Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of when I got the offer for Renegade X! I can’t believe it’s been 10 years, or all the crazy stuff that’s happened in between. Nothing’s gone how I thought it would, lol.
I believed the book was going to be a huge success and that I’d always be under contract and have a great career as a traditionally published author (except I didn’t think the “traditionally” part because indie wasn’t a thing then). Ha! Didn’t happen.
Years later, after it had gone out of print and I re-published it, along with the sequel, I believed I’d only sell a few copies. My grand hope was to sell 20 copies of book 2 a month. That also didn’t happen, but in a good way, because sales WAY exceeded that.
Both these stories make me laugh now.
And I remember before I was published how BADLY I wanted it and how sometimes–most of the time–it felt like I would never get there. And now that seems ridiculous.
I also remember the years when it felt like my career was over before it had really even started and how it felt like nothing was ever going to change. And now that feels ridiculous, too.
And in a few more years, I’ll probably look back at all the things I’m worrying about and struggling with right now and think lol, what was I worried about? Of course it all worked out!
But if someone had told me back in the day not to worry about getting published, that of course I was going to get there, of course I was going to be good enough and get noticed enough someday… I don’t think I could have gotten past my anxiety enough to listen. I would have thought that published authors always say that, because it’s easy for them, now that they’re not struggling. (Lol.) Maybe that’s true, and maybe that worry is important, to some extent.
But to all the aspiring writers out there, I’d like to say this: someday it will happen for you. Someday you’ll get that contract or that bump in sales that snowballs and changes everything.
And someday something else will go wrong, and you’ll think you screwed up your one chance at success, and it’s over.
But it’s not.
I’ve been participating in Inktober this year, where basically the goal is to draw every day in October. These were all done on the computer, with a tablet, in Krita, which is free, open-source software for artists that I highly recommend! I’ve tried to draw in Photoshop before, and I kind of hate it, and I’m really terrible at coloring things in it. I mean, let’s be honest, coloring has never been one of my strong points, but I feel like that’s changing with Krita. Because it turns out coloring things is a lot easier when you have limitless colors and, like, a bazillion different tools to use them with. As opposed to, say, an old box of crayons or colored pencils. Not that I’m still using crayons or anything, and I do have a box of not-that-old Prismacolor pencils, but it’s the smallest box and I don’t know how to blend anything.
Anyone else doing Inktober? Leave me a comment and a link to your gallery!
Unless you’re a mega bestseller, it’s really hard to make a living through writing in traditional publishing. Self-publishing makes it much easier for the average author (or “midlister”) to earn a real income. Self-publishing also pays monthly (with an initial two-month delay after publication), and you can see all of your sales numbers. In traditional publishing, on the other hand, you have no idea when you’ll get paid. When a publisher buys your book, they give you an advance on royalties (and these numbers range wildly–could be $5,000, could be $500,000, theoretically depending on how many copies they think they can sell in the first year, but honestly it feels pretty random, and different publishers will make completely different offers on the same books).
How many reviews you have–especially positive reviews, meaning four and five stars–also influences how the algorithms promote your book. One thing that The Rise of Renegade X had going for it when I republished it is it counted as a new release, since it had a new publisher, but it kept the reviews it had accumulated from its original publication. Meaning that the algorithms saw it as a “new book” that had a bunch of positive reviews from day one. That’s just my speculation, though, so take it with a grain of salt. Book 2 also did pretty well, and it didn’t start with any advantages, other than being the next book in the series. It also helped that I ended up releasing them at almost the same time, meaning they both ended up in Amazon’s Hot New Releases, and readers who enjoyed book 1 could just pick up book 2 and keep reading.
I was looking at some earlier posts, and apparently back in September I thought I was going to write ALL THE BOOKS this winter. I mean, I knew that was unrealistic, so I said I’d probably not have the next Renegade X book done until the end of this year. But what actually happened was I felt super burnt out on writing novels, after working crazy hard to get Phobia and Torment done, so I just didn’t.
Actually, I wrote a radio play. I knew audiobooks were a thing, but I only discovered audio dramas about a year and a half ago (thank you, Home Front), and it turns out I freaking love audio dramas.
I’m also working on a visual novel (it’s like Choose Your Own Adventure, but with pictures, if you’ve never played one). It’s pretty hilarious, if I do say so myself. (Which I do. Obviously.)
And another Dragonbound book and the next Renegade X book are in the works, plus something new I’ve been playing with.
I always thought I’d be the kind of author who could just do whatever was needed at any given time, but it turns out I’m not. Not being able to wrangle myself makes me feel like a bad writer, so I try not to think about it, because it’s not how I pictured myself when I dreamed of doing this as a career. But creativity is often hard to wrangle! (And adding health issues and energy problems into the mix just complicates things.) And the more I think about it, the more I think it probably doesn’t mean anything bad about my abilities as a writer. But it does mean that I don’t always work on the intended projects at the intended times, despite the fact that it feels like every other writer in the world is getting everything done when they say they will no matter what. (Even though I know they’re not. Well, maybe some of them are, but not all of them. Probably.)
So, yes, delays all around. Including a delay on the next audiobook, which I thought would also be out by now, though that one is for a completely different reason. Everyone involved is ready to go, but I have to wait for contracts (read: payment) from another project (one that will make Renegade X fans very happy, though I can’t reveal it yet), and I really thought they’d be done months ago, but they’re taking forever. But once all that gets sorted out, production will begin on the audiobook for book three. And once production begins, it really shouldn’t take very long for everything to get done and for it to come out.
I’ve also got some writing- and publishing-related posts coming up soon, too. People sometimes email me vague writing or publishing questions, and then I write them back with overwhelming emails containing everything I know on the subject. So I thought I’d comb through my emails and actually make some posts.
Since I’ve had several people ask recently, here’s a quick update on if/when The Betrayal of Renegade X will be an audiobook.
The answer to “if” is YES.
The answer to “when” is VERY SOON. I can’t give any specific dates yet, but production should start in a few weeks or so. At the moment, I anticipate a June release, but, again, I can’t be sure on the specifics yet, so keep in mind that that’s a tentative date. I will post updates once I know more.
First off, paperback and hardcover copies of The Phobia of Renegade X are now available!
And if you missed it, The Torment of Renegade X is also available in paperback.
Now, onto upcoming book announcements:
Book 2 in the Dragonbound series is called Honorbound. (You can add it on Goodreads here.) It’s not done yet, but I’m aiming for a late 2017/early 2018 release. Watch here for pre-order info or sign up for the newsletter (top of the left column on my website) to be notified when it goes up.
Virginia St. George thinks she’s finally found where she belongs. She’s been living with Amelrik and the other dragons of Hawthorne clan for the last few months, learning their language and traditions, and has become a useful part of the community. Or so she thinks.
But when Amelrik’s father announces that he’s arranged a marriage for him, and it turns out the general populace sees her as nothing more than a human leech taking advantage of their prince, Virginia realizes she wasn’t fitting in as much as she thought, and her place at Hawthorne clan is more tenuous than ever.
If she wants to keep the love of her life and the only place that’s ever really felt like home, Virginia will have to thwart an arranged marriage, stop a war, and prove that she’s just as worthy as the next dragon. Er, human. And she’ll have to do it fast, before time runs out and she’s forced to leave the dragon world forever.
There will also be a book 5 in the Renegade X series. It’s called The Rivalry of Renegade X. (You can add it on Goodreads, too.) While I don’t have a blurb for it yet, I can tell you that Damien’s “good twin” from another dimension shows up and makes Damien’s life more difficult. >:) I’m hoping to have this out sometime next year (probably late next year), but it’s way too early to say.
It’s out! The Phobia of Renegade X is finally here! It’s currently available in ebook format, with paperback and hardcover coming soon (like, hopefully within the next week), and audiobook coming… eventually (but realistically probably sometime next year–I’ll keep you posted). This book has been a long time coming, and I’m so excited to finally get to share it with you guys.
And if you missed the news, I had to change cover artists for this one, but I LOVE how it turned out!
Damien’s always been afraid of heights, but he’s never been afraid of fieldwork or of being in the spotlight. At least, he wasn’t before the gala—the one where his grandpa nearly caused a massacre and heroes from the League almost killed his best friend. Now he finds himself dreading the very things he used to love, and all he wants is to skate by in school, avoid fieldwork, and keep a low profile.
But avoiding his fears isn’t as easy as he hopes, especially when the school decides to send him and his best friend to hunt down a dangerous criminal. And as if that isn’t bad enough, it turns out he also has to pass a flying test if he wants to make it through the school year, even though his debilitating fear of heights means it’s pretty much impossible.
In order to pass the test and catch a criminal, Damien accepts help from unlikely allies. But when his mission goes south and he accidentally lets a terrible weapon fall into the wrong hands, he’ll have to overcome his doubts and save his friends from a psychotic killer bent on using his worst fears against him.
Ten years ago, I was just finishing up The Rise of Renegade X. (It was the summer after I graduated college–at 25, not 22 like you might be thinking–and the last Harry Potter book had just come out–I remember devouring it in between writing sessions.) I wrote book 1 in a 28-day whirlwind from concept to finish, and it was by far the best thing I’d ever written. (In fact, for a long time, I worried I’d never write anything as good as that, which thankfully wasn’t true.) A year and a half later, I added another 20k for an editor (which I wrote in a week), but otherwise, it was the same book it is now.
I didn’t write book 2 until six years and six books later, hence the jump in quality. That one took me three months to write, if you don’t count the five chapters I wrote before that but then couldn’t work on for, like, a year due to illness and having, like, no words in my brain. Despite getting temporarily better enough to work on the book, it didn’t last, and I went back to being blank and empty.
(If you’re wondering, I have an autoimmune disease–Hashimoto’s–and adrenal fatigue, which it turns out were caused by crazy severe food allergies. Mostly gluten. And grains. I know what you’re thinking, but gluten is seriously bad news and it sucked out my soul like a Dementor. It turns out autoimmune disease in general is caused by food allergies (mostly gluten, grains, and dairy), so if you have one, please Google the Autoimmune Protocol–it saved my life.)
Somehow I wrote book 3 while being blank and empty. Sometimes my brain would just go blank in the middle of a sentence, and I would have absolutely no idea what words to put next, and I’d have to walk away from it for a couple weeks until I could start thinking of words again. This forced start-and-stop method was really hard, and I don’t think I can express how frustrating it was. Once I finally started healing, I also realized how dampened my emotions were at the time. It’s not exactly that I couldn’t feel feelings… but I kind of couldn’t feel feelings. And yet somehow I wrote a book full of feelings. Just like how I wrote a book full of thoughts and words when my brain was very low on them. I honestly don’t know how I managed to write that book, though I know it was mostly done in little chunks over two years, so I guess that’s how, but still. The more I heal and the better I get, the more I look back and think, WTF? How in the hell did I manage to write any of that, let alone a whole book?
Book 4 took me a year and half, but I wrote most of it in the last six months. Coincidentally when I had some health breakthroughs and started feeling better. (Crazy, right?) It, too, was written in starts and stops and little chunks, though there were less starts and stops and the chunks were bigger, and my brain stopped crapping out in the middle of sentences. I still have trouble writing for long periods of time, and sometimes I hit my limit way earlier than I would like, but overall it’s getting easier. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write a book in a 28-day whirlwind again (though I wasn’t exactly healthy then, either, it just wasn’t as bad yet, so who knows?). I think these books have gotten too complicated for that, though I’d settle for a three-month writing binge, or maybe even a six-month writing binge, or maybe even a “just being able to write steadily in general” streak.
Anyway, I can’t believe I’ve been writing Renegade X books for ten years. In that time, only a year and a half has gone by for the characters. At this rate, even if I lived to be 100–and kept writing Renegade X books at the same pace the whole time–Damien would never be older than 27. How bizarre is that? Not that that’s how books work, and not that I’m saying that’s how it’s going to go. I’m just saying the time difference between my life and theirs is very different.