maandag 30 december 2013

Looking back on 2013

As 2014 peeps around the corner, I believe it’s time to write my ‘yearly reflection.’ 2013 has certainly been a rollercoaster of good and bad.

Someone mentioned that new year’s resolutions are daft, as if a new year will magically make troubles go away, and as if one year is different from the next. Of course that’s true, (though a magical new year’s pixie who will just bring a bunch of new opportunities with it, would have been the nicer option) but at the same time: it’s easier to break life up in years and reflect what you have done. We could do the same with months or weeks, but a year feels more weighty.

For me 2013 has been a year of change, my life altered so much from the beginning of this year, I feel like I’ve lived a short lifetime in the past twelve month.

At times I joke that I’ve grown from a starry-eyed newbie, who wanted nothing more than have a work published, to a cynical old hag who is one step away from turning into a crazy cat lady.

All joking aside, I do miss being starry-eyed. When I started 2013 I had a few stories accepted for anthologies, and the world was my Oyster. I didn’t know anything about the writing world yet, and I had a lot to learn about my own writing voice.

Now, only a few months down the line, I’m still learning (and I never plan to stop) but I’m not so naïve anymore, and I have already walked a long educational path. I’ve learned about passive and active writing, plot arcs vs character arcs, character archetypes (even some Jungian ones), about gerunds, plot holes, POV,  and many more things.

And that’s just my part of the writing. I’ve learned the importance of having a good editor, and I’ve learned that marketing is difficult. I now know that it’s difficult (almost impossible) to publish a book by your own, and I believe it takes a village to do so.

There were some dark moments in my journey. I had some problems coming to grips with the publishing world, and as in most things in life, I found out that not everything was ‘fair’. Not all writers act professional, and not all work that is out there is actually ‘ready for the world to read’. Not all publishers have a good business plan, and sometimes your work will end up on a big pile with other work, and it will never be read by more than a hand full of people. Not all editors are real editors, some are just people who had good grades in English. Most writers hardly make any money, and it’s important to keep your head up and keep going.

There were times when this information made me feel small and stupid , and granted,  I wanted to hide under my bed and tell the world to ‘go away’, and there have been moments where I’ve cursed some elements of my profession… but only some moments. One of my new year’s resolutions is “Let it go, and accept the way of the world.”

But it hasn’t been all bad, in fact most of it was good this year. I started out as someone who was desperate to get her work published, and now I find myself in the luxury position that Indie publishers ask me to submit work to them. (May ‘Indie’ one day replaced with ‘Traditional’ *grin*).

2013 was a year of anthologies. That’s how my career started, by writing short tales for anthologies. It was great seeing my work in print and it was even better when readers would mention my stories in reviews. The anthologies drew a little attention to me, and I received a lot of compliments… but I wanted more.

So 2013 was also the year where I got to publish my first novel and my first collection of horror stories. Both were reasonably well received and I’ve been getting some nice praise from bloggers and strangers.

It’s been one hell of a ride.

Coyote will always be special, it was the first project that was truly my own, and I noticed that publishing changed quite a bit after that. Suddenly I was a lot more involved with the whole publishing process. My work was no longer ‘hidden’ between other authors, the readers who read my book, wanted to read ME.

In fact, Coyote attracted my first readers to me, and even my first fan. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels when you get to ‘spoil’ readers with your world and your writing. It’s magic.

A lot of people will tell artists that they have to work for themselves, but I don’t agree. I agree that you have to write what you want to write, but I don’t agree that you should do it for yourself. I write for readers, for like minded souls. Not that I would change my writing (that would make me very unhappy) but I would be devastated if no one would ever read my work.

Working on the second screen was also a fun experience. It made my path less lonely, and I suddenly got to talk to other people about my work.

2013 was the year where I found my editor, Apple Ardent Scott. She was my editor first, but became my friend very soon after. Meeting her changed my life a little, and my perspective on the writing world. I’ve learned so much from her, and she has shown me a whole new world, which has just been magical. I love all the things she taught me.

Then came my collection, Deeply Twisted, and it was fun to write a bunch of short stories. The reactions were once again wonderful. I even put my collection up for the Bram Stoker awards of the HWA, but I don’t know if it will go anywhere… time will tell. If it does, it’ll show up in my ‘reflection of 2014’.

2013 was the year where I connected with a lot of other writers. It was the year where I made new friends all over the world. And it was also the year where I let go of some things in the past. I guess I could say it was a year of beginnings and endings. At the end of this year I have a better sense of who I am as a writer, though I’m still searching for my own niche.

So what are my plans for 2014? I have a great many plans.

My year will start fantastic, because Coyote won the ‘Best Western Book of the Year’ award from Turning Pages, which will be properly announced January 1st. This will be a great way to ring in the new year.

Right now my first (out of seven) novelette in the ‘Even Hell Has Standards” collection is with my editor, and as soon as she has time, we’ll start our editing dance. I plan to publish this with Tip My Hat.

Am also working on Alleria (my NaNoWriMo project, which I intend to turn into an actual novel)

But I have several novels in the making that I’m going to try to find an agent for. 2014 will be my ‘quest for an agent’. I’m ready for new things. There is a lot of great stuff in the Indie publishing world, but I’m ready for a new challenge. In the end I want to be a hybrid writer, who publishes traditional and independent at the same time. This will give me a bit more freedom in my writing.

I hope that 2014 will give me a larger and steadier ‘reader’s base’ and I want to connect with more of my readers. I plan to get more novels and novella’s out there than I did last year, despite my agent search.

Not sure why, but I have a good feeling about 2014.

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