2018 Goals


2017 Goals

  1. Buy a Home
  2. Finish Pen & Xander
  3. Start THE BOOK (aka Maite & Phoenix, which was temporarily shelved because of *this*)
  4. Hire a website designer
  5. Create paperbacks for my backlist

Goals Accomplished: 2/5

The most life-changing year for me professionally so far has been 2015. That was the year I stopped being invisible and people started buying my books. 2018 is going to be just as life-changing. Why? Because I said so…and because I have been very meticulously putting things in place so that I am more than ready for the opportunities that will inevitably come my way (again, inevitably, because I said so).

This year I am going to find an agent. I am going to get a traditional publishing deal. I am going to step even further outside of my comfort zone. I am going to take the necessary steps to eventually become a full time author. And these are the new items on my to-do list that will help me get there:

1. Finish TWO novels
This goal is a BIG one. It usually takes me about eight months to write one novel from start to finish. This year I’ll be starting and completing two. I’ve already begun writing the first in a new series and hope to finish the first draft of that project by April. Meanwhile, I’ll also be drafting another contemporary novel in the Nacho’s Tacos universe. It will focus on one of the restaurant employees and a new character who shares his love of music. It’ll be paired with a novel soundtrack and *hopefully* be ready for release by August/September.

2. Query a dystopia/fantasy series
This year taught me a very important lesson about creative work–this industry is volatile and nothing is guaranteed. I’ve realized that I shouldn’t put all of my eggs in one basket and that becoming a hybrid author might be able to offer me some more stability. In other words, it’s time to branch out and more importantly, it’s time to reach a wider audience. The novel I’m working on now deserves a wider audience, which means I’m going to query for the first time in seven years. Wish me luck!

3. Get an agent
I’ve been a lone wolf for a long time but I’m ready to take my career to the next level and reach more readers. Once I finish and polish my WIP I’ll be focusing my search on agents that represent POC authors and that champion diverse books. One of the reasons I was drawn to self-publishing all those years ago was because I wanted to write about characters who looked like me and shared my experiences–something I’d craved but rarely been able to find in books growing up. Now, traditional publishing has become much more inclusive and I finally feel comfortable enough to try to enter that space again. But the only way I’d be willing to give up some of the freedom I’ve enjoyed as an indie author would be to find the perfect partner–someone who believes in my stories and my characters as much as I do. Someone who understands the importance of positive and diverse representations of POC in all types of media. I hope to begin querying this summer and find my perfect match by the end of the year.

4. Hire a website designer
This was on my to-do list last year but then disaster struck and spending $2,000+ on a new website design didn’t seem that essential anymore. I’m hopeful that Pen & Xander will find an audience soon, which will drive sales to the contemporary novel I plan to publish in the fall. Then I might be able to direct some of that extra income to a fancy schmancy website design that better brands me and my books. It’ll also serve as a safety net when Amazon (which currently accounts for 90% of my total sales) inevitably makes another change to its system and/or guidelines that ends up harming authors.

5. Take professional author photos
This was another one of those non-essentials I had to cut from my to-do list last year. However, due to the fact that my only author photo looks almost nothing like me now–I haven’t had blonde hair in years–I think it’s time for an update. Hopefully, it’s something I can swing this fall when I’m updating my website too.

6. Sell a thousand copies of Pen & Xander
The first reviews are coming in and the feedback from readers has been really good so far. But I can’t expect this book to reach thousands of people based on word of mouth alone. That was a giant stroke of luck when it happened for TGIB series but this time I’m writing in a different genre, which means I might just have to find an entirely different audience. It isn’t going to be easy but one thing that will make the success of this book a lot more feasible is setting specific goals. That way as I experiment more with marketing I actually have a means of measuring that success. If you’ve already gotten your copy, thank you for helping me come one step closer to my goal! Need yours? Get it here.

7. Commit to a bi-monthly newsletter
Updating and maintaining my newsletter is just one of those methods I’ll be experimenting with to see if it increases sales. My first newsletter for 2018 will go out at the end of January and then I’ll be sending bi-monthly updates. They’ll include a blog post round-up, updates on my WIP, excerpts, and exclusive giveaways/freebies. Click on one of the free goodies below and get it emailed to you upon signup!

Newsletter-Song BonusNewsletter-Bonus CookbookBackmatter Newsletter Sign-up8. Create audiobooks for my paranormal romance series
This is another one of those goals that requires money. But I think it’s worth the investment and hope to begin the pre-production process this summer.

9. Connect with and learn from other authors
Because I have declared that 2018 will be the year I enter the mysterious world of traditional publishing, I’m already brainstorming ways to commemorate the experience and connect with other writers in the process. One of the key differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing is the level of transparency between and among the people involved in each industry. Indie authors are notoriously generous, community-oriented, and constantly giving away valuable information free of charge. The OGs learned as they went and then created blogs where they shared what they’d learned with the rest of us. Traditional publishing is much more opaque and therefore intimidating. As a hybrid author I want to be as open as I’ve been about my self-publishing journey and share the growing pains along the way.

10. Pay off grad school loans
Last year I bought my first home, which completely drained my savings. Once I finish building up my 3-month emergency fund all extra income will be put towards paying off these loans, which I vowed long ago would not haunt me for the rest of my life!
11. Invest in my retirement
Once the student loans have been obliterated it’ll be time to look toward the future again and start maxing out my retirement accounts. If you’re following my blog because you’re hoping to make writing your full-time gig someday, please understand that as a traditional or self-published author you are technically self-employed. This means that it’s your responsibility to make sure all your ducks are in a row as far as retirement is concerned. Personally, I love reading and learning about finances. They’re such a huge part of being self-employed and a business owner, which is what you are as an author. I plan to blog on those topics more over the coming year.

And there you have it–my master plan! If you don’t have one yourself, you’re truly missing out on the forward momentum that a clear vision can bring to your life. So figure out what you want, identify actionable steps to make it happen, and then write it down. More specifically, somewhere you can see so that you can pause on those promises at least once a day, reminding yourself what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for.

You. Always, remember you’re doing it for you.


Setting The Tone

Let’s face it, January 1st is not the time to wake up early and go to the gym, to take on the grueling commitment of writing 5000 words a day, to clean out your fridge and swear off meat, or to quit your job and join the circus. It is not the time for rash decisions or drastic life changes. No. January 1st is the time for nursing an epic hangover and hiding out in your pajamas while you avoid reflecting on the past at all costs. Not to say that the new year shouldn’t be taken advantage of as an opportunity to make positive changes in one’s life but if you want your commitments to stick then you might want to wait until January 2nd when most of the bourbon has left your system and you’ve finally put on clean underwear.

Now what does the perfect timing have to do with writing? No doubt we’ve all set writing resolutions. But if we try to bite off more than we can chew, or if we carry all of our self-doubt into the new year, or if we’re already comparing ourselves to others, discounting whatever we’ve managed to accomplish in the last five days just because someone else was able to accomplish more, or if we maintain the illusion that writers block only afflicts failures then we’re never going to reach our goals. How do I know? Well because I’ve been working my way through this list for the past five days and getting absolutely nowhere. But I tell you it stops right now and from this day forward I will have the diligence of a machine.

So what’s my foolproof method for making achievable goals and crafting habits that will actually stick?

The first step: Acknowledge previous accomplishments.
No one is more guilty of neglecting this first step than me. I like making plans. I like working towards goals. In other words I prefer living in the future to living in the present. Drawbacks to having this sort of mentality are that not only am I always anxious but I’m never satisfied and because of this I always have this expectation that it’s the NEXT project or the NEXT book that’s going to solve all of my problems and I never stop to reflect and be GRATEFUL for the things I’ve already managed to accomplish. So before you make all of these amazing plans for 2014 stop and take a moment to remember that you are awesome! And that the groundwork you laid in 2013 will be put to good use only when you learn to appreciate yourself and finally allow yourself to take pride in all that you’ve already accomplished.

Step two: Be realistic but not complacent.
I anticipated devoting even more time to writing this year and because of that I laid out an incredibly ridiculous itinerary that I’m already regretting. I’ve already missed one of my deadlines and we’re not even a week into the new year. Why? Because I’m incompetent? No. Because I’m crazy! And all of the guilt I’ve felt over not meeting my first goal of the year isn’t due to me not being good enough but it’s due to me being unrealistic. Which is also another detrimental side effect of my tendency to live in the future. Goals are meant to challenge us and push us out of our comfort zones but they aren’t meant to cripple our sanity and totally derail our lives. Now I’m taking a step back to reflect and reevaluate how to top last year’s productivity while also preserving my mental health.

Step three: Be specific about what you want.
Make a list, a pinterest board, tattoo that shit on your arm if you have to but if your aspirations aren’t crystal clear you’ll never make them come true. So stop with the vague wishing for fame and riches and start searching your soul for whatever it is that you truly desire. Then place that dream at the forefront of your mind and allow it to maneuver every move you make until it’s not a dream any more but reality.

Step four: Set deadlines and let others hold you accountable.
Deadlines are your friend because they give you a still target at which to aim every hour of every day. And thanks to all of that guilt-induced productivity it will also keep you from becoming one of those writers who takes ten years to write just one novel. Those people are lunatics. You don’t want to be a lunatic do you? So set deadlines. But don’t just set deadlines, set a deadline and shout it from the rooftops. Or maybe just tell your spouse or your best friend or your mother or your critique partner. The point is tell someone who can help to hold you accountable or else you’ll be inclined to reward yourself with breaks or give yourself some leeway and then suddenly it’ll be ten years later and you’ve only made it to the third draft. Another perk of having someone else hold you accountable? You have someone to whip you into shape on those days you’re busy making excuses and you have someone to help you celebrate with cupcakes and a pitcher of margaritas. Unless you’d like to keep those all to yourself. Let’s face it, after writing an entire novel you probably deserve it.

Step five: Devote yourself to a routine.
I know not everyone will agree with this one. Some will argue that inspiration can’t be confined; that it’s random and spontaneous. But the truth is inspiration is not only something organic but it’s also something learned. Something that can be manipulated and summoned and harnessed. But only after hours and hours and hours and hours of practice. After sitting down at the same time every day, devoting the same amount of hours, cranking out the same amount of words. Trust me, the “muse” is not as unpredictable and elusive as everyone thinks. She can be tamed. You just have to show her who’s boss. And that means telling her when and where she needs to show up every day for work. Because forcing those words out of her will be work. Hard work. But by creating good habits from the get-go it will only make achieving your dreams that much easier.

Step six: Finish.
Even when you don’t want to. Even when you don’t think you can. When bills are due and you’ve just come down with the flu and your radiator just went out and you’re fighting with your spouse and your dog just died and you’ve been working overtime and the entire world is falling down around you. Finish. Just finish. Because there is nothing worse than breaking the promises we make to ourselves.

Step seven: Celebrate.
For at least one day, one night just celebrate. Don’t think about what more you could have done. Don’t think about what’s next. Don’t think about anything at all if it’s outside the realm of just how awesome you are. Because you finished. Because you kept your promise and now you’re one step closer to making your dreams come true.

Step eight: Start over.
Because you should never put all of your eggs in one basket and because the only way to prove that the first time wasn’t a fluke is to do it all over again. And now you know you can.