Swimming Towards Success
Being an Indie Author is a lot like being stranded in the Pacific Ocean most days. You’re just out there… in the big blue… bobbing up and down. The tide works with or against you, depending on the time of day. Sharks are circling you, going unseen down below. The sun lights your way– or blinds you most of the time. And you’ve got just yourself out there. There’s no team of professionals to help keep you afloat with a handy blowup raft, or at least throw you a damn life preserver, or piece of wood, when you need one.
It’s the adrenaline that keeps you swimming. The drive to “make it” that keeps you going. The madness within that’s pushing you to keeping kicking, keep swimming, don’t give up!
William Faulkner once said, “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
When I began writing, it was for fun. I said goodbye to the shore, dived in, and started paddling. Writing was something that I wanted… no NEEDED to do, so I just did it. It was scary, exciting, and incredibly addictive.
It came with a cost, though. As all addictions do.
I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. I wrote the book and when it was complete, I told a few of my closest friends what I did. I was proud of myself. And I kinda scared myself, too. What was hidden away in me came bursting out in glorious chaos. I couldn’t stop it… papers with odd notes, quotes, and names were everywhere. Creativity pumped like white fire in my veins. I literally shook in my seat.
Besides getting completely lost down the rabbit hole, I had to find a new balance in my life – one should not sit in front of a computer for sixteen hours a day, every day.
I know, bummer, right?
I literally lost weight writing that book because I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t get up to go to the bathroom or answer the phone or make dinner or do anything but type, type, type, type. I was consumed. And blissfully so.
Shatter was my brain baby, my holy-sh^t-look-what-I-just-did accomplishment. But it was also my first book, so yeah… *sigh* it had typos. Yup. Can you believe it? Me either.
Is there any excuse for mistakes like that? Nope. But as hard as I tried, I couldn’t find them. I knew my words too well. Full paragraphs were memorized. But I gave it my best shot. I read that sucker backwards, forwards, and upside down – literally. Can you imagine reading a 400 page book upside down and backwards? Not. Fun. But I didn’t have money for a professional editor – still don’t, actually – and so that’s what I did. I tried my very best.
I honestly thought I’d gotten them all and had done a great job. I published my book. I gave it away for free. I was proud of myself. I felt amazing because I’d actually gone and done it. I did what I said I’d do, no matter how crazy of an idea it was when I started.
Oh, I had no idea that the unknown, unseen, unforgivable typos would start flashing themselves brightly to the readers who picked up my book… or that some readers would be so brutal about it.
My first reader email was a stinging slap. First one, folks! On day two of 3-day Get-Shatter-for-Free promo, I got bitch slapped with someone’s opinion. My book hadn’t even been out in the universe for a full 24 hours yet and SMACK! The woman called me an idiot. She said the story was a joy to read, but my typos were “horrible” and people will just think I’m “stupid.” Yup, she said stupid. She also said that my mistakes were “quite at odds with the high quality of the actual work,” then said it was a “grand read.” It was a kick in the hey-nay-nays, I’ll tell you that. Well, figuratively speaking, of course.
I apologized to the reader, cried, and moved on – vowing to try even harder.
It was then I understood why so many authors say: DO NOT READ YOUR REVIEWS! Too bad I didn’t listen; it would have saved me some grey hair and a case of tissues. But there’s no keeping me down, ladies and gentlemen. I use everything to fuel my fire. Good and bad. And for every nasty comment, there were five very positive ones, so that, my friends, was the kerosene for me.
I have a good thing here. My series is going to twist and turn and take you to places you can only scarcely imagine. This editing mess was a temporary setback. A shark fin popping up in front of me.
No way would I give up this dream. I’m committed now. I knew I needed to find the hidden errors before more people got their hands on my book. So, I called upon friends and family to help me track those misspelled bastards down. Unfortunately, the select few people I had read the book couldn’t find the typos either. It was the same all the way around: “We just got sucked into the story, and, typos be damned, we blew right over them.” *headdesk*
I had nightmares. True, screaming in terror, nightmares that I would be stoned for my errors. I pulled that book up with fury rolling in my veins and once again, I was on the hunt …
Could I find them? Nope. Those sneaky stinkers slipped through the cracks again. *headdesk, headdesk, headdesk* (I’m gonna need an icepack for my head soon.)
That’s when I called on the big dogs: two particular women who would tear my book to shreds if they had to. One, who I like to call “The Divine Red Pen,” (no explanation needed there) and the other was the “Tortoise Reader” dubbed so because she reads every. Single. Word. Super. Slow.
I asked them to help. They did. I asked them to be ruthless. They were. Leave no comma unplaced, leave no word misspelled. It was a lot to ask, they’re busy peoples. They had, in essence, thrown me a slab of good ol’ wood to float on, so that I could have a fighting chance at this Indie thing.
I will be forever grateful for it, too.
With their help, I’ve been able to fix the majority of the issues that were in Shatter. I pray I’ve been redeemed. Every day I keep my fingers crossed, hoping that someone who reads my books will smile at the funny things, scream at the angry parts, and fall in love with the mushy moments – and not bash me too much because I might have forgotten a comma or something.
Here’s hoping, right?
After I wrote the second book, Shine, I felt unstoppable. I think it’s a helluva story, personally; but then again, I’m biased. Adam was always the first Fae in my head. He’s been there a long, damn time, waiting patiently for me to get with the program. His story was a blast to write. I love all my characters and some of them really shined in this second book (yeah, yeah, pun intended).
“We all have a purpose, my dear, and yours is to tell our stories,” he’d say to me.
With that, the voices in my head multiplied and were practically hounding me to write, write, write. The rabbit hole expanded into a multi-layered labyrinth. And, yeah, I know my way around. I’ll give you a tour if you’d like.
The point of this silly blog is: I didn’t stop after I got pushed down; I picked myself up and kept moving forward. It was a start to finding my own worth.
A couple months after I released Shine, another reader wrote to me saying, “Holy crap, you blew the doors off of this one. I couldn’t put it down and am dying to see where this goes. Job well done.” Another reader wrote me saying that she read the books, read my blogs, and was “screaming my name from the roof tops” – telling her friends to read, read, read the Sins of the Sidhe series.
I smiled. I cried. I vowed to push myself to the next level – so yup, I wrote the third book. Patience, my friends, it’s in ruthless edit mode now. And you know what they say: gorgeous, slightly dangerous, delicious, amazingly blissful things come to those who wait.
That being said, this is my oh-so-long-winded way of saying thanks. Thanks to those who helped me swim in this big, scary ocean. Thanks to those who saw past my errors. Thanks for understanding I’m only human. Thanks for giving me a chance. I’m in this for the long haul, folks. There’s no stopping me now. I have every intention of setting the world on fire.
This is also my way of saying: be what and who you want to be.
I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to bring the world a story that would be so full of emotions you’d bust apart in all the ways I could possibly shatter you. And when you’ve picked yourself up and put your Humpty Dumpty back together again, I’ll make you fly apart with the next book in a whole new way.
As I will it, so mote it be.
So I ask you, readers and lovers of all things romantic, risky, fun and fantastic: What do you want to BE? What do you want to DO?
We’re all busy. I get it. It sucks being an adult. But carve out a piece of time, once a day, once a week, once a year… whatever. Dive in folks. DO it. BE it. MAKE. IT. HAPPEN.
And come what may, don’t shy away from what’s inside you – even if you think you’ll suck at it. Believe me, you won’t. And don’t worry about the possibility of someone making fun of you or saying something mean. They might, but that negativity is on them, not you.
That’s just life. It’s cool and cruel. You can’t make everyone happy, but you can make yourself happy. So… Go do. Go be. Go get. Go make. Just… GO.
I. Wanted. To. Be. A. Writer. There is no end to my story.
What goal are you gonna swim towards?
The Ranting of a Mad Writer – someone put the kettle on for this
Balanced, like a canary on a wire, I am perched on my chair. My knees ache from being bent so long, holding my weight. Sweat is making my skin feel sticky, my hands are slightly shaking, I forget the basic function of breathing, my eyes burn, my stomach is in knots, and my brain is about to explode as I play the scenes in my head. Conjuring them. Living them. Typing them.
On my best day, this is me writing.
On my worst day, this is me writing.
When this book stuff got started, I had just six folks in my head and a few fledglings. Now, I’m at 47 solid characters and counting.
They are all screaming for release. I want to give it to them. I really do. But how the hell do I do them justice? Their pasts? Their presents? Their futures? I cringe… some may not even have a future.
But that’s not the worst of it. Oh hell no. That’s the fun part.
There are the “others” that come to me too. Every day, like clockwork, the demons of pessimism and ridicule rear their ugly heads and spout nasty words. Those pesky f^ckers sit on my shoulders, whispering my worst nightmares as if they were truths: I’m not good enough at this, writing is a waste of time, they’ll laugh at you, you’re insane, you’re a joke.
Insecurity and Doubt, those are their names. Sometimes Failure joins in the party too. It becomes a ménage-a-trio of dark thoughts looming over me. Damn, they love a good party.
Who can blame them?
I pluck those downers away like beetles on my shirt and focus on my writing, but they flutter around my head in circles. Waiting, watching, taunting. I should probably spray their buzzing asses with Raid, but I don’t have any within reach.
With gusto, I go back to typing. The friendly folks in my world swing their swords and scream battle cries of encouragement my way. Even the nicer demons smile at my attempt to move ahead – those bad boys are kept on a leash though. No worries. No worries.
Glancing at the clock, I note the hour and sigh. I have to join reality soon… just not yet.
More drama ensues – lovers are made, enemies connive, wars rage. I blink and another person enters my world. Oh hell yeah, I already know their destiny. I hold the key to create and to destroy. Let the almighty power trip continue. Huzzah!
I create insane problems and then smack my head when I don’t know how to get out of them properly… and preferably with mind-blowing cliffhangers. Seriously, this is when I actually feel like puking. Panic sets in and I contemplate not making the problem be a problem.
Screw it. The problem stays. I’ll solve it somehow.
Laundry. I break from my world and put a load of whites in the machine and I make a cup of tea while I’m up too. But, that’s all the reality I need for now.
Back down the rabbit hole I go…
Now it’s time to read over what I’ve typed so far. My eyes and brain can’t keep pace – one is always faster than the other. They take turns being in the lead.
Wait! Is the word shudder or shutter? Too caught up in the emotions on the page, I end up quivering.
Holy crap, spell check is a bitch. The English language is maddening. I curse it. No, not the hex, the cuss – hey I’m crafty, but not that talented.
Or am I? <insert evil laugh>
Alas, I digress.
Great, now it’s the other pain in the ass. Grammar check and I are about to have words. No pun intended. Seriously, grammar check is an asshole. Well, I’d like to think that, but really it’s just doing its best… same as me.
Then I actually sit back and look at all the mistakes the damn computer caught. Oh good grief, Charlie Brown.
That’s when the moment of opportunity is noticed: The demons, Doubt and Insecurity, circle over my head again, cheering on the grammar check, causing me to second guess myself. I can’t let them win. I can’t. Spelling mistakes are one thing, but I can win an argument about grammar… well, sometimes I can.
“Instincts, lass. Go with your gut,” the Druid’s voice rumbles in my ears.
I stick to my guns. How I wrote it, is how it needs to be said. Period. Y’all can appreciate that, right? It ain’t fittin’ to have my words changed around when they need to be said a certain way.
Next, the premonitions come. The Fates lay down small glimpses of future stories. I scream with excitement, bat away the demons with my hands, and continue writing – balanced on my perch, nose inches from the screen, fingers pounding away on the keyboard.
Cheers to the power of creative pursuits! Woop! Woop!
The sun rises and I hiss like a vampire at the rays shining in my eyes. No, not really, but I have been known to groan about it. The coffee pot turns on (damn you automatic timer), birds chirp to tell me it’s time for a break, and I now know my time is up.
I hit the save button and I back up my document on a thumb drive. Hey, I’m not paranoid, I’m cautious.
And now, (drum roll please) it’s time to start the adventure of another kind of glory with endless amounts of drama, love, and ridiculous scheming.
My kids just woke up.
Crank It Up!
Crank It Up
I confess I am a total tune junky. I play music all day and night. It is literally the first thing I do in the morning. Well, after I get my coffee and say “Good Morning” to anyone that’s awake.
So it’s Saturday and I go to make breakfast while some Florida Georgia Line is setting my day up and the fridge… is empty.
What the h*ll? Was I raided in the middle of the night by starving trolls? This can’t be possible ‘cause my fridge, pantry and freezer are always full. But not today apparently. And wouldn’t you know it? I’m already getting hangry.
So I head to the grocery store and, of course, I got my tunes playing on my phone while I shop.
I don’t do the headphone thing. My groovy music is awesome and should be shared with the masses.
And that’s just what I did.
So here I am, in the produce section, jamming out to The Guess Who, and singing No Sugar Tonight like it was the damn truth. ‘Cause the New Mother Nature’s takin’ over around here – did I mention it’s the end of March and was snowing for no good reason? Guess the new splendid lady’s come to call.
The produce dude is stacking up bananas and starts singing along with me and doin’ a little head-banging, two women begin to bop along over by the celery wall, and all are laughing.
Did I mention how loud I sing?
Dancing into the cereal aisle, Godsmack is up next with Rocky Mountain Way and you know that’s some serious good stuff to buy oatmeal to.
That tune got me all the way up to the coffee/tea/soda aisle and the Pepsi guy loading shelves starts his air guitar.
I keep going.
To give my iPhone a little whiplash, I switch from Godsmack to Mark Ronson. Now it’s Uptown Funk for the finale as I meander over to the dairy section for dark chocolate almond milk and yes, all were dancing (even if it was just a little).
The song plays loud and proud in my hot lil’ hands all the way to the cashier, and the sweet little retired and just-doing-the-part-time-gig-for-a-little-extra-cash lady busted some moves along with her manager, the bag packer, the cashier next to her and one random dude in the aisle next to us.
It was the best grocery store trip I ever had.
So the moral of my story is: Crank that sh*t up people. Folks need to dance, sing, and bust loose – even if it’s in the bread section.
Why I Write
My life is crazy. It’s full of nonstop action, and it’s big, loud, scary, sexy, fun, dramatic and spontaneous. I live in my head most days, caught up in my little worlds that no one else has seen. I am constantly swept away to another reality. No, I’m not crazy, I’m creative.
It’s a fine line, I know. And I ride that line every single day like a boss.
I have more on my To Do list than most. I want to ride a horse through the Highlands, kill a bad guy and save the day, swing a sword, snap my fingers and set a fire, cast a spell, read minds, sift through the air, change the weather, and maybe, if I have spare time, I’ll call the dragons.
I’ve worn many hats in my day, but none fit better than the imaginary ones I try on when no one else can see me. I have a brain and it’s filled with f*cking awesomeness and adventure, passion and excitement.
That’s not to say my ordinary life doesn’t have those things in it.
Believe me, it definitely does.
But we all have those fictional characters that take our breath away. You’re a book reader, I know you understand this way of thinking. We get tied up in those characters, start to think like them, want to live like them, wish we could actually meet them one day.
I have plenty of those folks living in my brain; they could occupy a small village, a large city, and possibly an entire universe. I find myself in certain situations in my day-to-day hum-drum where I wonder: What would one of those fantastic characters do if they were in a similar situation? It automatically beefs up my inner awesome meter to maximum power and I am suddenly a skilled mastermind that turns the ordinary into extraordinary.
I love books. I love them with a capital L.O.V.E. I will probably die with a book in my hand. And I get just as hooked on someone else’s imaginary people that I sort feel like we’re all family. I worry for some of the characters I read about. Honestly. I scream, cry, laugh and fret over the folks in those stories. I can ride an emotional roller coaster page after page, one chapter at a time. I get totally attached to them, I mourn for them, I love them, I hate them, some I just want to have a beer with, some… I’d like to do more. You know what I mean?
Yes, you do. Don’t deny it.
I’m prepared for some of the more dramatic events that haven’t played out in my reality yet. I’ve learned a lot of precious life lessons and survival skills from books. Hell, I consider myself a damn expert now, a jack of all trades and master of none.
I am confident that I can single-handedly take down a vampire with the skills of a well-seasoned executioner. I believe that if a Sidhe tried to mind control me, I’d be clever and strong enough to fight back and null their fairy a$$es right there on the street. Zombie apocalypse? You have no idea how prepared I am for that sh^t. I hope like hell I could outrun a demon, at least I’m willing to give it a try. If I don’t succeed in escaping them, maybe we’ll just cuddle and be friends. And I for damn sure know that I could sit back and have a couple of shots with some big, sexy, over the top vamps if they ever wanted the pleasure of my company. I can hang and I’m not afraid of fangs.
Bring it, big boys.
So I say it again, my life is crazy, because my life stretches beyond the normal. It’s substantial. It’s unbelievable. It’s impossible. Life is too short for the coulda, shoulda, woulda’s folks.
Grab life by the balls and give a tug. Make it moan. Make it scream. Make it amazing. Life needs all the awesomeness we have, in any way we can offer it.
This is why I write.
So to the readers out there that made it to the end of my rant, thank you. I hope you get a chance to read my book. Enjoy it. There’s plenty more to come.