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Welcome

Welcome!

I write. I drink tea. And I live my life to the fullest, knowing that my abilities come from God.

My name is Kayla Ann, I’m an author who just recently released her first non-fiction book with McFarland Publishing House (2020). Agency in the Hunger Games: Desire, Intent, and Action in the Novels takes a scholarly look at why readers love Suzanne Collins’ famous series The Hunger Games. At its heart, my book comes to the conclusion that we, like Collins’ characters, are looking for agency, for the ability to control our desires and actions regardless of internal and external influences.

I am currently in the querying process for my current #WIP which is a Norse-inspired YA Fantasy. Stay tuned!

I have been writing short stories, fiction, poetry, and non-poetry my whole life. My first short story, “Kate the Pirate,” written in second grade was only the beginning of a long and wonderful journey. At a young age, I was dedicated to eventually become a published and established author. However, as any writer may know, this is not as easy as it seems. This wonderful world of writing is also complex and sometimes exhausting. So in this blog I will be offering up Writing Tips, Writing/Poetry competitions, excerpts of my own work, and my own experiences in the hope of encouraging other authors to continue on creating wondrous worlds of their own.

Feel free to hit me up in the comments with any questions you might have about writing.

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©KaylaAnnAuthor2020

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Uncategorized

November Update 2022

It’s been a hot second since I have been able to post on my blog! Being a mom to a toddler, an English teacher, and an author leaves very little time to do much else besides survive. I’m going to do my best, however, to update this space semi-regularly as a place holder for my “Newsletter” until I have that up and running.

Right now, I am primarily active on Instagram and foresee myself continuing this moving forward. Although I love the depth of WordPress, there is simply not enough time in my day to create and post quality blog articles as I used to. If any of my friends on WordPress have an Instagram, please come find me so that we can reconnect! If any of my friends on Instagram are reading this, please follow my WordPress in case anything should happen to my Insta account (as we all were affected by that major, scary glitch that happened last week)!

Enough background, time for the update!

I am currently focusing all of my creative energies into my WIP The Runic Saga. Here’s a short blurb:

In a world brimming with Norse mythology, ancestral magic, and mystic runes, Larissa has no time to dwell on the stories of old. Not with a monthly quota to meet and a second-born sister to hide.

-Kayla Ann Author

I have completed book one, WELL OF DREAMS, at a whopping 118,000 words! …Unfortunately, that is apparently a major turn-off for most agents as I have learned from my various rejections over the past couple of months. NOTHING about the querying process has been easy, but I am grateful that I finally had one agent help me narrow down the problem. Apparently, for debut authors/novels, most agents won’t risk it on a mansucript that is beyond 80,000 words. So let’s just say, I’ve got my work cut out for me to start trimming!

In other news, I am currently drafting book two, WELL OF ASH which is at 65,000 words, and only at the half point. So, unless I’m allowed to have more words in a second book, it looks like I’ll need some major edits for book two as well!

Moving forward, I am going to dive into some deep edits of book one while continuing to draft book two. If you are interested in joining me on my journey or watching me make of fool of myself with author reels, check me out on Instagram @kaylaannauthor

Happy Writing Everyone!

Writing Tips

Highlighting Rejection: Louisa May Alcott

To my fellow authors, I know that rejection letter stings. I know that it sinks down into your mind and heart. It makes you doubt whether you should even continue writing. DON’T LET IT. Rejection now does not mean rejection later and it certainly does not mean rejection forever. Let me share with you some well-known authors who experienced rejection themselves!

Perhaps the name Louisa May Alcott rings a bell in your ears? Alcott was the author of Little Women. The novel follows the lives of four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. These women are loosely based on the women in Alcott’s own life. According to VanityFair, “More than a century after it was first published, the March sisters still galvanize readers, writers, and Hollywood producers.”

However, Alcott received one of the harshest rejection letters of her time when Publisher James T. Fields rejected her work and advised her, “Stick to your teaching, Miss Alcott. You can’t write” (Boston Women’s Heritage Trail). If you saw the latest movie remake, Little Women, you saw first hand the treatment that Jo received for her writing.

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What might have happened if Alcott had allowed these insults to change her mind? She never would have published her novels that still bless our screens today!

After her success, Louisa herself wrote, “Twenty years ago, I resolved to make the family independent if I could. At forty that is done. Debts all paid, even the outlawed ones, and we have enough to be comfortable. It has cost me my health, perhaps; but as I still live, there is more for me to do, I suppose” (Boston Women’s Heritage Trail).

Try and try again, it’s all that we can do!

Have you been rejected before, or does the world of traditional publishing seem too intimidating to venture into just yet? Let me know in the comments below!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Highlighting Rejection Day 3: Robert Galbraith (J.K. ROWLING)

To my fellow authors, I know that rejection letter stings. I know that it sinks down into your mind and heart. It makes you doubt whether you should even continue writing. DON’T LET IT. Rejection now does not mean rejection later and it certainly does not mean rejection forever. Let me share with you some well-known authors who experienced rejection themselves!

Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym used by J.K. Rowling who wished to separate her thriller novels from her famous children’s series, Harry Potter. Many people are already aware of both J.K. Rowling’s struggles as an author and of her success. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was turned down twelve times and the thirteenth editor only published it because his daughter wanted to know what happened next. He encouraged J.K. Rowling to “not quit her day job.

In theaters alone, J.K. Rowling’s movie adaptations of her novels earned her 3.2 billion dollars (Movie Mojo). Quite obviously, Rowling could easily quit her day job and focus solely on her writing.

When Rowling finally wrapped up Harry Potter and decided to move on to other books, she used the name Robert Galbraith and was rejected AGAIN by one of the same publishing companies who TURNED HER DOWN BEFORE.

j.k. rowling tweet

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes, our work needs improvement (probably most of the time), but sometimes, the publishers aren’t the right fit. The hard part is, we rarely get to know the reasons behind the rejection so the best thing we can do is work to perfect our writing and be persistent in getting it out there!

Try and try again, it’s all that we can do!

Have you been rejected before, or does the world of traditional publishing seem too intimidating to venture into just yet? Let me know in the comments below!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Highlighting Rejection: Dr. Suess

To my fellow authors, I know that rejection letter stings. I know that it sinks down into your mind and heart. It makes you doubt whether you should even continue writing. DON’T LET IT. Rejection now does not mean rejection later and it certainly does not mean rejection forever. Let me share with you some well-known authors who experienced rejection themselves!

Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, is one of the most successful children’s author in the world. His well-know works include Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat and the Hat, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Many of his books have been remained into cartoons which were later remained into live-action movies. And now, even his movies are being reanimated closer to their original form.

Needless to say, his success is obvious everywhere!
However, it wasn’t always that way. Did you know the Dr. Seuss’s first children’s book,  And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Streetwas rejected twenty-seven different times!

In fact, he had almost given up on getting his book published at all! It was only due to a chance encounter with a friend, who had recently become an editor, that Theodor Geisel ever became Dr. Seuss.

Can you imagine though, what would have happened, if Theodor had been too broken by his recent rejections to even mention his book to his friend? What would Christmas look like without his classic tale?


If Dr. Seuss, the genius behind children’s stories, can take twenty-seven different rejections and keep moving forward, so can I and so can you!

Try and try again, it’s all that we can do!

Have you been rejected before, or does the world of traditional publishing seem too intimidating to venture into just yet? Let me know in the comments below!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Finding an Agent

As I am walking through this difficult, oops typo, lovely querying process where I am laying my heart on the line and praying it does not get trampled (or worse, left lying there completely ignored with no closure), I figured I would share my experiences, tips, and tricks with any hopeful authors out there! So today, let’s talk about agents.

Do You Need An Agent?

Yes. If you are looking for traditional publishing with the majority of traditional publishing houses. It is extremely rare, in my experience, for publishing houses to welcome unsolicited manuscripts. In other words, publishing houses have become so overwhelmed with new authors that they needed a way to weed through the submissions so that they are only looking at the best of the best. At the most basic level, an agent basically backs your claim and tells the publishing house “yes, this is a good book, you should read it.”

How Do I Find An Agent?

Not all agents are created equal; just as all writers are unique in their own respects. You cannot and should not just mass query dozens of agents hoping that one sticks without doing your research FIRST. Yes, you heard me, research! Many agents have specific requirements for what they are searching for, how to query them, and whether or not they are even accepting queries at the time. If you just find a random listing of agents and hit mass send, your odds of success are nearly zero. (I only say nearly, because, hey, people win the lottery every day).

Here are some steps:

  1. Start by identifying which agents match your books’ needs. Search reputable lists such as: Poets & Writers (which I found recommended from a publishing house I would love to partner with one day). There is also Publisher’s Marketplace & Query Tracker (although it does cost to get all of the benefits of these sites). Of the two, I have found Publisher’s Marketplace to be more user-friendly and filled with great information! Publisher’s Marketplace tends to work better when you have a specific agent in mind that you want more information on. Literary Rambles has some excellent interviews with agents, what they’re looking for, and how to submit! I love that I can “hear” from so many agents about what they are personally looking for.
  2. With every agent, search for key words that match your book (for example, I searched for Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction). Immediately that took my search from hundreds of agents to dozens. Then I began reading more about the agents to see what type of fiction they were interested in by reading their bios and looking up books they had previously helped the authors get published.
  3. Once you narrow it down, read the agent’s query instructions CAREFULLY. Many agents will bluntly tell you that if you do not follow their instructions, your query will be tossed. Some agents may be on a temporary pause in receiving queries, and once again, straight into the trash your query goes. I know it’s exciting to send your work out into the world, but go slowly, do it correctly, or you may throw away the perfect opportunity.

Questions about finding an agent that’s right for you? Comment below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

How to Write a Query Letter (Querying)

In my post titled “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?,” I discussed the necessity of writing the author’s bio, query letter, and book synopsis. My plan is to share my experiences with each of these items as I walk through this process of publishing my YA Fantasy Fiction WIP. Let’s deal with the second of these items today: the query letter.

What is a query letter?

Such a simple question, with a seemingly simple answer, and yet I have also found that the answer can sometimes change based on who you are querying. For the majority of the time, however, a query letter is your chance to tell the agent a little about you, but mostly about your book. It’s your attempt to sell your agent on your book before they ever even look (or request) at your manuscript). If you don’t sell your book here, it’s over.

With that being said, a query letter is clearly important, but how do you write one?

What elements does a query letter typically include?

  1. Greeting
    • Start with “Dear ____________” and find the specific name to your specific agent. You want them to get to know you? Take the time to get to know them. Do. The. Research.
      • This isn’t the place to be super creative or superfluous. It really is that simple and nothing to get overtly fancy with.
  2. Book Information
    • This is the most important part of your entire query (sorry for the panic attack I just triggered). You need to introduce your story, your main protagonist, and the major conflict of the story. Think of this almost like a back cover blurb but more. This should be around 3 paragraphs long (under 300 words). Paragraph One introduces your world and main character. Paragraph Two introduces the conflict. Paragraph Three introduces the stakes if the protagonist fails. My best advice on how to write this section?
      • READ OTHER QUERIES (look at my link below for Query Shark where you can read other queries and critical responses to said queries)
  3. Author Bio (Short)
    • Your last paragraph should include the title of your book in CAPS, word count, genre, and comparable comps (if applicable, especially if asked for). Finish your last paragraph with a short author bio (many agents will ask for a full author’s bio apart from the general query letter). If you have already provided a full author bio, keep this short with a “While I’m not writing, I am blahblahblahblahblah (try to sell yourself a bit with something interesting) (2-3 sentences).
      • If you haven’t already provided a full author’s bio, go and read my “How to Write an Author’s Bio” post
  4. Closing
    • Again, less is more.
      • “Thank you for your time and consideration.”
      • Sincerely, First and Last Name
      • Email
      • Phone Number
      • Social Media Handles (if applicable)
    • That’s it. You don’t need to tell them you’re willing to send the rest of your manuscript (they know).

One last thing, keep it brief. As in, you must absolutely remain under 500 words brief.

Here are a few querying articles that I found particularily helpful during my own research that I highly recommend!

I’m thinking about accepting queries through my blog and reviewing them for fellow authors. Would you be interested in sending me a query so that I could review it?

Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

How to Write an Author’s Bio (Querying)

In my post titled “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?,” I discussed the necessity of writing the author’s bio, query letter, and book synopsis. There are many amazing articles out there about the author’s bio and I encourage you to read those that I’ve linked at the bottom of my post! Today’s post is meant to give you a practical way to start writing your bio right now, let’s begin!

What is the Author’s Bio?

When you are querying, an author’s bio is different than the blurb about the author you might find on the inside book jacket of your published work or the one you post on your social media sites. The purpose of the Author’s Bio during querying is to give the agents a sense of who you are, your credentials, your personality, your voice, etc. In a way, you are selling yourself, rather than your book.

Although some agents may request an author’s bio, some may never read it, but it’s always a good thing to have one at the ready!

Writing the Author’s Bio:

First, start by introducing yourself in first person instead of third. Yup, it’s weird, but it is the preferred point of view. Instead of saying, “Kayla Ann is the author of Agency in the Hunger Games,” I would write, “My name is Kayla Ann, and I am the author of Agency in the Hunger Games.”

Second, share your current job, educational background, writing credentials, etc. that are relevant to your writing. For instance, as a teacher of English, I am ideally situated to converse with my target audience (YA) daily! My Master’s degree in English Literature and my Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing demonstrate my familiarity with story-telling and hard work ethic. I also recommend including one line of personal information that makes you stand out or gives your bio more personality.

Third, if you have ever published before, let them know! If you have a strong social media following, share it! Writing awards or even minor publications, add them in!

Here’s the catch though: your author’s bio should be between 100-200 words. That’s it. So if you have a lot to share, narrow it down to the most impressive (and truthful) information.

Keep it straight forward, snappy, formal, and yet flavored with your own personality. Simple, right?

Writer’s Relief has a great detailed article all about an author’s bio if you are wanting more information: How to Write the Perfect Author Bio for Your Book’s Query Letter.

Here’s another great blog post that I found helpful: Writing a Compelling Author Bio

Now it’s your turn to try! Drop your Author’s Bio in the comments below and I’ll let you know what I think!

If you drop your bio, please make sure to comment on someone else’s also!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Beta Readers: Who are they? What should they do?

In one of my previous posts titled “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?,” I brought up the idea of Beta-Readers. I’m sure many of you are familiar with these lovely entities, but for those of you who are not, let me answer a few pressing questions in today’s post.

  • What are Beta Readers?
  • Who are Beta Readers?
  • What should Beta Readers do?
  • What types of questions should you ask Beta Readers?
  • Should you pay Beta Readers?

WHAT are Beta Readers?

In general, a Beta Reader is test reader of your finished (but unpublished) manuscript.

WHO are Beta Readers?

Beta Readers can be friends, family members, members from your writing community, or others. Typically, you want to find a beta reader who you are familiar enough with that you trust them with your manuscript and to be kind in their response, but also someone who you know is honest enough to give you real feedback. In other word, if your mom is going to tell you that everything is great (even when it is not), you probably need to find a different Beta Reader.

For me, one of my chosen Beta Readers was my cousin who is right smack dab in the middle of my target audience who is also an avid reader. These elements, plus her honesty, make her an ideal candidate for giving intial feedback based on story alone which lead into . . .

WHAT should Beta Readers do?

A Beta Reader is meant to provide feedback on an unpublished manuscript so that you can improve it before sending it out to agents (or self-publishing). Therefore, Beta Readers will read and give a report on your book. It is important that YOU give clear instructions on what you are looking for. Besides wanting just general “did you like it” feedback, you should give your Beta Reader parameters for when you would like your book back and what exactly you want feedback on.

What type of QUESTIONS should you ask Beta Readers?

You can find dozens upon dozens of articles and posts that include questions to ask your Beta Readers, but I suggest you find the top ten questions that fit your book best. If you give your Beta Reader too many questions they may get overwhelmed and give you shorter answers. If you give them too few questions, you may not get the feedback that you are looking for. Here are my top ten questions:

  • Do the first 10 pages make you want to keep reading? If not, what is the problem?
  • Do you find yourself skipping pages?
  • Are you confused at any point in the story?
  • Do you know who the main characters are and what motivates them?
  • Was any part of the story too fast or too slow?
  • What did you think of the different main characters? How did you relate to them?
  • What did you think of the dialogue? (Was It Believable)?
  • What did you think of the ending? (Is It Satisfying)?
  • Would you want to read the next book in this series?
  • Overall, did you enjoy the story?

Should you PAY Beta Readers?

Typically, Beta Readers are not paid (especially if they are your close friends, writing companions, family, etc.) However, it is always a nice gesture to send them a thank you card or when your book does get published, send them a signed hard-copy as a thank you!

Have you ever used a Beta Reader? Have you ever been a Beta Reader? How do you typically find your Beta Readers? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Poetry

Throwback Poetry: Empty

Inspired by the the end of the school year in 2020, when we were told that we were going on a “two week break” to stem the rise of COVID-19. I wrote this when I accepted we were not going back for the rest of the year.

Empty desks

Crowded bins

Stacked with papers

Never returned

Empty Chairs

Silent Room

Filled with voices

Of the past.

Join me for Throwback Thursday Poetry! Drop a link to one of your poems in my comment section! Have fun reading each other’s poems.

Happy Writing!

©KaylaAnnAuthor2022

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.