Lemonade for 2021

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2021.

The new year is always a chance to change things up and try something different. I don’t make resolutions, but I do make plans. 🙂 Sometimes they come together and sometimes they don’t – 2020 was certainly a good example of things not proceeding according to plan. What about this year?

One of the changes brought by Covid-19 is the produce section at my local grocery store. The produce is a lot less fresh than it used to be, and sometimes it’s more expensive. The discounted produce section has grown and often that produce isn’t much different than what’s at the front of the store. I always check it out. This week, there were lemons in the discount bin, probably hundreds of them. I brought home more lemons than I need, because you don’t often get 14 lemons in Canada for less than $1 and I couldn’t resist them. Then I had to figure out what to do with them.

This brings me to an old saying which I’m choosing as my slogan for 2021:

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

2020 gave many of us a lot of lemons, maybe too many lemons to manage well. But maybe you’ve caught your stride in this new world of ours or can find a better rhythm. I know a writer who treated 2020 like a personal retreat, focused on her work and produced more new books than she ever had before. I wish I’d done that myself since people were reading more last year and hungry for new content. (I was busy catching lemons.) My plan is to give that strategy a try this year and put this situation to work for me.

What about you? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? I learned to make sourdough bread last year, which was new for me and now is part of my weekly routine. Is there a book you’ve been waiting to read? An online course you’ve been wanting to take? A new skill you’ve never gotten around to learning? If you’re in lock-down, quarantine or self-isolating, this might be the perfect opportunity to do any or all of those things, and create some lemonade of your own.

I’ll tell you a bit next week about what’s in my writing and publishing plans for 2021 and will post my monthly feature on Monday, but today, have a think about what you can change to have more lemonade in your life. Let’s make 2021 a year of lemonade!

As for those lemons, I’m working my way through them. I made Mr. Math’s favorite sour cream coffee cake already (it’s lemon) and will be making our version of Chicken Piccata this weekend (we grill the chicken instead of breading and frying it). I’ll make my mom’s lemon loaf recipe today and put some in the freezer to give to her the next time we meet. I’ve always wanted to find a recipe for lemon poppyseed muffins. We’ll have Madhur Jaffrey’s Lemony Coriander Chicken for dinner one night, too. The list goes on and every single item will be yummy. I’ll be out of lemons in no time!

NaNoWriMo 2020

NaNoWriMo logo

It’s that time again. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) launches tomorrow. Participants aim to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Participation is free.

As usual, I’m participating. If you want a writing buddy, you can friend me at NaNo right here.

I’ll be putting down the words for Just One Silver Fox, as well as a couple of other projects.

If you want to learn more about NaNoWriMo, check out their website.

Missing NINC

This week, I should be at the Novelists Inc conference at St. Pete’s Beach in Florida, learning so much about publishing and promoting that my To Do lists have To Do lists. Instead, I’m home, thanks to Covid-19, and missing the conference, with reps from the portals, my writer friends and that beach.

One of the things that’s valuable about attending a conference is that I step away from my day-to-day rhythm and look at the broader picture of my publishing and writing goals, as well as learn about possibilities I’m overlooking (or haven’t explored yet). There are always a lot of those.

The Beauty Bride by Claire Delacroix in audio

Here’s an example of one thing I might reconsider after attending a workshop or having a conversation at NINC – audiobooks. I recorded a dozen audiobooks 2015-2017 (mostly historical romances) and haven’t done any since. So, if I had gone to NINC, finding out more about where the audiobook market stands right now might have been one of my action items. (I always have a list when I go to a conference.) There’s the industry at large, the trends and patterns, then there’s the strategic question of how to manage my content in that niche. Should I record my contemporary romances? Should I record my PNR? What about more historicals? Should I write and record novellas? In what sub-genre? How is the audiobook market changing? What promotional opportunities exist that didn’t before? How can I improve on what I’ve done before with audio and build for the future? I’m doing my research and considering possibilities. It’s a little harder this way than attending a session or having a drink with someone, but it’s a useful exercise. I should have a new audiobook (or two) contracted for production soon and will tell you about it when I do.

This exercise also means re-evaluating my audio distribution, which I changed in 2019. I’m mostly happy with it, but think it needs a tweak or two. For example, KOBO has opened the option of publishing audio directly to their portal: I’m going to take my audiobooks direct to them instead of using an aggregator. That means lots of uploading for me. The KOBO links for my audiobooks will change as a result. The other change I’m considering will be invisible from your end, but you can see how my To Do list is growing, just from this one item.

There are more ways to promote audiobooks than was the case four years ago, as well, and I’ve added regular promotion of my audiobooks to my monthly To Do list. You might want to follow the Delacroix blog if that interests you, because my audio backlist at this point is pretty much all historical romance. I’m sending some emails and exploring some websites and updating my idea of what’s possible to formulate a new plan.

You can see how my To Do list grew, just from that one item. I’d do the same for translations, for print editions and for getting my work into libraries. I’d probably learn more about subscription services and the exploitation of performance rights, as well as see trends in ebooks. I’d attend workshops about sending newsletters and managing social media and a host of successful marketing strategies—as well as running CPC ads. Watch that To Do list grow, even though I’m not at the conf this year.

I like how conferences like NINC compel me to plan for the future and look ahead. I bought my 2021 planner this week and have started to fill it in, both with writing and with promotion. Another thing I’m going to do this week is review the financial reports for my various book sales over the past year and look for patterns. What strategy works best? Does the answer vary by sub-genre? Does it vary by portal? It invariably does, so choosing the best path forward isn’t as easy as it might sound.

Just One Fake Date, book one of the Flatiron Five Fitness series of contemporary romances by Deborah Cooke

Another big responsibility for me is managing my backlist, to ensure that it continues to perform in a changing market. I repackaged three series this year—The Champions of St. Euphemia, Flatiron Five Fitness and Flatiron Five Tattoo. I rewrote the series starter for Flatiron Five Fitness, giving Tyler a new story. How did those efforts influence results? Was it worth doing? (Yes, it was.) If I intended to repackage another series, which one would it be? If I was going to rewrite a book, which one would it be?

One Knight's Desire, book #3 of the Rogues & Angels sereis of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix

Which series do I need to complete next? I already made a move on this one and set up a pre-order for book 3 of my Rogues & Angels series of medieval romances, One Knight’s Desire.

Which new project should I undertake next? How do I take what I’ve learned and apply it to future efforts?

You can see that my list of things to do and explore has grown by leaps and bounds, just by composing this post—and compelling myself to take the time to take a bird’s-eye view, just as I would when attending a conference. It’s not the same. I’m not hearing the news from the portals or hearing from other authors about what’s worked for them, but it’s not all bad as a compromise. I still miss attending NINC, but these items will keep me busy for a while.

Welcome to 2020!

It’s a brand new year! What will you do in 2020? What will you change? What will you accomplish?

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions but I’ll take any opportunity to review and revise. The start of a new year is a good time to do that. First, let’s take a look at things I learned in 2019.

Bad Case of Loving You, book #6 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeAccomplished in 2019
• I published four new books last year: Bad Case of Loving You, Under the Mistletoe, Maeve’s Book of Beasts and Dragon’s Kiss.

• I also published revisions of three titles: One Knight’s Return, Unicorn Bride and Pearl Beyond Price.

• I published four new Dragonfire boxed sets: Dragonfire Quest, Dragonfire Elixir, Dragonfire Reunion and Dragonfire Triumph.

Under the Mistletoe, a contemporary Christmas romance and #4 in the Secret Heart Ink series by Deborah Cooke• I started to initiate translations of my historical romances and published my first two Italian translations. (You can find Claire’s translations here.)

• I attended two conferences, a reader conference (Romancing the Capital) and a writers’ conference (Romance Mastermind). I taught a workshop at RTC.

Lessons from 2019:
Unicorn Bride, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix, 2019 new edition• A year ago, I was wondering where my days were going. It seemed that I didn’t have much time to write, even though I planned to do so every morning and spent all day at my desk. So, I started a spreadsheet, documenting exactly what I did every day and how long it took. The answer became clear very quickly: I knew that being my own publisher took time, but those publishing jobs were taking a lot more time than I’d realized. Part of this was because I’ve republished a lot of older books in the last couple of years. I’ve been streamlining my publishing processes, experimenting with timing – either a publishing day per week or a few publishing afternoons in a row seems to work well.

Dragonfire Quest, volume one of the Complete Dragonfire Novels digital bundles including Kiss of Fire, Kiss of Fury and Kiss of Fate from the Dragonfire novels series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke• I experimented again with KDP Select and was underwhelmed again by results. Switching between wide distribution and exclusive-to-Amazon distribution is a lot of work, so I’m sticking with wide distribution for the foreseeable future. I may write some projects specifically for KDP Select, but we’ll see.

• Recognizing that my focus had shifted from writing to publishing, I started a creativity journal last winter. I bought a planner and a lot of stickers, then tracked and celebrated how much I wrote each day. Having it open on my desk helped me to write first, then turn to the other jobs after the writing was done. I really like the stickers, which is silly but it’s effective. I wrote 700K words last year, which is really a lot for me. I’ve already set up my new journal for 2020. (And it has stickers in it already!)

One Knight's Return, book #2 of the Sayerne series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix• Those are pretty big take-aways from 2019, but there was another big one. A year ago, I thought I could republish some older Claire Delacroix titles easily. I knew I had a full schedule with launching DragonFate, plus finishing up Flatiron Five and Secret Heart Ink, and didn’t want Claire’s readers to be neglected. I chose three books that had been published by Harlequin, blocked in a week to proofread the scanned book files, and scheduled them for publication. That plan had worked well for the Bride Quest and Dragonfire. It didn’t work for these books. They needed revisions to the point that it would have been easier to just write new books. Those revisions added a ton of stress to my year, because I miscalculated and hadn’t left enough time for them. There isn’t a lot of upside to doing these revisions either – while it’s nice to have the books available again, they aren’t the stories I’d write now and they don’t have a huge following. My time really would be better spent writing new books. At this point, four of Claire’s eleven Harlequin Historicals have been revised and republished in new editions, and there won’t be more in the foreseeable future.

Pearl Beyond Price, book two of the Unicorn Trilogy of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix• Another milestone from 2019 was initiating translations of my books. My Italian translator and I are making good progress on the Jewels of KinfairlieThe Beauty Bride is available and The Rose Red Bride is publishing, while she is translating The Snow White Bride. I’m waiting on the Portuguese (Brazil) translation of The Beauty Bride and will have the German translation this winter. It’s been a very interesting process, with lots to learn, and many new connections to make.

The Year Ahead
Dragon's Kiss, book two of the DragonFate novels, a series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeFor the past year or so, I’ve been aware that I’m coming to the end of existing series for each of my author brands. Last year, I launched DragonFate for my Cooke paranormals, and I’m really pleased with Dragon’s Kiss. I’m having fun with that series and looking forward to its continuation. I’m in a similar place with my contemporary romances – Secret Heart Ink is done and after Some Like it Hot, Flatiron Five will be done. (Maybe. I’m not sure where Nate’s story fits yet. It might be a novella at the end of the series.) And Claire needs a new series, too. So, I’ve been planning and dreaming. The hardest part is always deciding between competing ideas.

Here Be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion by Deborah CookeRight now, these titles are scheduled for publication in 2020:
Here Be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion – January
Flatiron Five: The First Collection – January
Some Like it Hot – February
All’s Fair in Love and War – March
Dragon’s Heart – May
Dragon’s Mate – October

That’s about 300K of new words right there.

Some Like It Hot, book #7 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeI really want to get ahead of the publishing cycle this year, and get back to having books done and uploaded at least a month or two before their publication dates. I also want to publish linked books more closely together. That means the calendar is going to look empty for a bit as I write and work to get ahead of the curve. (You can see that gap in the schedule above.) The plan is that by the time you see the cover reveal and the pre-order, the book will be complete.

I’ll be filling some of those inevitable gaps with boxed sets. The new Flatiron Five bundle Flatiron Five: The First Collection comes out this month, at a special price. Claire has a new boxed set, All’s Fair in Love and War, coming in March and there will be other trope-based bundles. I’m hoping to write and publish some shorter works, too, to keep you reading while I write away.

Dragon's Heart, book three of the DragonFate Novels, a series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeI’m also revising my schedule to keep my focus squarely on writing. I’m not teaching anymore or making treks to writing group meetings. I attended two conferences last year and while they were great, this year, I’m staying home to write.

This year, it’s all about the words—and the self-care. A year and a half ago, I started walking 4 km every day and that’s become a habit. I really miss it if I skip a day. I’ve added yoga at least three times a week, too. I’m still not very good at it, but it does make me feel better. 🙂 I’ve cut back on social media commitments, too.

Of course, there’s still knitting and crafting. I’ll show you a new sweater tomorrow on Fiber Friday.

I hope you have exciting plans for 2020. Let’s make it a great year!

On New Series – and Stalking the Muse

Last week, I started this Monday column – for lack of a better word – for a reader update on the state of the empire, so to speak, and some musings on a creative life. Last week, I wrote about the last six and a half years of being indie, and making the transition from traditional publishing. I wrote about bats, too. 🙂 This week, we’ll look ahead at the work in progress and books coming soon, then talk a bit about sewing.

Under the Mistletoe, a contemporary Christmas romance and #4 in the Secret Heart Ink series by Deborah CookeWhat can you expect in book releases from me in the next year? Well, there’s a tiny bit of finishing up to do yet. Under the Mistletoe is the fourth and final book in the Secret Heart Ink series of contemporary romances and it will be available in September. Some Like it Hot is the seventh and final book in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances and it will be available in February. I know that all of the partners have their happily-ever-after, but I wanted to take one last peek in at the club, and leave them with a new means of recruiting models for their Times Square billboard. It’s true that there are characters who still need their stories told – Hunter, Sonja, Rachel, Nate – but the current plan is for Some Like it Hot to end the series.

It’s entirely possible that there could be a spin-off series, or that these characters could find their HEA’s in another series (which is a much more interesting proposition to me.)

Unicorn Bride, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix, 2019 new editionOver on the historical side, my Rogues & Angels series of medieval romances is still in progress. I think this will be scheduled at a book a year or so, at least for the time being, with some shorter works or republished works in between. One Knight’s Desire is the next Rogues & Angels book, and I’m hoping to publish it in the spring. I’m enjoying researching and writing this series and want to savor the process a little. 🙂

Unicorn Bride is the next republished work for Claire and will be published later this month. I’m not sure what the next one will be. I have covers done for the Rose trilogy, but they need some work to be a more closely-knit series.

The shorter stories in between will be Kinfairlie Tales. I have covers done for three of them and will tell you more about each one when it’s available for pre-order.

Dragon's Kiss, book two of the DragonFate novels, a series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeThen there’s entirely new work. The most obvious example of that is the DragonFate series of paranormal romances, which is a new series featuring my dragon shapeshifter heroes, the Pyr. The prequel, Maeve’s Book of Beasts, was published earlier this summer, and the first full-length romance in this series, Dragon’s Kiss, will be published in October.

This series is proving to be a lot of fun to write, because there are lots of other paranormal creatures in the Dragonfire world and now they all have to band together to defeat Maeve. You know that vampires aren’t going to get along with anyone, that dragon shifters are going to lose their tempers and get fiery, and that the dark fae will be tricksy. Throw in a slow-burn romance between a librarian and the hot vampire she knows is no good for her, and a firestorm between a dragon shifter and a Valkyrie, and New York night life will become very interesting.

There are a few more things in the works, but that’s plenty to talk about today.

The thing about writing for me is that I can’t write all the time. I generate new content for maybe four hours a day. In the past, when I was traditionally published, I would spend the rest of the day doing other stuff and letting my ideas for the next day’s writing percolate. Sometimes there was promotional stuff to do; sometimes there were publishing jobs (like reviewing proofs) to finish. At least half of the time, though, I would do other things, activities that had nothing directly to do with writing and publishing. I would sew. I would garden. I would knit. I would walk or ride my bike. I would go to an art gallery or a museum, or go shopping. I would cook or try out a new recipe. All of these activities – and more – cut my imagination loose to figure out what came next in my book, and by the time I sat down at the computer the next morning, I knew what to write. They also gave me a more balanced schedule and a healthier lifestyle.

Going indie changed that schedule. I still write for three or four hours each morning, but for the past few years, I had publishing tasks to do, each and every day. My ToDo lists were so long (and remain that long) that I never finished them. So, I spent more time at my desk and my imagination had less time to play. Writing became a little harder each day. I gained some weight and my stress levels rose.

On Writing by Stephen KingSo, taking a step back from the business of publishing my books is an excellent personal decision in many, many ways. I’m glad that the rate of change in the digital marketplace has slowed to the point that I feel comfortable doing that. About a year ago, I realized that my ToDo list was never going to be done and made my peace with some things just not happening. (This was tough and I still struggle with the imperfection of it.) I switched my office – which was in a large bedroom in our house – with our TV room, which is a smaller room. This felt like assigning the writing to its proper role in my life. Stephen King talks about making a similar change in his book On Writing, which is an excellent work that I think every author should read. I also divided this new office, putting my sewing table in there as well as my desk. I started to walk more last year which made me feel a lot better.

One stressful element of spending so much time at the desk, battling the endless ToDo list, is that the muse, the source of ideas and creativity, becomes more elusive. I knew I needed her back.

I revisited a favorite resource of mine, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This series of books features readings and exercises to help creatives restore and feed their souls, and I highly recommend it. It’s invaluable when trying to balance commerce and creativity. There actually are a number of books in this series – this is the first one, but I’ve worked through three of them.

I need to create other things in order to create stories. I need to play with colour and texture in order to tempt my muse to visit regularly. Sewing is one of the ways I create but I had packed it all away. I was still buying fabric, but just packing it away! Two years ago, I first tried Japanese sewing patterns, which tend to be of simple, classic shapes. This year, I have a collection of Japanese pattern books and am working on some more new garments from them. I have an astonishing stash and have begun to cut into it. This year, I also started to sew with knits for the first time and told you about that when I made some Mirri dresses.  This summer, I learned more about fitting garments, which is a fascinating business. I also pieced a new quilt top this year, the Escher quilt.

I also am making good progress on weeding and mulching my gardens this year. Weeds are similar to ToDo lists, in that they’re never all eradicated, but it’s very satisfying to clear them out all the same.

And what happens in the middle of all this? The muse appears in my peripheral vision and if I don’t spook her, she stays. Then ideas happen. Questions arise. Possibilities abound and I get very excited about new work.

We’ll talk more about that next week.

Workshop at RTC

Romancing the Capital 2019This morning, I’m teaching a workshop at RTC (Romancing the Capital) called A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing Options. I have two hours. The workshop clocks out at an hour and twenty minutes. I have over 100 slides! I hope the projector works. I hope I get through the whole talk without getting derailed by questions and we can have questions at the end.

Fingers crossed!

For simplicity’s sake, I created a page here on the site with hotlinks for all the portals and services I’ll mention in the talk. Their logos go past on the slides, but the links are on the RTC Links page under the Author Resources tab.

After the workshop is over, it’ll just be fun. I’m participating in several panel discussions and will be hanging out, talking to readers. There’s a huge booksigning on Saturday afternoon – which is open to the public, if you’re in the area – and I loaded the car up with books. It sounds as if this will be the last RTC, which makes me sad because it’s a terrific reader conference, but I know it will be a particularly awesome one this year.

Wish me luck with my workshop!

On Fresh Starts – and Bats

I used to blog more regularly than I have in recent years. A big reason for that has been a lack of time, but suddenly this year, I feel as if I can take a breath. This was such a novelty that I was suspicious of the impression and waited to see if it lasted. It did. 🙂 So, now I want to find my rhythm again or maybe figure out a new one. Writing a post five days a week is still out of the question. I’m going to try for a new blog post every Monday and see how that works out. It’s almost exactly the midpoint of the year – there are 22 more Mondays after this one in 2019 – so my plan is to write a blog post for each of these 23 Mondays.

We’ll start with work stuff first each Monday then something more personal. Today, that’s a fresh start and bats. 🙂

Unicorn Bride, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix, 2019 new editionWhy does it feel like a good time for a fresh start? Since I went indie in 2012, I’ve been doing several things simultaneously, each of which would be a job in itself. I’ve been pursuing rights reversions, then repackaging and republishing my previously published works in new editions. I sold 45 works to New York publishers between 1992 and 2012, and all of them have reverted to me (with the exception of English Commonwealth rights on two YA books but we’ll ignore that for now). I’ve re-edited, repackaged and republished 38 of them – although one was closer to a complete rewrite. (Writing a completely new story might actually have been faster.) #39 (Unicorn Bride) will be republished in August. That’s 39 books in 6.5 years, or six books per year, which is a good publication schedule in and of itself.

Abyss, #4 of the Prometheus Project of urban fantasy romances by Deborah CookeAt the same time, I’ve finished series that were abandoned by publishers, adding Abyss to the Prometheus Project, three novellas and two books to the Dragonfire Novels, as well as the True Love Brides and the Brides of Inverfyre to the Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie cycle. That’s four novellas, a short novel, six regular length novels and one double-length novel, all new work in existing worlds. Call it 8.5 books in 6.5 years – that’s another 1.3 books per year.

I’ve also been writing and publishing completely new works. The Champions of St. Euphemia is a medieval romance series with a structure I wanted to explore for a long time. I participated in a group project of Regency romances, which was a lot of fun – the Brides of North Barrows are the result of that collaboration. I began a different paranormal romance series featuring dragon shifter princesses from space – the Dragons of Incendium – and, of course, I wrote the Flatiron Five and the spin-off Secret Heart Ink series of contemporary romances. That’s ten full-length novels, eight short ones, two novellas and five short stories. Call it 15 more books – another 2.3 books a year.

Some Like It Hot, book #7 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeThe interesting thing about this summary is that when I was traditionally published, I published two to four books a year and those were all new work. Since going indie, I’ve averaged 3.6 new books per year, plus the republication of another 6.5 per year. I’ve been publisher as well as writer, too, so was responsible for more of the publication process. (All of it!) I haven’t even talked about audiobooks, of which we produced 13 in 2014, or foreign translations, several of which are currently in the works.

In addition, the ebook market was rapidly changing in those first few years, which meant that things had to be done over and over (and over) to accommodate changes, mostly in the format of ebook interiors. Now, the industry and its protocols seem to have settled, my backlist is available, and the various series I wanted to finish are completed. Even the new series I began in indie are coming to their completion.

This is an excellent moment for a fresh start. Where do I go from here? I’ve been thinking about that a lot this year, and have made some decisions, and will talk more about that each Monday with you.

Romancing the Capital 2019This week, I’m off to Romancing the Capital, Eve Langlais’ reader conference in Ottawa, and looking forward to that. I’ve packed all the books and swag etc. and stacked it all in the living room so Mr. Math has a few days to figure out how to get it all into the car. The advantage of driving to a conference is that I can take more; the disadvantage is that it’s easy to take too much. I’m teaching a workshop as well as participating in panel discussions, and there’s a big booksigning on Saturday to wrap up the event. The booksigning is open to the public if you’re in or around Kanata, Ontario. It sounds as if this will be the last RTC – it’s such a lot of work that I’m amazed Eve has done it four times, but I will miss this event, and seeing the readers who regularly attend it.

It is almost August, and the bats are back. (I’ve blogged about this a few times before: Guests in 2009 and If it’s August in 2012. Notice that they’re both August posts.) Actually, this is huge news this year – bats have been in short supply and I haven’t seen any for a few years. There was an epidemic that killed many of them (white nose syndrome) and they’ve been very scarce since 2015 or so. This year, they seem to be making a comeback – or maybe a fresh start of their own. I saw two bats Saturday night when I was watching the fireflies. I was happy to see them flying figure-8’s over the garden. The bats are back! Last night, driving home from my mom’s, we spotted ten – and we were driving – before getting home to find one doing laps over our garden again. Although I don’t want to get up close and personal with bats, they’re good to have around to keep the mosquito population under control. Plus they’re kind of mesmerizing to watch.

Mr. Math always says “Eat up” when he sees the bats, because the mosquitoes adore him. Back when there were more bats, if we went for a walk in the evening, they’d follow him, because there was always a buffet for them in his vicinity. Of course, if he goes out to sit and watch the bats, he’ll see a lot – they swoop around him for the same reason.

I’m happy the bats are back (but they can stay outside). It’s a week for fresh starts. Have you made a fresh start lately?

Plans for 2019

A new year is always an excellent opportunity to review. I took some time off in December because I felt due for a break. During that time, I thought about what was working for me—in terms of writing, publishing, and life in general—and what wasn’t working so well. From that, I made a plan for the new year. Some things are new and some are changing.

Bad Case of Loving You, book #6 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah Cooke• My main goal for 2019 is to add time into my publication schedule. This will reduce my stress. 🙂 Once upon a time, when I was traditionally published, my books had to be delivered to the publisher one year in advance of publication. The editorial process consumed the next eight months or so, then the book was formatted, packaged and ready to go by 90 days before publication. Paper editions were printed and shipped, and digital editions were uploaded to the portals. Although I’ll never have that prolonged of an editorial process again, my goal is to have each book uploaded 90 days before publication. It will probably take me most of this year to catch up and achieve that. This will be pretty much invisible to you, but it’s a huge change for me.

Right now, my only pre-order is for Bad Case of Loving You, which is coming out in March. Job #1 is to get that book file ready and uploaded.

• I’ll also be closing my online store. I’ve had the store for four (maybe five) years. When I opened it, there were few options for authors to sell their work directly, but gradually other services have added functionality. I don’t need a second storefront because my websites are essentially storefronts. You’ll still be able to buy directly from me, but the new buy links will look like this one, on the Champions of St. Euphemia Boxed Set page – the prices will be in US dollars, the transaction will be managed by Paypal, and the ebooks will continue to be delivered by BookFunnel.

Simply Irresistible, a contemporary romance by Deborah Cooke and first in the Flatiron Five series.• I’ll be running fewer free and 99-cent price promotions
Scheduling and managing promotions is a job in itself, and the tail or halo (the sales that result from people buying the other linked books) from those promotions is much shorter than it used to be. I think this is because the ebook market is maturing. Those specials were great for people who had just bought their first e-reader, but have become a less reliable way of ensuring discoverability. Right now, Simply Irresistible is free so is The Beauty Bride. That may change. I have my sights set on creating more front-list instead of marketing back-list.

Here Be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion by Deborah Cooke• I’ll be doing MORE writing (YAY!)
This market skews in favor of frequent publication. I want to focus more on writing and publishing new content in 2019. (2018 was the year of republishing Dragonfire; 2017 was the year of republishing the Bride Quest.) I’m excited about adding to my existing story worlds and creating some new ones.

• I’ll be offering exclusive discounts to newsletter subscribers
I’ve had good luck with this mechanism in the past so it’s a strategy to keep. These sales will be promoted to my newsletter subscribers instead of to the world at large. If you haven’t subscribed to one of my lists, you might want to do that. I only send newsletters when I have a sale or a new release to announce. I’d also like to make some new content available exclusively to subscribers this year, too, and you’ll find out about that in my newsletters. My newsletters are:

Dragons & Angels for my paranormal romances
Knights and Rogues for my historical romances
Heroes & Bad Boys for my contemporary romances

If you don’t like to subscribe to newsletters, you could also follow my blogs:

DeborahCooke.com/blog is mostly about my contemporary romances
DragonfireNovels.com/blog is for my Dragonfire series
DragonsofIncendium.com/blog is for that PNR series
Delacroix.net/blog is for my historical romances

Wyvern's Wizard, book 11 of the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeYou can also follow me at Amazon and BookBub to receive new release announcements from those portals. Be aware that Amazon doesn’t always send new release announcements on (or even that close to) the publication date. Sometimes they don’t send them at all. Also, BookBub now offers a new release announcement that authors have to pay for, so I’m not sure if their free version will be retired.

follow Deborah Cooke at Amazon
follow Claire Delacroix at Amazon
follow Deborah Cooke at BookBub
follow Claire Delacroix at BookBub

• I’ll be creating more free guided tours
These are newsletter automations that take subscribers through the works set in one of my fictional realms. Each week, subscribers get a newsletter featuring the next book set in that world, along with a peek behind the scenes and some notes about my research. There are special offers in these tours, too. I like these tours as they’re fun ways to integrate my research and Pinterest boards, then share that with you.

Right now, there’s a virtual tour available for Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie medieval romances. I’ll be adding new ones in 2019 for the Champions of St. Euphemia, the Sayerne medieval romances Rogues & Angels and the Dragonfire Novels. You can sign up for any (or all! LOL) of these now: the Ravensmuir one will start right away and the others will launch when I have them compiled. Your email will just be saved until then.

Phew! That’s my plan for 2019!

Under the Mistletoe, a contemporary Christmas romance and #4 in the Secret Heart Ink series by Deborah CookeWhere do we stand right now?
I didn’t stop working completely in December, but I certainly wrote less. This means that Chynna’s story, Under the Mistletoe, wasn’t written and published in December. On the other hand, I felt more like revising than writing, so I’ve been updating One Knight’s Return to prepare it for publication. It’ll be out in April and there will be pre-order links soon.

Right now, I’m working on the Dragonfire companion, Here Be Dragons, which will be published as soon as it’s done, and Theo’s book, Bad Case of Loving You, which will be published in March. I expect to fit Chynna’s book in there, too. (The timeline entangles with Theo’s book, so that isn’t as crazy a plan as it might seem.)

One Knight's Return, book #2 of the Sayerne series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixAfter that, well, I have a bunch of ideas. 🙂 I’ll be at a bit of a crossroads as many series will be finished up. The Dragons of Incendium series is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, and the rest of the series will be published there, too. Wyvern’s Wizard is next in that series, which is Peri and Nero’s book. I expect the next few books in that series to entangle a bit as the sisters set out on their quests. DragonFate is high on my list, but again, I want it all written before I launch the first book. There will be more Coxwell books – I think Annette is next – and more medievals – I’d like to publish the third Rogues & Angels book this year as well as The Stolen Bride, the third Brides of Inverfyre book.

I’m excited to dive into 2019. Do you have plans for 2019?