Sunday, May 30, 2010

Calling all TEENS!

I need your help, my dear, loyal teen followers. And that of any friends you can recruit :).

I've been researching online the TEEN MARKET for EBOOKS. Guess what--I've found just about nothing out there on this topic. Ebook vs. print discussions abound online. And there are discussions here and there about which genres do better. But I'm having one heck of a time finding out if teen books sell well in ebook form.

So, I decided to go right to the source, so to speak.

What I'm asking is this:

Please leave a comment on my blog with your answer/opinion. If you're a teen (or even an adult with a take on this regarding TEEN books, not just ebooks in general), let me know--do you read ebooks? If so, why? If not, why? Is it because you don't have an ereader? Do you not have one because they're too expensive? Are you aware of the free ereader apps for computers and phones, etc? Just too in love with print to try? Can't find the books you want in ebook format (because publishers aren't putting enough teen books in e-format)? What other reasons for or against?

Please ask your friends who don't follow my blog to visit and answer. Maybe you can even post on your blog about my little survey/discussion here. The more answers, the more accurate my research.

Thanks, gang! I can't wait to read your answers. I'm very excited about getting the teen take on this. I want to know from YOU what you want!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Coming up for air...

I'm taking a moment to breathe today. It feels as though I've been submerged. I decided to get back into the sequel for Finding Angel this week. I'd put it aside for a while in order to write some short stories and start a completely unrelated novel. But Seeking Unseen started calling again, and I answered. Got about 2500 words done, which is pushing me very close to 60,000 so far.

I've also just finished up a drawing for a superhero novel that will be released by Splashdown Books later this year. I can't give out any details quite yet, but as soon as I have the OK, I'll post the cover here. This is my second cover project for Splashdown. It's been loads of fun!

Hmmm...what else?

Poetry! Yep, I've got a poem accepted by a new magazine. A Flame in the Dark is the soon-to-launch sister zine to Digital Dragon. My poem "Serpent Uncoiled" will be featured in their premier issue on June 2nd!

I guess that's it for now. Other things are bubbling under the surface, but I can't post anything yet.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Notebook Nugget for a Quirky Day

I haven't posted a Notebook Nugget in a while. (For you newbies, I keep a notebook that I fill with encouraging words, scripture, and even fortune cookie sayings, and I'm sharing them as the mood arises.)

So, today, I'm posting this one:

"Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing." --Margaret Chittenden

Yeah, well...that pretty much sums it up, eh?

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I’ve realized that most people’s taste in music really forms during their teen years. In my case, that would mean 80s music, and early-early 90s. But not the mainstream. Most of what I listened to would fit under the umbrella of “alternative”: New Wave, punk, a little goth, and even a bit of grunge.

HOWEVER, I was raised by parents who were teens in the 60s, so I have a deep love for a lot of that music. On my dad’s side, that meant folk music, including Simon and Garfunkel, Peter, Paul & Mary, and The Mamas & the Papas. And on my mom’s side…well, a mutant backfire from her listening to Elvis gave me a strange affinity for bluesy, southern-fried rock. friend Shawna Williams told me about this guy from her area (Arkansas) who is an up-and-coming musician. I went to his website and saw that Logan Lind describes his music as “Folk/Blues with a Scandinavian Flair.”

Oh, yeah :). With my love of folk and bluesy-rock, I of course listened to the songs he has on his site. And then, immediately went to Amazon because I could not live another minute without owning a copy of the song “Shimmer.” The other songs are awesome, too, and "Lift Me Up" is now vying for a place as my favorite :).

And...he's a Christian, too!

Check out his site, and then go to Amazon and download the CD. It's only four songs, but then it's only $4. Worth WAY more, I assure you!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oh, jealousy....

I remember the day my BFF called me to tell me she'd just had her second baby. I was SO happy for her, and yet, the second I hung up the phone I began to bawl. I hadn't even known until that time that I wanted to have a baby.

Then, a year or so later, another friend of mine told me she was pregnant. Again--SO happy for her, and the second she left the house I began to bawl.

A few months later, I was pregnant myself, and any bawling was from hormones, not jealousy.

What does this have to do with anything, you ask?

Well, I've come up with an analogy. Being an aspiring writer is like being a woman in a group of women who are all trying to get pregnant. You want it so badly for yourself, but you also truly want it for your friends. Still, no matter how happy you are when they get pregnant first, you'd be a big, fat, hairy liar if you said you're not jealous.

So it goes with writing. I'm in several writing groups, and quite a few of the writers in them have recently announced book deals. Am I happy for them? YES! Of course! These are people I admire, people I KNOW have talent, people who have worked their tails off, done their time, and totally deserve such success. But I'd be a big, fat, hairy liar if I didn't say I'm at least a bit jealous. (Or, maybe more than a bit.)

It feels awful, of course. Because I've been blessed with successes of my own and I am very grateful. I've got a pretty good list going of published short stories, many of them in print anthologies, and many more soon to come out. But my heart has always been focused on getting my book published, and it can be hard, feeling left behind.

So for now, I try to keep believing that, just as when I wanted a baby, I'll someday be right there with them. Maybe even happy about the timing, just as I was when I had my son. God has His reasons for every season He puts us in. It's just not my season to bloom...yet.

(PS--the photo is a fully opened tulip that was part of a dozen given to me by a dear friend.)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

In the Family

The other day, my daughter asked me to write down the words as she composed an original song. She's seven, btw. She's also started a book of her own about fairies and a dragon.

And my son, who's ten, has decided to write his own series of books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid style. (Not for publishing, he assures me, as he would never want to "steal" an idea--just for himself, for fun.) He's composed several haiku poems as well. Pretty darn good ones if you ask me. Now that I think about it, he also wrote two books when he was very young: one about Abraham Lincoln and one about a knight named Dave the Brave.

Why am I telling you this? Besides wanting to brag on my kids a little, that is? Because I find it interesting that in my entire family I don't know of a single writer. And yet both my kids show an interest in it. And I'm wondering...

What about you? Anyone come from a family of writers? Or are you the only one?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Contest Winner, and other Misc. Stuff

Ok...the winner of the drawing for Shawna Williams's book, No Other, and the freshwater pearl bracelet is...Linda Wagner! Linda, congrats, and Shawna will be emailing you to get your address :).

Other Misc. Stuff:

I've gotten a few cool acceptances lately. One is for a short story that had previously been published in Mindflights magazine. "The Artist" is a fantasy based on my novel, Finding Angel, and will be in the July issue of Beyond Centauri! Of course, I'll post as soon as it's out in case you want to get a copy of the magazine--it's print, not online.

Another short story of mine has made the short list for an anthology. I can't give details now, as I've not made the final-final cut. Yet. Will update as soon as I know!

And yesterday, I opened the mail to find a personal experience story of mine in a magazine...and I didn't even know it had been accepted. Hey, there was a check, too. Talk about a great Monday surprise!

Lastly, here's the trailer for the upcoming novel, Linger, by Maggie Stiefvater. Man, did I ever love Shiver, and this is the sequel. Can't wait for it to come out!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother's Day post...that has very little to do with Mother's Day

I asked for one thing for Mother's Day--a couple of hours of shopping (alone!) after which I wanted to come home to find the house cleaner than it was when I left. And, yes, that is exactly what I got. (Thank you, amazing husband and kiddos!)

But that's not what this post is about.

You see, while I was out doing my shopping, I went to Barnes & Noble. I love walking around bookstores. I can spend hours roaming, flipping through books, searching for new things to read.

But I became really frustrated while I was there. Because of what's on the shelf. Or rather, what's not. I've become much more aware, as an author, of small presses and the immense number of great books out there that you'll never see in your local bookstore. Even the bigger houses have tons of authors that are not on bookstore shelves. I have this great wish list going on Amazon...and most of the books I will HAVE to buy through them because you just can't get the books in the stores.

If you were to go back through my blog you'd see quite a few books I've reviewed that have maybe never seen the inside of a bookstore, except, of course, during author book signings. At the very least, you're not going to find them carried on a regular basis at any big chain bookstore.

OK, off the top of my head, here are a few:

Faith Awakened, by Grace Bridges (Splashdown Books)

The Muse, by Fred Warren (Splashdown Books)

Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem, by Karina Fabian (Swimming Kangaroo Books)--This book just won Best Fantasy in the Next Generation INDIE book award, BTW!

Starfire: The Mending, by Stuart Vaugh Stockton (Marcher Lord Press)

A Lever Long Enough, by Amy Deardon (Taegais Publishing--self published)

The Victor, by Marlayne Giron (Tate Publishing)

Behold the Dawn, by K.M. Wieland (PenForASword Publishing)

Weapon of Flesh, by Chris Jackson (Jax Books--self published)

I'm probably forgetting a couple.

Anyway, these books may not be perfect, or the next "big thing." But I read them from beginning to end, and enjoyed them all.

And if you've followed me at all, you know that the current "big thing"--Twilight--is a book I was so bored by I couldn't get past the first few chapters. As a matter of fact, there are a LOT of books by big publishers that I've put down after the first few chapters because I felt they were boring, poorly written, or just plain stupid. Yes, there are small press books that are like that, too. However, the stigma small presses and self-published books are given is VERY OFTEN undeserved.

My point to all this is that small presses need to be given a chance. The big guys have a monopoly on the bookstore shelves, but they do NOT have a monopoly on the talent out there.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Today I want to welcome Shawna Williams, whose debut novel, NO OTHER, released just a couple of days ago. If you've been following my blog, you know that I was a beta-reader for this book, and also that it was because of our mutual respect for each other's writing that Shawna and I became friends. Make sure you read all the way through--there are details about an awesome giveaway at the end!

First of all--thanks, Shawna, for agreeing to talk about your writing and new novel. How long have you been writing? What's the most rewarding aspect of it?

I've been writing off and on for about eight years, but I didn't start writing for the purpose of seeking publication until a little over two years ago. I had thought about it before then, but always chickened out.

The most rewarding aspect is being able to share the story of these characters – Jakob and Meri. They've been with me so long, and I've kinda come to love them. It thrills me to think this 'thing' that was locked in my head for years is now something anyone can read. I feel really passionate about the characters and their stories (there's a sequel) and I hope that others are touched by them in the way I was. I honestly don't really feel like I made their story up so much as it was given to me.

You have a new release from Desert Breeze Publishing entitled No Other. For those who haven't read the book yet, can you tell us a little about it?

No Other is set in the aftermath of WWII when the nation was trying to heal. That's what Jakob Wilheimer wants too. He wants to get past the pain of his family's internment, get on with his life, and if possible, forgive those who've wronged his family -- including himself.

Having quit school three years earlier to look after the family business and care for his younger siblings, Jakob knows his first step back into normalcy must be to return and get his diploma. And after enduring the stigma and isolation associated with the internment camp, the awkwardness of being a twenty year old amidst a bunch of teenaged high school students shouldn't have been a bother. What Jakob hadn't counted on was his former schoolmate, Meri Parker, being one of his teachers.

Seeing her every day, with her life on track, uninterrupted by the war, only serves as a reminder of Jakob's hardship. However, a school assignment brings these two in closer contact, and soon Jakob begins to see little hints of a not-so-perfect life behind the facade that is Meri Parker.

As a friendship deepens into feelings of something more, these two are faced with the dilemma of their situation. To be together, means they'd have to lie to everyone around them in order to keep their relationship a secret. But Jakob also fears for Meri, and the pressure from her family who wants her to marry someone else. He's aware of their cruelty and how they use Meri's yearning for their affection as a means of control. Jakob is afraid that without him at her side, she'll succumb and be lost to him forever.

And then there's that nagging Bible verse his Grandma made him memorize all those years ago. "Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit."
Is Jakob what Meri needs, or is he getting in the way?

What was the inspiration behind No Other?

The inspiration for No Other actually came from a dream I had eight years ago. It was bizarre, like watching a movie almost. And for the next six months I kept thinking about it, trying to fill in all the gaps between scenes. It eventually grew to be so complicated that I had to write it down. After playing with it off and on for six years, I finally decided to try and turn it into something publishable, and began studying the craft of writing, joining critique groups, and submitting short stories to rack up a few publishing credits. No Other was inspired from the first part of that dream, when the characters were young. All the details came later as I researched and got to know them better.

What made you choose this time period as the setting for your novel?

I love this time period, but the way the story came to me was really what determined the time period. I just always knew that it was set around this era.

Is there a particular reason you chose a German family? Are you from German ancestry yourself?

Actually, yes. My grandfather was of German descent. I don't know how much of the German culture was prevalent in his family, but he was orphaned at a very young age, so any customs that may have been in keeping with the culture were lost.

After writing No Other I find myself very curious about my roots. I've done some minor research into the Kail lineage, and would love to visit Germany someday. My kids and I have been looking into language lessons too.

Do you draw on people from real life when you come up with characters?

Yes and no. I don't have any characters representative of anyone I know in real life. My characters are their own thing. But sometimes certain personality traits that remind me of someone I know sneak in.

Do you have a favorite character in No Other? What makes him/her so dear to your heart?

I like both Jakob and Meri a great deal. It's hard to say that I have a favorite between them. I think I relate a little more to Jakob. He's introverted and tends to over think, not unlike myself. But Meri questions herself on everything, also not unlike myself. I just like these two together, and I love the their story.

Do you plot things out, or do you write "by the seat of your pants"?

A little of both. I have to have an idea of the story, including its conclusion. I write out a summary just to get an idea of the story's framework. Then I write my first draft, which is horrible. I'm a character writer, so my stories focus a great deal on the hero and heroine's internal journey. My first drafts tend to ramble and meander with all sorts of emotional pondering, not unlike a therapy session. This helps me to nail down what my characters’ struggles are. It gives me an idea of what they need, and how to get them there.

Once I've done this I go back and start the rewrite. I take this on a chapter-by-chapter basis, writing out the goals I need to achieve to keep the story progressing. Then I go back and edit. During this process I try to weave everything together as tight as possible, and also look for any missed opportunities to strengthen the overall theme.

How do you develop your characters?

To me, characters are what make or break a story. Characters are who we experience a story through and if they aren't interesting and relatable, then no matter how intriguing the plot, a huge facet to the story is lost.

Now, I know some authors do character sketches involving the looks and profession of their characters. While this works for some, I don't do this. To me this is surface stuff and it has little to do with the person I want to convey. These details actually fill in themselves as the character evolves anyway. I like to focus on my characters history. This sometimes, as with Jakob, necessitated me going to great depths to uncover his family's history. Most of this stuff never makes it into the book in the form of information, but it does make it into the book in the way it frames my character's mind set, mannerisms, insecurities.

I'll use Jakob as an example again. One of the things I found interesting about him was his duel culture. He grew up in a family that was thoroughly German, in a town that was thoroughly Texan, and he's thoroughly both. The clash of these two cultures cause a bit of an identity crises in him in the sense that the betrayal he feels over his family's internment because of their German heritage is harder for him to fathom when he's American, and Texan to boot. Yet, when he speaks to his parents its perfect German, and many of his fondest childhood memories involve the culture. In the midst of war he wonders if that's something to be ashamed of. can imagine, this story begins with a character already caught up in a whirlwind of internal struggle.
Now Meri...This girl's got issues, and quite a back story of her own! I'm not giving that away though. Hopefully a few people will be curious enough to read the book.

There's a sequel to No Other. Care to tell us about it?

In All Things is the sequel to No Other -- ten years later. While No Other is a complete story, if you look, you'll see there are some loose ends that are left unclear. One has to do with a promise Jakob makes to his rival, and another has to do with Meri's salvation. You know she's headed that direction, but when the book ends she hasn't committed her life to Christ yet. The theme of In All Things is similar to No Other but it deals with unresolved issues from a different phase in life, and adds to them with the complexities of family and careers, and substitutes for God. No Other mainly focuses on Jakob and Meri -- primarily because much of their interaction is in secret – but In All Things involves Jakob's entire family a lot more.

It's been an emotionally taxing story to write because there's so much to grasp. I find myself praying daily, "Lord, help me tell this story." But I find that there's also so much to love about it, and things I never expected to explore – one of them being how events in the first book affected Jakob's youngest sister, Esther. See, I just gave you something to think about if you read the book.

What do you want people to take from this story?

I wrote No Other because I wanted to tell an inspirational story about getting up after you fall. About how Christians don't just struggle, sometimes we blow it, but God doesn't abandon us. Even when our efforts to right things fail, He's still in control. Him, and No Other.

Thanks, Shawna!

By the way, folks, Shawna wants to GIVE AWAY a Kindle download (or other ebook format depending on the winner's preference) of No Other. The winner will also receive a freshwater pearl/inspirational bracelet and a signed postcard. Just send her an email at and put “Kat’s Blog” in the subject line.

That’s not all, though…for the month of May Shawna’s running a contest with three prizes – a Good one, a Great one, and a Grand one. (The picture to the right is part of the "BIG" giveaway.) You can enter multiple times, the details are here. (Sending an email as mentioned above gives you another entry in this.)

And finally, to get yet another entry into the big contest, email Shawna with the answer to this question: What does the German phrase, " Eine Verletzung kann nicht heilen, wenn man dauernd daran kratzt," mean ?

The answer can be found in the first chapter of No Other, viewable on Shawna’s blog, here.

Or through Freado, where you can also read the first four chapters.

Or through the free sample available as a Kindle download.

You can find out more about Shawna at:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Four Horsemen--now available!

My short story "Clay's Fire" is in Pill Hill Press's The Four Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death:

It can be purchased in hard cover or soft cover from Amazon.