500 Blog Posts Later…

On April 22nd of 2015, the previously unheard of, Morgan Hazelwood, otherwise known as ‘me’, began blogging.

Nearly six years later, I’m still at it, and today, I’m celebrating my 500th blog post.

Thank you all for reading, for making sure I’m not shouting into the void. If you’ve been around for a while, you might know some of this, but for the rest of you, stay tuned to read about my blogging journey.

Why I Started Blogging

Back in 2015, I’d finished drafting my first full length manuscript. It wasn’t ready to be queried, or published at all. But, it was done.

And, one of the pieces of advice I kept seeing was to set up an author website. It didn’t need to be a blog, but social media platforms rise and fall, whereas a website is something that you maintain, you control, and is a way of putting your best face forward.

I’ve done web development professionally, but I knew I wanted my time at home to be spent focused on my writing, not on futzing with the backend of my website. WordPress, at the time, was free and had all the features I was interested in.

I looked at author websites and decided what I liked best.

I created an ‘about’ page, a ‘contact’ page… but then what? I didn’t want an empty website just aggrandizing myself. Of course, not being published, I didn’t have a page about where to buy my stuff.

So, I decided I’d write a few blog posts. Not regularly, of course not! My writing time was for my NOVELS, you see. But, I couldn’t just leave the site empty.

When I Caught the Blogging Bug

My first ‘real’ blogpost wasn’t until May 1st. I figured I’d post about my writing experience, the questions my friends and family had asked me. And then, May 26th, I decided to attend Balticon 49, the day before the local science-fiction and fantasy convention began. Luckily, my dad had already intended to go and offered up crash space, so all it cost me was some food and the price of a badge.

I’d attended conventions before, but now that I was a writer, I wanted to do research. Before May of 2015, I believe I’d attended maybe five panels in my life, despite attending in the ballpark of 20 conventions. Many as a child, a few as a college student. And I’d begun working as staff at a local anime convention. But, not actually attending anything.

That first year, I hit 17 panels, but wrote only eight blog posts about the year, covering 15 of the panels and workshops.

I kept up my near weekly blogging until that September, when my now-ex-husband and I separated and I started a new job. And then I moved. I still blogged at least once a month, mostly 2-3 times a month. And I have yet to miss a week since February 25th 2016. Every Thursday, like clockwork, you could find my blog posts.

A year later, I started turning my blog posts into vlog posts. As I’ve mentioned before, just because I *hate* email and would rather get my writing tips in a blog conglomerator, called an RSS feed, doesn’t mean I don’t understand that other ways work better for other people. And, if by recording my talking head and sharing the article in an auditory manner helped me reach more people, I was willing to add that time to my process…

Why I Keep Blogging

I can’t say that blogging never gets in the way of my writing. Because of the self-imposed deadline, I often — no. I DO prioritize the blog over my own fiction writing.

But why? You ask.

There are always a multitude of reasons someone does a thing. For me, let’s see…

  1. It’s a way to track — and to share my journey to becoming a published author (and hopefully, one day, beyond)
  2. It’s a way to review my panel notes and put them in a form that makes the take-aways obvious to me.
  3. It’s a way to share my panel notes to those who cannot or prefer not to attend writing panels (panels aren’t the best way for many people to absorb information)
  4. It’s a way to give back to the community — with query corners, author spotlights (well, maybe more effective once I become a famous author, but you’ve gotta start somewhere), writing tips, and writerly musings
  5. It keeps me focused on my own writing. When you talk about your writing every week, it’s hard to forget your dream. It stops me from deprioritizing it.
  6. Can I say, momentum? I hate breaking a streak! Once I’d gone 3 months without missing a Thursday, it became harder to tell myself to take a week off. If I’d managed to keep blogging when things were harder, what’s my excuse now? And, that’s carried over to my videos. Since I started Vlogging in 2017, I’ve never missed a week there.

Should You Start/Continue Blogging?

Note: if you write non-fiction — being an established expert and having a strong following is seen as a positive. For fiction writers, it can be a bonus, but it’s not required.

If you enjoy writing blog posts — or at least, find some satisfaction out of it, do it. Otherwise, you can skip it.

You don’t have to write essays. You can share pictures, quotes, whatever content makes you happy, as long as you keep a consistent tone/theme.

My Blogging Stats!

I’ve published 113 write-ups of convention panels and conventions themselves, 38 Query Corners, 66 Author Spotlights, 11 weeks in review. I’ve done 21 posts about the querying process. There have been 4 stories and 6 posts of my poetry, although I’m saving first publication rights for most of those, so you don’t see a lot. 39 musings that I called “essays”.

Only 3 guests posts. I’ve realized I don’t like having another voice on my page in ways not tightly controlled. I’ve posted 11 times about #PitchWars and 27 times about NaNoWriMo.

Confession: 20 of my 500 posts were just the reshare of the video version, before I started linking the vlog post IN the blog post.

My all time stats are: 42,399 views and 1,822 comments. My best day was 155 views.

But, I do promote my posts as “Writing Tips and Writerly Musings.” Hopefully, it will encourage you to learn that, including the convention panels, 244 blog posts, or nearly half of mine, have been specifically about the writing process.

I’m pretty sure that means I’m staying on topic.

My Most Popular Posts!

At 2,986 lifetime views, more than 8 times more popular than any other post is: 10 Questions To Ask Your Beta-Reader

Next up? So You’ve Decided To Write A Novel — Here Are 7 Tips To Get Started with 366 views.

Top 10 Tricks For Writing A Better Query Letter comes in third at 360 views.

Filling out the top 10 are:

I Can’t Read My Own Writing

The 5 Stages of a #PitchWars Hopeful

5 Big Things I’ve Learned About Editing

Agents and Editors Share — Pitches We’re Sick Of

Introduction to Hopepunk

“Coming of Age” versus YA

Morgan’s Complete Guide For Attending A Convention

My Future Plans

I do like to remind myself that the blog (and the vlog (and the podcast)), exist to support my writing and not the other way around. Although, my blog and the tips I share here have helped me get a couple speaking gigs, and I wouldn’t say no to more.

I’m not sure that I will continue to hit so many convention panels, though, because there’s only so many new panels or fresh takes out there. Plus, I’ve been pulled in to start working more conventions, so it’s harder to attend them.

But? I’d like to keep blogging for the foreseeable future.


Have you ever blogged or vlogged? Have you thought about it?

If you do, what do you like about it. If you don’t, or stopped, what’s stopping you from picking it back up?

Morgan’s 2021 Resolutions

Now that we’re firmly into January, it’s time to determine what my goals for the year are.

Last year was intended to be a year of querying/submitting, revision, and networking.

Thusly, I listed my goals:

  1. Revising
  2. Querying and submitting
  3. Blogging/Vlogging
  4. Reading
  5. Writing
  6. Beta-reading
  7. Conventions

As I shared last week, I did great on everything on that list — except my revisions and querying — you know, the parts of the list that actually get me closer to publication. Does anyone else see the problem here?

This year? This year my focus is on writing, revisions, and querying/submitting.

As always, I like to set SMART goals –

  • Specific – you’ll see numbers and dates!
  • Measurable – you’ll still see numbers and dates
  • Achievable – I set goals for things I have influence over. I’m aiming for an agent, getting something published, but unless I self-pub, I have no control over that.
  • Relevant – I’m keeping my exercise goals and healthy eating off this post. These are all about my writing, the relevance should be clear.
  • Time-sensitive – Obviously, these are intended to be completed in 2021, but some items may have specific dates associated.

So? Let’s take last year’s list and put it in a new priority order.

Morgan, a long-haired brunette, is laying on a carpet, legs in slippers kicked up behind her, writing in a notebook.

Behind her is a table and a bookshelf.

1. Writing

Finish my NaNoWriMo space fantasy! Preferably by April. At least the rough draft.

I’m not sure if I want to do OctPoWriMo again — writing a poem a day for all of October. I skipped it last year. But, I really like participating in NaNoWriMo — writing 50,000 words in November. If I’m really stumped in November, I’ll rebel and revise either 5 shorts or a full manuscript. But, knowing me, I’ll probably make new words.

2. Revising

I managed last year’s goals to finish my revisions before Balticon! And then was query-shy in the wake of the 2020 querying climate. And I managed to at least edit my middle grade fantasy.

Remembering, of course, that rewriting IS writing, this makes revision half of my writing goals. But? The final goal is publication and I’ve got 4 manuscripts, 21+ short stories, and 30+ poems just waiting for a home.

So much to polish!

This year’s goals? Revise three of the short stories I drafted during my NaNo-Of-Shorts back in 2019.


3. Querying & Submitting

I’ve talked a lot about the differences between querying and submitting, but basically — one is to get an agent to sell your book, and one is to publishers to buy your stories. Typically, writers submit their own short stories, but publishers usually want agents to submit full length manuscripts.

Querying is a intro-letter and first chapter or so that you send to a literary agent. Once you have an agent, they often make you do revisions, before submitting your work to a publishing house.

Submitting a manuscript/short story/poem is what you can do to any editor/publisher who is open to it: publishers (who are open to unagented work), literary magazines, anthologies, etc.

This year, for my short stories and poetry, I’m going to try to actively submit at least 6 short stories to at least 3 markets each markets. Plus? At least the first round of the submissions needs to be by March (for the stories that are already prepped). And query my YA fantasy 3 times a month, unless revising.


4. Blogging/Vlogging/Podcast

You are my supporters, my community, my friends. You cheer me on and watch me learn and grow. As always, blogging helps keep me out there, keeps me accountable, and gives me a way to give back to the community.

Plus? I haven’t missed a week on my blog since February of 2016 (although, I have done reruns) nor a vlog-post since I started vlogging on June 27, 2017. Since we all know how much I hate ending a streak, I’m going to keep at it. You’ll be seeing my a new blog/vlog every Thursday with writing tips or writerly musings.

I’ve also started a podcast and weekly live-stream. I plan on taking a week or so off between seasons, and no more than one live-stream off a quarter (unless double-booked with a convention).

Morgan taking a selfie while sitting near the front of a room full of chairs. (She's at a writing panel at a convention)

5. Conventions | Writer Groups

My goals here are: to panel at 3+ conventions, 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..

Ravencon pushed out my panelists dates from last year to this, I’m staff and panelist for Balticon again (May), and — if everything works out — WorldCon (August) in Washington DC. My panels were well received last year, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be accepted back. (All of my panels were topics from this blog that I feel I can talk competently on, where my unpublished perspective won’t be a detriment to my authority on the subject).

Plus, I’m running social media for Balticon’s parent group. So… there’s another time suck!

What does being on panels net me? Why do I want to do this?

First, it’s a greater reach for my blog/vlog/podcast that’s supposed to lead to a larger audience when I do get published. It’s a great way to network and meet more writers and readers who like the same stuff I do. Plus, a chance to talk about all the stuff I obsess over on my blog and on my vlog in person with actual people.

But how does attending conventions count as a writing goal? Isn’t it just fun? Or part of your social media addiction?

Well, if you’ve been following my blog, you’ve probably noticed that over half the content is actually write ups from notes at convention panels! I attend the panels, for those who can’t (or don’t). Also? My sister teases me that I act like a teacher, trying to get her recertification credits, all in one weekend.

And? Well, I talked about it in my post on attending conventions, but, of course, there’s the networking aspect. The science-fiction and fantasy conventions I prefer are full of readers, writers, and even some publishers and agents!

Quote on a grey board on a brown shelf with books behind it.
“And to think, some of life’s best stories haven’t even begun”

6. Reading

Thanks to this year being what it was, I managed to read 46 books, with 35 of them being physical and nearly all of the physical books being from the pile that moved into the house with me.

So? I’m upping my goal from last year of reading 26 books – to 36 books! Three a month is less than I’ve achieved the last couple years. Plus, half of them should be physical and already on my to-read bookcase.

7. Beta Readers

This year, again, I’m going to try not to beta-read more than 3 full manuscripts for others.

I will need the short stories I’m preparing for publication beta read. As always, I like to keep my beta reader pool to no more than 8 readers, typically from different backgrounds. I usually give them separate copies, so that their feedback won’t influence each other.

I’m still a contributing editor to The Oddville Press, an online literary magazine of odd, but not really fantastical tales.


In Summary

This year, I’m starting off with my focus on drafting, not my usual revision, but plan to do a lot of querying and submitting. The middle of my year will be rather convention heavy, but by October/November, I should be back in the writer’s seat. Plus, I’ll be reading and blogging and vlogging and podcasting throughout the year.

Except December. I’m not a writer in December — everyone needs a chance to breath.

We’ll have to wait until next January to see if I had 2021 foresight.


What does your plan look like for 2021

Did you build in flexibility?

And, how SMART are your goals?


See my previous years resolutions and reflections:
2017 Resolutions | 2017 Retrospective
2018 Resolutions | 2018 Retrospective
2019 Resolutions | 2019 Retrospective

2020 Resolutions | 2020 Retrospective

10 k Views in 2020

What a huge milestone for my niche, little writing blog.

Thank you all so much, I couldn’t have done it without you. Literally.

Thanks for your views, your shares, and — most of all — your support

I’ll have all the stats and break down in January – so stay tuned if you like that sort of thing.

Five Years Of Blogging

For a lady who started blogging, just to keep her website from looking empty, after blogging had already peaked and was on its way out… here I am, 5 years later.


Back in April of 2015, I’d written my first complete manuscript, I’d sent it off to beta-readers, and revised it. And, following all the online advice, I set up a website as a landing page for agents, so I’d look like I hadn’t just popped into existence when my manuscript was published.

But, I didn’t want my website to look like a thing created and forgotten. So, I made a blogpost or two, just to make it look like I was still active online.

That was five years ago.

Five years ago, I never imagined that I’d still be both:

a – Unpublished and

b – Still Writing

I figured I’d be one or the other. In fact, I rather clearly remember telling my mom that I was gonna do one more pass of revisions after the beta-readers, then query for a year. If nothing, then I’d self-publish.

Ah, Morgan, you were so young, so certain that you could keep getting rejection letters without trying to ‘fix’ your manuscript.

That beloved manuscript has been through two rounds of queries, and is in the final stretch of its latest revisions, and has been joined by 3 other rough drafts, a couple dozen short-stories, and an annual month’s worth of poems.

As I said, I got into blogging after blogging had peaked, when everyone was moving to facebook or youtube, then snapchat, then Tik-Tok.

But, I’m a writer, I’m a novelist, I’m a pretty-wordy lady. The blog really is the best format for me, (and the now-regular vlog. I really do have an issue leaving a social media empty).

Obviously, no one would have predicted the spring of 2020 would look like this. But, one can only dwell and obsess for so long. In a move that surprises no one, I’m spending, (at least today), looking forward. Creating dreams and goals and plans to reach them. And here’s one, I say to you now: I plan to be published, one way or another, before I hit my ten-year anniversary.

I try to keep this blog partially educational, sometimes celebratory, always honest with a peek into my writing process — and progress (or lack thereof).

Thanks for joining me on this adventure. I’m not sure where the next five years will take us, but I’m excited to find out.

Morgan’s 2020 Resolutions

As January firmly establishes itself, I’m finally ready to talk about what 2020 is going to look like for me.

Last year was intended to be a year of reading, revision, and reflection.

Thusly, I listed my goals:

  1. Blogging/Vlogging
  2. Reading
  3. Revising
  4. Querying
  5. Beta-reading
  6. Conventions
  7. Writing

As I shared last week, I did great on everything on that list — except my revisions and querying — you know, the parts of the list that actually get me closer to publication. Does anyone else see the problem here?

This year? This year my focus is on revisions and querying/submitting.

As always, I like to set SMART goals –

  • Specific – you’ll see numbers and dates!
  • Measurable – you’ll still see numbers and dates
  • Achievable – I set goals for things I have influence over. I’m aiming for an agent, getting something published, but unless I self-pub, I have no control over that.
  • Relevant – I’m keeping my exercise goals and healthy eating off this post. These are all about my writing, the relevance should be clear.
  • Time-sensitive – Obviously, these are intended to be completed in 2020, but some items may have specific dates associated.

So? Let’s take last year’s list and put it in a new priority order.

Morgan, a long-haired brunette, is laying on a carpet, legs in slippers kicked up behind her, writing in a notebook.

Behind her is a table and a bookshelf.

1. Revising

Last year’s goal of revising 3 full manuscripts was… ambitious. I clearly was thinking more about what it takes for me to edit (clean up a draft) than about what it takes to get feedback from others, integrate it, and polish the draft till it comes out in my voice.

The manuscript I had ready for querying last year is in the middle of revisions with my wonderful mentor. But? The mentorship officially ended last April, and, although she generously volunteered to keep at it with me, she has paying work that, of course, comes first. So? We’re working through my novel 30 pages at a time.

My hope is to have the revisions done by the end of May, when I hit Balticon. But, life happens. So, what can I do to speed up the process on my end? Make sure that the next 30 page chunk is as ready to go as I can make it before I get feedback from the previous section.

I’m cutting a secondary character’s role in the last 3rd of the journey, and changing the nature of the last leg of the journey quite a bit, so I already know a large part of the plotting changes. Plus, my mentor keeps reminding me to add visuals. As I’ve said before, I worry about what’s in the character’s head and the action. I forget people want to see the world itself. So, that’s my revision priority.

But, of course, there’s going to be some downtime.

To fill that in, I’ve been nudging my alpha reader who has my middle-grade contemporary fantasy (the school play story) and should hear back in the next week or so.

Also? Last year also included writing some short stories and some poetry. Between revising my middle-grade story and getting those shorts and poetry ready for publication, I’ve got a lot to work on.


2. Querying & Submitting

If you haven’t tried to get your work published before, this item might seem confusing. What’s the difference?

Querying is a intro-letter and first chapter or so that you send to a literary agent. Once you have an agent, they often make you do revisions, before submitting your work to a publishing house.

Why do you need an agent? There are many publishing houses that do not accept unagented work. Agents understand what your contract should look like and what is negotiable. Plus? The agent’s job is to know the market — and thus know what your book needs in order to best sell it — and to whom. Typically, you query 5-10 agents at a time.

Submitting a manuscript/short story/poem is what you can do to any editor/publisher who is open to it: publishers (who are open to unagented work), literary magazines, anthologies, etc.

When you’re sending a cover letter and your story to the place that will actually print/publish the piece, it’s called a submission. Typically, submissions are exclusive (unless the guidelines state otherwise), so you have to wait to hear back before you can send to another publisher.

This year, for my short stories and poetry, I’m going to try to get at least 5 stories ready for publication and submit them to at least 10 markets. At least half of those submissions should be before July, just to make sure I don’t forget to put myself out there.


3. Blogging/Vlogging

With you, I’m finding an audience and, I hope, creating a community. You are the people whose queries I help polish as you look for an agent, whose books I add to my massive to-read pile, the people I feature in my Author Spotlights. Blogging puts me out there, keeps me accountable, and gives me a way to give back to the community.

Plus? I haven’t missed a week on my blog since February of 2016 (although, I have done reruns) nor a vlog-post since I started vlogging on June 27, 2017. So? I’d hate to break my posting streak! Thus, I’ll continue putting out a new blog/vlog every Thursday with writing tips or writerly musings.

I’m already off to a great start with this, but when I have them lined up, I’ll also be sharing Author Spotlights or Query Corners on Tuesdays.

I’m thinking of adding some Authortube videos of my massive to-read pile, or maybe an occasional brief weekly check-in since those were popular during NaNo. I just need to find a time that works every week for those, so I can schedule them in advance and make them interactive.

Quote on a grey board on a brown shelf with books behind it.
“And to think, some of life’s best stories haven’t even begun”

4. Reading

I did great on this one last year, but I’m not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth. I had a lot of travel, and managed to hit 41 books, but there’s no guarantee this year will as generous. I even managed to read a decent amount of physical books — but a lot of those were new or re-reads. Not as many from my to-read pile as I’d like to admit.

So? I’m keeping my goal from last year of reading 26 books – a little more than two a month. This time? At least 10 of them should be physical and ALREADY on my bookshelf.

So far? I finished a short story collection I bought over the holidays AND read a book that’s been with me since before I moved. Not a bad start!

5. Writing

Yet again, writing is so far down my list!

I can hear your thoughts, your concerns. What’s wrong, Morgan? I thought this was your writing blog. Why isn’t this more writing focused? Do you want to be a blogger/vlogger more than a writer?

Well, first? Rewriting IS writing, and revisions are tops on my list. The goal is publication and I’ve got 4 manuscripts, 21+ short stories, and 30+ poems just waiting for a home.

More writing right now just means a larger backlog of things to be polished.

But! Never fear, I will be doing OctPoWriMo again — writing a poem a day for all of October. And then NaNoWriMo — writing 50,000 words in November. If I’m really stumped in November, I’ll rebel and revise either 5 shorts or a full manuscript. But, knowing me, I’ll probably make new words.

6. Beta Readers

I’ll be reaching out to beta readers as I wrap up my revisions on my middle grade novel, hopefully before August. Last year’s goals of having revisions of two different manuscripts done by May AND July were unrealistic.

As always, I like to keep my beta reader pool to no more than 8 readers, typically from different backgrounds. I usually give them separate copies, so that their feedback won’t influence each other.

I’m considering joining a local critique group and feel that short stories work much better in those venues than a full manuscript. Especially since I’m more interested in feedback on my pacing and characterization than the chapter itself. I guess it’s arrogance, but I think I know where my problem points lay.

On the flip-side, I’m now a contributing editor to The Oddville Press, an online literary magazine of odd, but not really fantastical tales. I’m also a regular beta-reader for my dad (who’s retired from a day job and enjoys filling my inbox). Not to mention, I have a few critique partners, and writer friends who have been known to reach out for feedback. I will try not to commit to more than 3 full length betas this year.

Morgan taking a selfie while sitting near the front of a room full of chairs. (She's at a writing panel at a convention)

7. Conventions

Actually, maybe I should have changed the name of this goal. This should be all the in-person writing goals. I aim to attend 6+ open mic nights, 4+ monthly writer meetings, try a critique group, and 3 NaNoWriMo events (kickoff, 1 write in, and the all-nighter till 11pm). Plus? Two+ conventions.

I intend to hit Balticon again (May) and — if everything works out — WorldCon (August) in New Zealand (!!). I submitted to be a panelist at Balticon again… and this time was accepted! And? I think they approved the panels I suggested (topics from this blog that I feel I can talk competently on, and that my unpublished perspective won’t be a detriment to my authority on the subject).

How do I know they approved them? They recruited me to be on their Programming team! (Apparently, after attending nearly 30 panels a year for the last 5 years, they suspected I might have opinions about what makes a good panel and who are the good panelists.) So, that’s another time commitment.

What does being on panels net me? Why do I want to do this?

First, it’s a greater reach for my blog and vlog. Plus, a larger audience when I do get published. Hopefully, a way to make more friends and supporters. Plus, a chance to talk about all the stuff I obsess over on my blog and on my vlog in person with actual people.

But how does attending conventions count as a writing goal? Isn’t it just fun? Or part of your social media addiction?

Well, if you’ve been following my blog, you’ve probably noticed that over half the content is actually write ups from notes at convention panels! I attend the panels, for those who can’t (or don’t). Also? My sister teases me that I act like a teacher, trying to get her recertification credits, all in one weekend.

And? Well, I talked about it in my post on attending conventions, but, of course, there’s the networking aspect. The science-fiction and fantasy conventions I prefer are full of readers, writers, and even some publishers and agents!


In Summary

As is becoming my trend, the first part of my year will be focused on revisions, the middle on conventions, and the end on writing. Plus, I’ll be reading and blogging and vlogging throughout the year.

Except December. I’m not a writer in December — everyone needs a chance to breath.

We’ll have to wait until next January to see if I had 2020 foresight.


What does your plan look like for 2020

Did you build in flexibility?

And, how SMART are your goals?


See my previous years resolutions and reflections:
2017 Resolutions | 2017 Retrospective
2018 Resolutions | 2018 Retrospective
2019 Resolutions | 2019 Retrospective