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IndiesForward: Blog Your Hearts Out!

square-indies-forwardThe big day has arrived!

Today (January 31st) bloggers from all around over the world will be talking about our indie-in-spirit Julie Forward DeMay and her book, Cell War Notebooks. [Click here to learn more about Julie and the IndiesForward campaign]

cellwarWe’re so unbelievably thankful to each and every one of you for taking time out of your lives to help us with this cause (Everyone on our mailing list is going to get a special “Thank You” gift from Team Duolit — join the list if you haven’t already!).

All day we’ll be posting excerpts and links to the posts each of you has shared with the world about your inspirational circumstances and the kind words you have for Julie and her family.

If you’ve written a post for the blog-a-thon, leave the link in the comments so we can take a look and please be sure to get the word out on social media (Twitter peeps, remember to use #indiesforward or #cellwarnotebooks).

Before we get into the excerpts, here are the important links of the day:

You can also enter to win a paperback copy of Cell War Notebooks on I Am a Reader, Not a Writer [Ends 2/3/13]

From Shannon’s blog:

As I read the Cell War Notebooks, it struck me that Julie, maybe more than any of us, was familiar with the idea of daily life decisions. She had to get up every morning and decide to live – which in turn meant deciding to fight, to push, to hurt, to cry, and most of all to be unbelievably, undeniably courageous.

In the end, her decision to be brave never wavered, it just changed in definition.

Read More from Life Decisions & Daily Choices


From the Hinsdale Times (Jennifer Baird-Dean):

Cancer has deprived the world of another amazing spirit. It has deprived another daughter of a loving mom. But it cannot take her gifts. Julie leaves behind a legacy in her words, in her photographs, in the loving circle of family, friends and those of us that are just plain inspired by her. We promise to use your gifts, Julie. We will share your legacy and it will continue to uplift those still here fighting cancer. Your spirit dances on.

Read more from Memoir chronicles another life lost to cancer


From Turndog Millionaire (Matthew Turner):

Then you look at yourself in the mirror, and after you’ve finished calling yourself an idiot, you smile, and laugh, and think about how lucky you are. You consider people like Julie. You realise what’s important. You laugh at how silly you are and what you need to do… right now… right here at this very moment.

Read more from A Tale of Keep Going


From Shannon’s guest post on Catherine, Caffeinated:

But the new resources at our fingertips also give us the opportunity to go beyond just selling books. We are now in charge of our own legacy. We can make ourselves into the authors we grew up admiring — the authors who inspired us to fall in love with reading and start writing our own tales.

Truly, we’re so lucky.

Read more from The Lucky Ones


Websites, Mistakes, and Origin Stories with Laura Pepper Wu [Interview]

Do you know the two most common mistakes made by indie authors?

Have you struggled to create an author website?

Do you know how you can benefit from an optimized Amazon page?

We recently had a chat with our good friend Laura Pepper Wu at 30 Day Books to address all of the above and a few more items important to indie authors!

Duolit: Hey Laura!

So, we’re really curious about your origin story — how did you start working with indie authors?

Laura Pepper Wu: Hi ladies! Thanks for having me on your fab site today.

Well… it was all an accident, truly.

I had just moved to the US (from Japan) and while job-searching, I started working on my husband’s self-published book (a test preparation guide), helping him navigate the self-publishing system and figuring out the marketing stuff.

This was back in January 2010, and everything was all very new – to both me and in the industry – and there wasn’t much information or advice on the web about how to go about it.

So, I dived in head-first and tried a bit of everything! There was a lot of trial and a lot of error.

I self-taught myself much of the stuff I still use today – social media, blogging, WordPress, email marketing, PR, media outreach, branding, Google AdWords. I took a few courses, watched several webinars and read A LOT of how-to guides.

That year, 2010, I also wrote three books of my own, and through experimenting with different things we had quite a bit of success with them. In the end I gave up my job search because it became apparent that we could make a living off writing and publishing our own books. 30 Day Books LLC was born, and I started blogging about our experiences on the site.Continue Reading

Life as a DIY-er: Renee Mimms’ Self-Pub Experience [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post by Renee Mimms.

As my eyes scanned through my Yahoo emails on the morning of January 17th, I quickly found the one from Amazon and let out a breath as I read the contents.

My fantasy novella, The Lost King, was live in the Kindle store.

I had gone to bed a writer and woken up an author.

I hadn’t originally planned on taking the DIY approach at all.

After I graduated from community college in Stockton, CA, and transferred to San Francisco State University, I was set on the traditional approach, like all of my other fellow Creative Writing majors.

I absorbed as much as I could from my professors and visiting guest lecturers and formulated a plan: I would find a job in the city and work on my writing in my downtime.

But what I failed to realize was that the economy was falling apart, taking my hopes for independence with it.

I found myself heading back to Stockton at the end of the fall semester in 2009, receiving my B.A. in the mail the following January.

After two months of frustration, I decided to pick up where I’d left off with my fantasy story that would become The Lost King. I went down to the local library and looked through the latest edition of Writer’s Market to figure out what publications to send short pieces to and to find out more about agents and manuscript preparation. I also picked up piano again, giving me an outlet for my frustrations.

Jobs came and went, none of them being permanent.

The economy was still my enemy.

But it wasn’t until I came across a blog post by Khadija Nassif of Sojourner’s Passport that I became interested in self-publishing.

In this post, Nassif talked about the changing publishing world and linked to J.A. Konrath’s blog. I began to read Konrath’s blog, later buying a copy of his ebook — and that was that. I decided to go the self-publishing route!

A Complete DIY Experience

On March 3, 2011, I finished my novella and began rewriting.

I asked my old Honors English teacher from high school to edit my book for me and received my edits in August, completing my final revisions in October. I created my cover using GIMP and managed to format my e-book almost perfectly after seven attempts using a file editing program and Mobipocket Creator.

After The Lost King was finally on Amazon, I went to work on the sequel and began trying to figure out how to make it available in other formats.

Sales are slow, but I haven’t given up yet.

My goals are to have the next story, The Father God finished in December and ready for editing and have the POD version of The Lost King finished before then.

I have no idea what will happen next, but I can only hope that I will be successful at this business called writing.

Renee Mimms is the author of The Lost King. The Lost King is the story of a powerful sorceress and a young mage who struggle to free their country from four tyrants and find a new king who will lead a weary people. The Lost King is available on Amazon and Smashwords. For more information, visit her website.

Author and Fiddler, Ilana Katz Katz [Self-Publishing Interview Series]

We’re excited to welcome Ilana Katz Katz, a recent member of the Indie Ninja brigade who has just released her debut novel, The Underground. When she’s not writing, Ilana is a street performer (really!) who entertains folks in Boston’s subways with her spectacular fiddling (how cool is *that?*). She was kind enough to speak to us about her writing background, self-publishing experience and more:

On Writing

What is your earliest writing memory?

I was a little kid and wrote a goofy story about how skunks were black until a man painting the divider strip down the middle of the street accidentally painted a white stripe over a skunk and then all skunks had that stripe. It was before I knew about the birds and the bees. I think I was five.

What does your writing space look like?

I have an antique manual typewriter that belonged to my grandparents and that is on a shelf near my desk. I often look at that and think about the history of how people transcribed stories. I also am a fiddle player and have a violin or two out also as I will often take a break from writing and play a fiddle tune or two and then it helps me get inspired for a problem I might have with a book/character. When I am sitting at my computer, I almost always have my 13-year-old orange cat on my lap. He helps me write. :-)

Describe your writing process. Is it structured (scheduled time devoted to writing and word count goals) or more free-form (when inspiration strikes)?

I have lots of ideas for novels and am not structured with my time, for the most part. I have so many other responsibilities, like many writers, that I write when I can. I go through months of being obsessed with a book and then there are times when I need a break and I go into an older manuscript to revise it or times when I’m more into playing fiddle. I never worry about whether I’ll have more ideas. I just trust that I will and that’s always been the case. I’m also a property manager, so I’ve got a lot on my plate!

How does your pastime of fiddling and love of music influence your writing?

Sometimes I am more inspired to play fiddle and sometimes I am more inspired to write. I am a street performer, mostly playing in Boston’s subway systems. I absolutely love that, and I continually learn about people and am inspired by people I see and meet. Sometimes they make their way into my book characters, in little ways.Continue Reading

Q & A with Jesse Grillo: Diving into the Details

How much research do you usually put into your writing?

I’m not talking about Internet research — forget Google, Wikipedia, and MapQuest. — I’m talking about real, down deep, get your hands dirty research. The kind of exploration that really helps you get into the mindset of your characters or the surroundings of your book’s location. Research that can lead to discoveries both exciting and dangerous.

That’s the kind of in-depth digging that author Jesse Grillo is doing to research his upcoming novel Gold Lined Storms. The book follows Joshua Blackwood, a man on a journey to find himself before his schizophrenia can take away all that he is. To get as accurate a viewpoint as possible for a character with so much depth and complex emotion, Jesse took a road trip of his own last December, living out of his car and at times completely without a home to get the full experience that his character would endure.

Jesse’s first trip was a powerful experience, but to finish his project he’s planning a second research excursion from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, later this month. Before departing, Jesse took time out to do an interview with Duolit about his writing project and his experience using kickstarter and indigogo to fund his in-depth research.

Duolit: First of all, your novel idea is so unique! How did you come up with it?

Jesse Grillo: There is a lot of me in the story so that made it easier. Back in December I was working on a film and there came a point where I felt like I was over the film business. At the time, I never wanted to work on a film again. The movie I was on finished in mid-December. I had Christmas with my family and I went on the road a few days later. 

I knew I was going to do a lot of writing and self-reflecting, but I didn’t just want to write a journal of my trip. I had a rough idea of what I wanted the story to be, but it wasn’t completely formed. I didn’t bring much with me. About four changes of clothes, a few books, and three notebooks with pens. That was about it. I didn’t want anything to distract me.

My mother was bipolar and right before the trip I was talking to a friend about my childhood. He was telling me that children of parents with mental disorders have a higher risk of getting the same type of illnesses. He also said that signs generally show in the teens and late 20s so for many of them, so 30 is the magic number because if you make it to 30, you’re safe.

I thought about that for a while. About what it would be like to have a parent with a mental condition and then wonder your whole life if you were going to develop the same type of issues. And then one day you’re 30 and you can relax. But then you start to show signs that the condition is affecting you. How would someone react? How would I react? 

Between that idea and what I was going through with my career, the story formed about a writer that finds out he has schizophrenia so he goes on the road to find himself.Continue Reading