Thursday, November 13, 2014

Author Visits Part II

Author Visits Part II- Put Yourself Out There!

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that my daughter, Jess, was invited to my son's elementary school to give a talk about writing and her book, From the Ashes.  Because it was her first time doing something like this, I asked you guys for some advice and tips that had worked for you.

Jess, Alyss, and Ryan at Writing Day
Jess who is only 18, was anxious about the whole thing and thought she wouldn't know what to say. Using some of the great ideas you guys shared,  I helped her plan out a presentation.  She also got permission to have her sister Alyssa, 16, come along and be her helper (aka moral support).  

From your comments, we decided it was best to involve the kids as much as possible in the talk.  Jess decided her main topic would be character development and she would walk the kids through creating their own characters.  She made a worksheet for them where they could fill in character traits like hair color, skin color, birthplace, etc.

Jess and Alyssa stayed up late together the night before, working out all the little details of the speech including jokes and gestures that they would use to liven it up.  They were going to have to give the presentation 5 times to different groups of 20-30 kids from 4th-6th grade and it was supposed to last 30 minutes.  We timed them.  It was only 8 minutes of actual rehearsed material, the rest would have to be them winging it.  

Last Friday, was the big day.  Jess was so nervous that day she actually puked before we left for the school.  I wished I could have stayed to watch them, but I left and hoped for the best!

Turns out they had a great time and so did the kids.  It was amazing to hear what the kids came up with for character traits.  One had a translucent mullet hair-do, one was born on a rainbow, and one had E.T and Chuck Norris as parents.

The teacher who invited Jess, told me when I picked them up that the kids loved their presentation more than any of the other speakers.

Over the weekend, Alyssa was walking around our little town square and a girl approached her and said, "Hey you were one of the girls that spoke yesterday, right?  I loved you and your sister's presentation.  All the other speakers were stupid and yours was actually fun!" (I love how blunt kids are!).  Then Jess's old English teacher texted her saying that she tutors a girl who went to Jess's presentation and she was so inspired and excited by what she had said!    

All in all it was a wonderful experience for everyone.  So even if you're shy don't hesitate to put yourself out there and speak at a school about writing, but make sure you have an activity that the kids can participate in to show off their own creativity and it will be a big success!  

Thanks so much to all of you who gave us suggestions!

Have a great weekend!

Kathy :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Well it's already time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post.  The IWSG was created by Alex J Cavanaugh and is co-hosted by many other awesome blogger buddies.  It's a place where we can tell our hopes and fears about writing and offer encouragement to others.  

I feel pretty good this month, mostly because I love this time of year.  I love the colors and nothing is better than having my whole family to our house for Thanksgiving.

One thing I've been struggling with recently is focusing on a single project.  I have a number of things I'm working on.  I'm rewriting my fantasy novel, working on an article, and developing ideas for a chick-lit book.

Carving out time to write is difficult enough but when I'm splitting that time amongst different manuscripts it seems impossible to finish any of them.  I know I should probably focus on one thing at a time, but some days I'm drawn away by some phantom force pulling me in another direction.  

If you have any tips on how to stay focused on one project at a time, feel free to tell me.  In the mean time, I'll be working my way through three manuscripts hoping to finish at least one of them by next year!

Kathy :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Contrast Creating Tension

I'm reading Bram Stoker's Dracula for the first time, for a Cousera class called, Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World.  (The class is excellent and  totally free!  I'd recommend it to everyone who wants to learn how science fiction works.)

Dracula isn't the kind of book I'd ever pick up on my own.  I really don't care for the extra spooky, creepy or bloody genres, but I'm thoroughly enjoying taking this novel apart to see how it works and it's neat to read around Halloween.

As I read, I'm realizing that a lot of the tension in the story comes from contrasting elements. When the MC, Jonathan Harker first meets Count Dracula at his castle, he senses an eeriness but the Count provides him with a sumptuous meal and is a friendly and welcoming host.  Jonathan continues to discover strange things but upon face to face interactions the Count is always pleasant and intelligent.

At one point early in the story, the Count startles him while shaving and the Count's eyes have a demoniac fury when he sees Jonathan's blood and reaches out to grab him. But his hand brushes Jonathan's cross and the fury disappears.  Jonathan wonders what kind of demon his host is, what he is hiding, and fears he won't leave the Count's castle alive.  Yet after each frightening incident, he interacts with the Count who assumes a noble friendly air and asks Mr. Harker knowledgable questions on the law as if there was nothing strange occurring.  

There is also the contrast of night and day which mirrors the two sides of the Count.  During the day the Jonathan feels renewed and safe, at night he is afraid and vulnerable.  These contrasts between Jonathan fearing for his life and risking his life for freedom and between the friendly noble Count and the monstrous Count and never knowing which Count is present, the demonic or the noble are what help to create enormous tension in this story.

I'm not yet finished with the book, but I'm excited to learn more about it and hopefully be able to use some of Stoker's tricks for creating tension and suspense in my own writing.

Have you read Dracula? What did you think of it? What tips have you learned from reading the classics?

Kathy :)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Author School Visits? Have You Done Them, We Need Your Advice

Today I'm asking you guys for some advice.

My daughter, Jessica has been asked by the local elementary school to come in and give a talk about writing and being an author.  She's a little nervous as it will be her first time actually speaking in front of a group.  

For those of you who have spoken to kids in 4-6th grade, or are teachers, we would appreciate any ideas that have worked well for you on how to engage them in the discussion instead of just talking at them.  

She has about 30 minutes with each group and she wants to have enough ideas to last the whole time, so she's not just staring at a bunch of blank faces with nothing left to say!

She would love to get them to do a little activity and involve them in the writing process.  

Thanks and have a great fall weekend!  Anyone going to get apples and cider?

Kathy :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Survive and Thrive Bloghop

Hosted by Stephen Tremp, Michael Di Gesu, Diane Wolfe, and Alex J Cavanaugh 

The blogfest is meant to bring awareness of disease prevention and early detection regarding medical conditions that may be averted or treated if caught in the early stages. Our desire is to motivate people to go in for early screening, and if a condition is caught early and treated, then our world just became a little better place to live. 
The topics are wide open. You can post about a particular cause you support. Or you can share a personal or family experience that is near to your heart. What’s great about this Blogfest is you can inspire people to take care of themselves and their loved ones early enough to make a difference in their lives. 

As usual I’m late on posting this!  But that’s okay because part of what I’m talking about today for the Survive and Thrive Bloghop is to always strive for excellence, but don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go exactly as planned.  

We live in a stressful world where everything is competing for our attention and we feel we never have the time to do what we want to get done.  There aren’t too many days where I go to sleep before total exhaustion yet still not completing everything on my list, but that’s okay because I did my best for the day!

Through the years as a figure skater and coach, I’ve learned that to do your best it helps if you are mindful of your own body.  Push yourself to the limits of what you thought possible, but be aware of how your body reacts to different things. Everyone is different.  Know your own limits and try to slowly increase your boundaries but always compete with only yourself.  Comparing yourself to others does no one any good.  Be aware of what your whole body is doing at all times.  It’s amazing how many people don’t realize what their arms are doing when they’re focused on their feet!  

I think if we are really aware of our bodies we can take care of them much better.  When we understand how our bodies react to different situations we can change the things that don’t agree with them and be healthier and happier. When you know your body, you also have a better sense of when things are not right and need to see a doctor, or when one doctor's diagnosis doesn't seem to fit and you need a qualified second opinion. Be your own health advocate by knowing your own body.

This is an exercise I used to do to train myself in bodily mindfulness (it might seem a little weird but it really works!).  Sit or lay in a comfortable position.  Visualize a ball of energy in your belly.  With your mind, visualize moving that ball slowly through every muscle of your body and “feel” the heat and energy moving through your muscles as if you were moving them, "feel" the muscle tense and relax. It may take a few times trying it to get good at it but it’s amazing how much it helps you understand and control your body.   Try it, it only takes a few minutes and you feel great afterwards!

Have a healthy and happy week!

Kathy :)

Friday, October 17, 2014

No Powers Necessary

Yesterday, I was talking with my 10 year old son about my YA Fantasy novel (in editing phase) as I drove him to his guitar lesson.  He’s an avid reader of YA books so I respect his literary opinion. I explained some of the problems I was having with it.  First, he told me that a few of my ideas were a little too cliche so I might want to change it up a bit. Then he went on to give me his input on the weaponry my characters should be using, one of his favorite aspects of any story.

After a while he thoughtfully added, “Your main characters shouldn’t have magical powers.”

“Why?” I asked, sneaking a glance at him in the back seat.

“Because they shouldn’t have to use magic to be special and save the world.  Anyone can do it.  Everyone is special just by being themselves.”

Wow, I thought and mentally prayed that he would always be himself.

Have a great weekend,


Show the world how special you are by being yourself!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

White Lady Book Tour!

I'm so excited to be part of the blog tour promoting the talented Jessica Bell's new thriller, White Lady.  I'm not really a reader of thriller's because even at 42 I'm scared of the dark and blood creeps me out.  But if you enjoy the dark and bloody, White Lady will have you on the edge of your seat wondering how the heck it is all going to work out in the end. 


To celebrate the release of Jessica Bell’s latest novel, WHITE LADY, she is giving away an e-copy (mobi, ePub, or PDF) to the first person to correctly guess the one true statement in the three statements below. To clarify, two statements are lies, and one is true:

When Jessica Bell was 19, she was approached in the street for an autograph because the person thought she was ...
a. Nicole Kidman
b. Liv Tyler
c. Jennifer Connelly

What do you think? Which one is true? Write your guess in the comments, along with your email address. Comments will close in 48 hours. If no-one guesses correctly within in 48 hours, comments will stay open until someone does.

Want more chances to win? You have until October 31 to visit all the blogs where Jessica will share a different set of true and false statements on each one. Remember, each blog is open to comments for 48 hours only from the time of posting.

If you win, you will be notified by email with instructions on how to download the book.

Click HERE to see the list of blogs.

*This novel contains coarse language, violence, and sexual themes.

​Sonia yearns for sharp objects and blood. But now that she’s rehabilitating herself as a “normal” mother and mathematics teacher, it’s time to stop dreaming about slicing people’s throats.

While being the wife of Melbourne’s leading drug lord and simultaneously dating his best mate is not ideal, she’s determined to make it work.

It does work. Until Mia, her lover’s daughter, starts exchanging saliva with her son, Mick. They plan to commit a crime behind Sonia’s back. It isn’t long before she finds out and gets involved to protect them.

But is protecting the kids really Sonia’s motive?

Click HERE to view the book trailer.
Click HERE for purchase links.

Jessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, is the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Connect with Jessica online: