Friday, July 4, 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, June 18, 2014

Worst Blogger Ever - #StarlightSaga



Today’s post is a bit more personal. First off, I am the WORST-BLOGGER-EVER.



I never know what to write that will be entertaining and witty and interesting to read. Mainly because I basically have no life. I write full-time, so that means I work at home. I am a single parent with two kids to support and not a lot of extra money to go out and do things. Which equals = boring person.


My days are filled with reading, watching Netflix, writing my own novels, and freelance editing other writer’s work. In between projects, I do marketing and promoting online. Right now, I’ve spent the last two months contacting book reviewers and bloggers almost daily to humbly ask them to participate in my summer promo for my newest novel.

Since I am an Indie author most of marketing of my book(s) rests on my shoulders. It sucks because it takes away from my “writing time” but if I don’t spend countless hours plugging my novels, then the reality is that no one knows about my work. That said, book bloggers are some of the most generous and supportive people on the planet. I owe such a massive debt of gratitude to bloggers everywhere for sharing the book love. Without their enthusiastic support, a lot of indie writers wouldn’t be successful, so a heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you.

But back to the topic of this rambling post. Because I have no life, I don’t have much to blog about. When my friends call and ask me, “So what’s new?” I always have the same answer, “Nothing much.” Like I said, Borrring.

You know what irks me the most? That some people don’t think that I have an actual job. They say things like, “Well, maybe you need to get a real job.” But I have one!!!

I used to be very social and outgoing. I had loads of friends and did lots of activities on the weekends. Now I’ve become somewhat of a recluse and rarely leave the house. Sure, I’ve read working-from-home health instructions that suggest you take a walk outside to get some exercise, but you don’t really worry about it until after weeks of spending all day at your computer, and then one bright sunny day you step outside for the first time in a month and blink at the sun like a vampire and realize how long it’s been since you’ve left the house. And that it’s been that long since you put on “real” clothes or even shoes. The internet and my email, along with other social media have become my only links to the outside world. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “This chick needs to get a life!” LOL


When strangers learn that I’m a fiction writer, most of these people seem to automatically assume that I stay at home and do little or nothing with my day, for which I get paid little to nothing. They tend to think that I spend my time watching TV or napping.

But the truth is that I’ve never worked harder in my entire life. One reason that I have no life is because I do write for a living. I sit at my desk from eight in the morning to sometimes six or seven o’clock in the evening. Most days it’s nine hours at the very least. There are very little breaks in there. Most of them are the run-to-the-bathroom or quickly-grab-food-drink type breaks.

The only person who is allowed to bug me is the cat. She sleeps on a shelf above my desk or tries to curl up in my lap, but it is difficult to type while cuddling Kitty Kuteness. This is how I spend my time six or seven days a week. When the kids go to their dad’s house on the weekend, I will be on the computer for twelve to fifteen hours straight writing, editing, or promoting my work.

Yes, the housework gets ignored at times. The laundry often piles up. And meal times are skipped. Until my income is a bit more secure, then this crazy lifestyle will continue. I have no choice. I’m paid by how many books get sold each month, so I must keep writing and keep marketing daily.

Besides occasionally going to the movies with my teenage son, visiting the local bookstore, or doing the dreaded grocery shopping, I don’t get out much anymore. Actually, I don’t really mind. I love being a writer and working from home.


As a full-time writer, you get to be deeply engrossed in the characters you create and the stories you imagine all day long, and it becomes an obsession. Or addiction. As soon as I finish writing a book, I get both a feeling of accomplishment and a touch of sadness. If you’re a writer like me, you want to stay in that world and keep living vicariously through your characters.

Why in the world would I ever want to get a so-called “real job”?

I love going to work in my PJs or sweat pants every day. I love that I don’t have to commute to an outside day job. I love that I can take a break whenever I feel like it. I love being creative and productive. In other words, I love my freakin’ job. I feel so blessed and grateful to get to be a writer and do what I love.  

Which brings me to my newest novel. LOST IN STARLIGHT, which is the first book that I’ve ever written where the words just poured out of me and onto the page. (Or Word program.)


I wanted to write something sweet and romantic and fun. No angst or darkness or supernatural danger. I tend to write darker fiction, but I needed a breather from all that.

Deep down, I am a hopeless romantic. I’m a sucker for romantic gestures and I melt when guys I’ve dated have said passionate things to me. With this book, I wanted to create a hero who was charming, sexy, and thoughtful. A sensitive male character who was also tough and protective. I wanted snarky and amusing dialogue, combined with red-hot chemistry between my two main characters. I wanted it to be lighter and less angsty. Sloane and Hayden may have to keep their relationship a secret from the world because it is dangerous, but they both feel like it’s worth the risk. Can’t get much more romantic then that, right?


Another thing I like about my new series is that it pokes harmless fun at the paranormal romance genre and its overused clichés. It jokes about the tropes used in thrillers and horror films. And I think the storyline is unique. It stars an unconventional heroine combined with a riveting love story. First love is powerful and exciting. I don’t know anyone who can’t remember the first person that they fell head-over-heels for. Most of these tales are bittersweet and never forgotten. Just like Sloane and Hayden, this friendship turned romance will change their lives forever.


I might be boring and a loner, but writing stories is my passion. It is what moves me and lights up my soul. Creating tales of fiction is what gives me joy and feels my heart with happiness. There is nothing else I’d rather do with my time or my life. I am appreciative of every reader that buys a copy of my books so that I can continue to do what I love. I am thankful for every review positive or negative. Mostly I am so fortunate to get to share my stories with all of you.


In closing, I hope anyone reading this post continues to support me and enjoys LOST IN STARLIGHT. I might never be on the New York Times bestseller list or become wealthy, but I get to spend my days following my dream, and that is rewarding enough.

Peace, love, and reading,

Sherry