Friday, March 4, 2016

I can't believe it's been five years!

FIVE YEARS? IT CAN'T BE!

Yep, five years ago, I turned in an assignment in Creative Writing that changed my life. My semester project morphed into Accountable to None. Other students in the class, as well as my wonderful instructor, encouraged me to do something with the story because all of them enjoyed it.

Back in March of 2011, I had no idea how the publishing industry worked, other than big name authors whose works I loved to read were published in New York. After some research, my head hurt. The thought of sending out query letters to agents, waiting so long for a response I'd be an old woman by the time a rejection letter arrived, made my head spin. Then, an article about self-publishing through Kindle popped up in my search bar.

The concept was intriguing, so I gave it a shot. Honestly, all I wanted to know was if others would enjoy my story. My instructor and others who read the original content, seemed to, yet I wanted real, unbiased opinions. My original intent was to see if others agreed, and if so, then maybe give serious consideration to penning the sequel.

At the time, I didn't understand all the ins and outs of creating an ebook. Oh, and the mere thought of making an actual, physical book, made my stomach jerk into a knot. To say I made some huge mistakes in the first few years is putting it mildly. I'm talking HUGE mistakes, some which still haunt me in the form of a few nasty reviews.

I deserved them because I had no clue what I was doing. Did they hurt? You bet. Some of them actually made me cry. Did I give up? No way, even after reading some comments that cut to the bone. Why? Because I was hooked on writing.

So, here I am, twelve books and one poetry collection later. Honing my craft, learning from each book written. Won a few awards for my works, and had several novels optioned for film. Had the opportunity to help write the screenplay of Foreseen, based on my award-winning novel, The Lie. So many wonderful people, including the amazing Sabrina Stewart, Executive Producer of Foreseen, as well as the entire cast and crew, dedicated their time, energy, money, and skills making the movie. I'm still overwhelmed by the fact my story touched them enough to do it!

I learned how to use Photoshop and other programs to create book covers and the interiors. Through trial and error, I started a blog, designed my website, created book trailers. Joined several social media outlets (which I still find frustrating and annoying!). Helped other authors with their covers and interiors, too. There was enough interest in my designs I ended up started a book design service as well. (If you want to check out some of my cover art, check out One of a Kind Covers) <--Shameless plug. 

During the past five years, I had the opportunity to help others in their publishing journey. The most memorable experience was meeting Rose Daisy McDonald, widow of Maurice N. McDonald. "Nick" McDonald was the Dallas police officer who arrested Lee Harvey Oswald, and before he passed away in 2004, he typed out his life story. Ms. Daisy promised him she'd get it published, yet met with nothing but closed doors.

When Daisy approached me about it, how could I say no? This was a piece of history, told from the perspective of a man who lived it. When the book was finished, I proudly stood beside Ms. Daisy while she presented a copy to the Dallas Police Department, and at other venues, during the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. 

I've watched book sales spike and dip, made a little extra income on the side, met some amazing authors and mentors along the way, and basically, enjoyed every single minute of the last five years. Several amazing women have made this journey with me, offering their voice talents to narrate my books. I'll admit, the first time I heard someone read my work, I cried. Like a big old baby! I want to take this time to give special thanks to Sabrina Stewart, Andrea Emmes, Sara Morsey and Rebecca Roberts. All of you possess tremendous talent and your narration skills breathed life into my words. All of you are amazing.

Along the bumpy way, some wonderful people helped pick me up when I fell down on the trail. Elaine Raco Chase, Jeff LaFerney, Joanna Lee Doster, Betty Dravis, Donna Thompson, Donna Lickteig and Melody Berning kept me going when I was ready to throw in the towel and give up. THANK YOU ALL! 

I've been the guest speaker at numerous book events; sat at tables and signed copies of my books. Talk about surreal! Never, even in my wildest dreams, did I see those things in my future! Damn near fell over from shock when New York Times bestselling author Janelle Taylor read (and liked!) my books. I hosted a radio show online for a while and had the opportunity to interview R.L. Stine, Sandra Brown, Janelle Taylor, Raymond Benson, Elaine Raco Chase, and tens of other authors. 

Yep, it's been a wild journey!

Though the majority of my books fall under the class of mystery/thrillers, I've dipped my pen into other genres as well. Paranormal, horror, and now, post-apocalyptic. I write what speaks to me no matter which category others decide to classify the works under.

As I sit here at the keyboard, reflecting on how different my life is now from this time five years ago, I'm truly stunned by the changes. What amazes me the most is simple: my fans. I just teared up, because it's still, even after five years, such a foreign concept to me to have a fan base! I mean, I'm the avid reader, eagerly awaiting the next books by my favorite authors! It is humbling and wonderful to know there are people in around world who feel the same way about my books.

I'd be remiss if I neglected to thank my family. They've supported me, provided encouragement, listened to my crazy ideas for books. My mother apparently caught the writing bug, too, and decided to join me in the insanity. Penning a novel with Mom was a blast, and after I'm finished with the zombie series, we will tackle the next to books in The Magnolia Series.

My wonderful husband is my rock, my biggest fan, and has been from the very beginning. Thank you, baby, for believing in me. You, our children, and the rest of our family, give me the air I need to fully fly!

Yes, I'm proud of these books, and can't wait to share more! I wonder how many I'll have completed during the next five?

Never give up; don't stop dreaming; every painful moment will make you appreciate your successes all the more.