• Mike Sliter

2020 In Review

(My awesome family, and awesome family portrait)

My 30s have been a time of huge change. In 2016, we had our daughter Maddie. In 2017, we changed jobs/careers, in 2018, we moved to the Cleve. And in 2020, we had our son Garrett, coupled with the world being turned upside down through COVID. Since Maddie was born, I've been pursuing my long time dream of writing, and I would call progress steady rather than light speed, especially in 2020. But steady is better than still!

It's been a year since I published my last novella, Valley of the Free, and nearly a year and a half since Wisdom Lost. You might be thinking--what is this guy doing? Has he gone GRRM on me? Just how long is his beard at this stage? Thankfully, my biology does not allow me to grow such a beard, which means that I've been forced to write. Faith Lost is done, folks, at a whopping 190K words, which includes about 8K words of recap from the previous books. It's with my editor, Jennifer Collins, and I expect edits back any day now. Furthermore, the cover is done--by the famous Rene Aigner!--and will be with the designer, Dave O'Meara, as soon as I have the page count to finalize the design. So, all of the pieces are in place, and it should be able to move pretty quickly once I have the edits depending the need. I'm hoping for the book to hit the shelves by March 1. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I've made modest progress on Courage Lost, the finale of the Pandemonium Rising series. Maybe 5K words are written so far, so nothing massive. About 12K of A Black Deal, the second Novella of Ferl's Company, is done so far. I've set this one aside for a bit while I finished up Faith, but again, progress is being had. The big push here is to write this novella entirely on my phone as a "side" project. Laptop will be reserved for Courage, and I will write A Black Deal in the margins. We'll see how it works; I feel like I wrote the best chapters of Valley of the Free on my phone before bed.

In terms of other things I should likely write about, I will share my couple of favorite video games from 2020. Again, like everything in life, gaming time suffered. However, I'd highlight Wasteland 3 as a hidden-ish gem. If you like tactical rpgs with choices that are damned hard to make (e.g., euthanize someone or throw them into a spinning blade to hold down a "stop" button to save you damage!), this is a good one. I don't think it reaches the heights of Divinity Original Sin 2, and it's buggy at times, but it was immersive and diverting. I really need a good challenge in a game these days--I get bored at repetition and ease--and it delivered. The other game that I played this year and probably most enjoyed, though never finished, was Nioh 2. In the vein of a Dark Souls, it is brutally challenging and has a nice diversity of enemies and styles you can play. I really enjoyed it, but it ended up being too long, and I couldn't leave all the side-quests behind.

I'm playing Ghost of Tsushima right now, and damn, is that game beautiful! Every screen is a postcard. I'm regretting not jacking up the difficulty a bit, because I'm getting to a point where my samurai skills are honed and nothing is much of a challenge.

For reading, I didn't do much of that in 2020--12 or 13 books, all fairly big ones. I did a lot of Indy reading, and I'll share a couple of highlights. Of Honey and Wildfires by Sarah Chorn is a unique gem that is certainly non-traditional in its approach and story, but engaging and incredibly well-written. Vultures by Luke Tarzian is beautiful and haunting, somehow resonating with me throughout. I found him in the Dark Ends anthology compiled by Whispers and Wonders, which is a great place to learn about some new, awesome authors!

In terms of trad publishing, my favorites were The Trouble with Peace by the great Joe Abercrombie and 16 Ways to Defend a Walled City by KJ Parker. Both were very different books, but I judge books by how quickly I read them, and I tore through these two.


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