Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wrapping Up 2014 ... It's Been A Mixed Year

December 18, 2012, I clicked "publish" on Amazon's KDP service, and I sent my first full length novel out into the world. People loved my characters and they got lost in the story -- and this was a beautiful thing until they got to the tragic ending and ended up FURIOUS. Not just angry, not just a little upset, but outright FURIOUS. I still cringe over the reviews.

Lucky for those people, I just wasn't ready to see the end of Annie and Malik yet, so at the end of summer 2013, I read through and republished their story after doubling it in length, with plans for two more books to follow in the future. The Selkie Trilogy is what I like to call a contemporary romantic fantasy, and I'm still just as in love with that story today as I was when I first wrote it.

During that same year (2013), I also published the first three books in the Kingsley Series, 'Fat Chance,' 'Prescription For Love,' and 'Wrestling Harmony,' and the first book in what will probably be called The Freedom Series at some point in the future.

But you know what else happened in 2013?

I got caught up.

I got caught up in learning how to network. I got caught up in trying to connect with book bloggers. I got caught up in the different social media websites everyone I knew kept telling me that I "had" to use. I got caught up in seeking reviews and marketing mayhem and constant giveaways. I got caught up in watching the sales rankings and what all the "success stories" were doing.

And I got burned out.

I lost my love for the writing -- and the more I got away from the basic joy of telling a good story well, the more blocked I was. My characters stopped "talking" to me. Scenes and bits of dialogue stopped randomly popping up in my mind. And I got really, really disillusioned with the dark side of the writing community -- the bullying that does go on, the people pity-crying about bullying that isn't really bullying, the way people sacrifice each other and spread rumors and lies and gossip. Bloggers that aren't what they seem, other authors that are shady and dishonest. Grown men and women acting like middle school mean girls.

By the beginning of 2014, I was in a full panic. I couldn't write, and I was letting people down. People were emailing me and messaging me about my books, telling me what they loved about my characters and their stories, asking for more. And I gave honest answers:

"It's coming soon."
"I'm working on __________ right now."
"I'm about this far along, so it should be published by __________."

And then it became:

"I'm a little behind, but __________ should finally be published by __________."
"Well, up next on my schedule is __________, and then __________."

And those were all truths. At that time, I was still at least attempting to write daily, even if all I could do was a paragraph that I ended up deleting because it was awful. But I was freaking out. Why?

Because my first signing was just around the corner -- July 2014. And I had nothing new to offer!! And the more time passed, the more likely it became that I wouldn't have anything new to offer at that signing. So I let it go; I gave myself the freedom to take a break. A break from the pressure, from the anxiety, from the fear of failure.

And you know what?

I needed it, because for most of the first half of 2014, my personal life was in shambles.

So as my personal life dissolved and fell apart around me, I stopped writing and I went into prep mode. I made swag for the signing, I ordered books for the signing, I networked with authors who were coming to the signing. I tweeted and facebooked and newslettered and blogged about the signing.

By the time the summer of 2014 was over and fall was moving in, I couldn't remember the last time I'd really sat down and written. I couldn't even remember the storyline I'd been following, and as I read it back, I hated it. So, as I solidified new plans for my second signing (November 2014 in Maryville, TN), I trashed the story that had taken me over eight months just to get halfway written.

And I began again.

In the meantime, I backed away from bloggers and stopped courting them. I stopped posting as much in marketing groups, and I unfollowed or unsubscribed to pages that I found discouraging. I gave myself permission to not like certain things or certain people, and then I backed away from those things and those people, pursuing instead the things that I find fulfilling and encouraging.

And, I got my personal life back into some semblance of order. So as I approach my second anniversary as an independent author, I acknowledge that it was a slow year on the surface, and I apologize to anyone who felt disappointed by my changes. But I also am proud of what I've learned this year, and I've set some serious goals for 2015.

But that's another post.

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