Monday, July 29, 2013

The Moments that Change Us


We are all writing the story of our life. We want to know what it’s “about,” what are its themes and which theme is on the rise. We demand of it something deeper, or richer,  or more substantive. We want to know where we’re headed—not to spoil our own ending  by ruining the surprise, but we want to ensure that when the ending comes, it won’t  be shallow. We will have done something. We will not have squandered our time here.
Po Bronson

Life changes us. Most of the time we're bumping along in our everyday routine--a cycle of rest, work, laughter, most of it as predictable and reliable as we make it. But every once in a while, something happens, someone says something that resonates, we witness something unexpected and our lives change, not so much because the cycle of rest, work and laughter changes, but because our natures and our perspectives have changed. What used to make us laugh is no longer a laughing matter. What we thought we wanted has lost its glitter and pull. The relationship you once nurtured has turned sour. And you're left standing as on top of a hill, wondering east, west, north, south--where do I go from here?

The big life moments--weddings, births, deaths, graduations, transitions-- they change us, too, because they disrupt our patterns, for awhile. Maybe instead of waking alone, we wake to someone stealing our covers, or maybe we go from together to alone. But eventually, we settle back into familiar patterns--maybe even the same patterns our parents taught us and now, half a century later, we haven't abandoned, because getting up and going to work, whatever that work is, that's what we do. That's who we are--until we change. Maybe change sneaks up on us, drop by drop, until we realize we're to full and we can't take one more drop.

For years, we had a cat that slept on our bed. One painful day I realized that the cat was gone and wasn't ever coming back. For months I would often wake in the middle of the night expecting to find the cat at the end of the bed. Years later, I realized that I no longer woke expecting Millie to be there. Some things can't be pin pointed, scheduled or planned.

But some can. I remember visiting my son's impoverished friends in South America, feeling my own wealth and comfort slapping me alongside the head, realizing that compared to most of the world I lived in gross abundance. On that same trip, we traveled to an immense National Park. A large pack of llamas stood in a field, my son and I got out to meet them. We ended up running with them, like a part of the herd. A man in a car pulled over to the side of the road and yelled, What are you doing? Running with the llamas, my son said. It was an incredible, freeing moment.

Now years later, I still marvel that God has given me the health and the wealth to run with llamas if I chose. I still wonder why I have so much when so many have so little, but I have since decided it's not my place to question my blessings. My job is to make the most out of my own story and so that when it's my time to retell it I can say, let me tell you about my work and laughter. I made a difference.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Two Great Novels for Only .99 cents and Enter to Win a $50 gift card




http://www.amazon.com/Rescuing-Rita-Seattle-Fire-ebook/dp/B00E1P6QQ2/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1374522856&sr=1-4&keywords=kristy+tate
An actress on the run.Rita didn’t intend to kill Boris Kidrick when she dropped the chamber pot on his head, and she didn’t. But, after a few weeks of trying to outrun the stage owner, she wishes that the chamber pot had been a little heavier.
A gambler with more than money at stake.
When Christian rescues kidnapped Rita and witnesses a triple murder, he realizes that it’s a lot more interesting to hold a feisty actress than a hand of cards, but is she worth joining the cast until the ultimate final curtain?
A whirlwind flight.
From Seattle to Dead End Pennsylvania, New York and Paris, Rita and Christian discover that trouble has no boundaries, but neither does love.


Get two great novels for only .99 cents and enter to win a $50 gift card. How? For a double entry:
1.       Tell everyone you know on all your favorite social media sites about this great opportunity on or before Thursday, August 1st.
2.       Send a message to kristywords@yahoo.com with double entry in the subject line and I will forward you a Smashwords coupon for Losing Penny.
3.       Buy Rescuing Rita on or before Thursday, August 1st.
For one contest entry:                                                  
4.       Purchase optional. If you aren't able to buy Rita, but are still willing to give a shout out on social media sites, send a message to kristywords@yahoo.com with one entry in the subject line.
A cooking show diva in hiding,
A literature professor writing genre fiction,
An admirer who wants more than the tasty morsels a cooking hostess is willing to share—
A dangerous recipe for romance in the town of Rose Arbor.
Cooking show diva, Penny Lee, loses fifty pounds, and gains a stalker. To avoid the attention of her most devoted follower, Penny concocts a plan: while pretending to take a culinary tour, traveling the world, collecting recipes and posting them on her blog, she hides at a remote beach house in Rose Arbor, Washington, where she spends the summer compiling her cookbook.
When English Literature professor Drake Islington is offered the chance to spend the summer at a remote beach house where he can write in peace he happily accepts, never dreaming that he is a pawn in a match making scheme. His encounter with Penny promises a delicious summer, until uninvited guests arrive forcing Penny and Drake to cook up a scheme of their own. When Drake’s mother, a stalker, and a donkey named Gertrude join the mix, the town of Rose Arbor sizzles with another tale of romance and suspense.


Friday, July 19, 2013

RITA IS ON HER WAY!

 
(I wasn't going to use this cover, but the one I had originally chosen was too small and blurry. Besides, this one is gorgeous.)

And here's the blurb. (Thanks for all the help.)


An actress on the run.

 Rita didn’t intend to kill Boris Kidrick when she dropped the chamber pot on his head, and she didn’t. But, after a few weeks of trying to outrun the stage owner, she wishes that the chamber pot had been a little heavier.

 A gambler with more than money at stake.

 
When Christian rescues kidnapped Rita and witnesses a triple murder, he realizes that it’s a lot more interesting to hold a feisty actress than a hand of cards, but is she worth joining the cast until the ultimate final curtain?

A whirlwind flight.

From Seattle to Dead End Pennsylvania, New York and Paris, Rita and Christian discover that trouble has no boundaries, but neither does love.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Book Bomb--Want to Play?


Rescuing Rita, a companion novella to Stealing Mercy, was made possible thanks to amazing friends and encouraging readers and will be officially released SOON. (Can’t say when exactly because I want to make sure it’s up on all e-book sights before we bomb. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.)

 

What is a BOOK BOMB? (Sounds fun, but not sure what it is?)

 

There is more than one way to play.

1.      Purchase the book on one particular day.

2.      Give a shout out to all social media sites. (I will provide buy links. Remember, word of mouth advertising drives the book world, so a personal endorsement would be considered a double bomb. Although I don’t expect anyone who hasn’t read the book to give it their stamp of approval, you could say something like—my friend, aunt, neighbor, lady that I know has written a book. Love her stuff. The word stuff has so many connotations.)

 

Why do you want to BOOK BOMB?

 

 (Because bombing for me automatically enters you in a contest for a $50. Amazon gift card AND I will send you a smashwords coupon for my novel Losing Penny. Just let me know you have bombed by messaging me, Kristy Tate, novelist on Facebook, or e-mailing me at kristyswords AT yahoo DOT com)

 

Why do I want you to BOOK BOMB?

 

Because if everyone buys on the same day, especially from Amazon, then the book rises in the rank (gets a lower number, aiming for #1) and becomes more visible to other buyers worldwide in the Amazon store.

 

And this sets up a self-sustaining chain reaction of visibility so that the more people see it the more people might potentially buy it, and keep it visible for others in a self-perpetuating cycle!

 

Books in the Top 100 are displayed on the first few pages of the various bestsellers lists. As a general rule, more people tend to look at the first page when they browse for books, and few keep looking beyond the first three. Almost no one bothers to keep clicking pages, so the further down the lists a book is, the less chance it has of being purchased.

 

A BOOK BOMB is a concerted effort to propel the book up the ranks toward the top spots.  Staying there of course is up to the book itself, but that initial push is can be a truly beautiful thing. (Insert hand holding, a few emotional tears and singing of Love Makes the World Go Round.)

 

If by sad circumstances, you miss bombing day, no worries. Just buy the book or give a social media shout out anytime during the months of July and August, let me know, and I will send you a coupon for Losing Penny.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blurbage Help Wanted

An actress on the run.
Rita didn’t intend to kill Boris Kidrick, stage owner and wife beater, when she dropped the chamber pot on his head. Although, after a few weeks of trying to outrun him, she wishes that the chamber pot had been loaded a little heavier.

A hero with a deadly secret.
Christian Roberts thought his life in New York was complicated, but when he witnesses a triple murder in Seattle, he realizes that trouble can happen on any coast, and that it’s definitely more interesting with a feisty actress for company.

A whirlwind flight.

Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Dead End Pennsylvania and Paris, France—together Rita and Christian discover that trouble and love have no boundaries.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Finding a Good Editor


A really good editor is hard to find. I had hoped to have Rescuing Rita, the prequel to Stealing Mercy, published before or on Mercy’s second book birthday on July 21st. It could still happen, but sadly, my editor’s father died. It’s funny (only it’s not) that the night before I heard the sad news I had a bizarre dream.

In my dream I am going on a trip with my editor and she is in a hurry to get to where ever we are going. She throws my clothes into my suitcase, puts my lap top into my bag and yells for me to hurry. I scurry after her, complaining and begging her to let me carry my own stuff, but she doesn’t listen. I trail after her.

In real life, my editor, and most anyone who knows us both, would admit that if I had to race my editor, I would win. I’m not saying this to brag—it’s just true. But in my dream, she was winning, just like she would win if we were pitted in an editing contest.

So when my editor told me that her father had died and that if I wanted to find another editor, she would understand, I told her that waiting for her was worth it to me. I would (will) wait, unless she wanted/needed a respite from Rita. She responded that she was happy to continue editing for me, but life and death got (momentarily) in the way.

A good editor is so hard to find. To make my point, I’ve included a few of the reviews from my novel, Hailey’s Comments. (A different—although wonderful—editor.) And I’m the first to admit if I was more of a wordsmith, finding an editor to catch all of my mistakes wouldn’t be so difficult. (And no, I don’t personally know the people who left the reviews, but I’m deeply grateful for their time and kind words.) 




1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really fun and light read! June 21, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase
I got this yesterday and ended up staying up late into the night to finish. It was a well-weaved story with great characters and intrigue. It's got some clean romance but it's more weighted towards mystery than romance. I really enjoyed it and will be looking for other books by this author. The reason I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars was because there was a handful of typo errors. It didn't really bother me and frankly, if you've ever tried to edit a book, you know how difficult it is to not have them. :)
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I'm giving Hailey's Comments 4 stars instead of 5 due to some editing issues that pulled me out of the story a bit. There were a few more than should be allowed, but nothing that another pass with editing couldn't fix. Mostly things like, I my... You do get a glimpse into the writer's directional thought though with these errors. One thing I will say about the writing is Mrs. Tate did a terrific job of weaving a story without use of vulgar/foul language. It wasn't until after I finished the story and was thinking about the 'bad guys' that I skimmed back over some of the scenes and realized she had so well written the characters that she didn't need to take the shortcut of using foul language to develop them.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, light reading July 9, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book as a light, easy read. I wanted a better description of what Emma looked like. Sometimes, I felt lost in the location/setting, but the storyline kept me interested. Numerous typo's!!! Need a better proof reader!!
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Friday, July 12, 2013

The Corn Kernel Parable

The other day when we were expecting guests I gathered all my cleaning supplies and headed to the guest room.  The first thing I noticed was a kernel of corn on the tile floor. Gross, who would eat corn on the cob in here? But because in my cleaning world, the floors are always last, I light a scented candle, open the window, strip and remake the beds, scour the bathroom tile, cleaning the shower door, shine the faucets, spray and wipe down the mirrors, dust the furniture, shake out the rug and vacuum it, put out fresh towels, blow out the candle, close the window and stop to admire my work. The room looks great.

Except there is a kernel of corn on the floor.

And suddenly the kernel of corn isn’t gross. It’s a reminder that I missed something important—mopping the floor. And maybe mopping the floor isn’t that important in the giant scheme of things. But a clean guest room, to me, says you’re important to me, I want you to feel warm and comfortable here, because I value your friendship, I have picked mopped the floor.

A lone, dirty corn kernel on the guest bedroom floor says someone wasn’t chewing with their mouth closed when they were eating corn on the cob.


I think that if I hadn’t noticed the corn kernel, my guests would have. And all the vacuuming, scouring, and dusting would have gone unnoticed—completely over shadowed by the lone corn kernel. 

It’s important to remember that sometimes even something gross can be exactly what we need. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Six Things I’ve learned in Sixteen Years

 

I’m rewriting a novel I began when my babies started preschool. (They leave for college in a few weeks.) Originally, it took me three years to write all 102,409 words. Most of those were stupid words. I’m not saying that in the last sixteen years I’ve gone from stupidity to witty cleverness. Not at all. But, I’ve learned a few things and I’m here to share.

1.       Use Grammarly—the best online editing program I’ve found, so much more than spell check.

Here’s an excerpt of my soon-to-be-released novella, Rescuing Rita, before  Grammarly

Applause thundered through the hall, and Rita and swept into a deep bow. The lights flickered as she made her departure, heading for the sanctuary of her dressing room.

“Brilliant show tonight, Miss Ryan,” called a boy carrying a food tray as they passed in the dimly lit hall.

“Thank you, Charlie. Can you be a love and bring me a pot of tea?”

“Sure thing. Sad this being your last show and all. I know everyone will miss you.”

Rita flashed her smile and fought back a wave of fatigue and loneliness. “And I will miss all of you,” she said, knowing there was one she missed more than all the others.

She blinked back the tears to which she had grown so accustomed; they returned every time she thought of Christian. She ached, wishing that Christian could be as predictable and ever-present as her tears. This wasn’t how the story was supposed to end. She wasn’t supposed to go to Europe by herself.

If only their last words had been more loving. Because she did love him; she knew that now. And yet in cruel spite of his absence, her love for his memory seemed only to grow rather than diminish. She sighed and pushed into her dressing room.

Her clothes lay scattered around the room, vying for a space in the large steamer trunk she would take to Paris. Flowers in vases crowded the dressing table and perfumed the air. She dropped her cape to the floor and slipped off her shoes.

All of her dreams had been realized. Yet she had learned weeks, if not months, earlier that dreams are hollow and meaningless without someone to share them.  She would rather be riding in box car and sleeping on loose straw with Christian than boarding a steamer ship and sailing first class to Europe alone.

AFTER GRAMMARLY

Applause thundered through the hall, and Rita and swept into a deep bow. The lights flickered as she made her departure and headed for the sanctuary of her dressing room.

“Brilliant show tonight, Miss Ryan,” called a boy carrying a food tray as they passed in the dimly lit hall.

“Thank you, Charlie. Can you be a love and bring me a pot of tea?”

“Sure thing. Sad this being your last show and all. I know everyone will miss you.”

Rita flashed her smile and fought a wave of fatigue and loneliness. “And I will miss all of you,” she said, knowing there was one she missed more than all the others.

She blinked back the tears to which she had grown so accustomed; they returned every time she thought of Christian. She ached, wishing that Christian could be as predictable and ever-present as her tears. This wasn’t how the story was supposed to end. She wasn’t supposed to go to Europe by herself.

If only their last words had been more loving. Because she did love him; she knew that now. Yet in cruel spite of his absence, her love for his memory seemed only to grow rather than diminish. She sighed and pushed into her dressing room.

Her clothes lay scattered around the room, vying for a space in the large steamer trunk she would take to Paris. Flowers in vases crowded the dressing table and perfumed the air. She dropped her cape to the floor and slipped off her shoes.

All of her dreams had been realized. Yet she had learned weeks, if not months, earlier that dreams are hollow and meaningless without someone to share them.  She would rather ride in a box car and sleep on loose straw with Christian than boarding a steamer ship and sailing first class to Europe alone.


2. Use wordle. Don’t know what wordle is? It’s a website that creates word clouds out of any document—the more frequent the word usage, the bigger it appears in the cloud. This is an easy way to find your pet words. One of mine happens to be “look.” He looked, she looked, everybody looked. Try it out at www.wordle.net/

3. Don’t use words you don’t typically use in conversation. I actually stopped reading Elizabeth Peters novels because her frequent use of the word orb bothered me. Some words shouldn’t be used more than once and some not at all. Same with phrases. I read a friend’s novel where the lovers kept melting into each other. I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds messy and really shouldn’t happen very often. If at all.


4. Watch out for passive sentences. The Rhyme’s Library is riddled with them. Example: the word COULD. Claris COULD hear a soft voice in the background—versus--Claris heard a soft voice in the background. Another example: the word FELT. Claris ran a finger along Alec’s glass of soda, and FELT the cold condensation wet her finger tips. Better-- Claris ran a finger along Alec’s soda glass--the cold condensation wet her finger tips. Example: the word WAS. The trip to the morgue WAS a trip she COULD make alone--OR--She’d go to the morgue alone.

5. Evaluate Criticism objectively. Since writing this story, I’ve been told the same thing by two industry professionals—my plots are too complicated. The first to tell me this was an editor for a small romance publishing company; the second was a reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly—the review was part of the “prize” for my placement in the Amazon Novel Breakthrough whatever. I live by the standard that I can swallow one critique with a sugar cube, but if someone else independently tells me the same thing I should probably take note. So, I’m reading my old manuscript and wondering--is this too complicated? Can I be less convoluted? Another thing I’ve been told by more than writerly person is my work is “very British.” Can you believe that two people who don’t know each other would actually use the words “very British?” I don’t even know what that means. Or what to do with it. Which brings me to number 5.

6. Love your work. It may have wrinkles, fat rolls, and zits, but ultimately, it is your story. It’s your baby. Love it enough to cut away its rough edges. Coax it into simplicity. Shave off unsightly adverbs. Love it enough to leave it in a sixteen year time out. And if someone tells you your baby is very British tell them thank you very much and offer them a cuppa tea.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Boys and Crab Cakes

These guys are best friends, although they don’t see each other as much as they used to, because one lives in Colorado and the other is about to move to China. Every once in a while when gardening, I’ll find one of these guys
buried in a planter and I’ll be transported to another, simpler time, when summer meant freedom from schedules, bare feet, long afternoons at the lake and bonfires at the beach.

Last week when I was prepping for a boating trip I found the boys’ tiny little yellow life jackets. I remembered when I bought them. We were going crabbing with Uncle Dennis, my brother the professional fishing guide, just off the San Juan Islands, the setting for my novel, Hailey’s Comments. We caught more crab than we could eat and a few months later when we asked Nathan what he wanted for Christmas he said a “crab cage.”

Today, his brother Jared can no longer even eat crab or his face swells to look like a raspberry, but that was long before the allergies, careers and real life started. Back in the days of playmobile action figures and tiny yellow life jackets.

I can’t bring back those little boys or those lazy summer days, but I can still make crab cakes. I don’t even have to go to the San Juan Islands…although I really like it when I can. Crab cakes just taste better there. They say that hunger is always the best sauce, but nostalgia is the most bittersweet.


Ingredients
1 pound crabmeat, picked free of shells
1/3 cup crushed crackers (recommended: Ritz)
3 green onions (green and white parts), finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 egg
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Dash cayenne pepper
Flour, for dusting
1/2 cup peanut oil
Favorite dipping sauce, for serving
Directions
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the flour and peanut oil. Shape into patties and dust with flour.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve warm with preferred sauce.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Marketing Mayhem

I had an epiphany the other day. While I was on the phone with my daughter, I decided to get active on Twitter. I had been told that all successful writers needed to be on Twitter just like they needed an author facebook page—got one of those, too. (@kristyswords ,Twitter handle and Kristy Tate,novelist, Facebook)   So while I chatted with Bethany I clicked and followed fellow writers on Twitter. I know the conversation couldn’t have lasted for more than a half hour, but when I ended my phone call I was shocked to see I had followed more than 900 writers. (That was my criteria for following them-they had to be writers—although I did accidentally follow “fartjar”. Not too excited to learn what fartjar has to share.) Most of these writers I have never heard of—and about half of them have followed me in return (which was the goal.)
Here’s my epiphany—with so very many people looking to be recognized (and paid) for their writing—what are my chances of every being able to buy the lake house in Washington? This should have been a sad moment. I should have been overwhelmed with loss and discouragement  yet, that’s not how I felt at all. It was incredibly freeing to take money out of my writing equation (although it sucks for my long suffering spouse, but I can’t feel so sorry for him since he’s always first one to discourage me from finding a job.) I don’t have to market my books. I don’t have to attend conferences. I really don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.
 Which was interesting, because you would think that with this new insight I would stop writing, stop posting on my blog, stop fiddling with my author facebook page and stop tweeting. But instead of abandoning it all for a lucrative real estate career—I was excited about the next scene in my book, pleased with my blog post and happy about the picture I found for my author page—and I have about 100 new twitter followers (even though I’m not sure what to do with them.) Since then, the page views on my blog have doubled.
 What did I do differently? I emptied out the e-mail account that I use for writing—deleting more than 8,000 messages. I’ve wondered if I’ll continue to go to writer’s group and decided that I’ll go when I want to go and stay home when I want to hang out and read in my pajamas. I’ll still look for promotional opportunities—but I no longer have to—because none of it matters. I will do what I want, if I want to (writing-wise, that is—I’ll still do things I don’t want to do, like clean toilets and showers, not because I want to, but because I like clean toilets and showers.)
 So, in the scheme of my days, nothing has really changed, except my attitude and my expectations. And ever since my epiphany, my head has been flooded with marketing ideas. Maybe I’ll get around to them. Maybe I won’t.