We made it to the end. If you are reading this, you have a website, a blog, and social media accounts under your publishing name. You have a completed, published book, you are a member of a writing group, you’ve been attending events as an author, and you’re working hard at marketing yourself. Maybe you have an agent, a publishing contract, or you have a growing reputation as an Indie author.

If you followed all the lessons, whatever your goal was, you have reached it, the first and most important step: YOU ARE NOW A PUBLISHED AUTHOR. Please, let that sink in. Most people never come this far. Most people can only claim to be a writer, but not an author. You are officially an author. Welcome to the club.

I want to take some time and relate my journey as an author, how I found these steps I have shared with you. But we have to go way, way back to September 4th, 1980.

My parents, Ralph and Jane, were awaiting the birth of their second child. Knowing it was to be a girl, they wanted to name me Jill Christine. On the television came The Thin Man, the comedic movie based off the hardboiled Dashiell Hammett novel my mother loved. As I was being born the following morning, she demanded I be named Nora.

My parents were bookworms. My older brother taught himself to read at age two. My mother even wrote stories, always working on a spiral-bound notebook. By late 1984 I was four and struggled with reading. My parents thought I might be dyslexic and I was tested. It turned out I had ADHD, and indeed, reading can be difficult (it does require good attention skills).

I went on medication, and my parents discovered music helped me focus. My mother taught Great Books for kids at the library, and at home every Saturday made me read in the dining room where we kept our piano and she would play music. I was fond of Wagner and Beethoven as a child, and adored soon all books.

As time went on, I began to write. I had a wild imagination, many imaginary friends, and I began writing stories about them. My mother began telling me about her stories, asking for my input on character arcs and plots. I became an even more avid reader, obsessively saving up to buy books and going to the library daily.

My parents divorced, we moved, life changed. I got to know the people on the street, crooked cops, corrupt politicians, street thugs, and whores. Frustrated with the overly-dramatic style of modern crime novels at age twelve I wrote my first novel. I never thought about publishing then, I wrote for the joy of the craft.

Time passed, and I began to realize my mother never wrote a single ending to any of her stories. I never got a straight answer from her why, and it would be years before I figured it out.

In high school I did well in English and had some great teachers, one named Mr. Harris who practically ordered me to get published. I laughed it off, went to college. I majored in psychology but took English classes like everyone else, and once more was told I had to publish, that I had a way with words the world needed. During that time, my mother passed away and left me all her stories, asking me to one day finish them.

I was flattered, but dedicated to my education at first. Then I attempted to write another crime novel, my first love. I was rejected by thirty-seven agents who mostly told me I should write romance like a good little girl. So I wrote a romance, sold it to a gigantic publisher, and due to our disagreement over feminism, it ended in court, and legally that is all I can say.

Discouraged, I turned to poetry and won several awards. Like many people, no one in my life supported me or really believed in me, and at the time it was just an uphill battle to continue.

I returned to fiction, discovering urban fantasy, and wrote a novel of urban fantasy and black humor. Once more I was rejected by agents, twenty-three this time, but more politely informed there was just no market for comedic urban fantasy. Yes, this was years before Mary Janice Davidson’s Queen Betsey series ended that block. After I was done with all my schooling, I began to read erotica from Black Lace, and discovered Literotica.com. I began posting, gained some amazing loyal readers, and began winning awards.

Struggling with depression there were breaks, and in contrast highly productive periods. Older, wiser, better able to stand on my own two feet, I decided to explore self-publishing. I returned to my first love of crime, and added a touch of hardboiled detective in the style of Dashiell Hammett.

I published two Marly Jackson novels and the erotic romance/fantasy novel Wolf Tales Volume I on my own. Feeling bolstered, still wanting some independence, I sold my first erotic romance novel Hidden Magic to Red Sage just before the second Marly Jackson came out. Then, shortly after selling Secret Desires to Red Sage I went from being an independent contractor in my day job to an entrepreneur. 

Like many authors, I’ve suffered from depression. At the time of this writing, I am still on a break from writing to focus on stabilizing and growing my day job and getting my ADHD totally under control and cure my depression. I am 60% of the way through the depression and getting better all the time.

In my time, I have held two publishing contracts, met and spoke with agents and editors at length, been a member of many writing groups, gotten stinking drunk with bestselling authors, presented spoken-word necrophilia stories at goth parties, been interviewed on the radio, taught creative writing for an online school…I’ve done just about it all.

Through it all I’ve learned two important lessons:

1) Anyone can write
2) Few can write well

It does seem grossly oversimplified, but what it amounts to is this: it does take natural talent to write. If you love to read, if it irks you to read some plot twists and you daydream about fixing it, then start daydreaming about a story that begins like the one you read but goes in a totally different direction…you have natural talent.

Schools don’t teach you how to write as an author. Being an author is a commercial venture. Literature classes can teach you how to write a grandiose Great American Novel, but not how to write something that actually sells.

Few can write well in that most people don’t pick up on these things that make for good novel writing, and worse, few people understand the business side. My mother could never finish her stories because she didn’t write them to be read by others, she wrote them for herself. She saw the characters as friends and couldn’t bear writing the endings because she couldn’t let them go.

Through my own experience, reading about the experiences of authors over the centuries, and talking with people from the world of publishing, I came about these lessons. I promise you, everything I write about I do, have done, or will do.

If there is one last parting lesson I can offer you, it applies to more than writing, but to life: when you come to the end of something, when all the loose ends are tied up, when the work has been arduous but good, and it makes you weep like a child…you have done it correctly.

Even now as I write this, I cry. It’s taken me two years to write out all the lessons. I don’t get comments on them, but I do get emails. And knowing that there are published authors I have helped is the best feeling in the world.

I hope these lessons have helped you too. But please, find your own way. Use these for your first book, and then figure out what works for you. You will find more writing tips in the future, but from Writing 101-Writing 106 you have all you need.

Never stop reading, never stop writing, never stop editing, and never, ever stop believing in yourself. Anyone can write, but few can write well, and if you’re reading this, you are one of those few.

Welcome to the world of published authors, and I hope someday to meet you face to face. Keep up the good work, and as always, happy writing.