2014: My Literary Year in Review

A new year begins in seven days. For many people, that means turning over a new leaf. Making changes, starting fresh. As a writer, it's a time of retrospective. It's a time for to make a “2015 Writing” folder on my PC, and ultimately to look back at my “2014 Writing” folder as well. 2014 writing folder

Projects that I started in my 2014 Writing folder:

The Burning City (created 1/07/2014) Mock Covers (created 1/13/2014) The Inkwell (created 2/20/2014) Earth Borne revision (created 3/7/2014) Wolfsbane Edit and Rewrite (created 3/28/2014) The Trials of Blood – Editing (created 4/12/2014)

Loose files contained within:

The Steph Test (my editing one-person cheerleading squad) (3/15/2014)

The Steph Test is a few sentences from my sister that I keep taped up in my office when I start to get really angry about editing.

“The Steph Test of Editing”


See it this way

Like when I'm sketching out something FOR a piece -

I could sketch something,look at it and think "Hrm - it's okay" and leave it to continue on to the finished product.

Or, I could erase a few lines - or sections and redo them - and the piece is the better for it

If I didn't do that - I would be producing crap, most likely. Because often things need tweaked or re-done a bit to make them perfect

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Camp NaNoWriMo (4/2014) (I chose to edit The Trials of Blood instead of write new material)

The Trials of Blood ebook (Draft Zero made in to a .PDF! For easier reading and disbursement for anyone interested) Available here on my website as of December 2014.

Camp NaNoWriMo (7/2014) (I chose to edit The Trials of Blood again, and write 7,000 words for The Burning City!)

The Good List

I was reading “No Plot? No Problem!” to get prepared for National Novel Writing Month, and within the book I was encouraged to make 'The Good List.' Basically to write a list of things I enjoy finding in novels, because that's what I'd naturally include or be better at writing within my own. I'll be sure to post that later.

Mistakes and ISBNs

My first mistake of a year came at Tax Season. I had some money left over from my tax return and I was very close to spending it on ISBNs, assuming I'd try and self publish sometime over the next year. For many, many reasons (the biggest of which is I'm struggling to self-edit) I didn't even get close. I have a commitment to self-publish Earth Borne first, since I received financial support from friends and family to have it professionally edited. The mistake was that I had entertained the idea that I'd be ready to self publish and that it would happen soon. It wasn't a mistake to not buy the ISBNs at that time.

Not verbatim: “Asking for money to professional edit a first draft? You're an idiot.”

Obsessive tangent side note: I ran ran an IndieGoGo campaign, I remember waking up to an email one morning. Someone had found my campaign, and read the fact that I was raising money to have a first draft professionally edited. They could not believe I'd be stupid enough, or arrogant (I can't remember which, or maybe both, they accused me of being) enough to pay someone to edit my first draft. The truth was, I was naïve, and I don't consider that to be stupid or arrogant. I understand the editing process better now, and found the overall campaign to be embarrassing afterwards. Not because I didn't feel the story was worth it – but because whoever sent me the message (which I found quite hurtful and rattled) was right. No one edits their first draft. I was stupid, but in an uninformed way. I didn't have anyone around to tell me how it worked. I'd heard of editing, sure, I've reached out and I've tried but I thought – hire someone to do it? I did, I paid $500 to have someone edit it, and they never told me I was stupid or arrogant or to throw my manuscript away. Although they may have laughed the entire time – I certainly wasn't. Technically that was all 2013, but it has made me fearful and hurt to look at the edited Earth Borne manuscript since.

So there's the truth about why it hasn't been done. I still hurt.

The Year of the First Draft

2014 was the year I began writing the first draft of “The Burning City.” It was the year I started to take a more critical look at the editing process of “The Trials of Blood.” It was the year I spent a brief period on a website called Wattpad at the encouragement of NaNoWriMo (and have since lost interest). Spending time at Wattpad did encourage me to take a story I had written in first person perspective and begin to re-write it in to third. (In fact, I just went back to check on the progress of that re-write to find it incomplete.)

My experience with Wattpad led me to make a few mock book covers, which I enjoy:

The Year of Draft Zero

This process began something like “A second draft? Wait, how do I..? That IndieGoGo person was right. I'm a fucking idiot.”

What do you mean second draft? I just wrote all these words! It took me 1.5 years to finish my first draft of The Trials of Blood, and by the looks of it, editing will take another 5. Well, maybe not, but it's going to take a while until I have a better understanding of the process. I managed to partition Draft Zero (as it is apparently called, when it's so rough it sucks) to Draft 2. And that's where it sits. I've edited it line by line once, keeping strong sentences, moving some around. Not enough though. Not enough to say it is edited or that I even understand what I did...

editing 2014 The Trials of Blood by Michelle Brumley

The Year I Didn't Ride A Train (but realized I wanted to)

I applied for the Amtrak Residency and was declined. It did get me thinking about taking a train ride and doing my own residency though. Maybe I'll look in to in 2015.

amtrak residency

Mistakes In General

In 2014 I made mistakes, and some good literary decisions, but mostly mistakes. I feel as though I've lost my core audience, the friends and family who would look forward to reading my weekly story updates. That's a hard feeling to harbor, but there it is. Eating away at me, making me think: maybe I'm not as good at this as I thought. This is the point in my life where I have to keep writing, no matter what, until someone tells me to stop. Or, better yet, tells me to keep going. So 2015: I don't plan on stopping, so you'd better speak up soon.

"As long as I keep writing, I win." Michelle Brumley

My Facebook group created for writing and a sense of community tanked. Everyone lost interest, I lost focus on directing it, and it sits there gathering dust. Maybe it will be something I'll start again in 2015. I managed to get some interesting writing out of it which I'll post later.

The Year of the Newsletter

I created and launched my first Newsletter for my writing and website in February 2014. And then I didn't do it again! It was meant to be quarterly but I didn't have anything new to show between editing and writing. I have a total of 7 subscribers, of whom I know all personally. I'm proud of the newsletter itself and the content I created and provided for it. You can view the archive of the Newsletter here.

I'll add that to my “to do” list for 2015.

Images, images everywhere!

I also went through a series of logos and graphics.

That sounds like a lot of bad stuff.

Let me focus on the good parts of 2014.


2014 was a year for change. I went through three different websites. I decided to shrug off the name of www.BloodGateKey.com and embrace my new author website at www.MichelleBrumley.com – I made it official. No longer was I just a series of creepy words put together in a sentence (although readers would be able to identify a BloodGate Key as having relevance by the second book). Now, I was a name, and a website. And I still didn't have much to show for it.

I started by migrating to a SquareSpace server – which, for artistic portfolio websites and coffee shops, is not a bad choice. I prefer a blog format, which SquareSpace could not offer me. So after a few months, I decided to bite the bullet and pay for hosting plan over at www.DreamHost.com where this website is happily and securely hosted.

FIVERR.com / DragonCrush

I started using a website called FIVERR.com and the first thing I did was literary related. I offered to beta read for other authors. I did that for a while, got a few stories under my belt, and realized it just wasn't for me. I started making little RPGs and had fun with that, but it became too time consuming. I did meet a very cool guy who was making a PC game and after I had made an RPG for him: he asked if I'd be willing to write for his game.

Yes, that sounds great! So I started writing, worked towards a novella with an end goal of around 25,000 words. Over the year of 2014 we went back and forth and exchanged ideas and integrated the story in to the game. We both took a break but will resume in 2015 and I'm very excited to continue working on it.

Here's a section of the campaign.

The Button Maker

With the money I was given for working on the video game: I was able to afford a button maker. While not strictly literary related, I have turned it in to something I use for my story. I now make buttons and magnets based on my writing, which you can check out here.

The Burning City

It's December and my first draft of The Burning City is resting at 57,000 words. It was at 0 words on January 2014. While my progress has been slower than I would have liked (100% my fault), I'm still happy with having nearly 60,000 words on the record. I've introduced new characters (some of my favorites, like Jaq Lo'ren), new places (the Burning City itself in Jan'caro), and rekindled some enemies. I've written some hard scenes, and some funny scenes, and I really hope I can tie it all together in the end, pleasantly.

The New Website

At some point in late 2014, I was making buttons and needed something to listen to. I was having one of those days where I felt alone, and was in-between websites at the time. I found a webinar titled “Build Your Author Platform” by a man named Nick Usborne on the Writing Digest website. Intrigued, I went and listened to the entire webinar. I was inspired, and that's where I decided to relaunch my website and start to build from the ground up. It's been slow (I've written a few writing resource articles) but I'd like to make a list of dark fantasy related articles to write about. I've considered writing Character Biographies or letters, just to keep it attached to what I'm currently writing about. I can already imagine a few letters from Nox...

The New Office!

I relocated my writing space upstairs - that is, someone relocated the entire thing for me. An act of love. I was given a space for writing, a space of solitude, a space for a coffee pot and all my writing books in one place.

The bittersweet part of 2014

I can't call this next part good or bad. I'm certainly angry about it, but anything that gets words on to paper is a good thing. I guess I just struggle with starting something and cutting it short—which is ironic, since writers have many unfinished manuscripts. I guess that's what I get to call this next one: an unfinished manuscript.

#Pizzamancer and National Novel Writing Month 2014

There's no easy way for me to say this: I failed my first National Novel Writing Month. I already wrote about that entire month, so I won't rehash it. The bad part: I failed. The good part: I have 20,000 words to pick up again later if I choose to!

Looking Forward to 2015

Overall, 2014 was a semi-productive year for me and writing. I would have preferred to finish National Novel Writing Month with 50,000 words instead of just 20,000.

For 2015 I hope to:

  1. Reach out for help in the re-writing and editing phase, since it has become clear to me that I'm still lost.
  2. Finish “The Burning City” and continue on to a more informed re-writing and editing stage.
  3. Finish “The Trials of Blood” and make it shine as my debut novel.
  4. Forgive myself, and my ignorance, and continue editing “Earth Borne” until it is publishable.
  5. Begin work on the third, as yet untitled book in my BloodGate Legacy series.
  6. Regain my readers. Ultimately the story has to be here for the readers to read... but I miss you! I write for you, and for me.

What I Learned in 2014

  1. I am allowed to call myself an author, even without having anything published. "Says who?" "Says me." I write, I think about writing, I have written more than some people. I dream of becoming published. The act of writing is what makes an author, not an ISBN or a publisher or an editor. If you're reading this: I wrote it, and that by definition... is an author.
  2. Editing is not easy, and I do not like it.
  3. Editing is not optional.
  4. See #2.
  5. I love Amanda Fucking Palmer.
  6. A 1993 Ford Explorer does not get good gas mileage, no matter what your grandfather tells you.
  7. There is no rule that says you can't introduce your antagonist at 57,000 words so I did it, and no Word Police came knocking at my door. Yet.

I learned other things, but that's all that I can recall at the moment. Thanks for reading.


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