Friday, July 3, 2015

The State of Independence

No one is an island.
I've been thinking a lot about independence, specifically the ability to choose within a free framework, and the illusion of freedom.

It bothers me that anyone thinks they are free - that they are independent. No one really is. The idea that anyone can function in a vacuum, completely devoid of outside influences (total freedom, a nearly Buddhist state) is impossible in the material world.

You are not free.

There are levels, a spectrum of freedom, on which we can claim more choice or less. There are independent thinkers (I count myself one) who are able to observe a situation and choose based on their established principles and ideas as opposed to being swayed by popular opinion or carefully crafted marketing materials.

There are people who are independently wealthy (a flawed term, but for the purposed of discussion...) and able to control their environments by throwing money at problems, people, or things.

There are people who choose to isolate themselves from society, taking to the wilderness, foraging and homesteading as requirements dictate.

But in all these cases, pure independence, even in these situations, is impossible.

The independent thinker is dependent on their faculties of observation, their socialized influences, their friends, and the news for input to come to conclusions.

The independently rich person is entirely dependent on markets and systems that nurture wealth creation in order to maintain their status.

The hermit is dependent on the knowledge accumulated by society from generations in order to actively choose and succeed in his lifestyle of isolation.

The independent cannot function without outside assistance. They are, fundamentally, in relationship with the rest of the world. There is, no such thing, as independence (Happy Fourth!).

I can't help thinking about these things in relation to the work I do daily. While I am an independent author (i.e. not associated with a publisher) I do not function in a vacuum. I require many systems in place in order to do the work I do. In fact, without these systems, technological innovation, and the democratization of information, my work would be impossible. I would cease to be.

Unlike a large publishing house, I am a leaf on the wind. I can be blown this way or that by circumstances outside of my control. I can be crushed easily if systems are removed. I am still dependent.

More than anything, I am dependent on your support. You are my most crucial system, my most cherished dependency - my reader. To do what I do, I am dependent on everything you do - buying, reading, sharing, gifting, patronizing, encouraging, reviewing, and rating. And I am comfortable with this "vulnerability." So this weekend when my American readers are eating hamburgers, hot dogs, and shooting off fireworks, remember those people on whom you depend, and those who depend on you. We are all connected. We are all dependent. And that is a good thing.

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As an indie author, I'm a bit like a local business and depend on the love and support of readers like you. Please check out my website where the "buy" links support me the most (and big business the least!). 

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The End (A Poem)

There are so many thoughts running through my head. At first I thought I would just journal, but then I thought maybe there are some other people who are experiencing these things.

So, as a writer tends to do, I will share. This piece reflects on issues within the last few chapters of THRIVE: HOW I BECAME A SUPERHERO and serves as a reminder that even when we've gotten through part of the journey, there's always more time to be in the crucible.
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How can a parent consciously choose something that would be bad for their child? How can a parent willfully choose the interest of a friend, stranger, or the altar of an all-mighty idea over the best interest of their child? Their grandchildren?

How can a person not see what is in their best interest? How can a person not see what will be the best for their family? Community? City? State? Country? World?

I thought these things were obvious. I feel like they are obvious. They are so GOD DAMN OBVIOUS HOW COME YOU CAN'T FIGURE THIS OUT?!?!

It must be a lack of empathy.
It must be some an attachment to a mental self unrelated to reality. So they vote for their pretend best interest, instead of reality. This is torture.

Did you know there are black churches burning in the south? In a week. Less than every 2 days...one lights.

The mustard dried up.
And the brush burns.
What a sickly gas!

I cough and sputter when smoke blows on the wind. The sun grows dark and I close the windows hoping it passes - thankful for people trained, given full benefits, and protected by unions who brave the flames.

And it's one thing when it's a dusty canyon. It's another when it's a wooden church. A church - a place of prayer, of love, hope, and peace. A sanctuary - where people seek shelter from the storms of life, of which there are so many....crossing the mid-west it feels like pinball.

Bouncing us all around, pick a season, pick a weather - you will find it here!

And here we are. And I keep watching people on their journeys, sharing their excitement - sharing their successes and while I smile I can't help feeling I should be further along.

I was supposed to be further along.

I'm supposed to be more than I am.

I was supposed to have a house, a newer car, a career, a savings account. I was supposed to have a name for myself. I was supposed to be established. I was supposed to feel secure.

I was, I was. I was!

But I am. I still am. It is hard to read another peer bought another house. It is hard to see another peer beginning their family in safety and comfort. They don't have my worries. They don't feel my squeeze.

I remind myself this is transition. I remind myself this is not forever. I refuse to let this be much longer. I refuse to withstand this longer. I can't watch my husband sacrificing so much - so much, for so little. He deserves so much more. We deserve so much more. Our son deserves so. much. more.

I will find it. I will get it. I will have this. I have this. I got this. Just a little more. Just a little longer. By this time next year, the world will look differently.

I feel this. I know this. It sits in my gut, a burning coal.
I could choke on the smoke, but I don't.
I'm Ms. Fusion in a lake of flame.
Nothing touches my heat.

And you know, the world doesn't end with water.

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For more about my story, read THRIVE: HOW I BECAME A SUPERHERO in digital, and paperback.

As an indie author, I'm a bit like a local business and depend on the love and support of readers like you. Please check out my website and become a patron.

Monday, June 29, 2015

How To Be An Indie Author 2: Process

This is the second post in a series about self-publishing from ideation through sales. To check out other posts in this series, click here.

Last post I talked about the way I come up with and vet my book ideas. This time, I'm going to talk specifically about turning those ideas into a first draft.

The Black Box

A writer turns coffee into manuscripts. Really.
For many, the process of turning an idea into a first draft is full of mystery. How can a person sit at a computer for hours and hours and write anything coherent?

Well, for me it functions differently depending on the kind of book I'm producing. For a novel, I often don't outline, at least not recognizably. I just sit down and start writing. I start with the main character, and the story develops as they interact with each new character. As the interactions build, outside forces begin to forge events, which cause characters to react (as happened in JAMES).

If the book is a sequel, I do have an end point in mind before I begin. I may have a list of questions I need to answer. Just writing them down is often enough to make sure they get addressed, but I do check the list as I write (such as what happened for FAMILY FRIEND OR FOE).

For nonfiction, I always decide the arc before I write. I write the introduction to give myself a framework, and then I write chapter titles or topics. This gives me the freedom to jump around as ideas strike me while holding true to the designated arc of the book. In nonfiction, I cannot sit still and write continuously as I do with fiction. Novels might hold my interest for 15 hours straight. Nonfiction will often require social media and current events breaks to keep me from burning out.

Discipline

Typically all this writing happens first thing after breakfast for several hours. Often I give myself a certain word count to complete daily, at the bare minimum. About half the time, I write more than my minimum goal.

This is how I know I've made some progress. I feel accomplished even if I had a rough day. Today, for example, I was going to rewrite another 15 pages in FAMILY FRIEND OR FOE, however my toddler had an epic meltdown and I couldn't seem to get focused (courtesy of sleep deprivation) so instead I decided to write this post. I still have the afternoon and I still have to get this series done as a project, so it isn't a loss. It just isn't quite the direction I expected when I woke up this morning.

And that is okay. I have my daily plan for a standard of measure. I have my long range plan to assist in my overall frame. I have self-imposed deadlines (now made easier with additional preorder options) for publication and I know approximately how long it will take me to complete any given book based on past experience. All these things are in place so I know how much more I need to do and how much progress I've made.

No matter what derails me in a given day, I still wake up and write. I try to hold to my daily goals as closely as possible (which means I still have about 10 pages left to rewrite today). This is how I get things done. It is what allows me to maintain my insane pace and complete the amount of work I do despite being a stay at home mom with a moody hyperactive toddler.

Successful Completion

All this is to say, completing a first draft requires two main things:
  1. A working personalized process and
  2. Commitment to the process through discipline.
Developing a personalized process does take a little trial and error, however reading stories like mine and using personal experience as a guide for what works and what doesn't will get you there faster.

For example, I am an intuitive person, so I knew my preference for revelation in fiction as opposed to outlining things in meticulous detail. If I outlined my novels, I wouldn't finish them. Period.

As for committing to using the process to see your first draft through, well seeing writing as a job helps. Breaking down your work into bite-sized chunks achievable in a day, a week, and a month makes a difference. It keeps you from getting overwhelmed. I can't tell you how many times I have looked at all the tasks involved in writing a book and become paralyzed. However, taking a breath and breaking it down into sections makes the whole thing a lot more manageable and tricks your brain into thinking it's a lot less than it really is.


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What process do you use to write? Have you tried any of the above? If so, leave a comment below. I'm always looking to improve my process.

Check out next week's publishing post about editing and of course, be sure to visit my website to support your neighborhood indie author!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

THRIVE Launched, Now What?

I've got a lot further to go.
I've been struggling the last few weeks. In the wake of THRIVE's publication, total exhaustion set in. I want to get a whole bunch of things done. I want to work. I know there are things I should be doing. I know this.

I think part of me felt like I hit my milestone and that was that. The project was over and I could space out. And it was a lot of work. And some of it paid off, but mostly it was just the beginning of a larger lead up to more things....which mean the dividends haven't come in yet.

I've been reading a lot about this, especially through my author forums, which have proved invaluable (for which I thank Clara, as strategic a person in thought as I am in feeling). In these forums, muckety mucks slum around with us peons. And it is great for the peons, and gives perspective to the muckety mucks. We find out how much more we have to do, and they realize how much they've done.

I have to say, honestly, it can be disheartening. I am at a disadvantage with what I am able to do (limited primarily by resources). But there are also things that encourage me - such as the reminder that this process is never over. Books do not stop selling - and with the internet, they can always reach more readers. There is always someone else who has not heard of me (Okay, in my case, at this point there are probably around 7 billion, but even for the famous author, there are probably 2 or 3B.).

This is actually a good thing because it means I can always do more for a book - there is always more that could lead to sales. Also it is a bad thing, because, well, it is never done.

Right now, after the insane push I made with THRIVE, some part of me thought the momentum was already there. That I could sit back and enjoy THRIVE having a life of its own. But I'm not there yet. I've hardly begun. It feels like the week after mid-terms where the tests are done, but there's another half semester to go. The nights of studying are not over. The note-taking is hardly finished. And I have no energy. And I'm struggling to get FAMILY FRIEND OR FOE rewritten, which while turning into an excellent book, is going much slower than I'd like. I have until August 2nd to finish the manuscript and upload it to Smashwords (incidentally, you should preorder it to get the 20% off price before it goes live!).

And after that I need to work on ANDREW, and redo all the Rollins Pack covers, and revamp all those books, and finish proofing SIX DEGREES.

And while all this is going on, I need to continue working on speaking engagements about THRIVE, guest posts about everything, possibly blog hops, and remembering to eat and sleep... sometime.

When I do all that, not only will I feel damn accomplished, but I will have transformed my life. And that is incredibly exciting, but it is also a lot of work. And I need to keep reminding myself that it is worth it. I need to keep developing better systems for getting everything done that needs doing, that assures forward progress.

Here's to efficiency, effectiveness, encouragement, and energy! And crossing my fingers I get all four in hand...and soon!

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Transform your life and heal through my memoir and small steps for 32 days!

Get digital copies of THRIVE: HOW I BECAME A SUPERHERO and TRANSFORM TO THRIVE: 32 DAYS FROM VICTIM TO SUPERHERO!

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