Taking Stock of My Year: 2016 Accomplishments & 2017 Goals

It’s time to take stock of what I’ve accomplished in the last year and what I’d like to do in the next one. I live in a perpetual state of feeling like I’ve never accomplished enough. So sometimes it’s healthy for me to take a minute to say, “Look, you did these things. There’s actual proof!”

In 2016, I published the following books:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00075]
Will & Patrick Fight Their Feelings
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00075]
Will & Patrick Meet the Mob
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Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00050]
Angel Undone

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Pictures of You
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You Are Not Me

In 2016, I had the following books released as translations:

vesperal
Vespéral
saison entrainement
Saison d’entrainement: Entrainement tome 1
entrainement

Centre d’entrainement: Entrainement Tome 2
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Überraschend … verheiratet!
training-season
Training Season: La stagione dell’allenamento
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Un fiume in piena

The year has had its blessings and its troubles. I think the most surprising thing I’ve discovered is that I need to create two new pen names in order to work on non-Leta Blake brand ideas. In the end, I think it will serve me well to have three brands to allow my creativity to flow, but in the meantime it will bring on some lean times.

Which brings me to my 2017 Goals…

1) AUDIO: I’d like to explore audio and after much thought I’ve decided that Will & Patrick Wake Up Married is probably the way to go. The length of each installment is less than my usual book and so, hopefully, it would be more affordable to produce. I haven’t even begun to look into it, but intend to do so starting in January.

2) 90s COMING OF AGE BOOKS 3 & 4: I intend to finish the 90’s Coming of Age series in 2017. They are tentatively called We Can Be Good and We Make It Real.

3) M/F SERIAL: I want to start putting out the M/F serial I mentioned above. I have planned out twenty installments, but I’d like to get that down to ten, and put out three to five of them next year.

4) DARK EROTICA PEN NAME: Books published under this name won’t be “Leta Blake brand”. I intend to put out two (or possibly four) books under this name next year, depending on how things go.

5) A CHRISTMAS BOOK: I have three ideas and whichever one jumps me hardest will get my attention.

6) A LETA BLAKE BRAND BOOK: I’m waffling here. I’m torn between a Will & Patrick sequel, a heist book I’ve wanted to do forever, the Gareth/Lowell book from Smoky Mountain Dreams universe, and a book about Varun from Will & Patrick’s universe. But I’m already pushing the limits of my abilities with these goals, so I will just say that I’ve got to make a choice on this rather soon. It’s important to me that I get a stand alone Leta Blake brand book out this year.

It’s my belief that 2017 will be a building year for me. It will be a lot of work and expense with potentially little profit. It will probably feel a lot like the uphill part of the roller coaster, and I hope it only takes one year to get to the top of it. It’d be nice to experience a fun ride down before I start building again. Because that’s life, isn’t it? You go up that hill and then whoosh, it’s over in a flash, and you do more work to get up the next hill, and whoosh. There’s always hard work to earn the rush. I can promise there will be books to show for the work. I truly hope readers will enjoy them.

Let me take this opportunity to thank all the readers out there, all across the world, who’ve made my writing career thus far so wonderful. You’ve allowed me to write books that move me and I’ve loved hearing that they also moved you. Thank you for your trust. I know you invest money and time whenever you read one of my books. It’s an honor to be granted those precious hours of your life.

Thank you and blessings.

Leta Blake’s Writing/Publishing Plans for 2016: ALL THE BOOKS! #amwriting #2016

The Sunsphere. Icon of Knoxville, the setting of the 90s Coming of Age series.
The Sunsphere. Icon of Knoxville, the setting of the 90s Coming of Age series.

As I sit in the lobby of our local ice skating rink, waiting while kiddo and her pal skate, I’m being forced to listen to the most uncool playlist of 80s pop songs I’ve heard in a long time. I think my mother did Jazzercise to most of these, though, and so I have a certain fondness for them despite not really feeling the need to ever hear any of them again

I brought my laptop with me with the intention of getting some writing done, only to realize that I don’t have access to my Dropbox from here. Poor planning on my part. So, instead, I’m going to finally type up my writing plans/goals for 2016. Yes, that’s me burying the lede again. I’m good at that.

Wake Up Married serial. Episodes 4-6 will be released in the early months of this year. Pre-orders are available already for Will & Patrick Fight Their Feelings and Will & Patrick Meet the Mob. The final installment, Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending, is not available for pre-order yet, but it has a Goodreads page. We are doing our best to be as timely as possible with them. Each installment of this serial is between 30,000 and 40,000 words in length.

I’m excited by the reception these episodes have received already despite the general consensus that serials aren’t most readers’ favorite way to receive their story. I do think the serialized format fits this particular storyline, though, and these guys. I’m excited to wrap it up and have the entire set out there for readers

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How to Steal a Heart. A stand-alone art heist novel inspired by the movie How to Steal a Million. This book has been building in my head for about four years now. I’ve read tons of books about art thieves, art heists, art con artists, etc, and I feel like I’m ready to finally tackle it. I’m pretty excited for this one! I hope to have it out early in the summer, but it might take a backseat to the next items on this list if necessary, because they are where the bulk of my writing/publishing plans rest for this year. My goal for release is May or June 2016. But if I can’t make that due date, then we’re looking at Spring 2017 instead.

The next set of releases are books made up of pieces of my heart. Their titles are: Pictures of You, You Are Not Me, You Make It Real, and Never Tear Us Apart. Also known as The 90s Coming of Age series.

I started writing these books back before I knew I shouldn’t.

Yep, I started them in 2004, when writing a book set in 1991 didn’t seem like I was writing about a different world altogether. I wrote what I knew and mixed it with what I didn’t know, because that was the advice we’re all given to start. I wrote about a time before 9/11 when a non-practicing Jewish boy in Knoxville, Tennessee could be in love with a non-practicing Arab boy from “all over the world” and the issue of religion/race is the least important problem they face.

I wrote about emotional abuse. I wrote about being in the closet. I wrote about beards. I wrote about a world where first love doesn’t always mean last love. (But it’s me so there is a happy ending for the main character.) I wrote about a world where AIDS was still tearing down any sense of safety gay men might have ever created for themselves. I wrote about graduating high school and going to college. I wrote about all kinds of things that don’t fit what anyone expects from me as a writer or from novels in this genre because I didn’t know any better.

But my beta readers tell me they love these characters and this world. They tell me I have to put the books out. And to be honest, these books have taken up space in my head long enough. If I don’t publish them and let them be free, if I don’t let them go out in the world to face readers who will love them and hate them and whatever other reception they get, then I’ll feel like I let them down. I don’t want to do that. I want them to have their chance. So, yes, Peter, Adam, Leslie, Daniel, Minty, Renee, and all the rest will be out this fall. Releases expected as follows:

August: Pictures of You
September: You Are Not Me
October: You Make It Real
November: Never Tear Us Apart
December/January 2017: Box Sets of the above books

Middle Grade Christmas Book: I promised my ten year old daughter to write a Middle Grade book for her, and I intend to keep that promise. Her present for next Christmas will be the book she and I planned/plotted together. I’ll release it under another name, obviously, but I’ll let my readers here know about it when I put it out.

My last tentatively planned book of 2016, one that I’d love to release in December if possible, is an unnamed Christmas story. I honestly have my doubts that I’ll get it done in time, and if I don’t feel like it’s going to happen, I’ll probably shift my focus from it to the Mail Order Bride story that I hope to have out in early 2017. We’ll see how it goes. I always like to bite off a bit more than I can chew. It keeps me constantly striving. I have a terror of being lazy, so planning for more than I can accomplish is one way I keep myself from slacking off too much.

 

These are the books I’m looking at putting out for 2016. I hope you’re as excited by this list as I am and I hope you can make room in your heart to give the 90s Coming of Age series a try even if it’s different from what you might otherwise expect from me. 🙂 Here’s to a publication packed year!

 

Writing Round Up – Taking Stock of the Year #amwriting #2013

Over on LiveJournal, under my fandom persona, I’ve always done an end of the year round up of writing meme. I decided to transfer that here this year.

Number of Books Published in 2013
1. Ascending Hearts with Keira Andrews
2. Love’s Nest with Keira Andrews
3. Training Season

Words Written in 2013
1. Training Season – 60,000 new words
2. Love’s Nest – hilariously, I had 51,900 at the end of 2012, but didn’t actually finish the book until February of 2013, and, after edits, it was down to 51,061. So, I netted no words there. – 0 words
3. Binasco Bakery – 5,630
4. ’90s Coming of Age – novel – 24,000 new words (at least, but I don’t have a good ‘before’ count)
5. Falling – novella – 10,000 new words
6. Smoky Mountain Dreams – novel – 0 new words
7. Everything Is Yes – novella – 10,000 new words
8. Trans* Story – novella – 11,242
9. Sheriff Jackson – novella – 951
10. Lost Souls – novel – 0 new words
11. Bucket List – novel – 1,034
12. Ask Jungle Jason – novel – 2,314
13. Always Naked Men – short – 2,648
14. Heist – 457
15. Stalking Dreams – novella – 9,986
16. Leuka – original novel – 0 new words (poor Leuka)
17. Lost Sea – original novel – 0 new words
18. HertClub – original novel – 0 new words
19. Stalking Novel – novel – 44,777
20. For Reasons – novel – 3,158

Subtotal: 186,197 <–Wow, that is totally not enough! Not even close to enough. I have to do better this year.

I also wrote 75,000 words of pure smut under a different pen name. Nope, not sharing it here, but I did write it and it’s out there bringing in smut money. 😉 So, I’ll count those words toward my total count. (And also make note to decide if these words paid off monetarily in terms of focus, time, effort, etc.)

TOTAL WORD COUNT – 261,197

I’d like to hit 350,000 new words in 2014.

Overall Thoughts:

Looking back, did you write more than you thought you would this year, less, or about what you’d predicted?

I always overestimate what I’m going to get done, so I’d go with less. I’d have wanted to break 300k word count, at least.

What did you write that you would never have predicted in January?

I finished Training Season. That was never in my plan for the year. It hit me in August that I had an old draft of a book about an Olympian and that, hey, the Winter Olympics were coming up. If I wanted to do something about that, now was the time. So, when I started the year, Training Season was not even in my plans.

What’s your own favorite story of the year? Not the most popular, but the one that makes you happiest?

Training Season, actually. It is the kind of book I want to write and I’m proud of it.

Did you take any writing risks this year? What did you learn from them?

I decided to finish and self-publish Training Season. I learned that I love, love, love self-publishing. I love having control over when the editing happens, when it’s released, how the cover looks, etc. I love being able to make coupons for the book to provide discounts for special occasions. I love the freedom of choosing if I want to go to print or not. I love it all. At this point, I might need to be sold on why I should return to a publisher. The last one I dealt with offered very little in exchange for their 60% of profits, and they were often rude in correspondence, didn’t seem invested in getting my book out there, and sales were abysmal. So, yeah, I’m not sure where the benefit is, necessarily, except perhaps in access to readership. For that reason, I’ll probably submit a few books to publishers, but I will have to be won over whole hog before I’ll submit every book.

I’ve decided to take a huge writing risk next year. But I’ll save that for later!

From my past year of writing, what was…

My most popular story of this year:

Training Season, for sure.

Story of mine most under-appreciated by the universe, in my opinion:

Ha! Well, I guess it would have to be poor Love’s Nest. I’m not sure what the problem is with selling the book, because, though the other two fairy tales didn’t fare very well either, they acutally did better. I suspect it’s the pricing, but I have no control over that, since it’s not self-pubbed. (Oh, hindsight!)

Most fun story to write:

I loved working on Stalker Novel [half-finished]. It was a blast. I loved finishing up Training Season. I had fun with the expansion of Coming of Age Novel [also half-finished].

Story with the single sexiest moment:

I write so much sex that I have no f’ing clue! LOL!

Most “Holy crap, that’s wrong, even for you” story:

There’s a lot of that going on in Everything Is Yes [submitted to a press].

Story that shifted my own perceptions of the characters:

Everything Is Yes.

Hardest story to write:

Love’s Nest. I am very happy with how it came out, but there were parts that were like pulling teeth, and we knew sales would be abysmal, so feeling inspired to finish it was quite hard, to be entirely honest.

Biggest Disappointment: Everything about the publishing experience prior to self-publishing. Though, as I said, I’m willing to try another house and see if things are different. But, wow, I didn’t anticipate the complete lack of investment from the house we were with.

Biggest Surprise: Training Season‘s reception! What is this madness!?!?!

Most Unintentionally Telling Story: Oh, hell. They probably all are very telling. I’m sure the way I had to approach the kink in Training Season or Everything Is Yes is the most telling of all, though.

Do you have any goals for the New Year?

I want to put out ’90s Coming of Age Novel as a serial. I want to finish ’90s Coming of Age Novel, Stalking Novel, and Trans* Story. I also want to start the Bill/Angus companion novella to Training Season. Though, if you look above, I’ve got twenty-one works in progress, so I’m always wary of starting a new book. But, I think if I finish the three I mentioned, then I would be in the clear to go forward with Bill/Angus. I really want to get my het novel, For Reasons, mostly finished, too. I just opened it up to see the word count earlier, and, oh my god, I love it! Ahem. Anyway, that’s what I’d like to do, but I have no idea if that’s possible.