I believe life whispers to you and provides direction. I call that life force God. You can call it whatever you want, but there is no escaping it. If we are open, and brave enough to say yes, life will take us in directions we never expected, and you will live a life beyond your wildest dreams.
Those whisperings often come in the form of a “crazy” idea or a nudge to move into a certain direction that seems odd or silly or daring. Then there is that moment when you think, Well, that’s weird. Where in the world did that come from?
And then there’s the second moment, when you have to make a choice. You can dismiss the crazy notion, and probably even come up with a dozen reasons why it’s a bad idea. You don’t have the time, the money, or the resources. Besides, who are you to do such a thing? What in the world were you thinking? So, you dismiss the idea. We always have that option – to say No.
But it comes back – that whisper. Sometimes again and again. But if we are practical, and safe, we can squash the notion until it is almost forgotten. Almost.
Such a notion came to me a couple of months ago. I began to think of an anthology composed of women writers. An anthology that would be published before the rapidly approaching holiday season. The title came to me almost immediately – Indie Chicks. It was a crazy notion. I was working with an editor who was editing my first two novels, and was also in the middle of writing a third novel. Working on three books seemed to be a pretty full plate. Adding a fourth was insane.
But the crazy notion kept coming back to me. It simply refused to be dismissed. So I sent out a “feeler” email to another writer, Michelle Muto. She loved the idea. I sent out another email to my writing buddy, J. Carson Black. She loved the idea, too, but couldn’t make the time commitment. She had just signed with Thomas & Mercer and was knee deep in writing. I took it as a sign. I didn’t have the time for the project either. Perhaps after the first of the year, when final edits were done on my own novels. I dismissed it, at least for the present time. I’d think about it again in another couple of months, when the timing made more sense.
A week later I surrendered, started developing a marketing plan for Indie Chicks, and began sending out emails to various indie writers – some I knew, but most were strangers. I contacted a little over thirty women. Every one of them responded with enthusiasm. Most said yes immediately, and those who could not, due to time commitments, wished us well and asked me to let them know when the book when the book was published so they could be part of promoting it.
One of the first writers I contacted was Heather Marie Adkins. Earlier this year, while I was browsing the internet, I came across an interview with Heather. The interviewer (oddly enough, Michelle Muto) asked Heather, When did you decide to become an indie author? Heather’s answer was: About a month ago. My dad had been trying to talk me into self-publishing for some time, but I was hesitant. One night, I sat down and ran a Google search. I discovered Amanda Hocking, JA Konrath, Victorine Lieski; but it was Cheryl Shireman that convinced me. This is the field to be in. I was shocked (Astonished! Flabbergasted!). I had no idea that I had ever inspired anyone! To be honest, it was a bit humbling. And,okay, yes – it made me cry. So, of course, I had to invite Heather to be a part of the anthology. Heather not only said yes, but she also volunteered to format the project – a task I was dreading.
As Heather and I exchanged emails, I told her about how I had been similarly inspired to become an indie writer by Karen McQuestion. My husband bought me a Kindle for Christmas of 2010. Honestly, the present angered me. I didn’t want a Kindle. I wanted nothing to do with reading a book on an electronic device! I love books; the feel of them, the smell of them. But, very quickly, I started filling up that Kindle with novels.
One day, while looking for a new book on Amazon, I came across a title by Karen McQuestion. I learned that McQuestion had published her novels through Amazon straight to Kindle. Immediately, I began doing research on her and how to publish through Kindle. I had just completed a novel and was ready to submit it through traditional routes. Within 48 hours of first reading about McQuestion, I submitted my novel, Life is But a Dream: On the Lake (Grace Adams Series). Twenty four hours later, it was published as an eBook on Amazon. Within another couple of weeks it was available as a paperback and through Nook. Did I jump into this venture fearlessly? No! I was scared to death, and I almost talked myself out of it. Almost. The novel went on to sell over 10,000 copies within the first seven months of release.
As I shared that story with Heather, another crazy notion whispered in my ear – Ask Karen McQuestion to write the foreword for Indie Chicks. Of course, I dismissed it. We had exchanged a couple of tweets on Twitter, but other than that, I had never corresponded with McQuestion. It was nonsense to think she would write the foreword. I was embarrassed to even ask her. Surely, she would think I was some sort of nut. But, the idea kept whispering to me and, with great trepidation, I emailed her. She said yes! Kindly, enthusiastically, and whole-heartedly, she said yes. Karen McQuestion had inspired me to try indie publishing. I had inspired Heather Adkins. And now the three of us were participating in Indie Chicks, that crazy whisper I had been unable to dismiss.
The book began to develop, and as it did, a theme began to form. This was to be a book full of personal stories from women. As women, one of our most powerful gifts is our ability to encourage one another. This book became our effort to encourage women across the world. Twenty-five women sharing stories that will make you laugh, inspire you, and maybe even make you cry. We began to dream that these stories would inspire other women to live the life they were meant to live.
From the beginning, I knew I wanted the proceeds of this charity to go to some sort of charity that would benefit other women. While we were in the process of compiling the anthology, the mother of one of the women was diagnosed with breast cancer. Almost immediately upon learning that, Michelle Muto sent me an email. Hey, in light of *****’s mother having an aggressive form of breast cancer, can I nominate The Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer? I mean, one of our own is affected here, and other than heart disease (which took my own mother’s life), I can’t think of anything more worthy than to honor our sister in words and what she’s going through. A daughter’s love knows no bounds for her mother. Trust me. I know it’s a charity that already gets attention on its own. But, that’s not the point, is it? The point is there are 25 ‘sisters’ sticking together and supporting each other for this anthology. I say we put the money where the heart is. We had our inspiration. All proceeds would go to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer research.
The stories started coming in. Some were light hearted and fun to read. But others were gut-wrenching and inspiring – stories of how women dealt with physical abuse, overwhelming grief, and a host of bad choices. It was clear; these women were not just sharing a story, but a piece of their heart. I felt as if I were no longer “organizing” this anthology, but just getting out of the way so that it could morph and evolve into its truest form.
Fast forward to just a few days before publication. Heather was almost done with the enormous task of formatting a book with twenty-five authors. We were very close to publishing and were on the homestretch. That’s when I received an email. An unlikely email from someone I didn’t really know. Beth Elisa Harris and I were involved in another indie project and Beth sent an email to all of the authors in that project, including me. She attached a journal to that email. For whatever reason, Beth had been inspired to share a journal she wrote a few years ago. She cautioned us to keep her confidence and not share the journal with anyone else. I tend toward privacy and don’t tend to trust easily. This is a HUGE step for me. I’ve only read it once since I wrote it. Intrigued, I opened the journal and began reading. It dealt with her diagnosis, a few years back, with breast cancer! Before I was even one third of the way through the journal, I felt I should ask Beth to include this journal in the Indie Chicks anthology. It was a crazy notion, especially when considering her words about privacy and trust. We didn’t even know each other, how could I ask her to go public with something so personal? I tried to dismiss the notion (are you noticing a pattern here?), but could not. I wrote the email, took a deep breath, and hit send. She answered immediately. Yes. Most definitely, yes.
Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories, with foreword by Karen McQuestion and afterword by Beth Elise Harris, is now available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon. The book includes personal stories from each of the women, as well as excerpts from our novels. And it began as a whisper. A whisper I did my best to ignore.
What whisper are you ignoring? What crazy notion haunts you? What dream merely awaits your response? I urge you, say Yes. Live the life you were meant to live. Say yes today.
Stories included in Indie Chicks:
- Foreword by Karen McQuestion
- Knight in Shining Armor by Shea MacLeod
- Latchkey Kid by Heather Marie Adkins
- Write or Die by Danielle Blanchard
- The Phoenix and The Darkness by Lizzy Ford
- Never Too Late by Linda Welch
- Stepping Into the Light by Donna Fasano
- One Fictionista’s Literary Bliss by Katherine Owen
- I Burned My Bra For This? by Cheryl Shireman
- Mrs. So Got It Wrong Agent by Prue Battten
- Holes by Suzanne Tyrpak
- Turning Medieval by Sarah Woodbury
- A Kinky Adventure in Anglophilia by Anne R. Allen
- Writing From a Flour Sack by Dani Amore
- Just Me and James Dean by Cheryl Bradshaw
- How a Big Yellow Truck Changed My Life by Christine DeMaio-Rice
- From 200 Rejections to Amazon Top 200! by Sibel Hodge
- Have You Ever Lost a Hat? by Barbara Silkstone
- French Fancies! by Mel Comley
- Life’s Little Gifts by Melissa Foster
- Never Give Up On Your Dream by Christine Kersey
- Self-taught Late Bloomer by Carol Davis Luce
- Moving to The Middle East by Julia Crane
- Paper, Pen, and Chocolate by Talia Jager
- The Magic Within and The Little Book That Could by Michelle Muto
- Write Out of Grief by Melissa Smith
- Afterword by Beth Elisa Harris
Indie Chicks: 25 Women 25 Personal Stories To read all of the stories, buy your copy today. Also included are sneak peeks into 25 novels!
Stop by our Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/IndieChicksAnthology
Follow our Indie Chicks hash tag on Twitter! #IndieChicksAnthology
Cheryl Shireman is the bestselling author of several novels, including Broken Resolutions, the Life is But a Dream series, and the Cooper Moon series. She is also the author of ten books for toddlers including the eight Let’s Learn About series focusing on different animals and I Love You When: For Girls and I Love You When: For Boys.
Marc Vun Kannon says
Most of my stories begin that way.
A few years ago my publisher, Echelon Press, had a similar idea. She wanted to put together an anthology of fire-related stories to raise money for a charity for victims of wildfires. She sent out emails to 20 of her authors, in every genre imaginable, to write a story about fire, no other restrictions, do it in two weeks, and there was no money in it for any of us.
She got 22 stories.
Oh, that’s beautiful Marc.
It amazes me, how the women in this book all pulled together. This anthology has really became something so important to us. It started out as a simple anthology, but we all ended up sharing a bit of our hearts.
Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and comment and share your story. I really appreciate it.
Julia Crane says
Cheryl, thank you for taking the time to put this together.
Thank you for being such an important part of it!
I love that this is a project from women all over the world!
Mel Comley says
I’m delighted to be part of this inspirational project. I feel blessed that you asked me Cheryl. Thank sweet, glamour Granny! 😉
Ha! You crack me up. YES! I’m a grandma – the next best thing to having your own children. Maybe even better because it is a lot cheaper! My granddaughter is adorable and calls me “Bomb Bomb” – none of us know why but I love it. Of course, if she called me Vomit, I would love that too. lol Don’t get me started. I will start telling stories about her!
Thrilled you said yes to joining us, Mel. What a fun project for all of us to be a part of!
Lindsay Edmunds says
This anthology sounds like a winner any way you want to look at it.
Lindsay, if we never sell more than the 25 books we each buy for ourselves, that will be enough. This has been an absolutely amazing experience. The way it has all come together, the enthusiasm everyone has shown, their generosity of spirit – the beautiful stories everyone has shared. It’s already enough.
But if we can inspire some other women, and raise money for a good cause, then that will be even better.
My cup runneth over…..
R.S. Guthrie (@rsguthrie) says
Cheryl, I look forward to reading this anthology (for both the ideology/cause it supports and because I think it will be one heck of a great read). Thanks for this post. Your generosity of spirit is motivating! Cheers ツ
Ah! I will never get through this day without crying.
Thanks so much for your kind post. We all have a choice, don’t we? One of the things I like best about being a writer is encouraging other writers. We are not competing with one another for readers. That is such a silly notion. I love writers, no matter how published, and love to encourage others to live their dreams.
This book is an extension of that kind of encouragement – specifically geared toward women. It doesn’t matter if it is writing, or starting a business, or getting out of a bad relationship – at times we all need a little encouragement. This book is the effort of 25 women to encourage women all over the world.
And if a few guys are encouraged too, then that’s even better!
Thanks so much for your kind words.
I love #WritersEncouragingWriters !!!
J. Carson Black says
Cheryl, me darlin’, it seems like only yesterday that you planned this anthology, then shelved it… and then up it popped again! There is a mysterious force here – or maybe not-so-mysterious. Turns out this is the right moment, and everything and everyone came to you, Karen McQuestion included. I love this idea and I love the authors in this book. I can’t wait to read every story.
Cheryl, you are a force! Fortunately for all of us, you are a Force for Good!
May the wind be at your back, my friend.
Okay – that one pushed me over. I’m crying.
J. Carson – I love you. But you already know that.
Talk about a force – J. Carson is certainly one. Not only a bestseller (I’m still gonna outsell you girl!), she is so kind and so generous. She took this newbie under her wing and gave me advice and support and, more importantly, made me laugh. A wonderful woman. I am proud to call her my friend.
And, by the way, she was picked up by Thomas and Mercer earlier this year. So her sales are going to be even more incredible. In the gazillions, I am sure.
Thank you Maggy. With friends like you, the wind is already at my back.
J. Carson Black says
We’ve already had some good times, haven’t we, Cheryl? With Sibel and The Summer Book Club.
I love that the proceeds from this book will go to the Susan G. Komen foundation.
This is gonna be huge!
Yes! If I had not been part of the Summer Book Club, I would have never had the courage to do this anthology.
Just another link in the chain. 🙂
Sibel Hodge says
What a beautiful post! I’m honoured to be included in the anthology, sharing my story with so many inspiring women! 🙂
Well, you ARE Wonder Woman, so how hard can it be?
We are thrilled you are part of the project!
(Now I have that theme song in my head – Wonder Womannnnnn….)
Katherine Owen - Author says
I’m glad you listened to the whispering and truly appreciate being included in this anthology. It is inspiring and so is your post. Thank you for being the driving force to make this extraordinary book a reality. I’m thrilled to be a part of it!
It’s funny – it seemed like such a crazy idea – it really did.
I wasn’t sure if anyone would say yes. And I was scared to ask. Look what fear can do. If I would have given in to fear, I never would have asked any of you.
It’s time for all of us to ask – What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Squash the fear and go for it!
So happy you are a part of this, too, Katherine!
Linda Welch says
Cheryl, you are a marvel. I admire your kind heart, upbeat attitude and motivation. I hardly believe you got this project off the ground so quickly! And I am honored to be a part of it.
Not to be too corny (too late!) – but I really DO believe it was meant to be.
And Heather Adkins put in lots of hours formatting this for us. Our angel!
Everything fell together – the foreword by Karen McQuestion and then the stunning afterword – an actual journal from breast cancer survivor – Beth Elisa Harris. You can’t plan that sort of thing.
This book was meant to be.
Kip de Moll says
Trusting the heart is such a leap in faith, but ignoring the “voice” so often keeps us stuck or moving in wrong directions, beating our heads against immovable walls. Inspiration comes in so many ways: a great anthology of similar voices, a true story of one who pushes beyond limits, a simple promise to buy when a book gets published…
Well, so much for the mascara today.
Beautifully written, Kip. Cannot wait to read your book – Zen and the Art of the Midlife Crisis: Leaving Expectations Behind, Pursuing Dreams Ahead!
And I hope you will stop by my website and do an Author Interview as soon as you publish
Looking forward to it, my new friend.
Dani Amore says
Thank you for this, Cheryl! I am honored to a part of this incredible group!
We are happy you said yes! Even though your little purple faced picture with the scary teeth is a bit frightening. But it is close to Halloween – Boo!
Shéa MacLeod says
Thanks for putting this project together Cheryl (a for Heather Marie Adkins for countless hours spent formatting it). It’s been an amazing adventure.
Thanks for your beautiful story – Knight In Shining Armor.
Ladies – you ALL need to read this one. It is the first story in the book – powerful, true, and inspiring.
It HAS been an amazing adventure – and it has only just begun! 🙂
Some of these stories haunt me daily. These women I’ve been getting to know have been through incredible journeys! I wouldn’t trade involvement in this project for anything. I feel like you are all my sisters.
I feel the same way Christine. This feels, so much, like it is OUR project. There is such a sense of ownership and encouragement. And we are women of varying ages, diverse backgrounds, and we live in many different parts of the world. How awesome is that?
Right back at ya, Sista!
Danielle Blanchard says
Cheryl: I am so honored to be part of this project and I am so blown away you chose me to be involved. I loved this and the bonding experience it created. Count me in for any other anthology you want to do whether it involves sewing circles or how to be the perfect grandparent. I just feel so blessed I was able to get to know all of you. This is going to be big because this project was simply meant to be. 😉
Sewing circles! LOL!
I have a feeling there just might be another anthology. But we have just got this one off of the ground! One book at a time!
And you KNOW that is a joke – one book at a tiime! Ha! What a luxury.
So happy you are part of this anthology Danielle!
Heather Marie Adkins says
This has been an amazing ride with you so far, Cheryl, and I’m looking forward to continuing it on 🙂 You know I owe you TONS for that inspiration you spoke of in your post! If not for your blog and your story of LIBAD, I wouldn’t have started this indie path. I’m honored to be working with you and the other women in this anthology.
And you have no idea how you have inspired me! As soon as I had a website, I knew I wanted it to be about more than just sellling books. I wanted to encourage other writers to write and publish their own books. I hoped that I would be able to do that in some small way. I never expected to actually see the results of that. I just hoped to be somebody that could plant seeds of hope in others. So, when I learned that my words had inspired you to actually publish, it was such a gift. An affirmation. A blessing.
Now, it’s your turn to go out and inspire and encourage. 🙂
Lee Anne Benjamin says
Wonderful post! I am really excited to check out the anthology. I think that it is amazing that all proceeds go to Susan G Komen. What an inspiriting mom I have to look up to. I love you!
Thanks so much Sweetie! I love you so much. 🙂
Gil Gonzalez says
Simply amazing, Cheryl. An inspiring reminder that life is in the doing and not the planning. Congratulations on your effort, and thank you for sharing.
Thanks for stopping by, Gil. I really appreciate your kind comments!