The State of the World

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Yesterday, I spoke about people complaining about the diversity on display in the new Star Trek series, Discovery, and how such people don’t know what it is that Star Trek has always stood for since Gene Roddenberry created it. I spoke on it as a rather long-time (and inadvertent) Star Trek fan. I have Trekkies in my family, and I consider myself to be one, too. That is why I will stand behind the stance that I took yesterday in regards to Star Trek and diversity. If anything, we need more shows like Star Trek to teach us and to remind us that, even as we remain on this planet, our universe still yet to be explored by us, we are not alone in this world, that we have each other, and our diversity and cultural exchanges are what make us stronger.

The thing is, Star Trek is a reflection of what our society could become in the future, and that’s one thing that makes Star Trek so vital and viable in this day and age. Given everything that’s going on in the world right now, this is a potential outcome for the human race.

I normally do refrain from talking about current events. Everything is quite politicized. Even football has been politicized, thanks to a 2009 agreement between the NFL and the National Guard and the Department of Justice. People talk about the players not respecting the flag or the national anthem when they take a knee during those moments.

No one is talking about the devastation in places like Asia, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands from massive flooding due to severe hurricanes, tropical storms, and monsoons. We have people in the United States who don’t seem to get that Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders are American citizens. Puerto Rico are U.S. territory, and they have representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives.

When we do talk about severe storms like Harvey, Katia, Jose, and Irma, we’re either embroiled in tone-deaf religious discussions or heated shouting matches over climate change. We are forgetting that people, like you, like me, are facing some of the worst moments in their lives, and they are having their faiths tested. They need help. They should not have to ask for help from their fellow Americans.

I pray and wish for their continued strength and perseverance in such dark times. I really do. I cannot even begin to imagine the horror of being stuck on an island during a hurricane with no way to escape. I truly can’t. I encourage my friends, my family, my readers, and my fellow writers to do what they can for the people in the afflicted areas. No Star Trek captain has remained idle in the face of adversity and devastation. They’ve taken action. In The Lord of the Rings, King Theoden never said, “We’ll pray for Gondor” when Gondor called for aid. They took action.

So let’s take our calls to action. Our people need us. Together, we are so much stronger.

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Star Trek – To Boldly Go/The Alleged Social Justice Warrior Ragings And More

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Let’s face it. This blog is going to be about a little bit of everything surrounding my life, from likes and dislikes to spirituality to life goals and to writing. I’m almost 40, I’m celebrating that and the direction I’ll be taking my life from this point forward, and I do have a lot to say at times. This is definitely a learning and growing process for me.

I love Star Trek. I’m not up to date on all of the new shows or even the old shows and the movies. I don’t necessarily chase down the comics or the old cartoons that surround Gene Roddenberry’s intellectual creative property, but I do love this series. A lot.

And I love this series because of everything it has always stood for since the earworm entered Mr. Roddenberry’s mind.

Star Trek has always been about diversity and the celebration of all cultures from all walks of life. The original Star Trek episodes, the movies, Star Trek: The Next Generation (and subsequent movies), and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine . . . those were part of my daily viewing life as a child and as a teenager. I never batted an eye or got bent out of shape because of the diversity of the cast from any of these shows. At the time, to me, they were science-fiction and entertainment. I was too young to understand the cultural significances and magnitude of Mr. Roddenberry’s vision for the future. Now that I’m older and the fact that we have the internet, I can better appreciate the nuances of everything that I missed from when I was young. I am that much of a fan of Star Trek.

Star Trek has a new series on CBS called Star Trek: Discovery. The captain of the ship, from what I’ve been able to gather, is an Asian woman, and, of course, the crew of the ship is quite diverse as well. It is as it should be if we’re following Mr. Roddenberry’s vision of the future, right?

Yet there are people out there whining and complaining that diversity is being shoved down their throats through Star Trek. That it’s a whole bunch of “social justice warrior-ism” going on . . .

I have to ask the question of how?

How is having a diverse cast social justice warrior-ism when Gene Roddenberry was the first one to start it? Have these people not paid any attention to the original cast of the original series? Have these people not paid attention to when the original series first premiered and the overall significance each person portraying a crew member had and continues to have on people everywhere? Do these people not understand that Uhuru was a black woman who was also portrayed as intelligent and in a position of rank? Do these people not understand that Leonard Nimoy was Jewish and portraying a half-Vulcan, half-human character with really deep cultural and personal conflict? Do these people not understand the significance of Walter Koenig portraying a Russian during the midst of the Cold War with Russia or the fact that George Takei, a man of Japanese descent, played a man of Japanese descent on a show meant to demonstrate unity amongst, not only humans, but other forms of life throughout a universe that we have yet to actually explore?

Star Trek still had its conflicts. The original series had a bad guy in the Klingons with peace coming along eventually. Star Trek: The Next Generation had the Borg, a species intent on assimilating all humanoid lifeforms and destroying all cultural differences by making everyone mindless slaves.

A female captain is hardly anything new for Star Trek. Voyager had a female captain. Captain Sisko of Deep Space Nine was an African-American man. Star Trek: The Next Generation had a woman doctor and a woman counselor on board as well as a blind man as an engineer.

I honestly do not understand how a show that always has been, and always will be, about diversity and the celebration of different cultures since 1966 is shoving diversity down people’s throats. If you’re one of those people who feels that way about Star Trek, you, my friend, are simply riding a trend on something currently popular, and you possess no meaning, no comprehension of what has always made Star Trek unique. This is the beauty behind science-fiction, that makes science-fiction so powerful for everyone who picks up a novel or turns on a television series or heads to the movies.

I’m also applying this to people who read Rick Riordan’s young adult series, Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase. If you’re complaining about the “deviant” behavior of the Greek gods or even the Norse gods (Loki, in particular); then you need to brush up on your Greek and Norse mythologies so you can better understand that Mr. Riordan isn’t shoving diversity and his social justice warrior ways down your throats but that he’s actually done research into the mythologies and has the basic understanding that the Greek gods (most of them, anyway) pursued mortals that caught their attentions, be they male or female, and that Loki himself was a shapeshifter, did take on the form of a woman many a time, and actually gave birth to children.

There is nothing wrong with having a diverse cast. There is nothing wrong with portraying human beings as being human beings. If you’re going to demand that Star Trek portray an all white cast with a male as the lead, you’ve just destroyed Star Trek. If you’re going to demand that an author portray a pantheon as similar to your religious beliefs, you have destroyed that pantheon and its history. And this is coming from someone who has also defended the castings for the Ancient One for Doctor Strange, The Great Wall, and Ghost in the Shell. This is coming from the person who knows Heimdall is the whitest god in all of the Norse pantheon and still approves of the casting of Idris Elba for the role in the Thor movies.

Yes, consider this a bit of an angry rant as well as it’s something coming from someone who really is a longtime Star Trek fan and as someone who digs into mythology, specifically Norse mythology, for the fun of it. I’ve had time to reflect on Gene Roddenberry’s vision. I’ve had time to think on what it means, not just for me, but for people I will never have the chance to meet in my lifetime who will have been impacted in some way or another by his work, by Rick Riordan’s works, J.K. Rowling’s, and my own. We have visions, and we are following them. Others have said the same thing I have about Star Trek and about Rick Riordan. Others will undoubtedly follow me as well.

As a writer, I accept that my stories will not be for everyone. I know it, I accept it, and I embrace it.

Now for some fun and totally random, yet related facts, about me.

Favorite Star Trek episodes:
The Trouble with Tribbles (original Star Trek)
Troubles and Tribble-ations (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Season 5)

Favorite Star Trek movies:
The Search for Spock
Star Trek Generations

Favorite Star Trek character(s):
Chekov, Uhura, Bones, Data, Captain Sisko, Q, Worf

Random Fact: Star Trek was the inspiration for one of my favorite RPG series, Star Ocean. Both share similarities, such as entities like the Federation and Pangalactic Federation, and the Prime Directive and the UP3. Earth’s first contact, in Star Trek, was with the Vulcans. In Star Ocean, with a race known as Eldarians, a species with elongated and pointed ears and a love of science and space exploration. The only differences between Vulcans and Elldarians are the use of symbology, or magic, and the means of reproduction. Vulcans have a yearly mating ritual, and Eldarians are basically test-tube babies.

Star Trek was also the inspiration for Galaxy Quest and The Orville. (The similarities are too hard to ignore, guys. Come on!)

What Star Trek means to me:
It is actually hard for me to imagine my life without Star Trek. It’s one of many sci-fi shows that has been watched with any type of consistency with both of my parents (who are divorced). Some might say my dad was the reason my mom got into Star Trek, but they would be wrong. Star Trek ran from 1966-1969, and my parents married each other in 1971. After their divorce, my mom watched ST:TNG and ST:DS9 because she liked them.

I was truly raised by geeks.

Anyway, Star Trek has been an integral part of my life. I may not have had much of a choice at the start (we were watching the movies when I was a kid and catching reruns on cable TV and via VHS), but even then I embraced the stories and the series. In reflecting on all that Star Trek has done in terms of diversity, it remains a pioneer in the science-fiction genre. Women and minorities moving forward, in positions of intelligence and command, that speaks volumes to me. I am actually very proud that my parents loved the original and the movies so much that they didn’t care if my brother and I watched them as well. And there were no lectures on how and why Star Trek was so important. The episodes, the movies, they were enjoyed for the sake of enjoyment, and everything I’ve realized about the series, the franchise, has come from my own personal reflection on the matter.

It’s inspiring because it does boldly go where no TV show had gone before. Bad pun, I know. However, I regret nothing!

Life Goals

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Double entries today. Nice!

There come points in our lives when we stop and pause and think about all of the things we wished we’d have accomplished at much younger ages. I remember back in 2010 and again in either 2011 or 2012, around this time of year having major freak outs about my life. There I was, closing in on my mid-thirties, working in a setting that I actually despised but was there because I needed work, and it was just hitting me really super hard that I had not done some of the things that I truly wanted to do by that point.

Now, from 2001 to 2004, I did a lot of traveling. I took a lot of risks that people back then (and even now) were warned to not do. Like going to meet a friend you’d met on the internet. After all, that person might not be who he or she is saying they are, and there have been plenty of instances over the years, since the internet became so widespread, where such things have become true.

I’ve been very blessed that every online friend I’ve met has been exactly who he and she has claimed to be in our encounters. It’s been a lot of fun, a wild ride, and one I wouldn’t give up for anything.

Still, by the time I’d hit my mid-thirties as my birthday crept up on me, I’d realized I’d not done everything I’d wanted. I was putzing along on a novel and daydreaming about being published. I’d wanted to be married and having kids. I was having my mental freak outs and researching into artificial insemination, that’s how badly I wanted to have kids. (I still want to have kids. How this will happen will remain to be seen.)

Because of these freak outs, I did start to look into the ways I could get done what I wanted for my life. Researched into publishing houses (never thought of getting an agent) as well as sperm banks. I even joined eHarmony to try and find a suitable partner so I could speed up a few of the processes.

It’s been seven years since that first mental freak out. I’m still single. I still have yet to have any children, but I am published. It’s still frustrating because I’m trying to do what gets suggested to me in terms of promoting or even in gaining secondary employment (funds are on the dry side because all of my money is currently tied up in going towards the tax, title, and registration of my new car because that’s separate for the most part here in Oklahoma, which is actually quite stupid because one has thirty days from when the notary was signed to come up with X amount of dollars to pay for everything. Even those with a steady income, earning less than $15 an hour, would be forced to choose between paying everything on time for tax, title, and registration or food, rent, etc . . .) and everything is kind of falling flat, but I’m not about to give up on this. I love what I’m doing as an author, and I’m reconsidering what it is I need to do in order to be a success. This is mainly because what others have suggested either conflicts with each other or just is flat out not working for me period. I’m still going to be talking about Ravensrealm, as that’s coming out soon, and all of my publications. I just want to take a different approach.

Because I want to take this different approach, I realize I’ve got to go back to school. I definitely want to major in business. The desire to do non-profit work is very strong within me, and I’m starting to look into volunteer opportunities here in Tulsa. (There’s a volunteer program to help kids learn how to read that’s got my interest.)

The other thing I want to go back to school for is, well, fine arts. Specifically more writing courses, a few drawing classes, and the performing arts. I stepped into a Sephora store last week. It wasn’t my first time in one, but, because I want to cosplay Fayt Leingod from Star Ocean in both his original costume and in costume variants, I wanted a makeup/skin consultation. I’d been into Hot Topic a few moments before, looking at hair dye, so following up with Sephora, strangely enough, had a very huge impact on me. I do love theatre, and I have ascribed to the notion that all the world is a stage. I did audition for parts in school plays in high school. Never the lead part – I found other parts more interesting – so it just makes sense that I want to resume that aspect of my life.

I’m already looking into schools that can help me with these degrees. Where I will go will be announced upon making a final decision, applying, and receiving confirmation that I’ve been accepted into the programs of my choice.

I’m making some major changes for my life because reaching 40 years of age is a major milestone for anyone. I’m actually not freaking out about hitting 40 as I did 33 and even 34 and 35. Everything about my life, while frustrating at times, feels right. It’s still not going to be an easy journey, but it’s mine. And I love it.

Geek Life

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I am a self-admitted geek. In some ways, I feel like I didn’t have much choice in the matter. My parents liked (and still do) watching the Star Wars films, old reruns of the original Star Trek series, the Star Trek films, and pretty much everything science-fiction in nature. Comic book films and TV shows were also the norm, and they never hesitated in letting us watch movies like The Never-Ending Story. It isn’t unusual to come home from work and to find my stepdad chilling on the couch and watching either old reruns of Star Trek or Doctor WHO. All of this has been mentioned before, in previous entries, the influences of my childhood and teen years. My mom was even cool about my brother and I playing Dungeons and Dragons with my first actual high school crush, and I’ve cited Tolkien as one of my biggest writing inspirations, the reason why I wanted to write (more) and become published.

My time in my thirties is almost at a close. In thirteen days, I’ll be forty years old, and I find myself at a strange point in my geekiness. You see, I still love collecting dragons and wizards and castles. I still love reading science-fiction and fantasy novels, and I love watching those movies and playing science-fiction and fantasy-based RPGs. (I even wouldn’t mind a once-a-week gathering to play Dungeons and Dragons again, either!) I love anime and manga, cartoons and comics.

As such, because I identify as such a geek, I follow a few geek-oriented facebook pages like Geeks Are Sexy, the Nerdist, and so on.

I find myself looking at what’s coming up for book-lovers and geeks and thinking, “Hey, that’s cool . . . but I’d much prefer it as . . .”

You see, this started I saw an advertisement for a D20 waffle maker. While it would be fun to have such a thing, I would probably use it once a year. Or once every two years. I love waffles and I eat them more than once a year (I do work in a breakfast-oriented restaurant), but I also don’t make huge breakfasts for myself. Most of the time, I don’t have a lot of time, and, on the days I do have the time, well, I don’t want a waffle for breakfast. (In my current situation, it would be quite silly to make a batch of waffle batter for one person. If I had kids and actual weekends off where we could just lounge about and be somewhat lazy and relaxed, it would probably be a different story. Maybe. I have a feeling some parents may read this and say, “Ha ha, good luck with that”. A gal can always dream. Of course, I do have a recipe for flourless pancakes floating about, using just some egg and banana and that could possibly be a single batch for a waffle . . . Plus, I want to know if I can actually have fruit in my waffle batter, like strawberries and blueberries. Fresh fruit in and on waffles is simply amazing!) It’s piling on when I see desks in the shapes of old Nintendo game cartridges and stacks of books advertising Danielle Steele.  Of course, I’m not a fan of Danielle Steele so if I could get a book desk, I would love for it to be The Lord of the Rings, or, on the egotistical side, my own books.

Seeing all of this makes me wish that such things had been available to me back in my twenties. I loved collecting. I collected Coca-Cola (still do), wolves, the Bangles, Transformers, Inuyasha . . . and then I realize I probably wouldn’t have any of this because it would have ended up in storage when my mom and stepdad lost their house to foreclosure, nearly everything got put into storage, and then they lost/stopped paying on the storage unit. As a geek, in this respect, I cannot seem to win. It’s still fun to see these things come up, think it’s great to see such things, then think, “But I’d love it even more if it were Star Ocean” or some such other that I really geek over.

I do collect geeky and music memorabilia. The Bangles? Oh yeah. I still have most of the memorabilia I found on eBay and through internet searches all those years ago (when the internet was new and shiny for the world). I still want to get a few items through their online store, too. A few Dragon Quest items do appeal (I love the slime plushies), and I still love The Lord of the Rings. And, of course, Star Ocean rules the roost as the one series I want to collect most everything for. In terms of spirit, the Norse rule the roost.
I simply lack the funds to get everything that I’m geeking out over. Geek life is the hardest.
And yet. I wouldn’t want any other life.

The Rules of Warfare for a Fantasy Setting

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Welcome back, my fellow writers! I still haven’t tidied up the Geek Life entry I have planned for this journal, but that’s quite all right. Another topic, a writing topic, has come up, and I find it to be rather fascinating.

Warfare in Fantasy Novels

I find this fascinating simply because I cannot think of a single fantasy novel I’ve read to date that hasn’t had some type of warfare taking place in the story itself. War is one of the biggest conflicts any character of any type of character class can face. Not to say that every single fantasy novel needs some type of war in order to take place – far from that; there are other types of conflict beyond war that can be used – but most every book I have ever read has had some type of war going on. In Harry Potter, the war was on ideology, a notion that some groups of people were less than others. In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron went for a huge power grab.

For the fantasy writer looking for a reason to have a war in a story, you don’t really need to look that far. Wars in fantasy novels do not need to be any different than wars waged in real life. Religion, politics, land/resources, money/wealth . . . a pretty face . . . pretty much any of it can go and has been done plenty of times throughout the course of writing in general. War is an easy backdrop in which to create conflict. There are no set rules for the types of war that can be waged in fantasy or even for why they’re waged.

The only thing I can think of to add to this is make sure the reasons for going to war make sense to the reader. I saw an example tossed out the other day when someone asked this question in a group: “Your dragon pooped in my yard.”

Might seem like a worthy offense for starting a war, but, if that dragon’s poop is giving me some rather spectacular crops, I’m going to be paying that dragon owner to have the dragon poop my yard more often. If the poop is actually damaging to my crops and the owner doesn’t heed my requests to cease, well, I’m certain the dragon would be dead and the war would be on over a dead dragon.

The sky and the writer’s imagination are the only limits when it comes to creating a war worthy of a fantasy novel. Set your stage, my fellow fantasy writers. How you pull off your war is entirely in your hands.

Writing Advice – Asking Others About Genre and Ideas

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I had another entry started on Geek Life, but I’m not happy with it. (Seriously, seeing a waffle iron that makes your waffles in the shape of a twenty-sided dice is awesome, but I need kids in order for it to be worth my money at this point – unless I can find a single waffle batch recipe instead of making a full batch for one person . . . ooooh, maybe that egg and banana recipe I found a few years will work . . .) I’ll work on tweaking it and getting ready for a later entry date. I do love talking about being a geek and the things I totally geek out on, but it’s also one aspect of my life.

Instead, I would like to take a moment to dispense some very much needed advice for all beginning writers who don’t know what they want to write about, let alone the genre that truly appeals to them. I’m not sure if I’ve discussed it before. If so, I’m going to write about it again. It’s something that actually does need to be repeated.

First of all, congratulations on wanting to write a book! As all of us know, that’s actually the first step in writing a book, realizing that we want to write a book Most of us already know which genre appeals to us and why the genre appeals to us. If you’re one of those ones who doesn’t know what genre you want to write in, please do us all a favor (including yourself) and figure it out before you start asking what genre you should be writing in. If you’re curious as to what sells, I can tell you from what Amazon’s told me: Science-fiction and Fantasy. Romance.

Those two are among the top-selling genres anywhere. There is a third, but I’m not recalling it off of the top of my head, and I’m not really interested in finding out what it is, either. Why? Because. That isn’t to say westerns won’t sell or murder mysteries and so on won’t sell. Every type of genre sells. Even stories that are hard to pigeon into a specific genre are able to sell. It all depends on you, the beginning author, being able to tell an engaging, well-crafted story with a distinct voice and style.

In fact, my advice on this is always going to be the same. It isn’t even going to be advice. It’s going to be a rather simple question.

What do you like to read?

To me, it’s that simple. What do you, as a reader, like to read? If you like westerns, write a western. My theory is you’re going to put more love and effort into writing a western than what you would if you tried to write a romance novel. You can definitely combine the two, add in murder mystery, and what have you to make the story more interesting, but, if you love reading westerns, you’ll love writing them, too.

Now . . . it has also occurred to me that maybe some people are asking this question because they can and will read anything and everything, from literary classics like A Tale of Two Cities to more modern authors like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, and Danielle Steele. If that is the situation you’re finding yourself in, then my advice is this.

Scrap the notion of writing in a genre. Just don’t even worry about it. Worry about what you want as your conflict, your setting, your characters, and everything else that goes into crafting a story but your genre? Yeah. Don’t even worry about it. Just formulate your plot and go from there. Go with where your ideas take you and not where people say you can make the most money writing a book. What works for that author in that genre is not necessarily going to work for you when it comes to genre.

Write a fantasy novel. Write a crime thriller. Go with the idea that appeals the most to you and don’t pigeon-hole yourself.

As for asking other people for ideas to start a novel . . . I’m not entirely sure on how to address this. In some ways, it’s like hitting a block midway through the story. Brainstorming can certainly help overcome those blocks.

In other ways, it’s . . . kind of lazy. Again, I applaud people for wanting to write a book, but, if you don’t know what you want to write about, well, I have to ask two things.

Why are you trying to write a book? (is a question coming first and foremost to my mind)

What do you want to write about? (To which, some might say, “If I knew that, I wouldn’t be asking” then I’d be pointing to the above question.)

Writing is not an easy gig. It may look like it’s easy. You’re seeing words on a page that flow almost effortlessly, and it’s beautiful, it’s breaking your heart . . . but it is anything but effortless. Ideas often are a dime a dozen, and I’m not about to toss out an idea to you that I plan on writing about myself. Call it a bit selfish, but I don’t give away my plot bunnies for free. Even as there are really no new ideas under the sun, I still don’t give away plot ideas. In fact, I’ll see something someone else is doing, not like how they’re going about it, and decide I can do better. It sounds egotistical, definitely, but it’s a form of inspiration, and it is an idea that can be used.

Also, contrary to some popular belief amongst writers, fanfiction writers especially, you do not need someone else’s permission to use their idea. Their characters, their specific settings (think Tolkien’s Middle-Earth or DC’s Gotham City over real life locations like New York City, Tokyo, Moscow, and Cairo), and anything else they’ve specifically created for the idea (like the Prancing Pony Inn from The Lord of the Rings or Hogwarts and the Sorting Hat) but the general idea itself? No. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and they cannot be copyrighted. It’s all about the spin.

I realize that this sounds harsh and rather unhelpful. Some of this is just annoyance on my part for people asking such questions, but it’s also something I feel is very important for the beginning writer to be asking himself, herself, or however the writer identifies. Because, as a writer, I’m going to be asking you in return, well, what interests you? What are you passionate about in your personal life? Football? Music? Traveling? Food? Vampires? Mermaids? Werewolves?

In the end, what it’s all going to come down to is the type of story you want to tell and on a subject you can truly be passionate about.

I realize that this will not stop people from asking these types of questions. Getting started is often the hardest part of writing, and I can only imagine that it’s even worse when you don’t know what you want to write about. The desire is there, but the mind keeps drawing a blank. (My deepest sympathies on that!) As long as people have those questions, I will have my questions, too, in the hopes it helps them overcome those blocks and so they can do what every writer wants to do.

Just start writing.

Publishing and Self-Publishing: Why Every Author Needs to Self-Edit

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If there is anything in this world that I hate to do, it’s to come across as being overly preachy and saying, “You must do this, this, and this in order to succeed” when my publishing career is barely three years old. (Portal to Gaming turned three on August 14. Woohoo!!) Plenty of authors will give you a recipe for success, either based on how they managed their success or on what they’ve learned from others on how to achieve success. It’s all one huge experiment in the end, anyway, because what works well for me may not work well for someone else.

While I have yet to achieve my New York Times Bestseller status, there is one thing I have found to be quite true in the three years I’ve been publishing my own works.

Every author needs to self-edit.

Why, one might ask? Editing and revising can be amongst some of the most painful things an author has to do, yet it’s something we do in order to make sure our stories are where we want them to be. (Well, most of us. I’m getting there.)

Some authors are fortunate enough to have someone to help them edit their works. For me, it’s my best friend and the people over at Scribophile. Others, well, as almost every indie author can attest to, there are a lot of people out there who don’t even bother to edit or hire an editor or even self-edit before they’re uploading their stories to Amazon and hitting publish. It happens, and, as long as Amazon allows people to do this, there will continue to be plenty of material most readers don’t want to slug through to find the gems. I can’t say as I blame them. Years of slugging through poorly written fanfiction (by native English speakers and writers, no less – I cut the non-native English speakers and writers more slack) has left me in the same predicament. “I just don’t want to do it!”

A few weeks ago, a fellow reader in one of my many facebook groups posted a rather thoughtless and mindless rant to the group about indie authors. It was her first go-round with indie authors, she picked three books by three different authors, and claimed to be traumatized by the experiences. The first was poorly edited, and she’d stopped by chapter four. The next was okay, but the author seemed to stop caring by the end of the book. She might have said the same thing about the third book – I don’t recall, but that’s because of the stance I took and how I actually viewed the next part of her story when I read it.

“Indie authors, do yourself a favor and hire an editor and beta-readers” is basically what she said. I was mildly upset by such a remark because 1 – she presumed that all indie authors were like the three that she’d purchased, much like presuming all romance novels are the same by reading only one author. (Again, not a fan of romance, but I gave it a try beyond the usual smutty Harlequin romance books. Summaries and book blurbs are actually the best way to catch any reader’s attention. Anyway . . .) and, 2 – she presumed that every indie author can actually afford to hire an editor and seek out beta-readers (proofreaders).

Now what followed is what I’m finding to be quite typical of the indie author response to such a statement. “I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. I know I don’t do that!” All from people who know they don’t simply hit “submit” after writing a first draft, from people who are doing more than just trying to earn what they believe to be a quick buck by writing a story.

I actually took the opposite stance here, not to be contrary for the sake of being contrary, but because I know what my situation has been, and I know I’m not alone in my situation. I asked a rather rhetorical question about the authors who cannot afford to hire an editor. I’m in a position where I cannot afford to hire an editor or to even pay my best friend for her editing skills (which I would love to do, by the way).

I won’t get into all of the responses. I’ll sum it up with I received a lot of “helpful” but overall useless advice. Find a local critique group (because everyone has access to writers in their area in the middle of NOWHERE, USA, or NOWHERE, EUROPE, etc . . .) and to just save up and wait.

I  . . . want to encourage everyone who reads this to find the best editing path that will work for them. I want it to be known right now. If you feel you can save up for an editor who can help you and not destroy your work, do it. If you know of a writer’s group in your area that can help you improve your work and not destroy it, do it. If you find yourself lacking in money and local writers, find an online group like Scribophile or Critique Circle, and get your work edited, reviewed, and revised. Then decide whether you’re going to self-publish or submit to a traditional publishing house. If you get that contract based on how polished your prose is, excellent! Great job! I, for sure, am proud of you for doing so.

But, above all else, SELF-EDIT YOUR WORK. Make sure your editor hasn’t added any extra typos in the manuscript. (I’ve noted at least once where it happened to Robert Jordan in his Wheel of Time series. The word was supposed to be “quiet” and was written as “quite”.) Make sure your editor hasn’t butchered your prose to suit their writing styles and how they think your story should go.

Self-edit to make sure your story reads the way you have envisioned it. If you have to give yourself three months to do that, great. But always, always, always double-check your work. This is your story, your baby. The absolute last thing you want is someone else’s grammatical errors mucking up your story.

And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t self-edit your own work, that you need to trust someone else with the final revision of your work. I have gone over my own manuscripts after I’ve already published them and found missing words and misspelled words that my critiquers at Scribophile missed. It is not uncommon for an editor or a beta-reader to get caught up in the story and miss a few things. An extra set of eyes or two or five are always helpful, but, in the end, the final revision gets its stamp of approval from you.

I say this to every author embarking on a publishing career, be it traditional, self-publishing, or hybrid publishing. Trust your instincts. Self-edit.