I have this thing I like to say any time the topic comes up: “I like my men like I like my books—fictional.” Because, really, what avid reader out there hasn’t at one time or another fallen in love with a fictional character? If you’re one of the Lucky People whose minds are able to translate words printed on the page into vivid images and scenes in your mind’s eye, it’s almost a foregone conclusion. And if you’re a writer on top of that, well… infer from that what you will. LOL
The joke is meant to be funny, but it speaks to something much deeper: the love I have for books and writing. And I know I’ve talked about this a lot in the past (repeatedly) but it really hit me late last year how true it is.
Last November, after an absolutely miserable and physically painful dry spell, I opened a blank MS Word document and started typing. I figured the challenge of NaNoWriMo would keep me motivated for at least a couple of weeks to get something on the page. Get my feet wet again, and prove whether or not I still know how it’s done—whether or not I’m still qualified to call myself a writer.
I exceeded the 50,000 word requirement for NaNoWriMo and, just about two months later (with a 3-week holiday break in there), I completed the first draft of Shadow Hawk. I am not exaggerating when I tell you I was in tears with relief that my muses hadn’t abandoned me for good. I am not making it up when I say the stress-induced jaw pain I’d been struggling with every day since the beginning of the pandemic went away and I haven’t felt it since.
This is what I mean when I say I write for me first, for my readers second. It’s so easy to start taking things for granted when they’re in abundance. Back when I was churning out 10 pages of writing a day, life was beautiful, and I didn’t think about it twice, I just kept writing, and revising, and churning out new ideas day after day.
I have always loved writing.
But I never realized how much I needed it until I couldn’t come up with a single word to commit to the page. I could never have imagined how terrifying it would be to face the worst global disaster of my lifetime, paralyzed by fear and unable to escape it. A lot of people found their muses and their calling during the pandemic. I lost mine. And it hurt in ways I can’t even describe.
It has opened my eyes to a few more things. Such as the fact that I am not the kind of writer who achieves financial success through book sales. I will never sell enough books to pay for a utility bill every month, much less to sustain a comfortable living. There is a whole formula of factors that go into making something like that possible, and I do not possess a single one of them. That’s not meant to be self-pity, by the way, just a statement of reality. Once I fully accepted it (and not just kept repeating the words, trying to convince myself while, deep inside, dreaming of the day I’d prove myself wrong), everything became clearer and easier.
My stories and characters mean more to me than chasing after the mythical treasure of a Bestseller title. So my focus is going to be on filling my bookshelves with the absolute best stories I can craft. I will price them to reflect the length and quality of the book, because I have no intention of devaluing or commoditizing the hard work and financial investment that went into its creation. All magic comes with a price. But I will not sit there and wait for the sales reports to update. I can’t—it’s the surest way to kill my creativity.
This September will mark the 13th anniversary of my first book publication. When I left my publisher and re-released those titles as a fully-independent author, I did it the same month, too. It’s only fitting to mark this second rebirth in like fashion.
Therefore, I am very excited to announce that Shadow Hawk, book 5 in the Blood & Shadows series, will be released on September 22, 2023. It will be available in eBook and paperback format, and you’ll be able to find it in your favorite online bookstores worldwide.
Blood & Shadows
THE COMPLETE SERIES
If this is your first introduction to the series, rest assured, you don’t have to go all the way to the beginning to understand what’s going on. I might recommend you check out Blood Hunt first, as that story marks the pivot point for the series, and introduces some of the characters you will meet in this one, including the hero. But my books can absolutely be read as stand-alones, so you don’t have to worry about missing anything vital if you choose not to read anything else. 🙂
If you do buy and read it, I hope you’ll take a moment to leave a review, or drop me a line to tell me what you thought of it. If you enjoyed it, I hope you’ll tell your friends and fellow book lovers. Word of mouth has always been and will always be the best way to help books find their ideal audience.
And if it happens that you absolutely hate it, that’s okay, too. I am fully aware that this book is very different from the rest of the series, which is reflected in the cover design, as well. It’s darker, more intense, more gut-wrenching. Because that’s what our world has become. But there are always lights shining in the darkness, whether they’re stars twinkling unreachably far above, or tiny candle lights flickering nearby, marking the warmth of comfort and safety.
I hope that, wherever you are, and whatever darkness surrounds you, you find that light for yourself.
Until next time, be safe, be healthy, and embrace as much happiness as comes your way.