The Old Year’s Triumphs and the New Year’s Goals

The Old Year’s Triumphs and the New Year’s Goals

I’m sure I’m not the only person who hoped 2021 would be a little easier than 2020.

In retrospect, it really wasn’t. At least not here in British Columbia. A hot, dry spring allowed wild fires to ravage much of the province during the equally hot summer. And in the wake of the first round of devastation, atmospheric rivers dumped a record amount of rainfall accompanied by high winds into the already ravaged mountains, causing a series of mudslides and floods with enough power to destroy entire chunks of the highway.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, my husband and I experienced more close Covid calls in 2021 than in all of 2020, including one that forced us into isolation for 2 weeks. (Thank goodness my husband was able to work from home during that time period!)

But while 2021 was wild, it wasn’t all bad. For the first time in two years, we were able to reconnect with family and friends in person as the Covid vaccine has opened up the borders and made interacting with small groups safe again.

And while plenty of aspects of my life have been non-stop crazy throughout the year, I also got an extraordinary amount of work done. In fact (as we will soon see), I hit all of my publishing goals (even though some were only by the skin of my teeth).

As we bid farewell to 2021, it’s time to take a look back at how I did with my goals – as well as set some new ones!

Writing Goals for 2021

~Finish writing The Beast’s Wicked Gleam (the second installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Edit Once Upon a Dream (the first installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Polish Soul of the Sun (the final installment of the Celestial Serenade)
~Write Visions Unlike they Seem (the third installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Write and Edit Tales of the Exiles (Book 6 in the Eternity’s Empire Series)
~Write and Edit The War for Freedom (Book 7 in the Eternity’s Empire series)
~Do 800,000 Words of Work
~Make 548,000 of those words new material

You might notice a few of the titles above have changed since the start of the year. That’s because I eliminated several working titles and settled on an actual naming scheme for projects. The Beast’s Wicked Gleam used to be called The Beast Within. And Visions Unlike they Seem briefly bore the name Bloodforged Bonds (which has become the title of one of the books in the trilogy instead).

By now, I’m pretty aware of the limits of my workload, which means each year follows pretty much the same structure as the last one. I knew from the start I was unlikely to be able to fit all three installments of Visions Unlike they Seem into 2021, so I decided to settle for finishing the first two. That would leave the final book for the next year, much like I started 2021 with the final book of The Beast’s Wicked Gleam.

Overall, writing for this project is going well. It has a lot of moving pieces, which means there is a lot to keep track of and some pieces get lost in the shuffle. Every first draft feels like a complete and total train wreck, especially since entire sub plots keep falling into the void.

2021 had some writing ups and downs

But one of the main reasons I like to draft cycle books in a series is that each new installment allows me to go back and refine the previous books, laying stronger foundations for the events to come. And even though I know the characters in this series better than most, they still keep surprising me. Visions Unlike they Seem has certainly slapped me with some major character revelations that hit a lot harder than I anticipated.

One of the biggest challenges I faced this year was getting Once Upon a Dream into a fit state to be read by betas. I can safely say it is one of the hardest rounds of edits I have ever undertaken. Huge portions of the second and third installments needed to be rewritten and rearranged. I cut more than 10,000 words from the first installment, and added just about as much to the second. And still I worried it was nowhere near ready.

Preliminary feedback from my betas, however, suggests that all three books are hitting close to the desired marks. It still needs a few tweaks to really hone a few of its side plots in to fine points, but I feel confident it’s going to be truly spectacular when the time comes to release it into the world.

In contrast, polishing Soul of the Sun was one of my easiest projects this year, and that actually allowed me to catch up on a few things I had fallen behind on. It is one of the best things I have ever written, which means it mostly just needed some fiddly little adjustments to catch mistakes and make sure revelations were happening in the right order.

2021’s Successes

Then, of course, there’s Eternity’s Empire. This series has unexpectedly become one of my most popular, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! But it also requires a great deal of research to ensure every installment is filled with the same mythological richness as the first book. So this series has certainly kept me on my toes. Each new book needs far more intensive editing both to make sure it’s keeping up with every thread and to ensure each mythological inclusion gets a proper spotlight.

I would say this has been one of my busiest years, but also one of my most productive. Especially since in addition to hitting pretty much every one of my writing goals, I started streaming writing sessions in November and already hit affiliate! (More on that later.)

Overall I did 871,799 words of work in 2021, with 590,374 of it coming from brand new fiction, and I certainly can’t complain about the results!

Publishing Goals for 2021

~January: The Oracle’s Tale – a free novella for my newsletter subscribers!
~February: The End of All Things (Book 1 of the Celestial Serenade)
~April: an Eternity’s Empire Box Set including the first 4 books in the series!
~June: Across the Void (Book 2 of the Celestial Serenade)
~August: Tales of the Exiles (Book 6 of Eternity’s Empire)
~October: After the Nightmare (Book 3 of the Celestial Serenade)
~December: Symphony of the Stars (Book 1 of the Celestial Serenade Collection) (A box set)

I’m pleased to announce that I hit every single one of these goals. And in the months I originally said I would!

I think I’ve finally settled into a publishing schedule that works for me, so I’m hoping to have a similar set of goals for 2022.

Other Goals for 2021

I did make a list of publishing and personal goals for 2021. And I actually did a fairly good job meeting most of them. But marketing is a finicky beast. And the more I try to wrangle measurements for those goals, the more they frustrate me.

It isn’t that I’m not meeting any of my marketing goals. (Although I’m certainly farther behind than I hoped I’d be at this point.) It’s that marketing goal posts have a tendency to move month by month based on current and previous results. They require constant tending and scrutiny, and just aren’t as easily cut and dry as whether or not I hit a word goal or the publishing button on a certain date.

As such, I don’t want to spend too much time talking about numbers that I’m probably going to feel differently about next week. Instead, I want to take a look at how I manage my marketing in the new year and start making more concrete, actionable plans.

I will say, though, that I did reach 1,000 newsletter subscribers in 2021, which felt like a huge milestone. Also, I invested in some ad courses and did a lot of reading about advertising books specifically. I do finally feel like the concepts are clicking for me. So progress has certainly been made.

I also feel like I’ve found more flexibility in my schedule, which has led to some better time management. (Another thing I consistently struggle with.) I promised I would take some scheduled vacations in 2021 and they went so well, I’m planning to do the same in 2022! I might even get to go somewhere during one of them this year!

Now it’s time to set some goals for 2022!

Writing Goals for 2022

~Finish writing Visions Unlike they Seem (the third installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Edit The Beast’s Wicked Gleam (the second installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Polish Once Upon a Dream (the first installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Write the first two thirds of Beyond the Moon’s Beams (the fourth installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Write and Edit The Empire of Eternity (the final book in the Eternity’s Empire Series)
~Write and Edit Everyone’s Child (the first book in a brand new series!)

As usual, I’m looking to write, edit and polish at least one major project this year. For 2022, all of those will be pieces of The Aruvalia Chronicles.

I hope to wrap up Eternity’s Empire pretty early in the year, even though the final book won’t go out until August. That will clear the way for me to start a new project.

Everyone’s Child is a fantasy series that has been kicking around in my head for awhile. I’m not sure how many books it’s going to be just yet. I’ll have more information available later in the year as the project develops.

I’ve decided to cut my word goals this year. I’m more concerned with projects, and completing the projects on this list will provide a more than sufficient number of words for the year!

Publishing Goals for 2022

~February: Duality (Book 4 of the Celestial Serenade)
~April: The War for Freedom (Book 7 of the Celestial Serenade)
~June: Unity (Book 5 of the Celestial Serenade)
~August: The Empire of Eternity (Book 8 of Eternity’s Empire)
~October: Harmony (Book 6 of the Celestial Serenade)
~December: Song of the Spheres (Book 2 of the Celestial Serenade Collection) (A box set)

Streaming Goals for 2022

~Unlock and fill all available Twitch Affiliate emote slots
~Reach 500 followers (I guess?)

Um what?

I know! On a whim, after connecting with several writing streamers during NaNoWriMo in 2021, I decided to start streaming my own writing sessions just to see what happened. To my eternal shock, I hit affiliate in my first month!

I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’ve decided to make it part of my regular routine. I’m not entirely sure where this will lead, but I’m having fun, so I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

And last but certainly not least…

Other Goals for 2022

~Make an actionable marketing plan for each month and stick to implementing it
~More accurately track data for marketing on a month by month basis to improve action plans
~Finish all ads courses I started in 2021
~Continue to schedule off time (including vacations) and make sure I take them
~Be more schedule flexible
~Keep using timers to improve time management
~In general, return to making healthy choices instead of constantly reacting to stress (the pandemic has made this fall by the wayside!)

I’m looking forward to 2022. I’m sure it’s going to present a fair number of challenges, but I’m also looking forward to seeing what new adventures it brings.

What are you plans / goals for 2022?

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