Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Looking Back–Looking Forward


This weekend is the traditional reflection on the past year, and the look ahead to what’s coming up in the next. Hey, who am I to mess with tradition?

And it’s a ready-made blog post subject so hey, less work, right?

But first:

weather12-30-17wndchll Get a load of that wind chill number, kids. And wow, that dew point! Now, granted, the sun’s not up yet, and we’re within spitting distance of January, but our average temperature for this time of year is closer to 24 degrees (F) than zero. So, we’re under a National Weather Service Wind Chill Warning until sometime on Monday.

Guess what I’m NOT going to be doing this weekend 🙂

Looking back

My writing journey has spanned many years, even more if I count all those years in elementary and high school during which I wrote my very first “never to see the light of day” trunk novel and a lot of teen angsty poetry involving eagles and mountain wilderness.

The most-significant year of my writing journey was 2012, when I took the plunge and attended the week-long Write-By-The-Lake retreat at UW-Madison. There I met not only one of the most wonderful writing teachers, but I also met my Writing Sisters. To this day I marvel at how the planets aligned that summer to put me in the same room with so many skilled writers. We added another great gal to our group a few years ago, and we’re still going strong.

The second most-significant year of my writing journey is this year, 2017. This is the year I signed with my agent, a great writing coach and advocate. She helped me make my book stronger. I signed my first publishing contract. I still can’t really believe it. I suppose reality will kick in when I hear back from my editor–Yikes!

Over the past five years I’ve learned a lot about writing. I’ve made a lot of great writing friends, even though I haven’t met most of them in person. Yet, anyway. 🙂

A takeaway for everyone on a writing journey, no matter if your goal is to be published or to just get your current project done: You’ve moved forward. If you feel that you haven’t gotten anywhere, look back and really see what you’ve done. Every step, from that first idea, to putting pencil to paper (even if it’s electronic), to revising is a step. Every critique you get, every one you give, has the effect of expanding your knowledge of the craft. Have you made progress since last month? Last year? I bet you have, even if it’s just a paragraph describing that incredible apple strudel you had at the local farmer’s market or a poem written after you met your first child/grandchild.

Look at it as progress. Keep moving forward. Some steps are smaller than others, but they are steps, just like on any journey.

Looking forward

This year promises to be full. Uff-da. From everything that goes into getting a book ready for publication to sending my youngest off to college, things are going to be busy.

If you are looking for a writing conference, no matter where you are, consider the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute. Seriously. And I’m not recommending it just because you’ll get to see me with my Writing Sisters there–we’re doing an author panel. And not because I’m giving a workshop with one of my Sisters, either. Although, both are excellent reasons to come 😀 Mark off that second weekend in April, the 12th through the 15th, and come on out to Madison, WI. I’ve met people who’ve come all the way from California and Maine there. It is a spectacular weekend where you can absorb all the creative energy stirred up by so many writers gathering together.

This coming year will also be an experience getting my first book ready for the world, including editing (ugh), blurbs, cover design, and all the other things that go into releasing a book into the world. A grand learning experience for sure.

This year I’m hoping to attend the Writers’ Police Academy for the first time. I hope Lee Lofland, who basically runs it, will still schedule it for 2018. Lee’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer this year, so things are pretty chaotic in his world right now. If you follow his blog, he keeps his followers up on what’s happening. The WPA is the weekend after my Writing Sister reunion, so it’ll be a few busy travel weeks for me, but everything I’ve heard about the WPA sounds like it’ll be well worth it.

How about you? What new adventures are you planning for the coming year? A new project? Polishing a current project? Finishing one? Starting one? Maybe taking a class or going to a writing conference? Resolve to move forward on your writing journey, even if it’s to finally write that story about Great-Aunt Ruth (everyone has a Great-Aunt Ruth, right?) and her roadtrip through South Dakota where she met her first buffalo, saw the Black Hills, and lost almost everything she’d packed into a carrier strapped to the car roof.

It’s a journey. Take a minute to enjoy it. Then get out those seed catalogs and dream about the garden–I mean, what else is there to do when it’s f**king cold outside?

Have a Happy and Safe New Year!



Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, seven chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

20 thoughts on “Looking Back–Looking Forward

  1. Great post I wrote similar x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations, Julie! Sounds like you had a banner year. Best wishes with the publishing contract. So exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oy! An I thought our 11 degrees the other morning was cold. I’m not sure I could survive your winters. I’d have to stay tucked inside.

    As I write this ,we have about 2 inches of snow on the ground and it’s still coming down. It’s supposed to snow until 5pm. Oh joy for the shoveling–not! *grumble, grumble*

    You had a great 2017 and you have a lot of exciting things planned for 2018. It’s going to b Ean awesome year for you. Wishing you all the best.Happy New Year, my friend!

    (P.S. don’t count on me visiting Wisconsin in the winter)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Eleven degrees? We won’t see the north side of zero until Tuesday, and then we’ll hit a balmy 13 degrees! Kinda scary when the teens seem like a heat wave 😀 At least we haven’t had much snow where I am, and what we did get the past couple days is light and fluffy because it’s so cold. So, no shoveling! And yeah, WI in the winter, not so much. In April, though, it’s spring, so typically in the 50s or 60s. In a warmer year, it can even hit the low 70s. And I’m so staying inside this weekend–er, except I have to venture out to the mailbox today to check for mail. I think I’ll take a short drive 😉

      Happy New Year to you! PS: Love the pic of Raven on your latest post. She’s adorable! I’d love to get a kitten, but Zoey kind of likes being top cat 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • We woke up to -1 today, so I think you are pushing that bitter cold air our way, LOL. When is this crap going to end? New Year….I think we should get new weather to go with it, and much higher than your heat wave in the teens!

        Zoey knows her stuff. It sounds like she’s going to keep things status quo 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Yikes!! That is so cold, Julie…keep warm and snug inside! Congratulations on your successful year and I look forward to reading about your path to publication next year. Also lots of conferences to learn about from you and so wish I could go the one where you’re presenting!! Exciting times ahead! I’m looking forward to releasing the paperback of my first book – the proofs should be with me any day. Then I think I’ll lock myself away and just work on completing the edits on my novel!! Have a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2018!! hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ugh, yes, the cold. Still, I grew up here, and I remember back when we used to get days that were double-digits below zero in air temperature. And -40 wind chill. I’m so staying inside! I’m excited for you and your paperback release! I got the e-book version, and I can’t wait to dig into it. I am soooo far behind on my TBR list … Sigh. Good luck on your edits, and have a Happy New Year! May 2018 be even better than this year 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Julie. Thanks so much for the kind words, and yes, the Writers’ Police Academy will take place as scheduled. 2018 is our 10th anniversary so expect over the top thrills and excitement. We have an awesome lineup planned. Please do watch for details on my Facebook page, blog (The Graveyard Shift), and the Writers’ Police Academy website. We’ll soon post announcements.

    Again, thanks!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! I didn’t realize it was the 10th anniversary this coming year. I’ll have to go for sure. I’ve been following along–can’t wait to hear whats on tap for this year. Thanks, Lee, and have a Happy New Year! Prayers also to your family–stay strong!


  6. Geez, that’s cold!! So much excitement for you in the coming year! I’m hoping to come back to the blogging world this year–I miss reading everyone’s blogs. Maybe I’ll start off with my own New Year’s post. 🙂 Best of luck with all your endeavors!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, come back to blogging, Em! And yes, it’s cold. The weather people tell us it hasn’t been this cold for a few years. Hey, I’d rather have cold than have to drive through snow. Then again, it’d be better if it was too warm to snow 😉 Have a Happy New Year!


  7. Goodness! I hope it’s warmer by now! Pulling out the f-word even. Now THAT’S cold! 🙂 Hoping this will be a banner year for my novel. I’ve thought that for a few years now, but this year maybe I really mean it! 🙂 When does your first novel come out again? This year or early next? So very exciting. I hope to file away all your tips and info on putting a novel into the world for future reference!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Today’s supposed to be balmy–highs at around 12 above zero 😀 Then back to zero until Sunday, when the one-day heat wave hits–all the way into the mid-20s! You’ll have a great year for your novel–think positive! I like it, so, you know 😉 My book 1 is due out sometime in 2019. If I had to guess, it’ll be early 2019, but I don’t have a release date yet.

      Have a great week!


      • Wowsa! Bust out the swimwear! 🙂
        Waiting a full year for a book to arrive is painful. I experienced that with my first, esp with people frequently asking me when it was coming out. So, sorry for being one of those people for you! The second one I played it cool and tried to not really think about it, which was easier since, as the second, it wasn’t quite as big a deal. Then when it came I was like, Oh, you? I’d nearly forgotten during this whole year… 🙂 My first novel will surely be an entirely different matter, however. My excitement for you, which is great already, will surely mount as it draws closer.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t miss that weather, Julie. It was like that in VT. Here in Oregon, anything in the 20’s is considered frigid! You had a wonderful year and I’m certain 2018 is going to be another one – busy as all beans. Your advice to stop and take note is important because time flies by. Wishing you a happy, healthy, creative new year. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The 20s would be reaallly nice about now. Rumor has it we’ll get a taste of the mid-20s by Sunday. Ahh, heat wave 😀 We love to complain about the cold, but deep down I like the bragging rights 😀 Hey, we were even colder than Fairbanks, AK this past weekend. (‘Course, Fairbanks being on the coast gives it a bit of moderation. Now, when we’re colder than Nome, AK … ) Happy New Year to you, Diana! And have a great week 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Fun post, Julie. I stalled at the image of your freezing weather. I’ve been sending daily shocked weather alerts to my sister who lives in Marion IN. They’re -15 today with wind chill, up from -22 yesterday. She’s the same temp as Antarctica. I’m guessing you’re close to Indiana (Wisconsin?)

    Stay warm!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m in MN, Jacqui, so we’re a little bit colder than IN, but the way the weather is going, we’re not much colder 😀 Today’s high is supposed to be all of 5 degrees–best part is it’s above zero! Woo hoo! We’re supposed to be hitting double digits above zero next week–relief! Have a great week!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s