Transparency in Self-Publishing: The Perfect Book

Good morning, everyone!

Only 2 weeks until the release of Forged in Dreams and Magick!

Which leads into the fourth installment in my weekly series, Transparency in Self-Publishing: The Perfect Book.

The perfect book?

No such thing.

In fact, my supportive husband keeps highlighting typos from bestselling authors to help calm the anal-retentive perfectionist in me. Because at some point, we have to let the book go to get it published.

But . . . we have a variety of tools available to make our book The Perfect Book, or what should be more accurately described as The Best Book Possible.

After all is said and done, and the publishing button is irrevocably clicked, don’t you want your masterpiece to be well written and grammatically correct?

As I mentioned in earlier posts, our published books are out there forever. They are our immortality. Commit early to your level of quality, and hopefully readers will devour your books for decades and beyond.

Below are various resources that helped me write The Perfect Book The Best Book Possible.

Craft and Conferences

If you’ve been following my posts, you know I first began writing in the spring of 2010. As an escape from my Type-A side. The last thing I wanted to do was learn how to write. Nope. The whole writing thing began as a hobby and outlet for my creativity. And so I simply wrote.

After the draft was finished and an inexperienced edit was done (by me, who knew nothing about editing), I thankfully attended a national RWA conference. And promptly buried myself in every craft and editing workshop I could squeeze into my wrinkled, well-perused schedule. From 8am until 5pm for three days straight, I absorbed myself into all things writing, took copious notes, and realized I still had a lot of writing and editing development to do.

I highly recommend attending workshops at conferences. The caliber of talent at the national RWA conference was unparalleled, sage advice being doled out by bestselling authors and other professional experts in the industry.

Still, my aversion to doing anything too formal and outlined governed my learning tendencies. In keeping with my ruling creative, I only retained one or two nuggets of wisdom from each workshop to help improve my fledgling writing.

Writing Contests

Luckily, one of those workshops happened to be about the benefits of writing contests. I have a post from last year dedicated to the topic in Why Writing Contests Matter, which talks about the benefits, drawbacks, and process. But suffice it to say, writing contests were integral for my moving forward with my writing. Knowing key points that needed improvement, such as eliminating repetitive words, avoiding passive voice, and increasing the emotional depth, helped me hone my early craft.

Was it nice to have them praise me for my strong points? Absolutely. But setting aside my ego in favor of learning valuable lessons to improve my writing was the true benefit.

I strongly recommend them, if for no other reason than to get early opinions about your strengths and weaknesses. Later contests were entered with new material, what’s now known as Forged in Dreams and Magick, and I began to final in several, winning two of them. Although I’m immensely grateful for the awards and the validation they provide, the greatest benefit to me was in knowing how much I’d improved as a writer.

Books and Posts on Writing

As someone who did not want to “learn” about writing in a school-type atmosphere (nuts and bolts are too anal-retentive for me), I did shockingly pick up one or two books. Now, truth be told, I only thumbed through and scanned, seeking the get-it-now golden nuggets of wisdom.

Actually, the very first book I ever read about writing was J. R. Ward’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide. {laughs} Yes. I am a fan, and it’s mainly about the BDB. But you know what? When I was in the middle of drafting my very first book in the spring of 2010, I read a golden chapter in there entitled “For Writers: Writing Tips, Advice, and the Original Proposal for the Brotherhood.” And then I reread it. As a fledgling writer, it was fascinating to understand the entire process and terminology from draft to published from an author I admired. And one phrase sticks with me as a mantra to this day. “Finish the book.”

Another book whose advice went from thumbed-through pages and into my hungry mind? The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass. The absolute two best things I pulled from that book, but there were many others, are the importance of tension and the merits of scene rewriting.

Tension should be everywhere in a good book. If there’s a slow part? If readers (or you) are skimming over something instead of hanging on every word? You are missing tension. In order to create that page-turning, can’t-put-it-down novel, you need emotion and tension woven into each sentence, paragraph, scene, and chapter. Okay. Maybe not every single one. We do want the reader to take a deep breath now and again. But you get the point.

And on the second point, he makes assignments to the readers that involve rewriting scenes. After the internal groaning ended over how long it took me to create the coveted scene in the first place, I realized the exercise creates a talented skill. Soon after, I read a post by Karen Marie Moning (another amazing author I admire) about how she often writes a scene from several different perspectives until one feels so right, she knows she nailed it. Well, hell. If Moning sees value in such massive scene rewrites, so do I. Embrace your inner editor!

Beta Readers

Beta readers are invaluable in the writing process. Usually trusted friends, they are willing to read your manuscript for free and give you their opinion. Done prior to editing, their main role is to find slow areas, missing elements that should be there, or unnecessary inclusions. Ask them to tell you if it sucks. And where. And why. If you insist upon this brazen honesty and can take the brutal truth, your writing and story will be all the better for their invaluable feedback.

You can read more about the topic in my post from January of this year, Beloved Beta Readers.

In my humble opinion, beta readers are a key element in the writing process and an integral part of any writers team.

And keep an eye out this Wednesday! I’m sharing a behind-the-scenes look into my team in The Beta Reader Interview. :)

Online Workshops

This spring, about a month before I sent Forged in Dreams and Magick to my editor, I took an editing workshop. Yes. You read that correctly. Unfortunately, I’m unable to leash my anal-retentive side everywhere. Hey, perfectionism is a valuable asset! So I allowed the overkill to occur.

And you know what? I’m SO glad I took that editing workshop.

The professional-editor instructor reinforced things I already knew and introduced techniques I hadn’t considered on my own. I swept through the manuscript and employed all the new nuggets of wisdom I’d gleaned before I sent it off to my editor.

The result? She said mine was the most polished manuscript she’d ever received. Did I take that as an ego boost? Nope. My extra diligence helped to make the product the readers will hold in their hands The Best Book Possible, which is all that matters to me.

The Price and Value of Editors

A strong reason for doing the Transparency in Self-Publishing series is to help writers understand more of the self-publishing process than I did when embarking upon it. Editing is no exception.

Editing is EXPENSIVE.

There. I hope that saves you from the heart-stuttering sticker shock I had. My editor sensed my unpreparedness and blessedly broke the news to me gently, but I gasped for air nonetheless. And researcher me should have known, as pricing is easy to find online. You will also find that pricing and experience varies significantly. After the sticker shock wore off, I vetted my choices carefully, asking for references and speaking to said references before shelling out the wad of cash for the much-needed service.

How expensive? Well, I was initially thinking $500-1000 for my 100,000 word novel. Perhaps, I’d read an article or two on book lengths of 50,000-70,000 words and hadn’t paid close attention. I truly hadn’t paid much attention at all and just had a lower-than-reality ballpark figure in my head. The cost for the developmental and copy edits was $1,750 for my 100,000 words. That didn’t include proofreading or formatting.

Lucky for me, we had a savings account to dip into. From there, proofreading and formatting seemed a bargain at around $400.

The value of the edits? PRICELESS.

I can’t underscore enough the incredible benefit gained from good editing and proofreading. Sure, they caught every typo and proper hyphen usage I’d missed. And I’m apparently the queen of dangling modifier, emdashes, and ellipses. But even greater than all of those corrections? The continuity issues, plot holes, historical inaccuracies, and conflict issues that were captured and corrected.

Every item corrected through the editing process keeps the reader out of grammar-groaning mode. Instead, they get lost in your engaging story, exactly where you want them to be.

How Much Editing is Enough?

Edits need to happen until you have The Best Story Possible.

I imagine the need varies from writer to writer. Anal-retentive me believes the story should be in the best condition possible prior to every stage.

My beta readers deserved to read a sufficiently edited version. Prior to sending to the professional editor, I swept through the story once on my PC with beta-reader suggestions and a second time on my Kindle. Prior to the proofreader? Yours truly proofread my copy edit changes again on my Kindle, reading every single word of the manuscript from the first page to the last.

A side note here: I find reading the manuscript on my Kindle to be invaluable. I catch many typographical errors and reading-flow issues on my Kindle, and believe reading the manuscript on an e-reader helps our eye catch more flaws.

Why go through all the time and effort of reading through before each professional stage? Isn’t that what they’re paid to do?

Well, that baby is MY manuscript. Anything I can do to polish it to shine, I’m willing to do. No matter the time or effort necessary. If each team member has the manuscript in the best condition possible, then they can make it even better.

As a well-qualified and hard-working team, we publish The Best Book Possible.

~~~

Thank you for joining me for the Transparency in Self-Publishing Series! More on many of the topics can be found in my posts in the Writing Tidbits category, including Seducing Your Story ~ The Magic of Editing

I’ll likely add more posts to this series in the near future, perhaps one on budgeting and another on publishing decisions. Let me know if there is a fresh topic you’d like to see here or one you want expanded upon.

~~~

Also, please mark your calendars for the upcoming posts and events:

9/11 – The Beta Readers’ Interview
9/16 – Forged in Dreams and Magick promotion event begins (organized by AToMR Tours) *
9/21 – Forged in Dreams and Magick launch party hosted by Bookish Temptations (begins 7pm EST on blog and Twitter)
9/23 – Forged in Dreams and Magick RELEASE DAY!
9/23 – ARC Review Tour begins and promotion event continues (through 9/28)

* Any bloggers interested in signing up for the promotion event can still do so by clicking on Forged in Dreams and Magick AToMR Tour link here. Sign-ups for the promotion event will remain active until 9/25. Although the Review Tour portion of the promotion is now closed, reviewers can still obtain review copies either by contacting me through my Kat’s Connections page or by requesting a copy from NetGalley.

A huge thank you to everyone posting the wonderful early reviews of Forged in Dreams and Magick on Goodreads. I greatly appreciate each of you for taking the time to read and review the book. That so many of you love the story and are raving about the writing means the world to me, especially given the effort taken to write the best book possible. I’m incredibly grateful and truly honored.

I shall endeavor to write many more of the best books possible for you to read in the months and years to come.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Toss the Bouquet Charity Event and Giveaway

Happy June, my friends!

June is the most popular month for weddings, and a celebrated wedding tradition is the tossing of the bouquet. The bride, overflowing with love and happiness, tosses her bouquet in a symbolic gesture of sharing her good fortune with others.

How blessed are we with our good fortune? Warm Bed. Hot meals. A safe home. Those who love us. … Freedom.

We are all the bride. (Men, if you can be the groom…if you insist.) ;) This amazing life we live with loved ones and choices is our wedding celebration. {whispers} Yes I know, Uncle Ned is making a spectacle of himself on the dance floor, but oh…what great stories we’ll have to tell later. {nods} The budget nearly popped a seam, but we’ve been showered with gifts and we’re about to pay it forward…

Let’s all Toss the Bouquet this June. Join me in making a beautiful bouquet of the abundant blessings we have and toss it out to the world.

Our flowers will burst into millions of petals, raining love onto those who need it the most. Thoughts, prayers, dreams, and donations all transform into something wonderful for another…all because we tossed a bouquet filled with love.

Bouquet Toss

Toss the Bouquet Charity Event

The Toss the Bouquet Charity Event is to raise awareness and help support charities who fight against human trafficking, a pervasive worldwide tragedy that must be stopped. The problem is enormous. And it’s not “over there” … It’s everywhere.

How can you participate in Toss the Bouquet?

Donate any amount to any of the charities listed on the Charity Support and Awareness page from May 31st through June 15th, 2013. Some of the charities, like Not For Sale and International Princess Project, have stores where you can purchase products to support them. You can do that too!

During the event, I’ve also reduced the price of Kindle and paperback versions Utterly Loved. The romantic book of poetry is shared with the world for charity, its proceeds supporting Covenant House and World Vision. Sylvain Reynard, a humanitarian who inspired me to use my author platform in conjunction with charitable causes, wrote the brilliant and inspiring foreword to Utterly Loved. Be sure to pick up a copy…and perhaps a few to share with others.

Toss the Bouquet Giveaway

The Toss the Bouquet Charity Event is all about helping the charities to help those in need. Mr. Bastion and I also wanted to give everyone participating in the Toss the Bouquet Charity Event a chance to win something special.

We are giving away three items to three lucky winners. One e-book copy of Utterly Loved, one signed paperback copy of Utterly Loved…

Utterly Loved Book Cover

And…one special gift of jewelry from Pandora as a keepsake from the Toss the Bouquet event: Pandora’s sterling silver with 14k gold Love Bouquet charm on Pandora’s sterling silver bracelet.

Pandora Bouquet Charm

To enter the giveaway, email me at giveaways@katbastion.com with your donation receipt of any amount (or a purchase receipt from one of their stores) for any of the charities listed on the Charity Support and Awareness page by midnight June 15th, 2013 and click on the below link to enter the below Rafflecopter giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other Authors Supporting The Charities

I would like to mention two authors I met through Twitter who also support charities fighting against human trafficking:

  • Heather Huffman weaves the issue of human trafficking into her stories, is an activist in the cause, and a portion of book proceeds goes toward charities fighting against human trafficking. Read more about her books and human trafficking on Heather’s website.
  • Sylvain Reynard utilizes his author platform to bring awareness and support to many amazing charities, including those fighting against human trafficking. SR wrote a wonderful post a few days ago on his website… “Why Charity?”

Your purchase of their incredible books supports the authors, who in turn support the charities.

Please share this blog post and/or news of the Toss the Bouquet Charity Event and Giveaway with your social media. Encourage your friends and followers to join us in supporting those charities that fight against human trafficking. Let’s set every one of those lost souls free and show them they are utterly loved.

Thank you for your generous hearts, my friends.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

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

The Unspeakable Tragedy of Human Trafficking

Ready to get real on today’s blog?

Human Trafficking

A horrific topic that no amount of sugar coating ever makes easier to digest.

Last night, Mr. Bastion highlighted an hour-long show that was painful and heart-wrenching to watch.  I can’t imagine an hour better spent of my time.

In my opinion, everyone needs to see the 3AM Girls on Our America by Lisa Ling.

To see those who advocates are trying to help by rescuing children who’ve been victimized with no foreseeable escape is beyond moving.  You will learn who is taken, how they are taken, and why they can’t leave without significant help.  Then you will learn where it is happening.

Is it happening worldwide?  Yes.  Is it happening in your city?  Absolutely.

Did you see the article in the Huffington Post naming the single largest human trafficking event in the US?  The Super Bowl. 

I didn’t. 

Now whenever I see a major event, I will always remember those who are there against their will…wishing they were somewhere else.

Because of the harsh world we live in, we escape into movies.  We get lost in romance novels.  Writing and reading of heroes and heroines with happily ever afters helps bring happiness to our otherwise dreary lives.

Many of us have a lot to learn about the definition of despair.
{raises my hand}

What struck me most, of the many shocking things I learned last night in the program, was the level emotional abuse these children suffer under once they’ve fallen victim to human trafficking.  Oftentimes, they suffered emotional abuse from their homes long before they became lost on the streets.

The reason the emotional abuse impacted me so greatly? I’m a survivor of emotional abuse.  Not many people know that fact about me.  I suffered all my life at the hands of the ones children trust most in this world.  I’ve also suffered from the emotional cruelty of bullies.  I know how difficult it is to break free of the fear.  I understand how it seems like there may never be a sun to rise on the horizon of a new day.

I feel I was one of the lucky ones.  I didn’t run away from home.  No matter how bad it got for me, I endured my homelife with a silent vow to myself on a particularly bad night that I would get out the moment I could afford to support myself.  Through the emotional abuse, I somehow repaired all the chipping away of my self-esteem with something stronger.  Mr. Bastion met me at the critical moment in my life right as I took the leap away from my abuser and went out into the world.  His love and support was instrumental to my survival on my own.  He is forever my amazing foundation, as he can attest to the scar tissue and trust issues that I still deal with and recover from.  Our talks are great therapy for me and strengthen my resolve to help those who need that same foundation.

Those in human trafficking are kept there by similar emotional abuse, only they have fallen into the darkest, most dangerous realm of our world.  The odds are against them for getting out alone.  Fear, guilt, and manipulation make those children feel they owe it to their captors to remain.  They feel they have no other choice. 

No human on this planet should be trapped in a situation where freedom is not an option.  These children need an enormous amount of love and support to escape their circumstances into a better life.

I’m very new to the charity awareness scene.  While I’ve been raising awareness for charities that support helping human trafficking victims, including World Vision and Covenant House through the promotion of Utterly Loved, I’m learning how great the need is and how much help is required.  Click on both of these World Vision and Covenant House links to see the difference donations made in 2012 to help victims of human trafficking and how vast the problem is worldwide and in the United States.

A wonderful humanitarian, Sylvain Reynard, opened my eyes to the importance of raising awareness to help those in need through an author platform.  He is a huge supporter of both World Vision and Covenant House. 

Another author who’s just recently come to my attention through Sylvain Reynard is Heather Huffman.  She not only donates a portion of the proceeds of her books to help fight human trafficking, she also weaves the important issues into her stories.  Check out Heather Huffman’s website here and her What is Trafficking page, which has links to several groups that are involved in helping to save those lost children.

Utterly Loved, a book of romantic poetry with inspiring foreword by Sylvain Reynard that highlights the need for ongoing support for these charities, exists because of those lost children.  Every purchase of Utterly Loved not only raises awareness of those charities, but all the proceeds every sale (less costs and taxes) supports them.  Find Utterly Loved on Amazon, on Barnes and Noble and on Smashwords.

Our generosity will help save those young victims.  Spreading awareness of the issue is only the first step.  Getting involved is critical to making real change and saving lives.  Everyone deserves a safe home, a warm bed, a hot meal, and loving hugs.  Let’s make it happen for every one of them we can.

Why am I an eternal optimist?  Why do most of the posts you see on Twitter or on Facebook and in Utterly Loved reflect the love in this world?

Because I know that optimism is the only thing that saved me.  Believing there is a brighter tomorrow got me through every dark day.  Join me in the fight for brighter tomorrows for every lost child out there.  Let’s give those children the happily ever after they deserve.

Thank you for your enormous hearts and endless support.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

The Thrill of Discovery

Life IS the Adventure

Have you ever noticed that…

The first bite of dessert is always the sweetest?
The first touch by a crush… the most electric?
The first kiss… the most soul-searing?

It’s the thrill of discovery.

As children, we experience so many things for the very first time.  Our senses are thrown open wide to soak in the incredible world around us.  We aren’t just on the edge of our seat paying attention, we’re standing on it with excited anticipation a split second before taking a huge fearless leap into the sensory overload.

Take the time to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel things you haven’t paused long enough to absorb, and you’ll be rewarded with new experiences.  Sometimes altering one element in your everyday routine incites a riot of new input simply by going off-course from the expected.  A shift to a different position at a favorite restaurant table is a basic example.  You’ve changed your viewpoint literally and your perception in a multitude of ways.  Try it.

A few months back, I sat on the ground examining a new transplant in our yard out of concern for its welfare (I’m a horrific plant parent) and found more than the plant alive before my eyes.  Caterpillar Surprise

What a treasure it is to stumble across something beautiful happening right under our busy noses.

Writers, Readers and Discovery

As a writer, we express our three-dimensional adventure onto the page, tempting the reader to get lost in the vivid world we’ve created.  Our goal is to take them along for a ride they’ve never experienced. 

If because of our efforts they…

Feel the abrasive surface of the jagged stone wall…
Squint at the brilliant sunset before it fades below the horizon…
Savor the taste of a tart cherry pie…
Inhale the sweet earthy aroma of a pine forest…
Hear the pop and crackle of a roaring fire?

Mission accomplished.

There is actually a phase in the writing process called discovery.  Some define it as the exploratory period in which we seek new topics and do research.  I recall an article I read over a year ago that described it ideally.  It appeared in a past issue of the RWR (the Romance Writers Report, a trade publication through Romance Writers of America) and described the discovery process as a time of rest and recharge between writing projects.  

The holiday from “work” should be a time to immerse ourselves in the outside world, separate from the isolated writing caves we’ve sequestered ourselves within most of the year.  Music, art, outdoor adventures, and civic events all become opportunities for us to turn our thinking brains off and amplify our learning.  Surrounding ourselves in melting pots of activity allows us to observe human behavior from a relaxed vantage point.  Wandering into a different solitary activity, like painting or reading a new book, maybe even in a genre outside our norm, helps expand our horizons. 

When the time is right, maybe after a few days, perhaps after a few weeks, our rested and recharged brains are stocked full of creative new ideas from a variety of sources.

Self-Discovery

Interestingly, layers of discovery happened while writing my latest manuscript.  The stories in my series are about self-discovery.

At the exact moments my heroine flew high with happiness and achievement, circumstances ripped away her newfound joy.  When she stood again from the pile of surrounding rubble, she learned something about herself.  She found strength because she’d tasted heavenly bliss and then plummeted to crushing heartache.  From a new perspective, she discovered what she truly wanted in life…and it was not what she’d originally thought.  Once she realized the ultimate prize within her reach was threatened, she discovered the one thing worth fighting for above all else… those she loved.  The ones in her world who relied on her suddenly had all her focused attention.

As my heroine’s discovery unfolded on the pages in true pantster-style writing, her realization provoked my own.  Everything is about the journey.  Life happens along the way from here to there, and if you aren’t paying attention you’ll miss it. 

How funny that my own character in a story taught me how to shift my focus from self-centered to selfless.  But then, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me at all.  When we write, pieces of ourselves shine through onto the page and are expressed to some degree in many of our beloved characters.

Life IS the Journey

Treat your life as a rare adventure.  Look at each mundane activity as an opportunity to seize a new experience with a subtle shift of perception.  Channel the child within you, living every precious day you’re given as a sparkling gift.  Unwrap your treasure with unbridled excitement and embrace… the thrill of discovery.

Enjoy your world, my friends.  I wish us all the most spectacular time as we step from our ordinary lives into the world of the extraordinary.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

The Lure of The Great Alpha Male Re-Blogged

talktotheshoe:

Since I’m writing about Great Alpha Males in the Highlands, and everyone seems to be drawn to this page, I decided to share with you again what seems to be on all of our minds… I hope you enjoy. ;)

Originally posted on Talk To The Shoe:

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…

View original 370 more words

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

Utterly Loved on Kindle and A Kindle Fire Winner!

In true Utterly Loved fashion, everything happens poetically.

Utterly Loved released in Kindle version… on the very day someone wins a Kindle Fire.

The support for Utterly Loved has been huge and heartfelt.  Your efforts have helped Utterly Loved stay at the top of the charts, bringing awareness to two wonderful charities, World Vision and Covenant House.  Please join me with continued support for Utterly Loved and these deserving charities throughout the year.

As a thank you for your participation, signed copies and Amazon gift cards have been won by randomly selected supporters.  The prizes were donated to the cause by the Bastion family.  Mr. Bastion and I are tremendously grateful for all you do for Utterly Loved.

Now is the time for a big thank you to one lucky winner…

The Kindle Fire Winner, chosen by Random.org from 12 Daily Winners:
{hears a tiny drum roll in my head}

Congratulations, katrinalowe77!
You’ve won the Grand Prize of a Kindle Fire!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the promotional events of Utterly Loved.  In small steps, we are igniting a wildfire of hope that will make a difference in children’s lives worldwide. 

Can you feel it?  {smiles huge} …  I do.

We have only just begun…

23 inspirational quotes, 21 romantic poems, 5 star reviews, 1 brilliant foreword by Sylvain Reynard.  Infinite Hope… Utterly Loved.

Buy Utterly Loved in paperback
Buy Utterly Loved on Kindle

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, my friends.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2012 by Kat Bastion