Whether I’m living in windy Kansas, snow-packed Connecticut, or sunny California, January always seems to be a strange month for me. While I’m filled with excitement and optimism for the year ahead, I also struggle with the mid-winter sluggishness that plagues so many of us. Yes, even in California’s freakishly warm weather, I can’t shake that winter feeling.
I think what made this January extra-strange is that it took so long for my routine to normalize. The month began in Kansas, as I wrapped up my holiday vacation and kicked the last of a very nasty cold. Back in California, I had a brief return to the house (filled with fence-painting and other fun chores), then jetted off for a few days at the office in Connecticut. Finally, during the fourth week of the month, I managed to stay put and ease back into my everyday routine.
Despite all the obligations and distractions, I’m pleased with what I accomplished in January. I’ve broken it down by category below, then I’ll share my top goals for February at the end.
The Kingdom’s Cogsmith (A Desertera Short Story) I’m happy to report that I finally finished the FREE Desertera short story for my Reader List subscribers. After all the support they’ve given me, I was thrilled to give something back to them.
Desertera #4 While I’m not as far into the fourth Desertera novel as I’d hoped to be, I have the entire book outlined and have begun drafting. Thanks to the help of a close writer friend, I figured out what was “wrong” with my initial outline, and I think the story will be much stronger now.
Salem Idea As I shared in my Ask Me Anything Video, I’m currently outlining my new series idea. I’m not sure what to call it yet — it straddles the line between dark fantasy, paranormal suspense, and supernatural thriller — but I’m loving the concept. It’s in the vein of Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I’m stoked to dig into the world.
Ask Me Anything Videos This year, I’ll be recording a monthly Ask Me Anything video, where you can submit questions about the Desertera series, my other writing, or literally anything else you like. Watch the January AMA here, and start planning your February questions!
Parallel Magic Podcast You can read the official announcement in this post, but you’re hearing it here first. I’ve started a podcast with my friend Jonas Lee, where we discuss science fiction and fantasy novels over a drink. If you’re a sci-fi/fantasy fan, check us out on our website.
Scythe by Neal Shusterman 4/5 stars — Humans have conquered death, but an elite force of grim reapers still kill them. Great concept, but predictable plot and forced love story.
The Healthy Writer by Joanna Penn & Dr. Euan Lawson 5/5 stars — Practical and actionable tips on balancing writing with healthy lifestyle choices.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff 4.5/5 stars — Space battles, a potentially evil AI system, zombies, and a dash of romance, wrapped up in a brilliant dossier-style package.
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris 4/5 stars — A thriller classic. Dr. Lecter steals the show, and I’m totally fine with that.
Physical health Other than the weeks I was sick, I managed to meet my daily step goal and fit in strength or cardio training too. I’m feeling great!
Mental health I’ve started doing freewriting as meditation, and it’s helped me sort through a few tough issues. I also implemented a monthly #treatyoself mandate.
Generosity Another goal is to be more generous with my thoughts and actions. In this effort, I’ve discovered a new rule worth sharing: “If it won’t matter in five years, don’t be mad about it for more than five minutes.” If nothing else, it’s helped my road rage!
Goal Tracking For my daily or almost-daily goals, I’ve created a new layout on my phone that creates a satsifying rainbow when I have a “perfect” day. For weekly, monthly, and one-time 2018 goals, I’ve started a new spreadsheet. Doing weekly check-ins keeps me accountable and focused on what matters most to me.
Beyond my ongoing daily/weekly/monthly goals, here’s what I’m focusing on in February.
Primary Goal Finish outlining and start drafting the Salem novel.
Secondary Goal Continue writing Desertera #4.
Tertiary Goal Plan a fantastic Valentine’s Day for Daniel and me!
What did you accomplish in January? What are your February goals? Share in the comments!