Indie Books and POGs

Last night, I found my old POG collection.  If you grew up in the 90s, chances are you also collected the little round pieces of cardboard that were apparently meant to be a game but really ended up just being shiny little circles we accumulated and hoarded like Smaug’s treasure in The Hobbit.

As I was looking through my old POGs, I noticed one had a ghost on it.  I thought, “Oh, that’s cute.  I should take a picture of it with Cemetery Tours.”

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So I did.

But I didn’t stop there.

Slowly but surely, my little idea to take a picture with the ghost POG became a full fledged POG and indie book photo shoot.

This isn’t the first time I’ve taken pictures of several (not all) of the indie books I own.  I have a whole photo album that I’ve dedicated to the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement on my Facebook page.

#IndieBooksBeSeen

There is a rhyme and reason to my madness.  Despite the fact that we call ourselves “Independent” authors, the truth is we are very much a community.  No one works alone.  We have editors and graphic designers and reviewers and marketing experts.  And we have each other.  As independent authors, we support each other 100%.  That’s one of the first things I learned about the community and one of my very favorite parts of being an independent author.  I never expected the warm reception or astounding support system when I first published Cemetery Tours, but it’s there.  And it’s so, so, so amazing.

There are several ways that authors support each other.  I have friends who Tweet and Retweet.  I have friends who share dozens of Facebook posts.  I have friends who review every book they read.  Me?  I definitely try to review at least every indie book I read.  But I like to take pictures.  It’s my favorite method of communication.  Funny, for a writer, I know.  But there’s a certain love to a beautiful image that words really can’t express.

I take pictures because these books need more exposure.  I want each and every one of these authors to know the same kind of love and praise and success that their traditionally published counterparts experience.  I want them to be interviewed and reviewed by Entertainment Weekly and fly to the top of the New York Times Bestsellers List.  I want independent books to become mainstream.  And I think they are well on their way.

 

 

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In the City

Hello, friends!  Just a quick update!  I may not have any more deadlines for a while (Yay!) but life is still as busy as ever!

I’ve been enjoying a wonderful few days, celebrating the impending Christmas season with friends and family.

A few of my girlfriends and I had a Christmas crafts night.

Then my mom and my sister and I took a trip downtown to see the world premiere of the opera Becoming Santa Claus.

And life is only going to get busier!  Tonight, my friend and I are taking my sister out to celebrate her birthday.  Tomorrow night, a group of my friends from high school and I are going with our English teacher (our Mr. Feeny, if you will) to see MacBeth.  Thursday night, I’m going to a bachelorette party and Saturday is the wedding!  So much fun and merriment and all the while I keep thinking, “Oh my goodness!  I have to get the new book out!”  Then I remember it’s already out and I think to myself, “Oh, yay!  I love it when that happens!”

The new book is doing great.  And Boy Band is getting some new love because of it!

I’ve had two reviews in the past week that I particularly love.  One is from a new friend down in Mexico named Bryan.  You can check out his review here!

He also took this fabulous picture and I’ve got to be honest, it’s one of my favorite book portraits ever.

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The other is a review I believe I already shared, but I love it so much, I’m just going to share it again.

I love all my readers and reviewers and friends so, so much!  I don’t know if you realize it, but you make so many dreams come true just by doing what you love!  Thank you, thank you!

I hope you all are enjoying this most wonderful time of the year.

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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21

Today, my little sister turns 21.  I could very well make this a sentimental post about how she’s my best friend in the world and how she’s crossing a major milestone and how I’m so thankful to have her in my life, and all of that would be very, very true.  I don’t know where I’d be without her.

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In honor of her birthday, I decided to release my new book, Backstage, the sequel to Boy Band, a day early on Kindle.  I did this, in part, because she loves the first book so much.  We’re both big boy band fans in real life, and she was the one who really pushed me to finish the first book and to publish it.  She enjoyed Cemetery Tours also, but not like Boy Band.

That being said, I hope you all enjoy the second book!  I did my best not to end it on as BIG a cliffhanger as the first one, but rest assured there is a third one in the works!  Sam and Mel’s story isn’t quite finished yet!

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Love you all!

Backstage on Kindle

 

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.

 

December Tidings

Hello, friends!

Oh my goodness, it feels like it’s been a while since I last posted.  Probably because it has been.  This has been quite a week though, let me tell you!

First of all, I hope all my American friends had a splendid Thanksgiving full of good food and good times spent with family and friends.  My Thanksgiving was pretty excellent, although as soon as I got home from our friends’ house, my throat began to hurt and I spent the next three days on the couch with The Crud that’s going around.  Thanks, Dad.  Fortunately, I didn’t get it nearly as bad as he did.

In much more exciting news, IT IS FINALLY DECEMBER!  It’s time for snowflakes and hot chocolate and Christmas lights and movie nights by the fire and all those wonderful winter things!  Now of course, once Christmas is over, I won’t be nearly as excited about the cold, but for the next 25 days, bring on the winter chill!

Even though it’s only the first day of December, it’s already turning out to be an incredibly busy month.  I’m giving a talk tonight at a local library about NaNoWriMo and what to do after you’ve finished your manuscript.  If I can figure out how to post the Power Point presentation here, I will.

I’m also giving another talk at another library NEXT week, but I need to check in and make sure everything is still on schedule for that!

Also… BACKSTAGE WILL BE AVAILABLE IN EXACTLY ONE WEEK!  I’m so excited for y’all to read it.  I would post the first chapter here, but it contains MAJOR spoilers for the first book, so I’m afraid y’all are just going to have to wait a week!  You can, however, enter to win a signed copy of BOTH BOOKS on GoodReads.

Once Backstage is released, I’m going to take some time just to enjoy the holidays, spend time with family and friends.  But I’m also going to be investigating a few new publishing platforms as well as a few new projects.  Oh, and I’m also going to be catching up on a LOT of reading.  My goodness, I am so behind.

Happy December, everyone!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

(Except for, you know, when it’s warm and sunny).

 

NaNoWriMo 2015

We’re five days into National Novel Writing Month and I’ve got a confession to make:  I haven’t been keeping up with it very well.  I’ve written a little bit and brainstormed a lot, but I’m nowhere near where I should be in the grand scheme of NaNoWriMo.  There are a few reasons (or excuses) for that.

First of all, I spent a long weekend in Houston and didn’t return until Monday afternoon.  At that point, I was exhausted and had a lot of unpacking and pictures to go through.

Second, with only a little more than a month before Backstage is released, I’m devoting most of my time and energy into making sure it’s ready to go by December 8.  Those of you who’ve published your own books know that that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for much else.

Finally, I’ve been having a difficult time figuring out how I wanted to begin my NaNo book.  I think I may have figured it out last night, but I’m still not 100% sure.  Sometimes, you can’t force it.  You just have to let the words come naturally.

I am, however, SO excited to see so many of my friends and colleagues and total strangers participating in NaNoWriMo this year!  It’s a fantastic way to get people writing and to get some fantastic new books out there.  It’s also proof to me that the written word is thriving.  There are so many rumors and reports and literacy and society’s love of reading being on the decline, but even if they’re true, there is so much love for NaNoWriMo and so much enthusiasm and excitement for reading and writing new books that I can’t help but feel optimistic about my trade and profession.  I love books so much.  I always have.  And it’s so encouraging to see so many others sharing that love.

NaNoWriMo will always hold a special place in my heart, particularly because it gave me the opportunity to write something new, something that I guarantee I would not have written otherwise.  Boy Band is the book that was not supposed to exist.  And now, here it is, a year later and I’m getting ready to release its sequel.  How cool is that?

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For those wondering, that little guy in the picture is Simon the NaNo Dragon.  He’s my November writing buddy.

Fellow writers and aspiring authors, enjoy your NaNoWriMo experience.  Write well.  Write what you love.  You never know what may come of it.  And if you get behind (or if you haven’t started on time – oops!), don’t get discouraged.  After all, it took me TWO months to finish Boy Band.  All you need to know is that you can do anything.  And you will.  Just keep writing.

Texas Renaissance Festival

Alright, here we go!  Pictures from this past weekend at Texas Renaissance Festival.  The theme for the weekend was All Hallow’s Eve, so my friend and fellow author, James William Peercy, invited me down to sell a few ghost stories.  I am so grateful to him and his beautiful wife, Claudette for taking me under their wings.  They are just the most amazing, wonderful, selfless people you could ever hope to meet and James’ books, The Wall Outside series, are just so beautiful and magical.  If you enjoy fantasy, I highly recommend you check out his work.

http://jameswilliampeercy.com

Although I can do things all by myself, I always prefer not to.  Besides, weekend excursions to Renaissance festivals are always so much more fun with friends.  So I took my trusty house elves, Kat and Rachel (Rat) to help me out.

Before we reached the festival, we made a quick stop at this cool, old, haunted town called Anderson.

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After we arrived at the Festival (OMG it was so muddy), we unloaded all the books from the car and then set out to explore the grounds.  Naturally, we first found ourselves in the Enchanted Forest.

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The rest of the grounds were equally beautiful.

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And the arts and crafts were absolutely breathtaking.

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Oh, and there were books too.

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I also had to get my picture taken with my Great-Great-Great-Great several times over Grandfather, Robert the Bruce.

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But I think my favorite new friends that I made were Pip and Owlbus Dumbledore.

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How did you spend your Halloween?

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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The ABC’s of Shakespeare

So, I mentioned earlier that I found the kid’s book that I wrote and illustrated for a Children’s Literature class in Graduate School.  Just for fun, I decided to share it.  Both the writing and illustrations leave a lot to be desired.  Still, it was a neat assignment and I really enjoyed it.

Shakespeare ABCs