Tag Archives: looking back

2021: The Year of Dramatic, Unfinished Change

20 Dec

Every year, I take time to reflect on where I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. Last year was deemed The Strangest Writing Year (Hopefully?), and this year, I’ve decided to call it The Year of Dramatic, Unfinished Change. (Though, that may be too dramatic in itself.) Onto why that is (and also unfinished)… 

At the beginning of this year, my agent was taking my young-adult-turned-adult sci-fi novel out on submission. I was rewriting a different adult science fiction novel and halfway through writing an adult fantasy novel. At work, I had just been chosen to attend the Doniphan Leadership Institute at William Jewell College, and in my personal life, my fiance and I were considering buying a house. 

I end the year in a very different place. For one, I’m no longer agented. My agent decided to leave agenting back in the fall, so I’m now free to query. That said, I haven’t yet begun. Mostly because I’ve had a lot of other things going on. 

  1. I attended and graduated from the Doniphan Leadership Institute at William Jewell. 
  2. I was chosen to mentor in Pitch Wars with my longtime critique partner and friend, Sandra Proudman. We’re now mentoring D.S. Allen, a middle grade writer, on her horror until the agent showcase next year!
  3. SCBWI KS/MO also hired me to teach at the Middle of the Map conference in November. I taught How to Write a Series, and it was so much fun! I offered critiques to writers, and I will be mentoring a young adult writer in 2022. Announcements go up in January. 

Did I mention my personal life?

In 2021, I got married, and we bought our first home together. We’ve been renovating, too. And traveling a bit more. (My favorite trip was when we went ziplining through the Ozarks.) I also turned the big 3-0. 

It truly has been a joyous year. 

Writing-wise, I finished rewriting that adult science fiction book…only to shelve it. I also added 30,000 words to that adult fantasy book…only to put it on pause at 77k. I switched gears to re-read one of my old adult fantasies, made a plan to revise, and then…put it down. Between all that, I worked on a dozen other ideas and outlined a few of them in full, which is exciting. But mostly, it was the year of the unfinished piece. Not that I can’t finish something. I totally can. What happened was that so many life changes made me redirect my path that I ended up half-traveling down a few opportunities to try to make the best decision about which one to commit to. 

Overall, I estimate that I wrote over 100,000 brand-new words, rewrote 50,000, and outlined 30,000. (And that’s not including this blog or other platforms.) Now, at the end of 2021, I can safely say that I’ve made a decision. 

I am focusing on a middle grade verse novel that is super close to my heart, and I hope to query it in 2022 once I finish revising. (Please send me ALL the good luck and well wishes.) 

Maybe I’ll find the perfect agent to champion my work. Maybe I won’t. But I’ll never know if I don’t try! 

There are so many dreams I am already chasing going into 2022. Hence why I’m calling this year unfinished. I still have so much to do. 

Other than what is to come, my trusted almost-eight-year-old laptop died in November, so I had to say goodbye to it. After all the projects I’d completed on that computer, it was hard! But now, it’s the era of Rosie, my new laptop. I also finished uploading Took Me Yesterday to Wattpad and guest spoke at Kearney High School’s creative writing class and at the Lake Waukomis Women’s Club. I created a Teachers & Book Clubs page for readers to use, and it’s been utilized a handful of times. One of my favorite moments this year was when I was interviewed by Austin Gragg for Space and Time Magazine. It is so incredibly neat to hold a printed interview in my hands—and in such an incredible magazine. 

I was also lucky enough to teach Starting a Writing Project for Mid-Continent Public Library (twice)! For those of you who are interested, I’m teaching it again on January 12, 2022. You can learn more here. It’s virtual, open to anyone in the world, and free.

2021 was not what I expected. But then again, neither are any of my past years. 

Publishing is an unpredictable game. Maybe that’s why I like to roll the dice. I never know what’s going to happen, but I know something will as long as I keep trying. 

Here’s to all the surprises to come in 2022. 

~SAT

Want to see what’s happened throughout my years of blogging?

#MondayBlogs Authors, Look Back to Move Forward

11 Apr

Most writers have dreamt of being authors for a long time. Finding out an author started writing at a very young age happens more often than not, and I think it is important to remember that. In many ways, it is easier for a child to dream of becoming an author or an athlete or a superstar. After all, they might not fully comprehend all of the sacrifices they’ll need to make in order to accomplish their goals, but nevertheless, they dream. They dream and they write and they move forward. In some ways, I think you could say a child is closer to the dream, because they don’t worry about all the what ifs and rules. They just write. Theoretically, I think we can bring back our childhood passion—minus our bills, our lack of time, our adult concerns—and concentrate on just being writers. How? I’ll get to that in a minute.

A few years ago, my family got together on Father’s Day, and my brother and his then-fiancée-now-wife were looking for pictures to use during their wedding. That was when my dad decided to bring up two boxes my late mother left behind. When she was alive, she collected our artwork in boxes for my brother and me to open when we had kids, but we decided to open them up early for my brother’s wedding. It was an amazingly beautiful collection of childhood clothes, art, and pictures.

That’s when I found it: Two books I wrote as a child, which were printed by Crabapple Crossing Book Publishing. 

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20130625_141947This was a moment that brought me back to that childhood passion before I even knew what publishing was. I was only in the second grade, and yet, I knew I loved writing stories. A little background: “Max & Milo” is about two dogs having a birthday party before they move away and become pen pals with all of their old friends. I found it pretty amusing (but interesting) because I had two dogs at the time. Surprise, they were named Max and Milo. I also moved around a lot as a kid. Strangely enough, this story followed the “write what you know” tip that’s very common for beginner writers. I wish I could say I understood the “show, don’t tell” rule at this age, but I think most of the story was described through the pictures I drew. I’m quite relieved I didn’t attempt to be a sketch artist. I’m super relieved I also learned grammar and how to structure dialogue.

But what is the most encouraging part about looking back on these things? 

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Fun facts: Valerie Tripp wrote The American Girl Doll series, my favorite color is red, I was born in Allentown, PA, and I still want to be an author when I grow up. 😉

I’ve achieved the dream I’ve strived for since I was seven, and I continue to do better every day. I now know the “show, don’t tell” rule, along with a couple others, and I hope to add to my craft with every book I read, every sentence I write, and every day I dream.

Here’s to hoping this childhood post inspires others writers to look back on their goals, dreams, and creations to see how long the passion has been there, how far they’ve come, and how they’ll continue to move forward with grace and passion.

Original posted on June 26, 2013. 

~SAT

event5Clean Teen Publishing is hosting a #AskCTP Giveaway on Twitter April 27! I’m REALLY excited about this live author-reader Q&A, and I really hope you all can make it. You can even win a CTP Mystery Box, which includes 1 to 2 print books, swag, and more. And that’s not all.

Clean Teen Publishing is giving away $120 worth of prizes! Do you hate long car rides and traffic? Are you tired of the same old cleaning the house routine? Do you find yourself wishing you had more time to read? If so, then we have the answer for you: LISTEN TO FICTION! That’s right. Audio books. Enter the Listen to Fiction Giveaway by clicking the link.

If you love free stuff, Minutes Before Sunset, book 1 of The Timely Death Trilogy, is FREE right now. Recommended to YA paranormal romance fans who want new creatures never seen or heard of before.

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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takefofytseve

One of my “Lows” as an Author

12 Oct

Today I wanted to talk about something many artists–no matter what kind of art they practice–struggle with: lows.

We have them sometimes as often as we have “highs.” When I say “highs” I am talking about those moments where you feel on top of the world, like you’ve accomplished everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and when I talk about “lows” I am talking about those moments that often follow our “highs.”

For me, the lows that follow highs are the hardest, not because they are emotional but because they are difficult to understand. The day before, filled with a high, you feel confident and beyond excited. It’s almost paralyzing when a low hits you the next morning. I wanted to talk about the one that I struggle with the most in the hopes of helping other writers (or artists) understand they aren’t alone or strange to be confused about these highs and lows as I have felt before.

My hardest lows happen when I finish a book.

As many of you know, I finished Seconds Before Sunrise recently. Granted, I “finished” writing it in high school, but the finalized version is MUCH different than the original, not because my publisher has asked me to change it, but because I decided to change a lot. I’ve grown up a lot since I first wrote it, I’ve learned a lot about writing, so I practically rewrote the entire trilogy when it was signed with AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. Therefore, I’m still experiencing the “high” of finishing it, followed by the “low” the day after.

The low comes from the realization that the novel is over. The creating is done. The adventure has settled, and it’s ready to be shared, but I’m no longer traveling within words, and it takes me a while to get into another novel afterwards, because it’s hard for me to let go of my previous work.

So what do I do to cope with it?

Previously, I’ve talked about going back, reflecting on my childhood or another time where my love for writing was a little more pure, naive to the changes that must be made when an artist grows into another stage of being an artist. And it helps. This is why I decided I wanted to share the piece of me that got me out of my recent “low.”

14 years old and reading as usual

14 years old and reading as usual

I was 14 when this photo was taken, which, roughly speaking, is when I started writing Seconds Before Sunrise. (Remember, I wrote Seconds Before Sunrise before Minutes Before Sunset.) I had yet to publish November Snow, and I was still dreaming of the day I could hold my published works in my hands. Perhaps this is why I held onto a “Personal Profile” my freshman English teacher had us fill out on my first day of high school so she could get to know us better. Below are the two answers that brought my author love out of that low: (excuse my handwriting; it hasn’t been right since I broke my left hand and had to switch to my right hand)

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When I read further, I was asked what my greatest goal was, and I said “to publish a book.” The perfect gift for me would be “a Barnes & Noble gift card” and when I get older, I wanted to be “an author.” I also said my favorite quote was “An ambition is a dream with a V8 engine” said by my favorite singer, Elvis Presley. I realized my dream was my focus in this questionnaire that I’m sure no one expected me to keep as one of the most important documents I have today.

I talked about my dreams, and, at the time, I kept it to remind myself of my goals. Since this was August 18, 2005, I was completely oblivious that November Snow would be published two years later or that Minutes Before Sunset would be published in 2013.

Today, this paper still reminds me of my goals, which I think is beautiful thing. In a sense, my 14-year-old self can still cheer me on. Even more important, I am reminded that I can cheer myself on by believing in everything I’ve done throughout the years. I may have been scribbling down answers as fast as I could (because who likes to spend hours on homework) but I still knew what I desired most: to live my life pursuing what I love most–writing–and I did.

As I continue to follow this dream, I have added more goals to my writer’s dream. Back then, all I wanted was my published book in my hands. Today, I want to help other aspiring writers achieve the same dream, and I also want to encourage other people to follow their dreams, no matter what it is. I want to challenge archetypes and stereotypes in literature. I want to depicts characters young adults today can relate to, learn from, and grow with. And I’m doing this by having the goal of challenging myself. In order to do this, I have to believe in myself, even in my lows, and I do, which is something much easier to write than to actually do. But, nevertheless, I know I’m not alone in this and no artist is alone in this.

We’re going to have days we’re on top of the world, and we’re going to have nights where we’re not sure if we should continue pursuing our dreams the next morning. But we get up anyway, because we know we can’t stop, because we can’t stop passion. We can’t stop a dream.

The point of this post has became less about my “lows” as an author and more about how we can stay in that “high” by reminding ourselves of what matters: happiness. And I hope this helps others find a place where happiness already resides: in our dreaming hearts.

~SAT

Sharing Childhood Inspiration

26 Jun

This is what I looked like when I wrote this book.

This is what I looked like when I wrote this book.

Website Update: Minutes Before Sunset is falling behind on Goodreads Book of the Month. Please vote if you haven’t already. I could really use your help! Vote here

As writers, we’ve held the dream of writing for a long time. Finding out an author started writing at a very young age happens more often than not, and I think that’s something important to look into. It’s interesting to think that we, as children, may have understood our passion better than we do now (or with less questioning, because we didn’t understand everything we’d have to go through in order to chase our dreams.) But, theoretically, can’t we bring back our passion in moments of doubt by returning to our childhood in order to remember the simple joy we felt before the pressures of a career?

On Father’s Day, my brother and his fiancé were looking for pictures to use in their wedding, and my dad decided to bring up two boxes my late mother left behind. She made these boxes for my brother and I for when we had kids, but we decided to open them up early for my brother’s wedding, and it was an amazingly beautiful collection of childhood clothes, art, and pictures.

That’s when I found it:

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Two books I wrote as a child, which were printed by Crabapple Crossing Book Publishing. 

I wanted to share one today, because it brought me back to those moments before I even knew what publishing was, and I hope sharing something I wrote when I was in second grade might encourage you to look back and see how far you’ve come!

So “Max & Milo” is about two dogs having a birthday party before they move away and become pen pals with all of20130625_141947 their old friends. I found it pretty amusing (but interesting) because I had two dogs at the time (yes, they were named Max and Milo) and I also moved around a lot. Strangely enough, this follows the “Write what you know” tip that’s very common for beginning writers. I wish I could say I understood the “Show. Don’t Tell” rule at this age, but I think most of this was described through the pictures I drew. And, no, I’ve never been an artist, so the drawings amused me. (Apparently, the world was in x-ray vision.)

But what is the most encouraging part about looking back on these things? 

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I’ve achieved the dream I’ve strived for since I was seven, and I continue to do better every day. 

It was a great experience shifting through my childhood box to see what I could find that my memory didn’t remember as clearly as I thought. Not to mention how funny it was for my brother and I to compare things with one another.

Here’s to hoping this childhood post brings inspiration for other writers to look back on their goals, dreams, and creations to see how long the passion has been there, continue forward with encouragement, and/or to simply be amused by the lessons of life.

My plan is to continue posting writing tips this week, but my cousin is getting married! (Yay!) So I might get busier than I think. I will surely keep everyone updated, and I wanted to remind everyone to vote for Minutes Before Sunset as Book of the Month on Goodreads. We’re still in first place (Thank you!) at 46 votes, but I’d love to hit 50 (those number marks always make me spin in circles of happiness.)

Vote here, and thank you for all the special birthday wishes! I had a great time. I went to a Japanese Steakhouse with my brother, his fiancé, my dad, and my boyfriend. It was a lot of fun, and the picture is a rice heart with “22” written on top for me. It was sweet. They also gave me chopsticks, and I got to see my friends afterwards. Couldn’t have been happier with all the supportive people in my life 😀

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~SAT

June 28: Last Day to Vote

July 1: Winners

July 3: Holidays in Writing

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