Dancing in the Dark

If you had asked me just a few years ago about the horror genre, I’d have admitted it was my guilty pleasure to read, but I would never consider writing it. I would have doubted both my ability and my qualifications. Goodness! I wrote for children! Wouldn’t that be some sort of sacrilege? But the intervening years have caused a shift in my perspective, and recent events have caused me to look at my writing self in a very different, and much darker light.

The first shift came in writing Beautiful Monster:monster

I’d never written anything like it, and to be completely honest, I never thought this book would be published for so many reasons. But it was, and there it is, and I’m rather proud of what it represents for me. It marked a milestone in my writing, it represents a change in both my attitude toward writing and in my perception of myself as a writer. I’ve come to love the characters and the book in a way I didn’t think was possible.

Not long after that, I was encouraged to submit a short story to a horror anthology. I dug up an old attempt I’d written years before and polished it to the publishers specifications. I was actually astonished when my story “Rita” was accepted to the Axes of Evil: A Heavy Metal Anthology.

Axes

And coming very soon, my story “Groupie” will appear in Axes of Evil IIAxes II

And just released, my short story “The Lamb on the Tombstone” became part of the Utah chapter of Horror Writers Association anthology called Old Scratch and Owl Hoots.

Old Scratch

I haven’t left children’s writing, and in fact, I’ll have a new young adult novel out in July of this year that has been waiting a long time to see the light of day. The interesting thing is, you might notice that the horror writing may be rubbing off on my children’s writing just a little bit:

deathkiss final-front

For something that I never thought I could do, I think I’ve done a decent job of it. But I have zillions of stories that are waiting to be written – not all of them for kids, and not all of them horror. For me, it’s just fun to go dancing in the dark sometimes, to know that I can do it and be successful. Who knows? Maybe I’ll tackles Sci/Fi next?

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It’s That Time of Year . . .

At the end of each year, it has become my tradition to review the goals I set and see how I did, and then to create new goals for the new year. I’ve been doing this for 8 years now, and I find it helpful for keeping my focus throughout the year – usually. Life happens when you’re making plans for something else, right? So, let’s see how I did:

1. I will get an agent this year. Period.

Well, I tried. I did begin to submit to agents again, and while I had favorable comments, I haven’t landed one just yet. So, we’ll be seeing this one again, I’m certain.

2. I will finish at least three novels this year, including rewriting The Afterward, finishing Namesake, and a third novel (yet to be determined).

That was very ambitious of me! And I did pretty well. The Afterward has been revised, I finished a novel called “The Year I Went Invisible” (though it needs a great deal of work still). I wrote (and sold!) two new short stories, and I’ve started a new novel that is moving along nicely (it doesn’t have a name yet, though). While I didn’t actually write three two new novels, I still feel pretty good about my accomplishments.

3. I will continue to look for opportunities to promote my work and to participate in at least one writing-related event each month. 

I came so close on this! I did find new places to market my work! And I took full advantage of every opportunity! I managed to be involved in 10 events this year! And for some of them, I was even paid! This one might be tougher with only one new book coming out this year, but hopefully, I’ll find some new resources as well.

4. I will attend two writing conferences or workshops to benefit my own writing.

I have to cheat a bit on this one, but to me, it still counts. In April, I was one of the presenters at the Writing for Charity event in Provo, Utah. However, I took full advantage of the times I wasn’t presenting and attended as many workshops as I could fit in during the day. Then in September, I joined the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers organization and attended their three-day conference in Denver. It was amazing, uplifting, and something I very much needed to do for myself and my heart.

5. I will offer four writing workshops  during the year.

And here, I exceeded my goal significantly. I began teaching for the University of Utah’s Lifelong Learning program again after not having taught for them in over 12 years. It is a wonderful, rewarding experience, and I look forward to the classes and my students each week. This coming spring, I will be teaching a class on Flash Fiction, and I have gained so much insight by reading in this area, so I’m very excited to share this with my students.

And so for next year? Well, I’m continuing to try to stretch a bit, but I’m also trying not to set myself up for failure or disappoint. Let’s be realistic: I have a full-time job; I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, and the giant furless mommy cat in my family. I have responsibilities and demands – but I also have a need to write, so I’m trying to find that balance between the real world and my writing ambitions. My family is supportive and willing to compromise (which is easier now that my baby is 19 and only lives here on school breaks), but I need time with them, too. In that realm of balance and ambition, here are the 2015 edition of my goals:

1. I will submit to no less than 5 agents each month.

2. I will write a minimum of 7,500 words each week.

3. I will participate in a minimum of 10 events which allow me to promote my books.

4. I will attend at least one writing event where I am NOT speaking or presenting.

5. I will continue teaching creative writing courses through Lifelong Learning.

Now, I’m adding a new twist: I have printed off my goals and stuck them to the wall next to my desk so that I can see them each day. I am inviting you to ask me at any time to provide a public update on these goals, which I will do. I’m inviting any encouragement, support, chastising, or harassment that you may feel is appropriate throughout the year. And I will thank you now, in advance, for doing so.

Here’s to the new year: may we all follow our dreams and continue to flourish and grow!

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