A Ton of Words, a Novel, and a Breakthrough: 2016 in Review

Most people wouldn’t say that 2016 was the best of years. (Heck, I even wrote a guest post about how writing and reading fiction can be a coping mechanism!) But there’s one thing that I can definitely be proud of: I got a lot of writing done!

Every year, I like to talk about the biggest accomplishments I managed to pull off. (You can see mine for 2015 and 2014, if you’re morbidly curious.) This year, I’m talking about… er… this year?

Let’s get to it!


I didn’t read quite as much as I wanted to, but I still got through 35 books. (And, thanks to Goodreads, I can safely say I read 11,096 pages and rated almost everything 3 stars, because I have a cold, frozen heart and am impossible to please.)

My top-rated books of the year were:

  • Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman: Adult urban fantasy. But it’s Neil Gaiman, guys. It was exceptional.
  • The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne Valente: Middle grade fantasy. I have some extremely mixed feelings about the Fairyland series as a whole. But the last book in the series blew me away, and left me exceedingly glad that I read them all.
  • The Siren Depths by Martha Wells: Adult fantasy. I discovered Martha Wells’s Raksura books this year, and became completely obsessed with them. The Siren Depths is the third book in the original Raksura trilogy. The series starts out interestingly–if not a wee bit slowly–and then builds into the absolutely perfect crisis in The Siren Depths. I adore them all. My life needs more flying lizard people in it. Now I have to wait until the middle of 2017 for the next one!
  • Take Off Your Pants! Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker. Non-fiction. This is an extremely short and simple book, but it has a fantastic approach to outlining that’s both minimalistic and extremely effective.


Oh my gosh, guys. I wrote so much.

Ages ago, I wrote a post about how I painstakingly record how much I write and how long it takes me. Because of this, I know exactly how much I wrote this year, and how I used that time.

This year, I wrote more than 212,000 words.

  • 184,293 of those words were for novels
  • 12,555 were for short stories
  • 13,562 of them were for outlines
  • And the rest was all editing. (This is a hard one, though, because my editing word counts are, obviously, often in the negatives. This explains why my spreadsheet thinks I’ve edited -804 words related to short stories this year.)

This is fantastic, especially when I only wrote 139,079 words last year. Holy smokes, that’s 73,000 more words! That’s a complete novel!

None of this is particularly surprising when you consider my post from last year. 2015 was not a great year for me. I was struggling with a nasty case of writer’s block, and struggling with the fact that I had started–and restarted, and abandoned–the one story I really, really, really wanted to write.

This year, I finally broke through.

After agonizing with one story I didn’t want to fix and one story I couldn’t seem to write, I just… came up with a new idea. I barely outlined it. I sketched out a few main plot points. I came up with a few characters. And then I just started to write.

I wasn’t as emotionally attached to it as I was the story I kept trying and failing to write, so I cared less about whether it was terrible. I barely outlined it, so I didn’t care that it didn’t go according to plan. (There was barely a plan FOR it to stick to.) I didn’t pants the thing, but by planning less, and outlining on the fly, I managed to write a story that was infinitely more fun and less stressful.

I’ll probably write about what techniques helped me later on. But for now? The important thing is that I completed the first draft of a YA fantasy. It’s 115,000 words long, it desperately needs to be cut down, the entire beginning needs to be rewritten… But it was a ton of fun to write.

And, speaking of fun times…


My biggest accomplishment was, of course, publishing Justice Unending. My first novel! Which you can buy! Right now!

I’ve written so much about it already that I’m not going to bore you, yet again, with the details. I’m obviously excited to death about it. Publishing is a rush! The very thought that I have book reviews and sales is completely bewildering to me!

Outside of Justice, I didn’t sell anything else. I wrote far fewer short stories than I did in 2015 and was extreeeeeeeemely lazy about selling them. I currently have two short stories that are under consideration, and… that’s about it. I really focused on novels this year.

My Resolutions

This was a fantastic, productive year. With any hope, 2017 will be just as great. Specifically:

  • I want to edit the YA fantasy I finished this year. It’s 115K long and an absolute mess, and I intend to spend the first quarter of 2017 getting that baby into shape.
  • I also want to query it this year! That might be late in the year, depending on how long it takes to get this thing ready for a beta review–and how long those reviews take and what they find–but I’d love to be querying in autumn.
  • I want to get at least 2-3 short stories ready for the submission rotation. I (almost) finished one in December. In January, I intend to get at least one more ready to go.
  • I want to start the next novel! Whether it’s the sequel to the 115K-long fantasy or that story that I wanted to desperately write last year but couldn’t, I’m excited to hop over to the next project.

And that’s that! Here’s to a productive new year!

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