indieBRAG Blog

Non-Fiction and The Brothers Path

Martha Kennedy Author of indieBRAG Medallion Honorees, Martin of Gfenn and Savior It’s estimated that as many as 20,000 Swiss emigrated to America before 1820, bringing not only their hard-working, flesh-and blood-selves, but religious and political philosophies that influenced what this nation became. I knew nothing about any of this until, at the suggestion of a Swiss reader of Martin of Gfenn, I began researching my own family tree. There I met the Schneebelis. At the time, I was in the midst of writing Savior, the story of a 13th century Swiss family, very minor nobility, living in a castle-fort near Affoltern am Albis in the Canton of Zürich. I based the setting of my story on a hillside and castle ruin I’d seen on a hike with a friend. I was dumbfounded when, in the midst of “finding my roots,” I found that my own ancestors had lived on that very hillside and in that very castle-fort. Even more creepy, the people in my family had the same names I’d given the characters in my story. OK, it’s true that there were not many names used in those places in the 13th century (boys were usually Rudolf, Hugo, Conrad,…

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My Summer Photo Project

I’m so happy I selected the 30-day summer photo project as one of my blog posts for this summer! I used to take many pictures and was an avid scrapbooker, but somehow I lost a bit of my shutterbug these last few years. I’ve had an Instagram account for several years, but hadn’t really done much with it. This photo project was a lot of fun, and it forced me to take snapshots of my day. Since my daughter was home on summer break, she jumped into the action as well, often helping me select the photo for the day. There were quite a few things on our ‘to-do list’ this summer, but we didn’t get a chance to do all that we had planned. Mostly because we got a new puppy! Boy, it really is like having baby in the house all over again! I’ve highlighted a few of the pictures here for you to get a glimpse of my summer. To see all the pictures, feel free to visit my Instagram site. ~ Carrie

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IndieBRAG Cover Crush: Grindstone by Donna Walsh Inglehart

Cover Crush by Colleen Turner  Synopsis “New to that country, caught up in my own survival, I did not understand the scope or nature of the War of the Rebellion, only that it was not ours, my brother’s and mine, to fight. I could not have imagined that the war would come to the very shores of Grindstone, with such treachery and brutality that I still wake at night with a pounding heart.” Leaving Ireland in the devastating aftermath of the Famine, Anya McGregor finds refuge in an island realm far from the violence of the Civil War, only to discover that she cannot escape its dark undercurrents. For Jonathon Douglas, a Confederate spy, the islands also provide temporary sanctuary, but soon become as dangerous as the battlefront.  Believing him a traitor, his compatriots have vowed to follow him to the ends of the earth.  Irresistibly drawn to each other, Anya and Jonathon are pulled into a web of espionage that threatens to destroy them both. Lyrical and profoundly moving, Grindstone is historical fiction at its best, a haunting story that inspires even as it shapes one’s understanding of the most violent period in American history.   Thoughts on the…

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The Life—and Art—of Writing: Justine Avery Interviews Film Director Devon Avery

I eagerly snatched up the opportunity (excuse?) to interview my husband about his view of and feelings toward my writing career.  Don't we all wonder what those close to us really think about our uncanny attraction to language, our mysterious-seeming mood swings stemming from that writing we go off to do all alone, how we eye everything as if it's a potential story or character or bit of dialogue, or what they think it means to "be a writer?" Counting on brutal honesty and hoping for extra encouragement and insight from the perspective of a fellow creative working in a different medium, I proceeded to prod my film director and voracious reader husband, Devon Avery, for what it's really like to be in a relationship with a writer—witnessing the ups and downs of a writing career firsthand—for any advice he has to share for the creative process and its challenges, and his view of the role we writers serve for all of humanity.  (As his wife, I get to ask heavily loaded questions!) When we first met, I was a "writer" who didn't write.  I said I was a writer—I'd had a few stories and articles published in the past—but…

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Picnic With My Dreamboat by Anna Belfrage

The barley dips and bows in the wind, ripe and golden it extends every which way. Man-high, the ears brush my cheek, and as I balance along the narrow pathway that divides one field from the next, I suspect I’m almost invisible. Not so Matthew Graham. My favourite 17th century man, my very own personal dream-boat, comes walking through the barley, careful measured steps so as not to damage his crops. I stop to properly absorb the pleasure of seeing him move, all the way from how his worn shirt strains over his broad shoulders, to how lightly he plants his feet, long legs striding effortlessly over the uneven ground. Now and then he pauses, crumbling an ear or two between his fingers. To judge from his smile, the crop looks good – as does he. “A picnic?” He tilts his head to the side, using his hat to fan some much needed air his way. I point at the basket. “Weighs a ton.” “Ah.” He points at a distant grove. “Over there?” Seeing as he’s a gentleman, he offers to carry the basket. “Have you ever had a picnic before?” I ask him as we spread out the tartan…

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Audiobook in Your Future?

I opened my email inbox recently and discovered a surprise – a company called Tantor Media wanted to buy the global audio rights to my novel The Witch of Napoli. Was I interested? I was instantly suspicious. Everybody’s trying to sell services to indie authors these days (agenting, publishing, marketing, etc.); many are expensive scams. You pay them an outrageous fee, or you “share” the cost. I fired back a snarky, warning salvo: “I'm only interested in a sale of audio rights to a company which will pay all production fees. If you're looking for a co-investor, I'm not interested. I can easily produce an audiobook myself via Amazon's ACX or similar platforms. It's been on my to-do list for some time.” Then I googled Tantor and gulped. The company was more than legit – Tantor is the largest independent audio book publisher in the U.S. Tantor Audio titles include National Book Award winners, Man Booker Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners and New York Times Best Sellers. OMG! Had I turned them off before we even started talking? It’s not that I couldn’t produce my own audiobook – Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) tool http://www.acx.com/ is surprisingly easy to navigate;…

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Inspiration’s Mysterious Power

Martha Kennedy Author of BRAG Medallion Honorees, Martin of Gfenn and Savior Ancient Greek poets didn’t believe that they, themselves, came up with their stories. They believed that they, as poets, were simply an instrument of the Muses, well-disposed goddesses who quickened the poets’ minds with inspiration. My high school art teacher didn’t believe in inspiration. He believed in hard work. “If you wait for inspiration to hit, you’ll wait forever. Just paint.” I’ve written a lot in my life without being inspired, sort of the equivalent of my high school art teacher’s “Just paint.” I wrote because I am a writer, and a writer is an observer. I’ve always seen the world, the people around me, and my life as interesting, so I transcribed it. Even my mom said, ‘You’re a good writer. You just don’t have anything to write about.” Then… In 1997, during a particularly interesting point in my life, I went to Switzerland. My friends took me to see a little 13th century church in a small village north of Zürich, the chapel of the Knights of St. Lazarus in the village of Gfenn. Lepers had lived there; not just lepers, but leper knights. The moment…

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And then, there is the Research…

Imagine we have no computers, no Internet access, no search engines. Yes, imagine it was like the good old days. And just imagine how much paper we would be wasting using the old method - remember them? Typewriters! Painstakingly typing word after word using our well-practiced, two finger method. And sheet after sheet of perfectly good paper ending up in the writer’s waste bin. Would the writing revolution ever have happened? Writing is no longer for the privileged few. Yes, even I have taken pen to paper, well, metaphorically speaking. A new found freedom being taken up by an army of hopefuls. Some with astonishing results. The new era - indie publishing. Literally, hundreds of thousands of new novels are published each year. Even this little fact I had looked up on the internet. And we found a new way helping to protect our cherished rain forest - the e-book. After a slow beginning, (Amazon’s first Kindle appeared in 2007), there has been an explosion of e-books. But was it a ´Chicken or Egg´ situation? Did the e-book appear before the e-reader, surely not? I discovered that the Rocket e-book and Soft-book Reader was launched in 1998. There you have…

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Sometimes It Is OK To BRAG By Helen Hollick

Well, it is if you are an author and you have been awarded a coveted Indie BRAG medallion, which is an approval mark of a darn good read. I have the honour of being ‘in’ on Indie BRAG from its earliest conception by CEO Geri Clouston, who ran the idea past me in those early days when it was no more than an embryonic idea. Why me? For several years I was UK Editor, and now I am Managing Editor, of the Historical Novel Society Indie Reviews, so naturally I had an interest in sorting the good indie novels from the not-so-good. (Sad to say too many of them are the latter.) The good ones, unfortunately, are still often lumped with the ‘oh it’s indie, it can’t be worth reading’ nonsense that a few people in the literary world persist in trundling out. Indie BRAG (and HNS Indie) is determined to prove these nay-sayers wrong by showing just how fantastic some indie fiction can be. From little acorns big oak trees grow – and Indie BRAG is fast growing a respected image for shouting out about Good Reads. Maybe word needs spreading a bit more here in the UK, but…

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The Pitfalls of Capturing the Seasons in the Age of Diversity

Diversity has everyone wrapped up in knots these days, whether it’s the people fighting to find representation, or the privileged trying to find ways to make sure their stories are inclusive. If you aren’t on the diversity train, I would argue that you should be for a number of reasons, but that’s another post for another day. Long story short: understanding and incorporating diversity into your works makes you a better writer, and a better person. Now, I am not an authority on the subject of diversity, I’m in the trenches right along with everyone else trying to figure out how to navigate this space so my stories can be accessible to everyone. Along the way, I’ve noticed a lot of people struggling to get a foothold on where to start, or tripping over assumptions that slip into their writing and undo all of their hard work. Because at the end of the day, for those of us who fall into the “privileged” category, or the “Euro-centric” category, or whatever you want to call it, it all comes down to checking assumptions. Our lives are rife with assumptions, be it the way we understand polite conversation, food, technology, the list…

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