Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are YOU A Stereotypical Writer?

You gotta admit, writers are pretty stereotypically portrayed in film and television.  It would seem, according to the usual portrayal- we all should:


Have questionable hygiene while tap tapping away.

Have a window nearby.

Only disconnect from our laptops if the sky is literally falling on our heads.

Not only visit Paris, but wander the streets aimlessly for a while when we do so.  That’s what all good writers do, after all.

Be tortured souls.

Okay. I admit to have written late into they day while in my day-old yoga pants and unwashed hair.  I don't smoke.  Or have a window nearby.  I HAVE wandered Paris aimlessly.  But that was before I was a writer, so I don't know if it counts.  There are times where the world coming to the end would be the only thing to pull me out of my writing.  And I can be tortured I suppose:)  What about you?  How do YOU hold up against the stereotypical writer?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You Can't Find Me...I'm Untraceable:)

Sixteen year old Grace is the daughter of a local wild life officer, who taught her all the survival skills she would ever need, despite her tendency to trip over branches. What her father hadn't bargained for was how badly she would need those skills once he went missing. 

Grace isn't the kind of girl to give up easily. Even when he is officially presumed dead, and everyone including the local sheriff, her mother and the town shrink, are telling her to move on with her life, something tells Grace that they're wrong. 

The only person who will help her is Wyn, her childhood friend and recent ex-boyfriend. He's not exactly at home in the woods and so his support is of the moral kind. 

Then there's Mo, the mysterious boy who rescues Grace from a dangerous encounter in the woods. He likes her and willingly helps her look for her father and track down bear poachers. But who is he, really? Can he be trusted? 

Untraceable starts off with a comfortable pace, drawing us into the life of the town and the characters within, building tension with every chapter. And don't think you will be able to stop reading at the end of one. SR is the queen of chapter cliff hangers! 

And oh, the ending! You'll have to read it to decide what you think. 

I highly recommend Untraceable giving it a strong 4.5 stars out of 5. This is a book that has stayed with me long after I finished reading it, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next book.

This sounds fantastic!  Congrats to S.R. Johannes and I hope you have a fantastic launch day!

Monday, November 28, 2011

If You Fail to Complete Your Mission? - Instant DEATH!!!!

Last week I couldn’t help thinking about ‘high stakes’.  Especially while grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinner.  You forget something like butter and the whole freaking meal risks to become an epic fail.  You have to be on top of things- stay focused!  Eyes on the prize!! And when you manage to get the turkey and all the fixings on the table at the same time?  Well, designated Thanksgiving chefs should be awarded a yearly medal by the mayor or something in my opinion. 

Unfortunately, creating the perfect meal probably won’t float when you’re looking for the high stakes in a novel.  You need something a little more universal- something that will hit closer to home.  This is a list of the leading ‘stakes’ I’ve noticed in most novels:


-If you fail- Your loved ones will DIE!
-If you fail- YOU will most surely DIE!
-If you don’t catch the killer, then people you don’t know will DIE!


-Society as you know will be forever changed for the worse
-You will lose your reputation/standing/friends
-Lose your worldly goods or capacity to provide
-Lose your chance at True LOVE  (in the case of most romance novels)


-When the MC has some person/place/thing/ or status that they wish to obtain at the set out of the story in order to have a better life.  If they fail- their lives might not be any worse off than when we began but by the end of the novel, this outcome should feel like it would be a worst-case scenario.           

What other frequently used ‘high stakes’ can you think of?
Hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011


QUERIES- sent for KISSING FOR COFFEE since September:  32
Rejections: 13
Requests:  4
No responses: 15
Still waiting on one full and one R&R

NANOWRIMO- has handed my arse back to me, tied in a pretty white bow made from my very own flag of surrender.  I’m sad to report that I pretty much stopped writing the first week.  My competitive side kept trying to make me go back to it but the truth is I don’t think I can write anything I’ll be proud of in 30 days and time is too precious for me to waste it on a project I’m not 100% in love with.

REAL LIFE- I’m currently doing Thanksgiving with my French students.  It’s amazing how many French people have no concept of what Thanksgiving is or why we celebrate it.  I’ve heard it referred to as the ‘American Christmas’ or ‘the victory over Indians day’.   These people must have gotten their lines crossed somewhere and it is a personal pleasure of mine to teach French kids the truth about this fantastic holiday.

BLOGGING- Thank you guys so much for all of your kind comments about my blogging breakdown.  I’m still sticking to a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule even though time for visiting and commenting has gone down considerably.  The thing is, living overseas, I don’t usually post my blog until 1 pm (7 am US time) in order to take part in the usual visiting/commenting banter with the Americans doing their morning blogging.  But now that I’m working four afternoons a week, I have to post my blog via phone and don’t get to actually sit down to catch up until after the kiddies are in bed at night and by then I’ve pretty much missed everything going on in bloglandL  Hoping to catch up over the holiday vacation!

How are all of you doing?  What are your querying/writing/real life/blogging stats?

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Bum Under the Bridge

I must admit, these past few weeks- Real Life Katie has been one active woman, between work, kids, and outside responsibilities.

Blogger Katie, however, feels like she’s been reduced to some poor blogging bum sitting sorrowfully underneath a dark bridge and muttering to herself.

I haven’t been able to visit and comment on your wonderful blogs as I should the last few weeks and for that, I am so sorry.  Sometimes it seems like I just swing from one extreme of the blogging pendulum- like blogging and internet hopping 24/7 (meanwhile avoiding things like making dinner) to another-  like barely getting my three posts a week up on time.

To those of you who are still coming around and throwing this mute blogging bum some breadcrumbs and kind words- I am eternally grateful.  I do read and look forward to every one of your comments.  I know I really need to step up my game.  I used to prefer to visit those who’ve commented here and return the favor asap but since this is becoming increasingly difficult with the hub’s and my new work schedules- I’m going to start replying to comments by email as often as I can until I have more time.

Do you guys ever feel like you swing from one extreme to another?  Or are you able to pretty much maintain a healthy balance?  If so, PLEASE share your secret!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and thank you for being here! 


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Have I Seen This Before?

Today, myself, Nicole Ducleroir, and Lydia K are co-hosting DL Hammon’s 

The Gist: On December 16th, everyone who has signed up will repost an old blogpost- perhaps from their early days- or a post they feel is the most helpful or worthy of a bigger audience.  

**What I love about this idea is that it’s a way to unite the blogosphere in a really accessible way- no need to brainstorm, research, or put together a new post, because the posts have already been written! And it's an occasion to reflect on what you want to put back out there now that you’ve been in the blogosphere for awhile.  It will be interesting to see what everyone picks to post that day and I wonder if I’ll be able to recognize any of the oldies!**

For more details, be sure to visit DL at Cruising Altitude 2.0


Monday, November 14, 2011

This Is Why...

250 paper pages.
75,000 printed words.
A cast of supporting characters.
A girl named Sadie Brooks.
A whole story with a beginning, middle, and end...
And to think, none of it existed just a few short months ago. 

I created this.  Out of thin air. Like magic.

I took something invisible and intangible- a simple idea. 
And I made it into something concrete- something you can hold in your hands.  Words that stick on the page, exactly as I wrote them, even if you crumple it.  Something I can share.

That is the power of the written word. 

And there's nothing else like it.


Friday, November 11, 2011

We All Know Sacrifice

Today is the long awaited chart-rush for Jessica Bell’s debut novel ‘String Bridge’- a story about a young woman, Melody, who struggles to go after the dreams she’d set aside in order to become a wife and mother.

We all know sacrifice.  It seems like no matter what stage our lives are in, we had to sacrifice something to get there. - Whether it’s sacrificing proximity to our loved ones in order to set out on our own, go to college, or get married.

We might sacrifice time spent with family in order to progress in our career.

Or sacrifice our career in order to have a family.

We give up old pleasures for new ones and it’s a constant balance of cutting out things that once made us tick without cutting out a part of who we are. – Meanwhile trying to make sure we always take a step forward and not a step back.

As writers and artists, sacrifice can come in even more shapes and sizes which is why I think Bell’s book, String Bridge, has touched so many in the writing community:

Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page, yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative. ~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor ofRose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout, seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world begins to unravel … String Bridge is a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion Thrust and Sleep Before Evening

Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel. I look forward to reading her next novel, and next and next.” ~ Karen Jones Gowen, author of Farm Girl,Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

I've known Jessica more than a year now, and I can tell you, she is an amazing, evocative writer. Her descriptions are so real and intense, and she can conjure a difficult scene and fill it with so much emotion, you'll be crawling for the door...- Leigh T. Moore 

So today I’ve got my running shoes on and I am rushing Amazon’s chart list to get my own copy of String Bridge! Plus, if you buy it today you get the Sting Bridge sound track for FREE!!! Hope to see you there!

To purchase String Bridge:



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dear JK, It's me, Creepy.

Okay, so nanowrimo is starting to make me feel a little like Jekyll and Hyde. This weekend I was filled with optimism. 

Then this morning I spent fifteen minutes staring at a blank page.

I don’t like what I’ve written. 

I’ve begun this book all wrong. 

And this idea!?

 Okay.  I still think the idea has merit.  But it’s like having this very specific, vibrant, colorful image in my head- but when I go to paint it, everything is ‘off’’.  The colors are dull, the lines blurry- it’s just a shadow of what I’d hoped to capture and not coming out at all the way I’d imagined. 

Now comes my inner conflict-  After getting almost 4k into it, should I trash it all and start from scratch?  4k isn’t that much, after all. Or in the spirit of Nano- should I just keep writing from the point I’d want to see things change and tell myself I’ll go back and cut at the end of the month?

To be honest, the second idea makes me cringe.  Just like old habits dye hard- all the new writing habits I’ve acquired through hard work and study of the craft are making it difficult to just let things slide and move on.  My inner editor, who was duct-taped to a chair over the weekend, has broken free and is now gibbering loudly in my ear. 

It’s saying : ‘Katie.  You’ve tried pantsing a project before and look what happened.  It’s still sitting in your closet.  You might work through it, with it, or around it but you can’t deny it- you are a revision hater and therefore you can’t give yourself the liberty of spewing out a first draft as it comes.  And at this rate, this thing is going to end up needing more editing than you’re honestly willing to deal with.  Pull out now and save yourself the heart ache.  Abort!  Abort!”

So it appears Nanowrimo and I are at a stand still. 

Okay, that’s not exactly true.  It’s more like:

Nanowrimo: 1

Me: 0

These are the kinds of situations that have me wondering ‘WWJKRD?’. 


Monday, November 7, 2011

You Show Me Yours, I'll Show You Mine

Now, there is a reason I started plotting manuscripts instead of pantsing them.  My first manuscript was pantsed.

It was also 180,000 words long. 

Just like my natural hair color makes me look naturally gross, my natural writing habits do nothing good for me or my manuscript.  So had to tweak them- experiment and try out new methods, lengths and colors until I found one that fit my face.  (You know what I mean.)

Some people have the opposite problem- They underwrite;  write down conversations with sparse description and then have to go back and fill out their scenes.

For the first time in a long time I find myself writing a pantsed project for Nanowrimo.  Okay- it’s practically pantsed.  I only outlined the first three chapters and after that all I have are some vague overhead guidelines to follow.

However, my tendency to overwrite might end up coming in handy if I want to meet the 50k mark by the end of the month.  Nanowrimo is definitely giving my natural writing tendencies some ugly dark roots.

Some (most) of the details aren’t necessary.  Like what the MC has picked out wear or what she’s eating or the layout of her home.

Or the needless descriptions of the building.

Or her town.

Or the state. 

Or the weather. 

Or her physical health.

And I’m also indulging back-story galore.

Bad bad bad bad bad.

Will I keep most of the gibberish that’s twisting my plot into pretzel–like pieces?  Probably not.  But I’m having a hell of a lot of fun discovering this new world in minute detail.

What is your natural writing style? (You can be brave and include your natural hair color too if you want:) Mine’s swamp brown. It’s scary.)  Would writing 50k in a month be a challenge for you underwriters?  Overwriters?  

Friday, November 4, 2011

Failure, Finds, and Follower's Bloffee

Well, the first week of Nanowrimo is already half over and I have written a total of *drumroll please*:

0 words

I know.  This isn’t looking good so far.  In my defence, I did sit down and outline the first three chapters Tuesday.  But since then, I haven’t had any writing time and the scariest thing of all (and my biggest hurdle to overcome) is that it usually takes me weeks to get down the first chapter (see my post on the first chapter hokey pokey)- it’s where I’m meeting my characters and setting for the first time – setting the foundations and I’m one of those writers who just can’t seem to go on until it’s ‘just right’.  Once the first chapter is down though- things usually flow a lot faster.  But I’m definitely starting to feel as though I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

It doesn’t help that I’ve recently discovered (been held hostage by) the Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs.  I could eat these books for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. – They remind me a little of the Sookie Stackhouse series but with werewolves and a much less girly protagonist. 

Now on to a little bloffee.  I could use at least two cups this morning.
All you need to participate in our usual Friday Morning Follower’s Bloffee is:
1.  Comment. 
2. Tell me what you’ve brought for morning bloffee.  (Today I have black coffee with sugar and some 'pains au chocolats' already laid out.) 
3. Click on someone you don’t know in the comments section and check out their blog!  Voila- a new friend and potential follower connection has been made!

In the meantime, I should be around later on this morning to respond to comments and visit.  Tell me- any recurring themes you noticed in blogland this week?  Any ‘finds’ or books you couldn’t put down?

I hope you all have a great weekend!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Open your Mind and walk across a String Bridge

Yeah, I know my title is lame but it's the only way I could think of to include both long-anticipated book releases this week- String Bridge by Jessica Bell and Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn.  I’m so excited for the authors and- of course to read their new books and you should be too!

In honor of Susan’s release of Open Minds- I’m going to share a recent experience.

 As some of you might know, Halloween only arrived in France in 1998.  It saw a rise and then a fatal decline.  Most shopping centers didn’t even sell Halloween paraphernalia this yearL 

But being the stubborn American that I am- determined to give my children and others the authentic ‘experience’, I bit the bullet and went door to door around my neighborhood last week, asking my French neighbors (whom I’d never met- in most cases.  French people in the city suburbs really prefer to keep to themselves and not be bothered) if they wanted to participate in the ‘trick or treating’ part of my Halloween party.  I explained what they had to do and even offered to bring a bag of candy to hand out before hand (because you can’t go up to a French person and say ‘we’re celebrating Halloween.  Go buy candy please.)

To my infinite surprise- not only did most of my neighbors agree, but they congratulated me on my efforts- some offered to buy the candy themselves and others asked if their own children could participate! :)  But then I got to one house where the husband agreed with a smile (once I said I’d provide the candy myself) until his wife came downstairs, took one look at me and said: ‘What do you want?’.

Her husband tried to explain to her but the moment she heard the word ‘Halloween’ she shook her head and cried ‘Oh no no no!  We want no part of that.  Forget it.  The answer’s no.’  She and her husband continued to argue while I tried to slink away from their house with my apologies but the husband shook his head at me and explained that his wife was just in a bad mood because the kids had gotten her riled up and to pay her no attention.  #awkward.

Against my better judgment, I arrived on their doorstep with a bag of candy the afternoon before the Halloween party.  The same woman answered the door- and this time she was looking a lot less worked up.  She apologized for biting my head off the week before and confided that she really found Halloween to be ‘dark, ugly, and without sense.’ 

Thankfully, I’ve been teaching French children about the origins of Halloween for the last four years so I have an entire historical schpiel engraved in my memory.  I explained to her how France also celebrates All Hallows Day on November 1st- here it’s the Toussaint and it’s the day of the dead.  Most people bring flowers to dead relatives and clean up their graves. 

With that I explained the origin of the idea of All Hallows Eve and how the traditions of dressing up and giving candy came about.  She listened with interest, nodding here and there but then at the end said:  ‘Well the children do it for the candy in any case.’ 
I couldn’t disagree with that. 

But that night when we arrived at her house- the woman looked at the large group of costumed children in surprise and grinned ear to ear as she handed out candy.  She even went and got a camera and followed us to the next house!

I could tell that it went against her grain, but that woman kept an open mind and in the end, shared in the joy and festivities of Halloween.  It was, for me, a sight to see.

I hope everybody here had a fantastic Halloween!  And be sure to check out Open Minds and String Bridge!!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...