Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Is Best for You

Don’t look right or left. Stay focused on your dream and walk toward it. Those are words my mother drilled into me when younger, and it’s a huge part of why I chose to sign with a small publisher.

After a lifetime of writing, it wasn't until about two years ago that I decided to pursue publication. When I started researching the best way to get my book out into the world, it seemed as if traditional publishing was the main avenue, while self-publishing and small presses were the shady side streets no one should take for fear of literary death. 

Frightened by this prospect, I started down the traditional route. A long walk down this path left me with a lot of rejection and requests that fell through. Rewrites garnered similar results. I was left stranded with the dismal thought that maybe my work would never see the light of day. That maybe I should give up and work on something else.

The thought made me ill. Why should I give up? Why did didn't I consider the other avenues?

The truth is that I was being led by the experiences and opinions of others. I was busy looking all around at what others had to say about their journey, instead of focusing on my own.

Thing is, everyone's experience is different. There are always going to be those with horror stories—even some who took the traditional route. I've read of many who disliked the lack of control or attention they got from their publisher or agent. There were those who signed with a small press that did a lousy job at editing and marketing their book, just as there were many self-published authors who were overwhelmed by the amount of work it required. There were also some success stories. But in the end, whether good or bad, these were the experiences of others. 

As for opinions, I found that I had bound myself to one path because of the stigma that if I dared travel the other two roads, it would be equivalent to saying that my book wasn't good enough for the traditional route. I think this is a big part of what terrifies many writers on the fence about indie publishing, but that mindset isn't true and it shouldn't have power over you.

I felt I had something special. I had worked hard on my book and still had my dream. There were still readers looking for good books, and there were three avenues of getting it to them. Three avenues I then considered.  

Self-publishing was ruled out first simply because I didn't feel ready to tackle publishing on my own. I preferred testing the publishing waters with a little guidance while I learned more about the industry and built relationships. 

Black Opal Books, a small press, was a happy medium for me.  They have provided me with editors, will handle distribution and formatting, and are helping me develop a marketing strategy. My fellow authors also share so much information that for a newbie like me, getting to learn while making my dream come true is more than a win. I also have a say in the final edits and the cover. Awesome?  I think so. 

I’m happy with this choice as it was one I made for myself, based on what I felt was best for my book. It may not be be the same choice you make. Heck, it may be very different from the path I choose for my next book. Will I self-publish? I don't know. Will I go with a small press? I don't know. Will I follow the traditional route? I don't know.

What I do know is that whatever I choose will be what I think is best for me.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Making it Through a Long-term Project Without Losing Your Cool

For a new writer, the world is full of possibilities. An idea springs into your brain and you wonder: Could I write that? The very thought of writing something can be thrilling (and a little scary). Then there’s the doubt. I can’t really write a novel, can I? But the absolute best part of just starting out is the not knowing. Not knowing all of the tropes of a genre, not knowing about the cliches, not knowing that for every piece of advice you read you’ll find that someone out there disagrees with it. The life of a writer can be absolutely maddening at the best of times, and that’s what is so magical about being green. You don’t know yet how hard it can be, you don’t know yet how long or how many versions it can take to complete a project. And that’s where this post comes in-- just as you’re figuring out that writing is only a fraction of what it takes to be a writer.

It was the fall of 2009 when I shared an idea I had for a book with one of my closest friends. She loved the idea, we talked it over, but she said I needed to work on the mechanics of writing a little. I was so new and naive that I didn’t know exactly what the meant. Well, eventually I figured out it meant that I had great ideas and a strong voice but my grammar needed work. A lot of work. Not only did my grammar need work but so did my pacing, my characterizations, my idea...

Over three years later, and I can look back and appreciate the road it’s taken to get to where I am with my project. It’s been challenging at the best of times and I often considered shelving the idea altogether. But something about this project just didn’t let me do that. Despite all of the bad advice I made it through the first draft. Now I’m working through edits in preparation to publish. It probably shouldn’t have taken me so long, but then this project might also not be what it is.

In the spirit of sharing, here’s a list of tips to make it through that long-term project that just doesn’t seem to be progressing.

  1. Are you a pantster or a plotter? Figure it out NOW.
In the beginning stages of my project I had planned everything out. I had scenes outlined in such detail that when I started writing it didn’t feel fresh. I lost my desire to actually write the scene. I’m not typically a pantster though, so I’ve cultivated a method that works best for me. I have a few big scenes in mind before I begin and well-defined characters a book and slowly work it out as I write. Anything more than that and I can’t write the book because it feels like it’s already been written.

  1. You are not unique. Your book is not unique.
When I started writing I thought my book idea was the most unique thing in the world. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be written which hasn’t been written already. Once you move past the idea that you and your book are one of a kind you can come to terms with the facts. You’ll always find books that remind you of yours. You’ll always run across passages that sound familiar. You’ll always run into this and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Just work on your book, pay attention, and do your thing.

  1. It’s all about voice.
The last tip was kind of a bummer, wasn’t it? So if there’s nothing truly unique in the world, then why write a story that’s essentially been told before? Because while you and your book aren’t unique, your voice is. Don’t try to sound like someone else. Be yourself, write the way you write. Learn to write well and let your voice flow. That is unique and that is what will set you apart from similar stories.

  1. Take a break
Don’t be afraid to take a break for a while. Don’t push it. When you force a story it will show. Part of the reason my project has taken over three years is that it’s gone through eight versions, several rewrites, character changes, setting changes, etc. In the end, I’m beyond thrilled with what I have. I couldn’t have hoped for something better and I definitely wouldn’t have written the story I did had I done it a few years ago.

  1. Get creative
If the usual routine isn’t working, change it up. Instead of outlining on paper, do it on notecards or in PowerPoint. Do something to shake it up, even if that means pretending to be your main character for a day. I’ve done some wacky things to get into my character’s head and have even gone as far as role playing with a friend to figure out if a scene makes sense.

  1. Take advice
Pay attention to what’s worked for other writers. Books like Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott and On Writing by Stephen King are excellent reads. Also check out blogs and interviews from writers and pay particular attention to how they wrote, not how they found success because your goal shouldn’t be how to find success. Your goal should be how to write and how to finish that project. If your goal is to find success, find a new field.

  1. Trust your gut
Not all advice is created equal. Don’t feel pressured to take the advice of other writers. Everything I said here might not apply to you. Or it might. You can always try it out and see what works, but don’t feel like you’re doing it wrong. There is no way to “do” it wrong. It’s your life, your story, your career. Do it your way and don’t feel bad about that.

  1. Ask for help
There’s no shame in asking for help. We all need it. In fact, the help we get from other writers is often the most valuable help we will receive. Get a beta reader, a pre-reader, a something. Someone to help bounce ideas off of and read your work. I almost never realize the mistake I’ve made until someone else has pointed it out. Being too close to a project can be a detriment.

  1. Do your research
If you’re writing about a place you’ve never been, research it! If you’re writing a genre you aren’t familiar with, research it. It doesn’t matter how solid the writing is if you get the details wrong. Know your subject. Read your genre. Knowing the genre has helped me avoid the pitfalls and exploit what I know readers love about it.

  1. Have fun!
If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth it. Writing is tough and there’s no right or wrong answers to tell you exactly how to write or to be a writer. The headache is absolutely not worth it if you don’t enjoy it even during the most difficult of times. Believe in the project and keep working toward the ultimate goal of finishing it.

New Peeps!!! And a call for help!

I wanted to take a quick minute to say thanks for the warm reception y'all have given us! We're so thrilled to be here with y'all.
A few things--we're going to do two weekly round ups: Laura Howard will be posting indie-centric articles and blog posts.
And I'll be posting new indie releases! Yay! :) If you have something for either of those, please email us at IndieIgnites (at)

And lastly, we have three new contribuators!!! Everyone say hey to Rachel Bateman, ST Bende, and Irene Rose. You can learn a bit more about them on our About Us page.

Okay, that's it for now, lovelies. Feel free to tweet us @IndieIgnites or me @NazareaAndrews


Friday, February 22, 2013

Review of The Rock Star's Daughter by Caitlyn Duffy

Reveiw of The Rock Star’s Daughter (The Treadwell Academy Novels)
By Caitlyn Duffy

AMAZON DESCRIPTION: At the age of 15, Taylor Beauforte has only met her father twice in person. After all, he is the lead singer of a world-famous rock band, constantly on the cover of music magazines and giving interviews on MTV. He pays for Taylor to attend the Treadwell Academy, a prestigious boarding school in Massachusetts, and provides her mother with monthly checks to cover her basic needs, but has never made much of an effort to play an active part in Taylor’s life. Taylor's mom Dawn is the only family she has ever really known, and because of Dawn's hard-partying Hollywood lifestyle, studious Taylor is happiest on the other side of the country in Massachusetts with her nose buried in a book.
When Taylor 's mom unexpectedly dies the summer before Taylor starts her junior year, she receives a crash course in fame. She has no choice but to join her father and his new family on their summer concert tour before she has even had a chance to mourn the loss of her mother. Life as the daughter of a rock star seems like it would be enviable, but Taylor can't figure her dad out. He seems like a supportive authority figure (even if he's kind of a fashion tragedy) , but she is collecting a growing pile of evidence that he's a liar and a cheat. Her stepmother, Jill, can’t seem to decide if she wants to treat Taylor like a girlfriend or a nuisance. Having had no time to grieve and say goodbye to her childhood before being thrust into the limelight, Taylor is suddenly finding herself in situations she could have never imagined before this summer.
With no one else to turn to, Taylor falls head over heels in love with Jake, the teenage son of one of the band's touring groupies. Taylor has growing concerns about Jake's background and the suspicious relationship between his mom and her own father, but is desperate for something real in her life onto which she can build a future. When Jake offers Taylor an opportunity to join him on a whirlwind adventure and leave her problems with her father far behind, Taylor has to decide – should she carve out her own way in the world, or try to repair the relationship she has with her only living parent? 
Over the course of the summer with the band, Taylor learns the depths of her own strength, the difficulty of overcoming loss, and that the definition of family means much more than shared bloodlines.


My thoughts:

The description given on Amazon tells you the whole plot. So I knew going in what was going to happen. What I didn’t expect was how the story of a girl thrust into the limelight and gaining fame and fortune could actually relate to just about anyone whose life took an unexpected sharp turn. Taylor had to learn how to adjust to a new family (that she wasn’t sure even wanted her) and a new lifestyle (that she wasn’t sure she even wanted) all while grieving the loss of her mother and unfortunately a lost friendship.

Taylor is faced with many decisions in her new life, and most of which get her into serious trouble. But what would a rock star heiress be without paparazzi making photos look much more troubling than they really are? Then of course there is the boy. Isn’t there always a boy?

I liked Jake. I liked him just as much as Taylor did and as we got to know him more and more, I could see the little signs that were pointing to trouble. Of course, Taylor didn’t but I am, after all, the reader who has had actual life experience and she is just a fifteen year old girl who lives in a book. (Yes, I know. Characters can come to life for me and this one did. Score for the author!)

When things go south with the boy, Taylor steps up and makes her first grown up decision in the whole book. She stands her ground and I was so proud of her I wanted to stand and clap and cheer. It was in that moment that I saw the growth of the character and it was done so well, and built up slowly, that it was 100% believable.

If you are a fan of contemporary YA novels, ABSOLUTELY check out The Rock Star’s Daughter. The ebook is currently FREE!

Monday, February 18, 2013

New Adult: What It Is and What It Isn’t

I was one of those kids who didn’t quite realize how cushy she had it until she moved out on her own. I found out the hard way that laundry doesn’t clean itself and the trash doesn’t magically grow legs and jump in the dumpster. Like a lot of young adults, there was a steep learning curve when I was first out in the world and on my own. Anything and everything that can go wrong with a kitchen appliance probably will. And not everyone you deal with is going to be kind or honest. But there’s another side to being a new adult. You get to make your own decisions (your own mistakes) with far less parental involvement than ever before. It’s new, it’s scary, it’s amazing, and it’s widely regarded as the most transformative time in a person’s life. It’s anyone’s guess why it’s taken so long for new adult to catch on as a literary category. But it has. New adult is here and it’s taking over bestseller lists and blogs. Writers are rethinking their characters’ ages and how they tell their stories.

Unfortunately, there’s also some confusion over what new adult is and what it isn’t. For starters, new adult isn’t a genre. That means that there isn’t a particular look of new adult books. New adult can cover science fiction to contemporary romance. As a category, the only defining quality to new adult books is that they encompass a particular time in a character’s life.

To hear some tell it, new adult is merely about taking edgy YA one step further by allowing graphic sexual situations-- as though sex is the absolute only thing new adults are faced with. I don’t know about you, but that was not my experience. In fact, it’s not the experience of many new adult characters. Aside from sex, characters are dealing with moving out, moving on, graduating college, and figuring out how to pay bills. The world is open and their future has yet to be written. New adult is all about that first time in their life where they’re on your own. Topics can range from falling in love to getting married or even to getting divorced. Characters are traveling, getting their first real job, and even sometimes having kids. They’re doing everything their older counterparts are doing, they just don’t have the experience to know how to do it right just yet. And just like the appeal of young adult, what draws so many of us to new adult is that it reminds us of a time in our lives when we were a little more na├»ve, more optimistic, less guarded, and open to a lifetime of possibilities.

For a fun and interactive discussion about new adult, tune in to twitter Thursdaynights at 9pm for #nalitchat!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Why I chose to be an Indie

Ever since I decided, and announced to the world, that I was saying no thanks to the traditional route to becoming a published author and going Indie, I have been asked over and over again why. Well, being the first week of this wonderful new blog meant to help guide and promote other indies, I figured what better time than to answer that question.
I chose to go Indie because it’s the easiest way to get published. HA! JUST KIDDING! DO NOT BELIEVE THE STEREOTYPES! Self publishing is ANYTHING BUT EASY! Not every Indie title is a poor novel that was rejected by agents. In fact, most Indie's pride themselves on their work and do everything in their power to make it just as good as any novel published the traditional route. With that being said, here are my top seven reasons I went indie.

1)      I love my novel the way it is and I do not want anyone telling me to delete scenes or add scenes or change anything about my characters. It’s my story; I want to tell it my way. That does not mean I didn’t change a ton from the first draft, because I did. Life on Loan went through multiple critiques and beta readers. But I was able to pick and choose which edits to use and which to disregard.

2)      I can do it at my own pace. If I want to push myself to incredible lengths to get books out just four months apart, that is my choice. If I only want to write a book a year and take my time in releasing them, that is also my choice. I am confident in my team and my abilities.

3)      I do not have to worry about what publishers are buying or not buying. Just because something isn’t super popular among the “Big Six” does not mean there isn’t a market for it. I like to believe that if the story calls to me enough to write it, it will call to others enough to read it.

4)      I own ALL the rights to my novels. That’s right, going the traditional route you risk losing your rights to the publishing house.

5)      I set the prices, chose the covers, decide how long it’s available and no one can make me change it.

6)      The pay. Yes, you read that right. The pay. The money. The moolah. There is no large advance, but there is also a higher royalty rate than with a traditional publisher. My story, my way, my money.

7)      Being an Indie doesn’t mean I can only sell e-books. My work is offered in both, e-book and print. There will always be print books. At least I hope so. But self publishing is on the rise. So much so that in the coming years there will be more Indies, both in self publishing and small press publishing, than traditional. Brick and Mortar Book stores are closing left and right. The general population buys their books online, even print versions.

There you have it. Seven reasons I went indie. I could list all the ways I find being an Indie challenging, but I think I will leave that for another post.  I like to focus on the positives in life and just work my tail off to overcome the negatives.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hi!!! Welcome to our little corner of the internet. We’re 12 indie (small press and self-pub) authors working together to bring exposure to indie titles and help others along the way. And to get to know us a little, we’ve answered some questions for y’all. Also—stop by our About Us and Our Books pages to learn more!


 1. What is the most challenging thing about the Indie publishing experience?

 I think it's been getting noticed. There's so many books--good books--out there, and it's not a competition, but at the same time--you have to be seen. To be read, people have to know your there. And that's hard. (N~)

Making a name for myself and standing out in a crowd of others writers with the same goals and dreams. When you decide to take the indie route, you are accepting the responsibility of marketing yourself and your work. This is a big deal and a lot of work. Half of the time it feels like no one hears you or knows you exist, but you have to keep on knocking. (Monica)

 I think it's getting your book seen.  Swoon is great about that, but it's a challenge, especially if you're thinking the best place to find a great book is at one of the monopoly megabookstores, which carry few indies. (Stephanie)

For me, it's the time factor involved and keeping my life in balance. Getting started as a self-published author takes huge amounts of time for learning what you're doing, marketing, getting your name out there. I think, and I hope, that as I have more books on the market, and people know who I am more, the time investment will level out. But it's been super-great getting to know so many awesome fellow writers and book reviewers. It's a rewarding, time-consuming experience! (Leigh)


2. What Indie book changed your perception of Indies?

I’ve been following indie publishing since it really took off and was really impressed with the My Blood Approves series by Amanda Hocking.  I actually think those were the first books I read that were self-pubbed.  I loved them and really cheered Amanda on when she received her first contract. (Jaycee)

There are so many great indies out there. I don't think I could choose just one. A few years ago, when I picked up a kindle, I just started downloading and devouring all these small pub and indie titles. I was amazed by how spectacular most of them were. (Lisa)

I rave about this book, and subsequent series, all the time. I LOVE Beautiful Demons by Sarra Cannon and every single book she has written since. I cannot wait for her to continue the story from another characters point of view next year (Adrianne)


3. What is the best part of being an Indie author?

The community! Before I decided to go the indie route, I was trying to put together a query letter or find beta readers and it is such a cut throat industry, many people just did not have the time to talk to others or to help each other out. I have met more indie authors and gained so much knowledge about the indie world from the community that I could never go back to the traditional route. Making my ALL own choices is rather nice too....(Adrianne)

I get to decide ALL THE THINGS. Which is also a little terrifying, but since I'm a control freak…(N~)

For me, I'd say my publisher. Month9Books is a small press that launched last October with a charity anthology. A SHIMMER OF ANGELS was their first YA novel release. Everyone I've had the pleasure of working with there is not only amazing at their jobs but they are also great people. (Lisa)


4. Best piece of advice you have for writers or prospective Indie authors.

I have two pieces of advice:  1) Be thorough in your research, and 2) Write the book you want to write and write it well.  The rest will follow! (Jaycee)

 I hope this is good advice, and I guess I'll find out for myself if my first book turns out to be my last :) but it's that you should write the book you want to write and read.  Don't try to fit yourself into a mold or jump on a trend because by the time your book sees print the trend will have waned anyway.   And because it's a lot of work -- if you don't believe in it, you'll never be able to do all the work without making yourself miserable. (Stephanie)

If you have a story that you want told, that you want to share with the world, find the path that accomplishes that and take it. Make sure your work is the best it can be, research your options and take the plunge. If this means self-publishing or going with a smaller publisher, that’s fine. That doesn't make you less of a writer. The path to publication is not the same for everyone. (Monica)

Just keep swimming. And surround yourself with a group of supportive, optimistic, but clear-eyed writer-friends. You need that support. (Leigh)