2021 Wrap-Up and Year in Review

I warned y’all that I love my year in review posts, right? Last week I reflected on what I learned this year. This week, because I’m in holiday mode, no thoughts brain empty, I’m doing more of a round-up post. I’ll share my top blog posts, my favorite books from this year, some writing and social media stats, and a short month by month summary of 2021. There’s also a poll at the bottom if you’d like to share your thoughts on what you want to see more of in 2022!

Blogging

I feel like I wrote a lot of blog posts this year, but in fact, I only picked up my regular weekly blogging schedule mid-year, and let posting slide again in September and October. My goal for next year is to get closer to once per week.

Posts published (not counting this one): 28

Total words: 43,708

Blog views: 2677 (up from 599 in 2020!)

Blog visitors: 1783 (up from 359 in 2020)

Top viewed posts of 2021:

A white chalk question mark on a black chalkboard.
A 2020 Mentee Answers Your Pitch Wars Questions (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)
Rusted stairs lead from the water's surface into an undersea reef.
Write Deeper: Deep POV, Voice, and Emotion (Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com)
A blank signpost stands in front of a forking path leading into an evergreen forest under a cloudy sky.
No One True Way: My Publishing Journey (Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com)
A snapshot from a word processing program shows the extent of changes on a document via blocks of red and green text colors.
My Top Five Pitch Wars Revision Lessons
On a starry background, an aesthetic image showing characters and settings from GALATEA'S PARADOX appears.
It Starts with a Dream: From Novel Idea to Agent Offer

I’m proud of what I’ve done with the blog and I really enjoy writing for it. It’s so rewarding when readers tell me something I shared here resonated with them. However, I don’t want to let my blogging endeavors get in the way of my novel writing. It’s definitely a balance I will need to strike next year.

At this point I’m still drafting my posts mostly the same weekend I publish them, which isn’t necessarily sustainable. I’d like to get a little more ahead on my planning and drafting next year, although I suspect I’ll always feel most comfortable composing off the cuff about whatever thoughts are buzzing in my brain during a particular week. I’m still a pantser at heart, after all.

Reading

I set a 50-book reading goal in my Kindle this year, and for awhile it looked like I was going to hit it. I read a lot during the early months of the year, which is surprising considering how busy I was with Pitch Wars. However, as of this writing, I am still at only 36 books finished this year. Six of those were ARCs or unpublished manuscripts, so that leaves just 30 published books read this year.

The cover of The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey, which shows a gold wedding ring and its reflection on a black background.
It’s a tough call, but The Echo Wife still lives in my head rent-free 11 months after I finished it so I’m naming this creepy SFF domestic cloning thriller my Book of the Year.

I have a “DNF” (did not finish) problem these days when it comes to reading, so the books I did finish were all excellent! Here’s a breakdown of my genre reading habits:

Science Fiction: 13

Urban/Contemporary Fantasy: 12

Other Fantasy: 5

Contemporary Romance/RomCom: 4

Historical Romance: 1

Craft/Non-Fiction: 1

Stand-out (published!) reads: Martha Wells’ Network Effect, Sarah Gailey’s The Echo Wife, Micaiah Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds, and S.T. Gibson’s Dowry of Blood.

The cover of Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson, which shows an ornate painting of a person in a dark red gown with a white veil and her hand on a skull, surrounded by small dancing skeletons and red roses.
Dowry of Blood was a well-deserved indie sleeper hit that did Anne Rice-style vampire gothic horror better than the late great Queen of Gothic Horror, IMO, with explicitly queer, poly vampires and a feminist twist.

I’m shooting for 40 books in 2022 to keep things realistic while still beating my 2021 total.

Writing

Since I’ve already written several posts about debut year, publishing, and lessons learned, I’ll keep this section brief. But I do want to note that I revised three books this year and partially drafted two new projects.

Revision Passes: 5

Total Words Revised: 472,463 (approximate)

Total New Project Words Drafted: 56,754

That’s…a lot of words.

I’d like to do more drafting next year. I have at least one project I would like to draft in entirety during the first half of 2022. With GALATEA’S PARADOX hopefully/probably going on sub, I should have time to work on something new. I’d also like to finish a draft of one of the projects I started this year. We’ll see how that shakes out.

Social Media

I put a ton of work into building my social media presence this year as part of marketing efforts for CAMBION’S LAW. I did not hit the overambitious stretch goals I set for follower numbers (5k for Twitter and 1k for Insta). However, I did grow my presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and (surprisingly) TikTok.

Twitter: 1600 followers (up from 763 in December 2020)

Instagram: 544 followers (up from 103 in December 2020)

TikTok: 1008 followers (from 0…thank you, Rhaegal, for going viral and earning 534k views and counting this week)

Facebook: 141 page likes (from 0, I think)

Social media can be very draining for me but it can also feel almost addictive, so it’s something I will need to approach with care next year, especially as my reach grows on some of these platforms. Also, as with my blogs, I find that sometimes my off-the-cuff, improvised posts on Twitter and Insta get better responses than planned posts with designs that take hours of work in Canva, so there is a ROI tipping point there that I still haven’t quite found.

Scheduling regular posts and continuing to build engagement on Twitter and Instagram is one of my goals for next year. I’m less sure about setting goals for Facebook, which is my least favorite platform to use. As for TikTok, it’s fun but eats time, and I don’t understand how to use it to advance my other goals at this point, especially since my popular content there has nothing to do with my writing. I started it with no real goal in mind so I will probably continue in that vein for now.

2021 Month by Month

January

I finished my second round of Pitch Wars revisions and line edits on GALATEA’S PARADOX with my mentor, Ren Hutchings.

February

I participated in the Pitch Wars agent showcase, started querying GALATEA’S PARADOX, and started initial revisions on CAMBION’S LAW.

March

I sent the revised manuscript of CAMBION’S LAW to my editor, Heather McCorkle, and started work on Book 2. I also sent my initial query to Maeve MacLysaght, who would eventually become my agent.

April

I continued work on Cambion Book 2 and continued to query GALATEA’S PARADOX. Maeve requested the full manuscript of GALATEA’S PARADOX.

May

I worked with Heather to complete content edits on CAMBION’S LAW and saw my cover for the first time!

The cover of CAMBION'S LAW shows the main character, Lily, standing with a pistol in hand and wings unfurled before a moonlit Golden Gate Bridge.

June

I continued to work on Cambion Book 2, which needed a full rewrite and expansion from the 50k zero draft I had written during NaNoWriMo 2018.

July

I took a month off from work on Cambion Book 2 to let my draft rest and submitted GALATEA’S PARADOX to a small press open call. I also drafted the first act of a fantasy project I had started in November 2020 as my NaNoWriMo project but hit pause on when I got into Pitch Wars.

August

My cover reveal for CAMBION’S LAW kicked book marketing into higher gear. I started another revision pass on Cambion Book 2.

September

September was probably my lowest month this year. Feeling the pressure of debut year but without much happening to serve as a focus for my nervous energy, I struggled through the month to sustain momentum on book publicity and on my writing projects. My migraines and other health issues took a turn for the worse. I withdrew to some extent from my supportive online communities and developed a true crime obsession that sucked up a bunch of time while negatively affecting my mental health.

October

I started to get my groove back about halfway through this month and went cold turkey on my true crime addiction. Early in the month, I attended the City Owl writers’ retreat in Oregon and got to meet some fellow authors and my editor for the first time. I also reviewed copy edits for CAMBION’S LAW and sent them back for final proofs.

November

RELEASE MONTH! I submitted my manuscript for book 2 to my editor. The day before CAMBION’S LAW released, I got the call request from Maeve to discuss GALATEA’S PARADOX. I also participated in a mixed-project NaNoWriMo and wrote 50k words between finishing book 2, blogging, and drafting a new contemporary fantasy project.

December

I signed with Maeve and received my edit letter for GALATEA’S PARADOX. I also got some news I can’t quite share yet!

Wrapping Up

It’s been a banner year for me and I’m so appreciative of everyone who has shared it with me, especially those who have taken time to read my thoughts on this blog in 2021. With that said, I’d like to throw it over to you, my readers, to get your feedback on what you’d like to see here in the year to come. Feel free to drop a comment as well/instead if you have more thoughts to share!

2 thoughts on “2021 Wrap-Up and Year in Review

  1. Wow, that’s some pretty decent traction on Twitter and TikTok. I myself am pretty crappy when it comes to social media presence, and I have to learn a thing or two about managing my accounts, especially when it comes to book marketing. Great year in review. Wishing you an awesome 2022 ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, right back at ya! Yeah, my TikTok followers are all there for the cats lol, I have no idea what I am doing and people get confused when I post about my book 🤷🏻‍♀️. Twitter is more of an audience I’ve built over time.

      Like

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