I love being an author and I love delving into my stories. I'm not loving so much this wrapping up process. You know when you read the last book in a series and you cry a little to yourself? Yeah, being the author makes those emotions ten times as strong. The last book in my series is done and I won't lie to you. I cried as I typed, "And they lived happily ever after." Oh did I cry! While I know I can always return to Sanalbereth by reading my books or writing short stories (in the works) or potentially writing a spin-off series (sort of kind of really thinking about that one), these stories are finished. Writing "The End" are the hardest two words an author can write. At least, they're the hardest this author has written.
I first published Charming Academy just over four years ago. Now the last book is about to be published and I find myself reflecting back on the experience. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself at the point I'm at now. I have a Facebook fanpage with likes from people I don't even know! Well, not personally anyway. I know you through your comments, your likes and shares. I know what a tweet is and a retweet and I get ridiculously excited about both. I've been hosted on blogs by people I've met in person and others I've never had the pleasure of seeing outside of social media. I have a blog and a beautiful website that gets visited by people other than me! Slowly but surely, my sales trickle in. I'm not best-selling by any stretch of the imagination, but I haven't seen a lonely 0 in my sales in a few months, so that's got to be worth something.
This has been a learning experience, that's for sure. So much of what I learn, I wish I'd known before I got started. Like I wish I'd had all the amazing author friends I have now to help me spread the word about my books. I wish I'd gone into it knowing a little bit more about writing for an audience. While I still cherish my 240,000 word beast that was the first edition of Charming Academy, the newer version is so much better and I wish it had been the one I originally released. Especially since it has far fewer typos. I wish I'd known about blogging and sharing and tweeting and all the other things that go into marketing a book. Not gonna lie, I'm still learning and trying to figure that part out.
But I have loved this experience and I love that I've been able to share it with you. So for the remainder of this month leading up to the release of Prince Charming's Quest I am going to have a weekly blog post (and daily tweet/Facebook post) containing some confessions and secrets about the Charming Academy series. So, here goes:
Many of you know that the stories began as bedtime stories I told my youngest brother. Lucian's story was the first I told him and at that time, Lucian's princess was named Myrtle. My brother detested the name, which is part of why I chose it. But as I started writing the story, I realized Myrtle just didn't fit Lucian's spitfire princess. So her name was changed to Moira and the etiquette/tokens and gifts teacher at Fair Damsels Academy was given the name.
When I first started writing Charming Academy, my original plan was for the book to cover the boys' education and Lucian's quest which would weave into the other quests as well. Adrian and Kaelen were going to be the only other boys with stories of their own. Luckily for you (and for me), George and Jacobi were pretty insistent they had stories that needed to be told. That and the school years were taking a lot longer to put together than I had first thought. So I decided to break the story into a series giving each prince his own story and putting the school years in one story. The little boy's reaction in the epilogue of Charming Academy is actually the reaction I got from several readers when the book was first released.
Tears and Laughs and Laughing Tears
Every single one of my books has made me cry at some point. Some of them made me cry a lot. Fair warning, have tissues on hand for Prince Charming's Quest. But they've also made me laugh out loud, which has prompted funny conversations with my husband and/or children. It's hard to describe what it's like when I write, but imagine you're listening to someone tell you a story and you have to write it down word for word as they're talking. Usually it's not too bad, but those emotional scenes make typing really hard. And laughing 'til you snort makes it harder.
So those are the first confessions for the series. Do you have anything you wonder about? Any secrets you'd like to learn? Ask in the comments and I'll see if I can answer you. And don't forget the costume contest (see the blog post Have Costume Will Dress Up)! Which character will you dress up as?
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius