It’s always fun to start the new year by looking back at the year that went by, then trying to prognosticate what we might accomplish in the next twelve months.
Historically, I am really fucking bad at setting author goals. Oh, I start off with the best of intentions, but somewhere I go off the rails. Sometimes it’s earlier in the year; other times, it’s a lot closer to fall and winter, when my SAD rears its ugly head and kicks me in the teeth.
Nonetheless, I persist. So, without further ado, here are my 2023 author goals.
2023 Author Goals: Four Books!
I don’t think I’ve actually ever managed to pull off publishing four books in a single year. Thus, it remains my goal (challenge?). And 2023 might actually be the year I manage to pull it off.
Why’s that? Well, two of the manuscripts I want to publish are already at the editing stage. They’re both set for later in the year.
You’ve seen Part 1 of Evan and the Alpha, which appeared in the Brute’s Bounty limited edition collection. That set will be disappearing shortly (so you should get your hands on it while you can).
Evan and the Alpha
Evan and the Alpha is a bit of a weird book, in that I just woke up with the idea one day last February and … wrote 80,000 words. Maybe it helped that the book was divided into two parts. Working on shorts may have made the overall word count feel more attainable. Either way, I finished Part 2 alongside Part 1, so it’s just kind of … been sitting there. Waiting.
I do need feedback from Editor and beta readers on Part 2 before it can be published, plus all the usual typesetting, proofreading, and conversion b/s. I’d initially announced a Spring 2023 pub date for this book, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.
Rare Flower is the other complete manuscript. It’s had a bit of a tormented trajectory, so much so I’m starting to think the project might actually be cursed. (That would be a little bit ironic, since the book features some curses, so …)
The seedling for this idea appeared all the way back in Spring 2021. I started it as a Camp NaNo project in April that year, but other books sidelined it.
I meant to pick it up again in March/April 2022, but Glitterati Omega, and then The Raven Before the Dove put it on the back burner. Part 1 of Evan and the Alpha also played a role. The long and short of that is the book didn’t get into Editor’s hands until August.
And it’s been there since. Editor came down with a nasty case of COVID-19, which put her behind on not just my book but all her work. I ended up canceling the preorder, which turned out to be a very good plan. Editor’s had some other boomeranging projects, which means that Rare Flower is still in her hands.
This isn’t usually how we work, and I’m hoping it will get better soon. All that said, I know that Flower needs some work (Editor has already discussed the main thrust of her edits with me), so it will be a bit before I get this one out.
I don’t want to have to cancel another preorder, so I’ve pushed the book back pretty far, to September 19, 2023. I’m hoping that means I have some time (and maybe money) to do some fun things for the launch (and maybe for preorders too).
Host Club on the Pleasure Planet
I am also signed up for a shared world at this point, and I’ve started working on the novel that I’ll be releasing as part of it. I’m hopeful that I’ll actually be able to complete the book, plus get it into Editor’s hands in a timely manner (once we get Rare Flower cleared out of there, that is). I am having some fun with this story, which features aliens (of course)!
I’m hoping for late Fall ’23 publication for this one, but I’m waiting to see where everything shakes out.
What about the Zodiac Books?
I’m going to admit that I’ve struggled a bit with the Zodiac series lately. I’d announced earlier that I was hoping to get two books in the series out in 2023, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen.
One book, the Scorpio entry in the series, has a partial draft, although it doesn’t have an ending on it. It needs an overhaul; I’m already aware of that. I’m still rolling the plot around in my head—it’s been years since I touched this draft, so my writing and my ideas have evolved.
The other book was the Cancer entry, featuring the shapeshifting crabs. I’d started drafting this in October, thinking I knew where I was going with it. But, uh, I kind of hate what I do have drafted. I’m pretty sure none of the main characters are likeable.
So I set that aside and worked on projects that were calling to me in the meantime. I did have a brainwave about how to make the story better (and everyone more amiable), so I do hope to come back to it … soon-ish.
I Started Like Five New WIPS
And I haven’t finished a gosh-dang one of them. I’ve been kind of bouncing from project to project since October, and I haven’t really “settled” in with one. I’ve been waiting for that to happen, but I’ve been in an ongoing depressive episode since probably June.
I’m going to be very frank about things right now: my mental health is pretty fragile. I burned out years ago, then quit the job that was doing it. I’ve been working freelance since, and I’ve had a pretty good go at that. I had my single best year last year, and the business supports another part-time employee.
That said, my partner’s income got chopped in half last year, and we’re expecting it to go down again this year. The increase in my business revenue offset his “loss” last year. Plus, we’d just bought a house and now we’re planning a wedding. I don’t even need to mention inflation.
Work is really, really good on my side—meaning I’m busy af through to probably March or April now. I’m just not sure where writing and publishing in particular fits in that picture. My partner is hoping to contribute more financially, but we’ll have to see how things pan out.
I’ve also been working a pretty intensive contract for more than a year and a half now, which has me burning the candle at both ends. Burn out takes years to recover from. I doubt that I ever fully recovered from my initial brush with it. I think it’s easier to get burnt out a second time (and then sooner and faster every subsequent time).
Real Life Challenges to My 2023 Author Goals
Now let’s add in the fact that I had to change my IUD in June. I had zero issues with the last system, but Bayer doesn’t make that one in Canada any longer. They marketed it to teen girls, who are, unsurprisingly, not springing for a $400 contraption that you need a doctor to shove up there and then pull out 3 to 5 years later.
So, it didn’t sell well enough and they canned it. Which means I had to get a different IUD. This one is slightly larger (if you’ve ever met me, you know I am a very petite 5’2), and the hormone dose is the same combo, but slightly larger.
It doesn’t fucking work for me. Not in the sense that it doesn’t block pregnancy, but it’s wreaked havoc on my cycle, my physical health, and my mental-emotional health. My cycle has huge influence over how I feel, from cramps to migraines, to anxiety and, yes, depression.
So, that switch happened in June last year. I had a lot of trouble getting through my editing tasks, let alone writing, after that point. I thought it was just “burn out,” but SAD set in about six weeks sooner than usual. By the end of September, I was having suicidal ideation and intrusive thoughts.
I talked to the doctor at last, and I’ve been given a prescription to “balance” me out. It’s helping, but I’m still mucking around with it, trying to get the right balance. (Too much, and I’m basically in a manic episode where I don’t sleep; too little, and I’m back to bleeding every other day, with five-day migraines.)
I might have to go back and get the darn IUD out. That still may not magically “fix” my mental health, which could jeopardize my 2023 author goals.
Sooooo … that’s probably the major reason I haven’t really been able to focus in on a manuscript like I want to. The good news is the words are flowing, and there are ideas! Lots of ideas.
I just need to … stick with one long enough to actually finish something.
Maybe I should put it to a poll, heh. Let you guys tell me what you want to see next.
I am working on some shorter stuff, so I hope to have a novella I can share, which would get me to four books!
Does an Anthology Count Towards 2023 Author Goals?
There is also an anthology for the Pleasure Planet shared world, which is coming out in August. I’m not an author there just yet. I’m not sure how quickly I can get my act together and actually contribute something. I have time to figure that out, though.
I don’t count anthologies towards my publishing goals, although they technically are publications. Since so many of them feature novellas or short stories (or chapters of future novels), I prefer to count them separately from my solo publications.
Maybe that’s a better way of saying it. I want to do four solo publications next year, and an anthology doesn’t count towards that goal!
New Social Media Channels as 2023 Author Goals
All right, so another factor in my declining mental health and inability to, uh, get anything done is the Twitter Saga. I’m hoping that Musk will be gone shortly, and the platform will see some bloody stability. I think Musk’s tenure as CEO was a wake-up call for a lot of us.
Twitter is my biggest (and best) platform for social media. I’ve made a lot of connections there, and I’ve had a lot of fun! I dislike Facebook (usability is not there), and I … don’t really do pictures or video, so TikTok and Instagram feel daunting to me.
Nonetheless, putting all your eggs in one social media basket is a really bad idea. All it takes is one evil overlord. You would have thought I, as a veteran of FF Net’s porn purge and LJ, would know that, but complacency definitely set in.
So, be on the lookout for new ways to connect with me on social media! I started a Tumblr (where I have exactly zero idea what I’m doing). I was on Mastodon for a hot minute (before I decided I want to get into the wandering.shop server). I’m also going to check out Hive (although I remain leery of their security issues), and yes, I will be on the damn clock app.
There. Elon broke me. I’m going to have to do video now. And you’re all going to have to suffer with me.
A New Story for Newsletter Subscribers
You got Return of the Fox for free with sign up, but it’s about time I gave y’all more. I’m currently thinking about which story I want to share with you … but I do have at least one thing. And there may be more. Stay tuned for more about this.
There will also be a contest (check out those socials for more deets), and maybe some other newsletter-exclusive content. (I’ve been planning this stuff for a bit, but funds have been tight, and my time even tighter.)
A Return to Serial Fiction?
And finally, I’m announcing my intent to return to serial fiction writing. I started out as a fanfic writer in the early 00s, so serial is my jam. I returned to it with original fiction when I first started publishing original fiction, but I abandoned it.
That said, I’ve still be writing serials in the background. I was waiting for Amazon to get their shit together and push Vella to other countries. I’m fed up with waiting though.
I’m still exploring the best way to do this (Patreon or another venue might be the eventual winner). If Amazon ever does open Vella up to non-American writers, then you might find me there too.
I’m not sure this will happen this year. It feels pretty dang ambitious, especially with everything else going on, but … we’ll see.
BTW, Did I Mention I’m Getting Married?
So, that’s a big ambitious year—although it feels like one that’s relatively achievable. The four solo publications and the launch of serial fiction are probably the biggest challenges there. The other 2023 author goals can be more or less daunting, depending on how I want to define them.
How well will I do in achieving my 2023 author goals? Uh, well, it depends on a few things in my work/personal life, clearly. Getting this depressive episode solve is, I think, the biggest key. Being cautious not to burn myself out while balancing an amped up workload at the day job is another. Of course, still being able to pay my bills (and support my employee and my partner) are other crucial factors. The more I have to work to do that, the less time and energy I have for all of this stuff.
The wedding is probably the biggest outlier in all of this. I’m an organizer and a planner by nature, so right now, it feels … easy? But I’m kind of anticipating that I’m going to run into quite a few issues as we approach the date. Plus people want me to be social and do stuff.
So I’m anticipating a few wrenches—there almost always are. Nonetheless, I hope you’ll stick with me; I still have stories to share, and I’m happy to be able to share them with you.