The Cover Is Here! NaNoLA First Anthology

This is a very exciting day and I would love to share it with you!

My short story is being published as a part of the first NaNoLA anthology, “Believe Me Not, An Unreliable Narrator” and today I got the first peek at the cover.

I’m dying to share it with you, so here it is!

Believe Me Not, An Unreliable AnthologyD6

This anthology is a non-profit effort to support young writers program.

The book comes out on October 10th and I will be sharing the link and all the details for it just as soon as I have them available to me.

Thank you all for sharing this awesome time with me!

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Writing Bucket List

Recently I read an awesome post by JD of A Wrestling Writer on Out Of The Well called Writing Bucket List. I have never been big on bucket lists. Maybe I’m not ready to die (just kidding!) or just cause I’m not big on adrenaline rush, but I’ve never thought of a specific bucket list, especially a writing one.

I read down the list on this blog post and I became absolutely excited and inspired. There was someone who loved the writing as much as I did and whose goals were so similar to mine. I felt what we all want to feel: I was not alone in the world!

This post inspired me and I’ve been thinking for days now to write my own list. I will write it up and as I check the items off my list, I will follow JD’s example and come back here and update them with the dates.

My Writing Bucket List:

  • Write a novel – started in 2011, in re-write now, first draft of another one is ‘stewing’
  • Become part of a writing group – 2011 and 2012
  • Take a writing class – 2011, 2012
  • Get novel professionally edited
  • Publish a novel
  • Have a blog – 2013
  • Have a newsletter – 2014
  • Write a short story – 2014
  • Publish a short story – should be in Sept 2014
  • Enter a writing contest – 2014 and was accepted into anthology
  • Win a writing contest
  • Complete NaNoWriMo
  • Join Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of Romance Writers Of America
  • Attend RWA conference
  • Meet my readers at one of the ‘Cons or a book festival, sign and sell my book
  • Write three books a year – fantasy, writing, tech tips for writers
  • Write a book of short stories – in progress, 50% in 2014
  • Write and publish a non-fiction e-book
  • Self-publish a book of short stories
  • Get published in a magazine
  • Guest post for a blog
  • Attend writers conference – 2013 and 2014
  • Join writer’s society – 2013, GLAWS
  • Go on a writing retreat
  • Get BA in creative writing
  • Become an editor
  • Do e-book formatting for others
  • Open digital publishing house
  • Offer classes on memoir writing to local seniors
  • Open a writer-friendly coffee shop with comfy seats and free wi-fi
  • Be a full time writer

 

They say if you dream it and write it down, it will happen. I’ll be hard at work to make it happen.

 

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Interview With Indie Author Kayla Thomas, Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of my interview with the one and only, Kayla Dawn Thomas, an indie author of recently published “Swept Up” and upcoming, “Narrow Miss”. Today, I’m asking Kayla to share with us some of her experiences and tips when it comes to technical side of book writing and publishing.

LB: Hi Kayla, welcome back, thank you for being such a great source and gracious interviewee. Many of us who write also try to juggle many things in our life. Do you have a special time to write? What is your writing routine?

KDT: It really depends on the time of year. During the summer with my daughter home, I write whenever I can squeeze it in. I try to get in 2-3 thirty-minute chunks throughout the day. During the school year, I usually end up writing from 1-2:30 on weekdays. When I can, I add time in the morning. Sometimes I work in the evenings, and I usually squeeze something in on the weekend. I aim to write every day. That’s the most reliable routine I can claim.

LB: When I was beginning to write, I went through a struggle looking for the perfect writing spot. Do you have a special place where you write?

KDT: I have a wonderful home office where I do the majority of my work, but I also like hauling my laptop into my bed on a regular basis.

LB: Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

KDT: Both! I go through the manuscript myself after letting it rest for a few days. I usually end up doing a lot of rewriting during this phase. Then I give it to my beta readers. Their job is to punch holes in the story, make sure it flows, and just make sure it doesn’t suck. Using their comments, I may tweak some things. Then I send it to my editor. I’m a firm believer in hiring a professional editor. I don’t think you can thoroughly or objectively edit your own work. When I get it back, I go through the manuscript one last time with the editor’s notes.

LB: Tell us about the covers of your books, Swept Up and Narrow Miss, which are awesome, btw, and how they came about.

KDT: I was very fortunate to get Jason Gurley as my cover designer for Swept Up. He was awesome to work with, and gave me so much more than a cover. He was full of writing advice. Sadly, he has decided to retire from cover design. Narrow Miss was designed by my sister, Kendra Marvin from Boots and Bling Photography. She’d been saying she was interested in learning how to do covers as she loves graphic art. When I found out Jason was unavailable for my future projects, I shoved her into the deep end of the pool. She’s learning quickly, and has some great ideas and mad skills.

LB: How did you publishing this book and why?

KDT: I chose to self-publish through Amazon. I used Create Space for print on demand paperbacks, and Kindle Direct Publishing for my e-books. I chose to self-publish because I wanted to be in charge of every step of the process and maintain my rights. Plus, I’ve always wanted to run my own business.

LB: Did you format Swept Up on your own?

KDT: I formatted Swept Up on my own. It was very easy to prepare my e-book using Scrivener, which is only a $40 program. Create Space walked me through the process of formatting my paperback. I only needed Word for that.

LB: When it comes to marketing your book, do you have any tips on what to do and what not to do?

KDT: I’m still learning a lot about marketing, but here’s what I’ve been doing. I have a Facebook author page. It doesn’t have a lot of followers, so I also use my personal page for marketing. I share my blog posts, new release announcements, inspirational writing quotes, and random personal updates. I only post a handful of times per week on the official author page. I also use Twitter. I’ve learned through observation that continually spamming the feeds with “buy my book” stuff is very annoying and you lose followers. I tweet new blog posts, random updates, and tips about writing and running a business. I aim to be helpful and create relationships with people both online and in person. If they want to buy a book,  they will. I will confess that on release days, I talk about the new book a lot. I figure, it’s okay every once in a while. To me this business is more than selling books, it’s about making connections with people. Books have been precious to me my whole life. I want to get to know the people who read my work and what it means to them.

LB: Which social network worked best for you?

KDT: Facebook is great for reaching my family and friends. Twitter has been the best for reaching new readers.

LB: Do you have any other advice for other writers?

KDT: Take the time to read up on how to market your work. I highly recommend Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook; Tim Grahl’s book Your First 1,000 copies; and Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work. I also think you should read about your craft and be prepared to practice. Not everything you write will go in the next novel or blog post. Sometimes you just need to write for the sake of writing. You must be open to slowing down and being willing to grow. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott inspire me to dig in and let the words fly every time I revisit them.

LB: What are your ambitions for your writing career?

KDT: I want to keep publishing work regularly, hopefully improving with each book. I also want to keep connecting with readers and maybe find more opportunities to speak about writing and publishing. I gave a presentation a little over a week ago at our local library and loved every minute of it!

LB: Thank you so much for visiting again, I appreciate the great insight into indie writer’s life. For those of you who missed the first part of the interview last week, here are the ways you can get in touch with Kayla and discover her wonderful work:

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

 

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.

What Inspires You to Write?

Ever stopped to think of all the random things that inspire you to write?

I can immediately think of a few that are common for many of us:

  • Music – soft quiet one for those love scenes, heavy-metal for those action scenes
  • Weather – for some it’s rain, while others get excited by a bright sunshine
  • A good book – the feelings it stirs up and how it moves us
  • A movie – same as a book but with sound and visual elements added

But there are other, more subtle reasons that inspire us to write which we don’t realize at times, that come with being human and living among people:

  • A story we heard while in line at the supermarket
  • A wrinkly hand of the mother that reminds us that the time together is limited
  • Sickness of the family pet that brings everyone together
  • A promise you made to a loved one
  • A promise you made to yourself
  • Legacy you want to leave your children
  • Curiosity and wonder
  • A desire to make someone’s life better

The reasons go on and on as are the books that were inspired by them.

What are the things that inspire You?

 

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My 500 Words, Day 32

YES, I DID IT!!! I completed my 31 days of writing 500 words a day!!!

Phew, it’s been hard but very rewarding. When I started off my writing schedule was very spotty.With a full-time job and kids/husband/house to take care of, a million other things would take up my time, but somewhere deep inside I knew that a lot of that were just excuses, simply because I was afraid to write. So, I decided that I needed a challenge and accountability to myself and to you, my dear readers, to give myself a kick in a butt and give writing the time it deserved.

Let me tell you, writing EVERY day is hard. No matter how often you write and how much readers might like your last post, as soon as you start writing another line, it’s like starting with a blank slate. The desire to procrastinate is great and there are all these chores to be done. Having a goal of sitting down and writing 500 words every day gets you going though. For me, it’s like having homework that you have to turn in, but instead it’s you and your audience who are the teacher.

When you know that you have this commitment to fulfill, suddenly there are bits of time that begin to show up, suddenly you are firmer about what’s important to you and your family begins to get it and helps you more; watching mindless TV is not as attractive anymore and your fingers reach out for the keyboard every chance you get.

Better yet, you develop such a strong habit of doing it, you crave it when you are not writing, you get withdrawals for the lack of better word. You can’t wait to get home, hop on your laptop and get some words out of your system.

There were days (like yesterday) when I drove for four hours straight and was completely wiped by the time I got home; I couldn’t make my brain come up with any more words. On days like these I did my best not to give myself any guilt trips and knew that tomorrow would be a new day and new chances to get back to writing.

Will I continue with my 500 words? You bet! In fact I am going for 1,000 a day as my new goal. Definitely wish me luck with that one!

Here are my totals since the last check-in:

6/17 – 866 + blog post 315

6/18 – nothing, lots of reading on marketing

6/19 – 619

6/20 – nothing, blog post 444

6/21 – 1113

6/22 – 101, traveling

 

Keep on writing, fight the good fight!

See you on the battlefield!

 

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Writing is My Lifeline

I am here to profess my love for Writing.

I am not ashamed to admit, that when we first met, I was very intimidated and shy around Writing. I wasn’t sure if I was worth It, or ever be good enough for It. Writing seemed so well defined and polished and I surely would never be like that, I’m just me, nothing special.

I was looking up at Writing and worshiping its perfection and its influence and hoped that one day I will be allowed in its ranks, even if just as a humble servant. I was happy to be associated with Writing even in just a small way.

Over time, however, I began to realize that the pedestal that the Writing was standing on was built with my own hands. Writing wasn’t a stuck-up, out-of-reach, too-good-for-me as I originally thought. It wanted me to get to know it better and get closer.

So I decided to give it a shot. I began to approach it more, write more often and more openly. The closer I got to Writing, closer it got to me. It is still a work in progress as it’s often so mysterious and larger than life, but I am making the effort.

So far, the Writing hasn’t let me down yet. Every morning I wake looking forward spending time with it and every minute I can steal is so worth it. It makes me a better person, helps me grow and explore new horizons. It teaches me so much more than just write a good prose. It’s about trusting myself, speaking the truth, being brave, building relationships and helping people. What can I say? I Love Writing.

How is your relationship with Writing?

 

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My 500 Words, Day 25

I can’t believe it’s Day 25 of My 500 Word Challenge! As they say, time flies when you’re having fun!

I set out on this challenge over 3 weeks ago not knowing if I’ll be able to stick to the habit of writing daily, but I really wanted to. I felt like my writing goals were taking too long and I was honest with myself to realize that it was due to my inconsistent writing routine. I would write a few times a week, but I always felt at the mercy of the next event to interrupt me.

Setting a goal of writing every day and setting a minimum of 500 words, caused a couple things to happen.

First, I knew that 500 words was a very doable number and no excuse was valid enough not to write this much. On a few of the nights I was falling asleep in front of my laptop, but I didn’t allow myself go there until I had my 500 words. I had to do it because often it’s hard to tell – was I really tired or was it the resistance masked as tiredness? So, I had to show “it” who’s the boss.

Second, I noticed that writing was becoming easier and I have been writing more almost every time. On some days I wrote my novel and a blog post and a short story. Instead of resisting sitting down to write, I felt a need to sit down and write. I even did some writing during Father’s Day party (hey, some people jump into pool, some people rather write!).

Third, the self-guilt trips of not-writing are getting smaller to the point of extinction. I really love that part. I look at my laptop and smile, rather than mouthing “Sorry!”.

Here are the totals since last update:

6/9 – 351

6/10 – 771

6/11 – 525 + blog post 430

6/12 – nothing for novel + blog post 244

6/13 – 821 + blog post 153

6/14 – 1090 + short story 424

6/15 – 815 + short story 440

6/16 – this blog post (310)+ more writing tonight

 

If I can do it, you can do it for sure, I just know it!

Do the challenge with me, every step however small is taking you towards your dream.

 

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Writing – You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!

I’ve been thinking recently of what a battle it is to write. And most of the time, it is a battle with ourselves.

And a quote came to my mind from one of my favorite moves, “Sucker Punch”.

It applies to so many areas of our lives, and for me, it applies to writing:

“Who honors those we love for the very life we live? Who sends monsters to kill us and at the same time sings that we’ll never die? Who teaches us what’s real and how to laugh at lies? Who decides why we live and what we’ll die to defend? Who chains us and who holds the key that can set us free? It’s you. You have all the weapons you need. Now fight! Sweetpea

Enjoy the rest of your week and fight the good fight!

 

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Writing is Courage

Don’t let the inspiration hold you back.

Often, when we sit down to write, we don’t feel “inspired”. We are tired, reeling from stress from our regular day jobs and the last thing we want to do is open a page and be honest with ourselves. So we pretend that the issue here is a lack of inspiration, rather than our own fear of showing the world our insides.

We are afraid that once we put it on paper (real or otherwise), we will be vulnerable and the world will have a weapon against us. What we need to realize is that we are not alone in this. We need to realize that by being vulnerable we will find like-minded people that are looking for us to connect.

Once we write our souls out, the world might have a weapon against us, yes, but we will also have a protection in a form of a support, love, friendship of people that are not afraid to show the world what makes them tick, what helps them go on every day, what lights up or darkens their day.

Don’t be afraid to write. You will discover things inside of yourself you never knew where there. You will discover people who will appreciate you for who you are, real you, and help you be courageous every day.

Writing is courage, so fight on!

 

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