Everyone is doing it. Everyone is stopping and reflecting on another year lived and what they’ve accomplished. Or not accomplished. I’m no different. So here’s me, thinking about the past year and what all happened.

Professionally

I continued to ease into the new job at work and I think I’ve been relatively successful as a Software Licensing Analyst. Fancy name for “he helps negotiate licensing packages and makes sure folks are verifying if they should have one.” But I do get to do analysis from time to time, which is always more interesting to me. Do we own any of this product’s licenses? Who is using this other product and can we get in touch with them? What’s our overall spend for engineering products? Etc. I know, it probably sounds dull to you, but its afforded me more opportunities to work from home. And working from home affords me greater opportunity to do the professional work I WANT to be focused on: writing.

Personally

No major changes this year. It was a good year for us overall. We took a nice trip mid-year, and otherwise continued to be blissful in marriage and life. The house seems to have decided not to cough up a major issue for some time now, though we are looking into having the roof reshingled soon. And Christmas came and went in peace and harmony. But Thanksgiving… you got some ‘splainin to do (next year, we’re back to having it at our place instead of going elsewhere; I’m not a fan of drama, even if it doesn’t involve me).

I managed to pay off one student loan this year. We damn well need a president who is going to help with loan forgiveness and/or free college. The system is badly broken. No one should be driven into debt for decades to get ahead in life through education. We are lining the pockets of wealthy grifters, not helping our citizens become better individuals, by making education so expensive and requiring people to mortgage their futures for it. Warren or Sanders will take us where we need to go.

Writing

This was a fantastic year for me. It started out well, when I knocked out a bunch of new stories mid-winter and almost immediately a couple of those started getting “held for further consideration.” While none of those holds translated into sales, it was a great feeling.

Mid-Spring, I turned back to novel writing. I decided to make this the year I wrote that WWI fantasy alternate history mashup I’d been noodling around with for the past three years. I made some decisions to change things that were acting as blocks for me. Basically, the alternate history stuff was driving me bonkers. I tried to create a world that was ahistoric but rooted in our own history, and deciding every little change that had to occur kept me from writing. By opting to ignore real world history entirely and make it up as I went along, I was able to smash through the worst of the blocks. The writing went smoothly through early August, when we took a trip to Ireland for Worldcon.

Ireland was amazing. Worldcon was amazing. There’s plenty more about them here and here. Needless to say, it was one of the best vacations of my lifetime, and I got to share it with the most amazing woman.

When we got back, refreshed and motivated, I went back into novel writing mode. I put down over 30,000 words in September, and another 40,000 in October. I finished it off with 51,000 words in November, using NaNoWriMo as motivation to get it done. The final draft topped 190k, but with edits I expect it to finish up around 130k.

But there was even more good news while I was in Ireland. I had not one but two story sales. The first to be reported was the sale of Fishing Over the Bones of the Dragon to Common Bonds Anthology of aromantic speculative fiction. I was absolutely thrilled by their offer and can’t wait to see the final work in another month or so. There are some amazing authors I’m being included with and I hope all of you will buy a copy.

Then, a few days later, I was informed that Daily Science Fiction wanted to buy my story, Rabbit. They finally posted it on November 1st. That was also the sale that allowed me to become a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America. Since it’s publication, it’s landed on a few fan sites for “best of the week” or “best stories of the year.” I don’t expect it to garner any award nominations, but that put another spring in my step, to be sure.

I wrote an essay as well, published by SFWA on their blog. Definitely have to mention that. I spent the year as the treasurer for my local chapter of Maryland Writers Association. I also volunteered to be a SFWA mentor and have been paired up with a early career writer to hopefully provide them some useful advice as they move forward into a writing/publishing career. And I joined a weekly online short story critique group with some wonderful folks that has been incredibly fun, and helpful in improving my work (and hopefully their works as well). At the very least, it keeps me in touch with social skills that I don’t work on enough as an introvert.

The only failure this year was getting our local MWA teen writing group going. No one showed up to the first few meetings we held. We’ll try again in January, though I’m doubtful giving the small size of our school district that we’ll see any increase in attendance.

And I’ve finished up the year the way it began, with another story being “held for further consideration.” I’ll keep my fingers crossed on that one, I’d really like to get that sale. It’s a good venue for the story and I know they’ll treat it well. There’s a really cool side benefit with it that will be obvious when/if the sale is finalized and I can report it.

Overall, it’s been a fantastic year. I hope to build on it in 2020, with more sales and (fingers crossed) another finished novel to query to agents. January and February will be dedicated to a first round of edits to the work, smoothing out plot points and filling in any missing pieces.

Goals for 2020

At least three rounds of edits on the novel (first one happening now; second after group critique in April; third a polishing edit). Other than that, focus on short stories this year. Only one con planned at the moment, 4th Street Fantasy in June. We’ll play the rest by ear.

Happy 2020 to the rest of you! May it bring you all the joy you deserve, and much success!

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