Interview With Indie Author Kayla Thomas

Recently, I have posted a review of ‘Swept Up’, a book by the fellow author, Kayla Dawn Thomas. I loved the book and wanted to learn more about the author, to discover what inspires her, what were her challenges and lessons learned from writing “Swept Up” and what she’s working on now. Kayla graciously agreed to an interview. In fact, she was wonderful enough to chat with me for a two-part interview. Today, we’ll be talking about the ‘writing’ part of the writing. Next week, look forward to Kayla talking about the techy part of the writing process.

So, without further ado…

LB: How old where you when you first began to write?

KDT: About second grade.

LB: Why did you begin to write?

KDT: Because I’d been telling stories to a jump rope since I was very little, and it creeped my mom out. LOL, seriously though, I just needed the tools to shift from the jump rope to paper, you know, like the ability to read and write. I’ve had the need to tell stories my whole life.

LB: I know a lot of us call ourselves ‘aspiring writers’, ’wanna-be writers’, rather than just calling ourselves ‘writers’. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

KDT: A couple of years ago I read Jeff Goins’s book You’re a Writer (So Start Acting Like One), and he stressed the importance of never calling yourself an aspiring writer. You’re either writing or you’re not. However, it wasn’t until I started working with Courtney Carver a year later that I got brave enough to label myself as a writer. Once I started telling people I was a writer when they asked what I did, my confidence immediately started to grow.

LB: Where do your ideas come from? Any secrets on invoking the Muse?

KDT: Oh gosh, my ideas come from everywhere. Swept Up came from watching the street sweeper trundle by my house. I’m a very random person, and I notice little things—things normal people probably wouldn’t consider story worthy, like a street sweeper. As for invoking the muse, you have to write every day. I don’t really believe in writer’s block. If I can’t get my groove going, I just whip out my notebook or open an empty Word document and do a stream of consciousness until the story starts flowing again, or a new project emerges. Usually it doesn’t take more than twenty minutes. I also think it helps to keep your mind sharp by reading a lot. For me, reading keeps me in the creative state of mind.

LB: You have recently published a book, “Swept Up”, please tell us about it. Can you give us an insight into your main characters?

KDT. Kara is a frustrating character. For much of the book, she’s hard to like, however many of us are hard to like when we’re at our lowest. Web is the man we all hope to find (there’s a lot of my husband in Web), but he isn’t without his past hurts. I’ve been told by some readers Web is too good to be true, but I believe he just seems that way next to Kara. We all need someone to lift us up and love us enough to stick by us as we get well again.

LB: What have inspired you to tell this story?

KDT: A couple of things inspired me. The street sweeper, and I was going through a rough time of finding myself. No, I don’t have a drinking problem like Kara, but I hurt inside. I was learning how to manage my anxiety disorder and start a new career alongside being a mom and wife. It was very overwhelming. I think writing a character who was hurting too was cathartic. By the time Swept Up was published, I was a new woman. This book changed my life, and was a huge part of my healing. I’m in a much better place now.

LB: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

KDT: Being patient with the process. It’s so tempting to whip out a story and slap it up on Amazon, but it’s essential to stay the course and take your time with the writing, editing, beta readers, editing, giving it to a professional editor, then editing again. The whole thing takes time, but when you reach the finish line with a product that looks like something you’d see on a bookstore shelf, you realize all the time and effort was worth it.

LB: What did you learn from writing “Swept Up”?

KDT: Um, patience, LOL! I also learned that I can write books for a living. I gained so much confidence during the process. Yes, I still look at my daily writing and think, “That was a pile of crap.” But I don’t delete it anymore. I let it be and just keep pecking away at it until it’s a smaller pile of crap. From what I’ve read, this is pretty common among authors. I figure you’re screwed when you become so pompous that you think everything you do is awesome the moment it hits the page.

LB: What are you currently working on?

KDT: I’m starting an episodic series called the Jenna Ray Stories. The first episode is Narrow Miss.  Jenna Ray is a former computer nerd, turned sexy seductress. But she only uses her powers for good: she lures in unfaithful husbands only to capture and return them to their wives. This series is edgier and much more rambunctious than Swept Up. I wanted to do something totally different.

LB: How can readers discover more about you and your work?

KDT: Website: www.kayladawnthomas.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kayla-Dawn-Thomas/475221952531489?ref_type=bookmark

Twitter: @kayladawnwrites

Pinterest: Kayla Thomas

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kayla-Dawn-Thomas/e/B00LAMREVU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.) http://www.amazon.com/Swept-Up-Kayla-Dawn-Thomas-ebook/dp/B00JLDR3OS/ref=la_B00LAMREVU_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406648197&sr=1-1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7434912.Kayla_Dawn_Thomas

LB: Thank for the great interview, Kayla! I have a soft spot for a good quote. What is your favorite quote?

KDT: “The work quiets fear.” Courtney Carver

 

I would like to thank Kayla once more for allowing us a peek into her writing world. Please return next week for the Part 2 of the interview where we will be talking about cover designs, formatting and self-publishing.

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Lessons From The Writers Conference

Recently I have attended Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference. It’s a fantastic event that takes place every summer with over fifty speakers on a variety of topics. Dozens of sessions run in three tracks: Aspiring, Active and Accomplished.

There is something for everyone: self-editing techniques, development of the characters, secrets of writing a romance, meeting with the agents, learning to pitch your book and then pitching it.

It’s an annual even that I always look forward to and where I learn a lot.

This year there were a few things that stuck with me and I would like to share them with you.

  • Write a short story about each of your main characters to get to know them better
  • ‘Interview’ your character to achieve the same
  • Give character a small pattern of behavior that has a meaning behind it and use it throughout the story
  • Pick out character’s favorite words (10 to 20) and use them to give your character unique voice
  • When re-writing your book, read through it and create an outline to see if your story flows and if there are any plot holes
  • In your re-writing make sure that these elements are addressed:
    • Structure
    • Pace
    • Conflict
    • Consistency of tone
    • Number of characters
  • Be persistent in marketing and in learning the craft
  • Networking is extremely important
  • Make sure to buy your own ISBNs (http://www.bowker.com/)
  • Writing is a business and you are responsible for it and should treat it as such

I highly recommend attending a writers conference in your area. It’s a great place to learn, meet fellow writers, forge friendships, make valuable connections and even pitch your book.

Have you attended conferences/writer events recently?

 

 

These Characters Are Real – Review of “Swept Up”

Recently I had a pleasure of reading a book by a fellow indie writer, Kayla Dawn Thomas. It’s her recent release and it is called “Swept Up“.

Before I go into any of the details I have to say right away how impressed I was with the characters of this book. They are real people with very real issues, desires, problems and aspirations. Many of the demons they are facing are very familiar to me from my own experience or experiences of close friends and relatives. There is nothing phony about the people you meet in this story, they are destructive, they are creative, they are caring, they are hateful, they will tell you how to live your live and they will make you walk your own path. Author is not protecting the main characters in any way, there were many times when I gasped out loud at what was happening to the them or straight up yelled at them for doing something really stupid.

This story is a modern romance set in a small college town, it introduces us to Web, street sweeper by night and book reading recluse by day. He had a share of a heartbreak in his college days and is not in a hurry to get involved again. Anti-social by nature, he’d rather be on the sidelines of human drama even though his sister tries to set him up with her gym-going friends, without any success.

One night he is out on his street-cleaning run, when a woman named Kara runs in front of his street sweeper. She is disoriented and hurt and he decides to help her and take her home. After taking care of her he leaves, but she doesn’t leave his thoughts. She is, however, caught up in her issues, relationships, complicated situation with her parents and a denial of a habit. She keeps on making bad choices and he keeps on being in the right place at the right time to rescue her yet again.

After life knocks her out (literally), she finally decides to give him a chance. Web is different from anyone she has ever dated and she is all he can think of. Thinking of her brings up his previous relationship, the one that broke his heart. He can’t help but compare them and he is yet to find out how similar the situation is going to turn out. Kara carries a secret that will break his heart and make him think long and hard about the viability of their relationship.

Will they survive the roadblocks the life threw at them or will they find a way to come together? Read and find out.

 

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Drive Your Story With Fear

Excellent post! We tend to protect our characters and forget the importance of fear in story building.

Fiction All Day

What does your character fear?

We all know that when moving our stories forward we’re supposed to make things worse for the protagonist.  Is he lost?  Let the sun set, let the rain come. Is he alone?  Find someone to stalk him.  Is she being hunted?  Take away her defenses. Does she need to find a cure? Have it fall into the hands of the antagonist.  This is all something fundamental, though many of us forget about it or fail to take it far enough. You know those books where the hero is having enough trouble as it is, and the next obstacle in his path makes us cringe?  Then ten pages later it gets even worse? Sometimes we forget that things can always get worse.

So let’s try again.  Is he lost?  Let the sun set, make it a moonless night.  Then let us know that as a child he was locked…

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