Introducing the 12 Blogs of Christmas

file0001863294772Among the many things I love about the holidays are the stories we all bring to the table. In that spirit, I’m happy that when my friend and bestselling author Martin Crosbie asked for victims volunteers to contribute a Christmas-themed blog for a 12 Blogs of Christmas event, I stuck my little hand in the air. And boy, there will be some terrific writers in this lineup. Starting tomorrow and going until Christmas, I’ll be posting a bit about each author and their holiday stories. I hope you enjoy the contributions of the following authors and check out their websites (I’m gathering links as fast as I can!) so you can learn more about them.

To whet your appetite, here’s a very short Christmas story I wrote this week during JD Mader’s #2minutesgo flash fiction fiesta and sewing circle. Loads of fine, fine authors contributing to this weekly writing party, too.

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He pinged onto her GPS screen; she put the hot toddies on the burner to warm and made herself comfortable in the recliner by the window to wait for him. She’d been thinking. She’d been thinking for months. Every year, he went out a little less enthusiastically. Every year, he returned more broken than ever. Grateful, yes, for what he’d been charged with, but she could see the toll it had taken. The stoop in his back, the lines around his eyes that were oh-so-merry, the color drained from the lips that were red as a cherry. When she heard the distant tinkle of sleigh bells, she eased out of the chair and filled two mugs, grinding nutmeg atop her secret potion that each year proved less effective at restoring his strength—even though secretly she’d been upping the dosage since that Kardashian woman tried to get her claws into him. Finally, the door opened. His shoulders drooped; his lovely suit was smeared with chimney ash, and the round, rosy cheeks had faded to a dull, pinkish-gray. With a deep breath, she brought the beverages into the living room and said, “Honey, it’s time. I want to move to Florida.”

The Editing Myth

dreamstime_14649214On Indies Unlimited: Food for thought by Melissa Bowersock about her experience with being edited (or not, actually) by traditional publishers versus the editorial control she has as an indie author.

Although for most authors, I recommend hiring a professional editor, at the minimum, get your manuscript in front of beta readers who can give you honest, thorough critiques and fresh eyes to catch errors. As Martin Crosbie has frequently written in his posts and in his book, How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle: An Easy-To-Follow Self-Publishing Guidebook, we indie authors have a larger target on our backs than traditionally published authors. Therefore it’s up to us to ensure that we’re producing the best quality product that we can.

Your thoughts, as always, are welcome.

Risk and the Novelist

iStock_000017146993XSmallOne summer afternoon, not too many months after Husband and I had bought our house, I walked up the hill to a neighbor’s. She and her family were hosting a barbecue. We’d been invited to events at their home before, but that was during the winter. As I reached their yard, another neighbor screamed up to me in her little red sports car.

“Get in and hold my watermelon,” she yelled out the window. I asked why, which felt like a perfectly natural question. Weren’t we here already? Where were we going with a watermelon, and why did I need to hold it? She didn’t seem to understand my confusion. We went a couple of rounds and she finally said, “Just get in the freakin’ car already.”  Continue reading

An Indie Smorgasbord in First Chapters

First-Chapters22-ocean-sampleI’m so excited about this release from Indies Unlimited!

First Chapters provides 1500-word excerpts from the work of twenty-two cutting-edge indie authors (well, twenty-one plus me!). Some of them are award-winning, some are bestselling, and they all, at one time, joined forces at IndiesUnlimited.com: a site dedicated to the indie author movement. This volume includes a wide array of genres and unique voices. From elegant vampires to former assassins, from drama to comedy, from science fiction to nonfiction, you’ll find something to please every palate, along with brief author bios and a purchase link, should you decide to read more.

Why did we do this? Because sometimes the “look inside” feature of a book you’re interested in buying online isn’t enough. You might have to wade through a bunch of front matter, leaving only a page or two of the story. How frustrating is that, especially if you’re looking at a number of books?

This volume includes first chapters from authors DV Berkom, Melissa Bowersock, Laurie Boris, K.S. Brooks, Lynne Cantwell, Martin Crosbie, Jim Devitt, A.C. Flory, Yvonne Hertzberger, Stephen Hise, Mark Jacobs, Chris James, LA Lewandowski, TD McKinnon, Rich Meyer, Melissa Pearl, Lin Robinson, Kathy Rowe, Carolyn Steele, Krista Tibbs, Dick Waters, and Carol Wyer.

I hope you enjoy it.

Here is some handy linkage:

Amazon US:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E8RWYXW/
Amazon UK:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00E8RWYXW/

My Year of Living Indie

poetry_readingJacqueline Hopkins-Walton, a member of a Facebook group I belong to, recently asked us to kick in our “top ten” favorite books we read in 2012. Five immediately came to mind, several others I can’t name because they’re not officially published yet or I had a hand in editing, and the rest resulted from a quick consultation with my Kindle.

Only one book was put out by a large publisher.

In fact, a further consultation with the K-dude revealed that with the exception of The Maltese Falcon, nearly every book I read in 2012 was written by an indie author.

Curiosity? Solidarity? Poverty?

Yes, all are true. When, in late 2011, I started testing the waters prior to self-publishing my second novel, Drawing Breath, I met a bunch of great, funny, quirky, generous authors who’d decided to chuck pitching to the Big Guys and go their own way. Curious, I read a bunch of affordable—and frequently free—books that didn’t have a flightless waterfowl on their spines. Some needed some work. Some were good. Some were pretty amazing.

I didn’t consciously make a choice to avoid the big names. A few of my favorite trad-published authors, like Michael Chabon, Joyce Carol Oates, and Ian McEwan came out with books this year and I will read them, eventually, when the budget allows. (Before you suggest my local library, I am a big fan, although Marion the Librarian does not care for my slow reading pace, which resulted in my returning Ian McEwan’s Solar only halfway done under threat of large fines and manual dispossession.)

My TBR indie list sort of…evolved. Friends came out with new books. Other authors recommended their favorites. One thing led to another. My involvement with Indies Unlimited brought me closer to inspirational, heartbreakingly talented, funny, smart authors from around the world.

Doesn’t mean I won’t sink into a big-name book again. In fact, two are waiting on my nightstand: Jeffrey Eugenides because I’ve adored him since Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, and Jane Green, because I won her latest in a Goodreads Giveaway.

This year in reading just happened. And I’m very happy about it. It’s a lovely feeling, looking down my Kindle directory and seeing so many friends’ names.

So, in no particular order, these were my favorite books I read in 2012:

Jimmy Mender and his Miracle Dog by Leland Dirks
Joe Café by JD Mader
Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip by David Antrobus
My Temporary Life by Martin Crosbie
Upgrade by Stephen Hise
Bad Book by Stephen Hise, KS Brooks, and JD Mader
Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines by Carol E. Wyer
The Sable City and Death of a Kingdom by M. Edward McNally [from the same series; The Norothian Cycle, so it counts as two!]
Charmed Life by Susan Bennett

What were some of your favorites?

Disclaimers:

1. I am a relatively slow reader, and it’s been a busy year.
2. Which means I probably read about thirty books.
3. So I do what I can. And this only one reader’s opinion.
4. There are many, many wonderful authors I’ve yet to read.
5. Even ones I know.
6. Your actual mileage may vary.