Looking back at 2020 and my writing goals for 2021

writing goals 2021

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I always do an annual review at the end of a year and set my writing goals for the coming year.

Oh boy! A year ago, none of us had any idea what 2020 had in store for us! A pandemic, two lockdowns, wildfires in Australia, natural disasters, BLM protests, murder hornets, a nerve-racking election in the US… In a nutshell, if 2020 had been a book, it would have been a dystopian novel, a thriller, or maybe a horror novel for sure!

But let’s take a look at how I did on my goals for 2020 anyway:

 

Write and publish two English books

I didn’t quite make that goal.

I had planned to write and publish two books in 2020—a novella titled Wrong Number, Right Woman and another novel, probably book 3 in the Portland Police Bureau series.

Well, I did write and publish Wrong Number, Right Woman, but it ended up being a full-length novel. In fact, at 116,000 words, it’s longer than the average romance novel, which is one of the reasons why it took me longer than expected to write it. I also struggled to get into a productive writing mood while we were in lockdown, but in the end, I was very happy with how the book turned out.

I didn’t manage to write a second book, and I feel it’s not the right time to write a sequel in the Portland Police Bureau series anyway. After what came to light about the Portland Police in particular this year, I need to find a way to address things such as police brutality and systemic racism in the book, without turning it into a depressing read, and that’s a big task that I’m not quite ready to take on yet!

 

Translate and publish two German novels

I did manage to translate and publish not two but three novels into German in 2020: Book 2 of Hidden Truths was published at the very beginning of the year, while the German versions of The Roommate Arrangement and Wrong Number, Right Woman were published in fall.

So at least my German readers got something positive out of the lockdown and me not being able to travel!

 

Publish a new writers’ guide

That’s another checkmark! I did publish a new writers’ guide, Write Great Beginnings, in March 2020.

 

Attend at least two book-related events in 2020

You can probably guess what became of that goal. Right—it fell victim to the pandemic. The book fair in Leipzig, which I had planned to attend in March, was cancelled just a few days before it would have started.

The GCLS conference and the book fair in Frankfurt were turned into virtual events, and I was part of several panels.

The plus side of both being virtual events is that you can still watch the panels online, including one on LGBT Representation in Romance Novels and the GCLS Chemistry 101 panel with Georgia Beers, Rachel Spangler, Carsen Taite, Elle Spencer, Jaime Clevenger, and me.

 

Continue to give back to the community of LGBT+ readers and writers

I think I can consider that goal accomplished.

With the pandemic and lockdowns affecting many people financially, my publisher and I decided to do something positive for our readers by giving away free books. I personally ended up giving away 10,714 ebook copies of my books (not counting short stories or our anthology, Glimpses, which is still available for free).

I ran the F/F Fiction Crossword Challenge, a year-long event with book-themed crossword puzzles, which kept readers entertained during lockdowns and quarantines and gave them a chance to win books.

I also tried to mentor and promote as many of my fellow writers as possible, including helping new writers get started. For example, I added this page of newbie authors to watch out for to my website.

In addition, I put together a series of helpful webinars for Ylva Publishing authors, teaching them how to promote their books.

 

Become a more healthy writer

Ummm… well… I had planned to work out three times a week. Some weeks, I did. Other weeks, I didn’t. I also indulged in banana bread and pizza more often than I should have.

But I cut myself some slack because at least my mental health made it through 2020 in pretty good shape.

 

Read more books for fun

I actually think I did a little better on that one than in previous years. I went on a three-week vacation on Fuerteventura before the pandemic started in January, and I read pretty much non-stop.

I also found myself re-reading a lot of old favorites in 2020. Reconnecting with favorite characters was really comforting during this tough year.

 

Other accomplishments in 2020:

There were also some other accomplishments and highlights in 2020:

  • Audiobooks: 8 of my novels were published as audiobooks in 2020, which means that now all of my novels are available as audiobooks!
  • Awards: My books won several awards in 2020: Not the Marrying Kind won the IPPY Award in silver, and The Roommate Arrangement won an eLit Award (bronze) and a Golden Crown Literary Society Award. It was also a Lambda Award finalist.
  • Short stories: While I didn’t manage to write another novel in 2020, I did write two short stories. The first one, “Partners,” is a mini sequel to Under a Falling Star and was published in the Ylva anthology After Happily Ever After. The second, “Lucky Yellow Shoes,” is a continuation of Wrong Number, Right Woman, and you can download it for free in the anthology Glimpses.
  • Translation: My novel Under a Falling Star has been translated into French under the title Sous une étoile filante. Now I’ve got a novel available in four different languages! (English, German, French & Italian)
  • New covers: My Shape-Shifter series got new covers in 2020. Second Nature is now available in Kindle Unlimited, and Manhattan Moon has been published as a paperback for the very first time.

shape shifter series Jae

 

My goals for 2021

Here are my goal for 2021. I hope 2021 will treat us more kindly than 2020 did and not throw a wrench into my plans, but since I expect most of 2021 will be affected by COVID, I adjusted my goals accordingly.

 

Write and publish two English books

I’m hoping to go back to writing and publishing two books in 2021. The first one will be a friends-to-lovers novella with the working title Chemistry Lessons. But I know I’ve got a reputation for aiming for novellas and then ending up with a novel. If that happens, I wouldn’t mind…and I know my readers won’t mind either.

The second book for 2021 will be an opposites-attract romance novel featuring a character with a very unusual job.

 

Write and publish a short story

2021 marks the 170-year anniversary of Luke & Nora from Backwards to Oregon starting out on the Oregon Trail. Since the Oregon series is still one of my most popular, I thought I’d surprise readers with a short story about the Hamiltons to celebrate the anniversary.

 

Translate two German books

In 2021, I’d like to translate my friends-to-lovers novella and the first book in my Shape-Shifter series, Second Nature, into German.

 

Attend at least one book-related event

Organizations such as the GCLS are already planning their conventions for 2021. I haven’t booked trips for any events yet because, truth be told, I’m a little skeptical that they’ll be able to take place as physical events.

So for now, I’ll assume that I’ll attend at least one virtual book-related event in 2021.

 

Continue to give back to the community of LGBT readers and writers

As always, I’d like to find ways to give back to the community of LGBTQ+ readers and writers.

For readers, I’m organizing the Sapphic Reading Challenge, a year-long reading challenge that promises to be a lot of fun. The rules & categories are already up, along with a book journal giveaway, and I’ll post the suggestions for the first category the day after tomorrow. Make sure you check back or subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss it!

For authors, I’ll be hosting a Newbie Author of the Month and one more established author in my Facebook group every month. I’ll also mentor another student for the GCLS Writing Academy to help them get their writing to a new level.

 

Become a more healthy writer

Staying healthy in the middle of a pandemic is a bit different from the same goal in previous years. For one thing, there won’t be a beach vacation in 2021—at least not at the beginning of the year, when I would have normally retreated from the world. Instead, I’ll aim for a vacation in an exotic place called “my living room” and spend two weeks catching up with my to-be-read list.

My living room is also starting to look like a mini gym, so regular workouts are back on my list of goals for 2021.

 

Read more books for fun

My reading goal for 2021 is to participate in my reading challenge and achieve a Book Squirrel badge, which means reading at least 20 WLW books. I’ll also try to keep track of what I’m reading with my new book journal.

sapphic reading challenge book journalsapphic reading challenge book journal

 

How did you do with your goals for 2020? And what are your goals, plans, and hopes for 2021? Please leave a comment and let us know.

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10 thoughts on “Looking back at 2020 and my writing goals for 2021”

  1. Hi Jae. I have been a fan of your books for years and was a beta reader for Next of Kin. As a veteran law enforcement officer of 20 years I am saddened and disgusted when a senseless killing happens. However I am just as sad when I hear about systemic racism in law enforcement. I can certainly speak for my dept that there are no policies or procedures that are racist. 2020 had nearly 300 officers killed in the line of duty. We are all targeted now. I know that you are meticulous with your research and I just ask that you please look at all sides

    Reply
    • I can definitely promise you that I’ll look for beta readers who work as law enforcement officers as well as beta readers who have experienced racism. I want to portray everyone fairly and accurately.

      Reply
  2. I’d would like to personally say thank you for what you have written; I found it especially helpful during these troublesome times. I picked up “WNRW” because it piqued my interest, and I’m so glad I did it. That was back in mid July? When Melbourne, Victoria went into 110+ days of hard lockdown. I made my way backwards lol, through the majority of your books/collections and finished with “GE2E” and the short story “CID”.
    So thank you!! My mental health really appreciates the escape that you provided.

    Reply
  3. As someone who had a German mother, I have always been so proud of you for your English-language contributions to women-loving-women literature! Vielen Dank! And I wish you ein schönes neues Jahr!

    Reply
  4. Great job accomplishing your goals for 2020!! Looking forward to your writing for 2021. Huge fan, and love all of your work. Keep taking care of yourself! :)

    Reply
  5. Jae, you are always an inspiration to me, and this past year has been no different, so thank you for the entertainment, the guidance and motivation.
    Here’s what I’ve got planned for 2021
    -Collect all my “Frizzle” dragon stories and compile them into an anthology. Release these in time for Easter.
    -Finish the rewrite on “Body In The Bush”
    -Collect and compile all my “darker” short stories and flash fiction into an anthology in time for Halloween
    -Outline the sequel to Body In The Bush
    -Collect all my holiday stories into a holiday anthology and release in early December
    -Build a collection of writing for my (still fledgling) Patreon patrons
    Continue to develop my writing craft
    I think that will keep me busy!

    Reply

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