Well, this has been coming for a long time. Before the holidays hit, I had a long talk with my husband, parents, and best friend about my writing. I'm not giving up or dropping it--not by any means--but I am taking a break. 2015 was a year of changes for me. I became a mommy and my entire life shifted. I walked away with a different perspective. Writing has always been a part of my life, but recently it's caused me a lot of stress. The need to write, the pressures I put on myself.
So, I'm changing things up. I'm not making goals to write this year. Instead I'm making this year mine. If that means writing, then great! If not, I will survive. This will be The Year of Me and I'm very excited to see where it leads me!
My parents have supported my dreams and aspirations for the past twenty-five
years. My husband has done the same for the past nine years. They have never
doubted me. Not once. Not even when I’ve given them plenty of reasons to
I’m not an easy person to live with. My house is OCD clean.
Mum likes to say I clean as if the Queen herself was expected at any minute.
Some might think that’s a good thing, but it’s really just a giant pain in the
ass for everyone—including myself.
I’m also moody, emotional, opinionated, and rather stubborn.
And yet, by some miracle, my family still loves and supports me. They deal with
my creative outbursts. They understand when I need to stay up late to finish
writing a particular scene. They know what to do when I’m having a bad writing
day—or week, or month. In short, these people should win an award.
I owe everything I am today to them.
I have a degree because of them. I have a home and a family
because of them. They support me emotionally, mentally, (sometimes) physically,
and financially. I know how lucky I am to have them. I have friends who would
kill for the amount of support I receive. And yet, my story still isn’t done.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked myself that
I should be done. Not only are my parents and husband
extremely supportive, but I have dozens of other avid supporters on my side. My
critique partner. My beta readers. My hairdresser. Heck, even a few agents and
editors are asking for my story, wanting to read my work. So why is my story
sitting in a folder, only three-quarters finished?
I have no answer to that, and I doubt I ever will.
When I wrote Warrior
Branded, I had no idea what I was doing. I started during my spring semester,
but it didn’t really take off until summer hit, when I had all the time in the
world to sit and create. I wrote just over 83,000 words in two months. For you
non-writer types, that’s pretty intense. I ended up editing quickly and
querying by the time school started again in September.
It went well. I had a lot of success in the trenches, but I
ultimately decided to pull the story and work on something new. That something
new was A Highlander’s Ransom—my current
story. Over the next several years, other things took precedence over my
writing. I had two serious arm surgeries. I finished my degree in English
Literature, with a minor in European History. I planned a wedding across the
continent, worked towards my Fiancé Visa, and eventually moved to Virginia. I
married my best friend. I adopted my fur-baby.
And then I went through a bit of a dark patch. Our marriage
was going wonderfully, but I missed my family. I missed my homeland. I wasn’t
depressed per se, but I wasn’t inspired to create, either. About a year later, things
started to look up. I started writing creatively again. Things were going
really well. It was slow (and I mean glacially slow), but it was progress.
There were hiccups here and there, but I always went back to writing.
And then in July 2014, I found out I was pregnant. We were ecstatic.
Unfortunately, I suffered from extreme bouts of nausea. I lost a lot of weight
for a pregnant woman. I slept most of my days away, and my writing stopped.
By the time my daughter was born in April 2015, I hadn’t
written in months. Even while enjoying my time as a new mother, a part of me
was devastated. Humiliated. I felt incredibly guilty. My husband of three years
worked every single day to keep a roof over our heads, and yet, I couldn’t hold
up my end of the bargain. I hadn’t produced a book. I hadn’t been published.
I finished my last story in a matter of months, but A Highlander’s Ransom is still
unfinished after four years sitting on my computer. Part of the problem is my
own perfectionism. Another part has to do with knowledge. I’m wiser now, and
although that can help my writing, it also hinders it.
Regardless, I should be done. Yes, I’ve had huge life events
during that time—there’s no denying that—but I’ve used it as a crutch for far
too long. I’m driven. I graduated with high honors in university. I finished my
first book as a teen, I have been published several times as a poet, and I queried my first book by the age of twenty. There’s
no reason this story shouldn’t be done.
In the end, this post is an apology to all of my family and
friends who have supported me over the years, who have asked me how my story is
coming along. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I took your support and your interest and
your patience for granted. To be honest, my writing isn’t going well. I haven’t
written much in months. That’s about to change, however.
I’m done abusing your support, even inadvertently. I’m done
with the excuses, no matter how valid they might be. I will finish this story
and have it ready to be queried by the new year. I thought about putting an “if
not” clause on here, but I’m not going to, because I’m not going to fail. Not
I have a wonderful family. They are my best friends, my confidantes, and I won’t let them down again. I promise.
I know we're six days into the new year, but here are my goals for the next twelve months. I'm going to try and be super flexible due to baby, so these are very loose goals.
Finish A Highlander's Romance: finish editing the story. Write the tagline and 3-line pitch, query letter, synopsis, and then query. This will be done before baby arrives.
Try to write every day (or as much as possible with baby on the way).
Plot and write the first draft of my next Scottish Scoundrels book, A Highlander's Oath. I'd also like to edit, write the tagline, 3-line pitch, query letter, and synopsis, but who knows how far that will go with a baby.
Work on the next book in my Scottish Scoundrels series. I'm leaving this up in the air because there's no way to know how busy I'm going to be.
Continue critiquing for Jen.
Renew Celtic Hearts, RWA, and RT.
Read at least 50 books & keep up on my Need To Read shelf.
Decide between Murphy and Nicholas. If I go with Nicholas, change everything over to reflect that.
Make a website.
Watch at least 50 movies. I think this will be ridiculously easy with late-night feedings on my horizon.
Keep up on birthdays by sending cards.
Exercise after baby arrives. I'm doing as much as I can now, but I'd like to get back to it after baby arrives.
Change my name, renew my green card, and change all memberships to new name.
Prepare everything for baby (paperwork, hospital bags, nursery, etc...).
Plan some sort of beach trip this summer? This one is definitely up in the air due to several factors (money, baby, etc...).
I have a million other things I need to do, but I'm not going to list them as "goals". For example, we need to work on our Jeep and do taxes before baby arrives, but those seem more like a "to do" list rather than goals.
So what about you? Do you make goals or resolutions?
For full ratings and reviews, you can find me on Goodreads. *For obvious reasons, I am not listing the titles or authors of the books I have read for Inklings Literary Agency. I have, however, listed the genres to keep track. I also did not want to include it in the general reading list, but it still counts for my tally!
GOAL-- Finish AHR (write a synopsis and query
this sucker): I will do this, even if it means I have to tie
myself to a chair and force myself.
HOW I FARED-- Alas, I did not finish editing my book. I made a
huge effort and nearly finished, but it did not happen. I'm disappointed in myself, but I also realize how busy this year was for my family and I.
GOAL--Write up detailed plots and query letters for the next two
books in my Highlander series: You know, just in case I get the interest of an
agent and he/she wants to know what I have planned.
HOW I FARED-- I did this...somewhat. Although I didn't technically write query
letters or detailed plots, I did make a bunch of notes and I also wrote loglines. Doing so helped me figure out where I want those stories to end up.
GOAL--Write every day: I don't care how much I write a day (well
okay, I do, but that's besides the point). Either way, I must write every
HOW I FARED-- I did not accomplish this goal. Although I love the
idea of writing every single day, I find it impossible to achieve. I do want to
try and write more, though. Of course, when baby comes, we'll see how that goes
GOAL --Start a NA book for fun (write synopsis & query
letter even if I decide not to query): I want to do this during the Celtic
Hearts sprint challenge in January.
HOW I FARED-- I actually did this one. The synopsis, query letter, and
story itself will never see the light of day, but I did work on it during the Celtic Hearts sprint in January. I also won with a whopping 56, 718 words! But like I said, they are hideous, ugly words.
GOAL --Start the second book in the Highlander series (?) This
depends on how the first half of the year goes: Obviously I'm leaving my options
open. If I've learned anything from the past two years it's that things crop up
that you're least expecting. I figure I should prepare for everything.
HOW I FARED-- Nope! WAY too much cropped up. At least I was
prepared for that possibility.
GOAL --Renew Celtic Hearts (?), RWA, and RT: There's a question
mark besides Celtic Hearts because I'm not sure whether I will renew in March.
I adore the friends I've made, but I'm not sure I'm getting my money's worth.
HOW I FARED-- Yep, I renewed all of my memberships.
GOAL --Attend RWA Nationals in July (?): This is the same as
last year. Unless something changes, this won't happen but I figure I'll put it
HOW I FARED-- Nope! My summer was so busy, there's no way I could
have fit this in. Plus, money. Maybe in the next few years.
GOAL --Enter the Golden Heart contest in December: This depends
on where I am in my writing career, but I'd love it if I could enter.
HOW I FARED-- Unfortunately, I decided not to pursue this goal
this year. I really thought about it, since technically my story is done (not
fully edited, however), but I don't want to enter a story that isn't 100%
completed (even though the judges only look at the first 50 pages).
GOAL --Continue to critique for my CP, Jena Lang.
HOW I FARED-- Yeppers!
GOAL --Read at least 50 books & keep up on my NTR shelf.
HOW I FARED-- Accomplished. My complete list can be found here.
GOAL --Buy domain name for Murphy and create a website (?):
Still not sure what I want to do with this issue. Along the same lines, I need
to decide between Murphy and Nicholas. Once these decisions are made, I can
order new business cards.
HOW I FARED-- Again, this one is still up in the air. I like the
idea of double N's with Natalie Nicholas, but I have family and close friends
who can't even spell Nicholas correctly, which makes me nervous about making
that my author name. I know, I know, it's a really easy name, but people ALWAYS
get it wrong.
GOAL --Plan a trip in February with my parents (?): They're
coming down for a visit, but I don't know if we'll go anywhere.
HOW I FARED-- I actually did make plans for a few side trips in
and around Roanoke, but we were snowed in!
GOAL --Watch at least 50 movies: Roni Loren does this challenge
every year and I thought it sounded entertaining. These movies don't need to be
new to me.
HOW I FARED-- This was such a breeze for me to complete. My full
list can be found here. I also kept track of the seasons I watched--and I nearly reached 50 for those as well!
GOAL --Keep up on birthdays: Again, people seem to love this
tradition, so I'll keep it up =)
HOW I FARED-- Done!
GOAL --Find a job. Boo, hiss.
HOW I FARED-- I actually did fairly well here even though I didn't
actually get a job. I know that sounds strange, but I garnered the interest of
three separate publishing houses for line editor positions. Alas, lack of
experience was my downfall. Oh well! I took steps in the spring to change that, but with baby on the way it doesn't seem to make much of a difference now.
GOAL --Attend my cousin's wedding on June 21st. Help her out
however I can.
HOW I FARED-- My cousin cancelled her wedding. I did travel to
Canada though, and I was able to see everyone for over two weeks. And before the big shindig was
cancelled, I helped out with whatever I could.
GOAL --Continue to exercise regularly. I would like to reach my
goal by July 8th (the one year anniversary).
HOW I FARED-- Well, I did continue to exercise until I found out I
was pregnant and couldn't keep any food down. I'm slowly trying to use my
elliptical again though--safely, of course.
GOAL --Plan a beach trip for me, my hubby, and my parents in
HOW I FARED-- Accomplished! It was a lovely trip.
Overall, I think I did pretty well with my goals, especially
considering the rough year we had. I've decided to post a list of things that
happened that we weren't expecting, but changed our plans nonetheless.
the Golden Claddagh contest and ended up getting 2nd place in the historical
category. I also received two full requests (for a book that isn't finished
an internship with Margaret Bail at Inklings Literary Agency from May 2 until
September 3. This was my step to achieving more experience in the publishing world, but now I'm not sure it matters with our little girl due in the new year.
beta read for several people.
worked on a business plan with my critique partner, Jena Lang.
the year started out with hardships for us. I lost not one, but two friends
from high school. Seeing as how I'm only
25 (24 when this occurred), it hit me pretty hard. To make matters worse, we
lost Granddad at the beginning of the year. Several other extended family members also passed, making January to March a difficult time for all of us.
planned and organized several family events, including Easter (both in Virginia
and in Canada), a Labor Day BBQ, Canadian and American Thanksgivings, and Christmas.
These events can be a lot of work, especially when trying to organize everyone. Sometimes
it's like herding flies—impossible!
went on a beach trip in July with my in-laws! They decided to treat us and rented a house in North Carolina. It had a pool. My life was complete.
suffered extreme illness from the beginning of July until mid November and lost
20 pounds because…I'm pregnant! The first five weeks were the toughest, mainly
because we weren't sure whether I was pregnant or dying! Thankfully it was the
former ;) We are having a baby girl due April 6, 2105. Needless to say, this
has taken up a lot of time and energy and is the main reason I didn't finish
some of my other goals this year. My nausea was extremely difficult to deal
with (for both of us). For several months, it was all I could do to make the bed during the day
(and most of the time I ended up throwing up halfway through). Sad, but true.
Now that I'm not throwing up as much anymore, exhaustion has hit full force. I
can't seem to win!
things happened this year, but this sums up the highlights, I think. I hope
2015 is an even better year!