On March 17th (2014), Krista wrote a post about our journey to becoming authors. I honestly can't read it without crying. She details the start of everything, how Addicted to You was published, our struggles, our triumphs, and she ends with this:
Sometimes I just stop and look around, reminding myself where I am. Because this doesn't feel real. It's a dream that we've been fighting to achieve for what feels like a really long time.
Now it's my job to describe 2014, the ups and downs, but mostly the ups. The downs seem to be plagued only by our own insecurities, our self-doubts that arise right before we publish a new book and sometimes right after. The ups mean more to us. They're what stay with us after weeks and weeks and weeks.
In 2014, we published 5 books. (We were crazy.)
I think you all fueled us. We can't thank you enough for that, truly. We've wanted to do the Addicted series proud but not have you wait forever for it, and it's pushed us to be better writers. To work harder for the thing we love.
OUR YEAR: BOOK BY BOOK
It's been the wildest, crazy year. And I can't help but think back to the beginning. January. Do you remember January? Back then, we were frightened out of our minds.
Kiss the Sky was the first book not in Lily & Loren's POVs. While we'd written so many characters before, different POVs, settings, worlds -- no one had read those books. Kiss the Sky would be our departure from Lily & Lo. It would be a book that new readers could jump into. The tone would change from angsty to light and humorous.
We were afraid. No matter how much we love a book, there will always be uncertainty on whether or not you will love it too. You might not have known this, but Kiss the Sky also had a lot riding on it. We had just signed with our agent, and we were shopping the Addicted series to editors. How well Kiss the Sky performed in sales would determine whether the Addicted series would be in bookstores, published traditionally, a certain kind of validation you can't receive being self-published.
But you know how that story ends as January passed. Fate was at play, we always tell each other. This series works better in our complete control and it wouldn't come out nearly as fast otherwise.
Despite that blow, we were so proud of Kiss the Sky. And the response, in our eyes, couldn't have been better. To date, it was the hardest book we've written. The pressure, on different ends, may have added to that. But for being the hardest book -- it has given us the most pride. We often look back to Kiss the Sky and feel how much energy it took from us and we see where it is now, what it became, and we just smile. It's what we wanted it to be. And it's in the hands of people we love.
All of you.
By March, we weren't nearly as frightened or scared. Hothouse Flower was something that had been in-the-making while we were writing Kiss the Sky. We could see exactly what it was supposed to be, and we had the confidence now to stop doubting ourselves as much.
We published Hothouse Flower the day before our 23rd birthday.
We were incredibly happy. (We still are, when we look back.) The irony -- the sales for this one might have been enough to entice those editors. That one shot was gone though. We were just happy that this was ours. That we could do this without a traditional publisher if we wanted. We could do it all on our own.
This was proof of that.
In May, we repackaged the entire Addicted series, new covers, any lingering typos corrected -- the 2014 Editions were released of Addicted to You, Ricochet, and Addicted for Now. It took a lot of time, but as a whole, we're glad we did it. The "in-between novels" now cohesively matched the rest of Lily & Lo's stories.
However, this caused a delay in Thrive (Addicted #2.5), but we were able to release it in July. That is the second hardest book we've written. We knew that there would be readers who only wanted to enjoy Lily & Lo's story (and skip the Calloway Sisters series), for that reason, we had to write Thrive. Or else there would be too big of a time jump between Addicted for Now & Addicted After All.
We wanted to write it. It would complete the whole series and fill in missing parts, fleshing out the whole world.
We couldn't skip over all the influential parts of the Calloway Sisters series; we had to retell them in a new way, as they would impact Addicted After All.
It was a challenge. It was a giant, incomprehensible puzzle. We had lists and charts, spanning 2 years of time. We had to make sure the smallest of details were right. The outfits of the characters that day. If they were drinking a coffee. If they were tying their shoe. It was hard. But some of our favorite chapters, scenes, come from this book.
Not everyone enjoys "retellings" and some chapters had to be retold for all the people skipping the spin-off series. It took more energy out of us. But we did it. We were more than happy with the result. We knew this was the best book it could be. We accomplished the hardest feat since January. And it was our favorite Lily & Lo book to date.
But after it's release, I think we were ready to step away from the Addicted series. Not for good -- but there's something about investing so much energy in a project that you only receive a quarter back.
We just needed a change of pace.
And we'd been working on this standalone novel Amour Amour since February. We returned to it. We let it remind us why we love writing. Our passion. Our dreams. And we poured our hearts into it -- finishing the novel for December.
Then we were ready for Lily & Lo again.
For the bittersweet end. More confident, more alive. We attribute Addicted After All to the best writing experience we've ever had.
Every moment, we've treasured. And the response was more than we ever hoped.
It was the perfect ending, in all ways. On Halloween. Loren Hale's birthday.
We had a bit of polishing left for Amour Amour, so November, we took to editing the book. And by December, we were ready to release our first standalone outside of the series.
The fear returned. It was bound to happen. This book meant a lot to us -- but more than that, it was our means to show everyone that we can write outside of the series. We know that there will be a day the Addicted series, Calloway series, and Like Us series (coming 2015) will end. That world will be closed. And then what?
We have so many ideas. So many books we've written, so many more we want to write, and there's a fear that one day it will all end. That this is a short-lived dream. Not a life-long one. And maybe this was our test. This was a way for us to see if our fans would like something new. If we'd find new readers too. If we were more than just one-series-wonders. We wanted to be. We hope to be.
It's still up in the air. But we're incredibly proud of Amour Amour. It's everything we wanted it to be, and for December, it was our feel-good, inspirational book that had inspired us back in July. That had kept us going.
OUR YEAR: THE FANS
I used to never use the word "fans" -- I thought it was too presumptuous. I have fans? No way. I have readers, people who've read the book. Not fans. That's for someone else. Someone bigger and better than us.
But I think the moment we realized, "Hey, we actually have fans" was sometime around January and March. You can see our Tumblr change. It went from very few posts to hundreds a month.
"Readers" began asking us in-depth questions about the Addicted series. We were more than happy to answer. We still freak out when a new ask drops into our inbox :)
"Readers" began making edits, gorgeous ones that are breathtaking. They've made us cry. All of them. I'm more emotional than Krista (she's Coballoway all the way) so I become misty-eyed and all smiley for each one. (I'm not entirely sure the names behind all of them since they're posted by usernames -- I wish I did! -- but some of the ones I do know are from Nazeefa, Lisa, Sil, Sue, Siiri, Eri, Jenn, Jae, Jullie, Lanie, Manuela and more!)
"Readers" began forming groups online. Fan pages on Tumblr (thanks Sue!), Facebook (thanks Jenn, Lanie & Jae, the admins!), Goodreads (thanks Amy & Bella!), and a Addicted Series blog (thanks Jenn!)
"Readers" began making videos for the series, the characters inspiring these works of art surrounding this world we'd created.
"Readers" began changing their Twitter usernames to correspond with their favorite character or ship from the series.
"Readers" began messaging us, daily, about how the series has impacted them.
"Readers" began asking for a "fandom" name to encompass this grand, little thing. Fizzle Force, it is :)
"Readers" began creating book blogs with friends they'd met through their love of the series (Hello, Calloway Books)
"Readers" began wearing ship shirts we made and others they created on their own -- Coballoway, Raisy, LiLo -- and sporting Wampa hats in spirit of Lily Calloway.
"Readers" have changed our lives this year.
And we're happy, so very happy, to be able to call all of you our fans.
To have fans. To inspire and write. This is the best year. There is nothing better. And we will hold onto it forever. So here we are now. The end of December. Five books. In one year. We were crazy. In 2015, I think we may be just as insane.
You all keep us going.
Thank you, a million times over. Thankyouthankyouthankyou. You've made our year what it is. No one else.
We'll see you in 2015. With more Coballoway first and foremost ;)
As Connor Cobalt says about fans...
An impassioned spirit truly paints the gray world with color.
It's been our feelings about you, all along.
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