Happy Independence Day month! Okay, it’s still a couple of days away, but I’m impatient. This blog is, in part, an apology for my horizons having been too narrow for too long. I’m gonna confess something that if you’ve been reading my other blogs, you probably surmised anyway. I am often exacting and particular in my reading choices (and when I critique others’ work). When I was in grad school, and even when I was working on the B.A., my fellow English majors and I used to laugh at the mass market genre fiction that people love to consume. We pointed out the books’ obvious tropes and clichés and we all felt very smart. I’m gonna put this next sentence by itself because it’s important:

I was wrong; there are plenty of exceptional popular genre books on the market. Bear with me here. I promise this blog has a point beyond my own writing journey.

Grad school and college were (gulp) over thirty years ago. Things change. I used to write poetry almost exclusively. It was my first writing love, and my focus in school. It was the basis of most of my publications. I used to get nervous when I’d see a line begin to wrap around onto the next line. I’d also taken several fiction technique and workshop classes and wrote quite a bit of that as well, but never really considered myself a fiction writer.

What also changed was that over the years from when I left the ivory tower, my tastes expanded. I still love the likes of Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Kate Chopin, Zora Neale Hurston etc. etc. I still read a lot of literary poetry and fiction. I still highly recommend that if you want to write, you need to read the classics (both old and new).

When I was pregnant with my son and on bedrest, I didn’t want to have to work my brain all that hard; I was already stressed. I was handed a Nora Roberts book by someone, and y’know what? It was fun and entertaining.

I got curious about what else was out there. I started to read other romance writers. Some of them were awful, cliched, cookie cutter stories, others really were surprisingly good. I expanded into mysteries and science fiction. Same results. Eventually, I ran out of books by authors I really got into (most of them passed on). I couldn’t find anyone else I especially liked, though. Having devloped a taste for romance fiction though, I found myself looking for love stories in other genres.

That brings me to the movies and my beloved superheroes. I wanted the love interest subplots to be developed in the movies. They did a good job with Tony Stark and Pepper Potts, but Peggy Carter, Betty Ross, and others barely had story lines. I did what I always do. I turned back to reading. There are a lot of superhero novels in cirulation, and I found most of them didn’t really meet what I felt I needed from them. I tried reading fan fiction. That was a truly mixed bag. After a few years of frustration, I wrote my own darned books instead.

Wolfing down popular genre fiction and reading and writing on various fanfiction sites is a far cry from my 20-something-year-old self’s reading preferences.

Writers, as I’ve noted in the past, need readers, obviously. The world of indie authors gave me decent insight into what the book trade world is really like. I wasn’t going to just toss my books into the market and meet success. The phrase, “If you build it, they will come” clearly isn’t true. I needed connections and a community. This introduced me to a world I hadn’t paid more than passing attention to in the past: that of indie writers.

I’ve met and read some phenomenal indie writers, some mediocre ones, and some that honestly, I can never unsee, and it pains me. Still, we help each other, encourage each other, make each other better, and put our names out there for one another. I’m humbled and honored to be considered their colleague.

That being said, I want to use my Independence Day Month blog to celebrate independent writers. Below is a list of some indie authors I’ve come to know and whose work I plan to follow if I’m not already. There are also a few here that are still on my “to be read” list. They run the gamut of genres from literary to full-out, single genre novels. This isn’t an exhaustive list.

One of the best compliments I had from a reader was, “this is the best thing I didn’t know I needed in my life.” I’m hoping you’ll find something like that among these authors. Click on their names, and you’ll see their author pages on Amazon or their webpage. Give some of them a try.

More than that, leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads once you’ve read the books. We indies are beyond grateful to readers who post how much they liked our books, and it helps significantly with getting our books into the hands of other new readers. In no particular order (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few):

Charles J. Musser: Literary and Magical Realism

Rob Horner: Sci-Fi/Horror

Amber Norton: several genres including Romance /Erotica, Creative Nonfiction, Self-Help, and others. She’s also a book promoter.

John Adams: Sci-Fi

Angel Ramon: Horror/Gaming (zombies)

Ann Robinson: Romance/Erotica

Toni Goode: Paranormal/Paranormal Romance

Leta McCurry: Women’s Literature

K.L. Laettner: Women’s Literature/Romance

Ciera Vaidya: Thriller/Horror

Erika Jackson: Memoir

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