Author of OUTBACK LOVE a contemporary romance novel set in Australia, JETTING AWAY a short story prequel to OUTBACK LOVE, MOON OVER MADNESS a paranormal romantic comedy and BAYOU BLUES AND OTHER SORROWS a collection of short stories and poems about life and love. All are available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony, Diesel and Kobo. On Twitter @TeriHeyer

Friday, February 17, 2012

Support Indies Month

As an Indie author I am elated to hear others say that February should be "Support Indies Month." For those readers who still are not sure of the definition of an Indie, I will try to explain.

There are six big publishing houses and a whole lot of small publishing houses. Unfortunately, a lot of really good authors are overlooked by the big name publishers. Why? Because there are more writers/authors than the big publishing houses are willing or able to publish.

Until the ebook industry arrived, all those unrepresented authors had nowhere to turn to get their books published. Some were picked up by the small publishing houses. Others paid outrageous fees for vanity press publishing which generally resulted in limited exposure and very limited sales. Other writers just kept on writing, in spite of the fact that they'd probably never get published. Those writers stored up poems, short stories, novellas, novels, memoirs in boxes under their beds, in closets, in garages, in storage sheds and on their computers. Years and years of writing was stored away in hopes that someday those books would see the light of day.

So this is how the Indie industry came about. With the creation of ebooks, eReaders (like Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc.) and Indie publishing (like KDP, Smashwords and others), Indie books became available. Amazon seems to have taken the lead in the ePub Industry with Smashwords and others following behind. I don't want to get into an argument here over who was first or best. I can only testify by my own experience that Amazon's KDP has been a boon to Indie authors.

Now here's where it gets tricky. Not all Indies are Indies. Many ePub books are backlists from authors who wrote for the big six publishing houses. Now that their book rights have been returned to them, they're ePubbing their backlists. So in effect, many big name authors are now also Indie authors. This is cool. As a reader, I love discovering old favorites being ePubbed and now available as ebooks which I'm rapidly adding to my Kindle.

Here's where I point out (every chance I get) that I love my Kindle, because it has the capacity to hold thousands of ebooks on one small device that fits in my purse. I think of it as a miniature library that I take along with me everywhere I go. If I eventually fill my Kindle to capacity (which I haven't done yet), then I can archive thousands more ebooks in the Cloud. Then I can switch the books around from my Kindle to the Cloud and back again whenever I want. Isn't that cool?

This is also where I point out that eReaders are a matter of choice. I happened to fall in love with Amazon books long before the Kindle hit the market. So it was a perfect fit for me to buy a Kindle. Other devotees of say, Barnes and Noble, swear by the Nook. Others (those with more money than me) swear by the iPad. There are other eReaders out there, so as a reader the choice is yours.

Now back to the issue of Indie authors. Some people (I won't name names here) think that Indie authors are inferior writers because they weren't published by the big six somewhere along the line. Since I'm an Indie author myself, I refute that claim. There are a lot of amazing, wonderful, spectacular, awesome Indie authors out there. Gee, I hope I hit somewhere in that spectrum, but you never know. Anyway, yes, some Indie books may not be as good or as polished as others, but all of them are books that you, as a reader, would never have discovered if it wasn't for the ePub Industry.

Think of Indie books as unpolished gems just waiting for you to discover and read. Try to overlook some of those formatting problems (believe me, formatting can be a bitch at times). Try to overlook the sometimes less than perfect editing. After all, this is a new industry and Indie authors are learning their trade. Just remember that it's the story that counts and Indie books are filled with incredible stories.

A handful of Indie authors recently decided that February should be "Support Indies Month." As I've already pointed out, since I'm an Indie author I'm elated that we should have a month of our very own. However, I'm also hoping this will grow into a "Support Indies Year." In the long run, I'm hoping that readers will finally accept Indie authors as welcome members of the book industry. Honest, we have great stories to tell and we want readers to enjoy those stories. So in the end, it's all about the readers and offering them every kind of story imaginable.So yes, February needs to be "Support Indies Month," but don't forget to support Indie authors all year long.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What Would We Do Without Indies?

I keep asking myself, "What would we do without Indies?" I mean, really, think about it. There are like a zillion indie books out there right now, mine included. Many of them are really great reads (mine included?).

I wonder how many people are born with the "writer gene." Yeah, there has to be some genetic connection to being a writer. We're wired for story telling. Something, from the moment we are born, is telling us that we have to tell stories, have to embellish the life around us. We write this cool stuff and try to convince others to read it.

Well, I'm digressing here. I wanted to write about Indies, those mysterious writers who lately popped out of nowhere in record numbers. Actually, we've been here all along, writing our little fingers to the bone. We've been making up stories from the crib. Yeah, that's not my poop in the diaper. The dog did it. Our stories started in the crib and have progressed from there.

There's a lot of controversy over Indies. Are we good enough to be published? Do we have something worthwhile to say? Well, of course we do. We've been writing this stuff down since day one. No one has paid us to write these stories. We just started writing and can't stop no matter how often the world tries to beat us down. Monetary reward has never been our thing. We just write because we have to write.

So most of us Indies have bunches of short stories, poems, novellas and novels stored on our computers, in boxes in our closets or under our beds, in stacks by the bedside, in storage in the garage. It's been said that everyone has a story to tell. Well, a number of us keep writing this stuff down, day after day, month after month, year after year.

Most of us Indies actually tried to get published through the years, but to no avail. I have bunches of rejection letters, most from my earliest years of writing. I started out with a published poem in my late teens. I was sure that would eventually lead to published short stories and novels. It didn't happen, but I kept on writing.

I remember one of my early rejections for a short story. It went something like this, "I love your short story, but short stories are no longer popular. If you'd written this before, then it would have been published." Huh? Before what? I've always wondered.

My first contemporary romance novel garnered similar responses. An agent said, "If I'd only worked with you from the beginning." The beginning of what? The beginning of the novel? The beginning of time? What beginning?

Somewhere along the way I got brave enough to let one of my college professors read a suspense thriller I was working on. I really trusted this professor. He'd read a couple of my short stories and liked them. So I figured, what the heck, let him read the first five chapters of my novel. Bad mistake. This professor slammed my novel, actually said it was the worst thing he'd ever read. Was I really that bad? Needless to say, I was devastated.

Well, I went home and gathered up everything I'd written up to that date, with the exception of a few poems. The short stories, my novel, writing notes, everything, went into a big pile. Do you know what I did with that stuff? I burned it all. Yep, every bit of it. If I was that terrible of a writer, then it all had to be destroyed.

Two weeks later my professor approached me and apologized. He said he'd been thinking about my novel for the last couple weeks and he realized that it really was good. He explained that he didn't normally read suspense thrillers, so he had a negative reaction to my novel. Only when he thought about it, he realized that I really could write, that I had a way with dialogue, etc., etc. He said I really needed to finish my novel.

Did I tell my professor that I'd burned the novel and all the rest of my writing? No! Did I try to rewrite what I'd destroyed? No! I considered it a lesson learned. Then I started on a new novel (one that is still sitting in a box somewhere). I've accepted the fact that everyone has an opinion. Some love what you write and some will hate every word.

Now fast forward by many years. Am I still writing? Yes. Did I ever burn any more of my work? No! I keep everything, all my notes, all my ideas, all my partials. I keep writing because I have to write. Oh, there have been years in between when I put aside my writing and turned to other things, like working a day job dreaming that someday I'd go back to writing.

So here's where I get back to the Indie thing again. Ask any Indie author and they'll tell you about their long road to ePubbing their books. They all wrote and wrote and got rejected and kept on writing. How can we not write? We have all these stories to tell, stories we hope others will read.

The ePub industry has been our release. After years of hard work and dreams our stories are out there. Many of these Indie books are incredible reads. If it wasn't for the ePub industry these books would still be hiding out in boxes or still taking shape in our heads.

Think of these indie books as little gems, little nuggets of gold. Read them, savor them. They may not be perfect, but they're glimpses into worlds that never would have existed if it wasn't for the ePub industry. Do we really want Indies to go away?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Me and My Kindle: A Romance

Now let me start by explaining that I live in the South. Some people might say we "don' talk right." For instance, instead of saying "my family and I" we say "me and mine." So I'm telling you straight out that "me and my" is grammatically correct. That said, I have tale to tell, a romance of sorts, a romance of the very best kind.

Before digressing further I need to get to the heart of the story. I'm having a right fine, beautiful romance with my Kindle. It started out a little rocky at first. I'm a die-hard reader, addicted to books and all that entails. In fact, I'm a book hoarder. I have shelves full of books, boxes of books, books in closets, books under my bed, books in stacks here and there throughout my house. Yep, a book lover and hoarder.

So right off the bat I resisted the idea of an eReader. In fact, I swore up and down that I'd never read an ebook. Never. Ever. A writer friend of mine, Michele Bardsley, yeah, that Michele Bardsley of paranormal comedy fame, first started talking about ebooks years ago. I said, "Yeah, yeah, okay." But behind her back I said, "No way. I'll never read an ebook. I need to hold that hardback or paperback in my hands. I need to run my fingers across the printed page. I need to smell the paper and the printer's ink in a new book. I need to smell the mustiness of an old well-read book." Nope, no ebooks, ever.

At the time I lived in Las Vegas of all places and belonged to both the Cactus Rose Chapter of RWA and my very own co-founded writers' group, Desert Rogues. Talking to our little group of Desert Rogues, of which Michele was a member, she insisted that ebooks were the books of the future. No, no, no, I screamed in my head.

Now fast forward a number of years and I'm back living in the South, in the part of Florida called the Panhandle, which all of us here know is really Lower Alabama. At this point I've already discovered Amazon, due to another Desert Rogues BFF, Ruth Kerce, yeah, that Ruth D. Kerce who writes for Ellora's Cave, Changling Press and her very own indie ePubbed sensual short stories.

Okay, like I said, Ruth introduced me to Amazon, so I was already hooked on buying books from there. It's a great place for a book addict to shop, because I could look at books and place orders all night long if I wanted and often did. Yes, I could literally shop 'til I dropped.

Now one day, or was it one night? I don't rightly remember. Anyway, I saw the ad for the Kindle. An eReader? No way! But then I got to thinking. Could I really have one small device that held hundreds, if not thousands, of my very favorite books? I could tuck the Kindle into my purse and take it with me everywhere. Everywhere? You're darn tootin'.

I got to thinking. This could be a good thing. A really good thing. Then the clincher was all those free classic ebooks that Amazon was offering. As an English major, someone who cut their teeth on the classics as a small child, well, heck, this was a marriage made in heaven.

Still hesitant, I didn't give in to the first generation Kindle. No, I waited and dreamed and waited some more. When the second generation Kindle came around I couldn't take it any more. "What do you want for your birthday?" That was my husband asking. "A Kindle," I replied. "Huh?" My husband's not a reader (except for science magazines and the Internet). So he said, "Huh? Why would you want a Kindle?"

Well, I got that Kindle for my birthday and instantly fell in love. I started filling it up with all my favorite classics, like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Last of the Mohicans, Riders of the Purple Sage, Little Women, Madam Bovary, The Three Musketeers, The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, Swiss Family Robinson, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Vanity Fair, I could go on and on.

Suffice to say that I did load up my Kindle with every classic favorite and all those classics I always wanted to read, but never got a chance to do so. So began a lengthy romance which lasted well into the wee hours most nights. I'd wake up in the morning blurry eyed, but happy as a lark.

When the third generation Kindle 3G (Keyboard) came out, I had to upgrade. My second generation Kindle was having problems, maybe from overuse? So it was an easy matter to send the second gen. back and get the third gen. With my new Kindle the romance blossomed and grew to enormous proportions.

I don't go anywhere without my Kindle love.  I've added hundreds of contemporary romances, historical romances, romantic suspense, time travel, westerns and a smattering of everything else. I love history (I was going for a double major of English and History, but didn't quite finish the History part). Anyway, I've added history books about the American Revolution and Civil War, the fall of Rome, histories of Britain, Europe, the Middle East, you name it. Oh, the romance is building.

Yes, I'm not embarrassed to say "I love my Kindle." Yep, I really do. It doesn't matter what mood I'm in, melancholy or elated or something in between, there's always a book or books in my Kindle that will fit the bill. I can switch from one book to another with just a few clicks. What can be better than that?

Now don't get me wrong. I still love hardbacks and paperbacks. I'm not about to give away a single book (although my husband would probably like for me to do just that). I still have bookshelves full of books, boxes of books, books in my closets, books under my bed, books in stacks here and there around the house. I even have duplicates of some of my favorites--classics in both paperback and on my Kindle.

My Kindle Keyboard, currently the love of my life (don't tell my husband that), is a bit battered. We all age, don't we? It doesn't help that my dog, Dude, during his puppy days (was it only a year ago?) chomped down on my  Kindle and left his puppy teethmarks in the case. He also left his marks in the cover which, thankfully, protected the Kindle from further harm. So my Kindle and its case are a bit battered, but I love it just the same. Inside is a wonderful world of books--a virtual world of love, romance, dreams, adventures, travels and more.

At Christmas time I guiltily looked at the Kindle Touch and the Kindle Fire with longing in my heart. I came so close to buying one of them, a gift from Santa, of course. But I didn't do it. How could I? My Kindle Keyboard is well-loved and battered, but it's still breathing (hey, I swear it's alive). So I'll stick to my Kindle love, 'til death do we part. Maybe, just maybe, I'll sneak a Kindle Fire into the household and use it to read just some of my favorite books, every now and then mind you, not all the time. But whatever you do, don't tell my Kindle Keyboard what I'm thinking. This is a romance that needs to go on and on.