More interesting news about the e-book market geared toward Indies…
Interesting piece by Kristen Lamb on the source of bullying. Could it be in our DNA?
Carol Wyer’s going to be on BBC Breakfast Tuesday talking about her new book, Grumpy Old Menopause!
Carol Wyer’s going to be on BBC Breakfast Tuesday talking about her new book, Grumpy Old Menopause!
I’ve been noticing that more things than usual are pissing me off lately. Most of the time when something pisses me off I write a book. Say, like when I watched a documentary on child sex trafficking and was so appalled I had to set the anger free by writing Bad Traffick. Or when I learned about the escalating violence of drug cartels and how they’re pretty much ruining life for a whole lotta folks in Mexico and beyond and all they really care about are how they look in a selfie on Facebook. And, of course when women perpetuate the whole “I need a man to become complete” myth, or, better yet, when one of us sets feminism back hundreds of years in one fell swoop (Fifty Shades of WTF anyone?).
But lately, there’s just been too much and really people, I can’t fucking write that fast.
Rant #1: Here in the US our politicians can’t figure out how to be politicians, or, you know, grow up and actually govern the country. And, they get paid a lot of money to act like schoolyard dickwads, not to mention enjoying paid-for-by-the-government health care (cue the irony theme). When I look at the leaders for both parties I can’t help but get a mental picture of two spoiled little white boys with snot running down their noses and sucking on their bottom lip in a pout because the other side won’t play by their rules. Waaah.
Rant #2: How celebrities like Miley and Kim and Paula Deen can suck the life out of the headlines when there are people in the Philippines who don’t have any clean drinking water or medical supplies and how hundreds are dying because we can’t get supplies to them fast enough.Or when people are selling their kidneys so they don’t have to live underneath someone else’s squalid shack.
Rant #3: And, the ever present fact that the only thing large corporations are concerned with is the bottom line, e.g. profits, screw being honest or neighborly or even giving a rat’s ass about their customers. Don’t get me started on how most corporations treat the environment, not to mention a whole lotta people who either just don’t get it, or don’t care. One earth–capiche????
And yes, I’ve been a daily meditator for several years now and should be able to relax and be all ohm and shit, but some days I. just. can’t.
The latest thing that set me off was an article about how a percentage of writers in the US avoid using the Internet to research certain subjects because of fears of the NSA spying on them. Seriously? What the hell happened to the proud tradition of writers bucking the system? Of being subversives? Of fighting back? When I read that article it pissed me off to the point that I had to do something, so I went to the pool and swam laps. Hard. I stopped (mostly) self-medicating years ago and swimming is now my go-to release. It took the edge off, but as I sit here at my computer I can still feel a flame of anger flickering in my gut when I wonder, if what these writers were doing was legal and for research, why anyone in the US would remain silent because they were afraid of a government agency watching them?
That’s so unbelievably scary, I can’t tell you. That tells me that Americans are becoming afraid of their government. My first response to the article, other than anger, was to assume these writers were wimps–scaredy pants, namby-pamby (insert wussy word here) milquetoasts who would jump if someone said boo.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized my knee-jerk reaction (love the ‘jerk’ part of that saying) of calling these folks whom I don’t know wimps was wrong. I’m a HUGE proponent of fighting back: if you’re being attacked, however that attack is being carried out I believe it’s your responsibility to fight back with all you’ve got. Yes, there are some times when you need to pick your battles, but in general, fight the asshats trying to keep you down.
But this is different. This avoidance of using the interwebz goes deeper than that. Now we all know the NSA has overstepped its bounds, and has done so probably since its inception. But it hasn’t really affected most law-abiding citizens in a quantifiable way. However, when I hear or read that writers in the US are modifying their behavior because of fear of retaliation from the government, that makes me sit up and take notice. Mainly because I consort with a lot of writers, and almost every one of them has a least a modicum of rebelliousness in their bones and will do whatever in hell they want to. Some are nice about it, some aren’t. Some go the passive-aggressive route and act nice but end up doing some seriously un-nice things. But I’ve never heard one of them say they were afraid of what the government would do to them, unless what they were doing was illegal. But here’s the results of a poll of 520 writers where 16% admitted to curtailing their online activities because of fear of the NSA.
My friends will tell you that yes, I’m opinionated, but am certainly not given over to hyperbole or conspiracy theories. I understand writers/journalists in China, or Iran, or Mexico being afraid–death or torture is a real possibility in those countries. But the US is supposed to be different. Americans are supposed to be different. It’s a slippery slope to censorship and clamping down on freedom of expression. I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but it does give me pause.
I’m really interested in what people think about this. Is this some paranoid delusion rearing its ugly head in response to me killing all those little brain cells so many years ago, or do we need to be a little more vigilant, a little more aware of what’s happening in our world?As the article I mentioned above states, “It’s not the surveillance, treacherous as it is, but that some writers, at least, already appear willing to capitulate.”
In the immortal words of Winston Churchill: “…we shall fight in the fields and in the streets; we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
Today on Awesome Authors, please welcome prolific mystery author, Marilyn Meredith. Marilyn writes two different series with which you might be familiar: The Tempe Crabtree mystery series, and, writing as F.M. Meredith, The Rocky Bluff P.D. series.
(From the author’s bio): Marilyn Meredith is the author of over thirty published novels, including the award-winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Spirit Shapes from Mundania Press. Writing as F. M. Meredith, her latest Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel is Dangerous Impulses from Oak Tree Press. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at http://fictionforyou.com and her blog at http://marilymeredith.blogspot.com/
D: Hi Marilyn! Welcome to Awesome Authors. Please tell us a little about yourself and what you write.
M: I live in the foothills of the Southern Sierra (CA) near a place much like where my heroine, Deputy Tempe Crabtree lives. I lived many years by the beach in Southern California which was the inspiration for my Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.
I raised five children, have eighteen grandkids (raised some of them too), and now thirteen great-grands. I’m still married to the cute sailor I went on a blind date with years ago and when I’m not writing, we enjoy doing things with our family, and we’re avid movie goers.
D: How long have you been writing? Have you always written mysteries?
M: It seems I’ve written all my life—beginning when I was a child, however my first book didn’t get published until I was a grandmother. Though I wrote all through those years, I didn’t start sending manuscripts out until later, after the child rearing, PTAing, Camp Fire Girls, and many different jobs.
D: Tell us about your latest release. What was your favorite part of writing the book?
Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.
Though there is often a touch of the supernatural along with a mystery, Spirit Shapes is full of all sorts of otherworldly beings as well as Native American lore—and always a favorite of mine to write about.
“…I’m often writing one series while promoting the latest in the other.”
D: What inspires you and why?
M: All sorts of things inspire me from all sorts of challenging weather to meeting a new and interesting person who might end up as a character in my book. I also love to hear people tell tales about their encounters with haunted places and ghosts. As for my other series, I know a lot of police officers and I am definitely thrilled to listen to their stories. The inspiration always leads my imagination on a new path to write about.
D: What do you find most challenging about writing two series? Why?
M: The most challenging is that I’m often writing one series while promoting the latest in the other. Writing each one is easy because there are so many differences between the two. The Deputy Tempe Crabtree series is written almost always from her point-of-view. Most of the action goes on in the mountains or on the Bear Creek Indian Reservation. The Rocky Bluff P.D. series is about many officers and their families so is written from several different points-of-view. The location is a beach community in Southern California. It’s like putting on a different mind-set for each series. One thing that helps me is I write the Tempe series as Marilyn Meredith and the Rocky Bluff P.D. series as F.M. Meredith. It’s a bit like changing my persona when I change author names.
“…my first book didn’t get published until I was a grandmother.”
D: Tell me about your process: do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?
M: A tad of both. I always begin by thinking about the new characters I’ll be introducing whether it will be the murder victim or those who wanted this person dead. Or perhaps I’ll decide to do a different way of presenting the crime and what kind of twists I might use. I start making notes about what I want to happen. Most of my stories take place over a short period of time, so I start making a daily calendar. On Tuesday this happens, etc.
When I begin writing, the story starts telling itself. Ideas come in a jumble and I always write them down otherwise I’d never remember. And of course, when I think I’m through, I have to go through and make sure I’ve tied up loose ends and not left anything out.
D: What do you like best about writing mysteries?
M: In my mysteries, though not all the personal issues may be completely tied up, the bad guy or gal always is discovered in the end. Unfortunately, real life isn’t always that way. I like being in control when it comes to conquering evil, no matter what form it might be in.
“I like being in control when it comes to conquering evil…”
D: Do your books have an underlying theme or message?
M: When I’m writing, I don’t think in terms of theme or giving a message, though sometimes when I’m done I realize that I have. One of the early readers of Spirit Shapes said the story left her feeling hopeful.
D: What advice would you give to new writers?
M: My first advice is to not talk about writing or what you’re going to write, but put your bottom in the chair and write—and write—and write. Second one is to never give up. No matter how many rejections you get, learn from them, rewrite and keep on learning and submitting. (I received nearly 30 rejections for my first book that was finally published.)
D: Which writers have influenced you the most?
D: What practices have you found to be most effective in promoting your work?
M: I love blogging and going on blog tours—when I go on a tour my sales go up. But lately Facebook has also been effective. Also when you go to a mystery convention, I like to find readers and make friends with them. Some of them actually buy my books.
D: If you could time-travel (either backward or forward) where would you go and why?
M: If I could take with me what I know now, I’d go backwards enough so that I’d handle my writing career a bit differently. I’d learn more about writing first. When I thought my work was done, I’d find a good editor. Once I was published, I’d do lots of promotion.
D: I like it—always committed to the craft 🙂 . Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Marilyn. Good luck with SPIRIT SHAPES.
Below is an excerpt for Marilyn’s latest release, SPIRIT SHAPES. For more information about the author, please see the links after the excerpt.
Excerpt from Spirit Shapes:
The icy atmosphere settled over Lorna Collins like a shroud, the spirits already making themselves known even before she stepped inside. She shivered but smiled. The haunts in this place, the Wilkinson House, should please her group of ghost hunters. The last two places she’d guided these enthusiasts had been a bust.
The evening began perfectly. Everyone arrived a few minutes before nine. Low clouds settled over the mountains. Looming up from atop a hillock, the two-story structure peered at them through darkened windows. The only light came from flashlight beams as the ghost hunters approached and climbed the rustic steps created from railroad ties.
Lorna gathered the group on the porch to give her instructions. Each person who came on this ghost hunt had been required to read and sign an agreement. The first rule was to keep an open mind. Participants could bring cameras and audio or visual taping devices. Phones could be on, since many used the cameras in their cells, as long as the ring tones were silenced. There were other rules, such as carrying proper identification in case someone noticed the lights in what was known to be an unoccupied structure and sent law enforcement to investigate. Since all other houses were located at least a half mile away, Lorna wasn’t worried about that kind of interruption.
“The quieter we can be as we move around, the more likely we are to hear or be able to tape any strange noises or voices. You can take as many photos as you like. There are two types of spirits we may encounter. One, someone who was alive at one time and has remained on this earthly plane for some reason. The ghost might not realize he or she is dead. Or perhaps it may have some unfinished business. These spirits could be good or bad, depending on what kind of person they were when they were alive.”
A slight murmur rose from the group.
“Don’t worry. They aren’t dangerous. You might also witness what is called a residual haunting. This is an echo of something that happened at another time.” Lorna paused. “I am obligated to tell you that though I’ve yet to encounter this kind of spirit, there are those that were never human. They are malevolent and some might call them demons.”
Again the group whispered among themselves.
“Because of that unlikely possibility, we’ll take a few seconds to put ourselves in the right frame of mind. If you are a religious person, say a prayer of protection.” Lorna bowed her head and counted to ten. “Okay. Here we go. Explore to your heart’s content.”
To buy Spirit Shapes in all formats directly from the publisher:
And of course, it’s available on Amazon.
Great post by David Gaughran on why publishing is easy.
Today on Awesome Authors I get to interview multi-MULTI genre indie author, Kathy Rowe. Kathy is a contributing author on Indies Unlimited, and has written romance, horror, sci fi, and erotica. I’m sure if there’s a genre she hasn’t written in, she’ll be tackling it soon! Here’s her bio:
(From the author): K. Rowe is a multi-genre author and retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant. She has been writing for the last twenty-plus years. Stationed at various bases around the U.S.A. and in Europe, she draws from her years of active service. Blending fact and fiction, she spends hours researching technology and locations for her work.
She lives on a 100-acre farm in eastern Kentucky with her husband, four dogs, three horses, two cats, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and a pig named Sherman. When not pounding out several novels a year on her laptop, she can be found working in the garden, or in the fields proudly driving her 1953 Ferguson tractor.
Her favorite part about being an author is interacting with her fans, and she appreciates reviews and feedback. You can find more info on her here:
D: Welcome to Awesome Authors, Kathy! Please describe your latest release in two sentences or less.
D: You write in multiple genres: sci-fi, contemporary romance, erotica, horror. What’s it like switching between such vastly different genres? Opportunities? Challenges?
K: I used to think I could only write military thrillers- since “Project: Dragonslayers” was my first book that took me 20+ years to write. But after that, I started looking around to see what else tickled my fancy. So I took a stab at horror (no pun intended) and also romance. I had a few folks read them and said I should try other genres. One of my horror author mentors dared me to write sci-fi. Well, you know what happens when you dare someone? And then along came the “Space” series. I tend to fall in love with my characters, so just making one book doesn’t always seem to satisfy me, I’m quite happy writing series.
K: I know I’ll probably get my wrist slapped for this, but I rarely have time to read fiction. I spend far more time (what I have) reading non-fiction to either gather information for stories, or to learn more about the writing craft itself. My shelf of writing/screenwriting books is ever growing. As for my favorite genre, that’s a hard one. I have very much enjoyed writing sci-fi, but the romances have also been personally rewarding.
D: When it comes to writing, are you an early riser or a night owl?
K: Totally an early riser! 20 years in the military has my mind and body conditioned to being up early—well, around 7 am now. And I also have morning barn chores which includes feeding close to 30 animals and turning our three horses out in their paddocks. Once that’s done, I come back to the house and can sit down and write.
D: How much research do you do when you write?
K: Depends on the book. The military thrillers have MONTHS of research done before I even start writing. Sci-fi, well, a lot of that I can make up, but remembering to be consistent can be tough. And you must try to play by the rules of physics; although breaking them is sometimes okay. Romances require some research to make them plausible. My novella “Cowboys and Olympians” threw me into a new realm of equestrian sport: reining. I knew nothing about the discipline, so I had to contact folks that did. Once I had all the information, I think it really helped make the story. I also e-mailed the racing manager for Keeneland Racetrack here in Kentucky for my book “Silks and Sand.”
“…Everything gets done in time.”
D: What do you struggle the most with when writing? How do you overcome it?
K: A lot of times I get a great idea, I rush to the keyboard, and hurriedly type everything into a Word doc. But once the initial “steam” bleeds off, I hit walls. Case in point: “Money Breakers”—it’s a story about crooks that manage to hack into the Federal Reserve Bank computers and steal millions of dollars. Sounds like a cool idea, right? I thought so, but all that will require vast amounts of research into the possibility of being a workable storyline. So it sits on my computer in a folder to come back to later. Most of my stories are pretty self-revealing, and once in a while I’ll hit a snag and put it aside to work on something else. Eventually, an idea will pop into my head and I’ll go back to work on the first project. Everything gets done in time.
D: What type of book promotion has worked the best for you?
K: Some, none! I’ve used a shotgun approach to promotion. I don’t heavily promote on social media because I know it bugs the crap out of folks to be constantly spammed by book promos. When I get ready to launch a book, I may put a few posts on Facebook and Twitter, but that’s about it. When the book launches, I post a few more. I may even post a review (if someone writes one) and links to buy the book. I have one free book, Space Crazy that I’ve sent out to the big eBook sites that post freebies. EReader News [Today] posted the book, and in one day, I had over 1,000 downloads on Amazon! It’s also free on Smashwords, and to date, I’ve had over 2,400 downloads on that site. Some people think giving something away for free downgrades us as authors. Well, I took the advice of another Indie writer who put up a book for free, and he got so many fans that bought the next book in the series (and so on) that he got to quit his day job and become a writer full time. I’m not there yet, but one of these days. And there’s always “face time” in the local community by doing book signings and other events.
“…just write—every day if you can. Write anything and everything. A little, a lot. Just write!”
D: Who is your favorite author? Why?
K: Oh, tough one. As I look over my shoulder in my office at the 16 shelves of books, 14 of them are non-fiction! And the 2 shelves that have fiction, 1 is equestrian fiction, and the other miscellaneous authors. Truly I don’t have one favorite fiction author, but for non-fiction, it would probably be Alois Podhajsky- a former director of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. I have several of his books on horse training and love the way he wrote.
K: Best: just write—every day if you can. Write anything and everything. A little, a lot. Just write! Worst: keeping locked to a word count every day. No, I’m not going to write 2,000 words a day. Sometimes my muse can’t do that, or I have other things that need to get done around the farm. I find doing that only stifles my creativity. So what if I only write 300 words one day? You better bet they’re going to be 300 great words.
D: What are you working on now?
K: Another contemporary romance titled, Farmer Boys and City Girls. It’s about a Chicago city “girl” (divorcee) that moves to rural Kentucky (okay, yes, I’m writing some of what I know) and meets a guy at a tractor rally. He’s good looking, but not without some scars. She falls for him, but is unsure how to make her intentions known once she finds out he’s a fairly staunch Christian. The story takes an interesting twist when two other brothers get thrown into the equation. I consider it a “hot” romance, not erotica. I’ve kept my mind adjusted for romance. And the sex scenes, while definitely hot, are not erotic-type graphic.
D: In light of the huge changes in publishing, where do you think the industry is headed? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
K: I think the Big 5/6 will have their work cut out as more Indie authors break into the big time. As long as an author takes the time to put out a high quality book that has a great story, why do we need traditional publishers? From everything I’ve read lately, if you’re a new author with a publishing house contract, you’ll get your book published, in stores, and maybe a teensy bit of promo. We all know the days of brick and mortar chain book stores are numbered. So by being Indie, yes, we will not see our books on store shelves, but we can see them on the bestseller list on Amazon, Smashwords, and BN! And look at Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey- NYT bestsellers!
In 5 years, I’d like to see myself with several more novels out, and my biggest hope would be selling a screenplay adaptation of one of my novels, or even an original screenplay. I’ve always been intrigued by Hollywood and scripts. Having a movie done of my book would seriously be the icing on the cake.
“As long as an author takes the time to put out a high quality book that has a great story, why do we need traditional publishers?”
D: What advice would you give to new writers?
K: Stay focused. Write. Write well. Study the craft. And if you want to publish, take the necessary steps to put out a quality product: professional editing, beta readers, formatting, and a quality cover. Following those steps will give you the best chance of attracting readers because if you put out crap, they will give you bad reviews, and you won’t get anyone to buy your books. I may love telling a story, but I also like seeing those royalty deposits going into my bank account.
D: If you could time travel (past or future) where would you go and why?
K: I think medieval time was a cool era in our history. Granted, as a female in that society, we didn’t have many rights or freedoms, but I think seeing how everything really worked and how folks lived would be interesting. So far I haven’t dabbled in that era. I have quite a few non-fiction books on it, but not sure if I’m ready to tackle historical fiction in that time. I’m having enough trouble with a Civil War screenplay right now!
D: I can imagine! I’ve stayed away from historical fiction because of the massive amount of research required.
Thanks for stopping by, Kathy. It’s been a fun interview! For more information about Kathy and her books, please click on the links at the end of this post. But, before that, how about an excerpt? Here’s the description for Space Available. The excerpt follows.
Description of Space Available: Book three of Dar’s Adventures in Space:
Captain Dar Meltom sets his sights on a mission of utmost importance. With the stolen Plexus in the cargo bay of the Marsuian, he heads to Satiris, the planet of his ancestors. Once there, he encounters dangerous creatures, and Lukxia, the last purebred Satiren female on the planet. Dar deploys the Plexus, hoping it will bring Satiris back to life. Rather than keeping Lukxia as a second mate, he presents this most precious gift to Krodus, his long-time worst enemy, now friend.
But that’s not enough adventure for Dar. Lurking not far from Erotis is a wormhole. It’s the very one that brought his father Edward Meltom, Earthling astronaut, to the Ontarrin Galaxy. The explorer in Dar wants to find his father. So together with his mate, Parnela, and Schmuff his Nouian engineer, they tempt fate and enter the wormhole.
What awaits them is anything but a warm Earthling welcome. Quickly taken prisoner by humans, Dar and Parnela are imprisoned and subjected to a battery of tests. Dr. Robert Ciroli is tasked with studying them. He’s given two weeks to extract as much information before the aliens will be terminated. Knowing there is little on Earth that matters to him, Robert helps Dar and Parnela escape.
They arrive back in the Ontarrin Galaxy and find Satiris a planet reborn. Where sand once claimed the settlements, it is now lush and green. Dar returns to Erotis and asks Krodus to address the Satiren High Council for permission to repopulate the planet. After much deliberation, council agrees. Dar is thrilled that Satiris is once again for Satirens.
Dar looked over his shoulder as they walked. The town was only a small glimmer in the late afternoon sun. He tore open a package and pulled out a piece of jerky. “Hey, it looks the same as the stuff we have at home.” Taking a bite, he chewed. “Hmm, this has a sweet taste.” He took the bottle of orange liquid and opened it. “Well, let’s see if this is Manko soda.” Taking a sip, he blanched and coughed. “Oh! Definitely not Manko soda!”
“What does it taste like?”
“Uh, it’s a fizzy-like soda, but the taste is really sweet.” He offered it to her. “Try some, you might like it.”
The princess took the bottle, held it to her lips, and took a tiny sip. “Hmm, actually, it’s quite good!” She took a larger swallow. “I like it.”
“Enjoy, I guess I’ll be drinking water.” He took another piece of jerky and munched on it. “I need to find us a place to stay; it’s gonna get dark soon, and I bet even colder.”
“Why didn’t we stay in the town back there?”
“Too many Earthlings, they may have gotten suspicious.”
“Oh, you’re just paranoid, Dar.”
“And rightly so. I promised I’d keep us safe.” He looked down the road. “There’s a structure not far. Let’s see if it’ll make a good place to stay the night.”
“It appears to be a big red house.”
“Not many windows if it’s a dwelling.”
Parnela heard noise behind them. “Look at all those black objects coming at us.”
He turned around. “Let’s get off the road, they seem to be in a hurry.” They stepped from the pavement and continued walking. The objects came to a screeching halt behind them.
“I have a bad feeling.” Dar dropped his bags, grabbed Parnela with his left arm, and pulled her close. His right hand went behind his back, ready to brandish his knife.
The doors of the objects opened, and Earthlings poured out. They swarmed around Dar and Parnela. They were surrounded by large Earthling males dressed in black. Their faces were covered, and they wore something that looked like armor on parts of their bodies. They held black things that Dar thought were rather primitive phaser rifles. Knowing he was outnumbered, he slowly took his hand from behind his back, moving it away from his body.
“Don’t move!” one of the males bellowed. Dar didn’t understand the words, but he had a good idea about what was being implied.
“Stay calm,” he whispered to Parnela, hoping she would comply.
“I know. We’re strangers and they don’t understand us. Just stay calm and hopefully they’ll help us.”
“Who are you?” one of the Earthlings said.
Dar didn’t reply.
“Who are you? Are you from another planet?”
Again, Dar was silent. He truly wished he could communicate. And then he remembered the words the male in the store said. “Have a nice day,” he said slowly.
Buy Space Available on