#2 Query Corner: ‘A Visit From Revenge’

Welcome to:

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Morgan’s Query Corner:

Answering Your Query Quandaries

NOTE: If you submit your query to me (morgan.s.hazelwood@gmail.com), and you are selected for inclusion, I will give you a high-level review, in-line feedback, and my own draft of your query. If this is your query, feel free to use or ignore as much of the advice and suggestions as you wish.

[Disclaimer: Any query selected for the page will be posted on this website for perpetuity. I am an amateur with no actual accepted queries and a good number of form rejections. This does not guarantee an agent or even an amazing query, just a new take by someone who’s read The Query Shark archives twice and enjoys playing with queries.]

Overall Impression:

The story sounds action-packed, with fun characters and careful attention to word choices.

The query is 491 words long — which is about 191 words longer than any query should plan to be.

Places to cut words? The query tells more of the story than we need and explains how the novel differs from others in its genre. Don’t spell it out for the agent, the story should give your explanation for you!

The Original:

[my comments are in blue/italics/brackets]

Dear [FirstName],

Whether you choose, A VISIT FROM REVENGE, or not, I look forward to following you, and Crooked Lane Books, on Twitter. Thank you. [not needed]

Finally released after serving a five-year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, Timothy Matthews is out for revenge. His target? The woman who set him up … his ex-wife, Alice. [Good, solid start. If a little predictable for this genre.]

But, Timothy’s efforts for payback don’t come easily. Bank accounts wiped clean, no place to live, and no one to turn to, Timothy finds himself making allies among the homeless in a city terrorized by the serial home invader, “The Charlotte Webbist.” A born sadist, Charlotte’s fetish isn’t satisfied by rape, or murder, or physically harming his victims, yet they would choose all of these over his terrifying calling card. [give details! Vagueness means this could be 12 other stories.]

When life throws Timothy a twist that makes him reconsider getting revenge on his ex-wife, he attempts to clear his name. [What? This is 2 sentences and a little clunky.] Until Timothy learns that the Charlotte Webbist is living among the junkies [how? Does The Charlotte attack him?], and he has skyrocketed to the top of the Charlotte’s hit-list. When it comes to revenge, Timothy is no longer the visitor, but the visited. [I know you’re trying to make the title pop here, but it feels a little forced.]

A VISIT FROM REVENGE is a suspense novel that runs about 89,000 words and is similar in tone to the gritty work of Dennis Lehane while featuring a Hannibal Lecter-level antagonist. I subtracted my bio to use your valuable time on what separates my Suspense/Thriller [pick one. Google suggests the protagonist is in danger from the get-go in a thriller. So, I’d suggest suspense.] from the usual trope of, “Detective must find killer/rapist/kidnapper before he strikes again.” My story centers on the homeless and junkies. My research revealed some sad truth, which is when crimes are committed against them, if the police do not catch the perpetrator immediately, there is very little they can do to help. There’s no phone for the police to reach the Homeless if they have a lead or more questions, no address to send court papers so they can take part in a trial against the person who did them wrong, and a homeless criminal in general is tough to find when they have no address, job, or ties to the community. If my characters have a problem, they must deal with it themselves. They must do their own searching, their own investigating, and sometimes, collect their own justice. [Very eloquent, but the query letter isn’t the place for this.]

What I will say about myself is A) I have thicker-than-thick skin. B) I embrace guidance. C) I will chop my manuscript to pieces if need be. D) I bust my ass when it comes to writing. I have a self-published novel and novella, (The Never-Never Door and Joe’s Redemption) with a loyal fan base. [Only mention if you have a good sized following and/or your publicity is good.] Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you. [the QueryShark finds this default line presumptuous. Many agents don’t care, but why antagonize the ones that do?]

[Q2]

[email]

[twitter] [phone]

The Revised Query:

Dear [Agent],

After serving a five-year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, Timothy Matthews is out for revenge. His target? The woman who set him up … his ex-wife, Alice.

With his bank accounts wiped clean and no one to turn to, Timothy finds himself making allies among the homeless. But revenge is hard when you have no resources. When Timothy’s given the chance to clear his name, he puts his revenge plans on hold.

Then, someone [does a thing similar to Charlotte’s calling card]. One step shy of the serial home invader, “The Charlotte Webbist’s” terrifying calling card. If Timothy can’t figure out which of his fellow street ‘neighbors’ is The Charlotte, he’s going to be the next victim.

A VISIT FROM REVENGE is an 89,000-word suspense novel that should appeal to fans of Dennis Lehane. A VISIT FROM REVENGE emphasizes the difficulties the police have in protecting the homeless, which can lead them to do their own investigating, and sometimes, collect their own justice. [If you still want to explain your take to the agent, here’s a brief description of the issues you wanted to address.]

I write from [city/region/somewhere]. I’m the self-published author of the novel, The Never-Never Door and the novella Joe’s Redemption.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[S]

[email]

[Twitter]

[phone]


Now, not all of my feedback is going to work for the queryist. They know their story best, but hopefully, it puts them on the right path!


And for the rest of you out there?
Best of luck in the query trenches!

qc2

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Morgan’s Reads: January Edition

Morgan’s Reads: January Edition

This month I’ve revised my manuscript’s timeline and first chapter, edited it, and sent my new chapter to a new critique partner. I’ve blogged, vlogged, and entered twitter contests.

And I’ve been reading.

When you want to be a writer, they tell you that you also need to read. Fortunately for most of us, we were readers first!

I have no willpower when it comes to books, once I start, I’m driven onward, always seeking to know, “What Happens Next”. I’m not one of those people who can read a book at bedtime, setting it down when the clock strikes 11 pm. I’m not a quitter. I read until I’m done, then check kindle to see if the sequel’s out yet.

So, between my writing and my need for sleep, I went far too long without reading.

Last year, I joined GoodReads and aimed to read 2 books a month. To make sure I actually got sleep, I instituted a rule that I couldn’t start a new book after 8 pm. Since I read about 100 pages an hour, that means I’m not tooo late for bed.

This year, I’m off to a good start, even if I’m completely neglecting my looming to-read pile. I’ve already read 4 books — well, 3 and a novella.

Confession: My favorite authors and/or series that I’m already well invested in get skipped to the front of the pile, in lieu of those marvelous books that have patiently waited their turn. Because if I start something new, I might not stop til I’ve read everything they’ve ever written.

Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire mostly writes fantasy, generally stuff I’d call ‘urban fantasy’. Most of the stuff I’ve read by her take mythological tales and creatures and play ‘what if’ in a modern setting. What if mythological monsters were real and hiding around us? What if the fae still stole babies and played with mortals?

I haven’t read a thing by her I didn’t love, so I saw she had a series, “Indexing” that I hadn’t read yet and tossed it up on my holiday wish list. And got the first 2 books.

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Indexing:

Genre: Urban Fantasy – Aimed at an adult audience, but not explicit. Teens would enjoy.

Fairy tales trying to follow the script and force people to act out the stories we all know and love is starting to become a trope. (Even to someone like me who adores fairy tales retellings). But, McGuire’s Henry(etta) (a Snow White in remission) and Sloan (an averted evil step-sister) won me over. They’re part of a team for ATI Management Bureau, who work to keep fairy tales from manifesting in our world, along with all the collateral damage they usually bring. Henry’s the team lead and a bit impulsive, but saving lives isn’t for the meek.

The novel’s initial serial nature (it was published as a series, before being turned into a book) is evident with every chapter. Especially the first 2/3rds of the novel, each chapter could easily stand alone as a short story. As the story builds and the over-arching narrative starts to come to fruition, the chapters begin to become more reliant upon the previous.

The novel was well-paced, with diverse secondary characters who were relatively well-rounded. Indexing ended with a satisfying climax that opened up more possibilities and complexities for the next episode.

Morgan’s Verdict:

5Star 5 Stars: If urban fantasy and retellings are your jam, you’ll love Indexing.

cover_reflections

Indexing: Reflections

Note: Sequel to Indexing, above.

Genre: Urban Fantasy – Aimed at an adult audience, but not explicit. Teens would enjoy

Less episodic than the first novel, Indexing: Reflections gave us a lot more Sloan–and who doesn’t find villains, especially reformed ones, more fascinating than princesses? But, we also got to travel with Henry as she explored her Ur-myth, the truth behind her tale: red blood on white snow.

In Indexing: Reflections, we learn Sloane’s backstory. Her backstory suited the novel and the set-up but was somehow felt a little… lacking. Although, it could very well be because I found Sloan TOO sympathetic and wanted to fix her story.

All in all, a satisfying sequel, but didn’t quite measure up to the first. I’d read another sequel in a heartbeat though.

Morgan’s Verdict:
4Star 4 Stars: If you wanted to know more about Sloan and the truths behind the myths, this book is for you.
beneathsugarsky_hi

Beneath the Sugar Sky

Technically a novella, Beneath the Sugar Sky is the 3rd installment in McGuire’s  ‘Wayward Children’ series, featuring children who have returned home from faerie lands… and want nothing more than to return.

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy – Not listed as YA, but could easily be considered as such.

Earlier: The first book in this series was mostly set in this world, as a murder mystery. The second story was mostly the backstory of the twin girls, Jack and Jill, and their return to a faerie realm that feels like a cross between Dracula and Frankenstein.

In this one, the daughter of the girl murdered in the first book comes to our world to find her mother, before she’s rewritten out of existence. It’s hard to exist when your mother was wrongly killed before you were born.

Beneath the Sugar Sky is a romp through the different faery realms, with the expected sacrifices (albeit offered on more generous terms than one might expect). From the rational and dark, to the whimsical yet (internally) logical realms, we see the characters in worlds where they fit in far better (or far worse) than they do in reality. This is a series about finding your way back to that place where you truly belong–no matter what it looks like.

Cora, the main character, is new in this book and she goes along with the mission. As a new student, her lack of connection to the other characters translated somewhat to me. I processed the new worlds with her, but we were trying to bring back a character she’d never met, so the urgency was somewhat lost to me. The final world was one in which Cora couldn’t relate, one that seemed intent on mocking Cora, which made the world less real to me. Although, that may have been the intent?

The “boss fight” was reminiscent of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, or at least the version of the Queen that exists in my head.

Overall? A good tale, but I wanted more.

Morgan’s Verdict:

4Star 4 Stars: A solid addition to the series, but a bit less urgency.


Now, for something completely different. A romance novel!

Sherrilyn Kenyon

Sherrilyn Kenyon was the first real romance writer I got into, back when I worked in the coffee shop portion of a Borders (I’m dating myself a bit with that reference…). I’d read a few here and there, but this wasn’t the historical romance of my grandma or the Christian romance I’d borrowed out of curiosity from my church’s little reading room. Her stuff was modern, gritty, and played with mythology – another type of retelling!

These days, Kenyon’s led me down a new path and I’m well into her Science-Fiction Romance Series, “The League” (which has had several publishers and sub-series, so numbering gets tricky). Looking at my kindle last week, I spotted one I’d already bought but didn’t remember reading. I opened it to confirm if I’d read it or not… and then it was 1 am.

51igxbcuy4l-_sy346_

Born of Legend

Genre: Romance (Science Fiction) – Recommended to mature audiences for violence, abuse, and some explicit scenes.

Earlier: In a space-faring setting, assassins consider themselves the moral compass, keeping the politicians in check. But corruption spreads. In the series, most of the male characters are being hunted by authorities, either rightly or wrongly, after some sort of betrayal and abuse. Most of the female characters are just trying to get by and do their jobs–deadly or not–and get drawn into the male lead’s troubles. (Or vice versa, the woman aren’t all legally clean…)

Born of Legend is book 11 or 9 (depends on how you count) of the “The League” and features “Dagger”, the street name of an Andarian royal I loved to hate, back before he was disinherited. Dagger believes he is damned, but when he earns the chance at a new life by saving a boy, he works hard to fit in and earn redemption for his sins. Preferably, without any recognition.

Born of Legend was everything I’ve come to expect from “The League”: space travel, strong female characters, and tortured males.

The biggest downside I had was I couldn’t keep track of all the characters! As book 11 in a romance series, we’ve got 22 people in different couples, plus their families and those we’re setting up for the next romances. And the timeline overlaps with about 3 other books, so those events were mentioned in the background.

I liked Dagger’s redemption. The resolution with those characters I already knew and loved, who’d been SERIOUSLY wronged by Dagger, rang true for me, giving me an ending I could enjoy and respect.

Morgan’s Verdict:

4Star  4 stars: If you’re already reading the series, I wouldn’t skip this one.


 

That’s it for January! Maybe next time I get a chance to read, I’ll look at my backlog instead of the shiny new books.

 

What have you been reading?

Remembering Ursula Le Guin

Remembering Ursula Le Guin

esea-pe-woe

In 7th grade, my English teacher wanted to pick a book in a different genre and see if she could get some of the boys more engaged. (Plus, she knew it was right up my alley.) Thus, Ms Hardt gave me my first introduction to Ursula Le Guin, having our class read A Wizard of Earthsea.

I was already a huge fantasy fan and devoured it in a day. But, because it was a class assignment, I had to reread it, section by section. Studying it and discussing each scene. That’s when I truly recognized how deep the world building was, how integral the central themes were, and how skilled of a writer Le Guin was.

I already knew I wanted to be a writer, I already loved the genre, but “A Wizard of Earthsea” gave words and truth power–literally.

If you knew the ‘true name’ of a person, or object, or creature? You could control it.


When I write, whether it be fiction or not, I strive to use the right word. The one with not just the right definition, but the one with the proper connotations.

When I talk (or message) someone, I strive to use the right words. The ones that will open their ears and make my voice ring true to their ears. The sweet music of “yes, that makes sense. Of course it is that way.”

When I write, I have the idea and the direction of the story in my head,  but I’m looking for the right words, for the right details. The words that ring out in truth and make it such that, “yes, that makes sense. Of course it is that way. The character would have always done that.”

Like tuning an instrument, when the words ring out true, that’s music to my ears.


Thank you Ms Hardt for having us read A Wizard of Earthsea.

Ursula Le Guin, you will be missed.
leguin-1

Ursula Le Guin, sitting in a chair, smiling at the camera

 

#1 Query Corner: “F2P: Free To Play”

Welcome to my new feature!

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Morgan’s Query Corner:

Answering Your Query Quandaries

(Because alliteration!)

NOTE: If you submit your query to me (morgan.s.hazelwood@gmail.com) and you are selected for inclusion: I will give you a high-level review, in-line feedback, and my own draft of your query. If this is your query, feel free to use or ignore as much of the advice and suggestions as you wish.

[Disclaimer: Any query selected for the page will be posted on this website for perpetuity. I am an amateur with no actual accepted queries and a good number of  form rejections. This does not guarantee an agent or even an amazing query, just a new take by someone who’s read The Query Shark archives twice and enjoys playing with queries.]

Overall Impression:

The story sounds like a cute high school romance, with relatable characters and a decent amount of plot.

Overall, pretty solid query. I tweaked it and streamlined it a little. Originally, the focus seemed to be on the contest (making me think of When Dimple Met Rashi….), but the original intro-line helps turn it more into “stand up to ex”, which seems to be where it’s actually going.

If the contest is still a major focus, you need to add it back in to the final paragraph/line. (Should it be texts? Or snap-chats? [Kids these days?!])

The Original:

[my comments are in blue]

Dear [FirstName],

Seventeen-year-old Renee Griffin is an animator and gamer girl who’s spent the last few months getting over the ex-boyfriend who made her feel small and stupid by working on an animated film that symbolizes her own relaunch. [Super long intro sentence! QueryShark recommends <25 words. Let’s see if we can split this up.]

Frustrated by her progress on the film and with a contest deadline looming at the end of the month, Renee takes a break to keep her sister from doing anything too embarrassing in front of the new boy, Bram Singh. Sparks fly between Renee and Bram. Unlike her ex, Bram treats her as an equal when he invites her to play the latest video games. The two connect over a shared sense of alienation, falling into a whirlwind of nightly text messages, online zombie battles, and a surprise New Year’s kiss.

When her ex gets in her face, and the boys of the gamers club mock her animated film, [Renee?] goes on the attack. The spirit Bram loves while they game embarrasses him at school, and Renee thinks she must tone down in order to save her relationship like she did before [OH! This sounds like what the story’s actually about at its core]. Then her ex starts hazing Bram on the lacrosse field, and Renee must speak up or risk losing herself even if it costs her the one person who truly gets her.

F2P: FREE TO PLAY is a contemporary young adult romance, complete at 69,000 words. It will appeal to readers who enjoy stories laced with complicated and believable family dynamics [really? then let’s hint at this in the query], like those of Emery Lord and Jenny Han, but with a techie twist.

SUBMITOR’S NOTE: 

I’m also including my original hook opening, which I think is stronger than the opening I have now, but doesn’t quite fit with the query after a recent revision of the first fifty pages of the book. I really like it though so for reference or inspiration here it is…

Six months ago, gamer Renee Griffith found her voice when she stood up to the ex-boyfriend who objectified her and put down her gameplay. Now, she wants to keep it loud. 

The Revised Query:

Dear [Agent],

Six months ago, gamer Renee Griffith found her voice when she stood up to the ex-boyfriend who objectified her and put down her game-play. Now, she wants to keep it loud. When Renee learns about a competition for animated film creators, she sees it as a chance to [relaunch her life–and (might cut)] prove her ex-boyfriend wrong.

 But with the deadline looming, Renee’s progress grinds towards a halt. Disheartened, she lets her sister talk her into going out. That’s when she meets Bram Singh. Unlike her ex, Bram treats her as an equal when he invites her to play the latest video games. The two connect over a shared sense of alienation, falling into a whirlwind of nightly text messages, online zombie battles, and a surprise New Year’s kiss.

After her ex gets in her face and the boys of the Gamers Club mock her animated film, Renee goes on the attack. Instead of supporting her and the spirit Bram loves while they game, he accuses her of embarrassing him. Then her ex starts hazing Bram on the lacrosse field. Renee must decide if she’d rather risk losing the one person who truly gets her by speaking up or accept a world where you give in, to get by. [or revert the agreeable side-kick she used to be… or cage her voice and sense of justice… Or. Renee must decide if she should keep quiet and change her animation the way the club suggests, or ignore them and Bram’s pride, use her voice to defend her friend, and submit the film she’d always envisioned. ]

F2P: FREE TO PLAY is a contemporary young adult romance, complete at 69,000 words. It should appeal to readers who enjoy stories laced with family dynamics, like those of Emery Lord and Jenny Han, but with a techie twist.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Q1]

[email]
[Twitter]
[phone]

 

After a little conversation with Querier #1, she admitted the story addresses sister-relationships and online bullying of female gamers. So, I took a 2nd stab at the query.

New Revised Query:

 Dear [Agent],

Six months ago, gamer Renee Griffith found her voice when she stood up to the ex-boyfriend who objectified her and joined the online trolls who put down her game-play. Now, she wants to keep it loud. When Renee learns about a competition for animated film creators, she sees it as a chance to prove her harassers wrong.

But with the deadline looming, Renee’s progress grinds towards a halt. Disheartened, she lets her sister, [Sis], talk her into going out, if only to keep [Sis] from humiliating herself. That’s when Renee meets Bram Singh. Unlike her ex, Bram treats her as an equal when he invites her to play the latest video games. The two connect over a shared sense of alienation, falling into a whirlwind of nightly text messages, online zombie battles, and a surprise New Year’s kiss.

After her ex gets in her face and the boys of the Gamers Club mock her animated film, Renee goes on the attack. Instead of supporting her and the spirit Bram loves when she stands up to online trolls, he accuses her of embarrassing him. [To her surprise, it’s Sis who has her back.] Then her ex starts hazing Bram on the lacrosse field. Renee must decide if she’d rather risk losing the one person who truly gets her by speaking up or accept a world where you give in, to get by. [or revert the agreeable side-kick she used to be… or cage her voice and sense of justice… Or. Renee must decide if she should keep quiet and change her animation the way the club suggests, or ignore them and Bram’s pride, use her voice to defend her friend, and submit the film she’d always envisioned. ]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[Q1]

[email]
[Twitter]
[phone]

 


Now, not all of my feedback is going to work for the queryist. They know their story best, but hopefully, it puts them on the right path!


And for the rest of you out there?
Best of luck in the query trenches!

qc1

So You’re In the Editing Doldrums Again? These 5 Sites Can Help

After you’ve written your novel and revised the BLEEP out of it, one thing remains:

To edit your manuscript!

 For those of you who are confused:

Revision worries about the characters, the plot, the setting, and the pacing.
In other words: The Big Picture. 
Editing is all about word flow and grammar.
In other words: The Details.

Here are the top sites I use when editing my novel.

5 Sites That Can Help You Edit Your Manuscript

1. Do you need a checklist to even know where to start?

One of the most useful checklists I’ve found was at theWriteLifeLogo:

It talks about standard grammar mistakes, crutch words, and bad habits.

Now, not all of the things it suggests cutting need to be deleted. Adverbs (often words ending in -ly) and passive voice both have their place, but cutting down on the instances of those things can make your writing stronger.

2. Do you need help replacing your crutch words?

Try your basic, friendly, online thesaurus for help at:

Thesaurus.com

When you’re trying to replace a weak adverb or some passive-voice with a stronger verb, but you can’t think of any? Thesaurus time! (I have to confess, I actually just keep this open on a tab when I’m writing OR editing.)
thesaurus.com

3. Do you need more accurate terms?

Sometimes, the history of a word can help you find a better term. Just look it up on:

Etymology is the study of language. So, this site tells me where the word came from, similar words in different languages, and words that were used for this term in the past.

So…

When you’re looking for a word that doesn’t sound so modern, so common…

Maybe you’re coming up with a name for a different type of magic?

Try looking up a root word related to the concept you’re attempting to convey and see if a historical version of the word will work. I’ve used this for magical methods, city names, and more.

etymonline.com

4 & 5. Do you want to have your prose analyzed?

After you’ve done what you can, it’s time to bring in the hired guns:

The Hemingway App and Grammarly

Confession? I’m cheap.

I use these tools for free, online. Which means, their use is a little more limited. They won’t analyze my entire manuscript, sometimes even a chapter is too long for them–maybe I need shorter chapters?

But, if I copy/paste a section at a time into the HemingwayApp website or into a new Grammarly document, they will both provide me with a rather comprehensive analysis of my writing. Hemmingway: checking for sentence complexity and word choice, Grammarly: checking, unsurprisingly, my grammar.

hemingwayApp

With both of these tools, they can only run their algorithms on your writing, they can’t judge its effectiveness, simply the way it adheres to the rules. Thus, some of the feedback should be ignored. But they do give you a good sense of what might make your sentences better. Plus, they make certain when you violate some grammar or writing guideline, you’re doing it on purpose.


With these 5 sites, you can be pretty sure by the time you’re done, that your polished draft is a clean copy, that is easy to read.

Just recognize they can’t actually make your story good,  you’ve got to do that on your own.

Plotting and Planning for 2018

Most people I know have given up on resolutions. Sweeping declarations of fixing their lives and doing everything they think they should have been doing all along.

Me? I’m an eternal optimist, with what I like to think is a decent realistic bent. I’ve read too many fairy tales to think that happily-ever-after is a permanent state.

So, while I’d love to state a resolution of ‘get an agent, sell a book to a publisher’, I’m going to stick to things I can actually control.

And I think setting goals and working towards them helps you keep from stagnating, to make sure inertia isn’t what’s keeping you from making your dreams a reality.

Last year, I was super ambitious… or I ended up being side-tracked a few times. That doesn’t mean that Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and
Time-bound (SMART) goals are bad. In fact, I plan to use them again.

Without thinking too hard, this year I will:

  1. query novel #1 at least 3 times every other week until I get an agent
    • unless I’m revising it
  2. move forward with my picture book
    • researching picture books, perhaps my word count is in the wrong place?
    • revise it
    • then query it 3 times a month, or until I get an agent
  3. revise at least one of my shelved rough drafts
    • Sequel to Novel #1 or Genderbent Robin Hood
  4. write something NEW during NaNoWriMo
    • half credit if I rewrite something old
  5. keep blogging and decide if vlogging is worth it
  6. try to use  social media better
    • more one-liners on tumbler
    • more consistent posts on twitter
    • instagram at least 1x a week
  7. read an average of 2 books a month,
    • rank them on GoodReads
    • Bonus Points – review them!

And give myself a pass if I get nothing done in March (likely moving) or December (recovering from NaNo + holiday/family obligations).


Did you set any goals?

They don’t have to be year long ones. What are you going to get done this January?

 

2017 Retrospective

2017 Retrospective

2017 was a year unlike any other. For a lot of people, it was scary, stressful, and a struggle to get through. But that’s not all it was.

I may not have ended my year with a signed agent, but I definitely made some forward progress.

I queried 31 agents, attended 2 writing conventions (including my 1st trip to Europe!), finished my second novel, wrote a third novel, and revised my first novel twice, (then edited it twice, cause you kinda got to after revising). I even got an R&R (Revise and resubmit) request from one agent!

Between Balticon and WorldCon: Helsinki, I hit 29 panels, 6 workshops, 2 presentations, 2 book launches, and 2 autograph signings. (Despite mostly having to queue up an hour before each Worldcon panel!) Plus, I met up with/made 3, no, 4 new writing friends in person. 🙂 And that doesn’t include the dozens of new friends I chat with weekly.

That all sounds pretty impressive! But, let’s look at the numbers.

My Writing Goals Last Year

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

By January 12th of last year, I was already starting to slip. But I didn’t give up.

Here are my admittedly mediocre results.

2017 Goals

1st Quarter:

☑ Edit my first novel with editor
 Finish rough draft of my second novel  [minimum 5k a week until done] – Knocked this out quickly!

2nd Quarter:

☒ Edit my second novel [minimum 50 pages a week] — Nope. Didn’t touch it.
☒ Send my second novel to beta readers — Nope.
☒  Write a short story —HaHaHa. Well, did this in October and December, instead.
☑ Attend Balticon

3rd Quarter:

☒ Revise my second novel [Notecards, rip to shreds, rebuild] — Nope
☑ Attend some-other con – Like WORLDCON!

4th Quarter:

☑ Plan my third novel – I did!
☑ NaNoWriMo my third novel [writing 50-75k words] – I finished the rough draft at just over 51k.
☑ Revise my first novel or my second novel as needed
☑ Keep querying? or R&R if requested? – Had FEEDBACK from a reject letter about my opening chapter, with what I believe was a R&R, so I worked on that.

Monthly Goals

■ Post 1 book review on Amazon/GoodReads – Fell short. Overall, I reviewed 5.5 books (the last review didn’t go up until this year) and ranked 25 books.

■ Submit 3 Queries for both my first novel and picture book- Fell short. Overall though, I queried 31 agents, which was only 5 short of my target. If you ignore that I’m combining totals from both books’s queries…


 

Top Lifetime Post

Posted towards the end of 2016, this post only had 53 views that year, but it became a sleeper hit and is now the main reason people who aren’t already following me find my blog. In 2017, it had 1,092 views!

In fact, I submitted an edited version of that blog post to the “Insecure Writers Group” for their essay anthology and it was selected! Becoming the first essay in the anthology and my first published work. (Free on Kindle!)

My Top 10 Posts of 2017


My Top 3 Posts of 2016


My Top 3 Posts of 2015


 

Social Media Stats

I like stats and tracking progress, so here are my numbers for 2017. I tried to be both engaged and engaging, but outside of Facebook, I may have been more of a creator than a consumer of content.

(Click HERE to answer 3 multiple choice questions on what you’d like to see more/less of in this blog!)

Followers

First off, I worked on getting more followers for my twitter and FB Page. Then, I started my own Youtube channel! Between all my social media accounts, I added 3,099 followers, with over 2/3rds being twitter followers.

The FB groups I run are where most of my engagement is, though. So, if I want more of my followers on twitter to even see my posts, I should probably post there, and actually reply/retweet people’s posts a little more regularly.

followersUpdate

Content

This year I continued to keep my streak of blogging at least once a week. Once I started the vlog, I added to it at a weekly rate as well. My Goodreads stats are a bit deceptive as I added a bunch of books I’d read in years gone past when I created my account last year.

Some thoughts: I don’t see me posting here on the blog more often unless it’s quotes or images, but I should post to Instagram at least once a week. And if I’m going to use Pinterest, it would make sense to make mood boards for all my Works-In-Progress. Both for myself, my beta-readers, and my future fans! 😉

postStats

Account Break Down

In Conclusion

I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped.

Some of that was external. People who are reading your work out of the kindness of their hearts and working around their own schedules aren’t necessarily going to adhere to your schedule.  (Speaking of… I’ve been sitting on a 2 chapter critique since OCTOBER. Bad Morgan!)

Some of the was consequences of decisions.

  • I had LASIK in May, which impacted the amount of time I could read/etc.
  • In the fall/early winter, I applied for and got a new job. That required prep time, reviewing computer languages I hadn’t played with in 6 years, and some stress.
  • I’m running 2 Facebook PitchWars support groups and administering another SFF writer’s group. That takes time, energy, and spoons.
  • I’ve scheduled social time with friends Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights. Add in my blog post writing and uploading Wednesday nights and full weekend social schedule and I’m simply not making my writing a priority. Most of the social stuff is low key, not more than dinner and TV time, but it’s still a major time chunk. I love my friends and family, but I might have to talk with them about changing this schedule.

And some of it was clear, outright laziness. Binge watching the West Wing and cheesy Christmas Movies. Spending hours staring at facebook…

However…

I DID do a lot of writing, more revising on my first novel than anticipated, started a vlog, critiqued novels for friends and family, and read an average of more than 2 novels/novella’s a month. I queried my first novel on average more than twice a month and my Picture Book 4 times.

I may have fallen short, but you know what Les Brown says about that?

222r9n

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown [Image of Milky Way by A. Fujii, NASA]


How well did you do on your goals?

Had you given up on them in January, did you rock the BLEEP out of them, or did you do okay but think you might do better with concrete, SMART goals?