Category Archives: Reflections

Linda Aksomitis Reflects on 2008

As the old year ends and the new one nears, I always look back on the past year to reflect on what I’ve accomplished and whether or not I reached the goals I set the previous year. As a writer, I find setting specific goals very important for moving my career forward, whether the objective is writing new books or promoting them.

In many ways 2008 was an amazing year for me! I had four new books published with 2008 copyright dates, and the 2007 copyright title, Run, actually landed in Canada in February, so in reality there were five. Run was a finalist for best Young Adult book of the year for the Saskatchewan Book Awards, which was wonderful! Longhorns and Outlaws, my juvenile historical fiction, was the only Canadian novel chosen for inclusion in the McNally Robinson Books of the Season Catalogue in the Kids Novels category. Bookmanager statistics showed that had a major impact on sales, as the novel was in high demand for a good portion of the Christmas shopping season.

Best of all, the readers most important to me loved the new novels — my family.

When I dig up the goals I set last January, I met the majority of them, although some in slightly different ways than I’d planned. I didn’t get a young reader chapter book written, but I did write 2/3 of a novel, Kidnapped by Outlaws, which is a sequel for Longhorns. Looking at my goal in word count I surpassed it.

I didn’t get a photo album set up on SnowRider, but I did create a series of free Western avatars for the Outlaw books web site, so that was good!

I finished the rewrite of my course, Introduction to Internet Writing Markets, and surpassed my goal for registrations by close to 100%. Better yet, I learned a lot myself doing the revisions, so I’m back at the forefront of technology and have even more ideas for teaching and promotion.

My travel writing goals went very well. I did the four trips I’d set for goals: Quebec (Carnival and Ice Hotel), Lake Charles, Louisiana (food tour), Albany, Georgia (never travelled there before), and New York with my family. I also found and entered the photo/writing contests — only time will tell if I take away any prizes though.

In March, I increased from half-time to three-quarter time as an online teacher for Credenda Virtual High School & College. I’ve learned a lot of new teaching strategies, both using technology and instructional, so it’s been time very well spent. I also dedicated two months of time to in-person promotions for Longhorns and Outlaws, starting with the Alberta Book Tour in the end of September. The whole fall experience was incredible!

The library cataloguing course I’d planned to take wasn’t offered when I wanted it, so I moved that goal ahead to 2009 and have already registered for January.

All in all, 2008 was a very good year!

New Books for 2008

Snocross, by Linda Aksomitis.
Snocross, by Linda Aksomitis.

Snowmobile season sure cuts into everything else! However, I’m rolling ahead with the new books that I have coming out in the fall of 2008.

Two of the books are ones I put together as an editor for an educational press. They’re in the Issues That Concern You series from Greenhaven Press. My title for 2007 was Downloading Music, and my two new titles for 2008 will be: Choosing a Career and Teen Driving.

What I enjoy about putting together these titles is the research of the topic–which of course, is also one of the reasons I enjoy writing historical fiction. With the Issues series I, as the editor, provide the overview to a topic, then find viewpoints (often opposing) that give different perspectives. I also round up a lot of statistical information, which can create visual images to illustrate the issues.

Once I’ve chosen the articles I’d like to include in the book, I go through them and insert headings that clarify the different sections, since the books are for readers in junior high school. As soon as I get my package of materials all done, it all goes on to the next level of editors and permissions people at the publisher, so the books are really a joint effort.

Nonfiction work also gives me a break in creative writing, which is something I personally need as a writer. Since stories have to live with me for quite a while before I write them, I’ve found it best to work on other projects while I’m thinking through a fiction idea.

Of course, I’m also getting ready to begin final edits with an editor for the new historical fiction novel I have coming out with Coteau in the fall of 2008. I always look forward to working with an editor as a chance to get some feed-back on what worked with the novel, and some additional ideas on ways that the story can be stronger. Good editors seem to have an ability to ask just the right questions to make everything come together!

So that’s a little of my writer’s process.

I’d like to recommend an awesome new series of articles I found while looking for some resources to recommend to a writing friend whose work I was critiquing. Psychic distance is one of the most challenging things for a writer to master, and yet very few writing books address psychic distance. David Isaak does a great job here.

There’s always more to learn, whether it’s through direct feed-back from an editor, or by studying some of the great material that appears every day on the Internet.