Happy 2015 – and Thank You!

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Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you ended your 2014 with a safe and fun celebration; and I wish you good health, joy, fulfillment, and great success in 2015, whatever your goals may be. 🙂

I also want to extend huge hugs of gratitude to everyone who visited the blog this year and continues to come back on a regular basis. 2014 turned out to be the most successful year statistically at this blog, with more visits, likes, and comments than in years past. *breaks out confetti and pompoms*

One thing has undoubtedly contributed to that increase: outreach. Joining Twitter and making a greater effort to visit blogs by writers, book reviewers, and other bloggers last year helped make a difference. But there’s only so much I can do myself by commenting and putting myself out. So, for all your feedback on book reviews, novel updates, and other musings… for your retweets and Facebook shares… for your support, curiosity, and enthusiasm… I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now, I’d like to look back on what 2014 meant to me, and what my hopes and plans are for the year ahead.

Highlights and Milestones of 2014

  • New Columns at Two Blogs: In June, I joined A Bibliophile’s Reverie for Tea Time At Reverie, where I review different kinds of teas and suggest potential book pairings with each brew. Then in November, I launched one of several new columns at the writing resource site DIY MFA. Theme: A Story’s Soul explores themes in stories and helps to increase our understanding of how themes are vital to novels and writing. Both columns have been fantastic learning and writing opportunities in unique ways, and I look forward to continuing both in the new year.
  • Leaving Sonic Cathedral: After nearly 6 years of covering the female-fronted rock and metal scene via reviews, interviews, and gig reports, I decided to part ways with Sonic Cathedral in May. Nothing bad had transpired. It was simply time for a change, so I could focus on projects that had become greater priorities to me, such as…
  • The Fantasy Novel: I’m almost done with the first draft! My original goal was to finish it by year’s end – and then I realized I needed more time and more words to get there. In all honesty, though, I’m stunned by how much progress I made with it this year. On January 1, 2014, the word count stood at about 34,000. (I had started writing the novel in January 2013.) Today, it’s over 105K. That means about 71,000 words have been added – more than doubling my count at this time last year! 😀
  • Author Interviews: By far the most exciting addition to the blog in 2014 was the Author Interviews series. My friend Sara Litchfield was kind enough to be my “guinea pig” when she self-published her debut novel The Night Butterflies in October. Then, thanks to Twitter and a dose of bravery, I asked other authors – and got more “yesses”! Mary Weber (Storm Siren) stopped by in November, followed by Karina Sumner-Smith (Radiant) in December. I’m both thrilled and thankful for pursuing this idea, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have.

Lessons and Insights from 2014

  • It’s OK to let go of something if you’ve lost the passion for it. I’d learned that a couple years ago with a book I’d taken time off from revising (I decided to permanently shelf it). Then I found myself facing the same lesson again last year. Writing for Sonic Cathedral had been a blast in so many ways. However, once I realized each review was becoming a drag to write, I knew it was time for a change. And in hindsight, I made the right choice. I miss the frequent interactions with bands and readers, but I don’t miss the assignments – because I’m working on other writing projects that make my heart sing even louder. Plus, I’m friends with all of my former SC colleagues on Facebook, so I can still keep in touch with them that way.
  • When one door closes, others will open. Remember how I mentioned earlier that I left SC to focus on my novel and to pursue other possible freelance writing gigs? Within a few months of that farewell, I was offered not one, but two columnist positions at other blogs. (A Bibliophile’s Reverie came into the picture less than 1 month after I left SC; DIY MFA, about 4 months later.) It’s funny how I showed gratitude for my past opportunities, then voiced my intention for the future – and as if by magic, things started falling into place. Then again, maybe it’s not a coincidence at all…
  • Take care of yourself. Our world has become a hectic place, driven by others’ expectations and stress from all directions. Regardless, nothing is more important than taking time for yourself to regain physical, mental, and emotional composure. I have a bad habit of falling into that trap – and then I suffer for it via exhaustion, illness, or mini-meltdowns. What I need to do in 2015 is teach myself to not get caught up in the “rat race,” and that I need to spend time every day (or, at the very least, once a week) to let myself recharge and rebalance. Make sure you do the same for yourself. Meditation, soothing music, tea, reading, journaling – whatever centers you, give yourself the gift of time and do so.

Writing and Blogging Goals for 2015

  • Finish The WIP’s First Draft: I have given myself a deadline of February 28th. With 20,000 to 25,000 words left to write and two months without much going on, this seems doable. *gulp*
  • Revise, Revise, Revise!: Regardless of when I finish the first draft of said WIP, I’m going to take one month off from it, then launch into Draft #2 revisions. Judging from my list of revision notes, this phase will take at least a few months. I’ll also continue the Chronicling The Craft series during the revision process to keep you up-to-date with my progress.
  • Send the WIP to Beta-Readers and Critique Partners: By the end of 2015, I hope to have the WIP in decent enough shape that I’m ready to send it (or have already sent it) to beta-readers and critique partners for their read-through / “slaughtering.” (Joking about that last word.) This should be reasonable, since you never know when life is going to interfere…
  • Maintaining a Blogging “Status Quo”: I’m happy with how things are going here as well as at DIY MFA and A Bibliophile’s Reverie. And knowing how crazy my writing schedule will be (especially once I’m deep in novel revisions), it’s probably not a good idea to add more to my plate this year.

Finally, just for kicks…

The Blog’s 10 Most Viewed Posts of 2014

  1. Recent Reads: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman (thanks to Neil for retweeting the link!)
  2. My 10 Favorite Albums of 2014
  3. Interview with Mary Weber, Author of Storm Siren
  4. Interview with Sara Litchfield, Author of The Night Butterflies
  5. Chronicling The Craft: 70,000 Words (Don’t Make Your Female Character (Too) Strong – Make Her Believable)
  6. Chronicling The Craft: 50,000 Words (Meet The Protagonist – A Character Profile)
  7. Mini-Review Monday: Kowai – Dissonance
  8. Chronicling The Craft: 55,000 Words (Wounds, Lies, & Flaws: Using Character Arcs to Propel Your Story)
  9. Chronicling The Craft: 40,000 Words (Writing Rituals for the Spiritual and the Eccentric)
  10. The Top 10 Science Fiction & Fantasy Series I Want To Start

The Blog’s 5 Most Commented Posts of 2014

  1. What Kind of Reader Are You?
  2. Chronicling The Craft: 100,000 Words (A Glance into the Faeries’ Magic System)
  3. Recent Reads: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  4. Chronicling The Craft: 70,000 Words (Don’t Make Your Female Character (Too) Strong – Make Her Believable)
  5. Stacking The Shelves, Vol. 4: Tea With Tris and Four (Sort Of)

Other Personal Favorites Not Listed Above

What were some of your creative highlights and/or accomplishments (either blogging, writing, or otherwise) from 2014? What goals do you have for the new year? Feel free to share them by commenting below.

23 thoughts on “Happy 2015 – and Thank You!

  1. Slaughtering… ouch. Then again, that’s exactly what happens to my novels… in a good way, of course. You gotta break it down before you build it up again, right?

    I guess my biggest accomplishment was starting my own blog, but that’s not really much of an accomplishment in itself – keeping it up will be the hard thing! I also won a couple of writing prizes, which is always a nice ego boost.

    Happy New Year and good luck for 2015!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I said “slaughtering” jokingly, but you’re totally right about that. You never know how much editing or revising you’ll have to do on a story before you think it’s ready for agents or self-publishing.

      Launching a blog is always an accomplishment. I’ll applaud you for that. As for maintaining it, just go at a pace that works for you. Visitors will come, and they’ll return if they like your work enough. 😉

      Best wishes and good luck to you too, Ann! See you around.

      Like

  2. Hello Sara. . .I really appreciate your blog—both in it’s set up and physical appearance but also in your commentary/besides, it’s wonderful to find another poet/aspiring fantasy writer/tea-head. There aren’t many of us out there. I’ve found so many of your posts informative and helpful, and it’s sometimes just downright comforting to find another with similar aims. (I’m more on the black tea side of things, though.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Robert! I really appreciate your comments and thoughtfulness.

      Yes, it’s always nice to meet another one of “our kind.” I haven’t checked out your site yet, so I’ll make a point to do that soon.

      Ha ha, black tea is a good choice, though. 😉

      Like

  3. Happy new year and thanks for visitingmy blog! I am hoping to finish my first draft before summer and complete the revise-edit-revise cycle before the end of 2015, if I can. Looks like you made huge progress and got so much done in 2014, I hope I get half as much done in 2015!

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    • Thank you for visiting in return, Leona! 🙂 Looks like we’ll both be busy in novel-land this year. Good luck with your goals! 🙂

      Just curious: What’s your story about? And what genre? (Fantasy, I’m guessing, since you cover mostly fantasy at your blog…?)

      Like

      • It is the first book of a dark fantasy trilogy. The story is quasi-historical (based on the medieval Byzantine Empire) it is about the strange journeys of a rebel lord, an exiled ice elemental queen turned mercenary general, a mysterious spymaster and a brilliant military engineer from the hermaphrodite race, whose paths intersect around a crumbling empire in a grim world raging in chaos. I am really bad at descriptions and summaries but that’s about the best summary I could come up with.

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      • Whoa! That sounds neat. I agree, it’s hard for us to summarize our stories when we’re still in the middle of an early draft. You’ll get there eventually, though. 🙂 Are you planning to have beta-readers review it once you’ve finished writing and revising / editing?

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      • I have several beta readers who read the chapters as they come, and bugging me for the next. I wouldn’t be able to make so much progress without them keeping me on my toes, I think. Btw if you need a beta reader for your book, sign me up!

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  4. Happy new year, Sara 🙂 2014 was a full one – I love your author interview series and was so happy to feature!! 2015 already sounds like it’s shaping up to be an amazing year – best of luck with completion of the WIP! That’s so exciting 🙂 sign me up for some beta-reading! It looks like you’ve taken valuable insights from last year – I definitely agree with you about taking time to recharge. I’m exhausted but looking at an exciting to do list, including all the steps you named with my second manuscript and finding a place or places to be for the year that will make me happiest… Looking forward to the journey with you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, and you’re welcome, Sara! 😀 I’m over 106K now, so slowly but surely…

      Yay! I’ll put you on my list of possible beta-readers then. Will keep you posted about the timing. It’s all going to be a matter of how quickly – er, slowly? – I get things done.

      I like your to-do list for 2015. An important creative goal, and an important “you” goal. Looking forward to seeing where you go and what you discover along the way. 😀

      Like

  5. Good job on learning things throughout the year and congrats on putting yourself out there. It was so hard for me to start commenting at first too! Good luck finishing your book! I didn’t have a clue about writing when I started, so I’m STILL rewriting and editing. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Happy New Year – and Here’s to 2016! | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

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