Happy New Year – and Here’s to 2016!

Happy 2016 logo

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you had a enjoyable and safe end to your 2015; and would like to wish you the best in health, love, and creativity for 2016.

Also, I know I keep thanking you, the readers, for helping to make this blog what it has become… But, honestly, YOU deserve so much of the credit. Thank you for commenting on each post, sharing your thoughts and ideas, and sharing the links on your own blogs and on social media. Most importantly, thank you for your enthusiasm, encouragement, and thoughtful feedback. You put a smile on my face every day I’m here. 🙂

I used last year’s Happy New Year post to sort of “wrap up” the 2014 highlights for the blog and for me personally, and to look ahead to 2015. Since I was happy with the final product, I’ll do the same again for this year’s:

John O Donohue quote
Highlights and Milestones of 2015

  • My WIP: I finished the first draft of my YA fantasy novel and came up with its current title (The Keeper’s Curse, or TKC) in February, and currently I’m 75%-ish through the second draft. In some ways, the story has evolved so much since I first started writing it 3 years ago, yet its soul has remained the same. If you’d like to catch up on my progress with it so far, check out my Chronicling The Craft series. I hope to post the next installment later this month!
  • Website Makeover: 2015 was *finally* the year where I committed to truly making this site my own. In May, I left the world of free blogging and bought a domain name, then gave the site a long-overdue facelift. I still love how it looks, and how much easier it is to navigate and read.
  • Literary Conferences & Events: I went to four big literary events this past year: two conferences (The Muse & The Marketplace in Boston, and Writer’s Digest Conference in NYC), and two festivals (the Boston Teen Author Festival and the Boston Book Festival). By doing so, I met a number of published authors I admire, connected with other as-yet-unpublished writers and blogging friends in person, stuffed my bookshelves with (what else?) LOTS of books, and (most importantly) realized how certain and driven I am to achieve the writing career I’ve always dreamed of having.
  • Launching the Character Evolution Files: I still can’t believe the reception this series on character arcs has received. I’m only five articles deep into what’s become my greatest monthly-ish challenge as a blogger (these little monsters take a LOT of time and thought to pull together). But it’s been a fantastic learning experience for me as a storyteller; and thanks to everyone’s feedback and all the social media sharing, it’s become the blog’s most successful series both statistically and in terms of beneficial content for readers. So, expect more Character Evolution Files in 2016!
  • Other Awesome Additions to the Blog: Participating in memes like Beautiful People and 1000 Voices for Compassion (a.k.a. #1000Speak), adding a page for writing worksheets, hosting fun “events” like giveaways and character interviews – these and other additions to the site have helped make blogging even more exciting, inspiring, and invaluable for me as a writer and as a human being.

Lessons and Insights from 2015

  • Embrace your courage, and become your bravest self. I touched on this back in September, when I talked about stepping outside my comfort zone. There’s more to courage, though, than simply trying things you haven’t done before. For me, it was also declaring myself as a writer to the world. It was learning to be more honest with people and be more willing to share my feelings verbally (something that will take me a while to get used to, but I’m working on it). It was doing my best to let go of my fear of the unknown and to trust in myself and the higher powers that be. Courage, it seems, was my unofficial “theme” of the year; and I’m very thankful for it.
  • It’s better to accept and enjoy your writing process than to stress out over it. When I started Draft #2 of TKC in mid-April, I thought I could finish it by the end of the summer. Several weeks later, because of my limited writing schedule and the sheer amount of work Draft #2 would need, I realized my goal wasn’t realistic – and it sent me into panic mode. It’s not that I don’t work well with deadlines; I have no problem meeting them for my DIY MFA column. Instead, I was trying to control something that was… well, beyond my control. So, for a while, I grew very discouraged with the novel-writing / -revising process. Once I learned to let go of those expectations, I felt better about myself – and I rediscovered the joy I’d lost. Now I know what not to do when it’s time to plan for Draft #3.
  • Take care of yourself. I thought I had learned this lesson last year. Nope. I’m still figuring out how to be more compassionate to myself, from focusing on the positive instead of all the worst-case scenarios, to finding necessary time to “be” when life gets crazy. It will be an ongoing process; but now that I know the benefits of journaling, meditating, coloring, and simply relaxing, I’ll make a conscious effort to keep them in my daily / weekly routine.

George Eliot quote

Writing and Blogging Goals for 2016

  • Finish Draft #2 of the WIP: At my current rate, I should finish revising TKC by the end of March, though that’s not a hard deadline. The only thing that will stop me from reaching this goal period-end-of-story? Oh, maybe the apocalypse. 😉
  • Attend Writer’s Digest Conference 2016 & Pitch TKC to Agents: Yes! I’m already planning to go back to WDC in August (yay!), and this time I’m considering doing something super-intimidating: participating in the conference’s annual Pitch Slam, where I’d deliver my “elevator pitch” for TKC to agents and editors of my choice. (Eeek!!!) I already have a pitch that I’d practiced during WDC last year, though, so I’ll hone and memorize it during the summer.
  • Complete Draft #3 & Send the WIP to Beta-Readers: This might be ambitious. I already have a plan for how I want to tackle the next draft of TKC. What I don’t know is how long it will take. For now, I work better without self-set deadlines (see my “writing process” lesson above), and motivation isn’t an issue. But if I can finish Draft #3 and get TKC to beta-readers before the end of 2016, that would be great. If it doesn’t happen until 2017, that’s OK. It will happen when it’s meant to happen – but it will happen.
  • Maintain a Blogging “Status Quo”: Apart from some guest blogging opportunities, I’m content with the way things are going here as well as at A Bibliophile’s Reverie (tea reviews) and DIY MFA (“Theme: A Story’s Soul” column). No need to add anything new to the plate this year.

The Blog’s 10 Most Popular Posts of 2015

  1. The Character Evolution Files, No. 1: What Is Character Evolution, and Why Is It Important?
  2. The Character Evolution Files, No. 3: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 1 – The Trigger (Inciting Incident)
  3. The Character Evolution Files, No. 2: What Are the Three Types of Character Arcs?
  4. The Character Evolution Files, No. 4: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 2 – The Comfort Zone (Act I)
  5. Interview with Maria V. Snyder + “Shadow Study” Giveaway!
  6. The Character Evolution Files, No. 5: The Journey Through the Character Arc, Stage 3 – The Point of No Return (End of Act I)
  7. #1000Speak: On Self-Compassion
  8. Chronicling The Craft: Digging for Ideas for Book Titles (+ Reveal of My WIP’s Title)
  9. Acts of Compassion in Literature – A Special #1000Speak Edition of “Theme: A Story’s Soul”
  10. An Ode To… Josh Groban

Ten Other Favorite Posts (Either Here or as a Guest Blogger) of 2015

  1. #1000Speak: On Tolerance, Diversity, and the Influence on One’s Worldviews
  2. #1000Speak: On Writing Poetry From A Place of Compassion
  3. 5 on the 5th: Five Things I’ve Learned in the Past Year
  4. A Blogoversary Character Interview with Eva of The Keeper’s Curse
  5. A Case Study on Family as a Literary Theme (“Theme: A Story’s Soul” Column at DIY MFA)
  6. Developing Themes In Your Stories: Part 1 – The Character Arc (“Theme: A Story’s Soul” Column at DIY MFA)
  7. My Eleven Favorite Literary Heroes
  8. My Eleven Favorite Literary Heroines
  9. On Soccer Coach Dads and Passion Pursuits (Guest Post as CoachDaddy)
  10. A Pep Talk for Slow Writers (Guest Post at Wendy Lu Writes)

Marcel Proust quote

Last But Not Least, A Question For Readers

Since you’re a huge part of this blog and I value your feedback, I’d like to ask you a question:

What would you like to see here in 2016?

Would you like to do another character interview, with someone else from The Keeper’s Curse? How about more author interviews or giveaways? In other words, what do you like most about this site and would like to see more of this year? I can’t guarantee I’ll get to all of your suggestions, but knowing what resonates strongest with my audience can help me make this blogging year even better than the last one.

Thank you once again for making 2015 such an awesome year! So, what were some of your blogging or writing highlights from 2015? What goals do you have for the new year? 

24 thoughts on “Happy New Year – and Here’s to 2016!

  1. It looks like you had a very productive 2015. It’s kind of weird, because I did the many of the same things you did: going indipendent of the blog, making it over. I’m just a bit further on the novel path, because I’ve already subbed it around… and I’m trying to decide on the next move for that story.

    Congrats on the Character’s Arc series, it’s really good. I think that, as bloggers, having a series we’re passionate about going on is very important, because it means we can really give something to our readers.
    Keep up with the great work!

    You know? Honestly I don’t think you’ll have any problem to keep up with your 2016 resolutions 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sarah! 🙂 I’m just glad that other writers are enjoying the Character Evolution Files so far and seeing how it applies to published stories and their own work. If this series can add more “tools” to their writing toolbox, so to speak, then I know I’ve done my job.

      Yes, well, let’s see how well those goals and resolutions hold up. It’s only January – we’ve got a whole year ahead of us!

      Which story of yours were you talking about, btw? The one about Prohibition-era Chicago and ghosts? Or a different one?

      Like

  2. I need to get involved in your series of helpful posts. I’m trying fiction and other forms of writing in 2016. I’m grateful to have crossed your path in the past year. For 2016, because I don’t like resolutions, I vow to just write, and come what may.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Eli! I’m thankful for meeting you as well. The guest post I did for your site is one of the pieces I’m most proud of. 🙂

      If you’re looking for posts on writing tips, definitely check out the Character Evolution Files (which focus on character arcs) or any of last year’s Chronicling The Craft posts. I’ve started working on the next Chronicle, too; hopefully that will be up before the end of this month.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations, Sara. I have sensed during the year that you have become more confident and focused in your purpose and I’ve been very impressed with the creative and stimulating content on your blog – so imaginative and helpful for writers… I also think you are very wise to set out a basic outline plan regarding your editing schedule – but keeping it loose. I’ve already had a hard lesson in what happens when I decided to nail myself to an immoveable timescale. At the end of the day, quality has to be the keynote, which I know is one of your keystones. I wish you all the very best for 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you so much, Sarah. 🙂 I do feel more confident about myself as a writer, and I think this site has had a lot to do with that boost.

      Also, I agree with your thoughts on quality versus deadlines. My problem, though, is I tend to misjudge how long it might take to finish something – and then I stress out about it. So, for now, I’m not going to worry about deadlines, since I’ve no reason to.

      Your own example just reminded me of Running Out of Space. What is your plan again for the trilogy? Are you waiting to release all three books at one time?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes – I’ve decided to release all three books together. This Christmas my wonderful, clever son has managed to sort out my formatting issues and so now it is ‘just’ a case of editing ‘Dying for Space’ and ‘Breathing Space’ so they are tight and readable…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds like a good plan. 😉 If you’d like, I’d be happy to host a guest post or interview with you here around release time. Let me know what you think.

        How were your holidays, btw? I can’t remember if I asked you that here or at your own blog… *blames her poor early-morning memory skills*

        Like

  4. Happy New Year, Sara! I’ve been following all your updates so I know you had a great and productive year and I don’t know if I can suggest anything else either because you already go above and beyond in your progress posts – I found them immensely helpful during NaNoWriMo, so thank you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy New Year to you too, Mogsy! 🙂 I’m glad you found the writing-related posts helpful; that’s the most I can hope for when I prepare them. Best wishes to you (and the other ladies at Bibliosanctum) for a year of good health and great reading.

      Like

    • Thanks, Alise! 🙂

      Yeah, self-compassion is a lot harder to practice and achieve than compassion for others. At least you recognize that you need to be that way with yourself more often. That’s the first step. If you’re interested, there should be a link in this post to the self-compassion / self-care piece I wrote back in February. That might help you find a place(s) to start.

      Like

  5. I like that you seem to be at the point in your process where you really know yourself and what you can achieve. I admire that; I feel like I am always overshooting and overextending myself. That never works out for the best. Self-awareness is so important!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, self-awareness is very important – more than we realize, I think. There are some aspects of our writing process that we simply can’t control. So, it’s better to focus on what we CAN control or what we know we can improve on, and focus on that instead.

      Thanks for stopping by, Leanne! 🙂

      Like

  6. This is *amazing*. You’ve done so so much here. You really inspire me to be more disciplined, across the board but especially where your WIP is involved. I’m always so impressed with your patience and the way you get things done. Courage is a wonderful theme – best of luck continuing it, especially when it comes to the pitch!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sara! Yes, this year was a lesson in being patient with the writing process. I’d love to be more prolific novel-writing-wise, but that’s just not how things are. So I just have to remember that’s OK – even if my ego breaks down now and then and screams, “No, it’s not!” *lol*

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So many great goals and accomplishments! I’m glad 2015 was a great year for you and tally ho to 2016! I love your Character Evolution Files. They’re so thorough. ^ ^

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tori! 😀

      I’m actually behind on starting my next Character Evolution File. (*gulp*) I have a couple other posts I’m trying to finish up right now, and then I’ll get to No. 6. So, it might not be out until sometime in February…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Congrats on a productive year on the blog! You’ve worked so hard and done so much in 2015, that I don’t really have any suggestions to add. I think keep doing what you’ve been doing. 🙂 I especially like the Character Evolution files!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Beautiful People, Vol. 11: 2016 Writerly Goals and Resolutions | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

  10. Pingback: Time Flies!: January 2016 | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

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