A (not-so-)quick look back at 2009

With 2010 staring us right in the face now, I wanted to take a little time — not much, as I have plenty to do right now without looking behind me — to think about all that’s happened in 2009.

For me, the big game-changers all took place in the later months of the year, starting with the two-week Master Class in Oregon, followed quickly by the Month of Zuda Insanity for our webcomic IN MAPS & LEGENDS. I also finished up and submitted two novels I’d drafted previously in that time, plus a couple stories and a lot of ideas for novels to come as well as the comic plans.

So I’ve been busy. So busy that I can’t really remember back to January of this year. This really was the fastest year of my life. It’s a bit freaky to think about it that way. The weeks just flew by, especially after I got into workshop, and I spent many hours doing the required reading for it. I owe Lizzie big-time for taking care of the kids while I was gone, as well as all the time I was only “half-there” as I prepared for the class. She’s a trooper.

In 2010, all our hard work will start paying off. That’s my prediction.

But, I’m not looking forward yet. I need to stop, take a few cleansing breaths, and look back to see how I got to this point. That way I’ll know how to better spend my time in the coming year, and I can avoid making any of the mistakes I made this year. A little introspection never hurt — just have to keep  from wasting too much time navel-gazing.

I had to peek back at old journals to remember this, but I had a novel come out in February of 2009! I think I spent most of January waiting for it. Without much fanfare, after a four-month delay, my “rural fantasy” A Gathering of Doorways came out. That made novel number three to see print!

About the same time, I learned that the novel that was supposed to come out after that book, Maps and Legends, had been cancelled by the publisher, along with a bunch of other books by other writers. Luckily, I was able to do something else with that map novel…

I started revising my baseball novel again while I waited to get feedback from my agent on my YA fantasy novel, but soon got stuck on the book. (After about half a year away from the novel, I finished it in early December, and I think it rocks).

Elizabeth and I took a trip to Charleston back in March, the highlight of which was our midnight ghost tour of the downtown. Cool, freaky stuff!

Not much happened then ’til May, when Elizabeth and I agreed on me going to the October Master Class. I attempted to get back into jogging in June and July, but crashed and burned on that once again. If I could just find a good time to do it — I love jogging and how good it makes me feel. I’ve really avoided exercising recently, and I’m feeling like crap as a result.

Something I forgot about until I saw it in my journal archives were the trips we took to the putt-putt course over the summer to play miniature golf! Usually it was just Drew and me, having some great dad-son times, whacking and chasing the ball over the course and trying not to lose it in the water. Both our boys have grown like crazy this year, both physically as well as with their blossoming personalities. They may wear me out, but at least I have fun in the process!

Also — Drew played on two different soccer teams, and liked it, for the most part (he wasn’t crazy about all the pushing and shoving) and Mitch got his first haircut. Also, the boys went bowling a couple times — Drew loved it, though Mitch wasn’t old enough to toss one down the lanes.

Our niece came to live with us for a few months over the summer, and we tried to help her figure out that age-old question — one which we all grapple with, over and over — “What do I wanna do when I grow up?” It was great having her with us, and I know Elizabeth really appreciated having another girl in the house — otherwise it’s just her versus the three Jasper men, all the time!

I reworked the YA fantasy novel one more time this past summer, and got it to the point where it needed to be — just one protagonist (though I still wonder if it shouldn’t have alternating points of view, between Kelley and her twin brother Kurtis, so I can set up future books in the series…).

And I wrote a new story in July, my Basskick story, as well as “Finder,” a kind-of mystery, in August. Two stories! I hadn’t written a new story in years. Nice to see I could still do that. At the same time, I worked with Niki Smith on the script for what would become our webcomic IN MAPS & LEGENDS!

September was a blur of activity as I got ready to head to the Oregon Coast for the two-week Master Class. From the moment I arrived at the class in October, I was blown away. So much common-sense information, so much motivational assignments, so many new tools to add to my writerly toolbox. It was a game-changer for me, that’s for sure. I’m still unpacking all the knowledge and skills I picked up there. So glad we were able to work it so I could go to it.

While I was there, I took probably 60 pages of notes and wrote three new stories.

After I got back in mid-October, the following things happened in rapid-fire succession in November and December:

  • I polished up my YA fantasy and proposal and cover letter and got it ready to send out to editors.
  • I parted ways with my agent (not an easy decision, but one that needed to be made).
  • I sent out the YA fantasy novel to editors.
  • I prepped the “query package” materials for my baseball novel.
  • In Maps & Legends made it into the November 2009 Zuda competion for best webcomic.
  • I re-drafted pretty much the last 100 pages of the baseball novel.
  • Maps won the Zuda competion!
  • I sent out the baseball novel to editors.
  • I sat around for a few days, dazed by all that had just happened.
  • Elizabeth and I took a much-needed trip together, sans kids, to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, for a lovely weekend away.
  • I jammed out my sixth story(!) of the year, “Skidmark and Mudbeam.”
  • I dusted off some older stories and submitted them as well, bringing my tally of stories-in-the-mail to 15. SWEET.
  • I started reading up on all the comics at the Zuda site (nearly three dozen of ’em!) as well as re-reading the entire Sandman run of comics by Neil Gaiman.
  • I started outlining the next 52 pages of Maps as well as a new novel about a dying line of werewolves living in the Midwest. Gearing up for a very productive 2010!!! Can’t wait!

What a year. I think it’s telling that I can scarcely remember what it was like back in January. It was a rough year, especially after the hard times we went through in 2008 with Mitch and his battle with reflux. Whew. I think I remember even less of that year than the year just past.

But we all survived, and with the exception of my post-holiday belly-roundedness, we’re all healthy, happy, and hopeful for the year to come here in the Jasper household. Hope you are all feeling the same! (And if you’ve read this far without falling asleep, I thank you!!!).

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10 thoughts on “A (not-so-)quick look back at 2009

    1. Hey Dawn! Thanks for dropping by. Yep, I still have a day job (doing technical writing for a software company), though one day I’d like to cut back to 1/2 time or write fiction full-time. That’s one of my goals… 🙂

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  1. Hey Dawn! Thanks for dropping by. Yep, I still have a day job (doing technical writing for a software company), though one day I’d like to cut back to 1/2 time or write fiction full-time. That’s one of my goals… 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Mom! I really appreciated all your support this year, too. It’s crazy that I can hardly remember what things were like way back in January. Having kids forces you to live in the present, that’s for sure.

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  2. Your accomplishments are breathtaking. I like to read about your awesome family. I remember you using your lunch breaks to get some exercise … you can do it!!

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    1. Hey Beate! Yeah, I had quite a bit of free time back in the day, when we were working at Lenovo, so I could stroll around the campus quite a bit. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!!! Hope you and your family are doing well.

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  3. Wow, that was a real whirlwind for you!! You accomplished so much, and I agree that 2010 will see you accomplish even more. Go Mike! 🙂

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