New Year, New Reads, New Plans

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This is my first read of the new year, We All Fall Down by my friend Karen Cimms. It’s the second in her Of Love and Madness series, and I was lucky enough to beta read this one (and the first one) for her. I was thrilled when it arrived in the mail just in time for the turn of the year. (Which reminds me, I need to start a “read in 2017” shelf on Goodreads. I’ll do that when I’m finished with this post.)

I’m setting a goal for myself to read at least 100 books this year, and I’d like at least half of those reads to be indie books, so I’m off to a good start with this one.

I’ve got another goal, and that is to finish writing at least one book this year. I’m currently working on two of them, plus writing for Scotland Now as their Outlander correspondent, which is pretty fabulous, to be honest, but it leaves me less time for book writing. At the moment, I’ve got one manuscript (the one about turnips and aliens) sitting at 40k, marinating like a pork chop in a nice vinaigrette, and another at 15k, which is shaping up to be some kind of paranormal something set at a Renaissance festival.

Last year at this time, I decided to try some new things on the writing front, and put out a lot more in terms of freelance work. I also did a few things I was really afraid to do, such as giving a speech about writing at my former high school, and reading an excerpt of  my book Slither on the Horror Addicts podcast, which, if you missed it, you can listen to here https://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/horroraddicts-net-131-valerie-kinney/

In 2016, I had twenty articles or short stories accepted for publication at various outlets, not including the pieces published for Scotland Now. I also had two longish short stories accepted into anthologies – A Mother’s Heart in the Gems of Strength Anthology by The Sisterhood, and Misadventures of Mercy, which will be out sometime this year in the Super Market Anthology by Draconian Publishing.

Heckled released nearly one year ago, January 9, 2016. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long! And my super heroine short stories in the KAPOW anthologies by 7DS Books came out right around that same time as well.

So even though I feel a little frustrated that I haven’t finished another book just yet, I can look back and see I have accomplished quite a lot over the last year.

Going forward, I’m going to attempt to reign in my scattered focus and get at least one (if not two!) books completed this year. I’d like to see if I could sell a couple more short stories, and keep putting out freelance work. I’ve got to stop crocheting chickens (maybe next week) and finish the big blankets that are sitting here, sadly getting shoved around from place to place while I ignore their loose ends to make more chickens. I’ve gotten myself a set of knitting needles and am going to learn to knit. I’m going to attempt for the ninety bajillionth time to quit caffeine, and I’m going to seek out and attend more events where my husband can wear the new kilt I just bought him. I’m planning to do more with this little blog, and hopefully get a website made… though that’s something I feel like I say every year.

Before you ask, yes, I did dye my hair a new color  for the new year (burgundy), but no, those aren’t highlights streaking the front. It’s olive green paint, because we just painted my daughter’s bedroom and I didn’t think of covering my hair before I did it.

Luckily for me, burgundy and olive green tend to be complimentary colors, because it isn’t washing out, not even a little.

Now, I’m heading back to the writing cave for a while… right after I hit up Pinterest for directions on how to build a princess dog bed out of an old end table and ten yards of tulle.

 

 

 

 

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Indie Pride Day

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Here we are once again, celebrating indie authors on the day set aside to blow up social media feeds with pictures of ourselves with indie books we’ve written or read. This is the third year I’ve been involved with the movement, and it’s pretty cool, seeing all the support that we give to one another.

Being an indie author is a neat thing. I’m proud of the work I put out, and while I realize the weird stuff I write is not for everyone, there are those who do enjoy it and reach out to tell me that my work had an impact on them, or how much they enjoyed it. That means a lot to me, to my heart. My books might seem a bit odd to some, but they are real and true to my vision of the story, and that’s the part of being indie I love. I don’t have anyone telling me what I need to add or take out of my story to make it more mainstream. There is plenty of mainstream work out there. Don’t get me wrong, I like to read mainstream books as well… I just also like having the option of writing and reading books that have more unusual plots and characters.

I also love being part of the indie community, of the other authors who lift one another up with post shares, book buying, and being there for one another on difficult days when writing is hard. Cover designers, editors, formatters, and book bloggers also make up part of this community, and have proven to be some of the neatest people I’ve ever met online.

I’m proud of myself for taking the leap to start writing books, and I’m proud of my indie friends for doing the same. It’s a scary thing, putting your art out there for people to see. They might love it, or hate it, or completely ignore it. Sometimes we get nasty messages or emails about our work from people who seem utterly miserable with life. Sometimes we get beautiful reviews. Sometimes we can’t get a solitary share on a link about our writing, and we feel invisible. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions, but still one I’m glad I buckled myself into. The ride itself has been worth it.

That’s the thing to remember, I think. It’s easy enough to get caught up in the idea of where we are going; where our ranking might be next year at this time, or if we hit a bestseller list, or if we get picked up by some big publication. But the journey is the part to enjoy. We’ve made this art, and it is ours. Our vision, our heart and soul, our own unique ideas written out that we can hold in our hands, and share with others. That’s not something everyone can say they’ve done. It’s the writing itself that’s important. It’s the Doing of the Thing. It’s this moment, right now, where we are working toward a goal that means the world to us. That is the success.

These pictures are just some of my favorite indie authors. Many indie books I own are ebooks on my phone, so I can’t take photos with them.

Help us celebrate Indie Pride Day. Tell me some of your favorite indie authors.

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The Spaghetti Principle

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The truth about mistakes is, I make a lot of them.

Especially when it comes to this writing gig. I can look back over the last few years since I’ve been writing seriously and want to just kick myself in the face, but I can’t because I’m forty and my hips don’t swivel the way they used to.

The truth is, I often feel as though I’m just flinging spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks.

Sometimes, the pasta that stuck stays there a couple of weeks, and sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes I think the way it stuck there at first was nothing but pure luck, and I should just scrub the wall and start all over again, new pot, new spaghetti, new wall.

Looking back, one of the biggest mistakes I probably made was working backward.

I started this blog, and then I went forward from there. So I’ve got this blog with a decent amount of followers and I love that you guys stop in and read and leave me comments and all, but I should have started with a website.

I started the blog, and then I wrote books, and then I made a website which I later deleted, because it was frustrating to have it separate from the blog. And the blog name is not my name, so it doesn’t always come up in searches. Now I seriously need a website, and I’d like to set it up so that this blog is attached to it, and eventually since I’ve got more books out now, start a mailing list. But I suck at techy type stuff, and I can’t even seem to get my gravatar on the blog to change, even though I’ve changed it six million times, so the thought of starting a website on my own is intimidating. (side note: anyone willing to help me do this, I would love you forever and gift you ecopies of all three of my books).

I wish that I had saved every interview I’ve ever done about writing, but I didn’t, because organizational skills are a thing that I’ve always lacked. I wish I had been more organized about the things I did save, instead of saving things randomly in weird places, because now when I try to find them sometimes I cry a little.

I wish, I wish, I wish…

I wish I was a more linear thinker, but I’m not. I’m a creative thinker, and my thoughts are usually everywhere at once, and this doesn’t seem to be anything I can change. I cannot force myself to write only in one genre, though that’s what all the marketing articles stress I should do. My brain is impulsive and always has been, and science has come pretty far in recent years but not far enough that I can swap my mind out for another. I cannot go backward and undo this blog, though even if I could, I probably wouldn’t, because I’ve met so many cool people through it.

I wish I could get back every article I’ve given away my rights to, especially the ones I didn’t get paid for. What was I thinking?

That’s just life, I guess. You try things and learn and cringe about your ignorance, and try more things and learn.

I’m not certain what forward looks like from here. I don’t think I’ll delete this blog. I do want to get a website up and running. I am going to delete my ello account, because it does nothing but make me feel stressed that I’m not paying enough attention to it.

I will eventually set up a mailing list. In the interim, I’ve started a reader’s group on Facebook. You are welcome to come on in and join Valarie’s Voracious Readers. https://www.facebook.com/groups/931457066949510/

I wish, I wish, I wish…

That all the spaghetti would stick.

Helping Indie Authors Without Having to put on Pants

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(this is my indie friends book shelf)

Ways you can help support your favorite authors without washing your hair or wearing pants:

1. If you read their books, leave a review. I know, I know. You keep hearing this. But it is truly such an important thing. And I think sometimes people feel intimidated, as if they maybe don’t know the “right” way to review a book, so they just don’t. But you don’t have to take a How to Write a Book Review class in order to do this. Just go to Goodreads or Amazon, and where it says, “Would you like to leave a review?” click it. Click how many stars you would give the book. If you thought it was a two star book, that is fine. Be honest. Now write two sentences. They don’t have to be long. “I liked this book. It made me laugh.” is a sufficient review. The best part about leaving a review is, you don’t have to put on pants to do it. Nope. If you have read my books, please leave me a review. It would mean so much.

2. Add their books to your “Want to read” shelf on Goodreads.

3. Like reviews of their books on Goodreads or Amazon.

4. Share reviews of their books on social media.

5. Take pictures of their books when you get them and post them. Of course you can. You take pictures of your sleeping dog and your Chinese takeout dinner. You can also take pictures of books!

6. Read their books in public. This one may actually require pants. Sorry.

7. Talk about them. “I read this great book by So and So, I think you’d love it!”

8. Buy their books as birthday and Christmas gifts for your bibliophile friends and family. Books make great gifts, and they are already rectangular so you don’t have to put them in a box to wrap them.

9. Show up at their book signings. Depending on how close you are with the local police department, this one may also require pants.

10. Leave reviews on multiple sites. This does not mean you need to keep rewriting reviews. Just copy and paste. Ten seconds of time.

11. Send a message to your favorite author and tell them they inspire you. Or that they made you mad. Or laugh. Or cry. Tell them their work has touched you somehow. That might just be the day they were thinking about giving up and throwing their laptop out the window.

My brain, on writing.

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Type, type, type, type. Does that need a semicolon? I think a period would be better. No. Yes. Maybe. Definitely a semicolon. Definitely a period. No. Wait. Was, or were? Was. Definitely was. Unless…no, it’s definitely was. Don’t forget, kid gets out of school early today. Don’t forget. I should write that down. Gimme the beat boys, and free my soul, I wanna get lost in the rock and roll and drift away…wait. What? Focus. Type, type, type. That was terrible. Backspace. Type, type, type. Much better. I think. I should read the entire chapter again, just to make sure. Scroll, scroll, scroll. I should turn on the TV, just for background noise. Oh, the dogs need to go out.  >takes dogs out< Type, type, type. I should erase this entire chapter. And THEN! I could…no, no, no. I need this chapter, so the thing can happen. Unless…I change the thing to later…type, type, type. Delete. Type, type, type. Oh, look! Pirates of the Caribbean is on! I should change the channel, I know I’ll get distracted.  And you, my brown eyed girl, do you remember when, we used to sing, shalalalalalalaladedah. Focus. Focus. Where was I? Oh, getting the dogs food. No wait. Didn’t I do that already this morning. >looks at dogs< >dogs look mournfully back< I can’t remember. Better feed them again. >feeds dogs< Type, type, type. OH MY GOD! I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before! It’s brilliant! Typetypetypetypetypetypetypetypetypetype. Oh, Jack, you scallywag! How many days left until Ren Fest opens? I should check. I need time to finish that new pirate outfit…What time is it? Don’t forget. Kid gets out of school early today. Take ham out for dinner. Didn’t I? I thought I already took it out. No, I don’t think I did. >checks for ham. Still in freezer< Oh! New idea for another book. I should write this down. No wait, I’ll remember. I could just open another doc and start…no. Finish this one. You’re so close! Well, I’m close unless I delete this chapter. Oh, God! DID I delete that chapter? Scroll, scroll, scroll. Whew. I didn’t. Type, type, type. I wonder if the Kid Rock concert is sold out yet. We were trying funny things, we were smoking funny things, making love out by the lake to our favorite song, Drinking whiskey out the bottle, not thinking ‘bout tomorrow, singing sweet home Alabama, all summer long. >realizes self is half standing, air drumming on desk. Stops< Focus. I know some writers knock out five thousand words a day. I struggle to hit two thousand. I suck as a writer. I should quit. Type, type, type. Too depressing. Delete. Type, type, type. Too cheerful. Delete. Wait. Doesn’t this guy have green eyes? Type, type, type. Don’t forget, kid gets out early today. I should write that down. Type, type, type. This is good, I love including symbolism. Is it too far of a reach, though? Will people get it? I should make it clearer. Now it’s too dumbed down. Make it something they have to think on for a minute. No, that’s too hard. Type, type, type. Now it’s too damn obvious. Soulshine, it’s better than sunshine, better than moonshine, damn sure better than rain. Will anyone catch that nod to Captain Jack Sparrow? Well, I know it’s there, and it’s damn funny. Did I ever take that ham out? Yes. Did I? Did I ever change that semicolon? Yes. No. Yes. I’m sure I did. Type, type, type. Oh, the dogs need to go out. >takes dogs out< I wonder if Adderall would help my word production. I should ask the doctor. Do I really have trouble focusing, or am I just lazy? Try harder. Type, type, type. Delete. Type, type, type. You, shook me allllllllll night long, yeah you….Focus. Type, type, type. Phone rings.

Kid: MOOOOOM! You forgot to pick me up early!

Circumstantial Evidence.

Guys! Guys, guys, guys, guys GUYS! GUESS WHAT? Lisa Clark O’Neill has just released a new book! The next installment in the Sweetwater books is available, and you want to buy it, don’t you? Buy it and review it and share this blog post all over your most favoritest social media feeds, BECAUSE YOU’RE FILLED WITH THE SAUCE THAT IS AWESOME. Look at you, you awesome-sauce-filled-thing, you.

ALSO, the author is doing a giveaway for three lucky people who like her page today! So hop on over and like it! Go! Shoo! Skeedaddle! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Clark-ONeill-Novelist/287773574604107

Clicky clicky. There’s a good puppy.

http://www.amazon.com/Circumstantial-Evidence-Sweetwater-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B00U1FH2L4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1424965097&sr=1-1&keywords=circumstantial+evidence+lisa+clark+o%27neill

Cover Reveal for “Gods of Anthem!”

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Wow! This blurb sounds fantastic — excitement and adventure in a YA dystopian: Yes, please! Check out this new release by author Logan Keys.
Oceans apart, a young musician and a “special” soldier embark on a perilous journey for home fueled by the unyielding pursuit of freedom from the Authority.Sixteen-year-old prodigy, Liza Randusky, waits imprisoned, blamed for the undead plague that’s slowly destroying the planet. Banished to an island where she’ll never play her beloved piano again, Liza’s steadfast sense of justice and passion for music may have the power to change her destiny. But will it be enough… To strike back at the new world order, the troubled son of a preacher, Thomas Ripley-Hatter, suffers unspeakable alterations by the Underground to join a secret Army. Tommy knows that all hope lies in human-weapons like himself, and that somehow he must cling to his sanity…while letting loose the monster to win.The battle begins for the last-standing sliver of humanity: Anthem.
Now that you’ve read it, I know you’re excited! So go ahead, stalk this author on her numerous social meds. Go ‘head. Nah, no worries. She likes it!