Life, Personal, writing

Gifts for Indie Authors

Pic via Pexels

It’s the holiday season and everyone has their list of wants. Knowing that many indie authors are living on a shoestring budget, I knew those: “What to get a Writer for the Holidays” articles just won’t do.  Let’s be honest, many of them are silly and rather unrealistic. I mean, who wants a $25 t-shirt with literary quotes that will just wear out in 6 months? I don’t. Besides, you could get some pretty sweet stuff that can help with your writing career for that same amount.

I’ve considered the problems the typical indie author has like; social media, cover design, and proof reading, so I went on a mission to find things that could make our lives better.

P.S. I am in no way affiliated with the companies or products mentioned.

Anti-Social Media Software

Social media is a big problem for a lot of authors because it often becomes a time suck. For years your solutions were either to unplug your modem or disable the wifi on your computer. But what if you’re a writer who needs to do research and interview people online? Disconnecting from the entire internet is irrational. Luckily, there is now software you can download that will temporarily block social media sites and other places you like to linger and it won’t cost a lot of money. Here are just a few of places to check out:

Freedom: This software is for both Windows and OS operating systems and can block up to 8 hrs at a time and only costs $10. There is a free trial version and a 60 money back guarantee.

Anti-Social: Anti-Social is an app that allows you to block websites that you find distracting for $15. However unlike Freedom, it cannot be turned off, which is supposed to keep you honest. Also, Anti-Social has a 60 day money back guarantee. It also works with Windows, and Mac including, Yosemite.

Stay Focused:  is an app on Google Chrome which limits the amount of time you spend on social media.  You can set it up yourself so that you only spend a specific amount of time on social media per day.  It gives you a countdown to let you know when you’re running out of time.  P.S. You’ll be asked to donate $15 once you’ve downloaded the app from the Google Chrome store.

Focus Writer: Focus Writer isn’t necessarily an anti-social media piece of software but I’m including it anyway because it gets rid of all distractions on your computer by clearing your screen so you can focus on just your writing. It has all kinds of features like; a daily word count, type writer sound effects, even timers and alarms. This one is a pay what you can type model and runs $5 – $20.

Art/Photo Editing

Many indie authors like to create their own book covers and that’s awesome, I know a lot of indies who are actually talented in this area. Many of them use PhotoShop or InDesign by Adobe but I found their new cloud service too buggy.  I was also disappointed with their customer service which comprised of a FAQ page with little or vague information.  However, if you’ve drank the Adobe Kool-Aid and love it, they have a monthly subscription service that costs $19.99 for just one app, or $29.99 for all the apps.  Be warned though, you can cancel after 30 days but after that, you’re locked in for a year.

Don’t worry, there are many other types of software out there that are similar or even better than Adobe and they won’t cost you $359.88 annually.

Pixlr is a free online photo editor that is similar to Adobe Photoshop. I’ve used it myself to edit photos for social media and this blog.

Sumo Paint is another PhotoShop like photo editor that has a free and paid subscription service.  The paid service includes cloud storage, new tools and updated apps which cost only $4 a month.  Not a bad deal either way, but try the free version first before committing to the subscription.

Scribus  is often called the free alternative to Adobe InDesign which tons of professional graphic designers use to create digital magazines, web pages, and yes, even ebook covers.

Corel PaintShop If you must have software installed on your computer, there is Corel PaintShop. It’s often compared to PhotoShop and runs around $39.00 – $49.00 on Amazon. *Warning* They do have a popup ads which is why it’s so cheap.

Grammar/Proofreading Software

I’ll admit it, I make plenty of grammar mistakes, and sometimes that hurts my work. I mean, who will take a writer seriously if they’re constantly screwing up? But have no fear, there is software that can check your work much better than MS Word and some of them are cheaper.

White Smoke
White Smoke has advance grammar, punctuation and even alerts you to repetition. They have a basic monthly subscription of $9.95 and a lifetime premium subscription of $299.99 (flat fee).

Grammarly is an online program that checks for misspellings plagiarism, and misused words. They have a free trial if you’re interested. If you end up loving it, it’s $29.95 a month, $19.98 quarterly, and $11.66 a month for year subscription.

Right Writer (CD)
Right Writer is another piece of software that comes in CD ROM and offers grammar, punctuation, with syntax checker. It also comes with a free video grammar course and it all costs only $29.95 not including, shipping of course.

Well there you go, some gifts indie authors need and actually want. If you know of any more useful services for authors tell me about them in the comments section.

Inspiration, Life, Personal, writing

An Indie Author’s Serenity Prayer

The past few months have been rather crazy for me, so I decided to offer up this prayer.  You can share it if you like.


Oh Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the bad reviews I cannot change
Courage to look at the sales graph and the wisdom to know that success never comes easy
Lord bestow upon me the sanity to write one book at a time and humility to accept editorial changes
Don’t forget to light the pathway to my desk with guardian angels who vanquish telemarketers, needy family members and those wishing to raid the candy stash
Bless me Lord with an abundance of caffeine to help me rise in the morning and to carry on through the night
Also help me to know that this is a journey and things will only happen when they are meant to be


The Indie Author's Serenity Prayer
Pic via Pexels



In Celebration Of My Graduation: 10 Years in 300 Words

Nearly ten years ago, I  graduated from school and was right on time for the U.S.’s first mini-recession.  There were hardly any jobs and those that were plentiful, paid pitiful wages.

Via ThumbPress

I went into freelance writing and got a few gigs but struggled as print magazines and newspapers started closing.  So I went back to looking for a real job, but there was a problem, it had been five years since I graduated and my skills looked like this to employers…

by moyerphotos via Flickr

Following the advice of a career coach, I volunteered, and found a writer’s group on Facebook looking for a virtual assistant.  I applied and imagine my surprise when they said yes.

By Gonzalo Merat via Flickr

Being around real writers lit a fire under me and I devoted 100% of my time to writing a children’s book called, “Escape of the Dodos,” but after 40 rejections, I started wondering if I was any good?…


I discovered the business was in a flux, so this was basically the 3rd time I had trouble finding work due to reasons beyond my control.

Banksy in Boston by Chris Devers via Flickr

Then during the year of 2010, several young gay teens committed suicide after being tormented by their peers.  So I decided to write Hag and by March of 2012, I had a novel that I pitched to several agents but they all declined.

Rejection Hall by Tess_Marie via Flickr

Frustrated, I made the choice to publish it myself.  With very little money, I designed the cover and then one thing led to another…

All 3 Books RR

Now I’m an author and couldn’t be happier!

By Ira Gelb via Flickr

Life, Personal

Words of Encouragement

I get bombarded with memes on Facebook all the time but this one struck me.  As I’ve been reconsidering my career path and wondering what if?  This spoke volumes to me and I wanted to share it with all you beautiful spirits out there.

Happy New Year! ~Rachel Rueben

Inspiration, Motivation, Advice

Personal, Publishing

Why I Disagree With Mark Coker Of Smashwords

Recently, Mark Coker the creator and CEO of Smashwords, one of the world’s most popular ebook distributors released a bit of a rant trashing Amazon’s KDP Select program.  His biggest criticism  of the program is the exclusivity clause preventing authors from publishing elsewhere for 90 days.  He believes authors should publish everywhere saying, “Amazon plays indie authors like pawns in its greater battle to harm other ebook retailers.”

I’m insulted by his remarks simply because I was no pawn.  I made a business decision, not Amazon.  If the other online retailers would have offered a program like KDP I most certainly would’ve participated there as well.  Since I was a first time author who needed exposure, not just book sales, it made sense to distribute my free ebooks with the world’s biggest online book retailer.

Does it Work? 

The KDP program actually helped get my book into the hands of several thousand readers.  In fact, my book was thrusted into the #10 position on the Amazon’s Bestseller list in the Women’s and Children’s Literature category.  It also reached #19 in the Children’s People and Places category.  Could I have done that on Barnes and Noble or Smashwords?  I seriously doubt it!

Amazon's KDP Select

But Mr. Coker goes further and praises companies like Apple for their global growth in the ebook retail business.  Sorry, but maybe Mr. Coker hasn’t heard of Apple’s iBooks Author program which is very exclusive.  It’s so exclusive, you can only publish the book you created on their interface via the Apple store.  Last time I checked, that’s way worse than KDP!  iAuthor caused such  a stir within the indie community last year, that an article was devoted to it on Writer Beware.

Will Amazon Always Reign?

Today Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the world, but will that always be true?  I doubt it.  Just like Facebook, which is quickly losing its appeal with its own user base, it’s popularity may just fade away with time.  So whether you like them or not, today Amazon is the popular jock in school bossing everyone else around.  We have to do business with them.  Who else is offering what they do?  Not all of us are looking for just dollars and cents.  Most authors both rookie and pro are looking for eyeballs to read their books and for readers to spread the word far and wide.  For now, KDP does just that.