Aren’t “Top 10” lists and “The Year In Review” posts LAME?
So why does everybody do them?
Because we READ them hoping that out of a whole year they found a few good baubles we’ll wanna see.
And because it’s easy and the writers are basically taking a day off doing this.
I mean, think about it. I bring up some stats, link to the posts that got the most views, and say BEHOLD!
What’s that take, five minutes?
If I do a few of those and spread ’em out, I get December off.
BUT I AM NOT A SLACKER!
So here’s the lame stuff followed by hugely insightful stuff you need. Probably.
* * * Top 10 Things From 2017 * * *
10. A new pic of me!
Yep, I unceremoniously switched my author pic from this (left) to this (right):
Well, I was never crazy about the old one, as some of you will recall, and when my daughter took the new one and I slapped it up on Facebook or here or somewhere, as part of something else, Jenifer Ruff saw it and said it was a good shot of me – that it looked authorey and professional and stuff. Or something like that. And so I asked Allison and she said she’d told me the same thing a long time ago AND that my old pic didn’t look like me.
Well, gang, here’s the lesson:
When people who have your best interests at heart tell you to do something, you should do it. Better yet if they are bestselling authors and you’re an author, and even better if they give you this advice unsolicited.
You guys were after me for a while to have writing contests – okay, I asked about it first, but then you were after me after that. I think. ANYWAY, we had a writing contest! And it was a BIG HIT! The historically worst month for views of my blog became the biggest month ever, and from there the blog soared to new heights, absolutely CRUSHING all prior years.
We are on course to do over 60,000 views in calendar 2017. That’s pretty cool!
(That tiny number you can’t read for 2014 says 210 views. 2013 is even smaller. So we’ve improved a little since then.)
And it’s because of YOU.
Yes, I have to try new things, and not all of them work out. I shrug it off and move on. As writers, we have to celebrate our successes and walk away from the smoldering wrecks that are our failures.
There are lessons to be learned in failure – sometimes more than in success. Learn the lesson, but don’t drown in the bad stuff.
8. Contests Again!
I was thrilled to hear that our very first Word Weaver Writing Contest winner drew enough support from winning the contest to publish her first book ever. I was over the moon when the second winner of the contest did the same thing!
Gang, that’s what we’re here for, to support each other and push each other to greater heights. OTHER contestants from our Word Weaver Writing Contests published their works, too, and that made this a special place to be.
People are coming here to find the writerly things they are looking for, and they are finding them. I’m gonna keep making that happen.
7. Scary Anthology
Hey, why have just one winner when you can have twenty? When I read all the contest entries, I was like, wow, we have a lot of talented writers here. How can we do something with that? So we drew from a failed idea from the past – a bunch of us writing a different chapter for a book – and changed it to be all of us putting a story or scene under a common umbrella and putting out an anthology.
The Box Under The Bed became #1 in its category while we were in Orlando at the Florida Writers Conference (not bad timing, that).
But here’s the funny chain of events.
- The online critique group I used to be active in allowed me to meet cool writers.
- A few came to the blog.
- They suggested things like a writing contest.
- I do a contest and get sponsors like Kelly Abell, a FWA member and fellow author I’d met at a few events.
- The contests lead to me meeting Jenifer Ruff because the sponsor reblogged the contest and Jenifer knew Kelly and wanted a critique.
- I, not knowing Jenifer already had a few books out (including a bestseller), gave her a critique the same way I’d give anyone else.
- She enjoyed the input and we struck up a conversation – and then she joined the anthology.
- The anthology, because it had several bestselling authors like Jenifer Ruff and Allison Maruska in it, plus great marketing ideas and enthusiasm from almost every co-author, does well – and helps a lot of previously unpublished writers become published authors.
6. So we will be doing another ANTHOLOGY in 2018
and helping other unpublished authors become published authors. YOU could be one of those. Many of the people who entered my writing contests were personally ASKED BY ME to be in the anthology.
5. Ten is a lot, isn’t it? I thought this list stuff would be easier.
And faster. I should have planned this better.
4. This isn’t really a year in review, is it? Let’s see if we can turn that around here on number four…
I published FOUR new books in 2017, a new record!
We also published the Box Under The Bed, but I didn’t really write that, I just contributed two stories, and I released a box set of cookbooks, which doesn’t really count, either. Oh, and a few titles were translated into foreign languages, but they aren’t actually “new.”
Honestly, I’m not sure four is even a record for me, either, but I’m too lazy to check.
Is there a lesson here? Not really, except that I finally cleared out most of my backlog and with just two more books written and not yet released, that’s pretty good! Clearing the backlog was a goal and I made a lot of progress on it.
Why was there a gap?
I tell people I stopped writing as much so I could learn to market better; times are changing, etc…
but the fact is I was kind of afraid of releasing Poggi.
I’d been told it was my best stuff, and in my head if it failed I was sure to become despondent. I was scared. I did other stuff. I edited a weaker book and distracted myself for a while.
Then I finally sucked up my courage and addressed my white whale – I published Poggibonsi. And it did okay. It didn’t fall on its face, which was a relief (I never thought that would happen, but I worried it wouldn’t be a home run). But the “weaker” book I fixed up and released kicked Poggi’s butt as far as connecting with fans and overall appeal, and it opened my eye to who I am and what I do.
Poggi was supposed to be – needed to be – a home run, in my mind…
but nobody can predict that kind of thing. That was too much to put on any one book. It was a solid base hit, though, and might turn into a double. (I believe marketing is holding that book back – my not knowing how to market it, and many of the marketing channels I used in the past almost not being effective at all anymore. More on that later.)
Angel was a triple, though, not necessarily in sales but also in future potential.
The whole time I was holding Poggi back, I was holding Angel and others back, too, but with the logjam cleared, I AM BACK.
I’m a writer, and a damned good one. That’s what I do.
I thought up, wrote, and released The Zombunny as a paperback – all in about a six week window. Because I’m good at what I do. There’s already a sequel written and a third is planned. Expect Zombunny 2: Night Of The Scary Creatures before January 31, 2018.
Set yourself a dang deadline, gang. Sometimes make it an impossible one. You just might surprise yourself.
3. Jenny, Allison and I were presenters at the FWA Conference. (#3 = Three of us. Get it?)
This isn’t a gratuitous pat on the back. Bear with me.
Jenny (J. A. Allen) hit it out of the PARK when she did her presentations! Why is that a big deal? Because freaking jamtart said YES when I asked her to be a co-host on Writers Off Task With Friends, a little viewed internet talk show we used to do about writing topics (allegedly), even though she’s a pretty big introvert, and she stepped up AGAIN when I asked her and Allison to apply to be presenters at FWA.
We got accepted!
THEN JENNY ANNOUNCES SHE HAS A DEATHLY FEAR OF SPEAKING IN PUBLIC
Like, in front of groups.
She doe not mention this just once, but many, many, MANY times throughout the year.
But she did it. She prepared, she rehearsed, and she OWNED THE ROOM. She did one of the best, most authoritative presentations I’ve ever seen.
And she might have been scared to death the entire time, but it didn’t show at all.
I can’t tell you how impressed I am with Jenny. Almost every other writerly person I know would have said NO to that. She said yes.
Allison’s presentation on “How I Sold 20,000 Copies Of My Novel In 12 Months” did amazing. She could take that show on the road and fill theaters.
My presentations kicked ass. I had one slide and put on an hour-long show that had people laughing hysterically a few times. I’m not sure they learned anything, but they had a good time.
But Allison and I have had to speak in front of groups before.
For someone to face the thing they fear most, that’s one for the ages. I will NEVER forget it.
Jenny, you inspire me.
I’m so happy you are my friend.
And, well… I have another friend, too. Several. You guys. (See point 2, below.)
2. Cheers To YOU, the power behind the throne.
I don’t forget for one minute that without you there’s no me. Well, I mean, there is, but not as much. I’m still me even if you aren’t here… but because you are here, we are able to do great things.
Look at this list!
I didn’t come up with a lot of the best things this blog did in 2017, YOU did.
And I need to say thanks.
Really, I’m just the quarterback of the team. I might get to be in the spotlight and accept an award, but it’s all of us together that make special things happen here.
I’ll try hard in 2018 to do even more amazing things. More contests, more anthologies, more good ideas from you – and we’ll watch together as we take this thing to new heights.
We’re on the cusp of something big. I can feel it. And I’m rarely wrong about these things.
1. The Top Blog Posts of 2017 were helpful ones, so that’s what we’ll feature more of in 2018.
We’ll still have fun, of course. I mean, it’s me – come on.
But when we get it right, we get it WAY right. Check this out:
The #1 viewed blog post for 2017 was “Three Ways To Show A Text Conversation In A Book And One Right Way“
with over 19,000 views. It gets views every single day, which means it’s doing what we predicted: when we set up a standard here, we have the ability to cause it to become a standard in the industry. I’m overstating it, but writers everywhere read that post and learn how to show a text conversation properly. In time, what we said here might be what becomes the norm. Our little piece of writing history. Our fragment of immortality. You can say it’s a small thing, and it is, but it’s ours.
The next most viewed post is my About page, and after that is Contact Me. Not much to write about there, so we won’t count them. Therefore
The #2 most viewed post is “Three Ways StumbleUpon Can Get You Noticed“
– and honestly, it’s StumbleUpon causing the text post to be number 1, so it’s true.
The #3 most viewed post is…
the announcement of the winner of the 2nd Word Weaver Writing Contest, Heather Kindt‘s Ruby Slips And Poker Chips
Heather sent me a terrific story, and between the blog post announcing the winner and the story running the next day, we got almost 1000 views on the blog. That’s huge, gang. 200 views is typical for a day here, and most people’s blogs don’t get 1000 views in a month. We got that in less than 36 hours.
The winning storyRuby Slips and Poker Chips was part of a larger piece by the same name, and after I read it I knew Heather had a hit on her hands. I LOVED the story, and was immediately drawn in by the line about the rental house.
“The shack was a rental, and a poorly cared for one at that. Our neighbors didn’t stay there much longer than a bare foot on the pavement outside Price Chopper in July.”
My exact words to her – because I wrote them down – were as follows.
That’s a hilarious phrase. I might have to use it. And now we see the phrasing will be a nice accent to the story. Well done. This might be where I’d start this story, too.
Heather went on to release Ruby Slips and Poker Chips as a novel after writing it about five years ago. In the months since winning the contest, she and I have corresponded many times, and it has been a thrill for me to see her book get published.
If I had to sum up the year in a phrase…
…I’d be hard pressed to do it in words other than the sentiment I’ve expressed here many times before. I want to help make 100 people rich and famous in their writing, so they can help me, too.
That’s a silly way of saying we’re a team, and we are all helping each other get one rung higher on the ladder.
One more thing.
I helped another author get started, but she helped me get started first.
I wrote Facebook posts about my baby girl, and friends read them and encouraged me to write a book. Eventually, I did. After a few of those, I wanted to write novels, but I also wanted to write stories to read to my young daughter, and then when she got old enough, to write stories she could read to us. I didn’t envision her writing with me, and that’s been an absolute thrill. The Zombunny was her idea, and we’ve collaborated on a few of them now.
2017 will always be special for that, and who knows where that will lead?
Dream big, gang.