If you didn't notice, I've been featuring Kindle Vella authors lately.
Because it's a great format for people who want their stories in bite-sized chunks.
Here's how it works:
Authors write their story in a serial format - episodic, like television.
Each episode is between 600 and 5000 words.
The first three episodes of EVERY story, in EVERY genre, from EVERY author, is FREE
You can read three episodes of anything and get a feel for the story, characters, writing, plut, all the goodness, for FREE.
After that, you unlock story episodes at the rate of one token per 100 words. 1243 words? 12 tokens, it always rounds down.
Then, if you're new to Kindle Vella, Amazon will GIVE you tokens to buy more episodes. I think they're giving out 200 tokens, which is 20000 words!
After that, tokens work our to a penny (or less) each. The biggest package gets you 1700 tokens for $15.
Enough of that!
This is about Cyrena. Cyrena Shows is the author of multiple children's books, as well as a writer of novels, short stories, poetry, and plays. She is a member of the Mississippi Writers Guild and Mississippi Professional Educators. Cyrena graduated from Mississippi State University with a B.S. in Secondary Education and an M.A. in English. She studied creative writing while there, though she can remember writing and illustrating her own book as early as six years old! By day, she teaches high school, and she also homeschools her daughters, one of which has co-authored a children's book with her.
amazon author page (Cyrena Shows): https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B07HDB8FC8
Amazon author page (C S C Shows): https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B07HQCFWWL
Amazon author page (Synthia Stone): https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B0952BW6HY
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was about six, I wrote and illustrated a little book about bees. I love books from a very early age. Sadly, that little book I created didn’t survive lots of moves over the years, but the desire to tell stories has never left me.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to write several books at once. I have a bit of ADHD, and if I get stuck in a story, I move to another WIP to work on it while the first one is cooking in my mind. It keeps me in the habit of writing daily, keeps me fulfilled, and keeps me productive. I used to think that people who wrote multiple books at once were insane, but now, I get it.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like to garden (vegetables and flowers), paint, sing, and play with my kids. I’m also a high teacher and Interventionist.
What does your family think of your writing?
One of my biggest fans is my daughter Rachel. She loves my MG book series, the Amazing Gracie Mysteries. In fact, she’s a little mad at me right now that I haven’t finished the third book in the series yet! Rachel actually co-authored one of my picture books when she was only 7. During the summer of 2020 when there was nowhere to go and nothing to do, she and I came up with the plot for Sailor’s Christmas Sweater, a book about a little polar bear who gets lost in a snowstorm. It turned out beautifully with amazing artwork from Ukranian illustrator Anastasia Yatsunenko.
What do you think makes a good story?
Anything that speaks to you on an intimate level, be it a poem that reminds you of a former version of yourself, a horror book that fills you will dread, a romance that makes your heart yearn for greater intimacy, a space opera that fills you with courage and a willingness to tackle something bigger than yourself. A good story makes you want to keep flipping page after page without even realizing you’re still reading a book, and a good story stays with you even after the book has closed.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I live in Mississippi, which has a rich history of wonderful writers and other artists, so I’ve been inside Rowen Oak in Oxford, MS, the home of William Faulkner, and Tennessee Williams’ house in Columbus, MS. I’ve driven by Eudora Welty’s home in Jackson many times, and I’ve visited Helen Keller’s home In Tuscumbia, AL.
What is the first book that made you cry?
It was probably Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice in my early teens. Up until that point, I’d only read kids’ books like The Babysitters’ Club series, Nancy Drew, and some horror. I remember feeling a lot of compassion for the character Louis in Interview with the Vampire.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I believe aspiring writers get caught up in making a manuscript perfect. Perfection is not your friend in publishing. Sure, you want to put out quality writing, but at some point, you have to let someone else look at that manuscript. Let it go. Revise again if someone says it needs it. I see so many writers who either won’t finish their first book because they fear failure or won’t hand over that finished first manuscript because they think it’s not perfect.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Perfectionism (see common traps above). I tend to spend a lot of time self-editing as I write, which slows me down. I spend a lot of time researching so that everything is as accurate and authentic as I can make it.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Yes, I came to hate reading by the end of college. I spent five years working on my B.S. because I pursued an additional certification in History with my Secondary Education/English emphasis. Then, I went back to grad school, and it took me four years to get my M.A. in English because I was taking night classes and teaching during the day. Nine years of reading stuff other people wanted me to read killed my desire to read anything for a while. Thankfully, that distaste for reading eventually wore off, and I love reading again.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I write under my real name (Cyrena Shows) and under two pen names. I like to write a variety, so it makes sense to differentiate between genres with different names. My children’s book and MG books are under Cyrena Shows. I write horror, urban fantasy, short stories, and poetry under C S C Shows, and I write romance and romantic suspense under Synthia Stone.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t give up. I started writing a novel at eighteen, and the floppy diskette (yeah, I’m that old) that I’d saved some 80+ pages to corrupted. It was my first computer, and I didn’t know about backing up elsewhere. There was no hard copy. I was devastated and didn’t write anything for over a decade.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
It would probably be a hyperactive puppy because I’m doing all the things all at once with lots of exuberance, but I understand that I’m also very inexperienced and have lots to learn.
What does literary success look like to you?
For me, literary success is a name that is immediately associated with quality work. I don’t need awards or honors. I want my books to be recognizable. I want titles that readers immediately think of when someone asks for a recommendation.
What’s the best way to market your books?
Nothing beats word of mouth. If you can get readers behind your stories, they can change your life. I’ve seen people’s work take off and soar after going ‘viral’ with readers. I don’t know if readers even know the power they have to lift up an author’s career, but I very much appreciate every review written, every recommendation given, and every social media post about my books from readers.
What do you have coming next?
I’m really excited about the books I’m currently writing. I have the third in a romance series under the pen name Synthia Stone coming out in September. Lake Lodge Christmas is about an aging Hollywood actress and a lodge owner in Tennessee. I’ve also started a romantic suspense under this pen name entitled Hate You Most, which I’m releasing to Kindle Vella as I write it. Nate's Bay, FL, used to be Haley's safe haven. Now, it's filled with secrets, lies, and revenge. Will Haley survive another day in paradise? It’s been fun writing something entirely different from the series I’m currently working on with that pen name.
I’m also working on two books under the pen name C S C Shows. One is Scary Tales for Dark Nights, Vol. 2, which a YA horror collection, and the other is an urban fantasy, The Crimson Diary, about a shy librarian who finds a magical book in the library, and it changes her life drastically. It combines magic, mythology, history, and pop culture, and readers already love what I’ve written of it so far. Both can be read early on Kindle Vella, where I post them as episodes as I write out the stories.
The other book I’m working on is the third book in the Amazing Gracie Mysteries under Cyrena Shows entitled Bigfoot on Blue River Ridge. Gracie and her cousin Beckett are always getting into some kind of curious situation or other, and this one is set on a camping trip they take with their dads to a state park where they think they’ve come across a bigfoot creature. These chapter books are great for young readers around the 7-10 age group.