opportunities are made.

There certainly were an alarming number of heart-wrenching celebrity deaths in 2016, especially in the last month. Many of these people will always be inextricably linked to some of my favorite memories. Prince? He will forever be one of the greatest musicians I will know in my lifetime. Carrie Fisher’s role of Princess Leia taught me at an early age that women deserve important roles in my writing. She was so much more than that brief part of her life, and seeing her in The Force Awakens rekindled that original Star Wars magic in me. It wasn’t completely snuffed out by Jar-Jar, I guess.

On a more personal note, I lost my grandfather this year. He nearly reached centenarian status, and I sincerely believed that he would. His vitality, keen mind, and sense of humor made him seem immortal for so many of his retirement years. If growing older could be that way for most people, they probably wouldn’t dread it as much. I hope that I’m playing softball when I’m in my 80s and golf in my 90s like he did. If I’m still as energetic as he was when I hit 90, I’ll start playing golf just because I can. When I think of the Greatest Generation, men and women whose strength we owe so much, I picture him on a tractor, or fixing a furnace, or surrounded by three younger generations of relatives at our family reunions.

2016 was also the year of many unfulfilled writing goals. My writing output dwindled, my blog stagnated, and there were times I struggled to scratch out a few lines in my notebook. I submitted a few stories to publications, but only one was accepted. It is still unpublished at the time I write this. All others were rejected, with the exception of one, a decision that I still await. Most of the stories I wrote didn’t seem to fit the publications I found, either for length or some nebulous reason undisclosed by the reviewers. I’ll keep writing, and at some point I’m sure the right story will find the right market.

I finished the sequel to a short story that was published in Nonlocal Science Fiction #3, but I’m hanging onto it. There are three written so far that feature the same character. I have one, maybe two, more left to write in the series. My intention is to publish them all as a collection, once I finish them. There’s still plenty to outline, write, and edit before I’ll be ready to leap into the self-publishing arena.

I finished the first draft of my first novel, tentatively titled To Die One Death, and I’m close to halfway through the editing process. I had hoped to be done by the start of 2017, but I’m slowly starting to accept that it will be done when it’s as polished as I can make it. My word count, even before editing, fell short of what I anticipated. After editing, I hope to eliminate around 10 percent. At least, that’s what Stephen King recommends in his suggestions for writers. That gives me some room to add some more details about the world’s societies and environs that I might have rushed past when trying to complete the first draft. I want to make the novel as awesome as I can, and the editing process is where that happens, even if it will mean further delays. I plan to confront the demons of traditional publishing when it’s ready. I will hopefully find some willing beta readers in the next few months, then more editing, then professional editing, and then the submission process.

Because I like to bite off more than I can chew, I applied and was accepted to write video game reviews for Nerd Bacon. I’ve loved video games since my Atari 2600, so writing about them is a great excuse to keep playing them. I also hope to gain more exposure, expand my online presence, and eventually earn a larger audience for my fiction. Who knows? Maybe it will lead to some unexpected opportunities. Nerd Bacon is full of excellent articles and enthusiastic game discussion. I hope you will check it out, if that interests you. My first review, for the zombie survival game 7 Days to Die, has just recently been uploaded, under the moniker Aaroneous.

2016 was a year of emotional turmoil, but I like to think that I contributed a small amount to make it better and spread some positive vibes. If I were pressed into making resolutions, they would be to dream bigger and work harder to bring about those dreams in the new year. I look forward to continued writing progress, and I wish all of you a successful and satisfying 2017, no matter where your muse may call you.