Sunday, September 14, 2014

Forbidden Love & #Supernatural Secrets - New #YA Release

I can't believe it's been over a month since my first Young Adult Paranormal Romance released!  DIVINE FALL is a bit of a departure from my usual ghost story/romance combination--this new novel is about a Nephilim, or a Fallen Angel.  The Nephilim are the offspring of male angels ("Sons of God") and female humans ("daughters of man") mentioned in the Bible's Book of Genesis, as well as in the Book of Enoch.  In Genesis, the passage about this errant race of "mighty men" is directly followed by God's decision to cleanse the earth of the wickedness of humanity with The Great Flood. 

The best thing about writing fiction, especially fiction that deals with fantasy or paranormal, is that the writer can let his or her imagination run wild.  I have a particularly active imagination, so I had fun extrapolating the three long sentences that make up Genesis 6: 1-4 into my character's history.  In my novel, destroying this unnatural race is one of the major goals of The Flood; once the earth is repopulated, biological safeguards are set in place to prevent the conception of another Nephilim.

Until the birth of Dothan Reed.  How did it happen?  Well, I don't want to give away too much of the story.  But as DIVINE FALL's blurb notes, he's the only one of his kind; an outcast in both worlds.  His very existence is forbidden.  And he's fine with that, as he has only one goal: revenge.  He's willing to give up his life once he completes his deadly task.

But there's more than a few obstacles in his way, of course.  And Jamie Brandt, the girl unfortunately connected to his plan, is a big one.  Ultimately, he must make a difficult choice...and as Jamie figures out what he's hiding, so will she.

If you enjoy forbidden love and supernatural secrets, why not give DIVINE FALL a try?  At $3.00, it's less than a fancy coffee or a rented movie, and you'll get hours of entertainment!  And I love to connect with readers, so find me on FaceBook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Here's the Pinterest board for DIVINE FALL so you can get a look at inspiration for the characters and setting...in my mind, Dothan looks like Travis Fimmel from Vikings in his early modeling career.

Enjoy the blurb below, and find links for all formats of DIVINE FALL.  Happy Reading!


After tragedy tears Jamie Brandt’s life apart, her only goal is to finish high school so she can leave her small hometown behind.  In the meantime, riding her horse is her main source of solace, until a mysterious stable hand shows up at the barn.  There’s something not quite right about the handsome new employee, and the more Jamie sees of him, the more determined she becomes to figure out what he’s hiding.

Dothan Reed came to historic Huntsville, Maryland, for one reason—revenge.  But his plan can’t move forward until he finds the missing piece he needs to enhance his powers.  As the only surviving Nephilim, Dothan is not only weaker than full-blooded angels; his forbidden lineage makes him an outcast in both worlds.  When he discovers Jamie is the key to locating an ancient weapon, he’s forced to interact with a vulnerable human girl—a task that becomes more appealing with each encounter.

Jamie soon learns Dothan isn’t the only one with a dark secret.  Each new revelation further threatens her safety, and Dothan’s betrayal shatters her heart.  Forgiving him seems impossible, but the thought of turning her back on him is equally painful.

As their connection deepens, Dothan will have to make his own difficult choice: continue on his path of vengeance, or protect the girl he loves.  And when Dothan’s actions thrust Jamie into an unforeseen danger, he must seek the help of his enemy…or risk losing her forever.   



 



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Defining Genres in Fiction - #amwriting


I’m teaching a Fiction Writing class at the local college this fall, and the other day I set out to make a list of genres, with definitions and examples.  I ended up getting sucked into a black hole, spending hours trying to contrast and compare different lists that varied greatly from one source to another.  Some insisted one genre was actually a subset of another, another source declared the opposite.  Dozens of subgenres muddied the waters as well. 

Those of us who are writers know that most books don’t fit into one tidy genre anyway—there are blurred lines and overlapping traits.  But that doesn’t help the new writer with an assignment to pick their favorite genre and study it.  So this is MY attempt to classify some popular genres; I’m not claiming there are no other ways to do so, and if there’s one singular master list accepted by all, my hours of searching did not locate it.  One thing I noticed is that Erotica was rarely given its own genre—it was usually listed as a subgenre of Romance.  Maybe it’s because I’m a Romance author, but I think that’s wrong.  One key component of Romance is the HEA, and while some Erotica will incorporate that, it’s not a requirement.  At my press, we have two different websites to showcase our offerings: one for Romance, one for Erotica—and both genres have huge followings.  So I gave them each their own category.  Feel free to weigh in on how you organize and define the genres!  Keep in mind the word “usually” should always be implied, and that I didn’t think it feasible to list every subcategory.  OK, here we go!

The genre refers to the constructs of the story; things regularly done and expected in terms of technique, tone, and content.

A.   Mystery/Detective/Crime Fiction – focuses on the investigation and solution of a crime, the unraveling of secrets.

·        Cozy mystery usually involves a woman who is an amateur sleuth; these are fun reads with quirky and likeable characters in a small town setting; not very graphic in terms of violence and sex.  An example would be Lillian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who…series.

·        Hardboiled detective fiction tends to involve a professional detective with a cynical attitude; more graphic and gritty; city setting with a focus on action.  An example is Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe.

 

B.    Thrillers/Suspense – incorporate twists and suspense along with fast-paced action; provides a rush of emotions; main character is often a man whose occupation or career leads into the plot.  An example is Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code.

·        Occupational Thrillers encompass subgenres such as Legal Thrillers (John Grisham), Medical Thrillers (Robin Cook), etc.

·        Many other subgenres, including Ecothrillers, Espionage, Paranormal, Political, Psychological, Technothrillers.

 

C.   Horror strives to evoke fear, dread, and shock; purpose is to frighten readers; often involves some supernatural elements.  Example is It by Stephen King.

 
Stephen King is my
favorite Horror author -
I love his Fantasy novels too

D.   Speculative Fiction – fairly difficult to define.  This genre revolves around real or imagined science or technology; the world (or society) tends to be different from ours in a fundamental way; laws are different; world-building very important.

·        Science Fiction deals with the more plausible make-believe scenarios; science that might exist in the future.

·        A few other subgenres are Dystopian, Apocalyptic, Post apocalyptic, Alternative History.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is an example of Dystopian.

 

E.    Fantasy – almost always deals with something magical.  An imaginary world, animals or people with unexpected powers; world-building very important.  An example is C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.

 

F.     Historical Fiction – aims to immerse the reader in a specific time period.  This genre is set in the past; the plot comes from the writer’s imagination, but the setting and details of the time period are accurately portrayed.  Sometimes includes real historical figures interacting with fictional characters.  This genre requires a great deal of research.  Ken Follett’s The Century Trilogy is an example.

 

G.   Romance – fairly easy to define, as two key criteria must be met: the relationship between the 2 main characters must be central to the plot, and there must be a satisfying, happily ever after (HEA) ending, or at least happy for now.  The Romance genre is about two people overcoming significant challenges to be together; allows the reader to experience the crackling chemistry, the sexual tension, and the emotional roller coaster of falling in love.

 

·        Lots of subgenres, including Paranormal, Historical, Sweet, Christian, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Time Travel, etc.  Nora Roberts is a well-known and prolific Romance author.

 

H.   Erotica – features sexually explicit details designed to arouse the reader.  It is not pornography, there is a plot and developed characters.  The plot may or may not include a relationship; the characters may or may not have an HEA.  Captive in the Dark by C.J. Roberts is an example.

 

I.       Women’s Fiction – includes topics that are important to women, i.e. all types of relationships and friendships, love, careers, family, hopes, and dreams.

 

·        Chick Lit is a subgenre that promises a fun read with realistic, modern characters.  The covers tend to be bright and distinctive.  An example is Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding.

 

J.      Young Adult (YA) Fiction – targets the 12-18 age group; protagonist falls within that age range.

·        “Edgy” YA deals with controversial or difficult issues.

·        Other than that, the same subgenres of adult fiction apply, i.e. Divine Fall by Kathryn Knight (me!) is a YA Paranormal Romance.

Young Adult
Paranormal Romance
is a popular genre
 
 
Finally, a note about Literary Fiction – this encompasses novels that are not genre fiction; stories that defy categorization in a genre; the emphasis is often on the prose itself.  An example is The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

There you have it, my attempt at defining genres in commercial fiction.  I hope it’s more interesting than confusing...I love comments, so weigh in with your opinion!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Reminded me of #Twilight" - New #YA Paranormal #Romance

I admit it, I loved Twilight.  As a paranormal romance author, I obviously have a passion for tortured heroes, love stories filled with conflict, spooky supernatural mysteries, and dangerous situations--with a Happily Ever After somewhere in the characters' future.  Back in a 2013 blog post, I listed Bella and Edward as one of my favorite fictional couples.  I read for entertainment, and I want to be sucked into a book I'm unable to put down.  Stephenie Myer, in my opinion, is an amazing storyteller (The Host was also a page-turner).

So I was thrilled to see a book review blog recently compare my Young Adult Paranormal Romance DIVINE FALL to Twilight!  Reviews are tough to come by these days, with books being published at a phenomenal rate, and this review appeared on Read for Your Future, a site dedicated to promoting reading among teens.  The reviewer begins by saying DIVINE FALL "reminded me of Twilight but in a more realistic manner...Author Kathryn Knight has written a book teenage girls everywhere will love."  And I love hearing that!

One of the things I did not particularly like about Twilight, from a writing standpoint, was the lack of character development surrounding Bella Swan, the heroine from whose viewpoint the story is told.  However, this is a method employed on occasion when authors use deep first person POV (point of view).  I can think of a few other wildly successful titles which don't define the main character very well (50 Shades comes to mind).  Whether this is intentional or not, it does allow readers to put themselves directly into the character's figurative shoes, which can intensify the connection.

I work very hard in my novels to develop characters fully.  I absolutely want readers to connect with the characters and experience their emotions; hopefully they come to care about the characters as much as I do.  Jamie Brandt, the heroine of DIVINE FALL, has a lot of issues some teenagers will relate to.  But she's also a unique individual with clearly defined characteristics.  And this particular reviewer noted that as well, referring to Jamie as "a strong young woman" and commenting that her story has a "positive message".

Yes, Dothan Reed is like Edward in some aspects: he has both a light and dark side.  He's seeking revenge, and he's prepared to do anything to achieve his deadly goal.  When he discovers Jamie is involved in his plan, he'll have to make a difficult choice.  Dothan's not a vampire, but he is a different type of supernatural creature.  He's stronger than humans, and he's able to come to Jamie's rescue when she's in trouble.  But Jamie does her share, saving Dothan in more than one way.  They provide equal support to each other, and make each other better--and happier.

The review ends with a comment about how DIVINE FALL "reads so quickly with the action and the romance", with the reviewer hoping for a future sequel.  That made my day.  Will I return to Jamie and Dothan's story?  I'm not sure yet, but I do love these characters...and I hope you will too, if you give DIVINE FALL a try!

The beautiful cover is below, and all ebook links are here.  Also check out the Pinterest board to see the pictures I used for character and setting inspiration here!





Sunday, August 31, 2014

#BacktoSchool with a Broken Thumb - Another Soccer Injury

I really can't believe the year my kids have had.  Thankfully, they made it to 12 and 15 years old with almost no injuries.  And that's saying a lot, since they both play sports.  Then there's the every day kid stuff that takes its toll, but I guess we were lucky.  Then last February, my older son broke his leg.  Very badly.  There is probably no good way to break a leg, but this injury was so severe we were transported 2 hours to a Children's Hospital where they performed emergency surgery to pin the fracture, after working to straighten the immensely swollen knee before compartmentalization became an issue.  His leg was immobilized from groin to ankle in a Bledsoe brace for the next 6 weeks; the constant pain required strong medications.  He missed school, sports, and social events.  Six months later, he is just starting to return to full capacity.



The before xray -
the break is near the bottom,
at the growth plate
So, at least we have a new perspective in the household about what constitutes a catastrophic injury.  This made my younger son's recent broken thumb slightly less alarming.  Still, a broken thumb is no fun, and this is another bad break.  One that required surgery and pins.  His fingers and wrist are now encased in a cast, which makes writing impossible (of course it's his right hand).  He's already nervous about school, as this is his first year in Middle School.  Now he'll have additional challenges.  Plus he'll miss fall soccer, which he's been waiting for all summer.


The after xray -
Pins through the skin and bones

Speaking of soccer, both injuries occurred during soccer practices.  Both were just a slip with a bad fall; something that could have happened simply playing tag.  I managed to break both my collar bone and my ankle when I was little, and I didn't really play any organized sports.  So despite all the jokes about "maybe it's time for your family to give up soccer", I'll continue to support their endeavors, and I look forward to watching my older son finally get back into the game he loves after missing all spring and summer.  Sports injuries happen, and fitness is important.  But I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we've endured our share of broken bones for a while...

In the meantime, we're working on how to handle school.  We begin the Tuesday after Labor Day, so we'll have to scramble to get some accommodations in place.  At the moment, we're finishing his summer work via a collaboration style of his dictating to me what to write.  Unfortunately this requires a great deal of patience on both our parts--something we are short on at the end of summer.  I've also purchased this "Writing Bird", which may hopefully allow him to write a little with his immobile hand.

I really hope this works

So...2015, where are you?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Revenge, #Romance, and a Rogue Fallen Angel - #giveaway #YA

It's been one month since DIVINE FALL released!  To celebrate, I'm offering a free e-copy to one lucky commenter.  Leave a comment below to enter; follow my blog or FB page for additional entries (please note that below for me!).  Don't forget to leave email or twitter info so I can contact you if you win.  Check out the blurb and enjoy the last beautiful days of August.  Fall is coming!


After tragedy tears Jamie Brandt’s life apart, her only goal is to finish high school so she can leave her small hometown behind.  In the meantime, riding her horse is her main source of solace, until a mysterious stable hand shows up at the barn.  There’s something not quite right about the handsome new employee, and the more Jamie sees of him, the more determined she becomes to figure out what he’s hiding.

Dothan Reed came to historic Huntsville, Maryland, for one reason—revenge.  But his plan can’t move forward until he finds the missing piece he needs to enhance his powers.  As the only surviving Nephilim, Dothan is not only weaker than full-blooded angels; his forbidden lineage makes him an outcast in both worlds.  When he discovers Jamie is the key to locating an ancient weapon, he’s forced to interact with a vulnerable human girl—a task that becomes more appealing with each encounter.

Jamie soon learns Dothan isn’t the only one with a dark secret.  Each new revelation further threatens her safety, and Dothan’s betrayal shatters her heart.  Forgiving him seems impossible, but the thought of turning her back on him is equally painful.

As their connection deepens, Dothan will have to make his own difficult choice: continue on his path of vengeance, or protect the girl he loves.  And when Dothan’s actions thrust Jamie into an unforeseen danger, he must seek the help of his enemy…or risk losing her forever.   




Thursday, August 21, 2014

The "If you write it, they will read it" Myth - #amwriting

Rain, Jason, Allie, and A.J. must
reunite at a haunted lake house...
When I started my first novel, SILVER LAKE, I was terribly na├»ve.  I had no idea what I was getting into, or the enormity of the project I was contemplating.  All I knew was that I had an excellent story in my head that I'd been creating for years, just waiting to be told.  Rain and Jason would have been high school sweethearts if not for the boyfriend--they deserved a second chance at love.  The mystery of Brandy's disappearance needed to be solved--and getting the former friends together at the lake house would be one last attempt to find out what happened that bleak February of senior year.  The urgency was there--Brandy's mother was dying, and she needed to know what happened to her only child.  Finally, Brandy's ghost deserved to rest in peace--but she couldn't, at least not until she managed to expose the truth.  But would her friends gather together to help her get her message across?  Not everyone wanted old secrets to come out.  Like it or not, though...I was going to reveal it all.



And so I began, thankfully, before I knew about the statistics.  Ones like a typical agent accepts less than 1% of the manuscripts submitted.  Or the one about how over a million books are published each year in the US alone, and that number is predicted to grow exponentially every year.  The fact is, a staggering amount of books are added to Amazon every month.  I was under the very foolish impression that IF I did it--finished the book--and IF a publisher felt it was good enough to contract--I'd be home free.  A sort of "if you write it, they will read it" type of rosy outlook.

False.  Any writers reading this know that unless we're talking about a bestselling author name backed by a ton of marketing and publicity, "if you write it, they will read it" is not the case.  There are so many books out there, all fighting for readers.  And the number of Americans who have not read a single book in a year has tripled since 1978.  Only 28% of Americans read 11 or more books in 2014, compared to 42% in 1978 (source: Pew and Gallup).   

Which brings us to self-promotion, which is something most of us HAVE to do if we want to at least make our books KNOWN to potential readers.  If we don't put our book out there, the chances of someone just stumbling across it while browsing the 1.2 million titles on Kindle are not great (never mind the overall number of...wait for it...32.8 million books in all formats on Amazon).  So we have to keep pushing our titles, at the risk of annoying our social media friends. 

It's a bit discouraging, since my goal, both when I started and now, is to entertain people who love to read.  I love to read, and finding a great book that draws me in and won't let go makes me absurdly happy.  In order to at least put my novels on the radar of people who enjoy romance, suspense, and paranormal mysteries, I have to self-promote.

And I'm not complaining, because for the most part, I don't mind blogging, tweeting, networking, etc.  I mean, don't get me wrong, it would be great if once I was done writing a book, it would just fly off the shelves with little effort on my part.  But that's not how it is.  And that's okay.  I've learned so much as I navigate all the sites.  I've met some great people and joined in some hilarious conversations.  Social media allows authors to engage with readers in a whole new way, and it can be very rewarding and just plain fun.

The problem is...there are only so many hours in the day.  I teach fitness classes in the morning.  Now I teach fiction writing in the evening.  I have a husband, two boys, and several rescued pets, and they all enjoy being fed on a regular basis.  Occasionally, some of them want to spend time with me.  Almost daily, they want to be driven somewhere (well, not the cat...he hates the car).  So time spent on promotion and marketing is time away from writing.

Despite my hectic schedule and the dismal statistics, I'll keep on going, because writers have to write.  It's what we do.  Rain, Jason, and Brandy got their stories told, and then Claire and Max, followed by Jamie and Dothan.  Now all the other characters in my head want their chance too; new ideas are constantly brewing in my imagination.  And I'll continue with my marketing efforts, in order to increase the chances that my novels will make their way into readers' hands, and hopefully provide them with hours of excitement and entertainment.  That's what it's all about!

(P.S. - that first novel, SILVER LAKE, is on sale for only 99 cents for a few more days!)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Bad Year for Cape Cod Hydrangeas #Gardening

I'm very lucky to live year-round on beautiful Cape Cod, a place to which vacationers flock each summer. When people picture the Cape, the images tend to be coastal and quaint: beaches and lakes, inlets dotted with tidal pools, crimson cranberry bogs, shingled houses with window boxes, and yards filled with colorful hydrangeas.  While some types of hydrangeas can be grown anywhere in Massachusetts, the familiar bright blue ball-shaped blooms only grow in certain areas; they require the climate associated with USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 6 or 7, which includes the coast, Cape Cod, and the Islands.  These are the bigleaf hydrangeas: Hydrangea macrophylla.  The mophead hydrangeas (the large, lush balls of flowers) and the lacecap hydrangeas (the looser clusters of flat flowers) belong to this group.


Mophead Hydrangea macrophylla

The soil's pH level
determines the flower color
I'm an enthusiastic gardener, although not a great one.  However, Hydrangea macrophylla grow easily on Cape Cod, due to its acidic, sandy soil.  So over the years, we've added almost a dozen to the yard.  The shrubs need minimal care, and we're rewarded with huge spheres of vibrant blue and purple flowers all summer long.  Until this summer.

The Cape is mourning its hydrangeas this year.  One of the reasons Hydrangea macrophylla can flourish here is our warmer winters.  People envision Massachusetts as a cold Northern state, but Cape Cod sticks out into the ocean, surrounded by water in every direction.  The temperature of the ocean water helps keep our air warmer during the winter months.  But this past winter was brutal (see: Good Riddance, February).

The summer blooms come from the "old wood", the stalks that are exposed to the cold and frost all winter long.  Generally in the spring, leaves and buds begin to grow from the old wood, as new growth emerges from the soil to fill out the plant.  But apparently the winter this year here was so cold, the freezing temps actually killed the old wood.  While new growth came in as expected, the buds on the old wood never appeared. 

Love my sis
 
Here's a picture of me and my sister in 2011, in front of one of our hydrangea bushes.  It was newly planted earlier that year, and still, it produced a lot of flowers.  Below is the picture from this year--already August, and only two lonely blooms.

Two pale blooms on the left shrub, just one on the right


Only one bloom - far left - between these two shrubs
This is hardly a tragedy, but the beauty of nature is one of those things that makes us take a moment to pause and appreciate our surroundings.  And gardening, like writing, is one of those endeavors that requires hope and patience to see a payoff.  So it's hard to watch the gorgeous shrubs fail to flower this year.  But each fall, I usually clip a few of the giant blooms, hang them to dry, set them in small vases, and appreciate them all winter.  I'll just have to dust off the ones from last fall and enjoy them for one more year.


If you need a taste of Cape Cod as the summer winds down, try my ghost story/romance GULL HARBOR.  I set this one near the National Seashore, by one of the Cape's many kettle ponds.  Claire's a medium, in town to rid an old house of its aggressive poltergeist.  She's expecting a challenge as she investigates the haunting--but she never expects to encounter Max Baron, the man who promised to love her forever, then abandoned her without a hint of an explanation after college graduation.  Is Gull Harbor big enough for both of them?