At the end of 2014 I was kind of at the end of my proverbial rope. I hadn't been writing much because I couldn't. Life was in the way; my personal life was chaotic, I was depressed, and I felt like everything was falling apart. I wasn't posting as much across my social media platforms, I wasn't sending newsletters, and I wasn't blogging ... because I had nothing positive to say, and I didn't want to be online spouting negativity. I spent the end of that year trying to figure out how I had made it all work so well the previous year (2013), with five books published, newsletters going out regularly, blog posts being written often, and so much progress made in my career as an author!
You know what I learned, the simple difference I saw that changed everything?
I enjoyed 2013. I enjoyed the writing, I enjoyed the media exposure, I enjoyed putting myself out there and meeting new people. I enjoyed it until I started doing things the way I was "supposed to." When I started setting up accounts on every social media platform someone told me I "needed" to be on, and struggling to find something relevant to say ... when I started setting insane deadlines for myself because someone told me I "needed" to be insanely productive in order to be noticed ... when I started kicking myself constantly for not meeting those insane deadlines that I shouldn't have set in the first place. And I think people could tell when things began to change and I stopped enjoying it, because that's when it stopped working. My books still sold, but I wasn't feeling as connected. I wasn't scouting reviews, and I was losing traction fast.
So at the end of 2014, I made a simple decision for 2015, the decision to just do what I should have been doing the whole time. I decided to go back to basics and let myself enjoy what I was doing again, and it worked (sort of). Maybe I didn't write five new books in 2015, but I did write again ... and I loved it. I published a contest-winning short story that I'm proud of, followed by the fourth book in the Kingsley Series, More Than Friends, which was a huge challenge for me because it was my first full novel from a male perspective. I streamlined my social media use to include platforms I thought I would enjoy using (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+), I streamlined and redesigned my blog site, my newsletter, and my writing. I even attempted to set myself a schedule, although that didn't work quite the way I wanted it to.
I didn't kick myself on days when I couldn't write, but I did track my writing days and word counts to keep myself accountable. I released myself from feeling pressured, even as I set goals and what I like to call "soft deadlines" for my writing. I networked. I learned more about writing as a business, and I allowed myself to love the process.
Career life is going much better now, and I'm satisfied, though I do have goals and things I still want to work toward accomplishing.
Personally ... well that's a different story. Many of you know that my family has been dealing with my mother's failing health for some time now, and although she is one hell of a survivor, there are many signs that she is beginning to go downhill a little faster that she was before. In 2015, she fell countless times, she had more moments of increased agitation, confusion, and combativeness. She broke her arm, her collarbone, and her hip. It has been a mess.
And in the midst of that, life goes on.
So. What can you expect from me in 2016?
- I intend to keep NOT kicking myself on days when I can't write (like this past week when my mother's broken hip/replacement surgery/hospitalization AND the birth of my brother's beautiful new baby kept me a little busy), BUT I do still intend to get lots of writing done. I use an app called Writeometer to track my current project; it has a place for me to enter a projected word count, a projected (assumed) goal date for finishing, and what/when I write. I'm going to keep using that app faithfully. And in 2016, I hope to release 3 new books.
- I'm going to keep blogging/newslettering on "5th days," too, and I'm going to keep offering a monthly $5 Amazon giftcard to one of my email subscribers (sign up at the top of the sidebar on the right side of the blog).
- I'm attempting to build more regular interaction on my social media platforms, so if you see me online somewhere, stop and say hi to me!
- I'm opening my street team to ten members in 2016. Members who have reviewed all of my books will receive a starter package in the mail stuffed with swag items and other things members can use to help them promote my books. Interested? You can apply here.
- I'm going to be appearing at two public signings in 2016, the first of which is called Romancing The Smokies. This event is an elegant VIP luncheon (tickets are still available for purchase and there are still two seats left at my luncheon table!) followed by an open booksigning. This event is scheduled for March 19th, 2016, and will be hosted in Alcoa, TN by the Hummingbird Place (BlogTalk Radio). Later in the year, I'll be signing at the annual Thunder Road Author Rally on September 10th, 2016 at the Maynardville Public Library in Maynardville, TN.
Wow, it's going to be a busy year! I'm tired just writing all that ... so maybe I'll just go take a tiny little nap before I head over to visit my mom in the hospital. What are your goals for 2016?