2014 was... unpleasant. We got the devastating news that my father-in-law has last stage terminal brain tumour, and that news overshadowed everything else that happened last year. On a personal level, the year sucked. I'm not someone who likes to complain, and I rarely do it, and I always look for the silver lining, for that minuscule ray of hope to hang on to. But I found that especially hard to do last year. By the time December rolled around I was so done with 2014. I wanted it over, and I needed to kickstart a new stage in my life. I know the only difference between December 31 and January 1 is a day, an ordinary day, but physiologically I closed a chapter and began a new one.
On a professional level, 2014 was simply amazing. In January my muse took me to an entirely new adventure - I started writing in the MM Romance genre. It wasn't planned, but when inspiration strikes you need to follow it, especially if you've been blocked for the previous 6 months, unable to write a word.
In March 2014 I published my first MM romance book - Dance. I expected nothing. I wrote it simply because the story was screaming to get out. I was new to the genre, had no contacts or friends who read in it, and frankly thought the book will sell 100 copies and get kicked to the curb.
When exactly the opposite happened, I was shocked. Dance was selling so well that it managed to stay at the top of the Amazon charts for weeks. So many people read it, loved it, and made the effort to drop me a line and tell me how much they loved it. I was floating on cloud nine for weeks.
Things got a bit crazy after that - people urged me to write a book telling the story of Adam - a secondary character in Dance. So, despite not planning to write a series, I did. Mask was published in September and got a wonderful response from readers. Again. I felt incredibly lucky to have such loyal readers who tirelessly raved about my books, recommended them to their friends and supported me when I felt like I can't write another sentence.
To say 'Thank You' to them the only way I knew how, I wrote a holiday novella about all four of my boys and published it in December in time for Christmas. That was a new first for me - I've always wanted to write a Christmas book and never managed. I wrote Dreaming of Snow only with the fans of Dance and Mask in mind. I knew what they wanted from my boys and I did my best to give it to them. It was very freeing to write about established, well-loved characters. I've never done it before - each of my books introduces a new couple and a whole set of new secondary characters and I'm always worried if people will connect with them. I had no such problems with Dreaming of Snow and I had so much fun writing it.
As a reader, I discovered the amazing world of audio books in 2014, and naturally, I wanted to turn one of my books into an audio book. I lucked out when the perfect narrator auditioned for the part and the Dance audio book project was well under way in the summer. Of course, like everything else last year, there were ups and downs, and then some more downs and less ups, but finally in December Dance audio book went live on Audible and iTunes just in time for the holidays. I'm absolutely in love with the book even though listening to my own writing being read by someone else was terrifying, and listening to the sex scenes was an excruciating experience. But I managed to finish listening to the whole book and thanked my luck for a thousandth time that it send the narrator Todd Smith my way.
Another great thing that happened to me as an author in 2014 was selling the foreign rights to my first series, Heartbeat, to a publisher in Brazil. It happened so out of the blue - they got in touch with me after reading my first book In a Heartbeat and loving it, and I've never even heard of Editora Charme before. Long story short, In a Heartbeat is scheduled for release in Portuguese in all big bookshops in Brazil in March 2015.
In 2014 I more than ever had to dig deep into my reserve of positivity and courage just to get by. What I learned is that life is short. Too short. We can't spend it worrying about the little things, or even the big things, and not fully live. Every single day can be our last and we need to make the most of it. It may sound corny but once you've faced the fragility of our existence first hand, you realise that corny crap is absolutely true.
I also learned that following you muse, your instinct and your heart eventually pays off. The road may be rocky and it's damn hard work, but when you do what your heart is screaming at you to do, you know you'll succeed, and what's more - you'll be content when you get there.
Last year it was hard for me to appreciate the things happening in my life. Sometimes it seemed like every good thing that happened was being buried under 10 bad things, and digging through all that pile of crap to get to the positive was tiring and got old very fast. But I needed something to hold on to, so I kept at it. I started appreciating the little things - a day out with my family, a hug from my kid, an unexpected compliment from a stranger, a good night's sleep.
I also cut some toxic people out of my life. I'd rather spend time alone than be with someone who pretends to like me. And I'd rather be alone than be faced with negativity, shallow goals, backstabbing and irrational outlook on life.
I must say I thought it'd be much harder to do, but cutting loose someone who is bad for you is the best thing you can ever do.
Here's to a much better 2015! Cheers!