Tell Me What It’s Like

Carolina Renaissance Faire

I was born a storyteller with an imagination that had no boundaries. Fantasy and reality were all the same to me as a child. As I grew older, imaginary friends became characters, and adventures became novels.

Every week, I find myself answering questions about Rogue series, what it’s like being a writer and the many how’s and why’s that go along with the path I’ve chosen. Many of them are the same, but they are fair questions.

More and more people are taking their dreams into their own hands and making them into a success, and it’s stirring a hunger in others. I know that feeling. I had it three years ago when I published my first novel and had a taste of what life could be if I worked hard enough.

Over the last three years, I’ve found a wealth of failures. Yet those failures set me up for success. I’ve learned how to run a business, sell a product, and network with the right people to build a following and media connections. I’ve learned what not to do. I fell on my face a lot. I also felt foolish a lot, but I grew and I changed and gained a wealth of experience in the process..

So far it’s been the most exciting and frustrating venture of my life.

Three years later, I sell more of The Royal Rogue each month than I did in its first month of release. I paid my car payment on book sales alone last month (not including royalty sales from other retailers). Freelance writing and editing expands my income and keeps me active in the industry. This year, I introduced the Riddles and Rogues brand to the online marketplace where I am currently building a line of fantasy-based products that will keep people coming back in between books.

And if you asked me today how I did this, I would just smile and tell you there was a point somewhere that I just gave up trying to delicately tip-toe around failure and started taking chances. I thought outside the box, and I forced myself to try the things that scared me.

Only then did I start to find success.

So about those questions…. I get the same ones over and over again. Good questions. Many of them I had myself before I started this crazy career path, so I thought it was time I started to share them:

What’s it like being an independent author?
Being an independent author is being a sales person, a bookkeeper, a COO, CEO, Event Planner, Marketer, Copywriter and Graphic Designer, all in the same day. It’s early mornings and long nights, and no boss to lean over your shoulder and keep you on task. You’re it, and that means only you can hold yourself accountable for that next pay check.

The reward is the freedom to do what you love and call it a career. I worked as a freelancer before, and so I’m not unaccustomed to this sort of lifestyle. However, most people aren’t. Transitioning from working under a boss to working for yourself is an intimidating journey that few have the courage to do. It isn’t for everyone. If you want to take this path, but need to have full security to make that first step, you’ll probably never make it.

That doesn’t mean you should wake up one day aspiring to be an author or freelancer and quit your job on a whim. I could go into the details behind business plans, financial plans, research and prep work that should come beforehand, but that would take a whole book just to scratch the surface!

Instead, I say if you have a dream, then take the time and the effort to do it right. Do your research. Create a detailed plan, then don’t be afraid to test it a bit before putting it into action. Execution plans that look good on paper don’t always play out so well in practice. So practice. Figure out what works and what doesn’t.

You can read all the books in the world and exhaust every resource for advice, but in the end experience will be your best teacher. You’re going to mess up. You’re going to get let down. Get over it, get up, and try again. Eventually, you’ll start to get it right.

So does being an author mean you just sit at home and write books all day?

Ah, no. Writing and editing is my bread winner. That career branches off into several different directions. The main two branches fall under me working for individual clients and one small businesses as a copywriter and an editor. The Rogue series is just another branch; another form of writing that pulls in income. However, the release of Chivalry’s Code will mark a change in direction where the books become a much bigger focus. Remember that business plan I mentioned earlier? It starts with Chivalry’s Code’s release and extends into a new branch tentatively named, “Riddles and Rogues”.

You can follow me on Facebook to see what that means in the coming months, but in summary I am a renaissance writer that pens and edits fiction novels, articles, features, web content, marketing collateral, contracts, social media posts, blogs, and everything in between.

Where are you with Chivalry’s Code? It’s taking forever.

Yes… yes it is. I may or may not have lost what was left of my sanity in the writing of this second novel. I scrapped two 300+ page manuscripts before settling on this latest one, but looking back I can see that it was all a process of finding the soul behind this story.

Chivalry’s Code deals with Jaycent (who now goes by the alias “Jaspur Clovenhoof”) twelve years after the fall of his kingdom. What’s left over is a rogue with a lot of haunted memories and the heavy burdens that guilt and loss have left him to deal with. Jaspur faces the very real, very plausible effects of the war he fights, including what we would describe today as PTSD and depression.

His wounds nearly consume him as he realizes that the redemption he is fighting for is not what he once hoped. He can win the war, but it will not bring back the dead. Nor will it change the mistakes he made that effected so many others. Houses can be rebuilt. Banners can replace the ugly colors of the past. But people? Well, they aren’t so easy to fix.

All the characters have changed. Some for the better. Others not so much. Yet for a heavy book, there’s a humor between the pages that reminds the characters that light and levity still exists between the growing swell of enemies they slink between. They keep fighting for something. Even if they aren’t always sure what that something is, they know it’s there, and they keep seeking it.

I shed more than a few tears when writing this book. There’s a lot of emotions transposed into these pages, and a lot of empathy for a rogue that I don’t always agree with, but most certainly understand.

I am currently reworking the final chapters. A process that will likely take another month or two at least since it’s only one “branch” of many that keep my bills paid and my belly full, but I look forward to introducing it to the world this year. I hope you all will find it as good as the first novel, if not better.

How did you become a writer?

Whenever people ask me how to become a writer, I am always at a loss for answers. I want to say that it’s all a matter of discipline and that when you really want to do something, you find a way to make it happen.

But I was born a storyteller with an imagination that had no boundaries. Fantasy and reality were all the same to me as a child. As I grew older, imaginary friends became characters, and adventures became novels.

I often joke and say that being a writer is, in essence, a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. Although I don’t look at my characters as “real people”, they are intricately developed to work autonomously inside my imagination. Each character has a history. They have a childhood full of memories, and fears and dreams that are all their own. Their voice has a sound inside my head, and accents that are unique to where they were raised. When I write, I can see and hear them as vividly as I can see and hear a friend sit across the table as we have coffee. The crinkle of their eyes as they are deep in thought; the subtle twitch at the corner of their mouth when they try to hide their amusement; the flick of their eyes as they turn their gaze in attempt to avoid the truth. Writing my books is like transcribing a movie that plays inside my head. I simply jot down events as they unfold inside my imagination.

I’m sure psychologists would have a field day analyzing that one, but for me this is just who I am. Not to say that writing a novel is easy. In reality, it’s tiring, and frustrating, and it will sometimes test your sanity as you try to make it all come together in a cohesive plot. Yet the best of writers have all tried to quit only to find that they can’t.

The best stories won’t go away until they’re told.

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