Just under two weeks ago, I hit a big milestone. A year ago, I was chewing my nails and editing frantically, trying to make the goal of getting Back to December out to the world on August 5th. I say that I was birthing my third child (not to be confused with the large, Alpha man who lives with me), my self-publishing career. The metaphor, it turns out, extends beyond just the birthing stage. Much like having a human baby, a writing career goes through changes. Just as it was with my children, the last year brought so many things into my life, some of which I could not have expected. I took a marketing class last fall that helped me focus on my goals. Now that we're at the 1-year mark, it will be interesting to see how my goals compared to reality.
I've made new writer friends, many of whom have been instrumental in growing my brand and helping me improve as a writer. This happened in a variety of ways. Some, like Marie Hall, Brenda Rothert and Minx Malone, I friended on Facebook and followed on Twitter just because I loved their work. They have all given me great advice and in turn, I've done my best to help spread the word about their talent.
Others, like Bethany Averie (who has become a great friend) and Danael McGuire, I actually met through Marie's Facebook page. Danael, in turn, brought me on board a group that connects authors and reviewers. Through that I met some really wonderful people: Ella Medler, who gave me the best review I've ever had (I swear, I will get to your books!); Rene Folsom, who has taught me so much about graphic design (she's an extremely talented graphic artist as well as a great writer!); and up-and-coming author, Avery Hale, who impressed me with her debut novel and has a similar work ethic to my own. Rene introduced me to amazing writer SL Dearing, who is also a fantastic maker of book swag. I found Clarissa Wild via one of the first book blogs I followed on Facebook, and we've been helping each other grow ever since.
I also met my superfan, Mandy through Marie's page, and I met another new fan, Connie, through the reviewers group. And just like that, networking expands, the brand grows, fans are found and they help spread the word. One day, you have a personal Facebook page and you realize you need a professional page instead. The ten followers who are family turn to fifty and before you know it, you've got 1,425 people who have liked your page. I've expanded this blog to encompass blog tours and reviews, cover reveals and promotion - all for other people. I've done blog takeovers on Facebook and held many giveaways on my page as well as in conjunction with others. And I now have a fan page - Christopher's Minions - where I'm rewarding the big fans with all the latest info first. Guerrilla marketing at its finest.
So, where are we at? My Ward Sisters series now has four books complete, and by the end of the month, I will be publishing a boxed set with all four of those books as well as some bonus content in the form of deleted scenes from each novel. I'll also include a teaser from my next book, Time to Begin - and not the one that appears in the back of This Year's Love. Here's the cover for the boxed set - the 3D image with the 2D cover on the front.
In 2014, I'm hoping to get both Time to Begin (Ward Sisters, #5, launch date of September 15, 2014) and Just Realized (Ward Sisters, #6, tentatively Christmas 2014) published. When those are done, I'll launch my first spinoff series, Vega Brothers, probably next spring. Then, the pre-quel book in my other spinoff, Deacon Security, will come in the form of Ward Sisters, #7, Think of Me. That should take us through just about this time next year - I'm aiming for a book out every 3-4 months. My personal situation has changed, so we'll see how that impacts my writing - it may be that things move faster, it may mean they move slower. But, now you know my plans. If things change, I'll be sure to post an update.
The last bit I wanted to share is that I'm splitting the final book in Ward Sisters into two separate volumes. No, they will not be half as long. The decision has been made because I think that it best serves the story I was ultimately telling to break it into two pieces, as each segment is capable of sustaining a full-length novel by itself. I've said before that I didn't envision writing a his/hers story and telling the same tale in two separate books. This won't really be that, because the story of Dan Williams and Charlie Ward Williams is not one of just two people. Yes, I'll give you a major spoiler, this story will follow Dan and Charlie as their marriage hits a crater and that story will involve two other people you will have met earlier in the series. Currently, I plan to write the two stories together - I have been all along and will actually separate the parts that are Dan's point-of-view like a conjoined twin surgery. I'll publish them back-to-back and might offer them as a two-book set, at least initially.
Once I've launched Time to Begin, I'll have new cover material to show for the final two books, which will now be #9 and #10. The changes in how the story is being told means that what was originally the last book will still be that and will be Charlie Ward's story, book #10. I'm separating Dan's part of the story and calling that book #9. I've also decided that Better Be Home Soon isn't a good title for either of the final two stories now that I've split the narrative into two separate pieces, so when I do the cover reveals, I'll also be sharing the new story titles.
Thanks for taking this journey with me! I hope you'll stay on the ride!