Reflections on 2017, and What Matters More than Having the “Best Year Ever”

Last January, a friend gave me this New Year’s party hat. The timing for this sparkling “gift” couldn’t have been more appropriate: I was ready to send a YA fantasy novel to beta-readers, and 3 weeks into a crowdfunding campaign to help me afford a trip to the Iceland Writers Retreat. Not to mention I had a whole list of goals and plans for 2017, and if things worked out the way I’d hoped, maybe I’d be closer to my dream of being published by year’s end – a pretty good “best year ever.”

Today, that hat still sits in my writing space (a.k.a. my dining room table), and I’m no closer to being published than I was a year ago. But that doesn’t mean 2017 was “not the best year ever.” Rather, it turned out much differently than I thought it would.

Was it challenging? Absolutely. Discouraging? At times, yes. But it was also one of the most exciting, inspiring, and humbling years I’ve had the privilege of living.

For all those reasons, I can’t write this annual reflection post in the same way I’ve written those of past years. Instead of focusing on milestones, blog statistics, and defined plans that could change in a few months, I’d like to share what I learned this past year. How certain events sent my mental health spiraling and shook my faith and self-confidence. How other events and important choices helped me heal and made me look at life – even why I write – from a different perspective. How it all, in the end, reminded me that I’m intelligent, creative, and determined enough to rebound from setbacks. Continue reading

Looking Back on 2016… and Looking Ahead to 2017

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the December holidays and had a fun, safe end to 2016. 🙂

Looking back on the year, one of the words that comes to mind is “growth.” This site especially was booming. Thanks to all your shares, likes, and comments, 2016’s stats in terms of page views and visitors doubled 2015’s. And that’s despite the fact that I slowed my blogging schedule to once a week. I may be the one who writes and runs this site, but you, the readers, deserve much of the credit.

So, thank you for stopping by and coming back, for sharing your thoughts and offering feedback, for spreading the word and celebrating milestones with me. But most of all, thank you for encouraging and inspiring me. Yes. You inspire me to be not only the best writer I can be, but also my best and fullest self. And for that, I’m truly grateful.

So, let’s get to the annual year-end wrap-up, along with some quotes that reflect my feelings about 2016 and my hopes for 2017.
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Chronicling The Craft: Six Writing Lessons I Learned While Working On My WIP

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Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today we finish our celebration of the end of Draft #3 with a tips-oriented post.

Working on a novel is a learning experience in and of itself. You’ll make right and wrong decisions, figure things out, and find ways of improving the story. You’ll also absorb tips away from the WIP via blog articles, workshops, and literary conferences. That “self-teaching” can double – or even triple – your knowledge about writing between Day 1 of Draft #1 and The End of Draft #3. And after wrapping up my WIP’s third draft, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned about the craft of writing and about myself as a writer.

So, the last Chronicle for Draft #3 isn’t exactly a tips-oriented post. Instead, it’s a retrospect of discoveries I’ve made since I started working on The Keeper’s Curse (or TKC). Perhaps these lessons might help you on your own writing journey (or maybe you’ve already embraced them). Then, at the end, I’d love to know what you have learned about yourself or your process from any of your writing projects. 🙂
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First WHW Resident Writing Coach Post Is Live!

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My first post as a Resident Writing Coach at Writer Helping Writers is live! I decided to offer tips on an aspect of the writing process that all writers struggle with: our “inner editor.” You know, that voice inside your head that can make you question your every writing-related decision and discourage you to the point of distraction. But our inner editor doesn’t always criticize or doubt us. In fact, its advice can sometimes be helpful. It’s all a matter of recognizing when and why we should listen to it.

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Chronicling The Craft: A Conversation About Beta-Reading, From Nailing Your Critiques to Finding Good Candidates

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Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today it’s the tips-oriented post to celebrate 80% completion of Draft #3.

I had trouble thinking of a subject to cover this time. The past three tips-driven Chronicles (word-cutting strategies, planning changes to one’s writing routine, and wrestling writer’s doubt) were inspired by challenges I experienced at different points during Draft #3. Lately, though, no one single “issue” with editing has stood out to me. Yet I’ve started giving serious thought to the next stage: beta-reading.

Yes, that terrifying yet exciting phase of sharing your writing for feedback is the topic of today’s Chronicle. I’ll share lessons and advice based on my past experience with beta-reading for other writers. I’ll also touch on how to decide who might be a good beta-reading candidate, and give you a peek inside my plans for my WIP’s beta-reading stage. So, let’s dive in!
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Chronicling The Craft: Battling Writer’s Doubt and Regaining Your Confidence

Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today’s post is the tips-oriented post to celebrate 60% completion of Draft #3.

No writer (or anyone pursuing their dreams) is immune to the monsters of doubt. At any time during our process, we might lose faith in our story, our characters, even our own abilities. And when we do, the effects can cripple us, sometimes to the point of giving up.

It’s a tough subject to broach. I’ve hit the wall a few times myself, but I’ve rarely written about it. But I should write about it. In fact, all writers should. Not only does it make us feel less alone in our struggles, but it allows us to find or share ways of managing any doubts or anxieties we have about our craft.

For today’s Chronicle, I’ll share one of my recent struggles with doubt while editing my WIP. I’ll also reveal my personal method for dealing with those fears, and how some of my writing friends manage theirs. Perhaps some of these tips might work for you. Or, maybe you already have your own ways of bouncing back. The point is to encourage and motivate one another to keep doing this crazy thing we love called writing. I hope this post will accomplish that for you.
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Chronicling The Craft: Draft #3 – 60% Progress Report

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Plus, Four Songs from Leah’s Kings & Queens That Appear on the WIP’s Playlist

Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today’s post marks 60% completion of Draft #3 with another progress report and more songs on TKC’s novel playlist.

It’s time for another update! And you know what’s better that giving another progress report? Sharing the news that I’ve met my stretch goal for cutting TKC’s word count!!

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Let’s dance, Star Lord!

To be honest, I’m not surprised that I reached this second goal so quickly. I was just over 2,000 words away at the 40% update; and with several overwritten chapters around the corner, it was bound to happen before this pair of Chronicles. But that doesn’t change how thrilled and relieved I am that TKC is now within the recommended word count for its genre (under 100K for YA fantasies by debut authors).

Today I’ll go more in-depth about where TKC stands and what happens now that I’ve reached my stretch goal. I’ll also introduce you to the music of melodic metal singer-songwriter Leah McHenry and share more tunes from the novel’s playlist. Ready?
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Time Flies!: August 2016

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Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies! It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share news and random things from my offline life, and hint at what may be coming in the month ahead.

I’m starting this post with a confession: While I’ve managed to keep up with my own blog-writing, I’ve been so burnt out from the past month’s busyness that I’m struggling to keep up with reading other blogs or replying to comments. I’ve also been dealing with stress from (without going into too much detail) expected and unexpected sources. Some days were great, but others… Yeah.

Bilbo faints

I hope this is temporary, though, since I still have one big event around the corner: My friend’s wedding (the one where I’m a bridesmaid) is this coming Saturday. Maybe once things calm down and I have some time to rest and regroup, I’ll feel some semblance of my normal self. But I just wanted to let readers know what’s going on, since you guys deserve my honesty.

But I really can’t complain. August was an awesome month on its best days, and it ends with much that I’m grateful for. This will make more sense as this post goes along, so let’s start with…

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Writing Spaces, Rituals, and Other Habits

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Ahhhh… Isn’t that a lovely view? Sometimes I think the beach would be my writing space paradise. Other times, I know I’d be so distracted by its beauty that I’d be better off indoors. But one can always dream, right?

Today I’m sharing tidbits about my real writing space, from my current “Draft #3 Central” to rituals and other habits when working on my WIP. This topic was inspired by recent posts by Jessica Matteliano and Rae Oestreich. In fact, I’m sort of copying Jessica’s format, which was based on questions from a recent #Storycrafter Twitter chat led by Faye Kirwin of Writerology. (Hope you don’t mind, Jessica. *winks*)

Curiousity piqued? Then let’s dive in!

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Time Flies!: July 2016

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Welcome to the latest edition of Time Flies! It’s my version of a monthly update, where I recap the past month’s accomplishments and articles, share news and random things from my offline life, and hint at what may be coming in the month ahead.

Ahhhhh. What a lovely month this has been. I sort of feel sad that July is almost over, because it’s the most relaxed I’ve been all year. (With the exception of a flat tire earlier this week. :/ ) So I want to savor that feeling a little longer.

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August is going to be super-busy, though. The Writer’s Digest Conference is in 2 weeks, and Doctor Friend’s wedding (the one where I’ll be a bridesmaid) is 3 weeks later. My head spins just thinking about those events… But I think I have almost  everything I need for both, so I’m not too stressed out. Well, not yet, anyway.

Ifyou’re wondering, I don’t anticipate taking a blogging hiatus next month. However, it may take me longer than usual to respond to comments, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear from me right away.

Now, let’s get to this month’s recap!

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