(See what I did there? Yup–it’s the same old joke, told for the seventy billionth time!)
Back at the end of 2019, I did a recap of the year and a prediction of what to expect in the year to come.
I’d like to do that again, maybe even bringing in last year’s goals to see how I did. Sound fun? No? Too bad. We’re doing it anyway!
I stated some personal expectations that may have seemed lofty for the time. Rest assured, they would have come to pass if the world had not gone to hell in March. Or if some of the raging inferno that was 2020 had died down a bit.
There was supposed to be a change in residence. The roommate person had planned to buy a house. The pandemic put a kibosh on that. It’s still going to happen “at some point” but we do not know when. Of course, when it does finally come to pass, I still need to move. I do not intend to move into her new home.
There was also supposed to be a June trip to Texas for my oldest niece’s wedding. That trip, obviously, did not happen. See pandemic. She did get married, and there was a small gathering of people to witness (including my sister). The plan is to have another wedding, the originally planned one, once vaccines are more commonplace and the CDC lifts no-travel recommendations.
I participated in–and won–National Novel Writing Month for the 16th time. It was the first time since 2007 that I genuinely thought I might lose. (And 2007 was ONLY because I said I would not claim the win unless I hit 75k, which I did not do. Someone convinced me otherwise.) This one was a hard-won victory, made all the sweeter because it was shared with my writer friend in Canada, who also thought she was not going to win. And did.
THE 2020 GOALS
#1) Publish Comedy of Terrors. **SUCCESS**
Although the original goal said “early-to-mid January” (and it was not until mid-March, right around the time the world went to hell), I did get the book published.
In addition, and this was NOT on the goals list, Comedy of Terrors is available as an AUDIOBOOK. So… you know, extra win.
#2) Edit and publish Panels. **NOT A SUCCESS**
I took one look at that book and screamed bloody murder at how bad it was. I knew, based on what I remembered of writing the climax, it was going to need some serious revision. What I did not remember was that there are going to be entire scenes that need to be redrafted. The dialogue at the beginning (to name an example) makes me think I’ve never been in a comic book debate before.
As the year went on and I listened to podcasts on the subject, I have also come to the conclusion that no one will ever buy this book. It is not just a “cross-genre” book. It’s a book with four different stories in four different genres. There is no real feasible way to market the thing. Not that I’m doing much marketing beyond this blog at the moment anyway… Just saying.
#3) Write 385,000 words of fiction. **EXTRA SUPER FAIL**
The original plan was to write MUCH more regularly than I do and to average 1,000 words a day to boot. Toward the end of June, I realized this was not going to happen and lowered the goal to 500 a day, keeping the November requirement where it was because NaNoWriMo. I also took out the words “of fiction” so I could include my blog posts.
A little later in the year, I lowered the goal even further (though I did not report that publicly) to 250 words a day. (And kept November where it was.) By the time I was done adjusting my 2020 word-count goal, it was a mere 134,000 words. I ended the year with 80,235 words written. And only 19,375 were Cheater Blog Posts.
#4) More frequent posting to the blog. **SUCCESS**
I posted at least one bona fide entry every single month in 2020. I even fell into a schedule of sorts once the pandemic hit: The first Monday of the month, unless Monday WAS the 1st. Occasionally I would post a “bonus” entry if something happened I wanted to comment on, and of course in November I posted episodes of my old podcast. For the most part, though, I kept it to about one a month. But it WAS more frequent posting of actual entries than I had been doing.
#5) Attend the Sunday writing group with more regularity. **SUCCESS**
Pandemics are weird things. When everything goes virtual, the fact that you have to take two buses and travel for an hour or more to get where you want to go loses relevance. I can’t say that I attended EVERY Sunday, but I was there more Sundays than I wasn’t once we were told not to go anywhere. In fact, most of the time I was writing these Cheater Blog Posts during the Sunday group a week or two before they were set to be posted.
(This one is being written on a Friday night, because I did not attend the first group of 2021… which meant I missed my normal posting day. Oops.)
OTHER WRITING THINGS THAT HAPPENED
A few things happened in 2020 that both excited and surprised me.
1) A LIBRARY BOUGHT Comedy of Terrors. This one was a sale, which means the library owns the ebook and one customer can check it out at a time, like it’s a physical book.
I also had FOUR library checkouts of the audiobook! These were “cost per checkout” transactions, so they were cheaper for the library(ies), but the library does not own the audiobook copy.
2) Comedy of Terrors, even before I had the audiobook made, DOUBLED the sales of Seeing Red. Not that the latter had that many sales. I just think it’s way cool that twice as many copies of my slasher book are out there than my… whatever you would call Seeing Red.
3) I got my first book review! Granted, it was a friend of mine, it was on GoodReads, and it’s about the audiobook… but daggit, it counts! And she confirmed what I already suspected: Comedy of Terrors needs a sequel. (It doesn’t, but I have had one percolating in my headvoid even before she said that.)
2021: Plans and Goals
No personal plans this year, really, except in the gaming realm: We are finally on the verge of finishing Rise of the Runelords, our Pathfinder Adventure Card Game campaign. We have two scenarios left to go, and if the other parts of this final pack are any indication, they are NOT going to be proverbial walks in the park. In our last session (Adv 6, Scenario 3), We beat the final location with ONE TURN LEFT. If we had not picked up that Holy Candle toward the beginning of the campaign (it is an item that lets you put turns back on the clock), we would not have won. This has been the case for a few of our sessions.
Not planning any trips for the time being, for obvious reasons. Also not committing to a time frame for my move, for those same obvious reasons.
IN THE WRITING WORLD, however:
1) 134,000 words. Yup, trying the 250 words a day thing again, with 50,000 in November.
2) Publish ONE book. I do not have a specific one in mind just yet, but by this time last year I already had most of the editing done on Comedy of Terrors. I have not even begun edits on a 2021 project yet.
3) Write at least one book OUTSIDE November. I am thinking this one could be Axe To Grind or Comedy of Terrors II. Who knows? If I write it fast enough, it could also be the one I use for Goal #2. Not gonna push it, though.
4) Write at least TWO short stories. This is not a goal I will spend a lot of energy trying to achieve. I am only including it because I wrote one last year. It was a nice change of pace for me, so I may want to try it again.
5) Read 11 books. This is my goal every year. I try to read at least one book every month except in November, when my energy is in doing NaNoWriMo. I have not succeeded at this goal for a couple of years now, so I decided to put it here where more than just my GoodReads friends will see it.
6) Dip my toe into advertising. Again, not one I’m going to expend much, if any, energy on. The common advice I hear, in fact, is not to bother with ads until you have at least five books out. Since I currently only have two, I have not bothered yet. But I feel like Comedy of Terrors could find an audience if I could get it in front of more people… so why not?
OTHER POSSIBLE PLANS
I want to change my web host. In fact, if I can get this post up when I want to, I am already looking into it. I need a web host that will do several things that my current host refuses to. (Nothing bad. In fact, I need my current host to do some very GOOD things, but they want to charge me $40 a month to do them. I’m not making Stephen King money, so I think not.)
And on that note, I want to look into creating an official business. Not going as far as an LLC or Corporation, of course, but definitely an official DBA or something. Plus, I have not done the separate bank account thing that Joanna Penn says is a must. One of my 2021 books is going to be Your Author Business Plan, by Joanna Penn.
My sister asked me to write a story with her. I started it in December and aim to continue that in 2021. At this time we do not intend to do anything with it. This is just for us, and just for fun.
2020 was a dumpster fire. I can admit that. I chose, for the most part, not to let that dumpster fire engulf me the way a lot of people did. Sure, there were moments here and there where the world imploding was impossible to ignore. But when you can’t control what’s happening around you, then control how you react to it.
2021 is already trying to be a landfill fire. And, yes: I let certain recent events get to me, to the point where I am pretty sure I have lost a couple of friends over our political differences. (See? After having a couple of days to calm down, I can be diplomatic.)
But we all have a choice. We can let outside events paralyze us with fear and uncertainty, or we can take control of ourselves and our own actions.
With my 2021 goals officially in place now, I am hoping to take control. The world still burns, but I don’t have to burn with it.
I hope you had a magnificent holiday season. I hope you chose not to disregard safety advice and just stayed home. I hope that you did not let the dumpster fire of 2020 affect you too much.
Most importantly, I hope that you make 2021 your best year ever. Because you are the only one who can.
Talk to you next month.