If you're the sort who's overwhelmed by change, I'm sorry.
Happy New Year, Li’l Echoes!
I still need to work on that.
At any rate, hi! And welcome to 2020, which is even more futuristic-sounding than Y2K, which still feels like it just happened.
It’s a new year, a new decade, and a new newsletter! We’re on Substack now, and that’s not the only change that’s happening here.
By the way, if you’re reading this, congratulations! You survived the Purge, wherein I culled the serial non-openers from my list. To those of you who actually read these words I send out once a month, thank you. I appreciate you so much.
I also value your time, which is why we’re trying out a new format in my attempt to streamline things. We’ve all got an impossible amount of things clamoring for our time and attention, and as long as you allow me into your inbox, I want to make our time together not only enjoyable but also short enough to stay enjoyable.
So real quick, besides the new publisher and the new format, here’s what else is changing as we move into this new year:
While this newsletter will still go out once a month, I’m also going to start sending out short updates every Friday on how my WIPs are going — just a quick progress report to keep you posted and keep me accountable.
For those of you who enjoy the more personal updates I’ve previously included in this letter, as well as my lengthy blog posts and ramblings about things like my faith and the enneagram and life hacks and etc., I’m going to be starting a separate monthly newsletter that will take the place of my blog. If you’re interested in that, reply to this e-mail to let me know and I’ll add you to that list so you’ll be sure to get the first issue when it launches later this month.
I’m also streamlining my social media usage and trying to reduce my digital footprint. If you’re following me on Twitter or Facebook, you should know I’m no longer maintaining an active Twitter presence, and I’m probaby going to delete my Facebook page at some point. I’m mostly on Instagram these days, but I’m also phasing out my author account @jmbauhaus and focusing entirely on my personal account @jean_of_the_hills. So if you follow me at the first one, you might want to switch over to the second.
What’s with all these changes, man?
I basically have one overriding goal for the new year, and that’s to be more consistent. And I’ve realized that I can’t be consistent when I’m spread too thin and piling too much on my plate. I’m narrowing my focus this year to just writing (not counting the adjacent tasks necessary to producing online content and publishing books) instead of trying to do all the things.
And that — writing, that is — is one of the main areas where I want to be more consistent. I’m going to try a new thing — forgetting about metrics like word counts and quotas and just focus on showing up to the keyboard (or the notebook) on a consistent basis. This year is all about building consistent habits that will eventually result (hopefully) in being consistently successful in my work.
What’s your big goal/intention/one word/resolution for the new year? I’d love to hear it — just reply to this e-mail to tell me what it is.
And before we move on, can I ask a quick favor? If you enjoy this newsletter, will you share it with your people? I would appreciate that very much. And if you show me receipts (a screenshot that you tag me in on Instagram, for example) I’ll even put your name in a drawing for a free e-book of your choice from my back catalog.
Big Wins from 2019
I always feel like I’m a painfully slow writer — and I am, when I compare myself with those Indie authors who are cranking out a book a month on Kindle Unlimited — but I still managed to launch four new books last year. Okay, calling The Spirits Collection a new book is a bit of a stretch, and my publisher put that one together without my having to do anything, but still. Between that coming out last summer, both my first non-fiction book and my novella duology Women’s Work coming out last winter, and the long-awaited Deliverance of the Damned finally releasing in November, that’s not a bad year by objective standards. Not super-prolific, but definitely not bad, especially considering this isn’t what I do for a living.
(By the way, if you’ve read Deliverance, would you mind leaving a review? That would go a long way toward helping new readers find this book.)
2019 was also the year I finally broke into the audio book market, with both Self-Publishing for the Broke Author and Dominion of the Damned being produced for Audible, which was a fun experience and one I hope to repeat with more titles in the future.
Another exciting thing you guys helped make happen: the e-book version of Dominion made it into the top ten free books in two of its categories on Amazon — making it all the way to #4 in free U.S. Horror Fiction! So thanks to everyone who downloaded the book and/or helped spread the word and got me that temporary boost in visibility. ♥
Big Goals for 2020
I only set project goals for one 90-day period at a time. So apart from my professional writing goal — which is basically just to do the work as it comes in and stay ahead of my deadlines — my main focus for the next 90 days is getting the final book in the Damned trilogy finished. That’s the project I’ll be keeping you updated on in the weekly e-mails.
Of course I have other books I’d like to write. I’d like to get back to the supernatural thriller series I started last year, for one thing, and I’ve got more non-fiction book ideas vying for my attention. And besides the other newsletter I’ll be starting this month, I’ve also got plans to launch a publication on Medium that focuses on simple living, mainly for the purposes of expanding my freelance portfolio and giving myself something to write about besides pet care.
But getting this novel off of my plate and onto your e-readers is my biggest goal. I’m also planning to release a paperback version of Deliverance soon, and I would love to get the ball rolling on an audio version if I can work out a deal with the narrator of Dominion. I might have to see about doing a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign to make that happen, so that’s not likely to occur before the final book is launched, hopefully by the beginning of summer. For one thing, I’m not likely to have time for a campaign before then, but also if I wait, I can hopefully get both of the remaining books in the trilogy produced in one go.
3 Things I Love
This section is devoted to things that are delighting me or making my life better in some way (this section may contain Amazon affiliate links). For this month, they are:
Crio Bru - It’s touted as a coffee alternative, but it’s basically finely ground cacao tea that you can brew in your coffee maker or French press. It’s not as finely ground as cocoa powder, nor is it as rich as cocoa — it’s got a more mild chocolatey flavor that I actually like better than hot cocoa. I asked for and received a bag for Christmas and it’s helping me come down gently from all the chocolatey treats I’d been eating all month long.
This podcast interview with James Clear - I haven’t yet read Atomic Habits (I hope to rectify that soon), but this interview with the author provides the basics of what you need to know to start building good habits. This interview basically provided the steps I plan to follow in my goal to be more consistent.
Ashley Bell - I read a little Dean Koontz back in the ‘80s (mainly because teen Jean was all for reading a book that turned into a movie starring Corey Haim), and rediscovered him a few years ago with his Odd Thomas series (which you’ll love if you like my Restless Spirits books). I guess you could say I re-rediscovered him this year, and with this novel I think I’m officially a fan.
3 Links You’ll Love
This section contains links from around the Internet (or just Instagram) that I’m 99% certain will delight you as much as they delighted me.
This cover of The Middle by Audrey Assad and Guests - It started with Audrey Assad posting a soulful cover of Jimmy Eats World’s The Middle on her Instagram channel. And then a couple of other artists layered in their vocals. And then a musician added strings. The arrangement was already beautiful and it keeps growing into something truly amazing.
This Christmas Bloom County strip - Berkeley Breathed is every bit as good at poignancy as he is at comedy, and yet I’m always surprised when this classic comic strip about a talking penguin and a lobotomized cat makes me tear up. Fair warning: if you’re a dog person (and probably if you’re just a person), this WILL make you cry. So will this gorgeously drawn epilogue.
@dudewithsign is out there fighting the good fight, protesting the truly important issues of our day.
All right, that’s it for another month, folks! I’ll pop into your inbox next Friday to let you know how it’s going as I get back to writing Destruction of the Damned.
See you then!