A Time for Being Thankful

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I’m coming to the end of a beautiful fall month of having fun with family while my blog has ticked along in fine style. I have some big thanks to send out.

First off, to my wonderful guests – Patrick O’Scheen, author of Dreamer and Seer; Laekan Zea Kemp, author of Breathing Ghosts and Kevin Brennan, author of Yesterday Road. Having these three authors on my blog, discussing their work and the self-publishing industry, has been a real treat. I’ve had the chance to read three thought-provoking books, learn a few things and I’ve gained a number of new followers thanks to my guests. I’ve had a great experience opening up my blog to other voices. I highly recommend the practice.

Next, a huge thank you to Carolynn Arnold over at Celebrating Authors for the author interview she did for me and the great twitter traffic that has resulted from that post. (Which, by the way, is still going on!) Please pop over and check out her site and my interview.

I want to send out a big thank you to The Fussy Librarian. Yesterday, Disappearing in Plain Sight was one of the book selections featured on The Fussy Librarian’s daily email. This new site is connecting self-published authors with readers. Indie authors often go on about the difficulties we have getting our books out in front of readers. Our blogs, Facebook author pages, and Twitter feeds are jam-packed with other authors (and that’s great, don’t get me wrong) but we often wonder how to connect with readers. Well, this new site is solving that problem. Why not pop over and sign up for their daily email alerts. You let them know what you like to read and every day they pick a few books for you.

And thanks to all the bloggers I follow for your patience. I’ve had time here and there to check in with some of you but I haven’t seen all the great posts I wanted to.

Finally, thank you to my two beautiful granddaughters for making this month fly by in a whirl of fun and delight.

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Brit checks out the corn maze at The Laity Pumpkin Patch

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Emma stops for a well deserved rest during a wonderful walk checking out all the great fall sights – including this amazingly beautiful bee hive!

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Guest Post–Choosing Self-Publishing by Laekan Zea Kemp

bio1As writers we know about solitude. We know that it’s an essential ingredient to cranking out a first draft and we know it’s the birthplace of some of our best ideas. We’re comfortable there and maybe even relish in it. I know I did. But solitude can also be the birthplace of our greatest adversaries—self-doubt, guilt, comparison. When we’re alone with our thoughts we don’t just make masterpieces, we make monsters. And the truth of going it alone, of becoming an indie author, is that we’re often forced to fight these monsters alone.

There’s a lot of freedom that comes with choosing to self-publish. I control the look and feel of the final product from every paragraph and chapter heading to the cover art to the blurb. I have final say during revisions. I can genre hop or create new ones. I can explore any topic I want. I can write for me. Those are the things I love about being indie. But along with the freedom and absolute control, I also shoulder all of the responsibility. Because if I fail, I fail alone, and I’m forced to pick up the pieces alone.

If you make the choice to go indie there will be no cheerleaders glancing over your shoulder, no team of PR people behind you doing the grunt work or telling you it’ll all be worth it. You’ll spend months refreshing your sales page or Goodreads reviews with nothing new to show for it. You won’t make a dime and you’ll second-guess all of the money you spent on copy-editing and cover art and marketing that could have gone to something else like groceries or gas. You’ll feel discouraged and like you made a huge mistake. And you’ll want to give up.

But if you really want to be a writer you won’t quit. Because even though there’s no one in your corner, reassuring you or stroking your ego or cutting you a check, you should still believe in yourself. You have to. That’s what separates the successful career indie authors from the failures and one hit wonders. To make it, there is just one secret. One rule. You have to know your own voice and even more than that you have to trust it. Absolutely.

So when that voice says to you, I am a writer, believe it. Follow it. Do whatever you have to do to live out that purpose even if that means self-publishing because you couldn’t get a traditional deal. Even if that means going it alone with no support from friends or family. When you’re called to be a writer it’s not a dream, it’s a responsibility.

This means making a commitment to write every day or every weekday or while you’re sitting at your daughter’s gymnastics class or waiting at the doctor’s office or riding in the passenger’s seat on a road trip.

It also means making the commitment to hone your craft whether that’s through a degree program or free classes at the community center or by reading books on craft or joining a writer’s group in your area.

And even though some people might not agree, it should also mean investing in you and your work financially. Invest in your skills, invest in professional cover art, and, if you can, invest in an environment that’s conducive to creativity. Buying yourself a new laptop or a new desk—these are the kinds of things that let the universe know you’re serious. They remind you that you’re serious too.

Self-publishing is a slow and thankless pursuit. And even now, a year after self-publishing my first book, I’m still not seeing the kind of results I’d hoped for. Sure, there are writers out there hitting it big with their first book. But those people are lucky. Like winning the lottery lucky. That’s not real life.

If I could give one piece of advice to anyone considering self-publishing it would be this—be sure. Be sure that this is what you love to do. Be sure that this is what you were meant to do. Be sure that even if you never made a dime, you’d still write every day. Because that’s exactly what you’ll be doing. You’ll churn out book after book, fingers crossed until one of them finds an audience. That might take six months or that might take six years but sitting down in that chair and writing is the only way to make it happen.

There are no marketing tricks. In fact, I’d say forget marketing altogether until you have some kind of backlist. That should be your focus. I didn’t plan my first blog tour until the release of my third book. Why? Because if I do get lucky and finally find my audience, what’s going to keep them from forgetting about me in a couple of months? Prove that you’re in this for the long haul and readers won’t be afraid to invest in your books.

That’s really the only strategy you need. Be honest with your readers, provide them with a quality product, and thank them every chance you get. No gimmicks. No marketing tricks.

Write. Invest in yourself. Write some more. And be good to your readers.

The success you achieve from this strategy might not be monetary but if you choose to look at self-publishing as the ultimate form of self-expression, then you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams. Because these are the things that I’ve learned from self-publishing—your belief in yourself should be unwavering and if you treat success like an inevitability, it will be.

I haven’t sold thousands of copies of my books. But I do have the privilege of writing every day and I have reached more readers than I could ever have imagined. And to me, that’s a huge success. Because regardless of the scale, I’m still fulfilling my purpose. I’m still a writer.

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You can find Laekan’s newest release, Breathing Ghosts, right here.

Check out her blog – here.

Laekan can also be found on Twitter and Goodreads.

Many thanks for this great guest post!

Writer and Explorer Extraordinaire–Laekan Zea Kemp

bio1Today’s post will be the first of two featuring writer, Laekan Zea Kemp. She is author of three self-published books. Yes – I’m serious – three! I’m thinking this young lady must be doing more than a few things right in the writing world! I’ve been following Laekan’s blog for a while and when she recently put out a call for bloggers interested in hosting her as part of a blog tour, for her new release, Breathing Ghosts – I bit. I found myself wondering why this approach to putting together a blog tour had never occurred to me. Just ask the people who already follow you. After all, they follow you for a reason, right? How brilliant is that?

I purchased her book, read it and did a review.

Breathing Ghosts by Laekan Zea Kemp

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Feel like going on a fast-paced, quirky journey of emotional self-discovery?

In her novel, Breathing Ghosts, Kemp does an amazing job of exploring the varied dimensions of grief through the eyes of her troubled protagonist, River. The reader is drawn along with the suffering young man as he literally journeys through the painful loss of his dead girlfriend, Nia. For years, Nia worked on a map in the desperate hope that she and River could escape the boxes that their families were determined to seal them into. After her death, River runs wild across state after state, chasing Nia’s ghost, finding a few friends along the way and dropping in on the most out-of-the-way, quirky tourist attractions one can imagine.

The author allows River and Nia’s story to unfold, over the course of the young man’s journey, through a series of well-placed flashbacks. They have been high school sweethearts but, two more opposite young people one is not likely to meet. Nia is a born adventurer. In her own words – she is not afraid to get lost in things that might disappear. River is trapped in a web of intergenerational dysfunction that binds him to an emotionally unavailable mother and a violently abusive step-father. River is filled to the bursting point with fear. By the end of the book the reader longs for the same lesson River so desperately needs. “Because maybe the truth is we are all made of star stuff.” We have to let go of the past and move forward – there is no other choice.

Kemp brings it all to life with stunning descriptions. This little gem is Bourbon Street in New Orleans, “. . . the sulfur smell of the pier dribbling in with hints of cayenne and gasoline . . .” At another stop, River learns that, “Makin’ things ain’t about being right or wrong. Makin’ things is about takin’ a piece of you and leavin’ it for the rest of us to find later.” Kemp has certainly taken these words to heart and has given us a stunning piece of her own imagination.

I would recommend this book for mature young adults and for anyone who wants to go on a fast-paced journey of emotional self-discovery. And just check out that cover art – a perfect fit for the story.

Breathing Ghosts is available through Amazon.com – check it out here.

You can find Laekan on Twitter and Goodreads as well.

Tomorrow, Laekan will appear on the blog for a guest post. I’ve asked her to share some of her experiences along the self-publishing journey. Please stop by and hear what she has to say.