(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 all the way back to the start of this year. 2018.)

This year has been a time of transition and changes but also a year of settling into my new role as a full-time author who is living her dream. That’s right. In March, I quit the day job. 

Trying to juggle my adult special needs daughter’s abbreviated schedule and the increased demands of my writing career while also being available for projects as needed became too much to handle. Especially when a work deadline fell during the same week as a book launch! Even though I’d prepared well in advance for the launch activities, the stress was too much and I knew it was time to let that semi-regular paycheck go.

Focus On Love released in February with the staggered release of all three of my novels in audio format over the next three months. And then all three novels were bundled into a single ebook box set for even more exposure and sales. Not to mention, I learned about Amazon ads and was allowed access behind-the-scenes to manage the advertisements for my novels. Plus, I took a class on writing better back cover copy and did what I could to improve that sales copy for all of the books.

My lessons in editing still continued as my publisher rejected Sing a New Song…twice…asking for still more major revisions to add more to the romantic tension between the main characters. I could tell how much I’d grown in this area not only by my willingness to let go of my story the way it was but also by the fresh ideas that would take the characters deeper than I had originally imagined. My hard work finally paid off with another contract.

A contract I was officially offered while at the castle! Yes, I had the privilege to return to the castle two more times in the Spring to teach and mentor a combined 50 middle schoolers as a co-sponsor of the trip. Having shown both groups my scribbled pages upon pages of revision notes, it was an added delight to be able to read aloud the email from my publisher before breakfast on the last morning of the second trip.

My co-sponsor and I then spent several hours dreaming and planning for the future trips. She’s also got dreams for how to duplicate the experience across the country and train other teachers to lead their own writing-focused trips. While we both have stories just waiting to be told (and published), I’m looking forward to helping her make this particular dream a reality.

The mentoring side of my life continued with a few coaching clients, leading a workshop at our local writers’ group meeting, and even pitching a few article ideas to several writing magazines. Oh, and thanks to the skills I’ve gained over the years, I’ve been able to help my prolific critique partner shape her new stories for more emotional impact…which recently led me to actually apply for a freelance content editing job. Why not help other authors publish amazing stories while earning the income to pay my own editor?

When it comes to marketing, I’ve put a deliberate focus on building my email list through giveaways and group promotions in addition to nurturing that list with monthly newsletters to my readers. Then I took a class on Facebook ads with a specific emphasis on growing that list even further. I can’t wait to put all of my ideas into practice as I begin to think like a publisher.

But the attention to non-writing activities doesn’t mean I haven’t also been putting words on the page. A lot of words. Drafting of the castle series historical novellas has been alternating with revisions on my contemporary stories while also doing research for the upcoming settings and period language. 

Remember back to that stack of dream stories I’d collected before ever starting this journey? All four castle novella ideas have come straight from those notes. And someday I may actually get around to putting the rest of those ideas into print.

So eight months into this year, I can honestly say that I’m finally (fully) living my dream as a professional writer. I get to create new content while also balancing marketing, mentoring, and continued personal growth…while still being fully present for my family.

As for what’s on the horizon, readers can expect the continuation of The Wardrobe series with A Picture Perfect Christmas (novella) releasing in November 2018,  Sing a New Song releasing in May 2019, and another as-yet-unnamed Christmas novella to wrap up the series in November 2019. (The first two are in the process of being edited and the last novella has been roughly plotted.) However, I’m also hard at work on The Castle Gates series with plans to stagger the releases of all five books in 2019 so that I can turn my attention to a new series in 2020 which already includes being part of a box set collection with other authors.

In order to pull it all off, I’ve been streamlining my writing process and creating organizational systems to keep me on track with multiple projects in various stages of production all at once. I truly have begun to think like a publisher not only with the content but also with strategic marketing to grow my career.

I am truly living my dream and can’t wait to discover what awaits around the corner.

What about you? What would it look like if you were fully living your dream? Has your dream changed over the years or maintained a steady course?

My Trip Down Memory Lane – 2018
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