Teen Bookfest by the Bay

Friends.  Wow.  Where to even begin?

This weekend, I drove down to Corpus Christi to be a signing author and a panelist for the third annual Teen Bookfest by the Bay.  It was my first time so I had no idea what to expect.

I don’t know how else to say this other than it was one of them most incredible experiences of my life.

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It all began with a welcome dinner at the Art Museum of South Texas, where the event coordinators and sponsors had put together a wonderful meal (plus chocolate-covered strawberries!).

Each author was also presented with our very own swag bags, complete with snacks, chocolate, t-shirts, name badges, water bottles, and sea shells.  Let me tell you, I have never felt so spoiled in my life.

After dinner (and a quick trip down to the water’s edge to take pictures of the USS Lexington lit up in blue, it was back to the hotel.

Sadly, my straight hair, which had been so beautiful, was no match for Corpus Christi humidity.  That’s okay.  I’ll straighten it for Comic Con.

The next morning, we were all awake bright and early.  Early enough, even, to watch the sun rise over the water from my hotel balcony.

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Then, it was off to the festival.  Before breakfast (again, provided by our sponsors and the wonderful librarians who organized the event), I dropped my books off with the others at the sales table.  It was then that I began to realize that I recognized several of the titles being sold alongside mine.  One of which happened to be one of my favorite books of all time, Seven Tears into the Sea by Terri Farley.

“Wait a minute… Is she here?!” I gasped.

That’s when I remembered that the day before, when I’d first arrived at the hotel, I’d ridden up the elevator with a woman named Terri.  I’d been chatting with a woman who’d written one of my favorite books and I hadn’t even realized it.

Needless to say, I completely fangirled out when I met her for the second time.  Terri Farley, it turns out, is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.  She’s also a huge animal lover and has written a non-fiction book called Wild Horses.  I can’t wait to read it.  It’s a beautiful books and features photographs by a National Geographic wildlife photographer, basically my dream job.

After a brief welcome, it was time for our first panel.  Now, I’ve never been one for public speaking. I remember in college, I would prepare slide shows so I would have something to read.  But my fellow authors on the panel, Laura Stampler and Guadalupe Garcia McCall, were so friendly and wonderful and sweet.  They made me feel right at ease and we spent most of our panels laughing.  And talking about books, of course.

At first, I’ll admit, I felt a lithe intimidated.  After all, Laura is published by Simon & Schuster and Guadalupe has won multiple, and I do mean MULTIPLE awards.  I’m just a little indie author from a small town north of Dallas.  In what universe was I worthy to sit next to them and act like I deserved to be there?

But then I thought to myself, “You know what?  No.  You worked your butt off to get here.  You and all the indies.  You’re out there every day fighting the stigma that independent authors aren’t as good as those who’ve been traditionally published when you know that that simply isn’t true.  Not just because you love your books, but because you’ve read and loved so many other indie books.”

So instead of sheepishly admitting that I’d published my own books, I proudly told our audiences that I’d learned the ins and outs of publishing, marketing, formatting, and cover design.  I told them of my friends and colleagues in the independent community who’ve written fantastic books, ones that I recommend over and over and over again.  I told them of the anthologies to which I’ve contributed, including Ever in the After, a charity anthology that will benefit Lift 4 Autism.

When my panel wasn’t presenting, I snuck upstairs to listen to my friend Miracle Austin’s panel.  She (and this is where I get to start name-dropping) shared a panel with multi-bestselling author Jonathan Maberry.

Seriously, this guy has done it all.  I can’t even begin to list his titles, awards, accomplishments, Marvel comics, X-Files, all this super cool amazing stuff.  And the best part of all is he’s SUCH a cool, nice person!  As I was on the escalator back down to the first floor, I noticed him walking by.  Being the elegant and mature grown-up person that I am, I yelled out, “Mr. Maberry!” and began running UP the escalator that was going down.

I introduced myself not as Jacqueline Smith, but as Miracle Austin’s friend, and basically fangirled all over the place.  But seriously, how else do you act around such a legend?

Speaking of Miracle, I just have to take a moment to thank her.  Not only for her unconditional love and friendship, but for telling me about Teen Bookfest by the Bay in the first place.  Without her, I would never have known to send in my name and my books.  Not only is she an absolutely amazing author (Jonathan Maberry even says so!), she’s the most genuine, sweet, wonderful, sparkly person you will ever meet.  I am so fortunate to be able to call her my friend.  She’s a rare one.

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I have so many other stories I could tell you from this weekend.  I met Ann Redisch Stampler, author of After Party, Where it Began, and How To Disappear.  Again, one of the absolute sweetest people you could ever hope to meet.  I ate lunch with Diana Lopez, whose novel, Choke, became the Lifetime Original Movie The Choking Game.  I reconnected with my friend, Amanda M. Thrasher, author of The Greenlee Project which, in my humble opinion, should also be a Lifetime Original Movie.  I met other amazing and sweet and friendly authors like Manuel Ruiz, Brendan Kiely (rhymes with smiley), and illustrator Evan Turk. And again, the best part was how genuinely NICE and open and inviting these exceptionally talented authors are.  God, I felt so accepted and welcome and fortunate.  What an incredible experience.  Truly.

Finally, the amazing librarians, Debbie Carroll VanZandt and her team are simply the best in the world.  They genuinely love and care about their kids and work tirelessly to promote reading and literacy and to make reading fun for these teens.  And wow, do they know how to make authors feel spoiled and special.  We wanted for nothing all weekend.  Honestly, I’ll never be able to thank them enough.

All I can truly say is that I’m counting down the days until next year!  Thank you all again for the experience of a lifetime.  It’s one that I will never forget.

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Thanks For The Memories

2016 was an interesting year to say the very least. I know several people who are more than ready to bid this year a rather disdainful adieu. But you know, 2016 wasn’t all political warfare and celebrity deaths. I can’t speak for everyone, but there are several moments from the past year on which I will look back with fondness.

And what better way to look back than with Instagram pictures?

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  1. Birthday Party at Painting with a Twist.

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2. Hot Chocolate by the fire.

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3. Hiking the ENTIRE 9 miles around White Rock Lake.

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4. Camping and sleeping outside for the very first time.

5. Adventures at Fossil Rim and Glen Rose Dinosaur Park.

6. My sister’s junior voice recital.

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7. The Little Mermaid, Wicked, and The Book of Mormon (not pictured).

8. Book Events.

9. Earth Day Celebration.

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10. A visit to Pioneer Village.

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11. My best friend moved home to Texas! This was definitely the best thing to happen to me this year!

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12. I took a dream vacation by myself to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, climbed two lighthouses, and visited the wild mustangs who live on the beaches.

13. I traveled to Arkansas to see my sister perform in Pinocchio.

14. A stop in to pay my respects to those buried at Showman’s Rest in Hugo, Oklahoma… the same graveyard featured in the third Cemetery Tours novel, After Death.

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15. Published the third book in the Boy Band Series and had a short story featured in Lurking in the Shadows!

16. Reconnected with old friends at my ten-year high school reunion. screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-11-04-09-pm

17. Met Aaron Watson.

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18. Celebrated the release of a “new” Harry Potter book… and was officially sorted into Ravenclaw!

19. Boy Band and Backstage won a few cool awards!

20. My sister and I traveled to Oklahoma to see 5 Seconds of Summer.

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21. I donated 10 inches of hair to Locks of Love.

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22. Found out I haven’t lost my touch at this Dave and Buster’s arcade game.

23. We all realized our childhood dreams of becoming Pokemon Masters.

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24. Had an amazing experience at the Texas Teen Book Festival (and got to spend the weekend with my dear friend Kara!)

25. Boy Band was featured in a SugarScape article! THIS was so very cool.

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26. Ghost hunting, sunrises on the beach, exploring submarines and World War II warships in Galveston.

27. I met Daymond John and gave him a copy of Cemetery Tours and a hug.

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28. Sold books and ate the most amazing cheesecake on a stick at Texas Renaissance Festival.

29. Met a childhood hero.

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30. Saw my sister perform in the Phantom of the Opera.

31. Found adventure in Lubbock (and trust me, that is not easy).

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32. Returned to the stage for the first time since grad school.

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33. And of course, read lots and lots and lots of books.

Pokemon Go Book Tag!

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Disclaimer:  Pokemon Go belongs to Niantic and Nintendo, please don’t sue me.

So Read At Midnight has come up with a brilliant book tag for all the aspiring Pokemon Masters out there!  I just have to participate because I too, wanna be the very best like no one ever was.

Rules:

  • NIL. Link back to my blog is appreciated but optional. Feel free to use my graphics. Tag people, don’t tag people, whatever. Just have fun!

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The first book I remember loving (that actually inspired me to write as well) is Shortcut by Donald Crews.  That was preschool.  As I got older, I read all of the Bailey School Kid mystery novels as well as Lurlene McDaniel novels.  I also loved anything that Bill Wallace wrote.

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A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle.  This book is so beautiful and so inspiring and it really helped me to understand a lot about the significance of what goes on around us and how we interpret and experience life.

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This tag actually made me laugh out loud because it’s TRUE. Zubats are EVERYWHERE and I already have a Golbat so I no longer have any need for Zubats!  Go away, ugly little flying creature!

And I’m just going to have to go with genre here and say anything erotica that features a submissive virginal female and an arrogant dominant male.  I’ve tried to read a few and they simply don’t appeal to me.

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Nicholas Sparks’ books are all literally the same book, but I love each and every one of them and read every single new book he releases.

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The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and Game of Thrones by JRR Martin.  I actually intend to read both someday (Outlander first because I love Scotland), but as of right now, I’m trying to get past the intimidatingly tiny text.

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Any time a new Harry Potter book was released, sleep did not exist.  I had to read them straight through.  I actually passed out after the fifth book was released because I was running on no food and no sleep and I was sick.  Another book that kept me up, however, was Defending Jacob by William Landay.  It didn’t keep me up in the sense that it scared me, but oh my goodness, this book stayed with me for forever.  I would just lay awake at night thinking about it.

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I think my #1 OTP of all time would HAVE to be Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games.  I love them so much I just don’t even know what to do with myself.  I want a Peeta!

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Can I say my own books for this?  Haha!  I wrote them specifically to be fast-paced and fun and easy to read.  I’m not sure how “fire-hot” they are, but I like them.  So I’ll go with the Boy Band series and the Cemetery Tours series by me!

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Harry Potter!  Harry Potter!  Harry Potter!  Harry Potter!

I need books on the Marauders and the founders and the Weasleys and Harry’s children and maybe a whole rewrite of the original series from Neville’s point of view and Draco’s point of view and Snape’s point of view and…

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I’m actually in the middle of it, but I was really surprised by how much I liked The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin.  I went into it thinking it would be kind of boring and serious.  Quite the contrary.  It was actually fun, dark, entertaining, and even funny.

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So, my sister and my little cousin have been trying to get me to read The Selection series by Kiera Cass for forever, and I actually really want to.  I’ve just been trying to find the time to commit myself to all those books!  I am actually really excited to read it!

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Oh, goodness, this is difficult because I love old books and I love signed books.  I could definitely use a brand new set of first-edition Harry Potter books, however.  All of mine have been read so many times they are actually falling apart.  OH!  Or I’d love to have the original UK editions!

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I’m a bad reader in the sense that I don’t actively go seeking new authors.  I usually let the books find me, haha!  So for this tag, I’m going to mention a few of my friends and their debut novels (even though some of them have been out for quite a while).  I’m excited for Doll by Miracle Austin, Winter’s Curse by April L. Wood, The Wall Outside by James William Peercy, The Conservative Congregant by Paula Walker Baker, The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren by Cody Wagner, and Firebrand by Sarah MacTavish.

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My current auto-buy authors are Deb Caletti, Meg Cabot, Nicholas Sparks, Rainbow Rowell and Jodi Picoult.

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The wait is almost over! I’m going to the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Saturday!  I would also kill for a sequel to Eleanor and Park and/or Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell but I’m not sure either will happen.  In fact, I’m certain that the latter will not.  Because I’ve asked her.  In person.  And she said no.

Thank you so much, Aentee, for this fantastic Book Tag adventure!

Everyone, go follow her!

Also, if you’re reading this, I CHOOSE YOU!

Three Cheers for Indie Authors

On Saturday, I attended the North Texas Book Festival for the second year in a row, and it was even more fun this year than it was last year.  I had several friends there and I was privileged to make the acquaintance of even more wonderful readers and writers.

I may have come home with one or two new books…

Hey, it’s networking.

Currently, I’m in the middle of reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova.  I loved the movie, so I’ve really been looking forward to reading the book.  The thing is, however, I’m so, so, so excited to start reading all my new books that I got on Saturday that I’m finding myself kind of speed-reading through Still Alice in order to get to my new ones.  There’s something so special and remarkable about reading books that have been produced and published by the author themselves, especially authors you’ve met in person and who’ve shared their personal stories and experiences.  The best way to get to know an author is to read their book.  And I can’t wait to dive in.

I know I’m also an independent author, so what I’m about write may sound a bit self-congratulatory and egotistical, but I am so proud of the work I’ve done, and I’m so proud of my colleagues for their dedication and passion.  There’s this stigma that independent publishing is the “easy way out.”  Let me tell you now, there is nothing easy about taking matters into your own hands and learning skills that you never thought you would need practically overnight.  Independent publishing is real work, work that I would never have even considered if I didn’t truly believe that my books were worth sharing.  This is why I say three cheers for all my fellow indie authors.  You do not believe in limitations.  You will not accept no for an answer.  You conquered your own mountains, you made your own dreams come true.  I am so honored to be in your company.  And I can’t wait to read your books.

Wonderful Christmastime

Hi, friends!  Well, the new book is out, I enjoyed a wonderful evening at the Sanger Library as my last public book even for the year… I’m ready to enjoy the holidays!

It’s funny, I’ve had so many deadlines this year that every time I look at my phone and see the date, I think, “Oh my gosh! I need to hurry up and…”  And then I remember that I HAVE no more deadlines this year!  Yay!  It’s a pretty great feeling.  Not gonna lie.  And I’m proud of myself for sticking to them.  Now I just have to get them out of my head and relax and enjoy.  I’ve never considered myself a workaholic, but I am very goal oriented and I usually have to have SOMETHING I’m working on or toward or else I just don’t know what to do with myself.

But I DO have a lot of things to work on.  For one thing, I’m beta-reading my good friend’s first book!  Her name is April, but you might know her as A Well Read Woman.  I’m very much enjoying her book.  It’s taking me a bit longer to read than most books, however, because I’m going through and making notes.  I really enjoy beta-reading, especially because it means I get to read books before they’re released!

April was also sweet enough to read Boy Band and she wrote one of my most favorite reviews of all time.

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And no, I don’t JUST love it because she included a One Direction gif.

After I’m finished beta-reading, I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of the books on my TBR list for 2015.  I’m not sure I’ll finish them all by January 1, but I WILL finish.

If I could have one wish this Christmas, it would be for independent authors everywhere to enjoy the same amount of recognition, respect, and readership as our traditionally published colleagues.  If you have a reader in your life, visit Amazon.com or BarnesAndNoble.com and check out an independently published book.  I guarantee you you will make an author’s Christmas dream come true.  A reader’s as well.

Love you all!

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The Writer’s Christmas List

Hello, friends!  How are all of you?  Sadly, I am still battling The Crud.  I thought I was getting better, but then Monday night I had a bit of a relapse and it hasn’t gone away.  It’s not horrible, but it makes you feel just gross enough to not want to do anything.  Blah.  Thankfully, I get to work from home so I don’t have to go out and infect the rest of the world.  Unfortunately, in my sickly state, I don’t want to work.  I just want to sit around and snuggle with my kitty and watch Disney movies.

As I was getting ready for bed last night, I couldn’t help but think that this virus has seriously gotten in the way of my Christmas shopping.  And THAT gave me an idea for a blog post.

Ladies and Gents, may I present to you…

The Best Gifts To Give To Your Writer Friend This Holiday Season.

*Please note I am NOT writing this as a suggestive hint that all of you need to buy me presents.  This is just a fun little list that I came up with for all writers.  Not that I speak for all writers.  You know what I mean.*

  1. Books.  This one, I think, kind of goes without saying.  We’re writers.  The only thing we love more than writing is reading.  You can never go wrong with books.
  2. Gift Cards.  Let’s face it, most writers are poor.  And even if we’re not, we can be hard to shop for.  Gift Cards, especially to Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, or Starbucks are always appreciated.
  3. A Bottle of Wine.  Insert stereotype that authors really, really, really like to drink here.
  4. Scented Candles.  Okay, maybe this is just me, but I love lighting a scented candle while I work.  It brings me so much peace and makes my work environment so pleasant.  12246903_10206808044093322_3679859631548650627_n
  5. Scarves.  We’re writers.  We love scarves.
  6. Homemade Cookies.  Honestly, this is probably the best present of all.  I’d so much rather have a good friend make me something (especially something chocolate) than go out and buy me something.
  7. A Book Review.  The very best gift you can give to any writer anywhere is a book review.  Just a few short sentences about how much you enjoyed their book.  Book reviews are invaluable to writers.  It’s free and it only takes about three minutes of your time, if that.  Best.  Present.  Ever.
  8. Giving Their Book as a Gift.  You want to make a writer’s holiday season merry and bright?  Give their book as a gift to someone else.  That is better than buying the writer themselves a car.  Okay maybe not, but it’s almost just as good.
  9. Donate to a Good Cause.  Last year, instead of buying gifts, my mother donated to charities in our relatives’ names.  I thought that was a great gift.  Great causes to donate to for your writer friends include literacy and education charities.  Also the Humane Society because everyone loves animals.
  10. Quality Time.  To me, nothing is better than quality time spent with those you love.  Take your favorite writer friend out to dinner, or go drive around a look at Christmas lights and drink some hot chocolate.  Bake cookies and watch a Christmas movie.  It’s the season for gift-giving, true, but it’s more so the season to love and appreciate the people in your life.  It’s the moments, not the gifts, that will last a lifetime.

 

Why I Write

Most days, I have no idea what I’m going to blog about until I sit down at my computer.  Even then, sometimes it takes me a while to come up with something.  And if I can’t, chances are I’ll just skip blogging for the day.  After all, I usually don’t post every day.

Today, however, was one of those blessed days where I signed onto Twitter and noticed the number one trending topic in the nation: #WhyIWrite.  It was like a gift from the blogging gods.  Why do I write?

My immediate answer was Because I can’t not write.  Eloquent, I know.  But it’s true!  To not write would be almost physically impossible for me.  It’s a part of who I am, perhaps more so than just about any other quality that I possess.  When I’m writing, everything makes sense.  It’s one of the few things that has always come naturally to me.

My parents read to me every night, from the day I was born up until I learned to read myself.  Both profess that they don’t remember teaching me or my sister to read.  We just seemed to pick it up after having been read to our entire lives.  Writing followed shortly thereafter.

For years, writing was something I just did for fun.  In fact, I didn’t even realize I was doing it, if that makes any sense at all.  It was just something I did because I wanted to, like playing jump rope or riding my bike.  I even wrote stories about my future.  That should have been a clue right there that all my other interests would eventually take a backseat to writing.  Actually, looking back, I think they already had.

I write for myself, but I also write because I truly believe that it’s my way of interacting with the world, and maybe even doing some good.  I don’t write personal narratives very often, but I’m a huge believer in mental health awareness.  I’m also a big tree-hugger and animal and nature-lover.  Writing it what I have to give.  And I hope, one day, I’ll be able to make a difference.

I also write because I love characters and I love stories and I love adventures.  There will never be enough books in the world, nor intriguing characters to get to know.  I have dozens of plot lines and characters and places all swimming around in my head.  I have to let them out.  They’d drive me absolutely crazy if I didn’t.  And I want to give them their own stories.  I think they deserve that.  I hope I live long enough to see that happen for them.  I’m hoping I’ve got at least another fifty-sixty years, so I should be good.  Still, that doesn’t really seem like a very long time, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not.  I better get a move on!

Most importantly, I write because it’s what I love.  It makes me happy.  It gives me a thrill.  I hope to keep writing for the rest of my life, regardless of whether my books go on to become bestsellers or not.  Everything about writing is magic to me, and I’m thankful every day for books and for words and for stories.  May they never fade from our human experience.

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Why Buy Books?

Like many of you out there, I have a certain predisposition to read.  A lot.  On the one hand, I probably spend way too much time reading.  On the other hand, I probably don’t read enough.  Life’s just kind of weird that way.  Now, whenever I find a book that I really want to read, I take a trip up to my local bookstore and grab it.  My bookshelves currently look something like this…

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That doesn’t even include the large stack of books I have sitting next to my bed, waiting to be read.  A friend of mine asked me today, however, “Why do you keep buying books?  Why don’t you just go to the library?  That way you don’t spend money and you don’t have a book that you’ve already read lying around the house.”

I suppose that does make sense.  And I do have a library card and I, of course, love to support libraries.  They’re amazing, wonderful, and very important establishments and resources.  I often go to the library to check out nonfiction books, especially when I’m doing research for a new book.  But when it comes to guilty pleasure reading, I’m personally better off buying books.  And I can tell you why.

  1. I like to reread books.  As I told my friend, there isn’t one book on my shelf that I love that I haven’t read at least three or four times.  It’s like having a favorite movie.  You like to watch it over and over again.  I like to read books over and over again.  Can you imagine not owning the Harry Potter series?
  2. For some reason, when I check books out from the library, I feel like I have a time limit, which I kind of do.  Owning books, I can read them whenever I want, and take as long as I want, without having to worry about returning them.  They’re mine.  All mine, Precious…
  3. You can take books with you wherever you go!  Granted, you can take library books around too as long as you don’t have to return them, but you’ll probably feel a lot worse if you lose them.
  4. They’re just so pretty.  I mean, come on.  Books!
  5. If you happen to meet your favorite author, you can have them sign your book!  Can’t do that with a library book!  I have Rainbow Rowell’s and Anne Rice’s autographs in two incredible books and I certainly don’t plan on getting rid of them!
  6. Speaking of being an author… That’s how I make my living!  For authors, especially those of us who are independent, book sales are vital.  I do donate books to every library I visit and I am happy to do so.  But if people don’t buy our books, that’s kind of it for us. I have a growing collection of books by independent authors.  I love them!  I love supporting those authors who work so hard and so passionately for a dream that has no guarantees.  And there are some amazing independent books out there.
  7. Books are a work of art in every sense of the word.  We decorate our homes with paintings and sculptures, true works of love and genius.  Books are no different.

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So you see, it makes perfect sense to buy books.  It also makes perfect sense to support your local library.  Either way, keep reading!  And don’t forget your independent author friends.

On that note… Cemetery Tours is only $2.99 on Kindle for the rest of October!  Download your copy now!

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Jazzed About The Library

This last Saturday, I participated in my second Meet the Authors event at the Colony Library.  As always, it was a fun event.  The people at the library are all just so lovely, as are the authors who participate.  I came home with several new books I am itching to read.  Since After Death will be coming out in just a WEEK, I might actually have a little extra time to read soon!  Hooray!

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I also participated in a new event this year called Jazzed About the Library, a dinner and fundraiser for the library.  It was quite the glamorous event with two live jazz bands, a photo booth, a wandering magician, and eight local authors (myself included).

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My favorite moment of the night, however, was near the very end when my new friend, Chase (author of the self-help book Have a Chase Day: IChase IDream), and I were packing up to leave.  We’d been talking to this one little girl and her brother all day.  She was a third grader, he was in Kindergarten.  This little girl is one of the brightest girls I’ve ever met.  She was happy talking to us for hours about animals, everything she learned in school, and our favorite Disney characters.  At the end of the night, Chase and I both told her that if she ever had any questions or if she’d ever thought about writing, to contact us.  It was then that her dad took her by the shoulders and said, “You see them?  You see how hard they’ve worked and what they’re doing with their lives?  That is what I want for you.”

That, my friends, is the best compliment I’ve ever received in my entire life.  I was so touched, I didn’t know what to say.  I know this little girl will go on to do whatever she sets her mind to.  She just has that spark.

As for me, my new goals for the year include reading and reviewing a stack of books (mostly published by fellow Indie Authors) that I’ve had sitting by my bed for forever.

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I think that is a fairly attainable goal.

Happy Monday, y’all!

For Independent Authors

As a human being, I have several shortcomings.  I’m not a very good listener.  I hate taking other people’s advice.  I’m stubborn.  I hold grudges.  I have a hard time taking anything seriously.  And that’s just to name a few.  If there’s one character trait I take pride in, however, it’s that I am very protective of the people that I love.

I’m not going to name names, but yesterday, one of my indie writer friends experienced cruelty concerning her books for the first time.  Now, we’ve all had naysayers and bad reviews and the snobbish “Oh… You didn’t want a REAL publisher?” comments.  But when it’s directed at me, I can handle it.  Yeah, it hurts.  Yes, I’ve cried.  But whatever.  It’s no big deal.

When it’s one of my friends, however, I get angry.  Not so much with bad reviews, because honestly, we all get them.  It’s part of the whole writer thing.  But personally attacking someone, not only for writing what they love and what’s in their hearts, but for doing so independently?  That’s not okay with me.  This person accused my friend of forcing people to buy her books, attacked the content without even having read it, and then went on to belittle those of us who publish independently, all the while singing her own praises in the tech writing industry.  And hey, I think that’s a great career.  We need technical writers and they do excellent work.  But we also need independent authors.

I’ll never understand why independent movie makers and independent songwriters are seen as “cool and edgy and dedicated and so, so, so talented” (which they are) while independent writers continue to fight the stigma of “lousy writers who can’t get signed to a real agent or publisher and are so desperate to get their book out that they do it all by themselves.”  Isn’t that a little… I don’t know… stupid?  True, not every independently published book is a masterpiece, but neither are several traditionally published books (I won’t name any here, but you probably know which ones I’m thinking about).

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  The independent authors I know do not publish out of vanity.  We don’t do what we do to get rich or famous.  If that’s all we wanted, trust me, we wouldn’t be writing books.  Independent authors write because it’s what we love.  We love telling stories.  We publish because we feel like those stories deserve to be shared.  Publishing a book by yourself is a LOT of work.  Don’t ever think for one minute that what independent authors do is easy.  It’s not.  But we commit to that work because we truly believe we have something worth sharing.  Trust me, we wouldn’t go through all the trouble otherwise.  It’s not an act of selfishness or pity or desperation.  It’s simply an act of love.

That’s why I have so much respect for my fellow independent authors.  Although this is an incredibly supportive community, we’re the ones who take on these tasks and set out to publish on our own.  We don’t have the advantage of multimillion dollar companies or first rate marketing teams.  We have ourselves and the people we love supporting us.  And you know what?  I’d take that over a fancy corporation any day.

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