I decided to start a weekly Q & A post, and I asked my Instagram and Facebook followers to ask me their questions. This one is super timely, since I was writing this blog post when it came in:
Question from Instagram: What are your plans for book releases this year?
If you’re looking for the quick answer, feel free to scroll down to the bottom. If you’re interested in my reflections on 2019, then continue on. I warn you–it’s long. You might want to, I don’t know, grab something to drink. Maybe get a snack. Chocolate, if you have it.
Ready? Let’s begin!
I realize pretty much everyone did this sort of post before New Year’s Eve, but by that point, I was so exhausted from all the holiday craziness, there was no reflections or planning happening for me. I’m happy to report that almost a week later, I feel (mostly) rested up and ready to tackle this thing.
To be honest, 2019 was a weird year, and I can’t say that I’m sad to see it go. I’d been teetering on the edge of burnout since the second half of 2018, not even knowing what was wrong with me. I had been working on the Silver & Orchids companion novel, spinning my wheels, getting absolutely nowhere with it. I could not write that book for anything.
The ideas were there; the plot was solid. However, the characters were refusing to work with me. I’d write, and then I’d delete. Write and delete, write and delete. I added side plots, added more characters. Because I was so stuck, two Obsidian Queen projects (writing as Shannon Lynn Cook) were pushed back. I got closer and closer to creative burnout, still having no clue what was going on.
While I struggled with my fantasy, desperate to clear my head, I began the 27 Ways series, which I’d had in my heart for about two years. It was a glorious escape, and I know that if I hadn’t let myself take a break, I wouldn’t have published another book in 2019 after Knights of Obsidian came out in April. By August, I was doing better–still exhausted, still feeling the weight of the companion novel, but better.
That month was my turning point. Several of my good friends had taken Becca Syme’s Write Better Faster course, and they pointed me toward her burnout video series on YouTube. It was a game changer, mostly because I figured out I was in trouble. I needed to make changes.
I dived into pretty much everything of Becca’s that I could get my hands on. In her videos, she recommended taking the CliftonStrengths Assessment. I’ve done personality assessments and things like that in the past, and they’ve only been moderately helpful.
This was not like that. This was huge.
I got a better idea of how I work, which of my strengths were actually working against me at the moment, and how I needed to ignore some conventional writing wisdom that had been messing with my head and my process.
I also had to let the Silver and Orchids companion novel go, Elsa style. That newsletter update was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my writing career. Even thinking about it now makes my stomach squirm.
But after that…it got better.
In November, I was able to start a whole new fantasy project for NaNoWriMo. I’d actually written the story before–long, long ago–but I’d lost the entire manuscript at some point, so I was starting over from scratch. Forest of Firelight barely resembles the story I had the first time–the basic idea is the same, but everything else–characters, setting, plot–is completely different. I love it so much. Most importantly, it got me back into fantasy again.
I finished the book a few days into December, and then I was officially on break. Except…I wanted to write more. So I started a fairy tale short just for fun. When I got into it, however, I realized it wasn’t a short–it was my next Fairy Tale Kingdoms novel. December was crazy with family stuff, but I was able to work on it here and there, and I finished the month with 15k words. I’ve now lovingly tucked it away, and I will return to it later this year.
Okay, wow. That was long. You still with me? I feel lIke I should give you a cookie or something.
So that was my 2019. It started out rough, got even rougher toward the middle, but it ended extremely well. I feel like I learned so much, and I’ve taken that wisdom and applied it to my 2020 plans.
Here’s what’s on this year’s agenda:
Traitor of the Entitled: An Obsidian Queen Novella is scheduled to release Feb 21st. It’s finished and just about ready to go, so I might move it up. We’ll see.
Creatures of Midnight, the fourth Obsidian Queen book, will release on the 17th. I’m currently writing, and I love these characters so darn much.
Forest of Firelight, the first book in The Riven Kingdoms series, will release toward the end of the month. The book is finished, but I haven’t dived into edits quite yet because I want the story to be fresh in my mind when I begin the second one. I will put up a pre-order and do the cover reveal soon. (I recently asked my newsletter subscribers how they feel about pre-orders, even long ones, and I am happy to say you guys are pre-order kind of people! That makes me happy, because I love pre-orders too!)
June – December
The rest of the year is still up in the air, and I’m going to keep it open in case I need to change gears, but here are the projects I hope to release before 2021.
Fairy Tale Kingdoms, Book Four (I have a title and cover, but I’m waiting to announce it.)
Agnes’s Story, the currently untitled sequel to Just the Essentials
Sea of Starlight, the second book in The Riven Kingdoms series.
Other projects that are floating about in my head right now:
A contemporary spin-off series, featuring Savannah from 27 Ways to Mend His Broken Heart. (Set in a Renaissance Faire!)
I’m playing with another fantasy series that’s been with me for quite awhile. It has dragons, ya’ll.
My husband and I are currently working on a co-written fantasy series. We don’t plan to release it until 2021, but we’ll probably do a large chunk of the writing this year.
Well, I think that’s pretty much it! Here’s to a great 2020!
Wishing you the best,
Do you have a question about my books, characters, writing schedule, process, or basically anything? Ask me in the comments section, and I’ll add it to my list!