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  • Christine Shuck

Plans for 2022


Say Goodbye to 2021

I started off the year hitting it hard - a book out in December 2020, followed by one in mid-February and again in mid-April, and then a bit of a delay until G581: Earth hit at the beginning of September. That was all phenomenal, it really was.


In some ways, the last few months have felt as if everything came to a screeching halt. It sort of did. I mean, it was a bit of a double whammy - first the nightmare renter eviction and a solid two weeks of work getting the rental house back to where it needed to be. Then the thing that really put the kabosh in writing - an adorable newborn baby boy who looks like he might very well become a permanent addition to our family.


In some ways I feel as if I should be doing more, even with him here at home all day, and my anxiety levels have begun to rise. I miss slipping into the flow of writing and creating scenes, teasing out my characters and the plot. I miss it a lot.


That said, I have a solid three weeks left before the holidays are over, 2022 has begun, and all kiddos are gone during the day in school and daycare - giving me hours and hours of solitude (if you don't count my husband who also works from home). I have to remind myself of this multiple times a day - "This will all change in just a few short weeks!"

Digging Into the Money

I'm a weirdo, I know I am, but I adore sifting through the financial records and learning how we have done for the year. Have we stayed in budget? Are we on the right track? Each year, I fine-tune our budget a little more and, as a result, the answers tend to be "yes" and "yes." If you don't have a budget, I urge you to consider creating one. Figuring out where your money is going is essential to planning for the future. I've never made a ton of money, and so I've really appreciated knowing exactly how much I'm making and what I can expect in the way of expenses. Doing so, and adhering to the budget, has saved me an inordinate amount of stress over the years. I build in slush everywhere I can so that when the unexpected happens, I stress for a hot second and then let it go. It's likely added years to my life.


My biggest goal for 2022 is to make the writing pay for itself. I've set aside $4,500 for book covers, blurbs, editing, and the biggie - ads and marketing. I'm determined. This is going to happen this year, somehow, some way. I'm crossing my fingers and toes that this is the last year my writing costs rather than contributes.

Writing Goals

Books - I have set a goal of four books this year. That is, after all, what I hoped to do this year. I managed to publish four books in under 12 months, but one of them was technically in December, so I'm not sure I should count it! I would try for five, but I also need to catch up on audio books. More on that in a moment. The books I know I want to write are:

  • Winter's Child (I really, REALLY want to finish this in January)

  • Broken Code - Book 3 of the Benton Security Services series - out by mid-April?

  • Zarmina's World - Book 4 of the Gliese 581g series - out by mid-July?

  • The Glass Forest - Book 1 of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan - out by mid-September?

  • Deadly Sins - Book 4 of the Benton Security Services series - out by mid-December?

It's a lot. I'm going to try my best, though. I think it is doable if I don't get hit with any craziness. You know, like another foster child (NO, that is NOT going to happen! His Majesty is our LAST BABY!!!!). I'm also not going to take out the cat o' nine tails if I don't get them all done.

Audio - I want to get ALL of my remaining fiction and any new fiction recorded, edited and uploaded into audiobook format. That's huge, and terrifying, and intimidating as hell. SERIOUSLY. I'm a mess just thinking about it. But it has to get done and I don't have a cool thousand to spend on a narrator for each and every book, soooo. It's got to be me. Them's the breaks, kid.

Rental Property Goals

Yeah, I know, this is totally off topic, but it is in my brain because, on a daily basis, I'm thinking about the Cottages and how I can make them better. I've poured a lot of my heart and soul into it, so I might as well share it.


And besides, realistically, my goals are not all writing-related.


Each time I step inside of Cottage West or walk up to the Hedy Lamarr Airstream, my mind is focused on the question, "How can I make this an even better experience?"


Obviously time and finances are a factor, but there is a laundry list rotating in my head. Last week, I had my husband add a magnifying mirror in the bathroom of Cottage West. And then there is a stellar review we recently received where the guest sent me an email telling me I "saved her life" by providing some new packaged toothbrushes (just $1 for a 4-pack at Dollar Tree!). Guests appreciate the thoughtful gesture. They know I'm looking out for them, anticipating their needs, and that I care.


And as with all of my properties, I believe in continually improving (again, as money and time allow) on them. So here is a list of fixes/improvements I hope to add:

  • Build a lean-to roof over the Airstream and deck (this will allow guests to further enjoy the large deck, even in inclement weather)

  • Termite treatment at Cottage West

  • New tile floor in Cottage South (our one long-term rental, but we have lovely renters and the floor is overdue for an overhaul)

  • Add additional outdoor lighting to pathway leading to the Airstream

  • Paint the front porch of Cottage West and touch-up exterior and interior

  • Stain and poly the transition strip into Cottage West bathroom

I will never understand property owners who are not willing to invest in their properties and improve them over time. Not only do renters/guests appreciate it, but you draw a better renter/guest than you would to a place that is not well-maintained. Plus, your property value rises. It's a win-win!

Artsy Fartsy - That's Me!

It can't be all work and no play, and that's why I picked up some brand-spanking new watercolor pencils, dual-ended markers, and this cool reverse coloring book. I can't wait for them to all come in!


I was looking at a sketch journal that I haven't added much to in the last year and I realized how much I missed it. A random sketch of my library shelves, a tree, and some Zentangle flowers and patterns filled a handful of pages. It reminded me that these things give me joy, and that I need to toss them into my daily mix of activities.


Life can and should be filled with enough joy as possible. Sketching, creating my Zentangles, coloring it all in, it's what makes me smile (along with the writing, don't get me wrong). I don't have to be good at it, I just want to have fun. To be completely honest, I second-guessed my artistic abilities for far too many years. Now I recognize it for what it is, an expression of joy and creativity. I hope to share more of my artistic adventures with you in 2022.

Family - The Big Stuff

I'm not one for counting chickens before they are hatched, but we are getting close to becoming a family of four, hopefully five, in 2022. Foster care is a roller coaster, that's for sure, but we hope to see some big changes in the near future.


In Summary...

This year has been a weird one, folks. On the tail of a seriously messed up one, it hasn't felt all that much better. I'll give it a C-. Here's hoping we can make 2022 one hell of a lot better!

Find Me on Facebook

Join my group General Malcontent's Grumbles and Scribbles on Facebook and get plenty of weird memes, the opportunity to read my newest releases for free, pics of the family, and other author news. I look forward to seeing you there!





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