The State of Things: March 2017 in Review

March has been a good month. The days are getting longer, with over 13 hours of sunlight every day. The snow is melting, and the ice is gone from the sidewalks. There are bits of green popping up here and there. A lot of behind-the-scenes things for “businessing the business” have been accomplished, and I’m on track to meet some of my big, hairy, audacious goals.

Risks

The biggest risk to everything is our residence status. By the end of this month we’ll either get our extension, which I think will happen but don’t want to be overconfident about — or we’ll be sent packing back to the United States. I’ll talk about this a bit more below, under the Health and Wellness heading, but we have no Plan B. Katie’s goal is to get her Ph.D. in education, and my goal is to grow Dancing Lights Press into an ongoing concern. Period, end of discussion.

A lesser risk is the ongoing issue with our web hosting. Last month some of Bluehost’s servers allegedly suffered a DDOS attack, and our sites were down for 4 days. Those days were Saturday through Tuesday, which are prime business days for me. As I write this on March 31st, the sites are down again and support says it’s another DDOS attack. Support is terrible, and has flat-out lied to me about a number of things. I don’t want to execute some of the things I want to do with the sites, like push marketing and community initiatives, if the sites aren’t reliable. I can’t afford to move hosting at the moment, especially since I don’t think Bluehost will refund the remainder of the contract. It doesn’t affect business now, but it’s holding back growth.

Total Word Count for the Month: 100,648

Total Word Count Year to Date: 315,910
Average Word Count per Day: 3,510

It took a lot of effort to make word count goals this month because of anxiety. I only made it by pushing extra-hard over the final few days of the month. I expect that doing the things we need to do to renew our residence will cut into my productivity during April.

The upside is that I’ve done the equivalent of 6 NaNoWriMos in 3 months. I’m on track to hit half a million words by the end of May, and a million words by the end of October. I hold onto the goal of releasing a minimum of 10 sizable (100+ pages) books by the end of the year.

Books Read Year to Date: 67

My failure to read more novels, particularly literary fiction, continues unabated. It all comes down to the fact that I’m working all the time, and when I’m not I don’t have the mental bandwidth to read the sorts of things I want. Which means I continue to gobble up graphic novels and business books. Nothing against the former, because there’s a lot of good quality stuff being produced these days. As for the latter, well, I think it was Seth Godin who said that most non-fiction books can be reduced to a pamphlet or a 3-page essay, and he’s right. A lot of business books pitch an idea, and then repeat it over and over with a lot of filler copy and a few case studies. Which makes them quick, easy reads, but I’ve hit a point where I’m not learning anything new, and that’s a problem.

Books Published Year to Date: 9

Sales have been solid, bolstered by the the annual GM’s Day Sale at DriveThruRPG. I only released one new book this month, because I’m finally at a point where I can shift from grinding out small releases to keep the bills paid to working on the larger releases that will generate more revenue and grow the company. Plans to make print-on-demand products available, probably by the end of the summer, proceed apace now that I have more time to focus on that. I want to get to a point where I’m releasing something every 2 to 3 weeks, rather than nearly every week like it was during the latter half of 2016. Things selling much better thanks to in increased fan base, and the long tail generated by a larger back catalog, will continue to make a lot more things possible.

Podcast Episodes Released: 13

Katie and I are about to release episode 96, and our record of releasing a new episode every week remains unbroken. We’re getting close to finding a new title for the podcast, and after that’s settled we’ll revisit the idea of starting a Facebook group. There have been a lot of discussions around that title, including whether we want to change the topics of discussion, how we want to frame our discussions, and what changes in both content and tone we want to make now that we’re no longer “tourists” but long-term residents. Subscribe to the podcast on YouTube and listen to the most recent episodes to get more of an idea where things are headed.

Health and Wellness

Some diet and lifestyle changes have put my digestive issues back into remission. That’s also helped with me sleep issues. I’m sticking to a reasonably strict schedule for waking up and going to bed, eating meals, and working. As the weather gets nicer — which means less bitter cold but still cold, and sidewalks free of ice — it’s easier to walk to places and I’m getting more exercise.

My anxiety is cranked up a bit, as is my hypervigilance, for understandable and completely predictable reasons, as I’ll explain in the next segment.

Looking Forward: April 2017 and Beyond

Later this month we have our appointment with Finnish Immigration to renew our residence. While I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t get the renewal — we meet all of the requirements, and we’re here for a valid reason — it always makes me nervous. It’s a changing world and while Finland remains sane, “fairness to immigrants” doesn’t seem to a a priority on a global scale.

If for some reason they tell us no, we’re screwed. Katie won’t be able to complete her education. I’d have to stop what I’m doing with Dancing Lights Press. We’d need to figure out where to go. We’d need to secure a place to live and jobs, neither of which are easy things to come by back in the United States. Our standard of living would plummet, our health would be placed at risk, and well, you understand why I have anxiety about the whole thing.

That said, after we get renewed for another year life gets easier and better. I can continue growing Dancing Lights Press, and get registered as a Finnish business so that next time around I can hopefully apply for permanent residence. Katie’s Master’s thesis is due at the end of the month, as is her doctoral proposal. Once she gets in, life gets easier in a lot of ways, especially if she qualifies for a stipend. Our budget will be less tight, and we’ll have more health care options.

How You Can Help

Give me honest yet constructive feedback. Buy my books. Point out my blind spots, and suggest things I might not have thought of. Buy my books. Listen to the podcast and tell other people about it. Buy my books. Subscribe to this blog and tell other people about it. Buy my books. Tell other people about my books. Buy my books.