2019 in Review

Friday, December 13, 2019
It doesn’t seem like a whole year has gone by since I wrote up my goals for 2019 and tacked them to the bulletin board in my office. I finished 2018 by publishing the sixth book in my African Violet Club mysteries, “Holly Green Murder”, with the feeling that series had come to an end and not quite sure what I was going to write next. I thought I could write a series of cowboy romance novels, take advantage of the popularity of romance, and stretch my writing muscles. I was determined to attend the 20 Books conference for indie authors in Las Vegas in November. I was going to up my marketing game with the hopes of improving sales. Some of this happened. Some of it didn’t.

Personal Goals:

I continued my daily routine of morning prayer and devotional reading, For most of the year, I belonged to a Bible study group that required not only Bible reading, but discussion of what we read. Toward the end of the year, I realized that it was hard to keep up with that group and the homework and concentrate on my fiction-writing goals.
I continued going to Weight Watchers and, most times, an exercise group that meets three days a week in the clubhouse of my apartment community. I succeeded in losing forty pounds by following the program of healthy eating and am proud that I stuck with it through the never-ending two-month plateau before the pounds began to come off again.

Reading Goals:

I committed to reading twenty-four novels in 2019 and actually read thirty-four.
I set a goal of reading four craft books and actually read nine.
I also read at least four non-fiction books as research for my historical novels. I think there were double that number, but I don’t necessarily track those on Goodreads because I tend to read them over a long period of time and not all at once.

Writing Goals:

Write a blog post once per week. I was mostly successful at this, although there were several weeks when I had nothing to say.
Compose and send a newsletter once per month. I only missed November.
Write a total of 200,000 new words for the year. I doubted that I’d make this goal when I set it. After all, I’d only written about half that amount in prior years. But due to a commitment to write every day, I managed over 176,000 words of fiction and almost 30,000 words of blog and newsletter posts, for a grand total of 203,593 words. And that’s not counting this blog post or what else I might write in the next couple of weeks. Yay me!

Things that didn’t go so well:

I wanted to publish at least three books in 2019, hopefully four. I published none. This weighed on me through a good part of the year. After all, if you want to make money from your writing, you have to publish the books so they can sell.
But the first book I tackled was that cowboy romance. I went into it with the thought of “how hard can it be?” I’d written several romantic subplots in my mysteries and enjoyed doing them. Shifting to a story that was primarily romance, that had well-defined plot points and well-known tropes, should be easy, right? All I had to do was fill in the blanks.
Not quite.
I discovered that writing romance is a lot harder than it looks, and I developed a whole new respect for romance writers. I struggled my way to “The End’. I wound up with a hot mess that needs some serious revision to become a book someone will want to read. I also noticed that I snuck a mystery into my romance novel. I didn’t think of it as a mystery when I came up with that subplot, but by the time I finished writing the first draft, I saw what my muse had done.
Which told me that mystery really is my genre.
So I started on the historical mystery series that I’d also brainstormed off and on during the year. That has gone a lot smoother, although it’s required a lot of research into what life was like during the Gilded Age. I didn’t intend to get a history degree this late in life.
So I end 2019 with drafts of three new novels, all of which I hope to revise and publish in 2020. Not so bad after all.

By the end of the year, I hope to have my goals for 2020 firmly in place. I’m sure I will, since I’ve been listing my goals every year for over a decade. I’m looking forward to next year! I hope you are, too.

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