Looking back, looking forward (Brenda Hiatt)

This month a lot of authors are looking back at the posts they made here last December or January and reflecting on the year just past in relation to those posts. Since I wasn’t brought on board here at YA Outside the Lines until March, I don’t have a December or January post I can refer back to. However, I see a lot of folks talking about their Word of the Year for 2018 and that’s something I can definitely do. 

I’ve been choosing a Word every year for nearly a decade now and that really does help me to focus (and re-focus and re-focus) my energies as I set my goals along the way. Past Words have included PROGRESS, APPRECIATE, SHARE and BALANCE (more than once…still not there). DIVERSIFY was my 2017 Word and I did pretty well with it professionally, if not personally. I had most of my books translated into Italian and German, had a few recorded for audiobooks and finally put most of them into print as well as ebooks. Really, other than the ubiquitous BALANCE, I haven’t done terribly with any of my past words. 

For 2018, my Word was OPTIMIZE. The idea there was to look at all the areas of my life—career, finances, time management, social activities, etc.—and pare back those things that weren’t working to make room for better stuff. Looking back, I wonder if my Word should have been EVALUATE, since the first step was to figure out where I was already expending those finite resources, a process all by itself. Where was I wasting time, money or attention? And where could I more profitably or enjoyably be spending that time/money/attention? I was well into the year before I was ready to start cutting out the things that clearly needed to go so I could add other, more necessary ones. I did eventually make progress in most (not all) areas, but not nearly as much as I’d hoped. I canceled a few subscriptions I wasn’t really using, delegated a few tasks that were taking more of my time than necessary and stopped doing some things that were no longer fun or profitable. Now, as the year winds down, I realize Optimizing will be an ongoing, multi-year process. Still, every step forward is a step forward…
Along the way, I did achieve a few big goals, if not necessarily the ones I set out to accomplish. For example, I intended to release another historical romance in 2018 since my career plan is to alternate YA and historical releases and my last book had been YA. My muse is a fickle creature, though, and a third of the way into that book she mugged me with an idea for my next YA novel that refused to be denied. After some initial resistance, I finally set aside the historical romance with a promise to come back to it and surrendered to the muse. So instead of the next historical, my 2018 release was book 6 in my Starstruck series, The Handmaid’s Secret. 

Released October 2018!

Now I’m back at work on the historical romance (working title: A Taste For Scandal) and I’m happy to report it’s about 2/3 written and coming along nicely. I’m aiming for an April release, after which I plan to turn my attention to the next Starstruck book (muse willing!) 

I haven’t yet settled on my Word for 2019. I’m considering giving OPTIMIZE another year. Other current contenders are CONNECT, GROW and LEAP. I have another week before I need to decide and something even better may bubble to the top. We’ll see. Meanwhile, I’ll take this opportunity to wish everyone reading this a warm and wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy and productive New Year!