Wednesday, May 5, 2021

IWSG May, Surprised by Positives, Kindle Vella, and Dark Matter: An Anthology

 This post became a bit long, so it's broken into three sections: IWSG, Burning Question about Kindle Vella, and Dark Matter.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Many thanks to founder Alex J. Cavanaugh and all of the awesome co-hosts for May's blog hop!
The awesome co-hosts for the May 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Pat Garcia, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

Optional May Question: Have any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn't expect? If so, did it surprise you?

I think I've written about this before, about some surprising negative reactions I've had, but today, I am going to focus on some surprising positives.

1. Having a reader so invested in a character that he was worried for her from book 2 to book 3 in The Champion Trilogy. It was awesome to hear that particular character came alive for him.

2. My father-in-law telling me he's amazed by my imagination after he reads each of my books. :) It's kind of ironic that he's read everything I've written when my husband hasn't, but I'm thankful he likes what I write, even my latest science fiction novella Liftoff which was originally meant for YA readers. 83-year-olds can be young at heart, too. 

As I hinted at above, I have overly focused on the negative stuff far too often, and I'm determined to focus on the positive. With that in mind, I have been following a blog entitled: Writing and Wellness. I recommend it. Some posts I liked recently: 5 Ways to Spring Clean Your Mind, and How to Rephrase Your Self Talk to Boost Your Writer's Confidence.

A great example is:

Instead of stating "I received a rejection letter," say: I received a redirect letter.

It's a pretty simple change, but I have been trying it and I think it makes a difference. 

Burning Question

In the industry: Are you considering Kindle Vella as a reader or an author? I wrote a post about it last week on Facebook and on my blog which stirred some interesting conversations and sent me down a rabbit trail of consideration. I even sent off a question to the Kindle Vella team at KDP about using a short story I had previously published as a base for a Kindle Vella series.

If you're interested in finding out more, go to last week's blog post and Kindle Vella's main page. A number of industry experts have created posts about the subject, including ALLi. Thanks to Christine Rains, I found Understanding Kindle Vella by Annalise Clark and Going Exclusive with Fiction Serialization by Medium author Monica Leonelle. Both of these articles were extremely helpful to my understanding of the serialization process and the other platforms already doing it.

And, after much consideration, I've decided to try it. It's not my main project at the moment, but I'm working on it in the wings (basically when projects A and B are both driving me nuts and I need something different). It will be based on this short story, which is old (2015) but has a new cover that I may use as a basis of a new cover for the series - still making some decisions about it. The title will also change slightly to show the difference between the short story and the serial.

Lane has readers to appease and stories to write, but she misses her family. Can she step away from the keyboard long enough to reconnect or is it too late? "Story Addict" is a short science fiction tale. 

It's 99 cents at Smashwords currently. It used to be free, and if you sign up for my newsletter, you'll find 100% off coupon for this story through May 15th only applicable on the Smashwords website.

Dark Matter: Artificial, an IWSG Anthology is here!

Dark Matter: Artificial

An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology


Discover dark matter’s secrets…


What is an AI’s true role? Will bumbling siblings find their way home from deep space? Dark matter is judging us—are we worthy of existence? Would you step through a portal into another reality? Can the discoverer of dark matter uncover its secrets?


Ten authors explore dark matter, unraveling its secrets and revealing its mysterious nature. Featuring the talents of Stephanie Espinoza Villamor, C.D. Gallant-King, Tara Tyler, Mark Alpert, Olga Livshin, Steph Wolmarans, Charles Kowalski, Kim Mannix, Elizabeth Mueller, and Deniz Bevan.


Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales will take readers on a journey across time and space. Prepare for ignition!



Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database; articles; monthly blog posting; Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram groups; #IWSGPit, and a newsletter.


Release date: May 4, 2021

Print ISBN 9781939844828 $14.95

EBook ISBN 9781939844835 $4.99

Science Fiction: Collections & Anthologies (FIC028040) / Space Exploration (FIC028130) / Genetic Engineering (FIC028110)



Artificial - Stephanie Espinoza Villamor

Space Folds and Broomsticks - C.D. C.D.

Rift – Kim Mannix

The Utten Mission – Steph Wolmarans

Sentient – Tara Tyler

One to Another – Deniz Bevan

Resident Alien - Charles Kowalski

Nano Pursuit – Olga Livshin

Resurgence – Elizabeth Mueller

Vera’s Last Voyage – Mark Alpert



Artificial - Stephanie Espinoza Villamor

Space Folds and Broomsticks - C.D. Gallant-King

Rift – Kim Mannix

The Utten Mission – Steph Wolmarans

Sentient – Tara Tyler

One to Another – Deniz Bevan

Resident Alien - Charles Kowalski

Nano Pursuit – Olga Livshin

Resurgence – Elizabeth Mueller

Vera’s Last Voyage – Mark Alpert

Congratulations to all of the Dark Matter authors! Well done! 

Are you picking up a copy of Dark Matter? Signed up for my newsletter yet? Going to try Kindle Vella? Have a surprising reaction to your writing?

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

A Burning Question: To Kindle Vella or Not to Kindle Vella

Amazon is launching their new Kindle Vella program, a monetized serial fiction platform like Wattpad.

Wattpad does not pay authors and is free for readers, free to use, and has gained attention for some authors for some books - 1% of Wattpad authors gain recognition and publishing contracts. I've used it to develop projects (Liftoff). The benefit of Wattpad is the reader interaction, and the interaction between authors.

Kindle Vella promises the same kind of interaction, but the reader has to pay and the writer gets paid via token. From my understanding, authors get approx. 2 cents per token. However, an author can charge several tokens for each segment of the story, and readers by the tokens in batches of 100 for $1.99.

*So, the big question is, is it worth it?

Then, there are the small questions under that umbrella:
* Is it any different than Wattpad, really?
*Does having the reader pay change the experience and possibly change the interactions in the comment section (is this going to be troll land)?

I just opened up the latest newsletter from NYT Bestseller Beth Revis, and she is going to put out a book on Kindle Vella, with the first ten chapters already written and the next chapters created with reader input.

Beth makes it look cool, and it sounds like she really knows how to make it work well - using reader input to create her novel could be an awesome way to gain interest in her work and to create a unique author-reader connection.

The big difference for Beth Revis, of course, is she's already a bestselling author. She has a large audience already.

*Can a not-bestselling, indie author like me actually have any success/traction/benefit from the program?

Originally, I thought I wouldn't take part, but I'm considering it. I have about 15 starts on various novel projects wasting away in my files.

*Would it be worth it to take one of those and develop it?

What would you do? And, are you considering Kindle Vella an an author or a reader?

BTW - if the resounding response I get is positive, I'll be putting out a poll for which project you think I should try, with a choice of three options.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

April #IWSG: Risky Writing Adventures, Quarancon, and News


Many thanks to founder Alex J. Cavanaugh and the co-hosts for April: PK Hrezo, Pat Garcia, SE White, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diane Burton!

Are you a risk-taker when writing? 
Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

I'm going to tackle this question sideways...

As many of you know, I accidentally answered this last month. I'm not sure how I was a month off, but it made me realize how overwhelmed I have felt lately with social media. 

 For the rest of 2021, I'll be posting only twice a month here at my blog, for IWSG and Author Insights Interviews. I'm also cutting back a huge amount on Facebook and some on Instagram.

Where my time is going: Book writing. Editing professionally part-time. Tutoring and teaching homeschool students part-time. Helping my parents with some property management part-time. Teaching a few classes for online events part-time. 
Volunteering. Creating podcasts for my church.

If you noticed, nearly everything I do is part-time, but all of the transitions between tasks are a little time-consuming. I have lists upon lists, folders cascaded with other folders. It's the only way I can keep it all going. I use an individual song (chosen each day) to give me a re-focus break between tasks. 

I am terrible at doing the same repetitive tasks every day, which is why I have so many different projects going. The same thing every day just sends me to sleep, or sends me into a restless procrastination zone. I may not have an official ADHD diagnosis, but articles I've read on the subject and free online tests seem to indicate the way I function is strongly indicative of ADHD. 

As a kid, I was always struggling with daydreaming. I hyper-focused on reading books in the library and didn't hear the school bell, which is a flip-side indication of ADHD. I either blocked sound out, got distracted by it, or dove into it with singing. I coped in school. I took notes, made up questions in my head, tightened my stomach muscles to "fidget" without getting caught (hence, in trouble), and to this day, I rarely allow myself to read in public spaces where I might get into a hyper-focus zone and lose awareness of my surroundings, which can feel unsettling when I'm startled back into awareness of the world around me. 

There's nothing quite like realizing that you've been writing/reading in a coffee shop for two to three hours, the sun is going down, the baristas want to leave, and someone you know has just waved their hand in front of your face to get your attention...after they've called your name three or four times. You feel slightly dizzy, as if you've come up from a dream, and you don't feel like any time passed since you sat down at your laptop, except your back is cramped. And suddenly, you are hungry/tired/need to use the restroom. 

It's all pretty embarrassing. And yet, there is something special about those hyper-focused moments - I get a lot of writing done and I have a lot of fun doing it. Sometimes, I think I need to record the sounds of a coffee shop on my phone/pc and then replay that when I want to sink into a hyper-focused writing zone at home, where it's more comfortable to have my husband touch my shoulder and bring me back to the real world. 

I never planned to write about neuro-divergent characters, or characters who have physical disabilities or chronic illness, but I have begun to do so because of my own experiences and the experiences of family and friends. I feel like this is a risky area. I want to write about it well, so it's authentic, but I also don't want it to take over the stories I am writing, which are primarily SFF.

What risks to do you take in your writing, if any?

Quarancon is coming in April! I'm one of the online panelists for a panel on Disabilities in SFF on April 11th. Quarancon is based in the UK, so times indicated at the website are based there.

Writing Interactive, Vivid Settings is a class I'm teaching on May 15th online via Creative Colloquy. Remember class times for this are for Pacific Daylight Savings Time (Seattle/LA) Zone. So, if it's happening here at 6:30, then that's a NYC time of 9:30, and so on. Find out more at the Creative Colloquy Workshop Series page HERE.

One Hundred Essential Bible Podcasts is a current ministry of One Hope Church, and I'm contributing some of the podcasts. If you want to check it out, you can go to the Summary Page to listen to all of them, or just scroll to find one of mine. I am contributing once every other week. In case you didn't know, I have read the Bible as a whole 10 times, and have read the NT 17 times, so...I'm still learning and I don't take this lightly. 

If you want to hear some slightly different insights, read an author highlight, or get a little free fiction, check out my newsletter HERE.