Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The end of a series…

A few months ago, I published the final book in the Hidden Springs series, three and a half years after I published the first. To say that the town and its inhabitants have been part of my life for that long is no exaggeration. Some of the characters existed in my mind long before I knew I wanted to write about them - nagging at me over the years to bring them to life on the page; others appeared in the moment - springing to life when I needed them most.

I breathed, ate, slept, and dreamed of Hidden Springs, immersing myself in that fictional town as completely as if it were my own reality. I laughed and cried; celebrated new life and wept for those lost. I seethed with anger at a friend’s betrayal and swooned under a lover’s caress. And then, in the blink of an eye, it was over. The last word was written; the final chapter recorded.

I could have continued with the series. There are always more stories to tell. New generations are born, friendships develop into something more, loved ones pass away and the living carry on. Yes; there are plenty of stories to be told about Hidden Springs, but just as life changed for my fictional characters, my own did as well. Different voices began shouting at me, clamoring to be heard. They have stories, too, after all; stories only I can tell. And it’s my duty to tell them.

So, while I miss my friends in Hidden Springs – Kate, Sam, Jack, Landry, Carly, and so many others – it was time to say goodbye and journey down a different path. I may return one day, if the spirit moves me; begin a new chapter in the lives of the characters who started it all. I owe them a lot; a new career, and even more than that, new real-life relationships I’ve forged along the way. For that, I say, thank you my friends. Thank you.

You can find all eight books in the Hidden Springs series on your favorite platform beginning with the first one (it’s free). While the books don’t need to be read in order, I recommend it, as the characters’ personalities develop with each book as their stories intertwine.

In order –

Here to Stay

Hearts on Fire

Abby’s Heart

A Chance on Love

A Will of Her Own

Dancing in the Dark

Worth the Gamble

Coming Home

Wondering what other series are coming down the pike? Look for Reservations for Two, the second in the Celebration series, sometime in September. (If you haven't read the first book in the series yet, it's called By Dawn's Early Light. You can find it here.) And the first book in the Seasons of Love series, Dogwoods in Springtime, is available now as part of the Lucky in Love anthology, proceeds of which benefit the March of Dimes.

That's all for now - my characters are calling...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Why the distinction?

A photographer take pictures, builds a portfolio, and opens a studio.

An artist paints day and night, assembles a collection, and hosts a showing at a local gallery.

A musician rehearses for months in his band mate's garage, records an album, and releases it under his own label.

An author writes for hours, agonizing over every word, edits and polishes the manuscript, then self-publishes and... wait.  What?  They self-publish??  Shock and horror abound.

When I tell people I'm an author, the first question I'm almost always asked is "Who's your publisher?"  Why does that matter?  I'm asking; in the general scheme of things, why does the name of the publisher I list on my creation matter any more than the name you put on yours?  Why is what I create deemed inferior because it lacks the stamp of approval from a recognizable publishing house?

Your picture is slightly out of focus.  There's a smear on the right hand corner of your canvas.  That last chord was off-key.  You adjust, you fix your mistakes, and your next project is better than the last.  Humans learn by doing; by pushing themselves to evolve, to master new techniques, to perfect their masterpiece. 

Authors are no different; self-published or not.  We make mistakes, and we fix them.  We hone our skill and write a better story.  Being self-published does not make us less than.  Rather, it takes an immense amount of courage to release our creations to the world, to have them studied and critiqued and, oftentimes, ridiculed.  We're no different than any other artist out there, yet self-published authors are looked down upon, even by those in the same circles. 

So, I ask again; why the distinction?

Yes, the process for publishing a book has become, for lack of a better word, easy.  Anyone can do it; and it doesn't necessarily have to cost money, depending on the product the author is comfortable selling.  But artists sell their paintings on Etsy and musicians sell their music on CD Baby.  What's the difference?  Outlets for creative work are available for a reason; because real talent was going unrecognized by those guarding the gates.

Are my books all that?  I leave it to my readers to decide.  Will I, one day, be able to add the title of best-selling author to my books?  Time will tell.  It would be nice, don't get me wrong, but that's not the reason I self-publish.  I discovered a hidden well of creativity inside me, a true enjoyment for writing, and, truth be told, I like just letting the words flow.  More importantly, I like writing them my way, without someone standing over me critiquing this or deleting that.  I had enough of that during my school years. 

I believe creativity is subjective.  Different is good.  Writing a story shouldn't be like fixing a carburetor.  It's not the formulaic process many believe.  It's an art form; words are the medium rather than film or paint or notes. 

So, do me a favor.  Please stop equating self-publishing with less than.  Please stop undervaluing the time and effort I put into my art.  Will what I release ten years from now be better than what I released last month?  I sure as hell hope so.  I have no desire to churn out the same thing over and over.  I want to learn new techniques, apply them to my work, craft something beautiful and worthy of awe.  What artist doesn't?

Good or bad, I'm shaping my own future, and the responsibility as such lies squarely on my shoulders.  You know what?  I can live with that.

Now, go create something beautiful ...