2. Join a local picture book critique group - Yes, I joined a group just forming, again down in Sharonville. We are a group of five who try to meet every other week. With their help and support I completed five picture book manuscripts.
3. Join a local YA critique group - Yes, I joined a group even farther away. This one meets in Newport, Kentucky one night a month. Slowly, but surely, they are helping me work through edits on my historical fiction novel, "Paradise." This is a real time commitment for me and I'm not sure how much longer I can manage the drive down and back, especially in winter months. So far, we've had a mild winter so that's one thing on the plus side. Plus, we had an awesome holiday get-together, reading stories about Christmas and sharing other special projects.
4. Continue to create my writer's blog - I continue to review books and keep a blog, attempting to add at least one item a month (I believe I was able to review over 20 books this year.) The topics vary and don't always pertain to writing. For example, the 25 Days of Christmas Cooking was purely for my own enjoyment, but by the looks of my stats, it was quite popular. Maybe I'll add more of that sort of thing in the coming year. The only downside of the blog is that no one actually comments on the blog, choosing instead to leave their comments on my Facebook page. I don't know what I can do to change that. And I do enjoy the comments on my Facebook page.
5. Attend the Hamline Alumni Weekend summer session - Yes, I did attend the July session and came back inspired, as I always do. I love catching up with the other alumni and sharing ideas. I already have it on my calendar for 2015.
6. Complete edits on the YA novel and send out queries - Yes, I did a complete re-write of "Paradise" and am constantly editing it and having critiques done. I even went to Grenada in September to double check some details and have a local help with my dialect. I have started to send out queries, but plan to start a serious campaign in the new year.
What have I done that I did not expect to do?
1. I submitted my now complete non-fiction manuscript in March for a SCBWI work in-progress award, and I WON! Yes, "Octopus Capers" won the Karen and Phillip Cushman Late Bloomer Award for a work in-progress. Because of the award, I ...(go to number 2)
2. Attended the SCBWI Annual Conference in LA in August where my registration was paid for. I also received $500, which was the first money I've made as a writer.
3. I completed the Picture Book Idea Month Challenge (PiBoIdMo) in November, coming up with about 38 ideas for picture books to work on in 2015. I have to admit it is a great feeling knowing that I have some ideas just waiting for me to develop into picture books.
4. I completed the National Novel Writing Month Challenge(NaNoWriMo) also in November, completing a draft for a middle grade fantasy, "The Changeling." I will work on revisions for this book also in 2015, and plan to attend the Highlights Whole Novel Workshop for Fantasy in May to move that work forward.
5. I started submitting my picture books to "Rate Your Story" for additional critiques, as have my fellow critique group members. Many of our comments are the same ones we give each other, but I think it provides some validation for us, as well as surprises, when a comment directs us towards a publisher for submission or some other helpful tidbit.
I see some new resolutions already beginning to form. One of my main goals this year is to submit! I have not fully worked out the details of this resolution other than to write many query letters and submit to publishers and agents, hoping that someone will take notice of something I've written. Maybe I will decide to send at least one thing out every Monday, or a minimum of x number of projects a month.
In addition, I will be beginning my work with the Sibert Award Committee at ALA Midwinter, so I foresee reading many, many non-fiction books in the upcoming year, and writing lots of reviews for my blog, although I may not be at the liberty of posting them until after my commitment has ended. I've wanted to work on this committee for several years but never had the time before to devote to it. I'm really looking forward to reading the books coming out in 2015.
Also, I am going to allow myself to relax a bit more this year. 2014 was a start-up year and I wanted to accomplish a variety of tasks to get the ball rolling (see list above.) Now that I have somewhat established a routine, I'm hoping that I won't need to devote every waking (and sometimes sleeping) hour thinking about the next thing I need to work on. Actually, I still hope that a perfect story will come to me while I'm asleep. I've had multiple stories (especially songs) come to me that way. Too bad I have not yet figured out a way to remember them when I wake. That opera I wrote with two female voices was gorgeous!
I know there are many opinions about making resolutions. For me, knowing what I completed in the past year and setting goals for the new year is a helpful device. For one thing, it's nice to see that I actually did accomplish something. For another, it's helpful to have a path laid out ahead of me to help guide my day-to-day activities.
I hope everyone is coming up with their own strategy in how to accomplish their wish list in 2015. May I wish a Happy New Year to all, and to all a happy and productive writing year!