2014 Year In Review

Happy New Year!  I hope you can look back at last year with happiness in your heart, and look forward to a year filled with new and interesting possibilities.

2014 has been a bit crazy for me, personally. I’ve faced some trials, some family illnesses, some coping with awful life things from my past. I’ve also made new friends, solidified old relationships, and adopted to the new rigors of having a school-aged child. It can be a lot, but every year is a gem in its own way. We have been blessed. Our family continues to float on.

As this year kicks into gear, it is easy to look back and think of all of the things you didn’t get to do, or the things you have yet to do – which is why it is so important for us to take a second to examine what has been accomplished in this bygone year. So, that’s what I’m going to do – I’m going to look at what I’ve accomplished in 2014 and discuss where I’d like to go in 2015.

Writing Steps in 2014

  • Last year, I was celebrating the publication of one of my first short story. This year, I am celebrating the publication of three new stories! My writing life has absolutely been blessed this year. Forward momentum for the win! Tunneling, which also happened to be my first piece of flash fiction, One Percent, which I mentioned in my 2013 year in review as a story that I struggled with rewriting, and Choosing to Stand Still, which was the first short story I brought before the writing critique group I was just joining at the end of last year, all found permanent homes and made me a proud mama.
  • I went to my first writing convention, the Writer’s Digest Conference 2014, and did my first ever pitch session. Chronicled in a two part blog post in August, I got to pursue this particular first in time with my son’s 5th birthday weekend, which left me in an insane tizzy. Though two out of three of my pitch requests ended in rejection, and one is still pending, I still count this as a victory on two fronts. I had never gone out into the world to discuss one of my books before. I very rarely went out into the world and declared myself a writer. That weekend, I got to do that, and not only that, but I got to prove to myself that, while it may tire me out, I can be a mother, and a writer, and have a day job, without everything falling apart. This was the first test.
  • Not only did I start pitching The Order of the Key in person, but I also started to send out query letters to agents, enter twitter contests, and just generally get my first full length novel out into the world. This was a huge step, as a writer can sit in edit, rinse, repeat hell forever if allowed.
  • While I have read my work publicly in the past, I read my work for the first time, professionally, this year. It was a great time, only slightly nerve wracking and helped quite a bit by the presence of several incredible people at my side while I geared up. I will say, that one of the ways I have been very lucky, and there are many, is that I have an intensely supportive and loving group of people that would follow my writing and me anywhere and the feeling is mutual. These are the moments when you see that in living color – whether it’s the people who watch my son for me while I go and participate in writing related activities, the people who listen to me practice read, the people who ask me about my work, or the people who come out and attend readings – I have an awesome group of people surrounding me.
  • This year I wrote my first guest blog post, about writing superstitions. I enjoyed putting it together. I also enjoyed the opportunity to get to know a bit about fellow YA Fantasy writer Scarlett Van Dijk’s work.
  • I completed another round of NaNoWriMo! Which means I’m over halfway through my rewrite of Legally Insane. It is almost complete and I am excited about it. It’s an oddly sweet little story about a girl who hallucinates, and I can’t wait to finish it and get it to you guys so you can read it.
  • I wrote a fanfic, my first in a long time, on a totally different topic than usual. It was, as most fanfic is to me, an experiment in writing a different kind of voice than I’m used to. I enjoyed it.
  • I  wrote yet another short story prequel to my Keys and Guardians series, titled “Love is Sacrifice”. I’m not sure if I can do anything with it as a stand alone (I have the first, “Fuel and Fire”, out for submissions as mentioned below) but I am getting the feeling there will definitely be some kind of anthology one day.

Plans for 2015

  • I’ve got two short stories out in the world waiting to be published by somebody. I am hoping they find placement out there somewhere. They also happen to be my two favorite short stories, which makes their prolonged lack of publication particularly sad.  I’m hoping 2015 will find them a home.
  • The Order of the Key is still out in limbo with a couple of agents and publishers. I am hoping that by the end of 2015 I will know the fate of the Keys and Guardians series. Hopefully, much sooner than that.
  • I definitely want to finish Legally Insane and complete the edit on the book by the end of 2015.
  • If The Order of the Key is picked up for publication, my NaNoWriMo book for next year will be Book 2, The Lost Key. If it is not, and I’m still figuring it out or still in the process of editing Book 1, I will be going forward with The Broken Hearts Club, my ironically (and possibly temporarily) titled story about the continued tale of Tunneling. I still have a couple of characters to really figure out from that story, so we’ll see.
  • I’m taking on a reading challenge for 2015 to get me to read more and different books (in case you noticed that list from last week was a little…Kelley Armstrong heavy…). I will be tracking that, to some extent, here.
  • Just more. Of everything. I’d love to look into more networking opportunities. I’d love to take more classes. I’d love to try some more new experiences that I can maybe use in my writing. I’d love to travel a bit. I’d love to do another reading. I’d love to do more guest blog posts. I’d love to have people do guest posts on my blog. I’d love to grow as a writer. And I can’t wait to start doing it.

2014 was an amazing year. I published one story when 2014 began. By the end of 2014, I’ve published four. I don’t want to lose this momentum. So here’s to another wonderful year of getting out there and being a writer.

And here’s to another wonderful year of you pursuing your dreams!  What have you accomplished in 2014? What do you have planned for 2015? Post it in the comments below.

 

Reading List of 2014

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
― Stephen King

Reading is a huge part of being a writer. It helps you to gain an instinctive grasp on plot, character development and story structure that you will never learn from a class. It’s immersive learning and, with the right book, it’s also a great deal of fun. Why do we write? We write because we love sharing thoughts through written word. So why wouldn’t we love receiving thoughts through the same medium.

I know a lot of people who love to read. And they’ll ask me how many books I’ve read this year – because they have a list. I never do. When January 2014 rolled around this year, I decided it was time to start keeping track of all the reading I do. Which…is not at all what I’ve accomplished here. I’ve realized, when writing this list, just how much I read that is not technically a book or a short story, etc. I read three issues of Writer’s Digest this year and an issue of Publisher’s Weekly. I read MANY fanfics. I read stuff my friends sent me to beta read. I read cereal boxes. I read Max & Mo Go Apple Picking a trillion times to Logan. I helped to teach Logan how to read it himself. It’s been a long year. And, as I told Logan, the only way to learn to read is to try to read everything in front of you. See a sign? Read it. See a box of food? Read it.

I realized, in teaching him that, that it’s what I’ve been doing since I was young. Soaking up all the written information I could get my hands on.

So, without further ado, here is my, not by any means exhaustive, list of reading materials I’ve perused since 2014. Enjoy!

 

Full Length Books

 1) The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

2) The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

3) Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness – I reviewed this trilogy! Follow the link!

 4) American Gods by Neil Gaiman – This was a reread of something I hadn’t read since my ridiculous goth years. So much better this time around.

 5) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – I loved this book. I loved this movie. This book being bought for me last Christmas so I would stop reading “all that Sci Fi crap”, and I wanted to spite hate it, but I couldn’t put it down. A fun mystery about horrible people.

 6) The Story Within by Laura Oliver – A great writing book (and another Christmas gift).

 7) Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong – I’ve long touted Kelley as my favorite author and this book is no exception to her greatness. Diving into a new YA universe is always much fun with her.

 8) Across the Universe by Beth Revis – I took a chance on this series based on a short story I found in a YA Dystopian anthology. I wasn’t disappointed.

9) Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

10) A Million Suns by Beth Revis

11) Odin’s Ravens by Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr – I don’t care if it’s middle grade. If it’s by Kelley, I’m reading it. Judge all you want.

12) City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare – I have such a love/hate relationship with this book series, but I fell so hard for a couple of the characters, I couldn’t NOT see how things turned out for them. I told myself this was it for me and Ms. Clare. Except…there was an untied loose end that leads to a new series coming out next year. And despite myself…I. WANT.

13) The Vast and Brutal Sea by Zoraida Cordova – I’ve been reading this series by my buddy Zoraida for the last three years and this was the stunning wrap up to her first YA series. Perfect conclusion.

14) Four Divergent Stories by Veronica Roth – After Allegiant, I never believed I would get back on the Roth train, and not for the reasons so many people thought. It wasn’t about the end of the book, it was about the way Roth lost Four’s voice in that final book. But here, she brought him back and he was him in all his glory. Perfect. I missed him.

15) Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro – The book that inspired a blog post. You’ll see it soon. I wanted to have a sprightly debate with Ms. Shapiro. Which means, of course, that the book did it’s job.

16) Reflection Pond by Kacey Vanderkarr – I’m not big on stories about the fae, but I fell hard for this one, told by fellow Sucker Literary staff member, Vanderkarr. So hard, in fact, that I bought part 2 the day it debuted.

17) Joss Whedon: The Biography by Amy Pascale – If Kelley Armstrong is my favorite author, then Joss Whedon is my favorite EVERYTHING. So…a biography of my hero? Yes, please!

18) Visions by Kelley Armstrong – This should count as three books, since I read this, re-read this, and then re-read it’s predecessor Omens in preparation for a fanfic. Don’t tell. 😉

19) Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman – If I was going to read American Gods, might as well go for the sequel I hadn’t read yet. Loved this. Possibly better than its predecessor.

20) Luck on the Line by Zoraida Cordova – Another one from my friend, Zoraida. She knocks it out of the park with her first New Adult romance. And I will not tell you what my signed copy says, but she blushed writing it and I laughed out loud reading it. Good to know other people feel awkward writing sex scenes….

21) The Poison Tree by Kacey Vanderkarr – The sequel to Reflection Pond. Made me so happy.

Novellas/Published Short Stories

 1) The Course of True Love and First Dates by Cassandra Clare – This was one short story that was part of a collection surrounding Magnus Bane, one of the stand out characters of Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. I have recently started (but had not finished at press time), The Bane Chronicles, a collection of these short stories. But this one was about my favorite character, Bane’s boyfriend, Alec, and I just couldn’t stay away until the full book came out. Because I am a loser.

2) Skid Out by Anne Marie Frohoff – I got this for free in a giveaway. So. Much. Bad.

3) Cruel by Ashley R. Carlson – This was another freebie, this one was for following Ashley R. Carlson’s blog. And this one was far more rewarding.

4) Forsaken by Kelley Armstrong – New novella from Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series? Yes, please! New novella featuring my favorite villain from said series? GIVE ME NAO.

5) Luck on the Line Bonus Chapter .5 by Zoraida Cordova –  Who doesn’t love the male point of view of a good female romance story? No, seriously. Tell me who?

Anthologies/Short Story Collections

1) Enthralled, edited by Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr – Anthologies like this collection of YA stories is how I find new authors. Loved every story in this.

2) Sucker Literary: Volume 3 – If you haven’t heard about Sucker Literary from me a million and one times at this point, you must be wearing ear plugs. Not only did I work on the staff of this magazine, but it’s comprised of YA short stories which I love, and it’s run by some great people who genuinely want to contribute to the writing world. Also, every single story in this anthology is a winner. This is definitely one to check out.

3) Dead Man’s Hand: An Anthology of the Weird West, edited by John Joseph Adams – I came here for Kelley Armstrong and Beth Revis. I got a couple of other stories out of this that I loved. But, really, this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. I’m not much of a fan of Westerns, but I will say that this broadened my horizons a bit and I liked more than I thought I would.

4) Tell My Sorrows To The Stones by Christopher Golden – I won a signed copy of this. Chris has been on my top 5 faves for ages and this book demonstrates why. A mix of terrifying tales and true, real emotion, make Golden one of horror’s best.

5) Gifted by Kelley Armstrong – I’ve mentioned that I love Armstrong’s Otherworld and Cainsville series, and this short collection includes stories from both – both holiday themed. Both were surprisingly emotionally packed. I teared up a little. I’ll admit it.

Literary Magazines

1) Sliver of Stone, Issue 8 – A girl has gotta read a magazine she is in. My story, Tunneling, is in this issue.

2) Subterranean Press Spring 2014 – Another Cainsville short story. I’m realizing while looking at this list that…Kelley Armstrong writes a lot. Like…a LOT…every year.

3) The Greenwich Village Literary Review, Issue 1 – I was honored to be featured in the first issue of this new New York literary magazine. Check out One Percent here.

4) The Holiday Cafe, Fall 2014 – My story, Choosing to Stand Still was featured in this lovely mag.

So that’s my reading for 2014!  I have already half-completed two books for 2015. And if that little bit at the end didn’t cue it up for you, check out my year-in-review this New Years!  Happy Holidays to you all! See you soon!