Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Happy New Year!

Hope you're all having a lovely time ringing in 2015, everyone. My husband and I spent a lovely evening with friends, and before we left the house for the party, I hit the "submit" button on For Wreck and Remnant's preorder status, so you can click here and get it from Amazon!

The book will release in just a few weeks. I hope you all enjoy it.

Got some new and cool stuff coming down the pipe for 2015 that I'm really excited about. Stay tuned for more news about a sequel to A Gift of Poison, as well as a new book coming in February.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Hi everyone!

I hope you've had a great holiday season so far. I spent a lot of mine (happily) working on books that will be coming out in the next few months. For Wreck and Remnant (Secrets of Itlantis #4) should release mid-Jan, and I'm hoping it will be up for pre-order in the next couple of days, as I want to try that option out.

(Find out more about the entire series here.)

In the meantime, here's the cover, and a little teaser from the book!

The door split with a hiss, and a figure stepped inside, boots clicking against the metal floor. I lifted my head, peering through my dripping hair at the intruder.


He stepped inside and crossed his arms. I noticed the way his muscles stretched his shirt. He was taller now, stronger, and harder. His hair was shorter, and his eyes burned with determination.

The door shut behind him, and he stood looking at me. His expression was unreadable, but I hoped mine wasn’t. Seeing him was desire wrapped in pain and threaded with fury. The rage was strongest, and it threatened to choke me unless I spit it out, but I bit down on the words and stayed silent. Better to let him talk first and see what he wanted.

Nol studied me. A muscle in his jaw flexed, and I could tell he was trying to decide what to say.

“I know you’re angry,” he began. “But it’s better this way.”

I laughed, low and harsh. “Better? How could you possibly defend this? Are you that assured of your position?”

So much for letting him talk first.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gingerbread Man by Lee Strauss

Hi guys! I wanted to tell you a bit about a new series by my author-friend Lee Strauss.
Gingerbread Man Series by Lee Strauss
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction, Suspense

FRINGE meets CASTLE in this New Adult Sci-fi Mystery Suspense.
College girl meets boy online.
A killer targets girls like her.
She’s next on the list.
The boy wants to save her.
She thinks it’s him.

It’s worse than they both think.

RUN RUN RUN is the first part of a three part episode – Gingerbread Man – in the romantic suspense series, A Nursery Rhyme Suspense by Amazon best-selling author Lee Strauss. 
Episode release dates:
Run Run Run – December 31st
As Fast As You Can – January 7
You Can’t Catch Me – January 14
Gingerbread Man (ep 1-3) complete – January 28

(Boxed set will be released on Jan 28th and is available for pre-order now!)


I write mixed genre Romance, most recently The Minstrel Series.

I also write fun, lower YA fiction (time-travel and fantasy) as ELLE Strauss. I divide my time between BC, Canada and Dresden, Germany and enjoy drinking coffee and eating chocolate in both places.


Friday, December 5, 2014

How To Be A Novelist Part 1

So I get a fair number of questions from people, both friends/family as well as readers, about how to "be a writer." I try to answer these questions as best I can, and I don't mind them at all, but it's hard to sum that up in a paragraph or off-hand conversation while still giving a helpful response.

So, I thought I'd write a series of blog posts about what I did* to develop my craft, learn the ropes of writing, and go on to have a career in writing. This will mainly focus on CRAFT, not business. The business aspect is super important, and there is absolutely a place to talk about that, but I think the foundation should be skills related to the creation of content.

*Bear in mind this is what I did in my journey. Mileage may vary!

So let's pretend you, the reader, are asking me to help you become a novelist with the intention to be published (independent, trad, hybrid, doesn't matter). You don't just want to write one novel, you want to make a career out of it. You want to tell stories and sell them and make a living from it.

I think emphasizing the career part is important, because a lot of my advice is going to hinge on the idea that you need to be developing skills that will allow you to stick with what is a difficult and intense process at times. If you want to write that one book and that's it, great! You will probably not make a lot of money from it**, so don't expect that, but that's perfectly fine if that isn't your plan. However, if you want a career, you will need more than one idea and infinite time to spin it into a story. You're going to need a whole arsenal of skills.

**People are funny with their assumptions about authors and their finances. I remember a couple of years ago when I was starting out and had 1-2 novels out, and people made all kinds of strange small talk with me about it. They'd say things like "are you a millionaire yet?" I just laughed awkwardly. Or, "you just need to get a movie deal and you're set for life, right?" Um, no. Other people say things like "you must be really rich" after you've published 1 book. No no no.

Anyway, this advice is specifically for people who want to be authors and who want a career doing that. People who are in it for the long haul.

First, pretend apprentice, I would advise you to work on developing or strengthening some skills, both general and writing-specific. The good news is that you can do all of these things at the same time, a little each day. Yay for multitasking!

General Skills

1. Develop discipline.

Writing is hard. It's emotionally taxing, creatively draining, and it requires a lot of work that nobody is making you do (unless you have deadlines and an editor harassing you about them, I suppose). Generally, you're going to sit down and write that novel IF you make yourself do it, so possessing the ability to make yourself work hard and stick to a schedule is pretty important. Soooooo many people say "one of these days I am gonna write that novel." Well... maybe? Novels don't just happen. They take a lot of intentionality. But remember, we're looking at developing a career here, not just writing that one book. So discipline is going to be even more important.

Honestly, I think one of the biggest hurdles to becoming an author is simply finding the discipline and fortitude to 1) learn to write well and then 2) actually do the writing. It's not so much the learning, it's the ability to keep trying and working over a long period of time.

I learned a lot of my self-discipline when I finished my degree long-distance due to health problems that caused me to drop out of school. So many people said to me, "I could never do that. I could never do my homework and write my papers if I didn't have the structure of class." But you CAN. It's a skill I learned--I wasn't born with baskets of willpower and discipline--and it came in handy again and again after I started seriously working on writing novels.

Well, how do you develop things like discipline?

I found these books really, really helpful. They are not about writing in particular, but they aided me as I worked to become a more productive individual.

The Power of Habit

Outliers: The Story of Success

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

The Talent Code (haven't read this one but it looks similar to some other things I have read)

2. Develop a thick skin and the ability to hear constructive criticism.

A lot of writing is just re-writing and revising. You get the words down on paper and then you have beta readers and editors give you feedback, or you read books that guide you through the process of editing. You have to look at what you've produced and say, what needs to be fixed? How can I make this better? If you can't hear anything bad about your book baby, that is going to hold you back from growing as a writer. A lot of writers seem to be sensitive creatures--I certainly am--but I strongly advise cultivating the ability to hear hard things, because this will grow you as a writer. Also, you're going to get lots of criticism, not all of it constructive, once you are published. You are going to want to start now when it comes to learning to deal with that in a healthy manner.


1. Read fiction.

Seriously, read. Read all the time, especially in whatever genre you wish to write in. This is the fastest and best way for you to develop a feel and a taste for the genre. If you want to write YA, you need to be reading YA. Lots and lots of it. I cannot understand it when people say they want to write YA and they haven't read anything in that category except maybe The Hunger Games or something really well-known. That is THE starting point for you. Familiarize yourself in what you plan to write. Bathe in it. Soak in the styles, the conventions, the character types. Learn what you like and what you don't.

The good news is that this is the fun kind of work, because (hopefully!) if you want to write, then you like to read.

So read a lot.

2. Pay attention to all kinds of storytelling.

I, for instance, pay a lot of attention to my favorite TV shows. What do I like, what do I dislike, why did the writers make the choices they did, how could they have chosen differently? Analyze movies for structure, character arc, dialogue. Find a friend or two who enjoys discussing this kind of thing. Immerse yourself in the business of taking stories apart to find their nuts and bolts. This is part of learning how to put them together. This is another easy kind of work, one you can train yourself to do effortlessly.

3. Read books on writing.

I would suggest reading at least 6 books a year on craft, or 1 every couple of months. Depending on your skill level, you might want to start with more basic books on writing and work up. Beginner books are going to teach you very storytelling basic skills, like how to avoid info dumps, create compelling characters, and write basic, functional dialogue. The more immediate ones will assume that you know that kind of thing and focus on more advanced techniques. Here's some suggestions:


The First Five Pages

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers


The Fire in Fiction

Writing the Breakout Novel

The Making of a Story

4. Write all the time.

It's as simple as that. You need to be writing. Not necessarily every day, but... a lot. Maybe every day. Make it a priority. Practice. Learn. Let yourself be terrible at it, and then learn why you were terrible, and fix it. Making mistakes is a huge part of learning. Don't be afraid to put down imperfect words, because that's what revision is for. Learn to uncork the flow of words in a consistent way. If you put off writing until you can compose it perfectly, you aren't going to learn. You're going to be afraid of failure and you're going to stall and stagnate. Don't do that.

Seriously, don't fall into the trap of waiting for a moment when you feel inspired and seized with the magic of the muse. In fact, that's a terrible idea, because most of the time you won't feel very inspired. Learn to use discipline (from general skills) and consistency to get the work done. As you become more familiar with your own process and as you grow your skills, you will develop confidence, and I think a lot of "writer's block" and other kinds of problems come from a lack of confidence in yourself as a writer and your own process, so you will see improvements there.

Movies always seem to depict writers as moodily wandering around, moaning about writer's block and doing romantic things like drinking a lot, smoking while wearing sunglasses, and staring through windows of coffee shops waiting for that perfect idea. NO. Writers plant their butts in chairs and write. They don't always leave the house or take a lot of showers if deadlines are tight. You're probably not going to be that guy from Castle. It is mostly unglamorous work. And when you've got a book or two out, it's not all about sitting around gazing at your name on the cover. Especially not as your write more and more. You'll probably say "cool," smile at it like a proud parent, and get back to work on the next one.

Don't be in love with this image of "being a writer." Love the craft. Love the process and the journey and the sharing of stories. It's what is going to sustain you through the crappy hard work.

Now, having said all that, I looooooooove being a writer. It. Is. My. Dream. Job. It's a lot of work, and it takes intentionality, cultivation of skills, and effort. But it's WORTH IT. And you can do it! You really, really can, if you set your mind to it and don't give up.

In part 2, I'll talk more in depth about my suggestions for developing your writing skills, specifically in regard to novels.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Blog Tour and Updates!

Hi everyone,

I just sent For Wreck and Remnant, the 4th installment in the Secrets of Itlantis series, to the editor today! Maybe I can post a few hints and teasers for you guys in the coming weeks. I am hoping the book will be available for preorder before the end of December (and releasing in January). Meanwhile, the 3rd book is available now.

I will also be having a blog tour for Of Sea and Stone in February, so if you'd like to participate in that, you can sign up here:

Can you believe it's December already?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What's Coming Up Next

Hi everyone!

I wanted to give you guys some updates on what will be coming out in the next few months.

I'm making good progress on For Wreck and Remnant (Secrets of Itlantis #4) and hopefully that will be released around Christmas/New Year's.

After that, I have another novel (title TBD) that's been on my hard drive that I love very much and hope to have polished up and released. More information on that later. Hopefully that will come out in Jan/Feb if all goes well.

After that... I'm going to be taking a bit of a breather on writing and working for a tiny bit because of another work in progress I've had going on for a while. A baby! Starting in late Feb, I'm going on maternity leave for a few months.

I will be working on the sequel to A Gift of Poison as I can get to it while the baby boy is napping or being cuddled by his daddy, and of course once I come "back to work" I'll work on that in earnest. I plan to release that in 2015, maybe as early as late spring if all goes well. We'll see.

After all of that, I've got even more cool things cooking in my brain and I'm so excited to write them and share them with you all. So stay tuned! Sign up for the New Releases Newsletter if you want to stay up-to-date on all new releases, or like my facebook page, or check back with this blog.

Happy November!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

New cover

So I designed a new cover for my Frost short story "Survival Lessons." Here it is:

 Also, Frost is still on sale (for a very limited time!) so grab it if you haven't!

Monday, November 3, 2014


Hi everyone!

To kick off Nov, Frost (The Frost Chronicles #1) is on sale at just $0.99 for a limited time. If you haven't read it or know anyone who might want to read it, now is the time!

In the icy, monster-plagued world of the Frost, one wrong move and a person could end up dead—and Lia Weaver knows this better than anyone.
After monsters kill her parents, Lia must keep the family farm running despite the freezing cold and threat of monster attacks or risk losing her siblings to reassignment by the village Elders. With dangers on all sides and failure just one wrong step away, she can’t afford to let her emotions lead her astray. So when her sister finds a fugitive bleeding to death in the forest—a young stranger named Gabe—Lia surprises herself and does the unthinkable.

She saves his life.

Monday, October 27, 2014

New Paperbacks!

Hi everyone,

If you like the feel of paper between your fingers, the paperback versions for both With Tide and Tempest and A Gift of Poison are now available for purchase!

Friday, October 24, 2014

And the winner is...!!

And the winner of the giveaway is...


Christine DeLong!

Christine's winning entry was a tweet. She was chosen using

Congrats, Christine, your name will be in the dedication of my next book.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


My life right now whenever I go to a cafe or library to write...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Creative Energy

Hi everyone!

I've been really busy with personal things for the last few months, so pretty much the only work-related stuff I've done has been working on writing projects and editing and releasing my latest book. Hopefully I can be more present online now. I'd like to blog more, for instance.

October is here, my favorite month, and it's given me a burst of creative energy. I've started making art on deviantART again. I've missed that, and it makes me really happy.

I've read a couple really good books lately, so look for my thoughts on those.

Hope you're all enjoying your fall so far.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Want your name in the dedication of my next book?

Hi readers!

I juuuuuust released a new novel in between working on my latest in the Secrets of Itlantis series. It was kind of a spur-the-moment decision for an old manuscript, and I'd like some help spreading the word about its existence. So I thought I'd have a giveaway. It's pretty simple: enter to win by doing one of the requirements, and you could be mentioned in the dedication of my next book.

Good luck, and happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NEW RELEASE A Gift of Poison available now!

A Gift of Poison is here!!

As the orphaned niece of a cruel lord, Briand is the scapegoat of the castle. She has few friends and even fewer options, and every day is a struggle to stay ahead of trouble caused by malicious guards and irritable castle servants.

Briand is set to be banished to the wildlands, a death sentence, when she when she accidentally unlocks a hidden power and involves herself in a rebel plot and her life abruptly changes.

Imprisoned in the company of a band of rebels, Briand must do what seems impossible: call up sleeping dragons in the north. But the fearsome Prince's assassins called Seekers are looking for her, Briand doesn't know if she can trust the mysterious, enigmatic rebel leader Kael, and there might be a traitor in the rebels' midst.

I truly love this book, you guys. I wrote it a few years ago and decided to revisit it this summer and revise it for release. I have a crush on Kael, and a deep and abiding love for a couple of the other characters that makes them some of my favorites I've ever written. This book a bit of a love letter to my teen reader self, who loved girl-power fantasy books like The Blue Sword and Crown Duel.

Also, I've enrolled it (for now) in Kindle Unlimited/Lending Library, so if you're a prime member you can read it for FREE.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Excerpt from A Gift of Poison

Hi everyone,

I hope you are enjoying your October, wherever you are. Here in Atlanta the weather is perfect for writing--a little windy, a little cool.

I will be posting short excerpts from A Gift of Poison over the next weeks. That book comes out soon!! In the meantime, I'm still working on #4 in the Secrets of Itlantis series, For Wreck and Remnant.

Background: the main character, Briand, has been playing Dubbok again, which she is forbidden to do. She's taken before the steward by one of her uncle's men. Here's the scene.


They reached the door to the steward’s chambers. Tibus lifted one massive fist and knocked. He didn’t lessen his crushing grip on Briand's wrist. She dangled at his side like a captured rabbit.
“Yes?” The muffled voice from within sounded irritated.
“Excuse me, sir,” Tibus said. “There’s been a disturbance. Pieter’s niece—”
It was all he got out of his mouth before the door was wrenched open, and her uncle’s steward stood there glaring at them. The words “Pieter’s niece” were always enough to catch his immediate attention, for he’d learned they might be followed by the words “stolen horses” or “knife fight” or “complete pandemonium.”
Briand wanted to shrink behind Tibus, but she forced herself to stand straight as the steward leveled his gaze at her the way some men might point a sword—to ensure obedience.
Kael was perhaps the youngest steward ever to command the castle, but he was also without a doubt the most feared. She heard stories whispered about him in the kitchens and on the ramparts, how he could kill a man without a sound, how he had dissenters flogged mercilessly. Now the young man himself stood before them, not much older than her cousin, Bran, slim but with the look of lean muscle to him, his thin face cold and without expression as he looked at them both over the tops of his reading glasses. Most of the serving girls in the castle said he was handsome, giggling about him as they worked, but Briand thought he was fearsome. His black hair was gathered away from his face, and his sharp gray eyes were frosty as he scanned them both, taking in the situation.
Tibus waited. The men behind them waited too, shifting restlessly. No one dared make a sound with Kael’s cool gaze on them all.
The steward tapped one hand against his leg. “Well? Come in, unless you want to keep standing here for the whole bailey to stare at.”
Grunting, Tibus stepped over the threshold, yanking her along. She stumbled, pitching forward onto the soft carpet that covered the floor. She stuck out her other hand to break her fall, and then glared up at them both.
The steward’s quarters were normally as plain as the rest of the original keep of the castle, but Kael had made efforts to improve them. The fire in the grate blazed and snapped. Drawings of airships and steamboats were tacked behind the oak desk, and embroidered tapestries covered the walls, providing color and warmth. Bri also suspected the images on the tapestries, which showed dragons disemboweling unlucky knights, served a third purpose of instilling the proper fear into those who were dragged before the steward for punishment. She stared at the lush green and gold pattern of the carpet.
“Well, what happened?” the steward asked, going to his desk. He spoke with the air of a weary martyr, but she wasn’t fooled. He was angry at the intrusion, and he was hiding it behind a pretense of simple annoyance.
She shifted nervously.
The steward took his glasses off, folding them carefully and sliding them into a pocket on his vest. He propped both feet up and folded his hands behind his head. Beside his booted feet Briand saw the remains of a late-night dinner and a pile of parchments. A mechanical curiosity, a timepiece or other, sat half-dismantled on the desk, cogs and other bits of metal scattered across the wood as if the steward had been in the process of examining them when Tibus had knocked, even though the night was late and the fires burned low.
He never slept, it seemed.
Tibus cleared his throat and gave her a little shake. “This wretched girl—”
“Not you,” the steward said to Tibus. He looked at Briand. “Why have you been dragged in to see me? Have you been climbing the west tower again? Or were you stealing bread like the last time?”
“Dubbok,” she managed.
“Gambling is reckless, irresponsible behavior.” The steward’s voice was sharp. She dropped her eyes.
“The losers chased her across the ramparts and over the wall. She climbed up one of the dragon statues.” Tibus’s voice had just the barest hint of admiration now. Bless him. She wondered if the steward heard it too.
“Ah. No wonder they call you Catfoot,” the steward remarked.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Surprise! A new book (plus news about For Wreck and Remnant)!

Hi everyone,

So I'm currently working on the next book in the Secrets of Itlantis series, For Wreck and Remnant. But in between projects, I pulled out an old manuscript that I wrote several years ago, dusted it off, did some revisions, and I will be releasing it hopefully next month! I'll have it available for preorder soon. Stay tuned for a summary!

Here's the cover:

For Wreck and Remnant continues to be slated for release toward the end of 2014, hopefully early Dec.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Hi everyone,

I'm so excited to announce that the third book in the Secrets of Itlantis series, With Tide and Tempest, is available in for Kindle.

The print and Nook versions will be available soon, and I'll update the book page and this post when they are. I'm waiting on the proof for the print version, so that should be a few days.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Paperbacks of BY SUN AND SALTWATER are here!

If you've been waiting for a paperback version of By Sun and Saltwater, I'm pleased to announce that it's finally available!

You can grab a copy here.

And #3 in the series, With Tide and Tempest, should release in just a few weeks!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


In case you missed it earlier this week, I present to you the cover of book #3 in the Secrets of Itlantis series...

With Tide and Tempest!

Coming very soon!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Writing Makes Me Feel...

So a lot of the time, writing makes me feel like this:

But then when I'm finished, it makes me feel like this:

And then when I get emails and messages from readers saying how much they love the stories I've written, that makes me feel like this:

And that makes it worth it when I'm slogging through those initial drafts. Ugh, the drafts. Rough does not begin to describe it.

So yeah, I am still in the trenches with this book, and it feels very hhhnnnngggg at the moment, but we're making progress here. I have a lot of other crap going on in my life with some other things, and that's slowing me down. I still hope to have a cover to reveal very soon!!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Author Earnings Report and Some News

This new report by Author Earnings is worth a read if you're considering what path to take for publication. I know Author Earnings is somewhat controversial, but like I said, worth considering for my readers and visitors who are hoping to become authors and still making the decision as to how.

Also, you can read my own Career Post to see how my own career journey has gone, and how I went from a penniless hopeful to earning a living wage (yes, it IS possible).

Other news--I am still making progress on the new book, #3 in the Secrets of Itlantis series. I have been largely silent on social media the last month or so because I've been dealing with a chronic health issue that sometimes crops up, and it was bad for a while, but I'm doing much better now and I am ready to get this book finished and out in the world for you lovely people to read. I hope to have a cover reveal ready shortly.

Happy reading!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Book Spotlight: INQUISITOR

Hey everyone!

My author-friend RJ Blain has just released a new book, and it sounds pretty cool. Check out this beautiful cover.

Here's the summary:

When Allison is asked to play Cinderella-turned-FianceĆ© at a Halloween ball, the last thing she expected was to be accused of murder on the same night. She has to find the killer or she'll be put to death for the crimes she didn't commit. To make matters worse, the victims are all werewolves. 
On the short list of potential victims, Allison has to act fast, or the killer will have one more body to add to his little black book of corpses. 

There's only one problem: One of the deaths has struck too close to home, and Allison's desire for self-preservation may transform into a quest for vengeance...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What's Coming Next

Hi everyone,

I wanted to give everyone an update on some of the things I'm working on!

I'm about a third of the way through the 1st draft of book #3 in the Secrets of Itlantis series, titled With Tide and Tempest. That book should release sometime in late June or early July, hopefully! The cover isn't available yet, I'll let you guys know when it is.

I'm also working on another Frost novella from Ann's perspective. I'm not sure when this will release, but it's a story I do want to tell, and it's got lots of interesting bits, so stay tuned for that.

Lastly, I have another new series I'm working on, the first of which is titled Masked Magic. I'm excited about this one too. More details to come.

Until then, happy reading!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Career Post

A few of my novels
Quite often these days, I am emailed or messaged on Goodreads or Facebook by readers, other writers, or sometimes even family and friends, and asked about my career. What is the path you've taken to publication, exactly? Why did you decide to go with self-publishing? How does it work? Do you like it? Do you make any money? How much money? Would you ever work with a publisher? Would you recommend self-pub to others?
Of Sea and Stone

So I thought it would be nice to have a blog post I could direct people who ask these question to read, something that is more comprehensive and detailed. I also think it might be good to put this out on the blog for anyone who might happen to come across it and be inspired, partially because my own journey started with such a blog post by another author, and for that I am forever grateful.

This is long, so I'll split it up into parts.

What is the path you've taken, exactly?

Well, let's start at the beginning.


It was back in 2010, I think. At that time I was religiously querying a fantasy novel to agents, reading all the recommended blogs on the biz, and I had A Plan. I would find an agent. I would build my online platform. I would get an offer from an editor, and then I'd be very patient and hard-working and cooperative as I wrote my next novel and waited for that first novel to be published (I was already emotionally prepared for it to take YEARS). Then, when it was finally released, I would cross every finger and toe that it would sell well enough for me to continue my career.

I never planned to get rich.* I never even hoped to get rich. I just wanted to tell stories. I just wanted to reach readers. I just wanted to write.

I just wanted the words in my head to get out on paper and into other people's heads.

* What is rich, anyway? "Rich" is relative.

So, with my feet planted firmly on the ground and my head nowhere near the clouds, I was working and waiting. Writing, and writing, and waiting, and writing, and waiting some more. It had already been almost 3 years of this, and slowly, I was getting disillusioned and tired. I heard good things from agents. They said they loved my book, but it wasn't quite right for them. They said I was a good writer, but not what they were looking for at the time. I got requests for partial and full manuscripts, and then those manuscripts were rejected in the nicest possible ways.

Then I read a blog post by Amanda Hocking. This was when she was famous but not, y'know, FAMOUS. She made a great deal of money every month, and articles were being written about her, but this was before her 2 million dollar deal with St. Martin's Press or the movie deal for the Trylle Trilogy. She was just an independent author making a very good wage from her books, with full creative control over titles, covers, release dates, and marketing. She wrote a blog post about how she was self-publishing and making $20k a month from her royalties.

And holy guacamole, it wasn't even that paycheck. Something about the descriptions of control over covers, and marketing, and advertising, and editing... I WANTED IT.

So that was the start.

 Why did you decide to go with self-publishing?

See, I was already getting jaded about the industry. I had lots of ideas. I've always considered myself at least eager to learn, if not savvy, about things like marketing, advertising, design, and various other business concepts. It's like a strategy game, a frustrating, fun, rewarding strategy game. And I knew from the get-go that I wouldn't have a say in my cover, my release schedule, or potentially even the title of my book. I wouldn't have any kind of control, at least not unless I got to be important enough to have clout. This was what I'd read on author blogs and agent blogs and editor blogs. Sit down, shut up, and write. Be a good author. Be patient. Trust the team.

I wanted that. I believed in that. I'm a good team player, I'm realistic.

But I was still getting discouraged and frustrated, because the process took a long time, and I didn't have a day job at the time, and I had sooooo many ideas that were going to have to wait soooo long to ever be told, IF they got told at all. The market was fickle. What was popular now changed rapidly. The market got saturated. Editors got sick of trends years before those trends ever hit the market. I fretted as I wrote. What if what I was writing now was not what editors wanted by the time it got to their desks, after the months/years of getting an agent? And in the meantime, during this fretting and writing and waiting, I wasn't making money. I sat at home and worked my tail off for zero dollars while my husband supported us. I felt like a worthless, penniless, non-contributor to both society and my household. I was ready to quit.

At this point I think it's worth pointing out that my husband, who is the rock in our relationship, urged me NOT to go out and get a soul-sucking full-time job as a receptionist or some other such thing while I wrote on the side as I had time. He told me over and over that my days writing and making no money were an investment in our future that would pay off someday, that he believed in me, and that I was going to make it. He believed in me for years when I started to lose all faith in myself. He forever deserves the credit for keeping me going. Seriously, if you like my books at all, this man is responsible for them existing. Without him, I probably (definitely) would have quit.

So I read the blog post, and I remember saying to my husband, "I'm not going to self-publish, of course, but if I did, here's what I would do..." And I said this A LOT. After about 2 months of saying it, I started saying, "Well, if I self-published something small and short, maybe a novella, maybe something I'm not planning to query...?"

So I asked a few agents if it would torpedo my chances, and they told me no, that publishing was changing, and as long as I kept my full-length novel virginity then it would be okay. So I wrote a very short book, called it a novella, and self-published.

How does it work?

Well, this is the part that gets technical and perhaps boring, so I'll skip the details (they are available on many blogs in great detail for the interested). But in short, I distribute directly to retailers. I work with a freelance editor, proofreader, and so forth. I work directly with artists (or design covers myself). I work with bloggers, advertisers, and so forth. I'm completely independent. 


Fireworks did not go off. My world did not change. The money did not pour in. It trickled in. I had sales, excitement, and lots of fun. I experienced discouragement at times, and engaged in lots of hard work, and experienced a steep learning curve.

But fundamentally, something was different.

I was no longer jaded. Suddenly, I was excited to write again. I was inundated with ideas--creative ideas about writing, business ideas about promotion and marketing and platform-building. I was alive, and it was the most beautiful gift.

About a year went by, I published a book of short stories, and generally piddled around learning a few things: that I cannot read my reviews or spend most of my time fussing with over-promoting, because it is a time suck and demoralizing. I also learned a lot about becoming a professional. Paying for things. Making quality products. Honing my craft.

Then, I wrote Frost, and that's when things began to be different.


There wasn't an immediate uptick with Frost's publication, but I remember noticing a gradual climb in sales. It went from "hey, I could buy a nice steak dinner with this month's royalties" to "hey, we could pay some bills with this month's royalties."

Then it became "hey honey, I out-earned you this month with my royalties."

Do you like self-publishing and being independent?

Quite simply, YES. This is my dream job, and I love it. Sometimes I feel downright bad about how much I like it. I adore it.

Do you make any money? How much?

I am uncomfortable listing exact numbers, partially because of my upbringing and the way my family felt about discussing money, although many wonderful authors do tell their specific earnings (for the sake of making information available for others to make choices about their careers), and I don't think there's anything braggy or bad about doing that. I will say that I can live off my royalties, I've surpassed any dreams I might have had about income, and self-publishing has been wonderful to me.

I kept publishing books. The Frost Chronicles has five novels and several novellas in it now, and I have a new series with the third book coming out summer 2014, in addition to a couple of stand-alone titles.
By Sun and Saltwater

Would you ever work with a publisher?

I began to get offers from publishers and agents last year, in 2013. To date, I have declined such offers, although once was in negotiations for months and I considered it seriously. I don't have any kind of particular commitment to being "indie only," and maybe in the future I will become what they call a hybrid author. I don't belong to an ideology or a particular camp when it comes to the industry.

I don't have a commitment to a particular way of publishing.

I have a commitment to creative freedom, making a living wage, and providing quality stories to my readership. I have a commitment to loving my job and living my dream.

Right now, that means I remain independent and continue to self-publish.

Would you recommend self-pub to others?

Yes, MAYBE. Being an independent is hard work. It requires a lot of hats, so to speak. Being successful requires effort, (some) business savvy, patience, and consistent professionalism in both behavior and quality of work. But if you feel like you can and want to do it, then go for it.


I plan to keep writing! I have many, many stories I want to tell. I am so thankful for every reader, every email, every tweet. I'm humbled by the journey I've had thus far, and while I have no idea what the future holds for either myself or the publishing industry in general, I am hopeful and excited to find out.
Once Upon A Beanstalk

I hope this helps anyone who is curious or has questions. I am happy to answer emails if you want to know more, and if I get enough specific questions, maybe I will write more posts on this matter. I don't talk about it much because I am mainly interested in focusing on my writing, but the business side does matter, it is exciting, and I hope this post was informative and inspiring to those who want to take a similar journey.

You can find more about me here:



Amazon Author Page


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