Tag Archives: sweetie

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.


Audio books at Audible on sale for one week, including a couple of mine

25 Aug

Morning all y’allses wunnerfuls! Peeking in here as I do from time to time to post off-schedule about book deals and such, really the only time I will yappity do dah day about my books on social networking is when I have some news!

Audible.com, an Amazon division, is having a promotion on some of its audio books. Two of my novels, and the anthology with Petey in it are in that promo.

They’ve lowered the audio prices to $5.95. Dang!

So, if you’ve never tried an audio book (I haven’t and with this sale I am going to try some books!), or if you like audio books, now’d be a good time to go for it.

What I love about this is that it also supports the Voice Artists, who work so very hard -harder than I ever imagined or knew! They are wonderful!

Tender Graces audio book. Narrated by Mia Bankston

Sweetie audio book. Narrated by Ann M. Richardson

The Firefly Dance (with novella Petey) audio book. Narrated by Frances Fuller

All right, that’s it! See y’all next Friday with: Photos: No Words.






Thank you for all your support and all you do. *muwah!*





Monday Classroom: So, you want to write? . . . Then, come on with me and do it. (Voice/Style/Setting/Tone/Dialogue)

20 Feb


Just as any musician, athlete, artist, Olympian gold medalist, blacksmith, butcher, baker, candle-stick-maker, must practice their craft, and practice often to become better at what they do, so must the writer. The more you write, the more you will understand just what it is you are doing and why. Of course there are the mysteries. I love the mysteries, too—those things we do that come just from the instinctual/natural and no matter how much someone else may practice, they may never break through that wall that some achieve more easily and naturally. But with practice comes confidence.

If you could read the original Virginia Kate story compared to what would become The Graces Trilogy, you’d laugh. Oh, the writing isn’t really bad (uh huh, some of it is, Kat), but everything is just Wrong. I cut my teeth on what would become Tender Graces, and then the others followed. But that first novel was an experiment, a beginning. It allowed me to learn about dialogue, setting, tone, point of view. It allowed me to “find my voice,” and as important, to find the character’s, Virginia Kate’s, voice. (And by the way, yes sometimes your first novels are published, as mine was.)

When I was younger I used to try to write as other writers did. I’d read a good book and then try to sound something like that author. I did that until one day my own voice, my own style, my Own emerged. Something clicked and it felt Right. I began to better understand what I was writing and how and why. I felt more comfortable with the language, with my language.

Finding your voice–

When you are not so “self-conscious” about what or how you are writing and just let the words come, you will “find your voice.” It isn’t some magical thing—just be who you are. Find a quiet space and then allow yourself to write the words without worry over how they read (sound) or without worry over who will read and like it/hate it/not care one way or t’other–this is the time to experiment, to be free to see where all this Goes. Most important, don’t think too far ahead of yourself. If you let yourself become worked up over “Who’s going to want to publish this drivel?” you may find the urge to write what you think someone else wants to hear. Set the words on the page without stopping to over-think it—your own voice will come through. After you finish, you can then revise. See “practice” above.

Finding the character’s Voice–

Your character must tell his/her own story in his/her own unique way. You must step out of the way and let them emerge. I want readers to be able to know who a character is without me having to identify them. I could take out all the taglines between Sweetie and Melissa (in my novel Sweetie) and in most, if not all, instances, you will know who is speaking just by their “voices” – who they are and how they speak. You don’t want everyone to sound alike, do you?


The way the writer writes – use of the language/words – the unique way each writer has, just as the unique way a painter paints, or a dancer dances. The “voice” (above), if you will. One day, someone will tell you: “Before I even saw who wrote this, I knew it was your work.” And when I am told this, I feel a sense of gratitude and happiness–it is a supreme compliment. Our style is our handprint, our fingerprint, on the work. It is ours and no one can do it quite like us.


This is the where and when of your story. For example: a small mountain town in 1966; one stormy night spent in a boat on the sea; a house on a hill in the middle of winter. (This also can set the “tone” of the story.) To me, Setting is as important as character, or even in some way, a character. The mountain in the Graces Trilogy is almost as if another character, as is the lonely house on the hill, Momma’s little white house in the holler, for they set mood (tone), have “personalities,” and are as important to Virginia Kate, and the story, as her human supporting characters.


The “feel” or “mood” or “atmosphere” of the story (see above). Set the tone at the beginning of the story–by the way you write it, your reader will anticipate “what kind of story” to expect or how they will feel while reading it.


You do not have to repeat what’s already been told in your narrative—use dialogue to move the story along, or to develop your character(s), not just to hear them talk back and forth as we would in real life because you think you should have some dialogue thrown in there. Dialogue is also a wonderful way to show your characters’ personalities, quirks, etc etc etc. Don’t put yourself in the story–let your characters speak for themselves. Listen to them. Don’t force your characters to say something that feels wrong or unnatural (or if you have a rant or “lesson” you want to project through your character–no no!). And remember, your readers won’t be fooled by your trying to fool them into believing something unbelievable just because it is easier for you to have that particular (implausible) thing happen instead of thinking the scene through—like dumping a bunch of information in the dialogue because you want the reader to “know” something; don’t be a “lazy” writer.

Do your research

Not only when you write something technical or informational, but in general, make sure you are accurate, for if you make mistakes, the reader may no longer trust you. If I say that the capital of Louisiana is New Orleans, then many people may not completely trust what else I have to say, since the capital of Louisiana is of course Baton Rouge. If I talk about clothing/food/drink/models of cars/hairstyles, etc, I do my research even when I think I know it from memory–memory is a tricky thing. Same goes with figures of speech, pop phrases, music, et cetera. There have been times I thought sure I knew something was correct and I’ll be danged turned out I was wrong. We aren’t perfect and we do make mistakes; so again, don’t be a “lazy” writer.

And finally, Rules are made to be broken

If you break them, do it well; do it with confidence; do it so that the reader loves you for it.

We hear this a lot: Never Give Up Your Dreams. You know, I do believe this. But I also believe that sometimes we may have to alter our dreams. Maybe the way we’ve always “dreamed” of something isn’t going to happen just in the way we’ve always dreamed of. So, try something else, or do things another way. Turn the dream on its head and shake it and see what falls out of its pockets. But you’ll never know until you sit down and Begin, right? Right.

Oh, and don’t forget to have fun, for lawd’s sake! See you Wednesday! — now go do the day.

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