Goodbye 2023, Welcome 2024!

Goodbye 2023, Welcome 2024!

As is tradition, I like to start each new year with a look back at the previous year’s goals. One of the biggest reasons is because it helps me realize just how much I do each year. Otherwise, the work is so spread out, it’s easy to feel like most of the year passes without much progress.

I also like to set a new series of goals for each year because it keeps me on track. Knowing how well I did with last year’s goals helps me keep the new goals reasonable. And my goals for 2023 were pretty ambitious.

Way in the long ago, I set up my schedule so I’d start the first half of the year with edits on my major novel project. Then, during the second half of the year, I would write the next installment of whatever series I was working on. Theoretically, I would start edits in January, then polish the previous year’s edits (newly back from beta readers) during July and August, and start writing a brand new trilogy in September.

Somewhere along the line, the schedule got out of synch. My books grew longer, which caused the start and end times to skew. For the past several years, I’ve had to finish the previous year’s writing at the start of the new year before I could get to regular edits. This means that the most technically easy portion of my year no longer happens in the summer, when we generally want to travel.

So I hatched a plan. In 2023, the goal was to ‘catch up’ my schedule so that when 2024 rolled around, I’d start it with edits and get everything back on track. It instantly turned out to be harder than I anticipated… But let’s see how it went.

Writing Goals for 2023

~Finish writing Beyond the Moon’s Beams (the fourth installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Edit Visions Unlike they Seem (the third installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Polish The Beast’s Wicked Gleam (the second installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Write Frozen Within a Scream (the fifth and final installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Write and Edit Each One’s Wayward Niece (the second installment of Everyone’s Child)
~Write and Edit No One’s Beloved Sister (the third installment of Everyone’s Child)

My plan for ‘catching up’ was pretty simple. Once per week, I would write an extra scene by splitting it between the day’s regular work sessions. So on Mondays, instead of writing one scene in the morning and one in the afternoon (like I usually do), I would write 1.5 scenes in the morning and 1.5 scenes in the afternoon.

And if I had only done this once a week, it probably would have worked out decently well. But in addition to my major novel projects (this year’s was The Aruvalia Chronicles), I also work on a side project. For 2023 this was Everyone’s Child, the project that took the place of my Eternity’s Empire series when I finished it.

The biggest problem I’ve run into is that each installment of Everyone’s Child is longer than the Eternity’s Empire books turned out. (Possibly because the completely made up world requires a lot more description, lore and world building than the only half-imagined world did.) But I’ve been trying to write them in the same amount of time. Which means cramming more large work days into more weeks. And let’s just say, the risk of burnout increases steeply.

How did it go?

The first half of 2023 was a firm reminder of why I structure my schedule the way I do. And while I do like the idea of continuing to have one ‘catch up’ work slot each week, I’ve learned my lesson about trying to include more. This might mean certain projects take a little longer. But I’d rather take more time than risk the quality of the work – or my own sanity.

Everyone’s Child isn’t the only project that has grown longer than anticipated. While most of the early installments of the Aruvalia Chronicles were only around 100,000 words long, by mid-series they averaged 120,000. And now that I’ve reached the end of the series, the books are ringing in at 150,000 pre-edits. Which makes the idea of ‘catching up’ twice as daunting, since I need a lot more work slots to get through each individual installment.

So it goes without saying that things didn’t entirely work out according to plan. I was able to finish writing Beyond the Moon’s Beams, editing Visions Unlike they Seem and polishing The Beast’s Wicked Gleam. But I did not finish writing Frozen Within a Scream. I will need to finish that one in January.

But, I’ve calculated how long it will take to finish, and I should be able to move on to edits by February instead of April – which is a considerable difference. So I’m pretty pleased with the results of my efforts.

Unfortunately, while I was able to write and edit Each One’s Wayward Niece, I was only able to write No One’s Beloved Sister. I will have to edit that one early in 2024. But because I finally have a publishing buffer for my secondary projects, I think it’s going to work out just fine.

Publishing Goals for 2023

~February: Smooth Jazz (Book 7 of the Celestial Serenade)
~April: Eternity’s Empire Part 2 (Book 2 of the Eternity’s Empire Collection) (a box set)
~June: Careless Electronica (Book 8 of the Celestial Serenade)
~August: Someone’s Suffering Child (Book 1 of Everyone’s Child)
~October: Headstrong Heavy Metal (Book 9 of the Celestial Serenade)
~December: Soul of the Sun (Book 3 of the Celestial Serenade Collection) (a box set)

I’m pleased to announce that each of these books is available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback formats. (You can also read them on Kindle Unlimited.)

I don’t usually have much to say about the publishing portion of my goals. I’ve got releases down to a well oiled routine.

But I will say, I didn’t leave myself quite enough time to prepare for some of my 2023 releases. The books themselves are usually pretty much finished by the start of the year, but booking promos felt like a whirlwind this year. I’ll be sure to leave myself more time for marketing in 2024.

In total, across all my projects in 2023, I did 1,493,462 words of work. 948,591 of that was new words. And frankly, I’m blown away by how much higher all of my word counts were this year compared to last year. I doubt I’ll be able to maintain this level of productivity forever, but I’m happy to embrace the progress!

Now it’s time to make some goals for 2024!

Writing Goals for 2024

~Finish writing Frozen Within a Scream (the fifth and final installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Edit Beyond the Moon’s Beams (the fourth installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Polish Visions Unlike they Seem (the third installment of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~Write Sonata of the Satellites (the fourth and final (FOR REAL) installment of The Celestial Serenade)(!)
~Edit No One’s Beloved Sister (the third installment of Everyone’s Child)
~Write and (possibly) Edit Anyone’s Crazy Aunt (the fourth installment of Everyone’s Child)

Yes, that’s right – The Celestial Serenade is coming back. I’ve written 2 different definitive endings for that series, but my characters still aren’t satisfied. There’s a missing portion of Kantis’s history that needs to be addressed – and there are more adventures for Rynick and crew.

I’m so excited to revisit this world and its characters, I can’t even put it into words. But I promise this will be the absolute last installment in the regular series. Anything else that relates to the Celestial Serenade universe will be spin offs. (Which doesn’t mean we won’t ever see the main characters again, but they’re going to stop being the main focus of the books.)

I’m going to see if I can finish my goal of ‘catching up’ from last year. But I’ve learned my lesson about pushing too hard. Thanks to the wiggle room provided by box sets, it’ll be okay if I’m not able to edit Book 4 of Everyone’s Child. (We’ll see how much time the universe affords me this year…)

Publishing Goals for 2024

~February: Eyes of a Stranger (Book 1 of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~April: Each One’s Wayward Niece (Book 2 of Everyone’s Child)
~June: Key to All Doors (Book 2 of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~August: No One’s Beloved Sister (Book 3 of Everyone’s Child)
~October: Heart of a Kingdom (Book 3 of The Aruvalia Chronicles)
~December: Once Upon a Dream (Book 1 of The Aruvalia Chronciles Collection) (a box set)

I’m really excited to finally start sharing The Aruvalia Chronicles with the world. This story has been in my brain since 201l. The series is the longest I’ve ever written. It’s also the most complicated story I’ve ever tackled with tons of moving parts and lots of connections to the multiverse my stories have inadvertently built.

No matter what happens, 2024 is sure to be exciting.

What are your plans for the new year?

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