Welcome to Amelia Indie Authors, a co-op dedicated to the support and empowerment of independent authors who strive for excellence in publishing.

In many circles, the phrase “indie author” has replaced the term “self-published” and, frankly, we’re glad. The new term is far more accurate because, in order to create a high-quality product, nobody publishes by him or her self. To be candid, those who try produce some embarrassing results.

Unfortunately, far too many indie authors are being lured into paying large (!) sums for things they can easily learn to do for themselves. Sadly, many purchase high-priced packages, only to find they still need to tend their own websites and social media platforms.

Amelia Indie Authors is a co-op providing help on both fronts: we work with authors to raise the bar on quality while helping to connect them with high-value, ethical providers. For more info check  Author Services and the Join Us  page .

In addition to member-only content we strive to give back to the larger community by providing thought-provoking content. We are deeply grateful to our #WritingCommunity colleagues for contributing beautiful, original content.

A Commitment to Magic

white printer paper on brown wooden tableby Trienah Meyers

 

There are those of us who have made a commitment to listing resolutions for the new year. And there are those of us that have not.

My experience with New Year’s resolutions is that they are mostly a set-up for failure. The idea that on one particular day of the year one can make a decision to change some very major aspect of life seems more than a little nonsensical to me.

How Do We Change?

Change, particularly of something major, is generally a process, and a slow one at that. You resolve, for example, to lose weight. As if by magic, or by resolution, that will happen. Nope — it is a long, slow process that involves discipline, work, and consistency of action.

You resolve, for example, to sort and organize your old photographs. As if by magic the photo-sorting elves will come during the night and on the first of the year, or maybe the second, it will be done.  Wrong again. It is another process that involves both effort and consistency.

Perhaps you resolve to organize your finances, to obtain better control of your spending, saving, bill paying and the like. As much as we’d like spending to come down and saving to go up leaving us with fatter bank accounts, that’s not something that happens by magic, either. It is a process of organization, awareness, consistency and commitment.

Commit to the Questions

By now you may have noticed that there is a common element in each of these examples and that is consistency, something that, by definition, is a process over time. Which brings me to reality and writing.

There you are, sitting at your desk, or preferred workspace, laptop, pen and pad. Maybe you are in your garden, maybe you are in bed: one never knows where the magic will happen. But there you are, thinking and wondering about what is next. What are the words? What is the form? What is the next good idea for plot or character? And while an idea may form, while the essential plot or theme may come to you overnight, the writing does not happen by magic. It is a process that takes work, commitment and, yes — consistency.

Consistency of Commitment

green trees beside river during daytimeSo instead of a momentary resolution, what do we do? When it comes to the process of writing we are all different. But I think the very first ingredient for being successful at it on any level, is consistency. If you are a short piece writer, like me, and you drop off the map regularly, like me, your audience will get bored and disappear — like mine.

If you are a fiction writer of novel length, you are likely to get bored or stuck if you don’t keep going forward with it. Some fiction writers bring a meticulous plan to their plots and some let the characters take them for a ride but, either way, you will never finish if you don’t keep going.

If you are a non-fiction writer, you most likely have to continue to research in order to get your content right and to develop it to what you want it to be. An article? A post? A book?  The same quantity, quality, and drive to do ongoing research could  apply to writers of historical fiction or any work that is based in fact. I could go on but you get the idea.

Is deciding to be more consistent a resolution, which by definition is a fleeting moment of decision? Or is it a commitment, which, in order to exist has to proceed into the future? And that seems even more true when I contemplate a commitment to increased consistency.

Bird by Bird

yellow crumpled papersSo there you are, sitting in your favorite spot, hoping the words and ideas will come…  but you’re just not feeling it. What to do? Write something, anything. Make a note about something you observed. Write a sentence about a person or character you know or have thought of, even if you have no story to go with either person or the character.

Write a letter to someone you miss without intention to send it. Write a sentence about a flower, about your mother, about anything. It doesn’t matter. Perhaps you will discard it later, perhaps it will blossom into something lovely. Who knows? The point is that you wrote something that day and, if you are trying to build a robust writing practice, it’s a fine start. You showed up and you took action. Tomorrow you’ll do it again. That is the meaning of commitment and consistency.

I hope your new year brings you interesting characters, spellbinding plots and beautiful language as well as happiness, health and prosperity. All of these are within your reach with consistency and commitment.

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...sitting at your desk, or preferred workspace, laptop, pen and pad. Maybe you are in your garden, maybe you are in bed: one never knows where the magic will happen. Click To Tweet

 

Write something, anything. Make a note about something you observed. Write a sentence about a person or character you know or have thought of, even if you have no story to go with either person or the character. Click To Tweet

 

Some fiction writers bring a meticulous plan to their plots and some let the characters take them for a ride but, either way, you will never finish if you don't keep going. Click To Tweet

 

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Trienah Meyers is a musician, writer, and friend who is exploring the boundaries and learning to live a different life in this new stage. Travel, food, religion. Everything old is new again. Everything is interesting. She is a vital member of Amelia Indie Authors where, in addition to her many co-op contributions, she is sometimes called upon for proofreading and edits.

 

 

Inspired by a Beloved Character?

Readers love character-driven fiction. We’ve all had our imaginations captured by a character (or characters) so well drawn that we feel compelled to dive into the story alongside them. That personal connection can be so powerful that we feel this character is someone we know — almost like a close  friend or family member whose trials tug at our heartstrings.

Some characters are so well-loved that we can read about them on social media where their fans compare knowledge of a character’s activities, interest, or appearance. They post and debate and argue over what he/she did or didn’t do, what they might do, or even what they should do. In fact, there’s an entire genre known as fan fiction in which avid readers will borrow an author’s characters and write new stories for them.

What is a Beloved Character?

But today, on the eve of the release of When Starlings Fly as One, we’re checking in with Irish historical fiction author Nancy Blanton to get her views on the topic. In reading her blog post on the topic I couldn’t help but notice: Blanton walks her talk. Nowhere does she expect her readers to fall in love with characters from whom she is distant.

She says, “When I use the term “beloved character” I mean first and foremost that the character must be loved by the author. A writer can’t possibly make a reader care about one of their characters unless they themselves first care very deeply about them — and know them extremely well. That knowledge and understanding is like relationships with real people: it shows itself over time.

We asked her about Merel de Vries, the protagonist of her latest novel, When Starlings Fly as One. As with many wonderful relationships, this meeting was purely serendipitous. “I wasn’t even thinking about the book or the story. I was in bed, browsing dreamily through my Pinterest feed. And there she was.”

“She stared at me from a small portrait, a headshot as we say, and not even head and shoulders. The painting was quite old and badly scratched, but the scratches looked like teardrops. Something about her dark eyes hooked me and I couldn’t sleep until I had found something about who she was. The post said only, “Head of a young woman, c. 17th century by an unknown Dutch artist”.”

Follow the Clues

There was, however, an additional clue: word ‘ashmolean’ appeared in the caption. Living in the U.S., Blanton says she was barely familiar with the magnificent Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology on Beaumont Street, Oxford, England. Regardless of its holdings, this museum holds a great deal of historic sway: it is the world’s second university museum and Britain’s first public museum. The first of its buildings went up in the 17th century specifically to house the cabinet of curiosities that Elias Ashmole gave to the University of Oxford in 1677.

If you know that Blanton loves research every bit as much as she enjoys creating stories to share her findings, you can probably guess what came next. “I contacted them. They had the painting, but no further information about the subject or painter. In that case, I had a blank slate on which to build. I purchased the usage rights for my book cover, even before I had really started the manuscript.”

So, on one hand, the author was free to create a story to match the portrait. On the other, there really wasn’t much to go on. Or was there?

Portrait as Character Sketch

“From this portrait alone, I knew Merel was young, smart, petite, and a bit sad. The bow in her hair made her look younger than she probably was, but the grand pearl necklace and fine yellow gown said she lived as a person of wealth. I may never know who she really was, but I certainly hope I’ve reflected at least some of her truth.”

That the woman was Dutch initially seemed to be an obstacle, but actually provided the author with an unexpected — and perfect —  solution to writing about the 1641 Irish Rebellion against the English. Although her heart is forever and always with the Irish, Blanton hoped to approach this episode with as unbiased look as she could muster.

A Character’s Point of View

shallow focus photography of teal and white ceramic bowls and cupsSince ‘histories are written by the victors,’ finding objectivity could prove difficult. The English side was well documented and recently the Irish perspective has become a bit easier to uncover. Creating a fairly young and mostly neutral protagonist would allow the reader to travel with Merel as she discovered both sides of the story and explored her own internal conflicts.

From there Nancy Blanton did what she typically does for a character. “I gave her a birthday, parentage, relationships, desires, flaws. Some of what I set up in the beginning changed as I progressed in the story, and learned more about her and how she would react in specific situations. I got to know her, and well before the end of the book, I loved her.”

We hope you do, too.

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When Starlings Fly as One by Nancy Blanton will be available June 23, 2021.

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