Tag Archives: author

Why Indie? The Answer Might Surprise You…

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I’m proud to say I’m an indie author.

What does that mean, you ask? Quite simply, it means that I am responsible for every aspect of writing, publishing, and marketing my work.

This is the point where most people tend to look at me with an odd expression and ask, “Why would you want to do that?” or “Don’t you need to get a publisher?”

See, there is a common misconception that people who don’t go the traditional route of sending out queries, getting an agent, and signing a contract with one of the large publishing houses aren’t real authors—they aren’t any good.

Sure there are some writers who choose to push the Publish button just because they can. They send their book out into the world without any thought, preparation, or consideration for the readers who will be spending their valuable time reading that book. Their characters aren’t developed. Their story line has holes and inconsistencies. Their book is riddled with errors because they’ve made the careless mistake of skipping the editing process.

These folks have given serious indie authors a bad name.

There are a lot of authors who are happy or content to go the traditional route, and that’s perfectly fine . . . for them.

And some authors only choose the indie path after the traditional publishing route doesn’t work out. But don’t get me wrong—that does’t necessarily mean their books aren’t worthy of publishing. In fact I’ve read some great books by very talented and successful authors that fall into this category.

For me, and for many other authors I’ve met, indie was the first choice—a conscious decision.

Which brings us back to, “Why?” Although the question really doesn’t make much sense to me.

You wouldn’t ask a doctor why she set up her own practice or a carpenter why he set up his own shop. People open up hair salons, boutiques, and pizzerias without questions. The world is filled with countless businesses of all types and sizes, owned and operated by people just like you and me—people who want to be in control of their own lives and futures.

THAT is why I chose to go the indie route.

I’ve admitted before that I am a bit of a control freak. I’ve spent years creating story ideas and characters, breathing life into them by putting them on the page and giving them each a unique voice. I want to be the one responsible for making the decisions that affect my work and choose the people I believe can help make it better.

Being indie is more than just being an author. We are business owners and entrepreneurs. We are our own bosses. We are driven and educated individuals, pushing ourselves to be successful and always looking to grow . . . just like entrepreneurs in any other field.

Indie author-entrepreneurs need to know and understand every step in the life of a book, from capturing the first spark of a story idea to putting a quality finished book in the hands of eager readers. And we need to be willing to hire experts to handle some of those processes.

In the past two years, I’ve had many chances to interact with fellow indies—some of whom have become friends. In the beginning I was amazed by how freely others offered help and guidance, but I soon learned that this is “the indie way.” I am thrilled and lucky to be a part of this amazing community.

In keeping with that spirit, I am working on a way to add my contribution and help out other writers who are just beginning their journey . . . more on that coming soon.

I have faced numerous challenges on my journey as an author, and there are plenty more in front of me. But I can honestly say that I have never loved any job more or felt more pride in each accomplishment. This is what I was meant to do. I believe that in the very depths of my soul.The road to Success

Succeed or fail, it all lies on my shoulders. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Why indie? Why not? For me it is the perfect choice! ~CJ

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Who’s Afraid of the Big Blank Page

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We’ve all been there before. Whether writing a novel, a report, a blog post, or a menu for the week when you don’t feel like cooking. You find yourself staring at the dreaded blank page. The one that’s supposed to capture your brilliant thoughts and ideas as they flow from your fingertips.

The curser sits there, waiting impatiently . . . blinking  . . . blinking . . . still freakin’ blinking. You’re sure it’s laughing at you. Mocking you.

~ Okay, maybe that’s just me. ~

My point is, sometimes the words don’t come. At all. And you begin to wonder if you’ll ever finish your project. Reach your goal.

When that happens, you have two options:

1-You can give up and tell yourself you just don’t have what it takes—which can be a very tempting option at times.

2-Or, you can dig deep and push through, doing whatever it takes to make it to the end.

If you’re wondering which path I chose, you need to get to know me better . . . and I look forward to that.

Failure is my greatest fear, and it’s never an acceptable option. So I’m fortunate to have people around me who won’t let me settle for being less than I can be. Won’t let me give up on my dreams.

I’ve been quiet for a while—too long—but that’s what it took for me to focus solely on my goal and accomplish what I set out to do when I began this crazy journey as a writer. With the amazing support and encouragement of my family, I’ve been able to chase down my dream and turn it into a reality.

Which means, I have exciting news to share! 

I am very thrilled and proud to announce that my debut novel, Two Hearts: Beyond Control, is (finally) with my editor and is planned for release in October.

So what’s next? Plenty of hard work!

While my editor performs her magic, helping me put the last coat of polish on my manuscript, I’m tackling two very important aspects of my book—the cover and the blurb. Sounds easy enough, right?

*sigh* Wrong.

After a week of wrestling with these two beasts, I’ve decided that writing my book may have been the easy part. At least it’s all fun, no matter how big the challenge, because I’m doing what I LOVE to do!

I have a lot to learn about publishing and marketing. And I’ll continue to share my adventure with you right here, so stick around. Our journey together isn’t over yet!

And, of course, I’m still writing and have several exciting projects under way!

  • The second book in my trilogy, Two Hearts: One True Love, is coming along nicely with an anticipated release in Spring of 2017.
  • I’m in the early stages of writing and developing a novella series that will debut next year.
  • And I’m working on a web-based series that will run on this website … watch for that in the very near future.

So far this has been an amazing journey for me, and I’m so happy to have you along for the ride! Hold on tight . . . We’re just getting started!  ~CJ

 

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© CJ Andrews, Daydreamer Press, 2016. All rights reserved.

Still in the Race . . . A Brief Update for All You Inquiring Minds

FullSizeRender 11I know I’ve been quiet for a few weeks, but I’m still here.

Recently, I’ve heard a lot of authors, some wildly successful, say that the hardest part of writing a book is actually finishing the story. Following their advice, last month I changed my normal writing process and set out to finish writing my story without “tidying it up as I go” . . . just dumping the words on the page to get to the end.

In order to eliminate distractions and focus on writing my book, I put myself in a “timeout.” That meant no blogging, no chatting with friends and fellow authors, and no playing on social media.

It’s been lonely, but the results are proof that the sacrifice was well worth it.

Did I meet my goal and finish my first draft by the end of January?

No.

Did I finish it by the middle of February?

Still, no.

Am I discouraged about not finishing my book? Definitely not! I managed to write more in five weeks than I wrote in the previous eight months.

I have two scenes left to write—two stubborn scenes that I can’t seem to figure out. But I’m not worried. I know what needs to happen, and I know the right words will come to me . . . eventually.

Giving up now would be like running a marathon and lying down two feet before the finish line. I can’t imagine any runner would work so hard, only to give up and do something so foolish; and neither will I.

I’m almost there . . . so incredibly close.

But, you know what? As excited as I am about the progress of my book, the most important thing I’ve accomplished the past six weeks is remembering why I wanted to write in the first place. And that’s because I love it.

I write every day. 

Not because it’s a habit. Not because it’s what I’m expected to do.

I stopped putting unnecessary stress on myself with unrealistic expectations and self-imposed deadlines that took the fun out of writing. Because that’s what writing is to me. Fun. Creative. Making up people and stories, writing them down, then reshaping them until I create something I’m proud of and want to share with the world.

I write, because it’s what I want to do. It makes me happy.

So, while my last two scenes get into shape, I’m working on my favorite part of the creative process—revising the chapters I wrote so far this year. The last chapters of my debut novel.

I’m still here. I’m still in the race, and I have no doubts that I’ll cross the finish line. Very soon. —CJ

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© CJ Andrews, 2016. All rights reserved.

A New Year, New Goals, and a New Plan of Attack

IMG_1423Happy New Year! . . . and good riddance to 2015. Yeah, I know I’m a week late. I have a really good excuse though!

I’ve been busy writing.

I never make New Year resolutions—those things most people toss around casually with no real intention of following through on.

Anyone can throw out a general statement: This year I’m going to eat healthier. This year I’m going to exercise more. This year I’m going to . . . well, you get the idea. They’re great ideas—great resolutions, but they don’t have a plan to support them. As a result, they’re often a distant memory by noon on January 1.

Instead, I prefer to set goals and make plans.

If I say,  “I want to eat healthier, so I’m going to cut out processed foods and have one vegetarian day each week.” Now I have a goal and a plan, so I’m more likely to follow through. Right?

The same principles apply to writing. Last year, my goal was to finish my book. Period. Did it happen? Um, that would be a big, fat NOPE! Instead chaos, disorder, and distractions reined.

NOT this year. I have a list of solid goals for 2016, and plans on how to achieve them. First up is my goal to finish the first draft of my novel by January 31. IMG_1425

That’s right, you’re not seeing things . . . I’ve attached a date for finally finishing.

The last few chapters will still need polishing before I run them through my critique group, and then there’s the whole revisions and editing phase; but those things will all fall into place once I have a finished story to work with.

This is a huge goal for me, a personal challenge. I need to nail this one to prove to myself that I really am a writer.

I know what needs to happen yet in my story and how many chapters are left to write. I can estimate about how many words it will take to write each of those scenes. Breaking it down, I know how many words I need to get on the page each day in order to reach my goal . . . and it’s a lot more than I’m used to writing.

That means I need to make a few changes in my life. The biggest change: writing my story is now a top priority in my day . . . EVERY day. To make sure that happens, I began getting up early to write first thing in the morning.

Keep in mind that I am not a morning person. The sight of me dragging myself out of bed at four am . . . well, let’s just say it’s not pretty. It’s a price I’m willing to pay though, and the results have been good so far—I am on target to meet my goal.

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January is off to an exciting start, and I’m racing toward the finish line. I can see “The End” in sight. —CJ

2015: The Year of Lessons Learned…and the End of the Foolish Dreamer

 

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I started my blog about six months ago. Since then, I’ve written several posts that talk about my dream of becoming an author. I even wrote a post solely devoted to the idea. (Chasing A Dream) But here’s the thing I’ve come to realize about dreams: most times they’re unrealistic fantasies, things we wish for that will never come true.

Today, that all stops . . . the dreaming, that is. Imagining myself as a writer—seeing myself doing all the things I know a writer needs to be doing—is never going to get me anywhere.

Now, that’s not to say I’ve been foolish enough to think I could sit back all this time, just waiting to watch a miracle happen. I’m saying that I need a different mindset, a better approach, in order to avoid becoming a life-long dreamer.

Looking back on 2015, I’m not at all satisfied with what I accomplished. I’ll even go so far as to say I’m disappointed in myself. The book that I dreamed would be flying off the shelves by the end of the year? . . . well, I’m still not finished writing it.

You can’t win the race before you even leave the starting block.

It’s so easy to get swept up in the excitement of talking to other authors and learning all that they’re willing to share … which is far more than I’d ever expected when I first entered the indie community.

It’s also easy to let all of that become a distraction. With too much energy focused on new opportunities or on preparing for the future, you can forget to focus on the present—for a newbie author, that means getting down the words for my story.

This is where I failed.

At least I managed to learn a lot of valuable lessons this year that will help me reach my new goals:

  • I leaned I can’t do EVERYTHING I want to do, because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. More importantly, I learned to accept that and to prioritize so I can focus on the big pieces of the puzzle.
  • I learned to say no. This is huge, because saying yes to everything other people want or expect me to do for them—or things they think I should be doing for myself—means there isn’t enough time to do the one thing I need to do, which is finish writing my book.
  • I learned that words may sting, but they can only hurt me or kill my spirit if I give them permission to. Having a thick skin is an absolute MUST for authors. While we’re all entitled to our own opinions, people may not always voice their’s in the kindest of manners. I realize this is something I’m bound to run into more as my audience expands, especially after the release of my book. Being able to search for any value in their messages and letting the rest fall away is vital.
  • I learned to believe in myself. I had plenty of refresher courses in trust, honesty, and dependability this year. Some were painful lessons, but they made me a stronger person. They taught me to be confident enough to trust my own judgment and stand up for my ideas and opinions. They taught me to fight for what I want. I won’t be foolish enough to make the same mistakes again.

I can’t change the past, but the future is mine to command. Dreams don’t come true . . . I need to plan and work hard to make them become a reality.

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With the start of the new year closing in, my dream of being an author no longer exists. Instead, I’m eager to move into 2016 with a new set of values and a list of goals, and plans on how to achieve them. —CJ

The Joy of Christmas Distractions

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I love Christmas: the traditions, the decorations, the scents, and the general feeling of cheer that emerges all around.

For my family, the holiday season begins with a trip to the tree farm the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition we began over twenty years ago, when my sons were toddlers. I have so many fond memories of snowball battles, playing hide-and-seek, and chasing the dog as we spent hours searching for the perfect tree.

Our trip always ended with giant mugs of hot chocolate to warm us from our time out in the cold.

Later that evening we’d decorate the tree as a family while listening to Christmas music. After our sons were in bed, my husband and I would snuggle together on the couch to watch White Christmas by the light of the tree.

My sons are grown and living out of state now, but we still manage to keep the tradition alive to some degree . . . usually with the aid of modern technology.

FullSizeRender 5Christmas is also the only time of the year that my house is actually decorated—it’s something I’ve never acquired a knack for, so I usually settle for more of a minimalistic approach. Every year I look forward to unpacking one special box. It contains my favorite collection affectionately named The Snowman Family by my family. I’ve amassed quite a collection of the adorable little guys over the years, and seeing them always makes me smile.

But . . . as much as I love my snowmen, my most prized decoration is a gift my sons made for me when they were eleven and nine—a wooden Santa, personalized with our names and the year. They secretly dug into my hobby supplies and tools (not the power tools, thankfully) and followed the steps they’d learned from watching me . . .  it really touched me, because I never realized how closely they paid attention to what I did and enjoyed.

To my eyes, their creation is perfect and well deserving of the most prominent spot at the center of the mantle, where it has sat every year since. It is a gift from their hearts and made with love.

This time of year can become rather stressful though, as I’m sure you already know. There is so much that needs to be done. Besides all the decorating,  there’s shopping, and wrapping.

And don’t forget about the cookies! Gotta bake cookies for Santa . . . and my sons.

There are holiday get-togethers with friends and parties  with co-workers.

And . . . of course, all of this merriment takes a lot of time. That’s a big bite out of the already insufficient time available for writing. Trying to resist it is useless—and ignoring it doesn’t work either—so I’ve given in to the holiday spirit and put writing on hold until after Christmas.

As I sit writing this post by the light of the tree, in a room filled with the warm scent of cinnamon candles, I think back over Christmases gone by—some from my childhood, but mostly of my years as a parent.

I can hear the laughter and excitement of my sons as they discovered their gifts under the tree.

I remember the years with our crazy dog, who tried to sneak downstairs for his toys more than our sons did.

And I feel the absence of loved ones who are no longer with us, but their spirits live on in my heart.

I have one wish for Christmas, and it almost didn’t come true . . . I can’t wait to have my sons back home and my family together, even if only for a few precious hours. They are the greatest gifts of my life.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas filled with love and happiness. —CJ

Finding My Way

hawaii-240191_640I’m really bad with directions and get lost almost every time I go somewhere new. So it only makes sense that I’d make a few wrong turns on my journey as an author.

Okay, it was more than a few . . . and they were major detours.

I could sit here and make up all kinds of excuses for my recent absence, some probably valid—family vacation, a new job, holidays, misunderstandings—but the bottom line is that I dropped the ball. I lost focus on my goals and nearly allowed my dream to fade away.

Writers write, right? Or at least we’re supposed to. We talked about that before. (click here if you missed it) But so many things, real and imagined, can mess with a writer’s head. Suddenly, the writing stops, and the downward spiral of self deprecation and fading confidence ensues.

I’ve been lost for several weeks, wandering around the great abyss of a blank page and feeling totally disconnected from anything writing-related. It’s a personal hell that I’m ready to escape.

Over the course of several long conversations, a friend helped me realize where I went off course and dragged me back . . . making sure to bang my head on every rock along the path in an attempt to knock some sense into me.

It worked.

So what’s next? It’s time to get back to work and finish writing my novel, of course! That means committing to set aside designated writing time every day . . . No excuses! And it means finally getting serious about building a strong platform to support my novel when it’s ready to release.

With a new plan in place and a renewed energy, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal—or my fingers to the keyboard—and resume my journey. I’m off to embrace the return of my passion for writing I’d temporarily lost along the way. —CJ