2016 is a bit odd to look back on because things have changed so much. It feels like years have passed between now and March and yet, oddly, things in December are beginning to look a little more like they did earlier in the year.
I know, cryptic. It’ll all make sense once I get through the months. Suffice it to say, where 2014 was the year of traveling and 2015 was the year of author events then 2016 is the year of change; of building new paths to create new futures.
I guess I truly began as I meant to go on since January focused on work that would pay off later.
I spent a lot of this month designing the cover of Enchanted Storms, adjusting noise and levels and layering in music for the Tattered Heart audiobook and starting my Pinterest strategy revamp. The Pinterest strategy led me to Canva which I love maybe a little too much now.
Also, we had a blizzard. The introvert in me loved the excuse to not have to leave the house for days, stay warm and watch movies and eat without any guilt.
I revealed the cover of Enchanted Storms. It was a slightly different experience than Tattered Heart. Still flying by the seat of my pants a bit by getting it done RIGHT before I revealed it. But also I knew more of what I was doing with the images and the tools I have to work with and knew what to expect from the different steps necessary to create a great cover.
One of the few author events of the year, I saw Susan Dennard, Veronica Rossi and Kami Garcia. I read Susan’s newsletter, where she had been discussing the process of writing Truthwitch, so I already felt a bit familiar with her and with the novel. I was excited to finally get to meet Susan in person and finally read the novel. I enjoyed hearing both Kami Garcia and Veronica Rossi who were funny and brought different experiences to author life.
The very last day of February was my first trip of the year to Toronto (for a week). It was not, at all, my last.
Did you know you can’t rent a car in Canada with your passport? Nope, even though your license isn’t issued by that country, even if you’ve rented with the same company dozens of times so they KNOW you have a license, you have to show them your US drivers license in order to rent a car.
Unfortunately, not realizing that even though I can move through countries with a passport I can’t rent a car, I’d left my license at home. I became familiar with the Toronto train from the airport (which is actually nice and relaxing) and used Uber for the first time to take taxis around the city until my license could be sent to me.
I published Enchanted Storms. It feels like that was actually years ago and not just months ago.
I also enjoyed my first book launch at a local coffee bar. It was so much fun to talk to people who’d read my books and sign copies and take pictures. I want to do it all again!
And I created character graphics just before the launch (I did mention I enjoy Canva immensely). I’d rather have created them substantially before the launch and released them gradually but I’m figuring it all out as I go. We’ll save strategy and fancy things like that for the next book.
I also spent 3 days in North Carolina and 2 days in DC.
Not wanting to overshadow Enchanted Storms, I waited until April to publish the Tattered Heart audiobook.
I also got to see Jodi Meadows again at the Mirror King launch. She was with Martina Boone and it was a very fun night of YA Mad Libs, Fictionary (which I totally rocked) and cupcakes. I love book events with authors and readers!
Then back to Toronto for three days.
Followed by Atlanta for two days.
And I watched Huntsman Winters War. Which I only mention because I did a post on why everyone should go see it. It’s a bit late now, but I think the reasons people should see it are still worth considering and possibly discussing.
April, apparently, was the month to launch books because I also went to the Raven King launch. It was considerably bigger than the last event I went to for Maggie Stiefvater. I made a new friend, though, and we had fun hanging out most of the night.
Then finally it was May.
I went back to Toronto.
And moved out of my apartment.
I also started my DIY Publishing series here on the blog (see, all those trips to Toronto paid off – I draft posts in airports). Eventually, I’d like to redo this series some, maybe turn it into a small ebook or pdf download or something. But it was a great experience to write and hopefully it’s helpful to someone.
I know there are so many great posts and resources out there. Some of which I used years ago when I was first publishing my novel. With this series, I really wanted to give back; to share my experience and knowledge to help someone else.
Through June I became much more involved with my sister and her family and helping them out.
And I left my job.
Because I needed a change. And my family needed me. And I needed my life to be something else.
I pretty much took July off to rest and focus on family.
I read a few books, though I didn’t read nearly all the ones I wanted to in 2015. Of the seven books I especially wanted to read this year (pictured) I have read four (Six of Crows – Truthwitch – This Shattered World and Their Fractured Light). Which, I guess, is over half but still feels inadequate. Possibly because I kept adding sequels to the list (even though they were released after I created the initial list of seven).
So instead of 3 books left, I’m back up to six plus the Lunar Chronicles.
This is where the idea to focus on short fiction in a newsletter instead of writing non-fiction for my blog originated. Because the best marketing for my books is my writing. The more I have of it, the more chances people have to discover my work.
Short fiction is easier to release quickly. It allows me to practice and experiment and improve my craft. I can give readers new angles on events and deeper dives into secondary characters, which is fun. And it’s versatile if I want to combine them into an ebook at some point or add them to a novel.
The question whether I’d be better off writing also extends beyond my career as an author.
It acknowledges that writing is a skill I have so… in my different goals and aspirations, is there a way to employ my writing? When I started thinking about what I wanted to do next (other than write my next book) I did quite a bit of research on freelance work and working from home. The idea of writing ultimately led me to start a lifestyle blog.
I really loved August, not just because of the change I began or my birthday. I also got some awesome writing done for Arizona!
I went to LA and we did midnight Disneyland again! It was a really short, really fun trip. Since it was so short I only got to spend time with a few friends, and I totally missed seeing the others. But I did have a lot of very low key, awesome fun.
Then I went to Telluride for a long weekend, which was beautiful.
And I spent the rest of the month designing, planning, writing for the new blog.
I hit the grindstone to get the lifestyle blog ready. I’m kind of particular about design and aesthetic (I spend WAY too much time in the css and customizing stuff, but I love it). And I wanted to launch with an already established library of articles so I wrote a lot before I made any of it live (it was a bit odd writing several thousand words that weren’t for a novel).
I also learned some really valuable lessons about blogging in general, about design, about marketing and SEO and connecting with an audience. I’m looking forward to early next year and applying some of the things I learned to this site.
I also implemented the idea from August to change up my blog and create a monthly newsletter with exclusive short fiction instead. Clearly, I will still post from time to time but I think overall it’s a good direction for my time and energy that hopefully my readers will enjoy. The first issue featured a deleted scene from Enchanted Storms.
BelleSavvy launched. I still spent a lot of time behind the scenes getting things in place and writing articles and creating graphics (again Canva… so much Canva. I upgraded to the work version and magic resize is kind of awesome).
I had the immense pleasure of seeing Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Kiersten White and Catherine Egan. I’ve been reading Kiersten White for years, like Paranormalcy was one of the first books I read in this YA version of my reading life. So, it was fun to get to see her and get a few books signed (I’ve read almost all of her books so it was tough figuring out how to not show up with seven books). It was also fun to see Amie again and see the other half of Illuminae. The whole crew were a lot of fun and my sister came with me and it was most excellent!
I decided to go back to my job part time. I like the people I work with and enjoy the work itself. It’s a good way to stabilize my income and give my new endeavors a chance to grow and become successful in their own time rather than having to do it all NOW.
It’s been an interesting year of change, adapting, sorting out how I want to spend my time. And then of course effectively segmenting my days and priorities accordingly. I think, much like January, the whole year has been rather a building year, putting the planning and work into efforts that will pay off in the next few years.
But I guess we’ll just have to wait for the next “things of” post to see.
I love my Friday playlist every year but I’m listening to it while I write this and I really love this one. It’s upbeat and fun and a little heartfelt and a bit quirky.