Tag Archives: writing

Writer In A New Place — Djuna Shellam The Write OWL — Episode 25

Writer In A New Place

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL Episode 25

Moving to a new place for the normal person includes a lot of new experiences. For a writer in a new place, new experiewriter in a new placences are actually fodder for stories. That’s how I see it for myself, anyway. Though I’m still in the moving process, I’m hanging out in the general region where I’ll be putting down my roots, and it is just chockfull of information I feel confident I’ll use in upcoming stories. I hope so, anyway.

In some ways, having moved from an entirely different climate with what can only be described as contrasting terrain, I am seriously experiencing sensory overload. It’s wonderful, but I’m beginning to feel as if I should start taking notes because I’m afraid I’m going to forget my first impressions as everything becomes “everyday” to me.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m in sort of a limbo state while I await the availabilty of my home. Living out of a suitcase is not my favorite thing. I thought I’d be able to write, write, write, but it’s not happening. Partly because I’m staying with my family who have their own schedules and a lot going on, so it’s difficult to do “my thing” which is hide myself away and write in my own little world. I’m here with them and I want to hang with them, so writing and making videos is getting preempted.



Oftentimes, if something must get done, I choose my video blog episodes instead of my writing. Not good. So… after pondering the whole situation for a minute (doesn’t take long to choose writing over videos) I’ve decided to put The Write OWL on hiatus. At least until I can get myself moved into my new home and make some progress on Dot in the Weeds. I’m thinking I will resume The Write OWL in September, or October by the latest. Until then, here’s a link to my YouTube channel. I’ll also be working on my blog to make my videos a little bit easier to access.

Right now I’m a writer in a new place, but next month I’ll be a writer in a different new place. So maybe I should start jotting down some notes about this place, eh?

I’ll continue blogging, but sans video. Thank you for visiting my blog.

 

The Write OWL

Independence of Self-Publishing — Djuna Shellam The Write OWL — Episode 24

The Independence of Self-Publishing

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL Episode 24

independence of self-publishingTo be sure, there is and probably always will be a certain controversy regarding the independence of self-publishing. The controversy itself is fluid and changes with the ages. Back in the beginning days of publishing, there seemed to be a lot of self-publishing going on, though it was generally the rich doing the publishing because it was a costly enterprise.

In time, the big dogs took over the industry and anyone who sought the independence of self-publishing was mocked and ridiculed as a vanity publisher. Ah, some mocking was well-deserved, I’m sure; but, other writers were the subject of industry disdain simply because they did not agree with the rejections they received from publishing houses, and chose self-determination instead.

For me, it always felt like I was asking permission to oh please, powerful strangers, let me be a writer. As soon as self-publishing became an electronic affair, I was all in—and I never looked back. It’s a known fact that I am somewhat of a rebellious sort. Of course, the big house royalty advances are always a nice dream, but that’s what it is for a vast majority of writers—a dream. Getting published by a big publishing house is like winning the lottery. Maybe the odds are even worse. I don’t know. But for the amount of energy put into trying to get someone else to publish me, I’ve opted to put that energy into self-publishing.

While there is a lot to be said for the independence of self-publishing, there is a downside. It’s not for everyone. It’s a lot of work, for not usually a lot of money. It’s not why I chose to be in control of my own work. Sure, I’ve made mistakes along the way, learning how this old, newish, industry works, but each mistake or stumble, I believe, has been an invaluable learning process. Every misstep along the way just makes me stronger and wiser.

As with everything, there is always a price to pay in one form or another. If a big house publishes you, you relinquish a lot of your creative control and input. If the book fails, it could be because it wasn’t a good book in the first place; or, it could be because the editor messed with your story a bit too much, or the marketing was lacking, or… lots of reasons that perhaps you had no hand in—whether you wanted to or not. And then… your once bright future does not look so bright. A failed book. Bad. Trying to get your first book published was difficult. Trying to get your second after the first one “failed?” Closer to impossible.



The flip side of the coin is that the independence of self-publishing also means if your book “fails,” it’s all on you, baby. And it’s up to you to decide what went wrong—all while trying to write your next book, while trying to edit or format another, and while also trying to market another. It’s all on you, but… you have complete control of your projects, your timetable, covers, editors, etc. And if it’s a success? It’s also all you.

Me? I love writing. I love sharing my stories. If I make some coin in the process? Fantastic. If not, at least I’m in charge of my art and the only people I have breathing down my back are my fans who can’t wait for my next story. No matter what, I’ll take the independence of self-publishing over “getting” published every day of the week.

The Write OWL

Insights From The Road — Djuna Shellam The Write OWL — Episode 21

Insights From the Road

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 21

Insights from the roadIn the 21st episode of Djuna Shellam The Write OWL, I thought I’d share some insights from the road and my relocation experience. I think moving should be the first three to ten most stressful life events on the stress list. You know, the list that includes death, loss of job, etc.

While I’ve been dreaming of and plotting this move for nearly half my life, maybe more, it hasn’t made the overall experience less traumatic or stressful. Between preparing my house to sell, the marketing of it, the selling, endless packing, and then moving, it’s a gnarly process. And it’s not finished yet. While I have arrived at my destination, I’ve yet to find a place to live, so I’m living somewhat of a nomad life, with all of my earthly possessions locked in storage. I’m generally a homebody, an earth sign, so my version homelessness just adds to the trauma.

There’s also the emotional roller coaster to consider. For me, next to having children, which I forgot to do, owning my own home was tantamount to adulthood status. It took me until the age of 42 to achieve that milestone. I’m a late bloomer. Not owning a home is a choice I’ve made for the moment, but it’s difficult to wrap my brain around that concept after having spent a lifetime of convincing myself that not owning a home is not an option. Then there are the monumental life events that happened in my house—the good, the bad and the ugly—a house that is now someone else’s. Some memories I’m happy, no, thrilled, to leave behind. Others… well, I think it will be a long, long time before I can accept that I will never ever again have access to where they were made. Many challenges, indeed.

However, ever since I’ve embraced the writer in me, I now see life’s challenges as potential fodder for my stories. Anything that’s difficult, interesting, new, or just plain awful, I now tuck away for future reference. Rather than allowing negative and terrible experiences to get me down, I think of the potential storylines or plot twists I can catalogue along with my insights from the road to use for future writings. Honestly, if not for my writer’s perspective, I’m convinced I would have gone mad many years ago.

One plus about the move was that I was fortunate to meet and become friends with a U-Haul employee who, when I realized I was too tired and stressed to drive the truck myself as planned, so kindly offered to drive the ginormous 26′ truck for me. It was kismet that we met, and a trip that had the makings of an absolute disaster ended up being probably the most fun roadtrip I’ve ever taken. I cannot remember a time when I’ve laughed so hard for almost two days straight. Yes, it’s true, it is something I don’t think I ever want to do again, but if not for U-Haul Amy—her humor, her thoughtfulness, her calm in every terrible situation, and her super driving skills—who knows where I’d be right this very moment. I shudder to think. I think the best insight from the road I can give is to listen to the voice in your head in times of stress. If it says to you, “You may not be able to do this safely,” you should listen and accept help from good samaratins. Don’t be a hero. Dead heroes are, well… dead.




So this part of my journey is finished, but I will still be without my own home for another six weeks. Thankfully, I have loving family members who are willing to house me and my little dog in the interim. I think they might be a little insane, but still I’m grateful. While I wait, my plan is to write, write, write. Dot in the Weeds needs my undivided attention and I shall give it forthwith.

I hope my insights from the road were helpful. Check out my Amazon.com author page HERE.

The Write OWL

Moving Part 2 — DJuna Shellam The Write OWL — Episode 19

Moving Part 2

DJuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 19

This week’s Episode 19, Moving Part 2, is a little different from the episodes previous, as it is my first “Driving With Djuna” installment. Yes, I love to drive my little car, so I thought I’d make some episodes while driving. Why not? Shake it up a bit, eh?moving part 2

I’m continuing on this week with the theme of moving, only because it’s all I’m doing. Since last Wednesday, I’ve been packing, packing, packing; yet, I look around and nothing seems to have changed. I expect that any moment now, I’ll look up and realize I’m done. Right?

Meanwhile, I fantasize about completing my writing projects. I imagine what Dot’s going to do once Em, Eve, Prairie and Liam arrive at her home in Palm Springs. Oh, you haven’t gotten that far yet? That’s alright, because that’s all I plan to give you in regard to Dot in the Weeds.

I’ve also been mulling over “my,” that is, the Djuna Shellam, official autobiography. I wonder how much I should tell about Djuna’s life. There are some dicey bits, so you know, I don’t want to get her in trouble in the process of sharing her most extraordinary “life.”

Meanwhile, I toil with packing; making sure everything that can fit into a box ends up in a box. And those things that don’t fit into a box? Well, I have to make sure they don’t get damaged in the moving process. It’s tedious. I’ve never been one to handle tedium very well, and this moving project is testing every little bit of my resolve to move. But move I shall. I can’t turn back now. My house is, for all intents and purposes, no longer mine. Technically it is, but to cancel the sale now would be disastrous. And anyway, why would I? I’m toiling, poorly, I might add, in 115ºF heat with summer right around the corner. I’m convinced I live on the Sun.




Well, while I’m preparing to hit the road with all of my belongings in tow, heading for the Great Northwest, check out The Em Suite if you haven’t yet. Let me know in the comments section what you think will happen in Dot in the Weeds. Who knows—you might be right!

Moving—Djuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 18

Moving — Part One

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 18

In this week’s episodes, Moving—Part One, I’m breaking with protocol a bit in order to accommodate my weariness. As you will learn, in both episodes and in this blog, I am in the process of moving. It’s a move of considerable distance, so it requires careful packing (I liken it to preparing to move to the Moon), which is tedious and time-consuming.

Moving, as I’ve said on many occasions, is not my friend. I’ve moved quite a bit in my lifetime, but haven’t done so (for myself, at any rate), in nearly fifteen years. And there’s a reason for that. Moving sucks, especially when it’s just you doing it. And it’s keeping me from progressing on my writing. Yeah, yeah, I might be whining a little.

While I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to move, that I was finally able to sell my house and put a bit of change into my pocket, so-to-speak, it’s an all-encompassing endeavor that seems as if it’s never-ending. Writing my blog is really the only writing I’ve been able to do. It’s frustrating. You see, I don’t mind at all if I don’t write when I don’t have anything pressing to write. When a story isn’t pounding on the door demanding to get out. I’m not that writer that freaks out over writers’ block. Writers’ block, what’s that? No, periods of writing dormancy works just fine for me. But when I do have something to write, that I want to write, then it’s frustrating when I can’t.




So this week, instead of producing a blog and a video episode each for Sunday and Wednesday, I’ve decided to moosh the two days together into one. I’ll probably do that for the next few weeks. I need to finish up packing my belongings, then I have to transport them far away, and then… I’ll be a bit of a nomad for a while until I find just the right spot on which to land. I’m hoping to get back to a two-a-week schedule by then, which will be the last half of June. Fingers crossed, eh?

If you haven’t done so already, please check out The Em Suite Series if you are looking for something good to read. Please note, when I say “good,” that’s just my opinion. You’re the ultimate judge on that.

 

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Genre—Djuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 12

Genre

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 12

Genre is the topic of today’s Sunday episode of Djuna Shellam The Write OWL. It’s Mother’s Day, so it’s a short one. On that note, I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all the good mothers in the world. Yougenre deserve to be pampered, loved, adored and waited on hand and foot. Accept nothing less, expect more—you know your kids do. Ha!

So let’s talk about genre. As it turns out, this will be the first of two episodes on the topic
. Apparently, I have a lot to say about it. Currently, my series is listed under the genre lesbian fiction and lesbian romance on Amazon. It was quite a dilemma for me trying to decide where to list them. Niche genres are great if they’re not too small, and they’re terrible if they are. General fiction or romance are genre categories that are much too large, in my opinion, and my books would most likely get lost in the millions of books available there (I might be exaggerating, but I don’t think I am).

I never set out to write in a particular genre, in particular, the lesbian genre. I just had a story knocking around in my head I thought was good enough to tell, and wanted to tell. That it turned into a series of that genre was also not planned. I follow the stories, wherever they lead. Wherever. Right now, they’re leading me through the lives of lesbian characters. Who knows what will happen in the future? I sure don’t. In five years I could be telling the stories of exiled Grakgors from the planet Siragia of the Xlokystraa Galaxy. And they may or may not be lesbians. Wait… hmmm…



I believe at some point I may split the genres. It will be at the risk of hurting my overall ranking, in order to open my series to more readers, especially those willing to explore a bit, but it will probably be worth it in the long run.

Less than a week away from the launch of Prairie Fire. You can pre-order yours right now HERE. See you Wednesday!

djuna shellam

Intro To Alice Hollywood—The Write OWL—Episode 8

Intro To Alice Hollywood Book One The Em Suite

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL Episode 8

Hiya. In this Sunday episode of my video blog, or blog, Intro Alice Hollywood, I talk about my first book in the series The Em Suite. I have so much I’d like to say that gets stuck somewhere in my brain, but you know me and the little green light! Drives me mad sometimes. I thought I’d include a snippet of the description from the Alice Hollywood page, and if you’d like, even a link in case you wanted to know even more than I manage to tell you in the video. Intro Alice Hollywood.

intro alice hollywoodAlice Hollywood is a young spitfire from Hollywood, California. She and her best friend, the poor little rich girl Em Martín from nearby Bel Air, CA, are stationed on a remote military base in West Texas in the mid-1970’s. 

Worldly Alice “Hollywood” Hollywell is notorious for changing “teams” without notice. Em is shy and seemingly sheltered and has a secret. Despite their differences, their friendship blossoms into something they never imagined. The arrest of their friend Whitey, and rumors about an investigation into his friends and associates creates a frightening environment, complicating everything. 

On base, and particularly within their inner circle, the atmosphere is rife with suspicion and fear. Alice and Em realize the military is a very dangerous place for them, and quickly find themselves in the middle of a rabid witch-hunt. Decisions are made with disastrous consequences. (For more, click  HERE)






I hope you enjoy my Intro To Alice Hollywood video. Please feel free to leave a comment, or better still, subscribe to my YouTube channel! Until next episode…

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Djuna Shellam The Write OWL—Episode 3—Nom de Plume

Welcome to Episode 3: “The Nom de Plume”

Djuna Shellam The Write OWL

Hiya, Fanios! In my latest The Write Owl video blog, Episode 3—The Nom de Plume, I talk about my pen name, Djuna Shellam, and introduce my readers to “her.”

So the question—The pen name and why use one (or two or three…)?—is the topic of today’s blog.

Many, many years ago—pre-Internet—I considered using a pen name, or, nom de plume, for my writing, but rejected the idea for one reason, and one reason only—ego. Hell, yeah, I have an ego. Doesn’t everyone? I couldn’t imagine it. I thought, what’s the point of working so long on something to have a “fake” take the credit? Despite knowing that plenty of successful writers have used pen names, most notably Mark Twain, Anne Rice, George Eliot, Richard Bachman, JK Rowling, to name a few, I was still reluctant to do so.




 

Then came the Internet, and over the course of twenty odd years, as any semblance of privacy went out the window, I obviously reconsidered. Certainly, some of the loss of privacy, in general, is of our own doing, but who could know what was coming? Or going…?

Now, there’s something to be said for fame, especially if a fortune comes along with it, right? I’m all for that. But, if you seek celebrity of one form or the other by putting yourself out there, should you have any expectation of privacy? I used to think no, that if you decided to seek fame or celebrity for whatever reason, you should expect your entire life to be an open book. You want the fame? Then no privacy is the price you pay.

But… that was then. Over the years, especially with the advent of the internet, and the erosion, rather, the near obliteration, of privacy, my view on that has evolved significantly. Now, I feel it should probably be left up to the individual how much they’d like to share with the world.

If someone writes a book, stars in a film, has a hit record, runs for office, or whatever it is they choose to do that opens them up to the public, I’m not sure the world at large should feel entitled to access everything about them—personal or otherwise, whether it has to do with their work or not.

Me? I’m perfectly happy to talk about my writing, what motivates me, my process and whatever else is relevant, sharing my thoughts and such. I’d just rather do it with a nom de plume. Watch Episode 3 and you’ll find out a little bit more about the author named Djuna Shellam.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss an episode, please subscribe to the Djuna Shellam Youtube channel. You can also find updated information on Djuna Shellam on her Facebook page HERE.


 

The Indie Author Takes on the Publishing World

The Indie Author

Indie AuthorToday, the Indie Author is a seemingly new type of writer taking on the traditional publishing world. Ask twenty people what they’d like to be if they could be anything in the world, and you’ll more than likely get at least one or several who answer, “Writer.” You might find people with aspirations to be astronauts, or major league sports players, or president, but those are not necessarily universal. “Writer,” however, seems to be. Wanna be writers have populated humanity for centuries, but until the last two decades, have never had such opportunities to achieve their dream than the Indie Author does today.

Many of us, perhaps all of us, have a story or more to tell. Whether it’s a unique life story or a perfectly crafted mystery, drama, sci–fi adventure, or romance. Anyone can write — perhaps not well, or easily, but many believe there’s a writer can be found in all of us. We talk, we explain our days, we describe interesting things that have happened to us in our lives, what happened to someone else, and so on. And we dream. We humans are storytellers ranging from amazing to laughable and downright terrible, but storytellers nonetheless.

Then what’s the deal? Why isn’t everyone knocking out short stories, articles, books and novels left and right? What’s the holdup? With the advent of digital delivery systems, myriad writing and organizing programs, online “support” groups, and a host of other avenues never available to the average aspiring writer, why don’t we see an even larger showing of writers, independent or otherwise?

Partly because most people are great at coming up with great ideas, but terrible at implementing them. Some people are excellent at editing other people’s stories, but not so great at developing their own. A great many people lack the drive, focus or tenacity needed to write larger, more complicated works such as novels. Other people fear rejection and allow that to stop them from even creating anything that might be rejected. Even so, why, with so many opportunities available that bypass traditional, restrictive publishing, why aren’t more people grabbing hold of their independence and pursuing their writing dreams?

In fact, there has been a tremendous uptick in Indie Authors and publishing companies in the last fifteen years. Though there’s a lot of reading material out there, in particular, digital works, there’s also quite a bit that is not good. Not-so-great to terrible organization, poor structural construction, typos on parade, confusing story lines, poor character development and amateur covers are just a few of the problems that riddle the independent publishing industry. Even though there’s a plethora of indie works available to the public, quality can be lacking in more than a few. There may be signs of change, however, with the explosion of ancillary Indie Author support businesses such as editor/proofreaders, cover designers, interior designers, formatters, etc.

Years ago, there was a stigma attached to the self-published author, surely promoted by the big houses to thwart any competition and elevate their importance to the writing world, but no more. A writer, in particular, an Indie Author, is not just interested in being a writer at all costs, but with being an artist with their artistry and independence intact. To get published by a mid-size to large publishing house, a writer must submit their manuscript to an editor who may disrupt the author’s creation by eliminating characters, scenes, plots; move things around or demand that other scenes or characters be created. To get published by a big house, many restrictions are placed on the author, financially and creatively.

An editor may try to mold the manuscript to their vision and not to the writer’s. Though a writer will give up autonomy for a contract, for many writers, it’s the only way to be published, still believing in the stigma against indie publishing. To an emerging class of writers — the Indie Author — being published by a big house is like making a deal with the devil. Thankfully, today, as in no other time in modern history, authors of every stripe have true and myriad choices for publishing their works.

With the surge of digital avenues for independent publishing and self-publishing, a great deal of freedom from the chains and restrictions of the big publishing company has been infused into the writing world. It’s a great thing. Progress. Freedom. But at the same time, some of the services a big house provide to the signed writer — in particular, editing and proofreading — are now the sole responsibility of the Indie Author. And it is a tremendous responsibility. The Indie Author, while reveling in the newfound freedom and unlimited opportunities of self determination, has a responsibility to their readers. Most regular readers are hardcore readers, and demand, at the very least, proper spelling and sentence structure. Strong story organization and character development are equally important. Not understanding the importance of those elements will not only doom an Indie Author, but it universally undermines the Indie publishing movement to some degree.

There are a lot of roadblocks that keep aspiring writers from writing. Whether it’s a lack of time, too many responsibilities that distract the writer, or a lack of organizational skills, they’re all roadblocks to overcome. All writers, independent or otherwise, have roadblocks with which they struggle. The difference between those who actually write and those who think about writing is that the writers who write have figured out how to manage or overcome the issues that might stop them in their tracks.

Go into any bookstore and you’ll find numerous books that have been written to help writers write. Go online and you’ll find even more. Successful writers are happy to tell you how they became successful, but in the end, there is no set equation that will bring success to an individual. The individual writer has to do the work to find their way to success. Attend seminars, read how-to books, write as often as possible, and read. This cannot be emphasized enough. The best teachers of story construction, character development and plot structure are other authors and their books, especially books that “speak” to the aspiring writer reader.

The Indie Author has freedom, indeed, but again, the responsibility for their works from creation to promotion can be overwhelming at times. The only thing an author has to deal with when publishing with a mid or big house publisher is the writing and rewriting; and, of course, marketing by doing public readings — the publisher does the rest. The Indie Author, however, has much more to do in order to get their work to the public — and it’s all on them.

There’s the initial writing, which, depending on the individual circumstances, can take months or years. Then the editing process begins, and that, too, can take a long time depending on how many changes and what type of changes are made. Sometimes an Indie Author will hire an editor and/or proofreader, or may enlist the help of avid readers who know sentence structure and story construction. Nonetheless, it takes time. Then there’s the cover design which needs to grab a potential reader from, oftentimes, just a small thumbnail graphic.

Once a book is ready for publishing, an author will begin to submit their manuscript to literary agents or directly to publishing houses. The Indie Author, however, must decide where and how the work will be published. From their own website, through a major retailer like Amazon or Barnes and Noble; will the book be delivered digitally or physically? Either way, the book must be formatted properly for every single digital format, as well as for physical paperback or hard copies. Indie Authors either pay someone to do that for them, or they do it themselves which can be extremely time consuming.

After the Indie Author’s work has been published, things don’t get easier. The writer does not just go back to writing their next work. The writer does go back to writing their next work, and they begin the marketing phase of their newly published work. Social media, word of mouth, internet ads, readings, and drumming up reviews which drive sales on the internet, are just a few of the daily tasks an Indie Author must attend to in addition to writing while also tending to their everyday lives.

Why aren’t there more Indie Authors was asked earlier in this article. The answer is simply, because it’s hard work. It requires a long-term dedication that most aspiring writers cannot handle. Being an Indie Author requires organization, dedication and a belief in one’s self. An Indie Author is generally a fiercely independent, self-motivating individual who demands respect for their work, who does not to wait for “permission” to get their artwork to the public. An Indie Author does not ask for permission to pursue a writing life or allow some big business to determine their future for them. Successful Indie Authors work just as hard, if not harder, to promote their published works as they do working on their in–progress works.

If you have the yearning to be a writer, there is no better time to pursue that dream, especially as an Indie Author. Continually work to hone your craft, read, go to seminars, study; but more than any other preparation necessary to be a successful writer, make time to write. The more you write, the easier writing becomes. The more you write, the better you will write and the closer you will be to developing your own writing “voice.” And always keep in mind there is much more to being a writer or an Indie Author than just writing.

In addition to Indie Authors, the readers of fiction, non–fiction, short stories and so on are the beneficiaries of the new world of Indie publishing and the emergence of the new publishing world. True, Indie Authors may have to claw their way to the top of the growing heap of independently published works to get noticed, and readers may have to weed out some poorly constructed works to get to the gems; but for the Indie Author there is no greater triumph than being discovered by the avid reader as a gem. Readers, by nature, are explorers, and to discover the gems is a thrill worth seeking. It’s a great and growing relationship. More and more gems free of the confinement and restrictions of big house publishing are being discovered every day, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Indie Author and the tenacity of dedicated readers.

The big question when discussing the subject of independent publishing always evokes, is: Will the emergence of the Indie Author eventually destroy the hold big house publishers have on the literary world, or will some type of balance eventually be reached? The truth is, the business model of the big publishing houses is taking a beating; and, like many other outdated businesses before them, they will either have to adapt — quickly — or become a chapter in the history of book publishing.

Have you read a book lately? Was it written by a big house published author or an Indie Author? Where do you get your reading material? Via downloads to be read with a digital reader, from the library in print or on tape, or from traditional outlets such as bookstores? Please feel free to share your reading experiences.