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

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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!

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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

Morgan Locklear Wordslinger…Shutting Up Now…

talktotheshoe:

Excellent post, Morgan. As always, I love your writing advice. Thank you for sharing it with us.
~ Kat Bastion

Originally posted on Bookish Temptations:

October has long been my favorite month of the year.  I like how quickly the world around us changes in just a few weeks.  Mother nature knows when to say when, and she makes a good show of sending our summers into the history books.

This Wordslinger will take a cue from the Fall leaves and focus on endings.  I shall call it…

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A Love Affair With Words…

A Love Affair With Words …

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

Do you have a love affair with words?

Have you vibrated when you’ve found the perfect morsel, a rush of satisfaction firing through your veins when you know only that single descriptor will do above any other?

Do you obsess about your own?

Have you moaned in need, knowing exactly what you want to say… but it’s just out of reach, on the tip of your tongue, tormenting you with a taste… but not quite gaining substance?

Do you crave them from others?

Have you searched for that secret place of solitude, away from the world, where you can escape for an hour, or two… or many… into a dreamland spun by another?

Do you find yourself addicted?

Have you strived to find that sweet spot of balance and rhythm, a natural ebb and flow, teasing a heart-felt work of art from a cold slab of marble?

Do you long to turn the most mundane into something spectacular?

     … {smiles slowly} ….

To walk into a British car auction, testosterone pinging in the air.

In an arena dominated by wealth, your pulse accelerates as the journey unfolds.

The sensuality… palpable.

Your gaze travels the room until… your breath catches.

She lies there in beautiful repose, the object of your desire.

Exquisite curves beg for your touch.

You lick your lips.

Unbidden, your body leans closer.

The eyes of a voyeur stare deep into her soul.

Bared for you to devour.

You imagine sliding in…

The fit tight… but perfect.

She hugs your body as if the two of you were created together.

Your fingers slide over her soft, supple skin.

A firm grip… takes control.

You swallow hard, slamming zero to sixty in record time.

And still… you push her harder.

She takes everything you have to give her and screams for more.

You shift gears…

She responds… purring…

Faster…

Hotter…

Forcing…

Vibrating…

The auctioneer’s voice over the intercom interrupts the two of you and you snap back to the room. You stare back longingly at her. The moment was shared. The erotic experience happened. The memory, a snapshot forever kept in the album of your mind.

… {inhales deeply} …

Do you have secret liasons with your thesaurus?

Have you squealed in delight when a “word of the day” account followed you on Twitter, following back the decadent account with breathless anticipation of a beautiful relationship?

… {whispers} … I –so- have…

Do you have a love affair with words?

I do…

Your Favorite Shoe,

Kat Bastion

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

Morgan Locklear…Wordslinger (September)

talktotheshoe:

This is an excellent post on dialog in writing from Morgan Locklear. Sharp dialog is so very crucial to pull the reader into the moment.
Thank you, Morgan!
Kat

Originally posted on Bookish Temptations:

It’s the first day of September peeps, and you know what that means right?!?

Yup…Morgan is in the house with his monthly Wordslinger. Now that’s the way to begin a new month…

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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

Seducing Your Story ~ The Magic of Editing

Seducing Your Story ~ The Magic of Editing

© 2012 by Kat Bastion

Everyone seems to be afraid of… or utterly dread… editing. Going back into work you’ve slaved over and doing the mechanical “stuff.” (highly technical term)

For me? Editing is the most amazing part. Now’s the time I get to shine—weave magic into an already stellar piece of art…or…not…depending on whatever I was thinking when my fingers flew across the keyboard at Mach 13. (which is 9,896 mph, in case you were wondering) … {fogs my nails and buffs them on my shirt}

Why all the anxiety?

Well, by the time you’ve finished. You’re a little bug-eyed. You feel like your head is about to explode. You’ve been so long in the forest you’d forgotten there were trees. With leaves. That are green. Usually.

Like fine wine, some things need to breathe.

Give it a rest.  Let that beauty sit there long enough for the oxygen to enhance your creation… and recharge your brain cells.

So now what?

First, you have to prepare yourself.  Put your sweats on, tie your hair in a high, fluffy ponytail, and keep a dose of dark chocolate close at hand. Put on those sexy librarian glasses that make your man think you’re imminently do-able, but force him to take pause because he knows there’s a whole lot of something else going on over there.

Now, you sit down and break it down—Chapter by chapter; Scene by scene; Paragraph by paragraph… Down to the very last sentence.

  • Is there a goal at the beginning?
  • Was it achieved at the end?
  • Did the world I create pull me in? Can I see it, feel it… smell it?
  • When the tension built, did his inner turmoil come across?
  • Does my plot move forward at just the right pace?
  • Am I using an active or passive verb in that sentence?
  • Did I use the best possible words to convey feelings and action?
  • Are my scene and chapter breaks in places that make sense?

Now. Usually all that analysis, and the weaving of those magical elements, comes in waves for me.  I am a pantster, after all. But the point is, I know what to look for. I know where my weaknesses lie in my drafts. I know how to fix them.

Use “Find” in your word processing program.

Are there repetitive words? Especially unique words that will pull your reader out of the story when they notice. Like… bristled… or askance. Do you really want your readers to stop and think to themselves, “Damn. There’s a whole lot of bristling going on.”? No? Me either.

I’ll never forget, as I looked up synonyms for enormous. I decided to do a word find. I found: 8 enormous, 4 vast, 7 massive, 1 huge, 2 gigantic, 2 giant, 1 mammoth, and 1 gargantuan. I got excited. I had yet to use oversize, colossal, and substantial.

How do I remember that? I’m looking at the yellow sticky pasted to editing notes. 

Okay, Kat. We get it. Everything is massive. {smirks}

Learn your craft.

Trust me, I didn’t always love editing. But, mentor’s words and techniques ring into my head when I’m elbows deep in reworking my rough draft into a polished diamond.

  • J.R. Ward ~ “Finish a book….” … from The Black Dagger Brotherhood, An Insider’s Guide
  • Karen Marie Moning ~ In an introduction to JZB’s POV last year, said she often writes difficult scenes from more than one perspective until she feels it’s perfect.
  • Donald Maass ~ “Rewrite the page… Rewrite this page again… Rewrite this page again…” … from The Fire In Fiction.

What did I take away from those greats? Finish what you started. Make it better. Everyone has to work hard to get results… it isn’t through the wrinkle of a nose like in Bewitched.

What’s the secret to editing?

Perspective is huge. How you go about doing something always impacts the result. Like I always say… about everything… if you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong.

I make it fun, with the sweats and the ponytail and the chocolate. 

As I work through my paper-pushing day job, I can’t wait to finish, so I can tweak that scene. Add the idea that’s rattled around in my head. Polish that rough spot.

For me, the magic truly begins with the editing. The story I’ve written comes to three-dimensional life as the world mists off the pages and surrounds me.

Editing is seducing your story—teasing her slowly with grace and care until the best part of her shines through.

Can you tell I’m in the middle of editing? {laughs}
I’m having a blast with rewrites, revisions, and editing. Oh. My.

I hope you join me… and have fun with seducing your story, too.

Please comment and share your favorite techniques of editing, your challenges, and the pet-peeves you’ve seen in writing that you wish would have been edited.

Your Favorite Shoe,

Kat

© 2012 by Kat Bastion