You know what they say, the best laid plans of indie writers oft go astray! Okay, that’s not exactly how it goes and I apologize to Robert Burns, but I’ve been living that old quote for the last 3 weeks.

Seriously, I have. I posted earlier this month about my plans for my books which are no longer available due to the closing of my publisher and well, all I can say is those plans certainly went astray. I started out strong, working on the edit and revision of Snow Shadows, the first book in my Eternal Shadows series which has to be completely edited because my publisher couldn’t find the final file and also because I want to change some things. Anyway, I made it about halfway through the book and then it was all “Book, Interrupted” or maybe I should make that “Writer, Interrupted.” No, I think “Book, Interrupted” works better in this case because the writer was still working but her attention was pulled away to another book…

the second book in the Appalachian Journey series. For those of you who don’t know, I also write under the name CC Tillery with my sister, Christy Tillery French. We write Southern Historical fiction and we have two books out in the Appalachian Journey series, fact based fiction about our great-aunt Bessie’s life in the mountains of North Carolina.

WW3-250The first book, Whistling Woman, has been on Amazon’s best seller list for Southern Historical fiction for the last year and a half and our readers have patiently–for the most part!–awaited the release of the next book in the series, Moonfixer. The Kindle version of Moonfixer was released a couple of days before Christmas and the next step was to release the paperback version…

and that’s where “Book, Interrupted” came into being thanks to CreateSpace. Don’t get me wrong, I love CreateSpace (usually!) and I love Amazon even more for making it possible for an indie writer to publish their work without going bankrupt in the process and most of all, that the author can actually make good money from doing what she loves.

Back to CreateSpace–like I said, I love it (usually!), but I have to say, putting your book on CreateSpaceIMG_5169-Mf1-500  can be a complete and total PITA at times. Frustration ruled the day for Christy and me while we were trying to get Moonfixer done, particularly the interior formatting and the cover. OMG, there were times I thought I was going to throw my laptop through my office window and then get in my car, drive to…wherever CreateSpace’s home office is (is it Charlotte? and…well, better not to give anybody else ideas so let’s just say, it wouldn’t have been pretty.

Anyway, we finally accomplished what seemed like the impossible and the proof copy is on its way to us as of yesterday afternoon.

Whew! So now I can get back to my “Book, Interrupted” and hopefully, I’ll have it out before the end of February.

Wish me luck–seriously!

 

Early last year, I kept thinking I wanted a do-over of my writing life but never had the nerve to actually put it in motion. And then in July I got what I thought I wanted–whether I truly wanted it or not.

Due to the unfortunate and heart-breaking death of one of the Ls in the L & L Dreamspell publishing team, the company ceased operations as of July 2013. Which meant my paranormal romance books, Snow Shadows, Storm Shadows, and Winds of Fate, along with my two short stories, The Secret Life of Alice Smitty and Third Time’s for Keeps no longer had a publisher.

And that meant I had the rights to all my books and could do whatever I wanted with them. It was, to say the least, a little scary. So, I merely thought about it, entertaining myself with thoughts of self-publishing and what I should do with this blog and my website and whether I should stick with my pseudonym or publish under my real name.

Have you met my bff, Procrastination?

WW3-400And then a marvelous thing happened, the sales of Whistling Woman, the one book I’ve self-published (with my wonderful writing partner and sister, Christy Tillery French) under the pen-name of CC Tillery sort of went crazy. We hit three top one hundred lists on Amazon and for several months were #1 on Amazon’s historical southern fiction list. We’ve sold enough copies on Kindle to make my eyes bug out. And that’s not counting the B&N, Apple, Kobo, and Sony sales from Smashwords. It also doesn’t include the sales of the paperback and hard cover copies.

I still find it hard to believe and then I look at those sales reports on KDP and there it is…every singleIMG_5169-Mf1-500 time! And (fingers crossed against the jinx!) it just keeps selling. Added to that, we recently released the second book in the Appalachian Journey series and while the sales haven’t been astronomical they’ve certainly been encouraging.

And here I’ve sat for the last seven months watching the reports on Whistling Woman and thinking I need to do something with all those books collecting cyber dust on my computer. It isn’t just the previously published ones. I’ve finished the third book in my Eternal Shadows series and have a tentative outline for the fourth and final book. And then there are the books I’ve finished but never submitted to a publisher (don’t ask me why! I don’t know!), the first book I ever wrote that is currently unavailable because that publisher closed, the one that won a contest and was subsequently published only to have the publisher go belly up and stiff all its authors, cover artists, and editors, and two follow-up books to that one (one finished, the other about halfway done). By my count, I have at least 10 books, 4 short stories, 2 YA books, and 2 children’s books which are doing nothing but taking up space on my computer.

But with the dawn of a new year I’m hoping to get my act together and take full advantage of this chance at a complete do-over of my writing life. And that includes redesigning this blog and (hopefully!) writing more than one post every few months.

Stay tuned…

(Please!)

And Happy 2014!

I can’t believe an entire baseball season, spring, and summer have come and gone since I posted anything on this blog. To quote Vizzini from The Princess Bride, inconceivable!

Thankfully, the time hasn’t been entirely wasted. I’ve been keeping busy promoting Whistling Woman (the historical southern fiction I co-wrote with my sister, Christy Tillery French under the pseudonym CC Tillery), gardening ( pretty much a lost cause this year), canning (there are so many wonderful farmer’s markets here where I live), and writing (finished Sun Shadows, the third book in my Eternal Shadows series).

Plus, I’ve spent a great deal of time reading (mostly how-to-self-publish and marketing books) and pondering what I’m going to do with Sun Shadows and the final book in the series, Moon Shadows (I’m about 12,000 words into that one). Not to mention, going back and forth with the titles. For some reason, Sun and Moon aren’t ringing any bells for me so I’ve been considering Shifting Shadows for Luke’s story and Eternal Shadows for Nathan’s. Still no decision but I’m leaning toward the latter.

Anyway, the really important decision is “to self-publish or not to self-publish?” I’m pretty sure it’s going to be self-publish if for no other reason than the success Christy and I are having with Whistling Woman on Kindle. We’ve been at number one (knock on wood and fingers crossed against the jinx!) on the Kindle>southern fiction>historical fiction list for a couple of weeks now and we’ve done pretty well with the print version, too. We sold out (well, sold is a relative term, we gave away quite a few of them) the first print run and we’re hoping sales of both the e-book and the paperback will continue to be good through (and hopefully after!) Christmas.

Only time will tell, but the thing is, I’ve found that I really like being in control when it comes to publishing my books and for me, that’s exactly what self-publishing is all about: the author is in control every step of the way and as a result, any profit (or God forbid, loss) is all yours, too.

As the song goes, the times they are a-changin’–or should I say shifting?–and so am I. I want that control and my next book, whether Sun or Shifting Shadows, will be self-published and sink or swim, it’s all on my shoulders. Wish me luck!

Is it any wonder so many authors are turning to self-publishing? Not to me and probably not to the authors–myself included–who are publishing their own books. If you aren’t a celebrity, an athlete, been a nanny for some has-been (and never- shoud-have-been–Kate Gosselin, I’m looking at you) celebrity, been tried for murder (whether guilty or not), been tried as an accomplice to murder, or any number of things that shoved you into the spotlight for your undeserved 15 minutes of fame, then you may as well give up on being published by any of the big publishers.

Oh, wait, I forgot, if you were raised by wolves in the woods (or only imagined you were), a part of a gang in L.A. (or only imagined you were), or a recovering drug addict (or only imagined you were), then you can probably get a publisher interested in your story (made-up or not).

And now comes news of Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, both receiving publishing contracts so they can tell us the story of their relationship, murder trial, and imprisonment in Italy. Do we really need to read about it from their point of view? I don’t think so but hey, I don’t have to buy their books when they come out (and believe me, I won’t) nor do I have to read them. I’m not interested in hearing their side of the story because I’ve already read/heard it.

And I have to wonder if there are really that many people out there who will buy these books with their stories that are as stale as day-old-bread? I guess there must be judging by the fact that the publishers are apparently signing them as fast as they can.

\Rant off

/BSP on

If you’d like to read a great self-published story, try Whistling Woman by CC Tillery (that’s me with my sister), only .99 on Kindle and coming soon to print!

It’s a wonderful story about our great-aunt Bessie, based on family
stories and chock-full of history about the mountains of western North
Carolina, Cherokee legends and medicine, and the Melungeon
people. Set in the town of Hot Springs around the turn of the 20th
century, it’s historical southern literature at its best!
(I can’t believe I just typed that but I happen to believe it and I really
need to get over my aversion to self-promotion!)

\BSP off

 

I’ve noticed quite a few articles on MS popping up on my AOL homepage recently. Some good, some bad, but almost all of them a little too…um, I guess optimistic is the word I’m looking for. Today’s MS article du jour is Living Well With Multiple Sclerosis. I admit, it’s probably not a good time to be writing about this since my MS is giving me problems right now, but I saw this article, read it, watched the video, and none of it elicited much of a response from me except maybe, “yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before.”

And then I read the comments and they finally pulled forth a reaction, especially the first one from someone named Dave Teems. His story is eerily similar to mine; diagnosed late in life, early retirement because of the disease, and as Dave says, “I LOL when I see this stuff”–he’s referring to the video and articles that all seem to paint such a rosy picture of dealing with MS.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it could be much worse, and am thankful it isn’t, but sheesh, I wish these people would tell the truth about what an MS patient goes through. Like right now, I’m sitting here with a patch over my right eye because my vision in that eye is…wonky, that’s the only word I can think of to explain it. Not blurry exactly, but…wonky and it’s easier to focus with only my left eye. Vision problems seem to be the most chronic symptom of my MS.

I say MY MS, because that’s what it is. Given the nature of the disease, every single person who has it will experience symptoms that are unique to them and the symptoms are rarely the same from day to day. I’ve often said the only thing predictable about MS is it’s unpredictable.

Add the vision problems to the almost daily fatigue and I’m here to tell you MS is not a walk in the park. Sure, you can live with it but at times it can be extremely hard. So, I know exactly how Dave feels and I agree totally with him when he says about the video:

“…the disease is not the pretty, cut the veggies on the board that the video makes it out to be. I LOL when I see this stuff. This may be that Woman’s life, but it’s certainly not mine.

And then further down in his comment:

“…the issues that I have with the video are similar to the issues that I have with the National MS web site. They “Paint” MS as a disease that is some how very livable, non-toxic, and more of a bee sting on your life than what the real truth of MS is on one’s life.
It ain’t all music in the background……summer breeze’s and butterfly’s out the window.  Talk about the REAL effects of the disease. Like digestive issues, plumbing issues, constant fatigue, MS pain, cognitive issues, ect.”

It’s almost as if he’s reading my mind. MS definitely isn’t all summer breezes and butterflies out the window…but the article does get one thing right, if you find the right coping mechanisms, it is possible to live a full life–well, maybe full isn’t the right word, more like, a good life. I agree with all the tips the article gives but I think the one thing they neglected to mention might be the most important thing; your support group. Having a good support group is essential because it’s the people in your life that make the disease bearable.

I recently finished the Smashwords formatting on Whistling Woman. It took me a long time, but I’m happy to say I received this email from Smashwords within a half hour of submitting the book:

Congratulations! There were no AutoVetter errors! Your book is now in the queue for review by our vetting team.

So, Whistling Woman is available on Smashwords but it’s waiting on the Premium Catalog approval. Not too shabby for a first time effort but I have to be honest and tell you, it wasn’t an easy thing to do–even with the free Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker. Still, there were no Autovetter errors and I’m told that’s a really good thing.

The thing is, I’ve been reading quite a few free books on my Kindle and though I haven’t tried any yet, I plan to check out some of the free offers on Smashwords. That is, if I can bring myself to do it. I love free books but…I absolutely hate the quality of some of the ones offered for no cost. Because, they aren’t really free, some of them come with a price. Not a monetary one, but an emotional one. Too many–and if you ask me more than two or three is too many!–left me frustrated and in a few cases downright angry because of the time I lost reading them. Not that they were all bad, there were a lot of really good ones out there, but some of them were full of typos, grammar errors, and yes, bad writing in the form of repeated words, missing words, words that have no business being where they are in the book, cliches–yes, I know, my love for cliches is well-known, but come on, there’s a reason “too much of a good thing” is a cliche–historical inaccuracies, implausible events, TSTL characters…the list goes on and on.

And that doesn’t even touch on the worst of all–formatting errors. When I see a book that isn’t formatted properly, the first thing that comes to my mind, especially if it’s a self-published book, is this author doesn’t take pride in their work.

That’s not a good thing because there are plenty of books, many of them free on Kindle or Smashwords, that walk you step-by-step through the formatting. All you have to do is follow the books and you’re almost guaranteed to have a, well, maybe not perfectly formatted, but at least nicely formatted book. You know, one that doesn’t make the reader want to slam it up against the wall immediately delete it from their reading device and never purchase another book by you again.

So, please, if you’re an author, self-published or not, and thinking of putting your book(s) up as e-books on Kindle and/or Smashwords, grab a little pride! Get yourself a copy of these books, read them, and more importantly, follow them!

Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing (Put out by Amazon.com. It doesn’t really walk you through the formatting steps, but there’s a lot of valuable information in there and it’s free.)

How to Publish Your Kindle Book on Amazon for Free and Make Money From Home by Ron Taylor (I haven’t read this one yet so don’t know how much help it is. It’s free for Prime members and only .99 for everybody else.)

How to Publish an Ebook on a Budget by Stephanie Zia (This one’s no longer free)

Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker (Free and a must-have if you’re going to publish on Smashwords. You can also view it or download a copy on Smashwords.)

Also, if you do click on the links for these books, check out the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” box just below the book cover. Lots of other books there that not only deal with formatting, but with marketing and writing too. Plus, if you’re thinking of publishing on Kindle, there are lots of good tips and advice on the KDP forums and help pages.

And finally, check out Jinx Schwartz’s blog post DYI Kindle e-books, I did it and so can you. Ms. Schwartz just reposted this and if you’re going to publish on Kindle, it’s a must-read!

I’ve been doing some research on Vampires–yep, Vampires, thanks to the third book in my Apprentice Angel series. Tentatively titled Unworldly Angel, the plot revolves around a young girl who’s really into *gasp!* Vampires! Something I swore I’d never write about but…never say never, right? Anyway, I started researching Vampires and I kept getting lots and lots and OMG, tons of sites dealing with Stephenie Meyer and her Twilight series. Now, I’ve never read the first word in any of her books but when you’re researching Vampires, the Twilight series is all the rave right now and you can’t get away from it. Seeing all the sites, I couldn’t help but click on a few. The first one I ran across that had me stopping to read was called Reasoning with Vampires where the blogger first read the series then posted about the many mistakes/errors in the books. From the blog:

Before I had any right to dismiss Twihards or criticize the psychologically unhealthy relationship model that Bella Swan and Edward Cullen present, I felt obliged to read the books. So I did. All four novels, one novella, and an incomplete document in portable format.  The content lived down to my expectations, but I was unprepared for how poorly crafted the saga is.

Pretty funny stuff–and boy, I can’t tell you how much I would hate to see my own books held to this kind of scrutiny!

From Reasoning with Vampires, I found another blog, Mark Reads, where the blogger reads books and reviews them chapter by chapter, including the entire Twilight series. Hilarious, so much so I’ve added it to my Favorites list and am slowly, slowly, like I’m savoring every word of every post, working my way through his reviews. Like I said, he doesn’t concentrate solely on the Twilight books but since my chief interest right now is with Vampires, I haven’t clicked on any of the other chapter-by-chapter reviews although I hope I’ll find the time to read them all one day.

Anyway, I’ve made my way through the first two books, Twilight and…uh-oh, can’t remember the title of the second one…Eclipse? No, New Moon. Yeah, that’s it, New Moon. After the last chapter of New Moon, there’s a post entitled “Mark Reads ‘The Story Behind the Writing of New Moon’” from Ms. Meyer’s own website. And it was in that post that I finally–finally!–found something I disagree with Mark about–sort of–and OMG, I hate to say it, agree with Ms. Meyers–um, partly, anyway.

She writes:

…I am a character writer. I write my stories because of my characters; they are the motivation and the reward. The difficulty with strong, defined characters, though, is that you can’t make them do something that is out of character. They have to be who they are and, as a writer, they’re often out of your control.

Mark’s response:

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT. There are few times you have ever kept your characters consistent. May I remind you of the bizarre, unnatural things you’ve made Jacob do? You are ABSOLUTELY in control of your characters! THEY ARE NOT REAL PEOPLE.

The thing is, I understand exactly what Ms. Meyer is saying. She has a point about strong characters being the “motivation and reward”–and I have to add that was beautifully expressed!–and she’s also right when she says “you can’t make them do something that is out of character.” Except, according to Mark, Ms. Meyer manages to do that a lot. And judging from Mark’s chapter-by-chapter reviews of the first two books in the series, I have to say Ms. Meyer’s characters are definitely inconsistent.

And if they are, that’s all on Ms. Meyer. There are times when my characters do what they want instead of what I want. Yes, characters, as Mark says, are not real people but they can certainly drive the story down a different road than the one the author had in mind. And I know Mark is talking more about keeping the characters consistent, which is a must, but I have to say I’m with Ms. Meyer on the strong characters “are often out of control.” Witness Betty Sue in Storm Shadows. I almost didn’t finish that book because she was so adamant about taking the story in a completely unexpected directionand it’s not always easy to force a character to do something they don’t want to do. They may not be real but when you’re the author, they are very real to you and sometimes it’s impossible to argue with them.

But, and this is a big BUT, if they’re acting out of character, it’s your job as the author to take over the wheel and drive them in the right direction–even if you have to sneak and do it!

Yep, that’s right, I’m already dreaming of spring and all the wonderful things that come with it. Must be the two seed catalogues I got in the mail yesterday. Can’t wait to get out there and dig in the dirt!

Or maybe it’s the weather; in the 60’s today with lots and lots of sunshine. Sure does feel like spring to me!

Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been spending quite a bit of time online looking at the Red Sox home page, checking out the Spring Training schedule and counting down the days till the first Grapefruit League game. March 3rd! That’s only 61 days away!

Happy New Year everybody–and here’s to a better year for the Sox!

 

 

Lake Superior State University just released its list of banished words for 2012 and though I’ve been guilty of using some of them, others have never crossed my lips. Indeed, I’d never heard of a few of them and had to track down the actual list to read the definition.

So what are the banished words that we should no longer use?

1. baby bump

2. ginormous

3. man cave

4. amazing

5. occupy

6. the new normal

7. blowback

8. thank you in advance

9. shared sacrifice

10. win the future

11. pet parent

12. trickeration

With the year 2011 drawing to a close, I’m taking this opportunity to use the 12 words/phrases (plus one I think should’ve made the list–baby daddy–yuck!) for the last time and then–hopefully–they’ll be banished from my mind!

“Thank you in advance” for showing me your “ginormous” “baby bump,” even if it is a feat of “amazing” “trickeration,” as you and your “baby daddy” (my own addition!) “occupy” his “man cave” and look forward to the “shared sacrifice” of being “pet parents” who I’m sure will take the “blowback” in stride and “win the future.”

Whew! Glad that’s done. Now back to dreaming over the two seed catalogues I received in today’s mail. Spring is just around the corner, you know! Happy New Year everybody!

Starting today and continuing for the next eleven days, Whistling Woman can be had for your Kindle at the amazing price of .99! So, for all those people out there who received new Kindles for Christmas–like me!–and want a good read for not much money–also like me!–because they are, as my niece Meghann says, Scrooge-alicious–yep, that’s me! Just call me Ebenezer, Jr.–head on over to the Amazon Kindle Store and download your copy of Whistling Woman. It’s a steal at less than a buck!

Happy Holidays to all–and God bless us, every one!

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