2019 Highlight Reel

Happy New Year, everyone! I’ve never been a big fan of clip/recap episodes, but I think there’s some benefit in creating them for ourselves.

Elza's 2019 Highlight Reel

Whether you missed it the first time around, wanted to relive these most-magical moments, or were hoping for my all-important opinions on certain auspicious events, as long as you’re good and ready for a lot of me talking about myself, read on.

Highlight #10: Guest Blogging

I don’t get to talk about my day job too often, so the opportunity to submit a guest blog post for the Phoenix Fiction Writers on visual branding was too good to pass up. I went all out. I was funny, I was informative, I made sample graphics. I had so much fun. Guest blogging is something I’d definitely love to do more of in 2020.

"Establishing Your Visual Brand" Guest Blog Post Header from phoenixfictionwriters.com


Highlight #9: Adding More Style

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me IRL that I’m passionate about clothing. Despite that, style blogging has always felt outside of my reach. But this year I went ahead and gave it a shot. Learning how to style and photograph clothes has been surprisingly fun, and a challenge I can’t wait to develop further.


Highlight #8: Going Pro

I got my first opportunity to incorporate lettering into my professional graphic design work for a Christmas album this year, which felt like such a milestone after 5-ish years of doing this as a hobby. Adding another skill to my professional portfolio feels amazing.

Music album artwork for "Everything Changes Tonight: A Christmas Album" by Keynote.


Highlight #7: Picturing More

I’ve challenged myself to do more drawing and illustration. Although most of what I create stays safely away from public scrutiny, you can see glimpses of my progress featured on Middle Grade Carousel‘s theme of the month graphics. Who knows, maybe someday this will be something I can add to my portfolio as well.


Highlight #6: Conference Volunteering

I was thrilled to be back on the volunteer squad for WriteOnCon 2019. Being the uber-organized and overly-helpful person that I am, it feels good to get in on behind-the-scenes conference news and know that my time and effort is helping other KidLit writers. And, yes, I’m already part of the 2020 team.

WriteOnCon 2019: an online kidlit writing conference


Highlight #5: Better Blogging

Adding a dose of structure to my blog schedule in 2019 was an intimidating goal at the start of the year, and I’m happy to say that I was mostly able to stick to the plan. Deadlines, content creation, and brainstorming sessions have kept me busy, but I have to admit, I love the process. Look forward to more fun topics and content coming soon!

My Top Blog Posts of 2019, (According to WordPress’s Stats):


Highlight #4: Booking It

According to Goodreads, I managed to read 80-something books. I feel pretty fantastic about that, especially when I see them all together in one place. Honestly, this has felt like a painfully slow reading year for me, but I guess it all adds up in the end.

My Top 10 Books of 2019:

  • Who Could That Be at This Hour by Lemony Snicket
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
  • Brave by Svetlana Chmakova
  • Airball: My Life in Briefs by L. D. Harkrader
  • Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent
  • The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers
  • Strange Waters: A Phoenix Fiction Writers Anthology
  • Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis
  • Withering-by-Sea by Judith Rossell
  • The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

Highlight #3: Play Fighting

I gave in and started playing D&D with some friends over the internet. I wasn’t really expecting much out of the experience beyond a good way to waste time, but there have been some surprising benefits:

  • D&D is a huge stress-reliever
  • I’ve gotten closer to the people I play with
  • I’ve gotten less stress-y about talking into a mic / on the phone
  • We got to play in person once, in public, which was hilarious
  • My nerdiness levels got a nice boost


Highlight #2: Meeting Makers

Most of my friends are people I know exclusively on social media. Opportunities to meet up in person have been popping up more frequently than I ever would have expected, which has been thrilling, and terrifying, and totally worth. In addition to seeing some familiar faces, I was able to add Jay Fite & Julia Garcia to the list of friends I’ve met in the flesh. Yes, they’re as awesome as they seem.


Highlight #1: Doing Business

The most exciting thing I did this year was turn BumbleBess.com into a merch shop. I kid you not when I say one of my childhood dreams was to design and sell t-shirts, so making this happen was a big deal. It’s been a real boost to my confidence and creative ego to make something for myself, just because I want to.

Bumble Bess designs available on Threadless and TeePublic


For me, highlighting the good is such a helpful way to focus my attention on the victories instead of the losses, the progress instead of the failure, the ways I’ve succeeded instead of the times I’ve fallen short.

I hope you’ll be inspired to reflect on your own highlights. Even if your 2019 wasn’t everything you wanted it to be, I’m willing to bet some good can be found if you go looking for it.

What were some of your 2019 highlights? Feel free to share in the comments!

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