Sunday, June 30, 2013

GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: T. T. THOMAS



The Independence of an Indie Author

by T.T. Thomas




As we approach the 4th of July holidays, I am reminded of my first conscious taste and comprehension of freedom. I was 5 years old. A family friend joining us for a picnic and fireworks later, gave me a silver dollar for a present. I had no conscious understanding of the symbolism of the holiday, but I early on recognized the value of a dollar. Why? Because I had a sweet tooth. I knew the most amount of candy that could be had for a penny, a nickel, a dime. A silver dollar was instantaneous millionaire to my youthful mind. It could buy bags of candy. It could buy certain candies I had heretofore only drooled over. It could buy several pieces of candy every day for 20 days at a nickel a day.
And then my father said: You should save this; it's a silver dollar.
What? Hmmm. I walked the sidewalk in front of our house. I clearly recall saying, "It's Independence Day and I'm independent.” No really, I said that! I was pre-precocious. And somehow, I knew what it meant. It meant: my silver dollar, my candy. Who didn't understand that?
But I paced: Should I sneak down to the store, real quick like, to get the candy I dearly wanted? Or not? Finally I went to my dad and explained my dilemma. I wanted to save, but I wanted just a couple pieces of candy. So, why not give me a quarter for the candy, and I'll save the silver dollar? It was win/win as far as I could see. He objected to the concept and the quarter.
"If you want it that badly, spend your own money—you've got it. Or don't, and save it."
I went to my mother. She explained the wisdom of saving in weather terms. "Save it for a rainy day," she said.
I went to my auntie. She asked to borrow it. I left her somewhere in the kitchen. Finally I hovered around the man who gave it to me.
"What are you going to do with your silver dollar?" he asked.
"Well," I said shyly, "I'd prefer to save it for a rainy day, or if someone needs to borrow it, sometime down the road, but then I wouldn't be able to get 15 cents worth of candy, which I'd like to have to celebrate my independence." I had dropped the notion of asking for a quarter, figuring, rightly, that it was going against the grain of the prevailing market conditions.
He looked at me. "No freaking way did you just say that!" he exclaimed.
It's true I didn't say that, and he didn't say that either. But I did say something very cute and ingenuous, because he handed me a dime and a nickel.
Now I had it all: Money for candy and savings. This time I skipped, then ran, down to the corner for the candy. I proudly showed the man at the counter my silver dollar, bought a dime's worth of candy and had a nickel to spare. Now, you might want to sit down for the next part because the story gets...well, the "ewww" factor goes up a bit.
The next day, the landlord came around to visit my parents. He was on his way to the stockyards. I didn't know what they were, but I heard "animals" and wanted to go. I don't know what possessed my mother to let me go with him, and I have even less insight into why she put me in a dress. Have you ever been to the stockyards? This was cows and pigs. All fenced in. Malodorous.
The man lifted me up so I could see into the pens. I stood on one of the fence railings, and he kept his arm around me to make sure I didn't fall in. I had my one nickel in the pocket of the dress, and for some reason, I took it out and held it in my fist. I cannot say with any certain memory what happened next—not much but enough to frighten me.
The man's arm slipped down my body and his hand now rested on my upper thigh, and he began to rub my leg. Frightened but not really sure why, I suppose, I started gnawing on my my closed fist, and somehow, I swallowed the nickel. I suddenly began to cough and spit and cry and throw a terrible fit. A crowd of other men formed, drawn by my bleating and weeping. Unnerved, (by the "witnesses" no doubt) he hoisted me up off that fence, took me to his truck and drove me right home.
He told my mom that I had swallowed a coin and maybe she should take me to the doctor. I must have looked frightened because I saw something begin to dawn on my mother's face. She said goodbye to him and called the doctor who told her how to get that nickel back. To watch for it. To not stop watching for it until she saw that it had exited my body. I could tell she did not look forward to the ordeal, but she had something bigger on her mind.
She sat me at the table and asked me about the day. We got around to talking about Mr. Icky, and she asked me if he was nice to me. I didn't answer at first. Finally I simply said, "I don't like him." Somehow she knew. She gave that Irish mother all-knowing nod, and left me at the table with milk and cookies while she called my father. I never saw the creepy man again, and we moved from that house not long after.
Oh and I did get my nicely cleaned nickel back. And my mother never took her eyes off me and my sisters from that day on.
So, being independent has given me tremendous happiness and a few close calls. And I find as I pursue the life of a published writer, a self-published or “Indie” writer, the same sense of survival, passion for a good story, and a basic sense of good and evil, and right and wrong, are represented by the heroes and heroines in my own and other writer's books.
My favorite characters are people, especially women, who venture into uncharted territories with little more than their own optimism and a will to be who they authentically are. I'm still thrilled to be able to recreate the joy, the spirit and the challenge of trying to balance all that being an Indie means.
I like that it take a village to put it all together, but it's a village with inhabitants of my choosing. The village might change a bit from book to book, but the theme is the same: I will pay you to give me your best edit, your best cover, your ISBN number, your formatting skills, and all the rest of it. And I will pay for the review copies, eBook or print, the advertising, the promotional giveaways, the contest fees, the conference fees, the membership fees, and the contributions to other writers, some I know, some I don't.
Throughout the entire process, I have to tell you: I am excited, I'm thrilled to be able to do it, and a whole lot of  love and dedication to a good tale well told goes into the process, not just from me but from all members of my village. And I belong to other writers' villages, usually as a Beta reader, certainly as a reviewer, always as a cheerleader, an encourager and a good-natured competitor for the next reader!
And when it's all done and my book goes live, I, still an independent and an Indie, come out with the same familiar $1.15 for every book that sells—a dollar for savings, a dime for candy, a nickel for emergencies! No, it's not a lot of money, is it? But I love it. Oh, okay, sure, times about five hundred thousand would be nice! LOL.
I'm thrilled to premiere the cover for my latest offering, A Delicate Refusal, which will be on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all the usual places over the holiday weekend. The print version will be available within a couple weeks.

And here's a small taste of A Delicate Refusal

England, 1914. Two friends, brought together by circumstance and a mutual attraction that threatens to be torn apart by fears, family secrets and mysterious afflictions, face an even bigger adversary in the face and form of a world war.

As World War I begins, England tries to maintain its “splendid isolation” policy, but the British people are quietly enduring their own misgivings, facing their own fears and wondering how long they can bear witness to carnage without a response.

Into this milieu of intrigue and uncertainty, two women begin a most unusual love affair. Theirs is a love sustained by hope and encouraged by letters, but threatened by their own private fears and the worldwide anxieties covering the earth like a dark shroud. As all of Europe drives itself to the brink of destruction, can an uncommon love survive the concussive blasts of doubt and deceit, of estrangement and misunderstanding? Who lives to love? Who lurks in the background watching the affair from the distance of déjà vu? And who presents “a delicate refusal” to become a tragic hero?

It's fitting that I do the world premiere of my cover on the blog belonging to my cover artist—the Gothic Queen herself, Patty G. Henderson. Thank you Patty—for my cover, for inviting me here and for our friendship.

Visit my web site: www.ttthomas.com


Friday, June 21, 2013

GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: Q KELLY



Hi, everyone! I’m glad to be at The Henderson Files today. Thank you, Patty.

Reality TV. Dating on TV. The Bachelor. The Bachelorette. These shows are so-called guilty pleasures for many people, but not for me. I proudly own up to my “guilty” pleasures and to my bubblegum TV. After I posted about a certain “The Bachelor” contestant a few years ago on Facebook, one of my college friends expressed astonishment that I would watch such trash. I was too smart for that, he said. I grinned and shrugged. “I love the show,” I replied. “What can I say?”
Heck, I love these shows so much that I am Facebook friends with quite a few Bachelor and Bachelorette alumni. Not that they have the faintest idea who I am.

All this to say…the idea of writing a book about a reality TV
dating show should have occurred to me sooner, much sooner. Better later than never, though—hence the birth of my latest novel, Reality Lesbian. It’s reality-TV dating, lesbian style. It came out last Friday and has been really popular so far. In a nutshell, it’s about Lucy Marshall, a straight woman who goes on a lesbian dating show for a vacation and job connections. Not really her idea. Her gay best friend, Henry, signed her up for the show and pushed her into going. But, hey, she does go, and she pretends to be gay. During filming, she gets an incredible shock—she’s attracted to the lead, Dr. Zara Winters. Zara is an animal vet, and her crazy job hours haven’t led to the best relationships. She and Lucy click right away, which prompts quite a few problems for Lucy. Does she tell Zara the truth? How will Zara react? What about Zara’s connections with the other contestants? They run the gamut, as is typical on TV dating. You have the woodwork types viewers never get to know, the arrogant jerks, the drama queens, the smoking hot people, the genuinely nice people and the people you’re not sure what to make of (genuine or not? Aloof or shy?). Plus a few twists along the way!   

Because of my love for The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, I have followed many of these show-related blogs for years. Some of them, such as Reality Steve (www.realitysteve.com – warning, show spoilers!) were instrumental in providing the background knowledge I needed to write authentically about the filming of a reality TV show. In countless blog posts and with his insider knowledge, Steve has pointed out the myriad ways in which reality TV isn’t “reality.” For example, retakes and reshoots of scenes are common, if for no other reason than to get a better camera angle. Booze is plentiful—leads to loose lips and drama. Contestants are asked the same question countless ways until they give up the answer producers want. Sometimes a producer may dangle a carrot (“Say X thing we want you to say, and we’ll make sure you get alone time with Lead Y”). Many of the contestants are actors or have/desire some kind of Hollywood career. All are gorgeous. Fantastic looking. They don’t need to go on TV to find a date. Sure, a few are there in the hopes of genuinely falling in love, but the majority are there for the adventure and the experience. Absolutely nothing is wrong with that, but it does illuminate the hypocrisy of shows in which contestants get vilified for “not being here for the right reasons.”

I had always known this in the back of my mind, but season after season, I sat back happily for my bubblegum TV. I can’t anymore. When I settled in to watch the season of The Bachelorette airing now (Desiree’s season), I could NOT get into it. I had just finished Reality Lesbian, and perhaps it was the process of writing a book and doing reality TV dating my own way, but I just could not get into The Bachelorette anymore. It is the same old, same old, same old. Season after season. The formula works, no doubt. But it may have gotten too old for this particular viewer. (If I was in charge of these shows, I’d shake them up a bit.)

No doubt I’ll give these shows another try in the future. For now, however paradoxically, it seems that writing this book has soured me to watching the shows I used to love.
Ah well! Such is life.


For more on “Reality Lesbian” and the first two chapters, go here: http://www.qkellybooks.com/2013/06/reality-lesbian-is-out.html

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