Tying a trilogy together

I don’t know many (read: any) authors who’ve written trilogies. In fact, the mere notion amazes me. Then I met Jean M. Grant. A fellow author at The Wild Rose Press, Jean’s trilogy boxset, The Hundred Trilogy is now available. While each is a terrific standalone read, picking up the set invites you into the distinct world and sweep of history that these novels create.

Scotland, 1263 – 1322

The MacCoinneach family is gifted but afflicted. Deeply rooted powers of healing, feeling, and prophecy run in their bloodline. Descended from the Norse and mystical Ancients of the Isles, they must each face the curses associated with their ability…they must each find the path to love. Norse invasions, Scottish fights for independence, and the plights of the mystical isles’ people come together in “The Hundred Trilogy.”

So, if you’re looking for a good beach read to transport you, in time and place, this summer, check out Jean’s trilogy.

–Karen

A little from Jean on her creative process:

What seemed ages ago, but in the grand scheme of life, only about six or seven years ago, I sat down to write another manuscript. With three “practice” novels written but shelved, I dug into a new story. I changed my time period from 12thto 13th century during the Scottish Wars of Independence, wove a mystical element into the story line, and on some invaluable advice of an agent, worked the heck out of that story to give it twists and turns to excite my reader. In 2017, A Hundred Kisses was born with the publishing house The Wild Rose Press. 

The backstory of the heroine’s parents nagged at me. And guess what? When I looked at the history thirty years prior to the first book (which was 1296, and I looked back to 1263), lo and behold, it was a time rife with Norse-Scottish turmoil. The end of the Viking reign to boot. That story came forth in a flurry, and I found myself contemplating the third book in what was now becoming a trilogy. A Hundred Breaths (the prequel, and book one) released in 2019. Fast-forward to 1322, a time after the Scottish Wars of Independence, and A Hundred Lies was born, wrapping up my trilogy. 

Each story is a standalone, but they can be read in or out of order. Each story tells a tale of a MacCoinneach family member “gifted but afflicted” with a mystical ability that comes at a cost: to heal but lose your own breaths in return, to feel auras/lifebloods but to feel others’ pain, and to see the future but to be unable to prevent the visions unless refraining from touch. Conquering Norse, Scottish lore, Ancient mystics, and invading English…the trilogy has a bit of everything. Can our mystical family hone their gifts for good, escape curses, discover mercy, find home, and find love?

Jean’s background is in science, and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing after children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors. Follow her on Twitter  Facebook  Goodreads  Bookbub  Instagram.

Jean’s Top 10 Things to See in Scotland

What to see if you visit Scotland? Here is my list of must-sees, which might be biased because of my love for nature and history. I visited most of these places while on a trip to Scotland in a rainy September…

  1. The abbeys
  2. The isles
  3. Lochs
  4. Crags & Glens
  5. Standing Stones
  6. Scottish Folk & Pubs
  7. The Lowlands
  8. The Highlands
  9. Highland Games
  10. Castles

The Book We Need Right Now

–From Cathy

You guys, Karen’s new book “Arborview” just got a wonderful endorsement from NY Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond:

“Told with Karen Guzman’s trademark compassion, ARBORVIEW is the book we need right now: poignant, hopeful, and full of heart. A beautiful story about the relationships that shape us and the dreams that save us.”

As an early reader, I can tell you this novel is all this and more–a story of two women from vastly different backgrounds struggling to achieve their dreams and reimagine themselves. And it has pastry! Please keep a lookout here for the big release date and presale information. Congratulations, Karen!

A debut novel dream comes true

Friends, please welcome Lynn Griffin to Write Despite. Lynn’s debut novel comes out this month, courtesy of The Wild Rose Press. Lynn’s journey to publication has been long, but her dedication and passion—and the courage to finally take the submission plunge—have paid off.

And don’t you love her cover?

Take it away, Lynn:

Thank you for allowing me to share a little bit of me. A granny of five who retired expecting to go trekking across the world, only to find herself with a whole new career. This is the Life of Lynn, a project in the making, which by the way is not the title of my debut novel, which is: Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox. A romance with bite and intrigue.

If you don’t mind, I’m going to start out by taking you back to January 2020, when the new terrible, invisible, big bad wolf began to emerge. (COVID-19.)

I was in Spain and about to come home to the U.K. I’d finished my novel, which certainly wasn’t perfect, but it was complete. I’d already decided it would stay in a dark, dusty corner and cogitate its fate. Just like everything else I’ve ever written. My poor, long suffering but supportive husband couldn’t understand why I not only took my laptop away with me, but also had no intentions of sending my work to a publisher. He said, throwing his hands up to the heavens, “What, after all that effort?”

Well, he hadn’t read it for starters. So, what did he know? Plus, who likes rejection? My response was: “It’s a hobby, a passion, I don’t know. What I do know is that I am a compulsive writer.”

I have always written around my full-time paid jobs. Help pay the bills, bring up the family, but I need to write to give the little devils doing a dance in my head the chance to get out and tell their story. 

The other truth behind this mask is that I’ve never had enough confidence to get going. I guess, for fear of a professional reading it and then dying laughing. I didn’t want to be sued for manslaughter! Plus, who likes rejection?

Anyhow, when I came home from Spain, a friend said something that stuck. Please know this is not a direct quote, but in my head it was pretty much: “Get it out there before you pop your clogs, mate!”

I thought about that for a quite a while and wondered, did I want my epitaph to read: “woulda coulda shoulda?”   

Now here’s the thing. I never believed anything would come of it. But I got my ancient Writers Year handbook and began to research appropriate publishers, then checked that they accepted submissions. Here’s a real tip: There is nothing worse than doing a whole heap of work trying to promote your gorgeous baby, when the publishers are not accepting submissions. Even if you think you are the next JK Rowling or Stephen King, they won’t change their minds. It wastes your time and theirs.

Back to the dreadful process, I had to write the smartest, shiniest interview on earth. That’s what submission are. Interviews. I hate them. And none of the requirements are the same! Plus, they prevent you from writing the stuff you really want to write. It’s also important to note that publishers generally tell you not to send your work anywhere else or let them know if you do!

Anyway. Months passed, and rejection loomed. Then something stirred in my gut, and I decided to nudge this one particular publisher again. I was polite and to the point, especially as they didn’t state, like some do: “If you don’t hear back within three months, clear off.” That’s so harsh. Not taking the time to let you know. Leave you in limbo. Oh, and yes, I know they’re busy. 

Anyhow my email went something like this: 

“Did they receive my enquiry. If they were not interested, could they please let me know so I could move on. Thank you.”

Yup, as simple as that.

I couldn’t believe it when an email bounced back, almost instantly, bearing in mind the time difference, Eastern Standard Time, New York, with something like: “No, didn’t receive, can’t find it, can you resend? President/Editor-in-Chief” 

Can you imagine! Seriously? I didn’t send it? What a plonker. Was it still floating around in the ether? All this time wasted, wondering! And YES, I know my IT skills are rubbish! Hey ho. Of course, I’ll resend. I wasn’t about to argue now, was I?

Another email arrived shortly after – again from the President/Editor-in-Chief : 

“…will pass on to Editor!” Surely that couldn’t be right? I thought it must be a scam. I had to check them out again. But here I am almost twelve months later, contract in hand and a July 21, 2021, release date for my debut novel.

So, that’s part of my story. But there is so much more. I’ve started a blog. Just a little hints and tips along the way, with the aim of supporting and encouraging budding writers. If you are published, you know how hard the journey is. If you don’t already, I encourage you to support other budding writers. If you are new to all of this, please know that I had a dream that before I died, I would get a book out there. If I can do it, then so can you. Have faith in yourself, you can do it, and thank you for reading.

From Secrets, Shame, and a Shoebox:

“Harriet felt the tell-tale gust of wind from the ink-black cave. The train was coming. A strand of hair came loose from her plait, flicking her face as debris skittered along the dais. The train was imminent. People throw themselves in front of trains all the time…

Also available through Barnes and Noble.

Follow Lynn on her blog, on Instagram, and on Twitter.

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!