(This summer, while there have been a few road trips for our family, I also took a virtual trip down memory lane back to when my writing adventure began. Today’s post takes us a small hop back to 2016.)

If 2014 was all about writing and revising new stories on my quest for a publishing contract and 2015 was devoted to the production and marketing aspects of a book launch, 2016 was all about finding balance.

My first priority was the release of Dance Over Me in September, so I began the year by diving deep into the line edits. Except this time around, my editors requested a few additional scenes to add to the romantic storyline. Not to mention, there was a huge issue with many of my characters having the same physical action beats or quirks. Not everyone in the story could wink or quirk eyebrows or purse their lips.

It was now obvious to me how far my writing had come since this manuscript was older than my debut novel and therefore required more work during the revision stage. However, when it came time to planning the book launch, I was able to build on my existing platform and duplicate many of the elements on my previous plan.

However, I’d learned my lesson from a singular focus on marketing in 2015, and so I immediately got to work writing Focus On Love, the sequel to Dance Over Me. Except with the increased demands of my day job and periodic interruptions for the various production stages of the upcoming release, I found myself struggling to add consistent word counts to the total.

Knowing there was no way I could sustain an ongoing career that way, I made the decision to switch from hoping for open chunks of time for creative romps to instead deliberately getting up a bit earlier that summer and writing for an hour every day before the family got up. The consistent words I added during those hours inspired and motivated me to carve out even more time and soon I hit “The End” of the manuscript.

While it was with my critique partner for her feedback, I attended yet another ACFW Conference. This time, I actually got to meet my fabulous editor in person (which was especially poignant considering shortly thereafter she had a brain aneurysm, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, and passed away a few weeks later). I also met with several agents to explore possibilities for my career going forward. While nothing official came from any of those meetings, I learned a lot about where I wanted my writing to go and how sales numbers were affecting my chances. I began to lean toward a hybrid publishing strategy for the long term.

But in the meantime, I had another book to launch.

With deliberate focus, I first launched Dance Over Me. Then revised and submitted Focus On Love for contract consideration with my initial editor’s replacement. After signing that contract (on the same day my miracle editor went home to Heaven), I turned my attention to the third book in the series and used the momentum of NaNoWriMo (and the accountability of co-teaching a middle school creative writing elective) to pound out a ton of fast draft words for Sing a New Song.

By the end of the year, I’d finally found a balance between writing new stories, revising those stories, planning book launches, and ongoing marketing efforts for previous titles. Thanks to my “Turtle Power Hour,” I also had discovered a rhythm and plan to be able to write new books while using the occasional larger blocks of time in my week for marketing tasks.

After a dozen years climbing the mountain of my dream, I finally felt like I had reached the peak and could start to explore other horizons.

What about you? Have you ever struggled to find or maintain balance in your life? Is there an area in your life where a “Turtle Power Hour” of deliberate, regular focus could make a huge difference in meeting your goals?

My Trip Down Memory Lane – 2016
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