The Addicted Writer’s 12-Step Plan (part 4)

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imagesLet’s pick up where we left off in part 3 regarding ‘Author Platform’ which, we determined, you need to have before you are an author.

For starters, choose as many of the social media options you are comfortable with and check them daily to add material and reply to comments. If you are only comfortable with one form of social media, learn a second, and once you are comfortable with two, add a third. Work your way up to as many as you can truthfully be enthusiastic about and have time to visit almost daily (daily is best).

You don’t have to spend much time on any one of them and can upload nearly the same comment to each. I suggest gearing it differently for, say, LinkedIn than you would Pinterest. Keep the type, mood, and readership of the social media site in mind when you post.

Every writer is different. What your day job is, what your personal interests are, what genre you are writing in (especially to what age group) will help determine social media sites you might thrive best on.

Be sure to create a personal website, too. This website should be your name as an author, not a book title, because hopefully you will have many books (eventually) and you can house them all on your personal website.

Blog a couple times a week (500 words is plenty) and upload the link to sites like FB, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Once you are published be sure to have author pages on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Be sure that your blog is also posted there.

Participate in blog shares with other authors you meet at conferences, author organizations you belong to, or in-house authors through your publisher. What is a blog share? You interview other authors and run it on your site (upload the link on all your social media sites, of course) and visa versa.

Before and during your ongoing author platform building, you should seriously consider having a publicist. A PR person will do the things you absolutely hate doing, like securing book signings, radio shows, local TV, etc. Of course, if you’re like me, you will refuse to do half of the things your PR person books, which wastes their time and your money, so I strongly suggest that you have good communication with your publicist.

Make it very clear what your comfort zone is, as opposed to what causes paranoia in you to the point of needing to pop meds.

It is also good to know your strengths. For instance, I know I am a good speaker because I give lectures all the time when teaching college. Practice makes perfect, and then becomes a comfort zone. I am all about signings, too. I love hosting workshops and visiting book clubs… but I refrain from TV and radio.

I cringed the first time I heard myself on radio and wanted to change the channel when I appeared on TV. I didn’t query others to find out if they had this same reaction to my voice on the former and appearance on the latter. I simply refused to ever do either one again.

Let’s just say it wasn’t my comfort zone and that was all too apparent, which I believe can be more counterproductive than helpful when trying to sell books. Of course, if I had the desire to improve at radio or TV, then I could dust myself off, polish my approach to both, and make them a comfort zone.

But I don’t want to.

And that’s okay.

No one expects you to be on every social media site or participate in every type of in-person promotion. You need to be true to YOU, which means respecting your personal interests and comfort zone, as long as you can find successful and meaningful ways to communicate with your readership.

It helps to be flexible. If suddenly I became a New York Times Best Selling author, you better believe I am not turning down an opportunity to be interviewed by Matt Lauer.

Speaking of Best Sellers, in Part 5 we will discuss what literary contest judges look for to determine whether or not your manuscript might become one. Stay tuned…

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Kathryn’s next novel, Journey, will be released September, 2015 by Winter Goose Publishing

Author Badge 2015 2

 

 

 

Personal blog and website: http://kathrynmattingly.com Edgy Words Unleashed

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmattinglyauthor

WGP page: http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/kathryn-mattingly/

The Addicted Writer’s 12-Step Plan (part 3)

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In parts 1 & 2 of this series we discussed writing that synopsis or book proposal once your work has been perfected and is ready for a publisher. We then looked at all the publishing options out there to choose from.

In terms of traditional publishing, we discussed how getting an agent would be your first step toward securing a traditional publisher such as one of the 5 major New York conglomerates. Who are these major publishing houses with their endless trickle down divisions?

The top 5 include Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House and Simon & Schuster. Each of those have many ‘specialized’ offshoots such as, for example, St. Martin’s Press – a division of Macmillan – and so on.

There are countless independent presses popping up across the country and generally, they are each specializing in certain genres or printing styles to distinguish themselves and to stay focused on a particular product in order to do it better than anyone else. REALLY specialized independents are also called ‘boutique’ publishers.

How do you get an agent in order to reach any of these old school or new school traditional publishers? You can write a query letter and mail it to as many agents as you can find via the Internet. However, I am not going to cover ‘how to write a query letter’ here, because it is the least likely way that you will find an agent.

Trust me on this.

The best and easiest way by far to get an agent is through writing conferences.

If you have taken the time and money to attend a writing conference, it shows the agents at that conference how you are serious about your writing and have probably done your homework toward understanding and utilizing all the information out there toward writing a publishable (could sell and make a profit) book.

You need to behave as a professional would at any career-oriented conference when attending these writing gigs. Be careful what you say and do, how you look and how you project yourself as a possible published author who would then be representing the publishing house that you are (want to be) under contract to.

ALWAYS remember that if you are going to sell books, you will need to be personable, friendly, outgoing, and put together in a pleasing way for your fans to approach and connect with. These are the things an agent is looking for in you- besides a great read.

Think of it as part 3 of your writing career. Part 1 was realizing that you did not write the great American novel the first time you went crazy with pen and paper.

Part 2 is writing what might be the great American novel after soliciting lots of oral (critique groups, etc.) and written ( ‘how to’ books and social media articles, etc.) help to improve your skills since the first time around. Part 3 is finding someone (trained to recognize this) who agrees with you.

Part 4 is how to transition into being a published author and part 5, well part 5 is maintaining authorship so that you don’t slip back down into part 3 because your books aren’t selling and your publisher has dropped you.

How do you avoid that not-selling-books part you ask? Another great question, which leads to your new buzz phrase once you have decided you wish to play this game and play it well. These are 2 words you should wake up to every morning. I strongly suggest that you tape them to your refrigerator.

Author. Platform.

Unless your name is JK Rowling, or a small handful of other best selling authors where your author platform magically appears simply by being the best at what you do and selling so many books it’s impossible to FAIL at ‘author platform’ you will need to focus on it as much as you do your writing.

Let’s just say it helps to be good at multitasking.

And don’t think you can ignore this buzzword until that beautiful first book shows up on bookshelves. Having a blog following and strong social media presence is required upfront, meaning that one of the first questions an agent will ask you after deciding that you can actually write is… tell me about your fan base as a writer.

If you don’t have a fan base already started, it could be a deal breaker.

Crazy, right?

Whatever happened to the craft standing on its own merit? The answer to that is another blog series. So, let’s focus on this blog series for now…. and on what YOU need to do in order to create that all-important readership…. UPFRONT.

Stay tuned for part 4…

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Kathryn’s next novel, Journey, will be released September, 2015 by Winter Goose Publishing

Author Badge 2015 2

 

 

Personal blog and website: http://kathrynmattingly.com Edgy Words Unleashed

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmattinglyauthor

WGP page: http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/kathryn-mattingly/

 

 

The Addicted Writer’s 12-Step Plan (part 2)

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imagesIn the first post of this series we discussed writing a synopsis (fiction) or a book proposal (memoir). This is the first thing a literary contest, agent, or publisher will see. That makes it more important than you might think, which is unfortunate, because writers suck at writing this important road map.

How do I know this you ask?

Because I have seen over 300 synopses before reading, critiquing, and judging those manuscripts for the very large literary contest I have been volunteering my services to for over a decade now.

Luckily for the writers of these terrible synopses, I don’t let their lack of skills with laying out their plan affect my opinion of how well they actually write those first 30 pages of the manuscript.

Speaking of how publishers will read your road map before experiencing firsthand the journey that would be your book, they are the next step to consider in that 12-Step plan. It is not news to anyone that publishing has become quite a diversified field. Here is how it breaks down:

3-Publishing: Do your homework on your publishing options. This, obviously, is not one of the criteria on the sheet we follow to judge manuscripts, but I have inserted it as an important step in my fiction-memoir writing class for those would-be authors who need to know what to do once they have written their Great American Novel.

There is a sea of publishing options out there including large traditional publishers (mainly based in New York), and small independent and boutique publishers (still traditional).

There are also hybrids, which offer something between an independent press and self-publishing (non traditional because you pay them for their services), self-publishing – which provides all the services you could ever need or want (you pick what services by what price you’re willing to pay) and purely independent self-publishing.

In that last category (purely independent) you man your own ship from start to finish, with no one to hold your hand, support your efforts, or share much of your profit. Of course, you need to be a savvy computer program whiz to pull this last option off without needing psychiatric sessions.

Large publishers give you little to no control over anything from editing to your front cover. They do, however, write you a check up front to ease the pain of turning your baby over to them after the excruciating process of birthing and raising it to be world-ready.

Independent and boutique (which specializes in certain genres or a certain image) publishers do not write you a check up front, but they don’t charge you anything either and you share in the royalties at a better cut. You also have tons of control over your editing, front cover art, and all other factors such as in-house marketing strategies.

Hybrid and full service self-publishing companies offer you quality services for a price. The difference is that the hybrid companies might turn you away if your work is not of a standard they deem worthy, whereas straight-up self-publishing companies are not concerned with the quality of your work if your money is green and plentiful.

Pure independent self-publishing (usually through internet sites such as Amazon) only require your ability to maneuver through it, and generally do not charge you for using their self-publishing program; however they do want a portion of your profit. For clarification, ALL forms of publishing will take a portion of your profit. 

4-Agents: Speaking of publishers, traditional publishing will not (as a rule) take un-agented manuscripts, which means if you have chosen this route, you will need an agent. You do not pay agents up front, but if they sell a publisher on your manuscript they will expect a percentage of the profit from your book sales. What do you get in return for going traditional by paying an agent AND a publisher part of your profit?

That’s a good question. Truthfully, it narrows down to credibility, and knowing that you have made the grade. Your work has stood out above all the other work out there, and like fine art, is generally valued by the caliber of gallery that will accept it. This is because experts in the field (professional agents and editors) have the well-honed skills necessary for skimming the cream off the top.

If nothing else, it will certainly help establish you as a serious author sooner, and it will bring greater attention to your book when released. Traditional magazines and the top tier of social media marketers will review your book, because someone other than you and a self-publishing service have deemed it as worthy-mention.

Having said all that, obviously, there are a lot of very good quality novels out there that chose to take a more independent path because it is much less of a hassle and the more independent your publishing route, the more of your profit you keep. It is also true that anyone can pay independent book reviewers such as Kirkus for a review. Regardless of your publishing credits or lack there of, the cream will always float to the top. And that’s the beauty of it. In the end, the reader decides.

As it should be.

It is also important that your novel get noticed. No one can read or appreciate something they don’t know about, no matter how good it is. If you have decided to go the route of traditional publishing, that means the first person who needs to know about and appreciate your work is an agent.

How do you get an agent you ask? This is another good question. Stay tuned for the answer and more to come in the 12-step series…..

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Kathryn’s next novel, Journey, will be released September, 2015 by Winter Goose Publishing

Author Badge 2015 2

 

 

 

Personal blog and website: http://kathrynmattingly.com Edgy Words Unleashed

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmattinglyauthor

WGP page: http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/kathryn-mattingly/

The Addicted Writer’s 12-Step Plan

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This past couple of weeks between speaking engagements and teaching my novel writing class at the college, I have been critiquing and judging manuscripts for an annual literary contest. I’ve been doing this for ten years now- reading these entries for this particular conference in Seattle. Every year the manuscripts get better.

Bottom line- there is some tough competition out there.

Between the continual barrage of informative articles posted on social media and the countless ‘how to’ writing books, the ambitious and inspired would-be author is obviously listening, and taking the information to task.

Good for them!

Funny, but all I heard for the last several years was how the new ease of self- publishing would suffocate and all but stamp out pen-worthy writing. Not so, apparently. The flooded market has simply made the more determined writers more deliberate in their approach, so they will stand out.

By paying attention to authors, their publishers, and book sales over the past decade I have concluded it isn’t great marketing alone that sells books, and great books will not necessarily sell well on their own. Ultimately, it takes a winning combination of good marketing for a good book to achieve great sales.

There is the occasional exception. Free enterprise is often about offering you products without any quality control whatsoever. But hey, when someone can make a million bucks writing socially acceptable porn it just shows that America will always be a land of opportunity.

Amen to that.

If you have decided to take the high road, by going in the opposite direction of pure sensationalism, then what I will be covering in my blog posts for the next several weeks are the 12-step plan you might want to invest in.

This series to success (which I teach at the college in my fiction-memoir writing class) includes the specific elements we are to use as our guide when critiquing and judging those literary contest entries, so if you want to have a winning book, I hope these sobering truths that I will share over the next few weeks will be your commandments to faithfully complete.

1-Synopsis: The first entry in this 12-step series is the dreaded synopsis, which is the first thing any agent, editor, publisher, or contest judge will see if you are writing fiction. It’s more important than you think because it sets the mood for this stop-gate reader. If they find it confusing, boring, or irrational thinking, well, then you might be done before they have begun to even read your well-penned words  

Whether being asked for a short 1 page synopsis or a more in-depth 2-3 pager, it should be a concise summary with no flattery or embellishments. Just a straight talking road map of your plot and character arcs, which means you will have a heroes journey for your main character clearly laid out, without holding back on what the resolution is.

The difference between that short synopsis and a longer one will be the inclusion of exactly what those plot twists and turns are, and a few words on any secondary scenarios percolating beneath the surface of your main plot.

Be sure to mention the growth your protagonist will experience by the time things are wrapping up. If your plot isn’t plausible and doesn’t stand out as being interesting and dynamic- don’t expect a callback from an agent.

2-Book Proposal: If you are writing nonfiction such as a memoir or a creative narrative, you will not be writing a synopsis, but a book proposal instead. Make sure that your premise and the purpose for it is clear. Unless you have endeared yourself to an agent or publisher for which you have made a substantial profit, also be sure the entire manuscript has already been written and perfectly polished before sending out that book proposal.

Why write a book proposal if you’ve already written the book? Well you wouldn’t, if you were an established author and proven money maker, but even if you’re a novice, you have to play the game according to the rules. Remember, book proposals are written for traditional publishers, including the agents and editors that represent them. Nothing defines traditional publishing better than their well-established rules and reputation for following them.

Your trump card is not having a time lapse between when interest is shown and the manuscript shows up. It will be harder to forget who you are that way, since you are virtually a nobody… for now, at least, until you play your cards right and that manuscript finally goes to press.

Speaking of going to press, next week I will blog about what press, exactly, your book might be going to when I discuss publishing options; a virtual Pandora’s Box of choices (some more accessible than others).

Stay tuned for part 2….

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Kathryn’s next novel, Journey, will be released  September, 2015

by Winter Goose Publishing Author Badge 2015 2

 

 

Personal blog and website: http://kathrynmattingly.com Edgy Words Unleashed

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmattinglyauthor

WGP page: http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/kathryn-mattingly/

 

 

 

50 Shades of Questionable (versus Disney Fairy Dust)

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You might ask why I would attend a 50 Shades of Questionable film based on the underdeveloped characters of a far from quintessential novel series, and my only answer would be c.u.r.i.o.s.i.t.y.

I needed to see for myself whether even the best of screenwriters could create meaningful dialogue from, well, what they had to work with.

What I discovered is that helicopters and gliders make breathtaking romance when expertly and artistically filmed for the big screen. Those two scenes encompassed the only tension and titillating sensations this movie had to offer.

What the film mainly did is create disturbing questions that I have no answers for. Those dark thoughts about everything wrong with Shades of Grey have kept me awake recently more hours of the predawn than most horror flicks.

For starters, why would any woman, let alone lots of women want to stare at a 20-something naked female for nearly 20 minutes while being victim to and humiliated by an older, rich and relationally challenged male? IS THAT SEXY? IS THAT EVEN OKAY?

The mother of 50 Shades star Dakota Johnson is actress Melanie Griffith, who starred in a 1992 movie called Shining Through. One of my favorite all time films, it literally oozed romance and sexual tension between Melanie’s character and the hero, played by Michael Douglas.

There was no explicit nudity and no humiliation. These two courageous characters had an all consuming love for one another that grew out of mutual admiration and respect, beginning with their camaraderie regarding a shared WW2 mission to help their country.

Meanwhile, right now in 2015, Melanie’s daughter is starring in a film where she is exposed as a sexual object strictly for a controlling, power-hungry man’s gratification, and we are calling this a love story. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

‘Shining Through’ was about finding love amidst heroism and sacrifice to help others during a time when women’s rights were lagging behind what they are now, in lieu of the disturbing narcissism of our non hero, and the even more disturbing naiveté of our non heroine from 50 Shades of Wrong, over 20 years later, when equality should have moved forward rather than digressing!

This Shady flick has been made during a time when violence against women is a huge issue worldwide, and yet WOMEN are causing these books and this film to make millions of dollars surrounding a subject matter they should be running away from- not toward.

I asked a lot of different women why they read the books, and they all gave me the same answer. “The sex was boring, but I kept reading because of the love story.” Hmmm. So with thousands of great writers writing books full of tension-filled chemistry between well-developed and interesting heroes and heroines, women are choosing to read this series for a love story filled with countless annoying clichés and two very underdeveloped main characters…. why?

Apparently, it was worth forging forward to see if Ana could cure Christian of his need for total dominance over women, and to discover what abuse he encountered to cause such beastly behavior in him. Lest you see a beauty and the beast theme here, however, let me remind you that just the opposite of Christian Grey, Disney’s beast was physically gentle toward his fair maiden, despite a beastly appearance.

For me, it became increasingly harder to see Ana as anything other than a very naïve young woman who had succumbed to the wiles of a wicked (albeit abused) heart simply because she was so stricken by his ‘princely’ appearance and traditional ‘royalty’ attributes such as power, wealth, and dominance over his kingdom.

Taking all of that into account, what does the popularity of this series say about our society? Well, if you want my opinion (in case you weren’t sure yet what that is) I think it says 50 shades of the wrong thing. Now just how dismally ‘Grey’ is that?

But take heart!

I saw another film recently and it gave me hope for the right kind of romance between strong empowered heroines and good-deed driven heroes. What was this amazing film you ask? Why, Cinderella, of course. Now you might think a Disney flick such as that could not be hopeful. We all know that Prince Charming would need a Christian Grey type flogging to be transformed into what Disney would have us believe men naturally are, at least in the prince department.

True enough.

However, there were some valuable takeaways from the Cinderella story. The two main themes were courage and kindness, emphasizing that both mean forgiving others for having neither. The courage to believe in yourself, and to believe that kindness can triumph over cruelty were also important points made in the movie. Perfect themes for a four year old! (And by the way, taking a little girl to this show is simply golden for time well spent. I highly recommend it!)

Watching the fairy godmother turn a pumpkin into a carriage and mice into horses was more exciting than leather riding crops and peacock feathers being used inappropriately. The scene was positively enchanting! Cinderella and the prince dancing at the ball took my breath away, whereas seeing a young maiden unclothed in 50 Shades just made me want to cover her up and have Christian Grey locked in the attic instead of Cinderella.

Perhaps we should lock everyone who bought the novels in the attic as well, with a stack of better books to read than 50 Shades of anything that sets women back rather than moving them forward in our quest for equality.

Or, we could just have the courage to forgive them, out of kindness… and hope that they improve their reading habits. (;

 

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Kathryn’s next novel is coming soon… September 2015.

 

 

 

Personal blog and website: http://kathrynmattingly.com Edgy Words Unleashed

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE

WGP page: http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/kathryn-mattingly/

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmattinglyauthor

 

Valerie V

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My friend, Valerie Weinberg, is not only beautiful on the outside, she is equally stunning on the inside… sensitive, smart, kind, and creative. Those four words sum up what is needed to be on my preferred people list.

People who are sensitive think before they speak or act, and if what they have to say or want to do regarding any controversial or difficult situation is not going to be helpful or encouraging to someone, they don’t say or do it. This is something I fully appreciate in a person. People with this quality are such a stand out, only a small handful come to mind, and not coincidentally, are among my good friends.

Those few times I have not been sensitive myself I have lived to regret it. Sensitivity is not an easy task, which makes it an admirable trait.

Smart is something we all define differently depending on our interests, and more importantly, on our lack of interest. We all look less than smart when we don’t know anything about something the person we are interacting with is passionate about.

Intelligence matters, I cannot deny it, but on the other hand I have met some pretty smart people who did not do well in school. School smarts and street smarts rarely align.

Granted I am a nerd. I not only excel at school, I am more comfortable in an academic setting. I could never tire of studying literature and writing essays about it, or studying anything and writing essays about it, quite frankly. Yet some people perceive me as a bit dense.

I can’t say as I disagree with them. I am not street smart, which includes deciphering exactly what it is some people are asking, or saying, or expecting from me in certain social settings. That lack of intuitiveness for how the minds of some people function can make you look rather stupid when at a loss for how to interact with them, or respond in a manner they will appreciate. People skills, obviously, fall into street smarts.

Kindness, thankfully, is less confusing. You either are or you aren’t. You don’t have to know a person very long to make that call. Some people tolerate unkind people quite well. It doesn’t bother them when someone gossips, makes fun of others, says detrimental things about a person’s character, mistreats or disrespects those who are close to them, or otherwise back stabs and claws their way around whomever they perceive to be competition.

Some people actually see this as being strong, tough, and successful rather than weak, cowardly, and well, a failure at what matters most- human kindness.

I am willing to admit that creativity is a wild card in my scenario. It is very important to me because it is more than an interest and passion of mine, it is the most important part of who I am. I lose my sense of joy when I cannot express it. I suddenly understand someone when I see theirs. It breaks down barriers instantly for me and opens a path of communication.

Does this mean I have no true and valued friends that are not creative? Of course not. It simply means if I can put those 4 little words together (sensitive, smart, kind, and creative) in one person, there’s a really good chance they will be on my ‘A’ list.

And Valerie Weinberg is on my ‘A’ list!

If you know Val, I am sure you aren’t going to miss this wonderful event the ‘Valerie V Vibe’ is holding in the Sacramento Theater Company cabaret space. Val and her amazing band will be performing Gershwin, Porter, and more — including songs by the Sacramento Business Journal’s Ed Goldman (his musical, Friday@5, had its world premier at STC in 2008).

Ed Goldman, by the way, is one of the most creative people I have ever had the privilege to meet and call a friend. One of my most vivid California memories is a Christmas party at Ed’s house, listening to him and Val play the piano and sing songs from Ed’s musical.

It was the closest I will ever come to knowing what it feels like to be in the home of real Broadway Stars performing for only a handful of guests. Simply divine is all I can say about that evening.

If you have an opportunity to attend this event, do it, and create a few memories for yourself.

Here are the details:

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Wednesday, February 11, 6:30pm

Valerie V at STC – A Vocal Valentine (with full quartet)

Tickets
$20 in advance | $25 at the door

Reservations
916 205-4001

Location
Sacramento Theater Company
1419 H Street
Sacramento, CA

A Room With a View

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There is nowhere in the world with the same look and feel as Central Oregon. The scruffy evergreens grow straight and proud, their bark slightly red and peeled. The sharp smell of pine never leaves your memory. No matter how long you have been away the return of that dry, aromatic scent brings you full circle in life, back to every moment spent within their forests.

We recently moved into a home cradled among those signature trees, and equally watched from above by a cluster of mountains in the Cascade Range. Each window sheds light on a different peak. Every room in the house is a room with a view. If not of blue-green pines with rough red bark, then of snow-covered mountains and piercing blue sky.

It feels good to be back in Oregon, to be home at last.

The window wall upstairs is a sea of stars by night. I stare into the depth of those twinkling lights and remember a time not long ago when I looked out the window and realized I had lost the night, lost my way in the darkness of a bad economy – yes, but quite literally, I had lost the night for a whole year.

It’s called apartment living. The lights are always on in an apartment complex. People come and go every hour of the 24 afforded them. They work day shifts, night shifts, two shifts, and sometimes 6 days a week averaging over 10 hours a day like my husband, for example.

Day fades into night and night fades into exhaustion, the kind of tired that allows you tunnel vision, so you can focus on survival and not fret about your future. This is what losing the night does to one’s spirit, it erodes the possibilities for wishing on a star or finding solace in the sliver of a moon.

Regardless of a moon or no moon, stars or no stars, overworked and underpaid or not- we didn’t give up hope. We didn’t quit trying to find a solution, the right answer; the door ajar to a new life, a new job, and a new state if possible. California had not, afterall, been especially kind to us.

And then one day not long ago it felt as if God had looked us in the eye, and kissed our cheek. His presence came in the form of a job that appeared almost out of nowhere- like so many my husband had applied for, only to watch them vanish into never-never land. But this one didn’t.

We could almost see the sky open up and the sea part as ducks fell neatly into a row and marched us down the path of a preordered destiny. As if the power of nature itself was willing the march into new terrain – Central Oregon terrain. Exactly where we wanted to be but dared not dream could ever happen.

What have I learned from this whirlwind relocation after several years of one job lead drying up after another?

Never question the power of purpose.

Whoever or whatever you refer to as that greater being that created you and perhaps lives within you, or beyond you, maybe even all-consuming of you – is not to be denied.

I personally believe that much of scripture’s profound truisms will be revealed to us if given the chance. By trial and error we learn how all the lessons are, well, worth taking notes on.

For instance- patience really is a virtue. One I have never possessed, but thankfully my husband does because in the end, after I had all but given up- he had not. He forged on, continuing to apply for positions despite how they vanished into thin air.

Thanks to his patience we are now exactly where we want to be, and he has a job that he loves. I am hoping to get on at one of the two colleges here and it looks promising. Dare I say I have faith it will work out?

California seems a bit like a restless, disturbing dream of the past at this point. A place where you had to hang on to your hat for fear that a coastal wind off the Bay might blow it away, exposing your vulnerable head to the endless, scorching, sun-filled days.

When I first moved to the Golden State, I read East of Eden. Who knew by the end of my decade here the book would resonate with me in more ways than I might have ever thought possible at the time?

This land of plenty houses some of the world’s best wines and has become quite sophisticated since Steinbeck wrote his novel. Nonetheless, California has remained a delicate balance of the rich and plenty versus the grapes of wrath.

I don’t regret my time in California. Quite the contrary, it has been a decade to remember. It will be my fifth novel. (Journey, my second novel, will be released in 2015, followed by a couple more already penned.)

Now, while I fall asleep to millions of stars outside the window of my Central Oregon home, bits and pieces of people and places from that ten-year time twinkle brightly in my mind, giving me a burning desire to write about them.

I have made some amazing friends during my California adventure, and have done some daring things, even some ground breaking things- like, for instance, getting my first novel published (Benjamin) and finally getting my short story collection released (Fractured Hearts).

But it’s the people I will remember most – those I came to know well. Those I came to love. Salt of the earth, they are. Just like good people everywhere, in any state or country, they are what matter; what make our journey palatable, meaningful, rich and full regardless of the economy or any other calamity that befalls us.

It is other people that help us understand ourselves singularly and as a society. The ones that penetrate our hearts make our heavy loads lighter. They give us hope.

They shine like stars from the windows of our minds.

I can only hope to capture their souls on paper, as I write about the last ten years… from my room with a view.

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Kathryn’s next literary suspense novel, Journey, will be released in 2015.

 

 

 

 

Personal blog and website: http://kathrynmattingly.com Edgy Words Unleashed

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE

WGP page: http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/kathryn-mattingly/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmattinglyauthor

TW: @KathrynWriter

 

 

 

 

 

Something to be thankful for…

Fall in Bend, OR

Fall in Bend, OR

It is almost time for the holiday that causes one to reflect on their blessings in life. As I make a mental note of what I am most thankful for… not moving to Colorado in March tops the list, right behind a great family and good health.

Why you ask? Well, because although at one time we had hoped to live in Colorado, Dennis recently accepted a job offer (that hasn’t fallen through so far…) to live in the number 1 place on the globe we have always wanted to be. Central Oregon.

He recently accepted a position in the Bend- Redmond area as a Utility Specialist Arborist for CN Utility Consulting Company. Basically, he gets a brand new full-sized 4 wheel drive truck and can travel all around Central Oregon managing vegetation along BPA transition power lines. Needless to say he is looking forward to the independent position with its wide open spaces and no one to fence him in.

Personally, I cannot think of a location that would support my efforts more as an author. I smile just thinking about the other writers there I am excited to meet. Oregon is a mecca of creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who are also independent, headstrong, and sharp as the icicles that hang from the coffeehouses every time a winter snowstorm hits.

They are my kind of people, and it is my kind of climate- 300 days of sunshine and 4 completely over-the-top seasons that will knock your socks off for color and dimension.

I am hoping to get on at the college in Bend. I have already applied for a FT tenure position as an English (writing) Professor. It would be a miracle to get the job, considering how there are probably some very well-qualified adjuncts already on the campus and waiting in line for this coveted position.

Regardless, I will do whatever I can at the college until a teaching position opens up. I can’t wait to become fully acquainted with the campus, students, faculty, and administrators. Being involved in the Bend-Redmond community in general is something we are both very much looking forward to.

Hopefully all our Cali friends will be visiting frequently for long weekends. We told them they are welcome to do their hiking, biking, shopping, site seeing, wine tasting, art browsing, and/or skiing by day, while sitting around our porch (or fireplace) by night.

It is the best way to enjoy good friends – one-on-one, with a warm fire or cozy front porch. I console myself with this image whenever I realize how much I will miss the many amazing people I have come to know and care about here.

Next Saturday we leave for Sunriver, where we will spend the Thanksgiving holiday with our family, and hopefully, we will find a home to rent over the course of the week. I have already begun packing… not to move, but to spend a week in a colder climate. My anticipation of this new adventure steadily grows as I dust off snow boots and unearth winter parkas.

What else am I thankful for this holiday season of giving thanks? Closure. After being somewhat of a tumbleweed in the wind these past few years, finally, God has answered our prayers and is showing us a way to the future we could never have imagined or obtained without his divine intervention.

Sometimes I stop to pinch myself.

May all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday spent with family and friends, and may your blessings be rich and deep.

 

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Kathryn is associate faculty for University of Phoenix at their Sacramento Valley campus where she teaches academic and creative writing, literature, and visual arts in the Humanities Department.

Her next literary suspense novel, Journey, will be released in 2015.

Personal blog and website: http://kathrynmattingly.com Edgy Words Unleashed

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE

WGP page: http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/kathryn-mattingly/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmattinglyauthor TW: @KathrynWriter

 

 

 

 

An Inspiring Group of Writers

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Saturday, September 20th I will be speaking at an Inspire Christian Writer’s Social Media workshop from 9am to noon at Peace Lutheran Ministries, 924 San Juan Road, Sacramento, California. I am sharing the stage with Kathy Boyd Fellure, a fellow author and IW friend.

Want to meet other writers in the community? Well, here is your opportunity. You won’t meet a more intellectual, creative, or supportive group then those who actively participate in Inspire Writers, founded right here in Sacramento by Beth Thompson.

This organization is making amazing waves of positivity and productivity, helping writers network with other writers, hone their craft, and become experts in their field. Annually publishing their own themed anthology and holding ‘inspiring’ conferences that boast best selling speakers and top notch agents in Christian publishing is to mention just a few of the opportunities they offer.

Workshops, including this one coming up September 20th are another way in which IW’s help writers become accomplished professionals of their creative trade. Already published? As an author, new or seasoned, you cannot find more cutting edge information or a more caring support group in what can be a very isolated profession.

IW newsletters are always informative and motivating. Their cheering section for your accomplishments is like non other, and their dedication to helping writers excel at writing, publishing, and marketing is unsurpassed.

Not a Christian? Intimidated or turned off by that title and its connotations?

You needn’t be.

This organization is not out to convert you, and you do not have to be a member to take advantage of their many excellent and varied activities. You don’t even have to be a writer. You only have to show up! Their fees are always minimal and fair. This workshop, for instance, is only $15 for non members.

I am a published author with a mainstream, traditional publisher (Winter Goose Publishing) and have found IW to be just as pertinent for me as for my fellow Christian publishing writer/author friends.

Winter Goose Publishing does have a Christian division (Hallway Books) but my work is not published through that division. Nor do I wish it to be. I prefer to be a light in a dark world, and although my work is not always well received among mainstream readers, nonetheless, it is food for fodder.

So regardless of your belief system (or because of it) come and hear the answers to these questions below that I am hoping to make fun and easy at the Inspire Writer’s Social Media Workshop:

Want to begin a blog but you’re unsure of how, where, when, why, and what (most importantly) to write about?

Want to build or remodel your website but aren’t sure what image to project, slant to take, or message to send your audience through your widgets and words?

Want to get some articles, personal commentary, or short stories published on the Internet, or in print, but don’t know how to begin?

Want to build (or begin) your platform on FB, Twitter or LinkedIn, and interconnect it seamlessly with your website and blog?

Want to learn all about Pinterest? (Kathy Boyd Fueller will be addressing Pinterest, and I can’t wait to learn about it!)

Then this workshop is for you, and I hope to see you there, because meeting new writers is always the best part of these events.

Bring your laptop or similar devise if possible. Or just bring yourself, with or without a pen and notepad. You are the most important thing you need to bring!

Social Media Workshop
September 20th 9am to noon
Peace Lutheran Ministries
924 San Juan Road
Sacramento, California 
 

Kathryn is the author of Benjamin, selected as a New Century Quarterly Finalist, and the short story collection, Fractured Hearts, housing all of her award winning short fiction along with new, previously unpublished stories. Her work can be found at all major booksellers and through Amazon.

Kathryn is associate faculty for University of Phoenix at their Sacramento Valley campus where she teaches academic and creative writing, literature, and visual arts in the Humanities Department.

Her next literary suspense novel, Journey, will be released in 2015.

Personal blog and website: http://kathrynmattingly.com Edgy Words Unleashed

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00EILN6YE 

WGP page: http://wintergoosepublishing.com/authors/kathryn-mattingly/ 

FB: https://www.facebook.com/kathrynmattinglyauthor TW: @KathrynWriter

Inspire Christian Writer’s website: http://inspirewriters.com

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Benjamin Travels Abroad

Bejamin_FlatforeBooks

Recently I received my first foreign review, which has caused me to have an audience in the UK, where many new readers are connecting with Benjamin.

Who knew?

I have to admit, the review makes me smile. Book Viral has nailed it. Nice to know a foreign shore has appreciated what I set out to do, and believes that I accomplished it.

As I continue to market my debut novel, Benjamin, I am finding that it is quite a journey. This book that I poured my heart and soul into (as I do all of them) has caused me to make friends and to lose friends, proving those words in print to be even more powerful than I originally realized.

Nonetheless, I wouldn’t change anything about this opening chapter of my life as a novelist.

Writing and publishing short stories has never brought me anything but smiles and praise, even recognition for doing it, well, quite well. No matter how dark or twisted the plot, no matter how controversial the subject, or questionably odd the characters are within those published tales, nary a one has ever brought any naysayers. Certainly not the stone throwers that Benjamin has occasionally uncovered outside its crowd of (mostly) fans.

I have come to embrace those with raised brow over my first book, because I have also come to realize how anything worth its salt will have some harsh scrutiny as well. Especially by those who do not understand what Book Viral has clearly uncovered as the major themes of the book.

For those that didn’t get it, I harbor no grudges. We are all on different paths and meeting up at different times along this journey we call life. The best we can hope for is to travel awhile with those who understand and appreciate what we have to contribute to the  trip.

And what a trip it is!

Book Viral Highlight for Benjamin:  

An original cross genre page turner, Benjamin is the scintillating debut novel from author Kathryn Mattingly that is sure to provoke some timely reflection. A contemporary tale that achieves a beguiling balance between religious allegory and the broader devices of a romantic thriller, her prose lends itself to a memorable narration. Mattingly is leaving the reader with no doubt that she has given much consideration to how we have come to interpret faith and spirituality in modern times, and its prevailing influence on human nature.

Compelling and intelligent, her characters are imbued with a timely sense of presence and emotional gravitas, which adds significantly to the plausibility of a plot that is well constructed. Mattingly not only wants to entertain her readers, but encourage them to reflect upon the peculiar circumstances of her characters, whilst her use of universal tropes fuels intrigue and the desire to discover the true origin of Benjamin’s gift.

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Visit Kathryn Mattingly’s Amazon Author Page and the Book Viral website where Benjamin is currently featured.

The suspense novel Benjamin and short story collection Fractured Hearts can be purchased through all major booksellers and on the Winter Goose Publishing site.