Embracing My Goals - by Janet Raye Stevens

Embrace. That’s my word, my guide, my goal for 2018. To ditch doubt, look fear in the face, upend uncertainty and embrace the “new” in new year, maybe not with a vengeance, but with as much energy as I can.

That was me, way back in January, laying out my goals for the year through one key word—Embrace. Now it’s December and our YA Outside the Lines assignment for this month is to take a look at the goals we laid out at the beginning of the year and see if we met them.

So how did I do in embracing the new this year? Not bad, if I do say so myself.

First, I set a goal of completing three new manuscripts in a year and didn’t quite hit the mark. But I was able to finish one manuscript and two short stories. I took a chance and submitted all three to contests or calls for submissions. 

The manuscript, a short contemporary romance called COLE FOR CHRISTMAS became a finalist in, and eventually won, Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart award for excellence in unpublished fiction at RWA’s July conference.

Me, trying to remember to breathe
during my acceptance speech.
It was quite a thrill to accept my award from best-selling YA author Pintip Dunn. Plus, I managed to deliver an acceptance speech in front of a crowd of 1500 other writers without keeling over.

The two short stories I wrote, both mysteries, were accepted for publication in separate anthologies. The Vanishing Volume, which appears in the library-themed anthology SHHH… MURDER!, is a WWII-set short about an inquisitive librarian and a book that refuses to stay where it’s shelved. Echoes, published in LANDFALL, released by Level Best Books, is a contemporary mystery with a ghostly twist.

Next, I started the year with a big embrace of my new pen name. That’s not only worked out, but has also been a total blast. Being Janet Raye Stevens has allowed me to create a writing persona separate from who I am in “real life.”

An unexpected “new” I embraced early this year turned out to be a big move in my writing career. After two years of not much happening on the publishing front, I made the difficult decision to part ways with my agent. Scary, and a huge step, but the right thing to do. I’ve since embraced another new path and signed with a new literary agent. We’re making plans to put my new manuscript on submission in the new year and see what new direction that takes us in. 

Now to hunker down and put together a new to-do list for the coming year – wishing all YA Outside the Liners a great holiday season and many new challenges and goals to embrace in the new year.


  1. This is awesome! Congrats on a successful year!

    1. Thanks Holly! There was a lot of up-and-down the last year, but the ups definitely outweighed the down.

  2. Congratulations on your win and on your progress toward goals. You've got lots to be proud of!


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