Reflections on 2015: The Year that Wasn’t at All Like I Planned

2905BWhen I look back on what I thought 2015 was going to be like, I have to laugh. It’s one of those “you have your plans and God has his” type years. I thought I was going to be moving to Chicago, getting a new job and a new agent. I ended up staying in St. Louis, loving the way my day job has changed (thank you, new SVP, whom I love) and self-publishing. Never would have expected that, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

These were the goals I set for myself in 2015. How did I do? Well…

  1. Write at least one book – Nope. Didn’t write anything new this year – I even crapped out on NaNo because of all I was doing to get ready to publish. I ended up spending all year editing my four previous books. But that’s okay. They are stronger now and that’s what matters.
  2. Write a short story to submit to an RWA anthology – Um, I started it. Does that count? I actually started two short stories, but didn’t finish them. I just can’t write short. That’s all there is to it.
  3. Continue to blog once a week – I’ve done pretty good at this. I’ve missed a few weeks here and there and my Femina Aequalitas blog didn’t work out because no one had time for it (including me), but that’s fine.
  4. Attend conferences and speak as possible – I did this! The Historical Novel Society conference in June and the AllSoulsCon in September were both life-changing in their own ways. Plus, I spoke at several local events.
  5. Continue social media – I succeed here as well. I’m really active on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Facebook and I continue to have a love/hate relationship when it comes to my author account. Tumblr…well, I’m given up trying to figure it out.

IMG_0580But what I did accomplish that I never would have imagined:

  1. Started my own publishing imprintLawson Gartner Publishing is a legal entity and is something I never thought I would ever do. But it’s also one of my accomplishments I’m most proud of. I hope it will be a great success. People keep asking me if I’ll ever publish other writers’ work. Right now, I’m going to say no, but I’ve learned never to say never about anything.
  2. Finaled in 9 writing contests and won several – The whole list is here. I learned about pre-publication writing contests through my local RWA chapter and was smitten. I’m a competitive girl, so these were right up my alley. And apparently other people like my writing, too!
  3. Prepped my first book for publication – In the space of three months, I got Daughter of Destiny ready for you guys to read on January 1. Thanks so much to Cassie, Jenny Q, Liz, Morganna and everyone else on the team who helped. Self-publishing is a misnomer; it takes a village of professionals to do it right. And the next two books are being edited as we speak.
  4. Had fun! – One of the most important things to me is that through all of this, I had more fun than I ever have. I love being in charge of my career and am loving every bit, from editing (even when Cassie makes me think of the whys I don’t want to think about) to creating social media graphics.

My word of the year for 2015 was Valiant. While it didn’t apply the way I thought it would, it was certainly appropriate. It took a lot of courage to part ways with my agent, face rejection after rejection from other agents, and decide to go it on my own as an indie author, not to mention to start my own company. But I did it! And this is just the beginning.

I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings!

How did your 2015 go? What are you planning for 2016?

2015 Goals

Goal-Setting-2015-1024x1024Last year I was pretty darn ambitious with my writing goals and it nearly did me in. So this year, I’m keeping it simple:

  1. Write at least one book – I’m planning on writing another historical fiction after I get this one edited and finished. As I’ve found another woman no one has written fiction about (that I can tell), I’m not revealing who she is until the book is done. But I can tell you this: she survived the French Revolution and went on to run a business empire in an age when women did not dare set foot in the work force. Her name survives on her product today and chances are good if I said it, you’d recognize it right away. I’ve also got two contemporary stories fighting for prominence in my head, so if I get the time, I’ll write one of those.
  2. Write a short story to submit to an RWA anthology – I never thought I’d do this since I generally can’t write short, but there’s a historical romance that’s been slowly piecing itself together in my mind and I think I know the plot now. I wrote the first part a few weeks ago. It’s set in 1920s Chicago smack bad in the middle of Al Capone’s mob. The story guidelines are 5,000-7,000 words, so we’ll see if I can get it done in time for the March deadline (along with editing and going on vacation).
  3. Continue to blog once a week – That’s here, plus my monthly post over at Spellbound Scribes and posts over at Femina Aequalitas whenever I can (I have to get to doing those more regularly!) Oh, and we’ll have a special guest here at Through the Mists of Time later this month. I’m very excited because she’s a pretty well-known historical fiction writer.
  4. Attend conferences and speak as possible – I’m planning to attend the 2015 Historical Novel Society Conference in Denver in June, as well as Sirens (also in Denver) in October. Right now I also have a tentative speaking engagement at Webster Groves High School in February.
  5. Continue social media – I’m on Twitter and Pinterest all the time, just found Instagram (follow me as Nicole Evelina), and I’m on Facebook about once a week. That’s about all I have time for. I may add some more, but that’s good for now.

Is there anything you’d like to see on this blog this year? Anyone want to guest post? I’m up for suggestions!

2015 Word of the Year: Valiant

valiantI started the tradition of picking a word for the year last January and I really like it. It was also one of the exercises in the 2015 guide by Dianne Sylvan, which I used to help me plan this upcoming year. (It’s not too late if you want to plan your year.) It gives me focus, something to repeat to myself on the tough days.

I knew this year is going to be one of major change in almost every aspect of my life (I can’t talk about the details yet for various reasons, but they aren’t contract-related, so don’t get your hopes up there quite yet), so I was originally going to choose “change” or “transform.” But then I got to thinking that once the change occurs, I would need a word to guide the rest of the year. That was when I hit upon the idea or being brave or courageous. Out of that came the 2015 word of the year: valiant.

Dictionary.com defines it as “boldly courageous; brave; stout-hearted.” These are all things I aim to be during my time of change this year and also on the ordinary days. The etymology of the word is also interesting:

1275-1325; Middle English valia (u) nt < Anglo-French; Middle French vaillant, present participle of valoir to be of worth < Latin valēre; see -ant

“To be of worth.” That’s a phrase we all need to keep in mind – the idea that no matter what happens in life, we are of worth. I also like “valiant” because it satisfies the medievalist in me with it’s evocation of knights in shining armor, but it goes beyond that – it somehow stokes in my inner warrior woman and brings my own personal inner Excalibur to life. I’m ready for an adventure and this word arms me for whatever may come.

Along the same lines, I’ve also picked a motto for 2015: “mission is glory or death.” These are lyrics in my favorite Wrongchilde song, Call Me Crash. I obviously don’t mean this motto literally, as I hope to live for a very long time, but somehow it has always resonated with me. I think it’s because of my all or nothing attitude. If I’m going to do something, I’m in it all the way. And I am certainly in this writing thing with my whole being, body, mind and soul, and I have no intention of ever quitting. I’m the girl who got the words “I am the dragon’s daughter” tattooed on her arm last year as a reminder of inner strength, so I think this is a fitting follow-up motto. (I’ve even thought about getting this one tattooed on me, but then I thought “nah, better not.” What’s the New Year without a Pitch Perfect reference, amiright?)

In case you’re interested, I’ve made a playlist of songs to go along with the word of the year. I’ll update it as I think of songs that fit into it.

Now I’m off to plan a trip that I hope will cross of few things off my bucket list. Happy 2015, all!

What’s your word for 2105?

PS – Be sure to come back here tomorrow for an excerpt from my new book as part of the No Kiss Blogfest.