2019 Goals and Plans

I cringe every time I write goals now, because my reporting back always seems to center around all the reasons why I didn’t make my goals. It gets tiring really fast. It’s almost like my contrary nature makes me self-sabotage. I don’t know. It’s weird.

And yet, here I am writing down the goals I have in my head for 2019.

Writing

I’m sticking with the 5,000 words per week plan again. This should put me somewhere around 200,000 words for the year. I’ve already put together a production calendar that has blocked off vacation and travel time and noted events that may hamper production so I can hopefully plan better.

I also included ample plotting time in the calendar for each new book. I’ve found that I write better with an overview, a framework. It often gets changed on the fly, but giving myself space and time to plan the next book before diving in should help when it comes time to buckle down and write.

Publishing

I have two books that are in editing now. Hoping to get those published soon.

By the end of 2019 the plan is to have three more ready to go or already published.


That’s it. That’s all there is. I decided to keep it super simple this year, in hopes that it will be easier to achieve and evaluate at the end of the year.

2018 Year in Review

Happy New Year’s Eve! Stay safe out there tonight.

2018 was a bit of a rough year all around, right? It seems like no matter where you live, things are in a constant state of panic-inducing chaos. Here in the states that culminated with our mid-term elections and is ongoing in the state of the nation’s capitol. Still, I learned a lot in 2018. About writing, about the business of being a writer, about goal setting, and about myself.

Let’s start with the writing.

Back in December of 2017 I set a goal to write 1,200 words a day. Every day. For 365 days.

I mean, I knew I could write 1,200 words in a day, so how hard could it be?

(Pauses to let laughter die down)

Turns out, it’s not technically hard. What it is, is hard to maintain when you’re doing any number of other things, like editing, rewriting, publishing, or struggling with a plot issue. Or living a life not tied to the computer (weekends).

By mid-February I had already broken the streak and felt like a completely unqualified loser. Add that to the epic fail that was the contemporary romance I was working on and well, it was incredibly demotivating. So much so that my daily writing habit nearly faded completely.

I was getting bitter toward anything in my life that took me away from writing before I had the words down and that wasn’t a good place. Then summer hit with all it’s craziness and …

I changed tactics. Gave myself weekends off (unless I wanted to work) and eased up on the word count. I knocked it back to a much more achievable 5,000 words per week and started feeling a bit more success.

As for the production plan for 2018, it went off the rails with my word count. Still, I managed to finish two books. These will be published in 2019, so be watching for that.

The business part is easy. I published one book last year. It didn’t go gangbusters, but I did sell a handful of copies and am hoping to do a little more when the sequel comes out later in 2019. Yeah, slow publishing isn’t the best way to make money as an author, but you have to start somewhere.

And authors are exactly like people who plant trees. They both wish they’d started 20 years ago.

As for the learning about myself? Well, I learned that I am capable. I can do this thing. The writing gets easier with practice. The plotting gets easier. The procrastinating gets easier. The goal setting gets easier. Look, everything gets easier with experience and practice and I can see/feel that happening for me. It’s exciting in a time when I need something exciting to keep me moving forward.

Getting the words down comes faster, if not easier. And I learned that I really, truly love my job. I love it enough that I’ll keep going even if I don’t make crazy money at it.

2018 was a good year. I am really looking forward to 2019!

Quinning | April 2018

I think I mentioned that March would be light on the blog. I wasn’t kidding. ūüėČ

I know that I’ve heard other writers talk about self-doubt and imposter syndrome. I haven’t heard anyone discuss what I often experience – each book as a different sort of humbling.

I was so proud when I finished my first book. Hitting “publish” and seeing it go live on Amazon? Amazing.

I remember thinking that I finally had a good handle on story and on what it takes to write a book and bring it to press.

Then I sat down to write book two. Humbled.

The story was tight. I plotted it. I followed the character’s lead. I did everything right, but man, I felt like it took longer than it should have.

I finally put a bow on book two. I had a schedule and a plan, my friend. And then Mr. Quinn expressed his displeasure at being left out as an alpha reader and I had to adjust (more on that in a minute).

Last month I sat down to write book three and I was gutted. Humbled again.

See, every book in this series deals with a natural disaster. Book three is especially striking to me because the disaster was natural but the hubris wasn’t. But the initial plot felt like it followed the same formula of book two and that’s not what I want.

I want to be able to tell the story of the disaster with humanity while also keeping the series of events fresh. So there’s a new challenge!

I think I might have it nailed down, and Mr. Quinn is reading book two.

March Goals

  • My production schedule actually calls for this The Star of Storms to be done on May 4th, but we‚Äôve had a couple of conflicts come up that are going to put me away from my computer for several days during that time. It‚Äôs going to be a test of my ability to hold a schedule, that‚Äôs for sure. There will be some writing ahead and probably some wailing and gnashing of teeth as well. Check back in a month.

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth. I called it. Reworking the plot made the deadline tighter, but still in the realm of achievable. I’ll be putting my head down for the rest of April and may come screaming into a stop on May 4th. Still, I can edit a mass of words in a knot. I can’t edit an empty page.

  • Work on the romance. Back-burner, but hope to get some more words in on this one if I can.

Not at this time. I’ve looked at my production schedule and may get to revisit this over the¬†summer. We’ll see.

April Goals

Finish Book three.

That’s it.

As to publishing book two, I am thinking through some stuff. I’ll be back with a post on that in a couple of days because I think my initial plan won’t work. Stay tuned.

Quinning! | January 2018

I was scrolling back through old blog posts and smiling at how far I’ve come. When I started blogging it was as an unpublished writer. Now I am a full-blown published author. It’s an amazing feeling.

Anyway, I thought I’d wrap up December’s goals and share January’s now that the¬†month is half over (whoops). I got caught up in release day excitement that I forgot all about it!

December Goals

  • Work towards completing my NaNoWriMo novel. This one is a bit of a departure for me (just like 2016, actually, though I never finished that one). It’s a sweet romance set in a little town in Colorado. I’m almost halfway in and still don’t completely hate it, so I thought I’d finish and see if the thing has legs. In the writing, I’ve found some side characters that would be easy to use as expansions into a series. Early stages¬†yet, but…

I worked on this off and on in December. Made some good forward progress, but it just wasn’t clicking. I knew I wanted it to be a romance, but it was draggy and bloated and had all kind of problems. I made it to about the 50% point before I was ready to throw in the towel. Then, randomly scrolling Facebook, I saw a post in one of my writer’s groups about Romancing the Beat* by Gwyn Hayes and I bought it right away. Changed the whole direction of the story. Plotted the thing back out the week before Christmas and then took my seasonal break (Christmas to New Year). This book is in the January goals.¬†

  • Tie up loose ends for the launch of Star of Time. These are book-related details. Think licenses for cover elements, working on front-matter, working on back-matter. I’d like to have that settled before the book comes back to me.

Finished this one! Obviously. Since the book is totally available on Amazon now. You know, if you’re interested.¬†

  • Tie up loose ends on the business side of things. I bought my domain, and I set up a domain email address. I also started a newsletter (link in the sidebar if you’d like to sign up). I want to get a simple auto-responder ready to go.

Did this one too! Got y little newsletter set up. Made a simple autoresponder. Baby steps to finding those 1,000 true fans.

  • Complete my edit of Star of Fire. This is book 2. I’d love to be able to send it to the editor in January/February for a first-quarter¬†2018 release. Still, a lot depends on what happens with the edit of SoT.

Yeah, no. Didn’t even touch it. Reworked my goals for 2018 and created a release schedule. Now that I know how long editing takes and what to expect and what I can reasonably get done in a day, I think I have a pretty good plan.

  • Plan the launch. Look, I have no illusions about how this is likely to go. I am a literal unknown, I’ll be tossing a book into the roiling waters of Amazon and crossing my fingers for the most part. But, I’ve watched a couple of other first-timers make some headway and I plan to evaluate and adapt their strategies for my book.

Did this! Set up a pretty simple AMS ad just to learn the ropes. Low daily spend. Lower expectations. I’ll mess with advertising and planning promotions and stuff for book tow on. You know, when sell-through becomes a thing.

  • Finish the plot plan for book three. That’s the next writing project. Looking to start that one probably mid-January.

Again, nope. Got that worked into 2018 goals too!

January Goals

  • Finish the sweet romance. I am giving myself to the end of the month to knock out this little book. It won’t get published until late in the year since it is a Christmas-themed book, but I wrote out the beats in December and wanted to finish while it was fresh.
  • Write 1,200 words a day. I joined a writing challenge group to hold me accountable and so far, so good. I haven’t hit goal every day, especially at the beginning of the week when I was rewriting the first quarter of the romance. Once I got into fresh territory the words came faster and the goal was reached more consistently. Public shame is a strong motivator, I guess.

*Affiliate link. I might earn a few pennies if you click through and by Gwyn’s amazing book!

Goals | December 2017

Now that Star of Time is at the editor a book launch is looking pretty imminent. Frankly, the idea terrifies me, but I can’t stop now. The ball is rolling and all.

In the meantime, I’m not just sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for the editor to finish his work. I have a bunch of stuff to do. I thought I¬†might list it here for you to see – and comment on. I love to hear what others are trying to do in the busiest month of the year*.

  • Work towards completing my NaNoWriMo novel. This one is a bit of a departure for me (just like 2016, actually, though I never finished that one). It’s a sweet romance set in a little town in Colorado. I’m almost halfway in and still don’t completely hate it, so I thought I’d finish and see if the thing has legs. In the writing, I’ve found some side characters that would be easy to use as expansions into a series. Early stages¬†yet, but…
  • Tie up loose ends for the launch of Star of Time. These are book-related details. Think licenses for cover elements, working on front-matter, working on back-matter. I’d like to have that settled before the book comes back to me.
  • Tie up loose ends on the business side of things. I bought my domain, and I set up a domain email address. I also started a newsletter (link in the sidebar if you’d like to sign up). I want to get a simple auto-responder ready to go.
  • Complete my edit of Star of Fire. This is book 2. I’d love to be able to send it to the editor in January/February for a first-quarter¬†2018 release. Still, a lot depends on what happens with the edit of SoT.
  • Plan the launch. Look, I have no illusions about how this is likely to go. I am a literal unknown, I’ll be tossing a book into the roiling waters of Amazon and crossing my fingers for the most part. But, I’ve watched a couple of other first-timers make some headway and I plan to evaluate and adapt their strategies for my book.
  • Finish the plot plan for book three. That’s the next writing project. Looking to start that one probably mid-January.

 

* I would argue that May is equally as busy as December as literally every school in the area has parties, graduations, concerts, banquets, competitions, proms, dinners, celebrations, and awards ceremonies. I have friends who spend 14 hours a day attending these things for their kids every May. And yet, December gets all the glory.

 

Writing Cycle & Release Plans | Revisited

This post originally appeared in May 2016. I’ve updated the information to reflect progress and plans.¬†New info appears in bold.

I am trying to get this book done this month. No really, August is gonna make it happen.

And by done, I mean the second draft completed. Finishing at the end of August would put me at 13 weeks to write a full historical fantasy novel and redraft. At this point, I am targeting a finished length of about 80,000 words which feels right for this story. It took about 60 hours of writing to finish the first draft.

The Series

I planned this book to kick off a seven book series. For the direction I want to go, it just makes sense. I know I want to self-publish, but I don’t want to lose much visibility, so I am thinking of holding book one back until book three is almost ready to go. That way I can release books 1, 2, and 3 in quick succession. If I time it right I might be able to get book 4 and part of book 5 written in that time, based on how long it has taken me to do book 1. If I can then get 6 and 7 done I could potentially have a completed series in 18-24 months.

This is the part of the plan that is most in flux because there are so many life factors that have to be considered when planning something like this long term. For sure I want to publish the first 3 books pretty quickly. The rest is up in the air at the moment.

Writing Cycle

This is a super aggressive writing plan to get all three books drafted and somewhat edited by the end of 2016.¬†Adjusted for summer off…

Book one first draft due May 31, 2016. Finished August 4, 2016 (summer off)
Book two working outline due June 3, 2016. Due August 31, 2016.

Book one first edit and notes due June 10, 2016. Due August 17, 2016.
Book two first draft due August 31, 2016. Due October 28, 2016.

Book one second draft due September 16, 2016. Due August 31, 2016.
Book two first edit and notes due September 30, 2016. Due November 4, 2016.

Book three working outline due October 7, 2016. Due November 11, 2016.
Book three first draft due December 16, 2016. Due January 13, 2017.

Publishing Cycle

This is more up in the air. I’ve never sent a book to an editor or beta readers or anything, so I really don’t know how long or how many passes, etc. But I want to publish book one in January 2017 at the latest, probably November 2016 at the earliest. Definitely not til January at this point.

That would put book two published between December and February, and book three published between January and March.

I know those are broad ranges, but until I get a little experience under my belt (and see if I can even keep up with my aggressive writing schedule)¬†(Nope. But I’ve recalibrated)¬†I just don’t know. These are penciled in dates that don’t even take into account getting covers, blurbs, etc done.

Final Thoughts

I’m glad to have a plan in writing. Heck, I’m glad to have a plan, period. Of course, I’ll update every step of the way. And hey, if anyone out there has any experience in this game and wants to let me know if this looks good/doable/sane I’d love to hear it.

Writing Cycle & Release Plans

I am trying to get this book done this month.

And by done, I mean the first draft completed. Finishing at the end of May would put me at 9 weeks to write a full historical fantasy novel. At this point, I am targeting a finished length of about 80,000 words which feels right for this story. It’s possible that it might go longer, but not by much. I won’t have a total of hours until the end of the book/end of May and that may affect the final plan here, but I thought I would lay out what I have so far.

The Series

I planned this book to kick off a seven book series. For the direction I want to go, it just makes sense. I know I want to self-publish, but I don’t want to lose much visibility, so I am thinking of holding book one back until book three is almost ready to go. That way I can release books 1, 2, and 3 in quick succession. If I time it right I might be able to get book 4 and part of book 5 written in that time, based on how long it has taken me to do book 1. If I can then get 6 and 7 done I could potentially have a completed series in 18-24 months.

This is the part of the plan that is most in flux because there are so many life factors that have to be considered when planning something like this long term. For sure I want to publish the first 3 books pretty quickly. The rest is up in the air at the moment.

Writing Cycle

This is a super aggressive writing plan to get all three books drafted and somewhat edited by the end of 2016.

Book one first draft due May 31, 2016.
Book two working outline due June 3, 2016.

Book one first edit and notes due June 10, 2016.
Book two first draft due August 31, 2016.

Book one second draft due September 16, 2016. Send to editor.
Book two first edit and notes due September 30, 2016.

Book three working outline due October 7, 2016.
Book three first draft due December 16, 2016.

Publishing Cycle

This is more up in the air. I’ve never sent a book to an editor or beta readers or anything, so I really don’t know how long or how many passes, etc. But I want to publish book one in January 2017 at the latest, probably November 2016 at the earliest.

That would put book two published between December and February, and book three published between January and March.

I know those are broad ranges, but until I get a little experience under my belt (and see if I can even keep up with my aggressive writing schedule) ) I just don’t know. These are penciled in dates that don’t even take into account getting covers, blurbs, etc done.

Final Thoughts

I’m glad to have a plan in writing. Heck, I’m glad to have a plan period. Of course, I’ll update every step of the way. And hey, if anyone out there has any experience in this game and wants to let me know if this looks good/doable/sane I’d love to hear it.

Writing Goals Report | April 2016

Back on April 1, I announced that my Camp NaNoWriMo goal was to write 30,000 words in the month of April. April was also the first full month that I tracked my writing and can produce some metrics around production.

Over 30 days, I wrote for 25.05 hours and produced 30,445 words. That’s 1,215 words per hour. Not too shabby, I think, especially if you go back and compare to my output from just since¬†August 2015. My¬†goal¬†that month was just shy of 7,000 words.¬†For the month. And I still¬†only wrote just over 14,000 words.

The reality is that I write much faster with a plan in place. This is version 3.0 of this book, and the first time that I actually created a plot outline. Versions 1.0 and 2.0 were hot messes and it took 4 times as long to write. I will stand by this, but it was because even though I had a vague idea of a start and finish, I had no idea how to get from point A to point B. That alone caused way to much wandering around in the dark looking for the path and created books that weren’t even editable, much less publishable.

If you’re reading this, and you’re just starting out, please, please, please, don’t give up hope. It’s only after nearly three years and almost 1,000,000 words that I am even close to producing something that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to publish.

The bonus is that I feel like my stamina is increasing too, though that is not evident in my tracking. After my daughter’s wreck, with her car in the shop I have been back to Mom’s Taxi Service, which severely cut into writing time. I am hoping that after she gets her car back and we settle into our routine again I can prove what I feel in the numbers.