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 …

Freaking typos.

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?