Well, friend, if you’re reading this, you’ve made it to (at least) the very last day of 2018! I hope this year has treated you well and that you’re looking forward to great things in the next 365 days!
When I first sat down to write this wrap-up post, I thought, “You know, it’s been busy, but I don’t know if all that much has happened.” Aaaaaaaand then I started looking back through my calendar, journal, and blog posts and remembered that it’s been 100% wild and fabulous – but not necessarily both all the time. Turns out, 2018 was a total whirlwind for me.
This year started on a low note as we were still recovering from the sudden loss of a dear family friend who also happened to be my last boss. With his passing, I found myself jobless overnight, and my husband and I had the long, hard talk about where I should go from there.
I have the most amazing partner in the world. Seriously, I will fight you for that title. My husband was so supportive when I finally made the call to focus my energy fully on my writing life. My goal wasn’t to turn my own books into bestsellers (yes, that would be awesome, but I’m too much of a realist to assume that would happen overnight). I had another idea in mind – more on that in a moment.
The first few months of the year were rough. I couldn’t turn on the news without seeing something that made me want to expatriate. I couldn’t set foot on social media without wanting to gouge out my eyes or disown family members. My grandmother passed away, and I hardly felt it because I was so numb and lost. Add that to the fact that I was also trying to make a go of it on my own career-wise, and it’s easy to see how I got overwhelmed with stress and to do lists and went a little off the rails.
Scratch that. I went way more than a little off the rails. I disassembled the rails entirely and went careening off into the dark unknown.
I’ve had mental health issues for most of my life. They’ve been compounded by a nearly 30-year battle with anorexia and bulimia. I’ve also spent the last ten years struggling with PTSD following my escape from an abusive relationship. All those things snowballed into a massive vat of toxic sludge that sucked me in. I ultimately had a really spectacular meltdown, which left me with only one healthy choice: to seek the therapy I have needed for years.
I’m SO glad I did because the rest of this year would probably have looked a whole hell of a lot different if I hadn’t.
While I was still pulling myself together and finding my tenuous new balance, I managed to publish Broken Wolf (Book Four of The Black Wolf Series), along with three erotica novellas under my Ava Stroker pen name. I intended to publish eight more novellas during the year, but gave up on that grand plan when I realized (thanks, therapy!) that it was totally impossible for me to continue doing 638 things every. single. day. without leading myself straight into another meltdown.
At some point (maybe in 2019, but maybe not), I’ll probably reclaim those short stories from my pen name and just publish the whole 12-part collection under my usual writing name (J. E. Martin, obvs). I love my Ava persona, but with everything else I’m doing, it’s not feasible to keep up with the totally separate online life I created for her.
Once I got Broken Wolf on the market, I turned my attention to that new idea I had – the one I mentioned above. See, I love talking to new and aspiring writers about getting started. I’ve had such a fabulous experience with getting my own books out into the world that I want to help others find the same joy. So, I opened Reverie Press.
Yep, I’m now an independent book publisher! Well…I will be. I’m not accepting submissions for my Reverie imprint yet, but I am getting my feet under me by providing author services to fund the early days of the business so I can accept submissions in the future. My own books will be the initial guinea pigs for meeting the IBPA standards. Once I’ve made sure I’m capable of professionally publishing by putting my own neck on the line, I’ll be opening up to others.
So far, Reverie (which is all me) has completed five projects ranging from KDP set-up and coaching to ghostwriting to book editing, formatting, and cover design. I’ve loved every project – even the crazier things my clients have thrown my way! – and can’t believe I’m actually finding success in an industry I’ve loved my whole life. All I can think is, “Why the hell didn’t I do this sooner?!”
Reverie has taken up the vast majority of my focus for the last six months, and I’m so proud of what I’ve built. But (again, thanks to therapy) I’ve managed to find a much healthier work-life balance than I’ve probably ever had. Even though I’ve worked 90+ hours almost every week this year, I’ve found time to step away from my home office and do other things. I’ve even let a hobby or two back into my life!
Yes! Hobbies! Those things that had been leached from my world by depression, anxiety, and those not-so-fun-or-fabulous bouts of mania. I got back into baking after rediscovering my grandmother’s family recipes. I also developed a passion for nurturing the orchid my husband got me on our anniversary.
My grandfather was an orchid genius. He even bred his own award-winning orchid, which he named after my grandmother. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I have a secret orchid gift that came from him. Either way, in the last eight months, I’ve learned more about orchids than any human should know and am now Very Judgemental of the state of the orchids at the store.
In Other News
By the end of today, I’ll have read 63 books this year – more than twice what I read last year (and more than twice my official Goodreads challenge number, though I’ve been angling for at least 60 all year).
I knocked a few more firsts off my bucket list, too, when I took my fear of heights out of a perfectly good airplane with me in my first skydive and followed it up with our first trip to Cuba. I also finally got my first tattoo. I think that particular first is probably much to my parents’ chagrin, but after thirty-something (Wait. What am I saying? I’m only 29.) years of wanting one, I decided it was time. I had a lot to celebrate, remember, and mark in 2018. It seemed fitting to give myself a permanent reminder of the BAMF I really am.
Now I’m looking ahead to a new year. I won’t go into all the goals for 2019 right now. Yes, I have goals, but I’m planning to take them day by day and adjust as I need to. I’m aiming to be more tempered with goal-making as I move forward. I’m so good at perfectionism and trying to do it ALL. I really don’t need to worry about whether or not I’ll get stuff done. I know I will because that’s who I am – and I’ve been that way my whole life. I’d rather spend some time learning to take things in stride. On my wishlist for 2019: flexibility and the ability to work at a nice, easy pace that doesn’t drive me crazy or send me over the edge.
To that end, I’m planning to stop my monthly reading list posts and swap them out for monthly check-in posts. I’ll still include the books I plan to read as part of those posts, but because I do have some big goals for 2019, it makes more sense to track my progress during the year in a new way.
I’m also hoping to bring in more character guest posts and short story posts from the Black Pack. And, of course, as the year progresses, I’ll be talking more about my upcoming Crown Series. ICYMI, you can view the series trailer here.
I hope 2019 will be a big, BIG year around JEMBooks and Reverie Press. Just, you know, not so big that I have to add another therapist to my care team. We’ve got quite the crew already 😉
If you’ve been following along with my JEMBooks work and are an aspiring or new writer yourself, please feel free to connect with me through Reverie Press. Here are all the places you can find me online:
You can also join my mailing list (hint hint: there’s a HUGE coupon that comes your way as soon as you do! Can you say deals on cover design packages and author services? Because I can!) Sign up for the Reverie Press Mailing List here.
And, since we’re rounding out the end of the year, here’s a reminder on where else you can connect with me through JEMBooks.
You don’t get a coupon for joining my book newsletter, but you do get the first peek at all my cover reveals and new releases! Sign up for the J. E. Martin Books Mailing List here.
With that, I guess it’s time to say goodbye to this wild and fabulous year. I hope 2019 is even better and brighter for you and yours.
Do you have any goals for the new year? I’d love to hear what they are – feel free to comment below or reach out directly to share your plans and dreams.