My first book released on September 1, 2015. That means I’ve been an author for about three and a half months. I’ve been a writer for a whole lot longer!
Now, I’m not one of those people who can say I was “born” to write, or anything like that. I never really thought of things like that, but I always enjoyed the arts. Ever since I was a child, I liked painting and drawing. Considering my mother is an amazing painter, this makes sense. In junior high, I took to music. Through my life, I’ve learned to play the flute, french horn, bass clarinet, tuba, bassoon, and more. I was never exceptional at it, but I did love the art of music.
Then there’s the words. Looking back, I can put the pieces together. In fourth grade, I wrote my first “story”. It was about a girl and a unicorn – duh! The assignment for school was to write a one page story… I wrote twenty-seven. It just happened. Then there was the one in high school. A creative writing assignment that took hold of me. In college, I decided to write a book. The plan was to do something with World War II snipers, to feature the hardships of Russian women at the time. Yeah, I think I made five pages before giving up. I just thought I wasn’t cut out for this.
Then, somewhere along the way, an idea began growing in my head. It was just an idea I followed when I couldn’t sleep. Laying in bed, I would wonder what this alien creature would do, and spent a lot of time pondering the “what ifs”. In 2013, I had a month long vacation and no money to enjoy it, so I sat down and tried to get some of those words into print.
Four weeks later, the iliri were born. Now, in January of 2016, only a handful of people know about them (love you, beta readers), but those beasties – and the novice writing mistakes I made – were my first book. I quickly hashed out four novels in the series, taking three months to get eyes on them.
THEN, I spent a year learning the tricks to putting words together. Yep, for a year I had multiple finished books, but no faith in them because I didn’t know how to properly tag dialogue or why certain paragraphs felt annoying (sentence variation!). What I did have a lot of were stories.
Within 25 months I plotted out 35 novels. Many are in various stages of completion. A few have been shelved for weak characterization, over-done tropes, and the like. More have come to me. Right now, I have 9 unique universes, hundreds of imaginary friends, and stories that I think others will love. The problem is that I need to get them out to my readers.
This isn’t a job that can be done alone. Each book requires so many people. I have a group of four beta readers who will always be there when I need them, and countless others willing to put eyes on a new book in it’s rough stage. I have an editing friend who does an amazing job of smacking me around when I try to give eyes their own personality, but hates metaphors. I have a cheerleader who is right there to research anything I ask for, and she keeps me focused on the goals I’ve set. Then there’s my cover artist. Oh, he is going to kill me one day! As often as I send back concept art for minor changes, it’s shocking that he actually likes me.
But I’m still working on the most important thing: readers.
I have a wonderful group of fans who have sent letters, left comments, and most of all, taken the time to review my two released novels. I still want more. I want to reach thousands, to give them a chance to escape the monotony of daily life for a few hours, to build worlds in their minds with endless possibilities, and to bring a smile to their face or a tear to the eye. I want to give people a break from the real world, because we all need one.
This means marketing. Marketing isn’t about getting rich (I’m an artist, that never happens!), it’s about making people FEEL. It’s about reminding us what life was like “back then” when things were better, or how we can move on when it’s just too hard to imagine. Books are about exploring the human condition, even when no humans are involved.
I’m getting there. It hasn’t been long and I’m still a novice author, but I have no intention of quitting. The list of books in my line-up is sitting at 27. The Spotted Horse Productions team is in full gear. 2016 is going to be a big year for us and I hope that all of you come along for the ride.