What's Going On Here, Cilla?

Welcome to my first weekly blog post!

This is where you'll find the most up-to-date information about all things Cilla Raven. I'll be sharing everything here first - new release dates, preorder announcements, how my current projects are going, short stories you won't find anywhere else, what I'm up to, exclusive content, and even a first-hand look at this author's writing life. Some will be long (like this one, lol), and some will be shorter, but all of it will be right here!

So, without further adieu, let's get into this week's post...

I feel like it's only right to start with what's been going on with me over the last year.

I've been somewhat MIA, to be honest.

If you heard from me at all, you were probably on Facebook somewhere or one of my awesome beta readers.

Absence wasn't my choice, though.

If it were up to me, I never would've gone so long without releasing a new book, but life doesn't always ask us what we want before it extracts its payment for living, and it certainly didn't ask me before I found myself so burnt out, writing was just utterly impossible.

Wake, the last book I published back in January of last year, ended up being the straw that broke that particular camel's back... even though in hindsight, it was probably my favorite book to write overall.

See, what had happened was (lol)... I was homeschooling 3 older kids, with a baby and a toddler running around, while trying to be a good wife and friend, editing a friend's novel, and attempting to write my own novel at the same time. My older teenagers were being teenagers, which comes with its own set of ups and downs, my husband was traveling for work, finances were tight, and all the while, I was trying to meet the deadlines I'd set for myself to stay motivated. My schedule was ridiculous, absolutely unsustainable... yet somehow, by the end of January, I made it through editing my friend's novel, published Wake, and my home life escaped virtually unscathed.

However, when I went back to try and work on other books after that, the spark I used to have for writing simply wasn't there. It felt like a chore, an entire mountain range I had to traverse just to get a single sentence out, and I had exactly zero energy or motivation to see it done, which in and of itself, was heart-wrenching.

I tried so many times over the last year to get my shit together, but all that ended up happening was a bunch of false starts, thousands of words written that I hated, and not one more book published since Wake.

I'm not lying when I say burnout is no joke.

However... something incredible happened a few months ago...

I found an old, halfway finished manuscript I started writing years ago, even back from before I drafted my first book, Initiate. I'd thrown it in the trash can of my hard drive, never to look at again for some reason I couldn't name if I tried.

It was a story about this girl who worked at a bakery to pay her way through college and how she met the man of her dreams over fried hashbrowns at a random Waffle House (lol) - which might not sound like the greatest story ever told to anyone reading this now, but for me, it wasn't the content I found to be so helpful, it was the inspiration. The stuff flowed through every word of that unfinished draft... and I felt every bit of it.

I started crying like a baby. I mean, we're talking hiccupping sobs and everything. It was not a pretty sight, let me tell you, but I couldn't have cared less about how I looked right then.

My love for writing, something that had always been a huge aspect of me and my personality, came back with a vengeance, and I couldn't have been more relieved to know it still existed. I'd almost thought my passion for writing had gotten up, flipped me the bird, and stormed out, lol.

Even though it was back though, that passion... I knew a lot of things were going to have to change if I were going to take another real shot at this publishing thing. A lot of how I'd been living my life was going to have to be reworked so I didn't lose my creativity again, so this time wouldn't turn out to be just another false start.

I took one of the hardest looks at myself (and my publishing career) that I've ever taken in my life, and I finally asked myself the questions I should've been asking from the beginning - What is it that I truly want out of all this? Is it to publish as fast as I can so I can keep up with other authors? Is it to focus all of my energy on writing and publishing, publishing and writing, writing and publishing with no room to take a breath?

My answer to all of those questions and many others like them was, "Hell, no."

What I want out of this publishing career is actually pretty simple - I want to write all the stories dancing around in my head, with the breathing room to do them justice. I want to bring to life, meet, and get to know each of the characters I've already dreamt up in my mind. I want to tap into my creative well on a daily basis because I, as a person, am so much happier and more intrinsically satisfied with life, when I'm writing every day.

Then I want to share those stories with the world. I hope each and every one of my readers will get something out of the books I write and the content I create, even if it is only a wayward afternoon of relaxing escapism after a long day of... life... because I know exactly how good it can feel to tap out for like an hour or seven in a really good book.

Okay, maybe it's not that simple, but it is real and honest.

Keeping all that in mind, I reworked my entire career from the ground up, with my primary focus being on writing for the sake of writing, first and foremost, then publishing as a close second.

I rearranged my office space, changed my schedule, my blurbs, my strategy, everything.

Every tiny puzzle piece that was coming together to create this career went under the microscope, and some of my darlings saw the sharp end of my knife before I was through, but the cuts were necessary.

What I'm left with now is something I'm already proud of, and it seems sustainable for the long haul, which I know I couldn't have said before.

The first thing on the chopping block had been my schedule; it had to go, and once I rearranged things so I could actually write, I started writing again with a passion and fervor I hadn't seen since that half-finished draft from years ago!

I tweaked, played with, and reworked that draft into what is now going to become Drifter, the first book in my new Raging Heathens MC series. I started working on Defender, the last book in my Beholden To Balance series, and because I had the time, I also started drafting Reckless Fae, the second book in The Fae Bounties trilogy.

Words flew from my fingertips, and I'm going to do everything in my power to keep them flowing from now on. I even changed where I was writing my books from Google Docs to Scrivener because it just works so much better for me and the way I write.

I've completely redesigned my website, started the process of leaving Kindle Unlimited so I can share my books with more readers, revamped my newsletter and every single one of my published books, and started a blog as of today, lol.

My first book signing is next week, and over the next 2 years, I've already signed up for a few more and been accepted!

I've started the process of getting all of my books into Audible, one of which, Wake, is already set to be done around mid-May of this year!

So I guess what I'm trying to say here with this long-ass blog post is:

I know I took some time off, and I'm sorry it's taken so long, but I'm back like Britney bitches, and I've got so much in store for you, you won't want to miss a bit of it!

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