Writing While Spelunking…

shutterstock_93664576 SpelunkngThe time of year has arrived.

When this girl, who abhors tight spaces and is deathly afraid of heights, goes cave diving.

Okay. Not exactly cave diving, as in underwater tanks and fish, but certainly rappelling into the great depths of my mind to find what mysteries lie undiscovered…

In other words: I’ve entered my writing cave.

Never fear.

Every writer braves the solitary element, countless times. One must pass through the gauntlet to arrive safely on the other side.

Our motivation? The promise of the prize. The journey. The destination. While the entire exercise is no easy feat, it is an honored rite of passage.

Harrowing at times, the key to a successful expedition is preparedness. The rest? We trust by faith.

Spelunking is cave exploration (in my phobic mind, to the depths of the earth.) Dangerous. Exciting. Traveling to places no man has gone before. The reward is the ability to share an incredible story.

Entering one’s writing cave has some parallels to spelunking, and I shall heed their common life-saving advice:

  • Research to the point of total preparedness
  • Bring essential equipment: flashlight, chocolate, Twitter access…
  • If you encounter what seems like an impassable block, don’t panic. Take deep breaths until you find your path.
  • Embrace the darkness, bravely traversing until you find the light.
  • Understand you have to get a little dirty for a big payoff ;)

Writing while spelunking is the epitome of multi-tasking and a challenge I welcome. I shall endeavor to reach out to Twitter daily and Facebook and my blog on an intermittent basis, although it is possible that signal strength during various parts of my journey could be patchy at best.

Pray that I make it out safely in the end.

Notes of well wishes will be greatly welcomed.

If you don’t hear from me for several days in a row, send food. It’s possible we got trapped in a landslide. But don’t worry. I’m not alone. I’ve brought the biggest, baddest, alpha male to keep me company.

{smiles slowly}

Oh, yes. My journey is being guided by Skorpius. I have faith he’ll keep me safe and see this epic odyssey through. He insists on finally sharing his story with the world, after all. The title of the novel I’m working on is Born of Mist and Legend (100% Skorpius approved.)

While I’m negotiating corridors tighter than I’d like to think about until absolutely necessary, please continue to watch over my affairs. The incredible support you’ve shown thus far has been amazing, and has carried both Highland Legends Series titles on the Amazon Best Seller lists since their releases. I trust you all implicitly to guide others in promoting and protecting my books at their tender young age.
(Contact information is listed in the back, in case of emergency.)

Whether you seek to join me in exploring hidden secrets buried deep in caves history, are taking a lunch break from work, or looking for a relaxing scorching nightcap to an evening, both Forged in Dreams and Magick and Bound by Wish and Mistletoe will keep us connected in our hearts, even if we’re thousands of miles apart.

Forged in Dreams and Magick Cover

Bound by Wish and Mistletoe Cover

And should you want to join me in helping those most lost in this world, while enjoying or gifting romantic poetry as we approach Valentine’s Day, please consider a purchase of Utterly Loved.

Utterly Loved Book Cover

Happy reading, everyone! And wish me a safe and happy spelunking! :)

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2014 by Kat Bastion

Electrifying a Scene: Tension in Forged in Dreams and Magick

Happy Monday, everyone!

Ever wonder what makes a book a page-turner? What are the elusive components that an author can weave into the story to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, take their breath away?

Read the popular guest post I wrote last week on the wonderful Supernatural Snark’s blog and find out more:

Electrifying A Scene: Tension in Forged in Dreams and Magick

Oh, and there are two more days left on Supernatural Snark to win a signed copy of Forged in Dreams and Magick!

If you want to buy a copy of  the Amazon best-selling page-turner
Forged in Dreams and Magick, below are some easy links:

Easy Links: Forged in Dreams and Magick Cover

Amazon Kindle
Nook
Kobo
All Romance eBooks

Amazon paperback

Add to Goodreads Button

Forged in Dreams and Magick can also be found on worldwide Amazon online outlets, and soon in iTunes!

Also…only two more weeks until Bound by Wish and Mistletoe releases on November 5th!

Bound by Wish and Mistletoe Cover

Bound by Wish and Mistletoe is up on Goodreads! There is also a giveaway. Enter to win 1 of 5 signed copies!

Add to Goodreads Button

Thank you for your support, my friends! Every Twitter RT, shoutout, share, post, buy, review, and each time you tell a friend about Forged in Dreams and Magick helps tremendously. I’m grateful beyond words.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Self Discovery: A Theme in Forged in Dreams and Magick

Hello, my friends!

On October 1st, Forged in Dreams and Magick skyrocketed up the Amazon Best Seller’s list, reaching as high as #4 Scottish. It remained in the top ten for five consecutive days and has remained in the top twenty ever since. Yesterday and today it climbed yet again, hanging out in the top ten as high as #8 with the likes of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books.

October 1st also happened to be the day when a guest post I wrote, “Self-Discovery: A Theme in Forged in Dreams and Magick” appeared on Nikki’s blog, Ramblings of a Chaotic Mind.

Why is Forged in Dreams and Magick‘s ranking important to Self-discovery?

As I briefly alluded in my Goodreads profile, the last year and half has been a time of soul searching for me. Transitioning from a creature of selfish to one of selfless. Giving before receiving. Abandoning my ego, which had a firm hold of me, and looking outward to find meaning in life. Those who have read the quotes on my Twitter timeline and in Utterly Loved can see the mantras that have come from my odyssey. They are still my guiding thoughts.

I am… Always the student, seeking to master.

Well, it’s my personal self-discovery that led me to allocate a percentage of the net profits of all my books to select charities that fight against the tragedy of human trafficking. The more successful Forged in Dreams and Magick is, the greater my ability to help those who are lost in this world find their way home again.

You are all in this with me. I thank you for your kindness and generosity. I’m thrilled Forged in Dreams and Magick is doing so well, and I hope it continues so together we can make a huge difference in this world.

Here is the link to the guest post:

Self-Discovery: A Theme in Forged in Dreams and Magick

 

Should you want to buy a copy of Forged in Dreams and Magick, below are some easy links:

 

Easy Links: Forged in Dreams and Magick Cover

Amazon Kindle
Nook
Kobo
All Romance eBooks

Amazon paperback

Add to Goodreads Button

 

Thank you for your support, my friends! Every Twitter RT, shoutout, share, post, buy, review, and each time you tell a friend about Forged in Dreams and Magick helps tremendously. I’m grateful beyond words.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

The Lure of the Great Alpha Male

The Lure of the Great Alpha Male

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

We all want him.  Not just any alpha male.  
We all want the Great Alpha Male.

The Alpha Male…

An alpha doesn’t walk into a room.  He commands it.  Without effort, he could defeat every male there.  The intangible vibe pouring off those broad shoulders announces the danger louder than a bull horn.  Every other wise man in the room heeds the warning.

Every single woman responds to the dominant presence.  Instinctually.

Something primal takes over.

Our hair gets fluffed without thought.

Perfectly glossed lips get licked.

Shirts are pulled down lower, chests stuck out further, hips swayed another degree right and left in an unconscious effort to gain the spectacular male’s notice.

The mating dance has begun. 
He surveys the group of potential females. 

Each woman hopes for a chance to be the one…
The female above all others that he has chosen.

We’ve already chosen him, even if our stubborn mind puts up a valiant fight.  Our body overrides reason.  We are biologically programmed to choose virility.  We seek protection from the one most able to provide. 

Sound animalistic? {smiles slowly}
Oh, yes.  Most definitely.

A glance comes our way… devastating.

The voice… deep and soul-penetrating.

Those eyes… demanding.

Our breath quickens. 

Our pulse races.

We swallow hard, our throat suddenly Sahara dry.

Logic steps in, creating a tug-of-war with our bodies and minds.  We shake our heads, clearing lustful thoughts.  Will-power soon falters, our gaze traveling back to the object of desire.

Every action is geared toward the heart-pounding hunt.  It’s one thing to find him.  Quite another to ensnare the specimen alpha male.

The alpha male, may dally with many females, but chooses only one as his mate.  Someone worthy of everything he has to offer.  A powerful woman… is his counterpart.

When the two meet, it is in every way, a collision.
The dance continues, and, yet, has only just begun.

Fighting. 

Resisting. 

Overpowering. 

Submitting.

No matter the strength of his female…
the alpha male must overpower her to have her. 

By choosing him, she agrees to be owned by him…
whether she realizes it or not.

The Great Alpha Male…

If we’re lucky, we haven’t found just any alpha male.
The rare few capture the Great Alpha Male. 
The one that is innately alpha… and so much more.

When the larger than life man falls to his knees…

When the man who can conquer legions yields to a woman…

When he rips his chest wide open, handing her his very heart…

That incredibly lucky woman has found…

… the Great Alpha Male.

Romance is filled with larger than life Great Alpha Males. 
The Highlands are filled with them… in reality and our fictional worlds. 
Hence, my unending love for Highlanders. 

Who is my favorite Great Alpha Male?
So far, it would have to be Jericho Barrons. 
He may not be a Highlander, but damn, what a Great Alpha Male.
And… he was part Pict, after all.

Who is your favorite Great Alpha Male?

Your Favorite Shoe,

Kat

© 2012 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