A year ago today, I published THE GIRL, the first book in my paranormal trilogy, The Sanctum.
Three hundred and sixty five days later, here’s what I know:
- There is nothing quite like writing a book – the highs, the lows, the character studies, the dialogue, the edits (ugh! the edits), the conversations about story lines, the discussions about cover art, the minute your character comes to life on the page, her first kiss, his mischievous grin, a vampire’s lust, a warrior’s pain. It’s overwhelming and exhausting and brilliant and wondrous and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
- A very close second to writing the book is meeting all of the people who actually enjoy your book. Because if you’re lucky, there are quite a few of them, and they aren’t shy about contacting you and letting you know that what you’re doing is all kinds of awesome. Besides your insatiable, uncontrollable need to write, these folks – the fans – are what keep you going. The little notes they send, the comments on your blog, the tweets or the Facebook messages – those things make it totally worth it and all kinds of crazy fun.
- My family is awesome and without them, and their unending patience, there would be no Dev and Wyatt. They’ve read my books and insist, in their “objective opinion”, they are the best things since sliced bread. And here and there, I catch them staring at me funny, wondering where the hell I come up with the ideas I put down on paper.
- I’ve made some wonderful, crazy talented, generous writer and artist friends this past year. I met Kayti when she reviewed THE GIRL, I met Sabina through another writer who hooked is up via Twitter, I met Joy and Rose through my writer friend, Lilo, who I met via Twitter (I think!), I met Kevin at my first book club event, held at the very fabulous 9th & Coles Tavern in downtown Jersey City (if you haven’t stopped by there before, I highly recommend doing so, it’s awesome and Greg and Tony rock). I met Hana, who brings my characters to life with her awesome illustrations, through her sister, Kayti. I met Thelonious via a Black Girl Nerds tweet, I met Teshelle when I came across her intriguing book on dragons. I met Shonda when she so generously granted me my first interview and I met Christa when she handled all the details of that interview. And although I met Michele before I started writing The Girl, she and I have become very close this past year – she is SO much more than just my favorite book cover designer and a fabulous Art Bitch and I love her madly. As you can see, I’ve put together a pretty cool and diverse crew. I’m totally lucky because they totally rock.
- I’ve learned that haters gonna hate and the best way to handle said haters is to grow some thick skin. Fast.
- Second to my love of writing is my love of blogging. Why can’t someone pay me to blog? Which is akin to asking why can’t someone pay me to write…
- I can’t write The Sanctum without my friend, Corey. It sounds silly but it’s true. She and I are fantasy nerds, devouring and discussing books every chance we get. She’s been with me, urging The Sanctum along since the beginning, when this thing was a baby, just a thought, and her readings of what I write are vital and necessary. Up until a few days ago, she had not yet read my manuscript for Book III and as much as I love what I’ve been creating, it just didn’t feel right without our discussions on my progress and her stamp of approval. Well, that’s been fixed and the world is back on its axis, tilted just so – I managed to steal some of Corey’s time, she’s read what I’ve written so far, loves it (yea!), critiqued it, and I can now finish what I started a year ago.
- Marketing yourself sucks ass. I hope everyone who reads this knows that I abhor doing it, despite the fact that my actions might suggest otherwise. I hope you understand the relentless postings on Facebook are a necessary evil and I would love to be able to avoid them. I also hope you know I hate talking about myself and my work, but have little choice but to do so, especially since I really, really want people to read my books.
- The We Need Diverse Books campaign is the brilliant child of Young Adult author Ellen Oh and I am so pleased to be a part of the effort, working to diversify the literary landscape, one book at a time. As a woman of color who loves to read, and has loved to read since she was a child, I really can’t think of anything more important than revamping the publishing world to include ALL OF OUR STORIES, not just those of a select few. There is nothing quite like opening a book and being able to see yourself in a character. Please support the cause by visiting WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS and consider donating to the fundraiser. It’s a dollar well spent.
- And last, but so not least, is Denise. My friend and fellow writer, Kayti Nika Raet, says that her goal for this year is to make a fanatic fan of her series. I don’t know if I would describe Denise as fanatic, but she is my staunchest supporter, a devoted fan, and the kind of reader every author hopes to attract. We met when she left me a review on Goodreads and have since become pretty good friends through our love of books, old buildings, France, and goats. She read books I and II as a fan and is reading book III as an invaluable beta reader. She’s funny, she’s smart, her husband is an incredible pastry maker, and I wish she still lived in New York so we could hang in real time. Every writer should have a Denise in their lives – just don’t even think about stealing mine.
So on that note, happy birthday to me, Madhuri Blaylock the writer, which sounds SO much better than Madhuri Blaylock the attorney, it’s been a most fabulous year and I’ve loved every freaking second of it.
Now onwards and upwards with year two.