December 2014: I had a killer blog, an interactive following, and readers waiting to read BIRTH OF A VIXEN. They begged me for insider information. My email and messenger was bombarded daily with the same question, “When is it coming out?”
I had never published before. I didn’t know anything. I spent nothing on advertising, marketing. Didn’t do a single blog tour or interview. There wasn’t Instagram. But I worked Facebook and Twitter. I made friends.
So, what happened?
December 3rd 2014: Birth of a Vixen was downloaded onto Kindle for a 12.04.14 launch. That was when I received the message it would take three days to be available.
I didn’t know that it took that long. They don’t give you a heads-up before you setup the book. To make up for the delay and for sounding like a liar to my readers I made the ebook free. 500 books free, no profit, and in that first month I received one review. Thankfully, it was five stars. That one review made my world.
January 2015: No sales.
Those next couple months were tough. I made a little bit of money on Kindle Unlimited. Judging by the numbers, readers weren’t finishing the book. Some of my author buddies bought it and left good reviews. I can’t thank them enough. Then came May.
May 2015: I was working at Summa Hospital connecting the hospital to doctor’s on-call and helping patient’s once the doctor’s office was closed. I liked the work. It gave me time to work on Virus Within. In other words, it was slow. Until one day, I was driving home from Walmart with one of my daughters and I could have sworn I saw a low-flying plane from World War II bearing down on us and firing. That was my first hallucination. There would be many more to come.
That day my husband, Ken, took me to the emergency room. They ran tests and found nothing wrong with me. That was a huge mistake.
From that day in May until the beginning of June I continued to see more and more unbelievable things. One man stood outside the window at work. We were on the top floor. I worked the late shift. A cat walked with me as I tracked my steps. It was not one of my cats, nor was I home. A half-naked man stood on the side of the highway starring at me as I drove past him. When I looked back, he was gone. There were bugs, spiders, laughter from somewhere, shadows moved. I felt like I was in one of my books. Up was down. Down was left. There was light in darkness until there wasn’t anything at all and I was back in the hospital’s emergency room.
The diagnoses: metabolic encephalopathy, sepsis, post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD), and depression.
I spent two weeks in the hospital and another two weeks in rehabilitation relearning how to walk, fold clothes, go up and down stairs, vacuum, put bowling pins in a cart, shower, and write.
My momentum went out the window with the ability to live my life. I watched 4th of July fireworks from a hospital bed, knowing the rest of my family was downtown enjoying the show. I sank further into that depression I was diagnosed with. There was nothing creative in me.
August 2018: After years of therapy and failures I rush through a draft of Virus Within. Mainly, so I can, I did it. The book took me two weeks to write and it showed. How could I publish it? I’m grateful only four people bought it. My sincere apologies to you four readers.
I was three and a half years into deep therapy for PTSD when I wrote book two. I’d done the group thing. That was weird, but helpful. Individually, my therapist and I worked on exposure therapy. We recorded my worse traumatic moments as I could recall them. Then I listened to them over and over and over and over again, recording my SUDs (Subject Units of Distress Scale) level until the memory didn’t affect me as much. By now, I could probably withstand most forms of torture. Oddly enough I dedicated the book to my doctors and therapists. Aside from Ken, they were my life line.
The reason the book was horrible and did poorly at the time (thank goodness) was because I wasn’t ready to write it. I rushed me. Once again that question of “When is it coming out?” began filling in my inbox and I pressured myself to be a professional author instead of being human first.
May 2020: Six years after the first hallucination I am in general therapy. I no longer have hallucinations. I do have psychogenic seizures, but that they are rare and it is only because panic attacks aren’t enough for me. My body is like “What’s a panic attack? Oh, you mean that little short of breath moment where we got tingly. Here’s a grand mal seizure.”
During that time, I’ve had three trans ischemic attacks (TIA or mini-strokes), blew out a cervical artery, had my appendix removed, and broke my knee. I feel like there should be a partridge in a pear tree somewhere amongst all that. Don’t you?
I had COVID-19; never had to go to the hospital. I used my inhaler and slept with my CPAP on when I could. Surviving that pesky virus, dealing with the brain fog, the muscle pain, the lack of feeling -which was completely different than any depression I’ve ever known, has made me feel more alive. My momentum has returned.
Author interviews: I’m asking the questions.
Book reviews: I’m sending my books out, praying for four to five stars.
Events: We have the Between the Shadows Release Party on Facebook June 11th. You can sign up to go at www.facebook.com/authorcolleentews.
Book clubs: If you have one, I’d be more than happy to send you all free books.
Book covers: I make my own. If you like mine. We can discuss me making one for you.
Newsletter: Submit to it on this website. There is a ton of stuff to get into. For instance, I’ll be having giveaways once a month for lucky subscribers/readers. I make book marks and tote bags. Subscribers also get discounts others don’t have access to.
What I’m trying to say is, I’ve learned a lot in the last six years by falling flat on my face and knocking on death’s door one too many times. Help me celebrate life by living it with me. Read with me. Escape reality for a little while with me. We could all use different scenery even if it’s simply in our heads.