Year-in-Review: 2014

I'll be honest: 2013 was a difficult year. Last December, I was not at all sad to say goodbye to all the uncertainty of my debut year. But 2014? 2014 was good. 2014 was when I was able to settle into the writing rhythm, and all that formerly stressful stuff stopped mattering as much, and I was able to rediscover why I love telling stories. Some of my professional highlights of the year:

Receiving the North Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Literature. I beat out DIVERGENT for this plaque, so you bet I'm proud, and was thrilled to stand up in front of 700 NC school librarians and teachers and let them know how much it meant.

Speaking at the International HG Wells Society Conference in Durham, UK. What a dream; spending an entire day listening to people far smarter than me talk about Wells in a castle where Harry Potter was filmed, and then swapping book recommendations over a few pints in a local pub.

Selling an Anthology Short Story. One of my goals for 2014 was to branch out in writing; I sold a short story called "Hide and Seek" to a forthcoming YA horror anthology, SLASHER GIRLS & MONSTER BOYS, coming in August 2015 from Dial/Penguin, organized by the very talented April Tucholke.

Working on THE CAGE trilogy. The first half of the year I finished editing THE CAGE, which is now in ARCs; the second half of the year I wrote the first draft of the sequel. This series has challenged me in so many new ways, and taught me so much about myself.

Holding My First Complete Trilogy. My editor just sent me an early final copy of A COLD LEGACY yesterday; here's the first shot of the entire trilogy. I keep staring at it. I feel really, really proud. (and PS, there's a preorder deal happening now!)

2014 was a good year personally, too. It felt transitional, as my husband and I moved into a new house, and he started a new job, and I settled more into mine. My husband and I both agreed that if 2013 stank, and 2014 was transitional, then it stands to reason that 2015 will be the best year ever. Here are a few personal highlights:

Sailing Trip along Turkish Coast. I had forgotten how much perspective foreign travel can bring! I tried something new (sailing) and met new friends from all over the world, and finally saw Whirling Dervishes, which had been a longtime dream.

New House. We moved to an old farmhouse about 35 minutes from Asheville. There are five acres of orchards and gardens and ponds. Do I know how to garden? Nope! I'm enjoying learning.

And as for my professional goals for 2015, I'm mostly looking forward to taking more chances with my writing and branching out even more. I've had two three-book series, which means I haven't had much time to work on anything but The Madman's Daughter and The Cage worlds. Now I'm starting to work on new middle grade and YA and adult fiction ideas, and having an absolute blast meeting fellow authors and readers. Here are my 2015 goals:

Celebrate publication of three (!) news books: A COLD LEGACY in January, THE CAGE in May, and SLASHER GIRLS AND MONSTER BOYS anthology in August.

Finish writing THE CAGE series: Editing Book #2 and drafting Book #3

Finish a middle grade manuscript: I've been working on a historical middle grade novel called THE HORSE LORD in my spare time; I hope to polish it and send it off to beta readers

Study graphic design: I'd love to get some professional training so I can design my own bookmarks, web graphics, etc. It's a nice creative break from writing.

My favorite memories of this year? They all have to do with people. Meeting readers at book events in Texas and North Carolina and Georgia. Hearing authors speak at YALL Fest in Charleston. Getting the kindest letters from fans. Chatting with booksellers at SIBA and at bookstores across the country. You all have made my 2014 a bright year, and I'm wishing you all a very happy 2015.