Wednesday, January 8, 2020

IWSG: Year End Review



Yeah, okay, so maybe I should have done the review before the year ended, but here it is! It's also IWSG day, and I'll answer the IWSG question below.

Writing:
The first thing I have to say, because otherwise I'll feel a little discouraged about progress, is that we spent a little over half the year traveling. I don't get much writer-work done when traveling (despite the photo above, where I'm writing under non-optimal circs. That's my journal, which is usually as much as I manage). So some things changed: my blogging became less frequent and much more erratic, and I wrote very few pieces of flash fiction for the blog, but posted more photos.

On the other hand, I managed to write, submit, and get accepted (eventually), two short stories, one in the IWSG Anthology (take a look below at the lovely cover).

I'm rather proud that I was able to do major revisions of the Pismawallops PTA mystery I drafted in November and December 2018 during our quiet times in Christchurch in February and March, which allowed me to spend the summer dealing with editorial feedback and publish that book Dec. 6, 2019.

We also stayed home, mostly, in November (aside from a 5-day outing to San Francisco and Sacramento), so I managed to finish a very rough draft of the PPTA Mysteries #5.

And I shouldn't forget The Christmas Question, a novella that I conceived in late summer and managed to pull together in time to include it as a gift to my supporters with my December newsletter. Of course, I had hoped to also revise and include a second holiday-themed short story, but ran out of time. Maybe next year!

Looking at that list of accomplishments, I actually feel pretty good! I didn't meet my goals about writing and submitting short stories--but I exceeded expectations with writing longer works.

The business of writing:
This part is less encouraging. My sales most of the year were lack-luster, probably due to a lack of effort on my part in the marketing department. I ended the year strongly, with good (for me) advance and early sales of Death By Library, but I won't see that money until next year. This year, due to the expenses of bringing out a new book, I'm ending in the red.


 Beautiful covers, all!

Now for the IWSG...


The first Wednesday of every month is the Insecure Writer's Support Group posting day, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It's a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Check it out here and join if you want support with your writing. 
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.
 
The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the January 8 posting of the IWSG are T. Powell Coltrin, Victoria Marie Lees, Stephen Tremp, Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!
 
Optional January 8 question - What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just "know" suddenly you wanted to write? 

I have always wanted to be a writer, and I have been writing stories since I first learned to write at all. But I did that for, erm, close to half a century before I published my first book, so what changed?

In some ways, nothing changed. I had been trying to complete, edit, and publish a novel since my grad school days (the one started then took something like 15 years from start to giving up). For two decades I wrote sporadically, working on several novels when I got the chance between school, work, and raising 2 kids. My first published book was written much the same way--one chapter/story at a time when I had a chance. It worked well for that book (unlike those first 2 mystery novels), because it was an episodic novel.

But why was that book published? Well, I'll admit it wasn't because I finally found a publisher. I didn't even try with The Ninja Librarian, because even I wasn't sure if it was juvvy or adult. What changed was that a friend I knew from another context told me about Createspace, and convinced me self-publishing was a legit means of sharing my work. After trying for so long to hatch a book without success, I liked the idea of just one out there, for my family to read if no one else. 

So I'll credit Dixie with helping me get published, but I'll credit a number of teachers along the way, from Mrs. Eggleston in the 2nd grade to Ms. Holmes and Mrs. Hollister in high school, for encouraging my writing--and a special shout-out to all the other teachers along the way who put up with me introducing stories into all sorts of homework where they didn't belong. 

How about you? Was there a special spark that got you going, or was it a natural bent from the beginning? 

31 comments:

  1. Hi Rebecca - well you've done well with your writing ... and then had all the experiences of travelling in NZ and the joys that brings with new ideas etc. I'd say you're pretty well on the way ... good luck for this year. Interesting publication journey you've been on ... and congratulations for having a piece published in the IWSG Anthology ... all the best for 2020 - cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary! I have been having a pretty good journey, literal and figurative! At some point I do want to get back on the agent/publisher search, but...

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  2. Hard to know what to write a times but the main thisn is you keep at it. The only real review I do is on the Church Explorer

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    1. You amaze me by your consistency in blogging! And so often your photos make a nice bright spot in my in-box :)

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  3. You should feel good about your accomplishments! And I bet you've got lots of good stuff in your journal to use for future stories. :)

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    1. I do feel good about what I managed to do! As for what's in my journal being story fodder, I'm less sure of that. The journal is more of a set of travel notes so I'll know what the photos are about.

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  4. Sounds like you had a pretty productive year! I would kill to get that much done. :-)

    Congrats on the anthology!

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    1. I think you had a pretty darned productive year yourself, and you have so much more serious life interfering!

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  5. LOL, you're writing background sounds just like mine, kids and all! So glad you stuck with it and have found your bliss!

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    1. I so could not finish anything--including a sentence or a thought--when the kids were little. I took my job at the library to get a little time away from them in the preschool years, and in hopes of a bit of adult conversation.

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  6. It's hard to achieve your writing goals when you are traveling so much. But that time is important in your life too. I am glad that you can see all your accomplishments even though you didn't write as much as you would have liked.

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    1. Yup--this is my time for extensive and exhausting travel. I just want to do enough writing not to lose the momentum for myself or my readers.

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  7. "Introducing stories into all sorts of homework where they didn't belong." lol
    And Life does have away of distracting us. Glad you are having success now.

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    1. I remember a great paper I wrote for PE, on the history of baseball. It started with cavemen throwing rocks at each other... I did eventually get to the actual non-fiction stuff.

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  8. You were all over the world in your travels, and I loved seeing the pictures.

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  9. Congrats on your short stories. It's ok to take a break from writing once in a while. Hopefully this month is better for you.

    Allie

    www.alliebock.com

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    1. The month is slipping away... I'm making a start on revisions on the new book, though.

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  10. Lovely to read about your writing progress and your inspiration to write and publish. I hope your 2020 brings you what you hope for. Like you, I spend a lot of time travelling and it certainly takes away from the writing time, but hey, nothing beats travel!

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    1. With the kind of travel we do, I'm just excited if I keep the blog alive and write a few shorts.

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  11. I'm impressed you were able to get back into writing mode quickly after travelling - I find that transition time difficult! Glad you stored up those memories and experiences. Hope 2020 is a great one for you and yours!

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    1. It certainly wasn't instant--I wasted most of the summer. In an odd way, the best way back in for me is the fine-tuning or even formatting stage (or working on someone else's book, since if I make a promise to give feedback, I will do it).

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  12. That's quite an year that you have had! Hope 2020 brings you loads more of the good things in life and some great writing times.

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    1. If we do everything we have planned, it will be an AMAZING year! If I also manage to write a little bit, it will be over the top :)

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  13. You are a truly amazing woman, Rebecca. First, I love the backdrop of your blog. We have camped with the family for over 20 years. And I've kept journals and tried to have my 5 children keep journals as well, even if it was only a few sentences for each day or so. You have accomplished so much. Here's hoping you will have as much success in 2020! http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you! I don't manage to keep the journal when at home, but at least I have a record of where we traveled (and, when backpacking, the all-important record of what we ate and if it was any good :D).

      The blog backdrop is Snag Lake in Lassen Nat. Park, from the top of the Cinder Cone (out in the east end of the park).

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  14. It takes courage to make that first terrifying step into self-publishing. But it's becoming widely acknowledged by now, so I guess, we are all going the indie route sooner or later.
    Great post, Rebecca.

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    1. Seems like in some ways indie and small presses, at least are converging, as far as what’s expected of the author. It was scary to self-publish, and I sure made some mistakes in that first book, but it was a lot less depressing than the endless quest for an agent (a quest to which I expect to return one day).

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  15. Everyone does things at their own pace. I love (and am a little jealous) that you get to travel so much!

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  16. Congrats on getting your stories accepted!

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  17. It sounds like you achieved a lot last year, from where I'm standing. Maybe not so much is done when you're travelling, but I'm sure you experience lots of inspiring sights and sounds. Hope 2020 is going well!

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