Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 in review

I was busy the last couple of weeks & didn't post on my "book birthday" (Dec 24) that Mariposa has been published now for a year. That was the official start, last year, of my 2015.

We felt out of it last year on New Year's Eve and went home early to watch the Brad Pitt movie Fury. While the neighbors blasted fireworks, we watched a movie with all kinds of explosions. It was a bit odd, to be honest. That's been another sort of theme of this year-- not fury, but feeling a little out of touch, socially. Not on purpose or for any reason other than just-- well, our couch is comfy. Our TV set up a little too awesome. Luckily, my kids & my spouse & I all like hanging out with each other, and we have two snuggly cats who prefer us to stay home, too. If I am making a resolution, one of them is to be better about doing things out of the house. Meeting up with old friends over the holidays reminded me that I do love being social. I just have to do it my way....

The early part of last year found me writing Hoodoopocalypse. It was the fastest I've ever written a novel, and I enjoyed it very much. The group of writers who "felt weird" was having a blast, and I would easily crank out 1,000 or more words a day. I thought that was the way you did it now after having written your first novel-- you just could flow that easily. After that one was done, I found that it's not as easy every single time. I'm doing my best to keep up a reasonable pace, but two novels circulating in the space of a year still "a'int bad."

One of the best things this year has been meeting a lot of new imagina-- online friends. As part of my drive to get to know more writers, I followed a few of my favorites online. Then I met more. Now I have some new, dear friends and a few loyal fans who keep me on my toes and remind me that I should be writing. Yes, yes. I know.

Upcoming in 2016: I have two job prospects, and I dearly hope I get one of them. If I don't, I'll survive, but it would be very nice to be back in the classroom again. I miss it-- I miss students, even on their "do I really have to write a paper" days. The next few weeks will be big as far as that goes, or they will fizzle out if I don't get a nibble on one of the two for interviews. Antici-

--pation is the word, then.

We're prepping our house for the move back to San Antonio, and will miss the friends we have here, but are looking forward to purging all the build up of the last 10 years. Getting rid of the toys the kiddos never play with. Me getting rid of something, I'm sure, that I never bother with, too. I'm going to try the Japanese method of "tidying up." Purge purge purge.

I'm also in the process of reading stories, poems, etc, for the Indie Women Anthology that my friend Pavarti & I are putting together. We have gotten a lot of great submissions already, and we still have a whole month 'til the last date of the submission period. It's a project close to my heart in that we're donating the proceeds to the Pixel Project to End Violence Against Women. I've already seen an amazing community forming around the Facebook group for it, and I'm so psyched at the potential to really fill a niche that seems to be there. Women's writing that provides a market and a place for people to actually make something happen for charity. Social activism through social networking, FTW!

The year ahead: big change. Good things, I hope. Starting tonight when we're going to a friend's house for our last "Redneck New Year's" which will entail a LOT of fireworks, black eyed peas, and socializing.

2016: Let's Do This Thing! 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lee Lee’s Cajun Eggs Benedict Sunday Brunch Recipe

Lee Lee’s Cajun Eggs Benedict Sunday Brunch Recipe

1 pound andouille sausage, diced in ½ inch cubes
1 dozen fresh eggs (if you can get the ones from the Farmer’s Market, everyone is always impressed by that)
6 English Muffins, toasted and split and buttered
1 pound of butter, salted
1 package of the really good Hollandaise sauce mix (because honestly, you don’t have all day to be making sauces. Just follow the directions on the packet, even that woman from carpool line can figure it out).

2-3 vine ripe tomatoes (have your housekeeper dice these and remove all the seeds while you have a mimosa. Have her make the mimosa too. Heavy on the Prosecco, please, we have another bottle in the liquor refrigerator out in the garage. Use the fancy crystal champagne glasses Maw Maw gave me for Christmas last year because we are not trashy around here).

Send the kids to their rooms to play the Nintendo-Box so they will get out from underfoot. Seriously, I do not need y’all in the kitchen while I am trying to cook! Send your husband back to the living room when he tries to steal one of your English muffins.  Surely there is an LSU football game on or golf or something! I will call you when it’s ready!

Have the housekeeper pour you another mimosa while you find the special French iron skillet you saw on that Paula Deen cooking show last year and just had to have. The one you haven’t used yet.

One more mimosa won’t hurt while you wash the pan out because you have to do everything around here.

Put two sticks of butter in your frying pan. Melt those right up. Keep the heat high and toss all that yummy andouille sausage in there until it browns. If you live somewhere sad that doesn’t have andouille, just use Polish sausage or whatever you can find. 

(Bless your heart).

Once the meat is cooking, prepare to poach the eggs. Your housekeeper should do this because you need to take a break from all this effort. Have a seat at the counter while she poaches the 12 eggs perfectly. You’ve already made the hollandaise sauce (which of course is why you’re so exhausted already you need to put your feet up). The sauce should be waiting while your housekeeper grabs the pretty China plates out of the China Cabinet in the dining room. You’ll have her hand wash these later because we don’t put those in the dishwasher; I don’t care what that lady at Dillard’s says; these are hand wash only. Use the good silver, too. This is Sunday Brunch and we celebrate.

The andouille sausage should be perfectly browned now. Remove from heat and toss the diced tomatoes into the mix. Toss gently so you don’t squish the tomatoes. (It doesn’t matter if your kids don’t like tomatoes because the little bas—angels— aren’t going to eat this anyway and are going to beg for cereal after you put forth all this effort).

Place two buttered English muffins on each plate, scatter the sausage & tomato mixture on top. Have the housekeeper put a poached egg on top or to the side so it looks pretty on each half of the muffins. Pour a lot of hollandaise on top of the entire mixture, then sprinkle Slap Ya Mama seasoning on top, for pretty. Not too much, just enough.

If you have any fresh (not freeze dried, don’t even think about pulling that mess out with me) green onions or scallions chopped up, put a couple of those on top too.

Have another mimosa and share your delicious Cajun Eggs Benedict with someone who deserves a great brunch. This recipe serves between 6-12, depending on how you split up the meat & tomato mixture.  Maybe invite a few ladies from the book club. If you do that, be sure to have more than one extra bottle of Prosecco, too.

Go take a nap because Lord knows in a few hours the house is gonna be a mess and you gotta supervise the kids and take them to school tomorrow.  Have the housekeeper clean up the kitchen while you nap. Sure it’s Sunday and she was planning to go home to her family but she can still get there after brunch. Have her stay longer to watch the kids and keep them quiet because all that cooking gave you a headache.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mariposa Audio Book

I have totally forgotten to post this offer on the blog.

 My Mariposa audio book, narrated by the amazing Renata Friedman, is available on Audible, right now

And if you get a brand new membership to Audible, and use your first free credit to buy Mariposa, and then you send me a copy of the receipt showing your purchase along with your address, I'll send you a FREE print copy of both Mariposa and (when the publisher gets it to me) Hoodoopocalypse!!  I'll also throw in a free copy of the Mariposa prequel Lady in Blue.

So go check it out, get a membership to Audible today, and listen to Mariposa on your long holiday drives. You can get the app free on your phones, and it's an amazing way to pass the time instead of listening to "Baby it's Cold Outside" YET AGAIN.

If you're an I-Tunes person, you can find it there, too. The Audible offer above doesn't apply, but you still get an amazingly performed book. And my eternal gratitude.....

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Book Blab Today: Slipstream!

A few writers & I are doing a new thing where we are talking about different types of writing, the challenge of indie publishing, etc. It's on a new platform Twitter is creating called Blab. If you have a Twitter account already, it's easy to sign in and watch us. It's not so much about sales or promotion, but the nitty gritty of the craft-- it's writing talk, mostly.

Today's chat will be about defining "Slipstream" fiction, persistence in spite of or because of negatives in publishing, and anything else we can come up with. It's pretty fun, and if you come during the live stream, you can chat with us, too, ask questions, etc. Come hang out if you have an hour free today! Come check it out!

Our "old" blabs are here on  YouTube where you can see what we've talked about before, if you're interested in that, too. 

Oh, and just for fun, here's last week's blab:

Come Play With Us!! 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Blog Tour!

For December's release of the Mariposa Audiobook, and in honor of Mariposa's ONE YEAR book birthday, I'm going on a blog tour! I'll be doing interviews, having reviews, etc, on various awesome blogs all over the Internet. The first one, today, is on Mythical Books, and they'll be talking about my sources for Pinspiration for Mariposa. You can see the Pins I made for the locations.

You can also sign up to win one of five free downloads on Audible of the amazing audio version of Mariposa, narrated by the brilliant Renata Friedman.

Finally, check out the banner links above where there's a Rafflecopter to win the FREE KINDLE FIRE! That I'm giving away as part of the big December promos!

Let's Do This!!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Kosa Press Interview with Yours Truly

Pavarti Tyler is a force of nature. She just about always has about forty oars in the water, and is a bundle of energy and fun. When she asked me to be interviewed in the Kosa Press series on Women in Sci-Fi, I was like "HECK YEAH."

Then I got the questions, and they were awesome. Sometimes the typical "blog interview" can get kind of the same, and even when both interviewer & interviewee are trying their hardest, it's just bleh. But I loved the rapport and the funny vibe we managed to pull off. It all started with Pavarti imagining that I have my very own Gimp in the basement to take out my frustrations on-- and I told her nah, he's in the kitchen doing dishes.

Seriously. Go check this interview out and laugh with me, then think about why we HAVEN'T had 9 women on the Supreme Court yet and let's DO THIS!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015


And now for something completely different. 

I never thought I'd be a video person. Vlogs, or video on the Internet, just didn't seem like a "me" thing. I don't love my voice, and I always think I'm ridiculously unphotogenic. But my writer-friend Laxmi Hariharan told me about this new platform that Twitter has created called Blab. I was intrigued, and we've done two of them now, talking about books with other writer friends.

I'm hooked. Laxmi & I are planning to do more, as long as it stays fun. Right now we have future video-cast Blabs scheduled for a couple of weeks. You can find the subscription schedule here at our Twitter page, and a video playlist on YouTube, too. It's really fun-- like having a chat in a hip coffee shop with smart people that just happens to also be intercontinental. Digital. Cyborgian. Brilliant.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Reincarnation & Alternate Universes: A Theory

These are the very words she uses to describe her life...

She said a good day
Ain't got no rain
She said a bad day's when I lie in bed
And think of things that might have been...
"Slip Sliding Away" Paul Simon, 1975

Sometimes, you'll hear a song or see a face that reminds you of another life you might have lived. If you had taken that one path differently, that life lies shimmering just beyond your reach.

This isn't melancholy or regret, just thoughts about alternate timelines. 

Each step we take causes a quantum state of "might have been" to slide right past us. We hardly notice them, these alternate lives. This is actual scientific theory, but you know, I think it's also the root of a lot of world religious beliefs.  Not only are we reincarnated in many lives but we're living many lives right this second. And a new one this next second.

That smiling beauty at the bookstore, looking at you with longing in their eyes? A different word, another path, and you would be with them, instead of who you are now. Would it have been better? Worse? Somewhere, some WHEN, it is. Somewhere, you took that step and you live an alternate life. 

Isn't that interesting? The thought that there are multiple copies of you out there? Some of them aren't that different. They chose to eat scrambled eggs this morning instead of corn cereal. Big deal. Some of them live in entirely different cities, have entirely different careers. That fleeting thought of change you had once? Some other you took it. They went skydiving, they joined the Peace Corps, they got married young, they pursued their PhD, they are a waitress in a dive bar and they go to the beach during the day, sun-kissed and smelling like coconut sunscreen.

Honestly, this life I have right now I'm 99.9% happy with. There are choices I could have made that would have been a little different, a little better. There are some that could have been a lot worse. I would have liked to finish a few things a bit faster. It would have been (would still be) nice for my career path to have gone a bit differently. More winter beach time would be, would have been, amazing. I would not have dated that one guy. You know the one-- the one that rubbed all the innocence off, that broke pieces of your heart into tiny bits. You put them back together, but never quite the same.

But sometimes I catch a sliding door, a crack in the timeline, and I see a vision of the me I would be, could be, if that other step had been taken. This one I'm on now is amazing, and it's entirely possible that other one would have been sadder, lonelier. But it's still over there, hovering out of my consciousness.

Other lives. Live all of them to your fullest. Every single one.

Ah! somehow life is bigger after all
Than any painted angel, could we see.
Oscar Wilde, Humanitad


Friday, November 13, 2015

Dystopian Authors Collide Today!

If I didn't have my head screwed on tight, I'd forget where it was. Is that how that saying goes? I feel like I'm messing it up.

Today is a big launch party for a fellow author and a bunch of us are getting together and having fun. The party even includes the giveaway of an actual KINDLE. Seriously. There are a lot of other prizes happening, including books, and whatever else someone wants to toss your way. There will even be incredibly witty discussions of THINGS. Unimaginable things. Dark things. Things that will eat away at your soul and....

Wait. What happened there?

I shouldn't listen to those horror podcasts at night.

Anyway. Go sign up for the party, and enter to win, and all that jazz. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

#UnCommonBodies Trailer and Book Party

Celebrate the release of this collection of 20 beautifully irreverent stories which blend the surreal and the mundane. Together, the authors explore the lives of the odd, the unbelievable, and the impossible. Imagine a world where magic exists, where the physical form has the power to heal or repulse, where a deal with the devil means losing so much more than your soul.

Featuring Authors: Philip Harris, Sessha Batto, Robb Grindstaff , Brent Meske, Sally Basmajian, Robert Pope, Keira Michelle Telford, Jordanne Fuller, Michael Harris Cohen, Deanne Charlton, P.K. Tyler, Bey Deckard, Vasil Tuchkov, Laxmi Hariharan, Samantha Warren, Rebecca Poole, Daniel Arthur Smith, S.M. Johnson, Kim Wells, Christopher Godsoe, and Bob Williams.

I can't believe I haven't shared this here!! Where has my brain been? Here's the book trailer promo video for the #UnCommonBodies anthology, which you can actually pre-order now!!

I did a couple of other promos for some of the individual stories. Mine is first, for my UndeadGirl story. I love this one so much.

Then there's the promo for a story by author Jordanne Fuller, which looks amazing, and I can't wait to read. 

I've offered to do promos for all the stories, so there may be more eventually. These are so much fun to do. I told them in a way, doing a promo video is just my form of relaxing, the way people knit while they're watching TV.

Here. I made you a sweater. I mean, a video. 

The launch party is shaping up, too.

Go RSVP to it here on Facebook.

There will be some amaaaaaazing prizes, as well as cool hanging out with friends.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pinteresty #UnCommonBodies Goodness!

This is so much fun! The other authors from #UnCommonBodies and I have all designed images from our stories. And my friend Daniel made a Pinterest board for us. It looks so neat to see the different ideas represented all in one place like this. It's a very quirky anthology, and it's gonna be really fun.

Step right up to the modern freakshow — We have mermaids, monsters, and more. You won’t be disappointed, but you may not get out alive.

#UnCommon Bodies presents a collection of 21 beautifully irreverent stories which blend the surreal and the mundane. Together, the authors explore the lives of the odd, the unbelievable, and the impossible. Imagine a world where magic exists, where the physical form has the power to heal or repulse, where a deal with the devil means losing so much more than your soul.

#UnCommon Bodies Includes

Phantom Pain by Philip Harris
The Zealot by Chris Godsoe
Undead Cyborg Girl by Kim Wells
Made for This by Sessha Batto
Rudy and Deidre by Robb Grindstaff
Skin by Brent Meske
The Well-Rounded Head by Sally Basmajian
Mermaids by Robert Pope
All the Devils by Keira Michelle Telford
Scars: The First Session by Jordanne Fuller
We is We by Michael Harris Cohen
Poetry by Deanne Charlton
Reserved by SM Johnson
Ruby by Bob Williams
Daedalus’ Daughter by PK Tyler
Don’t Touch Me by Bey Deckard
In Her Image by Vasil Tuchkov
UnTamed by Laxmi Hariharan
From the Inside by Daniel Arthur Smith
Saltwater Assassin by Samantha Warren
Unbreakable Heart by Rebecca Poole

Check out the full sized versions of the promo images here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

UnCommon Bodies

Coming November 24, my story for the #UnCommonBodies anthology!!  

When she wakes up undead after receiving a cyborg assassin upgrade surgical procedure, Undead Girl's life is forever changed. Is it for the better? She has all the skills, but she needs a job, she needs some friends, and she needs to remember who she is. Part 1 of the Cyborg Story trilogy.

“Though both are bound in the spiral dance, I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.” ~Donna Haraway

“Why not both?” ~Sean Wells

Monday, October 19, 2015

Roller Coaster Indie Life

Do you remember that late 80s movie Parenthood? There's a scene where Grandma has mentioned how much she loves roller coasters-- the slow buildup, the excitement at reaching the top, the thrill and throwing your hands up of the race through the scary bits? Then right after, they show the characters reacting as though they are on an actual roller coaster.

That roller coaster is simply life sometimes. 

Personally, I've always been a fan of the more horizontal rides. The ones that spin and whirl (like the Scrambler, or the Tilt A Whirl) but don't have quite the range of the highs and lows the roller coaster features. Ferris Wheels are good, too-- they get up pretty high, and you can feel that thrill of something that looks risky but really isn't.

The last few weeks have been roller coaster-ish. Lots of build up and some steep turns. Thinking of moving, applying for jobs, finding a narrator for Mariposa. But also just trying to live the day-to-day grind of exercise, family responsibilities, friends.

My online community includes a lot of people who, on a daily basis, make me smile, make me laugh, and make me read thoughtful, interesting articles. I am informed on politics, science, and social stuff that truly makes me feel smarter than average.

And I know some online folks are being constantly bombarded by that roller coaster, too. Demands made on them, deadlines to meet, scary reviews, the uncertainty of the indie world where you have to do it all yourself. The thrill of the indie world where you GET TO DO IT ALL YOURSELF.

Anyway. I just wanted to remind you all that I truly appreciate you. We've got this.

We're gonna indie the sh*t out of this. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

UnCommon Bodies

I'm going to be in a most amazing anthology. It's called #UnCommon Bodies, and it's due out November 24th. Seriously: I have talked with the other authors in this anthology, and Pavarti, who is the curator, is one amazing editor/beta reader/story picker. (Her story in the anthology is also really cool). Check out this cover!! And go follow more info on the GoodReads page here. Someone said it was like Meghan Trainor met Clive Barker. I love the eye in the eggshell. It looks nicely poached.

My story is going to be the Undead Cyborg Girl story I've already talked about a little bit. The plot synopsis is here:

When she wakes up undead after receiving a cyborg assassin upgrade surgical procedure, Undead Girl's life is forever changed. Is it for the better? She has all the skills, but she needs a job, she needs some friends, and she needs to remember who she is. Part 1 of the Cyborg Story trilogy.
It's  part one of the trilogy, and I want to release parts 2 & 3 when the anthology comes out. I need to get rocking on it. Part 2 is about 2/3 done, but Part 3 is still all in my head. Let me say this about it: it's an unusual story about Cyborgs. And the Undead. There's a little bit of romance, a lot of supernatural characters, more cyborgs than you can shake a stick at. And lots of great coffee.

Someone shared this picture, below, to our group about the stories. And I think it's apt, and a great summary of what we're going to be sharing with y'all. The other authors are slap damn bangerific, and I seriously can't even wait til this book is out.

Oh, and ARCs will be available to people who promise a fair review, so if you're interested in getting an ARC for that purpose, go follow me on Facebook and see when that gets announced. 

Scaling the (Ivory) Tower, Storming the Skyscrapers

I have never worked in Corporate Culture.

I have always worked in Corporate Culture.

Let me explain the contradiction.  When I was fifteen years old, I got my first job—a busperson at a very nice restaurant in Destin, Florida. Bussers were considered the entry level to the service industry, with the waiters that could sometimes make up to five hundred dollars a night as the coveted levels of skill. The restaurant served live Maine lobster, and I remember my shock as a poor kid that people would order that expensive dish and leave half a lobster, completely uneaten, on the plate to throw away.

After the shock of realizing the differences b/w people who could order lobster & throw it away and those who served it, I strove to climb out of the service-industry poverty that my family had lived in my whole life. I did pretty well in school, joined clubs, took the standardized tests. I scored in the 98% on those tests, but for some reason, slipped through the cracks when guidance counselors saw the scores, and I didn’t receive the scholarships and grant offers that I now know I should have qualified for. I worked a few more years in the service industry before discovering the Pell Grant, and then I started college. I met my husband to be, who was a beginner in the Navy, and we married. I kept attending college, having found a dream of being a college professor.

College is a fantasy of ivy covered walls and lofty philosophical thoughts. 

Good jobs are the carrot at the end of a varying length stick, and my four year in Washington State was beautiful. It had the ivy covered old buildings, a gorgeous lawn and a fountain that co-eds spread out around on warm summer days, reading Whitman and arguing about poetic meter. It seemed I was on that track.

Graduate school began the corporate style education model. I received assistantships that trained me to work as a professor and paid for my education. It was great! I was learning how to be a good teacher, and I loved it! The first time I left a classroom that I had been solely in charge of planning the curriculum for, a lesson on Carl Jung and archetypes, I remember grinning like an love-struck paramour for the full forty minute drive home. I smiled so hard my face hurt.

Graduate school trained me well to be a teacher, and I studied side careers (Tech Writing) that I hoped would make me “more marketable” as a professor. Marketing myself was my goal, and I learned every skill I could to make that happen. HTML, Powerpoint, Adobe products—all of these were my favorite hobbies in addition to studying the lofty literary pursuits of a college professor. Practical skills were to supplement my teaching of Emily Dickenson poetry one day.

Then I finally received my PhD and tried to get jobs on the greater Ivory Tower circuit. I was also what they call “Geographically Limited”—because of the family job that paid the bills, I could not go on the “wider market” that Academic PhDs (especially in the humanities) must go on. Applying for a tenure-track position in Alaska just to get my foot in the door was an impossibility.

So I went on the “Adjunct Track.” Working for small liberal arts colleges in the area where I lived, I got to teach a subject that I love and met some amazing students. I received teaching awards, tried to turn my Adjunct Track into something that was sort of parallel to the Tenure Track, just with my enthusiasm and having fun. Would hosting a Black Literature Read-In that got media coverage and hundreds of students to spend a day reading poems and short fiction from authors they had never read before get me extra points towards a “Real” position in Academia? Maybe. Probably not. But it was fun. And I was trying to have fun while being an Adjunct, which is likely beneath “Substitute Teacher” on the pay and prestige scale of the Teaching Tower.

Then budget cuts hit. Louisiana trimmed the “extra” pay of people like me (who frankly was making so little that it seems ridiculous that I was considered a significant cost, but it happened.) The University where I worked cut back on course offerings and I decided, instead, to devote my time to growing my own business.

My husband and I had purchased a rental property, fixed it up, and were growing that business, looking to expand it with more cool little historic houses to fix up and rent to young people (especially) who weren’t ready to buy their own home. I learned a lot of new skills there—how to manage a team of contractors (some of whom were trying to milk us for as much money with as little work as possible—some of whom I learned how to fire). How to touch every surface of a beautiful custom 1930s home and restore it to something gorgeous that people clamor to live in. How to manage the the sticky paint stripper that I called “Alien Blood” after the acidic Queen in the sci-fi movies, that burnt your skin and made your head spin if you were in a confined space (they’re always confined spaces). I learned to Manage Projects.

I also learned that I knew business. I still know business. 

The business of Academia, the Ivory Tower, is to educate, yes, and to talk about beautiful ideas and art and how to write a chemical equation for soap. But it’s also about marketing a product for the future job world. And in that, Academia today is a corporate power larger than you can imagine. There are wheels within wheels and tiny cogs that support those wheels, and it’s all a Corporate Culture, with the great Corpus of the College lumbering through the world, slouching towards perfection and/or Jerusalem.

So these days, I’m looking at other ways of using the ridiculous amount of skills that I have acquired over the years. Yes, I can dissect a poem in a matter of minutes and teach you the history of Women’s Literature since women first started trying to pick up that pen and fight with the mighty. But I can also build online curriculums with intricate web platforms to reach students (of all kinds) around the world, teach them with multi-media that will amaze you, balance a budget, fire people who can’t figure out how to stay in that budget, stay on schedule and adjust the schedule when it’s not working, give a HELL of a presentation/speech. I can be a team player or I can be a self-motivated sole-worker on a project that can dream the big dreams of achievement.

I learned it all in a Corporate Culture, a Service Industry, and a world where the dreaming spires of the Ivory Tower are just that for most people: dreams. Nowadays, I’d like to actually use all of that knowledge to excel at a new kind of job. I just hope someone gives me chance, and looks beyond that fantasy of the rumpled college professor dreaming of poems and following her red pen across campuses of rhetorical arguments to see the savvy businessperson who has pulled herself out of poverty to have a weird skill set that seems oddly targeted. I can adapt to ANY culture. I’ve done it before.

I’ve worked for Corporate Culture my whole life. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Facing Change. Transforming Fear.

Yesterday, my daughter & I talked about change. She has moved into a new type of schooling this year, and her dad is retiring from his 20+ year position. All of this means we are facing huge changes in the next year. Everything my 10 year old kiddos has ever known is about to be different. 
For her dad and I, this has been a blip. We have missed our family and dear friends in San Antonio, but that city has always been HOME. It's been a sweet dive into cool green water on the hottest day in the year every time we come home. It's been lying on cool, white sheets to take that needed rest after a long day, not missing out on any tasks because there's nothing you needed to do otherwise. Comfort, and rest. 
We've been even looking at buying a house in the same basic neighborhood where we lived when the twins were born. We will slide back into the routine of visiting with friends, going to hear the same acoustic musicians on the weekend, heading to the zoo or the Japanese Tea Gardens (my favorite) when we need a little Civic Appreciation time. All the things we do when we come home, we can do every weekend. 
I've missed the flavor of San Antonio-- the way people standing in a line to grab groceries feel like friends on the same path as you. Yeah, maybe if you pushed it they'd give you a funny look but there is a congeniality that I don't find the same in other places. Don't get me wrong-- almost anywhere you go in the South has a generally friendly vibe but San Antonio is the friendliest, kindest, most gentle big City I've ever seen. 
But all of this is still Change to my kiddos. They will leave behind friends (if you can leave behind anyone in this day of Skype and IM). They'll have to shop in different places, and the allure of "weekend vacation" hot spots like the Riverwalk and the Tower will fall into the common, everyday sights. Change is scary. 
Even for the grown ups-- thinking about a new routine, new things and people to learn-- can feel pretty scary. Lying awake and contemplating all the potential new faces to meet in the next year or so, the adventure of packing up our things and driving that long day back to home... it can feel a little scary. But FEAR is a four letter word. We will face that feeling and then come back to another four letter word: LOVE. 
And let me tell you MY secret: I can't wait

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

New Project: Independent Women Anthology

I have it on amazing authority that Indie Writing/Publishing is in a sort of "golden age" of the short story. When I first started in the Indie crowd, one of the first anthologies I spotted was one called Synchronic. Within those pages, I read and enjoyed a number of new writers. Samuel Peralta was one, with his lovely story Hereafter, and he has, in turn, created another revival of amazing shorts with his Future Chronicles anthologies (I, of course, was modestly published in the Dragon Chronicles, my short story The Book of Safkhet being very fun to write and nicely received by readers.)

I've also had my short story "Undead Girl" accepted for publishing in an upcoming anthology called UnCommon Bodies, which from what I can see from hanging out in the "staff breakroom" is going to be simply amazing. I can't wait to post more about that as we get closer to its publishing date in November.

So I had been thinking about sponsoring an anthology of my specialty for a long time. Women authors have been something I've been promoting and encouraging since 1998, when I first published the Third Wave feminist web zine Women Writers. (Which is still amazing, by the way-- check it out and read over our stuff there. Some of it might be a few years old but still great.) I've been doing this "promote women authors" thing for a long time-- way before Indie got supported by Amazon and elsewhere, so it seems like a natural fit for me to curate an anthology. 

So I was mulling the idea over when I saw the Dark Beyond the Stars anthology, which released a few months ago. That one wasn't overtly "Feminist" in its title, but it featured incredibly talented women I've come to know online in the "indie" hallways and I thought, at first, that they had covered the market.

Then I thought "no way! There's no way that one anthology covers all the amazing talented writing by and about women out there." So I put up a post about it on FB, asked a few writers I thought might be interested, and sure enough, it seems to have struck a chord with a lot of people. So we're doing it.

The website with the official "call for submissions" is here, at It's pretty amazing, and I will post more updates as time goes on. Maybe even a blog where I'll have guest authors and other kinds of info... that's coming soon. I plan to host a contest for talented cover artists to try out for the chance to design the cover for us.

I'm footing the bill for the advance stuff, and we are going to pay contributors a modest fee for their work, and then, the rest of any profits will go to the Pixel Project for ending Violence Against Women. That's going to be amazing.

So far, I have interest from a lot of big names in Indie and some Traditional Published authors. I really hope to get a lot of buzz, and some amazing stories. I even sort of half hope we'll have so many stories that we have to publish more than one volume... we'll see about that, won't we? In the meantime, I encourage everyone to think about what it means to live in this culture, where women are freer than they've ever been, but where we often feel like those freedoms are a fingernail away from being taken back, where some people seem to treasure the idea of women being considered inferior, still. Where hard won rights are being fought over, still, after all this time.

I come from a long line of Independent Women. My Great-Grandmother was the community's Midwife, and lived to be over 100, as my Grandmother worked outside the home as a telephone operator and my mom was a Naval engineering tech, a nurse, a bartender, and an all around tough chick who once shamed a guy who had pulled a sawed off shotgun on someone in a bar where she was working to stand down through the sheer power of her "Give that to me!" command.

I hope to encourage more women to try that dream of publication again. That story you've been meaning to write? Go for it. If it's an interesting, well-written, thought provoking idea with something related to women's issues.  Intersectionality, WOC, and differently abled, trans, or GLB/GSD* (Gender and Sexual Diversities) authors and/or story focuses will be especially appreciated. Anything that is well-written and explores women's issues in some creative, interesting way will be considered. Feminism, womanism, life, fun, morality, sci-fi, fantasy, you name it, we'd like to see it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

100 Years (give or take)

Give or take a few, we've got around 100 years on this planet, this blue, impossibly beautiful, swirling living organism.

And guess what?

We're all here at about the same time.

Think about that. There was a long time before and aeons after we are sharing this space together. How incredibly special that relationship between all of us here, alive, right now. Right here, in this space, hurtling through infinity. We're all together. For better or worse, here we are.

Sometimes it's too easy (all the time it seems for some) to forget that. Someone is cruel, hurtful, or just cuts you off in traffic, says something mean to you. Or worse. I know people have it worse, far worse. It's so easy to forget how tiny, how short in the span of infinity, that trip we're all taking through the bright, warm, loud mead hall, sparrows flying through a confused moment and darkness on either side.

All of our differences, our petty and not so petty issues... in a 100 years, where will they be?

How lucky I feel to be here with you. You beautiful human life, you. 

Breathe deeply, love someone, create something, feel the sun on your face today. Won't you? We're here. Now. All of us. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Available Now!

My short intro to a new 'Verse, The Tribes in Exile book 1 called "The Book of Safkhet" is coming out on Amazon!  Check it out! It's only 99 c, or free if you're on KU. It's a really neat story, so I hope y'all like it!

Check out this nifty promo book trailer video!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Indie Book of the Day Award (belated note!)

So while I was on my big trip to Chicago (call it Kim Wells' Day Off, minus the Danke Schein parade) I received notice that Mariposa had won an Indie Book of the Day award for June 19th!!  It was very exciting and neat and I was so out of the loop for that week and every day since then. Summer here is so crazy! I'm just today getting a moment to think about it and I realized I hadn't said anything about it here!

It goes without saying that I love the book. But I'm glad that other folks appreciate it too! A recent review from Amazon said:

"I loved this book from page 1. Kim Wells creates worlds full of interesting characters, characters that I want to know more about. Her descriptions of San Antonio have made me want to visit the city. Her writing is gripping and vivid, bringing you into the story in an intimate experience. Highly recommended."
I really should contact the San Antonio tourism board about some kind of commission.  If you haven't read it yet, here's a handy dandy link to the Kindle version.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pop Culture Nerd & Mariposa

I'm kind of a pop culture nerd. This will come as no surprise to anyone who already knows me, but it definitely played an important part of the writing of my first novel. And I've been thinking about that, and realized I should say something about it.

So my husband has been essentially writing fan fiction for my novel, Mariposa. He didn't think I told the guys' story properly, and is writing that, as well as creating something new. It's really not bad, although I'm going to have to help him edit it, a lot. (Which I will admit I'm not exactly looking forward to....editing anyone's work sucks but editing someone else's work in your universe... ick.)

I find this equal parts exciting and flattering and uncomfortable at times. I love that he wants to expand the story, and I agree with him and others that there is room for more to tell about Meg's world. To do that, I'm supposed to be finishing Orpheus & the Butterfly this summer, and I'm close, but it has hit a stalling point lately-- and I'm mostly okay with that. (I promise I'll finish it soon. I just need to work out a tricky scene or two).

Isn't it cool? If you've read the novel,
you know what this is....
But the discussions I've been having with him about the story as a result of his work in progress have reminded me of some things I wanted to say about the writing of the book itself. It really was a love-letter to San Antonio, which I miss very much. And I think, according to several of the reviews I've seen that mention this specifically, that love comes across in the descriptions of the city. Many people have remarked how they want to visit San Antonio because of my book (I'll take my commission in small unmarked bills, thank you, city tourism board). There's a reference to several of my favorite restaurants, including one with an amazing Mexican bakery. And when I was telling someone the other day about a house we've been looking at to buy in San Antonio, I told her "it's right down the street from the koi pond that Meg visits" and a sparkle lit in her eyes at the thought of getting to live next to that. (Me too, for the record.)

The snow globe that appears in the novel was one that I used to own and wish I could find a new version of, but sadly, it's a hard to find item. It played "Deep in the Heart of Texas" and my son dropped it.... I suppose that's one way to free someone...

One of the points in the book is that Demetrio temporarily swipes a book called Caballero, by Jovita Gonzalez. I put the book in my book for a couple of reasons, and I'm thinking it deserves a little attention here. If you read Caballero after reading mine, you would get a little more out of both books. It's not just dropped in there randomly-- it actually adds to the story to know about Gonzalez' work.

I read Caballero when I was in grad school and I loved it. There are these rich descriptive passages in the novel, and I wanted to do that same thing with my writing. It's also part of Demetrio's exploration of his heritage, which he shares with Amelinda. This was not always clear to everyone as a point of the book. Yes, it's a quest-motif and a ghost story. But it is also about the journey the characters experience through cultures. The history is crucial to what makes Demetrio who he is, and Amelinda, and even Meg, eventually. Those stories will be told, and are a blend of Spanish history and the way San Antonio is made up of multiple cultures that work nicely together.

Without telling too much about it, I think Caballero is a novel that a good many people would really enjoy reading, I think. It has never gotten the acclaim I think it deserves, mostly seeming relegated to grad school reading lists. It's a historic romance, and fans of that genre would quite like it, I think. It's a little like Gone With the Wind for the Spanish colonial peon system in Texas, but it also has a bit of a Romeo & Juliet vibe. Not magical, like my stuff, but I think my ghost-sections have the touch of history to them, as well as that rich description.  My writing is not "sparse" and clean, like Hemingway. I like some adjectives, baby. As did Gonzalez.

Another important detail of my novel is the ghost stories, which are all but one based on real hauntings in San Antonio (I won't tell you which one I totally made up. But if you guess, I'll fess up). An early editor discussion was when one of my editors said he felt like the "side" stories with the ghosts (spoilers at the links, Sallie White and Ollie and even Martha) were distracting to the main narrative of the story. And a friend who reviewed it said at first she thought so, too, but when she kept reading, she realized that they are a major part of what's actually going on.

I'll admit: It's not a particularly linear story. I get that, and it was on purpose. The side-quests are crucial in Meg's journey because they both show her who she is and what kind of dangers await her if she doesn't figure out why she's "still here." And they are also one of the places that future stories are likely to go (as well as where Lady in Blue ties in, too...) I really love them, and there was no question in my mind that they were going to be deleted.*

Anyway, to make the point of this post clearer, my novel is intended to be in the same genre as Chocolat, by Joanne Harris, or Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. It's a little intended to be like Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire stories but less punchy, and definitely less sexy. I also love Sean Stewart's works, Galveston & Mockingbird, and I was hoping that the novel fell into a similar pattern of magic realism. Finally, and I specifically mention his work, Charles DeLint's brilliant Newford stories, where his city is so powerfully drawn that it's not a setting but another character.

So if you liked my book, and you haven't read the above books, you should go grab them, or get them from your library. If you love the above books, and haven't read my book, I think I can humbly suggest you might enjoy mine, too.

So there you have it... my love of pop culture and magical realism means that Mariposa, as well as everything I write, will be loaded down with these kinds of references. I hope it's part of the fun for you as a reader to find them, and I'll keep pointing out the sources of them if you're interested.

*I did, however, delete something like 40,000 words of excessive description. You're welcome. :) 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pennsylvania FanFic on Sale

So Michael Bunker's Brother Frankenstein is on sale this week. It's set in the Pennsylvania world that he created which is a sci-fi cyberpunk meets colonization story that is really unique and interesting. It's genuinely a new idea in sci-fi-- how often does that come along? I'll give you a moment to think about it.

And if you like that kind of thing, I also happen to know of several indie authors who have written official fan fic of that universe (including my story, which has gotten great reviews so far.) So while you're grabbing Brother Frankenstein, consider loading your Kindle with these other three stories!

Sisters of Solomon by Kim Wells
Donavan by D.K. Cassidy
The Yesterday Adjustment by David Bruns

Friday, June 5, 2015

Googly Eyes

WHY am I putting this picture on here? I hate it! 
So I just read this blog where a super funny Geraldine (LastNameRedacted) discussed how she tormented her husband by sticking googly eyes all over everything. The appliances were sad, the tissue box was enduring agonizing pain but willing to sacrafice for her beloved husband, and I laughed til tears squeezed out of the corners of my eyes....

I thought "I need to do this. My kids would love it."

And the next thought was: "I'll bet I can get those googly eyes on Amazon!"

So I googled it (there are a lot of google words in this post.)

Suddenly, I found I had triggered the sheer horror of my phobia of tiny holes in things as this image was staring back at me.

NO! Don't google what it's called. You can't unsee some things. You'll thank me for not knowing. There's a reason why Pandora is considered a bad story... you open up a simple box and you end up letting things out into the world and forever and ever until you end up being the name of an Internet radio station. (And seriously: until I just mentioned it, the connection between Pandora and PANDORA had never occurred to me before. Boy, that PhD was totally worth the money cause I reading comprehend like a real champion!!) 

Luckily Boz Scaggs is playing on my Pandora station right now and things are getting better. I also have wine in the other room chilling for later, and company coming over.

And I think I'm going to take a deep breath and go order some of those googley eyes and start planning the notes. My refrigerator has seen angst like nobody's business.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Carrier Bag Theory of Publishing: On Feminists, Revolution, and the Shape of the Future of Books

A long time ago, I wrote a speech to give to a group of women writers, because as a scholar in the field and the creator/editor of my Women Writers zine, people wanted to hear what I might have to say to a small group of professional women writers in the Buffalo, NY area. In that speech, I started off summarizing LeGuin's amazing scholarly article "On the Carrier Bag Theory of Narrative" from her collection Dancing on the Edge of the World, and I'm going to quote myself a bit here:
Ursula K. LeGuin's interpretation of narrative, based on an anthropological theory that the first tool used by humanity wasn't, as popular media would have us think, a stick to bash someone with, but a bag-- something to use to carry home the nuts and berries, or the fortunately caught rabbit for dinner, or even hold the baby who would wiggle and wander off to be lost without some kind of attention being paid, attention that needed to be on the gathering of daily foodstuff instead.
LeGuin imagines that the true shape of narrative is more like that carrier bag-- not the pointed, linear hero-quest where halfway through you slay the beast and move on to a heroic victory parade, but a mixture of things thrown together next to each other, jostling, competing, and overlapping, somewhat like a quilt, enhancing each other, but sometimes contrasting. (WW, 5/15/04).
I'm going to come back to this quote-- so hold on to it in your mind for a moment...just be thinking about a writer's toolbox, and how she might use it. 

Today, a discussion has been going on in the "indie writer" circles that I am a part of about LeGuin's continued [edit to opposition-- at least say] objection to or misgivings about* to digital books, including, and especially, Amazon. In her speech to the 2014 Book Awards, and more recently in the article "Up the Amazon with the BS Machine," LeGuin repeatedly argues that Amazon, in particular, is anti-book, and the marketing by Amazon specifically is turning books and American Literature into a BS (bestselling) commodity that sacrifices profit for freedom, and especially an idea of a sort of market censorship and even using the strongest words like "dictatorship" for Amazon. 

She especially dislikes the idea of Amazon's marketing, and bestseller lists being "cheaply produced & immediately dumped" and "easy to manipulate" are foregrounded in the article. LeGuin seems to have her biggest objection to people buying books from Amazon. She does say that she doesn't really have a problem with indie writers publishing with Amazon, although she does say she might "have a few questions for us." 

Well, I have a few answers to those unspoken questions.

About the BS Yes. Amazon sells & aggressively markets "Big BestSellers." Books that are written to sell a million copies and go out of print quickly. These are exactly the kinds of authors that the Big Publishing industry wants to find. These are the authors that they woo because they write books about sparkling vampires. 

Those bestsellers are exactly the reason why authors who choose to write indie books often decide to self-publish instead of fighting the years of slush piles, where bored, tired PAs read manuscript after manuscript that ISN'T the next Twilight or Harry Potter and reject them. 

Different narratives. Different books. Not the "linear driven plots" of the bestseller that slays the market and moves on to the next beast, but a cross-genre, different kind of book. Indie is FILLED with those. (Mine are that-- cross-genre books that probably wouldn't catch the eye of a publisher because it doesn't have the "buzz of the moment" with them. But that doesn't mean people haven't loved reading them).

So Amazon has created a market where we can independently publish our books, and we can make a bit of money off of them. And we can share our creative process with hundreds, thousands, even, if we're very lucky, millions. All without having to wait on a huge slush pile for years and years and have our dreams of writing die under an agent's decision that we're "not marketable" or their quest to find the next big Vampire Zombie BDSM hit. 

Today's market is markedly different from the market of even 20 or 30 years ago. There are many, many voices vying for attention, and fewer readers and fewer bookstores every day. We would not be published, most likely, and be able to share our work with our fans without the indie publishing arm of Amazon, which is supported in part by all those bestsellers. 

The Commons of Indie: I am not the biggest, by any means, indie writer who is publishing her work on Amazon's Kindle Direct Program. I'm just a newbie, having hung up my publishing shingle just a few months ago after years of writing and then debating sending my work around to traditional publication's route. I know of other authors who are genuinely making a living with indie writing through Amazon, however. I'm friends with some of them, and they are the hardest working people I know. 

And a lot of them are writing fiction that could very well be traditionally published, that is -thoughtful, ground-breaking, and simply breathtaking. You can find a list of some of them in a blog entry I wrote the other day, in fact. 

But most people think "indie" means vanity press, or crap. Yes, some indies are slapdash writers who toss their books up on Amazon with a hand-drawn cover, poor editing, poor formatting and call themselves writers. That is true, and I do wish that people would craft their work. But the traditional world is not immune to that, either. 

Still, there is a vastly different group of people who are self publishing who have used KDP as a market to find readers, to find a voice, to publish work that is not easily categorized or sparklie. (Although some of it is as sparklie... that's a different essay, though.) 

Within this common area of Amazon's big bookstore, we have created an entire community of indie artists. We support each other, we sell to each other, we find new readers and writers and love of reading among this common-ground. We overlap, like that quilt. We enhance each other at times. We share. We learn. We cheer our successes, mourn our losses. We even raise money when one of us falls, or memorials for others lost, forever. 

The conversation many of us indies have been having today shows that those of us in the indie trenches realize that perhaps the greats* (like Ms. LeGuin) don't really know much about us, and why the bookstore (not publisher) that Amazon Can Be makes us possible

We are each our own publisher. We have our own small printing press. It's as revolutionary as the press that Gutenberg created around 1450. It truly is. I say this as someone who has devoted my entire life to studying literature and the history of literature. And I say this as someone who has respectfully left the classrooms where I was spending my life teaching verb tense and comma splices to try to instead spend my life creating literature. 

I know-- it's really blurry.... my camera was broken....
Just as Gutenberg opened the door for the Protestant reformation by allowing the words that had previously been held only by the Elite into the hands of everyone, Amazon has opened a door that the non-elite can share their ideas with everyone. The day I held my first printed book with my name on the cover in my hands was a life-long dream coming true. I might have been able to find that with a traditional publisher, but I might have sat on a slush pile forever, too. 

The indie community works together: we pay artists-- cover artists, graphic designers, editors, formatters, to make our work better. We have a vast cottage industry of people we can go to when we need some advice to make a storyline work a bit better. We have groups of readers who are willing to write reviews, to whom we listen and attempt to answer. We even have marketers-- mailing lists, websites, reviewer magazines, etc, who curate collections of sales, deals, new hot books. 

All of us are out here, every day, working to share our ideas with others. Just like any artist, some days are better than others. 

We are all our very own, self-owned small international independent bookstores, each of us working from our own office in Shreveport, or New York, or Australia, or Texas, or Iowa. Wherever there is a Wi-Fi connection and a computer, we can publish. Amazon is the distribution point, and as soon as we hit that "publish" button, we become a partner with them for however much our profit is. It comes directly to us, and we immediately know what works and what doesn't.  So far, for me, most of that profit has been turned right back into new art, new editing, new formatting. But I keep going, and I still think my prose is good enough that it will eventually catch a wider audience. But if it doesn't: so what? I'm loving the creation. It's worth it. It is an ARTISTIC ACT of defiance against the mediocrity of daily life. 

Indie publishing, which Amazon has been a forerunner of, can be the exact opposite of "Junk food" and the exact opposite of the BS Machine. We don't have to be a bestseller to exist. Or even a midlist. As someone just getting started, I've made the amount of sales that a publisher would laugh at-- but I have shared my ideas with a good amount of people who have found me and expressed their joy at my work. I'm creating art not for profit (although that would be nice) but for the joy of sharing my work. 

Some of us have created anthologies that are very much like the Golden Age magazines where "the greats" got their starts, magazines that don't really exist anymore. We are reinventing the short story, and finding a conversation with each other. Those are so much fun, and we're going to keep doing it. Thanks to Amazon. 

And now I'll get back to that inherently feminist idea of stories being non-linear, a catchall bag for whatever women might have need of, rather than a pointed linear quest owned by the hunters to say that:

Indie publishing smashes the patriarchy. The act of writing, of asserting my voice as worthy of being heard, is an inherently feminist act. Doing it for very little financial reward is definitely anti-status quo. 

It takes power away from the few and gives it to the many. 

It takes the control of our words out of the hands of the few elite publishers who are putting out book after book of the same old plots reconstructed with the next big thing, the next celebutant gossip, or politician autobiography or ghost-written junk endorsed by a famous reality show family. Indie publishing allows women and men to work from home while we supervise the learning of our children, while they play games at our feet. We can work any hours we want, not set by a corporation. We can write whatever we feel like writing, set our own deadlines. We don't have a soulless boss reminding us to fill out our next TPS report (unless we do that for ourselves). 

And most importantly: our books are in OUR control. We can FOREVER keep going with a book that isn't selling, without it going out of print, just because we want it to be there. We alone choose whether to "unpublish" that book. 

And we can choose what we think of as a fair price. I can't tell you how many amazing foundational feminist texts I have wanted to recommend to someone but found that they were selling for a huge price in e-book format because a publisher still controls that story, that idea, and therefore, the new potential reader has passed on the book-- that the publisher made its initial investment on years and years ago. We indies set our own prices. 

We keep our books on the market and don't have to worry about whether the bookstores tear the covers off and toss them into the dumpsters because no one wants to pay 10.00 for a forty year old edition of a book they could get at a library. And then never read because it would be a hassle to go to the library. 

The problem that LeGuin has with this theory of BS marketing and Amazon is actually the problem of Big Publishing, which is a creative oligarchy of sorts.  Big Pub wants to make a lot of money off of bestsellers, yes. 

Big Publishing predicts the past: They want the next J.K. Rowling/Stephanie Meyer/50 Shades Blockbuster. And they spend all their energy on finding the next Rowling (or someone like her). Meanwhile, midlist or new writers sell out of their print run and find demand being unmet, and cannot reprint any other copies of their books because they no longer own them. They have sold their babies into slavery, and can only get them back many years later, after Big Pub has ignored them long enough to let them go as unworthy. I know of a new amazing writer whose press sold out of her book because of immediate clamor/demand. They waited and waited with the book out of print for ages, losing all of that immediate demand, simply because they didn't want to bet on a writer who was already showing amazing potential to be the next big seller. Who has gone on to be that great seller. But think of all the people who left that "store" disappointed and never came back, never read that author? Such a loss in potential ideas exchanged. Print on demand & e-book publishing makes that loss unnecessary. 

Little publishing, Indie publishing, is the opposite of the BS publishers. But even some of the indies do become bestsellers, even passing up the Big Sellers sometimes on the bestselling lists-- all because of an ad strategically run and a sale strategically offered. A book can go from a non-seller to the top ten with a quick ad. Mine have, in fact, hit Amazon bestseller lists-- not by manipulation, but by me getting some folks to simply try it out. One of them is still ranking a little on the Short Reads list right as I write this. Short stories do NOT get in the hands of people in the "Real World" regularly. But they do on Amazon. 

And all of this amazing indie work would be virtually impossible without the risk that Amazon takes in letting us do the publishing. Yes, they take a cut, but it is within the range of the percentages that any agent would take on our work otherwise. 

We just ask that people who have their long-career, their long history, see the trees for the forest. Please

See instead this small, good-naturedly jostling inherently feminist and anti-capitalist industry within the giant carrier bag that is that huge bookstore online. We aren't fighting to win the war, but every time someone says "don't buy from Amazon; it's all crap" it hurts. And it causes readers to think they only need to keep supporting that BS machine forever, and not even try to find the corners, the places where the new voices are waiting. (Not to mention that there are very few "independent" brick & mortar bookstores anymore-- not that Amazon was the one who destroyed those... look to other corporations and the publishing practices of the last 20 or so years for that answer). 

Amazon is a gathering place, a watering hole, and all of us small publishers are creating our art and selling it there.  As long as we want it to be there-- we alone make the choice to take it down, for it to go "out of print." 

That is the exact opposite of "Quick obsolescence, disposability — the creation of trash — [the] essential element of the BS machine. Amazon exploits the cycle of instant satisfaction/ endless dissatisfaction. Every book purchase made from Amazon is a vote for a culture without content and without contentment." 

So please, in addition to "trad pub," support your local indie writer, publisher, artist, editor, illustrator. We are building a new industry from the ground up, and it's good to have a common area to share those creative works in. And Amazon provides that giant bookstore where everyone can find us, sitting right next to the greats. That would never happen in a traditional context. 

This is the future, the great speculative market where we have left behind an industry supported by the hard work of a lot of authors who never really earn the money they should, who never really get on the shelves because the BIG authors are being marketed.  

I'm going to quote myself and my speech (and also LeGuin) again. Virginia Woolf once famously wondered what it would take for a woman writer to exist. The famous "500 pounds and a room of one's own" quote comes from that idea. "And a door, with a lock" is often left off of that quote. 

In LeGuin's essay, she thinks about Woolf's image of a woman writer on a bank of a lake of inspiration, fishing with the imagination. LeGuin pictures a daughter down the bank of that lake, playing in the mud and trying not to disturb her mother's professional endeavors. At the end of the essay, the imagination, which Woolf's woman writer has lost hold of, goes to talk to the little girl. I want to quote the essay at a bit of length because I love it so, and I think it might get at, finally, what I think about writing and being a woman, and being successful, even with, and maybe because of, the distractions. The child asks: 
Le Guin imagines: "Tell me, Auntie. What is the one thing a writer has to have?""I'll tell you," says the imagination. "The one thing a writer has to have is not balls. Nor is it a child-free space. Nor is it even, speaking strictly on the evidence, a room of her own, though that is an amazing help, as is the goodwill and cooperation of the opposite sex, or at least the local, in-house representative of it. But she doesn't have to have that. The one thing a writer has to have is a pencil and some paper. That's enough, so long as she knows that she and she alone is in charge of that pencil, and responsible, she and she alone, for what it writes on the paper. In other words, that she's free. Not wholly free. Never wholly free. Maybe very partially. Maybe only in this one act, this sitting for a snatched moment being a woman writing, fishing the mind's lake. But in this, responsible; in this, autonomous; in this, free."
Amazon, and its indie publishing arm Kindle Direct, allows me (and many others) that freedom, that autonomy, that moment to fish in the mind's lake. And I can freely share it with others, who can find those ideas one way or another, on one path or another. We have entire communities out here. Maybe those who resist can join us someday, when they stop seeing Amazon, the huge corporate bookstore, as the Evil Empire that is oppressing books & writers.  


In 2009, LeGuin resigned from the Authors Guild in protest over its endorsement of Google's book digitization project. "You decided to deal with the devil", she wrote in her resignation letter. "There are principles involved, above all the whole concept of copyright; and these you have seen fit to abandon to a corporation, on their terms, without a struggle." This, to me, seems a bit like opposition to the digital age forthcoming... that, and her one-sentence summation of indie publishing makes it seem like she's at least not a fan.

*(and I very much consider LeGuin to be one of those... her novel the Left Hand of Darkness was groundbreaking and a revelation to me when I started college.  Still is....)  

(And don't even get me started on the environmentalism of buying all of our books digitally and not killing trees for books that end up in dumpsters because they aren't selling....)

And let me also say: I don't object to sparklie vampire books! I don't even dislike them, inherently. (Poorly written once make me grind my teeth, but I don't object to a well written genre pulp read.) Heck, I write ghosts/magic/witch books. I just want the market to make room for ALL the potential stories out there, not just the ones that have already made it....

I also have nothing inherently against traditional publishing. There are many amazing authors published by even big presses... and I read them, still. It's not a war of attrition. I have room on my e-readers for all of them.

There is, finally, an ironic element in telling readers not to purchase a book from a bookstore because it contributes to the oppression of ideas when one's own book is for sale there.