Wednesday, August 13, 2014

THE INDIE AUTHOR JOURNEY



Actually, I think "My Journey to Publication" might have been a better title for this post...


When I was growing up, the only thing I ever dreamed about was being a professional writer. Today Amazon sent me an email inviting me to create an author page. This probably sounds lame to some people, but it’s an exciting step to me. My own official author page! I realize for self-published and indie authors that it’s an on-going struggle to get your books out into the world, and hopefully make some money in the process.

Like every writer, I am incredibly passionate about my work. The main reason I write is because I love to do it. Not for the money. No, because I love creating characters. I love crafting suspense. And I love telling stories—my kind of stories.

Writing has always been my true passion. This was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to publish novels. I dreamed of being a professional author since I was seven years old, and I enjoy writing both adult and young adult tales.

Best-selling author, Tracy Hickman was quoted as saying, Don’t seek to be published, seek to be read.”

Simple words. Great advice. It made so much sense. Write for your readers. Write what you love. Write every day and don’t give up.

Our dreams should give us wings. Let us fly. Soar above the clouds. And we should never, ever have to look down. Right?

Being a voracious reader all of my life, I believe my writing style differs from the other young adult paranormals being published; because my stories tend to have elements of chilling suspense weaved into the plot. Nor are my stories always focused primarily on “love.” But there is a lot of kissing!

Yet I do write about people who fall in love under unusual circumstances. Not because I like a conventional happy ending—no, I write about love because I believe it’s the strongest human emotion we possess. And sometimes my character’s choices don’t get them a happy ending. Sometimes the endings are surprising. Sometimes bittersweet. Sometimes they end with a cliffhanger. But I hope they are never boring or too predictable. 
I was so excited this past week when three glowing reviews  of Beautifully Broken showed up on various book review blogs. Yay! And not so excited when two not-so-nice reviews were posted. But that’s okay. I knew not everyone would like my brand of storytelling. I knew I was going to need thick skin. 

Still, I sincerely appreciate every reader who has bought my book. Even if you didn’t like it that much. My main ambition is just to be a good storyteller and take my readers on a journey with me. One I hope most readers will find entertaining and enjoyable.

How did I start?

Well, like I said, I’ve been writing since I was seven. I’ve written a lot of books over the years. Yeah, a lot of bad books, too. I went to college, but mostly took creative writing and English classes. I couldn’t go full-time because I had a family to look after, but I did take various writing courses for the past ten years.

To be honest, I’ve tried three times in my life to find a literary agent, aka the gatekeepers to the publishing world, without success. I’ve even had a few prominent agencies request my work. Looking back, I know what I did wrong. I didn’t have any critique partners. The manuscript wasn’t tightened up and polished. I didn’t hire a freelance editor. I thought it was good. Well, it sucked. Hence, the multiple rejections. Which also sucked.

I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot since then. I hope I have.

The turning point in my life came when, like so many people across the United States, I lost my job. I feel into a deep, dark depression. To escape my utter hopelessness and to be productive, I decided to try writing again. I rewrote an old story that I still believed in, but knew it still needed some major revision. Maybe this was a sign from God to try to get published after all these years. I wrote every day for months, then started query agents and editors again. No luck. More rejections.

 I worked part-time and kept writing. I started editing a manuscript that I wrote about nine years ago called, “IMMORTAL ECLIPSE.” I did some freelance developmental editing to pay the rent. Then I was laid off again and after a few months, my unemployment ended. I was scared. No job. No money in my checking account and my savings account had been closed by my bank. Zero funds.

Time to freak out. I was a single mother with two young children to support. But no way to support them. Then I discovered that my seven-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a severe and very rare disease. The medical bills began to mount up. I needed money.

In my heart, I still didn’t want to give up on my dream. It was all I had left to encourage me…

Once I gave up the idea of a book deal with a New York publishing house and finding an über agent that loved my work, I decided to look into indie publishers. Then I read about Amanda Hocking’s success story on her blog. I was impressed and awed. She had taken a chance, so I decided to self-publish one of my early novels. Why not? I talked it over with my family—who agreed. I had nothing to lose. And since I was out of a job, I had time to promote my work.

Then some of my family members announced that they wanted to start an online publishing company. And guess what? I was the first to sign with them. Sure, they’re small but everyone has to start somewhere. So, they didn’t mind when I wanted to hire my own cover artist. (Do not be naïve—book covers sell books. Well, that and good writing.)

Going Indie is a scary endeavor. On occasion things don’t work out. Books don’t sell. The genre dead ends. Bad timing. Worse luck.

But indie authors can find a small amount of success due to the book blogging community, which is so incredibly supportive. And I sincerely thank the book reviewers who have embraced and heartily praised my novels.
Although, I may never reach the success of other self-published or indie authors, I won’t look back at my life someday with regret. At least I’ll know I tried, and that’s something, right? You only fail if you never try…

“If you’re waiting for the universe to provide for you, I’ve got a feeling you’re going to wait a long time. If you know what you want, then my advice is to confidently take the necessary steps and go get it.” – Bryan Hutchinson
 So, now I need to get back to editing and writing new stories. No reason to let these manuscripts sit on my hard-drive. Maybe someone will enjoy reading them. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll keep dreaming and hoping, and someday those hopes and dreams will come true. Maybe not.

But what good are dreams if you don’t try? What good is trying to follow your heart if it can’t be turned into reality?

Never let someone else put limits on your goals or hinder your own personal dreams. I know, I won’t....

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ten Fun Facts about the Starlight Saga - #StarlightSaga




1.) I believe in the paranormal genre that aliens and science fiction type stories are going to be the next big thing. Add a little romance…even better. Vampires had their time, werewolves are overworked, and even though zombies are still going strong, I think extraterrestrials need some love now, too.

2.) My newest romance novel, LOST IN STARLIGHT, is considered “soft” science fiction, and the storyline revolves more around the two main characters trying to overcome major obstacles to be together. It’s like an intergalactic version of Romeo and Juliet, with scorching-hot character chemistry right from the beginning. Hayden and Sloane share a strong attraction and mutual interest in one another and become best friends, which make the best kind of love stories in my humble opinion.

3.) From the very first draft, I wanted to add something a little unique and special to Sloane’s quirky character. Thus, FRIGHT NIGHT BABBLE, her online newspaper column was born. I think the short, humorous posts every few chapters adds a fun element to the narrative. My last few books were so angst-ridden and dark that I wanted to write something lighter, but still thrilling and romantic.

4.) The island that the characters live on is actually a real place within the San Francisco Bay Area. Although the name Winter Haven is fictional, the actual island is named Alameda, and it’s a lovely city to visit. I would love to live there! “Winter Haven” (Alameda) is located on Alameda Island and Bay Farm Island, and is adjacent to west Oakland and within the East Bay.

5.) LOST IN STARLIGHT is the fastest book that I’ve ever written. It took me only about four months to write and do revisions. I had the idea in the back of my mind for about a year now, but it wasn’t until a short-lived TV show called “Star-Crossed” convinced me that alien love stories were super hot right now. And I was extremely lucky and blessed to have worked with some very talented writers that really helped me to shape the book into the thrilling storyline it is now.

6.) The Starlight Saga will be a trilogy; unless of course, it goes viral and readers clamor for more Sloane and Hayden adventures. Then I’ll happily keep writing more novels featuring this quirky and lovable cast of characters. (I know readers will fall in love with Hayden along with Sloane.)

7.) Sloane is by far my favorite character. Most authors admit that a little bit of themselves goes into each protagonist, but Sloane is near and dear to my heart. If a headstrong, gutsy, and imperfect heroine with an eccentric fashion sense appeals to you, then you'll love Sloane, too. 

8.) In LOST IN STARLIGHT, there isn’t the insta-love or love triangle that is popular in so many YA books nowadays. This is the real deal. The book is meant for older YA readers and does contain some mild language. The characters are all eighteen years old, except for Sloane who is only seventeen in this first book.

9.) The names of the two main characters came to me instantly. They just seemed to fit perfectly. Some of the secondary characters had a few name changes during rewrites, but Sloane and Hayden’s never varied.

10.) One day, I was browsing images on a stock photo site and as soon as I saw the image of that purpled-haired girl (the female image featured on the book cover), I just knew that I’d found my “Sloane.” This photo completely inspired me to write her story and make Sloane different from most YA heroines. Hayden’s image, featured on the front cover beside his darker haired younger brother, seemed to perfectly fit the character I had envisioned, too.

So there you have it! Ten random facts about the Starlight Saga!

 
Buy LOST IN STARLIGHT (Volume 1)

ISBN 978-0692224427 / ASIN B00L89JAB2

Genre Upper YA Romance



Paperback Edition: http://amzn.to/1lUM5Hp




Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1muANKA






All Romance: http://bit.ly/1nBXloM