Looking Back and Looking Forward

A new year might be just as little as an arbitrary point of changing the date, but it is a good moment to look back and look forward, checking the goals met and setting up new ones.

Here’s what I achieved in 2021 and what I’m looking forward to in 2022 in writing, art, reading and life.

Writing and Publishing

The most significant milestones I’ve reached in 2021 were publishing two books in my epic fantasy series, Pacts Arcane and Otherwise. My debut, By the Pact, came out in January, and Scars of Stone followed in July.

At the same time, releasing those books meant a shift in my life. I was no longer only writing and revising: I also had to publish and market. Because of that, I didn’t write as much as in the previous years, but I still went through several drafts of Shadows Over Kaighal, book 3 of Pacts Arcane and Otherwise, and write a good chunk of book 4 in the series. Sadly, this meant less blog posts and short stories—something I’m hoping to fix in 2022.

In other positive news, By the Pact was a part of two book bundles: IASFA Fantasy Bundle back in May, and SFWA Magic and Mayhem Story Bundle at the end of October. This has been an incredible experience, and I’m happy for that chance to reach readers who might have otherwise never heard about my book.

The last quarter of the year brought an unexpected turmoil related to the changes in my brand as an author. I said goodbye to Melfka, my longtime nickname, as a part of it. The decision itself was a difficult one, but what’s more important, it brought about a lot of invisible tasks to be finished, related to setting up new website and email addresses, switching social media over, and other tedious administrative tasks.

Yet, it felt worth it, as going through the process also made me sort out other things that I’ve been putting away, and it makes me feel like I’m entering 2022 better prepared and organized. There’s still a lot to do, but noticing the progress was rewarding.

What’s in store for 2022? You will definitely see Shadows Over Kaighal on the virtual shelves, as it’s releasing on March 12. I’m also hoping to finish book 4, Demon Siege this year, but I’m unsure whether it’ll be published in 2022. It all depends on the amount of revisions needed as I want the conclusion to the series to be the best possible.

I have a few other tentative plans done, but with so many things in the air, I’m reluctant to share them. I don’t like to make promises I can’t deliver, but I hope for some short stories, and I’ll definitely be working on more series in the future!


In 2021, I’ve been focusing mostly on digital art, since it requires less space, setup, and cleanup. I experimented with styles and techniques, and thoroughly enjoyed the process, but art is still just a hobby to me.

In October, I took part in #FrightFall2021—a challenge organized by RetroSupplyCo, similar to Inktober but focused on Halloween-y themes. I completed paintings for 25 out of 31 days, but it took a huge toll on my writing progress as the digital images were much more time-consuming than my simple dragonflies or witches from the previous years.

I’m still happy that I did it as it helped me to grow as an artist, and I hope that in 2022 I’ll do art more regularly, instead of squeezing most of it into one month.

Here are some of my favorite images from 2021.


My reading patterns were erratic. I still “DNF” a lot of books, but it seems a better choice than to try to finish books I don’t enjoy. On a brighter side, I’ve read slightly more this year than the previous year, so I’ll take it as a win. I was also happy to discover several books that I thoroughly enjoyed, since I’m usually a picky reader. I will be sharing my favorite reads of 2021 next week, and I certainly hope that 2022 will bring even more exciting reads. Though, at the same time, I somewhat gave up on hopes for clearing my huge TBR file. Perhaps it’s meant to stay this way, always tempting me to read more.


There weren’t many changes life-wise, though with my husband’s changing jobs, our routines shifted. I also, despite my love for tea, gave up caffeine. As much as I love my “morning cuppa”, I was getting tired of being reliant on it and of the massive headaches I would get if I skipped my coffee or tea. I still have decaf coffee and some teas, so I get to enjoy the flavors without the side effects.

The highlight of the last year was the day-long trip I’ve been looking forward to ever since we moved to Virginia and which we finally went on. I’ve heard that driving through Shenandoah National Park in autumn is an unforgettable experience, and I wanted to see it for myself.

Now that I’ve driven through the Skyline Drive, I can attest to the magical mood of multicolored trees and mountainous slopes, with the Shenandoah Valley stretching underneath. Since it was only a day trip, I didn’t get to hike any of the trails, but it was still worth it.

We also squeezed in a visit to Luray Caverns, and as much as the Skyline Drive could have been taken as a journey through a fantasy forest, the Caverns were like a visit to a science fiction planet and well-worth experiencing as well.

As for the 2022, I don’t make any plans. Life likes to shift, forcing our focus one way or another, so plans are better made long term and adjusted as needed.

How about you? How did your 2021 go?

Joanna Maciejewska

Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games. Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English. Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.

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