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.
We didn't just wake up one day and decide to write a book. We fell in love with writing at 12 and 14. We sucked at it. But we kept doing it until we got better. We didn't fall in love with the success of it. We've been rejected so many times, and yet we still write. We write because we love it. Because it's the only thing that makes us truly happy. Because we tried to stop, and we couldn't.
In 2014, we published 5 books. (We were crazy.)
- Kiss the Sky (January)
- Hothouse Flower (March)
- Thrive (July)
- Addicted After All (October)
- Amour Amour (December)
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
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.
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.
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.
We wanted to write it. It would complete the whole series and fill in missing parts, fleshing out the whole world.
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.
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
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.