The seasonal wind-down

December is usually my busiest time of year. It’s when I scramble to finish everything started earlier in the year, wrapping up projects I wanted to have done by the last of the 365-day cycle. I usually revisit my goals for the year to see how they went, too.

Honestly, I’d forgotten what a lot of my goals for 2018 were. I didn’t keep track of then as closely as I normally do. I had to dig up the blog post I made last year to discuss my goals, and for someone who quit tracking what I wanted to do, I can’t help but feel like I did pretty well. I had a lot of goals. Here’s the quick recap:

Revise and finish querying Serpent’s Mark.
Publish Her Midnight Hunter.
Make a plan for the Keeper’s Kin series.
Write and publish Emberheart.
Earn $1,000 as an author.
Attend a book/writing convention or conference.
Read a book a month.
Downsize craft supplies.
Learn to do my makeup.
Create more content for YouTube.
Remember to exercise.
Make stickers.
Draw a cover for Serpent’s Mark.

Yikes, that’s actually a lot longer of a list than I remember making. I’ll let you know how I did on those when I post next week, but this week, I’m talking about what I mentioned at the beginning: The wind-down.

My plans took a big turn in the middle of summer when I had a health problem pop up. I put a lot of things on the back burner, things that weren’t showing promise for immediate fruitfulness, and I think lightening my workload was wise.

Unlike the past several years, I didn’t complete any books this year. I started writing two, but I also wrote that short side adventure, The City of Arches. By the time it was done, it counted as a novelette on its own. Taking a slower approach to writing has been important; I still don’t feel 100%, but I feel much better than I did. I’ve laid out a writing plan for 2019 already, but I’ve made sure to create a more reasonable workload than I’ve given myself in the past.

Planning has been the biggest part of my wind-down this year. I have two major projects going on right now, working on Spectrum Blade and putting Serpent’s Mark through its ninth revision at the same time. I’ll probably have Serpent’s Mark wrapped up by the end of the year. Right now I hope to have it done midway through December, so I can just work on writing for Spectrum Blade each day.

But I want to leave time for my other work, too.
I still enjoy creating videos for YouTube, customizing my dolls, doing art. These all need time in my schedule. I’ve enjoyed painting while I was sick and I’m looking forward to doing one more piece before the end of the year, though I haven’t yet decided what it is. I did complete a snowy painting, which illustrates a scene from one of the books that follows Serpent’s Mark. Since that whole series is being reworked, I am not yet sure which book it takes place in, but I think it’s book 3.

Winter painting by Beth Alvarez

There are a few things I’d handle differently if I was doing it now, of course, but for a second time trying to do a landscape and a first time doing digital enhancements, it’s okay. Next time I’ll push the mountains farther back; they’re not quite right, here. But they were fun. As I develop my painting skills, I’ve considered trying to do paintings for future book covers, but I won’t rush to that just yet. As much as I love planning, I have to be mindful how much I plan in advance.

As part of my wind-down, I’ll share my writing schedule and plans for 2019. Right now, I’m just trying not to rush. I was going to say more, but it was an early morning and I haven’t had coffee or tea, so I’ll stop here. No rush, right? 🙂

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