As 2016 closes, I’d like to do one more update on those goals while laying out my plans for 2017. After that, I’d also like to express some gratitude for several people who helped me get through this year.
The clear highlights of the year for me came about through online pitch contests. My MG novel, #MoMoLives, made the agent round of the Sun Vs. Snow contest last February as a contemporary novel. I got such a thrill and feeling of disbelief to see my title listed as a member of Michelle Hauck’s Team Snow.
After disappointing results in the agent round and the initial set of queries I sent out, I added a third critique partner. Rightly or wrongly, I figured that since the book had a monster in it, maybe agents (and readers) would feel left down if the monster weren’t given a larger role. I took a few weeks to amp up the scary parts of the story, converting it to a horror novel.
In September I entered #MoMoLives in PitchSlam, and was fortunate enough to be selected for the agent round in that contest as well. Even though I wasn’t as surprised this time around due to interpreting some teasers correctly, this selection made me feel every bit as good as the one back in February. The agent round also worked out better for me this time, and I emerged with agent requests.
After sending out my requested materials from PitchSlam, I got bigly back into querying. As of today, I still have 4 of the PitchSlam requests being considered, as well as several queries outstanding. My major goal this year was to land an agent – while that may not happen in the 2016 calendar year, I’m still hopeful of it happening in the near future.
My initial goal was to finish my re-write of The Destiny Matrix by June 30th. As of today, I’m approaching 50,000 words. Recently I raised my first draft word count goal from 60,000 up to 75,000. I plan to cut back down to 60-65k during editing. There are a lot of reasons this re-write hasn’t gone as quickly as I wanted, one of the reasons being the results of last month’s presidential election. My new goal is to finish the first draft around the end of January. I’d love to be in a position to enter Query Kombat with it next April
I’ve been developing several ideas for other books as well. One of my goals for the first quarter of 2017 is to prepare preliminary pitches for each of these ideas in case prospective agents want to see them.
Met my initial Goodreads reading challenge goal of 50 books read within the first six months of the year, so I set a new goal of 100 books. Right now, I’m sitting at 91 books read for the year. I’ll probably set my 2017 goal at 50 books again. I really need to make more time available for writing, and I’m willing to give up some reading time to do that. The hard part of that is that there are so many books that I want to read – writer friends have books coming out, and I read a lot of book-related blogs that cause me to add more and more books to my TBR list.
Over the past couple of years I’ve made an effort to diversify my reading in terms of both authors and characters. Through those efforts, I’ve discovered some great authors and some wonderful books and stories. Continuing diversity in my reading is a goal I’m retaining for 2017.
I did an #amreading post for each book I read during 2016. The increase in the number of posts I wrote during the year helped triple my views and visitors over last year. I also introduced a new weekly feature I call “The Forgotten 80s,” where I talk about movies and music from that time period that may go under the radar when people talk about that decade.
My most viewed post of 2016 was this comparison of The Fireman, by Joe Hill to The Stand, by his father Stephen King.
Needless to say, going into 2017 my primary goal is still becoming an agented author. Until my WIP is ready to query, I’ll be pursuing that goal by querying #MoMoLives in the early months of the new year.
On a lower, less specific level, I need to carve out more time on a daily basis for writing. In 2015, I completed the first draft of #MoMoLives in less than 2.5 months because I was able to write 90-120 minutes per day. Through most of 2016, I was only able to write 20-40 minutes per weekday because of a change in my work schedule. On weekends, when I needed increased productivity, I’ve been too easily distracted by social media (especially following the election). I have to commit myself to finding extra BIC time on a daily basis in order to meet self-imposed deadlines.
I have a lot of people I need to thank for the good things that happened for me this year.
For starters, I’m thankful for my family, who usually only see the boring side of my writing, i.e. me sitting typing on my iPad. They’ve helped me celebrate my contest successes this year, and patiently wait for more chances to celebrate.
I have three critique partners who help me in so many different ways. Angie Thomas, Mayken Brünings, and Joy Weese Moll helped shape #MoMoLives into its current form, act as sounding boards for new ideas, and share in the ups and downs of all sizes that go with being an author. I’m thankful for each and every one of them.
From Sun Vs Snow, I’d like to thank Michelle Hauck and Amy Trueblood for hosting the contest, and also my mentor Wade Allen White, who worked with me on revising my query and first page.
From Pitch Slam, I owe a debt of gratitude to Laura Heffernan, Kimberly Vanderhorst, L.L. McKinney, and Jamie Corrigan. In addition to selecting me for the agent round, the also provided great feedback on my 35-word pitch and first page.
I’m also in debt to the dozens of slush readers who devoted their time to reading all of the submissions to both contests. They have a tough job that’s often overlooked.
In November, I attended a query lab with agent Sorche Fairbank – I’d like to thank her for being both informative and encouraging. Querying can be stressful, and Sorche’s presentation gave me a shot of confidence when I needed it.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone along the way. Even if I haven’t mentioned you by name, that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful.
Best wishes in 2017 for all of you.
How did you do with your own goals for 2016, and what are your plans for 2017? Please post in the comments in you’d like to share.