One year on
"Isn't it funny how, day by day, nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different...""
This time last year, I was a complete wreck. My book was due to come out on the 17th October but, in fact, dropped early on Amazon and ended up being out in the world on the 15th. (I still always class my release date as the 17th, though.)
I honest to God thought I was ready for whatever was ahead of me. I'd done the hard part, right? I'd completed the book and I'd gone through approximately 20 million edits to get it ready for release. I'd picked an author name (Surname after my amazing grandfather who passed away a few years ago and I miss very much) and I had a cover, so I was good to go.
I thought I could hop on to Facebook and Twitter, open up an author account a few weeks before and all would be well. The Road to Wonderland series was a work in progress, and my book, Izzy Moffit's Road to Wonderland, was the first one to go out there and get critiqued by the whole damn world. I had a team of authors behind me, all willing me to do well so that they could then release their character's books in the series further down the line. Izzy had to deliver. It was on me. She had to bring in the readers.
What I failed to realise at the time was just how much work would go into the whole process - how much work it would take for me to get those readers to Izzy. Just because I loved her and believed in her, it didn't mean anyone else did or would. The Road to Wonderland is a series that, until you experience it first hand, is HARD to categorise.
"What genre is it?" bloggers would ask me.
"Erm, New adult/coming of age," I would answer followed by the whole verbal spewing of how the entire series would work, how it would all pan out, and how I had enlisted several other authors to write the other character's books.
"So they won't all be written by you?" some bloggers asked me.
"No, but that's the beauty of it. Each character will have such a unique voice. There won't be any trace of the other personalities in there."
"Sorry. Doesn't really sound like our thing."
I've had that conversation so many times, yet no matter how many people turned me away at the beginning, I always, always knocked twice as hard on the next door. Not for me. Not for Izzy. But because I was so bat shit fucking scared of letting Francesca Marlow, L.J. Stock, H.A. Robinson and Charlie M. Matthews down.
The whole Road to Wonderland series in book form had been my idea. I'd sold it to them based on a dream I'd had and somehow, I'd got them to sign up and agree to it. The pressure I felt to make it a success (and still feel to this day, actually) was immense.
So I made a promise to them all. I made a promise that, no matter what happened, no matter what it cost me, I would make sure they all succeeded. With a husband at home and two young children, it was always going to be hard to keep that promise, but I've tried my absolute hardest over the last twelve months to do so. I've worked on their edits, talked the authors through plot issues, where the storylines should go so that all the books weave in and out of one another perfectly. I've woken up at 6am to answer emails, sat at the laptop for 14 hours straight and not gone to bed until 2am because there's always been something to do. Whether it's been Paris' release, Ethan's, Max's, or Scott's... I've answered Whatsapp messages when I've meant to be taking breaks with the husband and kids, I've never been away from my phone or laptop for longer than five minutes and I've learned to function on very little food and very little sleep. Haha.
Woe is me or what?
No, actually. Not at all. Not even a little bit. Because even when I've been at my ABSOLUTE breaking point (and believe me, I have been there at least a dozen times over last twelve months) I've loved every second of it.There's a certain beauty to pushing yourself to your absolute limits. The amount of times my friends and family have all said to me: "You need to stop, you need to slow down. Take some you time. You're going to make yourself ill." It's only made me push to do more.
In twelve months I've released Izzy Moffit's Road to Wonderland. I've written and released Without Consequence and Without Mercy with L.J. Stock. I've hit the UK Amazon Erotic Romance bestsellers list... TWICE! I've booked my first author signing at Leeds Marriott hotel for March 5th next year where me... little old me... will be signing books next to the likes of Samantha Towle, Kitty French and 60+ author ridiculously talented authors. All of which doesn't even seem real to me. I've edited 9 books (including my own), some of which I've been credited for, others which I've done because I want my friends to succeed as well as myself. I've almost finished my fourth book and hope to release that by Jan 2016 (touch wood) and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into Izzy and Ethan's joint RTW story VERY soon. I've made friends with some amazing readers, writers and bloggers over the last twelve months. I've learned a LOT. A whoooooooole lot about the industry.
But more than anything, I've learned a lot about myself.
I've learned that no matter how much I moan on my down days, I will never stop trying to help others get to where they need to be. I've learned how much can truly be accomplished in a single day. I've learned who my real friends are and who, after years of telling me to release a book, was actually fully of crap. I've learned not everyone is going to like me, and that's brilliant because I've finally learned not to give a damn. I've learned that dreams don't just land in your lap, they involve work like you've never, ever worked in your whole entire life. I've learned I'm able, I'm capable and I can do whatever it is I put my mind to. I've learned that I'm stronger than I ever knew I was, and before I started this journey, I was more sensitive than I realised, too.
I've learned that those friends who will do anything for you should be treasured, and those friends who only ask of you should be ignored from time to time. It won't hurt them to wait.
I've learned it's okay that I'm not like everyone else. I'm a little crazy, it's true, but my husband loves me, my children adore me, and my parents will always have my back... and that's all that should ever really matter to anyone.
I know this is long, and a little self-indulgent. I apologise for that, but I'm also not sorry, too. I say thank you more than most, and I am sooooo thankful to all those that have helped me or been a part of my journey (you know exactly who you are) but I think my biggest thanks is actaully going to go to me... for not giving up and for finally, after 33 years, learning how to be proud of myself.
This year has been something I will never, ever forget, no matter where the rest of my life takes me. I've been on my very own road to Wonderland... And I have no plans of stopping until I get there, no matter how many bruises and blisters I get on the way.
I have no idea how to do 'easy.'
So bring it. ;)
And thank you. Thank you. Thank you.