Turning the Page: 2019 Annual Review & 2020 Writing Resolutions

If I see one more decade-in-retrospective listicle, I’m going to shred my calendar. Entering the 2020s doesn’t necessarily mark the portentous turn of some cosmic page. January 1 has no more inherent significance than December 31, or any other planetary spin cycle. Silly humans, inflating the importance of our own arbitrary frameworks (ironic in this case, since our species hasn’t even unraveled the nature of time)! New Year’s has never been a big holiday for me, even when we ratchet up the tens place in the numeral.

Nonetheless, I’m excited for this next trip around the sun. Sudden, seismic shifts in life’s tectonic plates demanded my attention this winter, putting my author platform in the backseat (hence my hiatus from blogging and Twitter since Thanksgiving). More on that in another post. For now, let’s review my 2019 writing achievements and peek at plans for 2020.

Print Debut

After testing the indie waters as an e-book exclusive author, I took the print plunge. Both my debut novel Blue Karma and the omnibus edition of my Syzygy hexalogy arrived in ink this year. Despite some misadventures with IngramSpark, they turned out pretty well. Print copies opened up new distribution possibilities: there’s now a copy of Blue Karma in the library systems where I grew up, and my Laddie and I made a scavenger hunt of donating books to Little Free Libraries all over the country during our summertime travels.

Holding the trade paperbacks in my hand, I could finally grasp—in both a literal and emotional way—that I’d written a book. Books. Plural. Not just a monster PDF, but a brightly bound stack of pages that doesn’t look out of place on the bookshelf beside my favorite sci-fi titles.

Two paperback books, "Blue Karma" and "Syzygy"

Brave New Girls Anthology

Maybe I didn’t put out a new novel in 2019, but I did add to my publication credits. My short story Armed for the Future appeared in Brave New Girls: Adventures of Gals and Gizmos, a YA science fiction anthology. Authors and artists donate their work for each collection, sales of which support the Society of Women Engineers’ scholarship fund. Girl-power stories were a tremendous positive influence in my childhood, so contributing to one brought me immense satisfaction. Friendly, responsive coordinators ran the process smoothly, and the final product made a great gift for the daughters of several friends. Overall, the experience ranks among the most gratifying of my writing adventures thus far.

Finished Binary Chop

I know, I said I’d publish it this October. I pounded out the first draft in summer 2018, my fastest draft production to date. Revisions had never taken me more than a few months, so surely this book would be well-polished by the following year.

*cue hysterical laughter*

Although I’d undertaken Binary Chop in pursuit of a change (after two YA cli-fi books, I feared getting prematurely formulaic), I never imagined how much it would challenge me. Blended genres, mythological motifs, and musical language rhythms tested my craft; personal elements that crept into the narrative tested both my honesty and my restraint. Every time I pronounced the book done, I thought of something else to improve. I lost count of revision rounds after six.

Binary Chop was the authorial equivalent of running a marathon when you’ve only conquered the 10k distance. But tackling a project beyond my skill level forced growth. Each completed draft simmered in my creative core like the sweet burn of lactic acid in my quads after a race. So where’s the finish line for this book?

2020 Writing Goals

  • Publish Binary Chop. Maybe in May. I think 05/10/20 has a mathematically appropriate ring, don’t you?
  • Write (and submit) at least one short story. Despite my difficult history with this narrative form, I’ve had several short pieces itching in my brain for months. Early 2020 is the perfect time to embrace them and take a literary breather before the next big project (and maybe get my byline in a reputable sci-fi magazine, too).
  • Start my new novel. After two years in the dark psychological maze of Binary Chop, I need to write something (comparatively) light and fun. How about a cli-fi twist on a beloved classic? The idea struck me suddenly this autumn and amused me so much that it shot past two other stories to the top of my project queue. I hope to draft the first book of a planned trilogy this year. Follow my blog and Twitter so you don’t miss upcoming teasers!

And of course, trying to balance my professional career with my writing ambitions, while preserving some semblance of that elusive thing called “a life”. Developing that strategy took most of the last decade. Let’s hope I keep improving it throughout the next!

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