2019 Blog Roundup

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.

Blog Posts

Your Favorite Blog Posts

Thanks to the magic of WordPress stats, here are the top five viewed posts of 2019.

My Favorite Blog Posts

Here are five blogs I had fun writing this year.

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. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can subscribe here!

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…

Books

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.

Podcasts

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.

Magic & Mayhem – This is from the Australian Writers’ Center (the same team behind the excellent So You Want To Be A Writer podcast) and is all about YA novels.

Life Lessons

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

31 thoughts on “2019 Blog Roundup

  1. Sarah G

    Wow, what a lovely round up of your year. This was such an honest post, but we all have to accept our limitations and work with them. Sorry to hear about your Dad. I hope that you get some time to rest and recover over the summer. It sounds like you all need it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My friend you deserve a day….check that….a week where you step away from your work and relax. I hope you do. These past few months have not been kind. Sometimes we need to put on the brakes and heal. Beat wishes for next year. All of us deserve it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bryan. I’m all ready to head back to Sydney for Xmas and enjoy a big break. I hope you and the family have a great Christmas and New Year. Tell Iris to quiet down for a few days and give yourself some rest too 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your dad’s attitude for traversing the rough patches in life. May he rest in peace. I lost my dad last week, so this will be my first Christmas without my dad. too. I suspect both of our dads would still want us to enjoy the beauty of the season.

    I know your writing progress wasn’t exactly what you planned for 2019, but you still did A LOT. Here’s to an even better 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I always get so much out of your posts! I’m going to have to return to this one when I have more time to ponder. You’ve been through the wringer this year, but it sounds like you have the right attitude. Take care of yourself this holiday season, and I look forward to reading more from you in 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi K.M..

    Yes, your posts definitely inspire me and there are a couple in particular I keep close. I always look forward to them and your newsletter.

    Thanks for your recommendations of other blogs to follow, I will definitely check them out.

    My writing journey sounds similar to yours. This year I concentrated on finishing my novel but next year I will spend more time getting to know other writers and their work.

    I didn’t know that you had cancelled your contract and we’re going to self publish, that’s an exciting turn of events. I will be very interested to see your blogs about this as I will be querying my novel this year and considering self publishing as well.

    I am so sorry for your recent loss, it’s always so hard at this time of year. I remember the first Christmas without my Dad back in 2003. It wasn’t easy but all the family gathered round to support us.
    It was great getting to know you and your work this year and I look forward to seeing your debut novel next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Naomi. So sorry to hear about your dad ❤️. The contract issues and my decision to leave the small press came about suddenly and only 7 weeks from what was going to be the release date. It wasn’t something I was expecting to deal with, especially as this all happened the day after my dad passed away, but I do think it was the best decision and now I get to navigate releasing a book myself, and I’m sure that will provide plenty of future blog posts. Good luck with your querying. I can’t wait to see what your writing journey brings you 😊.

      Like

  6. It was sad to read about your dad. I hope his last days are many and are pain-free. I know that is probably a tall order that can’t be filled but I do hope it for you and your dad nonetheless.

    I hope 2020 is a fantastic year for you and your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You’ve had an amazing year, Kate! Thank you for all your support throughout 2019, with your blogs and your feedback and your friendship. You’ve had some tough choices to make towards the end of this year, but you’re doing amazing ❤ So excited for Blackbirch! Here's to a very exciting 2020! x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Burn out is so real, I’ve had my fair share this year. Thanks for mentioning my blog, I love yours just as much. You’ve worked incredibly hard on your series, it’s been an absolute pleasure beta reading with you, I’ve learnt so much from you and I’ve loved watching your craft develop. Your perseverance is inspirational, I can’t wait for your book release, I’m 100% behind your decision to self publish — here’s to fantastic year of firsts. 💜💜💜🙌👏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Rainy! And thanks so much for your support and the beta feedback you’ve given me these last few years. It helped make me a stronger writer ❤️. Looking forward to seeing what firsts you and your excellent stories achieve in 2020 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. 2019 certainly was busy for you, and omg you are such a sweetie to include my blog 😄 I’ll be checking out the other blogs you mentioned (those I don’t already follow)

    I LOVE your newsletter, you have such a wonderful balance of info and your infographics are awesome.

    You do an amazing job and I wish only the best for you in this new year 💜

    Liked by 1 person

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