CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Karen M. Hanks: Celebrating Indie Authors

Happy Friday, everybody! This is that time of the week I look forward to most. Not just because I typically open a bottle of wine by the end of the day, though I will say that is something that has suddenly perked up the little corners of my lips a tad just thinking about it. Mmm.

Oooh, but not tonight. How could I forget! I have a date with three other ladies to see a musical parody of Fifty Shades of Grey onstage here in Tampa Bay. Should be divine. The fella playing the Grey-like creature is supposed to be quite divine, too, and…ahem…blush-invoking. Sigh. It’s going to be a fun day, all-day, yes indeedy.

But the real reason for my joy is that on Fridays I get to invite a friend over to CHRIS’S CORNER, my new weekly guest blog feature. This week, I’m especially excited because I had an unexpected opportunity to meet this lovely woman last month when she visited from the Great White North to take in some fabulous spring training baseball in my fair state of Florida. Karen M. Hanks is a talented writer who recently teamed up with her friend and poet S.A. MacNeil to launch a new blog So The Story Goes, specifically designed to promote the words and people behind today’s world of independent publishing.

I asked Karen if she wouldn’t mind stopping by to share what inspired the two young women to dedicate their time and energy to championing the spirit and work of independent authors across genres. And I know when she’s done, you’ll want to skidaddle over there to learn more about independent publishing and to see who’s in the spotlight this week at their site.

You can follow Karen on Twitter here. And be sure to follow So the Story Goes on Twitter, as well.

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KarenHanks

We at So The Story Goes were graciously asked by the lovely Chris Kuhn to write about the allure of the indie writing community and thought we’d start with how we came around to creating our blog, one that celebrates indie writers and why we love them so much.

Both of us are writers in our own fields of interest – as for me, fiction writing, and S.A. in poetry. As many of us do, we turned to Twitter as a way to share our work and connect with other writers. During times of writer’s block and other frustrations, we were simply looking to find a person or two who might like to read what we were working on and even offer support. But what we came across was a seemingly endless world of indie writers, all very friendly and all so passionate about what they did. So we decided to read one of their books. Soon, one book turned into ten, which turned into twenty, and now the list keeps growing every day. Not only were these books wonderfully written, thought-provoking and fun to read, but the authors were always so grateful when you’d tweet them a little note telling them how much you loved their work. We were hooked!

SoTheStory

As we continued our exploration through the indie world, we realized how hard these writers truly work. They take on the role of designer, publicist, and social media director, working their butts off every day to get their names out there and yet so many people are missing out on these literary gems simply because they don’t know where to find them. Thus, how the idea for So The Story Goes was born. We wanted to create a place where we could promote indie writers of all genres, somewhere indie writers could turn to when they wanted to share their latest piece. A place where, if someone was looking for something new and fresh, beyond what the bookstores sell, they could find it.

Don’t get us wrong – we still love reading books by well-established, big five published authors and would enthusiastically recommend their books, as well. One of our favourite Canadian writers, Sylvain Reynard, has recently had his books picked up by Berkeley. But his stories started out as Twilight fan fiction that gained great momentum thanks to readers that believed in his writing. And through his success, he has always maintained a connection with his fans, always gracious in his interactions with them. It’s this connection and camaraderie that make the indie community such a wonderful place to be. If we can help an indie writer succeed by building their fan base, that’s fantastic. But if we can open a reader’s eyes to a new writer they may never have heard of otherwise, that’s even better!

So The Story Goes features weekly book recommendations, poetry installments, and exclusive interviews and excerpts by indie writers from all over the world. You can find us at www.indielitgems.wordpress.com
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My Own Sesame Street (Sorta)

I could start singing the theme for you, if you’d like. 

Sunny day. Sweepin’ the clouds away…

Snuffi

We all know it. Or at least those of us born in 1969 or later really know it, particularly here in the U.S. (I’m so glad that at least I can honestly say I’m not in THE oldest class of kids who watched. Okay, I’m part of the second oldest kids that watched. In 1970. Oy.)

This isn’t a blog about TV, by the way. You probably don’t believe me. I wouldn’t blame you.

I had planned another topic today, one more related to the book itself that I’m working on. Okay, here is where I think I’m supposed to pipe in with that mandatory early plug – I suppose I’d better get used to this… *coughs*

THE MUSE UNLOCKED coming this June!

And now, this is where you’re supposed to add a flag to your June calendar to remind you to check on its availability then. So go ahead. I can wait here. Go on.

I wonder if I could hire George Clooney to step in and say that little book  promo every time for me as my spokesperson. And I could just sit back and watch him…say it. Uh-huh. Or Stephen Amell of ARROW. Yeah, that would work, too. Or my Man of Steel, Henry Cavill. Mmm.

<Crickets.>

<Crickets.>

Sorry, lost myself for a moment.

No, this isn’t a blog about TV, my book or singing really great TV show themes poorly.

But I think it should be known that anything I’d sing for you this morning would sound much, much sexier than my usual nasal Midwestern twang thanks to my LOWER, raspier Kathleen Turner pipes that I’m developing courtesy of one miserable head cold and nagging cough  (So I’ve got that going for me…) These two guests are determined to ruin my birthday weekend, but I’m not going to let it. No way, no chance, nuh-uh.

So… what is this blog about? Good question. I think my cold medicine’s kicked in and I don’t really know anymore.

Oh wait, I do know.  Focus, Chris, focus.

Community. That’s what it’s about. Now, I remember.

You see, when I entered the Twitter community back in 2008, I was an editor for a magazine, so my interaction and updates were pretty specific and mostly locally-driven. In 2009, when my job changed from full-time editor to holy-shit-I’m-unemployed-now, I had to broaden my mind and my message, and go for it. After all, I could write for anybody, anywhere, anytime – and hey, that included me. So I started talking to people of all backgrounds, professions and home turf as I grew my work as a freelance writer and editor. Twitter basically opened the door to the world for me and invited me to take a step outside.

So I did.

Fast-forward four years.

Now, I’m out here exchanging wise quotes and lyrical sound bites with a former journalist based in Singapore, chatting romance and book boyfriends with an aspiring Canadian author I’ve since met in person and completely adore, and volleyed delicious double-entendres and what-not back and forth among a charming collective of erotica authors across the U.K. and the Land Down Under. And here in the States, I’ve truly enjoyed clinking virtual toasts with the newly published and engaging in conversations about everything from the writing process to Walking Dead with newbies like me and already published, successful authors. 

I’ve been dazzled by how giving folks are in the writing community, and it doesn’t even matter the genre. I am regularly interacting with fantastic writers beyond the realm of the contemporary romance scene — erotica, suspense, vampire thrillers — and it doesn’t seem to matter to them if I’m bound for one genre and them, another. All that truly matters is that connection, a genuine appreciation for each other’s work and the opportunity to learn from each other. That last one’s immeasurable.

I am discovering  a surprisingly symbiotic network out here in a field that I may have falsely presumed was solely about self-promotion but whose outstretched, open arms have embraced unexpectedly and  invited me graciously to be a part of the network, despite not being published yet.  The words of encouragement and support are beyond anything I could have imagined.

Now, for years, I haven’t been above gushing about people who I admire, for their work or the way they carry themselves, and I don’t think anything of doing this and spreading the love. It’s so refreshing to see writers out there doing the same for each other in the published world, and I so look forward to gaining my full-access membership card to this club. Soon… soon…soon. Must. Keep. Plugging.Along. Am trying to finish those all-important final steps.

So a special thank you to the members of my little informal, eclectic Sesame Street. People like…

Karen M. Hanks

Cameron Lincoln

Paige Thomas

Rebecca Gibson

Lisa Fulham

Robert India

John Geddes

Khaled Talib

Carrie Bailey

P.J. Bayliss

Mark Grago

Tiffany Reisz

M. Leighton

Sylvain Reynard

Gail McHugh

…just to acknowledge a few. Thank you for making me feel a part of something much bigger than a silly little book written by a lowly copywriter thrilled to be invited to her first prom.  Yep, I guess I am on my way and the air is definitely sweeter with you in it. 

Much love to my favorite posse of writers. I encourage you to check out their work which runs the gamut of genres, writing styles and formats.

Enjoy the rest of your day, everybody. And happy reading!
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