I have a B.S. in Industrial Psychology, and had my sights set on a human resource career. As a naive new adult, I thought human resources would be a great job. At the time, I didn’t realize human resources meant protecting the company and not so much the employee. It’s a darn good thing I didn’t go that route. I would’ve never survived having to lay people off during the economic downturn this country took. Instead, I was a retail manager of a window covering store and then a Jamba Juice. I have very fond memories of my time at Jamba Juice. I’d have anywhere from twenty to twenty-five employees (mostly teenagers) who worked for me at any given time. Over ten years later, I’m still close to a couple of them.
After my retail days, my husband and I started our own glass business making glass beads and collector marbles. I mostly sold my beads online and at industry trade shows to jewelry designers and bead stores. Late last year, I made the decision to retire from my end of the glass business to focus on my writing career. I still make beads, but it’s more of a hobby for me now.
When did you decide you wanted to be a writer and why?
Like most writers, I’ve always had a love of books and in the back of my mind I always thought I’d write one someday. I’d written a few things down over the years, but lacked focus. Then in 2007, one of my friends posted about NANO (National Novel Writing Month). She was going to write a book in a month. I thought that sounded like fun, so on a whim I decided to join her. I only got thirty-seven thousand words down that November, but I was totally hooked. I loved making up my own stories and putting them to paper…err, computer. 😀 Writing soon became my passion.
Did you traditionally publish or attempt to traditionally publish before going indie?
I did the query-go-around for a while. The book I queried was Haunted on Bourbon Street, the first book in my Jade Calhoun series. I had some agent interest, but no offers and the few editors I pitched all told me the same thing: Ghost stories don’t sell. That was disheartening to know the book wouldn’t even get a chance. But I kept writing anyway.
Why did you ultimately choose indie publishing?
I was in the middle of writing Influential Magic when I read an article on Amanda Hocking and all that she achieved self-publishing. That was March of 2011 and at the time, I didn’t even know Kindle Direct Publishing existed. I’d bought the line that writers who were serious about their careers did not self-publish. And darn it, I was serious. But that very day, I Googled the heck out of self-publishing and after two days of reading everything I could, I knew I was going for it. The golden opportunity to control my writing career was within my reach and I wasn’t going to miss it.
Tell us about your average work day?
My husband gets me up at nine am. Then we take a forty-five minute walk. From there I spend the rest of my morning and sometimes part of the afternoon doing office work for our glass business. While I don’t make product much anymore, my husband does, and I’ve been running the business end for ten years.
Then I start writing in the afternoon and am often up until 2:00 am. Not every day is spent writing though. There are editing days, book cover days, audio books to proof, social media, and about a hundred other things that all vie for my attention. I’m trying my best to make my days mostly about the writing though. It’s tough when you run two successful businesses. It seems there is never enough time to get everything done.
If you could change one thing you did when pursuing your indie career, what would it be?
I’d write faster, and I would’ve found a way to get to some writers’ conferences. Connections go a long way in this business and I’ve been fortunate enough to make some amazing ones online, but nothing beats face to face.
What one piece of advice would you give indies just starting out?
Just write and get your work out there on every venue possible. I think it goes without saying one should make sure their books are well edited, but I can’t help but put this out there again. Reviews about bad editing do not go away and it is one of the easiest things to control if you hire the right help. And then write some more. While marketing is important, I think it’s more important once you have some sort of backlist. It’s difficult to push just one book. It can be done, but marketing is much more effective with the more books you have out.
Everyone loves to hear about money, so tell us something that will give indie authors hope.
I published my first book in July of 2011. That year I barely made $2,500. In 2012, I published two more and made just shy of six figures. This year? I’ve already published two books and am working on releasing two more. Money this year? A lot more than last year.
Tell us a little about your books.
I have four books in my Jade Calhoun series. Jade is a reluctant empath/witch who lives on Bourbon Street in New Orleans and is constantly the target of dark forces. Fortunately she has an amazing boyfriend and a fiercely loyal group of friends who are always by her side fighting the good fight. They walk through Hell—literally—for each other, all while Jade is constantly finding out painful pieces of her past that she never knew.
This spring I published Influential Magic, the first book in my Crescent City Fae series. Willow Rhoswen is a life faery, owner of The Fated Cupcake, and an agent of the Void branch of the Arcane, a secret government agency of all things paranormal. She has a special skill, besides her ability to make magically enhanced baked goods. She can sense when vampires are near. It’s her job to warn other agents when they are on the hunt for rouge vamps. Her skills are unique and dangerous, which make her a target to the most powerful in the city. It’s a good thing she has Link, her werewolf shifting shih tzu, Phoebe her witch roommate, and Talisen, her life-long crush to help her wade through New Orleans’ political landmines.
In parting, tell us one interesting thing about yourself that people may not know.
In 2003, my husband and I made a major life change. We quit out jobs, sold our house and most of our stuff, and then moved into an RV to travel the US for five years. It was along the way that we started our glass business and also when I first started playing around with writing. I credit this one decision as the turning point for making glass and writing possible in my life. When I was working the corporate world, I never had enough mental energy to devote to my creative side. And taking that leap showed me how courageous I could be when I set my mind to it.
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