December 17th marks the fifth anniversary of the release of my first novel. Signing the contract made me a pro. Becoming a published author remains the coolest thing I’ve ever done.

The fame and fortune I imagined would follow still hasn’t panned out. My expectations were out of whack. In my neck of the writing world, selling 1000 copies is great. Selling more than 5000 is fantastic. That’s a lot fewer zeroes than I’d envisioned.

It’s not the money. My financial security isn’t tied to book income, thank God, or I’d have starved four-and-a-half years ago. I want people to read and, hopefully, enjoy my stories. Anything else is icing on the cake.

For reasons both beyond my control and of my own making, my second book didn’t do nearly as well as the first. I identified what I believed to be the causes and made some changes. Apparently, I was wrong. My third and fourth books did no better than the second.

My muse deserted me. I abandoned a half dozen manuscripts because the stories didn’t work. I blamed disappointment, and more or less quit trying to write.

I owe disappointment an apology. Turns out, my ignorance was to blame. I stumbled across the fix for a problem I wasn’t aware I had that profoundly changed my writing process. Finishing my fifth novel, The Case of the Missing Drag Queen, in a record-breaking four months has me excited about writing again.

Opinions about which of my stories is the best vary, but (in my opinion) the writing gets a little better with each novel. Rather than incremental change, The Case of the Missing Drag Queen reflects a quantum leap. Thanks to what I’ve (finally) learned, the likelihood of more failed manuscripts is slim to none.

What will readers think of The Case of the Missing Drag Queen? I have no idea. Even my wonderful beta readers haven’t finished yet. Experience has tempered my expectations, but I’m optimistic. Either way, I’ll keep you posted.