I may have only recently started posting monthly roundup blogs, but since 2017, I’ve been posting a yearly blog roundup as my last post every December.
Below, I’m keeping up that tradition and combining it with some monthly roundup features to cap off what has been one of the strangest and hardest years ever.
What I’ve Been…
More Blackbirch 3. I finally started draft 6 and attempted to run through some editing passes. I mostly ended up reading and editing random scenes instead of sticking to what I was supposed to be checking, so I adjusted the way I was editing and started making some decent progress. For those who asked about the editing passes on Twitter after seeing the photo of them listed on my whiteboard, there will be a future blog post about them!
Reading And Watching
The Butterfly Stone by Laurie Bell – This was the first book I’ve read by Laurie Bell, and it won’t be the last. She’s built such a wonderful world in this series, and it was so fun to visit it. Tracey Masters is a mage who works after school for her uncle in his detective agency. She wants nothing more than to join him on a case, but when Tracey gets her wish, it turns her world upside and puts everyone she loves in danger. This book is set in modern times, which I really loved as it adds an interesting layer of magic and technology. Tracey and her friends are a highlight of the book as they band together to help her when she finds The Butterfly Stone and is put in the sights of a masked man who will stop at nothing to get it. There’s an action-packed climax, reveals galore, and plenty of questions leading into the next book. Definitely recommended for fans of fantasy.
The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker – I haven’t read a lot of Christmas books (unless you count the Die Hard illustrated picture book, which exists and I do have), so it was so much fun to slip into The Christmas Swap. Three friends from different parts of the world—Jules, Lucy, and Chloe—decide to swap Christmases for the year and see what the holiday is like in another country. This gives us a snowy Xmas in America, a traditional Xmas in the UK, and a sunny Christmas in Australia. Sandy nails all three and I’d happily take any of them. Being a romance, all the girls meet someone, giving the story a part Notting Hill, part The Holiday vibe, but it’s the friendship of the three girls that is the highlight of this book. Pick it up if you’re looking for something feel-good.
Holidate (Netflix) – One of the reasons I love this time of year is watching Christmas movies. I always revisit classics like Die Hard, Elf, Christmas With The Kranks, Christmas Vacation, and Four Christmases. Holidate was released this year and I will be adding it to my future watches because I loved it! Sloane meets Jackson at the mall after they both have a terrible Christmas and they decide to be each other’s “Holidate” to all upcoming holidays, with no romance involved. As this is a rom-com, you just know they’re going to get together, and the movie is basically them falling for each other over the next year of holidays until it circles back to Christmas again. It might be predictable, but it’s also heart-warming and hilarious. The dirty dancing New Year’s scene will have you in stitches.
Freaky – March was the last time I’d been to the cinema, so I was very happy to see this serial killer take on the Freaky Friday body-swap genre playing at my local movie theater once cinemas opened here again. Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton are at their best each playing the scary murderer and the teenage girl he swaps bodies with in this gruesome but also funny flick. If that sounds like your thing, definitely see it if you get the chance.
Taking Photos Of
Christmas! After initially being afraid of the tree, it’s now become Dash’s fave place to sit. He also likes to have a sneaky chew on the branches. This year I worked my way through a 12 day Merry Cheesemas advent calendar, and will definitely be buying it again next year!
On The Blog…
In case you missed my one and only post this December, here it is…
Once again, the wonderful Chantelle Atkins let me write a guest post for her awesome blog, The Glorious Outsiders. This one is about pets during the pandemic, and features plenty of tidbits and pics of my cat, Dash!
Now For The Yearly Roundup…
Your Favorite Blog Posts
Thanks to the magic of WordPress stats, here are the top five viewed posts in 2020.
- The Importance of Writing Badly
- Writing A Book Blurb In 4 Easy Steps
- How To Write In Deep POV
- 2 Simple Ways To Switch Into Writer Mode
- 7 Author Essentials To Get In Place Before Releasing A Book
My Favorite Blog Posts
Here are five blogs I had fun writing this year.
- How To Keep Yourself Sane When Self-Publishing
- Book Launch Ideas
- How To Stay Creative When The World Is On Fire
- 4 Reasons To Listen To Your Own Book
- The Organized Writer Toolkit
I was lucky enough to be part of a few guest posts and interviews this year. Thank you to all the bloggers who allowed me to ramble on their sites and not just my own.
- Author Interview: K.M. Allan
- Indie Author Interview: K.M. Allan Discusses Magical Realism In Her YA Fantasy Series
- K.M. Allan: Learning From Your Words
- Happy Book Birthday, K.M. ALLAN!
- K.M. Allan – On Rejections in Writing
The Blogs That Kept Me Entertained
These are the blogs I look forward to reading. If you’re not already following these talented bloggers, be sure to check them out.
A Keyboard And An Open Mind – This book review blog is run by Emily Wrayburn and has helped me find plenty of books to add to my TBR pile this year.
Everyday Strange – L.Stevens provides a mix of gorgeous and strange pictures, musical posts for songs she likes, and an impressive collection of quotes in her Muse of the Day post.
Nin Chronicles – Full of Jaya Avendel’s beautiful poetry and fiction, her blog also covers the writing life and book reviews.
Rebecca Alasdair – I’m a sucker for goal setting, and Rebecca’s blog scratches that itch. Every post lists where she’s up to with her own WIP, her word counts, goals, and blog posts she’s found interesting. I’ve read many a great post following her links and have been inspired to keep chipping away at my own goals.
A Little Bit Of Blake – I’ve been following Julia Blake on Instagram for years now and have read quite a few of her wonderful books. She’s got a real knack for words, which is why I was so happy to see her launch a blog this year. Julia’s posts are inspired by her life as a writer, a landlord, a single mother, her job at a mattress store, and the antics of her cat—and every single one is entertaining.
Invaluable Writing Help
When it came to improving my craft this year, I turned to writing courses and completed two with the Australian Writers’ Centre.
Fiction Essentials: Grammar and Punctuation: A short course that runs through the basics of grammar and punctuation and tests your skills with multiple-choice questions. I’ve never been that confidant with grammar and was surprised to find I knew more about it than I thought. There was also plenty I didn’t know so this course was a great way to learn some basics.
Cut, Shape, Polish: One selling point of this course is that you’ll have an edited manuscript at the end. I started the course with the MS for my 3rd Blackbirch book. Being part of a series, it probably wasn’t ideal as some processes were better suited for a standalone story, but I learned tips I will use on every MS from now on and highly recommend it for anyone looking to level up their editing skills.
A Year Of Firsts Continues
As has been the case for the last few years, 2020 brought a lot of writing and life lesson firsts…
I published my first book… and my second!
Blackbirch: The Beginning came out on February 17th—right before COVID-19 hit the world. I have no idea if the pandemic made a difference to sales as I have no reference, but I do want to thank everyone who bought a copy, left a review, and recommended it to a friend.
My second book, Blackbirch: The Dark Half, was released July 17th. It’s my favorite book from the series, and I’ve been very happy and humbled to see it receive nothing but 5 and 4-star reviews since being released. Both books are also in an actual bookstore! Dymocks Knox City stocks the series, so if you’re local to the area, pop in and pick them up.
Blackbirch will continue and be completed in 2021, with books 3 and 4 currently being edited for release next year. I hope you’ll love reading them as much as I’ve loved writing them.
In a plot twist I don’t think anyone could have predicted, the world was plunged into a worldwide pandemic. Where I live in Melbourne, we spent 7 months of this year under lockdown with some of the harshest restrictions in the world as we battled a second wave.
I know many countries are now dealing with that same situation, and like them, I’m hoping 2021 sees a better, new normal. This year brought lots of first with it: unprecedented mental health issues, mass job losses, business losses, homeschooling, the pain of losing loved ones before their time, and not being able to be with them or grieve as we would have in the past.
One first I wish I didn’t have this year was attending a virtual funeral. My step-dad passed away in June from complications following surgery to remove cancer, and I wasn’t able to fly to Sydney to say goodbye. While being able to watch his funeral online allowed some comfort, it wasn’t the same as being there with the rest of my family. I know I’m not the only one who went through this situation this year, and I’m hoping it’s one first we’ll get to leave behind when all of this is over.
This year also certainly made me appreciate the small things and really look at how I was spending my time. We started the year with raging bushfires and then the pandemic, which has changed life as we know it, most likely for good. Things like that bring everything home. You really don’t know what is around the corner or how much time any of us has left.
With that in mind, I’m going into 2021 with the intention to focus on what really makes me happy and to try and not worry about things that won’t matter in a year’s time or that I can’t control (I know, easier said than done). I’d also love to see my family, all of whom live in Sydney. It’s now been a year since we’ve physically been in the same place. It’s the longest we’ve ever been apart and it’s getting hard to keep my evil twin in line over Facetime. Jokes aside, I am thankful the pandemic has happened during a time when we have the technology to keep in touch over vast distances. I hope wherever you are that you’re getting to see your family these holidays or making plans to see them when the world allows it.
Thank you for reading this post, the others written this year as well as 2019, 2018, and 2017 if you’ve been around that long. Thank you also for all your comments and post shares. You all inspire me to keep blogging, and I hope my posts inspire you too.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
— K.M. Allan