Looking back at 2017: So Many Lessons Learnt

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Dear readers and fellow writers

I’ve been seeing a few “this is what happened to me this year” posts flying around facebook, and when I wanted to do one of my own, I realised just how long this post would become. I would like to say time flew, but so much has happened that this is possibly the longest year I’ve ever had.

I considered doing this in chronological order, but that might drag out and become boring, not only for me but for you too. So instead, I’m going to take a look back at 2017 kairologically – looking at specific events and moments, and thereby the different aspects of who I am.

Buckle in… this is gonna be a long ride…

The Screenwriter

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On 9 September 2016, I made an announcement that I was working with Majority Entertainment, producers of the movie District 9, on a chinese fantasy film. The film was going to be released in China, and possibly made available worldwide with English subtitles. I wrote the script in English, which was going to be then later translated into Chinese.

The reason news on this event died was that in January at the beginning of this year, I pulled out. After months of collaborating with the producer on his original script, making all the changes he wanted and undergoing several drastic script changes, he decided he wanted to redo the whole script and change everything. Something just wasn’t right, he said. He didn’t know what, but it just didn’t feel right. Nothing wrong with my writing skills… he just wanted to change everything we did with it. And it wasn’t just that that bothered me, but that the direction he was wanting to take it and the dialogue style he wanted to change it into, I knew it wouldn’t work.

That was the final straw for me I’m afraid. I don’t like admitting that I quit on something, which was why I never posted on it again, but I informed him that after all the hard work we put in, it was just too much for me to continue working on it, especially when he did not seem to know what he wanted the movie to be like. If the direction is unclear, then the script will never be good enough. I got the impression he was waiting for the script to just magically turn into something that felt right. And that is the wrong way to approach screenwriting in my opinion. So, I swallowed my pride, and walked away.

I took a step back from screenwriting for a while after that, living on the laurels of all the positive feedback I was getting for my sci fi feature film script, The Space Drifter, which recently won an award for 2017 Logline of the Year.  Also, as you will see in the rest of this 2017 retrospective, there just wasn’t time to work on another film. Sure, I sent our query letters for Space Drifter, and did some marketing and chatting about it on my Stage 32 screenwriting profile, but I steered clear from writing more scripts for a bit.

And then I met Australian author, Lynette Greenfield, which I will get to more later on. I read her latest book, The Day It Rained Forever, and realised what a great drama film it would make, as well as sending out a message to others out there. We started negotiations and I obtained the rights to adapt her novel into a movie. Over the last few months, when I’ve had some time, I’ve been reading through her book and making notes, as well as started the layout of the script. It’s not going as quickly as I would like, but I am hoping for completion in 2018.

The Publisher

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Last year my experience as a publisher actually started. Getting fedup with self-publishing companies taking me for a ride, or at least simply publishing my books and stepping away and leaving the rest of the work to me, I decided to start publishing my own books. Late last year, I created Celenic Earth Publications as a publishing label. In terms of my country’s Companies Act, not all business have to be officially registered. If a label is simply created to do business with another company as a necessity, such as an author publishing on Amazon for instance, a publishing label will suffice.

That was alright when I was publishing my own books and receiving royalties for them. But 2017 changed many things. In February 2017, CEP announced that it would start publishing Anthologies. Writers would all receive equal shares in the royalties, and CEP received no commission or income from those royalties. I simply received royalties as an author featured in them, and not as a publisher.

CEA Through the Dark Horror Anthology #1 was published on 4 April 2017, followed by CEA Writers without Boundaries #1 on 22 April 2017. CEP was also offered a chance by writer Dean Clark and Salty Goal Productions to be the exclusive publisher of Hegis’ Grasp, the novelette on which the horror games was based. That was published on 28 April 2017.

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Quietly, behind the scenes, I had wondered if there was a world record for a number of writers published in an anthology. I went to the Guinness World Record website and made an application, unware if one existed since searching their website revealed nothing. This application was dated 18 April 2017, and I received an email stating that the application was received.

It began to worry me that my author’s blog, this very one that you are reading from, was becoming inundated with all the publishing news. Yes, it brought more visitors and views to my site, which was great for me as an author, but I disliked that my author fans had to wade through publishing information to find news on my novels. I made a decision to separate the author from the publisher, and in May CEP established its own website.

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After that, my personal author blog slowed down on articles and CEP’s website picked up. On 3 June, Jay Girgis’ debut novelette, The Berberian, was published. Thanks to the connections I was creating through Pulse Entertainment, which I will get to in a different section, CEP became partners on 9 June with game development studio, Keystone Games.

Building on the success of the anthologies and so many writers wanting more exposure, CEP announced a schedule of anthologies to be released on 16 June for the rest of the year. It was an ambitious schedule, but it guaranteed a release of at least 2 anthologies per month. And with that, on 18 June, both CEA Into the Beyond Sci Fi Anthology #1 and CEA Past your Reality Fantasy Anthology #1 were published, which were worked on throughout May. Further to that, to maintain the anthology schedule, writers were called to submit short stories for CEA With veiled Deduction Noir Anthology #1 and CEA Between the Mystery Crime Thriller Anthology #1 on 23 June.

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July started off on a good note. 1 July saw the publishing of local writer Kenny Bergma’s Flats Justice novel. On the same day, CEP announced further partnerships with Pulse Entertainment, Salty Goal Productions, Antreya Studios, Deep Blue Games and Devil’s Peek Games.  Such was the growth and the interest in partnering with CEP that on 6 July more partnerships were announced with Scotia Gaming and Card Chronicles.

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And then…. the sh%t hit the fan… in a good way. On 5 July, Guinness World Records came back with an unexpected response. CEP has been approved in their attempt at the World Record for the Most Authors Contributing Towards an Anthology of Short Stories, which currently stands at 50. They sent through their guidelines, gave me login details for my GWR dashboard, and wished me luck.

Planning went into overdrive mode. Calls were made on facebook for anyone that wanted to contribute. On 19 July, crowdfunding was started on Jumpstarter for people to start preordering. The very next day, I realised that people did not like that system, so CEP set up its own preordering page. And then CEP went silent, as writers were gathered and assessed and taken into the mold, writing away furiously at their stories.

 In August, I had to make a big decision. I could no longer consider CEP a simple publishing label. Not only had I gone on to publish anthologies and other writers’ works, but the Guinness World Record was going to be huge. It was going to push CEP into new territory. I therefore registered CEP as an official private company under the publishing industry. On 14 August, the registration was approved and CEP received its official business registration number.

 And with that advancement came the decision to branch out. CEP was going to not only publish books, but other media associated with adaptations, such as film, games, music, comics and magazines. And as a first step on 18 August, Celenic Game Studiospartnered up with Salty Goal Productions to develop games in 2018. A few days later, things with Pulse Entertainment took a nasty turn for the worse, which I will get to in the author section of this article. And so, Celenic Game Studios established AIR Entertainment with fellow writer Andi Hodgetts as Joint Owner as the official gaming news outlet.

It goes without saying that the Anthology monthly schedule died away since the focus shifted to the world record anthology. Things started to settle down after this. Well, relatively. AIR Entertainment became the new voice of gaming news, posting weekly from August up until now. All short story submissions were received by 31 August 2017 for CEA Greatest Anthology Written, and after a month of preparation, the world record anthology was finally published on 14 October 2017.

As final news on the publishing side of my life, only two more items remain unmentioned thus far. On 3 November, CEA Through the Dark #1, CEA Greatest Anthology Written and Hegis’ Grasp were submitted for the Shirley Jackson Awards for Horror, Thriller and Dark Fantasy. And today, the dark fantasy novel Heroes of Antreya: The Journey Begins was published and also submitted for the Shirley Jackson Awards.

I have a few more authors lined up for 2018 and news on the upcoming anthologies, but more on that next year.

The Journalist

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I never thought I would enter the game of journalism. Or write articles on games. Sure, games are one of my favourite pastimes since I was a child, but I really never thought I would write about them.

It all started when a certain Andi Hodgetts received a review copy of my horror novel, Silent Hill: Betrayal. He reviewed it as the first official review for Pulse Entertainment on 5 December 2016 and gave it 8/10. Unfortunately, as the site is now down, I cannot link to it anymore. As a special treat, I gave Andi a special detailed exclusive synopsis of the novel for his My Silent Hill site, which is still up today.

On 6 March, Dean Clark had reviewed Silent Hill: Betrayal for GameTyrant, where it also received 8/10. So you may be wondering what this has to do with me becoming a journalist. Well, with my connection with Andi growing stronger since we met in 2016, he spoke to the owner of Pulse Entertainment about offering me a position as a writer for their new gaming section. It was a niche that was untouched by the site until that time, and they wanted me to write for it. On 8 April, I officially signed up for the position.

It wasn’t long after that towards the end of April, when the first anthologies were published, when Dean spoke to me about writing for GameTyrant. I was interviewed by GT over google video chat, who was very impressed with my personality, attitude and ability. I went through a crash course and started my first articles before the start of May.

In my first month or so, I knew Pulse Entertainment could be better. There was so much more that they could do, and suddenly my gaming articles were taking over the site. Views were on the rise, and the owner wanted everyone else to take from my example. On 2 June, I was promoted to the Head: Gaming Division for Pulse, and I could do with the division whatever I wanted. It was mine.

And that was when I started working my new connections. As mentioned before, CEP established gaming partners through Pulse Entertainment. I would cover any gaming news they had to offer, and the readers were loving it. As the gaming division grew, so did Andi and I, and so did CEP.

On GameTyrant, I was privately complimented for my writing ability. I was starting to see my articles reach the weekly top 10 and I realised just how much I enjoyed writing gaming articles. There was a certain pleasure from researching the latest news, a buzz from checking the latest feeds and being on top of the news.

In August, in the heat of the Guinness World Record achievements, thing in Pulse started turning a bit… grey. I won’t go too much into the details, but at the height of changing how Pulse would be managed from within, the owner bailed on us. She just vanished and we had no idea what happened to her. She disconnected her Facebook and no one could get hold of her.

Despite discovering later what had happened, I could not tolerate having someone in management of a site like that. When she returned with poor apologies in abundance, I left. Andi also decided to leave for his own reasons, and a few guys we had just recruited for the gaming division decided to leave with us. Realising by now the potential I had in me, and with Celenic Earth publications branching out, Andi and I established AIR Entertainment for Celenic Game Studios. And with Pulse’s image now heavily tarnished by the owner’s actions, CEP’s partners came over to AIR.

A few days after our departure, Pulse Entertainment shut down. I won’t go into those details either, since I am very well aware of what had happened. My writing continued with GameTyrant, and then in October the parent company GeekTyrant was so impressed with my writing that they offered me a position to write for them too.

Things were starting to take its toll on me though. Besides things that had happened in my family, such as my son breaking his arm at school, my wife become very, very ill recently, and my daughter going through some surgery for grommets, it had been one hell of a busy year. I remember the schedule I used to have when in the thick of things. Mon – Fri normal work week and day job that pays the bills, writing game articles in morning before work, during lunch and in the evening after kids go sleep, publishing company duties on weekends, making time to be a husband and dad and sacrificing my guitar and violin time… it was getting too much. And yes, it was all my fault.

Game articles became my life. I pushed almost all my energy into them, for AIR, GeekTyrant and GameTyrant. Which meant that every other writing avenue of my life started to suffer. I had to remind myself recently that game article writing wasn’t something that was a main priority in my life. My family, my novels and my publishing company are. And so I shifted my energy back to where I wanted them to be, and as of last week I officially left GameTyrant, and very gracefully. They completely understood where I was coming from, and I am always welcome back into the GT family.

The Author

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This will be my last section. Although there is also the Gamewriter in me, Antreya Chronicles is the only game I got to write for this year, so I will cover it under this section too.

So… what happened to the author in me? The be all and end all of my writing. Last year, that was all I was, besides publishing my own novels. Well, as you will see in this section, the author took a huge knock, and all my beautiful plans fell by the side due to everything else I decided to undertake.

Silent Hill: Betrayal is by far my greatest novel success of 2017, even though it was published in 2016. It has outsold any of CEP’s publications, including CEA Greatest Anthology Written. And even when CEP markets their other titles, somehow it’s Silent Hill: Betrayal that gets purchased instead. It was even the top trending press release news by the end of January!

In February, I was interviewed by my local newspaper on the SHB novel. This might seem small to someone else, since I had been interviewed by UK and US journalists. For me it is huge, as I have personally struggled to be recognised locally among famous international writers.

On 10 February, another avenue of novel writing came through. Choice of Games, who publishes text based games, approved me as one of their game authors. I was to decide what text game novels I wanted to write and my own deadlines. Unfortunately, I never got to that this year, but it is big on my list for 2018.

On 20 February, among the start of the CEP anthologies starting up, I was invited by Dean Clark and Raymond van Beek to write as assistant creative writer for the upcoming fantasy MMORPG, Antreya Chronicles. It is my first game that I am writing for and Antreya Studios is really such a great team to work with. I have evolved from gamewriter to web content administrator too and I even had some fun learning how to create fonts for games and then creating 3 in-game fonts. Well, Gordan, the 2D artist, actually created the 3 alphabets, I just developed them into actual fonts that could be used by the developers in the game engine itself.

April arrived, and among the chaos I still took part in the April Camp NaNoWriMo. I used this opportunity to kill 20k words for my upcoming romantic fantasy novel, Dream Whispers. While I am on the topic, I did the same for the July Camp NaNoWriMo, even though we were busy with the Guinness World Record attempt, and now again for the official NaNoWriMo in November, which I killed in the first week so I could focus on other writing projects for the rest of the month. Dream Whispers is thankfully closer to completion only because of NaNoWriMo.

In between the author in me kind of died of. I announced a Biblical series of books in May, which was about as much as I could muster at that time. At the end of June there was a bit of excitement as 3d horror graphical artist Shane Ryan agreed to design 3d images of the creatures from Silent Hill: Betrayal.

Nothing much further happened other than writing for Heroes of Antreya: The Journey Begins and having that published today. I released an official portfolio of novels I want to write, and hopefully with better planning for 2018 I can knock some of them off.

2017 SUMMARY

So, for those of logical and chronological minds, here’s a summary of my 2017:

January

– Quit screenwriting Deeds of Ren for Majority Entertainment
– Exclusive detailed Silent Hill Betrayal synopsis published on My Silent Hill
– Silent Hill: Betrayal hits top trending press release news

February

– Silent Hill: Betrayal local newspaper interview
– Accepted as Choice of Games Author
– CEP Announces Plans to Publish Genre Anthologies
– Antreya Studios signs me up as Assistant Creative Writer

March

– Silent Hill: Betrayal receives 8/10 score on GameTyrant

April

– Signed up to write gaming articles for Pulse Entertainment
– Guinness World Record Anthology application submitted
– CEA Through the Dark Horror #1 Published by CEP
– CEA Writers without Boundaries #1 Published by CEP
– Hegis’ Grasp by Dean Clark Published by CEP
– Signed up to write gaming articles for GameTyrant
– Completed April Camp NaNoWriMo

May

– Celenic Earth Publications publishing website established
– Announce Biblical fiction series

June

– The Berberian by Jay Girgis Published by CEP
– Promoted to Head: Gaming Division for Pulse Entertainment
– CEP and Keystone Games partnership established
– 2017 Anthology Schedule released by CEP
– CEA Into the Beyond Sci Fi #1 Published by CEP
– CEA Past your Reality #1 Published by CEP
– CEA Between the Mystery Crime Thriller #1 Announced
– CEA With veiled Deduction Noir #1 Announced
– Shane Ryan indicates intentions to design Silent Hill: Betrayal creatures

July

– Flats Justice by Kenny Bergsma Published by CEP
– CEP new partners announced
– Guinness World Record approves attempt at World Record Anthology
– Jumpstarter Campaign Initiated for CEA Greatest Anthology Written (CGAW)
– CEP Preordering page established
– Signed up for film adaptation of The Day It Rained Forever
– Completed July Camp NaNoWriMo

August

– CEP registered as an official private publishing company
– CEP branches out to publishing other entertainment media
– Celenic Game Studios partners with Salty Goal Productions to develop games
– Exit from Pulse Entertainment
– Celenic Game Studios established AIR Entertainment as its gaming news outlet

September

– CEP receives all submissions for CGAW and starts editing, formatting and publishing processes

October

– CEA Greatest Anthology Written Published by CEP
– Signed up to write entertainment articles for GeekTyrant

November

– Space Drifter Wins 2017 Logline of the Year Award
– Submission of horror anthology and novels to Shirley Jackson Awards
– Completed official November NaNoWriMo

December

– Exit from GameTyrant
– Heroes of Antreya: The Journey Begins Published by CEP
– Submission of HoA: TJB to Shirley Jackson Awards

I have excluded all the personal things that have happened to me and my family, as this was merely a focus on my writing for 2017. But, considering all this and my personal problems I had, it is no wonder that I now feel so exhausted. Who knows what 2018 will bring…..

With Warm Regards

The Count of Celenic Earth

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