Throwing Pennies

So I have obviously been self publishing my books, which I felt very good about and which was the right decision at the time. But something has been nagging me, and I can’t ignore it anymore. My dream – the Book Dream – was never to have my books on Kindle. Don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon and I love that they are so good to indie authors. I love having control over my work and owning all the rights.

But ultimately, what I really want most is to have my books on bookshelves in bookstores. I don’t care about making money, I don’t care about winning awards. I just want my characters to be known and loved by people other than myself…to know that they won’t die with me and that their stories and struggles and victories will survive. And not only survive, but thrive, and even inspire those who discover them to follow their own dreams and find the thing that makes them feel free.

That’s what I want. And so, although I thought the journey was nearly ending, I’m packing my writing/editing rucksack and getting back on the road to Shard. I know it will take work, I know that traditional publishing can be a whole other monster, but that’s what I want, so that’s where I’m going. And I’ll toss some pennies into wishing wells along the way.

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The Truth About Writing

The transition from “I write for fun when I have time, and I do NaNoWriMo” to “I’m going to dedicate at least half of my time to writing and see if I can make this indie author thing work” is exciting, terrifying, exhilarating, and oh yeah, terrifying. It’s having to trust myself and my writing ability in a way that I’ve never had to before. There’s something wonderfully simple about writing for fun and managing to convince yourself that you’re the best thing since sliced bread, but let’s be honest, you can afford to do that if your food pantry doesn’t depend on your books.

And it’s not the romantic ideal you think it’s going to be, either. It’s a lot of stressing in the middle of the night, waking up at 3 am to get a head start on that day’s writing, forgetting that you need to cook in order to have food, occasionally wondering how on earth you’re even going to buy said food, and getting frustrated when your creativity isn’t flowing the way it did the day before. I spend half my “writing” time on social media, networking and setting up cute Instagram shots and doing research on hashtags.

But you know, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I may sound like I’m complaining, but the truth about writing, the actual truth, is that I love it. I love it. And I get to do the thing that I love most every single day of my life. Things might be financially tight at the moment (my husband and I even have a kickstarter thing going just to help us over the bridge a little), but I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

So what’s the truth about writing? It’s hard and it’s intense, but if it’s what you love, you can’t go wrong. I’m an indie author and a possibly-soon-to-be-starving artist, but I’m happy and I wouldn’t change it for anything. So if you’re on the fence, do it. Take the leap. Be brave.

NaNoWriMo, and a Book Release!

Yep, it’s that time again. This is my 8th year doing NaNoWriMo and I’ve written scores and scores about this already, so I’m not going to go there again. Y’all know the drill 🙂 If you’re doing it, please drop me a message and feel free to add me on the site. I’ll also be doing 50k Day One again, and you can follow along on my progress here as well as on Twitter.

Book Release: Capturing Devonshire

And speaking of my Twitter, you may notice I’ve linked @authorhelenrose and not @africanstardust. That’s because I have actually finally published my first novel, Capturing Devonshire, and I will be publishing many more under the name Helen Rose. Thank you to all of you who have followed along and supported me throughout my writing journey – I wouldn’t have gotten here without you.

Helen Rose is also on Facebook and Instagram, and I will be blogging under that name as well. As an indie author, likes, shares, and reviews on any of these platforms are crucial to success, and your continued support would mean so much to me. Love your faces ❤

Good luck, me maties, yo ho!

Why I Write

typewriter

Is it ridiculous, do you think, that I dream of finishing and publishing my novels? Is it ridiculous that I hope to be at least a little successful? That I think people might want to read my books?

Maybe it is. There are hundreds of thousands of people who want to be authors. Who write. Who actually write and are good at it. Not all of them will be published. Not all of them will even stick with it. And very few will ever become famous. That isn’t the point.

I write because I love writing. I write because I love my characters and I love the story and I am passionate about the journey they take. About how they change and develop and grow into themselves. I write because I love words. And whether or not anyone believes me, the main reason why I want to publish my books is not to get money. Yeah, it would be great to be able to pay the rent with book sales. Highly unlikely. No, the main reason why I want to publish my books is because I love my characters and my stories so much that I want to share them with people. I want other people to know them and grow to love them. I want other people to be inspired. I want to be a little part of what makes people happy and encourages them.

And I write because, from a very young age, that’s how I deal with things. I don’t know, call it a coping mechanism if you want, but some of my greatest breakthroughs in life have come by writing. Because writing forces you to stop running away from the issues. In your head, you can block out your thoughts. But when you’re writing, you realize that there is nothing more authentic than the starkness of ink on paper, and you can’t hide from yourself any longer.

Why do you write?

I am now offering editing services. To find out more about this, please click on the “Editing Services” page.

Writing, Dreams, and the True Meaning of Fantasy

not my image
not my image

I recently decided that I need to get off my butt and finish Shard. If you don’t know what Shard is and you’re new to the blog, I forgive you. Otherwise…

I’m just joking 🙂 In a nutshell, it’s the first book I ever wrote (I was 12 and I wrote it in a month and it was really, really bad). However, as my writing improved with practice and as my ideas for the story grew, it morphed into a trilogy and then a whole series came out of the woodwork to surround it. Don’t get me wrong, I write other things too, but this one is my baby. It’s the one I care the most about. It’s the one I never get bored with, never abandon, never get sick of, never shove into the back of my mind. Ten years later, I know I have to finish it and publish it, and then finish and publish the other books in the series. At the moment it goes like this:

1. <book of history I have yet to write>
2. The Hilt and the Blade
3-5. The Shard Trilogy
6. Wind in the Blood
7. The Gypsy and the Knight
8-9. <books I have yet to write>
10. Prin Ten Arken: Before the Beginning

At least, this is the tentative list. However, because these are so close to my heart and soul and, you know, bone marrow, I’ve never really had other people read them. I mean, I had three friends and my dad read one of them a few years ago, and then I proceeded to scoff at all of their comments and decided that I knew better. That’s when I was younger and foolisher, though, so now that another good friend of mine has agreed to give me some critique, I’m ready to take it like a woman.

And here’s the thing. I don’t want to write “Christian” fantasy. And I don’t feel guilty about that. To me, fantasy = a physical portrayal of a very real mental, emotional, and spiritual battle. Every human struggle is an epic battle. Every mental, emotional, and spiritual victory is an epic victory. I can’t literally chop off depression’s head with a sword, but I can write about it in a way that anyone can relate to it and feel victory over something, and feel inspired to actually have victory over things they struggle with. Isn’t that what Lord of the Rings makes you feel? You come out of that book/movie feeling like you can conquer everything, including your own weakness, because, as Sam says, “it’s worth fighting for.”

That’s what I want to do. I want people to come away from reading my books feeling victorious. Thinking, “I can do this. I can beat this. I am stronger than this. I am chosen to do this because I am the only one who can fight my own battles inside myself. There is a greater good force with power over this thing.” {hint: it’s God, but if you don’t believe in Him, give it time}

That’s proper fantasy to me. That’s epic, beautiful, profound, pure, lovely, mouth watering fantasy. And that’s what I want to write. I’m not trying to be Tolkien. I’m trying to be the best fantasy writer that I have the capacity to be. I have a vision of what I’m working towards, and I know I’ll get there.