About K.J.

Dust bunnies are prolific throughout our lives and in the world. They hide in dark places, and when least expected they roll across the floor in silence.

Writing Through It

One of my favorite days of the year is October first. Not only is it my husband’s birthday, but it is the day I mark to bring the Halloween decorations up from the basement. Halloween is at the top of my list for fun holidays. I dress for the Trick-or-Treaters and we pipe spooky music out of the upstairs window. My outdoor decorations are on the fun side rather than the creepy. I love the tiny tykes who are out for the first time in their princess crowns, ninjas, or ghost costumes.

October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It doesn’t score high on my “fun holiday” list but, being a survivor it has risen to an important level for me. I went through treatment in 2015 and three years later I am thrilled that I am still cancer free.

A couple of questions were posed to me (Insecure Writers Support Group) about major life events and writing. The exact questions were: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Breast Cancer was definitely a major life event, and here is how it effected my writing – Cancer crushed it.

Early in 2014 I had changed my focus to writing. I attended Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference starting my uphill learning curve to write and publish a book. My brain was overloaded with the amount of information I had to absorb, but I was in for the long haul and I was happy.

Then late in November 2014 I found the lump. My entire life crumbled around me as I collapsed on the floor weeping. Cancer? Me? How? Why? Treatment began in earnest on Christmas Eve.

Did this event affect my writing? I’d say a very loud YES. Did writing help me through it? Again, I yell, YES. But, it helped me through it in a way most people aren’t expecting. When I am emotionally raw I do not write about it. I don’t keep a journal. More often than not I collapse inward curled in a ball. Once the pain subsides I will reawaken moving on in my life.

Cancer was a big blow not only to my emotional well-being, but my physical as well. One of the big side effects that many non-cancer people are unaware of is “chemo-brain”. When a patient receives chemotherapy not only is the entire body decimated, the brain is too. Sometimes the damage lasts for years afterward.

Chemo-brain effects memory, cognition, problem solving, logic, and an array of other things that happen in the old noggin. Trying to write while impaired was an immense challenge for me. The harder I tried to think of a word the further out of reach that word went. My brain was thick slog. Nouns, verbs, adverbs, sentence structure, and spelling were not just elusive at times, but completely gone. I remember many days not being able to remember enough about sentence structure to make much more than babble.

This highly frustrating process of writing babble is what helped my brain begin healing. I forced myself to write a little bit here and there no matter how awful the story progressed. I wrote short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and all sorts of other garbage just to find the words again – making mental connections.

Three years later the struggle to write has lessened. When I need a word I can more easily find it. There are still residual mis-connections up there, but my doctor assures me that this will eventually pass. Keep writing and keep healing.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I ask you to take the time and make a contribution to the organization of your choice. My personal favorite is the American Cancer Society. If you would like to read my cancer story you can link to part one, Dread in the Dark, here.

I also hope that you have a very Spook-tacular Halloween!!

Until next time….


This post inspired by The Insecure Writers Support Group. Our awesome co-hosts for the October 3 posting of the IWSG are Dolorah @ Book Lover, Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken!

 

This is also a BLOG HOP! Click here to enter.

Traditional or Self Publishing?

It is already September and I haven’t written a post since early August. Last month was beyond busy so this blog was set aside, until now. It is time to turn over a new leaf and begin posting at least once per week. It is a simple goal and I am excited to get started with this post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The question for September?

What publishing path are you considering to take, and why?

Each day I get closer and closer to completing The Manx and I have just started to scratch the surface of how to publish it. There are two ways to go:

  1. Self Publish
  2. Traditionally Publish

Both are beneficial.

Self publishing gives the author the freedom and flexibility to make all of the decisions regarding publication. The author, alone, takes on the role of publisher (and the costs involved) by doing the marketing, setting prices, securing an editor and agent. By doing this the author keeps all the profits – if any – to themselves. There is no publisher who wants a piece of the pie. Yet, all of the work falls on the writer which takes away from the writing itself.

Traditional publishing is, as it sounds, done through traditional process of finding a publisher who will coordinate many aspects of getting your book from your computer to print. The financial responsibility is shifted away from the author, but the publisher collects all profits and shares them with the author through royalty checks. On average an author can expect 10% on a hardcover which increases as sales increase.

Both have benefits. It is up to the individual author to choose which method they want to pursue. For me, I am leaning toward traditional. I know myself. I’m not very good at tooting my own horn so my marketing would fail if I self published. My skin isn’t very thick either and I have a hard time saying ,”No”. A traditional publishing house will, I hope, be strong in the areas I am not resulting in better sales.

Now What?

For now, I will keep writing and working toward the day I type, The End. 

What’s New?

In the mix of working on The Manx, I found the need to write something else. It happens to me on a regular basis. So I started something VERY different for me; a cozy mystery. Murder in Sulfur Gulch  is turning out to be quite fun to write. It is funny, light, and has started to twist and turn. It is slowly turning into a prequel to The Manx so I hope they will organically turn into books #1 and 2. I’ll let you know as I progress.

It’s a Blog Hop!!

As with all posts for IWSG posts this is a blog hop. Check out the other writers who take part in this monthly post.

Click here to start hopping!

This post inspired by:

The awesome co-hosts for the September 5 posting of the IWSG are Toi Thomas,T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!

Changes

The first Wednesday of the month I normally dedicate to a post from #IWSG. This month the question posed is, “What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?” I have not gone through publication so I am looking forward to learning from others. Click here to join the blog hop.

 

Instead, I am sharing some good news! Over the past few years I have been a Contributing Editor for the Pikes Peak Writers blog, Writing From the Peak. My main contributions were posts celebrating the successes of our members through Sweet Success. I still have the pleasure of sharing the good news when a member publishes a book, has a short story picked up by an anthology, has a book signing, or been honored with an award. Now I have accepted to step up to Managing Editor.

 

Deadlines are best met early.

 

It has only been a week since I jumped into the hot seat, and it has been great. Thankfully my learning curve is not the size of the Grand Canyon. I already have two blogs I keep up with. Both are WordPress –PPW’s as well–so I have that part pretty well figured out. Scheduling has been a little bit of a trick, but the further ahead I schedule the less stress I have. Deadlines are best met early.

 

My favorite part, so far, is getting to know everyone. I have met several contributors in person, and have virtually met others. Reading their submissions has been wonderful. There are so many ways a single subject can be presented. Just take a look at the different posts that are generated through #IWSG’s blog hop. Fantastic!

 

After adventuring through #IWSG’s blogs, hop over to PPW’s site too. There is a plethora of posts on everything writing.

 

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Today’s post inspired by :

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the August 1 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe,Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery!
….and by:

Writing Goals

Over the past few years I have read a lot about the importance of setting goals. Not just personal goals, but for writing as well. One challenge many writers face (including myself) is procrastination. Goal setting helps stave this off which allows us to postpone those things in life that can wait a few hours while we write.

There are two kinds of goals: long term and short term.  It is through many sets of short term goals that the long term goals are reached. Take writing for example. I my case, in order to write a book (my ultimate goal) I had to set about achieving some smaller goals first. In order to show you my process let’s go back a few years.

It was about five or six years ago I decided my career needed a change from MLMs to something that, at the very least, wouldn’t cost me any money. My MLM businesses were resounding failures and I wasn’t getting any younger. Back then, my daughter was talking non-stop about writing and studying creative writing in college so I thought that I could too. Well, not study in college, but to find other avenues that would achieve the same thing.

My first small goal was to learn everything I could about writing fiction, specifically fantasy/sci-fi. A friend recommended I attend a writer’s conference (Pikes Peak Writers) to get started. It was also recommended to read what I wanted to write. I already read a lot (I still go through about 80-90 books a year), but now I read as writer. Today, I am still learning to write. I don’t think anyone who writes ever stops learning, but I think I have taken a major chunk out of the beast. 

My next smallish goal was to start writing. I knew I could write, after all I did write for a local mountain newspaper and a few articles were accepted online that actually paid real money. Even though they were short, journalistic pieces, I was still a published writer. Someone liked what I wrote, so I should be able to write a book too (my ultimate goal).

Another small goal I set was to write on a regular basis. This one has been a little hit or miss, but I do work at it. Every February I do the 28 Days of Writing Challenge and in April I started the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Both of these challenges fit my relaxed style. I also do a monthly post with the #IWSG. I did try NaNoWriMo once and I was so stressed out it nearly made me sick. I work on my book, at the very least, once per week, write book reviews as I finish a book (I don’t have time to write a review on every book, but some do get written), and poke a stick at around writing short stories. One day I’ll write everyday (another ultimate goal), but for now I am happy where I’m at.

My ultimate writing goal has not changed over the past five or six years: finish writing a novel of at least 80,000 words. I don’t have a specific time frame, but if it is done before I die then that will be a good thing. It is through the accomplishment of many smaller goals, done over and over again, that it will be written. I look forward to writing, THE END.

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Today’s blog post is inspired by:

 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

 

July 3 question of the month- What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

The awesome co-hosts for the July 3 posting of the IWSG are Nicki Elson, Juneta Key, Tamara Narayan, and Patricia Lynne!

 

****IT’S A BLOG HOP!!****
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Write Like a Photographer

I am a writer with a background in photography.  In creating a photograph, I consider every corner of the frame, along with every item within that frame. I look to see if there are any annoying objects, or things that detract from my final product. Is there a tossed away cup in the background? If so, does it contribute to the whole, or is it just a trashy distraction? If it is just a distraction, then the cup is removed, the shot tossed, and the scene re-photographed.

When you write a scene, visualize it like a photograph. Be sure all the pieces contribute to the whole. Look at every character, smell, and sound. Let’s say your protagonist is walking through a village square where there is a cacophony of activity. A mason toils over a piece of granite. You might be tempted to go into great detail. After all, this mason is sweaty, dirty, and a detailed description of him is a metaphor of the square. Ask yourself why is the mason there? Does the mason support the scene by adding to the mood or is the hammering just an annoyance like the discarded cup in the background?

Now, take the mason and widen the scene out and up. There is a window above him. What do you see? On your first draft you may have missed the window because you distracted by the mason. Is there a shadowed figure at the window? The mason is a good tool to help your reader visualize the scene as a whole, but don’t spend too much time on him. After all, the mason was a small tool to add flavor to a scene and draw the reader to the point that is most important, the figure in the window. A scene should have color that brings your story to life, but don’t over paint it.

View your book in a series of still photographs. Check each one to be sure there are no discarded cups hiding in the background. Look for anything that doesn’t fit and crop it out. These small (and sometimes large) changes will make the difference between a so-so manuscript and a dynamic one. When a photographer shoots, there are thousands of images that fall into a scrap heap. The same is true in writing. Thousands of words will spill into the trash and overflow onto the floor. That is OK. Keep taking words out, and putting words in. Write and re-write until you get that feeling; that giddy feeling when you know that you have written something amazing.

The Page Turners by Deanna Knippling

page-tunrers-coverI normally do not read novelettes, but this one intrigued me. Mention the words magic, grimoire, or sorcerer, and you have my interest. Deanna Knipplings‘ The Page Turnershas a lot packed into forty six pages. I very much enjoyed the story although I didn’t care for the second person perspective. I was lost as to which book belonged to who’s story, but this is short enough that I can easily pick it back up for a second read through. I highly recommend The Page Turners. It is a unique concept that is worth the time it takes to read forty six pages.

Sometimes a book comes out of your soul

You’re taking a train ride from Alabama to the Chinatown in San Francisco to be with your mother, who is dying of cancer. The year is sometime in the 1920s. A white man walks by, carrying a book that slips away from him. He can’t find it…it’s after midnight and the train is dark.

The book calls to you.

It says its name is Jimmy O’Toole and the man who dropped it is a sorcerer. You’re holding a grimoire…although it used to be more than that.

It used to be a person.

You know your mom should be able to work this out. She’s always been into magic.

You just have to live long enough to get the book home to her…

 

Question of the Month – #IWSG

It is that time of month when I address a question from IWSG. June sixth’s question is: What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names? I can easily say that character names are harder.

Titles for my stories and books have come organically. As I write, something just triggers in my mind and there it is. This doesn’t mean I don’t go back and change it ever. Originally I titled one short story, Bob. I liked the simplicity of it, but as I was writing I found it didn’t capture the depth of it so it became, Bob, An Ordinary Man. In the final edits, I still wasn’t satisfied with it. The final? Ordinary Man. Even though the title changed with my restless dissatisfaction with it, it was never stressful. It just flowed from what I wrote.

Names for characters, on the other hand, make me crazy. In April of 2018 I wrote a blog post addressing this very issue. That particular post addressed the difficulties I had with finding character names in The Manx. For any of my characters, I agonize over them. It feels like naming my children. At least when we named them, it was only for two kids rather than the populations filling my novels.

I have links to websites that list bay/girl names, Welsh, Manx, Irish, German, Polish, and on and on. I do rely on ancestry in many cases. It is fun to discover the rainbow of names. When I’m developing a character I have a list of traits that I want to match to a name. For instance, if I have a shy, mousy, female character who is so quiet people don’t know she’s even in the room, I would resonate with a name like Anne, Chris, or Sarah. The opposite character traits bring names like Debra, Monica, or Sheryl to mind.

There are many ways I drive myself nuts coming up with a character’s name. I really need to try and not be so possessive of their names. Just let all the Franks, Marys, Ethels, and Bernieces be who they are. Not every person is defined by their name. Just like anything in writing it all can be changed or deleted.

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This post inspired by:

Every month, IWSG announces a question that we, the members, can answer in our IWSG post. These questions may prompt us to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story.

The awesome co-hosts for the June 6 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure,Tyrean Martinson,Tonja Drecker, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

 

It's a Blog Hop!

 

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