Indie Chicks

If you've been follow this blog and the wonderful stories from The Indie Chicks Anthology you might be interested to know that the book's been high on the FREE Kindle Chart all weekend. At one point it reached # 58 Free in Kindle. It's been my priviladge to work with these amazing women and welcome them to my blog each week. This week a delightful writer and person, Michelle Muto, weaves her magic. Please read her story.

Find out how Indie Chick, Talia Jager, juggles a large family and manages to write. Read her contribution to the Indie Chicks Anthology:

Paper, Pen, and Chocolate

Talia Jager

“Mom!” a voice yelled from the other room. “Make her stop!”

“I didn’t do anything!” another voice yelled before I could even get up to see what was going on.

I sighed and struggled to get off the couch where I had just started writing a scene. Four months pregnant with our sixth child and the varicose veins were already causing problems for me. I wondered where my husband was hiding that he couldn’t handle this.

Fortunately, the yelling quieted down. Instead of checking on them, I made an Executive Decision. I snuck into my closet, grabbed some Hershey’s chocolate from my stash, and slipped into the bathroom where I ate it with the lights turned off. Nobody would find me there.

Flicking on my flashlight, I took out the notepad and pen I had stashed in the magazine rack and wrote down some thoughts on the scene I had been writing.

The quiet lasted 3.5 minutes. Then my time in the bathroom was up. I crept back out to the living room where I settled a new argument, secretly wishing I could go back to the bathroom.

Now, you may ask…Married with how many kids? And you write books? WHY? HOW? Let me tell you.

From the time I was a little girl, I have had two dreams. One: To have a large family. Two: To be an author. There was a time not long ago when it seemed neither would come true.

Maybe it was being an only child that allowed my imagination to run wild and my mind to create stories; it definitely made me wish for a big family of my own. It’s lonely to grow up without a sibling.

In school, writing was my passion. I wrote constantly. I’d slip my story under a notebook in class and when I was supposed to be taking notes, I’d really be writing my story. At night when I was supposed to be asleep, I’d hide under the covers in bed with a flashlight, pen, and paper.

Time went on, and although I had many stories written, I was too chicken to do anything with them. So, they sat. When I fell in love and started a family, writing got pushed to the side. Sure, I still loved it, but I never had time. Deep down, I was mad at myself for not at least trying to do something with them. But, at the time, I felt I couldn’t. Family came first.

My dream of having a large family wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, but it had begun to come true. We had two beautiful little girls and wanted more. Unfortunately, I suffered through many miscarriages over the years. After having a number of tests done, I was diagnosed with a blood disorder so complicated that I have no idea what it actually is except that it can cause miscarriages. Getting pregnant had never been an issue; staying pregnant was. When I didn’t get and stay pregnant for over a year, the depression got worse.

Losing a baby is a devastating thing to go through; losing six is downright depressing. There’s no amount of crying, begging, negotiating, or praying that brings them back. Believe me, I tried it all. It didn’t matter how many people told me it wasn’t my fault–I blamed myself anyway. Finding out that it was due to a blood disorder made my guilt that much worse. It was my fault. My body’s fault anyway. Then I started asking myself: Why do some of my babies live and others don’t? What did I do different? I had children before I started medication for the disorder, and I’ve had miscarriages since getting on the medication. None of it makes sense and it’s still something I struggle to understand. I was in such a deep depression; it was like my creative button had been turned off. I had no desire to write.

When we finally “gave up” and decided that we’d be a family of six, we found out I was pregnant again with our fifth daughter.

This pregnancy was much harder on my body than the others. I found myself on the couch most of the day with my legs up. It was around this time that some online friends found out that I loved to write and encouraged me to share my stories. I did so nervously and they loved them! I reached deep down and found the courage to start submitting queries to agents. Each time my hopes were smashed to pieces.

My husband started talking about eBooks and self-publishing. I wasn’t too sure about going that route. I wanted to see my books in print, so I could hold them in front of my face. I wanted to smell my book. But, as time went on, eReaders became more popular and I figured…why not?

So, here I am, with five children, trying to find the time to write, while juggling mom-duty, wife-duty, household chores, errands, and more. During the earlier part of this year, you could find me up until the wee hours of the morning writing. You see, that is the only time it’s quiet enough to get anything done. Three a.m. is the time when all little girls are sleeping, the husband is snoring away, and my mind is clear. I can throw myself into a character’s psyche and let my imagination flow. Everything was going perfectly. I was getting a lot of writing done and then we got a surprise. Baby #6 was on the way.

As happy as we were, this put a serious damper on staying up until three a.m. I just couldn’t do it. My one-year-old is at the age where she needs to be followed around and supervised constantly. If I don’t, I find my computer monitor has become a coloring book.

My four-year-old is in between the “play with me” stage and the “playing alone” stage. The older three are in school, which provides a break for me, but since my four year old adores her older sisters, it makes it hard. She’s constantly whining for them to come home.

It’s hard enough juggling the four younger ones, but throw in a hormonal teenager and chaos ensues. Dealing with her has made me positive that my mother cursed me for acting out as a teenager. Not a week goes by that I don’t find myself in tears over something she does or says. Like the time recently when I told her I was pregnant again, she made nasty comments accusing me of ruining her life. Or the time I had to punish her for kicking her sister, and she informed us that she could run away and be adopted by her friend’s parents.

I’m sure you find yourself wanting to ask how I get a minute to myself. Or how do I deal with no time alone? Or what if I get an idea during the day?

Remember that stash of chocolate in the closet? I simply get some, slip into the bathroom, and take a few minutes. Sometimes I just think. Sometimes I jot down a few ideas on that hidden notepad.

As crazy and chaotic my life is, I wouldn’t change a thing. And it sure gives me plenty of things to write about.

So, when life hands you lemons…toss them out, grab your stash of chocolate, your writing materials, and head for the bathroom. You may just end up writing a book.


This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today.

Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels!

My young adult drama, Damaged: Natalie’s Story,

is one of the novels featured.

Find out more about Talia and her books:


One of the greatest things about being an Indie Chick has been meeting fascinating women from all over the world. Read about how life took Indie Chick, Julia Crane, to Dubai. The Indie Chicks Anthology is currently FREE for Kindle, Nook, and all other formats through Smashwords--and it's now available in paperback through Amazon.

Julia Crane

Moving to the Middle East

Separation was normal in my marriage. My husband was in the military, and usually gone six months a year. We had adapted quite well to the schedule. Of course, we had the normal period of adjustment when he would return, but that was part of the lifestyle. We were looking forward to his retirement, and being able to spend more time together as a family. That didn’t work out quite as we expected. My husband was offered a job in Afghanistan that would set us up to really retire. The kicker? It would last a year. We thought the sacrifice would be worth it, so off he went. One year became a year and a half.

While he was gone I took care of our small business, running a gym. I loved it. It was very time-consuming, but it was also very rewarding. It started to wear on me only when my pre-teen children complained that I was always at the gym, and never had time for them. Finally, I told my husband that it was time for him to come home.

He put in his notice and started a stateside job. Though the new job still required him to be gone for six months of the year, the absences were in manageable blocks of two weeks. When he was home, he would take care of the gym and I would have time off. It was perfect.

Then he got a call from a friend, with a job offer that was just too good to turn down…in Dubai. We discussed it, and decided he should take the job, even though we had a new one-year-old.

Not long after my husband left for Dubai, I was at the breaking point. I felt trapped with the business, our teens, and a one-year-old always needing my attention. I had no personal space, and I’m a person that requires time alone, or else I get cranky.

As luck would have it, the new job offered to bring family members over to live in Dubai. My first thought about moving to the Middle East? “Yeah, right.” However, I researched Dubai and was surprised at what I found. The country seemed very modern, and the schools sounded good.

So I told my husband, “Ok, we’re coming.” While I was both nervous and excited, I was ready for a change, and moving to the Middle East sounded like just the adventure I needed.

When we got off the plane in October, the hot air hit my face and it felt like I had walked into a sauna. I thought, “Uh oh, what have I agreed to?” Yes, the heat is hard to handle, but you learn to live your life around it. We do most things early in the morning or after the sun sets. It is very much a nighttime culture. The city is beautiful and the Arabian Sea is breathtaking. I have grown comfortable living here, and easily call it my home. Though I can now see myself here for a few years, there are of course many things that I miss about America, and most of them involve food. Some things are just impossible to find: I’ve searched high and low for a Butterfinger, with no luck.

After a couple of months of enjoying my newfound free time, I eventually started to twiddle my thumbs. I was used to being busy, and with all the free time I needed to find something to fill the void. I saw an article that went into detail about how e-books had flung open many doors for writers. I thought that was interesting, and I mentioned it to my husband and he said he had also seen many articles saying much the same thing. I jokingly said that I was going to write a novel. My husband, who believes I can do anything, thought it was a great idea. I have always enjoyed writing even though I had not written much since having children. As a teen, I used to mail short stories to magazines and such, and like most avid readers, I always dreamed of someday writing a novel. Now I had my chance.

That same night I sat down to write, and the story quickly formed in my mind. I knew I wanted to write a young adult novel that would involve my Irish roots. The story just seemed to form itself: I would get ideas at random times and rush to write them down. It was frustrating at times, because I need relative quiet to focus. As you can imagine, with two teens and a two-year-old, finding quiet time is not easy. I wrote most of “Coexist” late at night when everyone was asleep. It took approximately three months to write the first draft, while the revision and editing process lasted longer than the initial writing.

A great part of the writing process for me has been interacting with other writers. I have met some amazing people from online writing groups and chat rooms. I learned a great deal in a short amount of time. I don’t think this undertaking would have been nearly as fun without the community I have found. Moving halfway across the world has allowed me to have both more time with family, and the ability to pursue a dream I’ve had since a child.


This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today.

Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels!

My paranormal romance novel, Coexist: Keegan’s Chronicles #1,

is one of the novels featured.

All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer.

Coexist: Keegan’s Chronicles #1

Please welcome Indie Chick, Carol Davis Luce to my blog. She shares a valuable lesson with us: it's never too late to follow your dreams. Please read her contribution to The Indie Chicks Anthology -- currently free on Kindle, Smashwords, and Nook.


Carol Davis Luce

My motto is, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.” I wasn’t born to write. I didn’t aspire to be a writer from the time I could hold a Crayon. I could, however, draw, and make things take shape through form and color on paper and canvas, and that’s the path I traveled well into midlife. The artist’s life opened up my eyes and mind to expression and sometimes stories through composition on that blank eighteen by twenty-four inch stretched canvas. Then one day it changed.

As a voracious reader, I was content to read what others wrote. I admired those writers who had mastered the craft. I was happy to dwell in their world for 300 pages, to laugh, cry, and be enlightened and surprised. Until one day when I closed a book by my favorite author and felt something was missing. The novel was a mystery/suspense with elements of romance. The suspense was killer. The romance, however, was lacking, missing those subtleties that resonated with me. I wanted more. The promise of romance was there, but fizzled somewhere along the way. For me, it wasn’t about graphic sex. It was about sexual tension, passion, love. After searching unsuccessfully for novels to satisfy my romantic suspense fixation, looking for just the right balance, I realized I had to write the book myself.

Only I knew nothing about writing a novel, let alone a genre book with a sub-genre. So I went to the library and checked out a reference book titled, HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL. Easy enough, right? If dedication is easy, then it was easy because I was driven. My artist’s passion shifted to focus on the writer’s canvas. That canvas was structure, words, emotion, and truth. And the rest is history.

Well, almost.

I burned up two electric typewriters before investing in a computer. I checked out every book on the “book writing” reference shelf, and many grammar and stylebooks, and two years later, my 800-page opus, NIGHT STALKER, was finished—


I learned about the important shaping process, without which most stories would be unreadable. Editing. The passion and pain of cutting and revising. Finding the jewels that lie buried in too many, or misguided, words. Three years and a dozen revisions later, 400 pages lighter, it found a home with a traditional publisher. Within the first few months of release, it went into three printings and became the flagship for the sub-genre "Woman in Jeopardy/Romantic Suspense" at Kensington Publishing.

Where it started. . .

I left school at sixteen to marry my high school sweetheart. Six years later, as a housewife and mother, I channeled my artistic talent into sketching and painting, selling my work at a local art gallery. A quarter century later, I traded in my paints and brushes to hit the keyboard. Our three sons, not much for novel reading, are waiting for my books to be made into movies. That childhood sweetheart I married a lifetime ago is now my soul mate of 50 plus years. His encouragement fueled me, and his support allowed me to pursue my goals.

Going back to my motto of, “if I can do it, anyone can.” There has never been a more opportunistic time to try your hand at writing a book. Or taking the plunge and self-publishing. My decision to self-publish my upcoming suspense novels came about when I hit the proverbial brick wall after five published books. With a stalled career, I had a choice. Teach, or see my stories in print again. I chose the latter. My first self-published book is the short story trilogy, BROKEN JUSTICE, followed by my suspense novel, NIGHT WIDOW.

Agents and editors think they know what readers want. They don’t always know. Readers know what readers want, and they’re expressing their wants by buying books written by indie authors. Give yourself a hardy pat on the back if you’ve completed a manuscript, but the big applause goes to our devoted fans and readers. Without them, we would be nothing.


Please check out Carol's books. Here's a link to her Amazon Author Page.

Indie Chick, Christine Kersey, kept following her dream, and that made all the difference! Read her story from The Indie Chicks Anthology. The anthology is now available electronically and in paperback. All proceed go to breast cancer research. Be sure to read all the inspiring stories--and never give up on your dreams!

Never Give Up On Your Dreams

by Christine Kersey

I love to read and lose myself in a good story – forget all that is going on around me and be inthe story with the characters. One day in 1997 I finished reading a novel by Joy Fielding and realized she hadn’t needed to be an expert in a particular field, like medicine or law, to write a good suspense story. This fact inspired me to try my hand at writing. It also didn’t hurt that we’d just gotten our first computer and I can type much faster than I can write longhand.

At this time in my life I was thirty-two and my youngest child was three. I also had three other children who were in elementary school. A stay-at-home mom, I was able to carve out some time to work on this project. At first I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. What if I couldn’t complete it? What if I failed? After a short time I told my husband, mother, and sister and they were supportive.

I kept working at it, day by day, until after about four weeks I’d finished a complete novel. At that point it was nowhere near ready to be published, but I’d proven to myself that I could write a novel with a beginning, middle, and end. I continued working on the story, then put it aside and began working on another.

I gathered the courage to have a few friends read it and they all said they loved it. Encouraged, I decided to attend a conference called Bouchercon , which is for fans of mysteries. At the conference I mingled with published writers and talked to an agent or two. Afterwards I sent queries to several agents, but none of them were interested in my completed novel.

Shortly afterwards I started working part-time and didn’t spend as much time writing as I had before. When my youngest child started first grade I decided to go back to college full-time and earn my degree. Over the next four years I did very little fiction writing and focused on getting my education.

As I approached my final semester my schedule wasn’t quite as heavy and I decided to do some revisions on one of my two completed novels. When I felt the story was ready, I submitted it to a small, regional publisher. In April, 2004 I graduated with a B.S. in Information Technology. That same week the publisher got back to me and said they were interested in publishing my book, but first they wanted me to do revisions. Though they hadn’t offered a contract yet, I did the revisions and resubmitted the manuscript. They were pleased, but wanted yet more revisions. In 2004 the job market was down and I was spending a lot of time job-hunting, but I did the revisions as requested.

In October of that year I finally found a full-time position and within two weeks of starting my new job, the publisher got back to me and offered a contract. Needless to say, I was thrilled. Seven and a half years after I’d written my first book and I was finally getting published!

I was assigned an editor and worked closely with her. The book hit bookstores in July, 2005. I thought I was on my way. I had one book published with a real publisher, so now I was set, right?

The book sold reasonably well, but when I submitted another manuscript, my publisher decided not to publish it. Discouraged, I focused on my family and my job and didn’t spend very much time writing. However, I still read as much as ever. In fact, when the nook eReader became available I bought one and started loading dozens of books onto it. I was in reader heaven.

I’d had my nook for nearly a year before I caught on to the possibilities indie publishing presented. The book I’d published with a traditional publisher had gone out of print and I was able to get the rights back. That book, No Way Out, was the first book I made available as an indie publisher. The first month it was available I sold exactly one copy. But that one sale was very exciting. Since then I’ve published three more novels and have sold thousands of copies. I love that I have complete control over what I publish. I also love to read the work of other indie authors. There are so many talented people that are now able to publish their work.

I’m glad I didn’t give up on my dream to be published and am so excited at the endless opportunities that are now available. One thing I’ve learned is that if you persist in following your dreams, eventually you will be able to accomplish what you’ve set out to do, whatever it may be.

That three-year-old child that sat near me as I began my writing career is now a senior in high school. Whether or not I had chosen to continue writing, time inexorably moved forward. It’s never too late to follow your dreams, but why wait?

Visit my blog

No Way Out, about a woman whose husband disappears, is available at Amazonand Barnes& Noble

He Loves Me Not is currently only available at Amazon, although if you have a nook, email me and I’ll send you a free epub copy.

Don’t Look Back is the sequel to He Loves Me Not and is available at Amazonas well as Barnes& Noble.

Please welcome Indie Chick Mel Comley to my blog. Mel has an inspiring story, and she's fortunate be able to write full time! Read her contribution to the Indie Chick Anthology.

French Fancies!
by Mel Comley

In 1993 I walked out on my sad and abusive marriage, one that I had stuck with for seven years. At the time I jointly owned a shop with my ex-husband and my Mother, so we had to sell the business when the marriage broke down.
If I thought that was hard it was nothing to what I had to endure the following six years. To make ends meet, I had to work two jobs for 70-80 hours a week over 6½ days. Take my word when I say it wasn’t fun.
But onwards and upwards, when Mum retired we made a spur of the moment decision to leave England and move to France. We’d never set foot in the country before we came out here to house hunt, I know, we’re either brave or stupid. I like to think we’re the former, but I sometimes wonder if that’s the case!
We bought a farmhouse and barns that needed total renovation. In 6 months I decorated 22 rooms while a local builder created a gîte (a holiday home) out of a couple of the barns. After the renovations were completed I grew bored with my ‘early retirement’ and enrolled in a creative writing course. I threw myself into it and over the next 4-5 years I sat down and wrote three romances and two thrillers.
In October 2009, I discovered the writing site run by Harper Collins called Authonomy where I uploaded the first 10,000 words of my thriller Impeding Justice. It took me 8 months to reach the editor’s desk where I received a favourable review from a Harper Collins editor. The trouble was they weren’t taking on any thriller writers at that time, they were only interested in printing Celebrity Autobiographies!
Therefore, in October 2010 I decided to upload Impeding Justice as an ebook. It took a while to take off but in January 2011 sales really started gathering momentum, but it wasn’t until I released the second book in the series, Final Justice that sales really took off.
After selling over 30,000 books in April, I was in the fortunate position of having several agents knocking on my virtual door. I finally agreed terms and signed a contract with top New York agent, Richard Curtis. I sent him Cruel Justice the third book in the thriller series and he tried for 4 months to get me a traditional publishing contract, but at the moment he admits he’s finding it difficult to place any books with publishers because of the Indie revolution, which I’m extremely proud to be part of.
During last Summer, I edited the romances I wrote at the beginning of my journey. I uploaded A Time To Heal towards the end of August and immediately received a couple of 5 star reviews (no they weren’t from my family, they don’t know I write!) some of them were from my thriller fans who were equally impressed by my romance endeavours.
At the beginning of September I uploaded A Time For Change, another romance which is actually a TRUE story of how my dear friends met and fell in love. Obviously they’re names have been changed, the story has a mystery element to it too.
In October 2011, I uploaded the third book in my thriller series, Cruel Justice, which is actually the prequel to my best-seller Impeding Justice. It’s been very well received and has even reached #2 in the Police Procedural chart on Amazon.
I’m very fortunate to be able to write full-time (it’s addictive, don’t you know!) and have several more projects outlined that I intend tackling over the coming winter months.
This is how my day pans out, first thing, providing it isn’t raining, I take my two dogs for a walk, actually they tend to drag me round our small village. Then I sit down to answer any emails and facebook messages I’ve received overnight from fans (yes I do have them) I then set out to write a minimum of 2-3000 words per day, before I dip into hours of necessary promoting. That’s the hardest part of being an Indie writer, the fact that we have to promote ourselves long and hard. I used to be quite a shy person, but I’ve had to overcome that quickly. I think deep down, every writer would love to be a recluse and be able to focus full-time on their creations, unfortunately that’s unrealistic in an Indie world.
Do I ever think about my life back in England? No, never, but my ex features heavily in my books. When I need to think up a baddie character it’s his image I picture in my mind. As for my murder scenes, I find them VERY easy to write. LOL

You can find out about me and my books at the following blogs.

You can purchase my books in ebook format or paperback from my website.
My twitter id is @melcom1
You can find out about me and my books at the following blogs.
Barbara Silkstone is an amazing woman. I figured that out when I read her book, The Adventures of a Love Investigator, 527 Naked Men & One Woman.In fact that was the first book I read on my kindle. But I didn't know Barbara's amazing story and the ordeal she writes about in Have You Ever Lost a Hat? her contribution to the Indie Chicks Anthology.


By Barbara Silkstone

I lost everything including my home, my car, and even my retirement accounts. I was physically attacked inside and outside a court building. My daughter and baby granddaughter were threatened. I came at the bad guys like a mother tiger.

A few years earlier I had agreed to testify against a real estate developer in a civil racketeering case. He was obscenely rich and could afford a hanger full of Lear jets, four sneering lawyers, and a greedy judge. In an effort to discredit my testimony in his upcoming trial and to frighten me out of appearing against him, his team of legal manipulators pasted together a bogus suit against me designed to keep me tied up in court and unable to function. They underestimated my sense of justice.

I’d been sitting on the witness stand for the better part of a day… one of many in my five-yeartrial.” The judge, forgetting her microphone was on, had just proclaimed me “a pretty tough cookie.” I’d given up expecting justice. It was much too late for fairness. I was in an out-of-body state observing my own funeral and laughing about it.

When the four-hundred pound lawyer asked me if I’d ever lost a hat, I thought one of us had lost our minds. I was pretty sure it wasn’t me. He blinked as if he realized the absurdity of what he asked and dropped the line of inquiry. The question struck my funny bone and sent me into giggle-fits. And that was the moment when The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters was born.

Within a few months the lawyers I hired to help me sucked up every penny I could muster. When I was broke, they walked off the case. Unlike in criminal cases, defendants in civil litigation must pay for their own attorneys. No money – no lawyers. I was on my own. I needed to defend myself. But how when the case was nonsense? How do you fight silly? The lost hat question was a perfect example of the charges brought against me. But the more ridiculous their charges, the stronger and feistier I grew. For each thing they threw at me, I came back that much harder, roaring and taking notes for my someday book.

Since I was a child my driving passion has been to write. In Catholic grade school I started an underground newspaper. When our nun forbade me to continue, I carried the paper further underground. While I continued to write as an adult, life eventually got in the way of living and my writing took a backseat. But now as I sat in the courtroom I was inspired and chomping at the bit to get this real-life fairytale on paper.

Anger boiled in me as I saw the precious time I had carved out for writing being eaten up as I defended myself in bizarre proceedings. I was spending all my time in the law library studying the Rules of Civil Procedure in order to write Motions and Pleadings and filing them against the court in such rapid fire I would have made Rambo back off.

Earning a living on commission sales is impossible when you are spending 14 hours a day fighting a pack of legal sharks. I had to take the creepiest part-time jobs… things that still give me nightmares. Things like working for a gold broker who brought us the teeth from dead people. We were expected to separate the gold from the molars – not unlike the lawyers I was dealing with. I needed the money but not that badly. I ran to the nearest exit.

Locked in a deadly struggle with the notorious real estate developer, I chose that time to become romantically involved with a Brit who, it turned out was not what he seemed to be. I stepped into the perfect storm. The Brit’s upper-class accent and polished manners hid a not-too-clever conman, but clever enough to fool my starry eyes. The developer and the conman clashed in a rage of wicked deeds. I was sandwiched between them.

Is The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters true? Would Lewis Carroll say Alice in Wonderland was true? The emotions are real and still raw, but the journey was worth the results. Would I do it again? You bet your tushie. My sense of justice would not permit otherwise. But I would not be quite so naïve. I would expect slimy tricks and dirty pool. Merely because someone wears a robe and speaks of the law does not mean they abide by the law.

“The Hail Mary Pass” refers to any very long forward pass made in desperation with only a small chance of success. It’s used in football and occasionally courtrooms.

My Hail Mary Pass knocked the bad guys on their butts. I filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, which is a request to the United States Supreme Court asking that Court to review the decision of a lower court. I cast a spotlight on their dark shenanigans.

And as my Petition worked its way along the queue in the United States Supreme Court, making it almost to the finish line, the judge on my case went strangely silent, the notorious developer disappeared, and the Brit wandered off. I had become a writer but not in the way I had envisioned. I was a self-taught legal guerrilla who had managed to land her petition to be heard by the highest court in the United States… right through the goal post. Unfortunately, in the end corruption won and I barely escaped with a toothbrush and a change of clothes.

Were those five years tough? Yes. But I fought because I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I rolled into a ball. I fought with the wit and sarcasm of Alice in the original Alice in Wonderland. Standing on the outside watching the Jabberwocky operate on the inside. I knew that someday my story, fictionalized with absolutely no resemblance to anyone living or dead and the names changed to protect the corrupt, would make a darn good yarn. And each step of the way, like Lewis Carroll and my out-of-body ordeal, I would allow the action to the skate on the edge of logic.

In The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters, a few murders have been thrown in for comic relief, and the characters have been shaken and stirred, then presented in a Pythonesque light. Any similarities to the jerks I dealt with are purely coincidental.

Have I ever lost a hat? Probably.

But did I retain my passion for writing, and even kick it up a notch? Absolutely.

Every adventure contains a novel.

Sometime you have to pay dearly for it.

Quoting the Cheshire Cat:

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" (Alice)

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where---" said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

"---So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.

"Oh you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all the stories buy your copy today. All proceeds go to fund breast cancer research.

About the Author
Barbara Silkstone is the best-selling author of The Fractured Fairy Tales series that currently includes: The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters:
This author has a unique narrative voice, and reading the story is like taking a smooth slide into Alice’s surreal world. The premise is outstanding – a classic we all love, with a contemporary, intelligent twist.~ Elizabeth Lindberg, author Upper West Side Stories

Purchase for your Kindle at: Amazon
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Be aware, this is not the Peter Pan story you want your kids reading. It is clearly intended for adult readers. Yet it appeals to the childlike part of us that loved the classic original stories. Combine that childlike love with modern politics and technology, and you get this smart, snarky, hilarious mystery. The story is richly developed and leaves you guessing until the very end. I am liking this grown-up version of Peter Pan even more than the original.~ Tiffany Harkleroad for Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Purchase for your Kindle at: Amazon
Purchase for your Nook at: Barnes& Noble

The snarky Python sequel to Wendy and the Lost Boys. A murderous rollercoaster ride through Londonduring a killer heat wave.~ Ravan Reviews
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Purchase for your Nook at: Barnes & Noble
Silkstone’s writing has been described as “perfectly paced and pitched – shades of Janet Evanovich and Carl Hiaasen – without seeming remotely derivative. Fast moving action that shoots from the hip with bullet-proof characterization.”

Wendy and the Lost Boys topped the charts in comedy, climbing over Tina Fey, Sophie Kinsella, and Ellen DeGeneres. The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland, Age 42 and Three-Quarters has been a consistent best seller in comedy. Both Wendy and Alice have been in the top 20 Amazon comedies at the same time. Silkstone has been fortunate enough to take part in writing workshops with Stephen King, Robert B. Parker, and James Michener. She lives in South Florida but has no time to visit the beach.

Barbara Silkstone loves to hear from her readers. You can write to her at:

Or visit her at: Barb’s Wire eBooks & More

Twitter @barbsilkstone!/barbsilkstone

Zo White – coming Summer 2012


This week the delightful chick-lit writer, Sibel Hodge, is visiting my blog. Sibel is an Indie Chick. Please read her story, From 200 hundred rejections to Amazon top 200. And, if you haven't picked up your copy of The Indie Chick Anthology please do--just .99 cents. All proceeds benefit breast cancer research.

From 200 rejections to Amazon top 200!

Sibel Hodge

Ever since I was old enough to scrawl my first word, which was Halibaaaaa, I knew I wanted to write books. OK, so the word didn’t actually make sense, and it might take a little longer for me to actually string a whole sentence together, but that didn’t put me off. I was going to write books and no one would stop me…

From when I was really young, my mum encouraged me to read. “If you can read books, you’ll never be bored,” I remember her telling me. I secretly think it was a ploy to keep me out of her hair and quiet for a while. I was always a loud kid with lots of energy, and always getting into some sort of trouble with the boys down our street. (Yep, even then I was a sucker for boys!). After discovering the wonderful world of books, I thought I’d have a go myself, and remember scribbling down stories whenever I had a spare moment. Shame I was only six, and there was no way anyone would publish a book with I Want Big Girls’ Knickers in the title.

When I was in secondary school my favourite subject was English language. I’d lose myself for hours. And even though I hadn’t thought about my forthcoming career before I left (apart from being Wonder Woman or an astronaut), I knew, even then, I had a love of creating. I also loved to make people laugh from an early age. In the beginning, it wasn’t intentional. I was always saying ridiculous things that I thought were quite serious. Like the time I went to the butchers shop with my nan, and the lady behind the counter asked where I was from. “South America,” I said. (I know, where the hell did that come from? I must’ve had an overactive imagination from the start.) So when people started laughing at me, I thought, hey, this is pretty fun! We live in such a hectic world and laughter is a perfect way to de-stress. Because my personality is quirky, fun-loving, and slightly nuts, it was probably a given that I would eventually write chick lit, although I have recently delved into the dark side of my brain (which is a pretty scary place to be sometimes!) and written a psychological thriller.

But when I left school no one mentioned writing as a career. It was all boring things like secretarial jobs, travel agents, office work. I didn’t even know about creative writing courses until about ten years ago! I think they considered that writing wasn’t a “proper career.” No one suggested journalism or further education in writing. So what was a girl to do? Although my mum wanted me to go to University and study to be something like a doctor or lawyer (eeek!), I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do for a career, so I flitted from one job to the next, trying to find something that interested me, and eventually ended up working for the police for ten years. So there I was, too busy paying the mortgage, working shifts, and living in the rat race of life to have the proper time or opportunity to write a novel. It didn’t stop me trying, though.

It was drastic things like splitting up with a boyfriend that made me start my first novel when I was about seventeen. I never got further than the first three chapters, though, because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, other than using a typewriter! Then I started another one (I got dumped again – can you see a pattern here?) when I was about twenty-three, and ditto (I’d hate for those to ever see the light of day). I just knew that I loved writing and therefore it stood to reason that one day I’d do it, didn’t it? And although I look back now and think I wish I’d started writing earlier, actually, I have to say, that it would’ve been bad timing. Back then I wouldn’t have had anything to really write about. A lot of the things that go into my books now are based on my experience of life. People I’ve met, places I’ve been, books I’ve read, things I’ve done, struggles I’ve achieved. At twenty-three, what did I really know about any of that?

And then five years ago, hubby and I had had enough of the UK. We got fed up with the constant grey weather, bills that seemed to increase as you looked at them, working constantly to pay them, and never having quality time for ourselves or our family. Right, it was time to make my childhood dream come true and move somewhere exotic, where the cost of living was lower, and we would actually have time to enjoy each other and life again. Then I would finally have the time and opportunity to dedicate to writing. Yes, we’d have to sacrifice a lot of things to achieve it, but it would be worth it in the end. So we moved to North Cyprus, and it was like my brain suddenly said, Hallellujah! Now we divide our time between Cyprus and the UK.

I didn’t actively think about what I was going to write, but a year after we’d moved there I had an exciting idea for a story, using my unique Turkish Cypriot/British cultural heritage, and my debut romantic comedy Fourteen Days Later was born. Then I actually became the guinea pig for the sequel, My Perfect Wedding! But it was all very well completing my dream of writing a book, but until it was published, no one would get to read it.

So I started querying hundreds of agents and publishers. I got too many rejections to even count! OK, small white lie, a while ago I did count them out of morbid curiosity, and it was a whopping two hundred!

I did come close a couple of times to being traditionally published, but it never quite worked out. It was either, “one group of editors liked it but another didn’t”, or “the chick lit market is saturated”, or “we love it but…”\

When I first looked into publishing independently, platforms like Amazon Kindle didn’t support international authors. So the way I saw it, I had two choices. Either I could write another book, hone my writing skills and learn all I could about my craft, and wait for an opportunity to come up, or I could let all the rejection letters get me down, think my writing career was over before it had begun, and stick my head in the oven! Since heat tends to turn my curls into a ball of frizz, it was no contest, really. I wrote my next novel, a chick lit mystery called The Fashion Police, and waited. Because I knew, I just knew, that I COULD do this. I could write novels that people wanted to read. If only I could get the chance.

In the meantime, I also entered several writing competitions. And while I was still getting the dreaded rejections, Fourteen Days Later was shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize 2008 and received a Highly Commended by The Yeovil Literary Prize 2009. And The Fashion Police was a runner up in the Chapter One Promotions Novel Competition 2010 (and later nominated for the Best Novel with Romantic Elements 2010 by The Romance Reviews). Surely I was doing something right, wasn’t I? But I STILL couldn’t get a publisher!

Then last year, when Amazon opened up their doors to non-US authors, I uploaded Fourteen Days Later and The Fashion Police onto their Kindle store. I couldn’t believe it when I finally saw my books on sale. It was scary, rewarding, exciting, amazing – so many experiences rolled into one.

But what if no one liked my novels? What if I had all bad reviews? What if all the two hundred rejections were right? What if, what if…?

Time for a deep breath, Sibel. If you want to be an author, you have to repeat this mantra everyday… “I can do this. I can do this. I CAN do this.”

So I did.

And boy am I glad I did! The first month with Fourteen Days Later and The Fashion Police, I sold 44 books (another eeek!). Then I released my third novel, a romantic comedy called My Perfect Wedding, and later released my second chick lit mystery Be Careful What You Wish For. In the last 6 months alone I’ve sold over 40,000 ebooks, and all my novels are consistently in the Amazon top 100 genre categories for humor, contemporary romance, comedy, and romantic suspense. My highest overall sales ranking to date is 136, just missing out on the Amazon top 100 bestseller charts. Considering there are over 900,000 Kindle books on Amazon, that’s not bad!

And this is one lesson I’ve learned in the last couple of years…You can do anything you want to in life. It may mean you have to go a different route than you originally planned, but if you’re determined enough and believe in yourself, you can overcome any obstacles.

So I’m toasting all you women out there with my glass of wine. Cheers to dreams and making them come true! Looks like I got my big girls’ knickers after all!

You can find Sibel’s books in paperback and all ebook formats. For more info, please check out her website

This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble . To read all of the stories, buy your copy today.
Please welcome Indie Chick, Christine Demaio-Rice to my blog. Christine has had an interesting background and has spent time in the fashion industry.


(for the better)

An orange peel grapple is a big machine. Excavator on the bottom. Long arm in the middle. And a metal grapple on the end that looks like a horror movie claw. The base spins. The arm moves up and down. The grapple grabs stuff like SUVs and big piles of metal.

You may come across one while driving, and if you have a little boy in the car, you may have to pull over to watch the thing move cars into a tractor trailer. Otherwise, nothing about this machine will rock your world.
But an orange peel grapple changed my life.

My life was a complete disaster at the time. Though I had a beautiful baby boy and a good husband, I had a job in an industry I swore I would never return to, at a company that wanted nothing more than to suck the blood directly from my heart with a curly straw. This, after I had already sold all the blood in my heart to the film industry, which after a few meetings and screenwriting awards, looked like it might want to take a sip from that straw.

A sip, because as good as things were looking, I saw a long road in front of me. My work was not “commercial enough,” and my manager had made it clear that years would pass before I would be able to convince anyone that this lack of commerciality was a quality that was, well, commercial.

But no. My husband lost his job, and I found work in the fashion industry soon after. What I rapidly discovered was that, though out-of-towners could schedule meetings back-to-back all over town, Angelenos were expected to take a meeting at the last minute, or blithely accept a rescheduling. My boss, on the other hand, had no interest in moving around my personal days, and my sick days dwindled in my first three months on the job. It took only a few months for the meetings to dry up and for me to start writing a Santa Claus script out of desperation.

So, the blood-sucking fashion job with the inflexible hours was right next to a scrap yard, which apparently opened at the crack of dawn because when I got there at seven thirty every morning, the orange peel grapple was already grabbing away. If I had a minute, I watched it go up and down as I clutched my coffee, and I thought, one day I should get a video camera and film this because my son would love it. Really love it.

My son was about eighteen months old and just learning to talk. I missed him while I was at work, adored him when he was awake and with me, and the rest of the time, I found room to resent him for taking me away from writing. He was then, and has remained, a fireball of energy. His teacher alternated between calling him a Jack Russell terrier and a buzz saw. He is also obsessive. Right now, he has a room full of Legos. Before that, it was Thomas the Tank Engine, and before that, it was trucks. Big yellow trucks. He wouldn’t fall asleep unless he gripped a toy truck in each fist. When he received a Tonka loader for Christmas, it was love at first sight. He called it “lolo.”

One morning, with the vision of that big ‘lolo’ that I would later know as an orange peel grapple dancing in my head, I dialed a friend’s number. I’d known this man from Brooklyn, and he’d come to Los Angeles a few years earlier to attend the American Film Institute. Most importantly, he had a camera. When I got his answering machine, instead of asking him for the camera, I said something else entirely, something like, “Hey, wanna produce a kid’s video together? Here’s the pitch. Trucks. Okay, bye.”

That moment may not seem pivotal, but most turning points don’t when they happen. That moment, I took control of my creative life. My friend called me back the minute he got up, and we began the journey toward becoming business owners. We did not pitch the idea around town, and we did not ask permission to bring the work to the public. We put the DVDs on Createspace, and eventually had to hold inventory to meet the demand.

Lolo Productions and the Totally Trucks series have had ups and downs, but the process taught me two things. One, my concepts need to be simple. If I can’t pitch it in five words, it’s not a concept I should develop. My second lesson is that I can be in control of my product and my creative life. If I think something is worthwhile, I can bring it to my customers. Becoming the producer and publisher of my work means I understand now what agents and studio executives meant when they said “commercial.”

Without my son, I never would have taken the life-sucking job. And without that job, there would have been no orange peel grapple. And without that scrapyard, there would have been no Totally Trucks. No eye for the commercial and no control of self-publishing. Who knows what I would have made without all the things that pissed me off for interrupting my work.

Dead is the New Black on Amazon


Indie Chick, Cheryl Bradshaw, is a go-getter. She's great at social networking and she pursues her dreams. Read her story from the Indie Chick Anthology.

Just Me and James Dean
by Cheryl Bradshaw

When I was a little girl I used to make up stories at bedtime for my younger sister, Michelle. The most vivid centered on a boy and a girl who received a piece of gum for Halloween in their trick-or-treat bag, and when they chewed it, they were transported to a magical land where they were granted unlimited wishes. Even at such a young age, the process of concocting stories was effortless. My mind revolved like the reel of a movie spinning inside my head.

I spent many hours daydreaming as a child. Back then everything was as beautiful and white as a freshly painted fence. I fantasized about the day I would get married, the children I would have, the house I would own, and the life I would live when I was all grown up.

When I was a teenager, my mind still swirled with girlish hopes and dreams. I remember lying on my bed in my room staring at a poster on my wall of James Dean. He was hunkered down on the seat of a motorcycle, and Marilyn Monroe was perched behind him with her arms wrapped around his waist, and her head resting on his shoulder. I wanted to jump into the poster like the girl in A-Ha’s Take on Me video and ride off into life’s highway, just me and James. Together, forever.

When I became an adult and moved out on my own to attend college at the tender age of eighteen, I thought I had my whole world figured out. I’d developed a slight obsession with Agatha Christie and knew mysteries and thrillers were the perfect genre for me as a writer. All kinds of ideas flowed for the first novel, and I thought I was on my way. There was just one problem: I never started writing.


I wasn’t prepared for the events that were about to take place in my life or how they would affect my journey. Life didn’t turn out to be the dream I thought it would be, and I struggled—a lot, and faced challenges and trials that at times seemed more than I could bear. My relationships didn’t always work out, and all the babies I hoped to have didn’t come like I’d planned. There were times when I felt like my life was like a shattered mirror, and I was on my hands and knees desperately searching for all the pieces of myself so I could glue them back together and feel whole again. During those times I wondered how many other women out there in the world felt the same exact way.

Time went on and I struggled, but eventually I picked myself back up and I healed. With a new lease on life and a positive attitude about what I’d overcome, I thought about writing again. In 2009 I wrote Black Diamond Death, the first novel in my Sloane Monroe series. Sinnerman followed six months later and now I’m hard at work on the third, I Have a Secret.

As I sit here and write this, I’m shocked that I am being so candid. Normally, I safeguard my feelings. To say I’m a private person is an understatement, but I feel compelled to get this out. My message in all of this is to never lose sight of your hopes and dreams. Never forget who you are, where you came from, and what you are capable of accomplishing in your life. And if you have a passion, foster it with everything you have inside you. Let it shine. Let it breathe. Let it be.

When I pondered about the dedication I would use for Sinnerman, my direction was clear and I wrote the following:

This book is dedicated to anyone who’s ever had a dream. We have but one life, and one opportunity to live it. Make it last, make it count, and make it the best it can be. Live your dreams, I know I am.

Today, I’m no longer waiting for James Dean to ride up on his shiny black motorcycle. I’ve fallen for a different kind of boy now, one who dreams of wide open spaces and a simple life. One who wants to be a cowboy when he grows up. Now the poster I see in my visions is one of man hoisting me up on the back of his trusty steed while we ride away together into the Wyoming sunset.

If you asked me ten years ago if this was the life I thought I wanted, my answer might have been no, but if you asked me today I would say I’m right where I’m supposed to be. My life isn’t perfect, the challenges are still there, and I still have a lot to learn about myself. But no matter what the future holds for me, I know one thing for sure: I’ll never stop writing.

This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today.

Cheryl’s book’s on Amazon:

To learn more about Cheryl, visit her here:

Please welcome Indie Chick, crime novelist, Dani Amore to my blog this week. Like me, Dani has a background in advertising--and, like me, she's glad to be out of it. Another inspiring story from the Indie Chick Anthology -- all proceeds benefit breast cancer research.



Dani Amore

Fact: I was born on a bathroom floor. Literally. My arrival into this world was followed seconds later by an unceremonious drop onto the cold tile of St. John’s Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.

You see, I was the fifth out of six children. My mother knew my delivery would be fast, but the nurse at the hospital insisted she go to the bathroom before the doctor arrived.

Later, after the drama and I was pronounced healthy, my mother told the doctor that the nurse should have listened to her, that she had warned the nurse that the baby (me) was going to arrive any second. That, having already delivered four children, she knew her body pretty well.

The doctor said, “Five kids, huh? Maybe you should tell your husband to keep it in his pants.”

True story.


Both of my parents were born in Italy. They emigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s. My father always said the biggest difference between Italy and America at that time was that you could work your ass off in Italy and have nothing to show for it. If you worked hard in America, you could eventually become wealthy. He started a construction company and worked 6 days a week, from dawn to dusk. Eventually, he was successful.

My mother raised six children.

She is a strong woman.

Both she and my father share a love of aphorisms.

The one I remember most? “A well-made flour sack stands on its own.”

It was almost like a mantra with her.

At a key point in my writing life, that phrase came in handy.

So there I am. I’ve got a full-time job in advertising. I’m writing about products that suck, working for people I can’t stand, and with two good friends, drinking every night after work. At a little bar not far from the office. I’m averaging about five or six drinks a night. Every weeknight. More on the weekends.

But on those weekend mornings, I’m writing fiction. Just short stories that I try to picture in The Paris Review.

Everything gets rejected with remarkable efficiency.

One night, probably half in the bag, I come across THE DAY OF THE JACKAL on television. The original movie is pretty campy and the remake with Bruce Willis is a pure load of crap. But the book. The novel by Frederick Forsyth is one of my all-time favorites.

The scene on television is the best part of the movie: It’s where the Jackal is sighting in his rifle. He paints a little face on a small melon, then blows it apart from 500 yards away.

There’s no epiphany. I go to bed. But as I toss and turn, vodka fumes in a cloud around my pillow, I think about the narrative structure of the story. I’ve read the book several times. Even have a collector’s edition. The chase. The tension. The violence.

When I wake up the next morning, I make an especially strong pot of coffee. I push aside my short literary fiction, and start a new story.

It’s about a hitman and a female escort.

Later that day, during some interminable meeting where everyone is throwing out insidious phrases like “let’s get on the same page,” and “think outside the box,” I realized what I was doing.

I was writing to please others, instead of focusing on the kind of stories and books I like.

Crime fiction. Thrillers. Suspense.

I had forgotten one of my mother’s cardinal rules.

A well-made flour sack stands on its own.

I know it sounds melodramatic. But the truth is, everything changed after that night. I still despised the advertising industry, but I no longer let it bother me so much. I begged off going to the bar with my friends, instead choosing to work out and then get some writing done in the evenings.

Eventually, I finished several crime novels. Even landed a big New York literary agent.

But a funny thing happened. My agent, and publishers, seemed to have endless debates about how to market me. Should I be a hardboiled crime novelist? A thriller writer? A traditional mystery author?

There were suggestions to change this book and change that one. Then change it back. Then change it to something else.

But now I had learned. I was smarter.

I told them thanks, but no thanks.

It was time to stand up and be the writer I wanted to be.

So I became an indie author.

And when my first book became a Top 10 Mystery on Amazon, I knew I had made the right decision.

Never underestimate the power of an Italian mother armed with an aphorism.

Dani’s Books on Amazon:

To learn more about Dani, visit her at

This week I'm delighted to have Anne R. Allen stop by my blog. Anne's contribution to the Indie Chicks Anthology is her wild ride in the world of publishing! I'm sure you'll enjoy her story.


By Anne R. Allen

When I started writing funny women’s fiction fifteen years ago, if anybody had given me a realistic idea of my chances for publication, I’d have chosen a less stressful hobby, like do-it-yourself brain surgery, professional frog herding, or maybe staging an all-Ayatollah drag revue in downtown Tehran.

As a California actress with years of experience of cattle-drive auditions, greenroom catfights and vitriolic reviewers, I thought I had built up enough soul-calluses to go the distance. But nothing had prepared me for the glacial waiting periods; the bogus, indifferent and/or suddenly-out-of-business agents; and the heartbreaking, close-but-no-cigar reads from big-time editors—all the rejection horrors that make the American publishing industry the impenetrable fortress it has become.

But some of us are too writing-crazed to stop ourselves. I was then, as now, sick in love with the English language.

I had three novels completed. A fourth had run as a serial in a California entertainment weekly. One of my stories had been short-listed for an international prize, and a play had been produced to good reviews. I was bringing in a few bucks—mostly with short pieces for local magazines and freelance editing.

But meantime, my savings had evaporated along with my abandoned acting career; my boyfriend had ridden his Harley into the Big Sur sunset; my agent was hammering me to write formula romance; and I was contemplating a move to one of the less fashionable neighborhoods of the rust belt.

Even acceptances turned into rejections: a UK zine that had accepted one of my stories folded. But when the editor sent the bad news, he mentioned he’d taken a job with a small UK book publisher—and did I have any novels?

I sent him one my agent had rejected as “too over the top.” Within weeks, I was offered a contract by my new editor—a former BBC comedy writer—for FOOD OF LOVE. Included was an invitation to come over the pond to do some promotion.

So I rented out my beach house, packed my bags and bought a ticket to Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, where my new publishers had recently moved into a 19th century former textile mill on the banks of the river Trent—the river George Eliot fictionalized as “the Floss.”

George Eliot. I was going to be working and living only a few hundred yards from the ruins of the house where she wrote her classic novel about the 19th century folk who lived and died by the power of Lincolnshire’s great tidal river. Maybe some of that greatness would rub off on me.
At the age of… well, I’m not telling…I was about to have the adventure of my life.

I knew the company published mostly erotica, but was branching into mainstream and literary fiction. They had already published the first novel of a distinguished poet, and a famous Chicago newspaper columnist was in residence, awaiting the launch of his new book.

But when I arrived, I found the great Chicagoan had left in a mysterious fit of pique, the “erotica” was seriously hard core kink, and the old building on the Trent was more of the William Blake Dark Satanic variety than George Elliot’s bucolic “Mill on the Floss.”

Some of my fears subsided when I was greeted by a friendly group of unwashed, fiercely intellectual young men who presented me with generous quantities of warm beer, cold meat pies and galleys to proof. After a beer or two, I found myself almost comprehending their northern accents.

I held it together until I saw my new digs: a grimy futon and an old metal desk, hidden behind stacks of book pallets in the corner of an unheated warehouse, about a half a block from the nearest loo. My only modern convenience was an ancient radio abandoned by a long-ago factory girl.

I have to admit to some tears of despair.

Until, from the radio, Big Ben chimed six o’clock.

That’s six pm, GMT.

Greenwich Mean Time. The words hit me with all the sonorous power of Big Ben itself. I had arrived at the mean, the middle, the center that still holds—no matter what rough beasts might slouch through the cultural deserts of the former empire. This was where my language, my instrument, was born.

I clutched my galley-proof to my heart. I might still be a rejected nobody in the land of my birth—but I’d landed on the home planet: England. And there, I was a published novelist. Just like George Eliot.

Three years later, I returned to California, older, fatter (the English may not have the best food, but their BEER is another story) and a lot wiser. That Chicagoan’s fit of pique turned out to be more than justified. The company was swamped in debt. They never managed to get me US distribution. Shortly before my second book THE BEST REVENGE was to launch, the managing partner withdrew his capital, sailed away and mysteriously disappeared off his yacht—his body never found. The company sputtered and died.

And I was back in the slush pile again.

But I had a great plot for my next novel.

Unfortunately, nobody wanted it. I was now tainted with the “published-to-low-sales-numbers label and my chances were even worse than before.

So I wrote two more novels. Nobody wanted them either.

Then I started a blog. I figured I could at least let other writers benefit from my mistakes. My blog followers grew. And grew. The blog won some awards. My Alexa and Klout ratings got better and better. Finally, publishers started approaching ME. (There’s a moral for writers here—social networking works.)

And finally, six years later, another publisher, Popcorn Press, fell in love with FOOD OF LOVE and sent me a contract. Soon after, they contracted to publish THE BEST REVENGE, too.

And this September, a brand new indie ebook publisher called Mark Williams International Digital Publishing asked if I had anything else ready to publish.

Just happen to have a few unpubbed titles handy, said I.

He liked them.

So in October and November of 2011, those three new comic mysteries will appear as ebooks: THE GATSBY GAME, GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY, and SHERWOOD, LTD (that’s the novel inspired by my English adventures.) Popcorn Press will publish paper versions in 2012. THE BEST REVENGE debuted as an ebook in December, with the paper book to follow in February.

A fifteen-year journey finally seems to be paying off.

Did I make some mistakes? Oh yeah—a full set of them. But would I wish away my English adventures?

Not a chance.



Twitter @annerallen

Authorpages: At , at , on Facebook

(Romantic comedy/mystery: MWiDP) A penniless socialite becomes a 21st century Maid Marian, but is “Robin” planning to kill her? Buy at ,, or Barnes and Noble


(Romantic comedy/mystery: Popcorn Press) A suddenly-broke 1980s celebutante runs off to California with nothing but her Delorean and her designer furs, looking for her long-lost gay best friend—and finds herself accused of murder. Buy at or and in paper at Popcorn Press or in paper at


I'm delighted to welcome novelist Sarah Woodbury back to my blog. This Indie Chick writes wonderful stories about Medieval Wales. Her road to writing required perserverance in the face of rejection. Please read her story from The Indie Chicks Anthology.

Turning Medieval

by Sarah Woodbury

Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint those moments in your life where everything is suddenly changed. When you look across the room and say to yourself, I’m going to marry him. Or stare down at those two pink lines on the pregnancy test, when you’re only twenty-two and been married for a month and a half and are living on only $800 a month because you’re both still in school and my God how is this going to work?

And sometimes it’s a bit harder to remember.

Until I was eleven, my parents tell me they thought I was going to be a ‘hippy’. I wandered through the trees, swamp, and fields of our 2 ½ acre lot, making up poetry and songs and singing them to myself. I’m not sure what happened by the time I’d turned twelve, whether family pressures or the realities of school changed me, but it was like I put all that creativity and whimsicalness into a box on a high shelf in my mind. By the time I was in my late-teens, I routinely told people: ‘I haven’t a creative bone in my body.’ It makes me sad to think of all those years where I thought the creative side of me didn’t exist.

When I was in my twenties and a full-time mother of two, my husband and I took our family to a picnic with his graduate school department. I was pleased at how friendly and accepting everyone seemed.

And then one of the other graduate students turned to me out of the blue and said, ‘do you really think you can jump back into a job after staying home with your kids for five or ten years?’

I remember staring at him, not knowing what to say. It wasn’t that I hadn’t thought about it, but that it didn’t matter—it couldn’t matter—because I had this job to do and the consequences of staying home with my kids were something I’d just have to face when the time came.

Fast forward ten years and it was clear that this friend had been right in his incredulity. I was earning $15/hr. as a contract anthropologist, trying to supplement our income while at the same time holding down the fort at home. I remember the day it became clear that this wasn’t working. I was simultaneously folding laundry, cooking dinner, and slogging through a report I didn’t want to write, trying to get it all in before the baby (number four, by now) woke up. I put my head down, right there on the dryer, and cried.

It was time to seek another path. Time to follow my heart and do what I’d wanted to do for a long time, but hadn’t had the courage, or the belief in myself to make it happen.

At the age of thirty-seven, I started my first novel, just to see if I could. I wrote it in six weeks and it was bad in a way that all first books are bad. It was about elves and magic stones and will never see the light of day. But it taught me, I can do this!

My husband told me, ‘give it five years,’ and in the five years that followed, I experienced rejection along my newfound path. A lot of it. Over seventy agents, and then dozens and dozens of editors (once I found an agent), read my books and passed them over. Again and again.

Meanwhile, I just wrote. A whole series. Then more books, for a total of eight, seven of which I published in 2011.

And I’m happy to report that, even though I still think of myself as staid, my extended family apparently has already decided that those years where I showed little creativity were just a phase. The other day, my husband told me of several conversations he had, either with them or overheard, in which it became clear they thought I was so alternative and creative—so far off the map—that I didn’t even remember there was a map.

I’m almost more pleased about that than anything else. Almost. Through writing, I’ve found a community of other writers, support and friendship from people I hadn’t known existed a few years ago, and best of all, thousands of readers have found my books in the last year. Here’s to thousands more in the years to come . . .



Sometimes life changes in a day. I work for an airline, and this past summer a gigantic jet-stair ran over my toes. That got my attention. I’d been asking for a break, and boy did I get one! My story has a happy ending: the accident gave me time to finish my recently released novel, Hetaera—Suspense in Ancient Athens. It also gave me time to connect with the Indie Chicks; what a fantastic group of women! We wrote an anthology together and all the proceeds go to fighting breast cancer—the disease that took my mother. I hope you enjoy, Holes, my contribution to the Indie Chicks Anthology. Sometimes discovering our holes, our weakness, allows us to become more compassionate and ultimately more whole.


I used to think I had to be perfect. Of course, I fell short of perfection on a regular basis so I frequently felt like a failure.

The only way to prevent failure is to hide. If we don’t put ourselves out there, we can’t fail.

To prevent myself from failing, I hid in a fantasy world. As a young child, I longed to be a ballerina. I loved to dance, but more than that, I wanted to escape into the fantasy world of the ballet. I wanted to live inside a fairytale, and in my mind, I did. I invented worlds I could escape to, perfect worlds that seemed more real to me than life. Meanwhile, I ate, and ate, and ate. Not ideal, if you want to be a ballerina. My reality never matched my inner world.

I created this pattern, this external and internal disparity, throughout my life. I brought it into my marriage, convincing myself that my marriage was perfect, while in reality it was a mess. Instead of leaving, I found escape in writing. I lost myself other times: ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Rome—worlds as far away from my reality as possible. In my writing, I disappeared for hours, days, years. I got a job working at an airline so I could travel and do research. I got an agent. I felt sure I would be published.

Then my world fell apart. After nineteen years of marriage, my husband wanted a divorce. I fought it. Divorce didn’t fit my idea of perfection, my fairytale. I viewed this loss as a disaster, but in truth it was an opening, a hole leading me to greater understanding and compassion for myself and others.

I was broke, trying to live on what I made at the airline. I was lonely. I had no time to write. Worst of all, I had to admit my life wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t perfect. Forced to accept myself with all my imperfections, I discovered that the more I could accept myself, the more I could accept others. Even my ex-husband. To this day, we remain friends.

Because I no longer had time to sit down and write for hours, the kind of time it takes to write a novel, I wrote short stories. I wrote about my experience, about my struggles as a woman of fifty going through divorce and entering the dating world. Initially, I wrote the stories for myself as therapy. Then I began to share the stories with my writing group. They encouraged me to submit the stories to magazines, and several were published. I read a couple of stories at our local library and people laughed. Then my good friend, Blake Crouch, convinced me to publish the stories on Kindle. A frightening prospect. What if my stories weren’t good enough? What if they weren’t perfect?

At first I resisted. I’d had two literary agents, and a longtime dream of being traditionally published. Self-publishing didn’t fit my idea of perfection. But, in reality, I no longer had an agent, and I hadn’t worked on a novel for several years. What did I have to lose? Nothing. So I published Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction).

My world changed, not because I was finally published, but because I changed. I finally found the confidence to pursue my dream despite my imperfections. I found the courage to stop hiding and put myself out into the world. This freed me.

I rewrote my novel, Vestal Virgin—suspense in ancient Rome. Originally, my characters were a bit flat. Why? Because they were too perfect! I hadn’t looked at the manuscript for two years, and a lot had changed for me in that time. I rewrote the book with a cold eye: cutting, digging deeper. My characters became multifaceted, real people with flaws.

I became busier and busier, caught in a whirlwind, trying to hold down a full-time job, write, promote my books and have a life. Trying, once again, to be perfect.

And then the universe stepped in.

I had an accident at work. While moving a jet stair (which weighed over 1,000 pounds) away from the aircraft, my right foot got crushed. I fell, screaming, onto the tarmac while passengers onboard the plane watched. A coworker rushed me to the hospital for the first of three emergency surgeries. I suffered intense pain due to nerve damage, broken and dislocated toes and, ultimately, amputation of a toe. As I write this, I’m still recovering.

I spent five weeks at a nursing home, a good place for me (even though most of the patients were over eighty years old), because it would have been close to impossible for me to take care of myself at home. While there, I had a chance to meet a lot of the patients and residents. All of us had obvious holes.

I learned a lot from the other patients. And I was forced to face my own mortality. Aging offers us the gift of acceptance. In order to age gracefully, we must the release the idea of perfection. We learn there are some things we can change, and some things we must accept. And, when we accept what is, we may find the good in even the most difficult situations. We learn to accept the holes in ourselves and others. We even welcome imperfection.

Since the accident, I’ve been thinking about holes a lot. I've been thinking about being whole, in relation to loss. How can loss make a person whole? I’ve learned that loss can make a person strong, more self-reliant. Loss can make us more compassionate to ourselves and others.

Where I had a toe, there’s now a hole, and that hole reminds me that I’m not perfect. But, despite my imperfection, I am whole. I am me. It would be ridiculous to think that I am any less of a person, because I’m missing a toe, because I have a hole. Just as it’s ridiculous for any of us to think we must be perfect.

Physical wounds can’t be hidden as easily as emotional and psychological wounds. And that’s a gift. Physical wounds make us confront our mortality, our humanity. Physical wounds can’t be denied. They are tangible and force us to accept ourselves, with all our imperfections.
It's impossible to get through life without being wounded. Some wounds are obvious. Others are internal, even spiritual: the loss of the ability to trust, to connect deeply, to hold a friend and know that you are loved.

We run away from wounds. Try not to look at them. We think they're signs of weakness, but our wounds—the holes in us—provide a doorway, a soft spot in our armor. We walk around armored, protecting ourselves with platitudes and false smiles, never touching our own vulnerabilities, afraid to share our tender rawness with another or even with ourselves.

If we can touch the tender spots, allow ourselves to feel fear, sorrow, loss, we become closer to wholeness. The more we accept our holes, the more compassion we can have for others. When we feel compassion we are able to connect. We are able to expose our soft underbelly to another human being and share the salt of our tears, the sweetness of our joy. That’s what I want to write about, that’s what I want to share, because salt makes all the difference between a bland, protected life, and a true life: pulsing, bloody, messy, passionate and truly whole.

Flaws, or holes, are what make a character seem real—in life and in fiction. Perfection is impermanent, an illusion. A person who seems too perfect is repulsive. We don’t trust him. We know that person can’t be real. Holes speak of truth. Holes allow us to connect, to ourselves and to each other. Our holes make us human, make us beautiful. Holes allow the light to shine through.

If someone had asked me last spring, “Would you give up a toe in order to learn, in order to have time to write your next novel?” I might have said, “Yes.”

Funny, how life works.

Proceeds from The Indie Chicks Anthology benefit breast cancer research. Just .99 cents!


Indie Chick Prue Batten is up this week.

Prue says, The best way to describe myself would be to use a quote written about me by Mark Williams on a recent blog (
'She lives in Tasmania, has a pet Tasmanian Devil called Gisborne, eats kangaroos' testicles, has the most ridiculous one-star ever awarded on Amazon, and wrote a novel on Twitter...'
Believe it or not, most of it is true. My husband and I own a farm so we do have lots of kangaroos around, but the testicles? Ugh! As to the Tasmanian Devil? I wish I did have one for a pet, but as recently reported in the Huffington Post, the poor little things are suffering the ravaging effects of a disease that is bringing them to the edge of extinction. Better the scientists and conservation zoos look after them than me. And I do have a one star rating on Amazon… a woman bought my first book thinking it was an embroidery book despite the blurb and then gave ME a one star despite HER mistake. And yes, myself and 50 others wrote a Jane Austen style novel on Twitter, [(#A4T)] which was mentioned by The Times (UK) no less as it took off earlier in the year.
Prue is a delight! Please read her story from the Indie Chicks Anthology

Mrs. So Got It Wrong Agent.
After writing forever, I decided to finally go down the independent road in 2008. At that time, it was called self-publishing and the track I decided to take was POD. Part of my reason for the move was that my books had been declared commercially viable by the UK literary consultancy that assessed them, but in every instance they were declined by the Big Six.
The only time I had any sort of meaningful comment prior to POD publication was from a highly regarded English agent who said she loved the novels and knew she would kick herself for declining but felt I lived too far away to engage with. I know I reside in the southern hemisphere, in a place called Australia, but this is a new world in which we exist. Amazingly there is a thing called email, something else called Skype and even video-conferencing, so I was rather gobsmacked at her antiquated approach. This, I felt, was the time to take my destiny in my own hands!
You see, I was getting older and with age comes a degree of intransigence and that was when I took up the POD offer… basically in a fit of disgust at the ‘old ways’.
I did everything right: good covers, great PR, super website and then a blog with which to engage with the reading public, even radio and print media interviews… you name it, I did it. Book Two came out and I continued to sell to a niche market online and in stores. At one point, my first novel took the prime display position in bricks and mortar stores, selling more than any other unknown first release for that chain.
Then, whilst working on A Thousand Glass Flowers, I had the misguided idea that it would be nice to secure an agent who could handle all this PR and marketing stuff and maybe help me push the barrow further. With the success of the first two novels under my belt, with stats of web and blog hits as well, I contacted the first Australian agent on my list.
Imagine my surprise when two days later, on a Friday afternoon, she rang me to talk business.
Her first comment after a loud monologue on her credentials was ‘Why in the hell did you POD your first two books?’ Ironic snicker followed this acid question.
‘Because I was tired of submitting the old way and getting nowhere in a very long time.
‘But you’ve signed your own death warrant.’
‘Then why are you talking to me?’
‘I am intrigued that you managed to get the web hits and the book-sales you have.’ Her tone was sarcasm incarnate. Something about good books and hard work was on the tip of my tongue.
I was so flummoxed at this point that I allowed her to ram-raid me and roast me. Heaven help me, I agreed to send her mss of the first two novels (even though they had been published!) Perhaps I am a masochist. Who knows?
She read them and sent them back slashed to pieces. These were fantasy novels about love, loss, grief and revenge, novels that have secured 5 star reviews. She had deleted every conceivable piece of emotion from the manuscripts so that they expressed nothing. If she read them right through, I’d have been surprised as she asked elementary questions about the plot resolution… questions that were answered in the denouement of each of the novels. Her editing was unbelievable, her spelling appalling and she got my name and address wrong for the return of the mss. Now remember… this is supposedly one of the top agents in my country, top obviously not equating with manners and sensibility.
When I rang her to say politely, thanks but no thanks, she lambasted me and said, ‘You are a self-fulfilling prophecy. Small-time.’
My reply was that if she had taken me on, what a good talking point she would have had about her exciting new author. As it was, I continued, I was declining any further involvement with her as my books were out there and selling.
‘You have committed professional suicide.’
In the last three years, this agent is the only negative in my writing career and far from depressing me, it proved to be the biggest shot of tenacity in the arm! Reverse psychology at its very best!
So guess what, Mrs. So Got it Wrong Agent, I’m having a ball. The books are now in e-form and selling well. My third novel consistently took a place in the Top 100 of Kindle novels in its category not long after publication. I’ve sold across the globe, I have a niche following, I’ve made the friends of a lifetime and I am master of my own destiny. There are two further books to be published in The Chronicles of Eirie and in a step sideways, my first ever historical fiction will be published in February.
And at this point in my life, I don’t regret not having an agent one bit!
Addendum: Whilst writing this piece for the anthology, I nursed my little muse, the dog who would jump up behind me on my chair and sit whilst I typed. He had terminal cancer and in the intervening time between publication of the anthology and the posting of my piece on these blogs, he has gone quietly to his rest… a brave, funny companion who was my inspiration. I dedicate the above tale to him… to Milo.
Facebook: Prue Batten
Twitter: pruebatten
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I met Cheryl on Facebook, through Indie Writers Unite, a wonderful group where writers help writers. Cheryl had just brought out her first book, Life is but a Dream--on the Lake and she had no idea how successful that book would become, how her life was about to change!

Cheryl posted about a dream trip to Rome with one of her favorite writers--I could tell she longed to go, but didn't think she could afford it. Years ago, I took a trip to Rome with an amazing group of writers including: Terry Brooks, John Saul and Mike Sack, Dorothy Allison, and Elizabeth Engstrom. The trip changed my life, and gave me the inspiration for my novel, Vestal Virgin. I encouraged Cheryl to take a leap of faith and go. And during that Facebook exchange, we became friends.

When she invited me to participate in the Indie Chicks Anthology I immediately agreed. What a fantastic and compassionate lady she is. Please read her story from the collection:

I Burned My Bra For This? One Woman's Fantasy

By Cheryl Shireman

I’m a Baby Boomer. Which means that I remember bell-bottoms, Happy Days, and having only three channels on the television. I played Donny Osmond albums on a record player. My parents watched Gunsmoke, and on Sunday nights we all watched The Wonderful World of Disney. In the living room. Together. On the only television we owned. Imagine that! I remember the first time I saw Bonanza in color. I remember the first time I heard about remote controls for televisions. The whole idea seemed ridiculous. With three channels, really, how often would it be needed? I remember the Watergate hearings playing on the television when I came home from school.

I also remember watching feminists (does anyone use that word anymore?) burn their bras and march for equal rights. I grew up believing that a woman deserves equal pay for equal work and that a woman is not defined by the man she marries or by the children she gives birth to. In fact, we were told that both men and children were optional. The idea seemed revolutionary at the time. It still does. Women were mad as hell and they weren’t taking it anymore. We called it Women’s Liberation, and though it was never said, it was certainly implied (and believed in most circles) that a woman who did not work was a bit inferior to a career woman. That was when such women were called housewives and not “stay at home” moms. Women were divided into two groups – those who worked and those who didn’t. Back then, no one thought that staying home and taking care of a family and home was work. The women of my generation wanted more, demanded more, and believed we were entitled to just that – more. We sometimes looked at our own mothers, most of whom did not have real jobs, as women who simply did not understand that there was more to life than being a mother. If truth be told, we thought they were a bit simple-minded and we secretly vowed to do more with our lives.

And yet…as this Baby Boomer looks at her life, I realize nothing I have ever done, or will ever do, is as important as being a mother. Not career, volunteer work, graduate school, or any creative pursuit. Nothing else even comes close to being a mother. Period.

One of my children lives half an hour away, another is one state away, and the third is on the other side of the world in Denmark. Yesterday, my husband and I spent the entire day with our two-year-old granddaughter. She then spent the night. As I write this, I hear her gentle breathing in the baby monitor positioned atop the table close to where I sit.

To say that my children, and now my granddaughter, have filled my life with love and joy is an understatement. As children, they expanded my heart in ways I could never have imagined. For the first time in my life, I not only understood, but received unconditional love. As adults, they are three people that I know I can always count on. They will always be there for me. Just as I will always be there for them. Can you say the same about your career?

There used to be a television show called Fantasy Island. People visited the island and lived out their fantasies – no matter how wild (okay, not that wild – this was primetime family tv in the seventies). Not too long ago, my husband and I had a discussion about that old tv show and asked each other – What would your fantasy be? Mine was easy. If I could have a Fantasy Island day, I would relive one day with my children. My son would be 10, which would make my daughters 4 and 2. We would spend the day doing whatever they wanted. Going to the park, going to the movies, playing games, baking cookies, or just sitting on the floor playing with Legos and Barbies. I would hug them a lot. And kiss the tops of their heads. And take tons of pictures. I wouldn’t cook. I wouldn’t clean. And I wouldn’t worry about my career.

I would watch my son show his younger sisters how to do things, like he always did in his older brother sort of way. I would watch my 2 year-old daughter follow her older 4 year-old sister around the room, shadowing her every move. Just as she did, even through their college years when they shared an apartment near Indiana University. I would watch the older sister taking care of her younger sister, as if she were her baby. Which is what she called her when she was born – my baby.

Bedtime would be later than usual on that fantasy night. I would tuck them into their beds, fresh from baths and smelling of shampoo. The girls smelling like baby lotion. My son would hug me goodnight with his long skinny arms and tell me he loves me. And I would feel the truth in that. I would tuck in my girls and tell them it is time to go to sleep. I would take extra care in covering the older girl’s feet, because she always kicked her blankets off during the night. I would kiss the baby and hold her a little longer, because I would know that, as I type this she is in Denmark which makes visiting tough.

And, as I walk down the hall and turn out the lights, I would call out to all of them, as I always did… “Goodnight. Love you. Sweet dreams. See you in the morning.”

And that would be my fantasy day. Oddly enough, it has nothing to do with my career as a writer. Even though being a writer has always been my dream. My first novel, Life is But a Dream: On the Lake, was published earlier this year. The main character, Grace Adams, is a woman facing an empty nest and the possible demise of her marriage. Grace withdraws to a secluded lake cabin to redefine her life and try to find a reason to continue living. While at the lake, Grace not only finds renewed purpose and hope, but when things take a turn for the worse at the lake, she finds a strength she never knew she possessed. The novel is thought-provoking, sometimes frightening, and often funny (just like life). It is also, very definitely, fiction.

I'm not Grace. Even though my “nest” is empty, I am enjoying this time and this new focus on my career. I am not suicidal or lacking in purpose. My husband and I both work from home (he designs websites), we live on a lake, and our schedule is our own. It is truly a wonderful time in our lives. Sometimes I have popcorn for dinner. Enough said.

But, would my current life be as wonderful if I had not pursued career and graduate school and developed the skills I am using now? Probably not. I managed to combine work and school and motherhood. I believed I could have it all, and do it all, but to be honest – the kids always came first. And being a mother is the strongest and best part of my identity. It is the thing I am most proud of. My greatest achievement. And, once in a while, I miss those days when toys where scattered across the floor, the washer was always running, and we bought eight gallons of milk a week.

If you have children at home, cherish those simple every-day moments with them. They really will be gone in the blink of an eye –sooner than you can possibly imagine. Put this book down. Now. Go sit on the floor and play a game. Pop some popcorn, put on one of their favorite movies, and cuddle up on the couch. Live that “fantasy” right now. You will never be able to recapture these moments. Enjoy them now. There is no greater gift than the love of your children. Spend the rest of your day letting it pour over you. And pour your love right back over them. You can come back to this book tonight, after they are asleep.

As I type this, I can hear my granddaughter waking up. I am shutting my computer off. Right now, I am going to go upstairs and scoop her up from her crib. She will probably wrap her little arms around my neck and ask, “Play blocks, Bomb Bomb?”

And we will play blocks.

This is one story fromIndie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today. All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer.

Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels! My novel, Life Is But a Dream: On The Lake, is one of the novel excerpts featured. It is available at most online retailers in trade paperback as well as e-book formats.


Meet Indie Chick, Katherine Owen. Read her story about hard work and perseverance, One Fictionista's Literary Bliss. All proceeds from the Indie Chicks Anthology benefit breast cancer research.

One Fictionista’s Literary Bliss

I was anointed a female fictionista by an overzealous Georgia Bulldog fan on Twitter. I immediately took it for my job description. So, here’s what you should know. I write. I write a lot. And, when I'm not writing, I think about writing a lot. You may think we're having a conversation, but invariably I'm stealing your name, asking how to spell it, and secretly describing the look on your face in five words or less in my mind. My writing tends to be dark, moody, and sometimes funny. Sometimes, it can be a bit lyrical or even literary. It’s often edgy, so be forewarned. My readers complain they can't put my books down. Or, just when they think they've figured the story out, it changes and becomes something else. My stories tend to be dark and comprised of broken heroines; even the heroes in my books have a few flaws that cause trouble. It’s true; my characters may disappoint you or surprise you or piss you off, but I think you’ll understand why they do what they do because of the way I write them. I strive to reveal the deepest underpinnings about life, about love, and about human nature, but it’s not for the faint of heart. I’ll take you through a proverbial emotional ringer before reaching resolution and it’s never as predictable as you might think. Do I sound like your kind of fictionista? Come along, darling. This way.

Something else you should know about me is that I’m a huge George Clooney fan. Maybe, Up In The Air wasn’t one of his usual gigs, but I loved that movie. And, let’s be frank, I watched ER without him for years, but it was never the same. Never. Anyway, I digress. There’s a scene in Up In The Airwhere he’s telling this guy to follow his dream after George has told him he’s been laid off. When I saw that scene, it was as if George was practically speaking to me because I was there, two years ago, when I was laid off from a high tech sales job, had always harbored a dream to write full-time, and went for it after that. Is it a coincidence that Up In The Air came out about the same time? I think not.

So now, this is what I do. Write. Write all the time. I’ll admit it was hard at first. It still is—hard, harrowing, humbling. Believe me, it would be easier to go out and get another high paying sales job than write for a living because writing causes me to question my mental toughness so much of the time. Can I do this? Am I good enough?

Yet, here’s what I’ve learned: you just have to turn off that voice in your head off or ignore what is being said. Sometimes, all you need to do is stand up for yourself, stop depending upon the opinions of others, and just go after what you really want.

For me, that’s writing. For you, it might be anything else, but just pursue your passion whatever it is.

With this anthology, my debut novel, Seeing Julia is featured. Seeing Julia is a labor of love and represents a lot of hard work. Truly, this book has caused me as much grief as it has joy. After I first wrote this novel, I entered it into a literary contest and promptly forgot about it. I was busy. I was taking classes at The Writer’s Studio, becoming literary savvy, and writing another novel called Not To Us.

I remember it was a Monday morning in early June of 2010 when I received a call from the president of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association telling me I was a finalist in the romance category with my entry of Seeing Julia. “What?” She asked me if I planned on attending the conference. “Well, I guess so.”Lucky for me, I attended the summer conference, bought a new outfit, and won the Zola Award and first place with Seeing Julia the night of the awards dinner. It was a surreal moment, when I had to go up to the front of the room with those seven hundred people watching and accept my award. But, truly? I was more concerned about navigating all those tables and chairs on my way up to the podium than actually seizing the moment. As word spread about my writing award win, self-doubt had already set in. It was a fluke. It was dumb luck. As high as my emotions soared about winning; they fell just as fast when literary agents still rejected my work. Yes, the win opened a number of literary agent doors for me, but I wrote several different versions of that novel when a number of them took greater interest, but then wanted to change everything about the story. One agent called me up and lectured me for forty-five minutes about the book and then promised to take a look if I made more changes. I sent her the revised manuscript, but she never called again.

This was a year ago. I was at a crossroads with my writing and myself. I kept thinking if I did what they said and changed it, yet again, I would get to the next step—literary bliss. But I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Discouraged, but still determined, I reviewed what the critiques and feedback about Seeing Juliahad been. Based on those, I sifted through what I thought would need to be changed and began rewriting the story, working day and night through most of November. With just getting a few hours of sleep each night, I kept up the intense pace and by the time the novel was finished; I knew it was. I’m extremely proud of Seeing Julia. During the process of rewriting it for the last time, I reached an important pinnacle with my writing: I trusted myself. Confidence entered into the realm. And, along with it, swift understanding: I had to make my own literary bliss.

Two additional things became clear. First, it was essential for me to have complete control over the publishing of my work; and second, the publishing industry was in the midst of a perfect storm because of e-books and I needed to take full advantage. And, so I did.

In late April and early May of this year, I released two novels: Seeing Julia and Not To Us. These books are available as e-books as well as print trade paperbacks.

Many wonderful readers have responded to my work. They often reach out to me and let me know how they love my novels. I love and cherish their enthusiasm for my work.

This is literary bliss.

Of course, my family’s number one complaint is that I write too much and all the time. Now, add to that the twittering and the facebooking and the wordpressing and now google plus-ing, and checking Amazon, and taking writing classes; it's a full-time gig. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The good news is that with the encouragement of my readers and confidence in my writing, I’m working on my third novel, When I See You, and hope to release this book before the end of this year. And, I already have drafts for two other novels, Saving Valentinesand Finding Amy.

Oh yes, there are occasions, rare ones, when I'm not writing. That’s when I like to drink a fine wine, check in with my family, and look at my awesome view which I can see when I look up long enough from my computer screen in my writing refuge.

And so, welcome. Welcome to my little piece of the universe.

I’ll leave you with this—a philosophy I now live by, borrowed from one of the greatest women tennis players of all time: “You’ve got to take the initiative and play your game. In a decisive set, confidence is the difference.” Chris Evert

Oh, Chrissy, you are so right!


This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazonand Barnes& Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today. All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer.

Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels! My novel, Seeing Julia, is one of the novel excerpts featured. It is available at most online retailers in trade paperback as well as e-book formats.

Seeing Julia

Smashwords (various e-book formats for Sony e-book, Kobo, Apple iBooks and Diesel)

For more information about Katherine Owen, visit these links:

I'm on Tumblr, here:

Please check out The Indie Chicks Anthology -- 25 personal stories from 25 indie writers. All proceeds benefit Breast Cancer Research.

This week, please welcome Indie Chick Donna Fasano to my blog. Stepping into the Light is an inspirational story about how she reinvented herself.

Donna wrote for Harlequin Books for 20 years before becoming a proud Independent Author. She's the written over 30 romance and women's fiction novels that have sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide. Her books have won awards and made best-seller lists. Below is the story she contributed to the anthology Indie Chicks: 25 Independent Women, 25 Inspiring Stories.

Stepping Into The Light

I sit in the back row, shoulders rounded, knees jumping, my left thumb rubbing a raw spot in the center of my right palm. The sad and lonely sufferings being expressed in the dank, dimly-lit basement are all too real and much too close for comfort. I glance at the door and contemplate escape, but it's too late. All eyes are upon me. I hesitate only a moment before standing on quaking legs, clearing my throat softly and confessing, "My name is Donna. I'm a writer. And I need to come out of the closet because it's dark in here."

Twenty years ago, had there been a group called Writers Anonymous, I would have attended faithfully, pouring out my heart at the weekly meetings. You see, for the couple of years that I spent writing my first novel, I told almost no one what I was doing. My husband knew; in fact, he's the reason I even attempted what felt like the insurmountable task of plotting out and finishing that first book. He's also the reason I ended up in this glorious, chaotic, roller-coaster life I've lived as an author; however, that's a story for another day. But when I first started scratching words on a yellow legal pad with a no. 2 pencil (there's nothing else that stirs my creativity more than the feel of graphite gliding against paper), I didn't tell a single family member or friend.

Why would I keep my dreams and aspirations such a tightly guarded secret?

I would hazard to guess the answer is the same reason anyone else hides things that could have life-altering potential: fear.

What if I failed? What if I had no talent? What if I didn't possess the perseverance to finish that first manuscript?

The mere thought of the snide remarks, tittering laughter and looks of skepticism and ridicule I might receive were enough to keep me silent. My imagination has always been strong, and I easily saw the scenes play out in my head.

So you think you're going to write a book, huh?

But you didn't go to college.

A romance novel? Really?

If you're going to try to write, why not write a real book? You know, like a mystery or a thriller; something someone is going to want to read.

My ability to conjure fantasy has always been a blessing and a bane. When reading a book or listening to someone tell a story or imagining repercussions of actions, visions will take shape in my head. Situations feel real, characters become corporal, while my stirred emotions brim and often overflow. Needless to say, Hallmark commercials make me cry. While powerful creativity is a great and necessary trait for a writer who is intent on concocting a compelling tale, it can become crippling if that writer is too focused on the opinions of others.

However, I also have to confess that keeping that first novel-writing dream all to myself charged me with a vibrant energy. I was excited to get my story down on paper. Seeing my plot unfold was absolutely thrilling! Creating my characters was fun. And the fact that no one knew about my clandestine efforts gave me a huge amount of freedom. No one told me I was doing it all wrong; no one suggested I could never reach my goal.

In defense of all the people I kept in the dark all those years ago, I have to admit that most of them were delighted and supportive when I finally divulged that my first manuscript had been purchased by a bona fide publisher. Oh, there was a scoffer or two, and I continue to meet them; you know the type, people who can't be happy for others or who feel another's success somehow diminishes his or her own self-worth, but I've learned to deal with those people (working with New York City editors forces a writer to grow a thick skin pretty quickly). I merely smile and think about the slew of books I've sold and the fan mail I've received from all over the world.

Those scoffers seem to have come out of the woodwork now that I've reinvented myself as an Indie Author. But venturing into this new arena couldn't have happened at a better point in my life. I'm confident in my ability to tell a good story. I'm more than satisfied with the career I've had, and have no trouble imagining even more success in the future. I saw tangible proof when two of my books made it onto Kindle's Top 100 List. I'm happy with who I've become as a writer and as a person. If my work receives less-than-flattering feedback from a reader, I might not like it, but I also realize it's not the end of the world; I've learned that I can't please all readers all the time. I love the creative freedom I have as an independent author. I can allow my muse to take me wherever it will. I'm terrifically grateful that there are readers out there who are willing to buy my novels. Every time I read a good review of one of my books I want to (and do!) kiss my husband for suggesting I take a stab at this profession (it's a habit that's been very good for my marriage).

So… what's my point? Well, don't let the negative opinions of others keep you from dreaming, for one thing. Most of the scary thoughts that run through your head will never happen, and the few that do materialize can be dealt with. You're stronger than you think. Don't allow fear to paralyze you. Aspire to be and do whatever it is you want to be and do. Be kind to yourself; you deserve the same compassion and concern that you offer others. And most importantly, know that your dreams matter. Indulge them. Reach for the stars! I did, and I'm still astounded that I snagged a few.

~ ~ ~

Donna loves to hear from readers! Ways to connect with Donna:

On Facebook, Donna Fasano

On Twitter, DonnaFaz

A few of Donna's available titles:

The Merry-Go-Round in paperback or for your Kindle.

His Wife for a While for your Kindle.

An Accidental Family for your Kindle, for your Nook, or on Smashwords.

Look for other available titles on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.


Please welcome Indie Chick, Linda Welch to my blog. Linda says"

When I published the first two Whisperings paranormal mystery novels, I created an icon to use on Facebook and Twitter. The picture is of Whisperings lead character, Tiff Banks. It seemed a good way to advertise my product at the time. But no matter how often I say she is not me, I am not a tall, slim, blond young woman, many obviously don’t believe me. Response to the avatar has amused me over the years. You wouldn’t believe the comments, compliments, and odd comments I think were meant as compliments. Many of them were a hoot. I knew I’d eventually have to come out of the identity closet and say, hey, look here, this is me, not the long-haired cutie.
Then Cheryl Shireman asked me to contribute to the Indie Chicks anthology and also asked for a photo. This is the perfect opportunity to set the record straight. If you want to know who Linda Welch really is, read on. . .


I’m going to tell you something I don’t think you know.

I haven’t been a “chick” for many a year. I’m a couple of months shy of 61. I have been married to the same man for 39 years. We have two sons and four grandchildren. And you thought I was a tall, slim young thing, didn’t you. I am what is called a late bloomer and I’m writing this for other old biddies who had a dream and let it pass them by, or think they are too busy, or it’s too late to fulfill their dream. I don’t mean just writing, but any dreamed-of achievement you hide in your heart.

I was born in a country cottage in England. My father was a restless man, so we often moved and never had much money. I remember days when only Dad had meat on his plate at dinner, but we never went hungry. We had vegetables and fruit from the garden, eggs from the chickens. Times were hard, but we children never knew that. We were loved. When Mum and Dad met during World War II, Mum was a privately educated “well-bred” lady. I doubt I will ever meet anyone as smart as my mother. At 88 years, she is still as sharp as a tack. Dad was a countryman to the bone. He had many artistic talents he didn’t pursue until later in life. When he did, he excelled at them. I like to think some of their intelligence and talent rubbed off on me.

So much has changed, in my life, in the world. I hold memories of my childhood close. I won’t let them fade. One day, I will write about them.

I had a good basic education, first at a village school, then an all-girls school, but I left at 15 (at that time the legal age in England) and worked first as a telephone operator before I went into office occupations. I did not see authorship in my future.

But I have always daydreamed. Often, I recreated the same daydream multiple times, constantly elaborating. I did not realize I wrote books in my head.

I began writing words on paper in my mid-forties, but it was a hobby. Somewhere along the way, I thought, Could I publish this? and then I’d like to publish. But I talked myself out of it. Authors were young men and women who decided they wanted to write at a young age and worked to improve their skill their entire life. They went to college and university, they had degrees in writing, creative writing or journalism. I was inexperienced; I didn’t have their dedication or education. Anyway, I had a husband to support, children to raise and part-time jobs to supplement the family income. I didn’t have time to write and send queries, synopsis or sample chapters to agents.

In 2008 I discovered the Lulu publishing platform and took the plunge. I published the space opera Mindbender and science fiction Galen’s Gate. I subsequently unpublished them, with every intention of revising and republishing. Some copies are still floating around out there somewhere. However, Tiff Banks, who had been swimming around in this murky thing I call a brain for several years, chose to come out and play. She took over my life. She became my second skin.

When I think back to why I did not publish until in my fifties, I realize it had nothing to do with inexperience or lack of education. I was not ready. I had to marry a dashing young American airman, leave my homeland, raise two sons, spoil four grandchildren, live and work with Americans and become entrenched in the way of life. I was not ready to write Along Came a Demon until I came to the mountains of Utah, stood looking over my mountain valley, and knew, “this is it. This is where Tiff lives. She knows the bitter cold and snow of winter, the harsh heat of summer. She knows her city and the people inside-out. This is Tiff’s world, and now, I know who she is.”

Then the hard work began. My education was strictly “King’s English.” I wrote formal letters, contracts and legal documents at work. I had to take the starch out of my writing. Research didn’t help. It seemed that each time I read an article or blog about word usage, in particular overuse and what to avoid, the next book I read was a best-selling novel by a best-selling author who broke those rules. And having decided to barge into my life, Tiff was very positive about how she talks. She’s a born and bred American, a slightly snarky, slang-wielding gal who speaks to the reader on a personal level, individual to individual. I had to use a style that practically screamed “you can’t do that!” in my ear every other sentence.

I published the first Whisperings novel for another reason: Nobody seemed to believe in my writing. Not friends, relatives, friendly acquaintances. I think they supposed a 58-year-old with no education in the literary field, who suddenly came out of the woodwork and decided to publish, must be a “vanity publisher” who wanted to force poorly-written books on readers. When I said I wrote fiction, I got blank looks, followed by, “that’s nice. Now, as I was saying. . .” Nobody wanted to read my work, not even my sweet husband. But he enjoyed urban fantasy and I thought he’d like Tiff Banks. So in a way, I also published for him.

I published Along Came a Demon in November 2008. It was supposed to be a stand-alone novella, but readers wanted more and Tiff obliged. Along Came a Demon became book one of the Whisperings series of paranormal mysteries. I published the sequel, The Demon Hunters, in November 2009. In 2010 I added material to Along Came a Demon to make it a full-length book and at the same time made small changes to The Demon Hunters to reflect those in Along Came a Demon. I published book three, Dead Demon Walking, in March 2011. Being a wordsmith, I should be able to express my joy each time a reader tells me they love my books, but it truly is beyond my powers of description. Now, when someone asks me what I do for a living, instead of telling them I am a part-time administrative assistant and adding (hesitantly) “I also write fiction,” I say I am an author. When I fill out a form that asks for my occupation, I proudly write “author” in the little box.

Mary Wesley published Jumping the Queue at age 70 and went on to write ten best sellers until she died twenty years later.

Harriett Doerr was 74 when she published The Stones of Ibarra.

Laura Ingalls Wilder published her Little House on the Prairie series when she was in her 50s.

Mary Lawson was 55 when Crow Lakewas published.

Flora Thompson is famous for her semi-autobiography Lark Rise to Candleford, published when she was 63.

Age is irrelevant. You are never too old. For anything.

This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazonand Barnes& Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today.
Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels!
My novel, Along Came a Demon, book one of the Whisperings paranormal mystery series, is one of the novels featured.
All proceeds go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Whispering books are also available in e-book formats from Apple, Diesel, Kobo and Sony.


I'm delighted to welcome Indie Chick Lizzy Ford to my blog this week. Please read her contribution to the Indie Chick Anthology. Her story is an inspiration to all who have had to overcome abuse and darkness. Lizzy is truly a phoenix, a firebird, a self-made woman.

The Phoenix and the Darkness

I've been running from The Darkness since I left home at the age of 17. I escaped a broken family to the military, found it unwelcoming to creative non-conformists but fulfilled my commitment. The first man I dated was a drunkard who suffered from post traumatic stress disorder; the second raped me. The rest of my time in the military was a blur of men, the different places I lived and The Darkness stalking me. At the end of my tour, I set my world on fire to keep the Darkness away, abandoned everything and everyone, and emerged from the flames like the mythical Phoenix. I ran home to Ohio. I didn’t stay long and continued onward to New York, where I reinvented myself for a very brief period of contentedness.

It didn’t last. Darkness, fire, rebirth, and a few years, men and states later, I ended up in the arms of yet another unworthy man. I followed him to DC, bore the mental abuse, and tried to tell myself this was the best life would ever get.

I took a job in a field I didn't care for and ended up running from job-to-job-to-job, unable to find a place where I was happy. I was hit by a drunk driver at 26, leaving me with a long lifetime of constant pain. I had a miscarriage, gave all my money to the unworthy man and couldn't pay my bills despite the good job. I moved from Virginia to Maryland and back to Virginia, unable to shake the pursuing Darkness. Finally, I put all my belongings in storage, ready to set my word afire and flee once again.

I worked up the nerve to ditch the dysfunctional man, but before I could run far, I met the man who would become my first husband. He wanted normal things: stability, house, family. I convinced myself if I had these things, the Darkness would be gone. He needed a mother, not a wife, but I married him anyway and prayed it was enough.

It wasn't. I set my world afire once more, and I fled him, too. I put everything I valued in my truck, grabbed the dog, and left. Away from DC, the east coast, everything I owned, my first husband. I ran to Texas to a new job and divorced the first husband. Yet again, I was reborn. Soon after, I met my soul mate. Some part of me knew I couldn’t keep running if I wanted to keep him. I turned around to see if The Darkness still chased me. After fifteen years of running, The Darkness was closer than ever.

I told the man who would become my second husband to stay away from me – I was dangerous. He saw The Darkness, and he saw me.

You’re brilliant and beautiful. I love you, Darkness and all, he said. But if you don’t deal with it and accept the fate for which you were put on this earth, you’ll be consumed by it.

I couldn’t yet face the Darkness even with his support, but I could see how wrong my path was. My path wasn't a career I loathed, and it wasn't ignoring my true gift: writing. So I worked full time and wrote full time. I found true joy for the first time in my life, but The Darkness got too close. I ran away from that job - the only job I'd ever remotely enjoyed. This time, I kept my only ally in life - my guardian angel and partner.

I took a new job in a new state. With my husband and my writing, I saw The Darkness recede, and I grew happy. Instead of looking over my shoulder, I started looking into the future. I vowed to run towards something instead of away from something. I wasn’t just reborn – I was alive for the first time in my life.

And then, this past summer, I tripped. The Darkness swallowed me. As in one of my upcoming novels, The Darkness turned me inside out. I couldn't go to work and could barely leave the house. It pinned me beneath it, and the more I tried to run, the heavier it got. Everything I'd run from in life was there: my near-poverty upbringing; the breaking apart of my family when I was a kid; my struggle with my weight and social anxiety issues; with finding acceptance at any job; with men and dysfunctional relationships; the pending financial disaster I'd been building; fear of failure and ending up as miserable as my parents. I thought I'd suffocate, until the Darkness spoke to me.

You can run again and risk losing the man you love, or you can face me and be happy, it said.

I want to be happy, I replied.

Then do what you must.

It's not that easy. I'm scared.

Sometimes life only gives us difficult choices, but you still must choose. I am a part of you. You must accept me and deal with me before you can move on, it said.

I thought hard as I looked at all the things I'd accumulated that were bankrupting me financially and emotionally. I looked at what made me happy in life: my husband and my writing. I saw how I'd hurt my most precious treasures - and myself - by setting my world on fire whenever The Darkness got too close.

This is gonna hurt, I told The Darkness.

Not for long, it said. You only have to do this once.

In that moment, I made my choice. I would face The Darkness within me, no matter how hard it was. I loved my husband too much to hurt him more, and I was sick of being a coward. I took a leave of absence in early September to deal with my past as well as the depression and anxiety that have haunted me my whole life. Writing has always been my solace and my passion. Through it, I'll heal the world I broke and my own soul, and become the partner my husband deserves.

The Phoenix will be reborn once more, not of fire, but of Darkness, and will emerge stronger than ever.

Please check out Lizzy's War of Gods series:

Description of the "War of Gods" series
The "War of Gods" series by Lizzy Ford is a paranormal romance series depicting the ongoing struggle between good and evil - and the immortals and their human mates who are caught in the middle. The first book, "Damian's Oracle" (released October 2011) is the story of the White God and his Oracle, the cool beauty, Sofia. The second book, "Damian's Assassin," (released November 2011) is about the White God's assassin and the woman who heals his heart and body. The third book will be released 02 Dec and tells the tale of the White God's chief immortal and the mysterious, beautiful Magician he risks his life to protect.
Lizzy's info:
Damian’s Oracle (currently free on Amazon)

I'm delighted to welcome author Danielle Blanchard to my blog. 2010 took Danielle on a rough ride, but she hung on and turned her luck around in 2011. 2012 is bound to be even better. Please read the story she wrote for the Indie Chicks Anthology 25 women, 25 personal stories and all proceeds benefit breast cancer research.

“Write or Die”

2010 was the worst year of my life.

After a very successful career in the banking industry, I suddenly found myself unemployed, my marriage falling apart and to add insult to injury my father dying. I had a 10 month old daughter and suddenly, I was back living with my unmarried, child-free sister with two children. Life was bleak and the most terrifying part about the whole situation was I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do.

I was attending university for a degree in International Business but who was I kidding? I’d always hated business; I was good at banking but should I base my career on something I was simply good at or should I be doing something I love? This was my dilemma and I had no one to blame for my predicament but myself.

Plenty of women had overcome more tremendous obstacles so why was I feeling sorry for myself? I steeled my spine and decided to make some real decisions. In the middle of the detritus which was now my life, I found a wonderful and caring man I fell hopelessly in love with but the problem was he didn’t live in this country and he was a successful and driven attorney. What would he want with someone like me? Unemployed, two children, divorced and somewhat shaky ambitions at an age where most women had it made, were married and excelling towards middle age. My life was a mess and I needed a man like a fish needs a bicycle (thanks, U2!).

I took a long hard look at my life and realized I had failed to plan and therefore I had planned to fail.

When I stood at that podium and looked at the few family and friends who had bothered to show up at my dad’s funeral, my life became so clear. My father had had so many chances; so much lost opportunities and had blew all of them due to fear and inertia. I was my father’s daughter; I was falling into that same black hole of despondency with no way out.

It took another fourteen months before I had the actual courage to see out my dream and make it a reality. Isabelle Solal had written a book, In The Past Imperfect, and her good friend, Sion Dayson, had promoted it on her blog. She was tired of waiting for the agent who would never accept the publisher who could never take a chance and had decided to self-publish her fictional book on Amazon. Was this possible? Could I self-publish? Could I take my book which I had tried to find an agent for the past eight years or so and do it myself? Say it isn’t so!

I was so excited about the possibility of publishing, I dug it out of the place it’d warmed my different hard drives and laptops over the years, decided at over one thousand hard back pages, it was much too long to publish as a full length novel, chopped it up into eight parts and hit publish on the first part.

I was ecstatic as I had done my own cover (a beautiful statue which captivated me while I was on my European vacation) and it was just so perfect. Unfortunately, no one else knew I existed and that is when I realized publishing was more than just about hitting a button. I had to make sure my novel was edited, the right cover was used to attract attention and there was a whole list of indie writers I didn’t know about but they were there and ready to be at my service.

In the beginning, I only used Kindle’s Direct Publishing board because that was the only one I knew about. Another writer, Athanasios, who wrote a thrilling book titled Mad Gods, told everyone on the KDP boards about a new Facebook board group called Indie Writers’ Unite. I joined, Cheryl Bradshaw, the creator of IWU accepted me, and the rest is history.

I wish I could say I am selling thousands of copies and I got the guy but that isn’t life and nothing happens without time. I am selling and many people have discovered my work; I have met some of the bravest men and women on the planet at IWU and I feel like a million bucks even if my life still isn’t a bed of roses. The guy, like everything good in life, will take some time and I am willing to put it in and make the effort; nothing worth anything is easy to accomplish for the matter.

I love to write so that is what I’m doing. I enjoy writing whatever moves me, thus I have work in several different genres including Women’s Literature, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I also plan to do a novel I have had in the works for a while that is firmly Mystery with a Thriller twist.

For the first time, I stayed true to myself, my ambitions and what I want my life to be and represent. I know it will get better and all my dreams will come true—many of them already have. My life is still changing, still revolving but I have come out ahead, stronger and more positive than I ever thought possible. I learned the hard way either I write or I can simply subsist and die.

Life is like writing; it isn’t about perfection but it is about the possibilities we are given every day, the decisions we make and what we want to do with them. It is about forks in the road and deciding which direction to take and making the best with whatever is thrown at us once we make our decisions. It is the way it should be and that is simply imperfect.
Pick up Danielle's book Death Wish: Book One of The Vamp Saga in all eformats at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords and in paperback through Createspace.
Here's her Facebook Author's Page
On Twitter she's @DeeBlanchard007 
The next featured Indie Chick is Heather Marie Adkins. Her story in the anthology is Latchkey Kid. Heather is not only a wonderful writer, but she formatted the anthology. No small task. Please read her story! And please check out her novel, Abigail. All proceeds from the Indie Chicks Anthology go to breast cancer research. Just .99 cents.

Heather Marie Adkins

Latchkey Kid

It isn’t easy being the daughter of a police officer, but it’s even more difficult to be the daughter of a female police officer. I would come to understand this early, and often, in my life.

My mom’s career has always been the whirling force of my existence.

She was sworn into the Louisville Police Department on September 10, 1990. I was five years old. For the majority of my developmental years, I bounced through a succession of caretakers—my grandmother, my father and stepmother, and a kind woman I called ‘Mama Lo’—while my mom was forging her way through her early years as a rookie officer.
I remember late nights—my mom in her uniform, her gun belt digging into my side as she bundled me into a blanket to carry me to the car. I remember mornings getting on the school bus, knowing Mom would be coming home from work just in time for me to leave. But when I remember these things, they are snippets: Only bits and pieces of the woman who is my mother. Her job was demanding and sometimes, you just have to sacrifice to make your dreams come true.
When I was ten, Mom aced the Detective test and was granted her first promotion. Suddenly, we were buying a new house in a nice neighborhood. I was in middle school, which was awkward enough, and Mom began working 4 pm to midnight.
Thus began my time as a Latchkey Kid.
I rode the bus home from school and let myself into the house around 4:30 every afternoon. Under Mom’s strict instructions, I would check to make sure all three doors of the house were locked and then I would set the alarm.
Until bedtime, I was on lockdown. No going outside—not even to the backyard. No answering the door, no looking out the windows. Just me and the dog: A tiny Shih-Tzu named Cinnamon.
I was kind of an odd child. I didn’t care much for television, though I did love to play Nintendo. I could rock on some Mario Bros. I also absolutely loved to read, particularly R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Ann M. Martin’s The Babysitter’s Club.
There is really only so much video gaming and reading a girl can do before she wishes she had another hobby. At least, that’s how it was for me. I was lonely. Monday through Friday, every evening alone…it sucked.
It was around this time that my daddy shared with me a novel he was writing. Daddy is a computer guru who does freelance work, but he writes for fun on the side. “Demigod” was one of the most amazing things I had ever read. Not only was I astounded that my dad had such talent, but for the first time I realized there were people behind the books I liked to read.
Armed with nothing more than spiral-bound notebooks and pencils, I began writing.
Between 10 and 16, I wrote seven full-length novels. Today, I suppose they would be considered Young Adult. Some of them were murder mysteries with strong heroines. Many of them had elements of what today is considered Paranormal Romance. Most of my early influences were from authors I enjoyed: Stine, as well as Richie Tankersley Cusick and Christopher Pike. Somewhere in the midst of all this, my mom bought me a laptop and I transferred everything to digital.
I continued to write during high school, though significantly less once I got my driver’s license. I focused mainly on short stories and built up a vast collection that I ended up losing to the nightmare of an erased floppy disk. I majored in English in high school. Earned a couple college credits. And was told multiple times by various English teachers that I had talent.
After graduation, I went away to college at Western KentuckyUniversity. My mother had married a great man who was also a police officer. Between the two of them, I was able to go away to school and thus started several years of BAD DECISIONS. I kicked it off right, as most first-time college teens do. I drank too much and partied too hard, not making it to class, much less spending my time writing. Two years later, I came home to Louisville with my tail between my legs, no smarter than I was before.
Back at my mother and stepfather’s home, I found the situation to be stifling for the girl who had done what she wanted, when she wanted for so long. I was already rebelling—not phoning, disappearing all night—when a chance encounter on the banks of the Ohio River brought a man into my life who was not right for me in more ways than one.
Jason was an ex-con and felon. I was the daughter of two police officers. Cue ominous music.
Let’s skip the dirty parts and go to the section where I pack my things and flee into the night like a bat out of Hades. My parents change the locks, I cut off all contact, and hole up in a hovel on 3rd Street with my friend, Brent. Oh, and in the meantime, my convict boyfriend ends up back in the Slammer.
I bounced around for some time. To an apartment with my cousin, Ryan. Then to a big, fancy house outside of Nashville, Tennessee with Jason’s family. After severing ties with them, I rented a tiny studio apartment downtown. I moved a couple more times, losing money (and myself) in the process.
Not once in the years I spent chasing something, anything in Tennessee did I sit down to write.
In January 2008, I was in debt and barely hanging on to the apartment I was renting. My good-for-nothing, pot-smoking boyfriend-of-the-moment wasn’t helping with the bills because he couldn’t hold a job. My car was on the verge of repossession. I was going nowhere; the only positive thing I did have was that I was talking with my parents again.
Then the life-shattering, earth-moving event. In North Carolina, January 31st, my cousin Cory—a Marine, a firefighter, one of my best friends—was killed in a car accident. He was 25 years old.
My mom drove from Louisville to Nashville the minute she heard. She told me it was because she didn’t want me to be alone, nor did she want to tell me something so sensitive over the phone. That’s just how she is; no matter how terrible a daughter I could be, she always put me first.
Later that same night after she left, I was alone. My deadhead boyfriend wasn’t home, neither was our equally stoned roommate. I was sitting on our single mattress on the floor, looking around our bare room with its one dresser and a floor strewn with clothes. It hit me.
What are you doing? Really?
Was I just trying to prove I could do it on my own? Because I couldn’t. Obviously.
In a flash of grief and pain, I realized my life had spiraled out of control simply because I was too stubborn to admit my parents were right.
I packed my things. My dog and I climbed in the old Jeep. And we came home to Louisville.
During the upheaval of moving back, I also found something I hadn’t yet realized I had lost—my writing. Whether it was my grief over Cory or simply returning home, I don’t know—but I started writing again.
Even better…I finished the novels I had started years before and I have started (and finished) even more in the time since.
I’ve been through a lot in my life. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as some, maybe it wasn’t as rough…but it shows that a girl can make bad decisions, life-changing mistakes, and still bounce back.
My mom is a Major with the Louisville Metro Police force—the third highest ranking female on the department. She just celebrated her 21st anniversary this month. I am in a stable, committed relationship with a man who will one day be my husband. We live in a small but nice home—I’m a police dispatcher. He’s a police officer.
I was a latchkey kid and because of it, I am now a writer. I am the daughter of a female police officer, and because of that, I’m a stronger, better woman.
This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today.
Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels!
My paranormal romance novel, Abigail , is one of the novels featured.
All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer.



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shéa MacLeod -- Knight in Shining Armor

This week I'm delighted to feature author Shéa MacLeod from the Indie Chicks Anthology. Her story is powerful.

Please read it and pass it on to other women.

Knight in Shining Armor

by Shéa MacLeod

It’s strange how long a bruise can last.

Long after the physical evidence is gone, the muscles remember. A raised hand or an angry voice, and the body flinches away. The mind tries to forget, bury the pain deep … but the scars are forever.

It didn’t start that way, of course. He said all the right things. Did all the right things. When I was sick he took care of me. When my car broke down he fixed it. I thought I’d finally found my knight in shining armor.

What I’d found was a nightmare. The minute I was hooked, everything changed. It started with the name calling, the blame, the bouts of rage. As time passed, he turned increasingly violent. It was always my fault. I was useless. I’d never be anything. Do anything. Accomplish anything.

If I tried to fight him, he threatened to destroy everyone I loved. To ruin their lives. Stupidly, I believed him.

He was always sorry after.

You might ask why I didn’t leave. It’s a fair question. But until you’ve been there, until you’ve lived through that, you have no idea how messed up a woman’s head gets when she has to live through that day after day. There is no such thing as confidence, self-esteem. You learn to live with the overwhelming conviction that this is all there is. You have nowhere else to go.

That’s the very worst part of abuse. Beyond the bruises and the emotional scars. The absolute knowledge that this is the way you will live. And most likely the way you will die. You don’t deserve anything else.

In a way, I was lucky. I had something else. A secret weapon, if you will. I just had no idea back then how powerful that weapon was.

I could write.

All through those nightmare years I wrote. Not about what I was living through, but about something else. An imaginary world where I would escape, where I was strong. A place where I kicked bad guy ass. A place where I was my own hero.

Prophetic? Perhaps.

The writing kept a spark of something alive in me. My soul? Hope? Who knows. But one day, that tiny spark of something flared up. I couldn’t take another minute.

I had nothing. No money. Nowhere to go. But I walked out that door and never looked back.

Nobody rode in on a white horse to save me. I saved myself.

It was a very long uphill struggle to get healthy again, but through it all I kept writing. Writing had always been my passion, now it was my salvation, too.

Through writing I regained my sense of self. I grew strong. Stronger than I ever had been before. Words poured from me as my mind and body healed itself. Slowly but surely I recovered.

It’s nine years later and that life seems like a distant nightmare. The woman I was then could never have dreamed of the life I am living today.

The writing has never stopped. It just moved with me, changing zip codes. I now write in a sunny room in a Georgian townhouse in London, England. I have self published two novels and am about to publish the third. My stories, while sometimes holding a dark edge, are still full of hope and my readers love them. I am now selling enough that I can stay at home and write full time. I made my dreams a reality.

Guess what?

You can, too.

The day I walked out of that abusive relationship was the day I became my own hero. That one action changed everything.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please visit the Hot Peach Pages for a list of agencies all over the world who help women living in domestic violence.

No woman deserves to be abused and mistreated. It’s time to say NO to violence.

It’s time to be your own hero.
“This is one story from Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. To read all of the stories, buy your copy today. Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels! My novel, DRAGON WARRIOR, is one of the novels featured. All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer.”
Indie Chicks is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Foreword by Karen McQuestion
Knight in Shining Armor by Shea MacLeod
Latchkey Kid by Heather Marie Adkins
Write or Die by Danielle Blanchard
The Phoenix and The Darkness by Lizzy Ford
Never Too Late by Linda Welch
Stepping Into the Light by Donna Fasano
One Fictionista’s Literary Bliss by Katherine Owen
I Burned My Bra For This? by Cheryl Shireman
Mrs. So Got It Wrong Agent by Prue Batten
Holes by Suzanne Tyrpak
Turning Medieval by Sarah Woodbury Sarah Woobury
A Kinky Adventure in Anglophilia by Anne R. Allen
Writing From a Flour Sack by Dani Amore
Just Me and James Dean by Cheryl Bradshaw
How a Big Yellow Truck Changed My Life by Christine Demaio-Rice
From 200 Rejections to Amazon Top 200! by Sibel Hodge
Have You Ever Lost a Hat by Barbara Silkstone
French Fancies! by Mel Comley
Life’s Little Gifts by Melissa Foster
Self-taught Late Bloomer by Carol Davis Luce
Moving to The Middle East by Julia Crane
Paper, Pen, and Chocolate by Talia Jager
The Magic Within and The Little Book That Could by Michelle Muto
Write Out of Grief by Melissa Smith

Afterwords by Beth Elisa Harris

Indie Chicks is available for your Kindle on Amazon and your Nook on Barnes and Noble. You may also read it on your computer or most mobile devices by downloading a free reader from those sites.

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Follow our Indie Chicks hash tag on Twitter! #IndieChicksAnthology


Today I'm delighted to welcome the creator of the Indie Chicks Anthology, Cheryl Shireman, to my blog. Please check out this cool collection. All proceeds benefit breast cancer research.
Is Your Life Whispering to You?
by Cheryl Shireman

I believe life whispers to you and provides direction. I call that life force God. You can call it whatever you want, but there is no escaping it. If we are open, and brave enough to say yes, life will take us in directions we never expected, and you will live a life beyond your wildest dreams.
Those whisperings often come in the form of a“crazy” idea or a nudge to move into a certain direction that seems odd or silly or daring. Then there is that moment when you think, Well, that’s weird. Where in the world did that come from?

And then there’s the second moment, when you have to make a choice. You can dismiss the crazy notion, and probably even come up with a dozen reasons why it’s a bad idea. You don’t have the time, the money, or the resources. Besides, who are you to do such a thing? What in the world were you thinking? So, you dismiss the idea. We always have that option - to say No.

But it comes back - that whisper. Sometimes again and again. But if we are practical, and safe, we can squash the notion until it is almost forgotten. Almost.

Such a notion came to me a couple of months ago. I began to think of an anthology composed of women writers. An anthology that would be published before the rapidly approaching holiday season. The title came to me almost immediately - Indie Chicks. It was a crazy notion. I was working with an editor who was editing my first two novels, and was also in the middle of writing a third novel. Working on three books seemed to be a pretty full plate. Adding a fourth was insane.

But the crazy notion kept coming back to me. It simply refused to be dismissed. So I sent out a “feeler” email to another writer, Michelle Muto. She loved the idea. I sent out another email to my writing buddy, J. Carson Black. She loved the idea, too, but couldn’t make the time commitment. She had just signed with Thomas & Mercer and was knee deep in writing. I took it as a sign. I didn’t have the time for the project either. Perhaps after the first of the year, when final edits were done on my own novels. I dismissed it, at least for the present time. I’d think about it again in another couple of months, when the timing made more sense.

A week later I surrendered, started developing a marketing plan for Indie Chicks, and began sending out emails to various indie writers - some I knew, but most were strangers. I contacted a little over thirty women. Every one of them responded with enthusiasm. Most said yes immediately, and those who could not, due to time commitments, wished us well and asked me to let them know when the book when the book was published so they could be part of promoting it.

One of the first writers I contacted was Heather Marie Adkins. Earlier this year, while I was browsing the internet, I came across an interview with Heather. The interviewer (oddly enough, Michelle Muto) asked Heather, When did you decide to become an indie author? Heather’s answer was: About a month ago. My dad had been trying to talk me into self-publishing for some time, but I was hesitant. One night, I sat down and ran a Google search. I discovered Amanda Hocking, JA Konrath, Victorine Lieski; but it was Cheryl Shireman that convinced me. This is the field to be in. I was shocked (Astonished! Flabbergasted!). I had no idea that I had ever inspired anyone! To be honest, it was a bit humbling. And,okay, yes - it made me cry. So, of course, I had to invite Heather to be a part of the anthology. Heather not only said yes, but she also volunteered to format the project - a task I was dreading.

As Heather and I exchanged emails, I told her about how I had been similarly inspired to become an indie writer by Karen McQuestion. My husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas of 2010. Honestly, the present angered me. I didn’t want a Kindle. I wanted nothing to do with reading a book on an electronic device! I love books; the feel of them, the smell of them. But, very quickly, I started filling up that Kindle with novels.

One day, while looking for a new book on Amazon, I came across a title by Karen McQuestion. I learned that McQuestion had published her novels through Amazon straight to Kindle. Immediately, I began doing research on her and how to publish through Kindle. I had just completed a novel and was ready to submit it through traditional routes. Within 48 hours of first reading about McQuestion, I submitted my novel, Life Is But A Dream: On The Lake. Twenty four hours later, it was published as an eBook on Amazon. Within another couple of weeks it was available as a paperback and through Nook. Did I jump into this venture fearlessly? No! I was scared to death, and I almost talked myself out of it. Almost. The novel went on to sell over 10,000 copies within the first seven months of release.

As I shared that story with Heather, another crazy notion whispered in my ear - Ask Karen McQuestion to write the foreword for Indie Chicks. Of course, I dismissed it. We had exchanged a couple of tweets on Twitter, but other than that, I had never corresponded with McQuestion. It was nonsense to think she would write the foreword. I was embarrassed to even ask her. Surely, she would think I was some sort of nut. But, the idea kept whispering to me and, with great trepidation, I emailed her. She said yes! Kindly, enthusiastically, and whole-heartedly, she said yes. Karen McQuestion had inspired me to try indie publishing. I had inspired Heather Adkins. And now the three of us were participating in Indie Chicks, that crazy whisper I had been unable to dismiss.

The book began to develop, and as it did, a theme began to form. This was to be a book full of personal stories from women. As women, one of our most powerful gifts is our ability to encourage one another. This book became our effort to encourage women across the world. Twenty-five women sharing stories that will make you laugh, inspire you, and maybe even make you cry. We began to dream that these stories would inspire other women to live the life they were meant to live.

From the beginning, I knew I wanted the proceeds of this charity to go to some sort of charity that would benefit other women. While we were in the process of compiling the anthology, the mother of one of the women was diagnosed with breast cancer. Almost immediately upon learning that, Michelle Muto sent me an email. Hey, in light of *****’s mother having an aggressive form of breast cancer, can I nominate The Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer? I mean, one of our own is affected here, and other than heart disease (which took my own mother’s life), I can’t think of anything more worthy than to honor our sister in words and what she’s going through. A daughter’s love knows no bounds for her mother. Trust me. I know it’s a charity that already gets attention on its own. But, that’s not the point, is it? The point is there are 25 ‘sisters’ sticking together and supporting each other for this anthology. I say we put the money where the heart is. We had our inspiration. All proceeds would go to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer research.
The stories started coming in. Some were light hearted and fun to read. But others were gut-wrenching and inspiring - stories of how women dealt with physical abuse, overwhelming grief, and a host of bad choices. It was clear; these women were not just sharing a story, but a piece of their heart. I felt as if I were no longer “organizing” this anthology, but just getting out of the way so that it could morph and evolve into its truest form.
Fast forward to just a few days before publication. Heather was almost done with the enormous task of formatting a book with twenty-five authors. We were very close to publishing and were on the homestretch. That’s when I received an email. An unlikely email from someone I didn’t really know. Beth Elisa Harris and I were involved in another indie project and Beth sent an email to all of the authors in that project, including me. She attached a journal to that email. For whatever reason, Beth had been inspired to share a journal she wrote a few years ago. She cautioned us to keep her confidence and not share the journal with anyone else. I tend toward privacy and don't tend to trust easily. This is a HUGE step for me. I've only read it once since I wrote it. Intrigued, I opened the journal and began reading. It dealt with her diagnosis, a few years back, with breast cancer! Before I was even one third of the way through the journal, I felt I should ask Beth to include this journal in the Indie Chicks anthology. It was a crazy notion, especially when considering her words about privacy and trust. We didn’t even know each other, how could I ask her to go public with something so personal? I tried to dismiss the notion (are you noticing a pattern here?), but could not. I wrote the email, took a deep breath, and hit send. She answered immediately. Yes. Most definitely, yes.
Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories, with foreword by Karen McQuestion and afterword by Beth Elise Harris, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. The book includes personal stories from each of the women, as well as excerpts from our novels. And it began as a whisper. A whisper I did my best to ignore.
Foreword by Karen McQuestion
Knight in Shining Armor by Shea MacLeod
Latchkey Kid by Heather Marie Adkins
Write or Die by Danielle Blanchard
The Phoenix and The Darkness by Lizzy Ford
Never Too Late by Linda Welch
Stepping Into the Light by Donna Fasano
One Fictionista’s Literary Bliss by Katherine Owen
I Burned My Bra For This? by Cheryl Shireman
Mrs. So Got It Wrong Agent by Prue Batten
Holes by Suzanne Tyrpak
Turning Medieval by Sarah Woodbury Sarah Woobury
A Kinky Adventure in Anglophilia by Anne R. Allen
Writing From a Flour Sack by Dani Amore
Just Me and James Dean by Cheryl Bradshaw
How a Big Yellow Truck Changed My Life by Christine Demaio-Rice
From 200 Rejections to Amazon Top 200! by Sibel Hodge
Have You Ever Lost a Hat by Barbara Silkstone
French Fancies! by Mel Comley
Life’s Little Gifts by Melissa Foster
Self-taught Late Bloomer by Carol Davis Luce
Moving to The Middle East by Julia Crane
Paper, Pen, and Chocolate by Talia Jager
The Magic Within and The Little Book That Could by Michelle Muto
Write Out of Grief by Melissa Smith

Afterwords by Beth Elisa Harris

Indie Chicks is available for your Kindle on Amazon and your Nook on Barnes and Noble. You may also read it on your computer or most mobile devices by downloading a free reader from those sites.
Stop by our Facebook Page
Follow our Indie Chicks hash tag on Twitter! #IndieChicksAnthology

Leave a comment and win an eformat copy of the Indie Chicks Anthology! (I have seven more to giveaway.) Winners will receive their books on November 1st.

I was excited when Cheryl Shireman approached me about contributing to the Indie Chicks anthology. Some of the other writers were known to me and some were not, but I love collaborating with other women--especially for a great cause. All proceeds from the anthology will go to research for breast cancer. The book isn't officially out yet, but let me know if you'd like a copy. Leave a comment stating that you want a copy and the first 7 people will receive an Amazon gift card for a free ecopy. (I'm giving out 10 copies and 3 have been claimed.)

Here's a description:

This exciting anthology contains stories from twenty-five women from different parts of the world. Their ages differ, as do their backgrounds and locations, but one thing they all have in common is a spirit of inde...pendence and a determination to not only succeed, but prevail. Whether their struggles are to maintain balance between motherhood and career, escape from an abusive relationship, or to step out in faith and pursue a dream, all of these women have forged their own path.

As women, one of our most powerful "gifts" is the ability to encourage one another. This book is an effort to encourage women across the world. These twenty-five women share stories that will make you laugh, inspire you, and maybe even make you cry. Their hope is that these stories will inspire YOUR independent spirit and allow you to live the life you were meant to live.

In addition, each woman has included a “sneak peek” into one of her own novels.

All proceeds from this book will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation which fights breast cancer - a disease all too close to home for many of us. Our prayers and best wishes are with those who are struggling with this terrible and devastating disease. Buy a book for yourself and “gift” one to the important women in your life. Together, we can make a difference. Thank you for your support.

Stories included:

Foreword by Karen McQuestion
Knight in Shining Armor by Shea MacLeod
Latchkey Kid by Heather Marie Adkins
Write or Die by Danielle Blanchard
The Phoenix and The Darkness by Lizzy Ford
Never Too Late by Linda Welch
Stepping Into the Light by Donna Fasano
One Fictionista’s Literary Bliss by Katherine Owen
I Burned My Bra For This? by Cheryl Shireman
Mrs. So Got It Wrong Agent by Prue Batten
Holes by Suzanne Tyrpak
Turning Medieval by Sarah Woodbury Sarah Woobury
A Kinky Adventure in Anglophilia by Anne R. Allen
Writing From a Flour Sack by Dani Amore
Just Me and James Dean by Cheryl Bradshaw
How a Big Yellow Truck Changed My Life by Christine Demaio-Rice
From 200 Rejections to Amazon Top 200! by Sibel Hodge
Have You Ever Lost a Hat by Barbara Silkstone
French Fancies! by Mel Comley
Life’s Little Gifts by Melissa Foster
Self-taught Late Bloomer by Carol Davis Luce
Moving to The Middle East by Julia Crane
Paper, Pen, and Chocolate by Talia Jager
The Magic Within and The Little Book That Could by Michelle Muto
Write Out of Grief by Melissa Smith