The Joy of the Indie Author’s Journey

Rocky Horror Beginnings

Let’s do the Time Warp Again!


After 14 months of Indie Publishing, though I cannot brag of making thousands of dollars, I am so happy I chose this path.

I got off on the wrong spike heel in 2012. I had been pursuing traditional publishing. In 2011, I sent out lots of short stories and was amazed at how quickly they were snapped up by editors, some more than once.

I had had a very successful witchcraft blog and didn’t know it. It had won an award and I had tons of people on my email list and thought I was a failure. This was because the only success stories I ever heard were about people making mega tons of money with blogging and zero about people like me who were just starting out.

I wasn’t even on the web properly until 2009! But something  about this world breeds impatience.



I had the blog but really wanted to work on my fiction. Figured Winterspells would be platform to explore my interests, and the themes in my stories.

I was getting Roses of the Moon ready to send out to find an agent when a friend told me about Amanda Hocking and the success she was having with self publishing.

I haven’t had a TV for 30 years, so I am a little behind the curve I guess.

So, being impatient and not getting any younger—-I had seen how long it took my traditionally friends’ books to come out—-I decided to try and see what would happen.

So, I made my own covers and put these short stories on Kindle and then these two novellas, The Lady in Yellow and Memento Mori.  I still wasn’t about to put a big serious novel online yet. This was an experiment.

I was shocked at how many people downloaded my books! This did not result in a lot of money—everyone talks money—but it was encouraging. So in late December 2012, I published Roses of the Moon. In January I had a launch so I could learn how to do that, and over 6000 of the book wwere dowloaded from Kindle.

Now I realize I should have waited to have published more books in the series before I did that. Then it would have had more effect. But I also think that if Roses of the Moon is sitting unread in 6000 Kindle readers, it may be resurrected when the rest of the series comes out. I also saw indications that The Lady in Yellow and Memento Mori warrented development, so I spent that year going over this old/ new ground and I’m happy I did.

The Lady in Yellow has been in the top 20 in Werewolves and Shifters for several weeks.


Learning How Publishers Think.

The time comes to decide what to focus on next. I have learned so much in this process that I am actually glad I have put certain books on the back burner, like Rosewolf and  Daemon Lover (An overused title now, but it wasn’t 7 years ago when I first outlined this very dark paranormal romance)  Now I know how to slant the storylines and also how much research I will have to do, especially for the latter book.

I learned, mainly from Romance writers, how there are way more readers than books they want to read. Romance readers can read a book in a day and are always hungry for more. That means that we as authors, do not have to be as backbiting and competitive as in other art forms I have been involved in, like the performing arts, where scarcity rules  the day. We can all be friends and help each other by banding together.

Hey Gothic Authors! Here’s a shout out to you!


How It’s Fun

I grew up in the 1960s when movements were moving and there was always a sense of excitment in the air as well as danger. I suppose I like that sense of risk and being on the cutting edge because I feel very privileged to be part of this Indie Revolution.

In the 1990′s, when I was singer a Celtic band, Castlerigg, Canadian artist, Loreena McKennitt was an inspiration to me, not just because of her travels and her material, but because she did it herself on her kitchen table and made it to the top. She does things in her own terms still, I believe.

That is exciting! I admire the independent spirit of Indie film makers and authors. Its very hard work and a real struggle for me with my limited resources, but every time I think of getting, say, my Thriller, The Shadows, ready to send to a traditional publisher because itsYA, I think, no! I can get this book into print. Besides, things are moving so fast, that who knows if bookstores won’t start carrying Indie authored books?

If you want to write and wonder about this Indie path, I hope I have enlightened you. I am not a Hugh Howie, or an Amanda Hocking, but my experience at this stage may be a little more normal.  I have a feeling my books will reach critical mass at some point and find their audience all of a sudden.

At this point, I have done some promotions so I can keep learning, but I have stayed relatively under the radar until I have certain books in place. Meanwhile my readership grows.

Our books will be available as long we have the web.

I hope that’s forever.


Sale! Memento Mori is 99 cents.



April 7 – 14, 2014!

Paranormal Romance

Memento Mori

at the SALE price of 99 cents!


MementoMori03 copy


This book was originally a short story I wrote in 2003, then was self published as a novella in 2012. A few positive reviews convinced me to expand it to novel length. I was happy to discover that the story and characters had enough depth to grow into a full novel.

Originally inpsired by the Eyam plague in 1666, this tale also owes some of its mystery to Alain Fournier’s The Wanderer, the German silent film Nosferatu, the Pre-Raphaelites, Poe and my studies in Medieval Art.

The protagonist is not some six-pack abbed stud, nor is the ghost a warrior princess. Popular as those kinds of characters are,  I don’t personally believe in people like that. My hero, Simon, is an artist, a quiet, imaginative young man who sees ghosts. My heroine is a ghost who died at age sixteen waiting in a plague-infested village for her true love to arrive. But she isn’t all peaches and cream…

The story may begin a bit slowly for some readers because I wanted Simon to get good and lost in the Pennines and find his way into a kind of Otherworld, far from civilzation. There he meets Lara, a young woman, inspired by the 1960s Alexandrian witch queen, Maxine Sanders, who initiates Simon into the history of the village of Whynnesmere and its primary ghost, Suzanne Montmorency, who seems to devour young men. Simon is haunted before he arrives at Whynnsemere, and is haunted more deeply the instant he steps foot over its boundaries. This haunting infuses him, changes him and stalks him back to London where he hopes to reconcile with his girlfriend, Monica, who dumped him for another man.

As a born and trained clairvoyant, I wanted to write a truly psychic story. The psychic events in this story are authentic. Its effects as hallucinatory as a vivid dream.

If you’re looking for something different, give this one a try. Its the product of many years of research, craft, and love.

Click right here:

Memento Mori: Time Travel, Art, and a Ghostly Lover



Gothic to the Bone: The Long Hair of Death


I was dying to see this again but the video costs too much. Imagine my joy discovering that some generous soul recently uploaded it to Youtube!

Made in Italy in 1964, it stars the awesome in the dual roles of Helen and Mary Karnstein.

This is one of my favorite Gothic films. It is utterly Shakspearean with its themes witchcraft, dark motives, abuse of power, murder and justice. Ghosts return from the grave to get revenge on the spoiled, dispicable princling, Kurt, convincingly acted by the versitile and viril


The chiarascuro lighting, the brooding atmosphere, excellent acting, stunning black and white cinemaphotography and the spooky soundtrack with it frequent zing of the ondes martinot, combine to thrilling effect.

If you love MacBeth, Hamlet, or any of the old Gothic Horror and Thriller books and movies of the past, please take 90 minutes and watch this!


In a dark, brooding castle in a 15th century feudal village, a woman is burned as a witch. The execution is unjust, and as she dies, the accused witch levels a curse on the house of her murders. Her beautiful older daughter, Helen, knows the real reason for the execution—-to cover a crime committed by somebody else… After confronting the lord on the matter, she, too, is killed.

The much younger daughter, Elizabeth, is spared and taken care of by the nurse who clues her in to the fact that her mother and sister share the same grave.  Once she is of age, as a horrible, deadly plague sweeps the land, Elizabeth is forced to marry the lord’s vain and worthless son, Kurt. Then, during a brutal thunderstorm, the older daughter, Helen, now called Mary,  mysteriously reappears and begins to avenge her mother’s death.



If you like this, go to The Gothic Library, scroll down below my decorations, and watch Black Sunday, another Gothic masterpiece starring Barbara Steele!


Speed: How Important is Writing Fast?



In my quest to get a handle on this Indie Publishing thing I listen to a few interesting podcasts. I prefer listening to reading because it allows me to learn while keeping the house clean or getting ready for work and all the routine stuff of life. One of the most common ingredients for Indie Author success, which for me would be to make a full time income with writing, seems to be speed.

I figure this has a lot to do with rising above the competition by sheer number of books as well as the speed with which the publishing world is changing. Traditional authors who have been around for a long time are also self publishing their backlists, getting lots of books out there in the process. That’s shelf space is what that is.

The key word in Internet Marketing is Dominate and this a way to do it.

The boys over at the hilariously entertaining Self Publishing Podcast, Johhny B. Truant, Sean Platt and David Wright released an excellent book at the end of 2013, Write, Publish Repeat in which they talk about writing really fast first drafts. Given that they are a team, they wrote a million words in one year and got several series of books out fast. This has indeed paid off for them. They are making a full time income writing fiction.

On Rocking Self Publishing Podcast, the charming Simon Whistler interviews highly succesful Indie Authors. It seems those who can write full time out of the gate and have substantial financial resources hit the big time in around one year’s time. Simon asks the best questions and really brings out the author’s deeper insights so the rest of us can learn. He has some fantastic podcast interviews! Some of the authors can be very daunting if you are looking for direction, but are inspiring as well. Lots of famous authors are interviewed on here, so if you want to hear from your favorites, Simon may have an nterview with them.

The famous author and nice guy, Hugh Howie. is the one success story I have heard where he took his time and kept writing according to his ten year plan, then hit it big with Wool.

Joanna Penn at the brilliant blog, The Creative Penn, has published fiction at a pace I can relate to, but also does a huge amount of blogging and speaking. If you dont’t already know about her, she’s a brillaint business woman and inspiration. She does great podcast interviews as well—-the first ones I found when I was trying to figure out this Indie Publishing thing.

The main advatange to writing super fast is that by having sheer numbers of books available, you make more money. Selling small numbers of several different books brings in more cash than relying on one or two books to sell a lot.

Gothic author, Virginia Coffman is an example of this. In her lifetime she sold over 5 million books, but had published over one hundred. All those sales add up over the years.

Get books by the authors mentioned above here:


Don’t Let the Hares Crush You!


Or: The Virtues of Slowness

I write slowly. I have been forced by all the advice out there to think about why I am such a slow writer. I have discovered some answers:

1. I do not have the gift of the gab. I relaized this one from Anne Rice and her thirty pages a day. She loves to talk. So do some of these others and they write as they talk, without taking a beat. I wish I had this gift but I don’t.

2. I don’t think my stories, I feel my way through. Once I have an outline, the thinking part is over. It still takes a while to get going because I go so deep. I sink deep into my characters’ psychology and emotions. Creating drama at this level is a slow process and sometimes so intense that at the end of three hours, I’m emotionally exhausted.

3. As a frustrated visual artist, bailing out when I discoverd how cut throat the art world can be, even at the student level, it is important to me that my descriptions be highly visual for the reader. I want to transport you to another place and time. It is easier said than done to paint accurate pictures with words.

4. When I began this Indie thing, I published a couple of novellas prematurely. Luckily they attracted some good reviews, but they all said I should develop the stories more. I stayed very much under the radar while I did that and am living proof that even when you strive to be invisble, there are people who will find you.

4. B. The point of this step is that Self Publishing is like email. You can be blind or impatient or too speedy and put your book out there before it’s  ready. Readers are quick to complain about plot holes and other evidence of immature work. Patience wins out here because going back to revise an already published book takes more time than you might think.

5. The best books are multi-layered. Novels in my genre, Dark Fantasy, tend to be deeply layered because they deal with psychological and moral, if not religious themes, and explore the agonies of the human heart. Its still genre fiction, but leans toward literature. This stuff ain’t writ in a day.

6. Even with my slowness and determination to resist hitting the upload button too fast, I have had a reviewer complain that the ending of one my books seemed “rushed.” This is not because I rushed through it, I can tell you that. I’ve read reviews of other books complaining of the book being “rushed”. Maybe they are trying to get the next book out in the much lauded schedule of every three months. This might work for some authors, for others it could be artistic suicide.

This is a subjective issue in many cases, but as a writer, I prefer not to rush. I want the full sensuality of langauge and story to pentrate the psyche of the reader. I, for one, have to go slowly to achieve this.

What do you think about this issue? Can you tell when a book has been written quickly of if the author grew the story gradually?

When I was in the theater the teachers used to tell inexperienced actors, “Take your time….”