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.

Blogs / Life

Big Changes Ahead…

The First Day of School Starts Today!

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A month ago, I was all set for taking on the role of Yearbook Adviser. My syllabus and curriculum were ready to go!

A week ago today, I was asked to take on the role of 8th Grade English Teacher. For the past year, I have subbed in this class, prayed for this spot, and I truly felt led by God to this position. There was only one issue. The job was taken and it did not look like there would be an opening any time soon. In fact, as I mentioned above, I was all set to be working in a different position that I had prepped for over the summer.

Instead, due to God’s direction and working in my life, I am the new 8th Grade English Teacher, starting my first day TODAY! As you’re reading this, I’m teaching my very first classes!

When I was asked to take this role, there was no hesitation. I immediately said yes and felt confident in that decision. However, there was a lot of work to be done and even more yet to do. Due to this unforeseen and extremely work-heavy load, I will unfortunately have to be taking a step back from blogging.

What does this mean exactly?

I still plan on continuing my Alphabet Challenge so make sure you are working on your entries! However, my Alphabet Challenge will most likely be my only entirely new posts in the next few months. I do plan on re-posting old blog posts (with some updated content included).

I will not be able to visit as many other blogs as I usually like to do, but I will do my best to continue the rounds as I can.

Please wish me luck in this new venture and if you pray, I appreciate your prayers!

Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.” 

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Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Stop Working/Keep Writing

Many of you have probably read my blog post: Writing Tip: STOP Writing. I was ecstatic to see that it was so well-received and that so many of you either took encouragement from the post or replied with your own positive experiences in seeking distance from your writing.

One of my favorite things about blogging is the comment section because in the comments, I really get to have conversations with other like-minded, brilliant authors and bloggers. For instance, on that post, I engaged in a conversation with Michelle at Fantasyland on the power of stopping a project while continuing to work. That conversation sparked today’s blog post (so thank you Michelle!)

Michelle mentioned that when she needs to, she will sometimes stop the current project she is working on (giving herself that needed distance) and then pull up another project and work on that instead.

Now, I am not the type of writer who can work simultaneously on multiple large projects, it’s just too much for me. I prefer to work on one large project (like The Agency Games) and maybe some smaller projects such as my blogging posts. I cannot start another book until I have finished the old.

However, the idea to stop working on your major project but to keep writing is a fantastic idea! In doing so, you are giving your mind the break and distance it requires, but you are still writing and keeping your creativity flowing. If you are like me and you cannot work on several large projects at once, here are some practical ways where you can stop working, but keep writing:

  1. Blog Posts: If you are reading this post, odds are, you’re a blogger, author, or both. If you are a blogger, what better time to work on scheduling some blog posts than when you need distance from your book?
  2. Poetry: The wonderful thing about poetry is that it is the perfect outlet for spewing out writing. Now, I would suggest cleaning it up before you post it, but often times when we are frustrated by writer’s block or in need of distance, getting our emotions out through poetry can be a powerful thing.
  3. Free Writing/Journaling: Maybe you are so stuck/overwhelmed that both blog posts and poetry seem daunting, but you still want to write. That’s when I would suggest free writing or journaling. Write about literally anything, your day, your hopes, the color of the wall, your dream vacation, whatever, just keep those writing juices flowing.

What about you?

What do you do when you need distance from a larger project?

Happy Writing!

 

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2019. 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: STOP Writing

“Stop writing?!”

“But Kayla,” you may ask me, “how can you tell me to stop writing? Shouldn’t we keep writing? After all, we are writers! How can we be writers if we are not writing? How does stopping our writing actually help our writing? Isn’t that contradictory?”

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Now before you turn away from me and shake your head in disgust, hear me out.

I’m not saying that we should stop all writing. I am saying that you should stop working on the project you’re currently working on once you have finished it. For writers there is this huge urge that once we finally finish a project we automatically want to go back through, edit, and send it to a publisher. It’s just not realistic guys. In order for a work to be good you need to utilize the power of distance.

Now some of you may be wondering what the power of distances and others of you might have already heard of it. For those of you who are unfamiliar or need the refresher: The power of distance is, as it sounds, distancing yourself from your work after you have finished it.

Once you have finished a project you set it aside. If it’s on your computer, exit out of the file for a while (I know it’s scary but don’t worry it’ll still be there when you get back to it). If you’re writing in a notebook (hey kudos to you not a lot of people do that anymore),  close the notebook, put in a drawer and leave it alone. Give your work at least a couple of days if not weeks to rest and work on other projects in the meantime. Heck, go outside and see the sun once in a while (you know us writers are vitamin D deficient).

After a few days or a few weeks whatever you can manage, although longer is better, take your work out. The distance that you have given yourself and your writing will now do several things for you:

  • You will no longer be wrapped in the euphoria of finishing your project. As such, you will be able to remove your rose-colored glasses and look at your work for what it is: beautiful, but in serious need of some editing.
  • Due to the above, you will also be more willing to do what needs to be done, even if this means cutting out whole sections or chapters of your work.
  • You will gain a new and fresh perspective. I’m sure many of you college students out there know the feeling of turning in a paper, believing it to be 100% free of errors only to have it returned to you with red marks and think to yourself, “How did I miss that?” Do you know that when we read the same thing over and over, our brain will automatically fill in the gaps because it knows where we are going? That is why students often miss entire words in their essays, because their brain automatically assumes the words are there. By placing distance between your work and yourself, you give your brain a chance to restart and give your eyes a fresh chance to look at your material (making it easier to spot mistakes).

Try for yourself guys and let me know how it goes! Once you do finish a project and utilize the power of distance I encourage you to NOT EDIT, but rather, to Rewrite Instead.

Happy Writing Everyone!

 

The Agency Games

The Agency Games – Sign Up!

As you all know I have been working on my book, The Agency Games (working title) for the past several months and I turned it in (all 78,218 words) to the publishing house on May 11th!

Originally, I intended to send it to the Peer Reviewers on May 31st but I exceeded my own expectations and finished early! I also just received news that my rough manuscript is currently in the hands of two peer reviewers! Hopefully this means my book will be published and sold in late 2018 instead of early 2019, but it is too soon to tell. I have to wait a couple of weeks (possibly months) before I hear back from the Peer Reviewers, and I am kind of nervous, but I can’t wait to read their feedback! Hopefully they love it and also have some constructive advice on how to improve it.

As I get closer to publishing The Agency Games, I’m hoping to start a list of people who are interested in my book.

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Please note: putting your name below does not mean that you have to buy anything.

However, if you are interested in:

  • Information about Book Release Party dates and details
  • An online Book Release Party through WordPress
  • Early access to the The Agency Games
  • Discounted Prices or Signed Copies

Then, please leave a comment below!

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Again, if you leave a comment that does not mean that you have to buy the book and I promise not to spam anyone with emails. I am only trying to get a realistic idea of who is currently interested in a scholarly look at the beloved Hunger Games series!

Thank you!

And Happy Writing!

Blogs / Life, Writing Tips

Self-Doubt

Yup, I have it to.

I doubt my abilities to succeed. You want to know why?

Because what we are doing is HARD! It is hard to create a habit, whether that is eating correctly or going to the gym or forcing yourself to write. Every. Single. Day.

It is hard to promote our own work, our own creativity, in a world that ignores, criticizes, and insults.

It is hard to be an artist, to see the beauty where others only see the ugliness.

It is hard to be authentic when the world keeps telling us to conform.

It is hard to persevere when the world tells us that we will never succeed.

So yes, I have my own moments of doubt.

But guess what?

We don’t have to let those moments of self-doubt destroy our dreams! I finished my rough draft! The rough draft of a book that two years ago I never thought I would be writing. I got a publishing deal, something that I was told was “never likely to happen.” And guess what, maybe it won’t make me famous, maybe it won’t make me money, maybe it won’t sell as much as I’d like but that doesn’t matter.

I wrote a book. An entire book.

I got a contract, from a publishing company.

I wanted to become an author.

The world said I couldn’t, but I did.

And so can YOU.

Poetry, Uncategorized

Do You Know (A Poem)

Do you know

That when you sit beside me

I am completely captivated by your presence

Do you know

That when you put your arms around me

I feel safe, secure, and surprisingly hopeful

Do you know

That when you touch my hair

I exhale in relief

Do you know

How much I love you

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. 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.

The Flexibility of Fairy Tales, Uncategorized

The Twelve Brothers by Grimm

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Today, we’re taking a look at my Bookshelf. Recently I re-read “The Twelve Brothers” by the Grimm Brothers…

Summary

In a kingdom, there once lived a King and Queen with twelve sons. However, when the Queen became pregnant again, the King declared that if the child was a girl, they would have to put the twelve sons to death so that their daughter could inherit all the riches. The king prepared twelve small coffins in case his wife gave birth to a girl. But the Queen could not stand losing her sons and so she warned them to run away until the child was born. If the child was a girl she would wave red flag to warn them to stay away and if she waved a white flag they could come home.

Lo, and behold, when the time came, the Queen raised a red flag and so the brothers fled further and deeper into the forest, vowing revenge on any woman that they should cross, “If we run into a girl, her red blood will flow.”

Now, they were understandably upset, but killing the next girl you meet might be taking it a bit far.

The brothers lived in the woods for quite some time and Benjamin, the youngest, often remained at home cooking and cleaning the house.

Ten years later back at the castle, the young princess grew into a beautiful girl with a kind heart and a golden star on her forehead. When she discovered twelve boy shirts, she asked her mother the Queen, who confessed everything about her brothers. Being 10 years old, she was, of course, quite old enough to leave the castle and venture into the forest in search of her brothers.

The princess came across the brother’s cottage and found only Benjamin in the home. When he realized who she was, Benjamin was overjoyed and hid her until the rest of the brothers came home. When they arrived he made them promise to spare the life of the first girl to cross their threshold. Once they agreed, Benjamin revealed the princess and all of the brothers were overjoyed as well. Together the twelve brothers and one sister lived happily in the cottage together.

One day, the young princess went out to pick twelve white lilies for her brothers. However, when she picked the flowers, her brothers were turned into Ravens and she was left alone. Then, an old woman, who probably owned the flowers, mysteriously advised her, “There is one way to save them, but it’s so hard that you can’t possibly hope to free them that way. You would not be able to say a word for seven years, and you wouldn’t be able to smile at all. If you speak just one word, or if a single hour is missing in the seven years, then everything will be in vain–in fact one word would kill your brothers.”

7 years of solitude for picking some flowers because that seems fair. Anyway…

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The young princess vowed to do just that and so she found a hollow tree, sat in it, and started spinning. (Who knows why she needed to spin.) One day, a king was in the forest and found the girl. Of course, he was so enchanted by her that he brought her home with him and married her. Although the king and queen lived happily for several years, she never spoke or smiled or laughed.

Now the King’s mother was a wicked woman who hated the young princess and believed that she was evil. Through the years, the mother constantly accused the princess of doing wicked and evil things. Finally, she persuaded her son, the King, that his wife was evil and sentenced her to death.

Even as the flames were lit, the princess did not say a word. However, just as the fire began to touch her clothes, the seven years ended and there “was a whirring sound in the air and twelve Ravens came flying through the air and swooped down. When they touched the ground, they turned into her twelve brothers.”

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The brothers rescued their sister from the flames who could finally smile and speak. She then told the king why she had made the vow to never speak or smile and he was overjoyed to find that she was not evil.

I don’t know if I could be as forgiving as the princess.

The King brought the princess back into the castle and they lived in harmony until their deaths. Meanwhile the wicked mother-in-law was put in a barrel filled with boiling oil and poisonous snaked and died “a painful death.”

Sometimes I really do have to wonder if these stories were truly told to children as bedtime stories.

Review

The Obvious Moral of the Story

  • This fairy tale is definitely promoting the virtue of long-suffering. To be long-suffering means to have patience and willingness to suffer based on your love for another. Clearly, the princess has long-suffering and is rewarded for her virtue.

The Not-so-ObviousMoral of the Story

  • What do we make of her poor brothers? First, they are forced to flee from their home and once they finally find happiness, they are turned into Ravens for seven years. I would argue that the not-so-obvious moral is endurance and perseverance. The brothers did not allow their situations to corrupt them.

The thing I find the most interesting about this fairy tale:

  • In the beginning, the king tells his wife that if their thirteenth child is a girl, their twelve boys must be put to death so that the girl can inherit all the riches. While I am, of course, shocked and horrified that any parent would want to kill their child or children, I am more shocked that in this story they want to kill the male children. In countries all over the world, it is often the female child who is killed or abandoned for not being male. The Grimm brothers definitely added a twist to the norm.

This is one of the Grimm Brothers’s longer fairy tales. What do you think of it?