Tag: Writing

Off the Web: NaNoWriMO

Off the Web: NaNoWriMO

writer-at-work-150x150Hey Folks,

National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo, starts today!

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. I signed up with Entangled Publishing’s Entangled Smackdown with Savvy Authors this year to help me stay motivated too. It basically bonds me to my team with a promise to finish the challenge, write and check in every day, cheer on my teammates and write the darn book. <!–more–>


Even though, I love writing, for whatever reason, I am in need of deadlines and reasons to write. The Smackdown is very motivating because I don’t want to let the team down. I’m also a huge competitor so that’s super motivating.

Today I got to hang out with about 40 writers from here in DC, including our lovely host,multi-published author Kathy Seidel, and I shared a couch with RITA Award winner Diane Gaston. Osmosis works! And isn’t the axiom that if you want to be successful, then you need to hang around successful people?

All that being said, this is it for the blog in November. And I’m just gonna take off in December to do edits. With that, I’ll be back in January. I wish you all wonderful holidays, joyful ringtones and Happy Writing!


Military Monday: Author Karida Clarke

Military Monday: Author Karida Clarke

Today’s Military Monday features Author Karida Clarke. She is an Air Force girl through and through. She was born at RAF Lakenheath, England, and spent 11 years overseas as a kid. After she graduated high school, she went to the Air Force Academy and graduated as the top English major in 2002. Her military assignments took her to Delaware, Turkey, Germany, and back to the Air Force Academy. She separated to start a family in 2008, but this past year, she decided her kids were old enough that she was comfortable returning to service. She’s been in the Air Force Reserves in Ohio since 2013 and in many ways, it feels like she never left the military.
As a romance writer, Karida has a penchant for anything otherworldly. If it has scales, fur, poisoned talons, throws fire or casts magic spells, it might find its way into her stories. Karida likes her heroines multifaceted and her males swoon-worthy, Alpha-style. She believes that relationships matter more than things and places. In her free time, Karida enjoys lacing up for long runs and cooking ethnic cuisine. Pet peeves include Saran Wrap and people who don’t put their shopping carts away. She lives with her nerd-tastic husband and two spunky kids in Ohio.
Captured Heat is her first novel.
  • What is your favorite thing about the military life and why?
Without a doubt, my favorite thing about the military is the sense of community, of belonging and being a part of something bigger than myself. No matter where I am in the world, if I meet a veteran, there’s an instant bond, a mutual understanding.
  • What is one thing about the military life you wish you could change and how would you change it?
The transition from military to civilian life is one that I personally struggled with, and I know many, many friends struggled with as well. In addition to the sense of loss, I encountered a very real lack of respect for my years of experience. Most people assumed that what I was doing wasn’t “real” public relations, despite my interaction with media, journalistic experience, and community outreach management. The only jobs that seemed to take me seriously were government ones. As far as how to change that, well…it may mean better transition assistance programs, more help writing resumes, and perhaps most of all, fostering relationships in and out of the military to combat the loneliness and lost sense of purpose.
  • What issue does the DOD or VA need to work on? Why and how?
The DOD and VA need to work on procurement practices. As former U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra said in a recent Wall Street Journal interview, the government should develop a system and process to seek out the most innovative technology companies: “We live in this new world [of cloud, mobile, social software], and yet what we’re seeing is hundreds of millions of dollars being flushed down the toilet implementing legacy technology.” The current system wastes TONS of time and money.
  • What advice do you have for other military folks about living the military life?
Get out and see things! It drives me crazy when service members move to a new base and complain about how bored they are or how there’s nothing to do. I don’t care where you are in the world–there is something happening, and if there isn’t, you can MAKE it happen by creating a Meet-up group, organizing a game night, or simply going bowling. Usually, though, there are activities in the community around the base and people are just too hesitant to get outside their comfort zone and try them.
  • What is your writers journey: how did you start, what do you write and why?

captured heat

I’ve always had it in my mind that I would be a writer; when I was 7 yrs old, I said I wanted to be an author when I grew up. The path from then to now has involved lots of writing–mostly poems and papers throughout school and news articles in my military career–but it wasn’t until 2012 that I took the leap and decided to work on a novel, during National Novel Writing Month. That novel, a YA fantasy, will probably remain unfinished, but just that simple act of sitting down and making it a priority to be creative and write opened the floodgates and I’ve enjoyed getting to know myself as a writer and develop my craft. I plan to do lots more of it!
  • What advice do you have for new writers?
Don’t think about writing a book. It’s too overwhelming. Think about writing a paragraph. Then think about writing a scene…and so on. Before you know it, you’ll type “The End” and feel AMAZING.
  • What else would you like to add?
My debut novel, Captured Heat, features hunky Phoenix Warriors. I knew I wanted to write a paranormal romance, because I love the genre, but vampires and werewolves had been done, and done well, time and again. I cast about for mythological creatures that would work in a romance, and BAM!–who better to play a sexy hero than a guy who is literally hot? 🙂 I am having a lot of fun creating the stories for these hot Warriors and their strong women.
  • Give me three:
  1. Your three favorite places to write: Home, Library, Earth Fare (a healthy supermarket with killer green smoothies)
  2. Your three favorite military terms: FIGMO, Sierra Hotel, “high speed, low drag”
  3. Your three favorite authors or books: In the paranormal romance genre, Gena Showalter, Heather Killough-Walden, Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
For more about Karida, please visit her website at www.karidaclarke.com Her next book is scheduled for a June release.
New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

start lineOk, I’m doing it. I’m making writers resolutions. Well, ok, they aren’t all about writing and there isn’t just one. Normally, I think these are hokie but I’ve found that without goals, days just become one big ‘sit on the couch and watch tv’ cycle. Yuck!

So here I go. I resolve:

To write every single day. I’d like to see how many days I can go in a row. Hopefully 365. Well, I suppose since this is the 13th of January, I’ll try to go 352! And how you might ask? Hello 6:15. I plan to wake up 30 minutes earlier. If this doesn’t work, then right before bed. I am usually better at night but I love the still of the morning.

To go to the gym at least 4 days a week. This one shouldn’t be too hard because I generally do this anyway. It’s the fifth day where I start slacking. This again is done right after writing. Get it done first thing.

To my health: I want to eat one very large salad every single day. Another of those “how many days can I go things.” Something I try to do anyway, but now it’s a goal.

And lastly, to write a letter a month. An actual letter. You know with pen and paper. My grandfather loves to know what’s going on and so does my great-grandfather and letters are the best way to keep them informed. So, a letter a month.

So 2014 – bring it on!

Did any of you make resolutions? What are they? How do you plan to track them or make them work?

Writer Wednesday – Kathy Brandt

Writer Wednesday – Kathy Brandt

Kathy Brandt 1Welcome to Writer Wednesday! Today, I’m chatting with Author Kathy Brandt who grew up in a small town in Illinois, one of five kids. She was so distracted by what she considered other more interesting pursuits than college, it took her forever to get that bachelor’s degree. Ironic for a woman who eventually taught writing at the University of Colorado for ten years!

But in the meantime, she was a flight attendant, traveled the world for a year with “Europe on $5 a day” in her backpack, got married and had two wonderful kids, got divorced, finally finished her BA and earned her Master’s.  She didn’t start writing novels until she hit 50 and felt it was way overdue!

How did you get started? 

When my son, Max, was diagnosed with bipolar illness, I became a vocal advocate for those with KathyMax3mental illness. I was on the Board of Directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Colorado Springs (NAMI-CS) for six years, and served as President.  In 2012 I received the NAMI National Award for outstanding service to the organization.  Max and I spent several years writing about our struggle with mental illness and recently published Walks on the Margins.

 Where do you get your material?

My husband and I SCUBA dive and sail.  In fact, that’s where a lot of the material for my diving mysteries comes from.  We sailed and dived in the British Virgin Islands and Caribbean, which is where the mysteries are set.  I love the ocean and the people who live in the islands and being able to incorporate that love into my writing is wonderful for me.  We travel a lot, most recently to China and Africa.  We live in the mountains of Colorado with our spoiled cat, Willy.


Have you always been a writer?

Probably since I could hold a pencil.  As a kid, I would write in notebooks, toy with poetry.  I’ve kept a journal on and off for years.  I turn to it especially when things are interesting or when life gets tough or confusing.  It allows me to remember, clarify, and get through hard times.



Walk on the Margins cover (small)

I’m also an avid reader.  If I don’t have a book by the side of my bed at all times, I go into withdrawal.  At eleven or twelve I devoured every Nancy Drew mystery published. When the last of our kids left for college, I started the first book of my Underwater Investigation Series.


What is your writing process and how did you develop it?    

I’m very disciplined.  When I had deadlines for the mysteries, I was at the computer by 9:00 and often worked through lunch.  If I was on a roll I was still writing when my husband forced me to eat dinner. I don’t believe you can sit around and wait for inspiration.  If I’d done that I would have never gotten anything written.  I’ve learned to plant myself in the chair and get to it.


I’d kept a careful record of events during the years of my son’s illness so I was able to refer to it to write Walks on the Margins.  Max and I have tried to tell an honest though often painful story that ends with the understanding that mental illness is for life but that redemption and recovery are pScreenshot 2013-10-16 02.14.27ossible.  Obviously we knew the material inside out so we wrote about every episode and its aftermath.  Then we outlined the book to get a complete picture of what we’d done and did a lot of restructuring and rewriting, cutting material, and working on the story arc.


The process is very much the same for my Underwater Investigation Series except for the fact that I generate the stories (in other words make it all up!) because they are fiction.  

** I start by doing some general research and plotting.

** I simply can’t outline my fiction because about a quarter of the way through, I don’t know what should happens next.   Instead, I do time lines and character descriptions.

** Then I write the entire book.

 ** I find comfort in Anne Lamont’s statement that everyone deserves the luxury of writing “shitty first drafts.”  Mine definitely fit that category.

 ** But it happens that I love the rewriting process.  My first draft is my chance to discover meaning—what it is that I really want this book to be about.

** When I have a story—a beginning, middle, and end—I revise and revise.  I move scenes, drop characters, cut, paste, add, subtract and then I toy with prose.



Screenshot 2013-10-16 02.14.12What advice do you have for writers of any stage?

You have towrite.  The more you do, the better you’ll get.  People talk about waiting for the muse.  That just doesn’t happen for me, and I don’t think it happens for very many other writers either. Inspiration comes when you write and if it doesn’t, well you have to write anyway.  You need to start and finish.  If you wait, it never happens.  You’ve got to go sit down at the computer or pick up the pen and write.   Sometimes you’ll look at your work and think “What junk,” but that’s okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  You can always go back and rework. And find a good critique group.


How can people find you and your books?

–Walks on the Margins: A Story of Bipolar Illness is available in both ebook and trade paperback on Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble.

–Find out more about me and Max and our memoir at our websites:  www.kathybrandtauthor.comwww.maxmaddox.net

The Hannah Sampson Underwater Investigation Mysteries are available as e-books on Amazon  and Barnes and Noble. Website: www.csi-underwater-mysteries.com


Screenshot 2013-10-16 02.14.03Screenshot 2013-10-16 02.14.20

NaNoWriMo 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013

2013-Participant-Facebook-ProfileI’m participating in National Novel Writing Month.

50,000 words. One novel. 30 days.

Crazy? Probably. Fun? Absolutely!

NaNoWriMo 2013 is my second NaNo, and I’m determined to be a bit more prepared than I was last year.

I have a great group of buddies who are participating. The accountability to them and competition to get the words on the page pushes me to score the proverbial touchdown.

I’ve plotted everything out. My daily word objective is 2000. That’s slightly over what is required but hopefully, that means I’ll finish up with a couple of days to spare. As opposed to last year when I wrote 13,000 words in the last two days, because there was no way I was dragging my friend Liz into doing it and then bailing on her. See? Competition is motivating. Well, maybe it was guilt.

My novel this year is the third in my BattleScar series. This one deals with Women Veterans and military sexual assault issues.

My stab at the log line is:

Luke Blackerby returns to Sweet Gypsy Lake, Alabama, to find his long love Amy still there but is torn when War Veteran Keiran stumbles into town, broken and helpless. Will he have what it takes to save the lives of the two women he loves and to choose the one who owns him?

Wish me luck because this will be a whirlwind!