Monday, July 28, 2014

Why Being Independent #ROCKS

If you've kept up with this blog since the beginning, you know I'm a crazy movie-buff.

My maternal grandmother, who we called "Bobie," loved movies, and she got me started watching them with the old noir detective films.

These old movie posters are amazing.
My best memory is of watching The Big Sleep with her, and I've seen it so many times since, I can practically quote the whole thing.

It's also cool that William Faulkner was one of the screenwriters. (Yes, that William Faulkner.)

It's a crazy, twisty super-fun movie with fantastic, unforgettable characters doing unexpected things.

And you really have to watch it about five times to understand what all's happening...

After watching it several times, you might get more insight into my own characterization and plot twists. (JRM points to Footloose as being, "everything you ever write"--LOL! That's not so true anymore.)

So what does all this have to do with being an Independent Author? I'll tell ya!

I was reading an article about Roger Ebert in Entertainment Weekly (link), and it had a listing of his "Movies of the Year," going all the way back to 1967's Bonnie & Clyde. (I totally agree with his assessment of that film, btw.)

In the listing were JFKMalcolm X, and Schindler's List. About Schindler's List, Ebert says, "The movie is 184 minutes long, and like all great films, it feels too short." Spot on.

That got me thinking about the battle Spike Lee had over the length of Malcolm X was, and how the Big Studios wanted him to cut it.

Oliver Stone had managed to get away with 188 minutes for JFK the year before, and as expected, Lee had some choice words about that. But at the time the Controlling Powers had established "norms" about "what audiences wanted," and long films about controversial black icons were not it.

The next year, Big Fish Steven Spielberg made a 184-minute, black and white film, no sweat.

Flash Forward many years, and I'm thinking about how all of this relates to Independent Publishing v. Traditional Publishing.

Film, like music, and now books, went through a revolutionary "independent" period that played out differently in each medium. (I should say "is playing out" with regard to books.)

Personally, I just wrapped a series of books that I can't even imagine trying to get through the Traditional process.

The Dragonfly Series starts with Book 1, Dragonfly, which is written in the standard mature-YA manner: first-person, female POV. (It's how you wrote books like this in 2009.)

The next book Undertow takes a completely different turn. The bulk of the story is told through three journals, but regular journal-style felt inhibiting to my process... so I didn't follow the rules. I wrote it like a narrative, but unfolding it epistolary-style.

It's told in three different POVs--Meg, Lexy, and Bill's--and it's the story of an affair that led to a birth and a death. It does not have a happy ending... and most readers seem to love it.

It's a layer to the series that goes to the heart of everything happening, of Anna and Julian's relationship, of all the secrets and lies, and readers really, really need to know that story. The style fits into the overall series arc, and it was how I chose to write it.

The content of Undertow is also decidedly New Adult to Adult--one of my beta readers even said, "This reads more like women's fiction." Another said, "You should write more adult fiction."--LOL!

It makes sense, and I think my readers of all ages get it. I trusted them to get it.

Watercolor (#3) is back to the present, it's Anna and Julian's love story, first-person POV, female lead and more strict NA, a'la Jessica Sorensen, Colleen Hoover, or Katja Millay books. (I.e., the main characters are seniors in high school.)

Then we get to Mosaic... 

It's the end of the series, and I really wanted to tie the whole thing together both from a story perspective and a stylistic one. So right slap in the middle of that book, sandwiched between the present--which is 20 years after Watercolor ends--is Anna's "private blog."

It's her journal (told Undertow-style), and it follows her and the gang through college all the way to the break... where it stops, and we see what happens next.

When I started writing this series in 2009, there was no "Independent Publishing." Amazon hadn't truly launched the Kindle yet, and at that time, self-publishing meant Vanity Publishing.

Vanity Publishing is bad, reader-friends. It means you pay thousands of dollars to jerks like Author Solutions (now owned by Random-Penguin) and they take you for a ride that ends with them dumping a pile of paperbacks on your doorstep for you to figure out how to sell.

It isn't legitimate in any sense of the word. It's a racket that many well-meaning authors got sucked into because they didn't want their stories to die in a drawer. (And they didn't have Thelma Toole, Walker Percy, or LSU Press, link. Geaux, Tigers.)

Of course, I'm sure Traditional Publishing doesn't consider Independent Publishing legitimate to this day--unless you start banking Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey, E.L. James, Colleen Hoover, Jasinda Wilder, Abbi Glines... the list goes on... dollars. Then suddenly you're very legitimate.

(I hope you're catching my sarcasm. I drank the "not legitimate" Kool-Aid for way too long before I jumped off that merry-go-round.)

I feel like I'm losing my point--my point is, to me, the greatest thing about being an independent author is I can write my books the way I want to write them, the way that makes sense to me. I don't have to worry about established norms or "what readers want" when I sit down to write.

Okay, being a smart businesswoman, I do consider "what readers want" when I'm looking at which projects to focus the most time and energy on. (Hint: The ones that are selling!)

But take for example a book I've been sitting on since 2012. It's another NA contemporary romance, but it's an action-adventure story set in the woods of south Mississippi.

I loved this movie when I was a kid.
Since it's written by me, it's fer sure a romance, but the focus is on the transformation of this incredible character I love named Prentiss Puckett from everyday-country girl to a Red-Dawn-meets-L O S T-style action-hero.

Being trapped in a prison camp during what seems (to her) to be a Russian invasion of the U.S. will do that to a person.

This book, which is currently titled 21 Days, was with a literary agent for a year. He shopped it around, and we got the usual compliments on my "strong writing" followed by the reasons it "wouldn't work."

First, I was told it was "too dated." The problem is Prentiss fears it's the Russians holding them captive. It made sense to me in 2012, given where she lives and the persistent fear of "Russians" in certain pockets of the deep south.

I was told "nobody cares about Russia anymore" and given the "how very 1950s of you" treatment. (Oops! Ukraine just called.)

Second, after being kidnapped, *something* is happening to Prentiss, and it's causing her to have very vivid flashback-style dreams, which taper off as the plot unfolds. I won't spoil it here, but I was told "readers won't like that"--jumping back and forth.

It's funny because all six of my beta readers--all six of them--said that was their favorite part. One even wanted more!

Guess what I'm going to do?

I'm going to polish that baby up, add a few ideas that I've had since I finished it 2.5 years ago, and put it out there for you all.

And that's why I love being an Independent Author.

Now, I'm not going to go all *banging my fist on the table* insisting I'll "never go traditional." There are very legitimate reasons for plugging in and using that established book-selling machine--for example, none of my indie books will ever be reviewed in Entertainment Weekly.

I have managed to get into some high school libraries through NetGalley, which is amazing. But I won't be in any Scholastic Book Fairs at schools. (Scholastic is a traditional publisher, fyi. Those are all their books.)

It's incredibly difficult for independently published authors to get into places like Target or Sam's Club or Costco. (I won't say impossible b/c my indie-author friend Cindy Hogan does it all the time.)

This post has gotten very long. I apologize. I haven't blogged in a while...

One last thing that I love about being an Independent Author: As my one-degree-of-separation buddy Hugh Howey explains in detail here (link), being independent means for the first time in history, authors can make a living--an actual living that includes paying bills, feeding children, buying clothes, paying for college--through writing books alone.

Many, many authors are doing just that, and it has never been the case in all of book publishing recorded time... until now. Only a handful of "stars" have ever been able to make that claim.

So yanno. Vive la Revolution... or whatever.

I'm just so lucky and blessed to be living in this time. I'm not knocking anybody's choice or the path they follow. Whatever path you chose, traditional or independent, whatever books you read, do it because you love it. Otherwise, what's the point?

Thanks for being such FAB reader-friends. Love you guys~ 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mosaic Aftermath, Cover Love, & a #Giveaway!

I always have this period about two weeks after I release a new book--after all the tours and blitzes have died down--when my brain just goes on ADD mode.


It's like I can't concentrate on a thing--I have rebellious teenager brain. LOL!

Maybe because writing a book requires such a long period of intense concentration or something? All I know is I have to just let it decompress.

The letdown period.

In other news, I'm waiting on the printer's proof of Mosaic, so paperbacks should be ready very soon--as soon as next week! I'll be blasting that everywhere the moment it happens.

And TWO great writer-friends have amazing new books coming out. I'm honored to be a part of their cover reveals.

Here goes...

First, by Karen Amanda Hooper, author of The Kindrily series and The Sea Monster Memoirs, comes an incredible-sounding new series, Virtual Arcana.

Karen says: “I love the cover because it represents the story so perfectly—a blend of old-fashioned and techy, romance and magic, reality and illusion, The Notebook meets The Matrix (with a sprinkling of The Giver). Some friends saw an early sneak peek and asked if the girl was real or a CGI (computer-generated image). That put a huge smile on my face because that is the perfect question for this series.” *insert mischievous smile here*
Karen gives huge thanks to friend and talented cover designer, Steve Graham of  the INFINITY CREATIVE ( for making her virtual reality-esque vision a beautiful reality.

Virtual Arcana will release this fall serial style, meaning short episodes (averaging 15-20k) will be published frequently (official schedule TBA), instead of waiting 6-12 months between each long book in a trilogy.

Each episode will be named after one of the major arcana cards of a tarot deck.

Season 1- Episode List
0- The Fool
1-The Magician
2-The High Priestess
3-The Empress
4-The Emperor
5-The Hierophant
6- The Lovers

Karen says: “It’s an experiment for me as an author and for my readers. If Virtual Arcana develops a good following I’ll continue with season 2 and 3. That would mean 22 total episodes, one for each of the 22 major arcana tarot cards.”

Summary of Virtual Arcana:

In a faraway future, Kelsey Zellar is starting her senior year at yet another school thanks to her twin sister’s troublesome obsession with outlawed virtual reality games.

Every school they’ve ever attended is pretty much the same: lunchroom drama, rich kids binging on enhancement candies, and classmates rallying for or against the government’s strict control over everything from entertainment privileges to caffeine consumption.

Unlike her sister, Kelsey follows the rules and keeps her nose out of trouble and politics while sniffing out her next flavored latte and favorite novel. But when Kelsey meets a charming book connoisseur, and accepts his offering of a tarot card, she takes the first step toward two new addictions: the guy of her dreams, and his illegal dealing of virtual escapes into her beloved storybooks.

Kelsey straddles the worlds of fiction and reality, but is she a fool for believing in her own
happy ending?
Karen says: “I realize some of my readers don’t/won’t care for episodic storytelling, so of course there will be the option to wait until the first season is complete and read all the episodes straight through as one full-length novel. But I wanted to offer my new series
as a serial for those readers who dislike waiting so long to read more.”

GIVEAWAY: To celebrate, Karen is giving away EIGHT ebooks of the first episode: The Fool

Open internationally. 


Karen Hooper writes young adult paranormal and fantasy, and is the author of The Kindrily series and The Sea Monster Memoirs. She is currently sunning and splashing around Florida with her two beloved dogs. She’s addicted to coffee, chocolate, and complicated happily-ever-afters.

You can find her at

* * *

Next up is my FAB friend Magan Vernon, with her new book The Only Answer, a companion novel to her bestselling The Only Exception!

Title: The Only Answer
Author: Magan Vernon
Age Group: NA
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 8/11/14

Add it on Goodreads Today!


The sequel to the international hit, The Only Exception.

A boy burdened with a family legacy.
A girl haunted by a shattered past.

Both searching for answers to a future
threatened by the unknown.

Three years ago, conservative Trey Chapman and liberal Monica Remy met their match in one another - and made the only exception that would change their lives forever.

Now, Trey's father is running for president, forcing Trey and Monica to put aside their personal beliefs to be the model of perfection.

But fate has other ideas, casting the family in scandal.

Some seek to use that disgrace to further their family legacy, while others refuse to let go of the past. Trey and Monica soon find themselves lost among questions that challenge their true feelings.
Will they be able to rediscover that the only answer lies with one another, or will they lose each other forever?

Be sure to add The Only Answer to your to-read list on Goodreads!


“Did anyone ever tell you that you’re very persistent?” she said, taking the brush and can.

“Every single day of my life and you love it.” I picked up the other can and brush.
She smiled, shaking her head. “Yeah, yeah. You’re lucky I put up with you.” She turned toward the wall. “You want me to just start painting?”
“Yes. Get a big enough square so we can see if we like that color for the wall. At least one foot by one foot.”
“That’s very precise measurements,” she said, looking at me out of the corner of my eye.
“Always best to be precise, Miss Remy.” I smiled, waiting for her to start painting to I could work on my own.
“Very true, Mr. Chapman.” She finally took her eyes off me and began stroking the brush against the wall.
I wasn’t sure how long it would take her to paint so I had to work fast. I didn’t even care if I spilled on my five-hundred dollar suit coat as long as I got the job done. By the time I was finished I turned fully toward Monica. My nerves were at an all time high and my heart was beating so fast I couldn’t even count the beats as I waited for her to look at me.
Usually she did everything she could to try and beat me. I loved her competitiveness and the way she challenged me. But not today. Now I just wanted her to finish her painting and finally turn toward me. But she wasn’t even looking in my direction. She was lost in thought, meticulously painting the tiny red square on the wall.
I wasn’t one to get flustered but I let out an audible groan. That was when she widened her eyes and finally turned toward me. “What the hell is your problem, Trey?” She dropped the paint brush in her can, red paint splattering on her hands.
I opened my mouth to answer but she cut me off before I could speak. “You rushed me through dinner so we could see your new apartment, an apartment that I’m not even going to really be living in because I can’t get a real job. Then as soon as we get here you’re rushing me to get in the bedroom so you can paint a freaking wall when we’re both dressed up for the convention. I’ve put up with a lot from you and I know you’re nervous about tonight, but you have to freaking relax or you’re going to drive me crazy!”
I cleared my throat. “Okay.” I nodded. “I understand I’ve been on edge tonight, but there’s a perfectly good reason and we can discuss it after I see which paint color is better for the wall.” I stepped back, smiling with my hands in my pocket.
She raised an eyebrow, turning away from the wall and putting her hands on her hips. “What kind of stunt are you trying to pull right now? Are you hiding something? Is this where you  break up with me?”
I usually loved her stubbornness but now Monica was getting to be a little bit too much. I was already on edge and had it all planned out, but nothing was going quite right. Love was never perfect that way, but once I found Monica I learned that things didn’t have to be perfect to work out.
Slowly I extended one hand and kept the other in my pocket. “Just come stand here with me and look at the wall and stop being so obstinate.”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “What if I said no?”
I took a few steps toward her until we were toe-to-toe. I didn’t say anything. Instead I just smiled and put my hands on her waist, lifting her in the air. She squealed as I walked backwards a few steps before setting her down a couple feet away.
“You’re very persistent, Mr. Chapman.”
I took her hands in mine. “I am when I know what I want and I’ve known that I’ve wanted you since the first time I saw you. The first time you opened your mouth and spoke to me. I knew there wasn’t going to be anyone else but you.” Slowly I turned her toward the wall and she gasped, removing her hands from mine and covering her mouth as soon as she read the words I painted on the wall: Will you marry me?
I pulled the velvet box out of my pocket and stood in front of her before I got down on one knee and opened the box, holding it open for her. The woman at Tiffany’s told me the diamond cut was called the Lucida after the brightest star in a constellation. She didn’t even need to tell me all of that before I was sold on the square diamond with it’s diamond side stones and  opened curved diamond band.
There something incredibly unique about it. Something that caught my eye. Just like Monica did.
I swallowed hard, trying to focus on my words instead of the tears that welled up in her eyes. These weren’t tears of sorrow like the night she poured her soul to me after Alpha Mu’s barn dance. These were tears of joy. “Monica Remy, It’s been three years since you first walked into my life. Three of the best years I’ve ever had. We’ve laughed together. Cried together. Everything. Together. I can’t imagine my life without you. I picked out this apartment especially so I could share it with you and our future collectively. And I hope that you’ll do me the honor of marrying me.”
I held my breath waiting for her response, counting down each second to my heart beat. Finally she nodded slowly before removing her hands from her mouth. “Yes,” she whispered. “Yes. Yes. Yes. A million times yes!” she said louder.
I couldn’t hold the grin that was threatening to split my face. I put the ring on her finger, slowly standing up before wrapping her arms around her waist. “You’ve made me the happiest man in the world tonight, Monica.”

* * * 

About Magan Vernon

Magan Vernon is a Young Adult and New Adult writer who lives with her family in the insurance capital of the world. When not writing she spends her time fighting over fake boyfriends via social media. You can find her online on 

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

YAY!!! There you have it, reader friends! Some amazing and HOT new creativity to jump on--coming soon!

Have a super week and a super summer! Happy reading~