When I thought about writing this final blog post of 2017, I felt a little disheartened. I don’t think it’s been an easy year for anyone. And here I was… The same place I was last year. No agent. No book deal. Not even close.
But then I actually started thinking back, and even though I am still bummed to not be further along, I accomplished some pretty great things.
I wrote and revised a second book. AN ENTIRE BOOK! (As writers, we tend to scoff at this, thinking it’s not that special because we are surrounded by people doing the same thing. But it’s honestly a huge deal. We should be more proud.)
I reached over 26,000 blog views AND received The Blogger Recognition Award.
I was chosen for an extremely competitive publishing internship with Entangled.
I started a new hashtag on Twitter with some great writer friends – all designed for writers to celebrate their successes with each other. We’ll be hosting our first #WritersCheer day in January!
I was supposed to go to my first writer’s retreat, but it was cancelled. Instead, it turned into something even better. I went to New Orleans BY MYSELF and began planning my next novel.
Yes, I’m still not where I want to be, and I suffered through a lot of rejections this year. But I survived them to write another year.
Let’s take a closer look at what I did in 2017 and what I’ll do next.
What I Read
GRAND TOTAL: 59
Which means I more than accomplished my goal of three books per month! I would say the vast majority of what I read was pretty fantastic. I was honored enough to beta read two books before being published, discovered a new favorite author, and branched out of my comfort zone with more nonfiction and different genres. Yay for me!
You can find reviews of each of those reads here, but check out December’s reviews below:
If We We Were Villains by M. L. Rio ★★★★☆
After ten years in prison, Oliver is finally released and tells the story about what happened that night. An elite fine arts school, seven actors, a lot of Shakespeare and a particularly grisly murder. My mom recommended this one to me, and we actually both enjoyed it… That never happens.
Like I said above, there is a LOT of Shakespeare. Sometimes entire passages are copied and pasted into the novel. As an English major, I took an entire semester on Shakespeare, and I don’t totally hate his prose. But it did get to be a little much at times. That being said the drama and politics around each of their performances was really fascinating, and Rio’s passion for the subject matter really shines through.
The four male characters of the group are remarkably well developed. Like wow. The female characters? Not as much. Because of this, I was considering a three-star review until the very end… And by end, I mean the very last paragraph. Wow. Just wow. A stunning, fast-paced debut from Rio. A different type of thriller from the rest out there, yet just as intriguing.
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen ★★★☆☆
Yet another acclaimed and bestselling fantasy series that I was excited to jump in to. But after finishing last night, I still feel rather conflicted about it. It’s the story of Kelsea Glynn – a lost queen who has been in hiding since her birth. Her uncle – the Regent – and the Red Queen from a neighboring territory want her dead (for some reason). But when she turns nineteen, it’s time to return, to be the queen she was meant to be. There’s also a very mysterious sapphire with magical powers.
Let’s start with the positive. I LOVE the characters. They are all extremely well developed with distinct personalities, defined motives, and intriguing backstories. Johansen does a great job balancing the queen that Kelsea is striving to be along the nineteen girl she really is. I also adore Lazarus, her burly yet sharp as a whip head of the Queen’s Guard.
Onto the world building: the setting reads as something from medieval times. Lots of swordplay, castles and horseback riding. But then Kelsea mentions the Harry Potter series and heroin… And I get the sense that this is actually a dystopian future that formed after some sort of disaster? But that’s not really ever explained which caused some confusion as I read. The pacing was also pretty deadening in the first half. It picks up, but boy, I struggled.
Lastly, there are a lot of questions around Kelsea’s family and legacy. Which is great! But by the end of the book, I expected to get at least a few answers to roll over into the next installment. Nope.
Overall, not the best book I’ve ever read. But my attachment to the characters will have me reading on in the series.
I also finished my seventh reread of the Harry Potter series. Now like I’ve said before, I am not going to review all of them here. BUT I am going to rank them, just for fun…
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
What I Wrote
Let’s start with this blog. This is my 54th post for the year. That averages out to be about 4.5 blogs per month, and all of those posts got me 26,725 views this year. In addition, I made some fantastic blogger and writer friends via social media. We equally shared each others resources, I was nominated for an award and even asked to contribute to others’ posts. Author branding is an extremely tough thing to start and maintain. But I feel as if I have had a killer first full year.
Check out a few of my highlights:
- First blog series: How to Revise and Resubmit: Getting Started
- Most views: How to Lengthen Your Novel Using J.K. Rowling’s Outline Method
- Most personal: The Rejection: How to Deconstruct and Bounce Back
- Most helpful: How to Write Your Novel Synopsis Using The Hero’s Journey
- Most fun: 7 Books I Wish I’d Written
Now what about my fiction? At the beginning of the year, I said I would write at least one new chapter of 700 Main per week until I finish the first draft with an estimated completion date: September 1, 2017.
Well, I finished the first draft in two months – March and April – for a total of 57K words.
Then in June, I added an additional 29K words for a total of 86K words, perfect for my genre. This draft resulted in eight agent requests and two R&Rs. Not to toot my horn, but that’s pretty awesome compared to the industry average.
In December, I entered two Twitter competitions and received four more requests. I also completed a pretty major revision, rewriting ten chapters, adding eight thousand new words, amping up a lot of details and emotions, and introducing an entirely new POV. Guys, writing from a ghost’s perspective is HARD. But I will say that I am pretty happy with the end result. Now let’s just hope the agents will be too!
Coming up in 2018
Goals a pretty fluid term for me when it comes to writing fiction. Because you never know when a new idea will hit you or when you might feel inspired to return to an old story. But that being said, here is my tentative plan for 2018.
- Write one new blog per week
- Grow and maintain my social media presence
- Read four books per month
- Outline my new series and begin writing book 1 OR rewrite State of Grace (Still undecided on that one. Both are BIG projects!)
I also have a few non-writing related goals as well as less tangible ones.
- Get strong and healthy without worrying about weight loss. That part will come naturally.
- Buy my first house!
- Stop being a hermit: Make plans with friends once per week.
- Meet with an energy healer each quarter.
- Quit wasting time on things that don’t fulfill me. Whether it be watching too much television or a relationship that has run its course.
- Be brave. Stop holding myself back out of fear. Unleash myself on the world!
Yup, that’s a lot. But if I only accomplish a few of them, that’s okay. I am determined to dream big because if I set my goals too low, my accomplishments will reflect that.
All of that being said, here is my mantra for 2018:
What’s yours? Cheers and Happy New Year!