Monday, June 30, 2014

How Writing has Changed My Reading - #amwriting #amreading

Having undergone the rigorous journey of writing three novels (which included a number of rewrites, several attempts at creating intriguing query letters, the painful process of summarizing the stories into 3-page synopses, and--after that amazing contract offer--three additional rounds of edits to produce the final product), I now approach reading for pleasure in a whole new way.  I'm not sure it's better in terms of my enjoyment of my favorite hobby, but after everything I've learned about writing these past 7 years, I think my new frame of reference is here to stay.

Reading has always been my passion, and I appreciate good stories in all genres.  That hasn't changed.  But when I was younger, I rarely gave up on a book.  I had it in my head that once begun, a book had to be finished.  This applied whether I was enjoying the book or not.  I can only remember one book that I simply had to give up on--Lady Chatterley's Lover.  After discovering a classic novel with a racy title like that, I assumed I was in for a great read.  But I found the writing dry and tedious; the characters boring and one-dimensional.  I have no idea if the sex scenes were of any interest--I simply couldn't go on with the book.  The fact that I remember this, twenty years later, tells me that I still feel a bit guilty for abandoning the story.

But twenty years ago, I did not have a husband, kids, pets, and a house.  I had plenty of time to read.  Now, my reading time is a precious commodity which I refuse to waste on something I don't love.  Once I combine that reality with the knowledge I've gained throughout the writing process, the guilt disappears.  If, after the first few chapters, I'm not looking forward to continuing the book, I don't.  Unless there's a very compelling reason to keep going, it's time for me to move on to the next one.  I want a book I can't wait to read once I finally have some down time; not one I have to slog through because of some imaginary obligation.

There are a couple of things in particular that will make or break a book for me now.  First and foremost, I have to care about the characters.  I want to feel connected to them, to feel their emotions and root for their success.  If I don't care what happens to the main character, I lose interest fairly quickly, even if the plot seems promising.

One of the most useful things I learned when I began writing was the importance of getting the conflict out in the first 3 pages.  I worked very hard to actually get it onto the first page in all three of my novels--hopefully the reader is hooked and wants to read more.  When reading, I like to see this as well.  However, I don't necessarily give up on a book that takes me a while to "get into"--Outlander was one of my all-time favorite books, and I was definitely not hooked by the first chapter.  But in that case, enough people I trusted had recommended the series, and I'm so glad I kept going--Outlander is high on my list of my favorite books of all time.

Point of view problems are another thing that I may not have noticed before writing my books--but now, they will pull me right out of the story.  Occasional head-hopping is sometimes necessary, especially in romance, and I'm okay with that.  It can be done seamlessly in a way that allows the reader to experience what both characters are feeling.  But omniscience bothers me.  If I'm connected to a character, experiencing events through him or her, and suddenly the narrator tells me something the character can't possibly know, I immediately cringe.  It doesn't mean I'll stop reading, but I do notice it, and it disrupts the flow of the story for me.

It's not just negative things that attract my attention.  When a writer uses a fresh, original metaphor or a wonderfully descriptive phrase, I'll read it over a few times with appreciation.  That's a good thing for a writer to note--but as a reader, it still slows me down and takes my focus from the story to the actual writing.  Not necessarily the best practice when reading for pleasure, but it's something I can no longer help.  Funny dialog, powerful sentences, clever segues into flashbacks: these are all things that grab my interest.  While picking up on these things may momentarily break my concentration, it can also serve as inspiration for my future writing endeavors...and that's a price I'm willing to pay.

If you enjoy romance, suspense, ghost stories, and/or mystery, try SILVER LAKE or GULL HARBOR.  It's finally summertime, and both books are great beach reads!  The hook appears right on the first page, and hopefully it does its job and whisks you immediately into a steamy and suspenseful world for a few enjoyable hours.

P.S. - DIVINE FALL arrives this summer, too!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cover Reveal - DIVINE FALL #angels #romance #ya

Who doesn't love a cover reveal?  This one is very, very special to me, for reasons I'll delve into in future blogs.  I love the covers of all my books, but I got to play a much more significant role in the process with DIVINE FALL.  This is my first Young Adult book, a paranormal romance involving Nephilim, and I really wanted a cover that could compete with all the gorgeous YA covers out there.  Well, I got it - thanks to the incredible talent of my cover artist (Claudia McKinney of Phatpuppy Art) and her partner The Font Diva.  DIVINE FALL is not available yet, but it will release later this summer.  If you have a Goodreads "To Read" list, you can put DIVINE FALL on now!

So, presenting the beautiful, breathtaking cover, with the blurb below!  Thanks for stopping by :)

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.   

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Television, Talks, and Teaching - #amwriting - Kathryn Knight

Lately I’ve been coming way out of my comfort zone, all for the love of my books.  Self-promotion is hard—very hard—and I’m always looking for new ways to connect with readers.  After all, no one can consider reading a book if they’ve never heard of it!  So I continue to try to take new steps to push my career to the next level.

Last month, before my annual trip to the Delaware beaches, I contacted an independent bookstore located near the boardwalk and requested a book signing event.  Although this was my “vacation”, I figured a few hours devoted to meeting new readers would be a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  And wow, am I glad I took the chance!  Not only did the bookstore agree to host me, the employees did a phenomenal job promoting my event.  I came into town to see my books displayed in the front window on a shelf with bestselling titles like Gone Girl and Cuckoo’s Calling!  Prominent signage along the sidewalk attracted shoppers.  And of course I did my part, sending out press releases to all the local papers and radio stations.
had nice real estate!

The lighting is bright on set!
In April of 2013, I did my first television interview for a local cable show on books and authors.  The interviewer and I discussed my first novel, SILVER LAKE, and although I was quite nervous, I thought it was a fantastic opportunity.  So, I placed a call a few months ago, asking if I might be invited back to discuss my second novel, GULL HARBOR.  I did that interview on Friday, and although I have not seen it yet (it should air in two weeks), I do know I was a lot less nervous this time around.
My day job involves teaching fitness classes, and I have many loyal women who come to my classes and enjoy my books as well.  A few of them have gone the extra mile to help me with promotion.  As a recent example, one gym member contacted the manager of a local Cape Cod club she belongs to—and now, I will be giving a presentation at a luncheon in the fall.  I also connect with library support groups, which often hold author lunches to raise funds and serve as social functions.

Finally, I recently contacted the local community college, which is always open to suggestions for continuing education classes for adults.  I sent in my resume and a course proposal on writing fiction and getting published, complete with a syllabus—and I’ve been asked to teach the class!  I’m very excited to share the knowledge I’ve gained over the years…I worked so hard for that initial publishing contract, and along the way I rewrote, revised, got rejected, tried again…and eventually it paid off.  I’ve now branched out to writing in the Young Adult genre as well, which has its own set of challenges.  Many people dream of writing a novel; I hope to help people take that first step, and perhaps face the tasks involved armed with some advanced understanding of what to expect.    

Amidst all this, I am of course devoting time to my first priority, taking care of my family.  Then there’s gearing up for the release of DIVINE FALL, plus trying to squeeze in more work on my 4th manuscript.  Coffee, anyone?
What would I do without you?


Sunday, June 8, 2014

My Favorite #Ghost Movies - #Paranormal Postings

I have a bit of an obsession with ghosts, as anyone who has read my books knows--I've written two novels featuring a haunting as well as a romance, and more are on the way (HAUNTED SOULS just released as of June 2016!).  I've made lists before of my favorite ghost stories in terms of books, but I do enjoy the movies as well...whenever my sister comes to visit, we usually have a marathon watch of creepy films.  Anything paranormal will do, but the ones with a spooky and convincing ghostly presence get top billing.  Over the years, a few have really resonated with me, and helped inspire my novels.  Keep in mind, I'm no movie critic...I just found these films to have at least the solid backbone of a believable ghost story, with a decent mystery behind the haunting, as well as a lack of the plot holes I find in so many others.  The suspense kept me guessing, and certain scenes gave me serious chills.  I'll try to throw a little blurb out there for each one without revealing too many spoilers, in case you'd like to give one a try!

The Changeling - 1980 - George C. Scott stars as a widower who moves into a spooky old house in Seattle in the beginning of this film.  The ghost of a young boy inhabits the house, and the tragedy that befell him will eventually expose a cruel plot.  Now, the ghost wants justice, and Scott's character, plagued by scary surprises and terrifying noises, begins to investigate the mystery.  Admittedly, it's an oldie...and at the risk of dating myself, it was one of my favorites when I was in middle school.  In fact, my best friend had an upstairs bedroom that opened upon an attic that bore a spine-tingling resemblance to the one in the movie...late at night, we'd scare ourselves silly imagining that ball bouncing down the stairs.

A Stir of Echoes - 1999- a film starring Kevin Bacon, loosely based on a novel by Richard Matheson (also the author of Hell House and I Am Legend, among others).  Bacon's character, Tom, has a son who seems to possess the ability to speak with the dead...and there is something in their house that wants to be heard.  After being hypnotized at a party, Tom begins to experience visions as well, of a violent altercation which is tied to a neighbor's disappearance.  Clearly the desperate spirit wants its body found, but there are others with a vested interest in making sure that doesn't happen.

What Lies Beneath - 2000 - starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford (two of my favorites!)  Claire (Pfeiffer) and Norman (Ford) are a married couple living in Vermont; Claire is suffering from a memory lapse due to an accident.  When strange occurrences begin plaguing Claire, she investigates a possible killing in the neighborhood.  There is a ghost trying to communicate with Claire, but it's not who she first believes it is...and the spirit is not the only one hiding dangerous secrets.  (Update: a reader recently left a review of my debut novel SILVER LAKE, saying if you liked What Lies Beneath, you'd like this book.  I was thrilled with the comparison!)

The Orphanage - 2007 - a Spanish film set in...yes, a closed orphanage...along the Spanish coast in 1975.  My sister and I watched this one with subtitles, but I believe a remake is in the works.  This movie is dark, but full of creepy atmosphere and amazing cinematography.  The basic plot involves a couple and their adopted son returning to the orphanage where the mother once lived.  The family's plan is to reopen the old building as a home for disabled children, but their son soon claims to have befriended a boy named Tomas.  Terrible things happened here, and the truth will come out before the spirits can rest.

In all of these movies, there is a common theme: a desperate spirit who cannot rest because of unfinished business.  The ghost seeks revenge or justice, or wants its story told or its remains found.  Barriers to communication make this difficult, but not impossible.  These are all ideas that inspired my two novels, SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR.  Of course, there are many other ghost movies I've enjoyed that rely more on terrifying imagery to ramp up the screams, but have no real "reason" behind the haunting (like the first Paranormal Activity).  Still fun to watch, but my mind usually can't stop looking for an answer to the question, "Why is this happening?".  Regardless, I'll take a creepy thriller over gunfights and explosions any day!

Who knows, maybe some incredible stroke of luck will land one of my stories on the big screen.  Someone is currently developing a screen play for SILVER LAKE, so a girl can dream, right?  In the meantime, I'll keep looking for the shows, films, and books that fuel my imagination.  Feel free to leave your favorites below, I love comments!

If you'd like to follow my Ghostly Inspiration board or the pictures I'm using to inspire my latest work in progress (now released! Haunted Souls), follow the highlighted links to Pinterest

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sharing Shelf Space with #GoneGirl and #CuckoosCalling

I had an amazing book signing this weekend during a vacation in Bethany Beach, Delaware.  We usually do an annual visit to the area, and this year, it occurred to me to check in with the beautiful local bookstore situated near the boardwalk.  About six weeks before the trip, I checked the store's website for contact info, and I found an extremely helpful page for requesting events.  I received a positive response to my inquiry, and we set up a time for a signing.

In this crowded marketplace, most authors need to be an active participant in their own promotion.  But again, this bookstore's website made it fairly easy--I found a sample press release and a link to a page with contact information for all local news resources.  Fantastic!  I was able to send out about twelve press releases in less than ten minutes.  A number of radio stations and local publications advertised my upcoming event, in addition to the bookstore's website and social media accounts.  Of course, I hit my own as well, announcing the signing on twitter and Facebook and requesting shares and RTs within the fabulously supportive network of authors at The Wild Rose Press. 

As a result, I actually had people waiting for me when I arrived, which was thrilling.  Equally thrilling was the beautiful display I'd seen the day before--a row of my books, complete with "Meet the Author" signage, in the front window...on the same shelf as Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, Robert Galbraith's (J.K. Rowling) Cuckoo's Calling, and The Black Country and The Yard by Alex Grecian.  I was so excited to see Gull Harbor and Silver Lake on such an impressive shelf!

There were also a few well-placed signs on the sidewalk, and I did my best to chat with people walking by.  After all, it was an early summer weekend at the beach, and my books are perfect beach reads!  Both are set during the summer months near the water, with a spooky haunting, a suspenseful mystery, and a steamy romance. 

I really enjoyed the signing, and I was so glad I took time away from my vacation to "work".  I do try to think outside the box when it comes to promotion, and this event came together beautifully.  From now on, if travel time will allow, I'll continue to reach out to bookstores located along my travel never know how putting yourself out there might pay off!