Morgan’s 2021 Retrospective

Past Retrospectives: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017

The ‘new normal’ has proven rather stressful and ever-fluctuating, but despite the ups and downs, I managed to make some progress with my writing.

Let’s start off with the good news! I’m now a paid writer. (Insert a lot more exclamation marks!!1!) Christmas Eve, while dealing with an unrelated emergency that’s nearly resolved, I got the email that I’d sold one of my short stories to Dark Recesses’s online magazine!

I attended 2 in-person conventions, 1 virtual convention, polished 2 short stories, rewrote and finished last year’s NaNoWriMo project, and even wrote some poetry.

Between Balticon, WorldCon, and Imaginarium, I was ON 7 panels, participated in 2 readings, attended 8 panels, 3 workshops/presentations, 2 events/concerts,1 additional reading, and won the smallest cosplay competition ever (1st of 3). Not counting the zoom hosting for a few cons and tech training for my local NaNoWriMo group. Outside of cons, I attended 3 different writing groups, participated in the #authortube community, gave 2 presentations on using social media, and attended my local open mic nights for writers.

This year, my interaction was better split between in-person and virtual events. I love comparing numbers, so let’s look at them.

My Writing Goals Last Year

As always, I made sure to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound) goals.

2021 Goals

  1. Writing– Finish my space fantasy by April. Maybe do OctPoWriMo and plan on writing new words for NaNoWriMo.
    • PARTIAL CREDIT (70%): The space fantasy turned into tax fraud and school field trips, so I took a break. I didn’t do OctPoWriMo, but I did write some poetry, and all new words for NaNoWriMo — rewriting/finishing that space fantasy, after salvaging 30,000 words from the original attempt.
  2. Revising – Revise 3 short stories.
    • PARTIAL CREDIT (30%): Revised one short story. I really thought it was more than that? But here we go.
  3. Querying and Submitting – Submit 6 short stories to at least 3 markets each quarter (once polished). And query my YA 3 times a month.
    • WIN: I was only submitting 3 short stories, because that’s what I had polished, but I did hit 15 submissions, nicely spaced. And I sent out my YA 32 times! To no nibbles. It was really frustrating — before my last revision (and the post-apocalyptic landscape of publishing in 2020), I’d been getting partials, fulls, and even a rare R&R, so to send out so many times with nothing leads me to think I either already queried the best matches, or the market is not ready.
  4. Blogging and Podcasting – Don’t miss a week for the blog and the vlog. Only take one week between seasons for podcasting, and only skip 1 livestream a quarter, unless at a con.
    • WIN – I didn’t miss a week, took 1 week between podcast seasons, and had 48 livestreams — plus a bonus one during NaNoWriMo, and did 4 query rewrites live with Patrick Hopkins.
  5. Conventions | Writers Groups– Be on panels at 3+ cons, attend 6+ open mic nights, 4+ monthly writer meetings, and 3 NaNoWriMo events (kickoff, 1 write in, and the all-nighter till 11pm). Plus? Staff Balticon and maybe another virtual con.
    • PARTIAL CREDIT (110%/70%): Paneled at 3 cons, attended 5 open mic nights, 8(I think) monthly writer meetings, both 2 NaNo events (there were only 2 because of Covid), and I staffed Balticon, plus popped in to Zoom host once or twice for other events. AND! I presented on social media for 2 additional writers groups.
  6. Reading – Read at least 36 books, at least half should be physical.
    • WIN!/Lose: I binged a LOT of romances this year, finally getting Kindle Unlimited. Some were novellas, although, I tried to add those in so a series counted for 1, but I read 184 books this year. Let’s hear it for escapism with HAEs! (Happily ever afters). Maybe 8 were physical.
  7. Beta-Readers – Read no more than 3 fulls for others, get some beta readers for your own short stories, and keep up with Oddville press.
    • WIN: I read 2 fulls, and a couple shorts. I got readers for my stuff before I submitted them, and I kept up with slush reading for the Oddville Press until they closed down. (Although, slush reading isn’t beta reading, it’s fine that it’s here)
  8. And give myself a pass if I don’t get anything accomplished in December.
    • What was that whole Vlogmas thing, Morgan? And hitting a really belated convention?
    • EXTRA CREDIT!!

Things outside this list I achieved, though?

  • Make a sale!
  • Hit 10k followers on Twitter!

Blogging!

Top Lifetime Post

My sleeper hit, 10 Questions To Ask Your Beta Readers, from 2016 is still tops with 3,285 lifetime hits (and is published here).

My Author Spotlight — to help promote friends’ works — are sticking around, even if they’re not my most popular posts. I’m working with a few small presses, to help them out, but it’s open to anyone who is a good fit for my blog. (If you’d like to participate, please contact me at morgan.s.hazelwood@gmail.com)

My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2021!

While 9 out of my top 10 overall views this year were from old posts, here are my top 10 from this year.

  1. Getting An Agent – Querying In Batches
  2. The 5 Components of a Query Letter
  3. WorldCon 2021
  4. Yes, That IS a ‘Real Word’
  5. 7 Ways Writers Handle Rejection
  6. Are You Using The Easy Way to Find Markets For Your Short Stories and Poetry?
  7. The 13 Types of Responses Writers Get When Querying Agents
  8. When An Idea Breaks Your Manuscript – 4 Ways To Fix It
  9. Introducing: Catticus!
  10. Character Creation

My Top 5 YouTube Videos From 2021

As my content grows, it’s good to know that my older content is still being watched. But, here are the top 5 posts from this year on writing (My top 2 were my tribute to my late cat and celebrating 500 blog posts).

  1. Why I’m Trying To Get Traditionally Published
  2. Yes, That is a “Real Word”
  3. Getting an Agent: Querying In Batches
  4. Why That Writing Advice is Both Right… And Wrong
  5. 5 Ways Stronger Verbs Can Improve Your Writing

Social Media Stats

While this isn’t really writing related, it is writer-platform related, and I want to be fully transparent. I know I like to see how other people do it, and I like stats and tracking progress, so, probably more for me than you, here are my numbers for 2021. I tried to be both engaged and engaging, while still invested in upping my content creation in all mediums. As always, some weeks were better than others. Honestly? Some MONTHS were better than others.

Followers

Between all my social media accounts, I added 2,324 followers!

This year? My twitter grew the most by number. With 33% growth, my tiny podcast “Writing Tips and Writerly Musings” wins by percentage, followed closely by LinkedIn, with Youtube in close 3rd.

Now that I’ve got some nice numbers, it’s probably time to work on engagement.

Content

This year I maintained my streak of blogging twice a week, and almost hit three times every week, between a regular supply of Author Spotlights and my weekly round-ups of all the stuff I’m doing OFF the blog. The Podcast was growing.(My Goodreads stats are books added to my library, the last 3 years are the books I’ve read.) (My FB page wouldn’t give my year stats and stopped letting me scroll in mid-2016, so, those stats are incomplete, but I can compare to the last 3 years.)

I surpassed my goal of posting to Instagram twice a week, with an average of just over 3 times. I started posting at twice a week to Pinterest – mostly automated from my blog and youtube channels. Tumblr content is just Instagram and blog reshares, and LinkedIn is just blog reshares. – although, at some point this year, the cross-post stopped, so I’ll be looking into that.

Account Break Down

Activity on the blog
  • WordPress – I started this blog in April of 2015.
    • This was my best year yet on the blog! I surpassed last year’s 10k
    • Obviously, consistent content and the addition of my weekly round-ups bolstered the numbers. But, Google search results continue to grow as my number one referrer, rather than links from my own social media. That SEO boost from ProWritingAid and this year’s KidLit411 links definitely help.
  •  Twitter MorganHzlwood – I joined in March of 2016.
    • Now that I’ve hit that magical, useless 10k milestone, I’m going to work on engagement. Currently, fewer than 20 people actually see or interact with any of my tweets.
  • Youtube – MorganHazelwood I joined in April of 2017
    • I definitely stepped it up this year and my stats show. I got 8,352 views, added 105 followers,and hit 1,007 watch hours. The livestreams were a significant contributer.
  •  Tumblr MorganHazelwood – I joined in June of 2016
    • I basically stopped using except for resharing my blog and pinterest. So, I’m glad that my reposted content is finding an audience! Or it’s spammers. Who knows?
  •  Instagram MorganHazelwood – I joined in 2015.
    • I continue to attempt to be more intentional in my posts. Making sure to vary the types of images, and using more stories and reels.
  •   Pinterest MorganHazelwoo – I joined in 2015.
    • I’m sharing my video post weekly, and my blog post but not much else. I need to remember to at least share the covers of the books I read. And more memes!
  •  Facebook PagesMorganHazelwoodPage – I joined in 2015.
    • “Writing About Writing” continues to reshare my alt-text added reshared memes — bringing me MASSIVE readership for those posts. But I’m growing my own following, with less of a piggy-back following.
  •  Facebook MorganSHazelwood – I joined in 2013.
    • Facebook keeps suggesting me to people, and as long as they don’t look like they’re using Facebook as a dating site, aren’t 100% political rants or buy links, and look vaguely interested in books, I’ll accept.
  •  Google+Morgan S Hazelwood – I joined in 2013
    • Dead.
  •  GoodReads Morgan Hazelwood – I joined in January 2016
    • I read 186 books this year, beating my target of 3 books a month significantly – I beat 3 books a week!
    • I rated nearly all of them, but didn’t review any. Shame on me!
  • Reddit – Morgan Hazelwood  – I joined in January of 2017.
    • I got 2 karma all year. And about that many posts. I’m not very active here, but I did join a couple groups.
  • Discord – morganHazelwood#1975 –
    • I’m on like 7 convention discords, 4 active writing discords, my voice acting group’s discord, a few for friends… Not really tracked here for any good social media use, but it is somewhere I spend in chat rooms. And writing sprints.

In Conclusion

I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped. As always.

Some of that was external. Most of us hoped the turbulance was settling down when 2020 ended, with the vaccine in sight. But with the surges and everything in flux, it made things a lot harder — and reportedly slowed down a log of publishing.

Some of the issues were the consequences of decisions.

  • I’m still running 3 Facebook PitchWars support groups and administering another SFF writer’s group. Plus, stepping up as part of the #authorTube community. Helping out with Concellation AMAs. That takes time, energy, and spoons.
  • I helped run one convention and helped staff another 2. I paneled at 1 virtual con, 2 hybrid cons, and 2 authortube events.
  • I decided to do my best to keep up with at least 5 different types of social media.
  • I really like 9 hours of sleep a night, even if 7 is more standard.
  • I still have scheduled social time with friends on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Add in my blog post writing and uploading Wednesday nights and con meetings…

I’ve been prioritizing keeping up with my self-imposed schedule over actually writing. Shocking absolutely no one, I’m sure. I’m still a bit burnt out, but I have goals. I made a point of not trying to work every convention this year, and leaving more time for myself. From March until November, I barely did any fiction writing, whatsoever.

However…

I DID get some writing done, finished revisions on 1 short story, sent out a LOT of submissions (shorts and my full manuscript), grew my vlog and podcast, worked one convention, paneled at 3, staffed 1 others, was on 7 panels outside of my own vlog, and read an average of 15 books a month! And there’s that short story I sold.

I may have fallen short on some things, but… as I quote Les Brown every year: “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”


How well did you do on your goals?

Did quarantine waffling side-track you or free up your time?

3 Comments

  1. That’s a crazy amount of work you did in 2021. In fact, you’ve inspired me to follow in your footsteps. I’ve only been focusing on WordPress, so I admire your multi-platform approach. And space fantasy? That’s an awesome category if I’ve ever heard one. Here’s to a snazzy writing time in 2022!

    Liked by 1 person

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