Being Independent

Last night, I got to see two of my good friends whom I haven’t seen in ages.  They also happen to be independent artists.  We had a good long talk and several laughs about the self-employed life.  I realized that all the weird things I experience in my day-to-day life aren’t exclusive to authors.  All independent artists go through ups and downs on their way to establishing a career.

That conversation got me thinking, “Hey… I could write a blog post about this.”  So without further ado, here are the ten best and worst things about being an independent author/artist.

The Ten Best Things About Being An Independent Author/Artist

  1. You work for yourself! You get to work from home or wherever you want! You are your own boss! You make your own schedule! This is pretty much the best gig ever.
  2. You keep all creative and legal rights to your work.  Forever.  Done.
  3. No deadlines!  Okay, well, you need to make your own deadlines and it is VERY important that you keep them.  But still!  I’d rather set my own deadline than abide by someone else’s!
  4. You’re able to give every project the love and attention that it deserves.  This isn’t about the money for you.  You’re not looking at your manuscript and thinking, “Will this make me a lot of money?” You’re looking at it and thinking, “This is worth it no matter what, because it’s a great story.”
  5. You get the opportunity to learn a LOT.  I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d be essentially running a business for myself.  I certainly never thought I’d be publishing books.  But I’ve learned and grown so much in the past two years and you know what?  I’m really proud of myself.  It’s a great feeling.
  6. Have I mentioned the royalties that you will be getting for the rest of your life?  Unlike in the traditional world, you don’t just get paid once for one book.  One book can make you money every month of every year.
  7. You get to write what you love.  You don’t have to wait for an agent’s or publisher’s approval.  If you know that you want to write a book, and you know that you can write it well, go for it.
  8. The independent community is WONDERFUL.  I’ve met so many amazing and supportive people through my career as an independent author.  You want to know these people.  And not just fellow authors.  I’ve made so many amazing friends all around the world who are book reviewers and they’re just the best.  Again, you would not believe the overwhelming love and support.
  9. You learn that nothing is impossible, that you are capable of so much more than you think you are.  Those barriers and obstacles that you think exist?  All in your mind.  Nothing is insurmountable if you set your mind to it.  Believe me.  I’ve been there.
  10. You are making your dreams come true.  And that’s incredible.

Now that I’ve made the life of an independent author seem like the bee’s knees, here are…

The Ten Worst Things About Being An Independent Author/Artist

  1. You work for yourself.  I know, that was a good thing too, but hear me out.  You have to have a LOT of self-discipline to make this work.  That’s something I’ve really struggled with.  I get distracted so easily.  I’m a procrastinator.  I can be incredibly lazy.  I get addicted to Netflix.  I’m the world’s easiest-going boss, because let’s face it, I’m not going to fire myself.  I can do whatever I want.  And that’s a really dangerous mindset to have when you’re in business for yourself, especially when you’re just starting out.
  2. The age old, “Oh, you didn’t want to go with a real publisher?” To which my response is this.
  3. Self-marketing.  I hate it.  It’s the worst.  Do I think everyone should read my books?  Of course I do.  Do I like telling people to do so?  No.  I really don’t.
  4. You wouldn’t believe how many people will come up to you and say, “I have this great idea for a book.  You should write it!”  That might not be an indie thing though.  That might just be a writer in general thing.
  5. Because you’re self-employed, you will meet people who think that you’re free all the time because “you don’t actually work.”  This is a hard one because yes, technically, you can take time off whenever you want, but you’re going to have to make the lost time up later.  Just because you work for yourself and work from home it doesn’t mean you’re not working.  In fact, you can be working all the time and you still probably wouldn’t get everything done that you wanted to.  Working for yourself is crazy hard because it’s just you.
  6. People will ask if they can buy your book at Barnes and Noble, to which the answer is, “No, but you can buy it on”  Hopefully, sometime in the near future, Barnes and Noble will stock independent books.  In fact, I think if you go through Lightning Source, they will.  But most indies are not in bookstores.  And that’s a bummer.
  7. Money.  I know I said that you’re not doing this for money, but the truth is going into business for yourself is an investment.  You need money.  I worked for two years in a dental office all the while trying to write and get my little company up and going.  And money will be tight.  For a LONG time.  I’m about to publish my fourth book and money is still tight.  But I’m hanging in there.  I’m saving and I’m investing.  Hopefully, in the long run, it will be worth it.  I think it will be.
  8. Self-Marketing gets another mention because I just really hate it.
  9. You know, I actually can’t think of anything else.
  10. Being an independent author/artist is awesome.

What do y’all think?  Did I leave anything out?

PS – Go read my books. Self-Marketing.  Blegh.

abbef3e90486de33df9d6427107f2eb2 23966802 18470430 11224634_10206057790057440_248038428034506320_n 1978875_10205935918370724_1165080135047060601_n

Another List

Alright.  It’s Friday.  For most people, the week is winding down, they’re wrapping up projects, getting ready to relax.  But as I’m sure all the independent artists and entrepreneurs out there know, there is no such thing as a weekend when you’re in business for yourself.  There is always work to be done.  There’s no schedule.  There is work that can be done every day.  Sometimes, Saturdays and Sundays are even busier than week days.

I’ve kind of reached a point where I have so much going on that my brain has just started deleting information.  This isn’t necessarily a bad problem, because I’d much rather be busy than sitting around and doing nothing.  But at the same time, I really need to remember and stay on top of things and I can’t have my brain just selecting stuff at random and getting rid of it.  That’s just not gonna fly.

So the time has come to make another list of things I need to do and things I need to remember. Because if I don’t remember it, no one else will.

Except for my mom who, thankfully, reminded me that I have a wedding to go to tomorrow.  Thanks, Mom!

Anyway, here we go.  Yet another List of Things Jackie Needs to Remember.

* You’re going to your friends’ wedding tomorrow!

* You still need to buy a gift for aforementioned wedding.

* Write.

* Make sure you have everything you need for Comic Con.

* Don’t forget you have to set up for Comic Con on Wednesday.

* Keep Writing.

* Finish reading Paula Baker’s new book (It’s excellent. I’m really loving it!)

* Write, write, write!

Lurking in the Woods submission due May 31!

* Cemetery Tours 3!

* Stop binge-watching Ghost Adventures.  Zak Bagans is not going to fall in love with you through the television screen.  Just let it go.

* Friend’s graduation on Sunday!

* You have to look nice two days in a row.

* Stop complaining about the weather.  I know the cold and the rain are giving you a bit of an attitude.  Get over it.

* Just stay focused.  So many good things are happening for you.  Keep working.  Enjoy it.  You have so much to look forward to.  Be gracious and keep going.

* Stop forgetting your allergy meds.

* Stop forgetting your anxiety meds.

* Again, write, write, write.

Love you all.  Have a great weekend!  I’ll let you know if I make it through in one piece.

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 2.24.34 PM

PS: All my writer friends, remember to check out my last post if you’d like to be a part of the Lurking series presented by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing!

Road Trip Essentials

Hello, friends.  I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend.  Mine involved a lot of running around, being on my feet, and road-tripping back and forth to Denison, a small town in the Texoma area, about an hour away from where I live.  I am honored to have been asked to participate in Turo’s (formerly known as RelayRides) Road Trip Essentials Campaign (, so this weekend of road trips really could not have come at a better time.

I love road trips.  Ever since I was little and my family would drive down to San Antonio every summer, road trips have been my absolute favorite way to travel.  Sure, flying is fast and efficient, but nothing compares to watching the world pass by outside your window.  The trees, the buildings, the clouds, and the highway road signs are all integral parts of what makes road trips worthwhile experiences.  Nothing, not even soaring through the sky, compares to the freedom of the open road.  So, without further ado, I present my compilation of Road Trip Essentials.



Good music is almost as essential to a good road trip as the road itself.  Some driver and passengers get by just listening to the radio, but I’ve never trusted popular music stations to play the music that really makes a long drive what it should be.  A good road trip mix, for me, consists of classic rock, alternative 90s, and maybe a power ballad or two.

A Friend

Don’t get me wrong, driving alone can be great, enlightening, and liberating, but road trips are always more fun with a companion.  That way, you can take turns driving, you have someone to talk to, someone to share snacks with, and someone to navigate while you try to figure out where in the world you’re supposed to turn to make it to the next state.


A Notebook

Some of the best memories are made on the road, so I always like keeping a journal or a notebook close by to jot down instances or funny moments along the way.  The road is also a great place for new ideas or revelations.  As a writer, road trips have always been very inspirational to me.  The right combination of road, memories, and music can do wonders for the mind.  In fact, it was on a road trip just a few years back that I came up with the idea for a new series.  I am currently working on the first book in that series now.

A Camera

You never know what you might encounter on the open road, so it’s best to be prepared for anything.  Cameras are a great way to capture the world around you, and keep those moments with you.  My camera goes everywhere I go, especially to new and exciting places.


My friends posing with cameras on a road trip.


Flowers on the side of the road.


A Rest Stop

I don’t know about you, but I love rest stops.  Once or twice on every road trip, someone needs to stand up, stretch their legs, re-fuel the car, etc.  These rest stops are usually gas stations or small diners along the road, but my favorites are the ones with snacks and small souvenir shops.  I started collecting post cards on a high school band trip to Orlando, and I haven’t stopped.  I have postcards from Louisiana, California, New Jersey, Florida, all the way to Scotland.  I also love having access to all the snacks I could ever hope to eat.  On the road, you eat what you can get, so no one will care if you want to eat an entire package of beef jerky with an entire bag of Cheetos for lunch.  If you ask me, it’s the best kind of lunch there is!


This, I guess, falls into the previous essential.  Snacks and drinks are vital to an enjoyable road trip.  You have a long drive ahead of you.  You’re going to want to stay fed and hydrated.  I personally prefer water, but I know a lot of friends who just have to have their sodas and energy drinks if they’re going to be traveling.  What I don’t consume in carbonated drinks, however, I make up for in chocolate.

A Blanket

Road trips can be chilly, especially if the person you’re with is a little warmer in nature than you.  I tend to fall into the cold-natured group, so naturally, I never travel without a jacket or a blanket.  I think being cold-natured is something of an evolutionary adaptation that comes from living in Texas.

A Sunrise or A Sunset

For me, no road trip is complete without a beautiful sky.  Most of the road trips I take now begin before the sun rises, but several in my past have gone on well into the night.  My favorite road trip I’ve ever taken was a ninth grade band trip to Midland, a small town to the west.  I remember listening to “Good Riddance” by Green Day and driving directly into the setting sun.  It was one of the most incredible moments of my life, simply because, at that moment, everything seemed right.  Watching the sun rise or set from a new perspective is my absolute favorite part of any road trip, even more so than the destination itself.


You may have noticed I left out the essential Good Book.  I believe books are vital to any trip, especially for longs nights in hotel rooms.  Traveling, however, I can never seem to focus on reading.  Blasphemy, I know.  But I love to watch the world outside, to live in the moment, and to concentrate on the adventure.  While reading is an adventure in and of itself, I never get a lot of it done on the road.

Happy traveling, friends!

To Do List

This week has been busy, and it’s only going to get busier.  Today, I got to have lunch with a friend whose book I’m currently editing (she brought my flowers… always makes me happy!).  I always enjoy meeting with writer friends, discussing techniques, character biographies, and of course, the ever evolving road to publication.  After lunch, I ran over to Ross and bought a new outfit for the book-signing this weekend.  We’re supposed to dress sort of “in character” and I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do, but I think I’ve got it all figured out.  I’ll let you all decide when I post pictures this weekend (of course there will be pictures).  I also watered my sunflowers and planted my new flowers out next to them.  I hope I didn’t accidentally kill them in the process.  I might not have the proverbial green thumb.

In spite of this day of noted accomplishments, I still have a lot to get done in the following months.

1) Finish Editing Charli’s book

2) Re-Edit Cody’s book

3) Finish editing Between Worlds

4) Purchase Bar Code for Between Worlds

5) PCN for Between Worlds

6) Practice reading for Book Signing/Reading this weekend

7) Get over fear of Public Speaking

8) Decorations/Signs for Book Signing

9) Research other potential venues/signings/festivals

10) Marketing plan

11) Follow through with plan to become healthier in body, mind, and spirit

And finally…