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Hello, 2021! My 2020 in (Brief) Review and a Look Forward

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We made it! It’s a new year, and while not a lot has changed (there’s still a pandemic, the economy is still pretty rough, and small businesses everywhere are facing continuing uncertainty, not to mention *everything else in the world*) we are all looking forward to a new year of (I hope) absolutely NOTHING exciting happening.

2020 was, well, rough for all of us. A brief review of my 2020:

  • I started the year with plans to raise funds for a bookmobile, and despite the pandemic starting shutdowns at the same time I started my Indiegogo campaign, I raised a small seed fund that was intended for the bookmobile. As the pandemic dragged on, however, that seed fund was rolled into covering overhead costs.
  • In the fall of 2020, I was diagnosed with both IBS and Ulcerative Colitis. I am able to easily control the IBS symptoms with a modified diet, but the Ulcerative Colitis flares have proven more difficult to get under control, and are still having a pretty significant impact on my daily life. This, of course, affects the aforementioned bookmobile plans- instead of a small pull behind trailer, the bookmobile will need to be essentially a modified RV, with a toilet. This way I will be able to travel to more rural areas without worrying that a flare would cut my time short in the communities I am visiting. That means the bookmobile is going to take much longer to achieve, and that disappoints me, but it is better I make sure my physical needs are met from the start (a lesson I hope we have all learned from 2020- taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally is vital)
  • After a rocky start with sales, and ZERO events, sales YOY went up 4 to 5 times previous years sales numbers! The Red Hen isn’t profitable yet but edged closer this year than in previous years. For reference, to cover all overhead costs on a monthly basis *without* having to reach into personal funds (which is how we make up the monthly shortfall right now), the Red Hen needs to sell ten books priced at $15-$20 (at least) per month. In 2020 we hit 55 items sold, some priced significantly higher than others. The goal is to double that for 2021- and that’s where I switch from review to goals for the coming year!

My goals for 2021 are, as always, going to be flexible. 2020 reminded me why I prefer flexible goals. So much changed. So here they are:

  • Double (or get as close to double as possible) sales totals from 2020. Brace yourself, there will be much posting and sharing.
  • The product lineup will be changing somewhat. I like the idea of having new releases listed, but frankly, with my current health and energy levels, sifting through over 1000 book releases per month and breaking them out into categories, then listing them is…exhausting. It takes me a *very* long time, and most of the time the books listed aren’t getting a lot of traffic. So while having all the choices is nice, I am going to be curating the books listed very heavily from now on- think no more than five in each category per month. This will make it easier for me to manage the website updates efficiently and on time (because I do have a full-time job, the two not-so-little chicks, my spouse, my health, the three dogs, two cats, a guinea pig, leopard gecko, and a 4-H club to lead as well as an entire 1.3-acre property to maintain…when do I sleep again?). You will still be able to request any book not listed, and I will list it and link it for you. I’ll also be promoting the curated boxes more, as well as some of the other gift/swag/multi-item products more. Check them out here.
  • More events! I want to be able to make appearances at vendor events again in 2021; that will have to wait until after I receive the COVID-19 vaccine (see: Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune disorder in which my immune system hates my guts), but it’s definitely going to happen. So keep an eye out on Facebook and Instagram, as well as the Calendar for updates on where I can be found in person.
  • Finally, I am going to work on getting back to reviewing books and posting the occasional “behind the scenes” piece. My goal is to review at least one book per month. I may be able to review more, but I will aim for once a month as my base.

It is thanks to all my customers and followers that we made it through 2020 at a better place than I ever expected to, and I have so much appreciation for your support. I am looking forward to what we can achieve in 2021- if last year the theme was recovery, this year my theme is resilience because that has to be what we all got out of that wretched year, right?

Let me know what you are looking forward to in 2021!

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#selfcareSunday

Today, I shared this image on social media with the hashtag #selfcareSunday. It might not be what most people expect of that hashtag- usually, those posts are of books, bubble baths, spa days, wine, tea, all sorts of relaxing/unwinding/a sort of plush treat for oneself. So a picture of food, supplements (there are four in total) and work not quite out of the picture is not the norm. The nice thing about caring for ourselves is that it takes many different forms- later today I fully plan to do absolutely nothing productive while drinking a cup of tea and reading. Right now, though, and often, a lot of my personal care routines revolve around the things I consume- I am on an elimination diet and have an array of supplements meant to get certain things back on track (really, you don’t want to know ;P) as I complete the elimination diet.

So why the work? Well, I enjoy it. I love getting things done, and I have been nose to the grindstone with so many other things that the bookstore (and consequently, the bookmobile campaign) have taken a back seat for too long. So the chicks are minding themselves upstairs (quietly, since I can hear them through the vents) while I do the work I enjoy, and I convince myself that at least this one thing is right in my little chaotic world. And that’s why the self-care- when one has a full-time job, a part-time “hustle”, kids with activities that are slowly and carefully winding back up, and volunteer opportunities, it gets chaotic, and there have been many times in the past two or three weeks I have felt as if every single thing is going a different direction shouting “nyah nyah you can’t catch me!” So I chase them down one at a time (4/h fair volunteering- nearly complete, chick’s fair entries- done, cross-training at work so I can take a day off every three or four months instead of once or twice a year- nearly there) and remind myself that nothing is so urgent I can’t sit down for a cup of tea and bless the names of all the people who thought “wow, books are nice, but we can’t work and read- what if we recorded people reading books to us?”. Audiobooks are my favorite way to make it through the stressful chaotic days- I can work, listen to a book, and tune out the things that aren’t so urgent I need to drop everything and address them. To round out my ramble, a list of audiobooks I have listened to and enjoyed (and maybe had to hold back laughter, giggles, and tears while at work and listening because I have a semi-professional image to maintain): *all of these books are from Libro.fm, that joy of an audiobook service that partners with Indies

  • The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty- the conclusion to the Daevabad Trilogy, I just finished this one and really did almost cry at work while listening. It is a wonderful conclusion to an incredible trilogy.
  • The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen- I just started this one. I loved The Merciful Crow and was excited to see the Faithless Hawk on my ALC list from Libro.fm
  • The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin- I mean, N. K. Jemisin. Enough said? This was an awesome listen, and so important.
  • A Queen in Hiding by Sarah Kozloff- this one came out a while ago, and after I finished it I immediately wanted the story to continue.
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers- another older release, I love science fiction and speculative fiction, and this was a wonderfully thought-provoking book.

There are many many more books, both audio and physical I have loved and would revisit over and over again as many times as I can (as soon as our library opened, I *had* to check out Green Rider and First Rider’s Call by Kristen Britain- total comfort reads that I absolutely needed)