Snake Goddess Rising was the first of my romance books that I published in 2015 but I didn’t write it in that particular year. It was a story I had written in 2012, at the height of my obsession with Bollywood movies, Sharukh Khan and Hindu (and Egyptian) deities. I’ve always had a thing for cobras, as Cobra is one of my power animals, be they Indian or Egyptian, I loved the concept of their deification, which is actually pretty similar in both locations.
Then I experienced a vision of Goddess Manasa. I didn’t know which Goddess it was at first but the vision was so vivid and profound that I started to research Hindu cobra deities and finally came across Manasa. When I read about her first on Wikipedia, everything fell into place. In my vision, I had a giant cobra slay her fangs into my eyes and I felt an icy cold in my eye sockets from the poison. At the same time, I was calm and felt safe. There was no pain, no fear, however horrific it may sound. At the time of the vision, I knew I was symbolically imbued with the power of the Goddess and the Cobra spirit animal.
This experience in my vision had such a profound effect on me that I felt like I needed to write a fictional story about it in which I worked through my impressions and emotions and as I’ve always loved to write love stories since my teenage years, Snake Goddess Rising became a story of a woman travelling to India to beseech the Goddess Manasa to grant her a boon. When I looked through my writings three years later, however, I decided that – with a lot of rewriting – this story needed to make its way into print and after I had gone through extensive re-writing and re-editing, I was satisfied that my very first romantic work was ready to see the light of day and greet the world.
The healing, the compassion and the deep love and spirituality of the woman setting out to visit India to pray at Manasa’s shrine, her interaction with the Serpent Goddess was so beautiful in my mind and still touches me to this day. In this book, I combined my spirituality and my love of romance into one work of fiction.
Finding a way to publish it was more difficult for me at the time. Like my first two books, a book of poetry, “Poetry from the Heart” that has since been unpublished and incorporated and extended in my two currently published poetry books, My Spirit Song, a work of over 170 spiritual poems and Love Expressed, a selection of 66 of my romantic and sensual poems, and A Magical Family Holiday, a travelogue that combines storytelling, parenting, time-travel and magic that is still in my catalogue.
Not having much of a budget at the time, I tried several cheap designers from an online portal and it changed a few times until I had finally found my own style for all my books, my own brand. What I also had to realise and integrate during this time of coming out as not only a spiritual poet but also an author of erotic romance books was that sexually explicit writing doesn’t have to be dirty or cheap, the same way as there are graphic and heavily sexual scenes in a movie that can still touch the heart and move with the intricacies of the story and the characters, a great example of this would be the highly acclaimed Netflix series Bridgerton, and cheap porn, even though my descriptions of sexual encounters are definitely more graphic than what is shown in a mainstream TV series.
However, my story wasn’t a third rate cheap one, either. Striving for excellence was always something I have done myself, giving my best that was possible for me at the time. And now I had to put on my big girl panties and demand it of others, too. I needed to get out of working with people who were delivering sub-standard work, who were lazy, not committed and loyal and always procrastinated. I had to go through a process of not only presenting my very first romance novel publicly to the world, which was stressful enough in itself, but I also had to learn to take my own work seriously and believe in myself, in my talent and in my value as an author.
So in the end, even though I am not a graphic designer, I decided to create my own book covers, five years after I had published my first books, gone through endless trial and errors with cheap and overpriced cover designers that resulted in a string of covers that had nothing to do with me or the kind of brand I wished to present to the world. There was no red ribbon that worked its way through all my works, from the spiritual to the romantic. And thus, I had to believe in myself enough to learn how to create my own covers and stand out from the crowd of mainstream romance cover designs to do it my way.
So in 2015, although my path in finding my own style had not yet been established for another five years and I was still working with cover designers, my first books taught me a very valuable lesson in my personal development:
Respect yourself, respect your work, and only then will others do so, too!
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