The Bitch

My mother was a bitch. As simple as that. She had no love in her at all. She didn’t understand the concept. It wasn’t a part of her tool kit. What she felt for my father was lust, not love. It ruined their marriage. They never divorced, but for my father it was loveless.

 I quickly learned as a child not to do anything to make her unhappy.  She downplayed my intelligence, my abilities, encouraged me not to look too far afield for satisfaction, to accept less than I wanted.  She taught me basically that I was worthless and had no business striving for anything worth anything. So I failed. I failed at life and I failed at hope. I failed at ambition and I failed at discipline. She took tasks from me that she thought were beyond my abilities to complete which left me believing I couldn’t complete anything.

I gave up somewhere in the ninth grade year of my life. I’d managed to remain hopeful until then, but at some point that year, with everything going for me, I turned away and surrendered to the meaningless, the pointless, the mundane.

Don’t tell me a certain generation of parents were like this. Don’t excuse her sad excuse for parenting as okay. It left me at 68 years old a failure at everything including the thing I would love for anything in the world to see succeed. I don’t promote the books I’ve written, the books I’ve slaved over to make shiny because telling people I’ve got something I made that they’d really want to enjoy is abhorrent to the child in me whose mother said I “just missed the boat on being a genius.” Leaving a child feeling boatless and not smart at all.

I’m glad she’s dead, and I will never apologize for that.

Sometimes Winning IS Everything


I am proud to announce that Blooded (Book 3) has won this year’s IRDA YA category!

I’ve said it before, and here I’m saying it again. I suck at the marketing thing. The truth is even if you put everything on the line and promote like you’ve got the cure for the common cold, all that work can’t and doesn’t guarantee book sales, even in traditional publishing, much less in self-publishing.  Beyond that, as an author who follows (on Twitter) and likes (on Facebook) a great many other authors, I find nothing more irritating than someone who has nothing to say except “buy my book” ad nauseum. (This isn’t news to those who have read my blog before.)

So marketing—the promoting of self and self’s books—leaves me on the limited edge of what little sanity I still possess. Because here’s the truth; promoting your book mainly to other authors is a relatively futile endeavor. You need to find readers, and readers aren’t following unknown authors on social media; they’re out there reading authors they’ve heard of before. Sigh.

I knew early on that standing on a street corner with a sign pointing to where my books were on sale wasn’t for me. Instead I entered a few contests, most of which I flamed out on, but the one that has provided me consistent excellent reviews and a win last year for Tainted (Book 2 of the Lisen of Solsta trilogy) in the Young Adult category was with their Indie Reader Discovery Awards (IRDA). I was thrilled beyond on thrilled when I got word of that because that I could promote.  Welcome to déjà vu all over again.

To celebrate this event, books 1 and 2 (Fractured and Tainted) are being offered free from today, May 29, 2015 through Tuesday, June 2, 2015, and Blooded, this year’s winning concoction, is on sale for the first time EVER for $0.99.

And here’s the best part.  The trilogy is complete, so you can binge on all three books and not have to wait for a sequel. Now that’s worth something.

We Need a Hero Who Looks Like Us

It began in 1977. Somebody…God, the Goddess, whoever…said, “Thou shalt,” and I did. Thirty-seven years later, and finally, I can say, “It’s done.”

I wrote a story about a girl with a mythical destiny. Along the way I learned all sorts of stuff—like, there is a male model of myth. Male heroes fight their way out of things, killing a lot of people along the way and making a huge mess which someone has to clean up, and you know who, right? Not that Lisen doesn’t fight; she does. Not that Lisen doesn’t kill; she has. But after every step I went through to get here (write a book, check; write more books, check; rewrite the first book, done; self-publish, start all over again, self-publish again, start all over again, all check; self-publish all three books for real in the end, check) I realized that something had to give.

Back in 2005 when Revenge of the Sith was released, a short documentary appeared on the extras DVD. It was called “The Chosen One.” In it George Lucas explained how Anakin Skywalker was, indeed, the Chosen One of the Jedi prophecy. As he showed us why this worked (something I already understood), he spoke of how Anakin/now Darth Vader lost some of his power with the Force when he was maimed to the point of near-death.

Wait a minute, whoa, that’s not how I see it. Power comes from within, not from the physical body.


That’s it. Who came up with these myths—the ones on which we base all our fantasies and life-changing stories? They may come from myths from the times of matriarchy, but they’ve been redressed and retold for the profit of men so many times that they now follow the very-much-physical male model.


So I asked myself, “Self, how can I change this? What must I do to take my female protagonist without female baggage from the point of being the ignorant-young-person-with-no-idea-who-he/she-is and turn her into the hero of a myth based on the power-from-within female model?”

Oh, and then there was this other thing. A reviewer of book 2 (Tainted) said, “In leaving her parents and childhood on Earth behind, Lisen has been forced to rise to the occasion and prepare herself to become the adult her empire requires. This transition parallels the mental and physical changes of puberty, and thus might especially appeal to the young adult reader.” – See more at:

Well, that was an assignment I hadn’t anticipated. I was the kid who, when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, replied, “Peter Pan.” And I was going to have to make growing up look like a good thing? I sat back, considered where Lisen was going to end up at the end of the story. Did it play up the perks of adulthood, you know, the good stuff? What good stuff you ask? Oh, let’s see, responsibility, freedom that isn’t freedom, life choices that wring your heart. Yeah, that sort of thing.

Okay, so Lisen ends up…oh, wait, I can’t give that away. Not now, not ever. You have to read the books. But I looked at the ending, and here’s what I decided. There’s resolution to the turmoil she suffered throughout the books. Life ain’t perfect, but she’s able to look at what she’s been through with calm acceptance. And there are rewards for her hard work and commitment. Which is the way life is when you’re a grownup, if you accept being a grownup.

So, let’s see, given the mission of telling a story, with a female hero in search of a metaphorical grail, with an alteration of the traditional male-dominated paradigm of myth and with an ending that makes becoming an adult attractive, did I succeed? Only time will tell, but if you’re interested, read Fractured and Tainted, the first two books of Lisen of Solsta which are free until 2/26/2015, and then check out Blooded, the final volume.

For Naught or Not for Naught

Many of my previous blogs have detailed the somewhat tedious task of prepping my book for publication, and at one point I briefly touched on why I decided to independently publish my trilogy.  But now it’s time to own up to the truth in full.  I really want to get read.

I have spent years attempting to convince agents and publishers to look at my book.  I wrote multiple versions of my query letter and synopsis, kept rewriting the book itself as I struggled to get it right, but the “Divinity that shapes our ends” refused to cooperate.  Through the decades the only “positive” rejection letter I ever received was the very first one.  Seems like a sign from the Divinity to me.

So last summer, after several new rejections in response to my latest endeavor at making a sale, I rejected the traditional publishing route in favor of self-publication.  In making this decision, I also committed myself to a singular objective.  I’d become aware of a contest that the online IndieReader was sponsoring, and completing the first book in the trilogy with an eye to the best presentation possible both in print and electronically grew into a necessity.  Lisen of Solsta: Fractured would finally receive a reading by someone with no reason to like it.

Let me be clear here.  I am not looking to win over a publisher or an agent.  I actually like, perhaps even prefer, the independent route to publication.  It has allowed me more control than any traditional publisher would have given me.  And I believe I’ve done a damn fine job of it.  What few readers I’ve reached thus far have blessed me with eight 5-star reviews on Amazon, and much as I believe each and every one of those stars was bestowed upon Fractured in absolute sincerity, they did come from people who know me and do have a reason to like it.

I have just completed a re-do of the Kindle edition of my book.  Although the print version looks fairly professional, the electronic version possessed some serious flaws.  Since (a) the best exposure for an author these days lies in downloadable data and (b) the contest requests a minimum of two manuscript submissions, one print and one Kindle, I had to get that Kindle version up to snuff.  With help from, I created hyperlinks for chapters and made the text look as good as the best e-books I’ve read, and I’m feeling pretty good about that.

Now I only await the finessed hard copy from the publisher, and then I’ll complete the process by filling out the entry form and transmitting all materials prior to the deadline.  Then comes the wait.  I don’t expect to win.  In the fiction category, some contemporary tale of consequence will come in first, and that’s okay.

But if I can get that 4- or 5-star review from someone who has no reason to care, not only will it provide me with a new platform and, hence, more exposure, but it will also prove to me that all of this—the writing, rewriting, reconfiguring, proofing, reproofing, typesetting, in short, all that stuff I wrote about in earlier blogs—was not for naught.

Are We There Yet?

The rewards of all my work on my book, Fractured, flow towards me slowly, but they do flow.  I don’t know how to make the process move more quickly.  If I had more friends on Facebook, I’d probably be better off, but I don’t and that’s just the way I am.  And yet, the word moves, a person at a time, and I am being read, just not by millions.  Yet.

The interesting thing about marketing a book by an unknown author that appears to be just like any other young adult fantasy novel with a female hero but really isn’t—the interesting thing is that the few people who have read it are committed to it.  Admittedly, they are all friends, or friends of friends, or relatives of friends, so they took the risk on the book out of friendship.  But they come away with a real sense of my vision, and they care.  This means I’ve succeeded.  The words I put down on paper (or into the computer) have connected appropriately, as has my hero, Lisen.

Case in point.  One reader, a woman whose vocation I can only describe as somehow connected with helping people in third world countries because I don’t know much about what she does, admitted that while attending a conference (or seminar or some such), did something she never does; she missed a meeting, and she did so in favor of finishing my book.  That’s an amazing sacrifice made on behalf of a book by an author she’s only met once, an “unknown author” who is still struggling to get someone, anyone, to read her book.

Something in Lisen’s soul speaks to the reader.  Something in her journey stands out and offers readers a voyage of discovery.  Which is great!  It’s everything I wanted, and more.  Well, it’s almost everything I wanted.  I’d hoped to have a few strangers joining the rest of us on this road by now, but it’s possible that the strangers will show up after the second book is published.

Fractured blew the people I know away because they really hadn’t expected it to be quite that good.  The second book with its prohibited romance, life-threatening situations, murder and mayhem, and eventual clinging-to-the-cliff-by-the-fingernails ending should catapult my few very devoted readers into conversations with their friends and the young women in their lives about this gem of a storyteller and Lisen, the girl who does what she must to survive even when it may not be the most honorable path.

My reviews on Amazon—all four of them—are fabulous, and not because they are five-star reviews.  (One reviewer offered to give me four stars instead of five, even though in her mind I deserved five, so it wouldn’t look like what I believe she referred to as the “friend effect.”)  These reviews amaze me because each of these individuals GOT it.  They got why the book is titled Fractured.  They got Lisen’s broken state and how the mending is what this story is about.

One other thing these reviews have in common.  They want more.  All my readers want more.  They ask, “What happens next?”  They bug me to finish the second book (which is likely to leave them even more frustrated).  They keep me going when I feel like I’m getting nowhere.  Like children on a road trip, they keep whining from the backseat of the car, “Are we there yet?”  Soon, I’ll pull to a halt, put the car in park, set the brake and let them out to enjoy the next stop on the tour.

(With thanks to N. for the whining-kids-in-the-car metaphor.)

It Took Ya Long Enough

Yeah, I suppose it did.  In fact, I’m surprised I’m here.  For thirty-five years, admittedly with several multi-year breaks, I’ve put all I could into writing the story of a young woman now named Lisen who learns that the destiny she’d envisioned for herself has dissolved into dust in favor of a far more ambitious fate.  This was always the heart of the story, always its thrust.  The fact that she now has seven years’ experience as a Southern California teenager behind her changed nothing.  In fact, that change in the initial setup only enhanced Lisen’s accessibility and the poignancy of her journey.

My journey, on the other hand, has followed a somewhat circuitous route.  I’m not going to lie down on the couch here and confess my innermost workings, but the truth is that my father was a great one for cautioning me not to get my hopes up and my mother—well, she lacked the ability to love.  I grew up incapable of finishing what I started, especially when doing so could bring me any sense of accomplishment.  And yet, the one thing I’ve never given up on—despite giving up on it a dozen times a day, sometimes for weeks at a time—is the tale of Lisen, the young woman of destiny.

When I realized this a few years back, I asked myself why.  It was my very first novel.  The sage advice is to toss that first attempt.  Or, at the very least, pack it away never to see the light of day again.  I tossed the first version, no problem.  Then I rethought it—re-envisioned it, if you will.  I dumped that version, too.  And then, once more.  Why?  The fourteen-year-old inside of me wanted me to tell her the story, to tell her the story the way it was meant to be told.  I think that’s when I truly committed my all, what I had and what I’d have to dig up from somewhere deep within.  Whatever it took, I had finally promised that inner teen and the outer me that I would never hold back again.

And I haven’t.  I decided to independently publish Fractured because I couldn’t seem to write a selling query letter.  I couldn’t afford to pay someone to prepare the book for printing.  I couldn’t afford to pay someone to design my cover.  I kept hitting the rocks in the road, sometimes allowing them bring me to a dead halt, sometimes jumping over them with glee.  But I overcame all the obstacles, and I am very proud of the finished product—the writing, the story telling and the package it comes in.

So, to anyone who aspires to a personal goal, I say this.  Success does not come from the number of people who know who you are or the amount of money you make.  Success comes from within and the satisfaction of knowing that, given your limitations, whatever they may be, you did your very best and never gave up.