My indie milestone

I’ve often read that the average indie author can expect to sell 250 books in their lifetime (or their book’s lifetime). If that’s the case, then I surpassed that milestone this weekend with four sales of my first book, Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird (released May 2019).

Four sales is certainly nothing to write home about, but in this case, it’s just enough to write a blog post about.

In order to get those sales, I tried something new this weekend – I paid for my first ever promotional spot on a mailing list. For $25 I ran a one-day ad with Bargain Booksy to promote my book to their YA audience of email subscribers. I had read a few good reviews and a few not so good reviews, but for $25 I thought it was worth a shot. With a mere four sales in that one day, I certainly didn’t make my money back, but those were the first sales I had had in months (!) and it did push my lifetime sales past that 250 milestone marker that most indie books never surpass, so I took it as a win.

There are some things I will do differently next time (and yes, despite the poor showing, I’ve decided to give it another shot). I’ve since learned that a .99 cent price- point and a better blurb should help boost my results, so cross your fingers for me and Hope!

If you’re interested in trying out a Bargain Booksy promo, here’s some good info to get you started: The Best Way to Promote a Book on Bargain Booksy

If you’ve done a book promo with Bargain booksy or another site, comment or drop me a line (you can email me: melcmoore@hotmail.com) and let me know your results. I’d love to do a fuller, more informative post on this type of advertising in the future.

Other book promo sites can be found here via Written Word

…and if you’re looking for something to read, check out my book, Hope Quest book 1: Blackbird!

My love affair with Kindle unlimited and indie books

I have to admit, it took me a long time to convert from paperback to e-books. For many years after e-readers came out, I held fast to my belief that paper was the best, that the real thing was the real deal, that a book must feel and smell like a book in order for me to enjoy it. But then, three Christmases ago, my husband bought me a Kindle, and with it, a one-month free trial with Kindle unlimited. Skeptically, I eyed this plain black, flat, lifeless electronic device, knowing it would make a terrible addition to my carefully curated bookshelf. Still, having recently joined the Instagram writing community of indies earlier that year, the idea of easily and instantly reading my newfound friend’s books was intriguing. So, after all of the gifts had been opened, and the turkey and all its trimmings had been devoured, I sat down with my phone and my Kindle, opened Instagram, and began filling my new electronic library with Kindle unlimited titles written by my indie friends – and that flat, lifeless device suddenly came to life with a whole new world of reading for me. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Every couple of weeks, I go through my saved Instagram posts of indie books I see in my feed and if they are offered on Kindle unlimited, they just about always get downloaded into my reader (and I always make sure to review them once I’m done! Amazon reviews are the lifeblood of indie author’s, afterall). The ten dollars I spend per month on my Kindle unlimited subscription is honestly one of my best investments in myself. I love the ease and simplicity of downloading the books from Amazon for an instant-read and easy support of my fellow indies. My Kindle has become my own private library and one that is always perfectly lit for late-night reading. Seriously, why can’t all books be gently backlit and why did I wait so long to invite such reading splendor into my life??

If you’re an avid reader who hasn’t discovered the joy of a Kindle unlimited subscription, I highly recommend that you give it a shot!

Here’s what made it into my Kindle this week (and keep in mind that I am in Canada and use amazon.ca, so Kindle unlimited book offerings may be different in other countries):

The Raven’s Poison by Braeden Michael’s

After Me, The Great Flood by Jayson Robert Ducharme

The Girl in the Ivory Dress by Steve Griffin

Echoes of the Gidat by Eme Savage

Going the distance as an indie writer

It’s so easy to get discouraged as an indie writer. It’s a tough industry! Writing is already a difficult and lonely occupation, but then throw in the business side of marketing and hustling and self-promoting yourself, your brand, your book – and all for maybe a handful of sales to your closest friends and family and maybe half a dozen reviews on Amazon (if you’re lucky!). It’s little wonder why so many throw in the towel after a year or two. It breaks my heart every time I see a writer friend give up on their dreams.

It’s difficult to see, but I get it. I totally get it. I have been there sooooo many times myself that I’ve lost count.

But, here’s the thing about choosing to be an indie: it means playing the long game.

Writing and self-publishing, marketing and promoting, growing our platforms and our readership: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. The end will not be in sight for a long time, but then again, we shouldn’t be looking for an end.

As writers, we should always be writing.

As “authorpreneurs” (“one who creates a written product, participates in creating their own brand, and actively promotes that brand through a variety of outlets” – Urban Dictionary), we should always be learning about and growing our business.

And there should never be an end to that.

Trust me, as someone who has been self-employed for sixteen years, creating and operating five (soon six) businesses, there is still and always will be much to learn – and that is a good thing!

Keep yourself busy enough with the writing and the learning and the growing as an indie and soon you ‘ll find that you won’t have any time to become discouraged.

So, keep going!

Some of my favourite websites for writing/ indie inspiration:

www.brainpickings.org

www.writtenwordmedia.com

www.writepublishsell.com

Upcoming webinars for indie writers

I read recently that being an indie author (“authorpreneur“) is 10% writing and 90% marketing (the blog post that described this is a brutally honest, but absolutely spot-on piece about the indie industry and so worth a read on its own). It’s absolutely true that there is a lot to learn and a lot to do (besides writing your books!) in order to be successful as an indie. Knowing this and wanting to understand the process and help other indies find success, I’ve started this indie inked blog to share resources and supports.

Every week, I will share my round-up of webinars (almost always FREE!) that will be of interest to indies, so here we go……..

Limiting Mindsets Roundtable is a free webinar happening on Tuesday, June 29th as part of my favourite Women in Publishing Summit, an amazing yearly event that is chalked full of info and resources for indies. The webinar will focus on how our own limiting beliefs hold us back from achieving success as authors. There are many more webinars happening with the summit and you can find them all here.

“6 Secrets Every Indie Author Should Know” is a free webinar happening on Tuesday, June 29th with New York Times best-selling author, Alessandra Torre. I came across a post for this one on Facebook and am not familiar with the author, but the topic sounded interesting (obviously), so we’ll see how it goes.

My favourite blog read of the week was: The Top Ten Publishing Industry Trends Every Author Needs to Know in 2020. Some pretty interesting and valuable things to know, especially in regards to social media platforms and organic vs. paid reach.

Next blog post is coming on Wednesday (and every Wednesday!) and will focus on website resources for indies and Saturdays will be dedicated to book reviews and author features. Give my blog a follow and, better yet, sign up for my monthly newsletter for all things indie inked!

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Innovative Ink

I’ve spent the last two years as an indie writer spinning my wheels, taking my writing, my books absolutely nowhere, but down. In the process, I’ve managed to dig an impressively deep hole for my self-confidence to curl up in and die.

It’s not at all what I hoped for, what I had worked for.

It looks and feels nothing like my dream.

This feeling of defeat despite having written the books, despite having published the books, despite having marketed the books, despite having created the author platform and joined and engaged in the various social media writing communities, and despite having supported and cheered on dozens of other writers and their work – despite all of that I still feel like a failure because my work hasn’t found its audience and I haven’t found my tribe and my books sit forgotten and overlooked on digital shelves gathering dust that will more likely be deleted than simply blown away.

Yet, though the indie dream didn’t come true for me, I do see it coming true for others. I watch them in awe from the sidelines of social media as they gather hundreds, thousands sometimes, of loyal, engaged followers who seem to pounce on their every word and meme as if it were vital sustenance to their very existence. I enviously watch them post their ever-increasing sales and unsolicited (and glowing) reviews and dozens of media appearances, and as I applaud their success, I can’t help but wonder, where did I go wrong?

With our sights set on the same target, how did they make a kill-shot and why was I shooting blanks?

Was it that newsletter that I couldn’t be bothered to write? Was it that mailing list that I didn’t want to start?

Somehow I doubt it, but still I’m curious and so, from that curiousity, Innovative Ink was born

Over the summer, I will be transforming this blog into a resource and support for indie writers, featuring websites and blogs, and apps with helpful advice and tips, and I will also continue to interview indie authors, with a focus on their best advice for achieving success (and hopefully I’ll unearth the magical key to indie success : is it really the mailing list??)

I’m also chasing another dream with this new endeavor. I’m going back to school this summer to get my certification as a copyeditor. I’m going to freelance as a book editor for indies. As a psychology student who loved to write way back in the day, I was offered an invitation into the Honours English degree program but stupidly declined, thinking there’d be more career opportunities for me in psychology. Having worked professionally as a photographer for the last decade (so much for that psych degree!), it’s been one of my bigger regrets in life because my love for reading and writing has never waned and I want very much to give it a more prominent role in my life.

The dream doesn’t look how I imagined it would, so I’m going back to the drawing board (the journal/ my head) and creating something new.

(I’m innovative like that).

The Innovators: an interview with author, M.G. Unger

After a 5 month hiatus, The Innovators, an indie artist interview series, is back with the indie author of Divided and Enhanced 2124…….

Introduce yourself

My name is M.G. Unger. I was born, raised, and still currently live in Florida. After school, I moved away from most of my family to be with friends. After a long chain of dumb choices, I finally made a good one, I met my wife. Through our love, my destiny was fulfilled.

What I am is a father first. Above all the multitude of cogs, gears, and unpredictable events, being a dad is what I am most proud of. There is no award or accomplishment that will ever surpass this feat. It took me and my wife a long while and we had to overcome health issues to become parents to three wonderful children. As life often does, there was/is some sideways issues and I turned to writing to cope.

When and why did you start writing?

I always wrote poems or short stories throughout my life for fun. Never in my dreams I thought I would write a book, but here I am about to release my second book out into the wild. Because of complications with one of our daughters I became helpless mentally and was even suicidal. Talking through the issues with my wife, I mentioned in passing about a story I was thinking about. My wife instantly encouraged me just to write it down. Everyday since 2017, I have been writing. Our daughter is not cured, but she is doing way better, but regardless, I cannot stop writing. It is my therapy.

Who or what inspires your writing / creativity?

I grew up in the golden age of cartoons. He-Man, GI-Joe, and later in life Batman: The Animated Series. Along with toons, I enjoyed reading science fiction and playing video games. Regardless of the media format, the thing that drew me into any of it was the stories. I especially am always drawn to tales that are unique, the unusual, or a trope that bends the formula.

Tell me about Divided and Enhanced

Divide and Enhanced is my premier novel series. It is set in the future and is an adventure about multiple factions with different strengths, powers, and goals trying to save or destroy one another. The series is told through multiple protagonists and oftentimes the same events overlap but are seen through different character’s eyes. High tech, artificial intelligence, and robots? Check, check check. It is obviously born from my favorite genre, science fiction. The idea came from a personal need to create a character based on our daughter who begins weak but builds strength from that weakness. It was/is very fun writing this series. All the characters I have created so far argue in my headspace all the time and I absolutely love it.

What are your upcoming projects?

Ah yes, I do have other projects in various levels of progression. In order to never get stuck, I have multiple stories or books to jump back and forth on. The furthest along is on chapter five of the first draft. This one will probably be the next book I release after Divided and Enhanced: The Fall. It is going to be a fun ride, but in a different way then the DE series. Mix a reality game show with time traveling and the multiverse and you’ll get a general idea of what that book is about. I have a few other ideas I have began writing in addition to that one.

One of these I want to hold off on until I have a few more books on the shelf. It is a fascinating concept that I don’t want to share just yet. The reason being is because I’m not ready. I want to be sure my skills are honed enough to give the project the flourish and craftsmanship it deserves. It is going to be a large project and like all of my other tales, I think I’m more excited to write them than I think my biggest fan is to read them. Oh, and FYI, my biggest fan is my wife and no one will ever take her from that slot. I wouldn’t be half of who I am without her never-ending relentless support and love.

What challenges do you face as an indie author? What advantages do you have as an indie?

Being an independent author has no challenges at all. I mean not anymore than anything else in life. I wish for once, my talents would be put up against something in life that is just plainly simple. Nothing is, so I enjoy what I do. Yes, sarcasm aside, writing books as an independent author is extremely tough. Just because it is tough doesn’t mean it is rewarding. First and above all, I control the time table. Being able to control time is phenomenal! Though that has it’s dangers as well and without enough drive I can easily get stuck in a whirlwind of edits and revisions that will spiral on forever if I let it. Marketing is by far the hardest thing to me. I’ve been studying and researching, knowledge is power and boy do I need some power in that department. Haha!

What is your greatest writing achievement so far? What are you still working towards?

I did it! I wrote a book! Many people, in fact, inaccurate estimations state that nearly 98 point Q percent of the entire population says that they are going to write a book, but only a slim number much less than that actually do. The point being, I feel really special that I can look at my shelf every day and see amongst my books, one with my name on it. It really is quite an honor to write a book. To be able to string along letters to form worlds is beyond scientific understanding, it is magical. The feeling of accomplishment after creating art in this medium is vast and an unexplainably amazing feeling. I need improvement in all aspects of being a writer. I’m not the best and I never will be the best. All I want to achieve is to be better than what my past self imagined.

Where can readers find you?

Website: https://mgunger6.wixsite.com/website

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/m.g.unger/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mgunger

Book Review: Dalton Highway by Freddie Ahlin

Dalton Highway by Freddie Ahlin

Genre: Horror / Psychological thriller

Indie release (Sept. 2020)

5 of 5 stars

A nail-biter of suspense and psychological horror, Dalton Highway is a thrill-ride of a read.

Synopsis: With his back up against a financial wall and not wanting to disappoint his wife, trucker Tom Richards takes on the potentially dangerous job driving the 666 km long Dalton Highway through the isolated and often hazardous Alaskan wilderness with his loyal dog, Presley, as his companion. A sudden storm sends the truck crashing off the road, setting Presley loose in the forest with Tom giving chase, but there is something ominous amongst the trees that seems to be chasing them both….

This debut novel by indie author, Freddie Ahlin, is a strong opening piece. Despite a slow start, taking its time to build up Tom’s dilemma and apprehension at taking on the job, once the suspense and action arrived, it was full speed ahead with the story. At times, I was completely absorbed in Tom’s harrowing journey both physically through the unforgiving terrain of Alaska and psychologically as he battles with some mysterious demons of his past, disembodied voices that relentlessly taunt him as he struggles to find his dog and survive the often unforgiving elements. But, like all good psychological thrillers, the reader often struggles with wondering just how much of the terror is in Tom’s head. Who or what are these ghosts that haunt him? Is the forest actually haunted? What if it’s not?? The psychological thrills of this book were stellar and the ending was truly satisfying. Looking forward to reading more by this author!

The Innovators #14 with…author C.K. Shackleton

Like any other effort, writing has its fun components, but my advice would be to view the activity of writing as work. Actual work. Changing your perspective that writing is actually going to require true, consistent effort from you in the form of real work ethic will lead to more tangible results.

Introduce yourself and your books.

My author name is C.K. Shackleton.  I am the author of 4 books (so far) in the fast-paced and fun Edward Prince Adventure Series.  In publication order, they are “The Mystery of Coronado Cay, “The Bolshevik Ballerina,” “The Lost Idol of Ishtar” and most recently, “Roosevelt’s River.”  I’ve published other fiction and non-fiction books under other names, but the Edward Prince books were by far, the most fun to write.

Tell me about Edward Prince:  who or what inspired him? Is he a hero or an anti-hero?

I believe Edward Prince is a hero.  There are plenty of deconstructed, post-modern anti-heroes in current literature and pop culture right now and plenty more are being created everyday.  I like a lot of their stories, but a character created in our time that fits the mold of a “pre-modern, traditional” hero like Prince could be seen as anachronistic if not ironic.  I’m totally fine with that.
Edward Prince is always searching for the truth and more importantly, he seems to be willing to sacrifice his own comfort and in some cases, risk his life to get to it.  Prince was born in the last quarter of the 19th Century as the Victorian Era in most parts of the world started to make way for the Edwardian Era.  To me, that is probably one of the most fascinating times in history as new technological achievements intersected with humanity’s relentless ambition to explore the vast and mysterious corners and cultures of the Earth.  I wanted to tap into that excitement through the eyes of someone like Edward Prince.  To me, he is the culmination of those explorers, innovators and artists of that time, who kept throwing off the shackles of earlier convention and rigid thinking and pressed forward to discover something new.  
I suppose my inspiration for creating him is an amalgamation of fictional heroes from that era, like Edgar Rice Burroghs’s Tarzan and John Carter and certainly from the lesser-known protagonist, Charles Marlow in two of Joseph Conrad’s books.  The “cool under pressure” approach that Prince occasionally displays was borrowed from Ian Fleming’s James Bond (007).  I finished reading the original series a few years ago and always thought Fleming had an interesting insight into the mind of 007 facing odds greater than what most people would ever know.  As for real life examples, I think Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Shackleton were big influences.  Neither of those men lived to a relatively old age, but both experienced more adventure in their adult lives than most people on the planet.
By no means is Prince perfect.  There are times when he makes mistakes in judgment, drawing the wrong conclusions and losing his cool, like anyone would do under stressful circumstances.  He also seems to be afraid of committing to others in the long-term and that is possibly connected to the loss of a loved one early on in his adult life.  I think the idea of the flawed hero, who is still a hero, was really brought to the forefront by Stan Lee, the visionary behind most Marvel Comics characters, like Spider-man, Iron Man and the Hulk.  These flaws were present, but never inhibited the characters from accomplishing their mission.  
One other fictional inspiration that I drew from for the last Edward Prince book was Idris Elba’s character Detective Chief Inspector John Luther in the excellent British television series “Luther.”  DCI Luther is philosophical, observant, occasionally misunderstood and usually a little ahead of the rest of the pack he’s surrounded by and that seems to be an advantage.  Luther always found himself in difficult situations that required bending the rules and sometimes that meant going off to do his own thing.  I suppose those themes coincided with a slightly older, somewhat more world-weary Edward Prince in “Roosevelt’s River.” 
I’ve had adventures of my own, spending my childhood growing up in two different countries and then in my adult life doing business with people from so many cultures and economic classes.  As an author, you can draw from that area of your life so much when you’re trying to create something that feels authentic and rings true to the reader.

Why historical fiction?  What compels you to write in that genre?

I enjoy a lot of different genres of fiction, such as science fiction, thrillers, graphic novels, TPBs along with the occasional Steampunk book.  However, in writing my books, I followed the advice to write the book you’ve always wanted to read and I took that to heart.  I’ve loved studying history since I was a kid.  I think people who find history boring or learning about historical events to be dry have never had the right teachers or had it presented in a way that made it relatable.  History is messy, it is sometimes murky and it has lately been controversial, but it is rarely uninteresting.  
In The Edward Prince Adventure Series, I wanted to experiment with putting some real-life historical people with my fictional characters connecting the places and events, but never losing the pace.  I’d like to think I was able to do that with some success in all of the books to one degree or another. 

Why have you chosen to write Edward’s adventures as serialized short stories?  How does that add to the overall theme/vibe/feel of the series?

Serialized fiction has been around for a long time going all the way back to before Dickens.  However, as a fan of Ian Fleming’s 007 series, I’ve always admired how there was this underlying thread that was consistent to Bond’s character throughout the series that reflected on his ongoing relationships with the characters of M and Miss Moneypenny.  In the books, Bond struggles with killing someone and seems to never lose that angst.  He also seems to see himself as a civil servant first and always appears to put hedonistic pleasures such as food, women and alcohol second.  He is even married briefly in my favorite of the books, but even that ends in tragedy.  Unfortunately, the films have never captured that vision fully.  Instead, we’re treated to a Bond that is bedding a woman every 30 minutes, driving expensive luxury cars, shooting everything up in sight and wearing tuxedos.  Don’t get me wrong, they are enjoyable to watch, but most of them divert away from the essence of what I think Fleming was trying to do.  I also like that Bond aged in the books as well.
So my reasons for writing these as serialized stories came from that notion of what I read in Fleming’s books.  Also, I was a big reader of comic books growing up and no one wrote cliffhangers and serialized fiction like some of those comic book creators, who wanted you to come back for more every month.  There was also another little-known series that probably played a role in all of this work called “The Great Brain” by John Fitzgerald.  As a kid, I read every single one of those books and they were based in true-to-life settings, but likely embellished for entertainment purposes.  Serialized fiction is all around us in every medium.
I think in today’s world of distraction and a zillion things competing for a reader’s attention, writing these shorter books seemed to be a natural response to all of that stimulus.  I trust that readers are sophisticated and imaginative enough to fill in the gaps.  My focus in writing these books has always been to keep the reader engaged from start to finish.  Therefore, action first, dialogue second and brief descriptions third.  I try to maintain my allergy to writing a lot of exposition.  You’ll also notice that I don’t spend too much time plumbing the depths of Prince’s soul or any other character for that matter.  The goal has always been to give the reader a satisfying adventure that touches on the lives of real people from history along with places and events connected to them.  

Is there some recent history that you think Edward could / should re-write or be a part of?  What is it?  What would he do? 

I think Edward Prince, a character who is committed to seeing the mission through, but figuring out how to do the right thing at every turn, even if it is to his disadvantage, is a timeless idea.  I think someone like him would always be the kind of person you’d want on your side, whether it was during the Second World War, the Vietnam War or the events of September 11th, 2001.  I think that commitment to doing what is right in the face of fear and loss is one of the prime traits that makes him a hero.  I think he’s also someone who aspires to serve something bigger than himself or his own ego.  There are men and women all around us who are like that.  You don’t have to agree with them or the way they think, but they are real and they are reliable.  That being said, I think if we had more people like that, society wouldn’t quite be in the same chaotic state it is today.  

Who or what inspires your creativity?  What gets in the way of it? 

Anyone who reads the Edward Prince series will see that I love history and I love adventure.  In each Edward Prince story, a germ was taken from an event or real person’s life and then expanded upon.  That means that L. Frank Baum really was staying the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego at the time “The Mystery of Coronado Cay” takes place, Lenin really was hiding out in Paris, licking his figurative wounds from his failed 1905 coup of Russia as “The Bolshevik Ballerina” happens, T.E. Lawrence was investigating cool archeological finds in the Middle East before serving in the First World War alongside a cholera outbreak that had happened at that time and in that area, as depicted in “The Lost Idol of Ishtar” and Theodore Roosevelt did take that crazy trip on the River of Doubt with Colonel Rondon and his son Kermit, as shown in “Roosevelt’s River.”  I wove in other characters into each book that were based on other less-notable people in history.  Of course, each adventure takes a fictional course, but I’d like to think that since we don’t know every moment of each of these people’s lives, the possibilities are endless.  
Modern-day Lebanese-American philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb made a career out of telling the layman about randomness and it can affect us daily.  I remember when I first approached Taleb’s work in “The Black Swan,” it was a real challenge and I found it vexing.  Over time, I discovered that one of the main themes to his writings is that there is so little that is in your control and the sooner you can accept that and prepare for it, the sooner you will be at peace with yourself and the world around you.  He would bristle at that kind of summary.  It takes a lot of work to get to that mental and emotional state though.  In many ways, Taleb was my “gateway drug” into studying philosophy. 

Outside of history and Taleb’s work, I enjoy watching movies and television when I can, listening to music, reading fiction and non-fiction and studying the ethical side of philosophy.  After all is said and done though, I think my biggest inspiration for creativity comes from looking at the world around me.  Relationships with family and friends, interactions with nature and just pondering the universe around me are very important and can be an endless source for creativity.  

What is your biggest challenge in being an indie author? How do you overcome it?

For every indie author, I think there are always a number of challenges, such as time management, motivation and organization.  To me, the one that loomed as large as those I just mentioned has always been self-doubt. The way I overcame that self-doubt was to dig deeper into myself and rediscover why I started writing in the first place.  Of course, it was about writing stories I wanted to read, but it also had to do with letting go of the results and expectations tied to the results.  I can’t force people to like my work or even to read my work in the first place.  This became a more dominant thought as I wrote more fiction and each book was published.  It became about writing for myself and in a way that ultimately, I was satisfied with the outcome. If a reader feels the results of my work are satisfactory too, then I consider it a win.  

Best piece of advice for up-and-coming writers? 

Film Director Kevin Smith once said that after “Clerks” premiered at Sundance he had received quite a bit of praise, but the most poignant was when someone came up to him and congratulated him on “finishing it.”  That’s always stuck with him and I’ve always remembered it too.
So many writer projects remain unfinished in their various forms and if this happens too frequently, the writer will likely develop the habit of not finishing any projects.  Like any other effort, writing has its fun components, but my advice would be to view the activity of writing as work.  Actual work.  Changing your perspective that writing is actually going to require true, consistent effort from you in the form of real work ethic will lead to more tangible results.  This will require some planning from the writer, some research and writing outlines.  My ultimate message is to never give up and to figure out how to finish your projects, even the ones you ultimately decide no one will see.  
I believe that you should never let perfect be the enemy of good and never let good be the enemy of done.  

What do you most want for readers to take away from your work?

Honestly, with the Edward Prince books and my other works of fiction, I like to keep some of the areas of prose sparse for a simple reason.  I like the idea that subtext is all around the story and that I don’t have to explain every single thing to my readers.  They get to use their imagination and their own reasoning abilities to put some things together.  Therefore, what they take away from each book and each story is theirs to keep.  
I hope they feel inspired to go out and do something good for other people.  True heroism is found in simple service.  I write characters who are trying to do the right thing for a reason.  Even more, I hope readers just enjoy the adventure!

Upcoming projects?  Where can readers find you?

If people read the books in The Edward Prince Adventure Series in the order published, starting with “The Mystery of Coronado Cay,” they will find Edward Prince avoided certain making choices that he ultimately began to resolve at the end of “Roosevelt’s River” and it seemed to mark the end of his adventures and his career as a roving, globe-trotting newspaper reporter.  However, I have been loosely outlining book 5 in the series (which would take place only a couple years later) and I have another one planned thereafter.  Both of those books will feature prominent people from history and will follow the same format.  Prince will be a few years older, but hopefully a bit wiser.  I also have plans to publish work under other author names in both the fiction and non-fiction category.  

I have limited time in my day for social media and updates, so I don’t maintain a website as C.K. Shackleton or a Twitter account, but people can find me on Instagram and Facebook where I share updates and news on projects I am putting out there: 
Instagram – @ckshackletonauthor    Facebook – @C.K. Shackleton
They are always welcome to reach out to me through those mediums.  

The Innovators #13 with…author Patrick Kaiser

I want to use whatever platform I am blessed with to shed light on the multiple facets of autism. All the struggles that come with it and the unexpected gifts. I want to make the beauty of it all known to the world.”

Introduce yourself.

My name is Patrick Kaiser. I am a 29 year old indie author with autism from Kansas City, MO. I started writing when I was in the 6th grade. At the time, Christopher Paolini – the author of Eragon – was just beginning to gain recognition. His story of being a 15 year old best-selling author spoke to me. I’d always had a good imagination and loved telling stories. Learning that I could earn money doing so just clenched it. I began reading heavily and studying anything and everything I could on how to write good stories and how to get published. In high school I developed an interest in poetry. I’ve never had any formal training even to this day, but according to my friends, family, and teachers I had a gift for it. I began writing a ton of one-off poems that were honestly pretty dark and depressing. Being a social outcast due to my autism made me very cynical and depressed which was exhibited in my writing.

Senior year I was introduced to the idea of verse novels with Ellen Hopkin’s books. I loved the concept, but could never get into the books. Free verse is just bland to me and the stories told in most verse novels weren’t fun to read for me. They were so gritty and real with characters I just couldn’t relate to. The constant themes of drug abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and social politics were so blah. Not to make light of the real life instances of those experiences, they’re horrific beyond measure and absolutely unforgivable, but I always preferred to read to escape reality. I wanted books that married my love of poetry with the sort of stories I loved – Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Hunger Games – but I never found any that met that threshold. When I was 25, I started to experiment with the idea of writing those sort of books. At the time, I was still super unconfident and self conscious, always wanting to write those books, but always finding some reason to tell myself I wasn’t good enough. Over the next few years I grew and matured, became more confident the more I studied. I found info on Indie publishing and how viable it was, courtesy of the success story of Amanda Hocking, who is considered the matriarch of current Indie publishing. She made millions in a matter of months after years of being rejected by traditional publishing companies. In 2019 I decided to be brave. I had a backlog of poems I’d written over the years, more positive than my high school endeavors, so I slapped ’em together, did a little research and self published my first 2 poetry collections on Amazon in February of that year. Almost two years later here we are: seven books out with number eight releasing in Febrary 2021.

Tell me about your books.

My first trilogy, Crimson Minds, involves a psychic gang war in modern day Chicago as the backdrop for a murder mystery. It covers themes of identity: are we the product of our circumstances or our choices – nature vs nurture, are are we beholdened and defined by our past or can we make an effort to rise above and grasp a better future than the one we’re told we can’t change.

My newest book, Frost, is the start of a new series and deals with family: is family determined by blood or by choice? Genocide, hatred, & racism –just because you’re at the top of the food chain does that mean you’re infallible? Are those that are different by no choice of their own lesser simply because of that fact?

All of these themes are set against the backdrop of an action thriller and are told completely through poetry.

So far, it seems to be working for me.

You identify yourself as an “Autism Advocate.”  What does that role entail?

I just want to use whatever platform I am blessed with to shed light on the multiple facets of autism. All the struggles that come with it and the unexpected gifts. I want to make the beauty of it all known to the world. I also want to help support the friends and family of those who are diagnosed. Living with autism is hard, no doubt, and living with those living with autism is harder still, and those people deserve just as much support as those diagnosed.

What role does your advocacy for autism play in your writing?

It’s mainly just the other half of what I’m trying to accomplish. I hope one day my writing can help and entertain those with autism, and I hope that my support of the autism community can result in my work reaching new readers.

The hashtag #makeitecho appears on your website.  What does it mean / refer to?

For a few years I had a Youtube channel where I posted videos of my one-off poems. It was called EchoVerse Productions and our tag line was “Love is the mission statement. Let’s #MakeItEcho!” I’m still trying spread that mantra. I want to spread entertainment, peace and love with my writing, while making you think.

Who or what inspires your creativity?  What or who do you hope to inspire with your work?

I get super inspired by Japanese anime and Japanese culture. The Japanese tell such great stories, that are super entertaining while touching on sensitive themes. My goal is to tell similar stories with my works. I’d like to inspire evolution within the Verse novel community. I constantly read and hear that verse is only suited to the realistic and gritty kind of stories, I want to flip that notion on it’s head. I’d also like to become a great source of inspiration for those on the autism spectrum. I want them to know that they’re more than their diagnosis.

Tell me about your online shop. What merch can be found there?

I sell tee-shirts, mugs, blankets and a lot more with designs influenced by my writing, all at affordable prices.

Upcoming projects? 

My current wip is called Sight and it is book 2 of my current series. I also have a new series planned to start in early 2022 about a robin hood in space kinda story. Hunger Games mixed with Firefly, if you will.

Where can readers find you and your work?

You can find me on social media @authorpdkaiser (Facebook & Instagram).

My website: www.authorpdkaiser.com

And: Amazon.com/author/patrickdkaiser

Thanks, Patrick!!

The Innovators #10 with…author Eric Woods

It takes time, hard work, and patience as an indie,
and we should never give up on something we love.

Introduce yourself and your books.

Hi, my name is Eric Woods. I am an independent multi-genre author who has published three novels: Pummeled (2018), Dragon’s Blood (2019) and Welcome to Oblivion (2020) along with a collection of stage plays (Playing with the Macabre – 2020) which were written between 1997 and 2003. My interest in writing began in third grade when my class was given the assignment of writing a short story. I became hooked on creating fictional worlds ever since.

Tell me about “The Amalgam”

The Amalgam is the universe by which my stories live and breathe, and the ultimate plan is to publish 10 novels within this universe. I also included the play collection as part of The Amalgam, as characters from several of those pieces will pop in from time to time in the novels. The Amalgam was inspired by a couple things – the Stephen King Dark Tower universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Both tell multiple tales but they all occur within the same world, there is a supreme antagonist that oversees the chaos, and many stories and characters come together at the end. The Amalgam will culminate with the 10th novel, where many characters from the other stories come together to face off with the primary antagonist of the universe.

You’ve written in both the drama and horror genres. Which do you most prefer to write in? To read? Why?

My dream as a writer has always been to write in the horror and suspense genres. I grew up on 1980’s slasher films and have loved horror movies since I was a kid. In grade school when we were assigned to write short stories in class, I always went with a scary and suspenseful story. It is just what I have always been drawn to. Horror is also my preferred choice when reading, although I have expanded my choices in the last year as I have gotten to know more and more independent authors. With PUMMELED (my first novel), I took a somewhat personal approach and used themes that were personal to me. That book was somewhat of a release for me, but it also shattered a decades long feeling that I couldn’t complete a full-length novel.

Who or what inspires your writing/creativity?

Stephen King is my horror inspiration. I read Pet Sematary in middle school and was hooked after that. I am also fascinated by dreams. Both Welcome to Oblivion and my next novel were initially inspired by dreams. With WTO, I recall a dream of being lost inside a dark, giant mansion and not being able to find my way out. I felt the presence of something following me but saw only a shadow.

You are a great supporter of other indie authors. Tell me what draws you to support other writers and why do you think it’s important to do so?

I do not see other indie authors as competition. I know how hard it is to get noticed as an author. It is not only a challenge just completing the first draft of a story, but the tiresome, never-ending process of editing, revising, and finding others willing to read and give feedback is an intense process. Followed up with the actual publishing procedure, and authors have already put in endless hours just in the hopes of getting a few eyes on their work. Independent authors and artists love their creations, and it is likely that they have been discouraged by others as they hone their craft. If I can help them along the way, that is what I will do.

What is your biggest challenge in being an indie? How do you overcome it (or have you/can you)?

As with any independent author, artist, singer, etc., the challenge is getting people to notice your work. There are literally thousands of independent authors around the world with easier access to self-publish now than ever before. So, the challenge is growing a fanbase who can find your work and take a chance. It is also a challenge being able to put up with rejections and bad reviews. The only way to overcome any challenges is to fight through them and not become too discouraged. It takes time, hard work, and patience as an indie, and we should never give up on something we love.

What is your superpower? What is your writing kryptonite?

I believe my superpower is being able to create unique, entertaining, and chilling stories that leave my readers wanting more. My kryptonite is time. It took me decades to finally break the barrier and finish my first novel, and I write whenever I have free time. But free time is not always the easiest thing to come by. Along with my full-time job, I am also a freelance writer. During the months of March through October, I serve as the tour guide for the local Lincoln Ghost Walk several nights a week.

What are your upcoming projects?

I will publish my 4th novel, Clippings, in March. It is uniquely formatted and not your traditional tale. The chapters are written in various forms of media communication (newspaper articles, blog posts, newscast transcripts, e-mails, etc.). I am even recruiting people who wish to have their images appear in the articles as “characters.” My 5th novel (PUMMELED: Submission) is tentatively scheduled for a Thanksgiving 2021 release. I am still working on the first draft of that one.

Where can readers find you?

At: www.ericwoodsauthor.com on Instagram @eric_woods_author and on Facebook

Thanks Eric!!