Alas, I've burnt myself out. What was once working for me, no longer does. My life's changed - I have this small human I enjoy hanging out with (even if we read the same book what feels like a hundred times a day) and a PhD that also won't write or research itself - and I need to change how I work so I don't go completely insane. So, what does this mean for books? It's not like my release schedule thus far has been terribly reliable, but I figured you might want to know what's coming up.
With Tank and Ashton, the final books in the Grace Grayson and Loving the Sykes series, coming out early Feb - thank all that is holy - that marks the end of planned dual releases. I need no more research data on it, so never again am I putting that kind of pressure on myself...until I inevitably do because I'm like that.
Perfectly Accidental - Roman's POV of Accidentally Perfect - comes out in April, and that marks the last pre-order I have going for me. (Don't forget you can pre-order the special edition original Accidentally Perfect cover tie-in from my new and improved webstore.) This is super scary, but alas and alack I just can't keep going the way I've been going.
When I started this publishing thing, I had a few books stored up. I had less ideas fighting for space in my head, and I found it easy to finish a book well and truly by the pre-order deadline. As I went on, I got more and more ideas, and sticking to one in order to finish it for release got more difficult. Then, it seemed I couldn't finish a book unless there was a pre-order deadline, and I was quite often down to minutes to spare. It was hectic and exhilarating. Still, when I re-read the story, I was proud to have it out in the world and excited for the reader feedback. Then came the Grace Grayson and Loving the Sykes series. They broke everything.
I needed research data for my PhD, so I promised myself I was releasing two concurrent five book series, and that they'd release every six months. Well, apart from every single book being delayed by 30 days (or more), I've kept that promise. A Grace Grayson and Loving the Sykes books has/will come out every six months. But it's left me broken. It's left my process broken. I sit at the computer for literal hours and achieve nothing because these stories didn't want to be told when I wanted - no, needed - them to be told. Then I have two weeks to write two books. It's doable, but it takes a toll on me and my family, and I don't feel quite as proud of what I send out into the world. I've said it before and I'll say it again; when I was writing Rollie, I fully believed it was the worst piece of crap I'd ever written (and, I'm including the stuff I churned out 20 years ago when I was just starting out). When I read Rollie start to finish, I actually thought it was pretty decent. Considering. The word count, though, was dismal. I'd lost the ability to work out what was filler and what I was cutting to save on writing time.
So, changes need to be made and - I never thought I'd see the day - I need to find some more routine, and actually plan and get some time management skills. Otherwise, you'll probably never want to read another of my books again. And, frankly, neither will I.
I still have a million ideas, I still plan to release those million ideas, but I need to make some changes and get my groove back. Perfectly Accidental is helping. It's getting me back into why I loved writing in the first place, but it's also made me realise that my books have lost...something along the way. Something that made them special. And I need to try to find that again.
After Perfectly Accidental releases, I need to take some time to get back to writing for fun. While I'm hoping I'll still be able to release something in June, September and December this year, I'm not making firm plans until I've finished writing those things and I'm happy with them. So, maybe I won't get anything published between April 2022 and March 2023, but I can promise that my books will be better because of it. Short term pain for long term gain (good lord, who am I? :P).
Starting 2023, I'll be publishing regularly in March, June, September, and December, every year (until I change my mind lol). The plan is two New Adult and two Young Adult. What am I going to do with the rest of that time? Other than furiously finishing my PhD as quickly as possible, I'm going to be building up series so I can rapid release them when every single book in the series is finished. Some of these series are a few novella-length stories, and some are eight or nine 80k books long. But I just can't have another series like Grace Grayson or Loving the Sykes happen where I'm sure I've got the stories down, then I come to write them all and I legitimately blank on them for six months.
Part of this means I'm straying into new territory, new genres. I need to get my mojo back, and to do that I need to just write what I'm passionate and excited about in the moment. I will never get enough of writing romance, but I've had enough of fluffy, contemporary romances for the moment. I need me some darker, more dangerous heroes. I'll get back to the likes of Keeping Up Appearances, and I'll keep writing Royal Misadventures, but I've got so many more ideas and worlds and vibes I want to explore.
Which means I'm also going to be launching three new pennames in 2022 to take their place proudly alongside 'Elizabeth Stevens'. No hiding or making you guess who they are, making you wonder if this book or that is mine. I'll be releasing each one as 'Elizabeth Stevens writing as...' so you'll always be able to find me and my books. They're just a way of letting you know a bit more clearly exactly what you're getting into and which of my books you'll want to read. Where there's some overlap between pennames, I'll put books under whichever fits the right tone/vibe/feel of the story. Who knows, maybe a couple of them will end up co-writing lol!
Elizabeth Stevens will continue to be all my typical Young Adult stuff - the stuff that brought most (if not all) of you here. The sort of books that came out before I started writing New Adult; contemporary, romance, fantasy, middle grade, etc. Think Keeping Up Appearances, Royal Misadventures, Valiant Valerie, the Art of Breaking Up. All those books I think of as quintessentially me.
Pippa Langhorn's going to be taking over my New Adult contemporary work. Her first story comes out later this year as part of a multi-author anthology and I'm very excited. Once I've got a few books under her belt, I'll be re-packaging (editing, new covers, etc.) Grace Grayson and Loving the Sykes and handing them over to her. She's got a few standalones to build up first - and they're more along the lines of my YA stuff as well - bit of parody/satire and having some fun with the clichés instead of blindly sticking to them.
Scarlett Knox will be in charge of my Mature YA/New Adult spec fic and paranormal
romances. Anything a little dark or quirky and with fantasy/sci-fi elements will be Scarlett's domain. The Damned trilogy will be signed over to her at some stage, and she's got A LOT of series building under her banner; lots more Heaven & Hell Chronicles (Saved if I do, Loved if I do, Raised if I do, and Reaped if I do, among them), an academy series with a smouldering trapped demon, and some standalones.
And, finally, E.J. Knox will be the one for dark, bully-style romances (and Reverse Harem, if I get so bold). A totally new genre for me, but one for which I've got a lot going on already. All going well, E.J.'s first book comes out in September - a standalone, academy, bully romance described as Sky High meets the Boys. Fear not, just because it's bully romance does not mean weak, pushover main characters or bullies who get away with it - our MCs will fight back and they'll bring their bully to their ever so repentive knees.
You'll be able to find all my pennames on the same socials - at least, for now.
If you're after merchandise, this is your start of year reminder that the new and improved webstore has merchandise. The old merch store is still up and running while I finish setting up the new one. If there's a specific piece of merch you're after and you can't find it, let me know and I'll add it!
If you've got any questions or comments about any of my books - past, present or future - leave a comment here, hit me up on socials, or send me an email. The next twelve months is going to be a bit up in the air, but you'll get all the news on all my progress as soon as I have it.
I'm going to stop procrastinating now (yeah, right) and go and keep working on Tank and Ashton. Three more weeks and the insane pressure is off! Three more weeks and I can breathe again.
Read, write, and live well,