As 2015 drifts away and 2016 takes over, many of us are pausing to reflect on what the past year has brought us. 2015 had its ups and its downs for me, but for my writing, it was a landmark year.
When I first began writing at the ripe age of 16, I could not have envisioned the joy and success that it would bring me. After working hard on Heartbound for over a year, my dreams of getting a book published and available for the public to read came true. It was, of course, a long process, and occasionally, difficult, but I never lost the belief I always had in Heartbound, and it was this belief that persuaded me to take the plunge and self-publish.
The results were beyond anything I could ever have hoped for. I remember very clearly a day when I was working as a student ambassador at Coventry University, and I received a tweet from someone I had interviewed as part of my course. At this stage, Heartbound had only been available for a handful of weeks and was ranked somewhere around #30 in its Kindle category. This tweet informed me that Heartbound had rocketed up to #11, and as the day went on, it leapt up into the top 10. As if that was not enough, I had my first 5* review as well. Heartbound's journey, and mine, had well and truly begun.
As Heartbound joined the elite in the Ghosts category on Amazon, I found myself at a bit of a loss. Being an avid lover of dragons and mythology, I thought I would combine this love with my writing and started a series of novels with the great mythical beasts as the stars. But something was missing, I struggled to find the consistency that I had when I was writing Heartbound. Strangely, I feel that my fascination of dragons was actually the reason for my struggles; I was trying too hard to do something new in the Fantasy genre and I was thinking too far ahead. Regrettably, I decided that I would 'shelf' this series and see where else my writing brain would take me.
Another of my passions is the paranormal. Spirits and poltergeists have interested me for years, and this interest played a huge part in Heartbound. Therefore, it seemed natural for my next novel to follow a similar theme. I, again, thought I would bring out a series and develop a story over a lengthy period, focussing on a teenager who tries to come to terms with her psychic abilities and a team of professional paranormal investigators led by a well-known medium. This is exactly the sort of novel I would read, but like with the dragon series, I was trying too hard to produce a mind-blowing masterpiece instead of writing for fun and with no pressure on my shoulders. Once again, I shelved this work-in-progress.
You must be wondering what was happening with Heartbound as I was banging my head against the desk in frustration. Well, in short, its success continued to grow. In June, on a sunny Sunday morning, I recall sitting in my room at university, still half-asleep and clutching my trusty cup of coffee. It dawned on me that I had not checked Heartbound's progress for a while. What I saw completely stunned me:
Seeing Heartbound flying high almost brought a tear to my eye and reignited my belief in my writing. From this point, I knew that I had to build on Heartbound's success. I had written something that people actually wanted on their Kindles and that people were enjoying. I could not stop now!
One day, I stumbled across the novels I began writing during my school days, and one in particular caught my eye. Regular readers of The Writing Week will have learnt about Blue Eyes Behind the Mask, and how I started writing this fantasy novel during my A-Levels. With Heartbound doing so well, I decided that I wanted Blue Eyes Behind the Mask to follow suit. After all, it was this novel that sparked my initial ambition.
Throughout the latter stages of 2015, I edited Blue Eyes Behind the Mask, turning what I thought was already a good story into a great one. As I've said many times in my weekly writing updates, it was initially strange revisiting the characters and jumping into their lives. But it was a good kind of strange; it took me back to the days when I was just writing and not worrying about creating the next Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Once I was satisfied with Blue Eyes Behind the Mask, my attention turned to my current work-in-progress, Blue Eyes Book 2. Don't worry, that is only a working title!
2015 has been a monumental year, and a year that I will always remember. Now, I am looking to 2016 to follow its predecessor. I am hoping to bring out Blue Eyes Behind the Mask in the near future, so keep watching this space for updates.
I would like to finish this review by wishing everyone a happy new year and all the best for 2016. Happy Reading!