2011 Annual Review

For the past several years, I’ve been doing annual reviews of my life and work, based on the format from Chris Guillebeau’s wonderful Annual Review on his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity. Chris’s system is exceptionally detailed, more so than I really need, but the gist is there. It’s a great system for those of us who are self-employed and want to do an assessment of our work for the year.  I don’t know about you, but I like accountability. I like the feeling of accomplishment I get when I look back over the past year’s worth of work and see what worked, and what didn’t. Here’s the link to the actual post. Go on over there and take a read. I’ll wait. And if you're interested, here are the links to my previous annual reviews for 2009 and 2010.

The Year in Review - 2011: The Year of Depth

A haughty title, truly, if you think about it. Depth is such an amorphous term. How do you measure such a thing? Especially when you make a commitment to live without goals? I will admit to not looking at the list of goals I set last year until this week, but I don't know if I can honestly say I didn't set goals. Instead, I looked for a better balance of my time. And 2011 will go down in my personal history books as the year I did find a certain kind of balance. I started doing yoga the same week I began reading Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. Funny thing about that book - I checked it out of the library years ago, 2006, I think, a mere three years into my writing career. And I returned it back within a week - it didn't speak to me. It seemed silly, doing all those random exercises. I didn't understand how writers, artists, could fail to show up for work every day.

Boy, have I learned my lesson. In 2010, I experienced a crippling bout of writer's block, and 2011, well, let's just say, I lost faith. Faith in myself, my art, my muse. And that was an awful place to be. So when I tried The Artist's Way again, it spoke to me. Screamed, really. And smacked me over the head with a pole. Ten weeks later, nearly finished, I have recovered. I am me again. I have that swagger back, the ability to create that I used to take for granted. Thank the Gods for that, at least. 

Depth. Yes, I think I understand that term more than ever before. We are all onions, and live on the surface of our lives, not wanting to experience pain, or suffering. But without suffering there is no joy. Without pain there is no comfort. Without depth, there is no life. We must peel back the layers in order to live honestly. Socrates was right: We must live an examined life if we truly want to walk in this world.

The Nitty Gritty (AKA Nerdology)

I did a lot this year. More than last, which is, as always, the ultimate and only true goal. I worked on four books and three short stories, and dipped my toes into the great wide world of series television. I finished two complete novels, started a third, and edited and released two more. I placed three short stories and released a novella of connected shorts with my friends Alex Kava and Erica Spindler called SLICES OF NIGHT. I judged a contest, attended three conferences and toured two books. And the highlight of the year came in July, when THE COLD ROOM won the ITW Thriller Award for best paperback original of 2010. And of course, we finally got to announce the option for the Taylor books. 

Plus I started a new series, a spin-off of my Taylor series featuring the medical examiner, Dr. Samantha Owens. In order to make Sam's world sing, I did morgue duty, participating in four autopsies, an event I spent most of this year reliving. I wrote my first standalone. I lost my editor, the indomitable Adam Wilson, but gained another wonderful editor, Miranda Indrigo. My dear agent continues to help me forge ahead in the brave new world of publishing. I took a hiatus from my group blog, Murderati, and found a way to get my Facebook fan page into shape. And most important, I took my regular Facebook friend page back to only people I know in real life. The last three items were all meant to help me find my focus, to destress, to make life simpler. Which plays well into my theme for 2012. 

And I wrote. 

2011 Word Total: 886,580
Fiction Total: 252,300
Non-Fiction Total: 157,140
Email: 320,000
Fiction percentage:  40%

I wrote on average 2,429 words per day, 680 of which were fiction. 

My fiction total increased by 54,000 words. That's half a book. I am most proud of that figure. Unfortunately, my emails doubled, from an average of 7 a day to 14. Which blows my fiction to non-fiction ratios out of the water. But... the increase was directly correlated to two fiction projects, so... Fiction to non-fiction was 40% to 60% without emails figured in, but only 28% with email. Damn and damn again. 

On a more personal note, it was a good year. Randy and I got to travel the world again, spending time with friends and family in Italy, Taos, Colorado, Florida, New York, Cincy, Santa Fe, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. I am surrounded by amazing people, writers and friends who inspire me daily. My husband rocks. I have a guru. My body bends in ways I couldn't have ever expected. I knocked four strokes off my handicap. I have happiness streaming in the doors and windows. We are content and healthy and understand how blessed we are. 

The one bad thing is Jade's fight with pancreatic cancer. As we watch her shrink, our once husky 17 pound cat now down to a lean 9 pounds, our hearts break. I know it's too much to ask that we don't lose her, but I ask anyway, daily, praying for a miracle.  

The Year Ahead - 2012: The Year of Simplicity

Peeling away the things that don't matter both professionally and personally. Controlling only what I am in direct control of. Getting back to the simple pleasures of my life: writing, reading, loving, exercise, meditation, cooking. Following through on plans, eliminating stress, enjoying silence, my work, and my life. Being a good friend, a good spouse, a good daughter, a good sister. 

Is it bad that I've made a resolution to curtail my use of exclamation points? That I want to declutter my life is understandable, and I think that somewhere in there, I want to cure overabundance in all forms. I am cutting way back on my travel, conference attendance and touring in order to write more - I want three whole books under my belt this year. I plan to read what I want to read, and not to buy new books, instead finally delving into the books I already own, even if I have to go through my library alphabetically for accountability. I've even added a widget here on the blog of what I'm currently reading to help keep me on track. I want to study Buddhism, and get deeper into my yoga training. I will be releasing all of my short stories individually in the spring, releasing two Sam Owens books: A DEEPER DARKNESS on April 17, and EDGE OF BLACK on November 23, and will be in New York in July for Thrillerfest. 

Write, and read, and yoga and cook. Those are the four things I want to do in 2012. That's it. All my goals in a single sentence, distilled down to four words.

Simple. That is my new mantra. Oh, and Oṃ śānti śānti śānti. Everything peace, peace, peace.

May your 2012 be blessed, filled with love and happiness and all good things. May you find joy, and create art, and love hard, and hurt. May you read fantastic books, and share meals with friends. May you take walks and stare at the trees. May all your opinions be shared with compassion and love. May you hold hands with someone you adore, and hug someone you haven't seen in a long time. May you put aside petty differences in favor of forgiveness, and remember that everyone has their own fears and angers. May you smile at strangers, and accept their smiles in return. May you love, and be loved.

As my guru teaches, Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu: May all beings everywhere be happy and free. Namaste, and Happy New Year.


The Deets: 

  EDGE OF BLACK 10,000
  The Number of Man 10,000
  Gray Lady, Lady Gray 5,300
  Blood Sugar Baby 12,000
  Seminal 10,000
Fiction Totals   252,300
Essays 3 critical essays 4,005
Interviews 30@1000 30,000
Murderati Blogs 23@1500 34,500
Tao of JT Blogs 114@500 11,400
Twitter 3149@15 47,235
Facebook 1500@20 30,000
Non-Fiction Subtotal   157,140
Email 3200@100 words per 320,000
Non Fiction Total   634,280
Total Word Count   886,580
Fiction Percentage   28%
Total Words increase from 2010-2011   268,197
Total Fiction Increase   53,917
Total Non-Fiction Increase   14,640
2011 Words Per Day   2,429
2011 Fiction Words Per Day   680
2011 Fiction was % of all words excluding email 40%