romance writer
My 2017 - a year in review.

2017 was an eventful year for me. Not as difficult as it was for some people, I’m sure, but it was stressful at times. Overall, I think it was a good year, and looking back at these accomplishments and happy memories, I feel grateful for all I have, both personally and professionally. This post is as much for me as it is for anyone else - to look back on when I feel mired in day-to-day chores. Effort does pay off and every little step in the right direction counts, bringing me closer to my long-term goals (more on those in another post).

 

My writing life

In 2018

  • I started a Facebook group called Edit & Repeat with Candace. It now has almost 500 members who check in with us on their editing and writing projects. I think this is pretty cool. I also have a Facebook author page that I'm still learning to use properly. 

  • I edited my first novel, Deliciously Yours, twice, entered Pitch Wars with it, was rejected, started querying, and got a surprising number of requests for fulls. Still no offer of representation, but I received great feedback from agents and editors, so I know where I want to take it next.

  • I wrote the entire first draft of my third novel, The Art of Attraction, giving serious plotting a try - with great results. I think this might be my strongest first draft yet, and I actually can’t wait to edit this book.

  • I entered Trust the Wolf, my  second novel, into a submission call, getting a “maybe” from a major romance publisher - so I now have to edit it and send it in as soon as possible. I am really excited about this!

  • I started working with my two critique partners who are fantastic writers and great friends. We talk daily even though none of us live on the same continent. My stories would not be as good as they are (hopefully) without them.

  • I started researching self-publishing as a possible option and have found myself leaning more and more in that direction. I still haven’t decided for sure, but it’s definitely a possibility.

All in all, I’m calling 2017 a success when it comes to my writing. I’m in a good place right now, feeling inspired, and my most pressing problem is having too many ideas I want to turn into books.

 

My personal life

In 2018

  • My maternity leave ended in August, meaning I’m back to working full time as a freelance translator, but I’ve spent the past three months speed-writing my PhD thesis (because yes, I am a crazy person who decided she needed a PhD - not the wisest decision I ever made, let me tell you that).

  • The PhD has been the source of much stress and anxiety, especially as the submission deadline looms closer and my thesis advisor refuses to look at partial drafts, meaning I have to write the whole damn thing before she reads it - and inevitably tears it apart. I’m terrified it’ll be more work than I can handle in the short time I’ll have left before the deadline. It’s not particularly helpful that I’m in the “omg this is a steaming pile of shit” part of the writing process with no real time to make it as “perfect” as I want.

  • My husband and I celebrated out 10th anniversary of being together (and our 4th wedding anniversary). Since we also both turned 30 this year, this means we’ve been together for ⅓ of our lives, which is pretty damn awesome. He’s my best friend and partner in so many ways, and I’m so grateful for his support.

  • Our kids turned 1 and 3 this year, and it’s such an amazing experience (and privilege) to watch them grow. Kiddo #1 talks all the time and he has such a quirky sense of humor, it’s exciting to follow his thought processes. And Kiddo #2 is just starting with his first words, which means we’re basically learning a new language with him. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.

  • I also got help for the crippling anxiety I’ve been feeling - and was comforted to learn I’m not really depressed, just super sensitive to certain triggers because of where my life is at the moment. I’ve learned some techniques that help me cope - both protecting myself from said triggers and practicing daily mindfulness so I nurture my confidence in the world. It hasn’t been easy, but I feel like I’m slowly getting better at coping. Not that I’m less sensitive to those triggers, I’m just less likely to be completely thrown by them. It’s a work in progress and some days are better than others, but I’m very, very glad I got help. So if you’re stuck inside your head and don’t know how to cope with your mental problems, please, talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be an actual psychiatrist - but if you feel like that might help, don’t hesitate to make an appointment. It’s a huge relief to be understood. *hug*

  • My kids were sick a lot as soon as kindergarten started in September - just general stuff like a stomach bug, a nasty cold, etc, but we had to keep juggling work and taking care of them, which wasn’t easy. Not to mention being sick ourselves (usually worse-off than the kids, because kids bounce back really fast). So that wasn’t fun. I can’t wait for spring when virus season is over. It really isn’t great when you have to work while your little one is at home with a fever (even if he’s having a good time with Grandma).

  • World news were depressing as f*ck. I often had to avoid them in order to stay sane - there’s only so much crazy I can handle at any given time. I tried to do some charity work/donate to charities, but I feel like I could have done more on the local level. This is something I want to pursue in the next year. I don’t have a lot of time or money, but I have more than some people, so surely there’s something I can do.

  • I started doing yoga twice a week - and it has been great. I think this is part of the reason I’ve been struggling less with my anxiety. It helps me get out of my head, to relax and strengthen my body. I’m very proud of myself for this.

  • I started keeping a bullet journal. I’ve always been a list-maker and note-taker, but none of the daily or weekly planners really worked for me. I’m very happy with my journal - I also use it for my daily mindfulness practice and writing notes. I bought a pretty new notebook to start using in January.

  • We spent a lot of time with our relatives (my parents in particular), and I liked that. It’s really good that we have a solid support system, it makes raising kids so much easier when you can count on someone to jump in when you’re sick/swamped/want to go on a date.

  • We spent one week at the seaside and one week in the mountains in the summer - and I was surprised when I enjoyed the mountains more! We discovered some great new places and I can’t wait for next year’s trip.

Though there were some struggles, bad moments, and health issues, these were overshadowed by the good stuff that happened. Overall, we were healthy and happy for most of the year, and I guess that’s all that matters. My husband and I have always tried to be mindful of the little things that make life good, instead of focusing on the negative aspects, and I hope we’ll manage to carry this attitude over to 2018.

 

I’m curious: what was your 2017 like? 

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Hi! I'm Zoe Ashwood, a contemporary romance writer with a passion for sweet stories with a sexy twist. I want to make my readers fall in love with romance because I believe we all need a dash of love in our lives. Join my other followers to receive reading recommendations for all genres of romance, learn more about my writing process, and even read exclusive snippets of my novels and other writing endeavors. 

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