Saturday, December 13, 2014

My Interview with a Creative Writing Student - #amwriting #romance

Darcie and her friend made a day trip
to Bethany Beach for a
book signing event
Most authors tend to do a lot of networking. Personally, I love to connect with both readers and other authors (who also tend to be passionate readers - I know I am!) on social media.  I first met my friend Darcie Morin via a Facebook connection, but we were able to meet in person when she traveled to a book signing I did in Bethany Beach, Delaware. Incredibly, Darcie has already written several full-length novels at a very young age, and she's currently honing her skills in college with a creative writing degree.


I was honored to be chosen as the interview subject for her recent class project.  She forwarded me the finished product, and I copied it below.  Oh, and we got a 100% - woo hoo!

It is a young author’s dream come true when they have the opportunity to interview an author who has inspired them. There are so many authors who have inspired me in one way or another but this one is especially inspiring to me and to be able to interview her for this assignment and learn from her even more is a chance I welcome. Paranormal Romance Author Kathryn Knight took time away from her very busy schedule to talk with me and help with this assignment.

Q1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Answer: From the time I was very young, my absolute favorite pastime has been reading, so I always dreamed of someday writing a novel that would provide other readers with the same sort of pleasure I get from a great book. From childhood through adulthood, if I couldn't be reading, I'd spin my own stories in my imagination to keep myself entertained. I started writing my first novel at age 39, when I basically had the entire manuscript of Silver Lake written in my head.

Q2. Why did you choose a pen name? What are the benefits?

Answer: I have a marketing background, so I view a pen name as a brand name. It should be memorable and catchy, as well as easy to find in an online search. People often spell my real last name wrong, so I chose "Knight", which also conveys the mysterious and romantic feeling I'd like associated with my books.

Q3. What advice would you give to young writers?

Answer: Keep at it. The more you write, the better you get. Study successful books in your favorite genre, looking for things that make the story work. A critique group is very important--your family and friends rarely give honest advice that makes your writing better. And anyone interested in writing commercial fiction should have a copy of Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.

Q4. Do you think there are benefits to having a creative writing degree? Does it make it easier to get into the field?

Answer: I think a creative writing degree is definitely an advantage in this field, as anyone who has earned this degree has already shown an ability to exercise their imagination, to explore different story possibilities, and to allow others to critique their work. In addition, those with writing degrees have shown they have the discipline to sit down and actually write! That said, agents and editors are looking for the next groundbreaking story, and the writer’s background is less important than a fantastic, fresh idea with huge marketing potential.

Q5. Is there a benefit to publishing with an Agent? Without?

Answer: Having an agent is usually the only way to have a manuscript considered by one of the big five publishers—having someone champion your work and possibly broker a deal with a big publishing house is a dream for many writers. However, the market has undergone massive changes in the past 10 years, and agents are more selective than they’ve ever been when it comes to choosing who and what they’ll represent.

Smaller presses such as my publisher don’t require an agent to submit. Some authors still choose to have an agent submit to small or digital presses on their behalf; those manuscripts usually move to the top of the pile for consideration. The downside would be sharing all royalties (usually 15%) with an agent as well as the publisher and the distributer. Since profit margins are already razor thin, this is something to consider.

Q6. How did you come up with the idea for Silver Lake? Gull Harbor? Divine Fall?

Answer: I’m fascinated by all things supernatural, and I read a lot of ghost stories and watch all the movies. And in most of the stories and films, one big loophole consistently bothered me. More often than not, the ghost writes some cryptic message somewhere—in a fogged-up mirror, on a wall, in spilled food on the kitchen counter. Of course, this serves as one more clue in the mystery, but what I always wanted to know was—if the ghost can write a message, why not just spell out exactly what it needs? The ghost never says “Look for my body in the basement” or “The butler did it”. And so my initial idea was born. The ghost in Silver Lake, Brandy, needs help—a certain set of circumstances—to get her message across. The rest of the story filled itself in from my affinity for “reunion romances”—novels that explore a second chance at first love. The friends Brandy needs to come together include a tight-knit group of men and women who bonded during high school, a time when emotions are intense and choices can be difficult and life-altering. I was lucky enough to have a similar group of friends during those tumultuous years, and I drew from those experiences as well.

The initial idea about barriers in communication between desperate spirits and living humans generated a new idea that became Gull Harbor. I envisioned a medium, newly accepting of her gift and eager to begin a career, who cannot understand what a desperate and destructive spirit needs or wants. The reason is--of course--a big reveal in the plot, and as the main character begins to solve the mystery behind the haunting, she winds up in even greater danger. I again went back to a reunion between two star-crossed lovers for the romance aspect, and I gave them both a reason to essentially despise each other (which became their backstory), despite the physical attraction that remains.

Interestingly enough, the inspiration for Divine Fall came from a Sunday school lesson I taught. In the beginning of the Bible, the book of Genesis discusses the Nephilim—the offspring produced when male angels took human women as their wives. The Nephilim were strong and virile, but they were also aberrations, and their kind was wiped out in the Great Flood. Of course, in my novel, at least one still exists. And since I knew how I was going to connect this fallen angel to the young teenage protagonist, her backstory came about fairly easily. I grew up in Maryland and spent a great deal of time at our friend’s barn, riding horses, and I wanted to give the main character a similar passion. Her love of riding brings her to the stable on a regular basis, where the mysterious new stable hand has found an off-the-records job. It seemed like the perfect setting for two lost souls to start to trust one another.

Q7. What is your writing ritual?

Answer: Usually my mind is always working on the story, and since I’m always on the go, I write ideas down on slips of paper or on my phone as things come to me. I like to sit at my kitchen island and do my typing there when the kids are in school or after everyone has gone to bed.

Q8. Why paranormal romance?

Answer: It’s the perfect combination for me. I love romance—all the emotions that come with falling in love and making yourself vulnerable to another person. And I’m also very interested in anything supernatural—ghosts in particular. I read a very sweet Young Adult ghost story/romance when I was about 8 years old (Jane-Emily, by Patricia Clapp); it became my favorite book and a bit of a blueprint for the kind of novel I wanted to write someday.

Q9. What made you want to write a young adult novel?

Answer: I had a great idea for a young adult novel, and I was looking for a new challenge. Writing YA is very different from writing genre romance for adults, because most YA novels are written in deep first person point of view (POV). This creates an intense connection between the character and the reader, but the writer must find a way to convey all the information through that one protagonist. If the main character didn’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch it, it can’t go in…otherwise, the author becomes an omnipotent narrator. I read exclusively YA novels the year I wrote Divine Fall, both to remain in the right creative place mentally and to identify methods various authors used to show the internal motivation of other characters or to relay a scene that happened to another character.

Q10. What do you do to plan out your novels?

Answer: I’m a “plotter” in the industry’s “plotter vs. pantsters” debate—I plot an outline as opposed to writing “by the seat of my pants”. I have to have a fairly good idea where the story is going and how it will end before I’ll start. Once I have the bones of the plot, I allow creativity to take over. I also make charts to map out each character’s goals, motivations, and conflicts (both internal and external), and I make pages of notes for each character’s personal history, physical appearance, hobbies, habits, fears, etc.

Q11. What kind of have research have you done to prepare for them in the past?

Answer: I always visit the setting of each novel. Although I give towns or lakes fictional names, I set them in well-known areas, and I strive to capture the local environment and history. Since I write paranormal, I do have free reign to make things up in terms of supernatural aspects, but I try very hard to keep events and explanations within the realm of something that could be possible. Readers don’t have to travel too far out on a limb to believe the paranormal plotlines.

For the books involving hauntings, I’ve done online research, interviewed mediums, gone on ghost tours, and attended séances. For research into angels, I read passages from the Bible as well as other books involving Nephilim. I also research the characters’ hobbies and careers, and interview people with knowledge in these areas. Finally, I rely on friends and acquaintances for help with specific scenarios—I’ve talked to teachers, detectives, nurses, doctors, competitive riders, boaters, firemen…this list goes on and on, and most people are thrilled to share their expertise for a novel.

Q12. How well do you do with marketing your novels yourself? Does your publisher do any kind of marketing?

We have a marketing director who helps us with all our online marketing. She organizes promotions, runs sales, sends books out for review, and sets up ways for all of the authors at my publisher to connect. We have an online forum to enter book links or news events we’d like her to send out via Facebook, Twitter, and the website’s blog. Right now she’s running a “#HauntedGarden” promotion, highlighting paranormal novels or topics, so I’ve been very actively participating in that!

In this competitive market, however, it’s absolutely necessary for authors to contribute to the marketing effort. I have a graduate degree in Marketing, so I like to think I do a good job of finding ways to connect with readers and increase the visibility of my titles. I request reviews from new book blog sites, I arrange local presentations and signings, I do interviews on local television shows, and I maintain an active presence online. In addition, I will be teaching a non-credit evening class at the local community college this spring on “Fiction Writing and Publication.” It takes effort to balance all this with my writing, but since this is my passion, I’m truly enthusiastic about promoting both reading and writing.

From Kathryn’s interview, I learned the value of a pen name and how it can act like your brand name if you allow it to. It’s actually made me consider using a pen name. I’ve learned her methods of sitting down to write out the next amazing ghost story. I’ve learned about things that could help me get to the career I have dreamed about since I was a child. I found this interview to be very informative and beneficial to me. It only makes my intention to be a full time writer that much stronger.


Thank you, Darcie!  We look forward to great things!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Traveling with a #Dog Who Gets Car Sick - Motion Sickness in Pets

Otis's picture on Petfinder -
How could I resist?
Whenever we're able to add a new pet to our family, we adopt--often, via the website Petfinder, which does a great job of allowing you to search for homeless animals that would be a good fit in terms of age, breed, and personality.  I often try to rescue the older dogs, since they have more trouble getting adopted, but a few years ago a search for a Border Collie mix turned up Otis, a puppy who'd been found on the side of the road in Alabama.  For more on his story, click here.


As his foster mom nursed him back to health, it became clear the car trips to the vet were a bit of a problem...he usually got nauseated and vomited.  We hoped it was a puppy thing that he would outgrow, especially since we are a family that loves to travel with our dogs.  Short trips to hiking trails, beaches, and lakes, as well as seriously long trips to visit family and friends.

Both his foster mom and I fretted about his long trip up north on the doggie rescue transport, but he did okay.  He was probably too keyed up to eat much, with so many other excited dogs headed to forever homes.  Once my husband picked him up (still two hours from home), he collapsed on his lap and slept that way the entire ride to our house.

But he didn't outgrow this affliction, which was a shame.  He wanted to drive to school with me to pick up the kids, but he'd throw up.  He loved the dog park, but I'd have a big mess to clean up from just a 15 minute ride.  At least twice a year, we drive eight hours to where I grew up, and dogs are always welcome on our visits.  But we had to leave him behind, which he didn't like--he's part of our "pack", and he prefers to be with us.  Not to mention, it's expensive.  We'd rather only go through all that when there's no other solution.

I talked to the vet.  I asked the women who come to my fitness classes who have dogs.  I got lots of thoughts on how to make it work, and last spring, we decided to bring him along on our semi-annual trip.


Otis got to play with our friends'
boxer, Zoe - fast friends!
Success!  My dog who usually can't tolerate 10 minutes in the car made an eight hour trip without getting sick!  He was fine on the way home as well.  And we just did the trip again, for Thanksgiving, with equal success.  So I'm going to share what worked for us, with the giant reminder that I AM NOT A VET. I'm a romance author.  And a fitness instructor.  But I'm also an animal lover, and maybe this info can help someone having the same problem.  Just remember to ask your vet, as I did, since giving medication to animals is serious business.

Dramamine never worked for us.  Our vet suggested Bonine, which I'd never heard of.  It's another medication for motion sickness, the active ingredient being Meclizine, as opposed to Dimenhydrinate.  Otis weighs about 30 pounds, I gave him one 25 mg. tab an hour before we left, and again halfway through the trip.

We gave him a dose of Benadryl at the same times.  While most people recognize this as an allergy medicine for people, it can be used for motion sickness in pets.  The usual dosage is 1 mg per pound. So Otis received a 25 mg. tablet.

Then, we built a large perch in the back of the SUV for him to sit on.  He does better when he can sit forward, looking out the window.  We stacked luggage, secured it with bungee cords, and covered it with a blanket to make it comfortable and to protect the bags.

More fun!  Otis with my father's
rescue dog, Fiona
I expected the Benadryl to make him tired, but he stayed awake the entire time.  But he's a pretty energetic dog.  When I had him neutered, the vet told me to "keep him quiet" for a few days.  An hour later, he was tearing around the yard, ignoring my demands to calm down.

However, he was relaxed for the entire trip, and each time we gave him a little walk during our stops, he hopped right back in the car willingly.  After all, he wants to be with his pack...and I'm grateful we found a way to make that happen.

Personally, I love car trips...I can read in the car without feeling sick, so for me, the longer the ride, the better!  Once you've got your luggage packed and your four-legged family members ready, make sure you have a good book for your travels!  Try steamy romance mixed with haunting mysteries in SILVER LAKE or GULL HARBOR, or check out my new Young Adult Paranormal Romance DIVINE FALL for forbidden love and supernatural secrets.  Have a safe & enjoyable ride :)





Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Final Days #99c Ghosts + #Romance #Kindledeals Bestseller

Last few days!  It doesn't happen often, but GULL HARBOR is on sale for only 99 cents - a savings of $4 for this Amazon Bestseller. Who doesn't need a steamy and suspenseful read right now, during the hectic holiday season?  Reading for pleasure is a proven stress reliever, so load up your Kindle or Nook, and then anytime you need a little escape, you can transport yourself to Cape Cod's Gull Harbor, where a dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await psychic medium Claire Linden.  I will warn you that most reviewers say it's difficult to put down, but all the better to hold your attention, right?  Links and blurb below - download your copy before the sale ends on 12/6/2015.

A #1 Kindle Bestseller, less than a buck!





Want to see the story board?  Check out the pictures I used for inspiration on Pinterest!


When Claire Linden’s job sends her to the sleepy town of Gull Harbor, she never expects to encounter her ex-boyfriend. As a medium, the prospect of tackling a haunted house is less daunting than seeing Max Baron again. Throughout their passionate college relationship, he promised to love her forever. Then, without explanation, he abandoned her on graduation day.


Max never intended to break Claire's heart—a cruel ultimatum forced him to disappear from her life. While he's shocked to find her in Gull Harbor, he isn't surprised by the bitter resentment she feels for him...or the fiery attraction that remains between them.

Claire is determined to rid her temporary home of its aggressive ghost, but Max soon realizes she's facing a danger beyond the paranormal. When Claire risks everything to help a desperate spirit, Max must race to save her—before another tragedy tears them apart forever.


~Gull Harbor tends to be a quick read, since it's exciting and fast-paced.  If you enjoy it and need some more new reads, try SILVER LAKE or my new Young Adult Paranormal Romance, DIVINE FALL.  And keep an eye out for HAUNTED SOULS, my current work-in-progress - Claire Linden will make a guest appearance in this novel!~ 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

#Free #Recipe Book from the Authors of #TWRP

Every year, my awesome publisher, The Wild Rose Press, puts a call out to all our authors for contributions to the free holiday cookbook.  This year, our theme is "Quick and Easy"--something that's useful not just during the hectic holiday season, but pretty much every day of the year.

The book is broken down into Crockpot, No Bake, One Pot, Five or less Ingredients, and Thirty Minutes or less Preparation.  And, it's FREE!

To download, follow the link below to The 2014 Holiday Garden Gourmet and click the red Add ToYour Cart, create an account if you don't have one at TWRP (takes just seconds and no spam), and then hit download.  It comes in an Adobe file that can go on your Kindle or just right onto your laptop, which is what I did.  I'm looking through the recipes now, trying to decide what to try first!




Link to THE 2014 QUICK AND EASY HOLIDAY GARDEN GOURMET



And if you need some new reads, take advantage of the blanket 40% off our entire site!  That puts my debut novel, SILVER LAKE, at the bargain price of $1.79, and it can easily be put onto a Kindle, iPad, or Nook.  There's something for everyone in this romance/ghost story: A haunted lake house, a rekindled first love, a reunion of friends, and secrets from the past.  Can Jason protect Rain from a desperate spirit determined to expose the truth?

Happy Holidays from all of us at The Wild Rose Press!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Steamy #Romance + Spooky Suspense #99c for #BlackFriday!


A great read and a glass
of wine - bliss!
The holidays are upon us!  Thanksgiving is here, and whether you're traveling or cooking, you need to find some time to relax during what can be a hectic month. To help, my publisher has put my second novel, GULL HARBOR, on sale for only 99 cents for a limited time! That's a savings of $4 for this Amazon Bestseller. Load up your Kindle or Nook, and then while you're traveling, waiting in lines, or trying to escape from your family for a few moments, you can transport yourself to Cape Cod's Gull Harbor, where a dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await psychic medium Claire Linden.  Links and blurb below!  Happy, Haunted Thanksgiving :)
 
A #1 Kindle Bestseller, less than a buck!





Want to see the story board?  Check out the pictures I used for inspiration on Pinterest!


When Claire Linden’s job sends her to the sleepy town of Gull Harbor, she never expects to encounter her ex-boyfriend. As a medium, the prospect of tackling a haunted house is less daunting than seeing Max Baron again. Throughout their passionate college relationship, he promised to love her forever. Then, without explanation, he abandoned her on graduation day.


Max never intended to break Claire's heart—a cruel ultimatum forced him to disappear from her life. While he's shocked to find her in Gull Harbor, he isn't surprised by the bitter resentment she feels for him...or the fiery attraction that remains between them.
 
 
Claire is determined to rid her temporary home of its aggressive ghost, but Max soon realizes she's facing a danger beyond the paranormal. When Claire risks everything to help a desperate spirit, Max must race to save her—before another tragedy tears them apart forever.
 
 
~Gull Harbor tends to be a quick read, since it's exciting and fast-paced.  If you enjoy it and need some more new reads, try SILVER LAKE or my new Young Adult Paranormal Romance, DIVINE FALL.  And keep an eye out for HAUNTED SOULS, my current work-in-progress - Claire Linden will make a guest appearance in this novel!~ 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Bit of Zombie History - Zombies #TWD #TheWalkingDead

My books, while romance, almost always also deal with a ghost--the spirit of a being who has passed away, yet can appear or communicate in ways similar to a living person.  In essence, an incorporeal (without a physical body) version of the undead.  But in fiction and legend, there are also many examples of physical manifestations of the undead: vampires, mummies, wights, and of course, zombies.

These zombies want a piece of Rick Grimes
The Walking Dead

I'm a fan of all things paranormal, and I've been watching The Walking Dead since the very first episode aired on October 31, 2010 - Halloween.  Fans of the show (or the comic series, on which the show is based) know the zombies on TWD are referred to as "walkers".  There are also zombie-like creatures on another show I love, Game of Thrones.  This show is of course based on the amazing novels in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin.  In Westeros, beyond the Wall, a zombie-like race known as wights wait to attack those with warm blood.  The wights are dead humans or animals who have been raised back up by the Others, an inhuman race also lurking beyond the Wall.  The Others, or White Walkers, are ancient humanoid beings associated with cold whose only weakness appears to be dragonglass.

Wights in ASOIAF can be easily
recognized by their bright blue eyes
Game of Thrones
The fictional (hopefully!) nature of zombies allows an author to decide how these already-dead creatures can be destroyed.  In TWD, the walkers' reanimated brains must receive another fatal blow.  It takes fire to stop a wight in ASOIAF. 

The book credited
with introducing
"zombi" into US speech
This fictional nature also allows for various interpretations of what a zombie is, but the general definition is a reanimated corpse with an appetite for human flesh.  In Haitian folklore, the reanimation is due to some type of magic, such as witchcraft.  During the U.S. Occupation of Haiti (1915-1934), more people became aware of the idea of zombies after apparent case histories emerged.  The journalist, explorer, occultist, and cannibal William Seabrook traveled through Haiti in the late 1920s, and he recorded a sensationalistic version of his experiences involving Haitian Vodue (Voodoo).  The book, The Magic Island, was published in 1929 and is credited by Time Magazine with the introduction of the word "zombi" to Western culture. 



One of the most famous zombie movies, Night of the Living Dead (1968), did not even use the term zombie at all.  The reanimated corpses were referred to as "ghouls" in the screenplay.  One of the writers of this cult classic, George A. Romero, admits basing the screenplay on the novel I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (a great book and a recent movie as well!)  In I Am Legend, the infected beings lurking around the last human's house are referred to as vampires, not zombies.  But the general idea of a battle for human survival in an apocalyptic scenario has become very popular, which brings us back to The Walking Dead.  This group of survivors struggles daily not just to stay alive, but to maintain their humanity after society has crumbled.

There are too many novels and films featuring zombies to discuss here, but I hope you enjoyed a little history on the undead.  If you'd like to try some undead suspense in the form of a spooky ghost story (mixed with steamy romance!), download a copy of GULL HARBOR or SILVER LAKE.  The characters face a haunted house, not a zombie apocalypse, but the plot twists, dangerous secrets, and chilling messages from desperate spirits should make your pulse pound a little faster!     

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Time for a #1click Vote for DIVINE FALL's cover? #amwriting #romance

Another Cover Love Poll to vote on!  There are 8 covers up for Best Cover over at Lolly Tova's blog.  I'm hoping you'll take one second (literally!) and vote!  No emails, registrations, etc...just pick your favorite and hit "Vote".  If you like several, guess what?  You can vote again tomorrow, and the next day, until the poll closes on November 30th.

Of course, I'm hoping you'll vote for the beautiful cover of DIVINE FALL.  You see, this cover is very dear to me, as I had an integral part in the design.  My first two novels, SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR, are with a publisher, and therefore, the cover is designed by their artists and owned by the company.  And I truly do love how the covers came out...spooky and mysterious, just right for haunted romantic suspense.

But I decided to publish my new Young Adult Paranormal Romance independently, for a number of reasons.  One big part was complete control of the cover.  For anyone interested in the details of each step I took in the cover design process, you can see my post about it here.

And please take a moment to vote!  Here's the link: Cover Love Poll.  A big thank you!