Highland Legends News ~ Save the Dates!

Hello, my friends!

It is an exciting week at the Kat Bastion Writing Desk…

Highland Legends Series News

I finished the first edits of the draft for Bound by Wish and Mistletoe, the Highland Legends holiday novella. The story came together very nicely at 40,000 words. A few weeks of thought percolating and polishing magic, and it’s off to my fabulous beta readers.

Also, I’ve received news from my editor that I’ll be receiving the edits on Forged in Dreams and Magick this week. She messaged saying she thinks I’ll be very pleased with the edits. Just… {vibrates}

Did I mention that we have the book covers finalized for both books? They’re gorgeous. {vibrates sommore}

Right. So, I’m vibrating in excitement…and you’re probably wondering when I’m going to share some things with you.

Well…

Save the Dates

Charity Event

June 1 through June 15th – Toss the Bouquet Charity Event & Giveaway

Forged in Dreams and Magick (FIDAM) Dates:

June 24th – FIDAM Book Description Reveal on Bookish Temptations
July 9th – FIDAM Cover Reveal (AToMR Tours*)
July 22nd – FIDAM Teaser on Bookish Temptations
Sept 23rd – Forged in Dreams and Magick Release Date
Sept 23-28th – Forged in Dreams and Magick ARC Tour (AToMR Tours**)

  * Sign-ups for the FIDAM Cover Reveal will be mid-Junish
** Sign-ups for the FIDAM ARC Tour will be mid-Julyish

More dates and events, including for Bound by Wish and Mistletoe, will be announced as they materialize in ink.

Be sure to also follow/like/friend me on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads so you don’t miss a thing!

Until next time…

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Morgan Locklear: Wordslinger…Squeegee

talktotheshoe:

I wanted to share with all of you a spectacular piece by Morgan Locklear on editing. … Thank you, Morgan. You’ve eloquently put to words exactly how I feel about editing. It’s where writing magic happens and my favorite part of the writing process.
~ Kat

Originally posted on Bookish Temptations:

While I have offered some good advice in my Wordslinger posts, (and we’ve all had a few good yucks in the process) I think that this month’s essay has the potential to do the most good for any and all writers in any and all mediums.

View original 1,078 more words

On the Road to Published…

Hello, everyone!

In recent weeks I’ve been posting weather reports on Twitter from the Highlands.  Every morning before dawn, I race into the woods after my favorite alpha male characters and their feisty heroines, inking their adventures into stories to share with all of you.

If you hadn’t already noticed on either my website or my spirited Twitter posts, I write time-travel paranormal romances set mostly in the medieval Highlands of Scotland.

This fall, I’ll be bringing you the first story in the series.
{vibrates excitedly}

The 2013 Calendar

First Manuscript

The first award-winning manuscript in the series is nearly ready to publish.  Starting next week, I’ll be glued to my keyboard as I incorporate the insightful suggestions made by my beta readers.

In mid-April, the manuscript is going to a wonderful freelance editor.
{cringes, imagining a chainsaw ripping into my work of art} 

A creative summer will be filled with final edits, final proofing, cover art, and arranging a promotional tour.  

The first book is tentatively set for a September 2013 release date.

Holiday Novella

My early morning Twitter weather reports from Inverness, Scotland?

They’ve prepared me for the daily plunge into the snowy forests of the Highlands in a holiday novella I’m also penning for the series. 

Incorporating characters from all three of the longer novels, the novella will release in November of 2013.

Second Manuscript

Furious drafting of the second manuscript has begun.  While chasing after my characters to document their wild adventures, I’ve been typing two to three thousand words a day.

I anticipate an early 2014 release for the second book.

About the Stories

I’ve had such a blast combining my favorite genres–paranormal, romance, and the medieval Highlands–into my writing.  All the stories feature strong characters who go on a journey of self-discovery, finding unexpected love amid their turbulent adventures.

Many themes center on the difficulties in overcoming issues of trust and the rewards of learning acceptance.  Redemption will play a large role in the second and third novels of the series. 

Some of the stories will also highlight the great tragedy of human trafficking set within the timeframe of the stories.  The characters struggle with the grave injustice brought into their lives and learn to survive and thrive in spite of the darkness of their world.

The completed series will tell the stories of three siblings whose lives and clan are affected by a very unique kind of magick.
{refuses to give away spoilers} ;)

ARC Reviews and Blog Tours

Are you a book reviewer? 
Do you love paranormal romance, time-travel, or Highlander romances?

I’ve begun a list for ARC copies.  If you’re a book reviewer interested in reviewing the book for its release, and we’ve not yet spoken, please contact me via Twitter or by email.  I’d love to add you to the list.

If you participate on a blog or with a magazine and wish to be a part of any of the promotional tours, please email me your information and ideas.  I’d love to start building that list and calendar as well.

As I mentioned, I’m anticipating a release of the first book sometime in September 2013 and the novella sometime in November 2013, but will know firmer dates as the months progress.

Donations to Charities

In recent months, traveling along my own road of self-discovery, I’ve become a more selfless creature and strive to continue toward that end every day.

Both World Vision and Covenant House support efforts to fight human trafficking.  In November of 2012, the romantic poetry collection of Utterly Loved, with inspiring foreword by the incredible author and humanitarian Sylvain Reynard, was published to support those worthy charities.

With every other book I publish, a portion of the proceeds will go to an ever-growing list of charities in the hopes of raising awareness and increasing support for those that are lost in this world and in need of our love.

Final Thoughts

Now that I’m chronicling a rowdy clan of Highlanders, my weekly blog posts will transform into spontaneous musings.  I’ll occasionally wander out of the forest for a signal on my electronic devices.

My goals for the year are to get that first book into your hands by early fall and release that novella by the holidays.

Meanwhile, be sure to follow me on Twitter, where I try to say hello at least once or twice daily; “like” me on Facebook; and “friend” me on Goodreads.

Thank you for every bit of enthusiasm and support that you’ve given for my writing and for the charities I support.

Until the next blog post…
{disappears into the Highland mist, notepad and pen at the ready}

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Beloved Beta Readers

Hello, everyone.

As you all know, or will now be finding out, I’m a paranormal romance writer that stumbled into poetry accidentally with Utterly Loved.

I’m back in the saddle (my office chair), my fingers flying on the keyboard with a new paranormal romance story.  My new work-in-progress (WIP in writer lingo) is a holiday novella woven into the story lines of the series.  After that, it will be on to writing the second in the series.  I can’t wait to write the amazing stories unfolding in my head.

You’re probably all wondering:  What happened to the first story?

It’s currently a polished manuscript.  I’ve scheduled a freelance editor to edit the piece in the beginning of February.  If all goes well, the book will be published early to mid-summer.

In the meantime?  It’s with four beta readers.

Who are these beta readers?

They are dear trusted friends who love to read.

Collectively, they…
Held my hair in college when I hurled at the bar
Were the first to tell me, “That’s the story you need to write”
Consoled me when I was frustrated
Wiped away the tears
Cheered the successes
Sometimes know me better than I know myself

These are my people.  The ones I rely on.  My closest confidants.

I only decided last week to take each of them up on their offer to read my story.  This  project has been a part of my life for two years.  They are the ones who’ve shared my ups and downs along the way.  

I finally got the courage to let go and give my heart and soul to them.

Why now?

I had an enlightening hour-long conversation with a best-selling author who shared with me the value of her beta readers and why they’re so important to her.  She said they’re the only ones who truly know her.  Her most important goal was for them to be honest with her and, where warranted, tell her, “This sucks.”

We both laughed.  But the impact of what she said sank in.  She further explained how they will see things we can’t.  We writers are too close to our work to see certain things we need to know.  If we want to publish a page-turning story, one the reader can’t put down and thinks about long after they have, we have to know if there are slow sections, missing parts, or extraneous, excellently written fluff.

I decided she was right.  My friends wanted to be a part of the process.  Each of them had voiced that sentiment to me.  I also realized no one else would do.

They will all laugh when they read this blog post.  I impressed upon each of them to please relax, read, and enjoy the story.  But they had better tell me if they hit a slow part.  I demanded they tell me if any part of it sucked.  I have every confidence they will.  If it’s ever really bad, I hope they please break it to me gently over a drink. {laughs}

The really amazing thing for me?  They’re all from different backgrounds.  I’ve got swamp and city.  All are highly educated and intelligent, but some are analytical and some are creative.  Only one of them reads books in my paranormal romance genre.  One tells me they will give me their opinion when they are finished reading.  (I’m dying of suspense.)  Another is telling me chapter-by-chapter her thoughts.

So far? My chapter-by-chapter (non-paranormal-romance) girl is giving me such incredibly exciting feedback, I’m having to repeatedly ask her, “Are there any slow parts? Anything missing or extra?”  She’s replied with a resounding “NO!”

Her texts have said…
“I am speechless…”
“Never saw that coming!”
“You have this supernatural ability to take the reader to the edge of a heightened emotion and then drop them immediately into another.”
“I’m having to force myself to stop reading.  The flow…epic! Just when one scene is finishing up, another one, just as vital, comes into play.”
“It’s the perfect flow of detail and plot movement.”

She’s even dubbed the hero, a Highlander, “Scotty McHotty” … I just… {dies laughing}

I’m very interested to hear my other beta reader opinions.  I value them all. 

Thank you, my beloved beta readers.  I’m so very grateful for your friendship and support.  Don’t go easy on me.  Find me something that sucks…please!

It’s important to mention, that I have a fifth beta reader, my husband.  He read my manuscript months ago.  As my best friend, he told me where it sucked.  He also pulled me up out of my office chair the moment he finished, grabbed me by the shoulders, and stared at me hard as he said, “Anyone who ever tells you that you don’t have what it takes has no idea what they’re talking about.” 

Damn, I love that man, for both telling me where it sucked and convincing me I have talent.  That is why I love my friends.  They excel by having my back in every way needed… The love and the tough love.

My goal is to give you, the reader, the very best story possible.  I hope to transport you into an amazing story filled with medieval Highlanders, ancient Picts, magick, and a few other surprises I’m not yet ready to spoil for you.

Stay tuned for more updates on the upcoming release and my adventures in writing, editing, and publishing along the way.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Why Writing Contests Matter

Why Writing Contests Matter

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

For those of you following me here on my blog or on Twitter, you likely heard the news on Saturday as I vibrated in excitement.  I’d become a finalist in the Lone Star Writing Contest. {vibrates}

Or perhaps, you’d heard the additional exciting news yesterday.  I’d become a finalist in The Catherine Writing Contest. {vibrates more}

So what’s all the hoopla about contests anyway?

Well, I can tell you one thing for certain.  I would not be here writing this blog were it not for the contests that I entered when I finally had a piece I thought was worthy.

It turns out I did… and didn’t.

My entry didn’t final in that contest.  Nor in the several that came after that.  What I did get was invaluable.  It was the first qualified feedback I’d ever received on my writing.  One of those very first judges took such great time and care in pointing out every flaw in great detail.  She also commended me on my strengths.  I am forever thankful for both.

What did I do?

I rolled up my sleeves and got busy.  Made changes.  Listened.  Learned.  Improved.

The First and Best Reason To Enter Writing Contests:  Feedback

Since that first contest back in the fall of 2010, I’ve been working on a new manuscript that has my creativity flowing.  With my new gem, I entered about eight more contests in the fall of 2011, and I’ve entered seven so far this fall… and counting. 

Last year, those first few contests helped me see what was completely unnecessary in the story (several judges told me to ditch the first page altogether), what the story didn’t have that it very much needed, and where I shined naturally as a writer.

I analyzed every single comment.  Of course, I disregarded the ones I felt had been generated by a lack of caffeine, but I took to heart the feedback that had very good points I either hadn’t considered or lacked the skills and experience to know.

   Some Rules on Contest Feedback:

  • There are no rules for you on feedback. 
  • Everything is subjective.
  • Judges volunteer their time.  Take the time to listen.
  • Comments are suggestions to use if you want.  It’s your story.
  • If multiple judges make the same comment, they may have a point.
  • Judge qualifications vary from trained and unpublished to authors.
  • Read the contest score areas.  Is your entry well-suited for them?
  • Scores are a quantitive way to rank something difficult to judge.

Don’t let negative comments get you down.  Use them to your advantage.  Almost every comment I’ve received has been constructive.  To me, that feedback is worth every penny I paid to enter.

Keep in mind that why you did not score well, may have absolutely nothing to do with your writing talent.  Your judge may not like your writing style, may not connect to your voice, or may have given a valiant effort to judge your piece, but really aren’t familiar with your subgenre.

My area, paranormal romance, is particularly challenging with judges.  In paranormal romance there are vampires, shape-shifters, witches, magick, ghosts, mediums, time-travel, and fantasy.  That is a very broad spectrum.  Mine is a time-travel that has Highlanders and magick.  I may get a judge used to reading vampires.  Even with my recent finalist feedback, one judge commented she doesn’t normally read time-travel.  Another indicated she stumbled a bit on the Scottish brogue.

Bottom line?  Comments and feedback are so valuable to us as fledgling writers.  Use them in the best way possible; to learn and grow as a writer.

Contests As Mini-Reviews

It occurred to me this week, that contests are excellent training for the reviews we will receive as published authors.

Not everyone will relay comments in a constructive fashion.  Many may not relate to our work.  Some will think what you wrote has been done before.  {whispers} Even if you are certain it has not…

What do I focus on?

The rave reviews.  The praise.  The gushing.  Words like, stunning, spectacular, fabulous, and powerful.

Do I ignore all of the not so stellar comments?  No way.  I simply look at them, decide if they have merit or not, and apply them or discard them and move on.

It’s the positive that keeps me energized.  I use every single bit of praise to fuel the motivational fire that keeps me writing. 

Those supportive comments?  They will come from my supportive fans someday.

The Big Payoff

If you’ve honed your craft well enough, if your entry is well suited to the contest you’ve entered, and if the planets have actually aligned for you, a phone call (or occassionally an email) will come with the phrase, “Congratulations!  You’re a finalist.”

Now we’re at the endgame.  We have hit the main reason contests are so beneficial for us as a writer.

Your entry will now be read by acquiring agents or editors.  If you’re lucky…both.

The interesting thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to win a contest to get a request for a submission.  Some final judges have such quality entries to judge, they may grant a win to one entry, but request a submission from both.  Last year I won two contests and was a finalist in a third.  Of the three, I received one request for my full manuscript from an editor at one of the big six publishing houses. 

What do I tell myself?  It takes only one.

Many contests post the results in the RWR (Romance Writers Report), list the results on their websites, and announce the contest news on their email loops.

Fame, baby!

What To Look For When Entering Contests

One of the first things I look for when entering contests is the final judges.  Are they an agent or editor that I would be interested in submitting to if they request my final manuscript?

I also look at the rules of the contest.  My entry is seen in its best light if it’s the first three chapters, but not all contests are designed the same. 

Some contests judge the first 7,000 words, which takes me through half of my third chapter.  Some ask for the first 25 pages or 30 pages.  Some are 50 pages.

Most contests ask for the first part of the story, beginning at page one.  One I’ve seen asks for only page one. 

Other interesting contests, like Reveal Your Inner Vixen, ask for up to twenty pages of the part of your manuscript that best outlines sexual tension.  {smirks} … Now we’re talking…

   Absolute Musts Before Entering A Contest

  • Read the contest’s entry rules.
  • Read the contest’s formatting rules.
  • Follow above said rules exactly if you don’t want to waste your time by being disqualified.
  • Print off all the rules and check them off as you go to make sure you don’t miss one.
  • Mark your calendar to be sure you make the entry deadline.

My suggestion?  Enter the contest early if you can.  I usually enter them a week or more before their entry deadline.  Why?  Sometimes I’ve had questions, and it takes a day or two to get an answer.  Most entrants enter at the last minute, myself included, and technical difficulties can, and do, occur.

What Happens After You Hear The Results?

If you hear that coveted “Congratulations! You’re a finalist!” you often have a week to revise your entry based on the feedback you’ve received.  Then, you re-submit.  You wait.  You hope your entry is the one that judge has been waiting their entire career to find.

If you hear back you didn’t final, print off those score sheets and comments.  See what areas you need to work on.  Make that entry shine for the next time.

Either way.  One very important thing to do as soon as you can? 

Write Thank You Notes!

Write thank you notes to both the judges and the contest coordinator.  Again, they’ve volunteered their time in their very busy lives and writing careers to help you with yours.  Show them your appreciation for doing so, even if they didn’t rave about your entry.  They may be buying your book off the shelf later and smiling in remembrance.

If you final, be sure to triple-check what you do next.  As I mentioned, some allow you to revise the entry.  Others require you to add a synopsis to the entry that may have been optional in the first round. 

Ask when you’re allowed to share the news on social media.  Last Friday, I was asked to wait until the following day.  On Monday, I was asked to wait two days, until Wednesday.

When you can share the news?  Shout it from the rooftops!  You’ve worked hard to make it this far.  To be a  finalist in a writing contest means you’ve risen to the top of a very competitive area and it’s an accomplishment to be proud of and share.  Those who have been supporting you and cheering for you along the way will want to share in your success.

Am I still entering contests?

Absolutely.  I am always learning and growing.  The feedback is unmatchable.  When you final or win, the accomplishment feels amazing.  {vibrates just thinking about it}

I truly hope you enter your writing in contests that suit your work.  Let me know how it goes! 

Meanwhile, I have to go.  I’ve an entry to revise for re-submission and thank you notes to write… ;)

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors and good luck in your contest submissions!

Your Favorite Shoe,

Kat

© 2012 by Kat Bastion