Year 8 of my 5-10 Year Plan for Overnight Success

by | Jan 31, 2021 | Checking in | 1 comment

My expectation going into 2020 was that it would be a year dominated by an exhausting number of hindsight jokes. In hindsight, I wish it had been.

For those who don’t keep track, this January marks the 8th anniversary of Firehurler’s publication and the end of the 8th year of my 5-10 Year Plan for Overnight Success. The basics of this plan are simple: write good books, write lots of them, and find the people who will best enjoy them. Little side-quests to my main adventure include goal setting and reviewing how I did against those goals each year. This anniversary check-in is where I look back at my progress and share my thoughts for what comes next.

Hoo, boy.

There’s no avoiding it. Let’s look at 2020’s goals:

  • Finish publishing Mercy for Hire (8 more books, including audio)
  • Write a new series starring Mort and Chuck Ramsey (Black Ocean: Mirth and Mayhem)
  • Try new ways to catch the attention of Hollywood (or alternative media outlets)
  • Attend at least one screenwriting event (convention/film festival/etc.)

Well… that’s not… so bad.

First off, I did indeed manage to finish Mercy for Hire, including the audiobooks. I will admit, despite pandemic lockdowns looking eerily similar to my normal lifestyle, I was a lot less productive that any year since I started writing. It takes a lot of mental effort to block out enough of what’s going on in the real world to throw myself into fictional ones. I scrolled through more news than at any point I can remember, learned more about epidemiology than I expected (and this is from someone who’s played both Plague, Inc. and more than his fair share of Pandemic), and played more computer games than maybe was healthy.

My wife and I used to eat out a lot. We switched to ordering in to keep as many of our favorite restaurants afloat as we could (to whatever degree our patronage factored in).

We stayed inside instead of going to parks and beaches (because way to many people around here just ignore masks).

We canceled travel plans and connected with family and friends via Zoom and Portal.

I did manage to start writing Black Ocean: Mirth and Mayhem before the end of 2020, so check that box off. It’s behind schedule, because of course it is, but it’s still coming along.

The final two bullets of my 2020 plan are the ones that got dumped overboard the minute this year started taking on water. Hollywood had plenty of its own problems to deal with that didn’t involve talking to me about licensing IP. And there were no in-person events to attend; even if there were, I would have stayed home.

One initiative from 2019 that did carry into 2020, however, was the Black Market, our Black Ocean-centric online store. While it hasn’t become huge or anything, it’s always gratifying when readers post pics on FB with their acquisitions!

Last, and least prescient, is this tidbit capping last year’s review: “Here’s to hoping that 2020 holds more good surprises than bad.”


Now that that’s all out of the way, it’s time to plan for 2021:

  • Write more of Black Ocean: Mirth and Mayhem (12-16 missions)
  • Re-engage on social media (I hear Twitter is cleaning up its act a little)
  • Get some fresh air

We’re keeping it simple. Overnight success isn’t about flashy stunts or daring gambits. It’s about continuing to exist and produce, improve and expand. Incremental change, persistence, and good storytelling is the plan.

If I can keep those up, hopefully 2021 will turn out all right.

Interested in reliving my journey? I’ve been writing these posts since shortly after my second “authorversary”, otherwise known as the end of “year 2”. You’ll also see why my wife stopped letting me create blog images.

1 Comment

  1. Judy Robinson

    You accomplished waaaay more in 2020 than most of us! I listened to all of Mercy for Hire and the many laugh-out-loud moments with Wesley Wesley and Kubu were the highlights of my days! I’m looking forward to the next series.
    While I know that you wrapped up many of their stories and have them comfortably settled, please tell me you’ll be revisiting Tiffany, Wesley and Kubu!
    All best wishes for 2021 for you and your family.


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