A Big Thank You to my Readers

I got a (kick ass) video review for Sex, Murder & Killer Cupcakes. At one point, Kelli compares my writing style to that of Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum series) which was a rather “holy $hit” moment. Listen to the full review here.

This brought about another thought – out of all of the books (and blogs) in the world, you dear reader, have chosen mine. I can’t tell you how much it means that you spend your time and, sometimes, your money, on my writing. Flattered. Appreciative. Grateful. Thank you, thank you. Words are not nearly enough…

Allison Janda

What will you do to change the world?

It’s easy to shrug something off as impossible. We do it all the time – with jobs, with goals, with dreams. Frankly, it’s a wonder humans get anything accomplished at all what with all the time we spend talking ourselves down from impossibility.

Between you and me, I believe that inside each of us lies the power to change the world.

Bold? Perhaps.

If you’ll stick with me, I’d like to share a story.

It’s not a story of great impact, but it covers a basic struggle: how do I approach my goal as myself?

I have always wanted to be a published author. I had no idea how to write a book, but plenty of other people did. When the idea first hit me, I devoured page upon page of “how to” novels. I’m not joking – hundreds. There are probably thousands left. And with all of that advice, all of that education – I just wasn’t getting it. It was like Algebra all over again.

What I really could have used was a guidebook entitled: Allison Janda’s guide to writing her first novel.

The truth? There are no guidebooks to life. You don’t discover a nice, neat black and white path with your name marked all over it. And while you can prepare yourself with advice from others (I can’t begin to tell you how many Elizabeth Gilbert/Janet Evanovich/John Grisham interviews I read) in the end, it’s just you, my friend. You work an 8 to 5? Wake up at 4:30. You don’t have a strong voice? Take a class. You have too many social engagements? Cancel a few. Excuses are just detours – and you could detour forever. I wrote and published 3 books in 9 months – I ran out of excuses. I created my own guidebook as I went along.

That’s what so many of us miss. We’re constantly hunting for the “right” path or the “easy” way. Others have accomplished the dreams we wish to attain – but how? In the end – they just did it. They slogged through all the work and the time and the pain and the financial struggle and the dip in social life. You can too, you know. You have that power within you.

When we change whether by doing or not doing, we ourselves become different – it’s impossible not to. Those changes affect not only us, but also those around us and so on and so forth. A ripple. And maybe it’s a change that sees history books. But it doesn’t need to, to prove impactful.

What will you do to change the world?

PS: Here’s how Shane started changing the world – and inspired me to write this blog.

Technology – Is it Making Us Less Natural?

We’re fairly visual creatures. In all honesty, my day tends to boil down into a series of senses. Smells that I remember, things I’ve tasted or touched and even seen. They trigger memories throughout my day. Some good. Some not so good. One of my favorite smells in the whole world? My dogs. I know, it’s kind of weird. But in the morning, we all wake up and give one another kisses and sometimes I just bury my nose deep into their scruff and breathe. They smell like sweat and sunshine and happiness. Then again, I’m one of those weird dog people.

When I was younger, I’d pour through the family photo albums or the boxes overflowing with unsorted pictures of decades prior. Their edges were yellowed, the film was somewhat faded and many of the faces and places were ones I didn’t recognize. Yet, there was something so present about the past. It was something that I could see, even if I hadn’t been there.

Due to all of the boxes of photographs that my parents and grandparents have, I’m forced to wonder- what will kids today have to dig through?

We live in an age of technology. Just about every phone has a camera built right into it. Computers and tablets do, too. You can take photographs and videos anywhere you’re carrying your device. We upload these photos to SIM cards, online drives and new computers. We text them, upload them to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumbler and Snapchat. This begs the question: when was the last time your kids or nieces and nephews crawled into your lap and asked you to give them the story behind a photo of yours that they found? Where did they find it? Was it a great photo that had been Photoshopped and filtered before it was posted? Are they seeing YOU exactly how you really are?

Those old pictures I would go through- they were natural. Pale white skin on a summer day, squished into a lawn chair and sipping from a can. Smiles and sweat stained shirts following a game of tennis, rackets happily tossed over shoulders in casual abandon. Mid-sentence with mouth wide open and eyes half closed at the family Thanksgiving dinner, gesturing wildly with a turkey leg in one hand and a fork in the other. Are those photos that people can just FIND of you simply by stumbling across them? Or is that the you that you aren’t as comfortable sharing?

Is this okay, or should we be more willing to laugh at ourselves and our terrible photos?

I think that for all the technology- for the ability that we have to show ourselves to the world- we sure are camera shy.

This just goes to show that while technology has benefited us greatly, it has also managed to break down the lines of communication in ways we never counted on. It has made us less comfortable in something as simple as being ourselves. What are additional lines of communication that have been broken down since the age of technology and what remedies have you found to counter them?

Why Indie?

I’m not asked this question a lot, but I am asked often enough that I feel inclined to post about it. While the subject matter is a bit more geared toward this blog, I felt it deserved a more personal space.

The question: Why be an indie author?

Frankly, there are a lot of different reasons I picked this route. Some are well thought out and others not so much. Then again I’m not the most strategically minded decision maker, but I find that shooting from the hip works for me better- maybe that’s why I keep doing it.

The best laid plans, right?

While I could make this blog impossibly long (I have 5 reasons for self-publishing in my head as we speak and more just keep popping in) I’d really like to focus on the main point in my decision making process as I feel it’s the most important to understand.

If you’ve self-published or if you’ve considered self-publishing. If you’re a reader who loves indie authors or if you can’t understand the indie phenomenon – the bottom line is:

I’m good enough.

Don’t get me wrong. I may still be in my 20s (barely) but let me stress that this is NOT a generational/immediate gratification thing. Frankly, I have my opinions on that as well, but that’s another day/another blog.

Here’s the root of it: technology has reached a point where, as a writer, I don’t have to depend upon a higher up for something if I’m willing to work my ass off and do it myself. That’s why I’m an entrepreneur. Being an indie author is simply another way that I can flex those entrepreneurial skills.

By self-publishing, I don’t have to worry that someone is going to tell me my writing isn’t good enough. I don’t have to wait to hear back about the major changes I need to make in order to be put into a consideration pile and hey, maybe I’ll hear back one way or the other after 6 weeks.

Screw. That.

I’m all for learning, improving and taking constructive criticism (or not so constructive as it sometimes may be). I did bring on an editor, after all.

However, I put my hours, my crappy eyesight, my tears, my money and so much more into producing a product that I’m proud of. You hear that? I’m PROUD of what I wrote. Best of all, I’m CAPABLE of sharing it with you myself if I put in the time and effort to learn how (or if I invest in someone else who does). Why let someone tell me that I shouldn’t have wasted my time because it isn’t THEIR idea of worthy work?

As far as I’m concerned, it IS good enough. Good enough to share with the world, in fact. And while I’ve had friends and family compliment my writing, I’ve submitted my books to a variety of book bloggers, too. Book bloggers that read hundreds of books every single year. Guess what? They seem to think it’s pretty good, too.

So that’s the bottom line for me. I can. Granted there are some really crappy self-published books out there. You know what? There are some really crappy traditionally published books, too. I’ve read plenty of them.

My Babies

My dogs are my kids. Naturally, I felt that it was time to have them photographed. Check out Kala Howard for a sneak peek at Charlotte (Chihuahua) and Millie (?).

Granted, this isn’t the only “crazy” thing I’ve done for my dogs. They get spoiled with love, rawhides, trips to the dog park, trips to the pet store, Bark Boxes, and more. Plus, they have full access to the bed, especially when it comes to early morning snuggles. Crazy dog lady? Perhaps. But these two little buggers shower me with more love and attention on a daily basis than any human is fit to receive. Isn’t it fair that I return the favor when and how I can?

What crazy thing have you done for your dogs lately?

PS: I try to remind myself to approach friendship and family in the way that my dogs would – eagerly, fully and with no hesitation. Thus far, I’m liking the changes I see in my relationships. You should give it a shot, dear reader.