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What a short strange year it’s been.

April 5, 2012

This time exactly a year ago I took a deep breath, looked at the Smashwords submission page one last time, and clicked “Publish”.

Hours later – because there were a couple of hundred books in the queue – I saw the first version of Lies and Consequences go live for downloading. So I downloaded it to check it (because Smashwords doesn’t have a preview function.) Then I swore loudly, because the entire book was centered and not just the title page!

So I worked to redo the formatting and submitted it again. And sat through two hours biting my nails as I watched people downloading the bad version of the book. And then the revision came up, and despite having followed directions it wasn’t fixed. So I went down to a plain text file and reformatted and tried again – crap, all the italics are missing. I put all the italics in by hand – more crap, now the title page is all left-justified and the chapter headings are messed up. I re-re-formatted – now the whole book is left justified but at least the chapters work … To freaking hell with it, that’s close enough.

By the way, if anyone out there has a copy without any italics or all centered, go get a new one. It’s free. Unless of course you like not having my addiction to italics in there.

That was my very first book, before any of my pro work had come out. Back then, Life Lessons had been accepted by MLR and was in editing. But I wanted to get Lies out before DADT was too much of a fading memory. MLR looked at the synopsis and said, “No thanks.” For which I can’t blame them. I mean, have you read that book? I think I put three books worth of suspension-of-disbelief plot in there. Even I looked at the synopsis and wondered what the heck I’d been thinking.

However, I decided I didn’t want to trim and warp it to professional standards. (I had a sneaking fondness for my OTT plot.) So self pub seemed the logical answer. I figured, as a freebie, no one would complain too much if they didn’t like it. I had no beta, no proofreader, just me and the book. And a major anxiety attack as it went live. This was it. No more writing for myself and shelving the book away. People were going to read my book. People were going to *gulp* comment on it. I was an author. Maybe.

Within 24 hours Lies had its first review. A good, well-written and fair review with a four-star rating. The author of that has become disenchanted with me since then, but I will always be grateful to her for that review. It made me feel like I could do this professional writing thing. It was an injection of confidence at a time when I desperately needed one. I was an author. Definitely.

A year ago. Wow. It seems both like yesterday and like forever. Because it did change my life.

Since then I’ve had a bunch of books come out. Enough that I have to check Goodreads when I list them not to miss any. I’ve had reviews and interviews, and even been on blog radio. Now when I say I’m a writer there is no hesitation. I am. And the writing has given me so much in return.

The biggest part of this year has been the people. Oh, releasing the books is fun, and I still read the reviews (Well, mostly. I appreciate the good ones, and the bad ones are okay as long as they darned well explain themselves. I’ve learned a lot from negative reviews.) I’m thrilled and humbled and a little freaked out that people now sometimes buy a book pretty much just because I wrote it. How cool is that?

But the people I have met have been the biggest and most wonderful change in my life.

Following a Googled review of Lies and Consequences led me to Goodreads. I hesitantly signed up, and claimed my book, and got an author page. And people friended me and suggested groups and recommended a wealth of wonderful books. I found a community of folks who read and discussed and shared and were welcoming and supportive. (And who squabbled and acted like drama queens sometimes, but that’s a story for another time.)

So many people with shared interests, and some of them generously willing to help me figure out my path. Josh Lanyon’s crit and discussion group made me welcome for a season and made me feel like a real author. (And taught me some valuable lessons along the way.) A host of people on the M/M Romance thread joined me in conversations and actually seemed to enjoy my input. Some gay guys shared parts of their lives with me, via their wonderful blogs (Thorny, Matt & Brad) and later even as friends (adding in BJ, Alex, Jordie, Jerry, and more.) They made me feel that my usurpation of their culture for my writing was a good thing and not a presumptuous intrusion. Some of them even read my books.

People offered to beta my work. They invited me to join their chats and commented on my blogs, here and on Goodreads. I was even invited to moderate the Young Adult LGBT Books group, and became a mentor of sorts to other readers. A few people became true close friends, and one is now a friend of the heart (yes, Sammy, that’s you.)

What a difference a year makes, from my solitary writer cave to this.

Who knows what next year will bring? I have a novel in editing (Home Work, the third Life Lessons book.) I have a free short story releasing this summer (well, at 61,000 words, make that a free novella.) The plot bunnies in my head are multiplying like there’s been a clearance sale on Viagra. The Young Adult group will be having it’s own anniversary soon. I have YA writing in progress, including two novels…

All I know is, I am a writer. And while there will never again be anything like this first year, with its ups and downs, I look forward to seeing what I can do with the experience I’ve gained. I love knowing that there will be a bunch of my friends hanging out with me. And people willing to read what I write.

If you’ve had the patience to read through my blog this far, there is a reward. Well, a couple of them. In honor of my year as a writer, I’m giving away three ebooks – winner’s choice. Leave a comment with your email. The winners will be chosen randomly and I’ll email you and you can pick your poison.

And I decided I would put out a free story. This is a short story I wrote for an anthology call for Storm Moon Press, way back close to the beginning of The Year That Made My Head Spin. In the end, they returned it because they didn’t get enough submissions to do the anthology. So I decided, rather than stuff it in a drawer, why not post it here. This is the link.

An enormous thank-you to everyone for being part of a mind-blowing first year as an author for me. Year two is coming up. I hope you stick around for the ride.

69 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2012 1:29 am

    I failed to note – I’ll run the free book drawing after midnight Sat April 7th, so you have a couple of days to leave a comment and your email if you want to be entered.

  2. Jackie B. permalink
    April 5, 2012 1:38 am

    Congrats on a (successful!) year as a writer! BTW, I’m one of those people who buy your books pretty much just ’cause you wrote them :-)

    • April 5, 2012 8:52 am

      I don’t think there’s anything nicer you could say to a writer – thank you.

  3. Idamus permalink
    April 5, 2012 5:09 am

    Goodreads wouldn’t let me comment, trying here instead :/

    Wow, only a year? Feels like longer since I read you first book, good luck with all the stories in your head, I hope they find good homes with nice publishers out there (so I can buy and read them, I’m greedy like that)

    Ack, unless future books are eligeble I’m not in the draw, I’ve got your books :D

    • April 5, 2012 8:55 am

      Wow – all of them! :)

      I don’t have anything so close to publication (well anything that’s not going to be free anyway) that I want to throw it into the pot – sorry. But I’m very grateful that you’ve collected the whole lot.

      • Idamus permalink
        April 5, 2012 9:19 am

        Well, between me and the boyfriend we have them all ;)

      • April 5, 2012 3:13 pm

        Very cool. I guess I’d better write more then.

  4. April 5, 2012 8:23 am

    Happy publication anniversary, and many happy returns. :)

    Um. There aren’t three of your books that I don’t have! :D But I’d love to win a copy of the werewolf books, as I haven’t read those yet.

    • April 5, 2012 8:56 am

      Hey Chris. Sure, we’ll put your name in. The wolves are available. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. April 5, 2012 8:30 am

    Happy Anniversary, Kaje! Congratulations on a great year of writing.

  6. Mandy permalink
    April 5, 2012 8:34 am

    Like Chris I have most of your books, but Aaron’s story is still missing in my collection! :)

    Congrats on what must have been a great life changing year!!

    Mandy

    Doublemom2001(at)googlemail(dot)com

    • April 5, 2012 8:59 am

      Great – entered for a copy of Aaron. (So far the odds look pretty good, right?) And life-changing is right. Mostly in so many positive ways, although my husband occasionally grumbles that he might not have given me the laptop if he’d known it would make me spend even more hours at the keyboard :D

  7. Mandy Beyers permalink
    April 5, 2012 9:38 am

    I am another of those who auto-list your books on the TBR pile as soon as I see there is another one. I have thoroughly enjoyed each of yours that I have read and hope you continue to have the joy of writing for years to come. :)

    -Mandy Beyers

    beyerlein@sbcglobal.net

  8. Anastasia K permalink
    April 5, 2012 9:42 am

    Well happy publications anniversary and wow I’m surprised that it’s only been a year considering that I have 8 books of a certain Kaje Harper.
    If the contest is open international, I’d like to enter as well, although the only book I don’t have is Unexpected Demands and I’d love to win a copy. :)

    • April 5, 2012 10:28 am

      Sure – I’ll put you in the hat for Aaron. Sometimes I’m surprised at how many books I have listed too – MLR has been very generous with taking anything I throw at them (well, other than Lies and Consequences :)

  9. Kim Possum permalink
    April 5, 2012 10:52 am

    Congratulations! I would so love to add to my Kaje Harper collection. :)

  10. Carnell permalink
    April 5, 2012 11:39 am

    Wow…Congrats Kaje for this amazing year. I love your books and I will read anything you write because you are an excellent writer.

    Thank you so much for the free read. *happy dance*

    Oh, and I want to be in :)

    viggnell(at)gmail(dot)com

  11. Juliana permalink
    April 5, 2012 11:52 am

    I know exactly what I want if I win! I love your books and these are in my to buy list!
    Full Circle
    Possibilities
    The Rebuilding Year
    I really hope I win! I can’t wait for your next year!
    Congrats!

    • April 5, 2012 2:49 pm

      Thanks Kim, Carnell and Juliana – I have you in the list. Since I’m doing 3 winners & 3 books each (to represent the 9 books I put out professionally this year :) the odds are still not bad. I’m so glad you’re interested.

  12. Ladyage permalink
    April 5, 2012 1:19 pm

    I also already have all of your books, so I’m just using this comment to tell you how much I love your writing. You are an autobuy for me and I’m waiting impatiently for your next projects.

    • April 5, 2012 2:50 pm

      I’m kinda waiting eagerly too ;) – The Goodreads freebie will probably be next, other than the short stories I post in the YA LGBT group. Then Home Work.

  13. Penumbra permalink
    April 5, 2012 1:52 pm

    Congratulations! I had no idea this was only your first year as a published author.

    I already have a couple of your books, but would love to win three of your others.

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

  14. ebbster permalink
    April 5, 2012 1:59 pm

    I saw this, and went, oh, it’s that author I keep hearing about but have never read!

    I would love a chance to read some of your stuff.

    • April 5, 2012 2:55 pm

      It’s really cool that you’ve heard of me – what a change in a year.

      I do have freebies – if you haven’t read Like the Taste of Summer, that’s a good place to start. It’s short, it’s here and on ARe and on Smashwords, and you can’t beat free. That would give you a taste. If you only read novels, Lies and Consequences is also free on Smashwords and it’s 98K. Not my best book ever (because it was my first) but still a look at my voice as an author.

      But I’ll put you in for the drawing too – good luck.

  15. Iva permalink
    April 5, 2012 2:02 pm

    Dear Kaje

    I have all your books and just finished Aaron’s book who is next?
    Congrats what a great year. I am so looking forward to another year.

    Thank You

    • April 5, 2012 2:57 pm

      If you’re asking who’s up in the Hidden Wolves series, I’m actually not certain. I have a couple of first drafts of novels, and one additional plot bunny jumping around in my head, but the order is not crystal clear yet. We’ll both have to wait and see. I’d also thought about a 3rd person follow-up with both POV’s from Book 2… not sure if that will happen or not. More ideas than time.

  16. Enny permalink
    April 5, 2012 2:32 pm

    You’ve managed to become my favorite author in this short time. I saw Lies and Consequences on Smashwords, downloaded it since it was for free and was immediately smitten. The book may have some flaws but it was a highly entertaining and fast-paced read. The suspension of disbelief didn’t bother me at all since I read a lot of fantasy books. My personal disbelief is probably on permanent vacation by now.

    I’ve got all your books since you’re one of those authors whose books I mark in my calendar, then refresh the publisher’s web site till I can buy the book and then start reading it immediately.

    • April 5, 2012 3:02 pm

      “My personal disbelief is probably on permanent vacation by now.” – Ah, my kind of reader :)

      I’m going to come back to this thread on the days when I wonder if I really have the writing skill to make it worth publishing my work. (I think every writer has those now and then.) I’ll read what you and the others have written. Thank you all.

  17. kate permalink
    April 5, 2012 3:37 pm

    Happy Publication and Being an Author Anniversary!

    I’ve only been a (fairly dedicated) M/M reader for just over a year but you have quickly gone onto my auto-buy list… and I will continue to buy your work in paperback so I have the real thing in my hand!

    I for one am extremely grateful for all the work you do in the Goodreads Young Adult LGBT group … not just inspiring younger readers, but also inspiring and encouraging those of us who are dabbling our toes in the idea of writing as well

    Here’s to lots more years of being a real author :)

    • April 5, 2012 3:58 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by – and you’re a damned sight further along than dabbling; I love your writing and look forward to more.

  18. Sammy2006 permalink
    April 5, 2012 3:42 pm

    Dear Author,

    I unashamedly own all of your books…and unashamedly cherish each and every one. Every once in a while an author comes along with a “voice” that reaches to the very core of our being. Her stories take root in our hearts and we find ourselves welcoming each new offering with open arms and a sigh as if to say, “ah, another long lost family member has come home.” Yes, it is a rare thing when an author’s words remind us of the best parts of humanity, and when those very words extend hope despite our living in a flawed world.

    And so, isn’t it wonderful dear author that we have discovered you. Every day, you allow us to come into your world, pull up a chair and rest a bit, share a story, make a new friend, learn a little more about ourselves through your beautiful prose. How lovely is that?

    Happy Anniversary, dear, dear author. Thank you…for making this reader’s year one to remember…a year of beautiful stories and an even more beautiful friendship.

    • April 5, 2012 3:59 pm

      Aw. Sammy. So sweet – thank you. If people are finding hope along with entertainment in my stories, then I am doing what I want most to accomplish. ((hugs))

  19. Joan permalink
    April 5, 2012 3:59 pm

    I’ve been on Goodreads for nearly two years already and I’ve witnessed several authors making baby steps there and becoming ‘stars’ in a span of several months :). It makes me happy – so many talented people there who with some encouragement can bloom :).

    Congratulation Kaje. The Rebuilding Year is one of the best books I’ve read this year (and ever). I hope your plot bunnies will work faster.

    • April 5, 2012 4:42 pm

      Goodreads is such a wonderful community of readers and writers and a great place to take some of those first steps. Whatever its flaws and occasional dramas, I am really glad that review led me over there a year ago.

      And my plot bunnies thank you.

  20. Susan permalink
    April 5, 2012 4:17 pm

    Hi Kaje, Happy Anniversary!

    I can still remember the first time I read Life Lessons. I hadn’t heard of you, but I bought it because the blurb sounded interesting. As soon as it began I settled in and was so comfortable with your style. It lasted throughout the entire book. Afterwards I went looking on Amazon for other stories. As I got to know you on Goodreads I remember being amazed that someone with your talent hadn’t been a published author for years. I am so happy you are published now, though. Congrats on a wonderful and totally-deserved great first year, Kaje.

    • April 5, 2012 4:44 pm

      I’m glad I got up the nerve (OK, that my husband got out the pitchfork) to submit that first one, and that MLR was so encouraging right off the start. My writing cave was safe, but this is more fun.

  21. Michelle permalink
    April 5, 2012 4:47 pm

    Happy Anniversary….I’m glad you are a writer and enjoy your books a lot! Thank you and keep the bunnies well fed!

    chellebe at comcast dot net

  22. mary soto permalink
    April 5, 2012 7:25 pm

    I remember that I saw Life Lessons on Amazon, it came up on my recommendations. It kept drawing me back to it until I said what the heck and jumped right in-getting the ebook. Needless to say I fell in love with the characters so much I went ahead and bought the print edition too. After Breaking Cover-another favorite and great addition to the series btw, you became one of my auto buy authors (or buy as soon as there’s money in the pocket opportunity; cause of course I have to pretend to be responsible and mature and pay the bills first *eye roll*). Anyway Happy Anniversay Kaje, very happy you took the risk and graced us with your wonderful stories-hope you continue to do so for a long time. :)

    • April 5, 2012 8:58 pm

      I did like the cover of Life Lessons a lot – I think it draws the eye in a good way. (And what’s that about bills – you mean I’m supposed to actually pay those things?)

      @ Michelle – one thing about plot bunnies – they actually sometimes contribute to their keep.

  23. eeper permalink
    April 6, 2012 12:29 am

    Congratulations on a great year! I’m very, very glad you took that chance a year ago and clicked that “Publish” link. :)

  24. April 6, 2012 1:23 am

    Congratulations! I’m a really new reader of your books. I discovered Life Lessons perhaps two weeks ago and was then so hooked that he had to get the second book immediately afterwards :) I also read Lies and Consequences and really enjoyed it (I sent my suspension of disbelief on holidays for a while ^^)

    • April 6, 2012 8:50 am

      Glad you found my guys. You might have to rent that holiday cottage for your disbelief again, now and then.

  25. Lisa permalink
    April 6, 2012 3:41 am

    Hi Kaje! Congratulations on a very successful year of writing. Hope there will be many more to come. Tell your husband we thank him for giving you that laptop. :D

    lkbherring64(at)gmail(dot)com

    • April 6, 2012 8:51 am

      I’ll tell him. He’ll grunt like he doesn’t care. But secretly I know he’s kind of happy at my success too.

  26. Morgana permalink
    April 6, 2012 5:29 am

    Wow! You have written so many great books in such a short time, that it’s hard to believe it has been only a year since we got to read them. Congratulations, Kaje! :) I wish you another year, no, make it many, many years as good as this one!

    Please, enter me in the contest. I own all your books apart from Hidden Wolves series, and would really love to have a chance to win the two. Thanks! :)

  27. eva permalink
    April 6, 2012 8:55 am

    Happy anniversary Kaje :D
    Looking at all the books you’ve got on your backlist it’s hard to believe it’s only been one year since the first book.
    I have to say Tony and Jared turned me into a fan in Life Lessons and it’s been a pleasure reading your books since then.
    Though I have yet to try out your short stories (I’m more of a novel kinda girl), but I’ll get around to those as well one of these days.

    • April 6, 2012 9:03 am

      I’m glad you like Mac and Tony – I’m enjoying getting back into their heads as I edit the next one.

      I used to never read short stories. Then I got sucked into it by some of the ones that were linked to novels… and written by favorite authors… and just sounded good. I still prefer long form to short, for my own writing as well (hence the 61K short story I just finished) but short stories have grown on me too. Especially for doing freebies where I can’t always free up the time to do a novel length.

      But I promise – more novels to come for those who like to get immersed in a world and not come up for air too soon.

  28. Rain permalink
    April 6, 2012 10:31 am

    Congrats on your year as an author! And thank you for sharing the free story, I’m off to read it next. :)

  29. Suze permalink
    April 6, 2012 11:23 am

    Gosh, only a year, and a very hectic one too by yr post. You’re on my regular watch and buy list so would love a chance to win some too

    • Suze permalink
      April 6, 2012 11:30 am

      And i meant to say, really love Like the Taste of Summer – a definite reread!

  30. Avalie permalink
    April 6, 2012 11:57 am

    I can’t believe you have achieved all this in just one year! You have been on my must buy list for some time now. I read Lies and Consequences last year and it has one of my rare 5 stars in my personal library. Have just bought Breaking Cover and really looking forward to this sequel. Thank you very much for the freebie.

  31. Barb permalink
    April 6, 2012 1:15 pm

    Congratulations Kaje! And I’ll add Happy Birthday to that too. I can’t believe you’ve only been writing for one year. The first book I read was Lies & Consequences and I loved it. I thought you were a well established, long time author. I’ve purchased Life Lessons and Breaking Cover to read during my April challenges. You are so talented, I can’t wait to read Within Reach – thanks for giving us a gift on your birthday!

  32. April 6, 2012 5:05 pm

    Hello Kaje,

    Congratulations on all your Publications & Happy Author Anniversary Kaje!!!
    WOW that’s Extremely Impressive to have achieved sooooo much within one year. You should be VERY Proud of yourself for your years accomplishments….but also on a more personal level, it has to be so rewarding knowing just how many Fans you touched with your writing & gained during this time. Keep on doing what it is you do…..because You sure are Doing It Right!!! :)

    I would very much appreciate the opportunity to be considered in your very generous giveaway.

    Take Care & Happy Easter,
    PaParanormalFan (Renee’ S.)
    paranormalromancefan at yahoo dot com

  33. Sarah C. permalink
    April 6, 2012 5:21 pm

    Wow, what an incredible year’s work! You must have been bursting with stories to tell. I loved The Rebuilding Year and look forward to reading more!

  34. SarahM permalink
    April 6, 2012 9:32 pm

    I’ve just discovered your books and loved Unacceptable Risk :-) Congrats on being published and thanks for the giveaway!

    smaccall AT comcast.net

    • April 6, 2012 10:07 pm

      I’m just blown away by how many people are coming over here and commenting. Thanks Avalie, Barb, Renee’ S, Sarah C. and SarahM !!

  35. Pea permalink
    April 6, 2012 11:50 pm

    Happy Anniversary! I _cannot wait_ to read Home Work when it comes out. I had to think a bit, but there are actually two books of yours that I don’t own yet, (Unexpected Demands and Ghosts and Flames) so I would love to be entered in your giveaway. Now I’m off to read your new free short – thanks!

    • April 6, 2012 11:53 pm

      You’re in. Thanks for stopping by. It’s wonderful how hard it is to give away batches of three books :D – If someone doesn’t need all three, I’ll open it up until I give away the nine, in whatever grouping works.

  36. yganoe permalink
    April 7, 2012 6:25 am

    Happy Anniversary with many more years of wonderful work to come!
    Yvette
    yratpatrol@aol.com

  37. Lyra L permalink
    April 7, 2012 8:35 am

    Hi Kaje,
    happy publication anniversary! I’d love to win Aron’s book or the Ghost story, they are the only ones that I’m missing from my Kaje Harper collenction. What’s next on your writting agenda, can we look forward to another sequel?

    • April 7, 2012 9:24 am

      The freebie for Goodreads is next, then the third Life Lessons. I haven’t decided beyond that. I have some first drafts done, a couple of YA novels I’m writing as Kira Harp that are half-finished, and one story nagging at me to be written. We’ll see. People have asked for sequels for several books, including the Rebuilding Year so I might do a short for that.

  38. April 8, 2012 12:39 am

    **** From here on, you are welcome to leave a comment, but the free book drawing will be from the people listed above this. Winners to come soon. ****

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