To celebrate the two year anniversary of my anxiety dragon book, Empath, I’m re-posting the #SlayYourFears series. Basically, I took a leap of faith and wrote about all the things that scared me. I hoped sharing them would help others realize they weren’t alone. Today, I’m talking about my fear of no money.
Check the end of the post for a giveaway and a two year progress report update.
I am afraid that I will run out of money.
Originally Published May 2015
This is a fear that has driven me for years to do things like take a boring day job instead of doing creative things. Now that I’m trying to do creative things instead of the boring day job, I’m coming face to face with this fear.
In 2015, I attended six conventions in eight weeks at the start of the year. I was very nervous about the whole thing. I was already in the hole money-wise on the business. There I was, digging myself in deeper with the hope that I could boost myself out.
The Anghenfil was in my head, the fire-breathing bastard, saying, “What happens if you don’t sell any books? What happens if you end up farther in debt?” That fear ruminated in the back of my head, roaring whenever I put down my credit card to pay for a planet ticket or purchase more books.
I’d get anxious when sales would slow. Then, I’d start chewing off my nails when the minutes ticked by and cash was not exchanged. And when I’d have to lug back a shit-ton of books on the plane, I’d look over my expenses and second-guess everything I ever purchased.
I’d hope that maybe the next one, the next event would be the silver bullet to get me out of the hole, and then, disappointment.
At the end of it all, I lost a lot of money.
The very thing I was afraid of has happened.
In the back of my mind, I’m thinking, “Oh God, am I going to die? Am I a complete and total failure? Is my dream gone?”
(Spoiler alert: I’m still alive. I’m not a failure. My dream is perfectly in tact.)
Unfortunately, I can’t predict how an event will go, as hard as I try. For example, I thought I’d have 30 of the 80 books leftover in Indy and I sold out at 1pm on Sunday. I thought I could get through 34 books in Chicago and ended up with 16 left. I can’t predict the weather and shit happens. Like in New York, when snow reduced the folks who came out to the event and forced me to make travel changes.
Coping with It
The only thing I can do is to prepare the best I know how.
In the future, I’m not going to be spending as much money on events. This six week mini-tour was mostly a flying adventure (hello flying anxiety), which added another $500 to the cost of the event. I am still gainfully employed by a company that expected me to be in the office Monday mornings. Driving to and from an event was a non-starter. Therefore, I was at the whim of the airline industry – between checked bags (realized that this was a bad idea after the first event) then shipping books to events (upwards of $100 for shipping and handling) and just the price of the tickets themselves, yeesh. And the only event I made money on, I drove to.
And the last thing to remember is that money is not everything. Okay, that’s a lie – it is everything, but money made right now is not the only money ever made. Attending a convention is like planting a seed, or a bunch of seeds. The more books I sell, the more cards I give out, the more seeds I’m tossing. The more cities I toss seeds in, the more chance that those seeds will pollinate (that is, fans who read the book pass it on to their friends).
Soon, everyone will have Razia in their home.
Now is the Start
Case in point: I’ve got a steady stream of purchases for the ebook. And none of this includes Empath. Nor does it account for the folks who received a business card for SGR-P and who are considering hiring me for their edit jobs. Nor does it account for the folks who are still reading Double Life who picked it up more recently, who will turn around and pick up Alliances and the rest of the series.
So yeah, I do have a pretty hefty amount on the credit card. I don’t have a magic wand that will magically make the debt disappear (Update: Yes, I did, it’s called Selling A House and Tax Season). It’s a very long game that is only in the first fifteen minutes. While I didn’t want to lose money, the fact of the matter is, I could at this point because I’m not dependent on the writing to pay my bills. And because at this point I’m planting the seeds, in six months, a year, two years, five years, I’ll be able to reap what I’ve sown.
Yet again, the clear lesson here is you can’t let fear control your life. You can’t let fear stop you from taking risks because you might fail. And if you do fail, don’t ignore the small beginnings of something new that came out of it. Because things didn’t work out right now, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.
Slay Your Fears: Two Years Later
Of all the fears that I’ve overcome, this is the one I’ve made the most progress on. I was able to significantly reduce my expenses and quit my job in November 2015. After dabbling with a little coffee shop work, I’ve found my stride in freelancing – both editing and some ad hoc SharePoint work. I sold my house in January of this year, and am now dipping my toe into house-flipping, although that isn’t going as fast as I’d like.
The lesson here is that with patience, luck, and hard work, the Universe provides. Instead of panicking and making a jump into something I don’t want because of fear, I bided my time. Eventually, with persistence, I found a few jobs that allow me to continue writing and doing my SGR-P thing. It takes a bit of juggling to make it all work, but it does.
And the publishing company? We’re actually doing remarkably well balancing investments and income. Right now, we’re taking a bit of a new-project-funding hiatus to catch up on publishing nine projects in 2016. Also, with my home life situation up in the air, I didn’t want to commit to events after June. But I’ve got my eye on February 2018 with Demon Spring and Pensacon, so you know I’ll be right back out there.
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Lauren Dailey is in break-up hell.
Stuck between moving on and letting go, she puts on a brave face while crying herself to sleep at night. But when a mysterious voice promises escape from her sadness, she is suddenly transported to a new world. And in this place, the slightest touch pulls her out of her tortured emotions into the mind of another - an empath.
The villagers - sweet Aerona and her mischievous twins, wise Siors, and hunky Cefin - welcome her and the blessings her empath powers bring. But this world is not without its dangers. The Anghenfil, a fire-breathing monster, has haunted the village for decades, and has a taste for empaths. And that mysterious voice promising escape from sadness? It's sounding more like a whisper tinged with smoke and embers.
Can Lauren keep the monsters in the mountain and in her head at bay? Or will she succumb to the darkness like the empath before her?
Empath is a book about a girl going through a rough patch. She hears a mysterious voice promising an easy out to all her problems, and is transported to a world where she has the power to feel what others are feeling. Just one problem: there's a dragon that might want to eat her. And oh, by the way, it might also be the source of that mysterious voice, tempting her deeper into her own darkness.
Empath is a standalone novel intended for ages 15 and up. Content warnings for mental health issues, substance abuse, and suicide.
"There," Cefin said, pointing to a pile of rocks that leaned against the side of the mountain. "That is where I found you."
"I was under there?" Lauren breathed. It was obviously a cave-in, and the boulders were thick and heavy. If any of them had fallen in the wrong place, she would have been crushed.
It was a miracle she wasn't crushed.
She approached the pile and saw where Cefin must have dug her out. Seeing the size of the rocks, knowing how close she had come to not getting out, she felt a little sorry for being so angry with him. Although he was being an jerk right now, she wasn't sure she ever thanked him for saving her life.
"Hey," Lauren said, tossing him a sideways glance. "Thanks for saving me."
"Just hurry up," he huffed, pulling his spear off of his back. "The Anghenfil could be in any one of these caves."READ MORE
"The right response is 'you're welcome'…" She walked up to the pile and began pushing aside any of the rocks she could, looking for anything strange. She tossed a fist-sized stone behind her and gasped.
"There's a cave here!" she called to Cefin, who was standing with his spear in his hand and not helping her whatsoever.
She sniffed and began tugging at a big rock, hoping that if she could move it a little bit, it would dislodge other ones, creating a larger hole, one that she could slip through. With a heave, she pushed with all of her might and it broke free, tumbling down into the blackness and taking Lauren with it.
She landed in a heap in the dark, cool cave, coughing up dust and other particles. A small halo of light formed a circle on the ground, but didn't offer any other illumination in the cave. Pushing herself to her feet, she walked over to the hole and peered out, spying Cefin standing at attention.
"I'm fine, thanks for asking."
"Hurry up," Cefin snapped, his eyes glued to the skies.
"Yeah, yeah," Lauren rolled her eyes, disappearing into the darkness.
She stumbled around for a moment, feeling at the floor with her feet for anything that would give her a clue as to how she got here. Maybe she just needed to walk to the end of the cave and she'd wake up back in her own bed. She kicked the ground until she found the wall of the cave, placing her hands on the chilly stone to guide her. She kept to the wall, planting her feet firmly with every step to keep her balance.
Her foot caught on something and she fell, but not onto the hard ground, onto something firm…
In the darkness, a gigantic red eye opened.
She gasped, fear gripping her as she scrambled for the small pinhole in the distance that was the edge of the cave. "CEFIN!" she screamed, her voice echoing in the cave.
The monster was moving, and Lauren saw a flash of bright fire, illuminating the black body the size of an elephant.
She screamed and ran faster, hating herself for ever coming up here. She flung herself at the small hole, wriggling out as fast as she could. Cefin's spear was out, concern on his face.
"Lauren, quiet down, you'll wake the—"
"TOO LATE!" she screamed, pulling herself out of the cave and running past him as fast as her feet could carry her. "RUN!"COLLAPSE
Mindy on Books, Books, and More Books wrote:
This is a thrilling book that mixes a solid fantasy setting with the heroine’s emotional turmoil and does so in a surprising, but well-executed way. Recommended to fantasy fans who don’t mind a more contemporary touch in their books (Lauren is, after all, still a twenty-first century girl traveling to a fantasy world).
Jen Streck on Psychocat Reviews wrote:
Interesting premise of time and space/dimension travel mixed with psychological or mental illness issues so that you aren’t sure even at the end if it really happened. The story was an interesting mix of fantasy and reality. It explores the concepts of depression, suicide, and letting other people in to the “secret” thoughts and emotional connections. Well written so that it is intriguing rather than preachy.
There's a good chance those final chapter will break your feels, but they will also remind you that ending up at the bottom doesn't mean you have to stay there.