Book Promotion!


It’s Prime Week and I’ve got deals, so check out this link for My Books!

Ramshackle Houses & Southern Parables is an autobiography in poems. Starting tomorrow it is only 99 cents and No Voice of Her Own, a collection of centos is FREE! Download, enjoy, and please leave a review 🙂

This weekend I will be running a promotion on my short speculative fiction, Whiskey-Niner-Kilo, as well so stay tuned.

(Each title listed above is always free for Kindle Unlimited members.)

 

One Day At A Time, One Decision, One Step, No Room For Regret


Regret just wastes time and energy best spent on learning. I’ve made more than a few mistakes, but the best thing I’ve done so far is spend time seeking out information. That whole try try again thing in and of itself is a very rich learning experience. Most important lesson learned as of yet: I should have waited a full month before querying. I should have employed all that experience gained through years of writing poetry and fiction. Practice practice practice, edit, edit, edit.

My first six query letters were an ever-loving mess. And the synopsis … oy. I queried six agents within a week of finishing final edits on my novel. Four of those six agents have passed and every pass taught me something new. Patience may be a virtue but for me it’s a hot iron of hard learning. A long road full of pot holes and random obstacles that leave me limping and tired until finally the obvious conclusion lights up my brain. And other long-winded metaphors may apply.

Here’s the thing, though. I can’t regret any of it. Maybe apologize to those first six agents for wasting their time with messy emails, but that would take another email and who really wants that? The new query is better. The new synopsis still the bane of my existence. And I’m writing a new story in between the edits and the try try again. Lunch breaks are filled with searching MSWL, writing podcasts, Poets & Writers Magazine, and ten other websites I can’t name off hand …

I use these sources to make lists of agents seeking speculative, horror, sci-fi, thriller, strong narrative, and so on. Then I research the agent more closely, make sure I list their preferences for the querying process, and take notes on past books, editorial experience, and so on. I have filled a notebook. Yesterday I made out a list with fifteen more agents to research beyond the initial preferences listed on the MSWL page.

My preferences for this first round of queries (a total of sixteen) has been agents who are building their list. Did you catch that? I’ve only managed sixteen queries. Some prefer just a brief letter and 10 pages, some an electronic query form that asks for enough details to give me a sweaty headache, and a few request a query, synopsis, and the first three chapters. Some request a bio, some don’t care for it. Some want a mention of target audience, some don’t. I’ve decided to make a color-coordinated chart.

Through all this the naysayer in the back of my head wonders in an annoying voice if I’ll ever take on a task in the correct order and with a bit more style than dump truck with a leaky brake line. I told him to sit down and shut up.

You Could Just Tell Me, Really


Listening to so many podcasts featuring writers of every known genre that have traditionally published in the past fifty years, one would think it possible to encounter a writer willing to share the real horrors of querying agents. Oh sure, they all give some hint that it was time consuming or tough. Except for those who knew someone who knew someone and have some ridiculously giddy story of happenstance that led to a whirlwind publication. But I don’t want to hear from those people.

I want to hear genuine details. I want to hear how the people who didn’t know anyone at all managed to include a bio, a pitch, why they chose that particular agent, why they chose to write that particular story, the pertinent details of genre, word count, proof of a writer’s platform, comp titles, and don’t forget the target audience for the novel, all conveyed in less than 400 charming, attention-catching words. And I want to hear how those writers chose a significant list of agents who represent … say, 200-page, cross-genre novels, then how much time it took to send all those emails and the response time from email to offer of representation.

I also want to hear the the step-by-step process they followed to complete a 1-2 page synopsis of said 200-page novel and how in wide sky and bloody wonder they kept themselves sane and dry-eyed throughout. Is the process perhaps like childbirth? So truly shattering, terrifying, and painful, that the human mind simply can’t recall the details a year or so later? So now they just smile wanly and say in a thin, daft tone, oh, it was all perfectly natural. Because if that’s the case I’ll have a snog of rum, watch Lamaze videos or something and just get on with it.

What I have found during this process of searching podcasts, online interviews, and so on, is that so many agents confess to merely glancing at the query. Glancing. If it’s more than 500 words or so, there are a great percentage of agents that stop right there. No. If the introduction doesn’t read well, no. If in the first couple of paragraphs word count and genre aren’t mentioned, no. If the word count doesn’t seem to fit the genre, no. The entire query hasn’t been read yet, mind you. No. Therefore the synopsis and sample pages don’t even get a glance.

Now that sounds quite snide. Of course when you give it a bit of thought writers hoping to publish outnumber working agents by approximately a Gogillion to one. Very well. Huge work load recognized. But not even getting past the query? That’s stunning. Paralyzing, actually. Not one smidge confidence boosting to any writer ever. And yet, look how many people get published every year. Why are they not sharing the vital information? Tossers. What’s the possible harm?

Of course there are writing teachers who are willing to give advice on how a synopsis should look, how a query should look. But the information I’ve found isn’t a great deal different than what the agents say they’re looking for: Tell me everything quickly and beautifully or else.

Years from now I hope to look back on this rant and laugh and laugh. Silly old me, I’ll say. Freaking out about nothing. Lalalala.

First Week of July Writing, Reading, Joining, Quitting


While having a peek at Instagram today I spotted a meme shared by writer_tips. It’s an image of a guy with veins popping out on his forehead, captioned: When you’re a writer and haven’t told anyone for 5 minutes. I immediately wondered if that’s what I look like most days. Ha ha.

Since Monday last I’ve been very active in the writerly arena. I’ve joined The Author’s Guild as an emerging writer and have just barely scratched the surface of all the resources there.  It’s all very exciting! Then I linked my Goodreads site to my Amazon author page. I think. Anyway, that’s a cool feature that I had no idea existed when I first e-published my two poetry collections.

If I remember correctly, I set up a reader profile on Goodreads in 2016 then promptly forgot about it. And recently I learned that just glancing at ratings on the site is a very poor way to choose a book to read. (Ratings tell you nothing! Read the reviews at least. But most people probably already know that. Hi. My name is Kathy and I am a late bloomer.) I’ll give it a go, see how I like it. 

Next, I finally FINALLY, purchased my site domain. Making that purchase opened another basket of goodies—more resources I haven’t quite delved into. Meanwhile I am all .com and conflicted about not taking the time to make generationkathy look more profesh. Truth is though, I’ve learned the longer I spend planning something the worse it’ll turn out. Or more likely it won’t happen at all. I kept backing off making the actual purchase to make organizational changes and see how that turned out. Four years later …

Also as of Monday last a new project idea caught my attention. In fact, I am officially ankle deep in the new project as of today. I don’t know much about it yet except I like the protagonist, love her name, and I know she’s in quite a bit of trouble. 12k words in and I can only guess at this point her story will be novel length.

Jumping into a project in such a way would probably drive most people crazy but I get a glimpse of a character and start hacking away until the story reveals itself.  This is an exciting way to work. About as exciting as allowing someone to lead you blindfolded to a seat on the freakiest roller coaster in the freakiest fun park ever. Outline schmoutline. That’s for the middle of the project along with research and inventing a title.

In all this writerly wonderland of productivity that naysayer in the back of my head keeps shouting impossible questions at me. What if it takes as long to write this book as it did to write Only the Living? Why do you keep making all these writing goals when you have a day job? Are you certain you want to write a novel that contains erotica? Copy edits aren’t complete on your last project, remember copy edits? Synopsis! Where is the synopsis? Are you ever going to clean the guest room or dust anything ever again? DID YOU PAY THE DOCTOR BILLS YET?

My question to the naysayer: Is this why so many writers drink?

Meanwhile, I finished Shell Shaker, by Leanne Howe  and hope to write a review on it as well as a few (unrelated) podcasts and essays I’ve enjoyed in the past week. I’m still working on I Sing the Body Electric, by Ray Bradbury. Something about … maybe the compilation of the book … maybe. Anyway, I’m not head over heels with it as a collection. Which is inexplicable because it’s Bradbury for God’s sake. I should be having the time of my life.

This has been a week of chasing whims and making only a handful of real decisions. I’ve decided that I don’t want to do Twitter anymore. Thinking about all the social media obligations that writers are sucked into just makes me kind of tired and Twitter, while it does offer contact with writers and writerly-related folks, it’s more conducive to keeping up with who wants to share their version of political/public awareness than discovering whose book I might want to read next.

I’d rather be discovering whose book I might want to read next.

Day Eight Has Arrived


Finally.

Many days wrestling RL responsibilities into submission have passed and now I can get back to spending hours at the desk. All that was actually taken care of Friday, but I gave myself a “free” day to celebrate. I explored Downtown yesterday and succeeded in coloring in a mental map vital to this story.

It’s gorgeous Downtown, even beneath murky skies and naked trees.

Afterwards I dosed up my sore knee, ate a metric ton of Chinese food, and reclined in front of the TV to watch Serenity. Saturday was made of awesome.

And now I am ready to start over.

Yeah, you read that right. First person present is being tossed. It’s just too limited, and has the tendency to stiffen up. I felt for a long time after recognizing all the problems with first person that I couldn’t deviate from it, that somehow a different POV would bury the emotional impact of the protagonist. In the end though, I had to make the change. This story cannot be allowed to stiffen up.

So, now I have a title, a storyboard, 800 fresh words, and a lot of leftover Chinese food. Sunday is made of awesome, too.

What are y’all writing?

Day Five


According to that tidy little schedule for The Second Project, I am now three thousand words behind and lacking at least one day of necessary research. Not bad.

Yesterday was all about the dialogue. This project has a LOT of dialogue, which wouldn’t be a problem if not for Holly’s propensity for cliché. I have to keep a close eye, and ear, on her. So far, so good. I think.

Well against the advice of many writing bloggers, I have jumped into this project without a clear plan for what is to be done with it, exactly, when it’s finished. Initially I planned to research publishers of speculative short fiction collections and practice query letters in my free time — I have since realized such places might not exist. The only similar collections I have read were penned by well-knowns who already had publishers firmly in hand before they ventured into speculative short fiction.

I am not well-known.

Sorry. That was a bit Captain Obvious.

Also, there has been the toying with the idea of e-publishing. I have the title of the collection in place, an inkling of what the cover art should look like. However,the last time I researched e-publication formatting issues alone were enough to make me run away screaming. Maybe options have improved in the last three years?

I can’t think about that right now. The dialogue is calling.

Today’s portion of the project includes a lot more dialogue, some intense gun and ammo info, and a few exploding cars.

Tense and Tension


That first five hours of magic and stunning word count production is a thing of the distant past. The Second Project was rudely interrupted by LIFE, and now I am having a difficult time getting back into it. I sat down late Saturday evening, once supper had put the rest of the household into a nice quiet coma, and tried to ease back into the z-fic rewrite. It was then that I was brought face to face with one of the problematic issues of this story that nagged at me way back when: First person, present tense.

This is one of three stories that “came to me”, in the main character’s voice. I am not pretending to be clairvoyant, nor am I attempting to convince anyone of mumbling creative guru nonsense when I say such things. I am speaking with plain honesty, regardless of how ridiculous it might sound to experienced writers out there—I literally heard, “My name is Holly, and I have a bizarre story to tell”.

Okay. Enough of defending that. It is what it is.

Holly is not real big on descriptive details. I like descriptive details. I like texture, nuance. I am fond of the waxing poetic. I want to know about the guy who calls her Holly Girl. Who is that, he seems so dedicated and sweet while she treats him like a thorn in the side so I ask who what where and why, and Holly says shut up and keep moving. I want to know more about the raspy, lyrical voice of her grandmother, and Holly says listen to the words, shut up and keep moving. I want to explore the origin of her killer instinct and correct her on some the cliches she’s prone to spout and Holly says we’re all going to die, shut the fuck up already.

I’m stubborn, and after all, I’m the one writing this stuff, so I explore anyway. I discover some amazing things which I believe are vital to the tale and I begin interjecting. But Holly’s first person present tense isn’t really flexible enough to do all the things I want to do. Reading back passages of the story, I hear clanging noises.

Dammit.

So, I am awake at 4 a.m., wondering how to fix all this. Let’s ask Google. Google points me to a Writer’s Digest article entitled “The Pros and Cons of Writing in Present Tense”. I expect to find solutions to these problems in this article written by knowledgeable writing writers. What I find is the declaration that only the immature writer insists upon first person. First person is somewhat faux pas. And one of the few ‘pros’ to writing in first person is that it simplifies the handling of the twelve tenses. Twelve?

How many English courses did I take? About twenty thousand dollars worth. I do not have any memory of twelve. No one is going to give me a refund. How disappointing.

I guess I’ll go do what Holly tells me.

Blurry Vision


Yesterday was my self-imposed deadline for submitting my collection. I spent the entirety of Monday scrambling to fix mistakes, not the least embarrassing of which was an Acknowledgments page faux pas. I had actually tried to research writing the Acknowledgments page, but came up with squat after two weeks.

Until, as it happens, moments after a friend pointed out how other published poets utilized their Acknowledgments pages.All of a sudden, Google was positively full of instructions for such things.

Eventually, I will be able to digest and delineate all that I’ve learned throughout this whirlwind writing process. Eventually. But I have a feeling the submission process is going to teach me a few more hard lessons. We’ll see. As I was saying, I missed that self-imposed deadline. There are four days remaining before the actual submission deadline. I’ll make it early.

Meanwhile, I’m more than a bit punch drunk and truly exhausted. My vision is too blurry to do much of anything today. I think I’ll rest.

Those Boring Writing Assignments …


Last night got a little weird. I had work left to do on the manuscript, had neat little lists all written out, and was very excited about getting so close to being done. Then, shortly after surviving a trip to the grocery store I just… blanked. I suppose it could be described as a “stupor” from which I woke at 11 p.m.

I was eye level with the computer screen, sitting in my office chair. Netflix was playing an episode of Jericho. To my left was a stack of print outs from the z-fic I’m not scheduled to work on until Tuesday (wait, what). And to my right was a saucer of chocolate cake scraps.

I brushed my teeth and went to bed.

Dim and early this morning it was necessary to take care of a writing assignment I’ve been putting off for weeks—revising my resume. As of 7 a.m., I officially joined the job hunt.

Now that’s out of the way, I think it’s time to get back to my carefully plotted weekend schedule. The Table of Contents must be completed today, a final read-through of the manuscript, then a little happy dance toward the laundry basket that’s piling up and the kitchen floor that needs mopping.

As for the Netflix and the cake scraps, well, that will all have to remain a mystery. Apparently I left no witnesses to what transpired between 6 and 11 p.m.