Saturday, 21 February 2015

What a difference a year makes

At the risk of sound like a bad Oscar speech, I feel the need to thank quite a few people today.

Exactly one year ago this very minute, I was sitting where I am now, staring at a little thumbnail on my screen. Was that really mine? That little picture indicating my book was available to buy?  Surely not.

It was. One year ago today was the official release date (it actually went live earlier than expected the day before, but we don't count that) of Silver Lining, my debut novel. When I first hit that publish button, I was clueless, naive in this crazy world of self-publishing. I still am, but I'm learning as I go.

I had no idea if anybody would buy my book. I hoped so, of course I did. I had dreams I would sell hundreds in my first week and everything would be fairytale like. That's not reality, though. Reality was that sales slowly began trickling in. You know what, though? When I saw that first sale on my Amazon dashboard I cried. It didn't matter whether it was one or a thousand. Someone had taken a chance on a newbie author and given my book a shot. To that person, and to every single one of you who has 1-clicked since, thank you! From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being willing to give Craig and Amber a chance.

Craig and Amber's story came to me in rather bizarre moment of inspiration one morning, when I was showering of all places. The opening paragraph literally popped into my head, word for word. At that point I had not considered writing. In fact I had laughed off the suggestion when friends and family said I should give it a go. They obviously saw something in me that I could not see in myself. Anyway, when I got out of the shower, I decided to jot down those few words. I didn't expect anything to come of it, I just assumed they would get filed away and would never see the light of day again. I would then go back to my compulsion of reading.

That didn't happen. I typed up that paragraph, and then another, and then another. Before I knew it I had several written down and began wondering why Amber was moving on. What had happened in her past to cause her to move out on her own? From then on, I became caught up the whirlwind of research, window shopping (for fictional houses, clothing, places of work, areas... you name it, I looked it up), and daydreaming about my characters. When I wasn't working, I would be found taping away on my keyboard. When I was working, I was frustrated that I wanted to be taping away on my keyboard.

Three months after jotting down those few words that I didn't expect anything to come of, I typed 'The End' and promptly burst into tears. Some people say Amber cries a lot. If you know anything about me, it's that I'm an emotional person, so I guess her regular waterworks come from me. I would say I'm sorry, but I'm not. This is what makes fiction so wonderful, it highlights that we are all such different people and we all react to different situations in different ways.

Anyway, back to my point - I had no clue what happened next. Would I even attempt to publish? I wasn't sure I had the stomach for any negative reviews and criticism. Then I saw a Facebook post one evening that literally changed everything for me. It opened up a whole new world to a whole group of people that I now class as friends... not just friends, but amazing friends. Author Jen Andrews (if you haven't check out her Just Say Yes series yet, I strongly suggest you do. You will love sexy Kiwi Andy. I do.) posted about beta readers. I replied, and the rest, they say, is history.

Part of that history - and hopefully my future - is a small group of indie authors who, without their support, guidance and kind words, I wonder if I would still be scrambling around, wondering what to do next. Along with Jen, I want to thank MaryAnn Jordon, Andrea Michelle, Andie M Long, A.D. Ellis, V.L Brock, ML Steinbruun, MJ Nightingale and Sandra Love. IEZ Forever!!! - look them up, their books are amazing.

Shortly after hitting publish I started receiving reviews, some good some not so good. But in my eyes it was all good. I soon realised all reviews are good - well as long as they are constructive - and I could learn a lot from them. So, here is my next thank you. To everyone who read and then took the time to post a review, thank you! Please never underestimate the importance of reviews. They help us as authors as well as helping readers decided if a book is for them. In essence, they form the very bread and butter of our marketing.

Sorry, I'm waffling now... A short while into my dream that had become reality, I met some amazing ladies. Ladies who loved my book, loved my characters and felt a connection to them. Karen, Kay and Nade, I could not have done half of what I do without you ladies. I will never be able to repay your kind words, your shoulder to cry on when I needed it and your ability to make me laugh - and drool - just when I need it. Thank you for the pics of semi naked men and for feeding my 'research' and 'inspiration' folders.

Lastly - I promise - I want to mention Silver's Sexy Sirens (name may change in the making of future novels). The sirens are my street team. They may be a small group of ladies, but they are an awesome small group of ladies. I feel very privileged to people around me that want to support me, promote my work and join in with the team antics. It makes my life whilst writing so much more enjoyable - although it is often a distraction too.

There is nothing more left to say other than, thank you for an amazing first year full of so many ups and downs. Looking back I would not have had it any other way.

Where it all began

Welcome to my new home, and to the start of my new life, I think to myself as I close the door and take in my surroundings. This is my new place of refuge; a two bedroom flat in a newly built complex in the outer suburbs of London. It’s small but cosy, and more than adequate for my newly single self.