Tag Archives: secret graces

The Novelist’s Dilemma (is not a dilemma at all, is it?)

14 Jul

images (4)My posts lately have been rawly honest. Opening up my pea-head and displaying not just the cray-cray but the insecurities I have as a novelist is not easy. I’ve always displayed a more positive outlook because I recognize how lucky I am to do this. I’m extremely grateful for what success I’ve had, and for how I am able to write beautiful words and interesting unique characters—how easily the words (not plots) come to me. But sometimes I over-think things—it’s a character flaw. And I’ve been over-thinking this new book—and my entire career as a novelist.

At different points in a novelist’s career there are decisions to be made that affect the novelist. Consider that it takes months or more to complete a novel all the way through from first draft to final-ready-to-be-published. No one wants to spend that much time on any project only to have to scrap it, or to have it fail. Who would like those odds?  Not I, said the Kat.

There arrives the “what next?” question. What seems an innocuous query is fraught with complication. (Now, following here, excuse me for  mentioning my books and linking to them and their sales on Kindle – indulge me, since I don’t do it often but I should!).

tgraces1743500_553542498076585_1943216434_nsweetieLast night I picked up my copy of “Tender Graces” and began to read it as if I didn’t write it (I recently also read “Sweetie”, and such a warm and tender feeling overcame me. The words were rich and full and lush. The character apparent. The work isn’t perfect—in fact, I can see things I’d change about TG;  it was my very first novel, after all. But I felt the novelist’s love for her work, the language, the setting, place, tone, characters. It all came rushing back to me just how much I love what I do. And how lucky I am to be able to do it. The “Virginia Kate Sagas” (TG, Secret Graces & Family Graces – SG & FG are on sale for under $5 on Kindle, y’all, Sweetie for under $6) and Sweetie are examples of a writer who created out of nothing Secret%20Graces%202012%20-%20screenbut love for this writing life—it shows, and the readers felt it, too—I receive more mail on the Virginia Kate books & Sweetie than any other–I think they get the better reviews, too. Not perfection, but sincerity and truth. I believe in this author. I trust this author. The characters come alive and appear as apparitions in the room.1461250_496657083765127_1387255473_n

With the exception of one of my novels—The Lighting Charmer (and to some extent even that book), which is on sale for .99 cents on Kindle! and sorry for the touting — my published books were written in one way: I sat down and followed my character to see what she, or he, would do. I didn’t think about plots or outlines or “what I should do;” I just wrote. With abandon. Without fear. With love. With hope. These images of my book covers you see here?: I did this. I wrote these books. *Takes a moment to be filled with happy gratitude* family_graces_-_screen

Then the “novelist’s dilemma” smacked me stupid – should I write what I love; how it comes naturally to me? Or should I write what I hope will be more popular? Before you say “don’t fix what ain’t broke—write what you love!” Understand that the novelist profession is not only from the guts of us as artists, but it is also a business. This is not a hobby for me. I count on this as income. I count on this to help pay bills. And that’s where the rubber skids crazily on the road. Because what I love to write, what comes naturally to me, is not “Popular Fiction” that consistently time and again tears up Amazon rankings in the top 100 (though Tender Graces, Sweetie, and yes, even The Lightning Charmer were Amazon Best-Sellers. TG & Sweetie made it to top 100. TG was number 1 on Amazon paid list – The Help was number 2: haw! Yeah, I’ve had my moments!)

someone sent me this screenshot - wish I had one of TG & Sweetie!

someone sent me this screenshot – wish I had one of TG & Sweetie! So-Why am I whining? huh. Stop it, Kat

I fiercely love Virginia Kate and those cast of characters; I adore Sweetie & Melissa. I love Ayron & Laura in Lightning Charmer and I still think that’s my best attempt at a romancy-supernatural-mountain people kind of novel—I think that book would have been even better had I let myself “go” and wrote with the same abandon as I did with my previous novels, warts and all; imperfection and all. Those characters interested me, and still do. They captured my attention and my imagination. Still do.

I was in love. I was so very grateful. What happened to that? I can bet many novelists/authors out there can answer that question with a wry twist to their mouths.

So, the novelist’s dilemma: write what you love and let the money chips fall where they may, or, try to write something “Popular” and . . . and . . . be an unhappy novelist! One who isn’t writing very much. One who writes sad discombobulated blog posts about how she is not writing and feels uninspired.

If a novelist isn’t writing, then what’s the point? If the novelist is unhappy and discombobulated, then she must find out why and remedy it. If the novelist wants to be loved by the masses, then she best not be a novelist. And if Ego is involved—oh, Ego is a terrible snarling drool-faced monster! Kick Ego out the writing room door, y’all—kick it HARD until it never returns.

The answer is clearing the cobwebs in my wonky brain. The path I choose from the paths before me that fork off in fifty-galleven directions is—drum roll, please—the one that makes me happy. Duh. The one that may (or may not!) mean failure in my bank account, but always success in my heart account. As for some “popular” attention and sales? Well, there’s always a chance that will again come. Right? Yes! I’m still alive! I’m still a gifted writer! I can still write write write as much as and as long as I want to.

I’m a woman in her 50s. I’ve paid my life dues. I can bloody well do what the hell I want to. *Fist Pump*

When I am on my “deathbed,” believe me, I won’t be sorry that I didn’t write a huge spectacular best-seller, I will be sorry that I gave up the writing just because I couldn’t write a huge spectacular best seller. Huh. Well now.

Consider: when we are not true to ourselves. When we do not do what we know in our hearts and gizzards is the Right Thing (for us). When we look outward to other novelists’ successes. When we keep checking our bank account to see how much money we have. These things change us, changes the way we think about the writing.

I need an ass-whupin if I don't get back to work!

I need an ass-whoopin if I don’t get back to work!

And the writing will suffer right along with the novelist. The heart is not pierced with love. Something is missing—and it will be apparent to the reader. Oh yes, it will.

So what if I just take this new book and turn it over on its end and shake out its pockets and take a look at what falls out? The lint along with the pocket change and interesting rocks and bones and a leaf and something magical and a supernatural glowy thing and interesting odds and ends and whatnotalls. What if I followed the character around to see what she’s up to, and she’s up to something believe you me. What if I followed to see what her magic is? How it is affecting the town? Why some of the town is suspicious of her? What about that man in the shop: what’s he up to, or is he only in love with her? What are those “Memory Vases?” What is she doing with the vial of blood or the strand of hair—why is she mixing that into her magic paints? What’s she up to? What’s her story? Let me follow her around until I find out! “Black Moon Cove” . . . why is that bomping me upside my head as a “working title” . . . ?

What if I wrote how I did when I was happy with love and excitement?

What if the novelist’s dilemma is really not a dilemma at all? What if we are in control of our own writing lives? Well, dang me!

Yeah. What if?


Touty shout out of the day (and in the future, I’ll be shouting out lots of people here—not just writers):

download71ebbf88305ed9b9af826593ca46d111Writer Unboxed. A place where writers, editors, agents, and all things writing and writing related are discussed. Go visit. See for yourself. They’re amazingly awesome.


Friday Photos/Video: Cove Walk & Novelists Who Can’t Sing & Et Cetera

22 Jun

A novelist and her laptop – a love story Part One – to be continued . . .

I am The Worst Dang Singer EVER . . . I dare you to post YOUR singing – haw!

My brother composed this music for Virginia Kate

My debut novel Tender Graces and the video Bellebooks made – I was so excited!

Then when Secret Graces came out, I tried to make one – lawdy!

Okay all y’allses – I have a visitor coming who has never been to the states! Then, I’ll be flying out, leaving GMR and the dawgs here, to visit my Granddaughter, Son, and DIL in Oregon. I am hoping to post ahead of time for my first and third of the month posts –Don’t Forget Me! :D (Note new posting schedule to the right – )

Wednesday F4A: I am your guinea pig: Agadir Argan Oil Line (and a note about Family Graces)

25 Apr

(I apologize if those of you who subscribe by email receive this twice! I accidentally hit “publish” last night instead of “draft” – lawd!)

I am in love with Agadir Argan Oil line of products. On two earlier “product review” posts, I happily talked up Agadir shampoo and conditioner, and the Agadir Argan oil.

While strolling about CVS in Waynesville–okay, I don’t get out much y’allses — huhn, so CVS is close by and it has stuff in it and I can gawk and meander and look and sometimes buy something. Even though GMR has accused me of going all “girly-fied” lately. Huhn. What-EVER.

Annnyyyywaaaaay, I happened upon this lovely wonderful sight: Agadir styling mousse . . . be still my beating hair follicles! I grabbed it and with no shame whatsoever paid the full price for it instead of going through Amazon (where I see it is cheaper – if you receive free shipping) as I did with the shampoo and conditioner. But I wanted it Then. I felt completely spoiled–though may I just say and of course I may, that I have come to adore Agadir products and they are worth every penny (Dear Agadir, please do not raise your prices–do not toy with me!). Not only do they make my hair feel wonderful, but the scent is exotic and clean and soothing to my pea-headed brain.

What they sayMoisturizes, conditions, smoothes, humidity resistant. No build up and gives super shine to dry, damaged, stressed hair. Protects hair against chemicals and hot tools. Great aroma that will waken your senses! Paraben free. 24 hour, lasting shine. Enriched with antioxidants and Vitamin E. With protective sunscreen. Sulfate free. Anti color fade for long, lasting hair color. Great body, volume & shine. Hydrates, smoothes, detangles, controls frizz.

What I love about it: Every.Little.Thang!

What I do not like about it: There’s nothing so far that I can say negative. If I had one teeny thing, even though I said it’s worth every penny and it is; well, folkses, it is a bit more than some of the other “over the counter” brands and more in line with “Beauty salon” items. But again, worth the money in how it makes my hair look, feel, smell. Whoopeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

You will only need a bit of the mousse – so be careful. I splorked a big-arse glob of it onto my hand, accidentally. It’s thick and creamy-rich–feels like a cream instead of a mousse. I put it all in my  hair because I didn’t want to waste it, but it was a bit much, so I’ll be careful next time. The scent is the same as with the other products, and I had a whiff of it all day as I went about my business.

I have baby fine hair, but this product, even though it has the word “oil” in it, does not weigh down my hair.

I can’t say enough good things about this product.

Now, while I am here, might as well tell you that FAMILY GRACES is on Amazon Kindle; it’s there in trade paperback, too, but since the release date isn’t quite “official” yet, there’re still doing their thang and all (the trade paperback is at BelleBooks/Bell Bridge books now and they always enjoy readers contacting them, of course!) It should be out in all the usual places soon. I guess they are trying something different by slipping in the kindle book first–I do not know!

I’m excited and terrified that it’s finally out *pant pant pant!* – My goal (and I have no control over it, so I guess it’s more of a hope than a goal *laugh*) is for it to reach the top 100 of Kindle – or as Tender Graces did, the No 1 spot on the Kindle paid bestseller’s list—yes, TG was No 1 over The Help for a little bit–lawdy! Ohhhhh doggies, wouldn’t that be excitervating? :-D

So, at last–  my Virginia Kate Sagas, the Grace’s Trilogy, is at last complete. What a journey. It feel so bittersweet. I spoke of this hope and love for the characters and writing here when this blog was MSN spaces, so some of you may remember those days *smiling*

I’ve loved this character dearly. I’ve loved writing about her and all the others. She has been such a part of my life — I think I just may cry. And here they are–the three books that I have spent so much time with. The entire trilogy. Lawd. *sniffle* I’ll miss you Virginia Kate . . . Micah, Andy, Bobby, Rebekha, Katie Ivene, Frederick, Mee Maw, Miss Darla, Amy and “Mr. Husband” Campinelle, Jade, Soot and Marco–and all the rest.

Monday Classroom: Are you bored with your manuscript?

5 Mar

You stare at your computer screen, willing yourself to open the manuscript you’ve been working on, or start that new story/novel/whatever. Instead, you surf the net, check your email, tweet, Pin some inneresting stuff onto Pinterest, read Facebook updates and then update how you need to get back to writing—hahaha—but—hahaha—you’re just so distracted—hahaha—and well it’s soooo haaarrrd being a writer–hahaha, eat last night’s leftovers and the Hubig’s pie that’s still half-frozen (don’t judge me, ungh!), call out in a strong and determined holler, “What? What? Did you call me? Here I am! I thought sure I heard you say to come here. No? Well I heard something. Huhn. Isn’t that funny? Well, since I’m already here, I guess I’ll just scrub out the sink, la la la tee dah scrub scrub la la scrub la la la. I just looooove a clean sink; don’t you?”

Sometimes you may feel as if you want to ditch the entire manuscript, stomp off, and never open up that word document again. You may think, “I am B O R E D, b-o-r-e-d, bored.”

Welp, my good friends, let’s first consider that “boredom” may not be the real problem. ‘Kay? Imagine my benevolent head hovering over your shoulder, smiling encouragement and . . . okay, that’s kind of disturbing an image, so, um . . . anyway . . .

If you lose motivation to keep writing on a project (or finishing any project—like renewing your driver’s license because you keep failing the online test because you can’t remember all that crap and what’s a point anyway? Ungh.), maybe you do need a break—so yeah, go clean out the sink, watch brain-emptying television, read a book (which you should be doing anyway *giving you The Eye*), do some research, take a long walk somewhere quiet and restive, take a shower (unfortunately, no one’s yet, that I know of, invented waterproof pen and paper to take notes of the BRILLIANT ideas that come while you are washing your hair . . . lawd), et cetera. You can also try working on something else for a while, then go back to your original project. I find, as well, that starting at the beginning of my novel/novella/short story/essay and reading it from Word One spurs off more ideas, thoughts, and brings renewed energy to the project—it reminds me of why I wanted to write it in the first place, what brought me to these characters, setting, and situation. I fall in love all over again—oh siigghhhhh *little cute hearts abound*

If you are still unmotivated, maybe it’s time to consider why? If you are truly bored by your work and are not excited about working on it despite all my kick-arse ideas (hey! Who said that? They are, too!), will your readers feel that boredom as well? Hmmm? Think about it—if we are bored and uninspired by our work, how much more so will our readers feel this way? Believe me, it shows in our work. Our attitudes about character, place, scene, setting, tone, et cetera, will manifest into our Product. We should be the first champions, the first lovers of, the first excited readers of our work. Does this mean we’re always WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP *happy dance la la la laaaa!* about our work—naw, but you and I know when all the air’s been let loose from the balloon and what’s left is a sad limp wrinkled rubbery thang.

Perhaps you are stuck on a scene or chapter—then move on to the next one. Perhaps a character isn’t ringing true—ask yourself why; are you forcing your will onto the character instead of letting them be who they are? Do you have some “agenda” for that character that is your agenda and not what the character would ever care about? Be careful when you try to “get a message across” to your readers, for it can set you up for wooden prose and wooden characters.

Bluebird of happiness won't crap on your shoulder!

Perhaps you are simply discombobulated (oh how I love that word! Let’s say it together: dis-com-bob-u-lated—teehehee) or tired—go take a nap, sleep a good night’s sleep (don’t underestimate the importance of sleep—sometimes things Come To Me after a good night’s rest; a solution, where I go HEY! Whoop! Bingo!). Maybe you are stressed about that “$*%&$*% (that’s a curse word—oh, you knew that, well ex-scuuuuuse me) editor/taskmaster on your shoulder, so lower the stakes a little—don’t let yourself become so worried about where the book is going after you complete it (read that again—don’t let yourself become so worried about where the book is going after you complete it) and instead again find the joy of writing and creating—be In The Moment *cue new age music here.*

Maybe you need to hit the good ole delete key and be rid of some dead-weighted text. Oh, the delete key can be our friend—no really! I’ve grown to rather like that ole delete key. Look at it—give it a pet, stroke the key and say, “the pweshush, oh the pweshush.” I’ve deleted entire chapters, thousands of words, and after that, felt a renewed energy for the work. Keeping what doesn’t work, what bores us or stalls us will do us no good. There are always more words—trust yourself and the process. You can always save the deleted words in case you decide you want them after all—but guess what? Most times you won’t miss them. Really! You doubt me? *trap door opens, you fall into dungeon*

metaphor for bright shiny thoughts

It’s okay to be stuck with your work at times. It’s okay to feel frustrated. It’s okay to put it away and work on something else for a bit. It’s okay to hate being a writer sometimes. It’s okay to stomp your feet and raise a fist to the sky and ask, “WHY DO I DO THIS? WHY WHY WHY OH WHYYYYYYYYYY DO I TORTURE MYSELF IN THIS WAY? I SUCK; MY WORK SUCKS; BEING A WRITER SUCKS! SANCTUARY SANCTUARY!” Yes, it’s perfectly normal and fine to feel that way, as long as you don’t let it overtake you, consume you, have you arrested for climbing atop some building and rending your garments. As long as you scream and stomp and angst and feel depressed and feel defeated and feel horrid and yucky and icky and poodly doo doo pee-pee-poo-poo doody head, and Then You Go Back To The Work.

Now, go stomp up a hissy fit and then take a deep breath and fall in love with your characters and their stories all over again.

Oh! and here is the book-cover for my new novel Family Graces (which, by the way, gave me ten kinds of unholy hell, but I finally found what I was looking for–don’t give up on what you know is viable work). This is the last book in the Graces (Virginia Kate) Saga Trilogy. It will be released in spring. And you know, I’m grieving in a way–I know that sounds crazy, but I’m going to miss writing about Virginia Kate and all the others. She, and they, have been with me for years. Tender Graces was my very first ever novel to write! *sad face* So, at last, the Graces Trilogy complete:

Now Go Do The Day! And tell me, how do you inspire yourself to go back to work?

Monday Classroom: Tic Words, Similes, Ignoring Advice until . . .

27 Feb

Morning, y’all. Time for Monday Classroom!

Filler words. Tic words. Most all of us use them; although, the more you practice your craft and Recognize/Pay Attention to what you are writing/saying and how you are crafting your prose, the more you will be aware of filler or unnecessary or tic words. Yet, they do creep in when we are writing as we naturally speak (or as the character speaks), especially when “free-writing” that first draft, or writing in a casual loose way as we do in blog posts, or letters, et cetera. But the idea I try to push to you in my Monday Classroom posts is for things to become “second nature” – instinctual – in your writing, so that it carries over naturally into everything you do (mostly! :-D).

Some “tic” words: little, just, that, so, then, very, really—to name a few. It doesn’t mean you never use these words, it means to make sure you aren’t peppering your manuscript with unnecessary words that, well, aren’t necessary. Do a search for “so” or “just” or “very” and see how many come up—sometimes I use them on purpose, but it’s the “on purpose” that makes the difference, you see? In Family Graces, Adin says “very really much” – on purpose, though I tried not to do this so often it became distracting. In the South we often use “a little bit” or other colloquialisms—but again, “on purpose,” and as well, again, using them in a way that doesn’t distract your reader by overuse, or mindless use.

In Tender Graces/Secret Graces (oh dear, did I do it for Family Graces, erkity dang I don’t remember!) I did a search for “felt” and was amazed at how many times Virginia Kate said she felt something instead of showing the action of her “feeling it.” Sure, sometimes “felt” fits, but in many of the incidences I used “felt,” I was able to delete it along with several other words and instead make the action active instead of passive. How much better to have the character actually feel something rather than saying the character felt it, right?

Kathryn felt her stomach growling but she wanted to finish this blog post and besides she sure ate a lot over the weekend for her birthday (*birthday plug here even though she is already on cloud nine with birthday wishes on FB/twitter/email/phone/mail, but she’s greedy-guts – just a danged ole greedy guts who can’t get enough attention–dang her hide!*). *Wishes had more of those waffles GMR prepared for her yesterday–and notice the word “prepared” instead of “made,” huh? huh? notice?*

Kathryn’s stomach growled, but . . .

I once read a book peppered with “suddenly” – Suddenly, someone grabbed her arm; suddenly, the wind came; suddenly, she ran to meet her friend; suddenly, the car rounded the corner. Consider your manuscript—do you really need that “suddenly” when the action and/or dialogue itself can show immediacy? Virginia Kate has a “VK’ism” where she says, “All a sudden,” and like Adin’s “very really much” above, it’s On Purpose.  But, yeah, watch those “suddenly’s,” y’all, and instead create the Action itself.

What about those similes? (which are often clichés if we aren’t careful): “Her hair was like an old frayed rope and she re-climbed it to get away from that prince dude she thought was her savior, but the tower was actually not so bad after all . . . .” Simile – when you use “like a” or “as a.” When I go through my manuscript, I really do try to watch for overuse of simile and metaphor—because boy did/do I tend to over-use them (hopes I do not now—wonders if should check latest manuscript but it’s already in copy-editing stage, dang! Wonders if remembered to check all these things in latest manuscript–dang.). I will note here that I use “as if” and “as” much more then “like” – as in, example:

Kat typed like she wasn’t in a hurry but she was because her stomach growled mean and hateful—her guts are in an uproar, shouting and stamping and storming the castle because the Prince is pissed off that the Repunz rejected him.

I use “as if” instead: Kat typed as if (or as though) she wasn’t in a hurry . . .

Create a Good Draft with freedom and abandon (unless you are an organizational type person who cannot write in this way). Personally, I ignore advice until I have a good solid Draft; I mean a GOOD solid DraftPersonally I think we writers give out too much advice, but dang, we love talking about language and writing! And really, we want to put a fire in your belly; at least I want to put a fire in your belly! Read your manuscript with a critical eye and tighten it, tighten it. Sure, we’ll always have “extra filler words” or use too many similes or use passive phrasing instead of direct action; after all, who is Perfect? And if we spend all of our time creating Perfection in our manuscripts, we’ll never be able to say, “I’m done . . . ” and then do the Happy Dance of Whoop Whoop Whooop as we gaze lovingly at our Completed Manuscript. However, the more you know, the more power you have to manipulate your words and the language. Right? Right!

Once again, as I always write to you: Know the rules so you can break them. Be aware of “tic” words. Practice your craft. Read with a critical eye. Pay Attention.

What are your “tic” words or phrases? Will you have a fire in your belly?

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