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!
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
Books I read list from last year:
- Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find the: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling
- Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson
- The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White
- Earth Force Rising by Monica Tesler
- The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt
- The Tundra Trials by Monica Tesler
- The Ivory Needle by Leslie Miller
- Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
- Foxheart by Claire Legrand
- Okay For Now by Gary D. Schimdt
- Lizzie Bright and Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schimdt
- The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
- The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
- Family Game Night and Other Catastrophes by Mary E. Lambert
- Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull
- Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
- Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
- Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson
- When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
- Like Magic by Elaine Vickers
- The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame
- The Last Boy at St. Edith’s by Lee Gjertsen Malone
- Restart by Gordan Korman
- The Invisible Thread by Yoshiko Uchida
- Play On by Michelle Smith
- Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
- Lemons by Melissa Savage
- The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby
- Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer
- First and Then by Emma Mills
- The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
- The Only Worse Than Me is You by Lily Anderson
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
- Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
- Funny Girl by Besty Bird (editor)
- Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan
- Changes in Latitudes by Jen Malone
- Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
- The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan
- Warcross by Marie Lu
- Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
- Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
- Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski
- 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.
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!
My yearly book report, here is what I read this year…it was a very good year:
- Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
- Seraphina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- Proposal by Meg Cabot
- We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist
- Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
- The Pirate Code by Heidi Shultz
- Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
- This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
- Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
- The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
- Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
- Borrowed Light by Carla Kelly
- Enduring Light by Carla Kelly
- After You by Jojo Moyes
- The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
- Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
- Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
- Cress by Marissa Meyer
- Winter by Marissa Meyer
- Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull
- The Rogue Knight by Brandon Mull
- Remembrance by Meg Cabot
- The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
- Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
- Crystal Keepers by Brandon Mull
- Death Weavers by Brandon Mull
- My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin
- Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
- Summerlost by Ally Condie
- The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
- The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
- Ruby on the Outside by Nola Raleigh Baskin
- Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud
- The Last Star by Rick Yancey
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
- The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
- The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
- The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
- The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
- Wool by Hugh Howey
- Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
- The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
- The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
- Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
- Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly
- The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
- The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
- Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide by J.K. Rowling
- Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies by J.K. Rowling
- 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!
Here’s how my 2016 went, as far as my writing goals were concerned:
- I did a major revision on The Believer, changing it from YA to MG. I needed to cut about 20k words. I got it down by 11k, and I’m in the process of another revision to improve the voice and reduce the word count even more.
- I did a minor revision on Time Guardian, but I’m still getting the same feedback on the opening pages…that they just aren’t doing the job. I’m still not sure how to fix that, so it’s on the shelf for now.
- I did query Messy, got a few bites, but not takers yet.
- I actually participated in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. My goal was to get a good start on a new MG sci-fi I’ve been thinking of, not to get 50k words. I achieved what I set out to do and wrote about 15k words in November. A nice start!
What I’d like to do this year:
- I need to query SOMETHING (pretty much anything) more. Most of my stuff probably needs work before doing that, but I have lots of options so that shouldn’t be a problem. So…complete revisions of The Believer, and do some work on Time Guardian and Messy and I’ll have lots to work with.
- Finish my current WIP that I started in November.
- I give up on being a regular blogger. 😛
Happy 2017, cheers!
For the most part I did well accomplishing my goals for 2015:
- I finished extensive revisions on both Time Guardian and Messy (formally called A Hoard Life). I did some querying with Time Guardian, and while the concept interested agents, the pages didn’t manage to draw anyone in to want to read more. I think another revision is in order, I’m not ready to give up on it yet. I only just stared querying Messy and have had some success getting requests, but I need to get it out more.
- I massively revised The Mystic Road, but it still needs more work before it’s ready to take any further.
- I also did really well with my exercise program, I only missed workouts when I was ill or on vacation, etc.
- My only fail this year was right around November I lost all motivation to work on revising, querying, or writing at all. I’m fine with taking a break, I probably really needed it so I’m not upset about it, but I want my enthusiasm back for the New Year.
- Plus…I’m the worst blogger ever!
My goals for 2016:
- Work on revisions for Time Guardian, especially making an effort to improve the first chapter and clean up some other story issues, then query more.
- Continue querying Messy. Revise as necessary.
- More revisions on The Mystic Road, consider querying when ready.
- Work on a complete rewrite of The Believer. This was originally a YA fantasy that I think will work better as a MG fantasy. I already have notes on the planned changes, but it will be a huge project. I need to cut around 20,000 words and make some major plot changes in a few areas.
- Writing a new MS isn’t necessarily a priority again, but it would be nice to work on something new. If I can fit that into my plan it would be great.
- Continue keeping a writing journal, I really like doing that and it keeps me on track (that’s how I knew I was losing motivation because I stopped making entries. Step one in getting my writing mojo back is to write in my journal, it keeps me accountable).
- Continue the exercise, which is great for both body and mind.
- Learn guitar and ukulele. I started leaning guitar last year and I got a ukulele for Christmas, so I’d like to take the time to practice with them at least a few times a week. I don’t want or need to become an expert or anything, I’d just like to be able to play some songs for fun.
- Finally, last year I wrote a whopping four blog entries. That’s just downright PATHETIC! I don’t want to be a fantastic blogger with a zillion readers and all that jazz. Most of what I write here is for my benefit instead of others, but I’d like to try and write at least one entry a month like I’ve done in years past.