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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Indie vs Traditional Authors: Is it a battle created by Misconceptions?

Indie vs Traditional Authors:

Is it a battle created by Misconceptions?

By S. E. Smith


This blog comes a day after I had a very interesting experience with my local ‘hometown’ bookstore. Let me start by describing how the day began to help put it in perspective for everyone. Yesterday was my official, in my mind, first day as a full-time writer. In truth, I’ve been a full-time writer for the past two and a half years. Over the course of the past two plus years I have published twenty-six books including one that made it to the USA TODAY Bestseller’s list and the majority which have been either #1 on Amazon’s Bestseller’s list in Science Fiction Romance or at least in the top ten in one genre or the other.

For my first day, I had to make some serious decisions. One was to keep a promise to my husband and myself. I promised that if I gave up one forty hour a week job that I would take better care of myself.

So, being the type of person I am, I set to work to accomplish that goal with the same tenacity that I attack everything else! Of course, today I am paying for my typical gun-ho behavior… note to self; do not set a one hour goal on the treadmill when you first start. Five minutes would have made more sense, but of course I thought I was in better shape than I am! Another note to self…. You are definitely out of shape, dummy!

My second promise was to set up a writing schedule so that I didn’t work eighty hours a week again. Okay, I’m not doing very well on that one either, but this is only day two. So how does this fit in with Indie vs Traditional Authors? Well, that comes to the next part of my day.

I had an appointment in town and decided that after said appointment would be a great time to visit the locally owned bookstore that ‘promoted’ author events for the community. This bookstore has been in business since I moved here almost thirty years ago. I often took my children there and as a classroom teacher, I loved to take my students there. After all, bookstores are there to share information and knowledge. To open the mind to all kinds of new and exciting things… like adventures, romance, and how to do things like… maybe become an author!

This was not my first time at stopping by this bookstore since I began writing. I received a mild brush-off that time, but thought what-the-heck, I’m relatively unknown still so I’ll give it time and promptly forgot about it. I wasn’t ready for a book signing event at the time anyway as I didn’t have the confidence. Oh yeah, that is something else that I forgot to mention! It takes a lot of confidence (or just finally a swift kick in the pants) to talk yourself into approaching a business like a bookstore about the fact that you are an author and would like to see if they might be interested in your work.

Back to my story, the afternoon had turned dark and thunder rolled across the ever increasingly heavy sky as I pulled into the parking lot. Determined not to turn tail and run, I made it inside the store. I love bookstores and the smell and feel of this one brought back the memories of going there over the years. I browsed the upstairs area that was now set aside for children and young adults, picking up a few items for my grandson before moving back downstairs. Of course, during all the browsing I was fast losing my nerve to ask anyone about the possibilities of letting me do a presentation for would-be writers. As I approached the checkout, I remembered suddenly that I needed a map and out of nowhere one of the store’s representatives magically appeared.

I thought it must be an omen. After all, the skies were pouring their hearts out outside so I couldn’t leave without being a drowned rat and this man suddenly appeared from between the bookshelves. Gathering my flailing courage with both hands, I asked him if it was possible to leave my business card with the store with the hopes of doing a guest appearance.

Now, this is where the sky turned dark on the inside of the store. I will stress that the man was polite. It was not so much all of what he said, but what he didn’t say that raised the red flags. There is a huge misconception that self-published or Indie authors do not have the same degree of professionalism as those of the traditionally published kind.

The moment he asked who my publisher was, I knew the door was shutting. I just didn’t expect it to be with such a loud ‘bang’. I swear his nose lifted an added inch when I looked him in the eye and told him proudly that I was an Indie Author.

He politely told me that the store received numerous requests such as mine daily from new authors or those who wanted to write a book and they could not accommodate each request. I pointed out that I was a USA TODAY and Amazon Bestselling author and currently had twenty-six books out. Do you hear that? It is the sound of several more nails in the door to keep Indie Authors out. His nose went a twitch higher when he asked me if I was a New York Times Bestselling Author and informed me that Amazon didn’t count. He pointed out that Amazon was NOT on the big six publishing companies’ good graces at this time because of their handling of some very well-known authors.

I so wanted to point out all the books on the shelves behind him that were not on the New York Times Bestsellers, or even Amazon’s Bestseller’s list, but I was a good girl and kept my mouth shut. The final nail came when he asked me what I wrote! Hide my head in shame (not), I told him I was primarily a Science Fiction Romance writer. He haughtily informed me that their Science Fiction area was bigger than it should be and that their ‘clientele’ was too conservative for that genre. He said if I could perhaps encourage some readers to come in and ask for my books or even Science Fiction that he might consider it.

Being the good girl (not) that I am, I smiled politely, paid for my purchases, and left. As I got in the car, I decided I wouldn’t darken their closed-minded store again. This might explain why they have a shrinking ‘clientele’. Not all the people living in my area are conservative. Some of them actually like to step out of the box, open their minds, and live a little.

Yes, I think there is a difference between Traditional published authors and Indie. The problem isn’t with the authors so much as with the die-hard bookstores and publishing companies that are resisting listening to readers who are telling them that they can no longer dictate what readers are allowed to read. There will be other opportunities to share my stories and help budding authors reach their dreams. If you must know, I prefer being outside anyway.

S. E. Smith is a USA TODAY and #1 International Bestselling author who has always been a romantic and a dreamer. An avid writer, she has spent years writing, although it has usually been technical papers for college. Now, she spends her evenings and weekends writing and her nights dreaming up new stories. An affirmed “geek,” she spends her days working on computers and other peripherals. She enjoys camping and traveling when she is not out on a date with her favorite romantic guy. Fans can reach her at or visit her web site at: Join me for additional information about the books at,, and at my new book discussion forum at

Additional Books or for links to purchase the books readers can go to my website, Amazon, Kobo, Lulu, Smashwords, iBooks or Barnes and Nobles.

Abducting Abby (Dragon Lords of Valdier: Book 1)
Capturing Cara (Dragon Lords of Valdier: Book 2)
Tracking Trisha (Dragon Lords of Valdier: Book 3)
Ambushing Ariel (Dragon Lords of Valdier: Book 4)
For the Love of Tia (Dragon Lords of Valdier: Book 4.1)
Cornering Carmen (Dragon Lords of Valdier: Book 5)
Paul’s Pursuit (Dragon Lords of Valdier: Book 6)
Choosing Riley (Sarafin Warriors: Book 1)
Ha’ven’s Song (Curizan Warrior: Book 1)
Hunter’s Claim (The Alliance: Book 1)
Razor’s Traitorous Heart (The Alliance: Book 2)
Lily’s Cowboys (Heaven Sent: Book 1)
Touching Rune (Heaven Sent: Book 2)
Indiana Wild (Spirit Pass: Book 1)
River’s Run (Lords of Kassis: Book 1)
Star’s Storm (Lords of Kassis: Book 2)
Jo’s Journey (Lords of Kassis: Book 3)
Rescuing Mattie (Lords of Kassis: Book 3.1)
Tink’s Neverland (Cosmo’s Gateway: Book 1)
Hannah’s Warrior (Cosmos’ Gateway: Book 2)
Tansy’s Titan (Cosmos’ Gateway: Book 3)
Cosmos’ Promise (Cosmos’ Gateway: Book 4)
Gracie’s Touch (Zion Warriors: Book 1)
Krac’s Firebrand (Zion Warriors: Book 2)
A Warrior’s Heart (Marastin Dow Book 1.1)



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Which is mighter? The Sword or the Pen?

It's time again - another blog. I hate to admit it, but I really don't like writing blogs. I figure since my "real" life is totally boring why would anyone want to read about it.  I can rarely come up with interesting things to write about - in a blog - I save all the exciting and adventurous ideas I have for the characters in my books.

Fortunately for me Brandon Alexander Davis the hero from my contemporary fantasy romance THE SWORD AND THE PEN has been pestering me to let him talk to readers directly. So here goes:

Dear Reader,

I’m a simple man.  I became a writer for several reasons.  One, crowds make me nervous and writing is a solitary occupation, so I don’t have to interact with people on a day-to-day basis.  Two, while I’m immersed in my writing I get to create my own reality, my own rules, rather than adhere to the insanity of the real world.  But the true reason I write is because I’ve always found fictional people much easier to deal with than the flesh and blood type.  The characters in my sword and sorcery novels are mine to control.  Unlike “real” people, my ex-wife and agent to name a few, fictional people don’t argue, nag or leave the cap off the toothpaste tube.  They do what I tell them to do, when I tell them to do it and if they piss me off I can do away with them without repercussion.

Or at least they did until I decided to kill off Serilda d’Lar, the main character in my successful Warrior Woman series, and take my writing in a different direction.  A direction that I hoped might result in my gaining a life of my own outside of writing.  But when a woman, complete with sexy leather apparel, a mile-long sword, and a badass attitude, appeared in my study and demanded I send her back, things took a wrong turn.

“Who are you and where do you want me to send you,” I asked.  When she answered, “Serilda,” and said she wanted me to send her back into the imaginary world of my novels, I knew she was nuts.  Fictional characters don’t come to life.  Still, since her delusion was based on my work, I felt responsible for her.  The fact that she stirred me in ways I thought had died along with my marriage had nothing to do with my not reporting her to the police or having her committed.  Or at least that’s what I told myself.

Even as the evidence mounted in favor of her bizarre claim - she knew things about Serilda that I never wrote down or revealed to another living soul - she couldn’t be the woman I created.  Fictional characters don’t come to life.  No writer has that kind of power.  Do they?

As I fight against my growing belief in her tale, I have no idea how to return her to the realm of my imagination, nor any desire to do so.  I want her to be real, to stay, to be a part of my life. But fate has other plans.

Now in order to save her from the noble death I’ve written for her, I have to face the reality of the brutal world I created.

Wish me luck.  I’m going to need it.

Brandon Alexander Davis

I hope you enjoyed hearing from Brandon.
Elysa Hendricks

Friday, July 11, 2014


“Wingardium Leviosa!”

I admit, I tried it. Of course, I didn't fly, nor did any of the objects around me take wing. But, for a fleeting instance, it might have happened. That magical moment when you place the book down and your eyes are beginning to adjust to distances further than ten inches in front of your face. That split second, between the tick and the tock, when two worlds bump into each other. One, a world created within the pages of the book — a world you've been living in for the past few hours. The other, reality.

These worlds make us beg for more when we turn the last page. Not for the characters, but for the place. I wanted to open every door and cabinet at Hogwarts. I wanted to explore on my own — without Harry and friends tagging along and getting into trouble, Just let me snoop around all by myself for a while.

How do these writers create these fictional worlds that, for a time, seem more real than our own. Middle Earth, Hogwarts, and Harry Dresden’s Chicago are such places. It must be magic, right? What other explanation is there?

I have a theory — actually its more of a hypothesis at this point; more testing is needed to confirm it, and that’s where you come in. You, the readers and writers of Sci-fi and Fantasy can help me to validate/repudiate my claim.

Assertion: In order to create a world, in which a reader can fully immerse themselves, the author must be fully immersed during the writing process.

Granted, it sounds simple and makes sense, but in all of the ‘World-Building’ books I've studied, not one has mentioned it. They go on and on about charts, timelines, histories, graphs, geography, biology and lots of other things, but never advise the author to just go and live there for a while.

I stumbled across this realization while writing Pangaea, (not yet released). At first, it was brief, like that tick between the tock — I forgot where I was. That same ephemeral bliss, I enjoyed as a reader of other worlds, I was now experiencing as a writer in Pangaea.

Some might call it being In-The-Zone, but it was more than that. I've been In-The-Zone before with my characters, where the characters talk to me; making me feel more like a stenographer than an author, as I dutifully take down their story. (In The Minstrel’s Tale, the narrative voice was Patrick Stewart, a voice I enjoyed listening to for many, many hours.) This wasn't that.

I’m not sure how to explain it so that I don’t come off as insane but, then again, almost every sci-fi/fantasy writer I know is a bit crazy, (and I suspect most readers are, too) so at least I’ll be in good company. Here goes:

There were times as I was writing Pangaea when, out of the corner of my eye, something odd would catch my attention. Something I hadn't planned into this world. I would wander over to investigate, and immediately recognize that it did belong in this world. Spooky, right? It gets better.

Everything in my ‘real’ life began to be filtered through the lens of Pangaea. The news; this would never happen on Pangaea or how would the Pangaeans have handled this? My friends; how Pangaean were they or how would they fare living on Pangaea? Even history; how would this relate to Pangaea or did the Pangaean’s have anything to do with this? Food; would Pangaeans eat this? How would they prepare it? Even my sex life became merged with this world, but we won’t go there.

In the midst of my first draft, I found it difficult to separate the worlds — and I lived in Pangaea. Crazy, right? I warned you.

Anyway, it remains to be seen whether my readers will enjoy that immersive experience, too and my hypothesis gains credibility. Pangaea won’t be out until next year and I’m impatient to see if my theory is sound. Hence my call for test subjects. I’d love to hear your experiences with immersive reading and/or writing. Do you think I’m on track or off my rocker?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Siren's Cry of Freedom

Smooshed as we are between American Independence Day and France's Bastille Day, I thought I'd write a short post about freedom. Freedom is one of those nebulous words. We are free to speak as we want but are free from Tyranny. We are free to worship, but free from oppression.

But as the cliche goes, Freedom isn't free.

It requires work, diligence and self-sacrifce.

Paradoxically, those freedoms must have controls for a society to function. Your freedom of speech doesn't include the right to yell 'Fire' in a crowded movie theatre. But you can spew hatred and intolerance from a street corner as long as another person can express their opinion of your subpar intelligence or walk away.

No society can exist without some constraints of freedom, but a society with some freedoms for all should exist.

The notion of freedom is a common one is SciFi. The Empire in Star Wars provides freedom for  Tha select few. You are free to have your say in government if you survive your tour of duty in the Bug War in Starship Troopers.  In my book, The Syn-En Solution, my Synthetically-enhanced humans (aka cyborgs) don't have any rights/freedoms because they are more machine than man. Nuances of the theme ripple throughout the Hunger Games, Divergent and Dune.

What about in  your favorite SciFi movie or book? How does freedom come into play?
Friday, July 4, 2014

It's A Dystopian World After All


As Count Olaf asks (skip to 1:35 in the video) "Why so glum?"

That's the question I ask when I look around and realize nearly every trending movie and book has a Dystopian or post-apocalyptic theme.

I'm not wondering in a judgy way, just curious. Usually large cultural movements reflect the mood of the culture. So, what exactly is going on?

Bad economy, wars, governmental upset...even just one of those is apt to make anyone gloomy. But wouldn't we want an escape? Why aren't Utopian films and books the cat's meow (the real reason, of course, is because no one wants to see a society all wearing the same white outfit).

Science-fiction romance is also trending Dystopian. Heck, I wrote a series like that myself called Apocalypse Babes. And frankly, after the sparkly vampire stage, Dystopia is a welcome change.

Novels like the Divergent series, The Matched series, and films like Warm Bodies, and Hunger Games abound. I have a theory--I call it Reverse PollyAnna, and that is when times are tough, oh baby it could be so much worse. End-of-the-world worse. And it's so bad I wanna roll in it and get all desperate, especially when one of the last few males on the planet shows up. 

Like that. 

So, that's my pop-psychology answer to the latest glum craze in media. And if you can't get enough of plagues, zombies, and nightmare scenarious, grab the first book in my Apocalypse Babes series, The Z Word. It's free for Kindle and will help you forget your own bummer of a day.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Intro from Far Far Away

Hi! I'm Melisse Aires and I will be a monthly contributor to this blog so I thought I would do an introduction.

I grew up in an old farmhouse in the county near Billings, Montana, with my two brothers and little baby sister. My older brother was six years older than I, the rest of us were stair steps. When I was in grade school he was a cool, articulate teen with a bedroom stuffed full of  classic scifi paperbacks-- and surprisingly, he did not mind sharing! I figure I owe a great deal of my current writing fun to his generosity of sci fi spirit.  Heinlein, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Bracket and Andre Norton where just a few of the authors he collected. He still owns these books, they reside in a glass fronted book shelf he's owned for thirty years.

My other brother was much closer in age and we shared a love for many of the same books, though he was more of a fantasy lover.

When I was sixteen I read my first paperback romance novel, and after that I gobbled those up. That love was shared by my mother and sister. Reading, talking books, sharing books has continued with my siblings through the years, though now we have ereaders.

I married and had three daughter in 22 months, thanks to identical twins. I made sure they had books and shared my favorites with them at bed time. My oldest introduced me to Harry Potter when she was in fourth grade, and I still love those books and that world.

Sometimes I think about  the multiverse theory where all possible histories and future are real, somewhere, because infinite really is infinite...Susan is romping with Aslan in Narnia, Harry is playing Quidditch with his kids in the back yard, and the Jupiter 2 has landed back on Earth. Doesn't that sound a little like heaven? And the stories that can be told!

I write a variety of speculative romance sub-genres and am currently working on book four of my space opera series. In Neon Orchid, once again, my couple get stranded all alone, this time in an alien jungle, and it doesn't look like anyone is rushing to rescue them. They have to figure it out together. Also, it would be good to know who is trying to kill them. Or her. Karvar's pretty sure the killer is after his new bride. Brielle thinks the killer is her father...Poor Karvar sure didn't know what he was getting into when he married her.

I like to write about women with agency, families, kids, and nice guys in space, findings adventure and true love. Join me on my Blog and also on Facebook and say Hi!

~ Melisse Aires

Who We Are

This tells about us.