Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Guest post with attending author A.L. Kessler

A.L. Kessler’s My Indie Journey: Just the Beginning

When I first started chasing my dream of writing, I swore that I would go no other route than traditional publishing. Many years later, here I am an independent author. What changed between now and then? When I got my first short story accepted into an anthology I had people in boxing me asking when my next story would be out, if I had anything else for them to read, and if I’d continue Kheelan and Aubrey’s story? I didn’t want people to have to wait long for my stuff, which they obviously wanted. It occurred to me that I had a choice to make, either make my small fan base wait months, years, or forever for me to get traditionally published, or go the indie way.

After a long talk with my husband, his parting words on the matter were, “make a plan and stick to it.” So I did. I got a group of friends together, my now dear beta readers, and sent them all a copy of the project I chose to start with, Midnight Symphony. They all had their own strengths and weaknesses when helping me out and it all worked out in my favor. I wouldn’t be anywhere without their wonderful and honest feedback. Why they were doing their job, I was working on things from my side. My Chief Minion would tell you how often I took down time from research and planning. I read a great book that helped me out called Quit Your Day Job my H.P. Mallory that gave me some fantastic ideas on marketing and reaching out to readers. I worked with my wonderful cover artist on what I wanted for the cover, she’s amazing by the way. But really, a month before I released my novella is really what changed my life as an indie author.

I attended a convention as a regular attendee, and one of my artist friends pulled me into an event to meet all the local authors. From there I was invited to a celebration with them (one of their comic books had been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award). That night, after talking to all of them, who are either published small press or indie, I knew that I had made the right choice and that this journey would be a lot of fun. One author asked me, “Are you actually an author? I know your Facebook says such, but have you published anything?” I remember being slightly stunned by the question and I it was my first time admitting out loud, “Yes, I am an author.” It was exhilarating!

Fast-forward the crazy month of prepping. I learned that formatting is a pain in the ass first time around, but it’s doable by yourself if you have the knowledge of the program and patience. I breezed through Createspace, Kindle and Smashwords, but little did I know that putting it up was the easy part. Marketing on social networks always get me, because I don’t want to feel like I’m shoving my book down people’s throats. I needed to try to generate reviews, and that meant contacting people who reviewed.

I’ve sent out, and still do, a review request a day to bloggers. Some I’ve heard back on, some I haven’t, but either way I keep moving forward. When I got my first blogger review by Naomi I was blown away. I expected the worse, of course my friends told me that my book was fantastic, but to hear it from a stranger and get 4.5 stars just blew me out of the water.
Sometime during the adventure of releasing Midnight Symphony, I submitted another short story, this time Steampunk to another small press. When I got the e-mail saying I got in, I danced around the house with your daughter. This was the point where I felt like everything was falling into place.

Fast forward again, I got brave and sent a message to the Indie Romance Convention and asked to be an attending author, and the answer I got back was a yes. I was ecstatic and that falling into place feeling grew! The same day I found out that there would be a mass book signing at AnomalyCon for the anthology my second short had been accepted into. After attending that convention, I’m preparing for the Indie Romance Convention. Bouncing ideas back and forth on how many books I should be taking, while I plan on releasing my second book in June. Thinking about what swag items to bring, while I edit a short story.

Really, my journey is just beginning, but that’s how I got started. Hope to see you guys in TN!

Midnight Symphony:

The legend of the Gypsy Lady had been passed down for centuries, and now it is Cora's turn to dance in the square. Giving people hope and taunting the Demon King is what she lives for, until she catches the attention of Darius, prince of the demons. Hidden behind her mask, she keeps her identity from him until she is captured by the king. With her magic on the verge of waking and the village on the brink of war can Cora tame Darius' heart before it's too late?

Darius became obsessed with the Gypsy Lady the first time he had seen her dance and play in the market place. The night he kissed her became his undoing. When his father captures the woman people believed to be a spirit, Darius takes the chance to observe her. His obsession with her grows into something more, he knows that together they can stop the war and set things right, but can he accept it? 

Penny Dread Volume III:

In this tome, the third installment of the Penny Dread Tales series, we explore not only the darker side of steampunk but also the black, sullied underbelly of the human condition. The nightmare of Jack the Ripper stalks these pages… drenching them in blood… twice. Slavery, the murder of the weak and helpless, dire choices of life and death: these tragedies and more become fodder for the mind, where the possessed and dispossessed steal men’s lives, and in some cases, their souls. 

This volume is rich with shadowy settings shrouded in fog, and the ensuing brutality is glimpsed piecemeal through windows of moonlight where dark shadows hide nefarious villains plotting murder and mayhem upon unsuspecting victims. 

PDT3 carries the reader to the four corners of the Earth and beyond. It traverses the centuries, from the Victorian era all the way into a future 40,000 years distant. It is an exploration of mankind’s darkest dreams and nightmares, and in its reading you too may experience nightmares where might In Darkness Clockwork Shine.

Evernight Volume II:

As children, we feared the boogeyman… Our parents comforted us when the monster under the bed or in the dark depths of our slightly opened closet threatened our safety. We cried when those evil creatures invaded our nightmares and stole us from peaceful sleep, but what if those monsters truly existed? What if they lived in a world not unlike our own, where all they wanted was the same basic needs that every human being spends their lives searching for? What if the things that go bump in the night only wanted to be loved? In the next twelve stories, you will read about vampires and werewolves, angels and demons, and monsters of all kinds overcoming some of the most difficult hurdles simply to find their one true love, to find their happiness. You’ll read of heated, salacious trysts beneath the moonlight and of lovers doomed before they even have a chance to find the one person who completes their soul. Join us as we wander through a dark world where nothing is what it seems, where rainbows after a storm are a rare miracle, where the boogeyman captures your heart and fulfills your sweetest dreams.

(Buying links are on my website)

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Guest post with attending author Heather Allen

My Start as an Indie…and Proud to be One - Heather Allen
What a wild ride already! I am still such a newbie but amazed at the support and friends I’ve made in this new world of Indie! I have met some amazing authors and who would have thought they all self-published. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I started this thing, well really not a thing, writing, about 2 years ago. I concocted a story about a girl with magic powers yada, yada, yada. I had my husband read the first ten pages (there were only 60) and he couldn’t understand or get the picture I was trying to portray. I gave up. Girls and boys, don’t do that, never give up! Shame on me!

A year later I started Just Breathe, a new story swimming around up there. It seemed to shape up pretty nicely and after a year I had a full novel. This time I decided to avoid the husband and try for someone more appropriate for my audience. I grabbed my neighbor’s daughter, a young adult, and a reader at that! I must have chewed my finger nails to the cuticles, waiting for her to stroll over day after day. Finally she came knocking with a smile on her face. She loved it! I was so happy with just that one little step in the right direction. And each part has been another step in the right direction ever since.

Today I released my second book, Barely Breathing. Through this book I’ve learned things that I didn’t do for the first book, such as marketing. So, this one is more like a double marketing job. But hey, you learn from your mistakes and fix them.

I think the most “butterflies in the stomach” thing is the reviews. Reading other people’s thoughts on your writing and story is so exhilarating! And so my journey continues… What’s to come, who knows but I do know one thing, I will keep writing because I love it!

Oh yeah enough about me… Ha – Here is a teaser from Barely Breathing now available… Just Breathe the first book in the trilogy is 99 cents right now!

Excerpt from Barely Breathing from Ever’s POV
My ear buds are in and I've been reading missed chapters since I got here. I feel an elbow in my arm so I glance up to find the source. Sasha is motioning for me to take my ear buds out. I pull them out to hear her, " ...and he's looking right at you." I glance to the front of the classroom to find Mr. Griggs staring at me. I wince and look away completely embarrassed. I squirm and sink further into my seat trying to avoid any more unwanted attention.

As he starts to lecture, I notice that someone is sitting in the seat to my left. My heart stops, literally. That seat is just condemned. Nothing good has come from anyone sitting there in this class. I'm scared to death to look. I have to know though. I turn my head slightly and my eyes meet the unmistakable green that I know so well, Alex. He glares at me angrily and looks away. Okay, so maybe I'm not at the top of his favorite people list. Ugh, this is probably not so good that he's chasing me down.
Class drones on forever. With every minute that passes, I am more and more uncomfortable. I know he's going to corner me after class. I just don't know what I'm going to say. I steel another glance his way, this time his eyes have a softness in them, and that familiar flutter roams through my belly. I look straight ahead. Why in the world can't I get my life together?

The bell rings. I get up and gather my things, noticing the whole time that Alex is standing there waiting on me. Maybe if I drag it out and make him late, he'll leave without me. Fat chance. I pull my backpack over my shoulder but he stops me and effortlessly grabs the strap, placing it on his arm next to his bag. Ugh, now I definitely can't run. I look over and he gestures for me to walk in front of him.

Once we're in the hall I feel his hand under my elbow guiding me out the doors toward the parking lot. My heart speeds up at his touch. We pass many of my friends but they don't give us a second thought. I wonder if this is it. Will he demand I go right back to the sea? That thought hurts a little, I don't think I'm ready to go back.

His hand stays under my arm steering us to a black pickup truck, a few rows from the door. Once we're next to the truck he drops our bags, turns me so my back is against the truck, and rests his hands above my shoulders against the black metal.

He lets out a deep breath as if he's been holding it in, "Ever, don't do that to me again." His voice is pained at the last word. I glance into his eyes, so much hurt. Without thinking, my hand goes up and rests on his cheek. He leans in so that his lips are an inch from mine. I close my eyes, knowing this is wrong but needing to feel something. His breath hitches but he doesn't move any closer. I open my eyes and he's still right there. I close the gap. My lips graze his gently. A feeling rises up like none I've felt. Not the intense need or tingle I feel with Jack. A soothing feeling, a calmness, that I welcome. His lips explore mine. It lasts only a few seconds and he pulls away searching my eyes. My head screams at me, Ever this is wrong, what are you thinking?

Heather Allen
Author of Just Breathe
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