‘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:

Are beta readers worth the trouble?

Hello and welcome to the newly updated Write Despite. Cathy and I have finally given our blog a facelift. Yeah, it was long overdue. Please poke around the redesigned pages, take note of our tweaked mission statement, and share your feedback.

To kick off the redesign, novelist Randy Overbeck shares his take on the care, feeding, and invaluable contributions of early-stage readers.

–Karen

Take it away Randy:


I’ve spoken with a number of authors who have raised questions about beta readers. To clarify, when we say beta readers, we’re referring to readers who read an early manuscript, either in part or whole, and provide feedback. Some writers find these early readers unreliable, unhelpful, or sometimes even distracting.

For me, beta readers have been an integral part of bringing my manuscripts to fruition. Over the past several years, I’ve developed a process involving beta readers that has provided insights about my work I could never have gotten on my own. Along the way, I’ve learned a few lessons about what works—and what doesn’t—when it comes to beta readers:

You’re going to need more than one. I’ve found it helpful to have several individuals respond to my early work. Over the years I’ve cultivated a cadre of 10-12 readers. Since I want to learn how different readers might respond, it’s helpful to solicit multiple readers. I often get different perspectives and varying insights. I’ve also learned that some beta volunteers don’t end up actually reading my manuscript; life gets in the way, and I understand that. Recruiting several betas insures I can get the feedback I’m looking for.

Beta readers don’t substitute for a writer’s critique group. My beta readers are not writers; they’re readers. I don’t ask my beta readers to check my grammar—though there is usually one grammar Nazi in the group who likes to do this—improve my style or check on my voice or tense. I ask them to respond as readers, to aspects like plot and character or setting. Did anything catch their eye or stop them in their tracks or interfere with their reading?

Beta readers need to know what you expect of them. When I share a section of my manuscript, I try to be very specific with what I want betas to respond to. Along with the pages, they receive a set five to six questions. (As a long-time educator, my habit of giving homework lives on.) Of course, one of these questions is always very open-ended, so betas can share whatever they want to say. My betas seem to appreciate the direction, and I usually get the feedback I’m looking for.

Like everything else in life, beta readers do best with a set timeline. I’ve learned that my beta readers respond better when I give them an expected date to complete their review, usually about two weeks. Some will read the manuscript in a day or two and respond immediately, while others will wait until the “deadline” to finish their reading and respond.

It’s important your readers aren’t simply “yes men.” (Please forgive the gender blunder.) When I recruit beta readers, I try to make sure I have readers who will not be afraid to give me bad news. “That scene did not work.” “That description was too much. I found myself skimming to get to the action.” I’m careful to receive their responses, especially critical ones, in a positive manner. I encourage my betas to be candid and let them know that’s why I’m giving them an advance peak at my writing.

When possible, I try to give beta readers a chance to come together and discuss their reading and responses. (This was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, of course.) Over the years, I’ve tried to arrange a get-together—usually after work at a quiet restaurant—for local betas. They seem to enjoy comparing responses and, once they start discussing aspects about the narrative, they often provide me more than what they’ve written down. Also, some betas simply like to tell me some things face-to-face.

I’m confident that insights from my beta readers have helped make my writing clearer, more engaging and more accurate. I acknowledged their contributions at the start of both my published novels. I wouldn’t dream of writing my next mystery without their feedback. And… I’m always looking for new beta readers, so feel free to reach out.

www.authorrandyoverbeck.com

randyoverbeck@authorrandyoverbeck.com

@OverbeckRandy

FB: Author Randy Overbeck

Write your novel in 2021 with online course beginning in January

Is 2021 the year you’re finally going to buckle down and crank out that novel? If so, you’re in luck. Novelist and teacher Michelle Richmond has an online course designed to take you from inspiration to first draft, with help and guidance every step of the way.

Check out the details and get going! There’s a five-month and a nine-month option. Courses begin the first week of January.

Give yourself the gift of mentorship and invest in your writing this year.

–Karen

Karen’s new novel to be published in 2021

I have the most wonderful news. My new novel, Arborview, will be published next year.

Yes, you heard right. The contract has been signed. Final edits are underway, and so is the cover design. The Wild Rose Press, a well established and growing publisher, has purchased the rights, and I’m working with a super supportive and generous editor.

I’m still pinching myself. It’s a magical way to kick off the holiday season, and some good news to cap off a year that’s been so difficult for all of us.

I don’t have a release date yet, but it will be in 2021, and I’ll keep you all posted. While I’m on that theme, I want to thank the friends and colleagues who’ve helped me bring this book–which has been in the works for six years–to life. They know who they are, and I’ve got a hefty “Acknowledgements” section in the novel.

It goes without saying that Cathy has been on this ride from the beginning, through multiple revisions and moments of hair-tearing doubt. She is irreplaceable, and the best editor I’ll ever have. I’m not going to say I love her, because she already knows it.

Writing a novel is like running a marathon. You dig deep and push with all you have. Now we’re crossing the finish line.

It isn’t every day dreams come true. Thanks for being part of mine.

Here’s hoping the blessings of the holiday season–large and small–bring us all comfort this year.

–Karen

How to START writing a novel

feet

Summertime. The days are long and lovely, and the grill is fired up.

But what’s that? You say the time has come, at last, to write your novel. You’ve got a story. You want to tell it. You just have one question:  how, in the name of all that’s sane and just, do you begin?

chapter 1

Good question. And you’re in luck. Best-selling novelist Michelle Richmond addresses this very thing in a recent blog post. I’m always happy to plug Michelle, because she runs the small press that published my debut a few years back, and because she’s a super helpful and compassionate human being. She’s also a true friend to writers, whatever their career stage.

A snippet from Michelle on diving into the novel waters:

“Get past thinking, ‘I’m writing a novel.’ Instead, tell yourself, ‘I’m writing a few words today’ or ‘I’m writing a piece of my novel today.’ Writing a novel is a daunting challenge and a major, time-consuming endeavor. Looking from the starting line to the finish line, miles away, can be mentally paralyzing. The only way to start your novel without psyching yourself out is to break it up into small, daily tasks. Approach each day as a mini-project, not a major project. The mini-project is your scene, your chapter, or your page for that day.” Read the rest.

Good luck, friends, and be gentle with yourself. You’re embarking on a courageous journey.

write your book

–Karen

 

Essay for a new day

I’ve been a journalist and a fiction writer. But essays? Not since school, and that was more, well, academic in nature.

I don’t know exactly what possessed me when I learned the Collegeville Institute was looking to build up its stable of freelance essay writers. I love the Collegeville Institute and its mission, and I think my heart just leapt at the prospect of being a part of it.

I’m thrilled to have published my latest this month. Take a look. I think the photo they chose way overshadows my essay, but in a good way.

mt-equinox-flickr-768x512

Essay writing has been such a gift. It’s an unexpected platform, one whose benefits and challenges I am just beginning to understand. I feel lucky, blessed, to have stumbled upon this opportunity to write—in a different way—about the things that move, and resonate with, me.

The “me” part is a big leap. Writing as yourself—for fiction writers—can be a bit unnerving. But it can also be liberating and empowering. One of the reasons we write in the first place, I think, is to have the sheer pleasure, to experience the power, of matching our thoughts with just the right words. The pleasure of saying what you mean.

Essays are challenging in different ways than fiction. But some of the benefits are similar. They help me think through issues and sharpen and organize my understanding. In a nutshell, they help me make sense of it all. Isn’t that what writing is for?

Anyone else out there dabbling in a new different genre? Let us know.

Write well, friends.
–Karen

In the beginning

The first 10 pages make or break your novel manuscript. Why? Well, as we’ve all been told (and in truth have probably experienced), no one reads beyond them if they’re not great.

And that goes double for agents and editors, who are wondering how they’re going to sell the thing.

In other words, your opening has to rock. I’m overhauling mine for the umpteenth time right now, and it’s moving along. Something is happening. It’s kicking and wiggling and strutting a bit. But rocking? I dunno.

images

I come now seeking advice. What hooks you in a novel’s opening pages? What makes you keep reading? What turns you off? Please share in our “comments” section.

Cathy has already weighed in, of course, and her advice—as usual—was spot on. Cathy has a new publication of her own, just out this week. The opening of her novel-in-progress is featured in Embark: A Literary Journal for Novelists. This nifty journal is dedicated to novel openings, and it’s becoming a go-to for agents seeking new clients. Congrats, Cath! Check out her piece. It’s going to grow into one helluva book.

Screen Shot 2020-01-15 at 9.14.39 AM

Write Well, Friends and Happy New Year

–Karen