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

Are You Out of Order? The Importance of Standing Alone in a Series.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Annnd . . . Happy Eve of Release Day for Bound by Wish and Mistletoe!

Bound by Wish and Mistletoe Cover

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Which brings me to an interesting topic: series reading order and the importance of making each book stand alone.

Have you ever read books in a series out of order?

I must say, I rarely do so. I’m an “in-order” kinda gal.
{whispers} See “OCD” in Merriam-Websters.

My personal preference aside, for many, an initial exposure to an author is not the first book written in a series.

That an adventurous reader might delve into books outside of linear order brings an interesting challenge to an author. How do we provide enough “catch-up” information, without overburdening with a back-story dump? Which secrets can we reveal from the previous story line, without stealing away the thrill of discovery?

A wise author sees the benefit of capturing a reader’s attention in the middle of a series. If the story is crafted well, teasing just enough to entice curiosity, the reader will go back and collect your previous books, starting from the beginning.

When writing Bound by Wish and Mistletoe, I had multifaceted goals. I wanted to bring those who loved Forged in Dreams and Magick more of the world and characters before publishing Born of Mist and Legend in 2014. I also happen to love Christmas, and couldn’t wait to celebrate it with the Brodie Clan. But a powerful reason Bound by Wish and Mistletoe exists: to introduce new readers to the series, who haven’t yet discovered Forged in Dreams and Magick.

I wrote the holiday novella with all of those thoughts in mind, applying some acquired skill and much intuition. Woven subtly throughout the story, I hinted at previous secrets, without giving everything away. In key locations, I teased out delicious morsels, but left others partially hidden—giving the readers a glimpse that there was more to the story.

When it came time for editing, something wonderful happened. Both my beta readers and developmental editor gave the story an enthusiastic approval, making no mention of the back story to the series. Ahhh . . . but they’d all read Forged in Dreams and Magick. A much-needed perspective came from the copy editor, who was brand new to the series. His insightful comments about where he got lost, and the suggestions he made about providing hints and clues without giving too much away, were invaluable.

Shortly thereafter, Bound by Wish and Mistletoe was released in ARC (advanced reader copy) form to reviewers and posted on NetGalley. It was NetGalley, however, that first provided feedback of how well the novella could stand on its own story.

In fact, I was quite surprised at how many reviewers chose to read Bound by Wish and Mistletoe first, even though they’d requested both titles simultaneously. To every one of those reviewers who jumped into the Highland Legends Series out of order, thank you. I’m immensely grateful for the honest reviews you provided.

So how did Bound by Wish and Mistetoe do as a stand-alone story? Spectacularly. Many reviewers new to my writing gave it 5 stars!

One reviewer commented that she would rate it either 4 or 5 stars, but had to read Forged in Dreams and Magick first before she decided. I was thrilled when she rated Forged in Dreams and Magick with 4 stars and then gave Bound by Wish and Mistletoe 5 stars!

“This is the 1st book I’ve read by Kat Bastion and it won’t be the last. The story had me hooked from the 1st few sentences and held my attention until I finished it….I originally read this book without previously reading the 1st book in this series…While I really enjoyed Bound by Wish and Mistletoe as a standalone, it became totally awesome after I read Forged in Dreams and Magick.” ~ Linda on Goodreads/NetGalley

In or out of order, authors have much to gain by a writing a story that holds its own within the greater series. When you enthrall readers with your latest edition, but tease with glimpses of secrets, they’ll devour your series, ravenous for more of your writing and the story world.

As a side note, I did something interesting with my holiday novella, Bound by Wish and Mistletoe. Although the Book 1.5 novella is written after Book 1 and before Book 2, the story timeline is not exactly in that order. The events occurring within Bound by Wish and Mistletoe actually happen at about the 70% timeline mark of Born of Mist and Legend. {smirks}

Well, I think that’s enough teasing for one day. :)

Oh, and a reminder! Today’s the last day the Amazon Top 10 Best Seller Forged in Dreams and Magick is reduced to $1.99 on eBook!

Forged in Dreams and Magick Cover

Reduced! $1.99 til November 5th!

Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

I look forward to sharing Bound by Wish and Mistletoe with all of you tomorrow on release day!

If on Twitter, please share news about Bound by Wish and Mistletoe with buy links. Throughout November 5th, eBook copies and signed paperbacks will be randomly given away among those who help me spread the word!

Thank you so much for the ongoing support. Every post, reblog, share, Tweet, buy, review, and words of praise are greatly appreciated.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Transparency in Self-Publishing Series: Extraordinary Book Bloggers

Wow. I am overwhelmed with how amazing the welcoming group of book bloggers (and reviewers) are.

I don’t even know where to begin with the gratitude I feel toward such a generous breed, but like all good stories, the beginning is usually a good place to start.

An Incorrect Prediction

The past is not always an accurate predictor of the future.

At the writing conferences I attended in 2010 and 2011, several workshops on social media wrinkled their noses at blogging. Back then, apparently something I’d not even become familiar with had already run its course. The prediction and advice with regard to an author blogging was: don’t bother.

Blogging was old hat. Not beneficial for an author’s career. A waste of time and effort.

Boy, have things changed. Rapidly.

Thankfully, I chose to look beyond the dated advice of a few and created my own blog in July of 2012. Meant to be a means for sharing publishing adventures and news about my upcoming books, it has grown into an opportunity to reach readers, other bloggers, and make connections and friends.

Fast Forward to Present day

Book blogging today has become a vast network of readers and reviewers connected by one thing . . . a love of books.

A vibrant community of book bloggers has blossomed, flourished, and continues to grow. Not only are book bloggers a trusted source of reviews and book recommendations for readers (and us authors who love to read), for many readers, book bloggers are the only source of recommendations for both self-published and traditionally published books.

The Brave Solicitation

As the upcoming release of Forged in Dreams and Magick approaches, I’m having more and more interaction with book bloggers. Initially, as a naturally shy person (yes, believe it or not it’s true), I felt enormous relief when I’d secured tour and promotion slots with AToMR Tours to gain reviews and exposure for before and through the release. After all, I didn’t have to ask all these people I don’t know directly. AToMR Tours would do it all for me.

Which they have and did, an invaluable service that I’m immensely grateful for.

But . . . I decided to become the brave warrior I depict in my novel and throw myself out there to solicit book bloggers who might not work with AToMR Tours. I crafted a professional letter, but tailored each email to the individual blog I was soliciting. If their interests in books fell in line with my own, I sought common ground with them in the very first paragraph of the email.

A Humble Approach

My request to the hundred and fifty (or so) bloggers I contacted was very humble. Because I was asking busy people, most who have kids and/or jobs and a TBR (to-be-read) book pile that rivals Mt. Everest, for something very valuable—their time and opinion—I was thankful they were even reading my email. I’d be thrilled for them to request my book.

In fact, after carefully reading each and every site’s review policies and scanning through their blog (which took 5-10 minutes, and I believe is the very least a requesting author should do when asking for hours and hours of their time reading your book and crafting their review of your hard work), I didn’t expect a response from many of them. Some specifically stated they would only reply if they were interested.

In anticipating my book request being among thousands they read through with bleary-eyed apathy, I set my expectation bar low.

The Unexpected Response

Replies began to populate my inbox. And it was not only what the overwhelming majority said but how they said it that surprised me.

First of all, a few responded with a line or two telling me how they really loved the book description, but were too buried under books that they were already committed to reviewing to have the time to review mine. I appreciated their even taking the time to respond.

A couple of the blogs said they wouldn’t have the time to review, but wanted to help me with the promotion of my book.

{blinks}

This was my first clue that I was the new kid on the block. I ask them for a favor, and even with their busy schedules, they want to help me. Incredibly grateful for space on their calendar, I resoundingly replied with excitement that I would love to included in a guest post or interview (or whatever they’d suggested) and thanked them for the opportunity.

Those that did reply requesting an ARC copy to review?

Thanked lil’ ol’ me for giving them the opportunity.

Thanked lil’ ol’ me for thinking of their blog.

And many? Asked me to also provide them with links once the book goes live to share and help promote the release to their social media networks. And they hadn’t even read my books yet.

Again, all I have to say is . . .

Wow. I am overwhelmed.

Above and Beyond

A small group of bloggers I’ve become close to over the last year (about six or so) have always cleared a place on their schedule for me. You know who you are, and I love you for all that you’ve done and continue to do to support my writing endeavors.

With other bloggers, we’d followed each other on Twitter for over a year, and although we’d only talked once or twice, the moment I struck up the heart-racing conversation with my request, they pulled me into their welcoming arms like I was long-lost family.

{takes a deep breath}

Wow.

And now that some of those bloggers have reviewed my book? They’re touting it on Goodreads, Twitter, their blogs, and even on other author’s blogs. And together we chat. And laugh. And commiserate. And swoon. It’s so amazing how coming together through a book can bond book lovers. I’m overwhelmed daily by the generosity of strangers who embraced me so readily as a friend.

Wow.

Speechless in Gratitude

Yep. This writer has gone speechless. The repetitive monosyllabic word “wow” keeps coming out. The medical diagnosis for my condition is “mind blown”, but I’m pretty sure they don’t make a pill for being humbled by such awesomeness, and frankly, I wouldn’t want the cure.

I guess that’s what happens when in today’s self-centered society, a class of people show you their hearts first. In my experience, book bloggers are leading by example, rewriting history about how people should treat one another. With kindness, acceptance, and grace.

~~~

So when eloquent words fail, and you try to describe how you feel the best way you can, sometimes simple words become the best.

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being the generous-hearted souls that you are.

In my opinion? Book bloggers are awesome! You all rock!

Your greatly humbled and appreciative shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

Talk to the Shoe One-Year Blogiversary ~ Celebration and Giveaway

Hello, my friends.

{tosses confetti and streamers}

Shutterstock Celebration with Champagne and Confetti

Happy Blogiversary
Talk to the Shoe!

Has it been an entire year already? So many incredible events happened over the course of these first 52 weeks, it feels like my first blog post went up only yesterday.

To commemorate a bustling year for a blog meant to chronicle my adventures in writing and publishing, I’ve decided to highlight memorable and favorite moments.

{sips champagne with you all and starts the slide show}

My First Blog Post

I was recently asked an interview question by Debra on her blog Words from Across Oceania:
“What do you think about social media as an avenue for getting independent writers out there?”
My answer: ” I think it’s unparalleled.”

On July 20, 2012, I penned my very first blog post:
The Twitter Trap – Social Media: Blessing and Curse.

It’s wonderful to look back at the thoughts and suggestions I gave after being on Twitter for a short six weeks. I’m forever grateful for learning the ropes while trusting my instincts.

Twitter is an unrivaled virtual coffee shop filled with friends just waiting to meet us and chat over a coffee and zero-calorie online danish about the latest web happenings and favorite book boyfriends
. . . or Highlanders . . . or shoes.

And let’s not forget the #StilettoSports discussions!

I’ve made wonderful friends on Twitter in the past year, lasting connections with kindhearted, generous, and supportive people who are there to interact, laugh, and share love.

The Most Popular Blog Post

On August 29, 2012,  something seismic happened . . .
I posted The Lure of the Great Alpha Male.

Wow.

That would be the post that had over 170 hits on my fledgling blog in one day. It also had 46 comments and a fun debate that spilled into Twitter over which of our alpha males was the hottest, resulting in a dead heat between Jericho Z. Barrons and one Gabriel O. Emerson, The Professor. And I still had yet to meet The Professor . . . {laughs}

It was my first post to be reblogged on a fabulous new-to-me back then blog Bookish Temptations. The Lure of the Great Alpha Male is still the most popular daily and weekly post on my blog. It has multiple daily views, and is often the first or second in views for the week. It seems the Lure of the Great Alpha Male is quite undeniable indeed.

Aftershocks from those great alpha males still occurring daily . . . ;)

My First Poem and Utterly Loved

September 12, 2012 brought to the blog and the world a most unexpected development. I created and shared my first poem Heaven… Found. Surprised to have poetry flow from my heart onto the page, I was thrilled when it was reblogged, liked, and shared on Twitter with everyone raving about the sensual poetry.

A burst of poetic creativity followed, which led to the publication of Utterly Loved, a book of romantic poetry for charity which includes a brilliant foreword written by the inspiring humanitarian and New York Times Bestselling Author Sylvain Reynard. Several other poems not included in Utterly Loved can be found in the poetry category on my blog.

A Most Uplifting Post 

On October 17, 2012, I gave a glimpse into who I am and how I live my life along with suggestions on how to increase your optimism in the post Adventures of an Optimist.

Throughout that day and the next, people contacted me on the blog and social media to let me know how my post brightened their day. To know that I helped others by sharing how I strive to be and stay positive made my day . . . and then some.

My First Guest Blog Post

By October of 2012, I’d posted just over dozen blog posts when I received my first invitation to write a guest post on another blog. The guest post, Embracing Sensuality, appeared Tamie’s blog Bookish Temptations for her one-year blogiversary celebration. I was and still am deeply honored to have been included.

A Glimpse of Heroes

In April 2013, in the wake of the devasting bombing at the Boston Marathon, I was invited by Jenn at Argyle Empire to participate in their fundraising efforts for the Red Cross in support of the bombing victims. As a part of those efforts, I shared an experience from my past with the American Red Cross. I revisited that heart-wrenching night and made a plea for donations to the American Red Cross and the Boston One Fund to support those charties in A Glimpse of Heroes. Jenn and Argyle Empire, thank you for wanting me to be a part of such a worthwhile cause.

Charity Support and Awareness Pages

In June of 2013, I became more involved in using my author platform to benefit charities, especially those that fight against human trafficking, by launching the Charity Support and Awareness pages on my blog and website. The page shares my thoughts and feelings, ways we can all help, and links to their various pages.

Highland Legends: Forged in Dreams and Magick

Throughout the entire year, hints and teasers have been posted about my upcoming release, from the series and book names, to the book description, and ultimately to the Cover Reveal on July 9th through AToMR Tours.

Take a peek at the cover described as “lush” and “stunning” and the description one said “hooked me immediately” for my debut Highlander, time-travel, paranormal romance novel Forged in Dreams and Magick.

~ ~ ~

And . . . there’s one more post I’d like to share as we step off memory lane into the future . . .

Teaser for Forged in Dreams and Magick

I’m thrilled to announce that an exclusive teaser for Forged in Dreams and Magick will be posted on Bookish Temptations on Monday, July 22, 2013. In just two days, that teaser post will mark the two month countdown to the release of Forged in Dreams and Magick on September 23, 2013.

Blogiversary Giveaway

I’m giving away a few party favors to commemorate my Blogiversary. Four winners will be chosen by Random.org. Each of the four winners will win a $25 Amazon gift card AND a signed copy of Utterly Loved!

It’s easy to enter. All you have to do is leave a comment on this Blogiversary post OR leave a comment on the Bookish Temptations’ Forged in Dreams and Magick teaser post. That’s it!
And if you leave a comment on each post? You’ll be entered twice! (Only two entries allowed per person.)

Comments until midnight EST on Thursday July 25, 2013 will qualify for entry to win the giveaway.

~ ~ ~

So leave those comments! I’d love to hear about your favorite moments from my blog over the year.

An enormous thank you to all my friends and followers. Your excitement, support, and love along my adventures on the road to published are deeply heartfelt and tremendously appreciated.

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

Code of Honor

In today’s modern age, when a chivalrous knight appears to protect us from harm, we’re reminded of the value of honor.

Just yesterday such a thing happened to me.  Out of nowhere, a hero stepped up to protect me and had been protecting others in the same manner.

There is no benefit or gain to be had on the hero’s part—only a deep and underlying need to do the honorable thing.  The right thing.

Our society is in dire need of those who adhere to a code of honor.  Honor goes beyond the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have done unto you. 

Honor is recognizing a wrong and doing what you can to make it right. 

Honor is seeing someone in distress…and offering aid. 

Honor is treating others as human beings.

Honor is protecting and supporting the emotional welfare of another.

Honor is respecting the rights of others.

Honor is thinking of another’s needs above our own.

In the harsh world in which we live, where there are villains and natural disasters we cannot always avoid, it’s a bright shining ray of hope when heroes adhere to a code of honor.  But they are not rare…they are everywhere.  We need but only open our eyes.

We become the hero when we step outside ourselves to be aware of and protect others in all ways.  Our loved ones and friends are there for us, looking out for us…even when we do not see the imminent danger.  Warriors, in the form of our military, firefighters, and law enforcement, go out and do battle to protect us and our way of life without ever having met us.

Romance celebrates the code of honor.  We cannot love if we do not step outside of ourselves and extend our hearts to another.  One of my favorite aspects of writing and reading romance is the honor that the characters display…because honor stems from a place of love.

When the hero swoops in to prevent disaster…

When the girl bares her heart to save the wounded man…

When the friend takes a risk to save another…

The road is paved for everyone to seize their happily ever after.

Thank you to all the heroes out there and everyone who celebrates them.  May we all continue to celebrate the code of honor within our hearts, in our friends and loved ones, and in every warrior we’ve never met who protects us in ways we cannot fathom.

We teach honor through actions…may its treasure spread like wildfire.

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion

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 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

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

Book Recommendations From a Finicky Reader

I LOVE reading.  That said, I choose not to read while writing.  My reading abstinence helps me maintain my voice and stay motivated. {whispers} I’m easily distracted.

By the time I’m finally able to read, I’m starving for really great books. I search for the phenomenal reads.  If I find a paranormal romance? I’m in heaven.

After months of editing my paranormal romance manuscript last year, I took my first reading break in late September and read many spectacular books over the holidays. Most were outside my preferred genres.  The experience of stepping outside my comfortable reading box was highly rewarding.  I encourage everyone to do the same.

Books that blew me away among a field of a dozen very good books:

Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard (Romance)
Gabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard (Romance)
Iced by Karen Marie Moning (Fantasy)
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton (Comedy/Romance)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Young Adult/Fantasy)

My first read in late September? Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard. I chose well. In the beginning few pages, compelling writing drew me into the world of Gabriel’s Inferno while I sat in the middle of a chaotic airport. Over the course of a week, I fell in love with the characters, the story, and the author.  Gabriel’s Inferno  instantly became my favorite book and Sylvain Reynard my favorite author. Why? The complexities are great as to the reasons. It’s written differently, which I enjoyed.  The references to art and culture are so plentiful and detailed, I became a student in the professor’s class. Gabriel’s Inferno is a captivating sensual and poignant journey of love, hope and redemption written in a delightfully artistic manner.  A must read.

My second read? Gabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard, of course. I needed more of Gabriel and Julia.  Sylvain Reynard’s second book did not disappoint. Complex storylines emerged and wove together taking the reader on the ultimate journey of self-sacrifice, hope and love. The main character’s continuing transformation in this book, from a man past all hope of redemption to one who has been saved through love of many kinds, is an amazing must read.

The book I’d been waiting almost two years for? Iced by Karen Marie Moning.  I’ll admit I began reading with equal parts excitement and apprehension, as this is the first book in a spin-off series after her phenomenal Fever Series.  Could Moning match the stellar writing and intriguing story from the Fever Series?  Suffice it to say, she eclipsed it.  I couldn’t put the book down.  Her imagination is incredible and her writing and vivid imagery are flawless; you are there in her world. I highly recommend this book if you love fantasy, but to get the full effect, you may want to read her five-book Fever Series first.

A surprise love? Wallbanger by Alice Clayton. I didn’t think I was a fan of romantic comedy. Apparently, I am a huge fan of Alice Clayton’s brand of laughter and love.  What began as Caroline’s midnight irritation, turned into her neighbor’s well-earned nickname, and evolved into a wonderfully fun love story.  I fell in love with the characters and story through Clayton’s well-written humor. Even Clive, the heroine’s cat, had me in stitches.  What captured me the most in Wallbanger is the way the comedy endeared you to the characters.  I share the same sense of humor with the characters and found the exchanges very relatable. I wanted to be at their dinner parties.  In fact, I now find I want to go to Spain.  And bake… :)

An even bigger surprise? Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, my first Young Adult genre read. I’d never ventured into Young Adult, but was not disappointed.  It quickly became clear to me that Laini Taylor is a very special author.  She writes fantasy, a genre that I love, flawlessly.  The story was unique and fresh.  The way she unfolded events had me page-turning until the very end.  If you like fantasy, or even paranormal, I highly recommend this book.

All five of those incredible books are now cherished stories on my Kindle that I’ll be reading again when the time is right.  I hope you enjoy their well-written heartfelt stories as well.  Thank you to all the authors for sharing your imaginative worlds with us.

I’m adding those reviews to my Goodreads Page, which I’m still learning to navigate.  {laughs}  Stop by there and say hello! :)

Please share your thoughts.  What other stellar books have you read?  I need to start a list for my next writing break later this year!

Have a wonderful time reading, my friends!

Your humble shoe,

~ Kat

© 2013 by Kat Bastion