Looking Back on 2018/Word of the Year and Goals for 2019

It’s that time again. The one day a year I look back on my goals and laugh. Here’s what I planned to do this year, with commentary on how it turned out:

  1. Get Mistress of Legend done and published. I accomplished this goal. It came out in September. I’m very happy with the way it turned out and it needed the extra time.
  2. Continue on the Rose Ferron biography, which I’m hoping to have done by late summer. I did get a fair amount of work done on this, but it got put on the back burner after that conference got canceled in June, which also canceled my archival trip. I’ll pick this back up again eventually, but I don’t know when.
  3. Research and start writing two WWII books that I’d like to get traditionally published. I tried to start on this after Mistress of Legend came out but my brain wasn’t having it. It wanted me to work on another project, which I’ve since made great strides on.
  4. Research the feminism book I’d love to have out by August 2019 (I doubt it will be ready by then). This project changed scope. It was originally the history of feminism in the U.S. book (which I do still want to do), but it morphed into a book on the suffrage movement that I’m still hoping to have out by August 2020 (the centennial of women getting the right to vote in the U.S.)

2019 Word of the Year and Goals
I was originally going to keep my word from last year (Leap), but I realized it doesn’t really fit anymore. It didn’t end up working out the way I thought it would, but it was still an appropriate word for 2018.

For 2019, I’ve chosen Prosper. I’ve had a heck of a 2018, especially toward the end, so I’m hoping this word will keep the good things coming and build on what 2018 started. I also think it is fitting because I’ve put in years of hard work (since 2008 with writing and since August 2015 with publishing) and it’s time to see them pay off.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I will take it easy in 2019. No-siree-bob. I don’t know how to take it easy. Writing-wise, this seems like it will be a non-fiction year for me, but you never know what may crop up.

  1. Finish the proposal for, successfully pitch and sell a book I’m co-writing with another author. This is the non-fiction on the suffrage movement I mentioned above.
  2. Finish the proposal for, successfully pitch and sell another book on the suffrage movement (different angle from above) I’m working on.
  3. Write both of these books by their deadlines (I’m hoping both will be traditionally published by August 2020).
  4. Finish the biography I’m working on (not Rose, someone else) and sell it.
  5. Attend three conferences and have successful speaking engagements at the ones I’m booked at.
  6. Possibly work on either Isolde or the gothic fiction book I’m planning.
  7. Keep up to date on the progress of Madame Presidentess as it makes its way toward becoming a TV show or movie.

I’ll release details on all the books mentioned above when I can. The two suffrage books and the biography will also help shape a book on St. Louis’ role in the suffrage movement that I have planned for the future. I may be suffraged and non-fictioned out by the end of 2019, but I LOVE research so this will be a fun year.

2018 Word of the Year and Goals

All of the year-end Best Books of 2017 lists (and an article on 10-year planning I read) have brought me to a conclusion about 2018: I need to focus on getting traditionally published.

I’ve known all along that I would try that route again someday, but if I’m going to become “the Nora Roberts of Historical Fiction,”* which is my goal, I don’t know that I can do it without at least a few traditionally published books. Plus:

  • I want to be on those year-end lists.
  • I want to get big-time exposure.
  • I want to get foreign rights deals so I can get more international fans.
  • I want to be on the USA Today and New York Times best-seller lists.

And realistically, the only way these are going to happen is either by an act of God (like Colleen Hoover and Bella Andre experienced with their indie careers) or with a traditional contract.

I’m hoping that my indie publishing successes will give me enough credence to make getting an agent/publisher easier than it was the last time. I know that because of what I’ve already experienced, I will go into this round of querying and submissions with so much more confidence. And probably less stress because I know this time that it’s not the be-all-and-end-all of my career; if it doesn’t work out, I can always self-publish the books.

THIS DOES NOT MEAN I’M GOING TO STOP INDIE PUBLISHING!

Not at all. I have plans to self-publish at least four or five more books related to the Guinevere series (Mistress of Legend, Isolde’s story, Morgan’s story, Soibian’s story and a companion guide, plus maybe a few novellas), and possibly the other three or four books in the Chicago Soulmates series, which began with Been Searching for You. Plus whatever else traditional publishing doesn’t take. I’ll become a hybrid author.

So that means 2018 is shaping up like this:

  1. Get Mistress of Legend done and published. (I know that will make many of you happy. Me as well! Publication date TBD.)
  2. Continue on the Rose Ferron biography, which I’m hoping to have done by late summer.
  3. Research and start writing two WWII books that I’d like to get traditionally published.
  4. Research the feminism book I’d love to have out by August 2019 (I doubt it will be ready by then).

In my fantasies, I will also have time to write Isolde and Sobian’s stories and start researching a 19th century historical that I am also going to try getting a traditional contract for. That might be possible if I wrote full-time, but I don’t. So just let me live in my deluded state. I’m happy here.

But I will have more time to write because I’m only going to two conferences and am going to limit my speaking engagements. I may pull back on social media as well. I see 2018 as a year of retreat, and by that I don’t mean running away from battle; I mean it in the sense of a quiet, calming spiritual retreat, a chance to get away and focus. But instead of prayer, my focus will be writing, which for me is a spiritual act. I know I say every year that I’m going to focus on writing, but this year feels different.

They that when we make plans, God laughs. Yes, but God also knows that I need plans because he/she/it/they/whatever made me this way. At least I know that if things don’t follow my plan, it’s because he/she/it/they/whatever has something better in store for me.

2018 Word of the Year
So this brings me to my 2018 Word of the Year: Leap. I’m tired of baby steps. Been there, done that. I’m ready for action, so I’m going to take the metaphoric leap of faith and soar into the unknown by trying once again to go traditional. I’m ready for success; I’m ready for the big time. As they say, God helps those who help themselves, so my helping myself is going to be writing several books with traditional potential and putting myself out there in the publishing industry again.

*For all of you wondering how I define being “the Nora Roberts of Historical Fiction,” here’s my thinking: She’s prolific (perhaps too much so; I’m not aiming for that level), well-respected in her genre, beloved by her readers, and one of the queens of the author world. I don’t care so much about the last one (although I so want the perks like money, films, and bestseller status); the others are what really matters. I hope I’ve made a few strides in that direction already with my own small efforts. I plan to expand exponentially from here.

What is your 2018 Word of the Year?

2017 Goals and Word of Year: Write

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Happy 2017!

I was originally planning for my Word of the Year to be “savor.” I wanted to have a year to sit back and relax, to enjoy the fruits of the whirlwind that was 2016.

However, all that changed on Christmas Day, when I found out my cousin passed away unexpectedly the night before. She was only six months younger than me and she and I were the best of friends when we were little, so it hit me very, very hard. She’s the first relative that has died that I was really close to (no offense to the others) and the first person near my age. It really made me realize how fleeting life is and how we aren’t promised the 80+ years we tend to take for granted, so I changed my focus.

I have this horrible fear that I will die or something will happen to my brain (like a stroke or something) before I can get all the stories in my head written. That’s why I’m going to push myself this year to write my little heart out, which you will see reflected in my goals below. It’s also why I chose the word “write” as my Word of the Year.

2017 Goals

  1. Write and publish at least two books. This includes Mistress of Legend and a non-fiction book about Guinevere that I’m currently working on. The latter won’t be long, but it will be a synthesis of all my research. I’m really more putting it out for fun than as a money-maker. I will also release an ebook bundle of the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy once Mistress of Legend is out.
  2. Write Isolde and Morgan’s stories for 2018 publication. I’ve been wanting to do this for years now and it just feels right to make this a year of Arthurian legend. Doing so will keep me in the mindset and help the books have more continuity and consistency. Also, once those books are done, I can move on to other time periods and subjects without guilt that this one isn’t finished.
  3. Continue to attend conferences and speak. I am finding that I love to speak and teach, so I want to do this as much as possible. I have seven events between March and July, so this is shaping up to a good start. Some of my events are for readers, while others are for writers.
  4. Turn some of my blog posts/presentations into online classes. For those who can’t come hear me speak or who want to learn more, I’d love to start offering classes. This may be a stretch goal for 2017, but it’s been on my mind a lot, so I want to list it.
  5. Continue to learn about marketing and indie publishing. This is an ongoing goal because things keep changing and I’m of the opinion that you should never stop learning.
  6. Break even on expenses incurred in 2016 and 2017 by the end of the year. Running any business, including indie publishing, comes with it’s fair share of costs. I’m publishing less and plan to do less marketing this year to help accomplish this. And of course, hopefully I will see increased income from my books!
  7. Lose 30 lbs by my 20-year high school reunion in September, which means exercising regularly and eating right. All this “butt in chair” time writing and editing and such has led to a huge weight gain for me. But more important than the number on the scale are my health and self-confidence, both of which will improve as I lose weight.
  8. Reignite my social life. I’ve really let this slide over the last few years in favor of my writing career, but now that that is established, it’s time for me to find some balance. Luckily, I have some new friends (Mia and Greg, I’m looking at you), so hopefully I will have people to do things with. I already have tickets to finally see Rent live, so that is a step in the right direction! (Those of you who have read Been Searching for You know that Rent is my favorite musical. Can you believe I’ve never seen it on stage?) Bring on the concerts, musicals and plays, ballet, and anything else that sounds like fun!

So, there you have it, my plans for a busy, but hopefully balanced year.

What are your plans for 2017? What’s your Word of the Year?

2015 Word of the Year: Valiant

valiantI started the tradition of picking a word for the year last January and I really like it. It was also one of the exercises in the 2015 guide by Dianne Sylvan, which I used to help me plan this upcoming year. (It’s not too late if you want to plan your year.) It gives me focus, something to repeat to myself on the tough days.

I knew this year is going to be one of major change in almost every aspect of my life (I can’t talk about the details yet for various reasons, but they aren’t contract-related, so don’t get your hopes up there quite yet), so I was originally going to choose “change” or “transform.” But then I got to thinking that once the change occurs, I would need a word to guide the rest of the year. That was when I hit upon the idea or being brave or courageous. Out of that came the 2015 word of the year: valiant.

Dictionary.com defines it as “boldly courageous; brave; stout-hearted.” These are all things I aim to be during my time of change this year and also on the ordinary days. The etymology of the word is also interesting:

1275-1325; Middle English valia (u) nt < Anglo-French; Middle French vaillant, present participle of valoir to be of worth < Latin valēre; see -ant

“To be of worth.” That’s a phrase we all need to keep in mind – the idea that no matter what happens in life, we are of worth. I also like “valiant” because it satisfies the medievalist in me with it’s evocation of knights in shining armor, but it goes beyond that – it somehow stokes in my inner warrior woman and brings my own personal inner Excalibur to life. I’m ready for an adventure and this word arms me for whatever may come.

Along the same lines, I’ve also picked a motto for 2015: “mission is glory or death.” These are lyrics in my favorite Wrongchilde song, Call Me Crash. I obviously don’t mean this motto literally, as I hope to live for a very long time, but somehow it has always resonated with me. I think it’s because of my all or nothing attitude. If I’m going to do something, I’m in it all the way. And I am certainly in this writing thing with my whole being, body, mind and soul, and I have no intention of ever quitting. I’m the girl who got the words “I am the dragon’s daughter” tattooed on her arm last year as a reminder of inner strength, so I think this is a fitting follow-up motto. (I’ve even thought about getting this one tattooed on me, but then I thought “nah, better not.” What’s the New Year without a Pitch Perfect reference, amiright?)

In case you’re interested, I’ve made a playlist of songs to go along with the word of the year. I’ll update it as I think of songs that fit into it.

Now I’m off to plan a trip that I hope will cross of few things off my bucket list. Happy 2015, all!

What’s your word for 2105?

PS – Be sure to come back here tomorrow for an excerpt from my new book as part of the No Kiss Blogfest.