Monday, January 15, 2018

On writing authentically...

I've read several posts and articles lately suggesting that authors should be 'writing for the reader' and letting reader expectations dictate the plot of the story.  Now, I don't discount the importance of keeping readers happy.  Without them, our books would be nothing more than words on a page.  What I disagree with is the notion that authors have a responsibility to pen their stories following trope-specific guidelines, and never veer from the script.  How boring!

The way I look at it, I owe my readers an engaging, entertaining story; one that elicits feelings of joy and doubt and suspense and love (in the case of my romances).  But I also owe them something else.  Honesty.  They deserve to know that the words they're reading came from the depths of my soul, not from some how-to manual on writing the perfect book.

It's okay to shake things up, take a chance, go in a different direction with your manuscript.  Will some readers hate it?  Possibly, but let's be honest.  Does every single reader out there love what you write anyway?  Judging by the 1- and 2-star reviews on some of my books, that would be a HELL NO!!  Do you run the risk of alienating readers by writing authentically?  Of course, but see my first question.  It's impossible to make all of the people happy all of the time, so take risks, take a chance, write in a new direction rather than writing to the market.

Now, before the comments start rolling in that I'm trashing other authors, let me be clear - I'm not.  I believe, and have always believed, that each writer should create the storiy that speaks to them.  It's not my place to tell anyone what words they should or shouldn't send out into the universe.  Lord knows, I don't let anyone tell me what mine should be.  But I hate seeing new authors who've yet to publish ask for advice and be told "you should be writing X, Y, and Z.  That's what readers expect."  How about giving readers something they don't expect?  Some twist that only you can devise because it's part of who you are.  Stop trying to make your books be exactly like all the others out there and rather let the words flow through your soul to the paper (or keyboard, or dictation device.  You get my point.)  Be you.

One thing I've never been successful at is conforming to - well - anything.  My historical western romances aren't historical enough.  My contemporary romances are neither sweet nor erotic.  None of my books fall squarely into a specific genre, and while that presents a challenge finding readers, I'm satisfied with the stories I've told.  They are exactly what they're supposed to be.  Mine.

Stop worrying about creating the story readers expect.  Instead, give them a story that they'll love because it came authentically from you.  Be bold with your words.  Be confidant that what you write will find an audience.  Love your words because they truly are a reflection of you.

Now, go write that book!




Friday, January 5, 2018

Redefining the term 'blue-haried old lady'...

There was a time in society, in my lifetime, as a matter of fact, when it was unheard of for a woman over the age of 50 to dye her hair electric blue.  Come to think of it, it wasn't that acceptable for women under the age of 50, either.  I'm so glad those days are over!  One of the things I enjoy about growing older is how the norms have changed - for the better, in most cases.  But even if society (or my peers) have a problem with it, I don't really give a damn, because I've decided life's too short not to try new things.

I've wanted to dye my hair blue for a few years, but I refrained.  One reason was due to my upbringing. (I can't imagine either of my grandmothers sporting a non-conventional 'do, although I think they both would've rocked the look!)  The other was how I viewed myself as an adult.  I told myself it was silly; dyeing my hair one of the colors of the rainbow was something teenagers do, not mature women.  But you know what?  I'm still going to be 50 if my hair is blue or brown or silver or if I'm bald, so what in the hell am I waiting for?

As you can see by the pic, I was conservative with my dyeing endeavor.  The color is subtle.  There are two reasons for this.  One, I didn't want to do too much until I could see what it would look like.  And, two, I'm too lazy to bleach my hair first.  The dye would've shown up a lot brighter if I'd followed that step.

It's okay, though.  I'm happy with it, and, next time (yes, there will be a next time) I'll make the effort to strip some of my natural color from my hair before beginning the dyeing process.  Or wait for more silver to grow in.  Either way works for me.

In the meantime, I like my new look.  It makes me feel rebellious!  I know, I know, it doesn't take much. lol.  Hey, at least it's not permanent like a tattoo!

So, which term are you going to redefine in 2018?  Time's not going backwards, you know.  We're all getting older, whether we want to admit it or not.  Might as well try something you've always wanted to do.  It's okay to start small.  You can't get much smaller than a half dozen, 1/2 inch blue streaks in your hair.

Maybe I'll go with purple next time...




Monday, January 1, 2018

2018, oh, how I've yearned for you! 

As years go, 2017 wasn't all that terrible, but it also wasn't the best on the books.  So I'm viewing this new year with high expectations.  Time truly does go by in the blink of an eye, and I need to make the most of it.  For instance, it seems only yesterday that I embarked on this writer's journey of mine when it's actually been more than four years.  I loathe thinking that another four will go by leaving me to wonder if I could've made better use of the seconds, minutes, hours each day bestows upon me.

I have big plans this year.  Huge plans.  Epic.  And I'm determined to accomplish them.  Better yet, I WILL accomplish them!  Because the sand is slipping through the hourglass faster than any of us imagine, and in a heartbeat, I'll be looking back on my life, evaluating the choices I made.  I don't want 'wasting time' to be one of them.

Don't wait to live your dream.  Take the first step.  Set things in motion.  Get the ball rolling.  Whichever idiom works for you, use it to take charge of your destiny.  Your life won't change overnight.  It might not even change much in four years.  But the time will go by anyway, so you might as well spend it working at what you love most.

Here's wishing everyone realizes their dream in 2018.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I HAVE A NEW RELEASE!!!!!

I'm excited to announce the release of Under the Mistletoe, the final book in the Celebration series.  For those of you familiar with the town of Celebration, this is Frankie's story.  For those of you unfamiliar with the town and its residents, think Christmas Hallmark story! 🎄


Frankie Denton liked his life exactly the way it was.  As the owner of a successful auto repair shop, the idea of adding a wife and kids to the mix never crossed his mind – until the day the sassy redhead he’d met at a friend’s wedding informs him she’s pregnant, a result of their one-night stand.  Resolved to do the right thing, nonplussed when she declines his marriage proposal, he sets out to prove he’s not only husband material, but father material as well.

After spending an exhilarating night in the arms of the sexy mechanic she met in Celebration, Roxie Malone discovers she’s expecting.  Embracing the prospect of motherhood, determined to raise the baby on her own, she’s shocked when Frankie steps up, demonstrating time and again that he’s eager to be part of their lives.  But she has first-hand experience that fathers don’t always keep the promises they make, and she’s hesitant to put her trust in a man she hardly knows.

Frankie has a lot to contend with in order to win Roxie over; a jealous friend who wants to marry her himself, a complication with her pregnancy, and a misunderstanding that threatens to drive them apart permanently.  Faced with the possibility of losing the family he never knew he wanted, he scrambles to find a way to convince her they should be together.  With Christmas just around the corner, will he get the gift he wants most?

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Frankie, Roxie, Joe, Monica, Loren, and Madison, along with Fran and Bill, and Celeste, are some of my favorite characters I've written to date.

   

Get your copy here, and thank you for your support.

Until next time...

Happy Reading!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Writer's block - the truth is out there...

I've read several pieces lately discounting the authenticity of a phenomenon known as writer's block, the authors of said blog posts and articles stating emphatically that no such thing exists.  That's fair.  Those authors are entitled to their opinions on the subject. 

Here's mine...

My definition of writer's block is when I, as the author, am no longer able to advance my storyline. There may be several reasons for this.  I may have lost my 'train of thought' in regards to the direction I was heading with my story.  I may be experiencing outside stressors that have absolutely nothing to do with writing (health issues affect me this way a lot).  I may be grieving over the loss of a pet, or worried about how to pay an unexpected bill, or preoccupied with an upcoming event.  Whatever the reason, the words stop coming.  This is my writer's block.

I read one post where the author suggested writing anything to keep up the flow, it didn't matter how bad it was.  I read another where the author recommended writing a grocery list to keep the momentum going.  Yeah, well, I hate to tell you, jotting down that I need to pick up fabric softener the next time I'm at the store doesn't give me the a-ha moment it apparently does for some.  When the words stop coming, that's it.  There're no more.  I can sit and reread my manuscript over and over, but once the spark's gone, I've found there's nothing I can do except wait for my battery to recharge.  And you know what?  That's okay.

 I wrote my first book in 18 days.  I had a few moments where I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with the story, but I figured it out rather quickly and continued on.  My second book was written in 22 days.  Again, a few hiccups but nothing that shut down the word factory.  My third book...oh, well, that's when I got my first taste of writer's block.  It was frustrating.  No; it was infuriating!  I knew I could write, I knew what I wanted to have happen in the story, but my creativity dried up.  The words I typed were nonsense, not advancing the plot in the least, and I began to doubt what I was doing.  I mean, wrap it up, call it quits, never type another word again, doubt.  I cried; I cursed; I tried to force the words from my brain.  Nothing worked.  Then one morning, I woke up and it was as if the skies had cleared.  I was full of ideas, and better than that, I was full of words; words I couldn't get down on the page fast enough.  I'd beaten my writer's block!

Until the next book. 

And the next. 

And the next.

For me, this mental absence of creative thought and ideas is something that happens often, no matter how well my plot is thought out.  I become word-stupid, where even the simplest of expressions hold no meaning.  I've learned that the best way for me to overcome this block is to wait it out.  That's all I can do.  Wait it out.  Sometimes, the wait is days; other times months.  I have one manuscript I haven't touched in three years.  I've recently had some brain activity on that one, a few ideas churning about, but I know I'm not ready to pick up where I left off.  Not yet.  What I have done is quit beating myself up about it.  For one thing, it does me no good.  Stress impairs my thought processes regardless of where the stress originates.  Worrying about not being able to write doesn't help my brain reset any faster than it normally would.  And maybe, by not stressing over not being able to write, I'm allowing my cerebrum to find an alternate route around the blockade.

So, to those who say writer's block doesn't exist, my response is this - I'm happy that you're not afflicted by such a debilitating occurrence.  Not all of us are as lucky. 

And to those of you who are - my sympathies.  I've been there and know what you're going through.  Never fear, though; you will get past it.  And it doesn't hurt to try some of the suggestions put out there by the non-believers.  Just remember, what works for one may not work for another.  Of course, there's no harm in writing that shopping list. 

You need peanut butter this week anyway, don't you?




Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why writing is more than writing...

I had a bad day yesterday on the business-front.  Actually, it was the culmination of several bad days over the past few weeks.  Last night's disappointment was the final straw that put me over the edge, leaving me to wonder for the katrillionth time why I've willingly chosen this business.  It wasn't a life-long ambition of mine to become an author; in fact, it's fairly recent.  But I love creating stories, and I bought in to the theory that if you love what you do, the rest will come.  Yeah, right!

It's not about the writing.  For a change, my writing is going extremely well.  I LOVE my current WIP, and I'm eager to start on the (currently) six other titles waiting in the wings.  No, this is about the other stuff; the stuff indie authors have to deal with.  Yes, yes; I know.  I'm the one always saying that authors are authors and we shouldn't differentiate.  I wholeheartedly believe that's true - when it comes to our books.  But there is a difference on the business side, and that's where I'm struggling.

Now, this isn't a bitch session about the indie scene (though a few choice words crossed my lips last night).  And as mentioned above, I chose to become indie.  I could do what thousands of other authors have done and submit my works to publishing houses on the hopes they'll like my work enough to represent me.  I understand that's an option.  To be honest, I like the autonomy of being indie.  I like choosing my own deadlines - which I rarely meet - and picking the title, and designing the covers.  Plus, having representation from a publisher doesn't guarantee best-sellerdom.  There are hundreds (if not more) of talented authors out there, backed by publishing houses, who've never seen a best-seller's list.

No, this is about the stuff I'm not good at, and I'm brave enough to say I'm not good at it.  Making smart decisions.  Oh, okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but it's how I feel in the moment.  I look around at my peers (I'm not comparing myself to them.  Honest!) and I take note of what they're accomplishing, and, more importantly, how they're accomplishing it, and I try the same tactic.  And it fails.  So that leaves me wondering, is it me?  Am I the common denominator?  Am I just not cut out for this? Or is it the aged-old adage - one I've quoted myself from time to time - that we all walk different paths and their journey isn't mine?

Trouble is, even when I change paths, they converge to the same one I've been traveling my entire life.  The path of not knowing what the hell I'm doing.  Of making the wrong choices.  Of losing faith in my decisions.  I thought growing older meant growing wiser.  Maybe it means being wise enough to know when to quit.

Okay, this is turning into a pity party post, and that's not what I'm about.  I'll find a way - somehow - though the specifics escape me at the moment.  Nothing worthwhile is easy, right?

If there's one thing I don't doubt, it's the support of my fellow indies.  We all face these why-in-the-hell-am-I-putting-myself-through-this moments and it's the faith and encouragement from those who have been there that gets us through.  And, for that, I'm eternally grateful.  No one gets this like other indies!!

So, where now?  I wish I knew.  As my husband tells me, "keep writing".  And I will.  I love it too much to quit.  I guess I'll figure the rest out as I go along, and maybe, just maybe, one of these days the sky will open up in front of me and I'll see I'm where I was meant to be all along.

Or maybe not...

Monday, September 4, 2017

Looking back...and forward...

Four years ago today, I made a decision that changed my life. I sat down at my computer and began writing Here to Stay. I knew nothing about being an author - some days, I feel like I still don't - but I had a story to tell and decided the time had come to tell it. Encouraged 1000% by my husband - no, that's not a typo; I'm overwhelmed by how much he believes in what I'm doing - I published it, and started on the next, then the next, and the next.

Four years later, I've published eleven books (twelve, if you count the story that's currently in an anthology) and I have no desire to slow down. There are so many stories occupying my brain that I wonder if I'll ever have time to write them all. Probably not; for as one is born on the page, three others take its place in my mind. And that's okay. It gives me a reason to push on when I doubt myself, when I think I'm wasting my time, when I think I'll never be further along than I am in this moment.

Do I seek fame and fortune? Yeah; maybe a little. It'd be cool to have hundreds of thousands of readers eagerly anticipating the release of the next Kristine Raymond book. It would be fabulous to rake in enough royalties so that I could support our household and offer my husband the chance to pursue his dreams. But is that all I seek? No. Not even close.

Mostly, what I want is to make someone smile when they read a funny line in one of my stories, to touch them emotionally, to offer them an invitation into another world. I think Toni Morrison said it best - “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” That's what I do. I write the books I'd want to read. They may not be what's trending, but they're mine, and I do believe, when the time is right, they'll find their audience.

In the meantime, I keep writing; doing what I started four years ago, and will continue to do as long as I'm able. While I can't honestly say that each moment of the process is pure joy, I can't imagine myself doing anything else.

Much love,

~Kristine