For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a love affair with books. One of my first favorite books was one about crystals and how they’re formed. Another one was Hans Christian Andersen’s original version of the Little Mermaid–you know, the one where the mermaid actually becomes the foam in the ocean, i.e. she didn’t get her Prince Charming. It was a picture book that, like the one about crystals and geodes, I’d peruse every day, cover to cover.
I also loved telling stories, at first masking them as dreams I’d tell my friends in fourth grade until one of them, Carla, said, “Wait a minute! This isn’t a dream! It’s a story, isn’t it?”
That was the end of my storytelling days with Carla, but it was good while it lasted.
I started to write my stories then. Thank goodness there was no shortage of legal-sized reams of paper from my grandfather who was a retired judge. I guess they used legal-sized paper for all their briefs and correspondence so I inherited them all. I’d fold them in half and make booklets of my stories complete with hand=drawn images of the characters. This would continue until high school although this time, I inherited a typewriter for Christmas and I’d type at all hours of the night until the neighbors would yell for me to go to bed from their windows.
My books and stories became a solace for me. It was where I retreated when the world was too much–and I also got grounded a lot so it didn’t faze me if I couldn’t watch TV or talk to my friends over the phone. There were always books and since my mom was an avid collector, she couldn’t very well empty out my bedroom where she’d stored some of them. So I read. I read the books that she read, so at 12, I’d already gobbled up Harold Robbins, Colleen McCullough, James Clavell, James A. Michener, Pearl S. Buck, Herman Hesse and much more.
I didn’t get introduced to romances until I was 14 when my classmates passed them around: Harlequin, Mills & Boon, and Sweet Dreams. Unfortunately, my grandfather considered them trash and would rip them in half if he caught me with them (he lived next door) and so I read them during recess.
Yep, I dated myself there, but that’s okay.
But I also kept writing. This time I wrote fan fiction and poetry. I figured fan fiction stories had an instant audience which would allow me to hone my craft using their feedback while poetry would get me through tough times. And boy, were there a lot of tough times like broken hearts and general disappointments, typical fodder for most of my poetry then.
I stopped writing around 2004, and sad to say, but it was over a broken heart. I wouldn’t write again until 2012, two years after my best friend, Pam, told me two weeks before she died that she hoped I’d keep on writing and that she looked forward to holding my book in her hands.
By 2012, I was back at writing again and two years later, I published Finding Sam on November 17, 2014. On June 18, 2015, I published Loving Ashe and on December 15, 2015, A Collateral Attraction. Self-doubt hit me hard for the first part of 2016 and I wouldn’t publish the fourth book, Everything She Ever Wanted, until October 12, 2016.
Self-doubt would return in 2017 and almost take down the next book, but thanks to readers who never stopped believing in me and my passion for my stories whether others like it or not, Loving Riley, the paperback version, was published yesterday on Amazon. The digital version is scheduled for April 26.
Why am I rambling like this? Because the last two days, I’ve been seeing authors on Facebook talk about giving up. One of them said he’d been doing this for two years, had written three books and he was just a failure. So why continue? Therefore he was giving up and moving on to other things.
It made me think of how long I’ve been at this writing thing and it’s been more than two years, or even four or six. I’d say decades in my case because even though I may have let go of the wheel at times (personal issues, family, motherhood, career), I never gave up on the destination.
It’s not to say that I’d never thought of giving up, but my passion for telling my stories has always been greater than the desire to move on and do other things. There simply were “no other things” for me. It’s just me and my stories.
So if you’re a writer and wondering why you’re not getting any sales and that maybe your stories are shite and you should just give up, don’t. Look around, ask for help and guidance. If you’re a romance writer and you’re not on Facebook, get thee to Facebook. That’s where your readers are. I didn’t believe it two years ago but I’m such a believer now. Friend me on there and I’ll show you which groups you can check out. Same goes for fantasy, urban and sci-fi. The wealth of information to be had in Facebook groups is priceless. It got me from clueless to having a clue about what I was missing in this ever-evolving business called indie publishing. It got me feeling comfortable wearing the business hat and not just the creative writer hat. It got me from feeling depressed about where I was in my author career to confident knowing that I wasn’t alone in the struggle. It got me from feeling envious of other authors’ success to rejoicing with them because, hey, we’re all in the same boat. We’re in this together. We’re storytellers. We tell our stories.
We also don’t give up that easily.