2017 Look Back

City Park, New Orleans, January 1, 2017

The years teach much which the days never know. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I think back just twelve months ago, I remember a whole lot of uncertainty. We (the U.S.) had just completed one of the most surprising election cycles in recent history, and certainly in my history. My posts from a year ago reflect that state of uncertainty, to a degree. There was talk of Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, some angst on my part over missing a #WritersResist event in New York.

I’m relieved to write that I feel a modest degree less uncertain now. The Republic still stands, the government still functions. (You can read into “functions” what you will, it’s a broad term.) On a personal level, I’m still employed, I still have some savings for the future, and I’m still writing.

This post completes the second full calendar year of this blog. On the “published writer” front, I signed a publishing contract with After Glows Publishing in the first quarter of 2017, and re-released The Incident Under the Overpass with them in September. I hope that the follow-up to TIUTO will release in the first half of 2018.

I had an essay published in OUTSIDE IN MAKES IT SO: 174 New Perspectives on 174 Star Trek TNG Stories by 174 Writers. I will have a short story appear in the sci-fi anthology Just a Minor Malfunction, issue #4, in late February 2018.

My progress in the published realm feels slow, but at least I can state that there is progress. And while I’m glad to be putting 2017 to bed, the year definitely had its highlights. I thought it would be nice to reflect on the new places I saw this past year:

  • Whitney Plantation: a sobering start to the new year, as I learned more about the role my ancestors played in the life of this once-successful sugar plantation. While not happy times for me, any occasion where my eyes are truly opened is worth remembering.
  • Düsseldorf: I saw a city in Germany I’d never seen before. Also of note, this is the only new place I encountered with my job—every other new place was of my own volition.
  • New Smyrna Beach: vacation with husband Tim on Florida’s Atlantic coast.
  • Murfreesboro, Tennessee: my first total solar eclipse!
  • Greece: a happier occasion to have my eyes opened, on vacation in one of the planet’s cradles of civilization.

So once again, Ralph Waldo Emerson states it best. The last days of 2016 certainly did not have places like Greece or things like a total solar eclipse in their sights. I’m grateful for the cumulative learning offered by this past year.

 

Finished, But Not Abandoned

The Tremors on the PCH?

So, this post is going to be chock full of news (and quotes):

First, I finished Lacey’s second story! When I completed the (then-final) draft of Lacey’s first story, The Incident Under the Overpass, I posted something in these pages attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

The second story is by no means ready to be abandoned yet. It is definitely a first draft, not-yet-ready-for-prime-time. Something I read years ago, in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, has stuck with me:

“You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft—you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft—you fix it up.”

Here’s another quote: “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” It appears that’s attributed to Jodi Picoult, though Goodreads attributes “You can’t edit a blank page” to Nora Roberts. Either way, in the latest story I wrote, all the characters and the elements of the plot are down. Some might go away, some might get added, but the bones, and a good bit of the musculature, are there. I’m just ecstatic I now have a complete story to revise.

Second, I signed a publishing contract for The Incident Under the Overpass! I signed with After Glows Publishing, a press “that offers page turning romances and urban fantasies that allow readers the escape from real life.” I’m very excited that Lacey will soon be appearing on After Glows’ bookshelf.

So, it turns out, I didn’t abandon Lacey’s first story after all: it will get re-edited, re-designed, and re-released later this year.

And finally, this is my last post from the U.S. for a couple of weeks! I’ll be in Germany for work next week, and then returning home from France the week after that. This upcoming travel was the main reason I was so determined to finish the second story. I knew I wouldn’t be able to devote any real time to it over the first two weeks of May. And I had a good bit of momentum going that would have been lost during that break.

Hopefully, the break will work out for the best, and I’ll be ready to jump into revisions when I get back.

Auf wiedersehen, (and au revoir), for now.