"Summer of Indie" Kicked Off in Grand Style. Are You In?

I'm Robert Stanek and I’m giving a shout out to let you know "Summer of Indie" is on its way. All indies are welcome. The event is being hosted @ my Go Indie Facebookgroup and here @ my Read Indies blog.

"Summer of Indie" is free. To participate, read this. The ramp up to "Summer of Indie" kicked off in grand style on April 27 with more than 35 indie authors turning out for the event.

I tried to hire the Rolling Stones, but Mick just didn't get the whole virtual thing, so I ended up with the Rolling Stunes, a cover band. Yeah, yeah, I know, but the Stunes rocked it pretty good and they were jamming when Olivia Hardin, James Wallace, Laurie Hanan, Dawn Torrens, Joana James, Vickie Johnstone, Rachel Hunter, Valerie Douglas, Brian Bigelow, and Martha Bourke joined the event.

But it was when we got out the virtual cooler that things really opened up and lots more indies joined in the fun. I brought a cooler of Bud. There were some Bud Lights and Bud Limes in there, and Steve Vernon kicked in some Richards Dark Ale. That really got things going. Pretty soon we were joined by Carolyn Arnold, Carmen DeSousa, Susan Regan Walsh Griscom, Sian Young, Cathy Brockman, Erik Gustafson, Nickie Storey-Bailey, Wendy Siefken, Robert M. Brown, and Kim Mutch Emerson.

The first question I asked the group was: Why did you Go Indie? This got many terrific responses.

Olivia Hardin said, I was lucky enough to get connected to another group of writers here on facebook. I had really given up on my dream of writing until I saw that these inspiring people - most of whom I now call friends - were putting their stories in print, selling them and marketing them all on their own. I had no idea it was even possible. That was a little over a year ago and now I've got my first book published with another expected in a little less than a month! Wow...

Brian Bigelow said, In my case, the reason I went Indie is because of my Sons. They couldn't find jobs so I wrote a job hunting manual for them. It wasn't really intended to sell all that much. Sold a few copies of the one I gave them at Christmas, one is now employed full time. He can now take care of my Granddaughter better than he used to. Because of the job hunting book for them I got a taste of writing and I like it. Quite a nice occupation that I enjoy very much.

Robert Stanek said, Fantastic, Olivia, thanks for sharing!

Steve Vernon said, I’m not truly indie yet. I publish through an e-publisher, Crossroad Press. But I do have several totally indie projects lined up for the spring - separate from my Crossroad projects and my regional traditionally-published projects. My reason for going indie is I have a hunger for the total indie experience. I want to dive into the deep end and find out if I can swim or not.

Brian Bigelow said, My advice Steve is to go for it. There are books I've come up with the idea, written and released in a month and a half. It's a much a quicker turnaround then with a trad publisher.

Olivia Hardin said, That's a great story, Brian. I have a friend who could use that book. I'll have to tell him about it.

Brian Bigelow said, That one was Get The Job, not the 21 Days best-seller for the feature.

Steve Vernon said, I hear you, Brian Bigelow! I'm afraid that for the time being I am a dedicate "hybrid" writer - happy to work in both traditional publishing, semi-indie and full-indie. You are dead right about the turnaround time, though. I've released ten e-books from Crossroad Publishing in the last ten months or so and have another one, TATTERDEMON, on the way.

Olivia Hardin said, Thanks! And yeah, I am not a patient person so I agree with Brian that the ability to put stuff out there when I want it is very appealing. But Steve, we all have to follow our own paths.

Brian Bigelow said, I'll admit at times I wish I had a marketing guru on payroll with me. Any Indie does.

Olivia Hardin said, Man, I know. Marketing is so tough... I know I don't do it justice, but working full-time makes it difficult to stay on top of things.

Steve Vernon said, No arguments there, Olivia. My need for traditional publishing has a very practical base for me that might not work for a lot of other writers. The simple reason is that all of my traditionally published work comes out through a local regional publisher - namely, Nimbus Publishing. These traditional regional books - a lot of ghost story collections and the like - are made available in bookstores and public libraries and schools across the maritime’s. It really helps promote my profile locally. I make a lot of public appearances that are fuelled by these local books. For example, just today, I was at a public school presenting my writing/storytelling workshop in front of about two to three hundred kids from Grade 3 to Grade 5. An e-book - at this point in the game - might not have got me that opportunity to reach so many potential readers and writers. I really love working with the kids, they buy a lot of my books and help inspire my work and hell - they just make me grin, is all. But my e-books - which up until now have been mostly horror - are definitely NOT for kids. So I market them separately.

Valerie Douglas said, I started out in traditional publishing with a mid-level publisher (under a pen name), but found that I was fighting tooth and nail sometimes to conform to the publisher and to keep some elements I found important in the book. I was getting good reviews but also a reputation for being difficult. I was also still doing the majority of the marketing - blogging, posting in yahoo groups, maintaining a web page, etc. I also had no control over the cover art (although most of the time it was great!). Now I write the books I want to write, in tandem with editors and cover artist who work WITH me to make my books better. And I'm making enough money to quit the day job.

Olivia Hardin said, That's great, Valerie. I can't wait until I make enough money to quit my day job.

Kim Mutch Emerson said, My son and I are going indie because we like the experiment. We have an upcoming YA series. The first will come out in the fall of this year.

Nickie Storey-Bailey said, I went Indie because I didn't want to lose control of a book I worked so hard to create.

Cathy Brockman said, I am going to try it also and compare to see which works best for me.

Laurie Hanan said, I had all the problems Valerie mentioned with my publisher. I developed a reputation for being difficult. (Who - me???). And I still had to do most of my own marketing, to get a fraction of the net sales. Might as well go indie and reap the rewards for my hard work instead of letting the profit go into someone else's pocket. Especially when that someone calls me difficult!

Michelle Hughes said, Because Harlequin turned down my manuscript and I refused to submit to any other publishing group. Before you ask, yes I'm stubborn!


Once the band got really going, I brought in enough pizzas to feed an army. Virtual pizza from Pizza Hut, especially the vege pizza, was a big hit. Thanks Pizza Hut.
I asked the Rolling Stunes if they could play The Mann and they said as long as the requests are for songs in the def collect we were groovy. I guessed that that meant they were cool with it.

Along the way Kelly Preston, David Slegg, Will Busch, K.T. Dixon, Ernie Laurence, Kai Wilson, Michelle Hughes, Denise Brown, Jerry Last, CJ West, Joe Foley, Carol Jackson, Sharon Roberts, Linda Jo Martin, and Chicki Brown also stopped in. Did I mention this was a great event already? :-)

Cathy Brockman said, she loved their song "Blinded by The Light." I agree, great song.

Cathy Brockman and Sian Young have a weekly radio blog called "Storytime with Cathy and her Friends." It's a bit risqué so our sponsors blocked it. (Darned sponsors… But if you’re a grown up it’s storytimewithcathyandherfriends [dot] blogspot [dot] com).

The second question I asked the group was: What's the best advice you have for aspiring writers, particularly those who are thinking about Going Indie?

Brian Bigelow said, Write when the muse strikes, organize your entire life so that you can get the most writing done. Think about the marketing as soon as you've started on your manuscript. Take a look at the best sellers in the genre, what are their tags and categories?

Steve Vernon Read said, Whatever it is that you've decided to write. Want to write a western? Read every book you can find in the field. Reading is what fuels a writer's fire. Other than that, find a good editor - somebody that you can trust. Constantly remind yourself that you are not God's freaking gift to creativity. That the genius gene does not reside within your spirit. In other words - don't buy into your own PR. You will screw up your grammar, misspell an entire dictionary's worth of words, mess up on continuity and leap all laws of logic with a single sweeping sentence.

Steve Vernon said,  Remember that writing is work. Your muse needs to badass bastard in army boots, with lungs of leather, constantly reminding you that you are your own deadline and why the hell aren't you working on that next book? Above all else - have fun. If you aren't having fun what the hell are you doing this for? Clear out and leave the field for those who love to hoe and ho' and ho-ho-ho while they're doing it. Yowza, baby, yowza!

Valerie Douglas said, Write the next book...

Chicki Brown said, Learn everything you can about the current state of the industry before you put a book out there. With the constant changes happening, new authors need to be knowledgeable. The worst thing you can do is go in blind.

Valerie Douglas said,  OH yes...and polish, edit, and polish again. Get beta readers if you can't afford an editor. Write... and keep writing...

Robert M Brown said, Write whether the muse strikes or not. Don't wait; write every day.

Nickie Storey-Bailey said, I say make sure to get your MS read by a few beta readers and also get a GOOD editor. Many people out there SAY they are professional editors, but they aren't. Shop around and get some samples of their editing before making a decision on who to go with. NEVER publish unedited work.

Laurie Hanan said, I second what Nickie says. Lately I've been downloading more indie books, and I am shocked at what people are passing off as novels. Most are horrendously badly written, poorly edited, incorrectly formatted. Literary abominations.

Michelle Hughes said, Be prepared to work harder than you ever have before

Valerie Douglas said, Once you start establishing a reputation, it does get easier. Also get multiple recommendations from different people no matter who you choose - whether for cover art, editing or whatever. Different strokes for different folks, what works for some won't work for others. You want someone who'll work *with* you. Always remember, too, that kindness counts. Always be professional.

Linda Jo Martin said, Create a multi-year marketing plan for each book before it is published.

 Ice Cream Break

After a few big questions, it was time for a break. Ice cream... The only virtual ice cream parlor I could find was Baskin Robbins. Thank you, Baskin Robbins.

Chocolate and French vanilla were big hits—and the best thing about virtual ice cream is it’s fat free, sin free, and FREE free. Dude’s gotta budget this big event so I can make the mortgage. :-D

The last question I asked was a big one: Have you signed up for KDP Select? If so, share your thoughts.

Valerie Douglas said, I have. I joined at the beginning - and I have to say, it's working very well for me...

Carmen DeSousa said, The day's not over yet. ;) Yes, I would highly recommend it to any author. It gets your book in front of the reader and allows them to decide...oh wait, I blogged about this. Can I just give you my blog link? LOL!

Brian Bigelow said, It's part of why I have two best sellers right now.

CJ West said, I've done well, but the affect didn't last for me. I gave away about 120,000 books.

Brian Bigelow said, I will state most of my borrows on my job hunting books, it really depends on the book.

Brian Bigelow said, I know yours did extremely well Carmen.

Brian Bigelow said, CJ is right the effect doesn't last usually. What is starting to be successful is multiple titles for me. During a promo on one you'll get sales on another one in the same genre. Get The Job which goes on promo tomorrow upsells to the 21 Days book. You need multiple titles for the best promo effect, the more the merrier.

Denise Brown said,  We have had GREAT success with KDP Select - but it differs from book to book and who you holler at to help you advertise.

Jerry Last said, I started KDP in early March, so haven't had as much experience with it yet as it seems like you guys have had. So far it has been interesting, especially the first cycle of two free days that ended a week ago. What should my expectations be?

Brian Bigelow said, I've been in it since right after it came out in December. I never sold a copy until my first promo. To answer your question Jerry, it depends on genre. Some genres sell more copies, some less. The non-fiction I'm in now you don't usually sell a lot of copies to be on a best seller list. If you're in action/adventure you need to move a lot of copies. Basically, you should start selling more copies because now you'll be reaching more readers. I know it'll be tempting to watch the numbers grow of the freebie but you need to start working on your next book.

Cathy Brockman said, I have not but when I have my first adult book I am considering it.

Joe Foley said, I have two books enrolled and I have had limited success with just a few dozen borrows since the program started

Nickie Storey-Bailey said, Not yet - next on my list! :)

Chicki Brown said, KDP Select has been amazing for me! I wrote a blog entry about it here: http://www.sisterscribbler.blogspot.com/2012/01/latest-buzz-in-indie-book-world-is-all.html

Carol Jackson said, Local friend of mine did & reported great success. Going to try, hopefully maybe in a month. Will need help getting word out then.

Valerie Douglas said, Multiple books definitely does sort of improve the odds, as does genre

Olivia Hardin said, I've had my book, Witch Way Bends enrolled in KDP Select for only a month now, but I'm very pleased. I had an amazing number of downloads on my promo day and then saw a strong surge of sales during the week after the promo. Sales have slowed, but have continued and I've gotten more exposure with reviews and reader communications. I wanted Select to help me build a stronger following just before the release of the second book in my trilogy, which I'm planning next month.

Michelle Hughes said, I have my book Defying the Sheikh on free promo today lol I'll let you know!

Brian Bigelow said, I'm not expecting a big bump from Get The Job promo I'm running as it's never sold well. However that sample from the 21 Days book should help sales long term for the 21 Days book. Also it brings a little more attention to my other works.

Last Call

Things finished off with treats. I think TCBY felt left out (since we had Baskin Robbins earlier) and they were kind enough to deliver. I thought delivery was the best thing since sliced bread, especially after getting pizza, beer and ice cream already.

The Rolling Stunes finished their last set with Paint It, Black. Fitting somehow.

Thanks for dropping in! Hope you'll spread the word about Read Indies and the indie authors featured here.

Robert Stanek


Explore the Titanic in a Way You Never Imagined - Shipbuilder

Today I'm talking with Marlene Dotterer about her book The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder, which my friends over at the Sony Reader Store were kind enough to feature in yesterday's Reader Store Newsletter spotlighting Titanic related books. (Thank you, Audrey and Cindy @ Sony -- you're the best!)

Talk about the Titanic is everywhere lately thanks to National Geographic's extensive feature on the ship and the disaster in the April 2012 issue of the magazine and the return of the Titanic movie to theaters in 3D.

Born in Tucson, Arizona, Marlene Dotterer lived there until the day she loaded her five children into her station wagon, and drove north-west to the San Francisco Bay Area. Since then, she has earned a degree in geology, worked in nuclear waste, run her own business as a personal chef, and now teaches natural childbirth classes. She writes, “to silence the voices,” obsessed with the possibilities of other worlds and other times.

Marlene belongs to the California Writers Club, Romance Writers of America, and the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.
Online Marlene hangs out at her blog (http://marlenedotterer.wordpress.com/), on Twitter @marlenedotterer and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/marlenedotterer).

[More about Marlene] Read the follow up interview with Marlene @ Robert Stanek's Around the Town Books

So what's Marlene's book about?

Imagine being there before the Titanic set sail.
Now imagine being there before she’s even built.

Sam Altair is a physicist living in Belfast, Ireland. He has spent his career researching time travel and now, in early 2006, he’s finally reached the point where he can send objects backwards through time. The only problem is, he doesn’t know where the objects go. They don’t show up in the past, and no one notices any changes to the present. Are they creating alternate time lines?

To collect more data, Sam tries a clandestine experiment in a public park, late at night. But the experiment goes horribly wrong when Casey Wilson, a student at the university, stumbles into his isolation field. Sam tries to rescue her, but instead, he and Casey are transported back to the year 1906. Stuck in the past, cut off from everyone and everything they know, Sam and Casey work together to help each other survive. Then Casey meets Thomas Andrews, the man who will shortly begin to build the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark. Should they warn him, changing the past and creating unknown consequences for the future? Or should they let him die?

The construction of White Star Line’s Olympic-class ships forms the backdrop for a passionate love affair between Tom and Casey, who must overcome the many differences inherent between an Edwardian Irish gentleman, and a member of America’s Generation Y. The fictional love affair grows alongside real lives from history: the Andrews family of Comber, Lord William Pirrie, Bruce Ismay, and the thousands of skilled men who built the remarkable ocean liners of the early twentieth century.

Sound interesting? Get the book:
Sony: Ereader
Kindle: Amazon
See a Shipbuilder movie ahead for Marlene? I do.


Talking Zombiish Behavior with Author Bonnie Rozanski

Today, I'm talking with author and playwright, Bonnie Rozanski. Bonnie was born in Queens, New York and has degrees in Psychology and Artificial Intelligence. She writes on matters touching on consciousness and the human condition.

Bonnie's a tough one to get ahold of for follow up questions--I guess she doesn't check her Facebook messages. She doesn't tweet or blog either. Note to self: Get Bonnie on FB, Twitter and Blogspot ASAP! :-)

I've edited our talk for brevity and clarity.

Why did you start writing?

I wrote when I was a child: poetry and short stories, and continued sporadically until my mid-twenties when I finished my first novel (it shall remain nameless). Then I decided that I needed some life experience before I could produce anything worthwhile.

So, I worked in business for quite a few years, raised my son, getting a few degrees along the way. Finally, when I finished my last degree, a MS in Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence), I decided that what I really wanted to do was not go back into computers but to write. (The first thing I wrote, unsurprisingly, was a play about a robot who comes to life.)

My BS and MS are in computers too. I love robots, btw!

Please tell readers about your book.

COME OUT TONIGHT was inspired by recent bizarre reports of zombiish behavior in people who have taken the sleep drug Ambien. These people get up in the middle of the night to walk, eat and drive cars in their sleep without having any memory the next day of what they have done.

Several months later came even stranger reports of patients who awakened after years in a vegetative state – ten minutes after they had been given Ambien. Taken together, these reports seemed to say that Ambien could somehow unlock the secret to the conscious self! How could I not write about this? (Though I changed the name of the drug, naturally.)

By the way, here’s a link to a NYTimes article on those patients:

Interesting. Would love to hear more...

It’s probably easiest if I give you a short summary –

Henry Jackman, a pharmacist’s assistant working in a run-down drugstore in New York City, wakes up one morning to find his girl friend unconscious on his living room rug. Someone has attacked her. He calls an ambulance, and manages to get her to the hospital alive but comatose. There she progresses from coma to vegetative state, never quite becoming conscious... until the day Henry gives her Somnolux, a new-generation sleep aid.

Henry, an insomniac, has himself been taking Somnolux. He has been experiencing blackouts, something he doesn’t quite admit to, not even to himself. There is evidence he’s been doing some strange things in his sleep: women’s underwear turns up in his drawers; sexy women in his bed. Could Henry have attacked his girlfriend himself without any knowledge of the fact?

Enter Donna Sirken, a no-nonsense, over-worked homicide detective who for seventeen years has clawed her way up the NYPD ranks to her current position as Detective Second Grade. “I’d have sworn until this very moment that criminals are not evil,” Donna tells us. “Sure, they’re violent, lazy, banal, or just plain bad. They want something for nothing, or their father beat them into a lifelong resentment against the world…. They grew up poor, abused, or just plain angry. Something set them on the road to crime, but Evil? C’mon.”

Where can people get your book?

Amazon is the only one that currently has COME OUT TONIGHT on sale, because it is in the Kindle Lending Program. However, by May 1, it should be back on Barnes and Noble.

In your book, who is your favorite character?

As much as I like Henry, the main character, I think I have to say my favorite is Donna Sirken, the homicide detective. She kind of sums herself up in this short monologue early on:

"Well, what you see is what you get with me. I am a bossy white woman who won’t back down. And it took me a lot of years to get to this point. I joined the force as a beat cop when I was 20. I’m 37, so you do the math. I may have started out an innocent young recruit, full of self-righteousness and enthusiasm, making the world safe for humanity. But seventeen long years of scratching my way up the pole, fighting off the old boys’ network, as well as, for that matter, some of the old boys themselves, has sanded down the self-righteousness, jaded most of the enthusiasm, leaving, you guessed it: a bossy white woman who won’t back down. " 

What's your favorite book of all time?

Of all time? Nah, I can’t tell you that.

Too many, I'm guessing... Who are some of your favorite authors?

I’ve always been very eclectic in my literary tastes. I remember when I was growing up, loving Pearl S. Buck, A.J. Cronin, James Hilton, and Sinclair Lewis. More contemporary loves are Phillip Roth, Michael Chabon, Anne Patchett and Mordechai Richler.

And I’ve always loved anything medical or scientific. This probably is going to surprise you, but probably the author who influenced me the most is Michael Crighton. Up till then I had rarely seen science so effectively and cleverly incorporated into literature. It inspired me to do research on the brain, genetics, the Y chromosome, computer networks, and to try to communicate my fascination with the world of ideas – but in a fictional setting.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Go with your passion. Sure, some writers will cash in on YA paranormal romance or try Dan Brown thriller imitations. They may sell. And, well, if that’s your passion, then do it. But if writing what you love is what you want to do, whether that means coming-of-age thrillers or dystopian science fiction; even if the agents or publishers tell you that you must write within the category or to a specific market. The best of writing comes from within. If you love what you write, the reader will love it, too.

What's next for you in your writing?

I’m currently writing novel about a old physics professor sending her conscious self thirty years back through time to her younger self. I’ve done a lot of research on time travel, but most of it doesn’t look very promising,so I gave up on sending her body back – just her consciousness. It’s fiction, of course, so I can kind of bend the facts.

Anything else you'd like to tell us?

I have two traditionally published books: BANANA KISS and BORDERLINE, both by a small but fine literary press in Ontario, Canada, where I used to live. BORDERLINE was shortlisted for Foreword’s YA Book of the Year Award in 2008 and received a silver medal at the Independent Publishers’ Book Awards in the same year.

And I have four ebooks besides COME OUT TONIGHT, all of which have some kind of scientific conundrum at their core as well as a wicked sense of humor. One of them, SIX CLICKS AWAY, was a drama winner of the Red Adept 2010 Indie Awards.

Thanks for sharing with Go Indie readers.

Readers, find Bonnie's books...


Barnes and Noble