New year, same me. But it’s January again, which means it’s time to try and set some resolutions I probably won’t keep, so I can complain in December about all the obstacles I faced. (I’m the obstacle.)

All kidding aside, I do have big plans for 2024.

Scion of Bones: Finally in its Final Form

First up is the manuscript for Scion of Bones, which I originally advertised in 2021 under a different title but never actually published. Starting as a NaNoWriMo project in 2020, the novel was polished up and ready to self-publish by October of 2021, but as the days to release ticked down and my ARC feedback started coming in, I realized I had a problem: readers liked it, but they had some valid criticisms.

I wrote the original novel without ever studying story structure or pacing, and there was no way to fix what people didn’t like in the short time until planned publication. Instead of releasing a flawed product, I admitted to myself the story was incomplete and pulled it before the publication date.

The book got some tweaks. Then, after I spent six months studying story structure, it got a rewrite. Then it got two more complete rewrites. At this point, it was such a wildly different story from the original, and planned sequels were so far away from original outlines, its original title didn’t fit anymore.

Newly-renamed Scion of Bones then went for a full professional developmental line edit at the end of 2023.

It was expensive. It took a long time. The editor I hired went through my manuscript with a fine-tooth comb and ripped apart (kindly!) things I was so sure my potential series needed. I was told things I had my heart set on using for plots down the line had no point here and weakened the story I had. I was told characters I fell in love with were unnecessary, that they needed to be cut out and their parts combined with ones that remained. The rest, I was told, worked well, but obviously needed some adjusting and rearranging to neatly fill the holes caused by cuts.

I didn’t argue. At the heart of it, readers want certain things out of a novel. My job is to tell my story in a way that gives them those things, otherwise, what’s the point?

I took the editor’s advice, and not only did I remove those things, I cut entire future plot lines I had attached to them. I expected to be resentful and unhappy about doing it, but to be honest, something magical happened: not only did Scion of Bones suddenly fit exactly the vision I originally had for it, an entire series arc crystalized. Neat, direct, deep, tragic, romantic.

My biggest goal for 2024 is to finish up the final changes the editor suggested, and to be ready to query agents by March.

Standalones, Shorts, and Sequels

Scion of Bones is now strong enough to be a standalone novel, but the first draft of its sequel is already 1/3 completed and it’s fully outlined. At this point in time, 1/3 completed is how it will stay. Should I managed to get representation and traditionally publish, it’s pretty likely changes will be made. Although the full series arc is already completely outlined, markets and reader expectations change. It’s easier to adjust an outline and partial draft than a 100k-word manuscript.

In the meantime, I have plans for four other novels, one of which I’ll be starting in February. My goal for 2024 is to have at least two of these completely drafted and ready for their first rewrite by the end of the year.

I’d also like to keep my imagination limber, so my final writing goal for 2024 is to complete and post at least two shorts per month. These might be flash fictions, short stories, or just 1000-word responses to prompts. I’d like to have them finished and posted by the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.

But what about the books?

I got back into reading in June of 2023 after a fifteen-year (!!!) dry spell. I got on Goodreads and subscribed to FairyLoot, llumicrate, and NetGalley to force myself to continue reading.

How can I write good novels if I don’t know what’s out there in my genre? I can’t.

So my goal is to read 100 books in 2024, and to review every one of them so my Goodreads friends can see I’m keeping up. I started by getting by book recs from Booktok, but I won’t be doing that anymore…I find I don’t really like most of what’s being pushed. Instead, I follow publishers on social media, or get recommendations from Goodreads and NetGalley reviewers who like the same things as me. I also get a lot of new debut authors through my book subscription boxes.

And that’s it for this brief update. I hope to start writing about things going on in Philadelphia and some of the road trips I do with my friends, but let’s at least wait until the end of February to see how I juggle the goals I already have.

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