Saturday, January 26, 2019

Guest Post - How Realm Makers Impacted My Writing Journey

Earlier this week, I had the honor of guest posting for the Realm Makers blog! So in lieu of a new post here on Adventure Awaits, I'll just drop the link here: How Realm Makers Impacted My Writing Journey.

It's a particularly timely topic for those of you who might be considering attending this year's conference, because registration opens on February 1st! (Wink, wink.)

Tally ho! These days of me being an MIA blogger are numbered, friends. Thanks for bearing with me.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

DEAD MAGIC - I'm Published in Havok!

Hey, friends! Just popping in to say that if you haven't heard yet, my story called Dead Magic is published on Havok's website! You can go read it right HERE.

But remember, it's available today only unless you're a paid subscriber to Havok.

Hope you enjoy it! I'd love to interact with you in the comment section over there throughout the day. Tally ho!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

2018 Recap // 2019 Goals

A crisp new morning. The wide open feeling of new potential. This is January--or rather, it's my idealized January. At this time of year, I find myself reflecting on what the past 365 days have been like and where I hope to go in the next 365. It's definitely been a journey.

At the beginning of 2018, I slowed down and took a different approach to goal-setting. You can read about it here: What Lies on the Horizon. Today let's look at those goals and see if I hit them.

2018 Goals

Organize my beta readers' feedback on The Brightest Thread. Check! It was one whale of a job, but I did manage to wrangle all the feedback into one place and took an objective look at the critiques. (And smiled at the fangirly comments, let's be honest.)

Try my hand at flash fiction and submit to a magazine. What do you know, I managed that too! I wrote a few flash fics, and Dead Magic was accepted by Havok. Details coming VERY soon!

Edit The Brightest Thread. I made progress on that front, for sure. The beginning of the novel gave me a hard time (how dare it), but the first 22,000 words are now in pretty good shape. I think. It's been a while since I looked at it, thanks to college.

Start querying literary agents. Nope, I didn't make it that far, since I didn't finish editing TBT.

Attend Realm Makers in St. Louis and pitch TBT again there. I did make it to Realm Makers for the second time and pitched twice, with promising results. I'm excited to pursue that in the future.

Finish The Creative Way course. Ahahaha . . . no. This was on my list of goals last year too, and I worked through even fewer lessons in 2018 than I did in 2017. College swallowed my LIFE.

Get my secret project off the ground. Aside from brainstorming, I made no progress here either. See the above reason.

Spiff up the blog. Again, nope.

Maybe plan my next novel? Nuh-uh. You know the drill by now. #collegelife

Three and a half achieved out of nine.

A couple years ago, that might have made me depressed. But now? I can smile, nod, and turn my face toward the new year. Because I know that list of goals doesn't paint the whole picture. There were more important things I wanted out of 2018, bigger wins to achieve. Most of them can't be quantified.

I took more time for people. I noticed a marked difference in how I treated time spent with family and friends. Not that I'm oh-so-generous now, but I've become a little more willing, a little more able to shut up my inner critic when it wants to yak about the looming to-do list. The people in my life mean more than getting that blog post up in time or editing another chapter.

I carved out time to read and recharge. I skidded too close to burnout in 2017 and 2016, so with college ramping up this year, I knew it was even more crucial to stay rested. Again, I wasn't perfect at this, but there were many, many occasions I made the decision to pick up a book instead of a task in my free time. Sure, there were weeks in summer when I went full-steam ahead in editing my novel, and most definitely times during the school months that I worked my fingers to the bone. BUT. Overall, I took steps to nurture my mental health, and now I'm thanking myself for it.

Most importantly, I grew closer to God and forged a new devotional habit. Recently, I reread the What Lies on the Horizon post from last January . . . and it almost made me cry. Many of those words had faded from memory since writing them down, including this thought:

"What I know right now is that every time I have hungered for more of God and cried out for a deeper knowing of Him, He has responded. And every time, all it took was asking... and then putting one foot in front of the other with my eyes open for an answer. Another thing I know right now is that I miss digging into the Word." [Jan. 2018]

Since writing that, I started a contemplative Bible-reading plan--and kept up with it all year. Coming from a 2017 of very sporadic times spent with God, that's huge for me.

And when I look back at all the things God has whispered to my heart in 2018, I am moved by how kind and wise He is. All year, He encouraged me to rest, to accept grace, to trust Him. To do everything WITH Him. This was made especially clear at Realm Makers, where author Allen Arnold taught a class called Chaos and Creativity.

Books I read, people I talked to, messages from church I listened to, songs I heard . . they wove together into a beautiful melody threaded through the year, snagging my wandering attention when I strayed too far.

(And on the more superficial side of things, I finished two semesters of business college, had Mirrors Never Lie place as a finalist in Five Poisoned Apples, and read 50 books.)

I'm proud of 2018.

But now it's time to look to the new year.

2019 Goals

Continue my devotional habit. But more than just continuing, I want to build more thought, study, and variety into it as time goes on.

Give myself more grace. This one goes without explanation.

Take better care of myself. This includes getting the right amount of sleep, being intentional about unplugging, and making space for just being still.

Graduate college and get a great job. I can't wait! As much as I grumble about college (which is something else I need to work on), it really has been a valuable experience. One of these days I'll share some survival tips for fellow students. Anyway, before I graduate in April, I'll be looking for the kind of job that will make me excited to get up in the morning.

Finish editing The Brightest Thread. I'm so looking forward to brushing up this darling child of mine . . .

Send TBT to a literary agent. . . . And I'm looking forward to engaging in some serious querying!

Attend Realm Makers for the third time. It's my tentative plan, and I'm hoping it'll fit in the budget again this summer.

Actually finish The Creative Way writing course by Ted Dekker. Because there's cool stuff to learn and it's about time I finish what I started an embarrassingly long time ago.

Move Adventure Awaits to a self-hosted website. You heard it here first, folks! Rather than simply spruce up the blog, I'm seriously contemplating moving to a bona-fide website later this year. I foresee many inquiries being sent to the more technologically-minded . . .

Bring that secret project into existence. And that's all I'll say about that. *wink*

I do have a handful of "bonus goals," smaller and easier-to-achieve things that would be nice to accomplish, but not absolutely imperative. Things like purging my room, purchasing a new laptop, reading another 50 books (including my nonfiction TBR stack), even getting a personal blender with which to make smoothies. But I think ten major goals are quite enough for now, thank you!

2019 holds some big changes, that much is certain. I'm eagerly anticipating a change of season, from full-time student to . . . well, full-time something else, and also the chance to revive my writing life. In the meantime, I hope to practice grace for myself and others--and face the future with a peaceful heart.

What are you looking forward to this year, fellow questers?