Talking pastry and new novels on Jean Grant’s blog

Hey All,

Please check out my guest appearance on Jean M. Grant’s terrific blog today. Hear more about my forthcoming novel, “Arborview,” and why I LOVE pastry so much; and learn that my desk looks like a mess!

—Karen

Goodbye workshop, hello galley proof

The galley proof for my new novel, Arborview, arrived just as I returned from my Collegeville Institute writing fellowship this week. My editor sent the galley with explicit instructions to proof carefully. This is the final step before publication. It’s the last chance to catch typos, misspellings, and all the little dings that make you cringe when you see them in print.

But before I dive in, I want to share some of the key takeaways from my workshop, which was led by writing coach Michael McGregor. It was such a rich, vibrant experience, exploring writing and faith and the many ways they can intersect. Our group of 12 included poets, essayists, nonfiction writers, fiction writers, and clergy members. So many perspectives, so much talent—I have pages of notes to mull over. And I miss everyone already.

I definitely miss my workshop writing spot:

Here are some insights and inspirations from the week that really hit home. I hope they help you, too:

  • Writing needs to be human, above all.
  • Whatever is withheld, is lost.
  • Hardness of heart is, in fact, weakness. Open yourself up to what’s really inside.
  • Spiritual lives are ever renewed and ever fresh.
  • When working with language, strive for what is true, necessary, and possible.
  • As writers, we are trying to capture, in words, a fleeting reality that is constantly rushing past us.
  •  A good story doesn’t resolve, but it finds a place to rest.
  • Be wise on the page. We tend to denigrate our own wisdom. We don’t put it out on the page. We hide it. You have to dare to be wise, to make a statement that is wise on the page. Those are the gems that stick with people. – Michael N. McGregor
  • Feeling stuck, discouraged? To infuse your writing with a sense of joy, try this little exercise: write about something you truly love. Whether it’s your child, or chocolate chip cookies, capture on paper all the beauty and connection and meaning it brings.

Write well, friends.

–Karen

A little slice of heaven
Hope to return next year!

Writing Fellowship Starts Tomorrow!

Friends,

I am so, so excited to begin my weeklong writing fellowship at the amazing Collegeville Institute tomorrow! One week to do nothing but write, make new writer friends, and work with author Michael McGregor in individual coaching sessions!

Yes, I’m still pinching myself. Yes, I’m feeling pretty blessed to have been selected!

More when I return!

Write well,

Karen

A little blog fun, and a release date coming soon…

Hey!

Author DV Stone was kind enough to feature “Arborview” and me on her blog, in a fun feature, today. Take a peek. Looks like I’m going to have a September release! I’m waiting on the date…
Cheers,
Karen

Take a Peek Through the Window with Karen Guzman


‘Stop making excuses and start making plans’

The road to publication took debut author Belinda Scott from a love of reading to writing advanced review copy critiques to, finally, penning her own story. The moral? Follow that dream, even when the path is long and uncertain.

Please welcome Belinda, more formerly known as “Elisabeth,” to Write Despite.

Thank you, Karen, for having me on your blog. I’m really excited to be here. Honestly, it makes me feel like a “real” author. Sometimes I still find it hard to believe I actually wrote a novel. I have been a homeschool mom for the last decade and was a substance abuse counselor before that. I don’t think I’m exactly in the ballpark of what most people think about when they hear the term author—actually, I’m not even what I think about when I hear the word author—yet here I am. 

My path to becoming an author started out with just a love of reading. As a child and teen, our small-town library couldn’t keep up with me. Every week I’d walk out with a stack of books until eventually I’d struggle to find anything I hadn’t read. Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden were my favorites and sparked my love of mysteries and danger. 

As an adult, I continued to read at the rate of almost a novel per day, and the cost of my reading habit began to rival the car payment. Well, not exactly, but it was expensive. Thankfully, I found an online site that linked reviewers with authors and publishers who needed advance readers. My world opened up, as I found so many new and interesting authors, and my book shortages were no more. I was happy, and my budget was, too.

Through writing reviews, I began to interact with authors and receive personal requests to review new books. I joined ARC teams and eventually was asked to become a beta reader for an independent author. She and I became friends over the course of several novels, and I eventually ended up becoming her amateur content editor. Working with her was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Editing spicy scenes can certainly lead to some hilariously inappropriate conversations. 

My friend encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing my own novel, and when the pandemic caused us all to be shut away with nothing else to do, I gave it a try. Twelve weeks later, Thirteen Scars was born. I started out by sending a query, synopsis, and sample to my top seven publishers. Two sent rejection letters, but then my editor with The Wild Rose Press contacted me asking for a bigger sample and eventually the whole manuscript. A contract followed, and this week I was given my official release date: July 7, 2021.

I am a classic example of how following your dreams can lead you to some surprising places. I had no budget, no connections, and no real knowledge of what I was doing. All I had was an outdated computer and a dream. I never expected to have a published book or to be halfway through writing a second, so for those of you who are still dreaming, I say stop making excuses and start making plans. Tackle those dreams and see where they take you!

Connect with Belinda:

https://www.facebook.com/EScottauthor

https://www.instagram.com/escottauthor

Video game wisdom and the road to publication

Breaking into the publishing business is no small feat. Perseverance and strategy are key, but video games—of all things—can offer unexpected insight, as Steven J. Kolbe discovered. Steven’s debut novel, How Everything Turns Away, is forthcoming from The Wild Rose Press. Please welcome Steven to Write Despite. Find him on Instagram @stevenjkolbe.

Some years ago, I became rather discouraged about my writing life. I read voraciously, wrote even more voraciously, and even chose creative writing as my college major. While I published a poem in high school and an interview with a U.S. poet laureate my freshman year of college, my accomplishments dwindled from there. A few years out of college, I began to doubt if this writing thing was going to happen.

Then my wife Susan did me a great favor. She convinced me to get a Wii. Now, I am not a gaming person. I played video games as a kid, but quickly my interests diverged. By middle school, I only played one if a friend really wanted to play—and then they would beat me miserably, of course.

However, as an adult, it was fun to return to the old world of Mario and Luigi, this time with fancy motion-sensor remotes. Around this same time, my friend Geoff, a New Orleans poet, introduced me to a website called Duotrope. This website catalogues different literary journals and magazines. It organizes them by genre, print or online, pay, and, most importantly, acceptance rates. Immediately, I realized my error. All the journals I’d been submitting to had less-than one percent acceptance rates. 

I had a revelation: What if I approached my writing career the same way one approaches a video game—not with the hardest level first, but the easiest? Looking through Duotrope and thinking about Mario Brothers, I had a paradigm shift. I decided to send my recent stories to journals with only high acceptance rates. It worked. I placed nearly all of them within a few months. After that, I took on slightly more selective journals, and so on. 

When it came to finding a home for my debut mystery novel, How Everything Turns Away, I checked out a copy of Writer’s MarketI chose a wide variety of agencies and publishers to send my manuscript to. In this way, I found The Wild Rose Press, an independent publisher with a wide range of authors and a stellar reputation. I began working with Kaycee John, who has been a lifesaver for my manuscript. She gave me copious notes on my sample chapters and has been working with me over the last year to take How Everything Turns Away from a manuscript to a novel.

‘Show Australia Some Love’: anthology aids wildfire victims

Please welcome author Sydney Winward to Write Despite. Sydney was among a spirited and caring cadre of writers from The Wild Rose Press who took part in an amazing fundraiser to benefit the victims of the 2019-20 wildfires in Australia.

It’s always inspiring to see writers–and publishers—using their talents to help others. Please check out the anthologies and lend a hand.

From Sydney:

Hi, Karen. Thanks for having me on your blog! Today’s topic is one filled with heavy loss and grief, and has broken the hearts of many. The Australian wildfires affected many people, even those not living in Australia. To see both people and animals lose their homes is heartbreaking. Thousands of homes burned down. Koalas, kangaroos, and other animals alike couldn’t find shelter or water, not to mention the millions of animals that lost their lives to the fires. It was awful and saddening, with a devastating, continuous impact on the country. It pulled on the heartstrings of not only the Australian people, but the entire world. 

Although most of us couldn’t be out there with the brave firefighters in their efforts to put out the raging wildfires, we found our own way to give back with our own unique skill sets. Stephen B. King, an Australian author at The Wild Rose Press, came up with the idea of putting together an anthology, whose profits would go toward the fires. The idea received such an overwhelming response that there wasn’t enough room to put everyone’s stories into one anthology, and had to be broken into three anthologies.

women’s fiction, thrillers, and mystery

My own story, Born of Fangs, is in volume three, a short paranormal story about two of my favorite characters, Willow and Adam, and the romance they share when love between a vampire and a human is frowned upon. It’s a bonus chapter after Bloodborn that I hoped my readers might enjoy.

I am humbled to be a part of the Australia Burns Anthology project with so many talented and compassionate writers. It warms my heart to have seen many people step up and come together to provide relief for those affected by the Australian fires. It’s amazing to see how much love the human race has for each other and animals!

Novel Cover Reveal!

My publisher has just revealed the cover for my forthcoming novel, “Arborview.” I really and truly love it. The designer captured the spirit of the book so well.

It’s a little nerve-wracking waiting for your cover, hoping that the publisher’s vision meshes with your vision, especially since the publisher — who’s paying for all this — has the final call! I couldn’t be more pleased.

Publication date coming soon, stay tuned…

Cheers,

Karen

A debut novel finds a home

Please welcome debut novelist Jacquie May Miller to Write Despite. Jacquie is a businessperson who’s now embarking on a second career as a novelist. She’s an inspiration for everyone trying to land that first book deal, and her novel’s got a killer title!

–Karen

Take it away, Jacquie…

Thank you, Karen, for inviting me to your blog. I am so excited to share my story with you and soon with the rest of the world. My women’s fiction novel, The Price of Secrets, will be released April 7, 2021.

My journey to publication took a little longer than most—I’m over 60 (not saying how far over)—but I’m as excited as I was when I published my first article in the Nosy Neighborhood News at age eleven. Perhaps that’s an understatement—I’m over the moon! It only took about fifty more years to land a contract with The Wild Rose Press. 

To be fair, I wasn’t trying for the first forty, I was using the left side of my brain managing my business. But about ten years ago, after spending most of my life making a living, I decided to make a life. I started putting words on paper, or cyber paper— scratches in a notebook, notes on loose scraps of paper, ramblings on my computer—that seemed to be forming a story.

With the help of my critique group, various writing classes and some wonderful writing conferences, my first draft was transformed into something worthy of publication.

Or was it?  After knocking on many doors, i.e., querying by email and pitching in-person, The Wild Rose Press answered the door. My editor opened it juuuust wide enough to ask me to consider a few changes, then gently closed it again. Her suggestions were correct and after a few revisions, I tried again, and the door swung wide open.

I am now a “Rose” in a garden full of welcoming authors. I couldn’t be happier to share my publication journey with the wonderful people associated with The Wild Rose Press, Inc. Thank you again for inviting me to your blog.

If you’d like to know more about me or my path to publishing The Price of Secrets, please check out my blog, www.jmaydaze.com.   

Wondering what you’ll find inside my book? Here’s a teaser:

When Jamie Crandall left Seattle for college twenty-five years ago, she was pregnant. Her mother demanded she have an abortion or get the hell out of Seattle and never come back. Jamie chose the latter, using her scholarship to UC Berkeley to disappear with the son she refused to abort. But now, twenty-five years later, everything has changed. Her mother has died, and Jamie is coming home to face the father of her son. Reuniting her son and his father will come at a high price though…Jamie has one more secret left to reveal.

From horses to dogs…and a plug for my new novel!

Thanks to novelist Darlene Fredette for giving my forthcoming novel, Arborview, its first bit of early publicity. Darlene has dubbed this month February Fur-ever, and she’s featuring writers and their dogs on her cool blog, Finding the Write Words.

Check out my pup Walker and me, and read a blurb about Arborview.

Cheers — Karen

Obligatory cute dog pic: