Tag: write (Page 1 of 3)

Cross Waves: Five Reasons You Should Preorder Now

Cross Waves: Five Reasons You Should Preorder Now - Picture of book cover | Amanda Uhl

In 2015, I sat down and wrote my debut novel, Mind Waves, the first book in the Mind Hackers series, little knowing the book would eventually find an editor and a home with The Wild Rose Press. It finaled and placed in several contests and generally received all around favorable reviews. Readers call it “fast-paced,” “intense” and “not your cookie-cutter paranormal romance.” I eagerly started working on the second book in the series, Cross Waves.

But then I got distracted (which happens a lot with writers) and found myself writing a whole different story, a contemporary romance called Charmed By Charlie. The words poured out of me and the finished manuscript quickly found a home with Boroughs Publishing Group. The book also finaled and won a contest and received numerous five-star reviews to thrill my writer’s heart.

So then I went back to finish Cross Waves.

And I couldn’t.

What had once seemed easy and exciting, now seemed difficult and frustrating. I wrote, rewrote, edited and wrote some more. I floated the book to beta readers and critique partners, hired many editors, and labored over the plot, until I felt like giving up.

But I couldn’t. This story needed to be told. This “child” must be born. I couldn’t abandon it. But I couldn’t bring it into the world with developmental issues. Which brings me to reason number one why you should buy this book.

1.) It’s a labor of love. From start to finish, it took me four years to perfect the storyline. Four years of continual revisions. Four years of twirling my hair, biting my nails, and fretting over the plot. I promise you the finished product
is well worth the wait. You are gonna love this story. The copyeditor I hired enjoyed the story so much she offered a contract to bring it to a new serialized romance app called KISS. She said she thought it would do well on that platform. Which brings me to my next point.

2.) It’s fast paced and keeps you reading. Pacing is an issue a lot of writers face: How to keep the reader’s attention so they continue reading until the end. As an avid reader myself, there is nothing worse than not being caught up in the storyline. I want the books I read to keep me up past my bedtime. I want to be so engrossed in the story I must turn the page.  I want to be left guessing what happens next. Early reviewers are using phrases like, “a non-stop reading experience,” “fast-paced,” “heart-pounding,” and (my personal favorite), “I couldn’t put the book down.”

3.) You won’t guess the plot. As I mentioned, I labored over the story line. I don’t like stories where you can guess the ending, which happens far too often for my taste. To me, having the unexpected happen is what makes reading so much fun. I promise you, Cross Waves’ ending is surprising, which prompted one reviewer to label it “explosive.”

4.) The characters are fun, unexpected, and likable. The heroine possesses a dangerous talent. The hero guards a dark secret. The hero’s grandmother plays a pivotal role.  And one character, who you’ll meet towards the end of the book, surprised even me, seeming to appear on his own without conscious thought on my part and setting the series up nicely for the yet unwritten book three, Dream Waves.

5.) And finally, there’s a fantastic incentive. But it won’t last. From now until Oct. 19, you can purchase the ebook for only $2.99 on Amazon (40% off the regular price). And if you preorder the book, you can enter a special raffle to win one of two $10 Amazon gift cards, which you can apply to purchase other books you love.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So go on, give Cross Waves a try. I promise you, you won’t be bored!

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple
Kobo

P.S. And if you haven’t read Mind Waves, you should give it a try, too. The book is only 99 cents on Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble through Oct. 16!

Five Reasons You Should Preorder Cross Waves Now #fallreads #readromance #HEA #paranormal #books Click To Tweet

First Time EVER! Charmed By Charlie $.99 Cents, May 2-22

It’s May, winter is over, and the sun is—hopefully—shining. I’m in a great mood and celebrating with a special deal. For the first time ever, the award-winning Charmed By Charlie is on sale! May 2-22, 2018, you can find the book for just $.99 cents on:

This is a great price but it won’t less forever. But if that doesn’t convince you, here are five great reasons why you might want to check this book out:

  1. It won a bronze medalist in the 2016 Cleveland Rocks Romance Writers Contest.
  2. It was the recipient of Books & Benches Reviewer’s Choice Seal of Excellence.
  3. Library Journal calls it “A lighthearted and engaging read.”
  4. Long and Short Reviews gave it five glowing stars and named it “Book of the Month” for November 2017.
  5. It may be a long while before you see this price again.

But if that’s not enough to convince you, the book is featured as part of this special Love and  Laughter Contemporary Romance Giveaway. Enter May 2-22 for your chance to win. You could be one of 7 lucky readers to take home a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire 7, ebook prize pack, or Amazon gift card.

(Sponsored by the 34 authors listed below)

Allyson Lindt • Amanda Uhl • Chiquita Dennie • Christine d’Abo • Daphne James Huff • Diane Louise • Donna R. Mercer • Eva Winters • Holly Cortelyou • Jacqueline Diamond • Jacquie Biggar • Jennifer Vester • Joanne Dannon • Karina Kantas • Karly Morgan • Kat Drennan • Leigh LaValle • Lori Sizemore • Lucy Lakestone • Marlow Kelly • Michele Barrow-Belisle • Michelle Jo Quinn • Mimi Barbour • Monique McDonell • RM Alexander • Robyn Neeley • S.L. Sterling • Shaniel Watson • Soraya Naomi • Stephanie Queen • Tara Wyatt • Victoria Pinder • Weston Parker • Aileen Harkwood

Plus, shop the book fair where you’ll find Charmed By Charlie for 99 pennies and plenty of other books for $2.99 or less. There’s  even  a bonus giveaway!

Enter the LOVE & LAUGHTER GIVEAWAY at Bookwrapt.com and you could win a Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire 7, Ebook Prize Packs, or Amazon GCs. https://bookwrapt.com/love-laughter/ #IARTG Click To Tweet

A Little Birthday Advice To Rev Up Your New Year


No, it’s not a national holiday, and no one famous has died (at least I hope not). It’s just an ordinary day. The second to the last day of 2016. BUT it is my birthday (and LeBron James’). It’s also “No Interruptions Day.” So excuse the interruption, but this entitles me to share a few thoughts, right?

You see, I’ve picked up a bit of wisdom this year, what with writing and publishing a book and all. I figured today would be a good time to impart a gem or two to whoever is reading this post. YOU!

Consider this your lucky day.

Don’t Give Up (Too Soon)
I read a recent blog post encouraging the reader to toss out anything in their life that doesn’t make them happy. Stuff like their job that’s less than satisfying or a spouse or a friend who never gives back. It’s all about focusing on yourself the writer urges. Hmmm. Seems a bit…I don’t know…selfish?

The truth is the job is not always going to be satisfying even if you love what you do for a living. As I wrote in a previous blog post, I don’t like to write. Writing takes hard work and discipline. I have to force my butt in the chair, day after day, month after month, year after year. I have to suffer through gobs of rejection from readers, critique partners, reviewers, editors, agents, friends, family or anyone else who has an opinion. More often than not, writing sucks.

But then there are those precious moments, few and far between, when the long days of writing, critiques and bouts of insecurity reap dividends. Like the moment I wrote the last word of my 86,000-word manuscript or the time I won a writing contest or the day I saw the cover of my published novel for the first time. The high during these moments can’t be bought or manufactured. Their worth is measured directly by the effort I devoted to achieving them.

People will fail you.
Whether it’s your spouse or family or friends, they’re bound to disappoint. The easy choice? Dismiss those people who annoy you, hold you back or cause you pain. Why not? Won’t that make you happier? Maybe. But maybe you’ll miss out on some of the most satisfying relationships life has to offer.

After twenty-five years of marriage, I’d be lying if I told you there weren’t moments when I wanted to strangle my partner. There are times we can’t see each other’s point of view no matter how hard we try. There are moments of resentment and anger when it seems we argue about the same stuff, like we’re trapped on an endless merry-go-round spinning in circles.

We could jump off and save ourselves the pain and nausea. Or we could stay on the ride and work together to bring it to a satisfying end. It’s a choice we make. Walk away or hang on tight. We choose to hang on tight. The ride isn’t always easy or fun, but it’s now bigger, better and more exciting than we could have ever imagined starting out.

Don’t get me wrong. There are instances when no amount of hard work can keep a relationship alive. But if you give up at the first sign of stress, how will you ever know the heart-warming laughter of a deep and abiding friendship? The friends I have who go way back–back to college and first jobs–are some of the most enduring, loyal and truest friendships I possess. These are the friends who made a choice to stay during life changes or arguments. They’ve put up with me, offering a rare and precious gift I’ll treasure forever.

Don’t be afraid to try something new
Fear is a thief, robbing us of future joy. Often it’s easier to stay in a situation we know is not good for us or allow ourselves to be placed in a role that doesn’t fit. We grow beyond the role or situation but are afraid to move for fear of failure. We let other people’s view of us define who we are.

Stop. Now. Today.

Don’t do what I did. It took me forty-six years to drum up the confidence to focus on my writing. I made dozens of excuses to keep me in the same place. I let others opinion of me and my fear of the unknown guide my thinking.

The last two and half years after I took a giant leap into the unknown have been the truest, most productive and satisfying of my life. I only wish I would have made the jump sooner.

A few weeks ago, I met a local Cleveland author who survived cancer twice. She wrote about her trials and what she learned from them in her book, A Beautiful Journey. She told me she’s now living for a higher purpose. It took a dreaded disease to shake her from her comfortable life and move her into a profession of blogging, speaking and authoring books.

Sometimes we need these life events to shake us up and show us what truly matters. But you don’t have to wait for something tragic to happen.

So do it. Follow your dreams. But work hard, stay disciplined and don’t give up on yourself or others too soon in the process.

As my birthday buddy, LeBron James has said, “You can’t be afraid to fail. It’s the only way you succeed.”

Great #Birthday #Advice for the #NewYear! Click To Tweet

 

If You Put a Writer In a Window…

All settled in the window at Appletree Books and ready to write.

All settled in the window at Appletree Books and ready to write.

A few Fridays ago, I spent four hours surrounded by glass, struggling to type the words to my next novel, Cross Waves. Appletree Books, a quaint bookstore in Cleveland Heights, has been hosting writers all month in honor of National Novel (NaNo) Writing month, which takes place each November.

Cross Waves is the second book in my Mind Hackers series, but that doesn’t make it any easier to write than the first. Also, my job as a communications manager doesn’t leave much time to write.

So I was expecting big things from my day in the window, eagerly anticipating its arrival. But like most things in life, anticipation is the half the reward. We never know what’s in store.

Here’s how it went down.

…They’ll give it a try.
I attempt to start my car, but the battery is dead. Not even the keys will work to unlock the doors. That’s when my terrific husband figures out I left the lights on the night before.

I call the store to tell them I’ll be late, arriving at my destination an hour behind schedule. I push a dollar in quarters in the meter, knowing I’ll need to return two hours later to feed it some more.

Starbucks is next door, so of course, I visit the coffee shop to purchase my Chai Tea.

Back at the store, hot tea in hand, I size up the window. There isn’t a lot of space for my cup, laptop, iPad, purse and glasses. But I promised to sit in the window, so I set my belongings on the small table, kick off my boots, and hike myself into the tiny seat, making a mental note to start that Yoga class soon.

Heating up
The weather is unseasonably warm for November–a balmy 72 degrees. Sunlight streams through the tall glass. I open my laptop, hands poised above the keys. Sweat beads on my forehead.

I’d received a few tips from writer friends who’d sat in the window earlier in the month to dress in layers. I strip. Off goes my vest, shirt and socks. There I sit in t-shirt and jeans, my bare feet resting on my purse, feeling a bit like a plant in a greenhouse about to die of heat stroke.

A little encouragement from a spectator.

A little encouragement from a spectator.

My fellow writer in the opposite window is a local whose friends stop by in a steady stream. One of them holds up a sign to spur me along. I’d better start writing.

I push my laptop back an inch and bump my tea. I watch in horror as it dumps to the floor, muddy brown liquid dripping on the wood and into my open purse. Ugg. Down from the window I go in search of paper towels.

I return and get settled again. The writer is changing in the next window. My friend Marin arrives, taking her turn behind the glass.

“I need a water,” she says. Off she goes to the Starbucks next door.

A fairytale bookstore--I want these steps in my home.

A fairytale bookstore–I want these steps in my home.

Time to write
I type a sentence or two. I haven’t worked on this story in six months. I struggle to recall the plot. I reread.

Marin returns, water in hand, which makes me wonder what time it is. I look for my cell phone. It’s gone! I must have left it in the car. What if someone needs me? I scramble down from my perch, slip on my boots and grab my keys.

Off I trot to the car to find my cell on the front seat. Good timing as the meter needs fed. Except my change is in my purse at the store. Sigh.

Back I go to retrieve my purse, my heels clunking on the hard pavement. You should be writing…you should be writing…they seem to chant.

I feed the meter and return to the store. Up I climb in the saddle again.

Photoshopped
A man comes by with a large, expensive-looking camera. He motions to take my picture. I nod. Dutifully, I smile, wondering where the photo might end up.

I write a few more sentences, fanning my face in between. Sweat trickles down my back. Marin tells me she’s had enough and exits the window for a cooler table in the next room. I briefly contemplate doing the same. But then, what’s the point? I came out here to write in the window and write I will!

I place my determined hands back on the keyboard. A few more sentences appear on the page. Yahoo! It’s now a paragraph. I’m writing. I’m writing!

My gracious hosts at Appletree Books. Notice the book wallpaper behind the counter.

My gracious hosts at Appletree Books. Notice the book wallpaper behind the counter.

Bippity-boppity-boo
The store owner approaches. “I’m heading to Starbucks. Would you like an ice-water?” she asks.

Would I like an ice-water? “Yes, please,” I say, looking at her like she’s my fairy godmother, and I’m going to the ball.

I write a few more sentences. The words are coming easier now. I check my word count. 500 new words. Yay.

The store owner returns with the largest ice-water I’ve ever seen. “Bless you,” I say, and I mean it.

I wrap my hot hands around the giant cup and bask in the instant relief. Now all I need is a sandwich.

I check the time on my cell phone. Two o’clock. My time under glass has come to an end.

Marin decides she’s heading back to the office, so I take a solitary lunch at the restaurant next door, selecting a seat far from the window.

I prop open my iPad and churn out a thousand words.

What happens when you put a #writer in a window? Celebrating #nano at #appletreebooks. #amwriting #amediting #writingtips #asmsg Click To Tweet

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Keeping Up When You’re Feeling Down

Up and Down
The title of this blog post came easy. The rest I’ve rewritten at least a dozen times. And that’s pretty much how its been with me lately. It’s all a little twisted. Like I put my shirt on backward or got out on the wrong side of bed.

Not that I’ve done those things. But every time I start to write, the words seem somehow wrong. No sooner do I type, I’m hitting the delete key. I write, rewrite, edit, write some more. Then I scrap the piece and start over.

It’s frustrating, annoying, downright depressing.

Why do I do it?
Sabotage my writing before it has time to sit on the page. This week, it’s due to a large dose of negative feedback.

The first came on Monday from an agent I had queried a while back for my newest work, Charmed By Charlie. “I couldn’t connect to the story as much as I wanted to,” she wrote.

Okay…I get it. Not everyone will like your work. But I had such high hopes for this one. I’ve been offered a contract from a great publisher. How could the agent not see how beautiful, wonderful, special this story is?

She seemed nice when I met her back in June. I really wanted her to be the one.

Bummer.

And then on the heels of this email, I received word the manuscript also failed to final in a contest I entered. What? I was so sure it would do well. I read over the feedback. The judges made statements such as, the goals, motivation and conflict weren’t clear.

But I plotted out the goals, motivation and conflict before I began writing. What went wrong?

Major bummer
Before I knew it, I found myself sliding, slipping, drowning in a sea of self-doubt. How could I write another word of my current manuscript, which is only sixty-six percent complete, with this kind of feedback?

The answer is I couldn’t. I stopped writing, walked straight to the freezer and downed the rest of the vanilla ice-cream left over from my son’s birthday party. Then I gorged myself on cottage cheese and granola bars–two late night snacks that have no business mixing together. And the next day…well, you don’t want to know how I felt the next day. Let’s just say, it wasn’t good. I’m grateful I can work from home.

Getting back in the chair
I started thinking about what drives me to write. From where does the passion come?

I love the feeling of starting a new project–the spark of inspiration, which motivates me to type for hours when I should be sleeping or doing laundry. Or the surge of excitement I feel listening to a favorite song or movie or reading a good book. Or the exhilaration of seeing the sun set or spotting the perfect piece of Lake Erie beach glass.

A favorite shot of beach glass I gathered from Lake Erie with a quote from my upcoming release, Mind Waves.

A favorite shot of beach glass I gathered from Lake Erie with a quote from my upcoming release, Mind Waves.

These are the stuff of creativity. They stir the pot of ideas and keep me moving. They’re a jolt of energy telling me I can take on the world or at least my small piece of it. Nothing’s gonna hold me back.

Until someone throws out a negative comment about something I’ve written, and I come crashing back to earth with a resounding thwack.

It hurts.

And then I calm down
Time brings perspective. I go back and reread the letter from the agent.“I’d definitely be open to seeing something from you in the future,” she wrote. “So please keep in touch and hopefully we can work together on a different project.”

Hmm…she must like my writing to offer to look at new material.

I also take a closer look at the contest feedback. The final question asks for overall commentary. Here are excerpts from the judges:

“The important points being brought up indicate a strong storyline being crafted: a boring boyfriend, disappointment at work, an unpredictable best friend, a hot new co-worker…all these are excellently introduced. I think the story will be very compelling once some pacing issues are addressed and the hero makes his GMC known to the reader.”

“This is a manuscript worth pursuing. The setting is interesting, the characters compelling, and the writing make me want to turn the pages!”

“This is really nearly there. Your voice is good, easy to read and entertaining, and you do banter well. Some very funny lines.”

Okay, so the manuscript needs some work. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a great story. Stop listening to the world and listen to your gut. It knows what no one else does.

“This is gonna be a great one,” it says.

Okay, where’s my iPad? Time to get back to work.

Keeping Up When You're Feeling Down #amwriting #amediting Click To Tweet

Need a Shot of Inspiration? You Can’t Beat Lakeside Ohio

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Our cottage this week at Lakeside.

My happy spot is a gated community on the shores of Lake Erie called Lakeside. My family and I have rented a cottage this week and are busy taking in the sights and sounds of the summer season.

Like its more famous cousin in New York, Lakeside is a Chautauqua-style vacation spot dating back to the late 1800’s. Visitors breathe in its history and shroud of vacationing happiness from the moment they pass through the gate. Writers draw inspiration from the ivy crawling up the sides of the quaint, and sometimes creepy, Victorian cottages. At least I do.

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Vines grow up the sides of this old cottage. Could it be haunted? If so, they’re happy ghosts.

Something for everyone
Lakeside has entertainment galore for young and old alike. The kiddies can run and shout in the splash pool, collect sand in their bottoms on the beach, or jump and climb on one of the many playgrounds sprinkled throughout the grounds.

Felix

Felix Cavalieri’s Rascals at Lakeside, Ohio

Teens can play video games, ping-pong, foosball or good old-fashioned board games in the teen center by the lake. And people of all ages can compete in shuffleboard, miniature golf, tennis, and basketball or enjoy nightly entertainment in Hoover Auditorium. On Saturday, we were entertained by Felix Cavalieri’s Rascals.

If games aren’t your thing, well then, you may want to sign up for an art class at the Rhein Center, take a yoga or cooking class, set sail on a sailboat or enjoy a walk by the lake. This week, I’ll turn hammered silverware into plant markers and make a lighted glass block. I’ll also connect with fellow author, Jena Henry, who teaches a class on self-publishing each week during the season.

There’s ice-cream and shopping, too — half the fun is moving around by bike or golf cart from store to store.

To have and to hold
This is our twenty-third year for Lakeside. (Don’t I feel old.) My husband and I first drove through the gate to celebrate our one-year anniversary in 1993. Lakeside grabbed a hold of my heart on that visit, and we’ve returned every year since, eventually bringing our children, friends and extended family with us.

From time to time, I try to articulate what makes Lakeside unique in this day and age of exotic vacations and four-star hotels. The accommodations are not fancy. You bring your own sheets and towels in most of the cottage rentals. It’s not uncommon to sit on mismatched furniture or sleep in beds with patchwork quilts. In the cottage where we are staying, family photos decorate the walls in the dining room, along with a collection of teacups. Harmless bugs, called Mayflies, swarm in from off the lake and roost in the rafters on the outside patio. The houses are built so close together, the smell of the neighbor’s dinner on the grill drifts into the yard, making my mouth water.

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Family photos on the walls of our cottage rental.

 

Mayflies cling to the roof on our patio.

Mayflies cling to the roof on our patio.

 

Tea for two or more...Lakeside have its own tea room but these teacups are on display in our rental.

Tea for two or more…Lakeside does have its own tea room, but these teacups are on display in our rental.

No the accommodations are less than desirable, and yet, I find myself relaxing into the cushions on the wicker chairs and soaking in the ambience of the place, like the air plant on my kitchen window at home after a long period without water. Today, I churn out 1,000 words on my current manuscript, and I write this blog.

One of the many beautiful flower displays, which grace the grounds of Lakeside.

One of the many beautiful flower displays, which grace the grounds of Lakeside.

Indefinable
“Smell that?” My mother-in-law asks, peering into the window of the cottage across the street, which is for sale.

I dutifully take a whiff. The musty smell of old wood and damp, like a thousand storms off the lake, assaults my nostrils.

“That’s the smell of old houses.”

“I love that smell,” I say. Even as the words leave my mouth, I realize I do love that smell.

“You do?” she asks.

“Yeah,” I say, but I find myself at a loss for words to explain why.

Perhaps that is Lakeside’s magic. One hundred years from now, you and I won’t be here, but Lakeside will still welcome tired vacationers to its shores — to be rejuvenated, to soak in its history, and to try and put words to its mystique and charm, which has us returning year after year.

A step back in time. My husband and I pose by the inn we stayed at 23 years ago.

A step back in time. My husband and I pose by the inn we stayed at 23 years ago.

Need a Shot of Inspiration? You Can't Beat Lakeside Ohio #TWRP #Lakesideoh #NEORWA Click To Tweet

Check Out Haunted Souls — Great New Romantic Suspense Novel

From time to time, I feature a few special writers and their books on my site. Kathryn Knight is a fellow author with The Wild Rose Press. This month she released her newest paranormal romantic suspense novel, a military ghost mystery called Haunted Souls. Check it out!

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Description
Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily’s own plans, her attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her secret.

Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire, another presence enters their lives—Tyler’s imaginary friend.

Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a dangerous connection with their son. Emily’s attempts to help both a lost soul and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.

To order
Kindle link: https://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Souls-Kathryn-Knight-ebook/dp/B01EZLQX9G?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc

Nook link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/haunted-souls-kathryn-knight/1123684427?ean=2940158295799

imageAbout Kathryn
Kathryn Knight spends a great deal of time in her fictional world, where mundane chores don’t exist and daily life involves steamy romance, dangerous secrets, and spooky suspense. Kathryn writes contemporary romance spiked with mysterious hauntings as well as YA paranormal romance filled with forbidden love. Her novels are award-winning #1 Amazon Bestsellers and RomCon Reader Rated picks. When she’s not reading or writing, Kathryn spends her time catching up on those mundane chores, driving kids around, and teaching writing classes. Two of her ghost story/romance titles, Gull Harbor and Haunted Souls, are set on beautiful Cape Cod, where she lives with her husband, their two sons, and a number of rescued pets. Please visit her at Kathryn Knight books on Facebook, @k_knightbooks on Twitter, or at www.kathrynknightbooks.blogspot.com.

Check Out Haunted Souls! #military #romance #NewRelease #ghosts #EOD Click To Tweet

Age and Experience Sweeten the Cup for Writers

Old vintage books and cup with heart shape on wooden table
Two and a half years ago, I found the courage to go after a dream. I sat down at my dining room table and typed the first words to a story that would later be titled Mind Waves.

That first chapter would be edited and re-edited and eventually deleted all together, as I sought to improve the storyline enough to catch and capture an editor’s interest. It wasn’t easy.

Finding a publisher
I met my editor, Ms. Laura Kelly with The Wild Rose Press, at the first conference I ever attended. That was more than a year ago. She was the second editor I pitched. It took almost a year of rewrites and dozens of contest entries (to garner feedback) before Ms. Kelly said yes to the book (and me:)

I thought those ten months were the most agonizing, depressing ten months of my life. Like a wild roller coaster, my mood would swing up with a kind word from a beta reader or down with a contest failure. Up with a contest win, then a sudden plunge down, down with a barrage of rejections. When the future is uncertain and there’s no end in sight, it can be difficult to stay on course.

So, why did I keep at it?
I’d like to tell you it was one activity or person that inspired me, but it was not. The gas in my tank was a stubborn refusal and belief in myself and my writing skills. This is what I needed to carry me through the long haul of disappointments and lack of interest. Whenever I got a rejection, I would remind myself that I could do better and then go at it again the next day.

One thing I didn’t do was stay still. And I’m glad. Because failure one day would lead to success on another. For instance, on a day when I felt particularly frustrated, I began writing a new story to shake off the doldrums. That story placed third in the contemporary long category of the Cleveland Rocks Romance Writer’s Contest.

Ironically, what I found agonizingly slow, other writers tell me is fast. They marvel at how quickly I navigated the process. One writer friend compared my journey to a snowball rolling down hill, picking up speed and size. (I love the imagery of writer friends.) That’s when I first began to consider and appreciate my age and experience in this business.

I’m no spring chicken
I have been writing in the corporate world for more than twenty years. I’ve produced news stories in an hour with someone standing over my shoulder, urging me to type faster. I’ve pulled together marketing brochures and posters that have gone on to win awards. I’ve accepted and incorporated feedback over and over again from clients who don’t like the way something is written.

Last weekend at the Cleveland Writing Workshop, I met a lady who wanted to write military novels at nineteen but was told she needed more experience. So she joined the military and became a medic. She has since retired from service but has spent the past twenty years perfecting the craft and has more than six books under her belt.

In the writing world, age and experience are not a liability. Like fine wine, they enrich and sweeten our work.

Age and Experience Sweeten the Cup for Writers #TWRP #Romance #Amwriting Click To Tweet

Late Night Ghost Auditions: No Callbacks Allowed

young woman in bed with alarm clock and eyes opened suffering insomnia and sleep disorder thinking about his problem on dark studio lighting in sleeping and nightmare issues

It happened last night.

I awoke to see a dark stranger standing by my bed. My heart leaped out of my chest, forcing a gasp, as adrenaline rushed through my body. I scooted across the mattress, nearly pushing my husband over the edge in the process. He, poor man, groaned, rolled over and went back to sleep. But I lay there sweating. What was that…thing?

I didn’t know. When I tried to take a closer look, it disappeared.

In the warm light of day, I brush this encounter off as an over-active imagination. I am a fiction writer after all. And I did have that chocolate mouse for dinner last night. That has to be it, right? RIGHT?

Ghostly encounters
“Ghosts are all around,” my writing buddy Joyce tells me. If anyone would know, it’s Joyce, who I met through a local writing group–the Northeast Ohio Romance Writers Association (NEORWA). She’s a member of a ghost-hunting group, called EVP Mediums and carries the title EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) investigator.

“Aren’t you afraid of ghosts?” I ask her, while visions of my mysterious late-night visitor dance in my brain.

“No, I’m not. The spirits don’t feel threatening. To me, they’re just people.”

Dead people, I think on a shiver. The thought of getting close to a ghost, let alone inviting one to speak, is, in a word, terrifying. I’ve been avoiding them my entire life, though they insist on appearing at my bedside on a routine basis and adding a dose of realism to my books.

Joyce doesn’t share my misgivings. She regularly volunteers to investigate sites known to be haunted along with other intrepid ghost hunters. They routinely tape apparitions speaking and observe dark shadows in eerie places. They even do…gasp…sleepovers.

EVP Investigator Joyce Caylor takes a break at her first overnight outing with the ghosts at Malabar Farms.

Not my kind of pajama party
Armed with camera and audio equipment, a psychic and an ordained minister, they call out to spirits, asking questions guaranteed to invoke an answer. What is your name? How old are you? Why are you here? What do you want?

In the old Mayflower Hotel in Akron, Ohio, which used to house drug addicts, the gang hears shades cry out for their drug of choice. At the Slovak Club in Lorain, ghosts are recorded speaking in…you guessed it…Slovak. At Malabar Farms in Lucas, the spirits issues words of support, uttering “I’m happy,” “He’s going,” and “Pray with you,” after the team performs a cross-over ceremony. The ceremony is performed by the group’s minister to encourage ghosts to “go to the light.”

“We always get ‘help us,'” says Joyce. “I don’t know why.”

Maybe it has something to do with being…gulp…dead.

“Has this been detrimental to your faith?” I ask.

“It’s strengthened it,” says Joyce. “I don’t worry about death. It’s made me think about my relationship with God and why this work is important to do. I kind of feel like this path opened up for me.”

In addition to the spiritual growth, there’s another benefit ghost-hunting is providing Joyce — material for her novels. She has a whole series planned, including five story ideas.

Not bad.

Hollywood has even come calling. Six members of the group (before Joyce joined) have been featured in a new series pilot on Lifetime called American Murder House.

Maybe I should encourage my late night visitor to audition?

At least he won’t have to worry about ‘breaking a leg.’

Eeks! Late night ghost encounters @EVPMediums #amwriting #ghosts #paranormal #psychic Click To Tweet

What If Your Greatest Frustration Powered Your Next Big Idea?

A writer’s life is filled with some highs, lots of lows and even more waiting around in between. The glacial movement of the publication process can be frustrating, especially for doers like me.

When I began the writing journey two years ago, the only thought in my head was whether or not it was possible for me to finish a novel and have the story make sense. I gave little consideration to what comes after.

I didn’t know I would spend a year querying agents and editors, attending meetings, reading and learning about the craft of writing and rethinking the work until I could barely look at it again without feeling a dead weight in the pit of my stomach.

But that is, indeed, what happened.

Big Idea Rocket

Frustration spurs creativity
The greatest source of my frustration during this period was how difficult it was to be heard and seen in such a crowded marketplace. Ironically, this led to renewed inspiration. I wondered: What could I write that would make me stand out from the crowd? What is the hardest story to tell?

My brain fired back–one that contains humor and is told mostly in dialogue. I happened to be watching Gilmore Girls with my daughter at the time, which contains a lot of face-paced, witty scenes. I’d also just read, Bet Me, by Jennifer Cruise, and the idea for Charmed By Charlie was born.

A star is born
It would be an office romance with several colorful side characters. Charlie, the hero, would be a flirt and a creative genius. Val, the heroine, would be a math whiz, who is wary of charmers due to a bad experience. There would be a mystery to solve–someone is embezzling money from the firm–which can only be resolved by the hero and heroine joining forces. Val would have to confront and adjust her prejudices about Charlie. Charlie would need to give up his freedom-loving ways for Val.

The first chapter wrote itself, and every chapter since has rolled fluidly from my keyboard onto my iPad. I began sharing chapter installments with several beta readers who were enthusiastic about the work. Write faster, they told me.

I, too, want to write faster. I, too, want to know what will happen next.

Last week, I flew into Phoenix for the Desert Dreams conference, where I met with two agents. I had intended to pitch my paranormal romantic suspense series, Mind Hackers. But a few weeks ago, I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for Mind Waves, the first book in the series, and as a result, neither of the agents were interested in that world. So, I pitched Charmed By Charlie instead, and both agents I spoke with asked for sample chapters.

One of my critique partners suggested I enter the first few chapters into the long contemporary category of the 2016 Cleveland Rocks Romance Writers Contest. On Monday, I learned that Charmed By Charlie was a finalist in that category. Winners will be announced on May 21. I couldn’t be more excited.

When the going gets tough
Sometimes, when we feel like giving up, we just have to keep going. We have to ignore the naysayers (we all have them) and the little voices in our head that keeps us from going after what we love. We have to use the roadblocks in our way as fuel to take a different stance, look at the world a bit differently, and try something new.

It could be our greatest hurdle will produce our next big idea.

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