Indie Thoughts

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always held a strong independence about myself. Sometimes to the detriment of others around me.

I recall distinctly when as a young skater punk wearing denim jackets with band patches sewn all over them (think Metallica, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies and more) and I had a girlfriend who had a hard time with it. She was a little embarrassed when she said “everyone’s gonna talk about you.” My reply? “Great! At least they’ll be thinking about me!” I didn’t care what they thought, just that they thought of me. Owning a small slice of space in their minds for free was awesome.

FreeNow, I didn’t go out of my way to be different, I was just being myself. If that meant denim jackets with patches, then that’s what it was. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. I knew myself. I knew what I liked and didn’t like. I did things my way how I saw fit.

That doesn’t mean I always did the right thing. Just ask my mom or my wife about the crazy haircut I had. (If you go through my posts from August you’ll see a picture of me in a yellow shirt. That’s the haircut I clung to). I wanted to try something different and I let the style linger through my senior year in high school. Not my finest moment but then again, I did things my way. At the time I could care less what anyone thought of it. Looking at it now I can laugh, but you know, I don’t regret it. How many times do we want to try something but don’t because we let fear rule us?

My tendency to do my own thing leads me away from a lot of things too. If some book or movie or band is the newest thing, I purposely stay away from it. Call it my old punk rock spirit. Call it being non-conformist. Call it whatever, but that’s kinda my reaction to things. I still haven’t read the Harry Potter books, mostly because “everyone loved them” and my natural tendency is to steer clear of super-popular things. I’ve never watched Dr. Who because it’s expected of scifi fans. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but it is who I am.

The indie spirit, so prevalent in the music I listened to (and still do!) is alive and well within me. I’m myself. I make no apologies about it.

 

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“Self to Younger Self, Come in!”

Have you ever thought about what you’d tell your younger self if you could? Or if your younger self would even listen?

I have.

I’d tell my younger self not to be afraid. Risks are the ultimate double edged sword. If it pans out, you have the opportunity to achieve something great. If it flops, there’s a possibility of physical or mental pain.

There were so many times when I was younger that I’d not do something out of fear. Opportunities would present themselves but instead of taking that risk, I’d shrink from it and who knows what awesome things I missed out on.

That’s funny to say as a former skateboarder too. The entire act of skateboarding is a giant risk. In order to improve or learn new tricks I had to risk injury. Though I skated for well over a decade, my progress stagnated and I never became a great skater, just an ok one. Most of that I attribute to my younger self worrying about failure in a physical sense and not pushing myself harder. I was afraid of the negative consequences of the risk.

JayanddDoug

Me (on the right) and my friend Doug.

Heck, I barely made the connection with a girl who would later turn out to be my wife of over twenty years now and the mother of our son. I knew my wife when I was in high school and I worked with her at a local fast food restaurant. I knew she liked me but I was afraid to talk to her, afraid of possible rejection. That was a risk too high for me. If it wasn’t for my friend Doug having break the same time as her one fateful day, who knows what might have happened? Without any urging from me, he got her phone number and gave it to me, telling me she wanted me to call. I did. We set up our first date and over twenty four years later, we’re still together. But I might have missed it entirely because I was too afraid to say anything.

Fear is tough to overcome. But if we risk it, if we just try, we might end up with something amazing. Or we might not, but the point is to try. Failure is not the end, but another beginning. My younger self didn’t understand that. I like to think I do now.

Tiny Moments

Life’s fickle nature can change in an instant.

Recently, I had a pretty slow day at work. All through the morning and just after lunch, I barely had any sales to speak of. Then, in a window of 8 minutes, I received a few emails that changed the course of the day and the next. Just as quickly as those were opened, the rest of the day went back to the slow pace it started with.

Those brief moments made me think about how drastically our lives change in an instant.

We’re all aware of the high profile shootings around us. We know how a terrorist can alter an entire nation’s psyche in a matter of minutes. There are those terrible calls telling us something bad happened. We also have the good things which change us. As a writer, an email from a publisher can change the course of your career.

Tiny moments in life can have the greatest impact.

Sometimes I feel we lose sight of that. We don’t see how those butterfly wings can create a storm. We don’t see the thousands of tiny ants burrowing under a tree. We get wrapped in the big moments of life. They’re wonderful too, but all too often it’s a series of smaller events that have the greatest impact on us.

It’s also in those tiny moments we find what life is really all about. The grand gestures are great, but it’s the small things which make it all work. When you consider long term relationships, it’s not the great romantic gestures that bring the couple closer, it’s the thousands upon thousands of small daily events that strengthen the bond. And it’s also small moments that can weaken it, sometimes happening in a quick moment like with the emails I described above.

Things change quickly. We have to be ready for that. We have to be aware of the small events around us and how much of an impact they make. If we neglect those, we might be losing out on something special.

 

Guest Post: Pamela Morris

Today I’m fortunate and grateful to present an essay by author Pamela Morris. Read on for her personal experience with failure and how she coped with it. Please be sure to check out her website and grab a book or two. Thanks!


Guest: Pamela Morris

Turning Failure Into The Road To Success

Failure. It’s a bitter, dry pill to swallow. It can wedge itself in the back of your throat. It can make you gag. Failure is never pleasant and it’s not what we strive for.

My first published novel, The Virgin of Greenbrier, was released in 2006. It wasn’t the genre I’d ever imagined myself being published in, erotica-romance, but I was still over the moon at this taste of success. Bound To Be Bitten, my personal response to the whole nonsense of sparkling vampires, was published in 2010. As with the novels before it, it was erotica. I struggled horribly trying to make it what the publisher wanted because in my heart of hearts, it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to write horror and murder-mysteries. I officially put down my erotica pen and picked up another.

scarecrow_cover_mBlood of the Scarecrow, a paranormal-themed murder-mystery, was the result. The joy I’d always found in writing returned. It was published in 2013 by a new and small indie publishing house. But in 2014 they decided to close their doors. I was devastated and heartbroken. I was back to near zero! Every doubt in the book (no pun intended) came flooding in.

Had I just wasted ten years of my life going through all these steps? What was the point? Who cared about any of this but me? My friends and family? Maybe, but let’s be honest here, they are partial. They don’t want to hurt my feelings, see me sad, or be part of the reason I give it up. I kept telling myself that all I needed was the right person to read something and give me a good review, someone who has no emotional stake in my happiness or misery, A Person Who Matters.

Out of overwhelming frustration and dismay, I gave up submitting queries to traditional publishers and agents. The rejections became unbearable. The idea of vanity publishing made me cringe. It was something I swore up and down I’d never do. Only the lowest of the low and most pathetic would ever do that. What sort of sad-sack failure would stoop to something so abominable? Not me! No, never me!

Yes, me. Failure and those same friends and family and co-workers who continually asked, “When’s the next book coming out?” drove me to it; that and my deep-seeded sense of self. I’m a story teller. What’s the point of being a story teller if no one ever hears those stories? The characters demanded to be heard.

shadow5Once the choice was made, it took another six months to create the final manuscript and cover art for That’s What Shadows Are Made Of, another murder-mystery with overtones of horror and the supernatural, and unleash it to the world. Secrets of the Scarecrow Moon, a revision of Blood of the Scarecrow, followed shortly after. After ten years, I had my first series of book signings in 2016. A third novel, a classic ghost story with a twist, No Rest For The Wicked was released in late August last year and A Person That Matters told me I don’t suck. Slow online sales and the lack of reviews still gets me down, but I keep pushing forward and trying.

norest_frontcover2Why? There’s no choice. It’s my passion. As I mentioned to a fellow author not too long ago, I can’t NOT write. When I am going through a dry spell I get anxious. I even start to feel a little guilty. Like the Lorax who speaks for the trees, I speak for my characters. I am their voice. I am their eyes and ears. It’s up to me to tell their stories because there is absolutely no one else out there who can. As insane as it sounds, these characters chose me and me alone.

This whole concept struck hard while I was working on Dark Hollow Road. This book, classified as a psychological horror, is truly the darkest, most disturbing thing I’ve ever written. Where did all the despair, pain, fear and blind need for revenge come from to write this? I had a happy childhood! I’ve led a pretty blessed life all in all. How could all that horror come solely from within me? It’s scary to find yourself writing such a thing, but I couldn’t NOT write it. That would be failing.

Failure. It can take you down with it, but it can also push you harder. Had the original publishers of my first murder-mystery not failed, I’d not have been forced to seek other avenues. I may not have had to have worked so hard to get where I am, but I’m paving my own road and not all of those bricks are engraved with a big, fat F. I still hope for a traditional publisher to give me the time of day. Until then, I have little choice but to write on without them.

To learn more about Pamela and her work visit pamelamorrisbooks.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.