2021 Year in Review, 2022 Resolutions

Hello all! In lieu of my usual monthly goal recap, or pestering people for interviews over the holidays, I wanted to take this 5th Friday of December to do a year in review. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas last week, if you celebrate, and a Happy New Years tonight! Strangely enough, I don’t actually remember last New Years. It’s like I set up my bullet journal for 2020, making jokes with my friends about how if last century was the roaring twenties, this century would have the screaming twenties, then I blinked and here we are. Oops. But there’s proof that the past year did, in fact, exist, so let’s see if I met any of the resolutions that I don’t remember setting for myself.

2021 Resolution Review

Finish editing Storge: I half finished this and hit the 50K mark, but paused because my priorities changed. I’m still very proud of what I’ve done with this story so far, and I think the changes I’m making are for the better, however long and tedious they are to implement.

Starting beta readers for Storge: This did not happen, as the 2nd (and 3rd) draft wasn’t complete, however I did start the beta reading process for a different WIP, which I’ll talk about in a bit.

Finish Outline for Laoche Chronicles: Yet again, I did not completely finish this goal, ambitious as it was, but I overhauled my magic system, developed new backstories for several main characters, and fleshed out my world’s politics. This is an ambitious story that’s constantly evolving as I improve my craft, but I realized I would have to focus on some smaller-scale projects first to solidify my skill-set before tackling this titan.

Read 24 books: I read 34 books this year, counting beta reading Siarven’s Dreams Shadow twice which isn’t included in Goodreads (yet). You can read our interview here if you haven’t yet.

Get my act together with this Author Platform business: Last year at this time, I had next to no organized workflow for maintaining this website, and still needed to find my footing as a blogger, as well as an author and student. Since then, I’ve posted almost every Friday this year, maintained a biweekly posting schedule on my Instagram, launched a mailing list, reached my 1st year anniversary of starting this site, and hit a bunch of follower goals. I’m incredibly proud of my progress and beyond grateful for all of your immense support.

Other Accomplishments

Filled a whole sketchbook: I’m so proud of how far my art has come. Though it still doesn’t come close to the moving pictures in my head, I’m pleased to see the progress towards making my ideas a reality and conveying them to other people.

Outlined, Drafted, Edited (x2) my Middle Grade Fantasy novel, Runaways, recruited beta readers, and sent off the draft, in under 6 months.

Wrote, edited, and published two Stormlight Archive fan-fictions: Four Hours for Bridge Four is an lyric anthology of short stories during the Way of Kings timeline. Three Brothers is a one-shot “deleted scene” from Rhythm of War.

Did a TON of research on publishing and website updates: Undoubtedly, the publishing landscape will change significantly between when I did this research, and when I do start publishing, but it was a valuable learning experience and left me better equipped to approach this site and my future plans. You can find my findings compiled here and here.

Came up with a nifty new pen name: This shall stay a secret for now, as I don’t have the time/energy/money to dedicate to building up an all-new author’s persona and platform, but I will be keeping it in my back pocket for future use.

Participated in Jean’s OC Authtober: For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram: My friend Jean, who I met in the Newsies fanfic space, organized a month long challenge with prompts to help us participants better develop our OCs. She is an incredible writer and a wonderfully kind human being, and I was so happy to learn from her process and fine tune Hannah’s voice as I worked on Runaways. My entries to the challenge are all still available to see on my page and I made a highlight so you can still find them!

Participated in the Inklings Challenge: For those of you who don’t follow the Christian Writeblr community: this was another month long challenge inspired by the real-life writing group called the Inklings, which included literary greats such as Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Chesterton. Participants were sorted into three teams and given prompts for science fiction and fantasy stories based on which author they modeled and some common Christian themes and theology.

I was on Team Lewis, and the prompts for Portal Fantasy and Stewardship fit really well for a short story I wanted to write for the Runaways universe! Around the same time at the beginning of the month, I also put up a poll asking what you wanted to see for my annual Halloween Special – and you chose an in-universe spooky short story, which worked out perfectly! These two ideas combined to create The Replacement, which you can read here! The rest of the Inklings stories can be found on the blog, and I’m slowly working through the backlog of stories. It’s been wonderful to see the creativity, thoughtfulness, and care each and every writer put into their work, and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re interested in learning more about Christian culture and creativity, or if you just want to read some really cool stories!

2022 Resolutions

I think the last section goes to show that we can’t always predict what will capture our attention in the scope of a whole year. Priorities can easily change as you realize what you had planned wasn’t working for you, or real world obligations get in the way. This is why I enjoy doing the monthly goals, because it lets me refocus and record my other accomplishments. Keeping this in mind, I know the next year and a half-ish is going to be insanely busy for me. I have an internship and move to a new far-away city this upcoming summer, and three semesters left until I finish my chemical engineering degree and graduate, which means I have to find a Real Job and be a Real Adult. That’s CRAZY. I know my writing may have to take back-burner, so I’m trying to set incremental resolutions for each of my projects, in the hopes that any forward progress will be working towards at least one of them.

  1. Complete beta reading and personal copy-edits for Runaways, then shop for a professional editor and cover artist so I can prepare it for publication.
  2. Read 50 Books – including my writing nonfiction backlog, and some beta reading assignments
  3. Finish my Storge analysis and read-through, complete 2nd draft.
  4. Maintain, and improve my author’s platform by maintaining/modifying this site, sending out four quarterly newsletters to my mailing list, and growing my Instagram presence with reels and better photos.

Wish me luck, my friends! This being said, I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void, and so if I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both of those, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! Also feel free to tell me some of your accomplishments and what you’re excited to be working on in the future. I hope you all have a wonderful start to your new year and a happy 2022!

November Goals

Is anyone else shocked (SHOCKED I tell you!) that it’s already December? As much as I love autumn smells and colors, I cannot say I love the cold or dark that comes with it. At home I’d at least have the stars and wildlife to keep me company through the winter nights but here in the city it’s dreary and makes me want to curl up in bed with a book and hot chocolate. Alas, that’s not an option with midterms, and the seasonal exhaustion hit me hard. I knew I needed a lighter load this month to recover from the whirlwind that was October and the Thanksgiving travels, and my plans this month reflected that. I completed most of the goals, so I’ll take the small wins where I can get them, and keep the gloom at bay.

Before we get onto the goals, I’m gathering some feedback for how this website should work in the new year! I talk about my thought process in the 2nd to last point if you want to read more, but I’m curious to see what you all think of the site! I’ve got a google form linked here with some general questions and a designated space for you to leave recommendations, so please fill it out if you want to contribute to this blog! Thank you so much! 🙂

Won by 4 points – 9/11

Creative Free Space – Art, Embroidery: Normally I have a goal of “Draw # things” but I wanted to leave my options open for this month, hence the free space option. I drew a bunch of character sketches and started on holiday gifts for my college friends! I got a 12 pack of four-inch embroidery rings and started stitching personalized designs. It’s a nice relaxing thing to do during study sessions. It’s satisfying to see the physical progress, and quickly finish a small project which gives me motivation to do the next one. The designs are also fun, a bunch of them are fandom and dnd themed, and I can see myself improving as I draw up patterns. Who knows? Maybe my next magic system will be string-centric!

Creative “Free Space” – Laoche Development: Another fill in block because I cannot control when or why the inspiration comes for certain projects – I developed more of Madelyn and Seth’s character arcs, as well as elaborating on the mechanics of the magic system! I’m quite pleased with the simple but elegant set of rules I’ve put together.

Make edit spreadsheet for Storge and finish chapter 11: I explained my edit spreadsheet in this post, but I’m quite pleased with the developmental changes I’ve made. I only filled the sheet through chapter 9 because I ran out of time to finish, but there was quite a lot of character development work done. I’m trying very hard not to be intimidated by the scope of this story, and I’m afraid my skills aren’t quite up to par, but this exercise has helped put the work into perspective. The plan is to finish the read through for the end of the book, then keep editing from where I left off, taking into consideration the more detailed notes I’ve made. Then I’ll take a 3rd pass on it to focus on fixing anything that might have slipped through the cracks and do a simple style edit. After I’ve got the content in shape, and the prose in a passable state, I’ll send it off to beta readers to see if it makes any sense, and see what happens from there! It’s slow going, but I’m learning a lot.

Research how WordPress tags work and fix: This was a goal last month I didn’t mark off and carried over to this month, but it just didn’t happen with all the other obligations. It would be an afternoon, or 2-day project, so maybe I’ll finish over winter break. Maybe.

Back up computer: This barely counts as a creative goal but I’m adding it anyhow because it took literally eight hours for my poor laptop to process all of my files from 2016, make copies to an external hard drive, and transfer them to Google drive. Don’t lose your work!

Catch up on Something Worth Winning and Inklings Challenge Stories: If you remember the OCAuthtober challenge I did in October, my wonderful friend Jean put together the prompts! SWW is her incredible story, and she posts about once a week. The Inklings Challenge was another October event, in which Christian writers on Tumblr were sorted into three teams, assigned prompts based on the writing styles of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and G.K. Chesterton, and wrote short stories fitting the Christian philosophy. I had fallen behind on reading both of these, and my goal for this month was to catch up, which I did! You can read Jean’s work here and find an index of all the Inklings stories here.

Finish reading RoW: Binging this 400+K book in less than a week during midterms season was probably not my brightest idea but I have no regrets.

Instagram & website scheduling: Cutting it close this month but I didn’t miss a day!

Finish reading Order Of The Sun: This is a draft my friend Lila gave me, and I’m enjoying the story so far! I’m about halfway through but just ran out of time to finish it this month.

Refine plans for the new year: So, back in September, when there was still daylight and motivation galore, I had lofty plans of finishing two drafts of Runaways, going through the beta reading process, line editing, redesigning my website, branding a new pen name to publish my MG and Catholic fiction, setting up new social media accounts, creating a stack of promotional designs, and releasing the book as a serial novel on this site in the new year. This was a gross underestimation of how much time holiday prep, travelling, midterms, and finals would consume. I realized that if I don’t want to burn myself out, and still create a quality story that I’m happy with publishing, I would have to take my time.

In the new year, I’ll keep posting as usual with the name Etta Grace, and keep working on all these grand schemes in the background. There are so many logistics and uncertainties associated with publishing that I don’t want to mess up. I love writing but this isn’t my full-time job yet, and I need to focus on not failing all my ChemE classes. Perhaps you’ll see the announcements in a couple months, as opposed to next month. In the meantime, thank you for your patience! I hope you’ll enjoy the story when it’s ready to share. If you missed it at the top of the post, here’s the link for my feedback form again.

Collect beta feedback and make Runaways edit plan: Because of the changes mentioned in the last point, this goals had to slightly change, as I’m also giving my beta readers more time to finish the story. I have a file system set up to bring together all my feedback and I’m very thankful for the lovely people taking the time to help me with this. 🙂

Thank you for reading! I hope you all have a wonderful winter and holiday season. Happy writing! 🙂

October Goals Recap

Hello, my friends! I don’t know about you, but this month moved so fast for me. The middle of the semester is always crazy busy, but this year, an unexpected event arose that took a lot more time out of my usual writing schedule than I expected. I’m a part of my school’s Society of Women Engineers chapter, and was selected to go to an in-person conference out of state, which threw me into a fun but hectic two-week frenzy of preparing accommodations, cramming through homework, taking exams early, and catching up on job applications. It was a great experience, and though I feared I’d miss my goals, (and a few of them were too close for comfort), I still managed to win the month!

That being said, I’m feeling the mid-semester burnout, and I’ve been more tired since the weather changed and darkness comes sooner each night. I plan to take it easy this upcoming month, and therefore won’t participate in NaNoWriMo. I love the event, and like many young authors, it’s what first got me into writing novels. The structure of a month-long sprint also inspired these monthly goals lists (along with Jenna Moreci’s quarterly goal lists), so I’ll still be writing, of course, just not going for 50K in a new story. It’s important to know your limits, and take breaks when needed – something I’ve learned the hard way, and still struggle to balance at times. In honor of the event, I’ll be revisiting the very first story I tried to write during the event back in middle school – that’s right, I’m re-outlining the Laoche Chronicles! I know I have other big goals to tackle, like fixing Storge and finishing my fanfic before the end of the year, but this is what my heart is set on, and I’m going to chase the inspiration while it lasts 🙂

But that’s enough of my nostalgia, let’s get into the goal breakdown!

6/8 – won by 2 goals

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Runaways Beta Call and September Goals Recap

Hello my friends, I have a special announcement for you today! I am now recruiting beta readers for Runaways!

If you aren’t familiar with the story, Runaways is a middle grade fantasy novel that focuses on themes of betrayal, forgiveness, and sisterly love. You can read the synopsis and some early excerpts right now on its WIP Page, but I plan to release it serially on this website in the coming year, and I need help to get it ready to share. If you’re interested, please check out This Form – all the relevant info is in the introduction to help inform your decision. I’m super excited to share this story with the world, and I appreciate all the support so much. 🙂

While we’re on the topic of big updates, I also completed most of my goals this month! (?) School is now in full swing and I think I’ve finally adjusted to the balance of school, work, activities and writing. (If you want to hear more about that topic, you can check out this post). I spend most of my limited free time working on my books, so I’ve been a little more absent on social media, and while it’s frustrating that I can’t interact or edit as much as I like, I’m happy I still have these opportunities. So without further ado, what did I get done?

Won by 4 points! 12/14 goals

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August Goals Recap

Hello, my friends, I hope you all are doing well. School has begun for me, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to be back on campus. The first week was spent so busy meeting up with friends (some I’m only meeting in person for the first time!), organizing club activities, and starting a research project, in addition to all my classes. I’m doing my best to schedule writing time in the mornings, before my 9am classes, and was able to more or less stick to that plan! We’ll see how long it lasts, especially once homework starts piling on, but for now I’m pleased to have a dedicated hour. It’s not much, but maintaining the creative momentum is half the battle when it comes to keeping a habit, and having the dedicated hour of escape from my other responsibilities will help me stay balanced through the semester, so I have high hopes!

I also said in my last recap that I found another way of tracking writing progress that I would be using going forward. Well… I ended up not using it as much as I thought I would, but I still somehow managed to finish more words than I did in July! I’m going to continue experimenting with the chart, but I think it works better when my attention is split between a bunch of things, rather than doing a sprint, as you’ll see in the goals breakdown. So what did I work on?

Won by 3.5 points – 8/9!

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July Goals Update

Hello hello again! I’m here again with a quick WIP update – I’ve been working really hard this month to crunch through as much writing as possible before school starts again in the fall, and I’m pretty pleased with how it’s turned out! I also wanted to share a new method I discovered to tracking progress, in addition to the monthly goals:

This little chart is something I found while watching through Bernadette Banner videos on Youtube, and something I decided to adapt to my own writing projects. It’s often super intimidating to look at a story and see just how much more there is to complete – I feel like I’ll never finish, and I’m just crawling towards the finish line without a way to physically see a progress bar. NaNoWriMo has nice built in trackers, but for me switching between projects, it doesn’t work too well. This graph let me break down each project into individual scenes, and it was so much more satisfying and motivating for my visual-learner brain to mark them off with pretty colors every couple days.

I’ll be using this again in August for sure, with a few alterations. Now that I’ve learned how many blocks = 10k words, I can make it more reasonable for one month of goals. I’m also going to leave the “other” column open to fill in as I complete fun extras. I noticed that I jumped around my TBR, and then didn’t mark off certain blocks because I read other books, so leaving that flexible will be able to more accurately reflect what I actually do!

Have you ever used one of these grids before? I’m sure there’s a name for it, but I haven’t seen it before. Do you think they would be useful to your own planning? Let me know what you think!

That being said, let’s get into the monthly goals, shall we?

Won by 3 points – 8/10

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June Goals Recap

Happy Summer, my friends! This month was a fun change of pace from the relentless toll of schoolwork, and my social calendar filled up fast. Between my busy work schedule, graduation and birthday parties, catch-up lunch dates and a friend’s wedding, I did my best to also catch up on my writing goals, often sneaking words in during road trips. I’ll be going back to campus in the fall, and I don’t want to take in-person learning for-granted after the last year and a half of zoom university. Since I anticipate throwing myself into clubs, research, and studies, I also know I need to make the best of this summer for the sake of my WIPs. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3). Since this summer will be my season of writing before setting it aside, I made my creative goals fairly ambitious this month, and I’m pleased with how much progress I’ve made, even though there’s always a nagging voice in the back of my head that I could be doing more.

Overall Goals: Won by 1 point – 14/26 goals

Creative goals: Won by 3 points – 8/11 goals

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May Goals Recap

School’s out! This was my third semester of Zoom University, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to be done with that nonsense. I survived organic chemistry and thermodynamics, finished my business minor, and missed my GPA goal by only 0.02 points, so I’ll take what I can get. Thankfully, I’ll be back on campus for next semester, and I’m half done with my undergrad degree now, so I am looking forward to a quiet summer of work and catching up on my writing! I also can’t believe how much I was able to get done as soon as I wasn’t spending all my free time studying. This month was a win on all counts, and I’ve got big plans for break!

Overall Goals: Won by 6.5 points – 19/24

Creative Goals: Won by 1 point – 4/6

Publish the end of Four Hours for Bridge Four: This is my Stormlight Archives fanfic, now completed! I rewrote the sea shanty “Four Hours” by the Longest Johns into a bridge-crew work song, and wrote one-shots to go along with each stanza from the different members of Bridge Four. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and even more pleased that it’s done and I can add another WIP to the Completed Works bin. It’s on AO3 if you want to check it out!

Edit 10k in Storge: This month, I’ve finished chapters 5, 6, and half of 7, which translates to about 30K words and 60 pages total. I’ve also reworked my plan for the middle to resolve a lot of issues with exposition, pacing, and tying subplots into the main arc. Projected length for the book is 120K words in 26 chapters, which means I’m also about a fourth of the way through the edit. Small progress, but good progress nonetheless! If you’d like to read a more in-depth breakdown of my editing process, you can check out this post.

Write 5K in Runaways: Unfortunately with the way finals worked out in the first two weeks of the month, all my writing got pushed to the end and by focusing on Storge, I just ran out of time to finish this goal. Sometimes that happens when you prioritize, but at least I was able to mark off one of them instead of splitting my time and not marking off either.

Draw 20 things: I had intended to do mermay but between finals, work, and writing, I think I only did ten doodles and most of them were human OCs anyhow. I did a few illustrations for friend’s birthdays, and it was fun to work on new characters!

Catch up on Goodreads reading goal: A brief tangent, but is anyone else annoyed that Goodreads counts “Books” as the only metric of reading rather than pages, or time spent? It takes me a month to get through a Stormlight book and three hours to finish a middle grade fantasy – what gives? Podcasts also count as audiobooks now, apparently, so I was able to retroactively add the first 3 seasons of The Magnus Archives. When most of my reading happens through audio in the car, that’s a really nice feature. Not included in the formal count, but totally included in my personal count, is the novel I beta read for my friend Siarven: Dreams Shadow. It’s one of my favorites this year, and I was honored to interview them about it’s worldbuilding! If you’re curious, you can check out that article here.

Queue Website posts and post to Instagram 2x a week: Done! If you want to catch up, there’s an archive pinned to the top of my homepage 🙂

A short post for this week, since by the time you read this I’ll be on vacation, but hopefully it’s an interesting one! This month, I’ll be covering Tropes and Adaptations, which was a topic recommended by my good friend Katie. If you want to recommend a topic of your own, please feel free to leave a comment! Until then, Happy writing! 🙂

April Goals Recap

Hello and happy April! I don’t know about all of you but I am Thrilled that spring is finally here (at least where I live), even if it means I’m going a bit stir-crazy during my online classes. This was a busy month for me – though to be fair, I don’t know when it isn’t a busy month. I’m happy I was able to get so much done between my classes and job, but I’m looking forward to the summer when I can make faster progress on all my fun projects.

15/24 Overall

7/9 Creative Goals

Do basic website “housekeeping”: As I learn more about building an author’s platform, WordPress, and web design, I realized that this blog was a mess. There was no homepage explaining that it is a writing blog, navigation was convoluted and out-of-date, and the blog feed included the whole post which made it a pain to scroll through. I didn’t understand why my traffic stats were so bad when I was putting so much work into my posts, but once I figured out what I was doing wrong I was able to put some temporary fixes in place until I have time to do a proper overhaul (and teach myself HTML and CSS) over the summer. I’m really proud of how this turned out! If you have a minute to spare, click around the site and see how everything looks. I also made a survey so I can see what content is your favorite and how I can make this blog better. If you could fill it out that would be such an incredible help to me!

New updates include:

  • The menu is organized by topic, and under the “My Writing” page are sub-pages for each of my main WIPs.
  • The pages for each WIP have been updated to include a synopsis, excerpts if possible, featured posts, and a master list of post links for that topic so you can easily find all the information for that story.
  • I figured out how to use the special blocks on WordPress so now my featured/related posts sections look pretty
  • I edited each post to have related post links at the bottom so that you can easily click from post to post without having to navigate back out to the main menu. I also edited them to have “read more” links, so you don’t have to scroll though the whole thing to get to the next post on the main page.
  • The main landing page for the site is still a chronological blog feed, but there’s a sticky post at the top which includes information about what I post, navigation menus, master-links, featured posts, social media handles, and a search bar
  • Misc. editing and updating to individual posts and pages to make everything up-to-date
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March Goals Recap

Happy Easter! Thank you for being patient with the delay in my posting schedule from Friday to today. I wanted to observe Good Friday with my family, and didn’t think it was appropriate to post this at the same time, so I waited to publish it until after the holiday. A new post on worldbuilding will be going up on this upcoming Friday too, so that will get me back into the regular schedule.

That being said, I’m happy to show that I did win this month after two relatively unsuccessful months. The spring semester is still in full swing, and with the way my classes coordinate, I have an exam in a different subject nearly every week. In February, I didn’t realize this, and was way too ambitious with how many goals I set. I also tried to multitask, so I made incremental progress but didn’t get anything actually marked off. Keeping that in mind, I was able to change my approach for this month, and I think it worked pretty well!

14 / 22 goals overall

5 / 7 Writing Goals

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