I was tagged by Bethany Cox, who you can find on YouTube and on Instagram, to participate in this tag. I really wanted to throw a video together but this week has been crazy with all of the continued holiday plans. So instead, I thought I would do the tag here on my blog. Hopefully this way, you'll also get some more-detailed answers as I write them out. Thank you again to Bethany for tagging me!
You can watch Bethany's original video here:
This tag is divided up into three different sections, so let's begin!
What kind of creative work did you do in 2020 and how did you feel about the end result? Oh boy. I've lost count of how many drafts I've been through with Jerusalem's Daughter, but let's just say that I made 2020 the year of HARD WORK. I got my book ready for beta readers, created some writing samples for a writing competition (and submitted them and got good feedback), edited, edited, edited again, then HIRED an editor and edited some more. I also designed the cover with C.J. Graves Photography and revealed that to all of you, which was arguably one of the most exciting days of my life! I pushed myself in a lot of ways in 2020, but I'm so glad I did. I didn't want to let anything stop me from releasing my book on a date I'd already picked out SO LONG AGO (more on that later... stay tuned!), and it's all paid off. I've grown so much as a writer, I now have so much more confidence in myself, and I can't wait to shift gears and focus all of my attention on Book 2 in the Generations of Faith series. I'm almost finished with formatting, y'all! And that means that the days of being able to hold this book in your own hands are drawing nearer and nearer.
How would your protagonist(s) have reacted to the chaos of 2020? Oh boy. Shamira, Shamira, Shamira... Let's see, in March, I think she would have been pretty frightened at the thought of anything happening to her family. Especially her older family members who would be in the "at-risk" category; nothing is more important to Shamira than keeping the people she loves safe. In April and May, I think she would have tried to start sewing masks, but she probably wouldn't have been able to get the hang of it. After several failed attempts, she would have just ordered some on Etsy to give to her friends. In June and July she would have been all over the sourdough starter trend, uploading selfies with herself and her younger cousin Libi as they made loaf after loaf together. August, September, and October would have passed by in a blur. She might have gone a little stir crazy at this time and dealt with a lot of sadness and difficult emotions, but she'd probably set up Zoom calls with Asa, her childhood friend and the love of her life (although she doesn't know it yet), and they would talk it out together. Because of the quarantine, she probably wouldn't see him very much, but she'd find other ways to get in touch like letter writing, mailing care packages, and playing Words With Friends, which she wins at every single time. At the beginning of November she was definitely out encouraging people to vote and pray extensively for our country. Finally, she would have spent December making meals and doing "doorbell ditches," delivering holiday treats and grand dinners to all the people she wouldn't be able to see in person. At the end of the year, she would learn that it's this kind of service, giving whatever she is able, that makes her feel at peace and content.
What is a positive writing lesson you will take with you into 2021? Wow, that's a tough one. I think in 2020, in order to grow I turned myself into a doormat. I shared my story with all kinds of people, betas, industry professionals, editors, etc., and I let each one give me criticism. It's important to note that criticism isn't a bad thing! It's actually how we grow as a writer. However, I had been told so much that you grow from criticism, that I suddenly felt as though I had to accept EVERY criticism thrown at me. Person A wants a character deleted? Done. Person B thinks the subplot isn't important? Get's rid of it. Person C misses that character I deleted. Maybe I should bring them back but rewrite them. Person D not only misses the original subplot, but thinks I should add in three more. Okay, I can figure that out. Do you see where this is going? I was trying so hard to please every one and accept every criticism that I got to a point with my story where I started not to recognize it, because it wasn't my story. Plus, with so many conflicting opinions, I eventually realized it was IMPOSSIBLE to please every one. The writing lesson that I will take with me is that it is important to be open to criticism, because it does help you grow and see things in a new light. But that doesn't mean that every criticism is right, or that you have to agree with every suggested change. Think about it, mull it over, and then accept it, reject it, or compromise. But overall, keep your agency as the author of the story. Ultimately, you control the content of the book.
Share a favorite quote you wrote (or read) this year? For this question, I'm going to go with a quote that I read. I'm saving all of the best quotes from Jerusalem's Daughter until closer to release week! Here are some of my favorites:
"Mahlah's concerns rang in Noah's head. Talk of war and battles had abounded this eve, but there had been very little talk of God." - Heavenly Lights: Noah's Journey by Barbara M. Britton
"You are Esther now, a Persian star, and you will shine like the dawn in the king's palace." - Star of Persia: Esther's Story by Jill Eileen Smith
“She was a meek servant during the day, all subservient and silent feet, and a stern-faced warrior facing off with me and stealing my bed at night.” - Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette
“I dropped to my knees and laid my forehead on the cold ground. With my face in the dirt, I pleaded aloud with the God who spoke the heavens into being.” - Like Flames in the Night by Connilyn Cossette
Something(s) you did on your channel in 2020 you are proud of? Hands down, my History of Biblical Fiction video. I'd been wanting to make this for a long time and I am so proud of how it turned out. I really enjoyed gathering quotes, evidence, filming the footage, and assembling it all together to make a "mini documentary" on the genre I love so much. Watch it here:
*Side note: Another thing that I'm proud of is my "Interview With An Author" series I did on my YouTube channel, where I invited some of my good friends and some new-to-me authors both in the traditionally published industry and in the self-published circle to speak on their publishing experience. This series is full of SO MUCH good information for aspiring writers. The videos with Mesu Andrews, Katlyn Grace, Tara Grace Ericson, and Jarm Del Boccio are some that I still rewatch. You can access the full playlist (13 videos total) here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLxU6g_4oFFNb7Xp4T8NUQtcoZiw00WuWI I'm proud of this one because it was a huge step outside of my comfort zone to reach out to so many people that I admire and ask them to be on my "little old channel," but it was so worth it.
In what ways did you, and your channel, grow in 2020? I actually went ahead and looked at my YouTube analytics for this question, and before I even share this, can I just say a massive THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to each one of you? Creating content like this and knowing that it is reaching people is so humbling and all I can do is praise God for allowing me to do this. I gained over 450 subscribers in the past 365 days, and my reach nearly doubled. Say what??? I was just thinking about how it feels like it was only a couple years ago (because it was, I started my channel in 2018), that it was just me and about 20 other people chatting about Biblical fiction and all the bookish things. Where did all of you come from? What else would you like to see from me? I love hearing suggestions from you guys. It's one of the things that makes me the most excited to create more content for you. Personally, I grew by pushing myself to my limits both in my life and in my work life, and learning that while I can do the tasks I set out to do, I can also say no to certain things. There's nothing that I have to prove, so when it comes to creating, I can do what I love, what brings me joy, and what I feel God is leading more towards. That was a very freeing lesson, indeed.
What is another channel that brought you joy in 2020 (does not have to be authortube) I really loved Bethany Atazadeh and Brittany Wang, and would look forward to their videos every week (or whenever they came out). They are my favorite authortubers for learning about self/indie publishing. I also want to shout out my good friend Alysha, from For the Love of Christian Fiction, who brought me joy just by existing. Aaaaand I also loved watching videos from Joy & Wildflowers on YouTube and on Instagram, because they were so calming and inspired me to live each day to the fullest, delighting in even the simplest of things.
What new hobbies or interests came out of 2020? I got back into loom knitting, which is something that I used to do in the past but eventually ran out of time for. I ended up making a bunch of handmade Christmas gifts! It isn't really a new interest, but I was excited to get back into it again and I'm looking forward to trying out lots of new things now that I've completed my B.A. and am no longer a full time student. I also got a new sewing machine for Christmas and am hoping to get back into quilting and sewing, which is something else I've been missing.
What would you tell your past January 2020 self to mentally prepare for the year? Anxiety. Anxiety is already a problem that I have, but it definitely became much more of a challenge in so many ways in 2020. I would tell my past self to not be afraid, but to know that it will come, and to find my strength in the Lord when it does hit.
What three positive words can you focus on come 2021? Publishing Jerusalem's Daughter. ;)
TAG THREE (OR MORE) PEOPLE!
I always have trouble thinking of people to tag, so I'm also going to be tagging some people who are not AuthorTubers, but maybe AuthorStagrammers or AuthorBloggers. I don't know that many author friends who are active on YouTube either, since I met most of you through instagram. If that's the case and you choose to take part in this tag (which I highly recommend that you do, it's a great way to reflect on the year), then maybe replace "Channel" with "page" and "YouTube" with whatever platform you use to reach people?
Sara Francis - I would love to see you complete this on your channel! Subscribing to you was one of the best decisions of 2020!
Cleopatra Margot - I am so looking forward to seeing what your new series is all about! And congratulations again on all the things you managed to release into the world during 2020.
Katlyn Grace - You have the sweetest personality, your presence on the internet is a delight, and I love how you use your books and your platform to shine a light for Jesus. I think it would be great to see you do this tag!
Finally, ALL OF YOU! I always like to leave tags open-ended so that if you want to do this, you don't have to feel like you need to wait around for someone to mention you by name. If you're reading this, you're an author, and you have a presence somewhere, consider yourself tagged! :D
Happy New Year, everyone! And welcome to 2021.