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.

 

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Fall into News and Links!

The puns that start off these link/news collection posts are really starting to get awful. I’ll admit that. Hell, I’ll own that.

News, In Case You Missed It

My short story, “Choosing to Stand Still” has been published at The Holiday Cafe!

My reading of “Tunneling” is on video. Check out one of these two links:
Link 1
Link 2

Please check out my guest post on YA Fantasy writer Scarlett Van Dijk’s blog. The post discusses the superstitions of writers and the way they slow us down.

I may or may not have written a fanfic. Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t.

Friends of the Blog

My little sister, Megan Manzano, got published again! Check out her creepy piece of sci fi flash fiction!

By this point, my character blog hop was a while ago, but if you missed the different steps in my section, you can start with Hannah R. Goodman’s post. Hannah is the creator of Sucker Literary and she writes YA novels. Check out her blog post introducing her character, Maddie. Hannah tagged me, which led to me tagging others.

Check out their entries below to meet a bevy of new and interesting characters!
Scarlett Van Dijk
Kay Kauffman
Kimberly McKenzie
Julaina Kleist-Corwin

Fantasy writer, fellow geek, and good friend of mine, Louis Santiago takes on sexism in nerddom in a two part series that is honest, a bit sad, and oh so true.

Part 1
Part 2

Info

Just finished reading Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro. It is a very good book and is very informative regarding the writing life. However, I found I disagreed with huge chunks of it which, I suppose, goes to show that every writer’s experience is very different. Either way, the book was an interesting read.

Links

Lucienne Diver is a literary agent at The Knight Agency and I love this blog post she posted about how to tell if your manuscript is Young Adult or if it falls into another closely related category. I particularly love her view on why so many adults love YA.

Grammar lesson: How do you use each other and one another?

So you want to write about medieval fighting sword and are having trouble with the terminology? This video will help you.

While I search for an agent, I have come across many different types. Those I have submitted to have been open, with full communication, as I have chosen them for this reason. However, there are some interactions that can be…frustrating. Check out this wonderful tongue-in-cheek article containing the dos and don’ts of being an agent.

Spring Into These Writing Links!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted something brand new that hasn’t been a rehash or a blog hop, but I’ve been a happily busy girl.  Between two publication notifications last month, the release of Volume 3 of Sucker Literary, entering contests and revising my novel, there has been a whole lot going on.

For today, here’s another link collection entry, complete with some that are very personal to my work.

– If you haven’t already, please check out my flash fiction, “Tunneling”.

– Sucker Literary, Volume 3 is out now!  For where to buy and behind the scenes info, check out Sucker’s website!

– I’ve decided to share my playlists for the books I’m working on with you.  So, here is The Order of The Key Playlist.  Feel free to check it out.  Some are songs whose messages inspire, some are perfect for the characters, some inspired random story ideas for no real reasons.  Some contain similar themes.  All are songs I listen to while brainstorming.  Enjoy.

– While we’re doing playlists, here are the playlists I’ve created for my other works in progress:
The Broken Hearts Club
Soul Sight
Legally Insane

This blog post, written by badass YA writer and my friend, Zoraida Cordova, discusses diversity in YA literature and is both funny and incredibly wise. My family, my dearest friends, are pretty much every color, culture, and  sexual orientation that exists.  It is very sad to watch someone celebrate wholeheartedly because they actually got some representation in literature.  This should be routine, not shocking.

– This is a great list of what makes your short story fail with a lit mag.

– This is a great little set of tips for how to co-author a book series. Ismael and I had plans to try something like this at some point in our careers (although that may have fallen by the wayside), so I’ve done some research into the process and this is an interesting view of it.  It also doesn’t hurt that it involves my favorite author, Kelley Armstrong, and her sometimes writing partner Melissa Marr.

– Though I’m not always a gigantic fan of Cassandra Clare (I have a love/hate relationship with her, for sure), this is a fantastic (if maybe a little overly-defensive) response to a constant internal debate I have – how much should your personal beliefs get in the way of your ability to draft real, compelling characters and plotlines. I think Cassandra comes up with a great explanation of this here, although it may be difficult to really understand if you have never read either of her Shadowhunter series’.

– Avoiding Twitter?  Here are some great things you can do with Twitter as a writer. And here’s part two of that article with more great ideas.

We’ve all heard plenty of writing advice.  Here’s why some of the old favorite bits of advice aren’t really that great.

– This is a great blog post on the best ways to classify your story when searching for agents and publishers.

I think that little collection of links redeems me for my absence, what do you think?  Don’t forget to come back at the end of the month, so I can elevator pitch my novels to you.  See you then!

Come What May…

Hello all!  Welcome to my collection of news, musing and links for the month of May.

I’d like to start by leading you guys to an article that gave me a mention.  The article is about a new frontier in publishing & fandom. You can read the article here.  The SpaceGypsies site is filled with interesting fandom information, so if you have never visited it, take a tour.

Just a random thought: If every character I create is like a child to me, and having children drains you and makes you forget things, then is it any wonder that between Logan and my fiction-kids, I have very little brain power left?

Ever get your Lays and Lies mixed up?  This is a big issue of mine.  This blog post by C.S. Lakin should help.

Want to see the things you should absolutely never write in a query letter to a literary agent?  Visit SlushPile Hell and laugh with them.

Do you believe that the rules of writing and publishing others discuss don’t apply to you?  You might want to check out this Writer’s Digest article.

Joss Whedon, otherwise known as the Master of the Fandom Universe, gave a very profound commencement speech at Wesleyan University, and i09 covered it here.  Give it a read.  It’s pretty inspirational, no matter what path you’re on.

Another interesting Writer’s Digest Article discusses 15 Things a Writer Should Never Do.   Here’s a hint: One of these 15 things is actually the topic of my next blog post!  See if you can guess.

That’s all for now.  I’ll see you with a new blog post in two weeks!