I’m Stronger than I Thought

In January, I had strong intentions for the quarter, but I anticipated very little of what happened and my plans went awry. My life and my writing feel like a jumble of puzzle pieces that don’t fit where they used to fit. It’s the end of the first quarter of 2021 and it’s time to evaluate what I’ve accomplished and where to go from here. And the biggest lesson learned over the past three months is that I’m stronger than I thought.

image of a jumble of puzzle pieces that symbolize my life & writing right now--but I'm stronger than I thought and I'll find the new order they belong in.


Unsurprisingly, revisions of If I Should Die are off course. Only six chapters farther than I was at the end of January is disappointing. I made adjustments to the timeline, which meant shifting chapters around. When I revise a novel, it’s like doing a giant jigsaw puzzle that get’s redrawn in the middle of my efforts. (Does that make sense?)

Creative thinking takes more energy than blogging. For both, I struggle with focus and energy, but focusing on writing a blog post is easier because of its length.


A friend helped me keep the website updated during February. Since then, I’ve maintained the website.

Focusing on the rewrite and blogging, the managing area of my business suffered the most.


This area suffered from inattention. With a little attention, it’s already bouncing back.

A special thank you to my new readers of both my books and my blog, you brought me joy during a tough time.


Of course, the biggest thing that took place was my husband’s death. Multiple difficult phone calls and adjustments had to take place quickly. Still, much needs sorted then given away or sold, which will get done bit by bit as I can.

I spent a few happy hours with my grandsons.


I got my first COVID-19 vaccine two weeks ago and I’ll get my second one tomorrow.

Next Month & Quarter

image of a table with a jar of pink mums, a jar of chalk, and an open planner planning and knowing I'm stronger than I think

My intentions are to improve my focus and energy. As those things improve, an increase in progress should follow. I intend to work hard toward publishing the next book by the end of the year, even it if it happens on December 31st. My success will depend upon how much I can accomplish these next three months. Stick around. I’ll keep you updated.

What I Learned

Grief is part of my day, every day, and it’s exhausting. Those of you who have lost someone close know grief doesn’t go away entirely. You finally find a bit of peace in your walk along the beach, and a tidal wave hits you from an unexpected direction. Everything and anything touches off the next wave. Sometimes they are gentle, sometimes a tsunami. It doesn’t matter. Each one is exhausting. As it should be. I’m learning when to lean into it and when to step back.

I’ve made less progress than I had intended, but more than I thought grief would allow. It’s okay. I’m okay. I’m stronger than I thought. And when I think about it, I’m guessing that nearly everyone can reflect on the past year and say, “I’m stronger than I thought.” Hang in there, folks. We’ll get through this.

Opportunities for the New Quarter

It’s the beginning of the final quarter of 2019. There are opportunities to make the most of the new quarter. I want to do exactly that. Don’t you? It’s time to take stock of what we’ve achieved this year and what we have yet to achieve. Here are some of my met and unmet goals so far this year.

What Have I Done?

Image of a dart stuck in the red bullseye of a target is a symbol of the goals I hit and the opportunities for the new quarter.

In March, I promoted My Soul to Keep in the Robin Reads newsletter. The number of sales I made wasn’t huge, but it made me happy. As did the release of the hardcover edition of My Soul to Keep. In May, I co-hosted an author salon/book party at the local science fiction convention. It was a hit for fun and book sales! And in June, a small book club picked My Soul to Keep as its book. I got some nice sales and two lovely reviews. 

I wrote more words in the first nine months of 2019 than I wrote all of last year. More than half those words went toward creating a new book. Fellowship went live on July 8th. July 14th I held my first online launch party hosted by the amazing, Cheer Stephenson-Papworth on The Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans Facebook page. It was a blast. Mini survival kits were one prize. Fellowship’s appearance in the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) New Releases bulletin was a nice bonus. 

One of the new things I tried was my first online contest. My results were small but fun. 

I finished the outline for the prequel to My Soul to Keep. The first draft is in progress.  

I made several tweaks to my website and wrote a lot of posts. More people signed up for my occasional newsletter.  I’ve blogged as regularly as I could. 

Through online classes with Bryan Cohen, I learned a strategy for marketing my books on Amazon. Based on the short course, I would strongly recommend is Amazon Ads course.

Finally, I’ve read more fiction books than I have in quite a while. That’s not saying much, but it’s progress!

Goals I Did Not Meet

The sequel to My Soul to Keep is the big black cloud of not done. Tentatively titled, If I Should Die, the first draft isn’t as far along as I had intended.

I’d intended to have some fun book-related merchandise to offer for sale. I drafted several quotes for t-shirts and other fun merchandise. Only one quote is in the final design stages. I’d intended to be further along at this point.

Regular blog posts three days a week. Since I’ve not found a system to plan and create blog posts in advance, I fell down in this area. Last-minute blog posts don’t happen when life obstacles pop up unexpectedly.

Regular newsletter production. Sorry. Life events have overwhelmed me many times this year. When those things hit, I focus on getting what fiction writing done that I can. Everything else waits until I can get to it. Sadly, I did not get regular newsletters out.

A regular appearance on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest also suffered from obstacles. I love interacting with you on all three platforms and was not happy to have to step away from social media. But, knowing my primary goal kept me focused on producing them when time and energy were taken to deal with life.

I haven’t read as many books as I had intended to read. Life events have been many in the Burrows’ household. As time goes on, I am becoming more and more of a full-time caregiver. After caregiving comes writing new fiction and everything else. 

What I Didn’t Start

Incomplete designs means no merchandise could be sold.

My intention was to create videos and podcasts to share on social media. I’m uncertain I’ll get to that this year.

Audio books. I had intended to perform my own books. But the time to produce audio books is sadly not available this year. 

Obstacles in the First 9 Months

Unfortunately, there were many personal and family obstacles this year. Without my tracking sheet, I would have said this was my worst year ever. Instead, it’s been more productive than I’d been during any year I’ve kept records! 

Why didn’t my obstacles slow me down? Well, they did. But I had a plan, and I kept adjusting my goals. This is why I’m a huge proponent of tracking your time and your goals.

Opportunities for the New Quarter

drawing of a rainbow ending in a pot of gold representing our opportunities for the New Quarter.

My opportunities to make the most of the new quarter are endless. My intentions list is almost endless. A few of the large rock items on my list are: I will appear at a local library for a showcase of local authors event in November. I intend to be half-way through the first draft of If I Should Die by the end of the year, and there will be at least on t-shirt available for sale before Christmas. 

What are your opportunities to make the most of the new quarter? Do you track your progress and review your goals and outcomes at the end of each quarter? What is one of your big rock items for the last quarter of 2019? Please share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.