Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Birthday Retrospective!

And just like that, five years pass!
This last year has been amazing for predominantly one reason: I am no longer solely banking on this blog for writing endeavors. Having a book published is a wonderful thing, and it has definitely motivated me to be more purposefully productive, as I am no longer just posting in a little-known, buried-in-the-internet place (seriously, when has Blogger ever been a high-traffic area?), but I have something credible and concrete to distribute myself, or point people to. Plus, the positive experience I have had in publishing has given me the boost I needed to jump in and participate and get even more published!

As a fun 2017 retrospective, here are some numbered things having to do with my writing: 

Published Anthology short story 

YEESS! My short story that began as this random prompt actually made it into an anthology! DREAMTIME DRAGONS is available on Smashwords and Amazon, and I am proud to be a part of this project along with authors I’ve actually reviewed such as Nils Visser and Assaph Mehr!!

Blog Hops

Yes, after the Summer Splash of 2016, I got the hang of blog hops, and had the pleasure of participating not just in one but TWO blog hops, one month-long in August (The Book Lover’s Blog Hop) and one week-long bash in December (The Bookish Christmas Blog Hop). Tons of fun, and sharing the visibility was a great experience!

“Clan of Outcasts” posts on the Top 10 "All-Time Viewed" Blog Posts!

This was an exciting discovery to make! Five years and nearly 650 posts means that for any post to end up near the top of the All-Time Post View list, it needs to be up for quite a long while to beat out the posts that have been around longer! 
I am just really glad that enough people have enjoyed that series (or have at least clicked on the link when I share it) so that at least three posts made it up there with posts that have been around since practically the beginning of this blog! The specific three posts are “Part 1: The Storm”, “Part 12: Exchange,” and “Part 13: Trust Me.” Feel free to read through the series if you haven’t yet! The LAST PART is coming on Saturday, and if you’re reading this now I hope you’ll be there for it!

Tie-in short stories for “Princess of Undersea”!

One thing you need to understand about "Princess of Undersea" is that I am perfectly content with the way it turned out. As I've said before, the last thing I wanted was to go for the cliche "and-they-lived-happily-ever-after", and furthermore, I also didn't want to get stuck adding "just a little bit more" or run the risk of letting scenes continue ad infinitum because I got halfway through without a real secure idea of how to end them... So yes, it was a pretty softly-open ending, and there were a few angles I could have explored--but it just took me a few months. Truthfully, out of all these, "Give Me What I Need" was the only one really planned from early on... the other three all came up as part of the recent "A to Z Challenge" series, so they mostly happened on their own. What I mean is that, yes, I had a nebulous idea of what went down in the background, and it influenced the way I wrote the actual scenes in the book, but now they are actual, viable stories! I do have one more that I'm saving for a special moment, but I'll talk more about that in a bit! Meanwhile, enjoy these stories!

Months (How long the WIP-Of-The-Month lasted)

On the one hand, it was a great idea and it served its purpose well! I didn’t do so well the first month, but February, I finished The Water-Man, March I completed “The Starborn Legacy,” a short story wrote for an anthology that didn’t end up manifesting (nobody’s fault!); April was the month I tried to dive back into The Amazon Triangle... and I have been there ever since. (Still wondering if I am going to post weekly/monthly check-ins this year... maybe so! Accountability really helps!) This year it’s about not so much churning out the stories and “finishing something” and more about being intentional with my productivity, progressing with a purpose!

Reviews for "Princess of Undersea" on Amazon

Who knew this would be so difficult to get just 10 reviews? Maybe that was a bit f an oversight on my part, for not having things like Advance Review Copies or a Street Team in place to guarantee reviews... the verbal feedback has been pretty positive, just hasn’t quite made it to "The ‘Zon" yet.
I will say... that "special short story" I mentioned earlier? Yeah, so when I first published, I promised that the first 10 reviewers of "Princess of Undersea" would have characters named after them, or would get to design their own character in this short story, PLUS that as soon as it hit 10 reviews, I would make public the EPILOGUE I wrote shortly after releasing the book (because I guess it did take a few weeks for the full scene to coalesce!); I recently put that epilogue on a GoogleDoc and I've been sending the link out to reviewers--all six of them! Introspecting about how I react to the number of reviews I get, and what I am willing to do to get them... It really motivates me, as a reviewer, to prioritize communication with the authors I've been privileged to support! They work hard and they need to know their efforts are appreciated! 

Reader’s Reviews that got over 70 views

Speaking of reviewing.... One thing that I discovered after featuring indie reviews on my blog is that the attention that I bring to their book by my review gets returned when they share my reviews with their network, boosting the signal for both of us! Blogger or GooglePlus by itself would never get me the viewership that I've seen, especially on any one post--so I really owe this addition to the list to those authors who shared links to my blog on their Twitter feeds (because I don't Tweet, so that's not an outlet I have access to) and on Facebook, as well. (Though for that one, I have more of a presence there, so it becomes a joint effort.) Anyway, the one review I noticed that got the most views this year alone was a little-known book called Cadeau, Volume 1: Who Can You Trust? by Connie Olvera, which has garnered over 200 views! I believe I do have her to thank for spreading the link around, because, as I've mentioned before, it isn't often that a blog post from only a few months ago cracks the Top Five All-Time! Of course, running a close second is P.A.W.S. by Debbie Manber Kupfer, Devotion by Katika Schneider, and A Spell in The Country by Morgan Smith, all of which got over 90 views. The remaining three reviews that cleared the 70-view mark are The Longest Night Watch an anthology featuring a whole bunch of extremely talented authors, American Goth by Cyn Mackley, and Grave Dealings by R. R. Virdi (which is a feat in itself, because unlike the other titles listed here, this one is only about a month old!) and I am definitely ecstatic that these titles and these authors are getting the visibility they deserve!

Blog posts that exceeded 100 views this year

... and that's only counting ones that were posted this year! I chose this criteria because there are, of course, a lot of posts on my Top 10 All-Time-Viewed list that have been there since... well, since they were the only posts one could view on my blog! The blog posts in question are as follows (listed in order from the greatest number of views to the least; you will likely see repeats from earlier in this post):

-The Clan of Outcasts, Part 13: Trust Me
-Reader's Review: Cadeau, Volume 1: Who Can You Trust? by Connie Olvera
-The Book Lover's Blog Hop: "Who is Your Favorite Author?"
-The Suggestion Box, Vol. 4: The A to Z Challenge, Letter D 
-Introducing: The Book Lover's Blog Hop!  
-The Book Lover's Blog Hop: "What's The Best Read of 2017 So Far?"
-The Clan of Outcasts, Season 2 Part 1: "Upgrades"  
-The Suggestion Box, Vol. 4: The A to Z Challenge, Letter I
-The Suggestion Box, Vol. 4: The A to Z Challenge, Letter H

Short Stories/Flash Fictions

One of the things I started doing more often once I got the hang of blogging (and subsequently ALMOST ran out of fresh "old" material to excerpt) is writing flash fiction. Partially inspired by the success (and ease!) of the Suggestion Box series, I started doing "flash fiction." Now, the commonly-regarded definition for "flash fiction" is supposed to be right in the ballpark of 1,000 words, but the more I wanted to write these fun little short stories, the more I realized that even though they only took a few hours from conception to completion, my stories were rarely under a thousand words. I called them "flash fictions" anyway, and ended up with several "miniseries".... nine, to be exact. Each one inspired by a single prompt (except where noted) and all of them exceptional fun!
-Arthur and The Egg (Incompletely posted, since it was published in the anthology Dreamtime Dragons)
-The Starborn Legacy (Not here on my blog at all, since it was written for an as-yet-unpublished anthology, but >HERE< is a post describing the story!)

Chapters added to The Amazon Triangle

All right, so maybe this one was a bit of a stretch... but it's an accomplishment worth noting, I think!
It began as a couple random scenes with zero context... and grew into an epic adventure that I am fairly certain will wind up being the longest project I've ever written. Will it ever become a published work? I certainly hope so, with such a marvelous cover as this one! It's been quite the process, getting the whole story out--so many times I've been "almost done" for the last eight months, only to discover, when I sat down to write, that there was wayy more action than I anticipated, so the events that I expected to fit into one chapter were actually spread into three... but I've learned lots, and had a lot of fun doing it! And now I can say with relative certainly that I *AM* two-and-a-half chapters from the end at last!
Wattpad Stories Started or Completed in 2017

In the summer of 2015, I joined the online story-sharing platform of Wattpad, for the sole reason that an author I followed on Facebook started posting a serial story on there and I just couldn't stand missing out on reading it! Once I joined Wattpad, I tested the waters and found a reasonably receptive audience for my own stories that had gotten somewhat buried on either Facebook or this blog, plus it was really fun to tease out a brand-new "Wattpad Exclusive" story, too! I really enjoy the way Wattpad is easy to use, to update, and to share. Not to mention that the addition of a cover really spruces up the place more than, say, the Fanfiction site where I typically posted my stuff. All in all, I think it's highly recommendable, and I hope you enjoy these little glimpses! (You'll need to set up an account to have full access; but don't worry! It's pretty secure, and it's free!)

-The Water-Man (Completed)
-The Telmar Trilogy: The Legend Of Telmar, Her Ladyship Of Telmar, and The Legacy Of Telmar (Completed)
-The Day of Reckoning (Completed)
-Angels Take Milwaukee (Completed)

Authors represented in "Dreamtime Dragons"

Yes! Another plug for the anthology! And a chance to scope out some authors you may not have heard of yet. These people are wonderful. What bits I did glimpse of the work done by other contributors was exciting and well-written, and my second experience with publishing (this time in a charity anthology) came off every bit as positive as the first time! Take a look at these sites:

-Assaph Mehr
-Leslie Conzatti (Me!)

Original Mock Book Covers made

(More, if you count the TEN different iterations of the cover for The Last Inkweaver that I copied and re-saved in the process of finding a good font!)
One thing that blogging has taught me over the years is that having a good thumbnail image is key! Also with Wattpad, posting a story almost always requires a cover, or you get a LAME placeholder image akin to the generic male/female silhouette for a profile image.... so I started making mock covers for all my stories, even the short ones on my blog. The sum total of effort I would put into a cover was to open it with the "Preview" application, use "Annotate" to add a text box, and choose a font and color I felt fit the title best.
I found having a cover to be extremely motivating, not just for my writing, but also the feedback I would get from people over my "really cool/amazing cover" that just needed a great, completed story to go with it! Over the last year, I've amassed quite the collection; check them out below!
Be honest... Which one (or ones!) catch your eye? More info available upon request!
Bloggers in the Book Lover’s Blog Hop

The wonderful thing about being in a worldwide group of hundreds of writers? Chances are somebody knows what they're doing. Take this group, for example. I had never really participated in a serious blog hop (as in "one that went further than my blog") until the Summer Splash, and so when a random author was looking for bloggers to participate in a month-long blog hop, I jumped for the chance! It was great; she had GoogleDocs for the schedule, each day, deadlines spelled out so we could all have time to set up our posts before the Hop began... and we all participated as well as hosted, giving that support and visibility to each other. It was great, and I enjoyed getting acquainted with these people! Check out these blogs!
-Jo Lindsell
-Leslie Conzatti (Me!)

Reader’s Reviews

And to finish off this count-up, as it were, I managed to squeeze in 23 Reader's Reviews this past year! (Real count is 24 books read, but I didn't get the review for the last one written before 2018 began, so it didn't count!) It's been a great year for books, I have to say! And the fact that The Upstream Writer is now home to no less than 85 featured indie reviews (not counting the 3 years' worth of "general" reading lists!) is nothing to sneeze at! Check out these reviews, and maybe pick up something new to read for 2018!

Kalla by Amber Morant

I hope you enjoyed this little “highlights tour.” Be sure to comment on anything that strikes your fancy, and I will continue to keep you informed of my exploits, and hopefully continue producing entertaining content for many more years to come!

Catch You Further Upstream!

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