Wanted: Crystal Ball

Being an indie author is pretty darn cool most days. But then there are those days where you question everything. And by everything, I mean E-V-E-R-Y thing. Apparently I’m having one of those days today and I can’t help but think that life would be so much easier with a crystal ball. Heck, I’d take a Magic 8 ball at this point, but only if it’s the really girly pink one.

When I have to make tough decisions, there’s always that whisper of self-doubt saying what if? And as much as I’d like to squash it, I’m only human. I worry, and obsess and probably drive my husband bat-shizz crazy throughout the decision-making process. Then I make the decision and worry some more. It’s just what I do.

I had to act on a really tough decision today, one I’ve been obsessing (yes, obsessing) over for months to give up something I love. (How’s that for vague?)  It was hard. Really. Hard. Hell, I’m still sweating it now. But I have to believe it’s for the best in the long run. Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be no matter how bad you want them and tough choices have to be made. It’s a fact of life– indie or otherwise.

My only comfort? I’ve got a great support network to see me through! And that is what being indie is all about. So, now it’s vacation time for me and when I return, I’m fully committed to a renewed focus on my family and my writing.

Aloha!

 

Indie Life: Inspiration

Today I read an amazing story that inspired me. I actually cried– tears of sadness and tears of joy– because this story touched my heart. (If you know me, then you know this is a pretty big deal because I am not a crier.

We all have dreams in life. Some big, some small. All important. Bridget Zinn was a writer who dreamed of sharing her love of literature. She dreamt of creating stories that would resonate with young readers and wrote heroines of strength and substance. (Mrs. Zinn was clearly a woman after my own heart.)

Bridget Zinn’s dream of being published was realized yesterday when her debut novel, POISON, a YA fantasy tale, was released by Hyperion Books. Unfortunately, Bridget Zinn passed away from cancer in 2011 at the age of 33 and could not be here to share her story personally. Her family and friends have banded together to spread the word about POISON, sharing her story with readers and helping make her dream a reality.

Release days are always emotional, for writers and the people who support us in our crazy, pre-launch jitters. It’s a busy time filled with emotional highs and lows. I was wracked with nerves before the launch of my debut novel, Crossroads. It was TERRIFYING. Would people like it? Would they hate it? Or worse, would they be totally indifferent?

Creating and publishing a book is never a one woman (or man) job, not even in the indie world. In addition to the editors, designers and other countless peers who help make our work shine, there are the behind the scenes folks propping us up and encouraging us along the way. These people deserve a standing ovation, because I can assure you it’s not always an easy job.

Weeks after Crossroads released, my own father lost his battle with cancer. It was devastating for our family, but I was proud that he was able to see me achieve my dream of publication. My father was one of my biggest supporters and an inspiration himself.

*HUGS* to Bridget Zinn’s friends and family for sharing her story and honoring hew dreams by getting POISON into the hands of readers. I just ordered a copy, which I’ll be donating to my local library (after I’ve read it, of course).

If you would like to help spread the word about POISON and Bridget Zinn’s truly inspirational story, please visit the official website.

A Recipe for Poison

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

*** Indie Life is a new monthly meme that I’ll be *trying* to post every month. (Seriously. I even set a reminder on my phone.) ***

Spreading the Love… Indie Style

There’s been a lot of chatter on the blogosphere this week about respect, common courtesy, author’s behaving badly, and, well, you get the idea. I have an opinion (don’t we all?), but I’ll keep it to myself (more or less). Why? Because there are some really smart folks who’ve said better. One of my fav’s is Lauren DeStefano. To be honest, this post, ‘The art of being a human being’ is the first thing I’ve ever read by DeStefano. But I’ve got to tell you, it won’t be the last. I think I’ll pick up one of her books because this post was just a little inspiring for me and I couldn’t agree more with her. Just treat me like a human being and I’ll do the same for you. In this awesome age of technology it’s just a little too easy to forget that the author/blogger/reviewer you’re talking to is a real, live person with *gasp* feelings. Just like you. Just like me.

So, enough about that… It’s easy to spread the nasty stuff, but what about the love? I’ve been trolling GoodReads, and Twitter, and a whole lot of blogs and I’m continually reminded that there are an awful lot of great books I haven’t had the chance to read, lots of them indie’s. So I’ve decided to commit the remainder of my summer to indie books and author’s I haven’ read in the past. I’m going to cheat a little with book one because I’m starting with JL Bryan’s Fairy Metal Thunder. (Why is this cheating you ask? Because I’ve already read Bryan’s The Paranormals and LOVED them!)

Next up (in no particular order): The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines, The Fallen Star by Jessica Sorensen, Prince of Wolves by Quinn Loftis and Dirty Blood by Heather Hildenbrand.

By the way, four of these five books are currently FREE on Amazon! So if you’re looking for a good indie read, you may want to check them out as well! I’ve heard great things about all of these authors from some very trusted bloggers and I’m thinking it’s about time I find out for myself what all the fuss is about! If the covers are any indication, these books are going to rock!

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For the Love of… Editing?

Snapple Real Fact #832: Brain waves can power an electric train.
(How cool is that? I have no idea how it works, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome!)
So, earlier this week I mentioned that I’m passionate about good editing. It wasn’t a dig at the book I was reviewing. It was just me jumping up and down on my soapbox. I mean, if you don’t get to spout off every now and then, what’s the point of having a blog?
Okay, so what you really want to know is why I am so passionate about good editing? (To be fair, if you’re asking I have to assume you either don’t read that much or you’ve never read a terribly edited book!) So, why good editing?
1. Readers deserve it. They’re paying for the book after all. Typos and incorrect word use are a distraction and detract from the story.
2. In the face of an ongoing quest to legitimize indie books and their authors, examples of typos, spelling errors, and poor formatting are fodder for traditional publishing houses. Yes, the very same publishing houses who would tell you the only good books are the ones that make the shelves of big box retailers.
3. There are a lot of great writers out there working to provide us (the readers) with books that may never make it in the mainstream market, but which are wonderful in their own right. I’d hate for their hard work to be diminished by blanket stereotypes regarding the quality of indie books.
Believe me, I get it. Indie authors operate on a shoestring budget. It can’t be easy to be your own publisher, publicist, marketer, and all around guru of all things publishing related. It’s undoubtedly overwhelming. (See? I’m tired just writing about it!) But with an infinite number of freelance editors just a mouse click away, it’s one task I’d be more than happy to farm out!
I’ve always loved to read. And I’ve always love to write. But that doesn’t mean grammar is my thing. Just ask my 10th grade English teacher, who btw, you’ll find moonlighting at FYE in the mall.

Review: Hollowland

Snapple Real Fact #760: Dolphins sleep with one eye open.
(And you thought you couldn’t get a good night’s sleep!)
Well, it seems we all survived the apocalypse and the only zombies that showed up at my house were in Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland, which by the way was an excellent read. I don’t usually do the reviewing thing, but I figured what the heck.  I’m expanding my reading horizons, so I might as well expand my blogging repertoire as well.
The DL on Hollowand:
Hollowland is the first book in The Hollows series by Amanda Hocking. For those of you not familiar with Hocking, she’s an indie author who recently reached millionaire status by self-publishing and selling her books on sites like Amazon (where I consequently picked up my copy for $0.99).
Description:

“This is the way the world ends – not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way – not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

Review:
A pleasant surprise! What worked for me? The kickass heroine (I love women who can take care of themselves!) , just the right amount of levity to counterbalance the parade of deadly zombies, and the touching relationships that emerged among the central characters. As Remy and her ragtag band of followers made their way across the country, it was difficult not to get sucked in. After all, who could resist a zombie eating lion name Ripley?
Hocking did a nice job developing most of the characters and it didn’t take them long to find their way into my heart. Yes, it’s an unlikely tale of a zombies, but the characters were real and it was easy to identify with their problems, some of which were every day (read: boys!) and some of which were more, well, apocalyptic. I laughed and I cried which is more than I can say for a lot of books.
All in all, a good read. However, I do wish this book had been more thoroughly edited. I realize this was published before Hocking reached her current status and long before her book deal with St. Martin’s (Oh, did I forget to mention that selling a half million e-books will get you signed?), but good editing is something I feel passionately about.
With better editing, I’d have paid more than a dollar for this one. I couldn’t put it down and I look forward to seeing the next book in the series. Yeah, there were some flaws, but Hocking’s a young writer and I’ve followed enough NYT best-selling authors to know that with time (and practice) will come a more polished product. What can I say? I’m a sucker for underdogs. Recommended for zombie lovers and romantics everywhere!
J.J. Bonds

Books, Books, Books

Snapple Real Fact #912: Meteorologists claim they’re right 85% of the time.

(Am I the only one who has a hard time believing this? The crazy weather this week has me seriously doubting the accuracy of this stat. Maybe I too can claim to be right 85% of the time!)
Anyway, I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter with friends and family!  I had the opportunity to sneak away for a few days of much needed R&R with the Atlanta family and have been doing a lot of editing and reading (both of which have kept me from blogging). I’ve reached what I’ll call the ‘final’ version of my manuscript, but find myself with many questions (or maybe it’s really just self-doubt). Is my story good enough? Are the characters well developed? Should I make another pass at it? I guess the reality is that I may never know for sure since opinion is subjective and it’s difficult to really pinpoint what makes one book a success over another.
However, I’m really lucky to have a couple of very vocal beta readers for whom I’m grateful (although sometimes I secretly wish they were a little harder on my work). It’s difficult not to read professionally published books and compare. Every now and then I come across a passage that I wish I’d written. You know the kind. The ones with amazing imagery that yank you head over heels into the story. Or the ones that leave you depressed. Not because the story line is sad but because they’re over.
I’ve also been reading a lot of independent books lately which are self-published. It’s been both inspiring and eye opening. First and foremost, I commend each of the authors who’ve had the courage to self-publish, making their work available to the masses when traditional publishing houses have opted to pass. Not only do I find the stories refreshing, the price points are right ($0.99-$2.99).
Never read an indie author? You should. They’re everywhere. There are a lot of good stories out there that I would have otherwise missed. They’re easier to find than you might think (check out my links). Indie books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, you-name-it. Yeah, there’s some crap, but that’s where the reviews come in handy. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the organization and depth of some of the books.
In fact, I just read Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble, a paranormal romance, by H.P. Mallory. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not always the most discerning reader, but I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars. Good plot, fluid story line, no WTF moments. All in all, a good read. Yes, it’s light and fluffy, but I wouldn’t expect anything different from PNR.
I found the book on GoodReads.com. If you’re an avid reader, I highly recommend checking out the website. Frankly, I wish I’d found it sooner. It’s a great place to find new authors, new releases, and to just generally talk books. I’m a little shy about chatting on-line, but love having the ability to get reviews for books from trusted sources. Especially books I’d never find on the shelves of the evil-empire (or other big box stores) in the face of diminishing bookstores.
Read anything good lately? Leave a message below. I’m always looking for new series and authors!
Last, but not least, I want to thank everyone for the editor recommendations. I appreciate the help and will likely be pursuing a few of these options in the coming weeks.
J.J. Bonds