So today I decided to write a journal on my journey to getting my book published. I was asked to think about how far I’ve gotten as I am being interviewed by one of the local vloggers here in Halifax.
So I figured the best way to do that is to write out where I started as to where I am now; which I might add is a LONG way from where I was.
So back in 1997 no long after my son was born, I had a moment where I realized I was more like my uncle who’d come out to me a few years prior than I’d realized. And even though he’d decided I wasn’t part of his family anymore I felt a certain sense of pride in who he was and how he decided to be himself. I’ll always be thankful to him for that, even if he has this tendency to be hateful to those who support him. Sometimes I believe those who lash out only do so because they too have difficulties accepting even themselves. I hope one day he finds peace within himself.
So my journey of self discovery began when I realized that all the relationships I’d ever been in were never about the sexual attraction, but of romantic attachment and I wasn’t just attracted to guys but gals as well. So over the years it took me a LONG time to learn I wasn’t just Bi but I was Ace as well. (Which I might add is VERY damn confusing considering I have kids!) So the long and the short of it is this. Asexual people don’t necessary abstain from intimacy. We just don’t have that same “feel” to attraction as most straight CIS folk do. Most of the time an attraction to another is mostly physical before it’s mental. For me it’s solely just the romantic attraction to one’s personality and their smarts. Physical attraction I realized at about twenty eight or so wasn’t part of who I was. Oddly enough though I had a few kids by this time.
Why? Well because to me the act of intimacy wasn’t at all part of my relationships but a means to satisfy my partner. To put myself out there for their needs. Sadly most didn’t understand that sacrifice (and this is why many of my relationships failed, because they were purely physical while I was purely mental) I seen intimacy as a duty, a past time, a sacrifice to my partner to give them joy (I mean come on now, guys do shit they hate for us all the time … right?) and even though my partners had heard my thoughts on this I didn’t understand until I was about twenty eight what it all meant. To most guys; sex was all about showing love and caring… to me it wasn’t any more important than doing dishes or cleaning the house; which I might add; ALSO showed you cared, loved and respected someone. (something you don’t have to do, but do anyway because to me actions speak louder than words)
With this now more clear to me I became even more attached to the LGBTQ community. I’d already been part of it for quite some time and was learning more and more. Self discovery was amazing and things clicked more than they didn’t. One evening I’d been sitting down and was thinking of something to do. Being the creative type I decided to tackle a story, but not any old story. I wanted something that was fanciful, magical, true to life, coming of age, self realization with a twist of faith, queerness, and a dash of romance.
It took me a few days to decide how I was going to create my characters. I had people I knew in my circle of friends. Throughout my life as well within the queer community and those I’d crossed paths with as a foster child in the relentless system of foster care. I decided to create characters with different traits, personalities and looks of several people I knew. Some who’d passed due to suicide as I felt those “What if’s” (They survived, how would their life had turned out?) needed to have a story. Some I knew were part of the LGBTQ community. Others I had no idea but their orientation wasn’t of my concern, I wanted the person I knew, or their looks, or their quirks, or brains as part of my characters life. So I delved into bringing those characters to life.
Aikrii was based on 3 different people I knew. One who had passed due to mental health issues but he was SO damn smart it hurt to learn that all the bullying he’d faced in Jr High and most of high school caused him to give up in the end. This person was Aikrii’s brains.
Another young man I met in Sarnia Ontario was Aikrii’s looks. Standing at about five foot six he had a very nice dark complexion and resembled the Italian heritage very strongly, oddly though he’d green eyes; which threw people off. I found him rather pretty. Aikrii also contained a bit of me. His abuse he’d faced in the story were small parts of things I myself had faced as a child. (Although not all of it)
His character comes to life at about fifteen going on sixteen and he’s already “Out” but to his family, where as in the book he’s tossed “Out” to his school and it caused a HUGE upheaval in his life. However without it he’d have never met Mani the 2nd character I’d created.
Mani was based on a few people. NOW… I didn’t have his defined looks till much later; Just that he was a red head with purple eyes. It was when I stumbled across a vine video creator that I realized he was what I was what I’d envisioned all along. When I saw him I actually yelled. “Oh my fucking God! He looks JUST how I vision Mani! Only Mani has red hair.” I was absolutely delighted, (like seriously tickled, I giggled like a school girl!) it’d taken sixteen years for me to find Mani’s face. He was a SPIT of Thomas Sanders, except Mani has red hair and a fictional condition called Alexandria Genesis which causes him to have pale skin and purple eyes. Something my character Mani had, and his hair and eye coloring were actually based off of another person I knew and his looks were mixed to create this character. Mani’s artistic abilities although more pronounced than my own were a combination of my own and another artist I knew as a teen. Her abilities stunned me and I felt that my character needed the same ones so that ability was put into him as well. Mani’s compassion comes from a foster parent I had growing up and it’s with all of these that his character came to life.
Now people ask me all the time. “What’s your book about?”
Well that was a difficult thing to answer as it’s not about one thing. It’s about a lot of things. Self discovery is part of it but more along the lines of growth while living in the queer community and above all ACCEPTANCE which is something I’ve always had a problem getting myself. (although I didn’t require validation, acceptance was a different matter to me) Some people find me overbearing, loud and “too happy” as I’ve been told more than once. (yes, too happy) I’m me, I’m happy with who I am even if others aren’t. I’m best in small doses.
I am one who’s happily excited for a friends accomplishments. I would defend them with every ounce of UMPH I had. (yes sometimes even when I know they might be wrong) but that comes back just as strong when you’re an enemy. I’m a person who lacks tact when I speak… not something I’m proud of but it’s my main weakness and I’m not ashamed to admit that sometimes I come off as a bitch. (It’s actually not intended for the most part…mines just the verbal aspect to resting bitch face LOL) Hey what can I say, ya can’t please everyone; and frankly I don’t think I wanna try either. (It’d be exhausting!)
Anyway back to my book. I decided that with my characters they needed friends. Passions, career paths, family of their own either parents/siblings or ones that they “chosen” or ones that came from personal growth. I also decided that my story needed to be told in sections so a series was settled on and for me it started off with three books. I focused the towns on Halifax NS and Ottawa Ontario. I HAD decided into book 2 to change the cities names to Curre and Kearney (A lake in Halifax, but used in regards to Ottawa) It wasn’t until I was on book five I decided to change the cities back to their intended origins.
ANYWAY, a good friend Michie (you nut bar, I love you!) told me I couldn’t end with three as we didn’t learn about the other brother (Sam) from the second book. That there were too many unanswered questions in my stories that just had to be answered. SO it grew, to five books. (on her encouragement ALONE) Four which are completed and the fifth about seven chapters away from being done.
My first two books start off with the main characters, then go to their two friends Josh and Dante. It progresses to the third book that involves the other family members and the straight CIS side of the two main characters lives, although they are still part of the series as a whole. It shows acceptance, growth, love and a splash of the mysterious and spiritual. It brings forth acknowledgment to mental health, bullying and then some. The 4th book focuses on the twin brother of Dante from the 2nd book; (Sam) and his relationship with someone in a position of authority. (Xavier) and their own life struggles with back lash on them for being part of the queer community and hate crimes. The fifth book is more for the ladies and centers around two characters briefly mentioned in Josh and Dante’s story, the owners to their build; Joane and Claire; who end up part of their family dynamics by choice. (You’ll have to read it to learn how it’s quite a sweet and huge sacrifice to say the least) I have plans for other books. I believe the 6th will focus on everyone as a whole as the main outline. Their lives as they have progressed over a span of approximately fifteen years. Aikrii will be about thirty years old and Mani about thirty-two or so. The fundamental aspects to this one will be on family, how their children cope with those in their community who will bully them for having two fathers. The support they get from those around them and then some. The last one of my books will ultimately be the ending with my main characters lives closing after being followed for over twenty years and how their family grew. The trials and more they had all faced and the spiritual aspect I had spun into the first three books will be brought to the front once again. *Hint… if you’ve read them, think of the angel from book 3*
I started all of this with the notion I’d one day get published. Even if it was on line. I checked over and over again on self publishing. It was costly. VERY costly. I had started a Gofund me account with NO luck. (It has since been edited to encourage support on my 2nd book!) I had to save a LONG time once I finally put my mind to doing it. TWENTY years after I had written my 1st books outline (by hand) and 11 years after I had typed it up on the computer.
I started with a thought. Out lined it for six years. Put in points/ideas/details on characters/looks/personalities. (some characters visual looks and aspects took longer than others) Devised a plot.
Thought of a story line to follow. Gave it some romance and a spiritual yet magical touch and kept it to the queer community.
I started writing the whole thing in 2006 and it took me three weeks to finish the 1st book. (with spelling mistakes, poor grammar and all)
I continued with the 2nd book a month later. I took my time and finished the second one in 3 months. (that too with the mess the 1st was in, BUT it was much better) I posted it in Nifty. Within weeks of that I had fans writing me. Some pouring their hearts out and telling me my story struck a cord with them and thanking me for keeping it “real” and not all smut. This kind of fan mail and feed back encouraged me to write my 3rd. I was working full time by now and getting ready to move back to NS so I wasn’t on line to write as much but I did when I could. A year after my 1st book was done my 3rd was completed and even though I had spelling issues the corrections were made easier than the 1st book which I was then editing to be better than it was.
Now book four took a turn… mainly because I got sick, then I had a little one. It took me FOUR YEARS to finish that one *I had lost the SD card everything was on. (In the mean time I had also written several fan fictions when I was dealing with being ill and raising a new baby)
I did finish it though. Thankfully. NOW I’m working on Joane and Claire’s story. My BFF Clara is my main character in this book and YES she’s well aware. (I had to make my fav gal into one of my characters, and with a touch of sassy I also gave her red hair LOL) Now this book is only about seven chapters from being completed. I haven’t done much writing on it but I will be once my 1st book is re-edited.
NOW back to my 1st book. I approached a few Deviants about doing the cover for my book Sigeel (Linda Sejic) was my 2nd one on my list and I got a hold of her back in May of this year and asked her if she could help. She happily accepted and I was MORE than thrilled because I had her on my top 3 artists that I was considering (All unknowingly vying for that #1 spot on my fav list but I couldn’t decide 100% on who it was because I loved all their work.) Now I could have done the art myself. (although I’m no where near as good at the ones I’d considered to ask) but I wanted to focus on my writing.
So needless to say I was over the moon when I got the rough drafts and elated when I got the final piece. Linda had outdone herself. I wish I could have said the same for the editor I’d hired. (My friend Nancy who is NOW working on my 1st book re-editing it, she is a SAINT!) said it’s obvious the 1st person did NOT read it at all mainly due to the horrible grammar/punctuation issues throughout the book. (Now I will be the 1st to say my grammar/punctuation SUCKS. This is why I needed an editor in the 1st place) but I was happy to know there wasn’t any spelling mistakes although misplaced words or missing sections (Opps) from when I 1st edited it myself back in 2010. *ugh. So now comes the printing aspect.
I approached a friend of mine (Shaun) who is a printer. He agreed to assist me but I had to pay several of the costs in regards to this (some costs were cut on a one time deal) and I happily agreed. I’d been saving for a YEAR to do this. $140.00 CAD to pay my Artist. $100 total towards editing help and yes I’m still paying for that… and $925 to get my books printed and perfect bound. ISBN number was free. YEAH.
So I had my books done in about a weeks time. NOW I had to do the hard part. Sell them. (OH joy!)
I sent in two to the Library Archives of Canada in Ottawa. (This is required to prove copyright, and for legal deposit on written works you sell.) and then I took that risk of sending one to Nimbus a publishing company here in Halifax. (I shook when I did this… fear of the rejection letter is something I had to over come when it came to doing this.) I also submitted my works to four other major publishers. I sent it to Amazon/Kindle as well (and it got accepted even in it’s unpolished form) I then decided to reach out to local shops. Venus envy a sexual health shop also now carries my book.
Needless to say I chased a dream. I also took that dream and ran with it hoping it would fly. What started off as an idea blossomed into a full blown book series; 20 years in the making. There have been some bumps, but all in all I’m SO very pleased with what I started out to do. The start of my number one bucket list item has been done. Now this isn’t to say it was easy.
I’ve had MORE naysayers than I care to recall. People who scoffed or laughed at my ambitions to see this book succeed. Even a person I worked with laughed at me when I said IF my book takes off “I want to stay living in my community I’ll just move down further from where I am now” and she laughed at me saying “Good luck, even we can’t afford a place there.”
My thoughts that evening on her negativity was this. (and yes I damn well hope she sees this)
Look dear, I don’t care if you have a wonderful life or a shitty one, you don’t need to bring me down with you. It’s all in how you make it. Sure maybe you can’t take me being all sunshine and rainbows thinking I’m blowing it outta my ass; but you know what? I had a dream. I followed it and I SUCCEEDED! NOW if my book takes off and does well, that; well that would be a bonus for those in MY community. People I’d help… IF and only if I became successful past publishing my story. (and yer damn straight I will buy a home in your area as cost likely won’t be an issue.) Now you can be negative Nelly all you want, BUT let me ask you… when was the last time YOU successfully chased a dream?
My dreams are just that…a wonderful dream; if they succeed then so be it. If not well so what I accomplished the MAIN part of my goal. It’s a HELL of a lot more than I can say for someone who’d rather put a person down than pick them up.
Jealously is a ugly thing to wear… but I got to admit. You wear it well.
I pray life gets better for you so you don’t have to walk around with that ugly outfit on for the rest of your life. Cause you know… people notice.
On the opposite end of the spectrum in regards to people; I have nothing but respect and I am HUMBLED by the support I’ve gotten from my friends along the way.
Nancy for being there and helping when I needed an editor. God love you girl you are a SAINT!
Nan for being SO DAMN encouraging (even though she hates my cussing… you do wonderful putting up with my bullshit Nan and I love you for it!) Thanks ❤
Shaun, because without him; There’d be no book in the first place.
My kids Satisha, Bryan and Ḉamaya – for being supportive. (yes even Satisha, for when she was..even though she’s not now.) They did their part while they endured my writing. They either raved or raged about what I was doing in regards to my books. Cried at me killing off characters and gave me some amazing ideas. Thanks
Shelley and Clara for being amazing people, my best friends. Without either of them I wouldn’t be who I am now.
and yes…Darren – Because you taught me that you have to be true to yourself and even if you hate me… I STILL admire you for teaching me that. No one else did and I’m so sorry for the struggles you’ve faced. I wish I could have done more for you, but at least you gave me TWO wonderful characters for my books, both your good and bad sides Dante and Sam breath because of your personality. Thanks for that as well, and I still love you, even if you can’t love yourself.
All in all my dream has turned into a wondrous journey. I’m always surprised every day about the progress I’ve made with my 1st book. It’s beyond amazing some days. I feel so small compared to the success of others but that feeling of each tiny successful step no matter how little it is; is actually so very HUGE to me. (and overwhelming sometimes) It makes my head spin.
I want to do SO much for those in my community if things take off. My main goal IF the dream flies; is to give people a reason to smile. No really… because people here are poor/low income most can’t afford dental work. So many go without. Many; like myself in the past; that I know won’t smile because their teeth are just too far gone. The costs are horrendous. I pray all the time that this book goes somewhere so I can help people, because what says you care more than putting a smile on someones face.
My future goals in regards to all of this is to see my whole series published. Maybe one day it will happen. Maybe not. It all depends on how far I’m willing to run with it, and you can’t take off if you stay still on the ground.
So if you can support my dream, donate $5. (or more if you wish).
And bless you! ❤