A Malkuth of Me,  books,  business of writing,  Magick,  the writing life

Live Intentionally

Each year in December, I choose a keyword or phrase that will inspire the coming year. At the end of 2018, I realized that I had lost the joy I usually found in my work. Writing had become a difficult chore that I dreaded. With that revelation, I had to stop and re-evaluate, and discover what, exactly, I had lost. Why was I dreading something that used to be my happy place? I came up with a list:

  • I was spending too much time on other people’s agendas instead of my own.
  • I was dreading the administrative work of marketing, releasing, editing etc.… but only because I was juggling that with writing, the day job, and running my local writer’s group.
  • I had taken on too much and it was impossible to reconcile all of it and do it all effectively.
  • The to-do list was so overwhelming that the writing itself was being set aside and therefore…
  • I was not getting the writing done that I needed to get done to create an effective (or regular) publishing schedule.

All of this was usurping the joy out of my writing. Hence my keyword for 2019 became JOY because I realized that in order to keep going and not suffer burnout, I needed to reclaim my joy. So, this past year I took on less. I stepped down from my writing group because being overwhelmed was negatively impacting my career. I took on less, and I put writing on the top of my to do list.

It took about six months, but with these small changes – I finally found my stride and reclaimed my joy.

That’s the beauty of having a keyword or phrase for the year. If you can identify what needs to change and the consequences if it doesn’t, you can create actionable steps to change it.

This goes hand in hand with the self-work of magick.  We define what needs to change (and how), then we create the actionable steps with the magick itself being a catalyst (in the form of strength and resolve, or manifesting opportunities) to help manifest the changes.

Some takeaways from reclaiming my joy in 2019 included that putting the writing first did help me write more, and only taking on what I could reasonably muster resulted in me having more time to write. Two habits I plan to continue with into 2020 so I can keep my joy going.

But over the last six months I also realized another thing: I had lost focus and direction, and as a result, even though I was writing more, I was still flailing. Despite all the planning and writing, I was not being as intentional as I could be.

For those of you who are magicians, you know that intention in magick is everything. Having clear intentions can be the difference between heading directly toward a goal or reaching that goal later, after a lot of unnecessary side trips.  This, of course, led me to 2020’s key phrase – LIVE INTENTIONALLY.

That means that aside from putting the writing first and maintaining my joy by not self-sabotaging by taking on too much, everything on my schedule in 2020 must be about living intentionally. By that, I mean putting my agendas first. On my agenda (in no particular order):

  • Spending quality time with friends and family.
  • Getting back into my daily writing habit (which is still a little hit or miss but getting better).
  • Writing on projects that MATTER to me and my career goals. Which means the publishing schedule is being adjusted and the projects I’m pursuing are better aligned with my goals. They’re intentional.

You’ll see more scheduled releases out of me in 2020.  I have a goal to complete Bloodlines part two and the projects I languished on in 2019. You’ll see some new series pushed forward, and other new series pushed back, which is really hard because I want to write ALL THE THINGS and release them in a timely manner, but I also know that’s not realistic. I have a speed at which I work and while I can work to increase that speed slowly, this means that I have a maximum output at my existing speed. I have to keep realistic expectations for myself and my goals. That’s the hardest part. It’s easy to say, “If I just write 2500 words a day every day, I’ll get XXX and XXX done” but the reality is that shit happens. You get a migraine. A family member has an emergency. Something else needs your attention now, not later. Shit happens and we all have to adapt to that shit while still moving forward toward our goals.

The changing writing market has forced me to put a series 8 years in the making on the back burner once again in exchange for other series’ that are more to market and timely. After all, a girl’s gotta eat, PLUS – I LOVE the new stories. Hell, I love all my stories, which is what makes it so hard to set some of them aside for a while.

I have 4 series right now that are of the utmost importance for 2020. Obviously, the Thirteen Covens. I really need to get through the final 5 covens (for Bloodlines), plus the OTS-Covens crossover, Darkness. Darkness was meant to be a 20-25K novella. It’s already hit 32K and is not finished. Writing schedule derailed. I didn’t account for the extra 20K it will take to complete this story, and if I’m doing 1500 – 2000 words a day on that story – that’s almost 2 weeks longer that it will take to write. Sometimes stories happen in their own word count. It is what it is.

The next series is a timely Covens spinoff that I know most Coven fans are going to love. I’ll be announcing that once Cult of Lucifuge is released. The third is my Wicked Ways mini-series. I have another three to write for 2020, but they’re short (10-12K) and they’re fun. I need the lighter stuff to lighten my overall mood with all of the darker stories I’m working on. Then there’s some Anne O’Connell stuff, a new steamy PNR series I’m writing in a shared world with six other authors. You’ll be hearing more about that this coming weekend when we announce it.

Then there’s Dark Prince. I won this cover in an auction last April. Initially this was a back-burner project, but my hand was forced, and due to some circumstances in the writing world, it seemed prudent to schedule this release in the next twelve months just in case. Long story short, I didn’t want to be out the money I’d already invested in the book because money doesn’t grow on trees and nothing I buy or create (with regard to my writing) should go to waste.

I think you’ll agree — especially with a cover like that. You’ll likely see the description blurb being updated throughout the year just because I’m not quite happy with it yet, and I’m not sure it captures the essence of the whole story right now. I still want to finish Tales from Black Lily and 7 Lustful Sins. Both are SO CLOSE to being done. Then there’s the S. Connolly stuff. I have 6 projects in the works there, and I’d like to release at LEAST one of them in 2020. Hopefully they’ll be worth the wait.

But right now, I’m fixated on fiction. I have 2020 releases already scheduled for January, April, May, July, August, October and November because I’ve made firm commitments to them, and Amazon is not forgiving to those who miss release dates on pre-orders. All of these are pre-order books. Which means Covens will still release as I finish them. I am looking into to pre-releasing the Thirteen Covens spinoff, too.

One of the challenges I’ll be facing is multi-tasking. With such a vigorous schedule, I’ll need to simultaneously write on one project and edit on another on dedicated writing days.  I haven’t been very good with that. (At this point, both of my January releases are in editing. Thank the gods.)

It also means I can’t slack on day job days. Whether I work on writing or editing (whichever takes priority based on release schedule), it needs to be done every day with the intention of meeting deadlines. I am also doing a rebrand of the OTS series in January. I think you’ll love the new look.

That said – I sincerely hope you all stick around for the ride! I have some fun stuff coming! 😊  Thanks so much for reading and I hope you are all having a fantastic December.

Steph is an award winning and bestselling author of thrilling steamy and paranormal romances, dark urban fantasy, occult horror-thrillers, cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, sword and sorcery fantasy, and books about the esoteric and Daemonolatry. A Daemonolatress and forever a resident of Smelt Isle, she is happily married and cat-mom to three pampered house cats. Her muse is a demanding sadistic Dom who often keeps her up into the wee hours of the morning. You can contact her at swordarkeereon@gmail.com

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