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:

Friday, October 3, 2014

IWSG recap, White Lady Released, and From the Ashes News

Wow, there were so many great posts for the IWSG this week!  I can't wait to read the e-book anthology.

I'm mostly looking forward to reading the tips on marketing.  That's where I struggle the most and my book isn't even finished!  But I'm trying to help my daughter Jess, market her book, From the Ashes, a YA Sci-Fi novel.  She's finishing the editing of book two The Inferiors, and it would be nice to have a big audience ready and waiting for it.

She of course, has little time to devote to marketing herself as she is busy with her Senior year and all the fun and anxieties that come with high school.  So we don't want to waste time on marketing that is  showy but ineffective, because let's face it, the reason we do marketing is to sell books.  So I'm hoping that in the upcoming IWSG e-book, there will be not only tips, but a guide for which strategies have been most effective for the bottom line.  I know half the battle is just getting the word out and that is what we've been focusing on.

Lately we've had a little more success getting in that area.  Jess was emailed by a fan asking when book two would be out and she just got called yesterday to be a speaker at my son's school for an author day, so that's pretty exciting, (well she's terrified, but I'm excited for her!)

This week we decided to try an e-book Amazon Countdown Deal to see if that helps get a few more copies sold.  And even though she's humble and shy about asking for people to help her spread the word, I'm her mom and will stop at nothing to promote my kids! I'll let you know how effective it is for us.  I'm trying to keep track of all the strategies we use and what effect they have.

 So I'm asking for your help today, if you have the time, spread the word on FB or Twitter to see if we can move her up the Amazon ranking!

From the Ashes, a high-octane sci-fi adventure of love, deceit, and revenge by Jessica McKendry, is on sale today through Monday for $.99!
To tweet: https://twitter.com/kathmckendry/status/518052258697977857

Thanks so much in advance to everyone!!
And don't hesitate to ask me to help promote your latest work!  I would love to help out!

Today I'm helping out another Jessica too:

Jessica Bell released a new book, White Lady, this week.  I'll be posting more about it on Oct 14th but  I wanted to mention it today as it just came out!  If you like psychological thrillers this is one you will never forget!

Kathy :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG- Character Depth

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG, is a great place where we can share our fears and insecurities and successes as well.  It's been a wonderful source of support and friends for three years now!  Thanks Alex! To join us sign up here.

I can't believe it's already time for another IWSG post!  Thank you all so much for your encouraging words last month.

I'm excited about the new IWSG Book coming out, I know there will be tons of helpful tips.

For me, some of the most helpful tips that I've been told along this journey are about creating depth in characters.  I never used to do much character mapping.  I just wrote.  But then others, including my daughter Jessica, suggested that I write a backstory for each character and even make complete family trees, going back generations for some and a create a "world building time line".

I wasn't sure it would work for me.  It seemed like way too much work that wasn't actually the "writing".  But once I started, I realized how much each person's history influenced who they were.  By going back in time and uncovering their histories, I was learning what made each character tick, which has made it so much easier for me to write them.  It also brought to the surface webs of interconnectedness between the characters that I hadn't even thought of before.

Some days, especially those days where I barely have time to sit at the computer, I still get frustrated that I'm working through timelines and family trees instead of finishing the manuscript.   In the end, I know all the preparation will make the story stronger and more meaningful for me and everyone who reads it.

The IWSG has my permission to use this in its e-book.
Title: Character Depth
Topic: Writing
Byline: Kathy McKendry
Blog: Imagine Today @ http://imagine-today1.blogspot.com

Have a great week!