Saturday, May 26, 2012


According to the noun usage means: lack of calm, peace, or ease; anxiety; uneasiness. I am feeling disquiet now. I’ve been feeling it for a couple of weeks.

In my experience, this feeling indicates one of three things; either over-analysis of something in the past, a certainty that change is in the wind or finally, that a story is about to spring forth.  Since my life is pretty simple at present, I’m certain this time that it is the coming of a tale, or more than one this time, I think.

Besides the uneasiness, I’ve had characters knocking about in my head, laying lines of dialog on me, clarifying their personas and introducing new characters to me as if they were standing outside the front door all the time, waiting to be invited inside. There’s been a cocktail party of epic proportions going on up there. Unfortunately, the cigarette smoke is getting to me. I think the core group of characters are about to kick-out the hangers-on and get down to business with me. In fact, I’m fairly certain the disquiet will lift in the morning, when I’ve vowed to sit down in front of my laptop, not log onto any social media sites, not read any email and start to pound the keys.

I love that word – disquiet. It is so completely descriptive of what I feel at times like this. I especially love it when the condition leaves me and I’m taken over by stillness of the mind. Tomorrow, when I’ve dumped all this cacophony onto virtual paper, the silence will surround me and I can give the characters what they want; a fleshing out, a disquiet of their own, which eventually will be resolved.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Indie Authors' Expo?

I have been having conversations with the Sacramento Mayor’s office and the Convention Center about the possibility of having a three-day event here for independent authors. As far as capacity and willingness, Sacramento has the facilities to handle a large group of people from around the world, if – and this is a big if – there is interest in the indie author community.

This is an idea I had about a month ago and have been working up notes on ever since. This involves a large amount of capital, which I’ll need to raise as soon as I have some figures together.

I need your help. I’m not asking for any commitments here, simply opinions. I’d like to know if there is a strong enough interest to pursue this. So here’s a very basic rundown of what it would entail:
  •   Day One – A tradeshow, to which I would expect to be able to attract some of the vendors who make our self-publishing possible – Amazon, Smashwords, Google, Twitter, VistaPrint, etc.
  •  Day Two – A conference breakfast with a keynote speaker from the community – perhaps we could get lucky and attract J.A. Konrath.  This would be followed by a selection of workshops writers could choose from with 5 time slots.
  • Day Three – Book Fair – where authors could showcase their books – either physical or eBooks.
  • The goal would be to keep the cost for authors as low as possible.
  • Hopefully, people would have a chance to finally meet some of their online friends as well as invite readers to visit their booths on Day 3.
  • I’m shooting for early 2013.

These are the very basics. I would really appreciate your feedback and/or questions.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Desperately Seeking Leaders and Rules

I’ve noticed this trend over time in the Indie author’s online community to latch onto individuals and give them the authority of a leader. Oftentimes, this leader isn’t really any more educated or talented than the masses that flock to him or her.

I understand the need to find someone – anyone – who can lead us through the maze of self-publishing, but here’s the thing that bothers me. Most of us are self-publishing to avoid the authoritarianism of the publishing industry. We could not break down their barriers, cross over into blessed territory and get ourselves published under their rules. Yet, the first time we get a chance to have complete authority over what we will publish, we look to others to make our rules, decide our fates.

We seem to hand over our future so easily. There’s been talk of creating a group that will confer a “seal of approval” on Indie books. Really? I cannot think of one single Indie author I think is qualified to make that judgment. Frankly, the publishing industry has done a piss-poor job of it themselves and they’ve been at it a hell of a lot longer.

Here’s another point. Over and over I hear about all the terrible writing out there, full of errors, etc. I’m currently reading an author who is absolutely fabulous, but his book is full of errors. If I have a choice between never reading his books and reading through the typos, I would easily choose dealing with the errors. This particular author has a very professional persona and I’m sure he doesn’t realize the book needs another edit. I will let him know when I’ve finished.

If we really want to elevate our profession, let’s tell each other the truth.  Hard to do, but so worth it. Consider what a real friend would do. In my opinion, creating some board of approval is a chicken s**t way to handle it and on par with joining the opposition (the traditional publishers), just not as honest. Come on, people, buck up and embrace your freedom. Let’s not look for ways to shoot ourselves in our collective feet. Get better at what you do. Free marketers live by your convictions and give this thing a chance to level out on its own. You know, there has only been a large population of self-publishers for about a year and half now.

I’d like to believe that we are not lemmings – that we are courageous people, willing to take a chance on moving forward without creating our own aristocracy.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I Did Everything Wrong

It’s time to talk about this. I’ve been thinking of writing another little booklet for other writers on the lessons I’ve learned about self-publishing – more of a memoir, really. During that thought process, it just came to me that I have literally done everything wrong. Let me explain:

  • When I became convinced I should self-publish, I rushed through it so fast that I didn’t have ANYONE edit or proof-read my book. After all, I had edited it several times and proofed it 6, count ‘em, 6 times. Let me just say – only a fool relies on their own editing! That was me. Why would I do that? It’s very simple. I was so afraid that someone would criticize or offer suggestions on the story itself and I would then be paralyzed and NEVER, EVER publish it myself.
  •  I had 40 copies of Red Mojo Mama printed and began selling them to friends and family before my sister Julie was kind enough to tell me what a mess I had produced. I ended up labeling the remainders with PROOF COPY and giving them away.
  •  I published Red Mojo Mama in paperback first. At the time, I didn’t have a Kindle, nor did I have a marketing plan. I really had no idea what I was doing. I sold a few paperbacks online and then, of course, sales petered out. I sat around wondering what to do next for a couple of months until a friend suggested, very strongly, that I buy myself a Kindle. I did and the minute I pushed the order button an email from Amazon arrived advertising John Locke’s new book How I Sold a Million eBooks in 5 Months! I ordered it as soon as I unpacked my Kindle, read it in one sitting and knew I had to epublish. The excitement was almost unbearable.
  •  I uploaded the revised Red Mojo Mama as an eBook a few days later. Here’s the thing. Revised meant that two of my sisters and my mother proofed it for me. (Until just a few days ago, that’s the copy I’ve been selling – one that was full of errors)
  •  I ordered the e-version of Red Mojo Mama, read the first few pages on my Kindle and it looked fine. I had run into bad formatting in another book I’d read, but the formatting problems had begun on page 1 so I didn’t think to look any further in Red Mojo Mama. Unfortunately, my book remained full of errors and contained bad formatting for much too much longer.
  • Along comes my dear friend Dannie C. Hill, who reads the book, loves the story and has the gumption to tell me my formatting is screwed up. He even volunteered to help me out with the problems. I will love him forever for both kindnesses.
  •  I uploaded Dannie’s corrected copy – and still didn’t look at it to make sure it was okay. At the time, I didn’t know we can preview our uploads before finalizing them. On KDP, once you push upload, the instructions urge you to go to the next step while you’re waiting for the upload to complete. Silly me – I did just that, never knowing that after the upload was completed this preview option came up. It took another kind stranger, who responded to a blog post I wrote (ironically about double checking our work before publishing) to point out this feature.
  • Finally, I gave away over 12,000 of Red Mojo Mama recently that STILL had the errors and bad formatting. Two wonderful women took the time to write me emails and tell me that although they loved the story, the errors and bad formatting got in the way of their enjoyment. I will always be grateful to them as well.  I recently had a very good proofer revise Red Mojo Mama, and happily, she’s now pretty as a picture. I checked!
  • Along the way, I have learned to make my own covers. I did purchase one and the response to it has been less favorable than to the ones I’ve created on my own.
  • When I started on Twitter, I knew absolutely nothing about it or how to interact with others and even less about how to market my book. Frankly, I’m still learning the marketing part on a daily basis, but again I had help with the Twitter etiquette. Rachel Thompson, @RachelintheOC, sent me a very sweet direct message and told me that I shouldn’t put the link to my book at the end of every tweet. I had begun following someone who looked very experienced who put the link at the end of each of his tweets, whether they had anything to do with his book or not, so I had just followed along. She was a lifesaver. Who knows how long it would have taken me to pick up on that one?  I also got a lot of information from Rachel’s free social media webinar. 
Here’s the good news: 1) I had so much kind help along the way and 2) except for the lack of editing and proofing early on, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I would still advise people who are like me, who learn by doing, to just jump in. 

There are others out there who learn by reading up on a subject and approach things very carefully. I’ve never been that way. I don’t read instructions unless I need to do something specific, because quite honestly it doesn’t translate for me unless I’m in the midst of doing it. And even then, I’m bound to get stuff wrong. That’s just how it is for me. 

Am I embarrassed by my mistakes? Yes, but they don’t keep me up at night. At least I did it. I jumped in and now I’m proud to say I have six books online and I’ve learned how to do most of it fairly well. While I fervently wish my product had been a little better in the beginning, I’m happy to be able to say I’m an author and I’m really happy with what I’ve published now. Does it get better than that? Wishing for perfection is a waste of time and paralyzing. 

What I lacked for many years was encouragement and finally received it in my mid-thirties from the wonderful man I married, my late husband Pete. Because of that support I began writing screenplays and was even able to get an agent. It gave me my start. So, for the past decade or so, I’ve made it my mission to encourage other writers and writer wannabes.  This post has been a part of doing that. I hope by freely admitting my mistakes, someone out there will jump in or keep going in the face of a failure. 

Writers are a special breed and need to stick together, leaning down whenever possible to help the next guy up. 

Keep on trucking, people.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Have a Little Adventure on Me

I had a great time writing my novella The Great Twitter Adventure: How 5 Tweeps Saved the World, which I published back in January.  It’s the tale of five Twitter friends, four of whom travel from across the country to come to the aid of the unspoken leader of their group, Frank. There’s Maggie, the 35 year-old personnel recruiter who spearheaded the effort to rescue Frank; Edie, a spiky-haired sixtyish sprite of a woman who is a recreational hacker in her spare time; Dwayne, a golf-pro from Florida with all the style of Samuel L. Jackson and Tex, the cowboy who hails from Tucson. They cavort around the Los Angeles basin in search of their pal and manage to save the world in the process. It’s truly great fun.

I published it back in January and the promptly got sidetracked so it hasn’t gotten the attention from me that I think it deserves. Now, I’m running a free promotion on Amazon from Tuesday (5/1) through Friday (5/4). I hope you’ll take advantage of it and have a wonderful time reading it. If you do, I would sincerely appreciate a review if you have the time.

A sequel is planned for publication in the next couple of months. Did I mention this will be a running series, with three to four new novellas every year? What can I say? I love these guys!

Just click through on the book cover to your right and it will take you right to the Amazon page.

Oh, and say hello to The Fearless Five for me – that’s what they call themselves!