2015 has been a really good year. It didn't turn out to be as "great" as I expected, but in hindsight I think this is as it should be because my head would have swelled terribly if it had. I needed to be knocked down a few pegs several times, face various challenges, in order to better appreciate what I have.
- Failing to finish Prince of Darkness worked like an epiphany for me. It reminded me that writing, no matter how business-minded I am about it, is STILL ESSENTIALLY AN ART. A passion. And as such, it's not something you can force. It's also helped me accept that "quitting" on a story mid-stride is necessary and doesn't mean you're a bad writer. Sometimes, it just has to happen.
- I can write about heroines and heroes who are married! And with kids! This was one of my greatest worries, considering I'm neither of those things. But after writing Pollyanna & the Greek Billionaire, which I know to my dying day I will remain FOREVER PROUD of, I feel a little bit more confident that I can do justice to such stories.
- I can change my writing style! My first few books were really strong on humor, and this was intentional, and more often than not they were of the slapstick variety. But lately, I've been leaning towards more introspective writing, most likely due to the influence of books I've been recently reading and re-reading. For instance, normally I avoid narrative writing like the plague because I used to believe (this was back when I was after a trad pub deal) - that this was a symptom of bad writing. But in the past months, I noticed something - the books that I really enjoyed reading started with mostly narratives! And they were my favorite scenes in the book! So this made me ask myself, why can't I try it with my own books? So I did, starting with My Dutch Billionaire. I was extremely nervous when this trilogy first came out because of how I experimented with the writing, and there's also the fact that Book 1 starts off with a FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD heroine. But fortunately, with God's grace, MDB did better than I expected.
- I can write books without sex...and the readers don't hate me for it. I love writing steamy. I was terrified by it at first, but eventually I got used to it and now I can't remember writing any other way (although I should remember writing non-steamy, too, since I still have the sequels to Evren and Death Loves Me Not to finish). Anyway, because MDB 1 had a 14-year-old heroine and she only turned 18 at the very last part of the book, I was worried that my readers wouldn't enjoy it or would even feel cheated because they've come to expect a certain type of romance for me. Fortunately, my readers are the nicest people around. They were able to appreciate the love story between the H/h even without the sex. I'm not saying we're all nymphomaniacs, but you see I was most worried that they'd think I was guilty of false advertising or deliberately misleading them just to gain sales.
- I can sell books even if they weren't written under Marian Tee! This is probably one of 2015's greatest blessings. I have always been worried about what would happen to me if my MT books stop selling. I worried that all that I have now is only due to my then publisher's marketing magic and it's not really about the writing or stories at all. Fortunately, I had a chance to test this out with a brand new pen name. Of course, I made sure to write to trend and have pretty covers. The results were incredibly good, but more than that it's eradicated most of my fears over my career. I know now that whatever happens, if readers become sick of MT books for whatever reason, I can always start again and woo them anew. ;)
- Self-publishing is going to get a lot tougher. I foolishly thought that 2015 would be easygoing all around but nope. KU and changes in Apple & BN have had a significant impact on my sales, but on the bright side - it's made me more realistic with my expectations and I think I'm better prepared this time to face 2016, compared to how I was when 2015 just started.
Wishing everyone a fantastic 2016!