Becky Allen Books

YA fantasy writer. Not a morning person.

Looking Back, From Pit to Peak


Well, here we are at the beginning of a shiny new year. As I’ve said in previous years, I don’t really tend to make resolutions. I’ve found they don’t really work for me. When I’m ready to make a change or do something I need to, I just do it; trying to force myself to do that when I’m not ready just leads to feeling like a failure and no one wants that. Which isn’t to say I don’t have vague hopes and goals, but those have more to do with my usual sense of wanting to improve than with the new year. It’s important to me to feel like I’m moving forward.

Anyway. The last two years, I’ve taken a brief look back at the previous year to pick out pieces I’m proud of and the ways I have made some kind of progress — even if it’s just small stuff that only matters to me.1 So here we go.

For me, 2014 started out at the bottom of a pretty deep, dark hole. The year revolved around climbing out, and keeping on climbing up to new heights. In 2014, I…

Mom and the Mona Lisa
The Paris trip: we took Mom to see the Mona Lisa.

+ Got my brain in order, or at least made great strides. My mother died in late 2013, and my grief and depression bottomed out in December. It wasn’t that I felt sad all the time, it was that I didn’t feel anything. I was like a zombie, going through the motions of going to work, seeing my friends, moving through life. But I didn’t enjoy anything, and as an added bonus, had a couple of panic attacks. It was really not good.

So, with encouragement from friends and family, I started seeing a therapist.2 That’s certainly a heck of a way to start the year. I started to handle the grief, and to untangle my other issues. It’s an ongoing process, but hey, I’ve started having emotions again, so that’s something.

+ Traveled. Aside from my annual trip to WisCon in May, I took several trips. The big one was to Europe — my sister and I traveled together to London and then Paris. I’d never been to either before, and it was lovely. It was a tribute to our mother, who had wanted to go to Paris for years and never had the chance. We brought her picture and her spirit with us.

Whiteface Mountain Selfie
Selfie at the summit of Whiteface Mountain.

In July, we both went camping with our dad, visiting his hometown up on Lake Champlain. I have, as an adult, transitioned fully into being a city dweller. Nature is strange and disconcerting. But kind of pretty, I guess.

Finally, in September, I visited one of my besties in San Diego. It was something of a last minute whirlwind. We spent a long weekend on the beach, having fancy cocktails, and wandering through San Diego’s downtown. Everything is so pretty there. In the depths of cold, grey winter I day dream about moving there. Sigh.

+ I paid a lot more attention to my clothing this year. I feel silly writing about it — I’m not particularly into fashion as a whole, nor particularly good at it — but as I’ve moved into my 30s, I started wanting to dress less like I did as a teenager and more like a grown up, whatever the heck that means. This isn’t really one of my strengths, but Stitchfix helps. It’s a style-by-mail service that, aside from the actual clothes it sends, has helped me at least sort of figure out what kinds of things I actually like. It’s nothing special but it makes me feel happy in everything I wear.

+ And finally, obviously, the BIG ONE. The book stuff. At the beginning of 2014, I was in the midst of my final revisions to my manuscript. I started querying at the end of April, and in mid-June I signed on with Hannah, my awesome agent. We worked together on revisions through the summer and went out on submission in early fall — and BOUND BY BLOOD AND SAND sold in mid-October.3

Laguna Beach, part of my exciting California adventure.
Laguna Beach, part of my exciting California adventure.

For the friends and family who aren’t in publishing, I don’t think I can emphasize enough just how lightning fast that is in book world time. There were enough highs and lows shoehorned into those months that I ended the year with a little whiplash, but to bring the whole thing full circle, there’s this. With every single one of those highs, there was the accompanying thought: I wish Mom were here for this.

But every time I thought that, there was also this: But I know how proud and excited she’d be, because she always supported and believed in me.

And that’s probably how all of my achievements will feel from now on.

So, what of next year? Well, like I said, I don’t do resolutions. But then again, I don’t think I have to: I have official book deadlines to reach now, including, oh yeah, writing the entire second book in my series this year. I suspect that 2015 is going to be a year of buckling down and working hard, as this pipedream/hobby becomes a real life obligation — but, I think optimistically, one I’m ready and excited to take on.

Let’s do this, 2015.

  1. For example, I’m on level 424 of Pet Rescue.
  2. A neurotic Jewish writer who lives in New York and is in therapy? NO WAY!
  3. And man was that quite a week: I got the call about my book Wednesday afternoon, before leaving work; that same evening, my grandfather passed away.

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