Tag Archives: indie author

New Chap Book – Literal: Defining Moments

literal-ebook-2A new book is coming out very soon. LITERAL: Defining Moments is my first chap book. The poem Literal is a language poem, following the meaning of words and creating a trail for the reader to follow. How often do we use words without thought to actual meaning?

It’s a political poem, because poets have a responsibility to bring the forth what doesn’t work in our world and our society. A deeply personal work, it is one I could not fail to create and keep true to what is integral to the fabric of who I am, an individual of integrity.

The book will be out soon in all the usual distributors. As soon as pre-sale is open, I’ll post it and I do encourage you to at least go read the pre-sale page, that will help boost inventory before the book is on sale in the retail venues.

I wrote this poem while participating in the Napa Valley Writers Conference this summer.

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Literary Piracy Grrrrrr!

My thinking was, as much as I think my chap book Chow and book No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique are enjoyable (Chow) or useful as a resource (No Red Pen) these works are not well known. I’m a small fish in the ocean of publishing, traditional or otherwise. Who would pirate my books? So when I first saw Molly Greene had posted Has your eBook Been Pirated, I didn’t read it. Then when part two was posted and the topic came across my email for the second time, I thought I’d check it out.

Who would pirate my eBooks?

Well, I’ll tell you who – General eBooks. And the reality, they don’t care about my books or yours or anyones. They care about who would use General eBooks’ website to download books because when their site is accessed, reportedly what is also downloaded is malware. So, STAY AWAY FROM GENERAL eBOOKS! If not because you have integrity and won’t read a pirated copy of someone else’s hard work, then because you are smart enough to know that malware will attack your system, steal your passwords, and infiltrate your public and personal life and potentially your finances too.

Honestly, the cost of my eBooks is not all the much and there are quite a few coupons out in the wild for free downloads and really, if you are that financially strapped, I’ll spot you a coupon to download the book.

What have I learned from this – yes, even a small time, independent emerging author can find her works on a pirate’s website. What will I do from here on out? Formally register copyright on anything I independently publish.

And thanks to Molly Greene for hosting Kathryn Goldman’s posts about the piracy and to Kathryn Goldman for her assistance in getting my work off  the pirate ship. Sign up for her free report for digital artist on how to protect their work and found out what you can do to protect your digital work. And if you still aren’t sure about registering YOUR copyright, read this post by Kathryn Goldman on Why and How to Copyright Your Self-Published Book.

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John Byrne Barry

VAH: Welcome Novelist John Byrne Barry to the Three by Five Author and other Interesting People Interview series! The burning first question is always – why do you write?

JBB: I write to answer questions. No, really. Sometimes the question is as simple as “What am I going to do today?” As for why I write novels, well, those questions aren’t that different. More like “What should I do with my life?” “How can I contribute to the world?”

Those are not rhetorical questions. One of the themes that I explore, consciously some of the time, is how to do the right thing. While I wanted “Bones in the Wash” to be a fun fast-paced political thriller and family drama, under all the action, I wanted to answer that question. The protagonist, ambitious Albuquerque Mayor Tomas Zamara, does believe in doing the right thing. But as he says, “politics is like playing football on a muddy field. If you don’t get dirty, you’re not giving your all.”

Does that give you a pass on doing the right thing? No, it doesn’t. It makes it harder.

I’m writing some non-fiction now, a conservation assessment of the Russian Far East, and there too, I’m answering a question. Here we have this vast expanse of pristine ecosystems, home to polar bears, tigers, and six species of Pacific salmon, and there we have a corrupt and undemocratic Russian government. Why should anyone invest time or money to protect these unparalleled natural treasures? (The answer gets more challenging every day that President Putin is in the news for incursions into the Ukraine, even though the Russian Far East is 5,000 miles away.)

I also write to make the world more interesting. Back in 2004, when I first worked on a presidential campaign, going door-to-door and phonebanking for John Kerry in three working-class suburbs south of Milwaukee, I made a commitment to write and post a blog entry every night. The work was tedious. Too many calls. Too many doors. Not enough meaningful interactions. (It was a swing state and so many people were so inundated with ads, mailers, calls, and so on.) But I had to write something every night, so I paid more attention, keeping my eyes and ears peeled for some interesting anecdote or conversation. It added a dimension to what otherwise were long and flat days.

VAH: I’d say that one of the joys of writing is being able to fully explore all the possible answers to the many questions we encounter in our lives.

Do you remember what your first story was about?

JBB: My memory is fuzzy, but I know that sometime in fifth or sixth grade history class, I wrote—probably with others, but I don’t remember—some satirical skits about Betsy Ross and the making of the American flag. At that time, I don’t think I had listened to Stan Freberg, who did comedy records parodying American history, but when I discovered him in college, I realized I had done things in the same vein. I believe the skits were well received, but whether that’s because they were good or because the rest of history class was dull I can’t say.

VAH: What about a favorite literary character?

JBB: One of my favorite books is All the Kings Men, a fictional account of Louisiana’s charismatic governor Huey Long, represented in the book as Willie Stark. He’s a fascinating character, but it is the book’s narrator, his aide Jack Burden, a former newspaper man, who is my favorite character. Perhaps it’s because of what I mentioned above, that the compelling moral question for me, as a reader and a writer, is how to do the right thing. Willy didn’t sweat that question.

Willie knew you never needed to make up lies about opponents. Here’s what he said to Jack as he told him to find dirt on an old family friend, now a judge: “Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something.”

Jack found the something. For better and worse, however, Jack had a moral compass, and so he struggled with indecision, with betrayal, with morality. He was the more tortured soul, and thus more interesting.

 VAH: John, imagine you were stranded on a deserted island, what book or series of books would you want with you and why?

JBB: If I think about that long enough, I won’t be able to answer it, so I’ll just blurt out John LeCarre. I’ve read at least 20 of his books, but I think I would enjoy reading them again. I reread The Spy Who Came in from the Cold a few years ago, and it seemed dated, but just as compelling a drama.

VAH: That first thought is usually the most authentic, before you catch yourself with what “should be” a response. Authors that we can return to again and again, those are the true masters worth reading.

What would you say was the biggest influence on your development as a writer?

JBB: I worked for 25 years at the Sierra Club in a variety of positions, mostly in communications, doing writing, editing, design. Because we were often covering wonky environmental issues, like fuel efficiency in cars or water pollution from factory farms, we had to find stories to make those issues come alive. So I learned and mentored others in how to discover and distill the story. When writing fiction, I can make stuff up, but when doing journalism or writing reports, I have to dig to find the gold.

But even when writing fiction, I have a tendency to “tune my piano,” to borrow a phrase from John Barth, and when I’m in rewrite, I need to cut that tuning out and jump directly to the action. Come to think of it, I might want some John Barth with me on that desert island. Though it’s been a long time since I read any of his books. When I was a younger man, I thought Giles Goat Boy was incredibly brilliant. I might find it ponderous today.

Find out more about John Byrne Barry by visiting his social media sites.






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Ruben Quesada Three by Five Part III

ruben 3Finishing up Three by Five’s interview with Poet Ruben Quesada.


VAH: The blank page stares back at you, what gets you over writers block?

RQ: Art is a big inspiration for me, so when I’m feeling blocked I turn to the works of art that might have inspired others. Usually something new will strike me about the painting and I’ll be able to start working. Music is helpful too. Anything from Mariah Carey to the Beach Boys to Wagner can provide inspiration.

VAH: What does your typical writing day include?

RQ: Right now, it includes a lot of revision since I’m getting my next manuscript ready. It includes reading, listening to music, or if I’m in the mood, having a movie playing in the background as I work.

VAH: What are your thoughts on the writing community – are there writing or author organizations you belong to or online sites ou frequent for community, conversing, networking or commiserating? And do you have some favorites?

RQ: I’m very active on Twitter, which has really given me the opportunity to connect with other writers and maintain friendships I’ve made with writers at AWP or Canto Mundo. Twitter is a great platform to talk about writing or just share about the work of other writers that I enjoy.

VAH:  Traditional or independent publishing? Or a little of both? What choices have you made and why did you go the way you have?

RQ: It depends on what your goals are in terms of writing. There are many wonderful independent publishers that support their writers and have helped get some terrific work out into the world. My first collection, Next Extinct Mammal, was with an independent press and that was a good experience. I’d like to be published by a bigger press as well. What is most important is to publish with people who you are comfortable with and would be proud to say published your work. Never publish with a press just because it’s a publication. Make sure it’s a good fit for both of you.

VAH: Best bit of advice to save another writer some anxiety or heartache?

RQ: Don’t spend too much comparing yourself to other writers in terms of career trajectory. Things happen at a different pace for everyone. Be ambitious; strive for more, work hard, and it will happen. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen as quickly as you want it to.

VAH: What’s next for you? Do you have a work in progress you can tell us about?

RQ: I’m finishing my second collection of poetry right now. I’m also working on a paper about queer horror movies called “The Horror of Heterosexuality.” I’m excited to have started some new poems that I think are the start of a third collection. I’m also working on video poems. My video poem “Dark Matter” was recently released by Poetryseen.com.  RubenQuesada w book cover

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Campaign to Support the Emerging Writer Prize

This year was the 7th Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize. This program started in 2008 as a scholarship for Master of Fine Arts students and was broadened to any emerging writer in 2011. Originally, one writer from each genre of poetry, fiction and nonfiction was selected. In 2012, the scholarship transitioned to recognizing one writer, regardless of genre. In 2013, the competition became completely electronic with all submissions via submittable. Also in 2013, the competition was listed on Duotrope as a means to widen the availability of information about the Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize. The average number of entries over the past few years has been approximately 30 each year. This makes the odds of winning very good.

I’ve personally funded the scholarship every year, committed to a no fee competition. My commitment to that remains, however, I’m reaching out to the indie publishing and writing community at large to help fund this scholarship. My goal is to raise enough funds to support the emerging writer prize over the next ten years. I pledge that no more than 12% will go to the administrative costs for the scholarship. These include costs associated with the electronic submission process, competition promotional advertisements, recognition items for the winners, etc..

Help me keep the Emerging Writer Prize going strong. Over the course of this year, I’ll check back in on some of the previous winners to find out how they’re doing and what they are writing now. Stay tuned.

Please visit the Emerging Writer Go Fund Me site, your contribution is appreciated and please, share this site throughout your social media networks. Thank you very much.

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Indie Author = Publishing Professional

This site is more than just my author website – here you will find information about upcoming events, the Three by Five Interview Series where traditional and indie authors give some back story on themselves, an opportunity to highlight a work in progress with Author First Look and occasional book reviews or trailers. On the Submission Guidelines page find anthology projects open for submissions and the guidelines to submit. Each year I sponsor an Emerging Writer to attend the San Francisco Writers Conference, watch the counter for when submissions will open. The blog space provides a place for my own musings about writing and the writing life, but it also serves as  clearinghouse for other good resources out there – all to help the indie author and emerging writer reach that gold standard of professionalism where they produce and publish something as good as or better than what comes out of the traditional houses. 

One of my favorite things to post here are when I find kick butt blog posts from someone else that really speak to issues in or for the indie community at large or might be a good resource for some individuals that take the time to visit the site. I’ve got one coming up at the end of this post that is right on target with some of the distractions in the indie author community. Stay tuned.

First though –

Three by Five is always looking for more writers, authors and interesting writing community people to interview. Message, email or tweet me for more information. First Look will post your bio and synopsis of your work in progress first chapter with a link back to where you have the chapter posted. Let me know if you want to participate. This year for National Poetry Month, I’m looking for poets to interview about their favorite poem they’ve written and I’ll post the interview and poem during poetry month. There are several call for submissions still open, take a look and please submit for consideration. Submissions for the annual emerging writer prize will open in September – read the results and what has won in the past. Submit your response to the prompt. Maybe you will win your registration to the San Francisco Writers Conference in 2015. Got a book? I’m happy to read and review a copy. And if you’d like a grab bag of literary magazines sent your way and live in the United States, I’ll send you a few free or for a small donation to cover postage.

Can’t say this enough – if you are an indie author, you are in the publishing business. You are a publishing professional. If you have a book that you’ve written, published and are selling – make sure that book was ready when it went out the door or across cyberspace. Meet the standard of the big house published books. Invest in an artist to design your cover. Know the difference between a beta reader, copy editor and proofreader AND EMPLOY them on your book. If you commit to attend an event, attend it! Urban fantasy and paranormal romance author J. M. Gregorie has posted a direct and right on point blog posting on actions that negatively impact the indie author community and degrade our ability to be taken seriously as writing professionals. Read her Open Letter to Indie Authors.

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Sharing a Resource

A resource I continually return to is Joel Friedlander’s website The Book Designer. There you’ll find a wealth of information that I’ve written about on this site before. Right now, he’s got a terrific promotion for his book design templates with a free download of all five of his self-publishing guides with any purchase, even just a $5 gift certificate! Even if you don’t have a writer friend who would benefit from a gift certificate or you aren’t quite ready for that fiction, nonfiction or children’s book template or very useful book proposal template – gift your buddy, your mom, your neighbor with a simple gift certificate so you – Independent Author – can benefit from Joel’s generosity. Really though, if you’re an independent author – you just might want to give his templates a try. The free eBooks are a great incentive and bonus. Click the banner below for more information.


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Self-Publishing Means Always Learning

When I published No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique, thought I’d prepared myself pretty well. I’d gone to workshops, attended conferences, read a lot of blog posts and talked with indie publishing insiders at those conferences – and I still made a 600 print run mistake that cost me a couple thousand dollars and left me with unsalable inventory. In the second printing, the costly error was fixed and I was a bit more humble about what my capabilities were. My education about independent publishing continues and I will continue to share some of what I find here on this site.

Today, check out Kristen Lamb’s blog post Five Mistakes Killing Self-Published Authors. Especially, if you are ready to click that upload button for your first self-published book.

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Indie Author Stops on the Information Super Highway

Today’s post is about two very useful sites I visit often. Both have useful and interesting topics posted daily that provide insight and information for any emerging writer or indie author.

First is Joel Friedlander and The Book Designer blog where over 700 articles are available that guide and educate authors through the publishing process. Discussions covering diverse aspect of publishing a book are covered from fonts and using aspects of specific word processing programs to self publishing do it yourself issues. Blogging and book design, E-books and E-readers, Marketing and Reviews, Social Media and Webinars, Blog carnivals and guest posts – Joel Friedlander has created a clearinghouse of information for authors. The tag line for The Book Designer is “Practical advice to help build better books,” and that is exactly what the site visitor finds. Looking for more detailed, specific ways to improve your own author toolbox? Check out Tools and Resources, want to invest in some training, click on Training Courses for classes that Joel offers and Books and Guides for links to order his books. Joel Friedlander is a recognized authority in self publishing and book design. Just reading the free resources on this blog provides an informative apprenticeship in self publishing with exposure to many other perspectives via the blog carnival and guest posts that are also part of the site. This is a stop on the information super highway that belongs on every blog roll. Visit often. Follow Joel Friedlander on Twitter @Carnival_Indies and @JFBookman

Next up is Molly Greene who blogs her journey as an indie author with frequent guest posts that will help someone looking at the independent author route make more informed decisions and maybe prevent a few regretful ones made from lack of information. Molly blogs her personal experience, with occasional bits from her real life, resulting in an informal, chat around the kitchen table atmosphere. She talks about the challenges and opportunities for indie authors and brings in occasional experts with interesting perspectives. I’ve returned to Molly’s site numerous times for a refresher on Createspace verses Lightning Source for self-publishing – a vital bit of self-education for the indie author. Looking for helpful, effective tools for promotion and use of social media, Molly Greene has some insights to share. When scrolling down my twitter feed, Molly is one of the authors I most often retweet, her information is always timely to what I as an emerging indie author is interested in reading and need for improving my promotion and self marketing. Another stop on the information super highway worth visiting. Follow Molly Greene on Twitter @MollyGreene.

There are many resources on the web in the community of writers and independent authors. Actually, there are numerous circles (or tribes) of writers and there are many more helpful sites out there. These are two I visit on a recurring basis which makes them definitely worth sharing.

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Author + Community

Coming up in the next few months I’ll introduce several new features here on the site intended for the writer community at large that will highlight emerging and indie authors. I’ll pull over some book reviews I’ve posted on my blog Home and Hearth and write some new ones for a book review page titled Book + Review. Another feature will be Three by Five, where I’ll post interviews with authors that will include five questions and will post monthly on either the 5th, 15th, or 25th of the month. Eventually, I’ll put up three different authors a month but at the start, I’ll stick with one each month.

A new feature I began this week is Author First Look. Indie authors and emerging writers send a bio and information about a current work in progress which I post on the Author First Look page along with a link to the author’s web site where the first chapter was posted. There are two very different writers on Author First Look currently, as well as the first chapter of my novel in progress.

The intent is cast a wider net for those authors and emerging writers I include in these features, and for myself via the generated link backs, that will introduce readers to writers they might not otherwise find. This is an outgrowth of the discovery I’ve enjoyed on Twitter, where following a link in a tweet that someone I follow has retweeted that I never would have seen on my own, leads to an author or journal I otherwise would not have found.

Writing is a solitary journey, but that doesn’t mean any of us has to go it alone.


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