Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Quest for 1,000,000 Words - Crushed It! Now what?

Last week, I hit the goal I set out for myself in January: to hit 1,000,000 words written. Now I'm looking toward the next year. Without goals, how do you measure success? How do you know what to shoot for?

Sometimes to look forward, you have to look back. To make goals for next year, you need to look at your accomplishments for this year so you can build on them.

For me, this year has been a blend of frustration and achievement. Frustrating because I'd put myself way behind in 2013 by running a lot of promotion and one huge blog tour. This killed my writing production, which carried over into the first half of this year. What I learned from that is to do a much better job planning and organizing promotion, and to ensure I always put writing first. After all, I'm a writer. I should be writing at least as much as I'm promoting. 

Year In Review
Once I recovered from my promotional misstep and the ensuing stress it caused, I got back on track. I spent a lot of time completely shut off from social media. In February, inspired by the Olympics, I plunked out a 60,000-word novel called Finding Lacey Moon in two weeks. That novel is now in the hands of my editor and slated for a February 9, 2015, release. Finding Lacey Moon is a winter story, so it made sense to hold it through the summer. I'm glad I did. During editing, I rewrote half the book, and my toughest beta reader, who was lukewarm with the first version, said that she absolutely adored the new version. This was the first time she didn't have any feedback to improve the story, so I guess it's good.
After writing Finding Lacey Moon, I finished my AKM prequel, All the King's Men, which I published in April. Then I hunkered down on book one of the Strong Karma Trilogy, Good Karma. This 150,000-word novel had haunted me for two years and during two-and-a-half full rewrites, I think I wrote more than 600,000 words to get Good Karma to its final version.

The other challenge preventing me from finishing GK was that I kept putting it off so I could work on my All the King's Men Series. Good Karma finally forced me to shut down everything else so I could focus only on it. I hated stopping work on Bound Guardian Angel, which is the next AKM novel, but with the Strong Karma Trilogy taking up every single brain cell, nothing else could get through. My choice was to finish Good Karma, along with all the other Strong Karma books, or stop writing completely.

In August, Good Karma came out. Book two of the trilogy flew out of me at that point, and Coming Back To You was published in November. Both book have received rave reviews, for which I'm so grateful.

Then I took time out to rework an old novella called The Arms of Winter I got the rights back to. I added 40,000 words to the novella, turning it into a novel, and completely reworked the plot and the ending. This was the story as I'd always envisioned it, and I republished it under the new name Winter's Fire this month. 

Now, with the end of the year less than a week away, I just finished the first draft of Full Circle, the final book of the Strong Karma Trilogy, and have begun work on Bound Guardian Angel again. 

The Year Ahead
Now that I know where I've been, it's time to look toward where I'm going in 2015. 

I didn't spend a lot of energy and effort on promotion in 2014, because I needed to get back on track with my writing. This year, with the release of the much-anticipated Bound Guardian Angel, I am planning another massive blog tour. But instead of trying to coordinate it myself, I'm hiring three blog tour coordinators and will let them handle ninety percent of the coordination. This way I will still be able to hit my writing goals instead of focusing four months of energy on the tour.

With that said, I'm planning a new release every other month in 2015. Finding Lacey Moon comes out in February. Full Circle is projected for April. An All the King's Men omnibus is planned for release in June, and Bound Guardian Angel is currently slated for August, although I have vowed not to rush that book. If by some chance it's not ready, I won't release it. Trace's book is too important. Right now, I don't see any reason why it won't be ready, but I've recently been diagnosed with a tumor on my pituitary gland. I don't think the current treatment plan will negatively affect me too much, but if the treatment changes, my productivity could change, as well. We'll have to see. In October, I want to release the Strong Karma Series Companion, which will include some deleted scenes, and perhaps a novella and a handful of short stories. Lastly, I'm shooting for Severin's Muse to come out in December. 

Each of the projects scheduled for 2015 is already started, thanks to a very productive 2014, so hopefully that will bode well for each of them releasing on time. But now I need to get back to splitting my time with promoting my books. Thanks to a solid plan, I think I'll be able to make it work without losing my mind.

And Beyond
I've already started scheduling for 2016-2018, because in this business, you need to plan in advance to meet readers' and publishers' expectations. 

So, are you ready for a new year? Have you taken stock and looked ahead? If not, what are you waiting for? Time's a wastin'.

See you next year!

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