indieBRAG Blog

Three Axioms

Martha Kennedy Award winning Author of BragMedallion Honorees, Martin of Gfenn and Savior As a writer, I’ve learned a few pretty obvious lessons, but, as I have the learning style of a crash test dummy, I had to discover them for myself. It comes down to three axioms. Axiom 1 — Give your ardor time to cool before submitting your work. While it’s cooling… Axiom 2 — Get help with proofreading, solicit comments and help from friends, then hire a professional editor. Axiom 3 — Stay true to your work. ********** Axiom 1 — Submit in haste, repent at leisure.  OR…Don’t do anything with your manuscript while you’re in love with it. Love is blind. In 2005, when I finished (and proofread [see Axiom 2]) the initial, complete 500 manuscript pages of Martin of Gfenn, I was so INFATUATED with it that I couldn’t see that it was an overwritten, error-riddled, repetitive nightmare. Four years later, looking at it with clearer eyes, I saw the full horror of my prose. Unfortunately, I’d already queried every possible agent. I decided (as the revised book was exponentially better than the unrevised book) to query them again. Yes, this is the biggest “NO!…

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How to Wrap Your Mind around Selling Books Without Warping It

A Marketing Paradigm By Jo Sparkes -B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Being an indie author means freedom to explore, try new things. It means being uncoupled from editor notes and publisher calendars. It also means book sales are your responsibility. So I developed – in the school of hard knocks – my own grasp of marketing. It’s remarkably naïve, possibly dim-witted. But it does keep me focused on the forest after tripping over tree roots. First, I learned to drop any emotions that the word ‘marketing’ stirs. Fears of rejection, failure, and that evil nemesis self-doubt. Honestly, they’re useless here. So if any of these worries sneak up on you, just think of all the truly awful stuff shamelessly hawked at us every day. You know what I mean. Rondo knives, vaginal douches. Superman versus Batman. Now, with emotions gone, let’s define this marketing thing as a three step process. Our goal: tons of people rush to buy our book, avidly read it and then race to tell everyone how wonderful it was. The word of mouth is so powerful that nothing else matters. Sweet, huh? Achieving this nirvana depends on three things. Let’s continue working backwards – which ought to warn…

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Writing what you love to write – and read… by Anna Belfrage

Sometimes, people ask me why I write historical fiction. “Why such a difficult genre?” they ask, which in itself makes me a tad irritated, as historical fiction, IMO, is not a genre – it’s an umbrella under which all other genres coexist. In essence, the “historical” in historical fiction merely indicates that the story is set in a non-contemporary time. It says nothing about the content as such, albeit that many people seem to think historical fiction is defined by blood and gore and thousands upon thousands dying in one battle or other. Yes, that stuff happens in historical novels. It also happens in contemporary novels – it happens in real life around us on a daily basis. There are historical novels that are essentially love stories, there are others that are coming-of-age stories, yet another author delivers a well-crafted thriller set in distant times, and quite a few produce so called cosy mysteries a la Miss Marple. As long as all these very different books are set in the past, they end up labelled as historical fiction – and considered comparable. Obviously, they are not. I write books set in the past because I am something of a history…

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IndieBRAG Cover Crush: Displacement by Anne Stormont

By Colleen Turner with A Literary Vacation Synopsis From the Scottish Hebrides to the Middle-East, Displacement is a soul-searching journey from grief to reclamation of self, and a love-story where romance and realism meet head-on. Divorce, the death of her soldier son and estrangement from her daughter, leave Hebridean crofter, Rachel Campbell, grief-stricken, lonely and lost. Forced retirement leaves former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter needing to find a new direction for his life. When Rachel meets Jack in dramatic circumstances on a wild winter’s night on the island of Skye, a friendship develops, despite very different personalities. Gradually their feelings for each other go beyond friendship. Something neither of them feels able to admit. And it seems unlikely they’ll get the chance to because Rachel is due to leave for several months to visit family in Israel – where she aims to re-root and reroute her life. Set against the contrasting and dramatic backdrops of the Scottish island of Skye and the contested country of Israel-Palestine, Displacement is a story of life-affirming courage and love. Thoughts on the cover My thoughts on the cover keep circling around to adventure, danger, and upheaval. With the compass so prominent my first assumption…

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Writing Across Genres: How Boldly Following Your Inspiration Can Change Your Destiny

By Sheri Fink A few years ago, a reporter asked me what I’m working on next and I revealed for the first time that I was writing a draft of a romance novel. Seeing that was known only as a children’s author, she followed up with, “Have you ever seen anyone successfully transition beyond the children’s box into women’s fiction?” I paused for a moment and then responded that I didn’t understand the question because I didn’t believe in her “box.” I guess I’ve never believed in the “box.” Instead, I’m something of a free spirit when it comes to writing. I believe in writing from the heart. That means being willing to join your characters on wild and unpredictable adventures. I’m a “pantser” when it comes to writing and I’m often amazed at where they take me, especially when my latest characters took me into the world of romance. I guess readers might have been wondering, “What does a children’s author know about romance?” What does anyone know about romance? I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I’m a hopeful romantic with a vivid imagination for writing a fictional romance. It would be easier to choose the comfort…

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indieBRAG Cover Crush: Men of the Cross by Charlene Newcomb

I’ve said this before and I will say it again. I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of  books and gladly admit I judge a book by its cover. This cover really stands out to me. Two knights on horses obviously riding towards what looks to be some sort of battle field or it could be a town? Not completely sure but nonetheless, it’s cool and says a lot about the premise. I love it! Synopsis War, political intrigue and passion… heroes… friends and lovers… and the seeds for a new Robin Hood legend await you… Two young knights’ journey to war at Richard the Lionheart’s side sweeps them from England to the Holy Land in this historical adventure set against the backdrop of the Third Crusade. Henry de Grey leaves Southampton in high spirits, strong in his faith and passionate about the mission to take Jerusalem back from Saladin’s army. Stephan l’Aigle’s prowess on the battlefield is well known, as are his exploits in the arms of other men. He prizes duty, honour and loyalty to his king above all else. But God and the…

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Mozambique’s typical food & Amani’s River

Foodie Lit: A genre of novel and memoirs filled with food stories and recipes Each month, I'll share the magic of a good Foodie Lit read and one of its recipes.  Cooking and recipes in novels or memoirs take us into the mind of the character or narrator and brings us into the book's kitchen to see, smell and share the lives within. Here's to cooking and reading together! Susan Amani's River and Collard Greens! In Amani’s River, an intense well-written historical novel by David Hartness, we are taken inside the mind of Aderito, a 10-year old American who travels with his father and mother to Mozambique. Aderito's father wants to help his family, caught in the brutal violence of the  Mozambique civil war, which raged from 1977-1992. Aderito becomes an unwilling child soldier in this civil war. A quiet studious child, Aderito is transformed into a murderer after his kidnapping by the Renamo rebel forces, fighting against a repressive government forces.  Both forces were accused later of war crimes. Beaten, starved and drugged, Aderito thinks, “This felt as if it were the end.”  But it was not. Memories of his former life fade. “Mixed with emotions, I felt the moral thing to do was tospare his life... However, the thing expected of me was to show my manhood and kill him for…

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Scribbler on the Roof…my journey as an Indie-author.

I don’t need a time machine, a tarot reading or a Pan American flight manifest to map out how I came to be an Indie author. When asked to share a few thoughts on what I learned about writing, publishing and marketing, I was raring to go and happy to take this opportunity to do what authors like to do best- ‘Kvel’ and ‘Kvetch’. Kvelling, a quintessential Yiddish word, conjures up images of beaming parents, proudly boasting about their offspring. While I do my fair share of maternal boasting, today I’m kvelling about another sort of offspring- my books! I wrote a Creative Non-fiction in August 2012 entitled, ‘With Love, The Argentina Family- Memories of Tango and Kugel, Mate with Knishes.’ A Spanish-speaking, blue-eyed, Jewish girl named Mirta who outgrew five passports by the time she was twenty-one and survived a whirlwind romance during one of Argentina’s darkest periods had plenty of writing material! This first book was written to honor my parents, my heritage and my rather unique upbringing as a ‘Pan Am brat.’ More recently, I published a Historical Fiction/Fantasy that incorporated my love of period drama with Judaica. Talk about fantasy… ‘Becoming Malka’ literally came to me…

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Wish-List 5: Historical Fiction

I am always thrilled when new B.R.A.G. Medallion Honorees are announced and my reading list keeps getting bigger and bigger! One of the featured posts my fellow book bloggers and I do every month is share from our wish-list. This month there is quite a few from the indieBRAG library I have added. Today, I want to share five of them to you. Enjoy! -Stephanie M. Hopkins Four Nails by G.L. Berger Synopsis In ancient India, tragedy strikes a young elephant trainer. Forced into a slave caravan that takes him through perilous lands and into a world at war, Ashoka befriends a special elephant. He and that elephant, Four Nails, together lead Hannibal’s army over the Alps and down the back of Rome. Though a time of constant danger and uncertainty, Ashoka finds beauty and kindness while helping others enslaved for the pleasure of ruthless rulers. To survive this remarkable journey, the elephant trainer calls upon his unique ways with the great greys and a strength known only to those with nothing left to lose. Four Nails has been selected by The Huffington Post as one of only “Four beautiful, pack-your-suitcase worthy reads for summer vacation.” Huffington Post April 19,…

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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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