Monday, August 27, 2012

Five (mostly) indie authors I'd like you to know

The indie author movement is an exciting time not only for authors, but readers. Just three or four years ago we were still trapped in that small world of publishing where just a few folks decided what writing was “marketable” and what readers should be able to get their hands on.

Yes, there have always been self-published authors, but until electronic publishing came along those folks had to spend a pretty penny to get their work out. Today, it’s a different universe.

As a writer I find that thrilling. I’ve had a good number of my short stories published through traditional means in some quality magazines, anthologies, and webzines. I feel I was pretty close, on a few occasions, to getting an agent for three of my novels (which is no guarantee of being published, but that puts you on the short list of consideration).

But now, with Amazon’s Kindle, B&N’s Nook, and other e-readers and publishing software, publishing is literally just a few button pushes away (Okay, that’s a simplification – formatting, cover designs and such make it a more involved process, but you get the idea).

More importantly, for readers this indie author movement has really opened up the world. Just on Amazon there are somewhere in the neighborhood of a million titles ready for download. Yep, I said a MILLION, and if you have a Kindle, you can download those for a fraction of what a printed book will cost – some are even free. Heck, if you download a free Kindle reading app for your computer (or mobile device), it’s conceivable you could be reading novel after novel for just a few cents each.

With that wide-open world, though, can come a little confusion. With a million titles from which to choose, how do you know what to try, what to pass on?

Well, I want to help you with that, and in turn ask you to help me out a little.

My help to you is introducing you to five authors.

First there’s AJ Brown, known by some as Jeff, known by most everyone as the most prolific writer in North America – for a fuller take on AJ’s productivity, I interviewed him back in January, and you can check that out right here.

AJ is putting together a short story collection at present, and I hope he publishes it soon, because I am anxious to read his work. AJ is painstaking in making his choices for the collection, and equally fastidious in editing and revising his work for final presentation. Many of his tales are downright creepy, which is what he’s usually going for.

You don’t have to wait, though, to read some of AJ’s work. He has another collection called ALONG THE SPLINTERED PATH that’s been out since the first of the year, and hopefully you’ve already gotten it. If not, you need to download this collection now (just click on the link). See, AJ doesn’t simply write horror stories. He creates a world in which you feel for the character, a creepy world that can draw you in and, if you’re not careful, keep you there for a while.

The second writer I want to mention today is Will Hahn, who writes fantasy. Again, a heck of a nice guy even though in this picture – particularly with that wall in the background – he looks as if he could go medieval on your hinny at any moment. The first thing I’ll tell you about fantasy is that I don’t generally read much of it. Most of the time I get lost in the descriptions of some other world, with technology and culture and customs that take waaaay too much time to wade through.

Every once in a great while, though, I come across a fantasy writer whose work draws me in, makes me want to learn a little more about what’s going on, to figure out what the characters are doing, and why. In other words, every once in a while I find a fantasy writer who does a really nice job with the writing and story-telling.

Will is one of those writers. If you have any inkling of appreciation for fantasy, check out his work (particularly THREE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT, although I don’t think you’d go wrong with any of them).

A third writer I’d encourage you to check out is Michelle Garren Flye. I met Michelle a few years back in an online horror writer’s group, and while she still dabbles in the occasional scary story, she’s doing a lot with romance these days.

In addition to self-publishing one title, she’s had two picked up by Lyrical Press and most recently another novel, WHERE THE HEART LIES, published by Carina Press, an e-book imprint of Harlequin. Her writing is really nice and I think brings a little more than the typical romance tropes to the page (or e-reader). She knows how to write and how to tell a story.

Fourth, let me introduce you guys to J. Heather Leigh. I really don’t know her very well, having just met here on Twitter a few weeks ago. But here’s what I do know – she writes in an arena of some tough subjects that so many, many people face in real life.

I was raised in a fairly conservative home, with parents who had strict and solid Christian beliefs. Out-of-wedlock pregnancy, a cheating spouse, divorce – those were issues facing many, but still not talked about openly, and certainly not written about in works of fiction, among those of us who were church-going people.

Times have changed, but in some parts of the religious world those issues still are sometimes avoided. That’s why I like Heather's work. She does address those, in ways that are not preachy, and she does it with a nice story-telling flair.

Finally, I want to mention Lucas Pederson (hey, I started this list with a horror guy, gotta end with one, too). I met Lucas in the same horror-writing workshop where I met AJ and Michelle, and while I don’t really know him as well, I do know he’s been working on his writing for years, and he’s sharpened his ability to tell riveting, interesting stories.

He’s also recently begun traveling down the indie publishing trail with the release of two shorts -- THE FOLLOWERS and BUCKLE ROAD. I like Lucas’s work, but I have to confess to a little envy at present. In a good way of course. He’s got two stories out there, people are buying and reading them, and from the ever-elusive reviews we all seek (and Lucas is getting) they are enjoying this work. I'm entitled to be a littel envious of that, I think.

Seriously, though I’m happy for Lucas, and for the others I’ve mentioned here. Whether you’re into fantasy, horror, romance, or some real-world inspirational stories, these folks have something for you.

And now that I’ve helped you a bit in finding your way in this million-book world of e-readers, I'm going to ask you for a favor. Tell as many people as you can about this blog, about these five authors. If you're on Twitter, tweet about my blog today with a link. If you're on Facebook, post there with a link. Not so I can get a lot of hits, but because I'd like to see these five folks selling a truckload of their work, and this is one way we can all help them.

So what do you say? Go get a few of their works, then tell everyone you know about them.


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