Six Years!!! And what years they have been... So much writing, SO much reading, SO much agonizing over putting my thoughts into words, the ups and downs, ins and outs... Watching the hit counter go zig-zagging its way across the screen, cheering for each day that topped 100, and wondering where I went wrong when days would go by with no hits at all...
But through it all, you have supported me! Thank you! Let's celebrate with a retrospective look at some of the stats I've garnered over the last year! And then, afterward, we'll be looking ahead at what's to come for this blog!
A LOOK BACK
Total Views in 2018: 17,325
Total Posts in 2018: 82
--18 Reader's Reviews
Gained 50 Blogger Followers!
This was an unexpected surprise to discover at the end of this year! I had been sitting at 48 followers for so long I suppose I wondered if anybody even USED the little blue button anymore... Looks like they do! What fun!
700th Post--Flash Fiction #16
This was a fun experimental series that I enjoyed putting together, and it turns out, marks my 700th post on this blog! This installment, in particular, was very intriguing when I first saw it, but it took a considerable amount of time and really several failed attempts before I landed on a storyline I was happy with. I really wanted to do something with "Rabbit's" apparent omniscience, but couldn't figure out a decent action/breakout scene to feature it in the limited amount of time I gave myself. So there it is, in all its glory!
Finished "The Clan of Outcasts"
Another situation that I think was a bigger deal for me. Don't get me wrong, it started out great and I think a lot of people were excited, some even communicated their excitement to me... But the longer it went, the more it felt like the feedback sort of waned. But, by jingo, I finished it in grand style! It was fun to write a RPG-style story... if anybody feels like adapting it for a playable tabletop campaign, just let me know! I think there's plenty of potential there, with the diverse archetypes and the myriad ways things can go very wrong or very right!
Started and completed an original fairy tale re-telling: "The Dragon's Mark"
Huzzah! I've finally finished another one! It was originally going to be an anthology submission. The concept started with "Cinderella WITH DRAGONS" and that was it. I had a few ideas at first, and enlisted the assistance of a writer friend (Thanks Raven!) to help me decide which one, and to brainstorm how to make it work... and in the process of discussing with her, I remembered that I actually had a story that included a dragon and an ancient artifact, that could possibly work its way into the Cinderella fairytale--and it did! It was fun to set it in the Mediterranean region, rather different from the "orthodox" tendency to choose more Western Europe places like England or France. About halfway through it, I was just days away from the deadline and closing in on the word count limit, so I quickly decided that I wasn't going to submit it after all, but I was still going to finish it! And now you all can enjoy it on my blog or on Wattpad!
"Heartsong" accepted and published in an anthology
This was fun! After participating in two other anthologies, I had such a great experience that when the opportunity came up to submit to another one, I immediately checked through my stock of short stories to decide which one fit the theme that I would begin polishing. That ended up being "Heartsong", another mermaid-themed story that explored more of the "magical singing voice" concept that I invented for Ylaine in "Princess of Undersea." The way a "heartsong" works is this: Every living creature has a "heartsong" that is basically their innermost psyche, a musical interpretation of their personality, proclivity, and thought processes. A natural conclusion of this is that two creatures with complementing heartsongs will be drawn to one another. Now, a siren can hear the heartsongs of other beings, and yet only they have the ability to reproduce the heartsong they hear. When they are singing along with a creature's heartsong, the creature in question is immediately attracted to the siren. Once this connection happens, the siren then has the ability to change the heartsong ever so slightly, gaining control over the creature and bending it to her will. In my story, one siren is in the middle of drowning a victim when a second person interrupts and tries to save the intended victim. The siren cannot switch songs, so the first person survives, but when she tries to sing the heartsong of the rescuer--she cannot. The notes just won't come. She takes him prisoner until she can figure out why this happens. If you want to read the full story, you can find it in the anthology "Cracks In The Tapestry."
100th Reader's Review--Painter Place by Pamela Poole
Honestly, I think this was a bigger deal for me than it was for anyone else. I had been saving this book for my hundredth review ever since I downloaded it a while back. I had high hopes of the confetti-and-balloons type, but as it turned out, review #100 came and went relatively quietly... Here's hoping #200 fares better!
Most Popular Reader's Review: The Secret King: Letháo by Dawn Chapman
Not 100% the best book I read all year (beat out just barely by just a few others!) but I think this highlights the importance of sharing, and the key to making blog reviews worthwhile. When the author has a strong online presence, a simple review like this one can be shared, re-shared, and spread far and wide, into multiple networks that I personally don't have access to. When it's a type that relates to other books I read, I can include the title in my "Further Reading" section on other reviews, netting it even more visibility here on my blog. Thanks to all that sharing and social media presence, this review earns its slot in my Top-10-All-Time-Viewed posts, even beating out posts from the very beginning of my blog!
Reader's Reviews with +100 Views: Charon Unguarded by A. H. Johnstone, What We've Unlearned by The Writerpunk Press Group, The Secret King: Letháo by Dawn Chapman, DreamtimeDragons by The Dreamtime Fantasy Authors, and Chasing Rabbits by Erin Bedford
These books were so much fun! I'm glad they got so many views--it was worth it! Of course, the one with the most views I've already mentioned: The Secret King: Letháo was one of a couple space operas I read early in the year. It felt like reading Asimov, honestly! If Asimov decided that he was going to forgo hard sci-fi and cyberpunk for a host of deep fantasy twists, that is!
Reader's Reviews with +80 Views: Jacq of Spades and The Alcatraz Coup by Patricia Loofbourrow, Do You Trust Me? by Kelly Blanchard, and Amster Damned by Nils Visser
And one of those (Amster Damned) is only recently posted! I loved the time-travel-plus-steampunk-plus-foreign-slang Visser uses; his characters are always successfully charming!
Two of the books listed above are from the same series: The Alcatraz Coup is a prequel to Jacq of Spades, which is the first book in the Red Dog Conspiracy Series, and it is wonderful! I love good wordplay, and this series is full of it! The setting is called Bridges, it's ruled by four crime families battling for supremacy: The Spadros family, the Harts, the Clubbs, and the Diamonds. Each book is named after a card value: Jacq of Spades, Queen of Diamonds, King of Hearts, Ace of Spades--you see where I'm going with this?
Even an "Alcatraz Coup" is a move in the game of Bridge... And the steampunk neo-noir style is at once enthralling and intriguing!
Last one to mention is Do You Trust Me?, the fourth book in the Chronicles of Lorrek series that started on Wattpad for at least the first two, and the series just exploded after that! This one was a sort of "backdoor prequel" as it gave glimpses into what happened before the start of the series, and it filled in gaps while remaining interesting and engaging in the present, losing none of the momentum for the characters!
Completed The AmazonTriangle--102K words and I am finally done with it! The Amazon Triangle currently holds the record for "Longest Finished Manuscript"... the operative word being Finished. If I ever get to the end of "The Last Inkweaver" it's going to beat that record all to shreds... I left 102K in the dust a long time ago on that one, and I'm still not even done!
+100K words on The Last Inkweaver--Yep, that's something I achieved this year! Considering that the whole thing (Plus all the "Tales of the Inkweaver" I tossed in) came to around (or maybe just under) 100K in the first draft... the fact that I'm now over 120K with 4-5 chapters remaining is nothing short of miraculous! Who knew there was that much still to be told in this story?
2 short stories published in anthologies this year: Yes, it finally happened!Facing a dearth of technical difficulties (and unforeseen life changes on the part of our editor, the poor woman!) DROWNED IN MOONLIGHT finally released in the spring, and in it is my short story "The Starborn Legacy"! The story itself is a combination of the last two installments of a serial story I wrote for my second-ever NaNoWriMo--which was itself a combination of all the Suggestion Box lists I had garnered from my first attempt at running that series on my blog!
"The Starborn Legacy" focuses on a teenage girl living in a faraway space colony, long after Earth had been abandoned and forgotten. She's been trying to get closer to her mother, to reach through the anger and the bitterness against her own mother, the girl's grandmother--only to find out that her grandmother was the legendary space explorer who maintained the continued existence of Earth, moreover claiming that it was still inhabited by some humans who had found their way back. But before this young girl can convince her paranoid mother to let her follow in her grandmother's footsteps... people in the colony start dropping dead, the mother included, and it's a race to figure out why.
The second story was the one I mentioned earlier, "Heartsong" in CRACKS IN THE TAPESTRY.
Wattpad Stories Added: (*Fanfictions)
Next-Generation Grimm*--Two girls, both Grimms; one raised by the Royal Family, the other by Wesen. A desperate hunt for a mysterious key brings them together.
Keep Portland Grimm*--The Winchesters come to Portland in search of a girl in danger--what they get is far more than any of them bargained for!
Alice's Adventures in Storybrooke*--What if Alice and the others really did enter Storybrooke? What would Regina do to keep Jafar from taking over the town?
Read Between The Lines*--An abandoned hiker, a light-fingered hotel maid, a sudden and reluctant bride... What strange malady is afflicting Portland, and can Nick find the cause before he becomes the next victim?
Fair Trade*--Nick and Juliette finally get the chance to plan their wedding and focus on a future together... But old enemies desire to "rewrite" the Grimm's "happily ever after."
The Sound of An Echo*--Percy encounters a Half-Blood camper with a strange ability... Then discovers that their fates are tied together in a quest to save the world--again!
The Glow--In an alternate world where a person's heart literally glows when they meet their soul mate, Jessica is nearing her thirties and she hasn't ever "Glowed"... part of her wonders if she ever will.
The Misfortune Cookie--An innocent night out to a Chinese Art Gala turns into a race against a terrorist group to find a bomb set to destroy the city.
A Writer's Tale: The Series: The Dragon's Quest, The Commander's Courage (Coming Soon: The Sheriff's Showdown)--A writer with a penchant for staying at home is pushed to think beyond her comfort zone... and thus she accidentally stumbles into an adventure beyond her wildest imagination!
The Dragon's Mark--In a small Italian city governed by the secretive, exclusive Drakistos family, a simple housemaid shunned for her grotesque appearance slowly uncovers a secret that threatens the lives of everyone around her.
Word Tracking Stats:
In April, I set up an account on WordKeeper Alpha and started tracking the different projects, setting myself deadlines and just having fun with the pretty colors and the goal trackers and whatnot. I set myself a goal of 25K a month, and determined to track anything and everything I could. According to the tracker, starting in April and going until the end of the year, I managed to get at least 222K words written. Adding to that all that I wrote in January to March, even though I wasn't able to log it, I probably achieved somewhere in the ballpark of 250K last year. We'll see how much I get done, starting fresh from the beginning of a year! As you'll see at the end of this post, I still have plenty of opportunity to get those words in!
Months I achieved my monthly goal: April, July, August, September, October, November
36 Books Read
17 Library Checkouts
Dreadfully lax, compared to previous years, I know... But 2018 was stressful in terms of working at my day job, so there wasn't much energy or time to read, regardless of whether it was ebooks or library checkouts! Though what I did read... was brilliant!
TOP 10 READS:
- The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman--This one wins everything! It had a secret order of Librarians, time/space travel, alternate dimensions... What more could my book-loving soul ask for?
- Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence--Mark Lawrence nails it again! The sequel to Red Sister and the continuation of his first trilogy featuring a female lead--everything about this series is amazing and I love all the science inspiration (pseudoscience though it may be) and the unique characters strike just the right emotional chords!
- His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik--Enjoying this book almost makes up for having to return "Spinning Silver" un-read (ALMOST...) Ever since "Uprooted" I knew I loved Novik's style. The way she incorporates dragons into Regency-era wartime is MAGNIFICENT and totally credible--I love Temeraire!
- A Sliver of Stardust by Marissa Burt--Ah yes! Nothing like going to the library and finding out that the author of a duology you enjoyed has another series out! This one incorporates stardust, nursery rhymes, and lullabies into magical abilities and there are gryphons and I am SOLD!
- End Game (Will Robie #5) by David Baldacci--This man doesn't stop... and unlike another super-prolific crime novel writer whose books I did not enjoy, Baldacci never ceases to offer respect for his craft, honing his storytelling to get his readers right at the heart, not just for the money or the popularity, but because he consistently delivers genuinely good stories. Every. Dang. Time! This one in particular, an unexpected continuation of a series I thought for sure was done back when it was a trilogy... now this is Book 5 and it takes us deep into the life of a character that was probably only going to be very much a secondary sort, one of those who is more name than substance... Not true anymore! Brilliantly staged, and expertly executed, all the way through!
- The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman--My first introduction to Patrick Carman (not counting those installments of the 39 Clues series that I read, since I didn't know it was him at the time...) and I enjoyed it quite a bit! The world-building, the distinct characters, the unique premise--everything worked together very well and I would definitely read more of the series!
- The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz--Ah, self-insertion at its finest! In the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Horowitz inserts himself as a writer following around a brusque, self-absorbed investigator and recording this investigation in memoir form, sort of like the Watson to his Holmes... but not even his familiarity with Sherlock could prepare the unsuspecting writer for the peril in store! I spent half the book thinking I could pick out the clues from among the red herrings... and the twist happened and I was very wrong--but I'm not even mad! Nicely done!
- Death Masks (Dresden Files #5) by Jim Butcher--Always a treat! Another Dresden File under my belt, and a great one, at that!
- All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater--Sheer magic from the pen of Maggie Stiefvater! Occasionally it got too trippy and I couldn't follow what was going on, but I loved the poignant prose and it brought immense satisfaction at the end, so this is definitely a Top 10!
- S is for Silence /T is for Trespass (Kinsey Millhone #19 and #20) by Sue Grafton--Yes, it's a double. Still working my way through the ABC Mysteries--How Grafton managed to come up with 25 unique ways to put her main character Kinsey into mortal peril is mind-boggling--I'm up to 20 and I still can't guess how a book is going to turn out! "T for Trespass" was kind of gruesome, actually... but still good!
A LOOK AHEAD
Now that we've gone over a quick review of my year... What do you have to look forward to?
Priscilla Sum--That's right, I'm giving it a second chance! I know it was a little tenuous, and part of me is not too excited about having to struggle for each plot point, but maybe--just maybe--I can pull it off!
The Prince and The Rose--In addition, I'm finally going to finish this one! I've had the ending in mind for quite some time, I just got too busy writing other things to get back to the last half of this one. I think you all are going to like it!
Red, The Wolf--Speaking of new things... Another twisted fairy tale is on its way!
Those familiar with Clan of Outcasts might remember Velora, the "Wolf" character--and that is who inspired the idea for the main character of a Little Red Riding Hood re-telling--like, if Velora became the unofficial defender of a remote forest village! I'm excited to see how it all turns out!
A Writer's Tale, The Series--With The Last Inkweaver coming to a close, I think I can finally turn my focus back to this series, bringing it all the way to its conclusion. Even if I just took it a book a month, that's around 25K per book, so it would be well within my monthly goal, anyway!
That should take me well into the spring--and who knows what will happen next? There are plenty of half-way projects that I really should get back and finish--hopefully keeping a word-count goal in mind will help me tick items off the list!
Here's to another great year, and as always--
Catch You Further Upstream!