books with Athena

books with Athena

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Winners, Apologies and Whispers From Some Awesome Independent Women

I feel bad for all my east coast friends who are snowed in and/or power-less. I’ll have to have another contest for them soon. East-coasters, you’ve had way more than your share of natural disasters recently. Time for some good luck.

And here are two people who had some Halloween luck last night.

I assigned a number to everybody who posted in the last two days and used the number generator at random.org and came up with two numbers,

Winners of GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY!

#5  Kamille Elahi
#19 Donna Hole

So congratulations, you two. Send me the addresses you use for your Kindle (or your PC app) and I’ll send those along to you.

Now an apology: to anybody who has run into Amazon dramas while trying to buy my books. You’re not alone. The Zon seems to be undergoing some major growing pains. First they uploaded GHOSTWRITERS IN THE SKY with the cover and blurbs for THE GATSBY GAME. That was fun. Then they changed the prices on all my books—even FOOD OF LOVE—which has a different publisher—from $2.99 to $4.99. Then, over the weekend, THE GATSBY GAME disappeared entirely. My publisher heard there had been complaints from people who downloaded it and got only one page! (I’d complain too.)

So anybody who has had hassles trying to buy any of my books, email me at annerallen dot allen at gmail dot com and we’ll get you “sorted” as my Brit friends say.

Don’t you love the way the English find “sorting” the solution to everything? It’s as if proper categorization—perhaps with some cosmic “Sorting Hat”—could send one’s troubles off to their respective Griffindors, Hufflepuffs and Slytherins and make all things right.

And speaking of making things right, today we have a special mid-week guest post from the fabulous Cheryl Shireman, author of the bestselling ebook LIFE IS BUT A DREAM I feel very honored that she invited me to join her and the twenty-three other fascinating “Indie Chicks” to put together this anthology to benefit breast cancer research. Here is her story of what inspired the post. 

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.

So here is the anthology INDIE CHICKS: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories, with foreword by Karen McQuestion and afterword by Beth Elise Harris.

It’s 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
Afterword by Beth Elisa Harris

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 Battten
Holes by Suzanne Tyrpak
Turning Medieval by Sarah Woodbury
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
Never Give Up On Your Dream by Christine Kersey
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
Afterword by Beth Elisa Harris

Stop by our Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/IndieChicksAnthology

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What whisper are you ignoring? What crazy notion haunts you? What dream merely awaits your response? I urge you, say Yes. Live the life you were meant to live. Say yes today.

19 comments:

  1. Love your website! It feels so cozy. Makes me want a cup of coffee! Thanks for featuring this post. And even more thanks for being part of this wonderful group of women!

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  2. I'm delighted to be part of this unique and inspiring group of women. ;-)

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  3. Hey Anne! A great post by Cheryl! I'm honoured to be part of this anthology. Some of the stories will make you laugh, some will make you cry, but they will all inspire you! :)

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  4. I love your sense of humor, Anne! From one "Chick" to another, thanks for this post.

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  5. I absolutely cannot WAIT to read this book. Thanks so much.

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  6. This has been one of the best experiences. I feel as if I've found 24 new sisters! Sisters for a good cause. Thank you for your support. :)

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  7. OMG Thank you!

    The anthology sounds wonderful! That's a really good idea! And I love the name. It's like a rock band!

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  8. Um, do I send you my email address? I don't actually know how Kindle works :(

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  9. Thanks for your comments everybody! I'm so excited to be part of this fantastic book.

    Kamille--yes, send your email address to me at annerallen.allen@gmail.com. I'll send the book to you as a gift. If you don't have a Kindle, you can download a Kindle app free for your PC or iPad or Mac. (There will be a button for it on the buy page of the book) Or you can opt for "cloud" which means you can read it online on any device. But the Kindle app is probably easiest.

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  10. Cheryl, way to be persistent with an idea. Congratulations on the inclusion, Anne. And sorry about Amazon. Need me to go all Ninja on them?

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  11. Alex--Thanks! If you think going Ninja on the Zon, please do. It's been kind of a nightmare.

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  12. Thank you for such an inspiring post! I just purchased both books on Amazon & they are already on my Kindle. I can hardly wait to start reading them. Your post was 'exactly' what I needed to hear today. Thanks again, and all the best to everyone! :)

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  13. I have two whispers right now; both for separate fantasy short stories that I can't seem to find the time to finish. *sighs*

    I loved this story of how Inde Chicks came together. Cheryl, that was quite an adventure, and I admire the spirit and drive that made it all happen. I can't wait to read the stories.

    Anne: I'm thrilled I'm a winner. I've enjoyed a number of your short stories - I'm so glad you are a part of Inde Chicks - and I can't wait to read a longer novel.

    You've got my Kindle address already? You are correct in how lucky I am feeling these last couple days; this is so much icing on the cake :)

    ........dhole

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  14. Okay I obviously need to start a wish list for my Knidle (or other e-reader, whatever my hubby gets me for Christmas). Do you think this will ever be available in paper?

    Women's issues are most definitely close to the heart and as part of a family who has experience many of them, this book sounds like a good idea.

    Oh and my crazy whisper is to keep writing and find ways to support other writers and good causes. I have to work out the how, who and what though.

    :} Cathryn Leigh

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  15. Anne, I hope things settle down soon.

    Cheryl's post is a testament to what we can do when we follow up on the ideas that come to us. I hope the project does extremely well.

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  16. Wub2--Thanks! If you've had any trouble with the download, let me know.

    Donna--congrats on all your successes. I hope you've got both your books by now. If not--email me.

    Cathryn--The anthology won't go into paper any time soon, although it might happen at some point. With all the novel excerpts, it's very long, which would make it expensive in paper.

    J.L.--Your story is inspirational too. If we don't heed those whispers, we'll always wonder what might have been.

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  17. I did, thanks Anne :)

    Inde-Chicks has pictures!! I've never got those before; I think its awesome. I wish I could get book covers on this thing. I love book covers.

    ......dhole

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