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2019: Year in Review

Here we are, at the end of another year that went by way too fast. In my 2018 Year in Review, I made a resolution for myself to slow down and take time for myself. As I audit the last 12 months, I can say I managed that in some areas, not so much in others. I come out on the other side without a single regret, other than wishing I’d had more time. But that’s nothing new.

So here’s what I’ve been up to in this, the year of 2019:

1. I took a break from social media.

Well, several, actually, but only one “official” one at the beginning of the year. Boy, you know you spend too much time on social media when you go away for a bit and people start texting you, asking if you’re okay… I’m glad I did it. And I’m glad that I’ve limited my time on social media all year long, even if it’s had some adverse effects on my sales numbers. I prioritized my well-being, and I refuse to feel bad about that.

2. I put myself out there.

And I did it on multiple fronts, with a live podcast interview, two recorded author readings, two book signings, and “coming out” as a published author to my coworkers. That last one may not seem like a big deal to some, but just consider it took me 9 years to find the guts to do it so… HUGE achievement for me. Thank you, thank you very much. On this one point I am really proud of myself. πŸ™‚

3. I got creative.

Promotional materials don’t just happen overnight. The book signings kept me busy designing new business cards, bookmarks, banners, promotional graphics, printed book lists, and new videos for each series, as well as a teaser video for Prince of Deceit. All in all, I think my table setup was awesome at both events, so I’m happy with the final result. Oh, I also set up an online store for the Wolfen T-shirts I wore to the book signings. Not something I’ll be pushing for sales, but it’s there for hardcore fans who want one.

4. I unleashed Helena upon the world.

Even in the limited capacity I allowed, she is out there now, and there is no chaining her back up again. I still have plans for this one that go way beyond the novella, but I’m not sharing any details until…I decide on them. Maybe I’m overthinking this, but I want to do this properly. The original Wolfen deserves that. In the meantime, I still have a few copies left over from the book signings, so I’m making them available for sale here. πŸ™‚ Price includes shipping.

5. I traveled a lot.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it. I don’t normally travel this much, but needs must… I’ve been to Amsterdam this year. πŸ˜€ And spent some quality time in the home country, and then took a quick excursion to Atlanta, GA, followed by a hectic trip to Disney World. Some people use their vacation time to relax. I use mine to cram as much into its daylight hours as possible. I regret nothing.

6. I started rebuilding my library.

Years ago, I got a Kindle for Christmas and donated several boxes-worth of my favorite books to the library and other places because I thought I would never need them again. This year, I realized there is a lot to be said for owning physical copies of my beloved favorites so I’ve been slowly re-buying them and adding to my growing collection. I have rediscovered the joy of finding the title on the shelf of a bookstore and walking out clutching it happily to my chest. As a result, my Kindle has not been turned on a single time since about mid-2018. But it also means…

7. I read a lot.

I am especially happy about this point, because it isn’t always the case, but I prioritized it this year and it’s been fantastic. Aside from (re)reading new and old titles by a couple of favorites and trying a couple of new authors on for size, I’ve also read a whole bunch of classics, including A Brave New World, The Alchemist, Great Expectations, The Count of Monte Cristo, Frankenstein, just off the top of my head. I still have half of my stack waiting for me to catch a free moment to get back into it. Speaking of…

8. I FINISHED Prince of Deceit.

A few short hours after publishing this post, I come back to edit this one point to announce that the first draft of Prince of Deceit is FINALLY finished at 126,800 words. My last push in 2019 paid off. I got in The End just under the wire, and I couldn’t be happier. A wonderful end to the year. Now I’m ready for the new!

9. I learned to stand up for myself. A little…

This point is a work in progress because it’s still not my default setting, but I’m learning how to say no. I’m learning how to not do other people’s jobs for them. I’m learning that if I don’t ask, nothing will happen. (The fact that sometimes even asking doesn’t make a difference is beside the point.) This has led to my getting a raise and a promotion in my day job. I’m learning to follow up. I’m learning that it’s not my job to do everything just because I am capable. And I’m learning that when push comes to shove, it’s okay to push back a little instead of fold.

10. I started a project for Patreon.

I say “started” because it got put on hold again within a couple of months due to competing priorities. It’s still at the back of my mind and I still want to get it off the ground. What’s holding me back? Self-doubt and more competing priorities. I seriously just need about a year’s worth of paid vacation to get my stuff in order. *sigh* A girl dreams…

11. I wrote 44+ industry blog posts.

Yep, the Ask Alianne blog is still going and I update it whenever there’s a new development needing to be covered. It’s been my outlet for a lot of frustration with the industry this year. Not something I need to go into here, but definitely food for thought going forward. In short: things are a mess right now and not looking very rosy for self-published authors. We’re easy marks because the whole of us is not yet stronger than the sum of our parts… so to speak. I think that will change in the future, but it’s slow going and many, many Indies are struggling because of it.

12. I got 2 audiobooks produced.

Yes! Function:L1VE and Dragonblood are now available as audiobooks! I absolutely love both of the narrations and how they’ve come together. Each audiobook is a huge feat from start to finish, and I am very proud of the final result. πŸ™‚ Depending on how things come together for Prince of Deceit, I would love for the eBook, paperback, and audiobook versions to release at the same time. We’ll see if the stars align for that.

13. I allowed myself to be lazy.

My attitude has changed a bit from “time is running out” to “Life is short. Stop and smell the tulips.” It was necessary. Some people thrive on the stress of deadlines. I’m not one of them. And I realized this year that a lot of my stress and anxiety was self-imposed, for no good reason at all. I needed to reconnect with my inner Zen and let go of some insanely unachievable goals I’d set for myself. I took a lot of weekends to do nothing but read, or visit with my family, or binge watch my favorite shows. I unplugged and let my brain recharge. I needed to. It’s seriously been one hell of a year…

14. I started putting my healthcare first.

See, these are things a person should do well before they reach my current age: get regular check-ups, find a doctor/dentist who makes your health a priority, get your flu shot. You may not know this, but I hate going to the doctor. Mostly because my experiences with doctors up to this point have sucked. But I made a change (or two, or three), and you know what I discovered? A good doctor asks the right questions, and looks you in the eye when you’re answering. They also order standard testing when required, instead of telling you, “You’re still young, you don’t need all that stuff…” And they follow up to give you the results of said tests, instead of waiting for you to call them five times and then telling you to come in and pay for an office visit to get them.

15. I switched web hosts and rebuilt multiple websites from the ground up.

I went back and forth on this decision for months. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Is it worth the time and money? In the end, it became a necessity. I simply outgrew my free blog account and needed to upgrade. If you haven’t seen the result yet, go ahead and click around. πŸ™‚ This website, Ask Alianne, and Wolfen Wide Web have all been revamped to the max. By the way, that intro video on WWW? Also new. πŸ˜‰

16. I got crafty.

In the winters of yore, I would always put a jigsaw puzzle of some kind on my Christmas wish list and spend the holiday putting it together. This year, Santa brought me a puzzle unlike any I’ve ever done before. It was so much fun to put together, I already put another like it on my wish list for my birthday.

17. I ventured into the dangerous realm of the kitchen.

My culinary skills grew by baby leaps and bounds as I expanded my repertoire from pizza to home made chocolates and baked brie cheese. The chocolates turned into such a huge hit I made 5 more batches on Boxing Day. As of this posting, they’re all gone and I’m pretty sure I’ve gone up a pant size… The brie cheese has become my dinner of choice the last week and a half. High cholesterol? Pfft… everyone knows those things don’t count between Christmas and New Year’s! The bottom line is, not only did I not burn down the house, I made two new things I’d never done before and had them turn out perfectly. And I learned that chocolate ganache is a magical substance that can be eaten all on its own with a spoon.

What’s next?

So here we are, on the eve of 2020, and I have no idea what the New Year has in store for me. But I know a few things I have in store for it:

  1. Finish Prince of Deceit
  2. Stay away from social media as much as possible
  3. Read as much as possible
  4. Trust myself more
  5. Stress out less
  6. Focus on the wins, not the losses
  7. Breathe

I’m aiming for the achievable. Underpromise and overdeliver. That’s always been my MO and that’s what I need to focus on. Because life really is so short, if you blink, you miss all the good things. So I will eat that extra chocolate, and I’ll bake that brie cheese for dinner, and I’ll try as best as I can to soak in every moment and commit it to memory, rather than a social media post.

I wish you all nothing but the best for the New Year, my friends. πŸ™‚

Until next time!

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