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.

Writing Tips

What to do when your DISTANCING yourself from your writing

In one of my previous posts titled “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?“, I encourage authors to get some distance from their book once they finish it. Here’s what I said:

2. If this is the first draft of your book, keep in mind that you are probably nowhere near publishing it (yet). You need to give your book some distance. Right now, you are in the “infatuation” stage where your book can do no wrong. It might be beautiful, but everybody has their “quirks” and that includes your book. Give yourself at least a week (if not more) to let your giddiness die down (just a smidge). After you have allowed yourself this distance, read through your novel.

So what CAN you do during this time of distance? Anything!

What should you do? Now that is a different matter entirely. Here are some options:

Work on Your Social Media Platforms

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. A large part of getting your book into your reader’s hands is to market yourself along with your book. This isn’t the article to talk about how to grow your social media (that would take MANY articles), this is just a reminder that you should be growing your author platform in different areas LONG before you ever publish a book. Build yourself a following that is looking forward to the release of your novel instead of trying to find readers retroactively.

Start Researching Agents You Believe Will Enjoy Your Book

As I mentioned in “So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?” you are going to need to start researching agents (if you plan to go the traditional route). While you are giving your book some distance, start looking into different agencies and specific agents to narrow down the agents you believe will best enjoy your book!

READ Other Books in Your Same Genre that Have Recently Come Out

Great authors are often great readers. Take a break from writing, you’ve earned it, but stay in your world (genre) by reading what is currently popular in your chosen genre. This can be both relaxing and informational. Get lost in a story while appreciating the elements of the story that make it enjoyable. Ask yourself: does my story have these elements that drive a story?

Find Other Projects to Keep that Creativity Flowing!

Still riding that high of finishing your book and you just NEED to keep writing? Go for it! Start writing your next book, this could be a follow-up to the book you just finished or a new idea entirely! (Small addendum though: if you are working on sequels, I encourage you to outline them instead of writing them. Outlining will still help you see where your story is going, but if your first book has major changes during the publishing process, you won’t have to go re-write the next book to make it work).

Or, if you’re like me, write a blog post about distancing from your book and how you are keeping yourself occupied!

Do you distance yourself from your writing once you’ve completed it? What do you do during your “time apart”? 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

So You’ve Finished Writing Your Book… Now What?

After months, maybe years, of dedicated hard work, you are finally able to type “The End.” It’s the feeling that you always dreamed it would be. THIS is your masterpiece, THIS is your legacy, THIS is everything you hoped it would be!

Now what?

Let me outline a few general steps that you still need to take before you hold that beautiful hard copy of your book in your hands.

1. Congratulations! Finishing your book, whether its your first or fifty-first, is an amazing accomplishment. Take a moment to revel in your achievement, but don’t get too carried away. Your hard work is far from over.

2. If this is the first draft of your book, keep in mind that you are probably nowhere near publishing it (yet). You need to give your book some distance. Right now, you are in the “infatuation” stage where your book can do no wrong. It might be beautiful, but everybody has their “quirks” and that includes your book. Give yourself at least a week (if not more) to let your giddiness die down (just a smidge). After you have allowed yourself this distance, read through your novel.

  • What can you do during this time of distance? Keep your eyes open for my upcoming post about ways to spend your “Distance.”

3. As you are reading, take on the role of your target audience, someone with no background knowledge of what it took for you to write this book or where you are going. Read without looking at the grammar or spelling, read without allowing yourself to edit. Read ONLY for the sake of answering the BIG questions: Does my book have a completed story arc? Is the journey for my main protagonist clear? Are there any plot holes in my story? Are there any consistency issues? Once, you’ve done this, let’s move on to the next step: Revision.

4. Some call this revision, for me, it’s almost always a REWRITE, especially if I have only ever written the first draft. My stories usually go through five or more drafts before I start “editing.” Anyhow, in this revise/rewrite section, it’s time to address those big questions and make sure that your story flows naturally, has realistic conflicts (minor) that all lead to the major climax with plausible consequences that all lead into a resolution that has an impact on your characters and readers. Simple, right? (That was sarcasm in case you didn’t catch it.)

5. NOW you’ve truly got something to work with! Still, I recommend you don’t send your book out quite yet. Instead, send your finished manuscript to some trusted BETA-readers first. This allows you another set(s) of eyes to view your book for big picture questions before you bare your soul to that agent or publishing house. (Keep a look out for that upcoming post as well: Questions to Ask Your Beta Reader).

6. Once you are satisfied that your book is TRULY ready to send out, you need to ask yourself which route you are going to go. Traditional publishing (typically through an agent) or self-publishing. This article is going to follow the traditional publishing route.

7. Unfortunately, the days when you could query your book directly to major publishing houses is pretty much long gone, you’ll need an agent now to speak on your behalf. Although agents get a bad rap, they really are there to help the author. So, you’ll need to find an agent and here are few suggested places you can look:

  • Publisher’s Marketplace & Query Tracker typically appear in most articles about finding an agent (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!
  • 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.

8. Finding an agent that meshes well with your vision will take some time, but it will increase your chances at getting an acceptance instead of a rejection. Once you have found the agents you like (yes, agents, multiple), you will need to write the author bio, query letter, and synopsis for you and your book (multiple future blog posts coming up!)

9. When you send out your queries, PLEASE make sure to pay special attention to the particular directions each of your agents might have. If they are asking for something in particular and you ignore their request, why should they not ignore you? Respect goes both ways, so pay attention to what they are looking for!

10. Accept rejection. I’ll be honest. It’s going to happen. Not maybe, not possibly, but most definitely, and it doesn’t always mean there is something wrong with you or your book. It might mean that you need to adjust your query itself. Or it could be the wrong agent. I know it is unbelievably hard to get a “no,” or even worse that dreaded silence in which you don’t even feel worthy of a rejection, but hang in there. Go back to steps 7 & 8. Find new agents, review your query itself, and try again.

11. Don’t give up hope. It probably won’t happen on the first try, or the second, or the third, but it will never happen at all if you give up. Hang in there, I look forward to seeing YOUR book on my shelf!

Do you have any questions about this process post-manuscript completion? 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.

Book Reviews

Book Review Lottery – Drop Your Books HERE

This Book Lottery is Now Closed; thank you!

What’s the hardest part about being an author? Is it the planning, the outlining, the drafting, the editing? Is it the revising, the publishing, the promoting? Being an author is HARD, but sometimes the hardest part in simply getting people to choose your book out of the millions of books released every year! Even harder than that is getting someone who has read your book to REVIEW your book!

I see this every day; authors working so hard and yet it seems impossible for them to garner more reviews. This is where I have decided to help support my writing community as much as possible.

#SupportanAuthor #WriteaReview

Whenever I have the time/money, I will post what I call the “Book Review Lottery.” During the next 24 hours, the comment section will be opened to authors who want to submit their books for review.

Let me explain how it all works:

  • Authors will submit their book titles, genre, links, AND a compelling blurb advertising their book!
    • If you are missing any of these components, your book will most likely not be chosen.
    • Please no horror, gore, or erotica (Thank you!)

  • I will choose one of the books to read and review. I will let you know personally if I have chosen your book.
  • Time allowing, I will read and post a review to your book within a month.
  • The reviews will be posted on Amazon, WordPress, Twitter, Instagram (story), Facebook, and Goodreads.
    • I will only post a review if I feel comfortable giving it 3 stars or more. If I feel that the book deserves less than 3 stars, I will send my review directly to the author and ask if they still want me to post it on Amazon (only).

 

That’s it! So Drop those Titles, Genres, Links, and Book Blurbs in the Comments!

Writing Tips

Dear Aspiring Author

It has been quite some time since I have written a draft in WordPress. Some of you may recall, I disappeared right as the world was shutting down from COVID. Around the same time, I had my son and I’ve been pretty consumed by him ever since. I have been writing more lately, finally, and I hope to have more to share with you soon. Today, as a way to reintroduce myself, I’d love to share an interview I did with Penable which was featured in their Hall of Fame.

In this interview I was asked: “What advice would you give to any aspiring author?”

In short my answer was this: Have Patience . . . Have patience with your story and your characters. You cannot rush your writing because you are so eager to publish that you regret not allowing your writing to mature and improve. Have patience with yourself. You’re not going to hit your word count every day. Have patience waiting to hear back from publishers (mostly because we don’t have a choice on that one).

It was a fun experience and if you’re interested, you can read the full interview here: https://penable.net/2020/08/08/interview-with-special-author-kayla-ann/

Blogs / Life

First Year of Teaching: Inspiring the Next Generation of Writers

When I was in high school, I was always asked the cliche question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The answer was immediate, “An author! But I’ll probably teach too.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the idea of teaching, but it always came secondary to my desire to write. I started teaching college classes in the Spring of 2018, after I received my Master’s degree in English Literature, and realized that I not only enjoyed teaching, I loved it. There was nothing better than helping college students realize that they did not have to hate English even if they had hated it their entire high school experience. In fact, they could even, Heaven forbid, LIKE it!

Then, in the Fall of 2019, I got my wish. I was hired as a full-time Middle School English teacher at a private Christian School where I could help students become better readers and better writers while sharing my love of Christ. This past year, as crazy as it was, taught me that teaching no longer comes second to my desire to write.

I learned that my dreams of becoming a well-established author and my focus on inspiring the next generation to love writing and reading could work together hand-in-hand.

In my English class this year, I shared with my students the process of writing Agency in the Hunger Games, the revision process, the publishing process, and I even got to bring a copy of my book to show my class. I taught them about perserverance and endurance. I told them that at their age, I had sat in that very same classroom, in those VERY same desks, writing in one of my dozens of notebooks while people around me told me that I was wasting my time. I would never be published. The field was too hard to break through. I told them that I had not listened to those voices, but that I had followed my dream and I had worked hard for it. I told them that the dreams they had now did not have to be impossiblilities.

I never realized how much my words meant to them until about a month ago.

A month after online learning ended, one of my students emailed me to let me know that my personal story had inspired him. He had always wanted to write, but never felt good enough being so young and so inexperienced. This summer, he was challenging himself to write his first full-length novel and it was all because I had encouraged him to do so. He told me that he was writing his book in honor of me. It was a simple email, only a few lines long, but it meant the world to me.

I realized then that as an author and as a teacher, it is my duty to inspire the next generation of writers and educators.

What good is experience if we are not willing to share it with others? What good is failure if we can not use it to better ourselves? What use is success if we do not share that success with others to inspire them to follow after their dreams as well?

As both an author and a teacher, I have a new dream of what to be when I grow up. I hope to be the inspiration that the next generation needs.

100,000 Word Count Challenge, My Writings

The Runic Saga #WIP #Pitch #ContemporaryFantasy

The Runic Saga

(working title)

It’s been five centuries since the collapse of the world as it was once known, ravaged by war, disease, and natural disasters. Larissa Daldóttir lives in the leftovers of a forgotten world, a small nation known as Evrópa which resides under the iron reign of the Diamante Empress. Larissa’s only desire is to live unnoticed, especally when it comes to Halla, her second-born sister who is technically illegal under the one-child policy.

When Halla oversteps her bounds, she triggers a series of events that unlock secrets from the past, secrets that the Empress is wiling to silence at any cost. Larissa must abandon everything she knows to protect Halla, but to do so, she must be willing to face the truth of her own history before it is too late. 

Runic Saga

©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.

80,000 Word Challenge

80,000 Word Count Challenge (Update #5)

Update #5

Ten weeks ago, I came up with the biggest writing challenge I have ever attempted. (If you did not read that post, you can read it here!) For my summer project, I would write 80,000 words in only 10 weeks. That meant that I was writing approximately 1,142 words a day for 70 days straight.

Most days I hit that mark if not beyond. Some days, I struggled with only a couple hundred words. Some days I missed all together. I have learned that keeping a consistent schedule and writing first thing in the morning does wonders for my writing capabilities. I also learned that being held accountable, in person and online, is a huge motivating factor for myself.

So, finally, after ten weeks of writing nearly every day, my goal word count was 80,000 words. As of today, I have a grand total of . . .

88,298 Words

Update 5

To be more precise, I am in the middle of Chapter 22, on page 295, at 88,298 words.

With that in mind, I have NOT finished my book yet! It will probably require 1-2 more chapters to provide adequate resolution and still leave my readers on a cliffhanger. I’ll be sure to post up my FINAL UPDATE next week (hopefully!) A few of you have asked me for more details about my book, and I am happy to finally share more with you!

Working Title: The Runic Saga

This will be a three-to-five book series of YA contemporary fantasy with Nordic influences. On Monday, I will be posting my book blurb/pitch! I would absolutely LOVE your feedback on what works, what doesn’t, and any advice you might have for writing a blurb that catches the reader’s attention.

I look forward to hearing your feedback on Monday!

Happy Writing Everyone

Thank you to everyone who commented on these posts with encouragement. You are so appreciated!

©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.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: The 3 Top Questions You Need to Ask Your Characters

So you want to write a book, huh?

For some, that’s easy; for others, it’s much harder. A place that all writers must eventually come to is character development. A good book is marked by its strong and authentic characters. I don’t know about you, but I can read just about anything as long as I love the characters. If I cannot stand the characters, I could not care less about an interesting plot. (Some people feel the opposite, but hey, that’s just me).

With Characterization being such an important part of the writing journey, it’s up to the author to really get to know their characters, but that can be easier said than done. Try going to a google search bar and type in “Questions to Ask Characters.”

Here are some results you might see:

  • Top 10 Questions to ask . . .
  • Top 50 Questions to ask . . .
  • Top 99 Questions to ask . . . (why not 100 at that point?)

It’s clear that this can get out of control real quick. Now, granted, some of these lists are more about devloping character profiles (likes and dislikes, personal history, physical appearance, etc.). For today’s tip, I’m going to narrow it down. When you begin your writing and you need to know the most important things about your characters, you need to ask them only three questions.

1. What does your character want?

This question relates to the plot of your entire book. What is your character’s motive for every action that they take? Bilbo Baggins wants to get back to the Shire. Katniss Everdeen wants to survive and save her sister. Luke Skywalker wants to bring back balance to the force. These wants, these motives, drive every action your character takes.

2. What is your character’s greatest strength?

I don’t mean how much can they lift. I mean, what is it about your character that attracts not only readers but the other characters. What makes your character useful to accomplishing the overall plot of the book? Biblo was small and unnoticeable (which doesn’t seem like a strength but it made him dang useful to those around him). Katniss was “charming as a slug,” according to Haymitch, but her love of her sister won over the crowds. Luke never gave up hope in himself, the force, and even the light inside his father.

3. What is your character’s greatest weakness?

Characters must be flawed. How often have we heard that? Phyiscal, emotional, and mental flaws are a must! Want to know why? Because that is reality. What flaw is going to get in the way of your character accomplishing their goals and make your writing interesting? Bilbo prefers the comforts of his home to any moral quest and struggles against adventure (at first at least). Katniss is completely anti-social which is extremely problematic when her survival depends on people liking her. Luke Skywalker can be brave, but also headstrong and make foolish decisions.

When it comes to your characters, you need to know why they act the way they do, what about them will make your readers root for them, and what about them will make your reader grab the book and say, “oh, come on!”

What Character Development Questions would you add to this list? Make sure to let me know in the comments below!

©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.

Poetry

“Identity” (Eugi’s Weekly Prompt)

Today’s poem was written in response toEugi’s Weekly Prompt (Click the link; Join the fun):

 

Identity

What Is My Identity

But A Face

That Only Some Will Get to See

A Facade

That Often Goes Unseen

What If

This Face is the Only

Identity

You Ever Get to See of Me?

 

©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.