Good morning one and all, you’re friendly neighborhood editor Stuart Conover here!

It’s a new year, and we’re thrilled to be entering another outing of open calls, Trembling With Fear, interviews, blog tours, author advice, and whatever else that we’re able to put together!

More importantly, this morning, I’d like to wish you a happy new year, a happy new decade, and happy new whatever you’d like to change!

While there really isn’t anything overly ‘special’ about the new year when all things are considered, it allows us to have a moment in time that we can think of as a starting and stopping point. It is a moment we can choose as to when we want to make significant changes in our lives, put in a course correction, and reshape our future.

It is EASY to make a new year’s resolution and not stick to it. So, before just blindly doing so, I’d love it if you want to change anything about your writing in the coming year to sit down and think about it. What do you want to change? Your style? Your word output? Your collaboration efforts?

Think about it. Take some time to write down what it is you want to do. Write down what you need to do to make this happen. Make a plan and find a way to stick to it! Don’t just say, “I’d like to write more” without developing a way that you can do just that. Make it happen, my friends!

Another year has gone by at Horror Tree and I thought I’d throw a few thoughts in to Stuart’s New Year post. The first is a heartfelt thankyou for all the stories you’ve continued to send in to Trembling With Fear. I regard this section of Horror Tree as very much a place for new and seasoned writers alike. It is wonderful to be able to give a new writer their first publication experience and also to see established writers ‘give back’ to Horror Tree with their ongoing submissions. The Horror Tree has provided many opportunities for writers – I know I’ve benefited from the submission calls – and Stuart really deserves our thanks and gratitude for providing this resource as his ‘labour of love’.

My other thought is as a writer, mulling over what I’ve learned these past twelve months. In line with the move to be more serious about my writing career, I’ve been part of online writing groups which require both regular story submission and critiques, or have sent work to beta readers. Critiquing is an invaluable part of the writing process and I have learned a lot from the feedback of other writers BUT there is another voice you need to consider, and that is your own. For a little while, I was incorporating everything being fed back to me, easy when a couple of readers came up with the same comments and in those instances more valid. When I would get completely differing opinions however, life became much more difficult. Whose comments did you go with? And sometimes those comments would conflict with my own feelings, causing me to doubt myself. It was then I realised that sometimes your own gut instinct is as valuable as a critique and you should still allow your own voice to shine through. I risked sending a couple of stories out after critiques but without addressing some of the comments which would have required including greater explanation or restructuring. Risky, yes, but I had been happy with my stories even after re-reading them and wanted to see what happened. These stories were accepted. This does not mean ignore the critiques you receive, they are often invaluable. What it does mean, is don’t forget yourself in all this. And that is my message for the year ahead – don’t dismiss the critiques but remember to be your own writer. Wishing peace, prosperity and kindness to all – Steph.

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About Stuart Conover

Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!

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