I mean, really. Wow.
At the end of a year, it's super natural to take a moment to stop and look back. Things can look a little different in hindsight, ya know? Sometimes we don't even really know what's going on until we're looking at it from the future.
So I usually like to stop and take just a few moments to gaze at the year in review.
Writing wise, we at the alley have had a pretty stellar year.
Pepper has published THREE books this year, The Thorn Keeper, The Thorn Healer, and A Twist of Faith.
Laurie received her FIRST book contract for her book, With No Reservations, which is available for pre-order!
Cara received a contract from Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson for Beyond Justice, which is also available for pre-order!
Angie received FIRST AND SECOND book contract from Barbour and Love Inspired, both set to release fall, 2017.
Amy published her SECOND novel, From Winter's Ashes, over the summer!
And Krista (me....) indie published two novellas, A Side of Love and A (sorta) Southern Serenade this year, and signed a contract with Barbour for The Engagement Plot, a full-length contemporary romance releasing November 2017.
I don't think that's too shabby for one year!!
We've also made a big change on the alley, going from 5 days a week posting to 3, and added FUN FRIDAY to the mix. And our writing schedules have cheered this change-up wildly!
We got the chance to have the BIGGEST alleycat turnout EVER at ACFW this year, and were able to meet with and glean some amazing wisdom from Allen Arnold, someone who has been a guest here several times!
Oh, and let's not forget our newest ALLEY KITTEN edition that arrived in 2016 in the form of sweet Charlie, Karen's newest arrival!
But even as I rejoice at all this AMAZING STUFF, I remember that it hasn't all been roses and sunshine. Many of us have struggled with rejections, depression, feelings of defeat as we look at the market, frustrating sales numbers, and a climate in the writing community that can be a little wearisome at time. (okay, fine, a LOT wearisome.) This writing journey has a lot of pitfalls and frustrations, to be sure. Ignoring it helps no one. It's there. It happens. It's part of the journey.
A few weeks ago, I was reading the beattitudes in a women's Bible study I'm in, and this reminded me of those. Blessed are those who mourn, who are poor in spirit, who are humble... It's a good reminder that even as we wrap our head around the bad that happened, we can know that God can and will use those things...those feelings of mourning that rejection, the stinging editor comment that definitely was humbling, those times where our spirit just felt defeated... He will use all those things to strengthen us and bless us. In our weakness is where God's strength is needed and showcased most.
So, while I won't sit here and list every hurt or rejection or frustration we've dealt with this year (the list would be WAY too long for a blog post) I encourage you, dear fellow writer on the journey, to take stock of yours. Not to wallow, but as a reminder that God is bigger than our disappointments. That God has brought and/or is bringing you through them into a place where you will be stronger, more connected with Jesus, and closer to the path he has for you.
And then look forward into next year, because that's where God is REALLY gonna shine. Because, while we can learn from the past, that only works if we don't stay there, if we use those things we learned to press onward toward the future.
What about you? DO you have some 2016 highlights or lowlights to share? What have you learned from this year that you can take forward into the coming year?