Why I “Self” Publish

I aspire to have a series published traditionally.  I still do, even though I’m an indie author, so you might wonder why I chose this route?

I was not one of the millions of authors inundated with rejection letters.  I made this decision for a different reason.  I honestly believe the market is changing, and trade publishing can’t keep up with the stories I want to tell.

You see, I’m still shopping around a novel.  Technically, it’s my first novel – although it bears little resemblance to what it did the first time I managed to type “the end”.  After writing 35 other books, I went back and polished it up, fixed the glaring plot holes, and whacked out some darlings.

I wrote the book two years ago.  Yes, you saw that right.  TWO years ago.  Not 10, not 20, but just 2.  Since then I hammered out 34 other books, learned a LOT, and bought a few new keyboards.  I work with editors, artists, and already have my own administrative assistant.  I’ve already brought a business from obscurity to profit making.  I already know how to market myself, even if my skills are in an area not related to books.  And in those two years, while frantically decreasing the storage on my hard drive while increasing my count of  “finished” novels, I realized something.

Traditional publishing can’t keep up.  It takes them two years to publish a book, from contract signing to release.  It takes another year before that (at least) to find an agent.  It could take up to five years to get a check!  In other words, I must either do this as a hobby, and be pleased that I got chosen as a golden child by the industry, or I can do it myself, my way, and risk the chance of falling into obscurity.

But I never wanted to be famous.

I separate my books into the kind that are a nice, fun read, and those that would be kept on a shelf for future generations.  My plan is simple: publish the quick reads on kindle, market for page reads (through Kindle Unlimited) instead of ebook sales, and keep improving the longevity books until they are picked up and printed by a respected old style publishing house.

With so many books nearly finished (they just need a little polishing) I can release approximately 2 per month, keeping my readers happy and fueling my own desire to write more, write better, and tell a story like no one has seen before.

In other words, I chose to be an independent author because it makes sense.  I believe the world of books is changing, and I want to be on the leading edge.  We’re experiencing a renaissance of art thanks to the digital revolution, and I want to ride that wave.

Introducing the Wolf of Oberhame

When We Were Kings is the story of two people the world thought were unimportant.  Leyli was born a princess in a male-dominated nation.  Her goal in life is to secure a good marriage for the country, preferably one that comes with a nice title and a good alliance.

Tristan grew up a farmer’s boy, until he tried his hand at being a blacksmith.  Being very bad at it, he quickly fell into debt.  In Norihame, that means being sold into the gladiatorial arena, a gift from the culture of the neighboring country.  If he can live through 250 games, he can get his life back.  If not, he’ll be dead.

Then Leyli’s cousin decides he deserves to be heir to the throne.  His first step is to kill her brother, putting him next in line.  His second is to get rid of her.  When she finds herself walking onto the sands to fight to the death, she doesn’t know why she’s still alive.  The sheltered princess can only assume killing a woman was too distasteful for her arrogant cousin.  Easier to let the gladiators do it.

No one expected that the girl in the delicate pink dress could last a single round, let alone four of them – except the man in the cell beside her.  Called the Lion of Lenlochlien, Tristan has almost earned his freedom – just fifty fights to go – when he sees the terrified girl with a spark in her eye.  Her fear is normal.  Everyone forced to fight to the death is afraid.  Her refusal to give up isn’t.

To his surprise, they end up chained together for the next fight.  The veteran gladiators picked their partner from the handful of novices who managed to stay alive.  They will be fighting tandem: one gets a sword, the other a shield.  When she heard that the best fighter picked last, Leyli made sure she’d be with the Lion.  It wasn’t hard.  She’s just a scared little girl in a world made of killers.

But side by side, Leyli and Tristan compliment each other.  His size, her speed.  His strength, her intelligence.  They’re a team to be terrified of, and his owner notices.  Bought to be the Lion’s pet, Leyli plans to learn everything from the man who has survived so long.  She didn’t expect him to teach her what it’s like to have a true friend.

But his last fight is one he simply cannot win.  No man can.  The only person who can save Tristan now is the little girl in the delicate pink dress.  The world wrote her off, but Leyli’s not going to just give up.  The odds are stacked against her, but who said the damsel in distress can’t fight back?


And the book is live!  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015QX2DZU

It seems everyone wants to write a book

You wrote a book?

I always find it funny when people are shocked by this, but no, I didn’t write **A** book.  I have 3 completed novels, 12 in first draft “stewing” before I start edits, and a total of 34 books in some state of completion with 3 discarded because they had major flaws.  At what point does a book count as “written”?

For me, it’s when it’s released to the public.  Until then, it’s just a story on a page that I can keep tweaking, playing with, and changing – so not “done”.  For others, it’s when they finally get to write “The End” on the last page.

Don’t get me wrong.  I remember how it felt to do that the first time.  It was 2 years ago.  There is a moment of shock and awe.  Almost a panicked feeling.  It’s when you realize that you have finished what you set out to do, and you’re not even done, yet.  There’s pride.  Oh, so much pride, because writing a book is impressive.  Personally, I can’t say it’s hard, but I know a lot of people think it is.

See, as soon as I finished my first book, I opened up a new document and started the second in the series.  The story would NOT let go of me.  And so, here I am, with a hard drive filled with documents that will soon be novels.  Right now they are just stories.

But I have 34 of them ready to inspire someone else.  THIRTY-FOUR books, set in twenty-one unique worlds.  Romance, science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, and more.  When people try to do the polite thing, and say “Oh, you wrote a book?  That is amazing!”  I always feel a little bad.  No, I wrote many books, and I’m not close to stopping.

My family are the worst.  They act like it’s either some cute thing a puppy did (look at the piddle on the carpet!) or as if I’ve just performed a miracle (it will cure cancer!  Just read it!).  Neither is true.

You see, I’m an artist.  I grew up painting and drawing.  I moved into dance.  I spent years working on music.  Now, I’m writing.  I love dance and literature the most, but I’m also not 16 – sorry ballet, you were great when my joints could take it.  I create things.  I’m kinda good at it, too.  For me, writing books is just the next logical step in my evolution as a person, and I hope the ideas don’t ever stop.

Yes, I wrote a book… a few of them.  It changed MY life.

The birth of a Cover

How a cover starts.  For the first time, I am actively involved in not only arranging, but also designing the cover models of a book.  Above are Tristan and Leyli, from my soon to be released book “When We Were Kings”.  As you might be able to tell, it’s about gladiators.

My artist has been working hard to get in the ball park of what I asked for.  Tristan needs to be a proper gladiator.  Leyli needs to have second hand weapons and attire.  He’s fit and toned, she’s weak but resilient.  Most of all, don’t want her to look like she is willing to cower.  I think we’re getting close.  Now to have a few tweaks, make my artist want to kill me a little more, and see how it all turns out for the finished project.  (I’ll be sure to post that as well!)

And thanks to Jason for working so hard to fit in every detail I said had to be there.  Promise, I’ll make it up to you!

Why I am not a feminist

Before anyone gets up in arms, let me be clear that I support feminism and whole-heartedly believe in the ideals, but refuse to wear the lable for one simple reason.  I do not want to see the pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction.  I am an equalitarian, and I fear that good men are getting tromped to pieces in the fight against the bad ones.

Feminism, by its very nature, is about pointing out the sexism in just about everything.  To do this, we often make bold statements.  Nothing wrong so far, right?  Except that humans are humans, and the reader sees someone say “I really like pink” and thinks that means “so I don’t like blue!”  Well, let me assure you, I kinda like blue, and pink, and even green.

After writing Challenge Accepted (on a dare, I might add) I realized something.  We often scream about too few females represented in media, and yet I’d just written a story about one girl in a sea of men.  The supporting characters were amazing.  The culture was so accurate that my beta readers laughed, recognizing conversations they’d had on teamspeak.  Men, men, and more men were shown to be intelligent, sensitive, strong, and engaging.  And there was just one little girl trying hard to be the stereotype for all women….


Riley is the central figure.  She’s a woman breaking into a male dominated culture, but she’s doing her best to drag more women along with her.  Initially, the “other women” exist off screen.  By the end of the book they begin to make cameos, and let me assure you, in the rest of the series, many more rear their heads.  But that doesn’t affect Challenge Accepted (Book 1 of the Eternal Combat Series).  It’s still a venue with one lone girl in a mass of diverse male characters.

But the author was trying to accomplish something with those men, too.  I happen to know, because **I** wrote it.

The main hero is strong, socially powerful, and financially sufficient.  He’s amazingly cliche – at first.  But Logan never reacts with violence.  His best defence is his intelligence.  He’s calm, stoic, and hides his own insecurities, but isn’t ashamed of them.  He’s sexy – as he’s meant to be – but much of that is just a mask he wears when he has to.  Under all of it is a person just like everyone else in the world.

And he’s not alone.  From Fizz the pudgy guy with a sweet smile to Cynister, the freak that just isn’t right, but everyone loves hanging out with, the men in this book are much more than rock hard abs and big wallets.  They love their wives, are proud of their kids, and brag about their dogs.  Ironically, in a book about sexism in gaming, these guys aren’t sexist – at least not intentionally.

But they are swayed by their culture.  Sometimes they do sexist things, but when it’s pointed out that the heroine is offended, they try to change and apologize.  Other times, they go out of their way to make fun of it, and tease Riley with their sexist jokes – but all in good fun.

You see, as much as we women hate the misogyny in the world, we aren’t alone.  Those sexist pigs are a very small, but oh so vocal minority in our lives.  When we try to squash them to bits, we forget about the sweet and supportive men that get caught in the crossfire.  Our husbands, friends, sons, and such.  The louder we yell about horrible evil men, the more they doubt themselves.  The more society pays attention, the greater the chance that they will get caught in the crossfire.  

Society taught them to act a certain way.  The women they love want something else.  In the end, there’s a huge, silent majority of men out there balancing precariously on a tightrope as the world changes around them.  The least we can do is cheer them on.

Getting back up

Fall down seven times, stand up eight.  I think the above image (found through google in a jillion places) is a beautiful depiction of that sentiment.  It’s also one of my favorite themes.

I don’t write in any specific genre.  I write in the world that my story needs.  Sometimes that’s a contemporary romance, sometimes it’s hard core fantasy, sometimes it’s a mixture of everything.  The goal isn’t just to make a cool world that has its own people, culture, and references, but to make real emotions.  The story should make us feel – which is why I need to write it.

They consume me.  I didn’t want to be a writer.  Nope, I had other plans for my life, and then I sat down one day and started typing.  I’ve always loved the way it feels to have the keys click under my fingers.  Seeing the words spill onto the page is almost magical.  Reading the stories that I wished someone else would write?  There just aren’t words for how that feels.

I remember wishing, as a child, that Anne McCaffrey would have a story about a dragon that wasn’t like the others.  And then The White Dragon was released.  I almost felt like that story was mine.  I’d never contacted her.  I didn’t say a word about it to anyone.  It was just a thought in my head about a story that I thought should be told, and there she was telling it.

I think all books should be like that.  Somewhere, in the massive world we live in, is a person wishing they could find the story that burns inside them – and when they can’t, they take that first leap.

Oh, I’ve read plenty.  Looking back, I realize that I wrote more than I thought, but I wasn’t a writer.  That wasn’t in me.  I didn’t have the patience for something like that.  And yet, over and over, I heard people say they wished they could write a book.  They had a story.  Everyone had a story… except me.  But I was wrong.

It started on the worst day of my life.  I couldn’t take it anymore and just wanted to escape reality for a bit.  My options weren’t good.  Broke, dejected, and desperate, I wanted my own personal hell to just leave me alone for a few hours, so I began typing.  I could have made other choices, like drugs or suicide, but my computer was right there, and it was just easier.  I typed, and forgot about everything, including my own misery.

A month later, my first book was done.  I’d been shoved down, and learned to stand up in my own way – by living someone else’s life.  That story led to another, and then another.  Now, there are over 30 books  on my hard drive begging to get that final touch that makes them good enough for the beta readers to review.  And I have one available for the public.

As I’m writing this, more than 500 people have purchased or borrowed my book.  It’s not much, but it hasn’t even been two weeks.  That’s five HUNDRED people who are reading a story that started in MY head.  Knowing I have influenced someone else’s life is a very strange feeling, but I think it’s a good one.

It means I’m an author, and I have the power to show people how to fall down and keep getting up.  I make them see that strength isn’t about muscles or brains.  It had nothing to do with gender or how we were born.  All that matters is that we dare to dream, and keep on dreaming, because everyone’s story matters.


A picture makes the best inspiration.  Coming soon: When We Were Kings.

Leylani Aravatti was raised to be a proper little princess: polite, quiet, and dreaming of a future as a nobleman’s wife.  Her cousin takes that out of her hands when he sells her into the gladiatorial games.  No one would have expected the dainty girl to live through her first fight – but she’s the daughter of a king, from a long line of warriors who fought against the massive Rhian Empire.  She isn’t going to just give up and die.

And fate gives her a helping hand.  In the cell beside her is the Lion of Lenlochlien.  With hundreds of wins, he’s got the knowledge and experience to keep her alive.  He’s ruthless, he’s terrifying, and he’s about to be her partner.  It’s an advantage, and she’ll take anything she can get, even if the man is known for killing those who slow him down.  These men think that being a woman made her weak and expendable, but she’s going to show them that she’s a bitch.  She’s also smarter than all of them.  She is the Wolf of Oberhame.

Coming Soon – Gamers!

Most people play some form of video games.  From cell phones to consoles, with a few PC gamers still hanging on, we don’t have to be children to find the joy in them.  Not anymore.

When Riley’s parents died, she inherited the family horse farm.  Times are tough, and sales are non-existent, but she will not let their dream die because of her.  She doesn’t care what it takes, she’ll keep the farm going.

She’s spent her life flipping off the world, and now it’s coming back to bite her in the ass.  There’s only one thing she’s ever been good at: first person shooter video games.  Unfortunately, the professional gaming scene is a boy’s world.  Hopefully, that means they’ll never see her coming.  Seven years ago she tried to break into the scene – and it almost worked – until someone started spreading it around that she was sleeping her way to the top.

They say her gender has nothing to do with it.  They say it’s all about how many kills she gets.  So, Riley is ready to prove her point.  For years she’s been building a new reputation with a new character name.  When she goes head to head with the best FPS player in the scene, the last thing she expects is respect.  Even more shocking?  He invites her to the Professional League of Gamers Tournament.  If she can place well enough, then a professional contract – and paycheck – is hers.

Unfortunately, to get it, she’ll have to show her face.  They’ll all know she’s a girl, including Void, the man who rules the scene.  Will he be as impressed when he finds out that she’s not just one of the guys?  Can she really make a living doing something she loves?  Most importantly, is she willing to throw away everything in order to break down the glass ceiling that’s been holding her back for so long?

Challenge Accepted dives right into the world of hardcore gamers and the insanity of their lives.  In a virtual world, the friendships are still real, and often, they last through many lives.

Strong Female Characters

Have you ever noticed that a “strong” woman is one that’s almost as good as a man?  Oh, I’m not saying that women are the same as men, but equal doesn’t mean identical.  I’m a strong woman.  I can’t lift much more than 50 pounds at a time, but I can run my own business.  One is not better than the other, but both types of strength deserve to be valued for what they are.

I’m a voracious reader.  In the last couple of years, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of female leads.  The Hunger Games, Divergent, and so many more.  Angelina Jolie played Salt.  Ghost Busters is being redone with an all female cast.  Someone has figured out that women can actually do more than wear bikinis and be available for easy sex.  Oddly, that hasn’t resulted in a lot of STRONG female characters.

A lot of “not weak” ladies doesn’t mean they should be called strong.  Here’s how I see it:

A weak female character is the typical damsel in distress.  She’s picked up and held in the tower to further some man’s storyline.  She has no agency of her own.  She isn’t allowed to do anything that might have any effect on anything.  Her only job is to have some nice boobs and fall madly in love with the man who rescues her.  She’s a prop.  She’s no more human than a vase sitting on a shelf, but there’s a good chance that she’s awfully nice to look at.

Then we have today’s modern women characters.  Some people call them strong simply because they have agency.  These ladies can make up their mind and have unique ideas.  The problem is that they can’t do anything about them on their own.  When they are kidnapped and taken to the tower, they say, “I need to get out of here.”  The man in the cell beside them tells them how to do it, then proceeds to hold her hand the entire time.  Without HIM, she never would have managed to get a thing done.  Oh, she’s capable, but only as a part of a team.  She’s the ever present sidekick.  The Harley Quinn to their Joker.

After them are the Strong Female Characters.  These women get kidnapped and placed in the tower, work with the man to form the plan, and then do exactly as much good as him to get free.  They are strong.  They are capable.  Yet, they are never allowed to do a single thing BETTER than their partner.  She kills the exact same number of evil villains as he does.  She frees exactly the same number of people.  If he unlocks the door to their cell, she unlocks the door that gets them out of the tower.  I love reading/watching these ladies in modern stories.  To me, they are wonderful, strong, and such a refreshing change of pace.  But they aren’t MY strong ladies.

When I write stories, I like to make insanely strong female characters.  If the bad guy does kidnap them and lock them in the tower, she’ll be the one that breaks out the hottie in the cell beside her, probably making him worship her in the process.  Then, she’ll save all the slaves, show her boy toy how to get out, using the strength of the person most capable to do it, and send everyone off to live happily ever after – but she’s not done.  As soon as her friends are safe, she’ll blow up the tower, ride to the villain’s lair, kick his ass, get revenge for every wrong, and take part in not only overthrowing the corrupt government, but also instilling a new and better designed one.  After which she goes home to cry on her daddy’s shoulder, introduce the hottie to her mom, and maybe have a wonderful family.

In other words, I don’t think the ladies can never be better than the man.  Sometimes she’s the brain and he’s the brawn.  Sometimes it’s the other way around.  Just like men can be the hero, so can the women.  You see, I grew up playing games, watching movies, and reading books, wishing that I could be bad ass, too.  The world told me I wasn’t pretty enough (no matter how pretty I was, it wasn’t enough), I couldn’t be smart enough unless I was pretty enough, and I would never ever be as good as a man in the same field – unless I wanted to specialize in raising babies.  Problem is, I kinda hate kids.

I would hate to see another generation of girls who grow up thinking that they are almost good enough to save the world.  My stories may not appeal to everyone, but if just one girl reads one and thinks, “Hey, if I put my mind to it, I can do it!” then I’ve done my job as an author.  If one boy reads my books and thinks, “Wow, women are just like me.” then I’ve changed the world – one mind at a time.

Being strong isn’t about how much a person can lift.  It’s about something so much deeper than that.  It’s the strength to fall down seven times and get up eight.  That’s it.

What’s in my Head

Some authors have another world living in their head.  I have a universe.

These range from contemporary romances, like One More Day, to flights of fancy, like Black and White.  I dwell in urban fantasies where djinni and undines mingle with earth elementals called humans, then move to ancient times where Roman-like  citizens learn they are the bastard children of gods.  From princess gladiators to science fiction corporate monarchies, I wallow in them all.

To me, they are all important.  I love strong female characters.  Not “men with boobs” but real women, with real women’s issues, who do real girly things (uh, whatever that is).  I write about ladies who kick ass and ladies who get their asses kicked.  I write about winners and losers, brave people and cowards.  My beta readers never know what will hit them next.  Sometimes they are good guys, and sometimes they aren’t.  It doesn’t matter.  All that matters is the way a story makes you feel when you reach the last line.

And I love them all.  From Riley to Khellian, my characters take on a life of their own, and I must help them tell the world their history.  For a moment in time, they live in my head, and I have to be true to them.

I never thought I’d be an author.  As a child I liked to draw.  As a teen I loved music and dance.  In college, I tried hard to do what I “should”, so studied biology.  I worked with animals and people.  I had jobs in offices and at home.  For the most part, I was never happy, until I started writing this stupid little story, just to get it out of my head.

And now, I can’t stop.  I typically manage between 4k and 15k words a day (average is about 10k, unless I need to do research).  I let the characters live, usually with a cat on my chest and a dog curled up at my feet, because this – telling their stories – is my job.