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A Look Back At 2023 – What I Accomplished, Set Aside, or Changed

Holy smokes! This was a ride of a year! I almost don't know what happened. It went by in a total blur! And I got a lot done but not a lot at the same time. How does that even happen?

Let's look back at this year…

January started off fairly dull but there were some nice moments having meals with family. I turned 47 with only a little fanfare. Then I realized my passport was going to expire before we left for Jamaica. That was… no fun. But I got it renewed just in time.

February was vacation. We went to Jamaica, and I did nothing but read and hang out at the beach or pool and eat good food for the whole week. It was exactly what we needed.

March was tough. My dear friend Stacy passed away after a long battle with cancer. And then we celebrated the life of my uncle who also passed away from cancer. Cancer was a theme this past year, and that's not something to celebrate. My oldest daughter spent her birthday at Disneyworld in Florida! She was there for both band and chorus.

April was pretty busy. For spring break, we went to the beach house for the week. It was cold there, but it was nice to be away and not have to travel far. I started in-person French classes, which were a lot of fun. My oldest daughter also had her jazz night at school! I started a new business! The Future Fiction Academy was born this month, even though we didn't open our doors until May.

May was all about being home. There was spring track for one kid and another trip to the beach house for Memorial Day weekend. Everything was in bloom and just gorgeous. The Future Fiction Academy opened its doors to new students late in May as well!

June meant the end of school and a trip to London and Paris! If you never saw my blog post about our trip, you'll want to go check that out. The day school was done, we left on a plane to London! We spent a few days there before heading to Paris and then back to London. It was the trip of a lifetime! We had an amazing time.

July started off abroad. We were still in Europe when the month started. We then returned home, spent some time around home so the kids could see their friends, and then we went to the beach house for most of August. My brother also came for a visit, and we played lots of poker.

August was mostly spent at the beach house. We worked from there and spent a lot of lazy days in the pool or going to the beach. I miss being there. At the end of August, I purchased a new MacbookPro, and I LOVE IT.

September was back to school. And that meant back to marching band and returning to my second career as a chauffeur. (Trust me, the pay is crappy.) The youngest started field hockey too and that just added to the time I spent running around every night. My friend Nicole came to town and I met her in Manhattan for a day of chatting and lunch.

October was a lot of fun. Field hockey, band, and lots and lots of carpooling continued. But I went to Rhinebeck NY Sheep and Wool midway through the month to hang out with friends again. It was so great! We had the best time even though the weather was not great this year. Then my cousin celebrated her 50th birthday with a party at home. It was nice to sit around the fire outside and spend time together.

November was so much fun! I went to Las Vegas at the beginning of the month to attend the 20Booksto50k conference! I met many of my longtime author friends in person, and I talked a lot about AI with people. It was a great time! I learned a lot and I cemented my feeling that I'm doing the right work in the author community. The Future Fiction Academy did well in Vegas too. ❤️ My husband's 50th birthday was also in November. We celebrated by going to the opera, and then he went to Las Vegas at the end of the month with his friends and brothers.

December went by in a blur. We didn't do too much and all of a sudden it was the end of the year! We hosted our family here for Christmas, and we went to MOMA in Manhattan over the Christmas break. We also started construction on our primary bathroom at the beach house! I'm sure it'll be done in late January 2024.

Favorite Part of This Year

Going to London and Paris, Paris especially. I loved that city.

Least Favorite Part of This Year

The passport debacle. I'm never letting that happen again.

Let’s look back at my goals from the year…

2023: The Year I Focus on Progress and Cultivate Self-Belief

So, I think that despite feeling like I didn't get anything done, I actually did meet my goal! I did focus on progress, always moving forward and not falling back. I kept my eyes on the prize and continued to do research on AI and how it can help authors with their goals. I also cultivated belief in myself and my abilities. This was the year that I believed I'm a good author and that I'm smart and capable. I've become an industry leader in AI and I'm working hard for authors to remain in control of their career.

I only published two stories in 2023, A Surprise Favor and Tilli's Second Chance. I had hoped to publish more, but I'm very proud of both of these.

Writing and Publishing Goals

I basically bombed every single one of my writing and publishing goals.

I will write 3 books in my SJP name and 3 books in a new pen name. Nope. I spent the entire year making AI do my bidding. I did work on several books, though, including my first in the fantasy rom-com series, the first in a new cozy mystery series, and a new Amagi Series novella. These will all be on Ream in 2024.

Launch a new pen name. Nope. And I don't think I'll be doing this anymore. I'm happy with what I have going.

Dive into more AI Audio. Nope. I waited on this one, and I'm glad I did because Amazon launched their AI audio, and I'll be doing that next year instead.

Added Goals

I launched a Ream subscription community. I didn't think I'd be doing this, but I'm really happy I did. I'm going to be moving more towards serialization-first as a business model and novels will come later. Come join my community on Ream!

Business Goals

I will ramp up Facebook Ads. Nailed this one. I think I only turned off my ads for about a month when they just weren't doing well. But I've had ads going all year, and I've been mostly happy with them!

I will transition more books away from free to paid and raise prices. Did this. I'm no longer working for free. I even transitioned some of my blog content over to Ream!

I will focus more on my newsletter. I did a good job of focusing on my newsletter and I even moved it over to a new system that will allow me to build my newsletter more in 2024.

I will continue to spend more time on Facebook. I did spend more time on Facebook this year, though mostly on my S. J. Pajonas page and in my AI writing groups. It was good for me.

Added Goals

I started my Ream subscription. As I said above, I started my Ream subscription and I intend to focus on it as my first publishing priority going forward.

Creativity Goals

I will read or listen to 25 books. Nope. Didn't even come close to this. Though I had a few binge reading streaks, I maybe read/listened to about 12-15 books. I don't even know how many because I failed at keeping track.

I will learn Italian and Portuguese on Duolingo and Japanese on LingoDeer. I ended up not liking LingoDeer at all and I didn't like Portuguese either. So I pivoted to French instead and I've been doing French, Italian, and Japanese all year on Duolingo.

I will continue knitting on blankets when I have time. Yes. I did knit on my blanket throughout the year, though not much, and I didn't come close to finishing it.

Stretch Goal! I will knit a sweater this year. Nope. Didn't happen.

Personal Goals

I will continue making the beach house our second home. Yes! I did this! We put more effort into the beach house this year with a new kitchen table and chairs and we started a bathroom renovation too.

Stretch Goal! I would like to go to a conference this year. I did! I went to 20Booksto50k in Las Vegas in November!

Added Goals

Started a new business. I didn't expect to start a new business teaching AI to authors, but that's exactly what happened. The Future Fiction Academy has been a labor of love, and I am super proud of all we've achieved. Though the business has shifted in the last two months with some of our founding members leaving and a new course curriculum in development, we are working on what we've set out to do: training authors on AI so that they remain in control of their careers. I have a feeling it's going to be more important than ever in the coming years to know this new technology, and I'm excited to be at the forefront of it.

Fitness Goals

I will bike 2000 miles on Peloton. Not even close. I ended up only biking about 1470 miles this year according to my Peloton workout spreadsheet, which is still not too shabby.

I will walk more. I did this! And according to my stats, I walked 1385 miles this year! (I say “over” because there's plenty of walking that I did not track with Peloton, like all my walking on vacations. Let's just say that I did about 1400 miles.)

I will increase the time I spend in interval or tabata rides. Nope. It turns out that I am not a fan of these rides at all. I'm more of a low-and-slow girl on the bike.

I will work on keeping sugar out of my diet. I am addicted to sugar, y'all, and I am not proud of it. I really need to cut back. REALLY.

Stretch Goal! I will complete a Peloton strength training program. I was not feeling up to it, and I didn't end up doing this. But I did do a good amount of strength this year, and I'm happy with that.

And That’s It For The Year!

All in all, I'm happy with how 2023 turned out! And I'm sure I can do better next year. I’ll be back with my goals post for 2024 on January 1st! I hope you all have a safe, healthy, and happy new year! 🥳

S. J. Pajonas