2019 Themes for the Year
My author friend S.J. Pajonas, who writes excellent Japanese-themed science fiction romance and cozy mysteries, asserts that new-year themes are better than resolutions.
I agree. I find resolutions easy to make and hard to keep. For one, I lose the list.
For another, I have a contrary streak, and “for your own good” resolutions are about as compelling as dust. Themes, on the other hand, appeal to my author sensibilities. So, this post is about my 2019 themes for the year.
But first, a brief look at 2018.
The Past is Prologue, Except When It's Not
I'm not much one for looking back in general (just ask the people who are surprised I don't remember them from high school or college, or even last week), but sometimes it's good to look at accomplishments and lessons learned. First, I now have 12 books out since Oct. 2014, when I started*. I wrote 5½ stories in 2018. The half is for the space opera novel, which I'll get to in a minute. I launched a new paranormal romance series, the Ice Age Shifters, with 4 books. These are shorter novels, just right for a free afternoon or quiet evening. Readers seem to like them, so far. I also wrote a novella, Cats of War, for the limited edition Embrace the Passion: Pets In Space 3. The anthology made the USA TODAY bestseller list for the second year in a row. And the first 4 space opera novels came out as audiobooks, courtesy Tantor Media.
The biggest lesson I learned (or perhaps re-learned) is that the universe doesn't give a flying quark about my ambitious production plans. When I should have been finishing up Dire Wolf Wanted and plunging into writing Spark Transform, the long-awaited and past-due book 5 in my space opera series, I was instead dealing with life events that required family conferences and emergency trips. Nothing catastrophic, but very stressful. That crammed the rest of my production schedule into other commitments, which meant Spark Transform was delayed yet again. Le sigh.
So in the coming year, I'm scaling back my writing plans to only 4 stories—3 paranormal romances, and 1 space opera novel. This should allow me to handle Untoward Events and still make my production schedule. I'm also transferring some of the workload to virtual assistants, graphic artists, and a book marketing specialist, Narelle Todd, of Get My Book Out There. She's very knowledgeable, extremely reliable, and ethical, all in one package. I know I'm in good hands.
As far as the future of the indie author and publishing industry, I suspect 2019 will be more of the same. New voices, new opportunities, new ways to reach readers. Vendor changes, such as Amazon's poorly-handled closure of CreateSpace and its less-than-stellar data migration last summer, are inevitable. Also, probably more episodes of Authors (and Cover Models) Behaving Badly, interspersed with occasional episodes of authors working together for the common good.
On with my 2019 themes for the year.
Step By Step
To me, “step by step” means not being distracted by or overwhelmed by the end result.
I both am and am not motivated by deadlines. They work when they're reasonable, because I like the sense of achievement. However, if I've planned too optimistically and/or have been burning the candle at both ends, then deadlines push my “f*ck off” button and I blow past them. Writing a book is work, even though we authors tend to forget that pain when our muse pops up with a shiny new inspiration. Step by step means focusing on the smaller goal: the next scene, the next chapter, to get what I want.
This also applies to my life as a whole. I'm not fond of being bored, so I find things to do. And of course, there's always day jobs, family, commitments—you know, life. If I don't take them one at a time, step by step, I end up with a dozen things in progress and none of them done.
Stick to the Plan
A related theme will be “stick to the plan.” This means following an achievable business plan. In my case, it means marketing, production, conferences, and improving both my skills and my craft. The key is the achievable part, because there are only so many hours in a day. Not accounting for stress, or unexpected trips to the vet, or the wonderful opportunity that drops in my lap means achievable goes out the window.
Organize for Success (Not the Deck Chairs)
I like organizing things. Not for the sake of it, because that's just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
I'm as guilty as the next person of reorganizing as a way of avoiding doing harder things. “I'll write that wrenching scene right after I sort my greeting card collection by occasion, size, and color.”
But I can predict some needs that will be streamlined if I organize things up front, rather than reinventing a process each time. So my question for any 2019 organizing task will be, “Will this bring me success later on?” That way, I hope to reduce the deck-chairs exercise.
*I usually don't count the co-authored retro science fiction comedy, Hooray for Holopticon, because it was written in and for another time. Even though it's completely and totally different than the books I write now, and the cover desperately needs updating, it still sells 6 or 7 copies a year with no marketing or mention.
Photo Credits: Unsplash.com photographers Lucent Grey, Ricardo Gomez Angel, Jon Tyson, and Alexis Montero.