Happy New Year, my friends! 2017 was an interesting year, both on a global scale and a personal scale. I don’t want to spend this post going over all the painful things affecting the world, all we can do is find positive ways to move forward and help our fellow humans as much as we can, so that’s what I’m doing. But on a personal level, looking back on the year … it astounds me (in a good way of course).
Before 2017 started, I had a contract for my “Monster of Selkirk” series with my publisher, DevilDog Press. But this was the year my first AND second book was published! Something I never thought would happen, happened and, in the process, I have met some incredible people, and even made a few fans along the way. Crazy, right?
The funny thing is, if I could do it all over, there are things I’d change. Things that would, supposedly, make building a community easier. Like having a consistent blog for a year before the first book came out (oops?) so people would know who the heck I am, and why I bother with the whole “C.E.” thing rather than using Chelscey (I mean, the reason should be obvious, would you know how to spell my name if someone just said it to you? Probably not).
Launching one book is accomplishment enough, but I launched 2. TWO! And let me tell you, keeping the same level of excitement for the first book amongst the community for the second book has been challenging. But it’s a new year, so hopefully we can figure this out together.
I sunk a decent chunk of my own money into advertising last year for both books, and I don’t think that’s something a lot of people realize about indie and small press authors. It’s easy to look at the big names and all the support their work gets, and assume that most, if not all books are like that. Or, if you publish enough, eventually people will find it and then you’ll be making all the money. Which is simply false. If I didn’t pour my time, energy, and yes, my own finances into this endeavor, it’d never go anywhere. And even with doing that, I’m still competing alongside those big name authors and hoping to be noticed. It’s tough, and this year has taught me not to let that deter me, because if I focused on how daunting of a task that is, I’d lose sight of my writing.
What this has taught me is to be kind to indie authors. To read more of their work. To give them a chance, and be understanding of their struggle. I have been surprised by many indie books this year with how good they are. So just because a book isn’t published by one of the Big 5 publishing houses, doesn’t mean the book is trash, and you may very well just discover your favorite new author or series by branching out!
Speaking of books … I had some serious reading goals last year. I opened my website up for indie book reviews (because I believe in karma) and was humbled (and overwhelmed) by the response I got. I received so many requests for book reviews that I’m still trying to catch up! I can average about 3 books a month so I think I’ve got a good handle moving forward this year, but given I got so swamped with book review quests that I couldn’t read many of the traditional books I’ve been wanting to read, this year I vow to be more selective in which books I agree to review. I always finish a book, whether the book is bad or not, and with how many books are out in the wild, I need to learn to say “no” and prioritize a bit better.
I ended the year with as big of a bang as I started, with my first ever book signing! I won’t lie, I was so, SO nervous going into that event. Flashbacks of being picked last for the kickball team flashed in my mind telling me that no one would show up, that all the books I brought to sign would remain blank and follow me back from California to New Orleans. In the midst of all this stress and planning, I received heartbreaking news. My editor, Rob Miller, who had been struggling in his battle against cancer, lost the fight. He passed away just a few days prior to my signing, soon followed by my family dog of 19 years, Lola.
While I worked with Rob for 2.5 of my books, I never had the opportunity to meet him face-to-face. He lived in Oregon and I lived in New Orleans and our paths never crossed at the events my publisher put on. This never bothered me. With modern technology, why would it? We worked well together over the phone and via Facebook and email, so the need to go and sit with him while pouring over my manuscript never came up. I regret that now. Just as I was truly getting to know him and his family, his life was cut tragically short, and so close to Christmas, too. It was a weird thing to try and process while doing my event and having to be upbeat and personable. I must have managed it though, as no one seemed to know what was going on, and the new readers I met at the event all seemed to be happy and excited about their signed copies.
I guess the point of me mentioning it is just to point out that none of us really know what other people are dealing with or battling. So be kind. Always.
The rest of my year was spent with family both back in California and New Orleans where I got to see Walk the Moon and Imagine Dragons perform. Those of you who have followed me for a bit know that I am a HUGE music lover, so seeing them both in concert was a big night, and helped with the lingering sadness Rob and Lola’s passing has for me.
As I’m not one to end on a sad note, you guys want to know what I have in store for 2018? Well, plenty I tell you! Plenty.
Book 3 in “The Monster of Selkirk” series will be coming out, and I should be getting a date locked down for Book 4. I will also be wrapping up writing the first draft of the general fiction book I'm working on, and after some revisions, will be handing it over to beta readers! Additionally, my short horror story “The Cautionary Tale of Bertrand Allary” will be published in February, and I’ll be sharing more specifics on that as the date draws near. But my overall goal for the year is to keep honing my craft and doing more events to meet more readers, and who knows, hopefully people will find me fun and interesting along the way.
I hope you all had a good year, and if not, that you can look back on 2017 and formulate a plan of attack for 2018. It’ll be as great as you allow it to be, so strive forward with kindness and positivity!
(Which sounds very fortune-cookie of me, but I have 0 regrets. Let’s do this, 2018!)