Out with the old and in with the new. It’s a saying that so many will say when it’s time for a change. Well… I think many people will agree with me. 2016 was the year from hell on multiple levels.
Let’s for a moment completely ignore the world political stage and just imagine that Brexit never happened and that Trump is still just a TV host of some bizarre show about making money. (BTW, I’ve never watched that show and never will.)
Within my home country of New Zealand, 2016 saw multiple earthquakes, massive ones that have changed the landscape of the country forever. Just when we thought that it was all over, it would start up again. Six years of quakes… And the scary thing about all of it is that we’ve become desensitized to them. Now we need to experience big ones before anyone actually react; we get a 5.0 and we just carry on with our coffee and conversations. It’s odd how it happens, but you can honestly tell who the locals are and who is from out of town — just look for the ones diving under the tables.
2016 hasn’t been all that kind to my personal life either. I’m raising two teenagers who do nothing but fight; it can really start to grate on your nerves. And the husband felt seriously under appreciated at work, and at home, which lead to a small bout of depression and a rocky marriage. Thankfully, things seem to be better now (hubby in a new job and we’re exploring what it’s like to be “us” again), although the kids still fight like cats and dogs.
From the writing side of things, this year has been filled with massive downs, and maybe tiny ups. Regular readers of my blog will know that I’ve come close to being strangled by the self-doubt monster on several occasions. Word counts are high for a debut writer and I keep seeing clients getting publishing contracts before I do. Yeah… A mixed bag of emotions all around. Pride in my editing skills, but doubts in my own writing skills. Just one break… Please!
I have finished, and polished, the manuscript of my first high fantasy novel, taking it as far as I can. It really is time for that beast to head out the door. But here’s the thing… You talk to publishers and agents and they all seem to say the same thing: anything more than 100K words is too much for a debut writer. Shall I bang my head against the desk again?
But I have a plan. More than 100K words is too much for a debut writer, but not someone who has published before. So in September 2016, I decided to shelve Beacon of Hope and the rest of my high fantasy series entirely, and started writing a whole new story (new characters, new premise, new everything). My goal for 2017 is to get the new manuscript (currently entitled Eagle Order) into a similar state as Beacon of Hope is now, but with much fewer words, and to query that first.
And there is the Young Adult military science fiction series that I’m working on with Ann Bell Feinstein under the pen name of Syrese Smalt. We actually have a full plot structure for the first book and we have an overall structure of the full series. I’m not sure what has been more fun with that series, the plotting or the conversations of cultural differences. Regardless, I want to have the first book of the series actually written and edited so Ann and I can turn our attention to the second book, and so on. (You hear that, Ann? We need to get to writing.)
On the plus side, I currently have two short stories out on query and am just waiting to hear back: a high fantasy and a science fiction. Hopefully, I’ll hear back soon. I might have to get pushy and send follow-up emails.
Black Wolf Editorial Services has also had a mixed bag this year. I started the year sitting in a nice position, but it rapidly turned into a loss. In many cases, I was giving away my services, trying to drum up business. The moment I started asking for money… Well, people ran away and I never heard from them again.
However, I did get invited to run a few workshops within my local community on editing and using Scrivener. It was fun and I will be continuing with that in the new year. I actually like teaching and sharing my knowledge with others. I even recorded some videos on using Scrivener and put them up on YouTube.
One thing that came up out of the blue — something that I still have yet to decide whether it’s a good or bad thing — something that I have yet to figure out exactly how it happened — was the radio show, Conversations in Science on KLRNRadio. I have always loved science outreach stuff, sharing my love of science with those around me. I’ve done science outreach to schools, scouts and other places for over 20 years now. (I used to teach first year physics at university level.)
Between the radio show, the workshops and teaching through YouTube videos, I’ve managed to find a way of making some money. It’s not much (really… it’s not much at all), but it’s proved to me that I do know what I’m doing.
In fact, my love of sharing my knowledge and experience with others has led to an idea for a book that I will be self-publishing before the end of 2017. It’s a non-fiction, but a “How To” book on building a writer’s platform, sharing everything that I’ve learnt along the way: building websites with very little financial outlay; blogging and making it something that’s all you; getting my head around Twitter and making effective use of it; making connections with others and how those connections are what will land you the big opportunities; and most important, how I had fun with it all. I already know which copy-editor I’ll be hiring (assuming I can afford her prices), and I know exactly how to market the thing. Will it sell many copies? You know what… I don’t really care. It’s just another extension of who I am: someone willing to share with others what I know, so they can learn from my mistakes.
I’ve even started up a new publishing house for the “How To”-type books: Black Wolf Publications. The full nitty-gritty on the business model still needs to be worked out, but I already have been approached to be the publisher of a “How To” book on podcasts. I’m looking forward to seeing that manuscript as I’m sure that I can make use of it myself. (Just glad I only have to edit it, not write it.)
Yep… I am definitely ready to say Goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017 with open arms.
So, as is my tradition, I’m making my goals for 2017 public for all the world to see.
- Finish writing, editing and PUBLISH the book on how I have built my writer’s platform, providing the insights that I have learnt along the way. (Of course, this means getting Black Wolf Publications up and running properly.)
- Rewrite and edit (polish) Eagle Order. (I’d like to start querying that in Pitch2Pub or PitchWars, etc.)
- Finish writing book 1 of collaborative series with Ann Bell Feinstein.
- Get my high fantasy short story published. (It’s currently on query and waiting for answers.)
- Get my science fiction short story published. (Another one that is currently on query and waiting for answers.)
- Spread the word about Black Wolf Editorial Services and get more clients.
- Relaunch websites/blogs. (I have three of them in total. That’s a lot of writing to do.)
Then from the personal side of life:
- Take a holiday somewhere with my husband — alone. (Am I allowed to campaign for Rarotonga?)
- Help the kids try to find some sort of common ground.
- Continue with the daily meditations that I started again after a 15-years break.
- Try not to freak out when my oldest turns 16 and applies for a driver’s license in September 2017.
Please, 2017, I beg you. Be kind.
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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2017