It was an accident, really. I always LOVED to read (seriously, I eat books for breakfast). Then my hubby said, "Why don't you try writing your own story?" I laughed. But then you know how that goes - person plants seed, and the seed has the audacity to grow and grow until it finally strangles you into submission. Well, that's sort of what happened. I'd already had all these ideas, so I started writing them down. And then I COULD. NOT. STOP. So, here we are...and they still won't leave me alone.
THANK YOU! I'm so glad you loved it. It's a great feeling when others love your imaginary friends, too. :) Gaia's Secret just appeared one day, when I was minding my own business (which is usually how it happens). I specifically remember the idea for Gaia: there was a particular scene that dropped into my head (it involves the image on the cover, but in the story, my MC is in a secret room). This little "globe" looked like a world on a stand, and then I saw lightning flash over one of the landmasses. I just HAD to figure out where that world was, how I could get there, why it was hidden, etc.
Gosh, when I started, I had no clue what I was doing and wasn't sure I'd actually finish. (I also didn't tell a soul.) I had an overall idea of things I wanted to happen and where I wanted it to end, but I mostly just wrote whatever came to mind. The first draft was TERRIBLE, but I had a draft. I did lots of research, had lots of patient betas, read everything I could get my hands on about writing stories (John Truby's Anatomy of Story is AMAZING). Gaia was rewritten about, oh, five times before I was happy with it. Now, I am definitely an outliner.
This is a hard question, because there is a part of me in each of them. Right now, though, I have to go with Thad. You don't see much of him in Gaia, but he's a large part of the sequel. It's his charisma and carefree attitude that wins me over. No matter what's going on, he's got an irritating smirk on his face, and he doesn't hesitate to perpetuate awkward situations by making not-so-subtle comments at anyones expense. He's already called out the elephant in the room before anyone has even entered the room. Everything - and everyone - is fair game to him. It's not that I think this particular character trait is a good thing, but he has a confidence that comes from deep inside himself and isn't affected by other peoples' opinions. He also makes me laugh all the time, so I've learned a lot from him about not taking myself too seriously. He's good for me (and my MC). :)
That decision took some time. But after attending writers' conferences and workshops, and then getting feedback from agents saying they didn't think they could sell GAIA, I decided to publish it myself. And it's been amazing, being so intimately involved with every aspect of publishing and having control over every element - I would do it again in heartbeat! The part about self-publishing that's surprised me has been the response from all my friends and family. Really, to see how much other people believe in your story to the point where they, on their own accord, are advertising and promoting it for you - it's been incredible!