I Love Indie Authors

The other day I discovered that one of my favorite indie authors follows me on Twitter. It’s pretty awesome. Most of what I tweet are links to my book reviews on my other blog, including reviews I’ve done of her books.

This discovery started me thinking about just why I love indie authors so much.

1.) I get to be the gatekeeper for what I want to read. Traditionally, with books published via publishing companies, it’s those publishing companies that decide what is good and what isn’t. Make no mistake: There is a whole lot of independently published junk out there. December and January always sees a bit of an uptick of terrible books completed during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month which happens every November). But there is also a whole lot of amazing independently published books. Many of these authors give away the first in a series on Kindle. After reading that first book I am the one who gets to decide if I want to keep reading the series, find other books by the author, or never download anything by them again. Let’s just say some indie authors have been paid well for that freebie I downloaded!

2.) The cost is usually a whole lot lower. Rick Riordan is a traditionally published author and I enjoy his books. But I refuse to buy his new ones as they come out because I don’t enjoy his books enough to justify the $14.99 Kindle price. That is nuts. Indie authors generally run $4.99 or less per book. Often much less. A couple days ago I got a box set of 5 of one indie author I like’s books for 99 cents. (These are Kindle prices… I pretty much exclusively read on my Kindle because I just prefer it.)

3.) Probably because indie authors are not as well known, interaction with them is a bit more personal. They often tweet a lot. I’m on a Facebook group run by one indie author I like. She’s always having conversations with fans on there. Last fall another indie author I like was making his way across the US and stayed at our house for a couple days.

Some Indie Authors I Really, Really Like: Andrea Pearson, Tony James Slater, Heather Sunseri, Karen McQuestion, Beth Labonte, Susan Kaye Quinn, and Julie Oleszek

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I Read a Lot

I ran across an old journal entry from several years ago where I wrote about how happy I was to have read 5 whole books in a single month and how I wanted to spend more time reading. Old me really amused current me.

And I have definitely increased the amount of time I spend reading.

So far this year I’ve read 51 books. That’s 11 in January, 12 in February, 20 in March, and 8 so far in April. I think old me would faint to know current me reads that much (granted, old me had much littler children and so had a lot less time to read!).

The Birth of a Reader

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Fritz finished read the Harry Potter series a week ago yesterday. The next day he started the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. He’s quite a ways through the third book now. He read the second book in two days. He read until very late last not and couldn’t put it down until he was done. There’s always a book or a series that grabs a kid, one they just can’t put down, and that’s when you know a reader has been born.

A Little Visit

There’s this author I like, Tony James Slater, and he and his wife, Roo, are currently on a trip around the US. Of course traveling in this country is rather expensive so they are couchsurfing along their way. I offered a place to stay (a little more than a couch… they got to stay in what we call my parents’ wing – their bedroom is gigantic and their bathroom is bigger than any I’ve ever seen before and then there’s a walk-in closet, too) and so San Antonio was added to their itinerary. They arrived on Sunday evening and went home yesterday morning. It was awesome!

Soon after they got here we had dinner and then we just sat and talked until 11. Tony is as funny in real life as he is in his book. He can seriously tell a good story. Roo is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. She’s just truly likable. Time just flies talking to them.

A Little Visit

Monday morning we went downtown. Only Adrian came with us. He loves museums and stuff like that. We went to the Alamo first. They had some living history stuff going on including a gun firing demonstration. We left there and headed down to the River Walk. I think it kind of blew Tony and Roo’s mind. We ate lunch at a really good barbecue place (bonus: they had a list of what was safe for Adrian and me). Then we went on the river boat tour. That’s the third time we’ve done it and it’s different every time. On the way home from downtown we stopped at SubZero and got ice cream made right in front of us with liquid nitrogen. Then Roo stayed at the house (she had a headache and needed to rest) while the rest of us went to our friends’ house for a Labor Day cookout.

A Little Visit

Last time we tested for new belts, the parking lot was pretty full when we got there so we parked in a place we don’t usually. Fritz looked across the road and saw a sign for Premier Escape Rooms. I’ve wanted to do an escape room ever since I heard Rider Strong talk about them on an episode of Literary Disco. So we decided doing one with Tony and Roo would be awesome (it was). We booked the Conspiracy Cure room. The storyline was a disease had been unleashed that was killing everyone and we were working on a cure. We walk into a lab and discover a tube of the disease open infecting us all. We had one hour to solve the puzzles, figure out which potential cure was the right one, and find the key to escape from the room. We found the escape key with 30 minutes to go, but we still needed to figure out which one was the cure. And so we spent the next 25 minutes trying and trying to figure out the final puzzle to get the answer. Once we found it, it was so obvious. I can’t believe we overlooked it all that time. But, we won with 5 minutes to spare. The last 5 or 10 minutes were pretty nerve-racking, though. We’ll definitely have to do another escape room in the future.

We stayed up until 11 again Monday night. Seriously, time flies talking to Tony and Roo. Ani and Cameron had to get up early for seminary on Tuesday. They were back in bed and the little guys were almost done with their on their own work by the time Tony and Roo were up and ready for the day so that worked out nicely. We had breakfast and chatted a bit more and then it was time for them to leave. Roo had fallen in love with our Little Ladies (aka our sugar gliders) and spent a lot of time just watching them play in their cage when the ladies got up for the night. It’s illegal to keep gliders as pets in Australia. So I asked her if she wanted to hold one. I pulled Filli out of the pouch and handed her to Roo (and gave Filli a yogurt drop which she loves – I picked Filli because she’s so much calmer than Kree and when you add in a yogurt drop, Filli’s not going to go anywhere). I think Roo was in heaven.

A Little Visit

I made sure to get Tony’s autograph before they left. I read almost exclusively on the Kindle and that’s how I read his books so it made sense to have him sign the back of it. I have a pretty old Kindle Keyboard and it’s in pretty rough shape (but it works and I love it so I haven’t felt the need to upgrade yet) so I know it’ll die before too long. I guess when it does, I’ll just have to pry the back off and keep it.

If you haven’t ever read any of Tony’s books, I highly suggest you do. As I read them, I’d laugh so hard and my family would say, “Tony again?” I’m so glad I gave that freebie (Kamikaze Kangaroos!) a chance last year. It’s not too often reading a freebie leads to buying a bunch of other books to read… and it’s never led to having the author come visit before. Here’s my reviews of his books (which include links to buy them on Amazon): That Bear Ate My Pants!, Don’t Need the Whole Dog!, Kamikaze Kangaroos!, Can I Kiss Her Yet?, and Shave My Spider!.

Les Mis Shirt

Last month I finished my 52nd book of the year, Les Miserables. I decided that reading a 1400 page book written in the 1860s deserved to be rewarded so I got a t-shirt from Litographs.

On the front is the Elephant of the Bastille with Gavroche and his two little brothers climbing into it.
Les Mis Shirt

On the back is a close-up of the three boys.
Les Mis Shirt

The design is made with actual words from the book.
Les Mis Shirt

I love this shirt. It is so soft and so unique. Definitely the perfect way to commemorate reading Les Mis!

Books Referencing Other Books

One of the things I love most about reading – and I tend to read a really eclectic mix of books (the only thing I don’t like at all is romance) – is noticing references to other books in the books I read. For example, I read The Hundred trilogy this week. The second book, Day 21, has a flashback scene where one of the characters says she just wants the book so she can know if “she ends up with the boy who called her carrots.” I laughed when I read that because a week or so ago I read Anne of Green Gables and that’s the book that scene is referencing. It’s like some books have word easter eggs just waiting to be discovered. Finding them makes me want to read even more to find the ones I’m missing!

Pre-Reading

Over the last few months I’ve been pre-reading the books Fritz and Cameron will read over the course of the school year. I finished Fritz’s during the summer. I finally finished Cameron’s last week.

The last few weeks I have read a LOT. In addition to reading to the little guys and reading on my own for fun, I read Robinson Crusoe (hated it), Gulliver’s Travels (loved the first two parts – the two parts Cameron read – but didn’t love the rest), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle (felt something was missing which is weird because it was the actual stories as written by Washington Irving – I suppose what was missing was things filled in in movies based on the stories), A Christmas Carol (loved it – and it just so happens Cameron will finish reading it just as we finish up school before Christmas break), Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (excellent and fascinating), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (loved it; had forgotten it’s actually a pretty short book), and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (extremely surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did!).

Along with those, I read The Iliad along with Ani. That was very, very long. I’m still not sure what I actually think of it.

Most of the books I had never read before. Homeschooling older kids definitely is expanding my reading world. Now that I’ve finished this school year’s books, I can’t wait to pick and get started on next year’s!