Sunday Write-Up – September 2015

Sunday Write Up Header

It’s the last Sunday of September and so we’re back with another write-up challenge for anyone feeling they want to give their creative legs a stretch. Slight twist this month because I found this fantastic image on Pinterest by David Vandre… https://1x.com/photo/5981/all:user:1618

When I saw it, I just thought “that road is going somewhere” and figured if we use it for our inspiration this week, instead of the usual set of words, we might find some wonderful destinations somewhere along it.

So, for this month write your piece, short story, poem, etc. based on this image, whatever you want, whatever comes to mind… Post your piece on your blog as normal and put a link to it in the comments below so that we can check out what everyone writes.

IAM15 Interview…Tony Talbot

    Thanks to everyone for taking part in Indie Month 2015!

Hope to see you next year…

IAM 2015 - Topper

To round out Indie Month, we’re talking to AfW regular Tony Talbot

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TT-2015

Tony Talbot started writing short stories in 2008, after a dream he had and couldn’t shake; Finally his wife told him to write it down or stop talking about it.

He wrote his first Young Adult novel, Over the Mountain, in 2008, and has completed several others and a growing raft of short stories since.

He lives in a village in Leicestershire, UK, with an American wife he met online and two cats. As well as writing, he enjoys reading, playing on the Wii-U and not getting enough exercise.

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What is you favourite way to spend a rainy day?

Listening to it and watching it from somewhere dry. I love a good rainstorm.

You’ve found a time machine on your driveway this morning – where are you going to go in it?

Forward a week so I can sell it to myself on Ebay. 🙂

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?

A laptop, A Kindle with a solar charger and a good internet connection. And an endless supply of Jelly Beans.

What is the one book you think everyone should read?

Oh, so many! To Kill a Mockingbird is just sublime, as good as it gets.

How do you react to a bad review?

Sulk for weeks. Tear my hair out. Then go and write something else. You’re never going to please everyone, so if most people like it, you’re on to something.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

Mostly it was shock! “They liked it! I’m getting paid for doing this, can you believe it?”

One food you would never eat?

Broccoli. It’s just not right, and I don’t trust it one bit. I always feel like it’s judging me.

What has been your most rewarding experience since being published?

Having reviewers saying that something made them cry, or carried them away to another world for a while. That’s pretty amazing.

What was your favorite book when you were younger?

Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton. I adored that book, and I still have a copy.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Never give up. And always put everything you have into everything you write.

If you could choose only one time period and place to live, when and where would you live and why?

I’d love to be right at the place and time where we know, without a doubt, that aliens are communicating with us. To look into the sky that night, point at a white dot among the millions and say, “There they are.”

What is your favorite Quote?

Currently, not one from a book, but from a maintenance plate on an elevator / lift: Keep well oiled to ensure satisfaction.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

A librarian for a while. An undertaker (I thought: it’s great job security!). It was always something always bookish and indoors-y.

If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?

Wil Wheaton. He’s about four days older than me, so the age is right for a start. He’s a great actor, very under used talent. I think he could pull off playing the Shining Light that is Me. 😉

Who are your favorite authors of all time?

Dean Koontz for seeing the tragedies of the world with humour; Stephen King for seeing the horror that lurks inside normal people; Charles Dickens for his characterisation.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?

Oh, all of them are parts of me, the good bits and the bad. The lovers of rainstorms and the socially awkward teenagers.

What’s the craziest writing idea you’ve had?

There was a photo essay the other week in “The Atlantic” – they have a cool photo section – and it was people who dress as zombies and then go and parade through cities. I thought: What about if real zombies were in there as well and no one noticed – they all thought they were REALLY good at staying in character while they ate people’s brains…And how would the cops know who to take down or arrest?

Hidden talent?

Double jointed thumbs – both of them. It’s a little freaky.

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?

Star Wars Episode VII. It’s going to be BIG.

Cats or Dog?

I have two cats now, so I’m heading towards cats on this one…

Apples or Oranges?

Oranges if they don’t have pips. Apples if they aren’t too mushy.

Cause or Effect?

Oh, effects. They’re much more fun, aren’t they?

Heads or Tails?

Heads. Always heads.

Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook. Twitter is a strange, truncated world…

Truth or Dare?

Truth. Or maybe dare. Is there a third option?

Text or Talk?

Talk. I can’t get the hang of text speak…

Favorite quote from a movie?

“Why is the rum gone?!” Captain Jack Sparrow.

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Guest Post: Short Stories 101

I was emailing an Australian friend the other day (Anna Hub). She’s written four novels and just finished a fifth (The Ninth Hunter, well worth looking for when it comes out). But…she’s not sure where to start with short stories.

Most writers start with short stories and progress to novels, so it’s curious to see it the other way round…

“Bigger” (54 words)

“Mick? Did you hear that?” Elbows him awake.
“Wassup?”
“Something downstairs.”
“Bloody cat.”
“No. It sounded bigger.”
“Bloody dog then.”
“No! Bigger.”
“Bloody kids.”
“Bigger!”
“Bigger?”
“Yeah. Lots bigger.”
Mick purses lips. “Burglar?”
Eyes wide. “Yeah.”
“Big burglar?”
“Yeah.”
“Good.”
“Wot?”
“Then he can take the bloody cat, bloody dog and bloody kids. Goodnight!”

 …the trick with short stories is to use your reader’s knowledge of the world to your advantage. I didn’t need to say these two are in bed and asleep when the story starts; I didn’t need to say it’s most likely the middle of the night (Most burglars don’t work afternoons, after all). “Elbows him awake” takes care of most of that in three words. Mick has a name, but his partner doesn’t. Trim the fat and leave what you need.

Short stories don’t need to be that short either. Technically, anything under 20,000 words is ‘a short story’, so you have a lot of room to move around in. Most of mine come to between 1500 and 3000 words, for example.

The real fun with short stories is to take what the readers assume and find a way to twist the end. So a short story about a man exploring an alien world turns out to be a robot exploring earth, for instance. Or drop in a humorous spin, like “Bigger”.

Here a great one from science fiction master of the twist and short, Frederic Brown:

“Earth was dead after the last atomic war. Nothing grew, nothing lived. The last man sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door…”

Everything you need is right there. We know who the story is about, we know the world he lives in, and there’s even a hook for suspense. Twenty seven words to create a world and tell a story.

Shorter than that? Here’s a (possibly apocryphal) story from Ernest Hemingway:

“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

Short stories are a great way of perfecting the art of keeping the bits you don’t need out of your novels as well. Sharpen your skills on them and it will always serve you well.

(Reblogged from Musings: The Blog of Tony Talbot)

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Where can we find you?

Find me online at Amazon, @authortony, http://www.tony-talbot.co.uk – or drop by for a chat at Goodreads.

Thanks for taking part in Indie Month, Tony!

IAM15 Guest Feature…Competition Writing

IAM 2015 - Topper Back in January, I saw an advert for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge and whilst I was mulling over whether to have a go at it or not, I posted the link onto my Facebook Author Page to share with others. As it was, I got distracted by something else shiny and didn’t sign up to take part, but a friend – on his way to being an Indie Author – did and completed the first couple of rounds. In today’s guest feature, Christopher William Kinsey, shares a re-blog of the post from his own blog The Kinswah Reflective discussing the experience and sharing the entry he wrote that took him through to Round Two!

NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge – Round One: Weighty Words

Having never managed to keep a short story below 8,000 words before, I took it upon myself to enter this year’s NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. I had no expectation of progressing but thought it’d be a good exercise. For Round One the participants were given eight days to write a story with no more than 2,500 words. In addition to the time and word limit, the genre, subject and character would be random along with the distribution of the writers across the forty-eight groups.

After weighing up the possible genres I decided comedy was the least preferable. The literary gods must have been listening because – you guessed it – I got comedy. Doing a competition just for fun is one thing, attempting a clean-cut comedy is another. After five days of ignoring it I sat down and bundled the following words together. I’m not particularly overjoyed with the results but in one of the biggest surprises of the century, it managed to finish fourth in my heat and progress. Heat 28 – Genre: Comedy; Subject: Unemployment; Character: A Fitness Instructor.

Synopsis:

Dale, a former fitness instructor, ponders why he was fired from his last job as he works out in his mother’s basement.

Weighty Words

Dale couldn’t help wonder if he followed bad advice based on what seemed to fit at the time. What at first appeared to be breadcrumbs – offhanded remarks, disguised as advice – now dangled the proposition they were just innocent remarks. Working up the type of sweat he used to force upon his old clientele at the gym, life seemed grim. His pectorals heaved, metal clunked as it echoed around his mother’s basement, while thoughts kept persisting on what job he’d get next.

He’d been a fitness instructor. At the time it was a natural fit. During his high school years he was the typical introvert. When his peers laid on the wise cracks he tried to crawl for the shadows. What he couldn’t build up with banter he’d make up with brawn. The obsession with a better body allowed little time for much else. This included girls and grades.

His folks hinted he could follow family members into their respective fields. His father had repeatedly said:“It’s not what you know but who you know.” The usual follow up sentence his father often added was, “Think about what you’re good at and what those in the family can do.”

To Dale these tips were handy pointers from his father, Bob Tasker, a successful accountant. His old man obviously hadn’t wanted to feed the information on a plate but the hint was snatched upon. He could work in the fitness industry. His hobby was keeping in shape; it made sense to extend this to others. And his father, the cheeky scamp, had left the important subtle hint: think about what those in the family can do. Both Dale and his father were good with figures.

It was after starting work for Mr Nobbs at Fitness Forever he realised another important family trait would come in handy. Dale spent his days pushing people beyond their limits, shouting as they endured pain they wanted for psychological pleasure. Metaphorically cracking the whip during one hour sessions as their personal trainer/torturer. Dale’s ability to do this like a seasoned pro probably came from his mother’s genes. She worked as a dominatrix. The main difference was she literally cracked the whip.

Thankfully tucked away in her basement, like he was now, the sounds of her business remained just that – her business. His new role in life was to ensure the clients left on time and his mother was okay. His parents split years ago, Bob Tasker, being good with numbers, reduced the amount of digits that ended up going his wife’s way. Maggie Tasker had been getting her revenge on men ever since.

It was only her son that received the soft touch from her.

Bob never understood why his advice was ignored the first place. He specifically recalled – on numerous occasions –telling Dale to stick to what he’d be able to do, and to get a job through the family. Short of driving him to Uncle Chad’s store, dressing him in the uniform, demonstrating how to stack shelves, there wasn’t much more he could have done.

These thoughts would have devastated Dale, but he would never hear them, to do so would have meant breaking the Tasker family long held tradition of never speaking clearly or directly to one another. It was much safer and politer to live in a world of assumptions and silence.

Continuing his own fitness regime had kept his mind sharp. Well, as sharp as Dale’s would ever be, it was still more like a spoon than a knife. Still, he reasoned if he worked out why he had failed as a personal fitness instructor then he could avoid similar outcomes in the future. To date this in the most logical thought Dale has ever expressed.

It should have been his dream job. Once he started for Mr Nobbs it became apparent that a lad without an imagination struggled to see the pluses. His lack of drive meant Dale never became certified. This lack of qualification was a bonus for Mr Nobbs for the purposes of hiring – Dale could he palmed off with a lower wage – and an aid to firing.

Study was a reminder of the dark days. The high school days. Boys full of bravado, girls with condescending stares. Those same characters had frequented Forever Fitness.

Instead of performing wedgies on underwear, the boys – who hadn’t grown into men, they’d just become bigger boys– pulled their bodies up on frames instead. They dropped testosterone everywhere they walked, it dripped on the bench press, it acted as steam in the sauna after a workout. Dale’s safe haven had been invaded by those he’d tried to escape.

He wondered if the “geeks” from school had made the right call. No former football captain was ruining chess nights or giving scorn during online gaming sessions. They definitely would never enter a comic book convention or Lord of the Rings fancy dress re-enactment.

The nerds had fewer women in tight fitting spandex to look at, Dale thought. This should have been a glimmer of hope, a perk and a pick-me-up. It was not. Dale saw those same mean girls from school now. Except they, unlike their male counterparts, had grown up. They had become bitchy women. They pretend flirted, as if part of an elaborate act Dale couldn’t comprehend, whilst focusing on everything but the simple goals he’d lay out.

They cared little for running times and lifting weights. They seemed preoccupied with their stretch marks, then in a contradiction cooed over the ones Dale had gained across his shoulders and chest from getting ripped too fast. Bob Tasker laughed at how his son never had enough brains to go around and now it seemed he was short on skin too.

The women also found it more important to update social media. Getting fit would be an accidental side effect of what was in reality an exercise in public exposure. Instead of doing the four sets per station Dale gave them, it was four selfies. Rather than risk breaking a sweat, which would be a disaster for the carefully applied make up, it was more pressing to get a shot near the big machines. Later they could pretend they’d used them while acting drained over a coffee. And a cake.

It should have resulted in a fairly easy day. Only a handful of his clients wanted to lose weight or gain definition. The bored housewife majority could have been his brain off hours. Problem was, his brain off hours started when his eyes opened in the morning, only finishing at bedtime.

This lack of foresight gave a rise to Dale aggravating the paying public. Mr Nobbs cared little if the people with gym memberships used the establishment, he cared even less if the ones that paid extra for Dale actually tried in class. Their lack of motivation equalled more cash. If they never won the battle of the bulge then Mr Nobbs would continue to fund the arms race. Complaints that Dale was too strict, too rude, or too insensitive were a problem.

Most of these came about due to misunderstanding. Take Penny Pinnerman, she asked for a simple request, that from his perspective, Dale attempted to stay on top of. She wanted a “Better tone.”Penny Pinnerman thought it wasn’t too big of a task. She was naturally a thin woman, even the smallest lycra shorts had excess material in the bum region, it was as if she’d been stretched on a rack.

Instead she got Dale snapping at her every other sentence. “Watch how you answer me back in that voice,” he’d say.“Enough of whining in that pitch,” he had once snapped. She felt bad telling Mr Nobbs but it got too much.

Dale was dumbfounded when the complaint was read out during his informal warning. He had prided himself on going that extra mile for the customer. He liked to take a holistic view. That was an alien word to Dale, but so was the cause of this complaint.

Mr Nobbs received Dale’s best apology face. Dale left the office more certain than ever that all women were from the same type of high school clique.

Dale was used to the female clients having perverse views of their bodies. “My bum looks massive today,” was a popular one, when in reality their rears didn’t catch the eye quite as much as the flab bubbling over the waistband. Penny’s request was a new take though. She hated her voice, or more exactly, her tone. Well, that’s how Dale perceived her request. So during work outs he’d point out when her nagging got to that grating level that was most unattractive. Was it really his fault if that happened to be every few seconds? People shouldn’t ask for the truth unless they can take it.

Dale placed the dumbbells on the floor, as he did they kicked up some dust, no carpet had ever been laid down here. He flicked off the dance music he always used during workouts and turned the television on.

A daytime chat show host was shouting at a man for not paying his child maintenance money, then shouted at the woman for not knowing if this guy was even the father – DNA tests after the break. He was glad his father never asked for such a test, just in case. Not inheriting his brains was bad enough, zero cash would have been worse.

Dale sat on the exercise bike. A stationary device to reflect how his constant efforts and peddling would get him nowhere. He did this bit of cardio now to keep an eye on the time. The mystery guest in his mother’s bedroom didn’t have long left.

His mind drifted to the formal warning he received. This time Katie Renton, whom everyone cruelly called Cakie Ten-ton. Her request was simple, a reduction in size. Dale thought Cakie, sorry, Katie, need to lose more than just one dress size. She needed to get to a size where dresses were just that – dresses – and not recycled tents and bedspreads.

After one session she lay slumped on the exercise mat after performing three of the most trying and all-consuming sit-ups ever witnessed by mankind. Had she been the first person to attempt them under study conditions sit-ups would have been outlawed on grounds of danger. People would have placed them above anthrax and napalm on a list of things to avoid.

“I’m struggling because of the weight today,” she wheezed.

This irked Dale, “Maybe avoid the snack shop before the session then.”He was perfect when it came to punctuality; the wait today was her rolling in ten minutes late with a ring of cream around her lips. The audacity of some people never failed to surprise.

Mr Nobbs reminded Dale that while it was perfectly acceptable to offer basic dietary advice, pointing out missteps in a derogatory fashion was something that couldn’t go unpunished.

Dale made the situation worse when he said, “That snack bar should be shut. I know it makes money but too many are in there eating.” To Dale it was like having free beer on tap during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

The end of show music made the old TV vibrate and hum; this brought Dale back from his daydream. Maggie should have text by now.

He stopped peddling.

Dale had never been one for dramatics– they took up to much energy, imagination, thought – but this was worrying. His mother stuck rigidly to a system once it was in place. Especially when it was for safety purposes. She couldn’t be killing people in her line of work by accidents and oversights.

He walked slowly to the blaring screen and removed its power. The house was perfectly silent. The niggling voice of doubt pointed out it would be in the basement so he took purposeful steps toward the upstairs entry. The stairs creaked as they absorbed his weight; the door to the main corridor gave a warning groan.

On the other side there was still nothing but silence. Had the client left, his mother would be running hot water for a shower or bath. Had the paying pervert stayed the crack of leather or a howl of pain would be filling the walls. He took the staircase to the upper floor.

At the door of the main bathroom, facing the top of the stairs, Dale saw his mother’s dressing gown. He bounced over the last steps and pushed his way into the room. She was sat on the toilet, lid down, using it as a chair. The gown covered up her work clothes, only her black boots were evident.

“What’s up?” Dale asked.

“I pushed myself too hard today, love,” she said. Her face looked drained as she spoke. In his dressing gown her tired face and messy hair made her look more like an inhabitant of a care home than a mistress.

“Why didn’t you call for me?”

“The client is still her,” she said.“I was only taking a break before getting back to him. Then my chest – don’t worry, it’s passed – but my chest was aching a little.”

“Well you definitely should have called me,” he said with a pained expression. He wondered if he needed to give CPR. He’d seen it performed on a first aid video. It didn’t look like she needed help breathing so they could skip that – thank God, only he knew where that mouth had been today – but a few chest compressions could help.

Or the Heimlich manoeuvre, he’d seen that get people going again, but that was after they’d been gagging and his mother wasn’t. Well, she had been, but he hadn’t seen that, it was minutes before she took a turn for the worst.

“He’s still here,” she said. “The client. You’ll have to untie him.”

“Wow! No way,” he replied.

“Please, love,” she said. “He’s blindfolded, so just unclip one hand and leave the room. He’ll see himself out. I’m not up to anything else today.”

The look on her weathered face pulled on all his compassion. “Okay, you go and get a cup of tea and relax,” he said.

The walk to his mother’s “Workroom”was more nerve wracking than the one he’d taken from the basement. He swung the door open, expecting the seediness to suffocate him. Instead his eyes relayed information that replaced fear with shock, confusion with anger.

Spread star-shaped on the four poster bed, tied at his wrists and ankles, a blindfold covering his eyes with a gag in his mouth, was Mr Nobbs. Dale walked over and unfastened the gag.

Mr Nobbs coughed, spittle landed over his face, and he said: “You had me going. But it was good. A tease is good. Now finish me off.”

As always Dale understood you had to adhere to the wishes of the paying customer. And true to form, his understanding of the context was some way off.

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If you enjoyed this, you can check out Chris’s entry for Round Two here. At the moment Chris is working on finalising his first novel release as an indie author, which will be available soon!

 

IAM15 Guest Post…Anna Hub

IAM 2015 - TopperToday we’re talking to Anna Hub about…

shadowhunters_ebook

Shadow Hunters (Book Two)

“He said it wasn’t like the Valley, he never said it was paradise.”

Selena has survived her transfer into the Shadowlands — she has already beaten the odds — but she soon discovers that although life outside the Valley may be different, it is no less dangerous.

While she searches for a purpose in her new life Brayden sets out to prove he’s not bound by the compulsions of a hunter, but can he master his Instinct before the villagers come to destroy him?

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lauras-promo-photos-247

When I was a child I wanted to be an author, it seemed like a perfectly attainable dream to me then, but of course I grew up and realised that writing was not the best way to make a future for myself. So I discarded the idea and decided to do something normal.

When I studied nursing I thought I’d found a place for myself, but within six months of working in that field I knew I needed more. So in July 2007 I bought myself a lap top and started writing in my spare time. It took me two years to complete my first book and by the time it was finished I felt as though I’d learnt enough to pursue the dream.

My love for writing has grown rapidly since then and now I know that it’s something I can’t live without. It’s a place where there is no limit, no exact destination and my mind is free to exist in many worlds.

It’s a beautiful sanctuary.

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Guest Post: Why I became and Indie author

These days, being an independent author becomes more viable with each passing week. In the couple of years since I first self-published there has been a huge shift in publishing platforms such as, Amazon, Kobo, Createspace, all of them recognising the growing market and making publishing easier than it’s ever been. And the best is yet to come. Plenty of authors are dropping their publishers and taking the indie route to regain creative control of their work. You can write at your own pace, choose your editors and your book cover, market according to any strategy and of course, keep all your royalties. Why wouldn’t you want to be an indie author?

Are we still battling against the idea that you need a publisher for legitimacy?

Honestly, anyone who’s written a book knows the labour comes long before the publisher. We’ve spent weeks, months, years pouring our heart into our work. We’ve suffered headaches and RSI, we’ve edited out thousands of words and replaced them with better ones, we’ve agonised over single sentences and analysed every plot element until we’re sure it fits. At the end of all that, why would we hand it over to someone else and ask them if we’ve succeeded? I guess the first question we need to ask ourselves, is why we write and what do we hope to achieve?

When I started writing, I set myself goals. There were so many dreams I had for myself and for a long time I believed finding a publisher was at the top of that list. Like so many others, I thought that was the benchmark to measure myself against. But after years of working on my series, I told a friend I planned to seek a publisher and his single response changed my entire perspective.

He asked why I’d written the books but my answer wasn’t, ‘to be published’. In reality, I became a writer to help myself make sense of the world. I use words as a means to digest my thoughts and without this vessel in my life, I don’t feel balanced. That was where it all began, and when I realised how much I loved it I wanted to see how far I could push myself. I didn’t want to put words on the page just for the sake of venting anymore, I wanting to create something that embodied who I was. To build an entire world where I could face my fears and grow into the person I longed to be.

My friend said it sounded as though I’d already succeeded and I finally understood that I didn’t need approval from a publisher. I thought I needed the shiny wrapping paper but in that one conversation I finally took a step back and acknowledged that I’d already made it. I was complete long before my books even went to print.

For me, placing that sense of achievement in someone else’s hands would have been destructive. All along, this journey was meant to teach me to recognise myself and while the books themselves aren’t perfect, they gave me the gumption to stand tall and be a proud indie author.

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Where can we find you?

Website: http://annahubbooks.com/

Blog: http://annahubbooks.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annahubbooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnaHubBooks

Amazon.com http://tinyurl.com/p5dku7q

Amazon.co.uk http://tinyurl.com/nq979c8

Amazon.com.au http://tinyurl.com/px73bzu

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Thanks for taking part in Indie Month, Anna!

(If you enjoyed Anna’s post, she’s going to be blogging for us from time to time…so check back soon!)

IAM15/Sunday Write-Up – July 2015

Sunday Write Up HeaderIAM 2015 - Topper

No author of the day today – just a day for writing!

What better way to celebrate Indie Authors, than to join us in our regular monthly writing feature? Everyone is welcome, whether you’ve published fifty books or are just writing for the very first time.

The idea is easy:

  1. Take the five words from the bottom of this post
  2. Write a short story (less than 2,500 words), a few paragraphs of a snapshot scene, a poem…whatever you like. Post it on your own blog.
  3. Link your post back to here in the comments section.
  4. Take a look at what other authors did with the same prompts – learn, share and comment with them.
  5. Each month, we’ll share some of our favourite contributions to the feature with our Facebook and Twitter followers.

As always, don’t worry about it being long, short, perfectly edited…the idea is to just let your imagination run wild on something you’ve never even thought about writing before, blast out a piece in however much time you have on your Sunday (or the few days afterwards).

So, here’s today’s prompts – include all five in your piece and see what you come up with.

Today’s five words are:

forget     weird     acorn     come     need

IAM15 Guest Post…How I Became an Indie Author

IAM 2015 - TopperToday’s guest is Hannah Harvey, author of several contemporary YA fiction novels. After a chance meeting via Twitter, Hannah has previously taken part in our regular Sunday Write-Up creative challenge, and was invited to join this month’s event from that 🙂

So, that’s enough from us, let’s hand over to Hannah for her guest post on how she became an indie author…

How I became an indie author

I’ve always loved writing. I was home educated my entire school life by my mum, and growing up, I’d always loved English the best. I’d love it when my mum would set me the task of writing a short story. This led pretty quickly into me writing not just for school, but for pleasure as well.

Hannah Harvey - Author I started to fill notebooks with stories, and even started a few novels. My main problem, was that I couldn’t finish a novel. I found it too hard to stick to one idea, because I had just so many running around in my head. This is where National Novel Writing Month came in. I started taking part and before long I was finishing full novels. My love of writing grew.

At the same time, I’d started college and I had the plan of becoming a nurse, however I was diagnosed with a condition called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Basically meaning that I I was collapsing all the time. I couldn’t attend college anymore, and I still have the condition now over six years later. So I couldn’t go to college anymore, I could hardly stand up in those first months, before I got onto the right medications and got a small amount of control.

So plans had to be reworked. I was at home a lot of the time, and I had my laptop so naturally I started writing. I poured myself into writing, and I had so many finished first drafts, that I just decided it was time I did something with them.

It was round this time that I discovered Kindle Direct Publishing. This seemed like an amazing chance for me, because breaking into the publishing world is so tough, so I thought if I could do it myself then that would be amazing.

It’s hard work. I’m in charge of writing, editing, promotion, the whole lot. It’s also a lot of fun, and I love having the freedom to set my own deadlines and write exactly what I want. I’m learning so much about writing, editing, cover design and promotion, and it’s been incredible.

Currently I’ve published four novels and one novella, and I hope to have another book out in the not too distant future.

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Between Now and Goodbye final - CopyThree friends. One eventful summer.

Libby finally has the settled life she’s always wanted, and never before had. She has a happy family, two best friends Julie and Charles, and loves her home.
This summer will be the best of her life. A summer spent learning in a culinary camp in New York, but when something happens at home and she’s forced to return, how will her summer turn out?

Charles had big dreams for his future, college, medical school, and spending as much time as possible with his girlfriend Julie. This summer will change all of that. His mom’s sick, his dad’s gone and he’s left trying to hold his family together. On top of that, Julie’s pulling away from him. Will he be able to fix things before they fall apart?

Julie is bored. She’s bored of her private school. Bored of always doing the same thing. Bored of having plans cancelled by her boyfriend who’s always busy. She’s bored and she wants a change. When she attempts to liven things up with some of her school friends, she ends up making a mistake. How will that mistake end up shaping her summer?

Follow Libby, Charles and Julie as they fight their way through an emotional summer, as they learn that sometimes theirs no escaping goodbyes, but that they aren’t always bad things.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Hannah Harvey is a 23 year old self published author, blogger and avid reader from the UK. When she’s not writing or editing novels, she’s working on three different blogs, and reading a tonne of books.

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IAM15 Guest Post…Five Things I’ve Learned About Self-Publishing

IAM 2015 - TopperToday’s featured author is Charles E. Yallowitz, sharing his experiences of self-publishing and advice for doing it yourself. Seeing what other authors have done and learning from the challenges or successes they’ve had is one of the best ways to see what being an ‘indie’ is like. Let’s see what Charles has to say on the subject 🙂

Charles E Yallowitz

 

First the formal introductions! My name is Charles E. Yallowitz and I’m the author being the Legends of Windemere epic fantasy series. Also the recently released short story Ichabod Brooks & the City of Beasts.

I published the first of my series, Beginning of a Hero, in February of 2013 and it was in April of 2015 that I published the seventh, Sleeper of the Widwood Fugue. To be fair, I had the first 3 books of my series written and mostly edited before I ever found out about Amazon Publishing. I became a full time author with a year’s worth of publishable books almost ready to go. Just needed cover art, which was worth the rate. This ended up making me an oddity instead of the rule, which sounds kind of like gloating to get to my point. So let me recover by saying something less arrogant.

EVERYONE is an exception to the rule in the Indie World.

You see, I came into this thing knowing only what I imagined and hearing horror stories from other authors. So I came in with assumptions that were quickly proven wrong. This is still going on today because even when I think I have something figured out, a new friend turns up to be an exception. It can be anything from a promotional site working for them while it failed for me to mastering a writing style that one would think is totally unmarketable. I could go down the list of every author I know and pull out something unique about them. Instead, I’m going to talk about 5 things I’ve learned since taking the Indie Author plunge. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a big planner, so a list isn’t too surprising.

  1. People will claim that their way is the best way. You may even find yourself doing this and you’re right. The thing is that they’re right too. I’ve found that an Indie Author works best when following their gut. If a marketing technique, promotional site, style change, or whatever else is presented to you doesn’t feel right then you probably shouldn’t do it. This isn’t to say forget the idea because you might click with it for another project or when you’re more experienced. It’s very important to remember that you have to follow your gut here.
  2. Every Indie Author has their own dream and goal. You may think everyone wants to be a published author for the sake of it. Yet, there are always differences in the dream. Some are in it for quick money and others fame. Some just want to get a story out to the world and will walk away. My own goals include creating a fantasy world that I can eventually open up to new authors and let them cut their teeth there. So I learned to not go in and assume everyone is after the same thing.
  3. There are slow periods for the book industry and they are more common than people realize. When I started, I had no idea that this was the case and it only became really noticeable during my second year. Typically, these moments occur around a big holiday or traveling period. For example, my first November was terrifying because I didn’t find out until Thanksgiving that many people are saving money for Christmas shopping. It was a jolt to my system, especially since I’d avoided the summer slump because I debuted a new book in July. So I got lucky for the first one and my pride got knocked down a bit during the second. 2014 had an even harsher slump and I saw a bunch of authors and promo sites quit during that time. My advice to get through these periods is to either publish something you have ready or take every sale as a victory and push on to better times.
  4. This one might be a little odd or only be me. Be very careful when announcing deadlines on your social media sites. I did this a few times and it always left me scrambling to change things. I’d announce a date before I had the cover art, editing, or even an acknowledgment of those things. Then a delay would happen like the author deleting the wrong file and losing five chapters worth of edits. Kidding . . . I lost an entire book’s worth of edits on that blunder. So as an Indie Author, we have full control over our debuts and marketing, many of us still need to be patient. Believe it or not, we do have plenty of time to release a book and that means we can wait for all of the pieces to be together before announcing a deadline. (Again, this could just be my impatient butt who has this problem.)
  5. Finally, something I wish people told me before I started is that there is an amazing community if Indie Authors out there. This is where social media, especially blogging, becomes essential. I had no idea what I was doing as my first debut loomed, but I connected with other Indies. Some were at the same stage as me, some were veterans, and others were still far away from publishing. There was such a big array of feedback and support that it really helped me keep going when I thought there were days I’d fail. These are people who have an intimate understanding, which you don’t typically get from friends and family. If I’d known about this community earlier, I’d probably have started blogging and publishing earlier too.

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legends of windemereThe final champion stirs and reaches out to any who can hear her voice. Yet all who heed her call will disappear into the misty fugue.

Awakening their new ally is only the beginning as Luke, Nyx, and their friends head south to the desert city of Bor’daruk. Hunting for another temple once used to seal Baron Kernaghan, they are unaware that the game of destiny has changed. Out for blood and pain, Stephen is determined to make Luke wish he’d never set out to become a hero.

By the time the sun sets on Bor’daruk, minds will be shattered and the champions’ lives will be changed forever.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn’t working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. ‘Legends of Windemere’ is his first series, but it certainly won’t be his last.

 Legends of Windemere Blog

Charles E. Yallowitz Website

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