The Affair of the Abandoned Ukelele

Killer Nashville is over, and Schrödinger’s Cat didn’t win the SciFi category. And I don’t care.

All right, I guess I care a bit. Okay, seriously, ouch. But still. I lost to a terrific book, Joss Walker’s Tomb of the Queen; and — however much of a cliché it may be — it really was an honor just to see my very first novel become a finalist at Killer Nashville. In fact (another cliché incoming!), it’s really changed the trajectory of my life.

Hence the ukulele in the photo above.

Some time around the beginning of July, I decided that my experimental second career as a writer was dead. Although I was proud of what I’d done with Schrödinger, I’d seen it languish on Amazon without being noticed; and there seemed little prospect that I would do better in a second go-round with the sequel, The Quesenberry Project. Writing is hard, y’all. I love it enough to do it even if it’s not making money; but if no one’s reading it, what’s the point?

The Affair of the Abandoned Ukulele

So, I decided it was time to pull the plug. And since I would need something to occupy my time going forward, I bought a ukulele — as one does — and began watching YouTube tutorials.

Three days after receiving my uke (from Amazon, ironically), I got the email telling me I was a finalist at Killer Nashville. It changed everything.

First, of course, was just the validation. Though I’d gotten some nice reviews from the few who found me on Kindle, it’s a whole different matter getting a nod from contest judges — even that much better when I found that there were an unprecedented number of submissions to Killer Nashville this year.

But what really turbocharged me to press on with writing was the conference itself. First, the excellent panels and classes gave me a much better handle than I’d had before on the bewilderments of traditional publishing. I feel much more confident now that I know how to find an agent, build a persuasive query, and get effective representation.

More than that, though — far more — I began to build a community. Because that’s what I’ve been missing most. Carly Watters, an agent who gave several outstanding presentations at Killer Nashville, put it something like this: you can write a book in isolation, but you can’t launch a book in isolation. Which was exactly what I, being a notorious introvert, had tried to do.

So, how to build a writing community of my own? That’s where the conference was, for me, like finding the last Wonka golden ticket. Because the people at Killer Nashville were some of the most encouraging, most magnanimous and energizing people I’ve ever met. I came home with a stack of business cards and other contact information (foolishly, I didn’t take any of my own — next time that’s going to change); and literally as soon as I finish this post, I’m going to start building my place in the bosom of this remarkable tribe.

I already knew that I could write, though there’s always more to learn. Now I know how to look for representation. I have the beginnings of a community, and I’m eager to grow it. Now I just have one question:

What the hell am I going to do with a brand new ukulele?

Published by Ronald Crittenden

American SciFi writer in France. Amateur historian of art and war. Tea not coffee, s'il vous plait, and don't forget to say hi to your dog for me.

4 thoughts on “The Affair of the Abandoned Ukelele

    1. Thank you for visiting, Delia! I’m hoping to get posts up on the site on a (reasonably) regular basis. If you enjoy the writing, you can get notification of future essays by signing up using the “Follow my blog” form on the main Blog page. And of course, you can also get all my flower content on Instagram. 😉


  1. The title caught my attention, and great post! I feel your pain, I’ve tried giving up writing a couple times, mostly due to my insane schedule… but those little moments of encouragement have spurred me on. Plus it’s kind of an addiction lol
    I hope to see you again at Killer Nashville! It was great meeting you! I can’t wait to see where your writing career will take you! ( :


    1. Thanks, Chrissy! Yes, the writing compulsion seems to have sunk its hooks into me irrevocably now. I’m afraid there’s no antivenin for it!

      I really enjoyed meeting you at KN, and I hope to get back there again. I’m also planning to do Thriller Fest in 2023, if you happen to get the yen. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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