What I Did On My Summer Vacation – Kitty

What a quick two months it has been! Another month and summer will be over?! Holy smokes! So what have I been doing? Well…

As many of you know, my mother died in May. That was rough, and I don’t seem to remember much about June. In that respect, I’m glad that we decided to take a summer break here at Routines for Writers. I needed time. (And I thank all of you who have commented or sent me encouraging notes or hugged me when you saw me. You’re all such a great group of people!)

In July, I hit the restart button again. (We’ve talked about that before. I love that button.) I got back into my writing groove, finalizing a short story for one anthology and writing a new one for another anthology.

In August, “Hero in Disguise” will be published in Romancing the Pages, an ebook anthology of 17 short stories by writers of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America. (See a picture of the cover here by Winterheart Design.) My story is the romantic meeting of the hero and heroine in my upcoming superhero romantic comedy series, The Adventures of Lewis and Clark. I love the way they meet, all dressed up on Halloween, lots of secrets between them.

Later this year, “Rescue at Loon Lake” will appear in Moonlit Encounters, an ebook anthology of 10 short stories and novellas written by my Sydney chapter-mates of the Romance Writers of Australia. Mine is the funny story of a newcomer, a lost dog, and the dog catcher. It’s part of the Strays of Loon Lake romantic comedy series about lonely men and lost dogs finding love and a good home with women who are learning to find their strength. The first book in the series, Love at the Fluff and Fold, will also be out later this year.

In addition, John and I have been taking advantage of a break in his schedule to get cracking on the print version of Little Miss Lovesick. You may remember that I signed up to attend the Self-Publishers Online Conference in May. Due to my mom’s illness, I wasn’t able to participate at the time, but I am catching up. The suggested reading (Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual, The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, and Publishize) has been extremely helpful in putting together a nice looking print edition of the book. This also will be available later this year. You can see how busy I’ve been!

Last week, I attended the RWA National Conference in Anaheim, CA. I expected to learn a lot about craft and self-publishing and spend lots of time and energy networking – and all that happened to an even greater degree than I had hoped. But before noon on the first day, I had an unexpected surprise – I won a brand new Sony Reader!

I was so excited, I was jumping up and down. Here is a picture of me moments after Stephanie Beam Warner from the Sony Reader Store announced I’d won. I haven’t figured out yet how to get Little Miss Lovesick on it without having to purchase it, but I’ve got a nice “bookshelf” full of Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and H.G. Wells already.

Because I love excellent desserts, I have to admit – I took a picture of the amazing chocolate something-or-other we had on Friday. I texted my author friend Kathleen Wright and told her I wanted to lick the plate. She texted me back to do it, but I restrained myself. Barely. Oh my gosh, it was delicious! Of course, I remembered to take a picture of the food, but I was so focused on what I was doing and learning during the conference that I forgot to take pictures of anything else. Not even a picture of me with my friend and roommate, Lauraine Snelling. Darn!

Lauraine and I had some great brainstorming sessions and great conversations with some of our other friends who were there – authors Charlotte Carter, Nancy Farrier, and DiAnn Mills especially. I also met the president of the Independent Book Publishers Association and had a great talk with her about that organization. I now have in my budget the amount of the membership dues so I can join as soon as possible. Plus, I think I know who I want to contact when my budget can support an attorney. One of the speakers was excellent and practices law in the publishing field (and in my state!).

Finally, to round out my busy July, the day after I got home from the conference, Lauraine and Kathleen and I spent another half a day brainstorming. Exhausting, but so worth it! During five hours of using Fring and Skype, we worked through some issues for the fourth book in their S.A.V.E. Squad series and the first book in my Strays of Loon Lake series. Both books are so much better for our time together.

So there you have it. That’s more or less what I did on my summer vacation. And it doesn’t even include all the non-writing things I did! Like most good vacations, I sort of wish it wasn’t over and I still had lots of extra time to work on my book instead of our blog. But like most good vacations, I’m also glad to be back.

Now tell us what you’ve been up to this summer!

Promoting Your Book – and More

Hello Friends!! I’m so freakin’ excited – John and I are finally out apartment hunting! Yay! We’ll be moving soon, so today I’m sharing more links and posts that might be helpful for you. Some might be helpful only if you’re self-publishing or thinking about doing so. Others will be helpful for any writer. Enjoy!

A great article by agent Rachelle Gardner about using Goodreads: “Goodreads: 8 Things Writers Should Know”

A story that many writers dream will be their own story one day: A Modern Day Fairy Tale by Jennifer Probst

This looks like it’s a Christian epublisher: BelieversPress

Another article from John Locke about how he created his success: “An Army of Authors and Friends”

This is a helpful article on figuring out what you need to spend in your self-publishing venture:”Epubbing on a Budget” on WG2E (The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing)

And here’s a great article on making your book cover: “The Making of a Bestselling eBook Cover” on WG2E by Jen Talty of Who Dares Wins Publishing

Another cool – and free – educational tidbit I like to partake of is the Booklist webinar. They have all different kinds of topics. Next month, they have one called Picture These: What’s New with Graphic Novels. You can register here. Booklist webinars are at a set time and you dial in via a “meeting” site. You listen to the speakers and watch their slideshow presentation. You can take notes, but later you’ll get an email with a link to the archives where you can watch the video of the whole thing again. Here is a listing of all their upcoming webinars. You can sign up to get an email letting you know about new webinars. That’s what I do.

Remember when iBooks Author software  came out and there was a big hubbub about the terms and conditions? It read like you couldn’t put your book on any retail site except for iBooks. I spoke to an Apple Store employee who said that the “upgrade” to iBooks Author is only a change to the terms and conditions to better explain what you are and aren’t allowed to do. If I understood correctly, what the terms and conditions were trying to convey is that the software only creates a file that uploads to iBooks. To upload your books to other sites, you simply have to use other software. Apparently, that’s all it was saying. I’m going to download the software and check out the T&C. I’ll try to remember to let you know what I find out. Let us know here in the comments if you’ve already checked!

Another interesting article on self-publishinig sales from author Gemma Halliday.

Read more about how The Hunger Games did their social media promotion. It might give you some ideas for promoting your own books.

I haven’t watched this yet, but I love the Pixar story team, and this is a TED talk by Andrew Stanton from Pixar on crafting great stories.

Interested in Amazon’s KDP Select program? Here is one self-published author’s explanation on how it worked for her. Or more to the point, how it didn’t work.

And finally, three suggestions from my friend Kathleen, co-author of Dog Daze, book one of The S.A.V.E. Squad. She and I both use Scrivener, and here are some useful templates from Mel Corbett. Kathleen put a QR (Quick Response) code on her business card, which I thought was totally cool! Here is an article by Athena Grayson explaining QR codes and how you can use them. Just in case you don’t visit this site very often, here is a reminder to bookmark it. Daily Cheap Reads is a site with all kinds of books listed to highlight some of the many potentially good ebooks selling for under $5. I’m pretty sure there is always at least one free ebook listed as well.

Interview: Lauraine Snelling and Kathleen Damp Wright, Authors of “Dog Daze”

I am so excited! My friends Lauraine and Kathleen have written a chapter book for ages 8-12 – Dog Daze, the first book in The S.A.V.E. Squad series – and it releases today from Barbour Books! And it’s Kathleen’s first book! Yay! I asked the ladies if they would stop by and join us for an interview. Please welcome Lauraine and Kathleen!

Kitty: How did the two of you meet and come to the idea of co-authoring a book?

Kathleen: I still don’t know how it started. I got a flyer for a writing conference I don’t remember asking to get.

Lauraine: We met when I was the teacher at a writer’s workshop in Grand Junction, CO, a bunch of years ago. We stayed in touch and became good friends, thank you Lord.

Kathleen: At the conference, she asked us to raise our hands if we were writers. I didn’t, because I was seriously discouraged about writing fiction for publication. I didn’t want to lie. She noticed that. Then, I said to Lauraine that it would be cool if I could come to her house and have her teach fiction tips. So she began a fiction intensive week at her house. I eventually ended up teaching at it.

Lauraine: We critiqued the projects we were working on separately and several years ago, came up the idea of this series. Now we go camping together, trailer/RV style and what do we talk about—-a lot? Why faith and writing, our two favorite topics. And our dogs. My rescue basset Sir Winston–

Kathleen: —And our rescue border collie, Cash the Wonder Dog.  The two couldn’t be more different.

Lauraine: We figure God has a plan for these two couples and this summer, I will have a bike to ride with the others too. Look out world.

Kathleen: I can’t wait. I found her a great bike for $27.50 that retailed for $399 and still looks new.

Lauraine: And yes, Cash the wonder dog, and Sir Winston C ob de mountains, go along–but not on the bikes. We hope that eventually they’ll become as good a friends as we are.

Kathleen: I am not optimistic.

Kitty: Good luck with that. Sounds like you’ll need it! So how are your work habits alike and different from each other?

Lauraine: We both love brainstorming, looking for the unusual and finding the humor in life’s situations. However, Kathleen is a techie whiz and I’m not. But she helps me along, dragging me into today’s world of technical wonders. I brainstorm on paper with a pen or pencil; she adores the cool programs that are out there to assist writers.

Kathleen: Yep. I’m always looking for a way to eliminate the paper issue since I don’t work at a desk. My “office” is wherever I’m sitting at the moment. I use Scrivener in a very basic way to get the scenes going for a story. I wish it was available on the iPad. I have also fallen in love with Evernote for my Android phone, my Mac, and my iPad. I love Infinotes for my iPad for brainstorming. I like moving stuff around.

Lauraine: We both trust that God will give us supremo ideas, and then use our work in ways we can’t even dream of. That makes for exciting discoveries and conversations.

Kathleen: I can tell you that there are things in Dog Daze that were a direct present from God, that’s for sure. They were dancing around and shouting moments when I saw how they enriched the story.

Kitty: Oo, I love stuff like that. How did you work the collaboration?

Lauraine: We brainstorm the ideas, both do research. My favorite is go to the place and talk with the people who are doing or have done what I need to know.

Kathleen: I’m lucky that I have been teaching long enough that there are almost always kids of some age that know about what I’m writing about. Like how whiskers work for cats. For the third book, Second-Hand Horses, I have a former student who is shooting pictures for me at her aunt’s ranch (’cause I need to see a barn and covered corral) and sending me YouTube videos on horses doing the very thing I need to know about. She’s loving it and so am I. I’ve gotten to see up close and personal the great work that rescue organizations are doing in my local area as well.

Lauraine: We go back and forth in the idea stage and critique the outline or synopsis. Then Kathleen writes the story with me commenting. We go back and forth with suggestions. We meet and talk more through; we both love to work in coffee shops with lattes at hand.

Kathleen: That’s my favorite way to work. Us with our husbands and dogs and RVs in the same place and finding the local coffee shop–with high speed wifi. And then a good hot tub later.

Lauraine: And then the final edits. Now we are learning more about marketing and publicity.  There’s a lot that goes into the making of a book that readers will love.

Kitty: I’ve brainstormed with you two in a hot tub. The ideas come faster than we can write them down! I understand you two used Skype to line edit the book together. How did that go?

Lauraine: We did use Skype and it was a great experience, me from my office in Tehachapi, CA–

Kathleen: —And me from my travel trailer on a lake in Utah where my husband and border collie were spending the month working and living. Lauraine kept talking about how amazing it was we could do this.

Lauraine: We went over Dog Daze line by line, word by word. What a marvelous way to rewrite and edit. Our editor was rather pleased too. So few changes needed.

Kathleen: As in about eight! And most of them were about timeline bumps that show up after chopping and editing.

Kitty: That’s amazing! Was this a first for you to publish a children’s book?

Kathleen: Yup! Well, make that, publish any book. I’m a complete newbie and shrieking my head off regularly now that I’ve touched Dog Daze, which is Book #1 of the four-book series The S.A.V.E. Squad. Miss Eight Million Published next to me here can tell you about her kid series.

Lauraine: Not a first for me. My lifetime dream was to write horse books for girls. So my first book was titled Tragedy on the Toutle about a family that lived in the valley when Mt. St. Helens erupted. The title now on the reissue is What About Cimmaron? By the way, a first clue for beginning writers is to write what you know. Cimmaron lived in our back yard and belonged to my daughter Marie and I. He was quite a character.

Since then I have written twenty children’s books with the horse theme, two series of ten books each. The Golden Filly series and the High Hurdles series. Both series are now available in four volumes of five books each.

Kitty: How is writing for children different from writing for adults?

Lauraine: The main difference is the age of the characters. The pacing is usually faster too with less introspection, characters thinking and feeling things. But readers of all ages have enjoyed these series because they are books about families.

Kathleen: I think the dialogue is different as well as word choice. Kids see things differently and can be very profound in a very short comment. The four girls and CP, the neighbor boy, all are smart kids who don’t miss much. As an example of a kid and their depth of feeling but short of speech, here’s a quote from the book that a reviewer used as a favorite: “”A forever home,” she said, rolling the words around in her mouth. They sounded safe.”

Kitty: There are four books, right? How did you get the idea for the series?

Lauraine: Kathleen and I have both had numerous rescued pets and I wrote an adult book called Breaking Free about rescued Bassets and Thoroughbred race horses who could no longer work the track. Disposable animals?  How sad, so we try to do something about that. But one day we were talking and you could have seen the lighbulbs going off over our heads. What if?

Kathleen: Two of my favorite words–what if. As a fiction coach, I gained the nickname The Whatif Girl.

Lauraine: Now those are two magic words for writers. What if we were to do a series for girls about rescuing animals? I think we’d just read one of those marvelous stories of all the great things that kids manage to accomplish. The ideas started popping and haven’t stopped.

Kitty: That’s so cool. And the girls are so different. How did you come up with such differences?

Kathleen: I wanted to make the girls very different and tie each girl’s story arc with the animal’s need. I was very intentional with where they each went to school and what their personalities were like. One 5-star review mentioned the girls were so diverse, any girl could find herself relating to one of them. That’s what I was going for!

Lauraine: That is always a goal for story tellers, make your characters different so they react to things differently, so the reader knows which character they are reading about at that moment. So we talked about general differences and then Kathleen hit on the different education programs for our girls. We thought of three, but then four girls and a neighbor boy  just kind of waved their hands and screamed “pick me, pick me.” So we did.

Kathleen: How the name of the squad came about was very cool. Makes me want to spin thinking about it! I can’t tell you anymore than that, ’cause you have to read the book, but it’s neat.

Lauraine: It really put some major pieces in the wild puzzle called, figure out the story. Just think how boring this world would be if everyone were exactly alike?

Kitty: So true. Which girl do you think you’re most like?

Lauraine: Probably Sunny since she is such a great example of a sanguine personality. And not finishing things? Hey, I’ve spent most of my life as the queen of starting great and then having another to-be-finished project somewhere. Sunny spins when she is excited and I rub my knuckles together and look about to fly. Just ask some of my cousins.  See me doing the eye roll thing. After all these years, that’s what they remember about me most? Not good.

Kathleen: Yayness! (one of Sunny’s words). She is the fave so far of everyone who’s read the book. For me, I’d like to be Sunny and have such a great view of life and fun. Some days I’m Sunny, only I wave my arms instead of spin. Other days, I’ve got my hands flying to my hips with a real Esther thing going on or I’m making lists like Vee. I’m not much like Aneta, although I have a friend who’s very MUCH like Aneta.

Kitty: This sound so fun! Are there any other children’s books planned from either of you?

Lauraine: I certainly hope so, although maybe a better term is dreamed rather than planned at the moment.

Kathleen: I have a magic realism series for the same age group that is close to getting the proposal finished. The rest are women’s contemporary and cozy mystery book and series ideas in varying stages of finished and pitch-able.

Kitty: What other books are in the works for you?

Lauraine: Since I write both contemporary and historical novels, I have others coming out in both genres. Currently I am finishing up a three-book series titled Wild West Wind, set in South Dakota. Wind Dancer is a black and white paint who excels in performing as part of a trick riding act, with his human Cassie. George the bull buffalo also plays a part, oh and don’t forget, Othello who likes to ride behind Cassie. Wind Dancer doesn’t mind.

Kitty: Wow, what a fascinating and exciting journey! I’m sure our readers will be looking for Dog Daze today, and your other books, too! Thanks so much for joining us!

Lauraine and Kathleen will be stopping in during the day to chat with us, so please leave your questions and comments below. Dog Daze is available today at your local bookstore and at online retailers. You can watch the totally cute book trailer on YouTube. I hope you enjoyed our interview!


Award-winning and best selling author Lauraine Snelling began living her dream to be a writer with her first published book for young adult readers, Tragedy on the Toutle, in 1982. She has since continued writing more horse books for young girls, adding historical and contemporary fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers to her repertoire. All told, she has more than sixty books published. You can follow her on Facebook.

Kathleen Wright teaches writing to homeschoolers and online college freshmen and can’t wait to buy a student’s first novel! Her first series debuts in March with book one Dog Daze in The S.A.V.E Squad series, co-authored with good friend Lauraine Snelling.When Utah-based Kathleen’s not dreaming up adventures for her characters, she’s riding bikes with her husband, playing pickleball, and trying to convince her rescued Border Collie that Mom knows best. Join her on Facebook and Twitter.

Author Crush Month: Kathleen Wright

My last guest for this month has a very exciting and inspiring story to share! Kathleen and I have been friends for over a decade, since we met at Lauraine Snelling’s Fiction Intensive. Since then we’ve shared all the ups and downs of the writing life – getting agents, losing agents, “almost” selling our books, hearing nothing at all.

Last year, I was afraid Kathleen had given up completely, so I started praying that God would help her to be at peace during this break but also help her to know when it was time to get back to writing. I was sooo excited when she and Lauraine called me in Sydney to tell me what happened! Please welcome Kathleen!

The Grace Note

In August, I stopped writing fiction. Stopped obsessing on how I was spending my time and how much time I was spending avoiding sitting down and working on fiction projects. Gave up the idea that I was actively working on a publishing career. Additional income was needed. It wasn’t coming in through fiction. I had been dropped by my agent the previous November. Had I been kidding myself I had what it took to be a published author?

So I quit. Or tabled it. Or set it aside. Not sure even now what’s the right term. Did I stop thinking about my stories or new story ideas? I did not. They flowed unchecked. Rather entertaining actually, because I didn’t plan on doing anything on them. At least not now. Maybe not ever.

I moved into online tutoring, began my eighth or ninth year of teaching writing at the homeschool cooperative, and started lifting weights–sporadically. I got pickleball started at my rec center, began BeamFit classes for balance and flexibility–sporadically. I continued to regret a prevailing pattern in my life–inconsistency.

Then I began to hear about grace and mercy in a sermon series. As a Christian, I’d heard about it lots before. I was, after all, saved by grace and not by anything I did. For some reason I thought the two words were interchangeable.

That grace is God’s enabling ability seemed a brand new thing. Call me a slow learner, hearing impaired, (insert your favorite NOT GETTING IT phrase).

A friend of mine is fond of repeating the Buddhist saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In the wonderfulness of God, I didn’t know I was ready, wasn’t thinking of getting ready, yet He showed up and began to shine some love light, in the form of grace.

The G-shells:

  • I am inside a huge plan orchestrated by God. Detonation: inside, by God. Gulp: huge
  • “Grace is the reign maker.” I’m not here just cuz… Reigning in life is more than having stuff… Detonation: Rain/reign, fall on me!
  • By the grace of God I am who I am. By the enabling ability of God I am who I am. Detonation: “Grace is the vehicle by which I travel; faith is the fuel.”
  • Grace is not a replacement for hard work and discipline. Detonation: It’s work powered by grace.

Then one Sunday I heard this: Learning how to do it all right is not grace–another G-shell detonated. I leaned over and whispered to my husband, “That’s what I’ve been doing with my fiction writing.”

I’d read all the techniques, faithfully ingested the “rules” of publishing and what sells and what isn’t, etc. Availing myself of the amniotic fluid of grace which surrounds me and doesn’t have to be chased or “got” had been a foreign concept. I was living as though grace had finished its work when I said yes to the sacrifice that Jesus offered as my way to become friends with God.

The pastor offered the opportunity to pray for those who might have stepped off the grace path. When he prayed for me, he said something about not thinking anything “outlandish” or too much. I thought of my fiction, tucked away in computer files.

That was Sunday, November 14.

On Wednesday, my dear friend Lauraine Snelling left messages on my cell and home phones. When I finally connected with her, she was barely able to speak for her excitement. A four-book series for ages 9-12 that we had developed in 2006 and put out for interest had been sold.

The first book in the series is scheduled to launch in Spring 2012.

Four years. I had quit. Grace hadn’t.

Thanks be to God!

Kathleen Wright caught, rather than sought, the moniker The What If Girl. She’s a fiction coach for beginning and multi-published writers, and gets to teach writing to fascinating junior and senior high school students in an educational co-op. Living in the Wasatch Mountains, she writes and plays and not always in that order. Follow her on Twitter as TheWhatIfGirl and tweet her with your fiction questions.

The premise for the first book in the new series, The S.A.V.E Squad: Since they can’t save the whole world, what about their piece of it? Four sixth grade girls join together as The S.A.V.E. Squad and tackle homeless dogs in book one, feral cats in book two, retired Thoroughbreds in book three and injured raptors in book four.  In helping the animals, they find themselves giggling, going deeper with God and growing up.