The Return of Five on Friday! Snippets for Your Writing and Reading Pleasure

I’m cautiously dipping my toe back in to bring you these Friday compendiums.  I started these last year and liked doing them a lot, but then I wandered away. As I do.  Probably because blogging has felt wonky and unpredictable to me over the last couple of years.

But, like so many others, I am feeling called to step up. And in the connection calls I’ve been enjoying with y’all, I’ve gotten feedback that you appreciate my blog posts, as well as the newsletter. (Thank you!) And my word of the year is launch. And, over the next couple of months, you’re going to see some design updates here.  So here we go, back to Five on Friday. But here’s my new idea: it’ll actually be four on Friday with the fifth thing being a tip or a prompt. How does that sound?  Let me know if you like it in the comments.  And let’s have at it:

What I’m Reading. The best thing I’ve read this year is something you can’t have yet. Sorry! I was a beta reader for my friend Angela Sanders’ latest caper, Cat in the Bag. Loved it!  Quirky, endearing characters, all former criminals of one sort or another, live together in an old folks home of sorts and get the better of anybody who tries to cross them.  Head on over and sign up for Angie’s list (her newsletter is so fun) so you can find out when this title will be released. She’d got lots of other mysteries you can read while you wait.

I also recently finished Leave Me by Gayle Forman and Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple. Both okay, but not stellar. Funnily enough, they both feature privileged white women whining about how hard their lives are.

What I’m Watching. Victoria, on Masterpiece Theater. Loving this series, with stellar acting and wonderful historical detail. I’m in awe of what odds the young Victoria faced and surmounted, as she became queen when she was barely of age. Highly recommended. And I’m in love with Rufus Sewell. Don’t tell my husband.

What I’m Loving. My Wild Unknown tarot cards. I find them uncannily accurate at unearthing my inner state. Can’t lie to yourself with these babies around! I tend to draw the same card repeatedly, and, as in so many aspects of life, keep drawing it until I learn the lesson the card references.  They are also useful for creative projects, as mentioned in my last blog post.

New Site I Discovered. I’m probably way late to the table on this one, but I just found Farnham Street. Fascinating collection of articles, that, as they tell it, “help you learn to make better decisions, create new ideas, and avoid stupid errors.” Their “best articles” tab has about a gazillion things I want to dive into.

Writing Tip.  PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. We need your voice right now.  How can you share your work this week? Write a blog post, submit to an agent, send a story out, write or call your elected officials? If it seems overwhelming, break it down into tiny steps.  (My newsletter this week is on a similar topic. Its been much on my mind lately.  By the way, if you’re not on my list, the sign-up is to the right.)

Okay, amigos, that’s it for now. Remember to leave a comment and tell me what you think of the new-ish format (the addition of the writing tip or prompt).

Starting (Or Restarting) a New Writing Project

Right out of the starting gate!

Ah, the excitement of beginning a new writing project.  The energy! The enthusiasm! The high hopes! This, you think, is going to be the best novel yet, the best essay, the best short story, the best article. You whip open your computer, open a new file, place you hands on the keyboard and….sit staring at the monitor.  The idea and the energy that swirled around it has dissipated.  Crap.  That’s when you decide the kitchen floor needs mopping or the chocolate in the cupboard needs eating. Or the couch needs you to take a nap on it.

The description above is often me. I am a big picture person and I love dreaming up new ideas.  Oh, the plans I have for novels, classes, non-fiction books, and programs scribbled in my journal. And yet few of them see the light of day. Part of that is because, well, time. There isn’t enough of it to do everything I want to do.  But part of it also is because its easy to scrawl some notes on a page and much harder to actually take those notes and shape them into something. Like a book.

But I have learned a thing or two about getting started over the years of writing several novels, a few short stories, numerous articles and ten years worth of blog posts. And so herewith, I offer you a few ideas:

  1.  Take the time to do some prep work.  It can be so thrilling to be in the thrall of a new idea for a writing project that you launch right into the writing.  And yeah, then about a few chapters in you get stalled because you have no idea what you’re doing.  I’m all for getting words on the page, but I do find it helpful to know at least some things about your story before you begin.  Things like characters, setting, theme (okay, that one often takes awhile to gel), and at least a vague idea of where the story is going to go.  By the by, last year I taught Mapping the Novel at the Sitka Center and I’m seriously considering teaching it online later this year. Email me if you’re interested and I’ll make sure you get info about it.
  2. Know your genre. Are you writing a romance, or a mystery or women’s fiction?  Maybe a thriller? There are certain conventions for each one that it behooves you to know.  And beyond that, knowing these conventions can help you when you’re trying to figure out the steps of the story.  In a romance, for instance, the hero and heroine have to meet. (Duh.) But that’s one of your most important scenes, right there! All you have to do is figure out the details.
  3. Do some free writing. I know, I know, I told you not to jump right onto the page. But free writing is different. It is writing about your project, brainstorming on the page.  I could not write anything without this process.  I write morning pages just about every day, and often they are devoted to figuring out the intricacies of whatever I’m working on.
  4. Expand your input.  Try some alternative approaches.  For instance, I’m reading a fabulous book called The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide for an Inspired Life.  It is all geared toward using tarot cards for your creativity, i.e. your next writing project. Author Jessa Crispin has designed spreads for finding inspiration, checking your direction, being blocked, and all kinds of things. Fun! And helpful. You might also try looking up your character’s birth date on an astrological chart for more insight, or research your setting on Google images or Google earth.
  5. Use the power of lists.  I can’t live without my lists, and I use them voraciously with my WIPs.  Often my plot outline is a simple list of upcoming scenes, but that’s enough to guide me. I make lists for what’s going to happen in a chapter or scene to clarify before I start writing.  And I make lists of things to remember. Constantly. There are a lot of moving parts to a novel.

Those are some of the ideas that help me.  What works for you?  Leave a comment!

And don’t forget that I’m offering free connection calls this month. Let’s chat about writing! You can sign up here.

Photo by David Paul Ohmer.

How to Write a Bestseller

I just finished reading a book that purports to share the secrets of writing a bestselling novel, and I found it fascinating. The BestSeller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel is by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers, and what it uses is text mining to uncover the shared elements of bestsellers.  As I understand it, text mining (in this instance) is essentially programming a computer to look for commonly shared elements of bestsellers.  The predictive algorithm the authors devised was proven to be right 80% of the time. Densely written, though also humorous in places, and a bit much to plow through (I would have really liked bullet point summaries at the end of each chapter), but thought-provoking.

Maybe you don’t have any desire to write a bestselling novel or memoir, which is fine. But some of these ideas might help you dream up kick-ass characters and write stronger prose. Take these ideas or leave them.  Some of them resonated with me while others kinda had me scratching my head. And remember, the points I mention are my interpretation of what I read. What jumped out and lands in my brain might be quite different for you.  I’ll go through each one:

Theme or topic

–The most prevalent topics of bestsellers were human closeness (i.e. love) and intimate conversation. Wait for it–it was actually these topics that predominated in Fifty Shades of Gray.  Not sex.  I swear to you this is what the book said.

–Bestsellers tended to stick to 2-3 main topics, while less successful books had more.

–Another particularly big topic was medical, as in characters suddenly having to go to the hospital which then results in human closeness as loved ones gather around. (My interpretation.)  This also goes along with what we’ll learn about cycles of emotion under plot.

Plot

–Far and away the most successful plot lines were those which featured a rhythmic beat of highs and lows. Lots of peaks and valleys of emotion. The book features many charts which showcase this.

–A clear three-act structure is most successful

Style

–The book tells the story of how J.K. Rowling was outed as Robert Galbraith, mystery writer. She changed her name, gender, genre, audience and plot. But she couldn’t change her stylistic blueprint and the computer found her out.

–Bestsellers use the word “the” more. I’m just reporting the news, folks.  At first I thought this was silly, but then I wondered if it might be because of more specificity? And, as we know, the devil is in the details.

–The first sentences of bestsellers start with action or definite thought. And they just about always contain conflict of some sort.

–An understanding of everyday knowledge is essential if you want to write a bestseller.

Character

–Bestsellers feature strong characters with agency.  “They have some version of power, motivation, drive.”

–Characters in bestsellers do things! They express their needs and they have lots of them. (Need was the verb most linked to a likelihood to be a bestseller.) They also want things and they make their wants clear.

–“Readers want someone to be not to seem.”

–“Hesitation doesn’t keep the pages turning.”

–Characters in bestsellers have something magnetic that makes them stand out. They are gifted in some way, or they’ve done things others haven’t.

Fascinating, no?  The book goes into all these aspects in depth and is worth a read if you are so inclined to like dissecting things.  I’m not sure it’s possible or even desirable to plug in all these variables and come up with a bestselling novel.  But reading these ideas made me realize that sometimes my characters tend toward the passive and that I need to make them stronger.  I love the idea that the topics of human closeness and intimate conversation come up tops–those fit right into my genres of women’s fiction and romance.  I love writing stuff like that, and now I know there’s no reason to hold back on it.  The book has also encouraged me to go for more distinctive highs and lows of emotion.

What do you think of all this? Do you think it is possible to plug in a set of variables and come up with a bestseller? Or is the whole thing a really bad idea?

PS. There’s a book club dedicated to reading the top 100 books picked by this computer model. You can find out about it here.

PPS. I’ve actually got some room on my coaching roster at the moment.  Want to make 2017 the year you actually write that book? Maybe you’d like to finish the novel you’re working on and get it published? Or perhaps you just want to start a satisfying personal writing practice. I can guide you through any of these and more. I’m revamping my coaching page and packages, so if you’re interested, just pop me an email at charlotte@charlotterainsdixon.com. Put Coaching in the subject line so the email doesn’t get buried!

The Wordstrumpet Last-Minute Guide to Nanowrimo

nanowrimo-badgeNanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) starts next Tuesday, November 1st. Are you ready? I did it a few years ago, resulting in an early draft of my novel, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior.  And I’m planning to do it again this year to knock out a draft of a romance novel I have in mind. I think I have a pretty good plan for completing it, she said, modestly, which I shall share here.

First of all, loosely, here are the rules: you can prep as much as you want before November 1st, but you can’t actually write anything until that date.  Write 50,000 words and you win! Prizes include a button for your website and a certificate (at least that’s what they were last time I checked). You can sign up on the Nanowrimo website to get support and encouragement. If you’re a social type, many cities hold Nanowrimo write-ins that you can participate in.

All this is great, but the most important thing about Nanowrimo is that it encourages you to fling words at the page with abandon. You kinda have to if you’re going to meet that 50,000 word goal.  And please, please, please remember that THERE WILL BE MUCH REVISING NEEDED after November 30 has come and gone.  But you know that, right? (Its surprising how many people don’t.)

But, here’s the deal, guys, you only have a few days to prepare.  Like, three. But its not too late! You can totally get yourself in the right headspace to do this in three days. (Trust me, the right headspace is half the battle.)  And, I do highly recommend it.  Nanowrimo is a lot of fun, it  totally gets you over any fears you have about writing a novel, and it helps you learn how to silence your inner critic.

So here goes, the Wordstrumpet Last-Minute Guide to Nanowrimo:

  1. Come up with an idea. Maybe you already have one? Maybe you’ve had an idea for a novel for forever? This is the time to do it.  Here’s a little secret about writing a novel: you can use any idea you want. Really. Its all about how you put it together on the page. Just remember that all novels that work are based on conflict. Somebody (your main character) wants something, but forces array to prevent him from getting it.
  2. Do some prep work. This doesn’t need to be extensive, but it will help if you know your settings (main character’s home and work place, plus her hang-out at a minimum),and some things about your most important  characters (email me if you need a character dossier for this).
  3. Create a loose outline for your plot. (Quit cringing, pantsers.)  This can be as simple as a list of scenes or you can make it more complicated if your brain works that way. (Mine does not.)
  4. Write notes. Ponder things like theme, motivation, the above-mentioned conflict and write your thoughts down. These will likely change as you progress through the pages, but it is good to have some initial thoughts. I like to create a little binder or use a spiral for this, so I’ve got everything together in one place.
  5. Figure out a schedule.  I like to get up early and write, so that my most important thing is finished first. I set a goal of 2,000 words a day. If I stuck to it exactly, I’d end up with 60,000 words after the 30 days of November. But life does intervene. There’s Thanksgiving, for instance. And that’s a time suck if there ever was one.  With my 2K a day goal, I’m good if I lose a couple days to emergency grandchild watching or whatever.
  6. Monitor your habits. This is a good time to forego that nightly class of wine. (Brahahahaha. Like that’s going to happen.) Make sure you eat well and get enough exercise and sleep.
  7. Write like the wind.  Make freaking forward progress! Your goal is to hit 50K words, not obsess over every word. If you’re going to win this, you’re going to have to write fast.  The time for rewriting is when you are finished
  8. Be aware you might not finish. Winning Nanowrimo means completing 50,000 words on one single novel project in a month. You might choose, from the start, to write more of a novella, or know that you’re not going to be quite finished at 50K. And that’s okay–because you’ll have most of it done.
  9. Have fun. We don’t do this to torture ourselves. Do we?

So, are you going to do it? C’mon, let’s! Leave a comment and let’s chat about it.

Fall Planning, A Special Offer and Off I Go

I’ve been working hard getting clients set for my absence while I’m in France, and I’ve found myself with a bit of time this week. And so I’ve been planning. If there’s one thing I love to do in this life, it is to plan.  Give me a calendar or a planner or a workbook or a template and I’m a happy camper.

When I get home, I’ll have three months left to make my mark on this year. Three short months! And I’ve got tons I want to write, novels, books, blog posts and newsletters.  So in order to accomplish it all, I’m going to need to be organized.  Hence the planning. (Never mind that sometimes I get so enraptured with my planning that I never get to the actual action-taking.)

But here’s the deal.  In all that planning, I know the unexpected will happen. Like people wanting to hire me.  And so I had an idea. (Those are my husband’s most dreaded words in all the world, by the way. Because when I utter them it usually means he’ll be moving furniture or painting walls or digging up a garden bed to create a sculpture garden.) What if I could get an idea who might want to work with me now, to aid me in my planning.

Just think, in the final three months of this year, you could:

–Write the first draft of a novel (Nanowrimo is coming right up)

–Start a blog

–Write and submit article and essay ideas

–Complete a couple of short stories or a novella

–Write a book proposal

The sky’s the limit! Wouldn’t it be great to end this year on a high note, knowing you’ve accomplished your biggest goals? (Because if you are like me, writing is always the biggest goal.)

So, in order to entice you to sign up  and pay, I’m offering a special deal. I’ll add in one session to my one-month package, which brings the total to five sessions, and I’ll add in two session to my three-month, paid-in-advance sessions, bringing the total to 14 freaking sessions! Geez, people, this is  smoking hot deal.

And yes, you are correct, there is a catch.  Because I don’t want to worry about administrative things while I’m in France, to take advantage of this offer, you need to sign up by the end of Labor Day weekend.  That’s midnight, Pacific time on September 5th.  And here’s the other catch: I’m not going to have time to chat with you beforehand. We can communicate via email, but no phone calls. Oh, and one more catch, which is that our coaching will begin in October.

But you can use the sessions any time you want, over as long as you want. And we can work on whatever you want. (For the record, each session is one phone call and me reading up to 20 pages of your work).

Here are the pay buttons. I look forward to working with you!

Three months coaching + two bonus sessions for $1200



One month coaching + one bonus session for $450


What’s On Your Desk

(My inspiration for this post comes from a list penned by Anne Wayman.)

What’s on your desk?        LT on chair

  • My computer, a small Dell laptop
  • A cat (just about always)
  • A yellow legal pad with notes on it
  • Two books about writing
  • The little journal in which I keep my to-do lists and make notes in all week
  • A pen. Or often several.

My desk is small, like an old-fashioned letter-writing desk, and I like it that way. Until a few months ago, I worked at a massive Ikea desk that had all kinds of room on it.  Too much room, because give me a flat surface and I will stack paper on it. And that is exactly what I did. I stacked paper and books and notebooks and files and all kinds of things all over it.

This did not make me happy.  It cluttered up my mind and made me feel guilty. And then last summer, I started carrying my computer outside every morning and working at the table on the back deck.  Most mornings, it was just me and my laptop, with maybe a pad of paper for notes and a pen, nothing more. I realized I loved this and that what I really needed was a small desk so that I would not have the problem of so much room to stack things on.

For the most part this has worked. The areas surrounding me have crap all over them, but it stays out of my line of vision and doesn’t distract me quite so much.  I positioned this desk so that it is facing into my office with bookshelves behind me, and windows to each side.  My last desk faced the wall.  I like this better because I’m also facing the door and it always feels weird to have your back to it.

I find it amusing that it took me so many years to figure out what worked for me.  And it is also fun to think about how many different places I’ve written. The kitchen counter, the dining room table, a corner of the bedroom, you name it.

Where do you write? Does this location work for you? Why or why not?

Otherwhere: March 7

carrousel_evening_lights_223804_l
The writer’s life is a mad carnival ride

No snappy titles today, but I’ve got lots of great writing links for you. So let’s get right to it.

Are you trying to ride the news cycle with your current novel? Might not be the best idea.

I gotta admit, sometimes I wonder about this: is writing fiction a worthy endeavor?

What is your story about? When an editor asked me this, it clarified everything. (But then, I can be a bit slow on the uptake.)

How to read more!

Ever thought about applying for a grant for your writing?

The writer’s outlook on life.

Sharing is caring.

Marketing, then and now.

Maybe this is what’s wrong with my current WIP.

My son and daughter-in-law saw Hamilton last November and have been obsessed ever since. What you can learn from it.

Larry Brooks on structure and other things.

Do you need a pen name?

And finally, the seven things a writer needs to make a living.

What have you been reading around the web this past week?

 

Photo by manitou.

 

Otherwhere: Only One Day Late This Week!

It appears that Christmas is kicking my ass.  Appears that way, because it feels like I’ve been crazy xmas_christmas_miniature_109097_lbusy, so busy that I’ve not collected my usual round-up of links.  But I’m not running around shopping like crazy because I refuse to spend time in malls and do most of it online.  And I gave up writing Christmas cards years ago.  I do, however, decorate the house and spend tons of time with family.  This past weekend we rode the Holiday Express train in the pouring rain, which is a blast.  And today we’re celebrating the four-year-old’s birthday with corn dogs and mac and cheese. And let us not forget the cheese cake I made last night that has so much cream cheese and peanut butter in it that it weighs ten pounds, I swear.  You so want to come to dinner now, don’t you?

Anyway, I didn’t save links for you but I decided that I could still do my weekly Otherwhere post by sharing some of my favorite places on the web and you can go soak up all the richness of them yourself.   So here we go:

Writing

Writer Unboxed is a blog written by a variety of people, some better than others, but it is always worth checking out.

Jane Friedman always has the inside scoop on publishing.

Janice Hardy writes Fiction University.  I think she publishes every day, which is astounding, especially because her posts are usually full of useful information on writing.

For you freelancers, Anne Wayman’s long-running blog About Freelance Writing has a bunch of great stuff, always.

Food

I just discovered Center Cut Cook and have founds some great recipes on this blog.  The author of it has her hands full with a husband suffering from cancer and a child with a serious medical problem so I always click on a few ads while I’m there.

I’ve been reading Kath Eats Real Food for years, and I’m not quite sure why because the constant perfection of the author gets a bit wearying.  But I do like her take on healthy food, so…

Okay, you really have to have a taste for rich food to follow The Pioneer Woman.  She’s become an industry onto herself with product lines at Walmart and a Food Network show, but I like her photos of the cattle on the ranch.

Knitting and Stitching

Of course I couldn’t resist adding a few under this category.

There’s Mason-Dixon Knitting, which just started up again after a few month’s absence.

And I love Fringe Association.  She’s got fabulous items in her store.

Alabama Chanin speaks for itself. Swoon.

And Sublime Stitching always has interesting things going on.

Farming

Yes, farming.  I’m a confirmed city girl, but I love reading about people mucking about in the mud.  I really only have one favorite under this category and that is:

Celi’s The Kitchen Garden. She runs a small family farm in Illinois and blogs daily, with tons of photos.  I marvel at her energy and fortitude and live very vicariously through her blog.  Though I’d love to go stay in her cabin and write for a week or two some time.

General

Oh, there’s BuzzFeed, which is aimed at a demographic much younger than me as far as I can tell, but I enjoy it anyway.  Sometimes their stories make me howl with laughter and that’s a great thing in anyone’s world.

And there’s Brain Pickings, which is an incredible weekly labor of love.

And Jezebel, also for younger women than me, but hey, I write women’s fiction, I need to know what’s going on in the minds of the younger generation. (Having a daughter and a daughter-in-law helps, too.)

Okay, honestly, I didn’t expect the list to get this out of control.  I’ve got more, but I’ll spare you and myself.  In the meantime, what are your go-to blogs?

Image by Jeff Belmonte, from Every Stock Photo.

Five Things on Friday: July 17, 2015

Ngfood_ngobj_food_228316_lIt's another Five Things on Friday post.  Admit it, you woke up this morning just dying to hop on over here and read the latest one.  Well, here it is.

What I'm Reading:  Still working on a couple of books from last week, including Leaving Time. Don't tell them, but its due today at the library and its going to be late.  I would say it is pretty good, but I'm skimming a bit here and there in order to get through it.  I've been doing that with books more and more lately.  The impatience of old age (see below).  I'm also still working on Alexandra Fuller's  Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness and I still haven't forgiven her for not having a website.   The lack of forward motion in that one has slowed me down.  I am, however, reading her most recent one, Leaving Before the Rains Come, which came in at the library and liking it better.  Because there's conflict aplenty, as in money trouble and divorce, and we all know that lots of conflict makes for great reading.

I'm also reading Stones of Consciousness, for research purposes, and Radical Acceptance, by Tara Brach.  Yeah, I've got a million books going at once.  I see a book I want to read and put a hold on it at the library and then all the holds come in at once.  Haven't quite figured out how to get the flow working better.

What I'm Thinking About: My novel, The Bonne Chance Bakery, which is currently being considered by a list of 20 excellent publishers.  Think good thoughts!  And I'm pondering my next novel.  I finally, as of yesterday, figured out a loose outline of the first segment.  I've been writing and writing, wondering how it would all come together.  More like praying it would all come together.  This is a testament to the idea that you should just keep writing, because it does work eventually.

What I'm Watching: I bet you're expecting me to wax poetic about some golden age of television show.  Ha! Not a chance.  I'm currently totally into American Ninja Warrior and America's Got Talent.  Summer nights, I need something light and frothy.  I also have the Woody Allen movie Vicky Christina Barcelona in the queue because we will be in Barcelona in September for a few days.

What I'm Complaining About:  Well, nothing at the moment.  It's summer.  Life is good.  Okay, maybe I'll bitch about the fact that my son's dog, who is here for the day, barks at EVERYTHING OUTSIDE THAT MOVES. And maybe some things that don't.  This is a dog who barks at jet contrails, after all.

What I'm Celebrating:  My birthday.  It's today.  I'm old.  And I love it.  As I always say, the alternative, being 6 feet under, is worse.  I take issue with all those people who say aging is awful. Yeah, the body has its issues, but the mind and emotions are better than ever.   I intend to live to be 100 and love almost every minute of it.

 That's it.  That's all I've got.  What's going on with you this Friday?

Photo by ngould.

Author Interview: Kayla Dawn Thomas

I'm happy to share an interview with my friend, Kayla Dawn Thomas, today.  Actually, Kayla and I have only met through social media (primarily Twitter and Instagram), but that is about to change. Because this summer, she and her family are visiting Portland.  And on July 23rd, the two of us will be doing a reading at a cool local bookstore, Another Read Through on Mississippi, one of Portland's happening neighborhoods.  I love this bookstore, and I love that the owner, Elisa Saphier, is a huge supporter of local authors.  So come on out and join us on the 23rd at 7 PM.  And even if you can't come that night, please do drop into the store if you live in town or are visiting. And now, without further ado, let's find out more about Kayla Dawn. KaylaDawn

Tell us a little about yourself. I’m a family, book, wine lovin’ lady. My husband, daughter, and I are living a mostly peaceful, quiet life in Eastern Washington (Go Cougs!) 

How and why did you get started writing novels? 

It was something I wanted to do since about second or third grade. That’s when the reading bug really bit me, and I wanted to make cool books like the ones I was tearing through. I wrote stories in one form or another all the way through high school. Some harsh college professors slashed my writing confidence, so there was about a decade where I didn’t write anything. Then one day in my early thirties, I started journaling. I was battling anxiety and depression. The idea was to work through that, but what ended up happening was a novel! My childhood dream came true in the midst of that darkness. It’s amazing how life works.

Please tell us a little bit about each of your titles.

Swept Up is my first novel. It was the result of scribbling in that journal. The process of writing broken characters and working them through healing, and of course, falling in love was very cathartic.

TS Cover finalThe Jenna Ray Stories have been a hoot to write. It all started when a Twitter friend posted a picture of a note he found in a library book that read: Have a stranger come to the bar-tell her he loves her-asks her to go to Chicago with him the next weekend-she doesn’t go. I let my imagination run wild and created a woman vigilante who’s life’s mission is to put an end to wandering penis syndrome (AKA cheating husbands). After writing Narrow Miss on a whim, my husband encouraged me to make it a series. Currently I’m working on the fourth installment. At the moment, I believe there will be five total.

 Tackling Summer is my newest novel. It’s very near and dear to my heart as it takes place on a cattle ranch very similar to the one I grew up on. It was fun to revisit childhood memories and the beautiful mountains that left their indelible mark on me. There are so many adventures one can have out in the sticks. I have a feeling there will be more books in this type of setting. 

 Why did you decide to go the indie publishing route?  Do you plan to continue in this arena? 

Ahhh, the million dollar question. First off, I’ve always wanted to work for myself. After doing LOTS of homework and realizing I could turn my passion for writing into a viable business, there was no question of the direction I would take. The idea of skipping over the gatekeepers and doing things my way was beyond exciting. At this time, I plan to continue with indie publishing.

 Who inspires you?  In the same vein, who do you like to read? 

 It’s tough to narrow down who inspires me the most! First off, my mom and sister. They are both successful entrepreneurs in different fields, and it’s been very inspiring to watch them grow their businesses. Toby Neal and Shanna Hatfield are the two female indie authors I want to be when I grow up. They’re producing great work, run impressive businesses, and are downright good people. They always make time to answer my newbie questions and have been so encouraging to me.

I read a little bit of everything except horror. I hate being scared and/or grossed out. I like happy endings. I turn to Shanna Hatfield when I want something light and friendly. Janet Evanovich is my got to when I want to laugh. Toby Neal and J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts oftentimes take care of my need for a mystery/romance combo fix. I guess there’s a common thread running through that list. I like a good love story, and they can take many forms.

 Writing plans for the future? 

I’m working on the fourth novella in the Jenna Ray Stories. I’m hoping to have that out in early fall. I’m also sketching an outline for a novel based around Webb Baker’s sister, Celeste, from Swept Up. I knew the moment I typed “the end” on that manuscript that Celeste had a story to tell.

Where can we connect with you? You can find me over at my website www.kayladawnthomas.com. My monthly newsletter is the best way to keep up with my new releases, sales, events, special giveaways. I also spend a fair bit of time on Facebook

Kayla Dawn Thomas writes general and women’s fiction, as well as chick lit novels and novellas. Her mission is to give her readers an escape, from a chronically busy, overwhelmed world offering them the opportunity to settle in and discover someplace new, maybe crack a smile, and find a little romance. She’s been a storyteller all her life. Before she knew how to write, she told stories to a jump rope. Thankfully that stage ended once she learned how to work a pencil. Now she’s blessed to be able to write full time and looks forward to sharing her crazy ideas with readers. Always a romantic, Kayla managed to marry her high school sweetheart. They have a very bright, active nine-year-old daughter.

When not writing or being mom, Kayla can most likely be found in a cozy spot with a good book. Reading, sunshine, and hanging out with family and friends bring her joy.