It’s time for the annual round-up of last year’s goals!
I’ve had a month to figure out what worked last year, what was messy, and what doesn’t quite fit. Right out the gate and looking back at what I did, I must say I’m rather surprised and pleased with how much I finished. Through most of the year I didn’t think I was accomplishing very much, and when I set out to evaluate the past year I thought I would be in for a rather dissapointing reality check.
Small wins quickly add up! And this time you have the option of either reading this post, or listening in on the recorded version. 😀 I thought it would be fun to have a little chat with my kids about this post. Next time I’ll try writing the post first and reading from that, so that they sync up a little better. It’s a learning experience. 🙂 Right now the audio version will be a bit different from the written post.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at what my goals where February 2021…
- Finish collection and prepare for publication
- Publish short story collection
- New critter for the shop.
- Work out a rhythm for Fossil Friday.
How did I do?
The first goal was definitely completed with success! I finished all the illustrations for the short stories, and did everything I needed to do to publish it. I even did the beginning steps of publishing, such as submitting the files to the proper platforms and preparing an eBook. But there lies the snag that kept me from finishing the second goal.
I never buy eBooks, so I had no idea how poorly picture-heavy books do in that format. After the final proof came back (a friend was helping me make the images small enough to make Amazon happy) I was greatly disappointed in how everything looked. How can I sell a book with such blurry pictures?
I talked over this with a friend about this dilemma, and he suggested a separate PDF available with the best quality images. For anyone who buys the eBook I will make it available for free on the site, and working on that is the reason why I haven’t finished the second goal. Putting together the complimentary PDF is taking a little time, because of course I’m not just slapping a bunch of pictures together. It needs to look good!
Sometimes unexpected things come up so that our goals must be delayed or changed, or sometimes even removed altogether to fit what we need, and that’s ok. 🙂
The third goal was a new critter for the shop. I didn’t add a new official critter yet, exactly, but I did introduce a lot of new prehistoric friends and gave a couple familiar ones a facelift. 🙂 Gulper was definitely due for an updated image, and he got a complete makeover. I really enjoyed playing with Procreate’s brushes for that one, and he makes me smile, so I’m pretty happy with him. Cassie got a smaller update, but her drawing was much better than Gulper’s anyway, so just getting repainted was enough for the time I had.
Then there are all the Fossil Friday critters for this year! Not as many as last year, true, but I had to dial it back so I could finish all the illustrations for the collection. Something I haven’t done for Fossil Friday critters before is to have several species or critters in the same illustration, and these are quite a bit more complex than the ones I painted last year. I hope you like them as much as I do!
The cute, more pastel-looking dinos are an experiment. Sometimes there’s a dino that I really want to paint just for the fun of it, just because I feel like drawing that particular dino, but don’t have the time to do a bunch of research first. Maybe I have another project going on and don’t want to take too much time away from that, maybe I just want to draw a cute dinosaur without the added pressure of making it accurate to the last detail…because as much as I love doing the research (and I really do!), it’s also important to give the creative side a chance to just play without any rules.
It’s great to have all these critters to look at, but where is the new paleo-pet that was supposed to be added to the shop?
If you’ve been hanging around here long enough you may remember the little reference models I made for Douglas the Dimorphodon and Dippy the Diplodocus. Just some quick things made of wire and clay slapped together well enough to get a good reference for light and shadow. Well I started what was supposed to be a quick reference model ages ago…and I started adding a little texture, and that texture turned into detail, and that detail turned into a full-blown sculpture!
It’s been so long since I’ve worked with clay, that my muse got super excited and started playing with all the delightful textures. 😀 So even though I don’t have a finished illustration for my Yi Qi yet, I hope you enjoy the photos of my little sculpture. 🙂 I’ll share all the delicious drama of mistakes made and lessons learned when I post Yi Qi’s finished illustration. For now, you get the final piece!
The fourth goal was to work out a rhythm for Fossil Friday, which brings us to my goals for this year…
- Better focus on Critter of the Month posts.
- Publish Collection
- Add Chia the Yi Qi to the pet shop
- Start a Newsletter
The first goal is more of a note on changes that need to be made, a few adjustments to the current style of posts. From now on they will be more focused on progress, current projects, things I find motivational for that month, and other such things to ensure I continue to do what is most valuable- write books. The Critter of the Month will still be featured, but I will not keep repeating the same text, because that has no value anymore and I’m sure everyone skims it anyway.
Instead, I hope to have something available on Redbubble for the featured critter. But I’m realizing more and more how terrible I am at focusing on just writing books, and how I need to avoid smaller projects that delay progress on those books. So I’m going to experiment and see what happens there. 🙂 It definitely won’t be all of the various things available for Redbubble to make, but perhaps one object at a time, like a nice new journal or a mug. I’ve been wanting some of those. 😀 If I had room for it in my cupboard I would have a whole collection of dinosaur mugs lol!
The next goal is to publish my short story collection. I think the next goal mentioned in the audio is to add Yi Qi to the shop, but I recorded that in the middle of January, and I realized publishing the book is more important for this moment. I didn’t change the audio because that would delay this post even more!
Finishing the complimentary PDF, and ensuring the eBook has all the proper links to get it, is all I have left to do to publish the collection. Surely that’ll be something I can get done quickly right? Right? One can hope and try their best, but I’ve learned the hard way how unexpectedly complex things can be when you’re trying something for the first time. Listening to successful authors who are also busy moms is extremely helpful and keeps me from getting too frustrated though, because even authors who are making a living at this have to slow down to a crawl once kids come along. They can still earn a living because they wrote a whole bunch of books before the kids came!
I’ve always paid attention to what successful authors recommend (even if I’ve been terrible at actually doing what they say), but this past year I’ve really been focusing on what they did at the beginning of their careers. Focusing on what those authors did when they were in a similar space as I am at the moment. The people who are earning a living at this and maintaining busy households all say the same thing.
Get a newsletter set up, and focus on writing more books. Especially if you’re starting out.
Chatting with Sammo-saurus in the audio, we talked about how long I’ve had this website and the precious few of you who know I exist. So clearly I’m doing something wrong, because people are having a very difficult time finding me. All the authors I’ve been stalking over this past year agree that basic priorities need to be a newsletter and writing more books, and right now I don’t have either one of those.
Why is a newsletter important? If you want it, it allows me to drop a note directly into your email. People can tell me directly that they want cute prehistoric critters sent their way, and I don’t have to rely on Instagram or any other outside source to communicate with people. (social media is designed to keep people there anyway) No need for a schedule on the front page of the website, I can send a note your way when a new post is up. I know how forgettable my website can be when I only post once or twice a month. We’re all busy, so a newsletter just makes it easier to stay connected.
Of course, books are the whole reason this website exists. So better connections and more books are the big focus for this year.
Do you have goals for this year? I’d love to hear from you so we can cheer each other on! 🙂
See you March 1st for the next Critter of the Month!
This big guy is always ready to flash a big, toothy smile, especially at mealtime.