Out with the old, in with the new

2015 - YIRAs I mentioned before, one of my favorite things about the end of a calendar year is the influx of posts that talk about the “best of.”  Best recipes, best songs, best books read, etc.  On the flip side of that are the articles and posts that recap the year in review – what was done well, what could have gone better, and how the lessons learned frame the upcoming year.

First and foremost, 2015 marked the year that I really started to take this blog seriously and I came out swinging with the announcement that the first 50 pages of my story “After Life” received the Hugh Holton Award from the Mystery Writers of America – Midwest Chapter.  It took a few more months, but a beta draft of “AL” was distributed for critique to some trusted friends in July.

March found me dabbling in marketing ideas.

I was MIA in May, June and July – I would have been knee deep in edits for AL, as well as in the middle of moving with my family.  The item of note that I missed out in blogging about was that in May, I went to see Old Crow Medicine Show in Mankato.  That concert is up there in my top 5.

In August, I returned and was full of apologies.  The blog took a turn for the dull during the fall as I did a 30-day writing challenge that I’m still mentally recovering from.

That brings me to December – I told you the books that have stuck with me during 2015 and then I took a bit of a digital sabbatical of sorts as I spent a week-long vacation with my family between Christmas and the New Year.

That’s the blog recap.  In terms of my writing life, there was progress:  A finished draft of AL that’s about ready for the next round of edits.  A short story that was completed, but rejected, for a short story anthology.  Work on another WIP called “Dragonfly.”  And the hatching of a new short story idea over my Christmas holiday.  There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on all of my floating threads of ideas, but progress!

If there was a “theme” to what I wanted to accomplish in my writing life during 2015, I feel that I’ve succeeded.  One of the things that I wanted to do in 2015 was to intentionally network with other writers and continue to build a tribe for my writing life.  There are two more people in my circle of friends and they are both there because of our shared writing interests.  I also got a chance to meet several members of the Mystery Writers of America – Midwest Chapter during June’s Printers Row Literary Festival and am grateful to have made those contacts.  I’ve also been attending Twin Cities Sisters in Crime meetings and have met several awesome folks through that group as well.

What’s in the cards for 2016? My “concrete” goals are as follows:  1) I want to get “AL” in query-ready shape by the fall and attend a conference that has a “pitch session” to meet potential agents.  2) Attend one of The Loft Literary Center’s more “intensive” courses and either workshop/polish “AL” or attend a course on short story writing.  3) Read more – short stories, classic mysteries, you name it … but read more.

In terms of this blog itself, I’ve been trying to post on Tuesdays and Fridays.  I don’t see deviating from that formula – Tuesday features a post that’s more “in depth” while Friday is a round-up of the articles that engaged me over the week, as well as what I’m reading, listening to, etc.  I’ve broadened my social media scope and have added Instagram. (That has everything to do with a pre-Christmas purchase of a better phone. 🙂 Yay for better technology!)  You might see more pictures on this blog – my To Be Read (TBR) piles, random pictures of my cat … that sort of thing.

I’m hoping that 2016 will be a productive year.  One of the things that bothered me about 2015 was my (perceived) lack of efficiency when it came to my writing.  And as I’ve ruminated about last year, I realize that I tend to set broad goals for myself that aren’t always quantified.  I’d set deadlines to have edits on “AL” done by April 1st, miss that date, then push them back to July 1st.  What I found was that it didn’t matter the date, I’d sail by those deadlines.  One way that I hope to change my approach this year is to think about the milestones I need to hit to make my deadlines – whether that’s write 1,000 words a day (even if it’s shit) or to set up a calendar that breaks down the chapters that I need to edit to hit a fall deadline for pitch conferences. I’m still figuring out what my approach needs to be.

2015 was a good year.  I’m looking forward to see what 2016 holds.  Thanks for being on this journey with me!


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