What’s this Kindle Worlds Thing?

I’ve never been a huge fan of fan fiction. I like to come up with my own story, thanks so much. But when I was invited to write in an author’s soon-to-be-formed Kindle World, I suddenly had a different thought.

Or twelve. You know me, I rarely think about only one thing at a time. And one thought leads to another and before you know it COOKIES!

Now, back to this Kindle Worlds thing.

Amazon Gets Bigger

I first noticed Kindle Worlds when an author I like (paranormal romance) released a new book in “The Runes Universe.”

Now, I’ve also read a couple books from The Runes series, and I found them good, but a little too shallow and predictable for me. They are young adult paranormal romances, after all, and they are a huge hit with the teenage girls they’re written for.

But I haven’t been a teenage girl for a few years. (Stop rolling your eyes, Darrin!)

What Amazon has done is ask some indie authors (don’t ask me how they decide but I’m guessing it has something to do with sales) to turn their fictional worlds into a place where anyone can contribute stories. The original characters can be used by these new authors, but they should not be the major players.

Furthermore, this universe is suddenly a sandbox that only Amazon (specifically Kindle Direct Publishing) has rights to play in. If you submit a story into the universe, you relinquish rights to it forever.

Most authors just shuddered. But I’m not worried about this at all. I’ll still own the characters, and if I fall in love with them, I only have to move them to a different setting and I can write about them for eternity.

The benefits of publishing in these Kindle Worlds during a targeted release blitz:

  1. A $250 bonus (to help offset cover design and editing costs-paid AFTER publishing)
  2. Amazon’s marketing power during the release
  3. Mention in the back of other books in the release linking you to the readers of many authors

For someone who hates to market, this really called to me.

Not Really Fan Fiction

This is how dictionary.com defines fan fiction:

a fictional account written by a fan of a show, movie, book, or video game to explore themes and ideas that will not or cannot be explored via the originating medium; also written fan fiction , also called fanfic

And I have to admit, I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the series of books that is the springboard for the Kindle World I’m planning to write for. That’s the biggest reason I don’t see this as fan fiction.

After all, all that happens is I put my characters into the town of Sweet Grove, Texas. The books need to be a sweet romance and since the world is called “First Street Church Romances,”  they’re probably going to explore inspirational themes or have Christian worldviews.

All of which is what I want to do anyway.

Am I deluding myself? Will people see this as fanfic?

Weighing the Pros and Cons

As always when I’m presented with a new writing opportunity, I pulled out my notebook and began scrawling out my thoughts.

Here’s an excerpt: “These are novellas-20,000 to 40,000 words-of sweet romance with some Christian influence. This could be a way to build my brand IF I’m going to write mostly inspirational romances after this.”

And with the power of Amazon behind each launch, I’ll pick up new readers. There will be people who buy everything they see, thinking it’s going to be a series they love.

Plus the author who originally invented Sweet Grove is a marketing professional, and she intends to push all the books with her considerable platform and influence.

When 100 writers jumped in with both feet at the idea, you know it’s a good one.

My lists were incredibly short:

Pros: inspirational; wide market range; connection at Amazon; free promo from Melissa Storm

Cons: romance; edit & cover costs; another distraction from “real” writing

But why isn’t this “real” writing? I have some sort of chip on my shoulder about inspirational romances which makes no sense. For a decade or more, that is ALL that I read.

Only now, I’m back to reading mostly fantasy. Romances are too predictable to me, so I don’t enjoy reading them as much anymore.

But there are millions of people who DO enjoy reading them. And they would read the ones I wrote because Amazon would make sure they knew about them.

So, what do you think I should do? Is it worth my time and effort to publish in a Kindle World?

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Realizing You’re Already Amazing

A few months before I graduated from college, I met Holley Gerth. Not in person. Through her book, You’re Already Amazing, but it was like we sat down day after day and talked about my dilemma.

You know, what’s going to happen when I finish college. Will I continue working as an educational assistant and pursue my writing dream on the side? Will I jump into a master’s program to become a teacher? Can this fledgling idea for a novel fly into something larger than life?

I had a dream. Since I was old enough to read, I dreamed I would write stories. My words would send people into magical realms like C. S. Lewis did for me. Or these books would comfort others in confusion, as Judy Blume had done for me.

I wrote stories, poems and filled notebooks with my personal struggles. Then I grew up. I really despise those four words. Truly.

Because adult hood is filled with advantages, but often it includes abandoning dreams that fostered a soul through childhood and motivated her during the ugly insecurity of teenager-hood.

I wish I had known Holley Gerth back then.

Let me introduce you to her now, so you don’t have to wonder about finding a purpose or abandoning a dream.

You’re Already Amazing

AlreadyAmazingBookBetween the covers of this book, I met the sweet-spirited counselor, Holley Gerth. She poured a cup of coffee. We sat on her sofa. She talked, and I listened.

Reading this book felt like a conversation. After she shared wisdom and insight, she asked me to delve into my own heart. I spilled ink on the pages.

Her next words responded to that transparency – as if we were sitting across from each other.

This is the best thing about every book from Holley. It feels like a two-way conversation. The probing questions and activities at the end of one chapter open up questions that are answered in the next chapter.

In order to use the new LifeGrowth Guide she’s releasing this month, you should read this book. Each chapter of the new guide tells which chapters from the book correspond to it.

Sure, she has excerpts from the original book in this guide (and plenty of new coaching and counseling), but experiencing the original book helps this guide make more of an impact.

By the time you finish, you’ll have a “mission” statement for your life and an idea how you can start fulfilling it.

It was this statement that assured me of my own path. I worked through her You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream book before I settled on a course of action, but the seed was planted with this book.

Do you feel like you’re standing still in your walk with God? Does each day seem like a duplicate of the one before?

You’re Already Amazing will help you understand why you’re feeling these things. Then it will show you how to move beyond those debilitating emotions.

LifeGrowth Guide

YAA_LifeGrowth_Guide_Cover_1024x1024I jumped at the chance to preview this new guide when Holley offered the opportunity to her blog followers.

I loved the original book, and since I plan Bible studies and retreats for the ladies in my church, I saw this guide as a possibility for either activity.

After reading through this new book, and watching a few of the videos, I’m certain it will uplift women at any stage in their life.

Divided into six sessions, the book works as leader and groupie guide. In fact, it could be used solo, as a woman read through You’re Already Amazing and used the questions and activities in this guide to supplement her journey.

It’s intended to be used with a small group. In fact, it has powerful potential to bind women closer together and encourage them to lift each other up. What better way to carry out Paul’s admonition for the older women to teach the younger (Titus 2:3-5)?

The reading and activities in this guide are meant to be completed before the group session. Each session begins with a short video chat from Holley, which sets the stage and opens the conversation for that chapter. After discussing the questions and helping each other digest the truths, there’s another short clip to end each session.

In the back, there are helpful outlines to be used by group leaders or facilitators.

Perhaps you’d like a more informal group, the guide helps with that aspect. Each chapter includes a hands-on crafty project. A group could gather to watch the short video and then work on that project. Conversations could flow while hands were busy creating.

Amazing Applications

When I finished You’re Already Amazing, three years ago now, I told everyone about how helpful it was.

I’m super excited about the LifeGrowth Guide because it packages my excitement in a format that can help other women.

Let’s face it, some people don’t want to read. They might scan the guide and complete the activities, but they aren’t going to wade through an entire book.

The LifeGrowth Guide could be used by this type of person. It wouldn’t take long before they wanted more of Holley’s wisdom.

My plan for this guide is to use it at the annual ladies’ retreat. I’m going to have to reorganize and condense the lessons, because the sessions really need several days (minimum) between them to complete all the reading and activities.

To get the most from the book, a woman needs to invest time and thought into her answers. Season each page with prayer. Meditate on the deeper queries and return to them the next day.

A two-day retreat doesn’t provide time for all that. But I still think this curriculum will work.

It would certainly work as a weekly or bi-monthly Bible study.

If you had people who really wanted to write a life purpose statement, you could tailor this guide to be used for a one-day seminar. As long as there is ample time for independent thought, three of the sessions could be juxtaposed together and rock a woman’s Saturday.

If your life feels stale or you’re at a cross-roads, you need this book. If you yearn for women to come alongside you, this guide could open the way for that to happen.

Once again, Holley Gerth delivers a piece of her heart to her readers. And she’ll make you realize You’re Already Amazing, too.\

An Icon Passes

It’s been more than two years since I researched the life and times of human rights activist, Nelson Mandela. Some of his quotes inspire me still.

In fact, reading about his prison experiences reminded me sharply of the Apostle Paul.  They both spent years in prison, but while they were there they refused to give up hope. In fact, they wrote letters encouraging others to keep fighting the good fight.

Mandela’s story has a happier ending. I was inspired by the movie Invictus to discover the actual truth behind the man. It was a fascinating, enlightening, heartening, inspiring and infuriating journey.

Fascinating

I’m not a history buff. I had heard Mandela’s name bandied about, but I didn’t know him from Malcolm X in the scope of beliefs and actions.

He was called the Black Pimpernel because he kept managing to disappear whenever the authorities closed in on his location. As a literary nerd, the allusion  to The Scarlet Pimpernel grabbed my attention.

Enlightening

Injustice happens everywhere. If I spent all my thoughts and energy learning about the various examples of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man, I’d have nothing left for anything else. Further, I’d be so depressed or enraged; it wouldn’t be healthy.

Why had I never connected the dots that apartheid stemmed from the Dutch colonization of South Africa? The same movement toward colonizing the far reaches of the world that led to the birth of the United States of America hatched tyranny in many other places.

Heartening

Forgiveness, or the lack thereof, is a huge problem. If religious people with different beliefs could truly practice it, wars between factions could cease.

This is what Mandela embodies in my own mind. He walked out of prison and chose to forgive those who put him there. Did this mean he suddenly endorsed their viewpoint? No.

He understood that the future can look to the past for assistance but it cannot hold onto the grievances of the past. He didn’t want to kill his enemies; he wanted to learn to peacefully coexist with them.

Some ideologies had to die on both sides for this peace to be won. Compromise doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If Mandela had come at his opponents with guns of retribution blazing, all would have been lost. By being a man of character, he won the respect of his adversaries and eventually of an entire nation. Perhaps, an entire world.

Inspiring

Role models abound. Down the street, across the country and in the far corners of the world. The ones who make the news win the Nobel Peace Prize. The rest of them have an even greater reward waiting in eternity.

Mandela is hardly the first person to suffer imprisonment for disagreeing with the powers that be. He is not unique in continuing to be revered during his absence from society. Many have suffered the same fate.

He inspired me because his wisdom was coupled with humility. He was adored by his fellow countrymen and feared by those who supported the fallen regime. He used his power to unite a country.

Old hatreds die hard. I pray Mandela’s ideology will continue in his homeland. I believe it will because true heroes inspire others to follow in their footsteps

Infuriating

As every good American can claim, I am a melting pot of cultures. I have ancestors that sailed on the Mayflower and ones who walked the Trail of Tears. Their pain and discovery opened the door into the world where I now enjoy freedoms they died pursuing.

Mandela was a product of colonizing forces, as well. His tribal ancestors were driven away and oppressed beneath apartheid. Fortunately, he believed in freedom and that true freedom meant forgiving his oppressors and learning to work toward a common goal.

What gives us the right to walk into a society different than ours and decide it needs our assistance? What makes one culture superior to another? Who can judge such a thing?

Change is inevitable and most of the time, it’s for the better. It’s one thing to offer education and assistance to a culture that is struggling to survive because it lacks the knowledge to effectively utilize its resources. Forcing someone to yield to your ideologies is a whole different can of tyranny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related Posts:

Nelson Mandela, Rest in Peace

Long Live Peace. Long Live Nelson Mandela

What’s a Muse?

Muse: Statue in Germany
Muse: Statue in Germany

Muse, Greek goddess of artists, gifted her favored ones with inspiration to create fantastic and original works of art: sculptures, paintings, poetry, songs. Actually, lucky for the Greeks, there were nine goddesses.

Greek city states produces creative art, I’m sure.

Often, we creative types like to blame our personal muse when what we write is subpar. Or if we aren’t feeling especially creative. If the toast burns.

Yeah. Ridiculous. What is a muse anyway? Is it a real or imagined phenomenon?

Muse Defined

Aside from the capitalized version referenced above, the noun form of muse means “a source of inspiration; especially a guiding genius” (Merriam-Webster).

With such a broad definition, a muse could be anything. Maybe the sunrise inspires you. It could be a walk that helps your creativity flow. Reading quotes from a literary genius like Shakespeare or a satirist like Mark Twain might incite you to write.

Whatever makes you itch to practice your art becomes your muse.

Real or Imaginary

Artists who depend on the elusive muse to visit them before they can create have made her a crutch. Why cripple yourself? Time to throw away the cane, Tiny Tim, and stand on your own two feet.

Ideas sparkle in the air around us. Open your eyes and ears to the world and you will discover an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

I believe some things I’ve written have been divinely inspired. Other stories emerged from dreams. According to the dictionary definition, whatever inspires us can be a muse.

My Muse

In my case, my muse defies definition. When a story is fresh, the ideas flow. The story becomes my muse.

Often a walk early in the morning causes poetry to flow. Is it nature or exercise acting as my muse?

When you say, “I’m waiting for inspiration to hit” instead of writing, you harelip your muse. I believe the muse is available as oxygen. We only need to open our artistic lungs and inhale her.

What is your personal muse?