Welcome to the 2021 Blog Roundup!
As is the tradition since the start of my blog in 2017, I’m rounding up the year that was, as well as my December!
Despite spending the majority of the year in lockdown yet again, the last few months have flown by.
In January, I completed a few writing courses and then dove into editing. I managed to wade my way through 5 drafts of Blackbirch 3 and re-read and re-outline draft 6 of Blackbirch 4. That’s not bad for someone who actually felt like they were making no progress the majority of this year.
Throw in 2 major surgeries, the stress of having said surgeries canceled, rescheduled, one more currently postponed indefinitely, and months of homeschooling and I’m actually surprised I got any writing done.
If you’re currently thinking your year was a bust too, take a serious look back at it. You’ll probably realize that you did accomplish more than you thought. And as the whole world is still in the middle of a pandemic, we need to be especially proud of any achievements. No matter how small they may feel.
I don’t want to say here’s to 2022 being better, as I said that for 2021 and look at what happened there, but I do want to say that it’s important to keep going and see where you land at the end of it. You might surprise yourself with your accomplishments and strength.
As for goals for the new year, they remain the same as this year: publish the final two books in The Blackbirch Series and see my family in Sydney. None of that happened in 2021, but I am hopeful for 2022.
What I’ve Been…
Blackbirch 3. After starting the year on draft 6 of the third book in my YA series, I’m closing 2021 out on draft 10. I have 6 new scenes to finish writing, some tinkering to existing chapters, and a major rewrite for the final chapter to do.
The big goal of 2022 will be to get the book finally published, and to finish book 4 and hopefully have that out too. Wish me luck!
Reading And Watching
Spill by Melanie Pickering – This was my last read for 2021 and book number 25 of my 36 book Goodreads challenge (I aimed low and did not hit the bar 🤣).
When Amy goes ghost hunting with friends, they visit an old house once said to inhabit a nineteenth-century bloodletter. Accidently cutting herself during the hunt, Amy sees the ghost and realizes her blood is the key to being able to talk to him. This kicks off an obsession for her and she begins self-harming so she can visit the ghost. Why she needs to do this is never really made clear, and the creepy ghost parts of the story quickly fall away to the real heart of the book, which is Amy’s relationship with Flynn. Flynn is a former neighbor she’s been in love with for months, and although they’re friends at school, Amy has never had the courage to tell Flynn how she feels. Unbeknownst to her, he feels the same way and has noticed Amy acting differently. He sees in her a pain he knows all too well as someone who used to self-harm. He reaches out to Amy and they start a relationship, which is then marred by upheaval in Flynn’s home life, and Amy’s obsession with hurting herself to visit the ghost. While it’s more romance and teen-angst than a horror story, Spill is well-written with likable characters, and it touches on themes of mental health, domestic abuse, and young love in respectful ways that will appeal to readers of YA fiction.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (Cinemas) – I haven’t been to a cinema since February so I was very excited to see this on the big screen! Luckily, it didn’t disappoint. Immediately picking up when Spider-Man: Far From Home left off, Peter Parker now has to deal with the whole world knowing who he is. This causes issues for his family, friends, and his new relationship with his girlfriend, MJ. Wanting a solution, Peter goes to see Dr. Strange, who casts a spell, that of course, goes wrong. I won’t spoil it for those who’ve yet to see it, but I will say it is worth seeing. As usual, stay for the post-credit stuff, which includes a look at Dr. Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness.
Lost In Space S3 (Netflix) – It’s been two years since season 2, so I did spend the first episode trying to remember what happened to all the characters and wondering why Will Robinson, who was a child when the series started, now looked like a 20-year-old. After that, it was lots of action, the Robinson kids learning to fight their own battles, more clashes with the alien robots, and we finally got to see Alpha Centauri. I liked the way they wrapped up the storylines and gave a future glimpse of the characters. Despite the years-long delays between the 3 seasons, they did make a solid show that’s worth watching if sci-fi space adventures are your thing.
The Unforgivable (Netflix) – Sandra bullock gets her serious face on (and keeps it for the majority of this movie), playing Ruth, a woman released from prison for killing a sheriff. He came to evict her and her then 5-year-old sister from their farm after their father killed himself. With her mother dying giving birth, Ruth raised her little sister Katie and was afraid the sheriff would take her away. Put in the system after Ruth was jailed, she wrote to Katie for 20 years, then tries to find her when she gets out. Now a college student, Katie doesn’t remember Ruth, except for a few dream-like memories of a kind woman and a horse. Throw in Katie’s adoptive parents not wanting her to know anything, an inquisitive adoptive sister, and the sons of the murdered sheriff out for revenge, and you’ve got yourself a movie. There are strong performances from Sandra and a supporting cast of Viola Davis and Vincent D’Onofrio and an excellently executed twist that turns what you thought you knew on its head. Well worth a watch.
2021 – Picks
Looking back on what I read and watched for 2021, the movies that stuck out were Promising Young Woman and Free Guy, and the books I remember enjoying the most were Luminous and Lucid by Kristy Fairlamb, and The Holds End Trilogy by Chantelle Atkins. Check them out if you can.
Taking Photos Of
Christmas Tree Cats! After loving the Christmas tree last year, Dash immediately took to it again this year, and was joined by his sister, Luna! Thankfully, neither cat has jumped into the branches, but they do like to take turns sitting under it, and I did wake up one morning to find the ribbon pulled off a present 😂.
On The Blog…
In case you missed any of my posts, or want to read them again, here are the latest blogs.
- November Roundup 2021
- More Holiday Gifts For The Writer In Your Life
- Taking Stock: Resetting To Hit Your Writing Goals
This year, I was lucky enough to be interviewed by some wonderful fellow Australian authors. I went on my first podcast with Veronica from Australian Book Lovers, and Dr. Helen Edwards launched her fun 5 Minutes with… #LoveAusAuthors blog. You can read and listen to them at the following links.
2021 Your Favorite Blog Posts
Thanks to the magic of WordPress stats, here are the top five viewed posts in 2021.
- 5 Writing Ideas To Transform A Boring Scene
- Editing Out Your Writing Gremlins
- 5 Ways To Avoid Info-Dumping
- The Chapter Checklist
- The Dialogue Checklist
2021 My Favorite Blog Posts
Here are five blogs I had fun writing this year.
- The Benefits Of A Whiteboard To-Do List
- 5 Ways To Describe A Character Without Using The Clichéd Mirror Look
- Writing Tricks: Unanswered Questions
- Underwriting: 6 Problems And Fixes
- Editing Tips: What To Check When It Feels Like Something Is Missing
The Blogs That Kept Me Entertained In 2021
These are the blogs I look forward to reading. If you’re not already following these talented bloggers, be sure to check them out.
Rambles, Writing And Amusing Musings – Run by Laurie Bell, her blog features book reviews that always help me find new reads for my TBR pile, and amusing Friday Fictionees photo prompts.
A Writer’s Path – While Ryan Lanz does share his own insights on writing, he also features a lot of great guest posts that pretty much touch on every tip, trick, and piece of writing advice you could think of.
One Day At A Time… – This blog from Sam “Goldie” Kirk is full of entertaining stories and thoughtful pieces about various topics.
Invaluable Writing Help
As I mentioned, I started the year completing some courses, and can highly recommend looking at what’s on offer at the Writing Mastery Academy if you’re interested in strengthening your skills in 2022.
I completed the Productivity Hacks for Writers, Novel Fast Drafting, Foundations of Fiction, and the Crafting Dynamic Characters courses and found helpful nuggets of info in each course.
And that essentially brings my 2021 to a close. Thank you for reading this post and all the others written this year. I’ve loved reading your feedback and the fun conversations we’ve had in the comments section.
There’s also an amazing bunch of lovely readers who share and recommend my posts every single time they’re published. Thank you so much for your ongoing and regular support. It genuinely puts a smile on my face and keeps me blogging.
Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Safe And Happy New Year!
I’ll be back regularly posting on social media from the 3rd of January 2022.