I don’t know how it was for you, but for me, 2019 went by in a blink.
As is the tradition of the last few years, this week’s blog is a roundup of some of your favorite posts, my favorite posts, and other writerly/life lessons discovered throughout the year.
Your Favorite Blog Posts
Thanks to the magic of WordPress stats, here are the top five viewed posts of 2019.
- The Weak Word Checklist
- 6 Submission Mistakes
- Synopsis Do’s and Don’ts
- 6 Draft Checklist Ideas (And Why You Should Create Your Own)
- How To Write In Deep POV
My Favorite Blog Posts
Here are five blogs I had fun writing this year.
- The Draft
- The Rejection Survival Kit
- How To Lure Your Muse
- A Holiday Gift Guide For The Writer In Your Life
- Reading Your Book: Things That Run Through Your Head
The Blogs That Kept Me Entertained
These are the blogs I look forward to reading each week. If you’re not already following these talented bloggers, be sure to check them out.
Blonde Write More – Run by Lucy Mitchell (whose debut novel, Instructions For Falling In Love Again, was one of my favorite reads this year), Blonde Write More is full of tips for writing, getting over procrastination, self-publishing, and book reviews.
Starla Writes – Another great blog from a writer who knows their stuff when it comes to the art of wordcraft. Starla is also open and honest about writing while dealing with anxiety.
Written Word Worlds – Sarah is the co-creator of the YA Room, a popular book club in Melbourne, and as a result, her blog is full of all the latest and greatest book reviews, recommendations, and fun stuff, like which character from The Office you would be based on your reading habits (for the record, I’m a cross between Dwight and Pam).
Lorraine Ambers: Written In Amber – Lorraine is a talented writer who I first discovered through her awesome blog, which is full of all the tips and advice every writer needs. If you want to know about mastering character traits and how it feels to be a writer on the submission journey, Lorraine’s blog covers it all.
Ari Meghlen – Not only is Ari’s blog a treasure trove of writing advice, but she also has a useful series called “A Writer’s Guide To…” which outlines different jobs and skills to help you craft your characters realistically.
Belinda Grant Writes – Not only was Belinda my fellow #FrontRowNerd at the writing events I attended this year, she’s a great friend and writer. While she works on getting her Fantasy series ready for submission, she blogs excellent posts such as her “Gloves” short story (you can follow it transform from a first draft to a polished piece on her blog), and honest posts about how writing is not a race.
Another Year Of Firsts
Writer Events and Newsletters
While last year’s firsts came in the form of entering mentor matches, Twitter pitches, and manuscript competitions, this year’s firsts involved more.
2019 was the first time I attended writer events, including the KidLitVic conference and The Emerging Writers Festival’s YA Day. I also attended the book launch for Sandy Barker’s, One Summer In Santorini (a fun night and fun read), where I got to play interviewer (another first) and ask Sandy questions about her writing journey and process during the launch.
I also started my first newsletter! I’d been delaying a newsletter for a long time because I already had a lot on my plate, but it turns out that writing a newsletter is fun! I ramble, talk about all the TV shows and movies I watch, books I read, and get to be creative by turning my blog posts into fun Infographs.
Contract Signings and Un-Signings
Of course the biggest first for this year happened in January when I got my first “yes”! A small press wanted to release my debut novel, Blackbirch, and I got to sign my first contract. Two weeks ago, for reasons I won’t go into here, I asked to be released from that contract.
The rights have reverted to me and I will now release Blackbirch myself. I’ve been promising you all this year it’ll be out early 2020, and I intend to keep that promise.
It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but I feel it was ultimately the best one for myself and the series. Thank you to my wonderful writing friends who helped me work through what to do, listened to my venting, and gave their support and advice. You know who you are, and I will forever be grateful for your friendship.
Invaluable Writing Help
When it came to improving my craft this year, the following books and podcasts were invaluable…
Save The Cat! Writes A Novel – This book by Jessica Brody delves into analyzing plot points and talks about what all popular movies and books have in common when it comes to structuring plots. I’m not usually a fan of such books because I think it takes the fun out of writing, but this has some valuable tips. Be warned that once you know the secrets of the fake victory, you’ll see if coming in every book and movie you watch for the rest of your life.
I’ve fallen way behind on podcasts because I discovered the text-to-speech app on my phone and started listening to my Kindle books when out walking instead of podcasts, but before then, I enjoyed…
The First Time Podcast – Run by two writer friends, Katherine and Kate, it features all the info you need to know about the first time you publish a book.
Burn Out Is Real
This year I needed to work on books 2-4 in the Blackbirch series.
I’d written rough drafts for all of them in the last few years, so I know how the story ends, etc, but my writing style has changed so much I knew I needed to rewrite them.
I started with book 2, thinking it would only take a month or so (ah, January K.M was so naïve) and that all I needed to do was take the word count from 72,000 to 75,000. It took me 8 months, and I added over 11,000 words, taking my total to over 83,000 words. I’d never written an MS of that size or rewritten to that extent—and it broke me.
When I finally finished the draft in September, I planned to get stuck into book 3, but I couldn’t do anything other than open the file and read the first couple of chapters. It needed a start to finish rewrite too—and mentally—I couldn’t do it.
I knew if I attempted another months-long rewrite project, I would end up resenting what I was writing instead of loving it, so, I decided to take the rest of the year off, and focus on blog writing, reading books, and beta reading for some writer friends.
Then mid-December when it became clear book 1 would not be released through a small press, I got to add the panic of “Now I have to work out how to do this myself” to my plate. Fun times.
Curve Balls No One Wants
Late November/early December also threw me one of those life lessons no one wants; my dad, who’d been battling cancer, had to stop treatment as there was nothing more that could be done for him.
I live in another state to my family, so not being close by was hard. I jumped on a plane and spent a week visiting him as much as I could. When things like that happen, you take stock and realize it doesn’t matter how many likes something got, or that you didn’t post to Instagram at your usual time.
Sadly, just over two weeks later, he passed away. Now my sisters, brother, and I will have our first Christmas without our dad, and many more ups, downs, and life events he won’t be there for. We were reminded during our Uncle’s eulogy at the funeral of Dad’s attitude to life, which was: Just get through it.
As a kid, he’d walked home on what turned out to be a broken leg. As an adult, he got through diabetes, a heart attack, rounds of intensive chemo, and tried his best to survive his cancer for as long as he could.
We all reach a point when life gets too much, but if we can “just get through it” maybe that’s enough? I don’t know what 2020 has in store, but I’ll take on my dad’s attitude, and I hope you have the opportunity to do the same. I also hope you get to spend time with the people you love this Christmas and closeout 2019 in the best way you can.
As always, thank you all for reading, commenting and sharing my posts. You all inspire me to keep blogging, and I hope my posts inspire you too.
— K.M. Allan