2018 to 2019

Good news! As a writer, 2018 was better for me than 2017. Bad news…getting an agent doesn’t make any of this easier (I knew that going in, just confirming it’s true). I’m still unpublished with no bites on my MS, which is supremely frustrating, to get THIS close and still be SO FAR from where I’d like to be. That said, I did a lot of work this year, I wrote, edited, and revised a lot of words and I’m still learning so much about myself as a writer. So none of this has been a waste of time.

What I accomplished in 2018:

  • I completed a massive overhaul revision on Messy with my agent. I can’t tell you how hard it was! But it’s so much better in the end.
  • I finished a MS I started in 2017 during NaNoWriMo, a YA sci-fi I’m tentative calling Silas and the Cyborg. Several beta readers have gone through it and provided valuable feedback. This one is very much still in revision stage.
  • Starling, my MG epistolary sci-fi, has also been reviewed by a number of readers and I’m still revising this one as well.
  • I also read through Time Guardian (for what feels like the thousandth time). This is a MS a queried heavily a few years ago and got nowhere with. It’s amazing, with additional writing experience under my belt, I can see now that a lot of things can be done to improve it. While it’s not high on my list of priorities right now, I made notes to work on later. I’m not willing to give up in this story easily.

What I didn’t accomplish:

  • I really wanted to at least outline a new MS. While I have ideas swirling around for the next one, they just haven’t gelled yet.

My 2019 writing goals:

  • Finish major revisions on both Starling and Silas and the Cyborg. If I could get one of both ready for submission, that would be ideal.
  • I would also like to do a major revision overhaul on Time Guardian. I’ve been collecting ideas and notes to do this. It’s one of my favorite projects, an idea I’ve been developing for years. I don’t plan to give up on it. I haven’t given up on any of my shelved projects, this one is special to me and where I feel like my creative energy would be best directed right now.
  • I’d like to draft at least one new MS, and if I’m feeling super ambitious, outline another one…or two even!
  • Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy writing and creating!
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2018 Reads

My goal was to read 40 books this year, I managed an even 50! Here’s the list:

  1. Renegades by Marissa Meyer
  2. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
  3. Oddity by Sarah Cannon
  4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (not a new read, but it’s been years)
  5. Wires and Nerve: Gone Rouge by Marissa Meyer
  6. Alterations by Stephanie Scott
  7. Auggie and Me by R.J. Palacio
  8. Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
  9. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
  10. Origin by Dan Brown
  11. See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
  12. Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson
  13. Five Kingdome: Time Jumpers by Brandon Mull
  14. Alan Cole is Not a Coward by Eric Bell
  15. Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  16. Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist
  17. Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
  18. The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
  19. Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
  20. The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall
  21. The Trials of Apollo: The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan
  22. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
  23. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
  24. From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon
  25. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  26. Geekerella by Ashley Poston
  27. Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen
  28. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  29. Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin
  30. You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly
  31. The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd
  32. The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie Slivensky
  33. The Battle of Junk Mountain by Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  34. A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
  35. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  36. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  37. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
  38. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
  39. The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras
  40. The Hotel Between by Sean Easley
  41. The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill
  42. The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser
  43. The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio
  44. Your Destination in On the Left by Lauren Spieller
  45. Brave Enough by Kati Gardner
  46. Shoot the Moon by Kate Watson
  47. Dragonwatch: Wrath of the Dragon King by Brandon Mull
  48. Heartbeat by Sharon Creech
  49. Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
  50. Shug by Jenny Han

Notables: A few stood out from the others. My favorites were both of the Vanderbeekers books by Karina Yan Glaser. Such fun middle grades about a sweet family in Harlem. I love them and can’t wait for more coming up in 2019. I also really enjoyed Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly so much that I read several of her other titles, but this one stood out more than the others. I think it’s by far her best. A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd was a delight. Lastly, From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon and Geekerella by Ashley Poston were fun, geeky reads that were right up my alley.

I don’t feel like I read any true stinkers this year. There were a few I thought were over-hyped, but that’s probably more because they just weren’t my taste so much.

Happy Reading in 2019!

New Page Added

I just added a new page to my website with writing resource links. I’ve used all of them in the past to help me on my writing journey and I hope they can help you, too. Check it out!

Out With 2017, In With 2018

So, it’s more than halfway through January 2018 and I’m only just now getting around to making this blog post about 2017. Call it a reflection of what last year was like, there is so much going on I just don’t have time for the extras…like blogging. Let’s face it, I’m a crappy blogger anyway, but in 2017 especially I just didn’t have time for it.

Not going to lie, the beginning of 2017 was rough for me as a writer. It’s not that I was ever tempted to quit everything, but there were many times I really questioned how much time I spent on writing without getting anywhere. That made it hard to feel motivated. But I pressed on as best I could. In the end I accomplished a lot, which I’m only really realizing now as I’m writing this blog post.

What I accomplished:

  • Completed major revisions on The Believer and Messy
  • Finished the MS I started in 2016 during NaNoWriMo (#6)
  • Started another MS (#7) during NaNoWriMo this year. Got a 20K word start on that. I wished for more, but illness really made it difficult. I’m just happy to have something to work with
  • Made notes on possible revision for Time Guardian (the more I think about it, as much as I love this MS, it could use a major overhaul to make it way better…just going to take time)
  • Worked a concept for MS #8…that one needs more ideas before I can start it
  • I plugged on querying Messy and it finally paid off! I signed with an agent in May!

I’m excited what this year will bring and I’m ready to work hard. What I hope to do:

  • Keep working with my agent on my road to future publication…it’s a process. Having an agent guarantees nothing, but it’s nice to have someone on my side. I hope we continue having success with our working relationship
  • Complete major edits on MS #6 that I’m tentatively calling Starling. Right now it’s still in first draft stage (in other words…it’s a mess). I hope to get it into better shape this year
  • Finish MS #7. I’m really excited about this project
  • I’d like to at least get a good start on MS #8
  • Revising is a constant. The trick is to focus my energies on projects that have a better chance at a future. I may have to shelve projects in order to focus on others, sadly, so taking time to really evaluate what I have and what is most worth continuing to work on

2017 Reads

Books I read list from last year:

  1. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find the: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling
  3. Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson
  4. The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White
  5. Earth Force Rising by Monica Tesler
  6. The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
  7. The Tundra Trials by Monica Tesler
  8. The Ivory Needle by Leslie Miller
  9. Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
  10. Foxheart by Claire Legrand
  11. Okay For Now by Gary D. Schimdt
  12. Lizzie Bright and Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schimdt
  13. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  14. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  15. Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
  16. The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
  17. Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes by Mary E. Lambert
  18. Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull
  19. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
  20. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
  21. Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson
  22. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  23. Like Magic by Elaine Vickers
  24. The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
  25. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  26. The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame
  27. The Last Boy at St. Edith’s by Lee Gjertsen Malone
  28. Restart by Gordan Korman
  29. The Invisible Thread by Yoshiko Uchida
  30. Play On by Michelle Smith
  31. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
  32. Lemons by Melissa Savage
  33. The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby
  34. Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer
  35. First and Then by Emma Mills
  36. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  37. The Only Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson
  38. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
  39. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
  40. Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
  41. Funny Girl by Besty Bird (editor)
  42. Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan
  43. Changes in Latitudes by Jen Malone
  44. Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
  45. The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan
  46. Warcross by Marie Lu
  47. Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
  48. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  49. Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski
  50. Holly Farb and the Princess of the Galaxy by Gareth Wronski

My goal was to read 40 books and I managed 50. As usual, the focus is on children’s literature, Middle Grade and Young Adult. It’s what I write, and I loved to read it first. Some of this list was for research, but most of it I read for fun.

What I loved: Books by Gary D. Schmidt were recommend to me by a friend on Twitter. I discovered this author is amazing! I read four of his novels this year and especially loved The Wednesday Wars and Okay For Now. I also really enjoyed Restart by Gordan Korman, a book I found by accident. Lemons by Melissa Savage was adorable and Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry is a lovely book in verse. Lastly, One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus might have been my favorite book from last year. It’s a high school thriller with some really flawed but super likeable main characters under suspicion for murder.

What I didn’t love: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby came highly praised and recommend, but it fell flat for me. I also didn’t care much for Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, another praised book (maybe I’m just weird…). I also really didn’t care for The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi or Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. These just weren’t in the kind of style I like to read, so it’s more about my tastes for all of these than anything else.

Persistence Has Its Rewards

I’ve written five books, plus a sixth that’s mostly done. Three of those books were queried over the course of four years. After all that work, time, and patience I’m excited to say I’ve been offered and accepted literary representation!

Fellow writers: If you want something, keeping trying. Believe me, I know it’s so discouraging at times and so tempting to just give up and think you aren’t good enough.

DON’T GIVE UP!

Keep working, trying, and learning. Be patient. Persist. Be willing to make changes and do something different. I believe in you!

2016 Reads

My yearly book report, here is what I read this year…it was a very good year:

  1. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  2. Seraphina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
  3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  4. Proposal by Meg Cabot
  5. We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist
  6. Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
  7. The Pirate Code by Heidi Shultz
  8. Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  9. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
  10. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  11. Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
  12. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  13. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  14. Borrowed Light by Carla Kelly
  15. Enduring Light by Carla Kelly
  16. After You by Jojo Moyes
  17. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
  18. Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
  19. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  20. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  21. Cress by Marissa Meyer
  22. Winter by Marissa Meyer
  23. Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull
  24. The Rogue Knight by Brandon Mull
  25. Remembrance by Meg Cabot
  26. The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
  27. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
  28. Crystal Keepers by Brandon Mull
  29. Death Weavers by Brandon Mull
  30. My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin
  31. Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
  32. Summerlost by Ally Condie
  33. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
  34. The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
  35. Ruby on the Outside by Nola Raleigh Baskin
  36. Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud
  37. The Last Star by Rick Yancey
  38. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
  39. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  40. The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
  41. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
  42. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
  43. Wool by Hugh Howey
  44. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  45. The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
  46. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
  47. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
  48. Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly
  49. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  50. The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
  51. Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide by J.K. Rowling
  52. Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies by J.K. Rowling
  53. Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists by J.K. Rowling

I set a goal to read 40 books and managed 53! Here are some of the stand outs, both good and bad.

The good: Ready Player One was hands down my favorite book of the year. As a child raised in the 80’s it appealed to all things nerdy from that era…video games, movies, etc. all set in a futuristic “game”. This one I highly recommend to all my fellow nerds out there. I loved Illuminae because of the sci-fi aspects and epistolary style used. Finally, I also loved the Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter), I just couldn’t put them down. They had a great blend of sci-fi, fairy tale retellings, and romance. It was a really fun series to read.

The bad: I wasn’t fond of The 5th Wave trilogy. I read it all, mostly because I was hoping it would get better, and it kept my attention just enough to get through them all, but overall I wasn’t satisfied with it. I also really didn’t like Thief of Lies, but for various reasons I don’t want to go in the details of why…I just didn’t like it and have no intention of reading anymore of the series, I’ll leave it at that.

I have my goal set for 40 books again this year, happy reading everyone!