Year in Review

I can’t believe it’s the last day of 2011 already. A whole lot has happened this year, both good and bad, but overall I was very blessed.

On the family front, we bought a cabin at our favorite mountain spot, took trips to Monterey, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, L.A. and Humboldt. (Not including the trip I took by myself to RWA New York City!!) We picnicked, spa’d, soccered, laughed, smore’d, bbq’d and all around cherished our time together.

On the writing front, I published three books this year, got some really great reviews, sold three other books that are coming out in 2012, met some of my writing idols, killed a chunk of my TBR pile, and learned some tools to help me with character development that I hadn’t thought about before.

And, if you don’t mind, I’d like to keep my NYE tradition alive…I make really freaking lofty goals every year, strive my best to do a tad over normal, then see where I land.

Here’s my list of goals for 2011 that I wrote at the end of 2010:

*Sell a book in The Crimson Bay Series to one of the major publishing houses in NYC.
*Find an editor who believes in my work like I do.
*Write every day
*Spend more time enjoying the little things rather than worrying about them.
*Finish another two books: the third in The Crimson Bay Seres and another (maybe a paranormal YA??? I’m tossing ideas around…)
*Final in the Daphne duMaurier Contest
*Final in the Golden Heart Contest

Now…for those of you in the writing biz, you know how hard some of those goals are to reach in a single year. (A final in both Daphne and GH?!? What was I thinking?)

But overall I think I did all right. I didn’t only find one editor who believes in my work, but two. I’m working with the wonderfully talented Esi Sogah over at HarperCollins and AnnLeslie Tuttle at Harlequin. What stuns me about these women is that they’re not only knock-your-socks-off smart, but very kind. They not only care about the writing, but about the writers, as well. I’m a lucky gal.

I didn’t write every day, but darn close…minus the two month hiatus when I had men working in my kitchen during the remodel. My writing time was sucked up into the Home Depot vortex. Other than that, I think I was on the money.

I have been enjoying the little things. Instead of worrying how I’m going to afford gas back and forth to San Francisco Friday and Saturday for SFARWA meetings, I just go to the dinners Friday night, have a great freaking time, turn around, drive home, drive back in the morning, spend time with really great friends, and figure the friendships made are worth more than the money spent. That’s just one example, but a good one, I think.

I didn’t finish the third book in the Vampires of Crimson Bay series, but it’s 1/4 done and IT SOLD to Avon Impulse, the publisher who bought the first two. I also wrote two paranormal novellas and sold them to Harlequin Cravings.

(And, in case you were curious, I don’t have any plans to write a paranormal YA. Not anymore. I’ve got two other paranormal series stirring up in my brain after the Vampires of Crimson Bay series. I’m going to focus on those. My agent will KILL ME if I come at her with a YA at this point. ;))

Lastly, I didn’t final in either contest. HOWEVER, I got really good scores (or at least really good for me–best yet),and one of my critique partners finaled. Seeing her all dolled up, heading to the Death by Chocolate Award Ceremony at RWA in NYC…I just couldn’t be happier for her. For now, I’m living vicariously through her. 🙂

Okay…Really Freaking Lofty Writing Goals for 2012…that’s the official title. Officially.

*Final in the Daphne (I want this sucker so bad…)
*Write and sell a third (and maybe a forth) novella in the Isle of Feralon series for HQN (Cravings)
*Write every day
*Write and sell another dark, gritty, sexy paranormal full-length novel to a major publishing house for a traditional print run. I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to work with HarperCollins again…time will tell.

Okay…I think that’s it. Of course I could say I want a brilliantly starred RT review or to hit the NYT and USA Today Bestsellers lists, but I won’t put those goals here. Not yet. I haven’t made it to the point where I can start looking that far ahead without feeling like it’s unreachable. Know what I mean? It’s like waking up every morning saying you’re going to hit the lottery. Sure, it’s a goal. It could happen. But that doesn’t belong on any Really Freaking Lofty Goal Lists either.

And what would a year in review be without The Year in Review from JibJab? Enjoy!

Hope you have a wonderful New Year! Bring it, 2012! I’m ready!

Happy Three Year Writing Anniversary to me!

I started on this crazy writing journey three years ago today…or this week, or next, or whatever. Anyhow, the day is close. I remember that by Thanksgiving in 2008, I’d already had a few chapters down the chute and my fingers were buzzing.

With each anniversary comes reflection and hopefully a little appreciation of how far you’ve come as a couple.

Me and my writing journey…we’ve come a long way.

I started writing with an idea: A girl who has visions of death before they happen. I thought I’d like to read a book like that. That’s it. Nothing earth-shattering. I tossed around the idea for a couple weeks, but not once did I sit down at the keyboard to spit out a novel. The reason is simple: I wasn’t spectacular at creative writing in college. I found myself so bogged down by the “rules” of the writing project (whatever it may have been at the time), that I never allowed myself the freedom I needed. (This is the reflection, part.) Write a poem using the five senses? Great. I’ll do it. Write a short story using these very specific, and very random, fifty words. No problem. The writing was grammatically correct, structurally sound, and the stories flowed…but there was no meat to them, and the teachers could tell. (It wasn’t until I tossed the rules that I *got* it.)

One day, Husband said, “Why don’t you try writing a book?”

My response was something like, “I don’t know if I can.” (I was thinking something like holy hell, 400 pages would take FOREVER to write!)

“Well, why don’t you sit down at the computer, no pressure, and see how far you get?” he said, like it was nothin’.

And it was nothing. I mean, writing a novel is SOMETHING. It’s hard and tedious and strapping. But I had absolutely nothing to lose.

That story, set in Joliet, Illinois, about a marine who goes to war and a girl who finds herself through life (and death), was written in three months. I wrote late at night when the Husband and munchkins were sleeping. I wrote furiously. No holds barred.

It wasn’t great. But it was a start. The writing bug got under my skin. I took the next step. How do I learn to write great books? Learn from the best! That’s when I found RWA National and went to my first RWA conference (2009 Washington D.C), where I soaked up what the best of the best had to offer an enthusiastic newbie like me. I traveled by myself. I didn’t know a single person there. I was focused on, not a writing career, but writing a single book that people loved to read.

That’s where the journey really began…

Because I like lists, I’m gonna break down the timeline from there on out.

2008

-First story written

2009

-first story rejected by 100 agents
-Dark Tide Rising written
-half of Intervamption written
-Dark Tide Rising rejected by same 100 agents

2010

-Dark Tide Rising given two offers of publication from e-publishers
-Intervamption finished
-Dark Tide rising sold to The Wild Rose Press
-Offer of representation from agent for Intervamption query
-lost representation (agency closure)
-New offer of representation from agent (Hellooo Nalini!)
-half of Vamped Up written

2011

-Intervamption and Vamped Up sold to Avon Impulse
-Dark Tide Rising published in February
-Vamped Up finished
-Intervamption published in July
-Claimed by Desire written
-Claimed by Desire and 2nd novella sold to Harlequin
*Vamped Up published in December
*Feralon novella 2 written

2012

*Book 3 in Vampires of Crimson Bay series written
*Claimed by Desire published in Summer
*2nd novella published in Fall or Winter

(*’s are things to come, pending the stars aligning “just so” and the current path continuing as is.)

Quite a relationship we’ve had the past three years, isn’t it? What that list doesn’t include are the amount of wonderful writers I’ve become friends with. The critique partners who’ve helped shape my work. And how my becoming President of SFARWA this year has impacted my career. Since my first conference in D.C., I haven’t missed a one. I still hope that people (or even one person) loves my work, but now I’ve got the bigger picture–this is my career.

And I can do this. (At least that’s what I tell myself when I sit at the computer, staring at the blank screen!)

I only hope the next three years are as eventful as the last!