Cat Hartliebe was started seven years ago. Before that I was Cat and a host of other nicknames. But I did not have the last name because I didn’t need to be unique or special. My name had no meaning. It had no purpose.
I didn’t need it to.
Seven years ago, September, I had the final kick in the pants to publish. I created a Smashwords account: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/catgil85 If you notice the tag that shows my profile isn’t cathartliebe like everywhere else. If you search for me, you’ll find it. Before Cat Hartliebe, my handle was CatGil85. My old twitter before they let me change was catgil85. My various handles on games. My GaiaOnline account was catgil85. I even have my email email@example.com. I made the handle back in high school. It’s been a long time.
Cat Hartliebe isn’t as old. It’s more powerful though. It’s not just a mess of my name. It has meaning and purpose. It’s unique and always will be. When Germans use “Lieben/Lieb” in last names, they will never use the “Liebe” version. Lieb means love. Lieben means to love. Ich liebe means I love. No object to the affection. And no Cat liebe doesn’t work. Cat (as in a person) would have ‘liebt’. Hart is also German. It’s an adjective that means tough or hard. Adjectives would not happen before a verb. They have to connect to a noun.
My newly created last name is as if I took my understanding of German shoved it into a blender and set it for American.
That’s about right. I did it so there would be no one else with my name. My meaning of “tough love” is strong. And the fact I use “I” verb agreement for love should prove it’s my love that I’m giving toughly.
As a writer, I offer my characters tough love. As a teacher I offer tough love. As a mentor, a parent, a anything, I offer tough love. So the name suits me.
Why else would I pick it?
In 2013… September… It was a long time ago. Did you know GD was already considered a superstar by then? I didn’t. I had no idea he existed. Where would I be now if I had his words to help me out all these years? No idea.
Back then, I picked Cursed Items. I don’t know why that short was my first story.
Back then… I didn’t understand who I was. And I still question who I am.
My first foray into the world as a published author was with what I call a Gender Bender story. It’s transgender, but with either misconstrued information or magic involved. That’s my real difference. Such as someone being forced to dress the wrong way. Or constantly getting called one or the other no matter how many times they say otherwise. Or magic made them switch genders as the case is for my unlucky group here.
It’s far closer to who I am than I’ll admit to.
My writing has saved me. Dysphoria… Back then, I didn’t know that’s what it was called.
I would have classified in the LGBT+ group as a pansexual, but I wasn’t sure of my gender. Only that I wasn’t always comfortable being called female.
Cursed Items placed me in LGBT+. It isn’t an own voices and yet it is. I haven’t written- at all- a genderfluid who changes like me. I’ve written characters who change (like Dom in Dragon Rider) and characters who are transgender (Ji Long in Annabella and Ji). But everyone holds their spot far longer than me.
The first time I built a character with daily change was for a D&D campaign I was offering for Cyro. And it was their character. So the character could change as rapidly as them. They beg me to get back to that campaign, but the third in our group doesn’t live with us and it’s hard to play outside… Pandemic is going strong.
For only being seven years on the market, I have a lot of stories. I’m now at four novels, eight novellas, and thirty three short stories (plus one I unpublished). I have four poem books published with one more being readied. I have sixteen paperback books with my name on them.
Sixteen paperbacks. If we’re counting “books” and not just ebooks, I have sixteen. Sixteen collections of shorts, poem books, novellas, and novels.
In seven years.
How many will I get published in the next seven? I have so many finished drafts. I’m focusing on rewriting and editing and getting them up to a quality readers what.
I’ve had people compliment me on my first drafts. I have had consideration as if the story is already five stars. From readers.
My million words has happened. It was a long time ago. I’m more than a decade out of my first finished first draft of a novel. I haven’t gone back to it. I learned a lot from it. I finished my first attempt at a novel; I cleared through so many drafts. I rewrote the story that I lost.
Actually, I’m not even reading the trash fire that is Lycacon first draft. I’m rewriting it from my head. You don’t know this. But it’s the best option. I’ve tried others. But rewriting with the plot points set in your head is the best. Don’t try to copy and paste. It won’t work. There’s a reason that draft is called a trash fire.
Then again, it’s been a rare time I actually edit my blog posts. Or when I spent more than a cursory review of my work before turning it into college.
I have game. I’m good at writing. I’ve practiced a fuck ton. Does it always work out the first time around? No. Everyone has a bad day or a bad moment even if they’re the top player.
Practice gets us closer to perfection. As if we’re aiming for an asymptote. Unable to reach it no matter how hard we try, but after a while it will be near impossible to tell us apart even if we’re still nanometers away.
Sorry, I have a math background.
Five years ago, this month, I made my first paperback. Unwanted was…
They always say having your story in a print copy in your hands is… It’s amazing, right? I didn’t feel that amazing. As if I worked years to get to that point.
Because I didn’t. I decided Unwanted was long enough to be a paperback. I wanted to have my name on paperbacks. I prefer paperbacks. So I did it. I figured everything out. I made it pretty. I followed the prompts. I double checked my proof copy.
And… I got a paperback with my name on it.
What really boosts me isn’t seeing my name on all these books. It’s chatting with readers. There is nothing like the boost of telling someone the story and having them converse with me about it.
I love my readers. If I ever need a boost, I send a text to a friend and I just get elated. Because he’ll offer so many affirmations. I am reminded by several I can write.
If only my bank account said I can do this publishing thing. If only my number were in the “daily sales” category.
A year ago, I wanted to sell a hundred books. Ebooks or books, didn’t matter. I wanted a hundred to be out there with the public.
I “sold” a hundred on January 1st because of a Smashwords sale. A hundred free ebooks to readers.
So I switched my goal. Not a hundred “sold”, but a hundred for profit. Even if after a hundred books, I wouldn’t really make profit.
Numbers weren’t coming in to match that. So I said make a hundred dollars.
…. I don’t wanna talk about that anymore…
What have I managed in these seven years?
Am I far from the beginning? Would Wikipedia place me in the beginning still? Or have I managed something to hit midway at least?
Sales… That’s what is the marker for success in publishing. My hundreds of free books don’t count. I don’t have a ton of reviews. My sales are dismal.
Hence the “I’m a failure” post. The I need a break posts.
It’s like I’m lying to myself. All those good compliments were lies. I can’t write. I can’t publish. I suck at formatting. I am a failure as an author. I should give up. I should unpublish everything. I should try to do something easier like climb Mt Everest.
I didn’t really market until last year. Even now, I’d probably call my marketing skill a beginner.
But trying to separate my failings from me being a failure is hard.
Because I’ve always been considered worthless and pathetic and lacking of value. I can’t seem to get out of my home where I am and have always been abused.
Just earlier today, my father cursed off my child. For existing in the same room as him. That is my normal. I get to watch and listen to my child getting abused.
And all my mother offers is he doesn’t hit anymore. He’s not physically abusive anymore. He’s “better”.
I can’t stay here. I need the support my writing can offer to get out.
Or to find a job that I can do while half sick. Disability is a joke in this country. Support to get out of a bad situation is a joke. Being poor is a joke.
All my skills and talents and abilities and knowledge are completely useless.
I can do so much. Instead of succeeding, I am treated as shit by everyone who looks my way.
Part of the reason I look to GD and his success is because his life wasn’t wine and roses. He worked hard and keep pushing and trying until he succeeded. And every day he has to try again because there are always people trying to destroy him.
Here is a writer, a dancer, a singer, a beauty, hope… Here’s someone who banged on the rock wall until it broke. He kept going his entire life and managed what felt like forever down the line.
I should too.
I hope one day I can tell him person to person how much he helped me strive and push forward and press. His existence has me moving forward. From beginning to success it was about fifteen years. And it’s been almost the same since then.
Will I manage success in the next seven? All I can say is I’ll double my number of books published. I’ll have over thirty paperbacks with my name on them by then.
At least if I live, I will. In seven years, child will be an adult. In seven years, I’ll leave home even if it means being homeless. Even if it means my death.
I’ll only hold on here as long as child needs a roof over their head. That’s it. I’m staying here and fighting this abuse for them.
And only for them.
If my writing can’t support me by then… If I haven’t reached success… I doubt life was really matter. I would’ve made my stance, taken my chance, lost, rerolled, and been handed a death card.
I hope the big change means something less obvious.