2019 Recap/2020 Forecast

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Here we are at the end of another year. I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but I can look back over the past year and ahead to the new one. 2019 was the 6th anniversary of my indie publishing career and the 7th anniversary of the beginning of my fiction-writing journey.

I took a look at a few posts from the last year to see what I forecasted for 2019, and for the most part, I got everything done I meant to do. The one thing that sort of fell flat is my epic fantasy. I’ve had the first book written for over a year, and I really like it, but it ends (as the first books of epic fantasy series often do) on a big cliffhanger, and I’m not confident I’ve got it in me to finish the series. So I’ve sort of stuffed that one in a folder. I’ll talk more about that a bit later in this post.

A brief summary of what I accomplished in 2019, writing-wise:

IMG_1465

PUBLISHED 6 Books:

  1. Hidden Worthiness (Pagano Brothers 2)
  2. Lead (Brazen Bulls MC 8—series conclusion)
  3. Carry the World (historical standalone)
  4. Accidental Evils (Pagano Brothers 3)
  5. Anywhere (Sawtooth Mountains 3)
  6. Wait (Brazen Bulls prequel/standalone)

WROTE 6 Books:

  1. Accidental Evils
  2. Wait
  3. The Name of Honor (Pagano Brothers 4)
  4. Book 1 of a new MMA romance series (details TBA)
  5. Book 1 of a historical romance duet (details TBA)
  6. Book 5 (and conclusion) of the Pagano Brothers series (details TBA)

 

RARE collage_edited-1

I also went to RARE19 London, my first international signing, which was absolutely fantastic (met a bunch of FANetties!), and did lots of research in London and Paris for (hopefully) upcoming fiction and academic projects.

Not my most productive year, but not too shabby.

I guess since it’s the end of a decade (hush, you pedants who insist the new decade doesn’t start until 2021–it’s the turn of the number, not the actual count, that’s interesting), I should look back farther than a year and consider the previous ten. But that’s a pretty thorny proposition, actually.

My family entered 2010 buffeted by the grief of a horrific tragedy, all of us reeling into the new year and trying to reclaim our balance. Ten years later, we’ve healed and grown, closed ranks and stood strong again. Though there have been new challenges in these years, we’ve also found new happinesses and successes to celebrate, and we’re all entering the next decade from a stronger, brighter place.

For me, writing fiction was the biggest new happiness and success, and I don’t overstate, I think, to say it likely saved my life. I started writing fanfic in 2012, independently published Move the Sun in 2013, and have since published 47 books so far–and have written, so far, 53.

I have, occasionally, flirted with the idea of getting an agent and publishing traditionally, but the truth is I’m very sure I don’t have the personality to bear the burden of other people’s financial interest in my  work. As an indie, I write what I want, publish when I want, irrespective of anyone’s notion of what “the market” wants. I am answerable to no one but myself–and I already put plenty of pressure on myself. I’d absolutely crack if there were people standing at the end of the road waiting for me to get there so they could get paid, and paid as much as possible. And that’s not to mention how I’d take it if somebody told me I had to change a story to make it more marketable. I am inherently obstreperous about such things.

So yay for the marvel of indie publishing!

Honestly, it’s been a hell of a decade.

In addition to discovering fiction writing and beginning this wild second gig as an indie author, I also earned tenure at my university and then was promoted to full professor within the past ten years. Since I have absolutely no desire to move over into administration (ugh god no), I’ve reached the summit of my professorial mountain. I am max-level, baby. It’s all a downhill ride to retirement now.

I also have finally had a chance to really travel. Despite a burning desire to see the world since I was a little girl, I went my whole life until 2012–when I was 47–without a passport, traveling no farther across any border than a few trips to Tijuana when I lived in Southern California in the late 80s/early 90s. Since 2012, I’ve been to England three times and France twice (also Canada twice). And I’m just getting started.

All things being equal, we plan to travel a lot more, and more widely, in the next ten years. By the end of the next decade, assuming we’re all still here, my husband and I will probably both be retired, and we have hopes and plans to then settle into a nice, quiet life, somewhere with a little piece of land (and hopefully goats and chickens and foster animals, though I need to work on my man a little bit in the coming years; he thinks we’ll be too old to care for so many animals).

I hope I’ll still be writing then; I already have ideas that, should they all come to fruition, would, at my current publishing rate, carry me most of the way through the next decade.

It’s not a given that the ideas will come to fruition, of course, or that new ideas will emerge. I’ve been feeling some burnout lately—just a singe at the edges, but noticeable. After last year’s bout of writer’s block, I had a spate of extra-high productivity, writing some of my best work ever and feeling totally in the zone, but over the past few books, I’ve gotten pretty tired. Not blocked—the stories are coming, and the words are good—but just tired. I’m needing longer breaks between books lately, and I’m taking days off in the middle of writing them, which is something I generally hate to do.

I had attributed this fatigue to needing a break from writing bikers, but I’m feeling it with just about everything I write these days.

While the main factor is just plain ol’ mental exhaustion, there are other factors at play. Things have changed over the years since I started writing fiction, in my personal writing situation and in the indie publishing world itself. Some of the things I really enjoyed aren’t part of my writing experience anymore, and the indie-publishing/business stuff–never my favorite part–has gotten more difficult and less fruitful.

The result is only six books written in 2019. That probably still seems like a lot, but it’s the least productive I’ve been yet. Usually I write at least eight books in a year. In both 2014 and 2015, I wrote ten (that was early on, when a whole lifetime of pent-up need to write fiction was driving my inspiration and I was entirely obsessed). I’d slowed back down to a six-book publishing schedule in 2019, hoping to stave off another bout of blockage, but I’m still putting pressure on myself to keep writing at the same manic pace I’ve been since 2012.  It’s taking a toll.

And of course, these aren’t light, fluffy novellas I’m grinding out just to rake in the royalties. Every one of my stories, most of them 100K+ words long, comes straight out of my soul. As you know, I’m usually swimming in deep (sometimes shark-infested) emotional waters with my characters. I’ve managed to write a light, sweet story once or twice, but for the most part while I write I’m tearing my own heart out at least as painfully as I’m tearing yours out while you read. A lot of that is cathartic and therapeutic for me, but writing as much as I do, it means I’m in that intense emotional head space a whole lot, and I guess it’s finally wearing me down.

I’ve always said when I lose the joy in writing I’ll stop doing it. I haven’t reached that point yet, but I don’t want fatigue to turn writing into drudgery. I would be devastated to lose this thing I love, so I’m really trying to heed the signs and let myself be okay with taking breaks and slowing down a little.  It’s a struggle, but I’m trying.

It’s scary because more than inspiration drives me to write so much so fast. There’s also a substantial amount of anxiety that if I slow down I’ll dry up. It’s that anxiety that keeps me writing despite fatigue, and it roars to a frenzy at the tiniest hint that I’d like to take a break. The irony is that I need to slow down so I don’t dry up.

Lola and I don’t like this Catch-22 situation we’ve got brewing. It freaks me out when I don’t have the energy to write. Like, really really freaks me out.

I don’t know if, or when, a slower writing pace will affect my publishing pace, or if I’m actually heading toward a full burnout. Maybe I’m coming to the end of the road on this wild ride. I guess we’ll have to see.

For now, I’m still writing, and I’ve got several of the books I plan to publish in 2020 done, so we haven’t hit the end yet.

For 2020 I can forecast the release of a few books that are written and in varying stages of readiness:

  1. 4 January: The Name of Honor, Book 4 of The Pagano Brothers; preorder available now
  2. 7 March: The first book of a new MMA romance series (details coming toward the end of January)
  3. 4 July: Book 5/Conclusion of The Pagano Brothers (details TBA)

I’m hoping that my current WIP will be my May release (I’m 60K+ words in, so the outlook there is pretty good), and I’m hoping to put out a historical romance duet (of which Book 1 is written) in the fall to finish out my publishing year, but those plans are too up-in-the-air-y to officially announce dates.

Assuming I keep writing, I do have lots of plans. In addition to continuing my new MMA series, and a couple standalone ideas I’d like to play with, I plan to begin writing a new Brazen Bulls series in 2020, for publication beginning in 2021 (if it gets written). It will be set in the present day and follow the second generation of Bulls—i.e, the children of the couples from the BBMC series. That’s also where Eight would get his story.

I’m also feeling a little bit of an itch to reopen my epic fantasy folder and possibly see if the second book goes anywhere. The first book was hard to write (out of my comfort zone + a massive amount of world-building = lots of performance anxiety), and I’m afraid to take that on again just to have yet another book I don’t know what to do with. I’ve been poking at the idea of posting the first book serially on Wattpad or something, to see if anybody likes it, and possibly get some external affirmation and motivation to keep going with the story (or a definitive reason to kill it dead). If I get around to making a decision to do that, I’ll let you know.

Here’s hoping Lola hangs around.

Wishing you a new year filled with good things for you and yours. ❤

Cheers,
s–

 

3 comments

  1. I wish your following year will be fruitfull and hope Lola will stay with you for a very long time !
    I hope to read many more of your books! Keep strong 🙂

  2. Susan you are my all time favourite author and it amazes me how many books you publish each year! Every story is unique and filled with such a rich and wonderful array of characters. Almost every book of yours I read becomes “my favourite”! I even put the dates of your new releases on my calendar (along with Scotland rugby matches)! I hope that you take the breaks that you need and look after yourself so you can keep on giving us the gifts of your fantastic stories! xx

  3. Oh Susan – I must stay away from your Pagano board on Pinterest. If the character photos you recently posted are the main ones for Book 5 (which you gave a little bit of a hint to regarding a certain Pagano daughter’s security detail towards the end of Angie’s book) then this is definitely going to be interesting. Since this male character had been mentioned in Donnie’s book, I had an inkling he might get his own, the way you blindsided me with Tony’s. The only downside is that the word ‘conclusion’ makes me really sad.

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