Dear 2019,

With the benefit of having lived through your younger brother known as 2018, you will find me a bit changed. Older, wiser, and a bit more cunning.  

Love, Carmen

From 2018, with love

Every year, instead of a list of easily-forgotten resolutions, I choose a theme for my year. This year it’s “Simplify.”

Last year was a year of big change for me. New state, new house, new community. New challenges trying to transform a house with mud brown walls into a loveable, livable, and light-filled farmhouse while also writing a book, this blog, and growing the Mystery Ahead newsletter all at the same time. Oh, and trying to keep up with social media. And marketing. And book reviewing. 

Things got messy.

Basically, I was doing FAR too many things and spending FAR too much time in the weeds doing time consuming things that didn’t take me where I wanted to go as an author. Too much time was going down the rabbit hole instead of being used for what I wanted to do–write compelling books about the things that intrigue me.

In short, I have always been susceptible to the alluring yet deadly disease called Shiny Object Syndrome. In 2018 this translated into an epic time management fail:

  • I over processed simple tasks, creating more work than necessary.
  • I chased after activities that weren’t aligned with my priorities.
  • I left opportunities on the table.
  • RUSSIAN MOJITO, Detective Emilia Cruz Book 7 simply wasn’t getting finished.

Theme for 2019: “Simplify”

After a hard look at where my energies were going, and some hard questions to myself, I knew I needed to simplify, streamline, and get back to my top priorities.

Here is how that will look:

Simpler newsletter: Each edition of Mystery Ahead will have my latest #booknews, exclusive #excerpts, and a mystery #review of a book I think you’ll love. This eliminates the author interviews (simply too time consuming to continue) and the protips (not relevant to my readership). Bonus for me–by sharing excerpts, I’ll be motivated to finish works in progress.

Simpler website: I firmly believe that every professional author needs a professional website. It is the hub of your platform. Social media platforms, book sales pages, etc. are the spokes. That being said, I was still learning the all-powerful Divi theme for WordPress last year and experimented with many of its features. (A particularly virulent case of Shiny Object Syndrome) As a result, blog posts looked uneven and the navigation got unwieldy. After a week of updates, the site is refreshed and easier to navigate. All my books are listed on one page and there is a sub-menu so anyone who wants to know everything about the Detective Emilia Cruz series can find it. Coming soon: better opt-in pages.

Which brings us to social media. A free way to introduce readers to a new author vs an echoing, time-eating cavern with occasional toxic sinkholes. Facebook will be my primary social media outlet in 2019, followed closely by Pinterest. I created a cheatsheet so posting is fun, not a chore. Twitter is off the radar. 

What’s ahead in 2019

The word Simplify has allowed me to clear my head, assess priorities, and make an GREAT action list that doesn’t include the kitchen sink. Here’s the plan:

New books: RUSSIAN MOJITO, Detective Emilia Cruz Book 7 and NARCO NOIR, Book 8, plus updated book descriptions across sales platforms.

Boxed sets: Detective Emilia Cruz Greatest Hits: Vol 1 (CLIFF DIVER, HAT DANCE, DIABLO NIGHTS) and Vol 2 (KING PESO, PACIFIC REAPER, 43 MISSING).

Articles: Guest post collaboration with Jeanine Kitchel, exploring issues from the viewpoint of two female thriller authors.

New project: Preliminary research into the mystery series I’ll start in 2020, which takes place in Norway during WWII.

Outreach: Collaborations to promote the Mystery Ahead newsletter. 

AND a secret project I hope to be able to share mid-year. (Mystery Ahead subscribers will get the news first so sign up now).

What’s your theme for 2019?

Let’s help each other do great things in 2019!

What’s your one word theme for the year?

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