Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Indie Block Party - Post 8 - Social Media and Networking Tips

Well, we've come to the end of the Indie Block Party.  I had a blast getting to know my neighbors and have even made some new friends, which is what a party is all about. 

The last post of the party is a fitting one; tips for Social Media and Networking.

If you want to read the previous posts, click on the links below and don't forget to click on the linky below to see what my neighbors have been up to. 

Hope summer was fab and here's to a great Fall!

Week 1: August 19-24
Post 1: Introduce Yourself
Post 2: Introduce Your WIP (Work in Progress)
Post 3: Interview one of your characters (I'll be featuring Sondra from "Live and Let Die")
Post 4: Interview one of your neighbors (I'll be interviewing Contemporary Romance Author, Susan Ann Wall)

Week 2: August 25-30
Post 5: What are you currently reading?
Post 6: Top 5 Books
Post 7: Writing Tips
Post 8: Social Media and Networking Tips

I'm pretty active on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+.  There are a lot of great groups out there that provide support and information for Indie writers.  The Indie Writers Unite group on Facebook and Support-a-Writer on Google+ are both lively and informative.  The Kboards (formerly Kindle Boards) are also a great resource.  There's no shortage of groups out there willing to offer support and information.  Find the one that works best for you!

Most of my social media DON'T's are on Twitter:

DON'T Turn your Twitter feed into a 24-hour ad for your book
DON'T DM new followers thanking them for following you or directing them to your Facebook page or any kind of spam.

DO Be interesting
DO Say "Please" and "Thank You"
DO Be supportive
Do Engage with fans and followers

Indie Block Party: Post 7 - Writing Tips

Welcome back to the Indie Block Party.  Today's post is to share some of my writing tips.  Be sure to click on the linky below to hop around for tips from my neighbors!

So, I don't have a drawn-out list.  Everyone's writing process is different.  However, there are a few things that I think ALL writers should adhere to:

1. Write everyday.  Even if it's only 500 words, that's 500 words you didn't have yesterday. 

2. Read, read, read.  Read everything you can; books, magazines, newspapers, whatever you can get your hands on.  Read the good stuff.  Read the bad stuff.  Read the mediocre stuff.  It's an excellent way to learn the craft (besides writing of course; practice, practice, practice.)

3. Avoid adverbs, i.e. "-ly" words.  "She quickly turned."  "She said sadly."  You get the idea.  Stephen King compares them to weeds in the garden and really, who wants to look at that?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Indie Block Party: Day Six: What Are Your Top Five Books?

It's Day Six of the Indie Block Party and today's post is, "What Are Your Top Five Books?"

No surprise, most of them are mystery/suspense, with two classics thrown in.  Here's a little overview about why each book was given entrĂ©e into my Top Five of all time:

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
I first read this as a senior back in high school.  My high school curriculum was similar to college, in that you got to pick what courses you wanted to take, rather than be shoehorned into what the administration wanted you to take.  So instead of taking the same English Lit class as the other 600-odd students in your class, each year, you could choose what track you wanted to take: World Lit, American Lit, Women's Lit, etc. 

I don't remember exactly what English Lit track I was taking senior year, but it happened to be the lone Lit class in my entire school reading "Catcher in the Rye" (among the other books we read in class that year were "The Great Gatsby," "Ethan Fromme," and "Their Eyes Were Watching God.").

Being a senior in high school, I was likely in an extremely cynical state of mind, which was probably why I cottoned to "Catcher in the Rye" the way I did.  I mean, after all, aren't we all a bunch of big fat phonies?  To me, Holden Caulfield was funny, caustic and a keen observer of the silliness of life (and yes, I realize some people find him pretentious, whiny and more than a little unhinged.)  I thought he was a riot. 

I re-read it again after college and found I loved it even more.  Subsequent readings over the years have only deepened my admiration for it.  I read "Nine Stories," but didn't care for it (in general, I'm not really a fan of short stories) and just couldn't get into "Franny and Zooey."  It's just as well.  "Catcher in the Rye" will always be the penultimate.

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

I read this after graduating college and sopped it up like gravy on a biscuit.  Like Rob, I am prone to Top Five lists and measuring my life in terms of songs.  It is chick-lit told from the male perspective, which gave me new insight into the opposite sex.  It was sharp, witty, angst-y and just a terrific read.  I also give props to the movie starring John Cusack (filmed in Chicago AND gave us Jack Black?  I mean, what else do you need but the popcorn and the wine?)

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
I don't typically read detective stories.  For me, they tend to be formulaic.  I was initially reluctant to read "Case Histories" because it featured a private detective.  However, this book had such rave reviews, I thought I would give it a whirl.

I'm so glad I did.

Everything about this book just spoke to me.  From the mysterious cold cases at the heart of the story, to the cynical Jackson Brodie (the aforementioned detective), to Atkinson's stunning characterizations, I could not put this book down if my life depended on it.  It wasn't the typical "PI-on-the-case" type of story, which I appreciated.  Atkinson is an amazing writer and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work. 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Well, what can I say about this book that hasn't already been said?  Unnerving.  Stunning. Explosive.  I toted the hardcover around during a business trip to San Diego last summer and was reading in between meetings.  Of course, if I had this on my Kindle, I probably could have read it DURING the meetings.  Mental note for next time.

Like "Catcher in the Rye," "Gone Girl" is polarizing.  Perhaps that's why I love it.  If you haven't read it, download it and decide for yourself.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

This is almost like watching a scary movie.  You know the doom about to befall the characters and you want to scream at them, "Don't open that door!" 

I read this in college for a Women's Lit course and it wasn't long before I was completely submerged in the story.  It has only gotten better as time has gone on.

This is an absorbing and at times, frightening, character study about a woman who is her own worst enemy and ultimately, the undoing of those around her.  Searing and unforgettable.

Make sure to click around to what my neighbors Top Five books are!


Indie Block Party: Day 5 - What Are You Reading?

Welcome back to the Indie  Block Party! If you haven't had a chance to read the previous posts, check out the links below and be sure and click on the linky at the end of this post to visit my neighbors.

We're kicking off Week Two with "What Are You Currently Reading?" 

Week 1: August 19-24
Post 1: Introduce Yourself
Post 2: Introduce Your WIP (Work in Progress)
Post 3: Interview one of your characters (I'll be featuring Sondra from "Live and Let Die")
Post 4: Interview one of your neighbors (I'll be interviewing Contemporary Romance Author, Susan Ann Wall)

Week 2: August 25-30
Post 5: What are you currently reading?
Post 6: Top 5 Books
Post 7: Writing Tips
Post 8: Social Media and Networking Tips

Also, check out the linky below and hop around to visit my neighbors!

Currently, I'm reading "Beloved" by Toni Morrison.  The description from Amazon:

Image from
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.

I'm reading it for a book group and it's not exactly a beach read.  If I had it to do over again, I would have urged that we pick something lighter for the summer months. 

One reviewer described it as a "dense, complex novel," and they're not joking.  Toni Morrison is a master of words and the prose has an undeniable poetry to it.  However, it's not the easiest read and I understand the mixed and frankly somewhat vehement reactions to the narrative style - this is not a book you will breeze through, due to the non-linear and "magical realism" nature of the storytelling. 

Still, I'm glad that I've read it, as it is a thought-provoking story. 

Next up on my docket to read is "Dark Places," by Gillian Flynn.  I received it as a gift for Christmas and am finally getting around to reading it.  After two deep books in a row, I'll be ready for something trashy.  Perhaps I can find something from this list?  



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Indie Block Party - Day Four - Interview one of your Neighbors

Welcome to Day Four of the Indie Block Party!  Today, is "Interview One of Your Neighbors," and I have the pleasure of getting to know Susan Ann Wall (published as S.A. Wall).  Truth be told, she had me at "Bon Jovi" and "Wonder Woman."
Susan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction for one simple reason:  she loves it! Most mornings she wakes with fictional characters buzzing in her head. The only way to quiet the chaos is to put their conversations on paper – the real stuff or the virtual kind. These people are very real to Susan and she dedicates a lot of time making them very real for her readers, mixing real-life stories with her own flavor of humor. It’s not always easy, but Susan loves the challenge and loves to create!
Susan sees the world in varying shades of purple and never passes on the opportunity to add to her collection of purple sunglasses or purple shoes. She spends her days working as an instructional design consultant from her home in the majestic White Mountains of New Hampshire. When she’s not tapping away on her purple netbook, she enjoys chilling out with her three kids, drinking a nice cold one with her husband, and jaunting off to Bon Jovi and Kenny Chesney concerts.
Susan released the 2nd novel in her "Puget Sound ~ Alive with Love Series," "The Sound of Betrayal," on August 13.  Her other novels include, "The Sound of Consequence," "Relay for Love," and "A Flame Burns Inside."
Susan also writes erotic fiction under the pen name Ann Victor. Her next erotic novella, "Whatever the Boss Wants," will be released August 31.  This is the prequel to the already-released novelette, "When the Boss Gets Jealous."


What books have influenced your life the most?
"The Chosen," by Chaim Potok.  I read this book when I was a senior in high school, involved with a boy who was forbidden to date me because of his family's religious beliefs.  At the time, I could relate to the struggling relationship and trying to come of age as my own person.  I find it interesting that many years later, I married a man whose name means, "the chosen."

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I met and fell in love with Bella Andre at this year's RWA National Conference in Atlanta.  She had great success as in indie author and traditionally published.  She has a great business sense, a vibrant smile, and a wonderfully charming personality.  I attended her workshop and got some great advice – timely too, as I was doing a dance with self-doubt and everything she had to say cut in on that negative thinking and reaffirmed my path.  I came home and immediately implemented some that advice on my already-published novels.

What book are you reading now?
Oh, gosh, I had to force myself to stop reading so that I can meet a deadline, judge a contest, and bask in the glow of my most recent release, "The Sound of Betrayal."  Things are so tight because four of my favorite authors all released books in the same week (J. Kenner, Susan Mallery, Nicole Edwards and Christyne Butler).  Since I finished those, I'm not reading anything I haven't written until after my next release (as Ann Victor) at the end of this month.

What 3 words describe the author you want to be?
Bestseller! Bestseller! Bestseller!

If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
Do comics count, because I really want to be Wonder Woman.

Paperback, hardcover or eBook?
eBook.  I read quickly and I have instant gratification issues, so eBooks facilitate that!! I also have tendonitis in my wrists, so holding a book becomes painful after a while and since I'm one of those "just one more chapter" readers, I need to read without the pain.

When and why did you begin writing?
I read an old Janet Evanovich romance that my husband bought for me on Mother's Day – this was 2010.  A few weeks earlier, I had crashed my car and except for whiplash, I was uninjured, but I was determined to start living...REALLY living. That meant doing things I had always wanted to do, but never took the time for.  After reading that novel, I clapped it shut and proclaimed, "I can do this, @oddamm!t."  I picked up my purple netbook and started writing and haven't stopped.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
ALWAYS. In my youth, I wrote poetry and as an adult, my career has had me doing technical writing.  I was also a journalist in college.  I guess writing fiction just brought me full circle.

What inspired you to write your first book?
The first book I started, which I have yet to publish, was inspired by the death of my dad.  The story, titled, "Too Many Daughters," is about three women who lose their fathers – coincidentally on the same day – and all are having trouble coping with the unexpected losses.  The friendships they form with each other, and the love that kindles with the men in their lives, helps them to accept the loss and move on with their lives.  I struggled for a few years after my dad died, then a few other friends lost their fathers.  Everyone copes differently, but for me, writing the book was very therapeutic.  And yes, I do intend to publish it, once I wrap up the "Puget Sound ~ Alive with Love" series.

Do you have a regular writing routine?
I write almost every day, but I don't have a regular routine.  It depends on my schedule.  Most evenings, I write (unless I'm enthralled in someone else's book).  Sometimes, I write in the morning.  I even have Aqua Notes so I can write in the shower!

Now that's what I call dedication!

Thanks so much, Susan! 

For more information on Susan, please visit the bookshelf on her website with links to all her books: 

S.A. Wall tagline:  Journey into romance…love always follows.
Ann Victor tagline: Short erotic romance for women on the go.





Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Indie Block Party: Day Three - Interview one of your Characters

Welcome to Day 3 of the Indie Block Party! Make sure to visit the linky below to see what my neighbors are up to!

Today, I'm tasked with interviewing one of my characters, and to my surprise, I was able to get Sondra Ellis from "Live and Let Die," to sit down with me for a few minutes.  I had to make it short, since she's kind of impatient. 

In "Live and Let Die," Sondra is working on a documentary about her sister Tracy's mysterious disappearance.  However, she wasn't willing to talk about it.

Sondra is an Academy Award wining documentary filmmaker who hails from Santa Barbara, California and the daughter of Olympic medalist, Mimi Ellis and Gordon Ellis, bestselling author of "Hip Hop Nation." Her films range from the exploration of images of female beauty in the media to shedding light on the epidemic of children around the world being pressed into prostitution.

Sondra lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

How would you describe your personality?
Well...probably direct at best, surly at worst.  I don't have time for a lot of B.S.

How would you describe your looks?
My sister, Tracy, always said I was like a mangy St. Bernard, because my clothes and hair are a mess.  And I may be prone to using duct tape to fix my flip-flops.  What can I say?  I'm practical. (Author's Note: Actually, if you want to see what I think Sondra looks like, check out my Pinterest board here.)

What would you do if you had no electricity for a week?
I'd probably get on a plane and go to Costa Rica or someplace like that.  New York without electricity for a week would not be cool.  I'm not sticking around for that.

If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
"Immaculate Collection," by Madonna

What do you collect?
I used to collect matchbooks, but it's getting harder since New York went smoke-free.  I guess it's another sign I need to quit.

Who is your favorite superhero?
Oh, Wonder Woman, hands-down.  She such a bad ass.

What do you like about people?
Um...hmmm....what do I like about people...?  Ugh.  Well.  Okay.  I guess since I'm a documentary filmmaker, what I like about people is that they're so interesting.  Thanks for the paycheck, people.

Thanks, Sondra.  Check in tomorrow when I interview Contemporary Romance Author, Susan Ann Wall!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Indie Block Party - Day Two - My Work In Progress

Today is day two of the awesome "Indie Block Party" being hosted by Fel Wetzig and Dawna Raver.  Everyday for the next two weeks, I'll be posting fun blogs on different topics:

Week 1: August 19-24

Post 1: Introduce Yourself

Post 2: Introduce Your WIP (Work in Progress)

Post 3: Interview one of your characters(I'll be featuring Sondra from "Live and Let Die")

Post 4: Interview one of your neighbors (I'll be interviewing Contemporary Romance Author, Susan Ann Wall) 

Week 1: August 19-24
Post 1: Introduce Yourself
Post 2: Introduce Your WIP (Work in Progress)
Post 3: Interview one of your characters(I'll be featuring Sondra from "Live and Let Die")
Post 4: Interview one of your neighbors (I'll be interviewing Contemporary Romance Author, Susan Ann Wall)

Week 2: August 25-30
Post 5: What are you currently reading? Post 6: Top 5 Books
Post 7: Writing Tips
Post 8: Social Media and Networking Tips

Also, check out the linky below and hop around to visit my neighbors!

Okay, on with the show.

My current Work In Progress (WIP) is undergoing major reconstruction - a gut rehab to be precise.  It's called "Every Breath You Take," and the central theme is about a woman being stalked as a result of a love affair gone horribly wrong.

I first had this idea back in high school (a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away) and after several fits and starts, finally finished it years later.  I put it through the "query-go-round" and actually got some interest in it, but that was about it.  I got busy with other things and put it away until last year when I decided to "go indie" and publish it myself.


Except, when I re-read it, it just wasn't working for me.  I still LOVED the idea, but I didn't like they way I executed it.  So, I put it in the wood chipper and started over.  It was liberating to chuck it and start over with a fresh sheet of paper (okay, I didn't put the whole thing in the wood chipper - it's still on my hard drive, because there are a lot scenes I can still use).  I feel sooooo much better about this new direction and think it's a lot stronger now.

So, while I had grand plans of releasing it this summer, it will be released in 2014.  Stay tuned!

See you tomorrow for an interview with Sondra Ellis, the protagonist from my suspense novel, "Live and Let Die!"






Monday, August 19, 2013

Sweet Little Lies FREE Today on Amazon!

Many thanks to Kindle Books and Tips for including "Sweet Little Lies" in its list of FREE books today!

It's a(n) (Indie) Block Party!

Summer is winding down (boo), but I'm thrilled to fit in a few more summer activities, one of which is the "Indie Block Party," starting today and wrapping up on August 30.

Each day, there will be a new post that focuses on some aspect of writing, my books and who I am as an author.

The blog post topics are:

Week 1: August 19-24

Post 1: Introduce Yourself
Post 2: Introduce Your WIP (Work in Progress)
Post 3: Interview one of your characters(I'll be featuring Sondra from "Live and Let Die")
Post 4: Interview one of your neighbors (I'll be interviewing Contemporary Romance Author, Susan Ann Wall) 
Week 2: August 25-30
Post 5: What are you currently reading?
Post 6: Top 5 Books
Post 7: Writing Tips
Post 8: Social Media and Networking Tips
While this is a chance for folks to get to know me a little, it's also an opportunity to discover some other great indies (there are 35 authors total participating in all, so check them out!)
So, here goes!
Post 1: Introduce Yourself
I've been writing since the womb.  I was a bit of an introvert growing up, which meant I spent a lot of time making up stories about all kinds of crazy stuff.  For example, for my 7th grade English class, I wrote a story about a high school cheerleader whose dream is to get so fat, she has to wear a bedsheet to her senior prom.  It won a Reader's Choice Award from my classmates for "Best Story," which was kind of cool.
My professional background is comprised of toiling for years at PR and advertising agencies and for the past few years, I've worked as a freelance writer.  In late 2012, after too much dithering around, I took the plunge into "indiedom" with the release of my psychological suspense novel, "Live and Let Die."  All of my stories deal with the Dark Side of Love (let's just say anyone who's ever been featured on a Discovery ID show is part of my tribe).  It's been a scary, thrilling, crazy ride and I love it.   



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mariah Carey: Soundtrack to Heartbreak

A few years ago, I spent a summer in Houston fulfilling some family obligations (I call it my Lost Summer as a Fake Housewife of Houston, complete with a gas-guzzling SUV at my disposal, "hairmidity" at its finest and a cocktail everyday at 3 p.m. to cope.)

Tasked with running a bevy of errands one afternoon, I raided the CDs in my father's Case Logic for some tunes to keep me company.  I plucked Mariah Carey's self-titled debut album from the pile, realizing I hadn't listened to it in a long time.

As soon as I popped that CD into the player, I was swept back to my sophomore year and memories of my high school sweetheart (we'll call him JJ), who, I'll say it, was hot; smooth milk chocolate skin, light brown eyes, light brown hair with flecks of blond and a lean physique honed by his time on the wrestling team. When he noticed me in the hallway one day and started to pursue me, I thought I would die.  I couldn't believe this gorgeous guy wanted little ole me.

We started dating a few months before "Vision of Love," the first of Mariah Carey's many No. 1 singles, was released.  When I first heard the song, like so many, I became a Mariah fan, which necessitated running out to buy the cassette tape for ad naseum listening.  And of course, because I was 15 and in the throes of young love, I applied those sweeping, heartfelt lyrics to my own budding romance; "Sweet destiny." "I've realized a dream."  

You get the idea. 
"Vision of Love"... the perfect song to celebrate romance

JJ and I were joined at the hip, passing love notes to each other between class, meeting at each other's lockers after school to walk to the bus stop, spending inordinate amounts of time on the phone each night, hanging out in my living room on weekends watching movies, from the sweet ("Chances Are") to the absurd (I sat through "Johnny Be Goode," so you know I was in love.) I was head over heels and envisioned marriage and baby carriages (at 15!  Bananas!).

And through it all was Miss Mariah.  I listened to "Vision of Love" so much, I'm surprised the tape didn't snap. In fact, I loved every song; from the infectious soda pop of "Someday," to the up-tempo tune with a social conscious, "There's Got to Be a Way," to the haunting, "Vanishing," Mariah was my girl all day long.

JJ and I went sailing along, surviving my annual summer sojourn to Texas for eight weeks (this was before cell phones and email, so you actually had to write letters and plan phone calls if you wanted to keep in touch.  Imagine!). When we were finally reunited after that long, hot summer, I was more in love than ever...that whole "absence makes the heart grow stronger" thing.

Alas, when school started that fall, we hit a roadblock.  Suddenly, my once devoted boyfriend didn't seem to have time for me anymore and I began to hear whispers (this being high school and all) that there was another girl.  Insert ugly confrontation and dramatic break-up.    

It was fitting that around the time we broke up, the bittersweet, "Love Takes Time," was climbing the charts.  While "Vision of Love" had ushered in our romance, "Love Takes Time" was a proper epitaph (almost – we would make up and break up several times before finally calling it quits senior year.)
"Love Takes Time"... a fitting end to a love affair
All those years later, as I listened to Mariah croon about being "Alone in Love," or insisting to her wayward lover, "You Need Me," it made me laugh. Not because I thought the songs were silly (far from it), but because listening to them made me think of JJ and a time when I thought our immature little dramas would be the worst heartache I would ever experience in life (little did I know that my very own, "Mr. Big," was right around the corner, a relationship that would consume 18 years of my life.  But, I digress – that's whole other story for another day! ;) )

My new book, "Sweet Little Lies," (which will be free August 19-20 on Amazon), has its roots in the 90's, and in many ways, its themes of love, loss, longing, heartache and betrayal, mirror much of what Mariah sings about on her debut album.   

Now, if you'll excuse me... I need to go and listen to that CD I swiped.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Get TWO Free Books Today!

My "AFF" (Author Friend Forever), Emily McDaid has made both of her suspense books FREE on Amazon today (how cool is that?).

"The Boiler Plot" delves into white collar crime (a break from the usual blood and guts suspense books - mine included) while "Tetherbird" is like a cross between Tom Clancy and "Downton Abbey," (sounds wild, I know, but it works.)

Check out the interview I did with Emily back in May where she talked about both books, then go and download them for free!  Good way to start off a Monday, no?  :)

"Tetherbird" is FREE today on Amazon!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Indie Writer's Bookshelf: Five Essential Books

We all know that Amazon has eliminated the middle man and made it possible for every Joe Blow off the street (myself included—does that make me a Jill Blow?) to become a published author.  While in theory, it seems like all it takes is a few clicks and voila, you're published, the reality is, it's so much more than that. The minute you upload that first book, you become a small business owner (even traditionally published authors know this).  You're in charge of formatting, cover art, marketing and much, much more.  Most of all, you need to get busy writing the next book.

However, just because you CAN do something, doesn't always mean you SHOULD.  An ongoing and frankly at times, warranted, criticism of indie/self-published authors, is that the books just aren't professional; crappy covers, little to no editing, bad formatting and amateurish writing.   Sometimes, in the glee to become A PUBLISHED AUTHOR (insert a booming Oprah voice) way, way too many folks skip training and bolt to the finish line, mystified as to why they're doubled over in pain and out of breath.  Michael Jordan didn't become a six-time NBA champion, five-time MVP and Hall of Famer by just picking up a basketball. 

He learned how to play the game. 

If you're going to join the fray, you should arm yourself with as much information as you possibly can about the publishing industry as a whole, and indie/self-publishing specifically.  Don't forget the craft of writing—we can all stand at least one writing class and a book or two.  There's no shortage of awesome blogs out there, crammed with invaluable information.  A lot of it, you'll figure out along the way and even forge your own path and figure out what works best for you.  However, to position yourself for a successful career over the long haul (which really should be the goal), you have to learn how to play the game.

While not meant to be a definitive guide, the following five books are just a few of the guides every aspiring, newbie and established indie author should have on their bookshelf—they've been a tremendous help to me and ones I refer back to often.  If you know of others, post them in the comments section—it can only help!

In the meantime, here are my five personal essentials:

The Newbie's Guide to Publishing by J.A. Konrath
A pioneer in "going indie," Konrath leaves no stone unturned in this 337,000 word tome which examines the ins and outs of the publishing industry.  Konrath goes deep, giving writing tips, details on how he landed his publishing deal (and what ultimately led him to walk away from legacy publishing) a behind-the-scenes look at a major book distribution warehouse, blow-by-blow accounts of book signings, promotion strategies and just about any other facet of publishing you can think of (and a lot you can't conceive of).  The book is long and you may be tempted to skip through some sections.  Resist that temptation.  Read it.  The whole enchilada.  I have whole sections bookmarked and refer back to them often.  A goldmine of information.

Let's Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books by David Gaughran
This is a well-written, extremely informative guide for what to do after you publish your book.  Gaughran delves into Amazon's famous (infamous?) algorithms, advertising, book launches, BISAC Codes (how you classify your book), the numerous Amazon lists, perma-free, sales venues outside of Amazon—you name it.  There's even a toolkit for authors at the back of the book.  Though I haven't read it, Gaughran's first book in this series, "Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should," has been praised as a "must-read" for anyone looking to jump into self-publishing.  Add its sequel to the bunch. 

On Writing by Stephen King
Well, I just can't say enough about this book.  If you only read one book on the craft of writing, make it this one.  The first third or so is autobiographical, detailing King's ramshackle childhood, how he caught the writing bug and where the idea for his blockbuster novel "Carrie," sprang from.  The meat of the book, if you will, is a master class on the craft, from dialogue, the evil of adverbs, setting, pacing...everything.  The last part is about the crippling car accident that at first, seemed like a death knell, but instead provided new inspiration for King's writing.  Go now and download this book.  Now.

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
Reading this book will alternately make you feel empowered and embarrassed. Though less than 100 pages, it does a lot, explaining, among other topics, composition, form and commonly misused words and expressions in simple, easy to understand language.  You'll be thrilled to have all of this valuable information in a concise package.  However, you'll also be mortified to realize that you haven't written the brilliant manuscript you think you have, because you made a LOT of rookie mistakes.  Buy the "Elements of Style."  Read it.  Commit it memory.  Then read it again.  It's that priceless.

Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing by Kindle Direct Publishing
This free step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of formatting and uploading your completed eBook to Amazon. It answers a lot of basic questions about rights and royalties, the review process, content guidelines etc.  Once you've uploaded to Amazon a few times, you won't need to rely on this book, but for those starting out, it's a handy book to help get you started.