Iron Turns 1 Today

happy_birthday_cake-8Iron turns one today and… Wow, what a year it has been!

When I made the decision to blaze the indie trail and put my first novel out there for better or worse, I had pretty modest hopes. I honestly just hoped it would sell one copy to someone who didn’t already know me! Beyond that? I hardly dared to hope that it would sell a few hundred copies; enough to recoup what I had spent in the production and see me through the publishing of a sequel.

Well, within a few months that little book o’ mine far out shot my wildest dreams, selling thousands of copies instead of hundreds. And that, my virtual friends, is all thanks to you. If not for you, taking a chance in picking up a new tale from an unknown author, I wouldn’t be writing this post today. I really cannot express how much your feedback about, appreciation for, and general support of Iron has meant to me. In Faster (due out next month!) I dedicated that book to each and every one of you–and I meant it. Without you, there would be no me. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

When I decided to tough it out on the indie road to publication, it was a choice based on realistic expectations. I knew I was rolling the dice with Caitlin as my first person heroine. She’s a character that will be either loved or hated–and, so far, I’ve seen a fair amount of both. Each time someone complains about her whining or her frequent pity parties, I smile. It doesn’t bother me, although one might think it would. Instead, it proves to me that I captured her spirit perfectly–and that’s a spirit not everyone is going to understand.

To understand Cat (and why I’m perfectly okay with people rolling their eyes at her personality), you have to understand me. I was a strange, shy child. I had wild imaginary friends (the one I remember most being a pterodactyl), loved collecting and playing with Battle Beasts, and my favorite part of the Wizard of Oz was the flying monkeys. So, I was probably¬†not your typical little girl.

I also grew up as an avid reader. As far back as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed time spent with a good book much more than I did the company of other people. (Still do, really.) Lucky for me, my father was a big fantasy reader and introduced me to reading early. I was devouring Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels by the 4th grade, despite those around me teasing me for “reading the dictionary.” (Kids can be so mean.)

Without that, who knows what would have happened to me. I was an introvert from the get-go, saddled with social anxiety and crippling panic attacks that no one around me really understood at the time. Fantasy, and later urban fantasy, were what kept me sane; kept my wild imagination growing, kept me from feeling like I was alone in the world. Books were–and still are–my escape.

I’m really not so much different now. Maybe by now I shouldn’t need an escape anymore, but I do. I’m still an anxiety ridden, depression prone mess. Better at controlling both, sure, but still not the type to strike up a conversation with a stranger or fond of jumping into new situations. This year I’ll be attending New York Comic Con alone for two days and that is a huge step for me. Mindbogglingly big, really. The me of three years ago would never for a second considered doing something so bold… or frightening!

Hell, I turned 35 this year and up until making the decision to throw caution to the wind by putting my work out there, I had no freaking clue what I was doing with my life. I have a wonderful marriage and a husband that I adore but, beyond that? All those normal “should have” pieces of adulthood are still missing. I found myself in my mid-thirties, still searching for a career, not owning a home, not even wanting kids and a picket fence the way all of my friends did. I was the odd woman out, as per usual. Then I thought, “Certainly I can’t be alone in that…”

That “what if” snowballed into Iron. Though I didn’t really know I was doing so at the time, I created Caitlin to both speak to the girl I once was and the woman I had grown into. The mouthy yet shy introvert; the dreamer who longed for excitement but who also feared change; the woman who wanted to believe in the fantastic but couldn’t quite accept anything that special happening in her life. Caitlin is a contradiction trying to make the best of what life is throwing at her. She’s far from perfect and she knows it, but she fights every day to make sense of the pieces sifting through her fingers. Not everyone will understand that; will understand her.

That’s okay. They’ve probably never had to fight off the black dog; ignoring that little voice inside that tears them down and tells them lies. They’ve likely never spent an hour or two locked in their own bathroom, trying to talk themselves into heading out the door to attend that big party where so many strangers will be. And that’s just fine. She’s not for them. I created Cat for those of us who know we are a little broken but hold no shame in it. For those of us who fail and keep on trying anyway. For those of us who know we could still be the hero of our story, if the impossible were to happen to us.

So, again, thank you to each and every one of you who has identified with Cat; who have emailed me or left such amazing reviews telling me, and the world, how much you love her and her story. Its those words that fuel me early each morning when I stumble over to the writing desk, barely able to see straight enough to brew that first cup of coffee (all hail the Keurig). It’s those words that keep up my motivation, making sure I get those words out first thing on the next story, and the next after that.

It’s you that I keep doing this for, and I’ll keep doing it so long as you want to know what happens next. ‚̧