Wednesday, March 22, 2017

KindleScout Anniversary Sale

Just over a year ago, my novel Finding Charlie was selected for publication by KindleScout.

This month KindleScout is celebrating its 2nd anniversary with a sale on over 200 titles currently supported by the imprint.

All KindleScout books, including Finding Charlie, will be available for 99 cents until April 3rd.

It isn't like Charlie to stay out all night without calling, but maybe Olivia doesn't know her little sister as well as she thought. 

When Charlie vanishes without warning, the people who love her are worried sick. Even if the law considers her an adult at nineteen, Charlie's still the baby of her already broken family. Older sister Olivia is determined to figure out what's happened. She finds a lost cell phone, an abandoned car and a shady boyfriend she's never met before. And he's not the only secret Charlie's been keeping.

This disappearance feels uncomfortably familiar, reminding Olivia and her father of another loss years before. But this will be different, Olivia swears. Charlie's coming back.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Top Five Reasons to Join a Critique Group

1. Find your tribe
Finding a group of people who spend their energy doing the same thing you do can make you feel less alone in what is otherwise a pretty solitary endeavor. When I'm forgetting to make my writing a priority, it's often my fellow writers who motivate me. And when I'm bummed out by an agent rejection or a bad review, they're great emotional support.

2. Trade wisdom
If you're rubbish at commas, make friends with the Punctuation Nazi. Offer something in return. Maybe you are really great at plot organization or dialogue or designing book covers or Kindle formatting. Maybe you have great contacts: reviewers, graphic artists, advertisers. When we share skills, it makes us all better.

3. Learn which advice to take
Everyone has an opinion. If you take on every suggested edit, it will no longer be your story and it may not even make sense when you're done. Think of the horse designed by committee. Wait for the advice that resonates, that hits on something you had a sneaking suspicion wasn't working. Pay extra attention to suggestions that are repeated by multiple group members.

4. Find your own mistakes by critiquing others
It can be hard to see your own work objectively. You're just too close to it. Sometimes it's easier to identify an issue in someone else's work and then apply it to your own.

5. Get a thicker skin
If you plan on submitting to agents or self-publishing where reader reviews determine sales, it's helpful to ease your way into listening to criticism. Your book will not be universally liked. Don't let it hurt your feelings. I like to read Amazon reviews of my favorite books to remind myself that anyone can get one-starred.

There are more than five reasons to join a critique group. What are your reasons?

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Long Thaw - FREE Book Offer

Somewhere between the successful release of my best-selling debut, Monsoon Season, and the lackluster release of my second novel, A Long Thaw, I began to feel like the publisher I was working with just wasn’t the right fit for me.

Getting out of the contract without an agent was a bit tricky, but I did it and I re-released A Long Thaw on my own. The process has been exciting, giving me complete control over how the book is promoted and getting immediate feedback regarding sales.

Since A Long Thaw was previously traditionally published, it's already been professionally edited and vetted by a standard gatekeeper, which hopefully will help give it that little extra bit of credibility in the sea of self-published books. All I had to do is find the cover, which I love.

I’ve always imagined A Long Thaw as a modern interpretation of the old prince and the pauper story. Abby and Juliet are cousins who, until the age of ten, live the same privileged, sheltered lives in a big Irish Catholic family. When Juliet’s parents divorce, her mother moves across the country so that she no longer has that safety net. The cousins reconnect in their twenties and the book deals with the ways we are changed by our experiences as well as the ways we are unchangable.

As a writer (and human being), I am endlessly fascinated by issues of identity and family dynamics, by the nature vs. nurture debate. These are things that inevitably find their way into my fiction.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: Fates and Furies

It is both shocking and reassuring when I read the reviews on Amazon for a book like this and see that there are actually people with the nerve to leave one star.

Yeah, the nerve.

This may not have been the best book I've ever read (though even those books have been one-starred), but Lauren Groff did not make the National Book Award finalists by accident. Who are these people who one-star a book because they were disappointed by the ending or they didn't fall in love with the main character, or they didn't get the point? They're certainly not writers. There are 201 one-star reviews. It's mind boggling.

The opening of this novel is so beautiful. That first page is what made me take the book home. Usually, I do extensive research before investing my time in a book. For this, I read the opening, closed the book, and set it in the "to buy" stack.

The book is divided into two main sections: the first is Lotto, the second is Mathilde. The reader gets to see their love story from the perspectives of each. The first section drags in places and Lotto comes off as arrogant but deeply loyal. You get the sense that this union has its share of dysfunction, but it's real. Mathilde's section sheds new light on events that seemed somewhat pointless in Lotto's. The second part is much darker and makes you wonder if these people ever really knew one another. The way events are retold from another angle is so well-done.

Criticism that it's pretentious because of its many high-brow literary allusions and it's focus on affluent white people is accurate if those things bother you. But that's what three-star reviews are for.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
Today, my Facebook feed began with a status update memory from this day last year: "NaNoWriMo starts today so if anything big happens (terrorist attack, celebrity death, congress passes a bill), someone better email me."

Oh, yeah. I should be writing.

Writers know November is the month we hunker down and try to crank out 50,000 words. We commiserate online with other writers at the NaNoWriMo site or on other social media. We update our wordcounts daily. Last year, I topped off at 30,000 words. I consider that a win, even if it is shy of the stated goal. In the year since, I've added another 15,000. My personal goal this year is to finish it.

November is always a tricky month because of Thanksgiving. This year, I have family coming in from out of state so I know those days will be lost. But this year will be especially hard for those of us following the presidential election. I don't really feel like I can cut myself off from news the way I did last year. In many ways, NaNoWriMo won't totally start for me until the ninth.

If you're a NaNo writer, connect with me on the site. I'm katie78.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

KindleScout Update

Since my novel, Finding Charlie, won the crowd-sourcing competition back in December, I've written a lot about the publishing process. What I just realized, though, is that I've done most of that writing as a guest for other blogs.

For instance, if you're a writer thinking about entering KindleScout, read this piece that I wrote for Rowena Wise.


My publishing journey started years ago with the success of my first novel, Monsoon Season. If you're interested in the story of that somewhat unconventional path and what it means to be a hybrid author, you can read more here, on BooksbyWomen.

I'm about nine months into the process with KindleScout and I've been really happy. When I signed the contract, I didn't know what to expect in terms of their support - and because of previous experiences with other publishers - I kept those expectations low. But I've been pleasantly surprised.

I was assigned an editor who worked with me to get the book professionally polished. The KindleScout team has always been quick to respond to my emails. In terms of sales, I earned back my advance within the first month and get monthly sales reports so I feel very involved in the process. Last month's promotion had Finding Charlie on the first page of Amazon's best-selling women's fiction, at #19:
Exciting stuff!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Book Review: Connected Underneath

Amazon Summary: Madena, upstate New York. Like any other small town, everybody keeps an eye on everybody else's business without recognizing the secrets that connect them. The wheelchair-bound Celeste conjures up lives from what she sees and thinks she sees while peering through binoculars from her kitchen fan vent. Fifteen-year old Persephone trades sex for tattoo sessions that get her high and help her forget her girlfriend doesn't love her. Theo was the high-school bad boy who couldn't have the respectable girl he adored from afar, but now, sitting behind the counter of the last video store in town, worries wretchedly about the restless daughter he never understood. Natalie, trying to grasp the last shreds of respectability, would do anything to forget the baby she gave up long ago, including betray her husband and son. Celeste, longing to connect, combines truth with fantasy, intervenes and interferes, finally understanding that things have gone terribly wrong and that she stands at the heart of disaster.
Connected Underneath is a lyrical, scalpel-keen dissection of the ties that bind and of those that dissolve.

I don't envy the author/editor who had to come up with that summary. It's a good one, and better than anything I could do. The story itself is difficult to describe plot-wise, made up of an eclectic group of characters and their complex histories. Linda Letgers' writing is beautiful, smart and compelling. It's heavier on narration than dialogue, and I worried that might slow things down, but it didn't. I zoomed through this.

There are so many amazing descriptions. Here's one of a punch to the gut: "Billie needed to fold in two, but Theo held him upright long enough for the pain to point back into Billie's brain and out through his toes and to become shooting sparks from his pupils, syllables in his mouth.".

This may be the first book I've ever read with an unreliable, omniscient narrator. The concept was unusual and well done. Mixed with first-person narration, the omniscient narrator turns out to be a character in the story who thinks she has everyone else figured out and also admits to being a liar. It's up to the reader to decide if she can be trusted.

I offered to read and review this honestly in exchange for a copy of the ebook, and I'm glad I did.