This novel took me 15 years to write. Well, not exactly, but…
Even though Dead Man’s Hand was my first published novel, it’s not the first book I wrote. Kiss & Tell is my “baby”. It’s the first book I ever even attempted to write. I started writing the novel in the winter of 2000, while playing hockey down in Oklahoma.
A lot of circumstances surround this novel, and it’s the reason I started writing in the first place. This novel, and all of my writing, happened by “chance”. I was playing professional hockey in Oklahoma, and was struck in the eye with a stick in a preseason game. That injury ended my season before it began.
My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, was attending a French college in Montreal, and her English professor assigned the class the task of writing a short story.
My girlfriend knew that I was an avid reader, so she asked me if I would help her develop the story, which I did. I had so much fun with the project, that when we had finished, I took one of the characters we had created and started writing my own story.
I wrote Kiss & Tell in six months, but it was nowhere even close to being publishable. Actually, it stunk. It was a practice story for me, so I left it sitting in my computer, and started writing a second book.
After I published Dead Man’s Hand in 2012, I decided to reopen Kiss & Tell and take another look. My first reaction…it was bad, written by a first-time, newbie, amateur author. But I loved the plot, cast of characters, and the potential. I didn’t want to give up on this story.
So I took everything I’d learned about the craft of writing and the industry and put it into editing Kiss & Tell. The revisions completely changed the entire book.
After I’d completed it in 2001, Kiss & Tell was written from the point of view of Jessica Philips, the primary murder suspect in the Ken Anderson investigation, and the story was told from Jessica’s first person POV.
The Kiss & Tell that came out in 2015 is told from Detective Charlene Taylor’s point of view, written in third person. Although the plot never changed, some of the characters and scenes did.
A major scene/twist change that occurred?
In the original Kiss & Tell, the identity of the Celebrity Slayer was never revealed. I was planning on turning this CS plot into a series, extending the investigation through a number of books. But, taking into consideration a suggestion from one of my editors, I decided to change that. But don’t think I don’t have more plans for the Celebrity Slayer, in upcoming Charlene Taylor books.
But that’s for another time, and another place.
Buy the book here: http://myBook.to/Kiss
By Karen Baney
Dear Unknown Author,
I know the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve poured into your book. The late nights. The early mornings. The crazy moments when the idea for your next chapter hits you and you can hardly wait to get time to sit down and pour it all out.
It’s your masterpiece, your joy. You wrote it with purpose and determination.
The happiest day of your life, next to your wedding day and the birth of your kids, was the birth of your book. Oh how you shouted for joy when you first saw your name on the cover of your book! Then when it became available in bookstores online or brick and mortar, you could hardly contain your excitement. Your baby, your masterpiece was finally out there in the world.
Then the excitement faded. Week after week you wondered if anyone would buy your book. Weeks turned to months. Months to years. The next book you wrote was with a little less enthusiasm—containing an underlying fear that maybe you aren’t really cut out for this whole writing thing.
I know what you’re saying. Reader, how can you know me so well? Where have you been? Did you read my book?
I would love to read it. I’m sure it is really good. I would love to go on the journey you so cleverly crafted with painstaking details.
Just one problem, dear unknown author: You are unknown to me.
You see, I only have a few minutes of time between picking up the kids from soccer and getting dinner on the stove—maybe we’ll just stop for fast food tonight—that it’s hard for me to take the time to find you. I have a blog that I read once every few weeks, and you’re not there. When I browse through my favorite genre, you’re not there. When I talk to friends, they haven’t heard of you either. You don’t show up in my Twitter stream.
I do like trying new authors, I really do. But with 18,000 other religious fiction authors vying for my attention, what have you done to get mine?
Maybe someday I’ll hear about you from a friend. Maybe my book club will bring you to my attention. Until then, you will remain an unknown author to me.
What are you doing to stand out among the 18,000? Is your publish-it-and-they-will come strategy getting you nowhere? If so, unknown author, it’s time to stand out. It’s time to learn about marketing. Get out there. Be bold. Be seen. Be a name and not a number.
Best-selling self-published author, Karen Baney, enjoys sharing information to help authors learn about the Business of Writing. She holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University and has worked in various business related career fields for the past 20 years. She writes Christian Historical Fiction and Contemporary Romance novels. To learn more about her novels visit her website: karenbaney.com. Authors can find tips and information on self-publishing and marketing at: www.myauthorservices.com.
Karen and her husband, Jim, also run several online businesses. They make their home in Gilbert, AZ, with their two dogs.
Not sure how to start marketing your book? Check out Karen’s new book just for authors: 10 Keys to Ebook Marketing Success. Now available on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Keys-Ebook-Marketing-Success-ebook/dp/B00B2YUQ16
For great marketing and self-publishing advice, visit MyAuthorServices.com.
Just like I do at the end of every year, this is the time to look back and review the blessings and lessons that this ending year had brought into my life as a writer and as a person.
This year was very different than the years before. If you look at my previous reviews there was an active participation in writing contests, but this year I decided to go a different route. I decided to take a step back and not just write, but learn about writing. I found two blogs that have been very instrumental in my recent growth: Bob Mayer’s Blog and Kristen Lamb’s Blog. These two authors blog very interesting postings teaching new writers how to path their ways.
The next thing I did was to get a writing accountability partner. A what you say? Yes, I found someone with the same interest to learn and write as I had to keep me accountable to deadlines and to share the nuggets of knowledge we were finding on separate sides of the country. This is my sweet friend Marilag Lubag whom has encourage me and supported me for the last few months.
Since the summer I started working on my platform and getting that first book publish. I started working with graphic designer Antoine Burch to start working on my book cover. As I’m working to get my first book I met wonderful author Melissa Foster, who has a group of author that help each other with knowledge, information and cross promotion called Women’s Literary Café. Between Kristen and Melissa I was able to meet many writers and learn a lot from their experiences. Melissa found out I was a Christian writer and gave me the best gift of all. She introduced me to a new group that was forming of Christian authors named Grace & Faith 4 U under the wonderful leadership of Author Staci Stallings. This group started with like five authors and now has over 80 members.
Finally in October 17th of this year, Growth Lessons came out and I’m proud of the things that God has already done through this book in this short time. I still did NaNoWriMo…What was I thinking? Not only I wrote for Nano, I hosted write-ins three times a week…Again, what was I thinking? But I made it through, only by the Grace of God.
In terms of this blog, I joined the post a week challenge. I am grateful to say that I succeeded. I was able to sustain for the most part a schedule of blogging three times a week, but in the few occasions that it was not possible at least I wrote that once a week post. It was also a learning experience of great accountability, organization skills and it allowed me to interact with other writers and readers that I would not have met otherwise.
In Summary, it’s been a year of learning, of success and a greater encounter with God to get me through it all. I’m very grateful for this year and looking forward to what 2012 will bring.
So what’s coming up in 2012?
- The year will start with an interview on January 1rst at the Fashion Passion Faith Blog
- January 14th will be the first official Book Signing at Five Spot Yogurt in Snellville
- Spring 2012, Launch of my next book, “The Road Home”
- Many more surprises.
I’m very grateful and humbled for all your support during these two years and look forward to much more experiences shared together. Remember there are only a few days left to obtain a copy of Growth Lessons for 99 cents in both Kindle, Nook and Smashwords. If you have already obtained an electronic copy and would like an autograph, go to Kindlegraph and submit your request.
Many Blessings and Happy New Year!!!
We are blessed to have with us today Christian Author Staci Stallings who is here to introduce us to the characters of her book Cowboy. Enjoy getting to know these characters closer
Having lived with the characters in Cowboy for about 13 years now, it fascinates me how much they still teach me and others who read the book and want to talk about it with me.
Ashton Raines is the hero, and I think he kind of epitomizes where we all *think* we want to be–on top, successful, adored by many, hated by none. He’s got the world at his feet. As the reigning King of Country Music, Ashton appears to have everything he’s ever wanted and most of what everybody else dreams of having.
But the thing is it becomes obvious very quickly that Ashton is anything but happy. In fact, there’s a large part of him that really hates his life and what he’s become. Not because he’s become someone bad, but somewhere along the way on the road to super stardom, he lost himself.
Whether we’re a superstar or not, I think many of us can relate to waking up one day, looking in the mirror and having no idea how we got here. It’s like we pursue life and our dreams, and then one day we’re living this life we don’t even recognize. Maybe we’ve got kids and a husband or we’re in a job we always thought we wanted, and we look around and it’s weird because we don’t even really recognize who we are anymore.
In the story, Ashton uses his fame to hide from his pain. At least that was the idea. His wife has died of cancer, and it nearly ripped him apart. His plan to escape the pain is to pour himself into a whirlwind tour. The problem is pain isn’t healed by escaping it, and the faster he runs, the more miserable he gets until one night, he simply can’t take it anymore. After a concert, his manager comes up with a brilliant idea to help Ashton forget, and it snaps Ashton’s will to keep up the charade of the tour. He gets in a rented car and drives, not knowing or caring if he’ll ever come back.
Beth McCasland is the sweetest spirit you would ever want to meet. She’s seen her share of heartache when her husband passed away in a terrible accident. Now she’s left to raise her young daughter alone, and she shoulders that burden with grace and dignity.
The thing I like most about Beth is she is so simple. She sees someone hurting, and she’s determined to help. Maybe she can only offer a meal and an ear to listen, but she is willing to do that. The thing that breaks my heart about Beth is I think true of a lot of us who care. When we go all-in to help someone, keeping a “safe distance” for our heart’s sake doesn’t always work. And it’s so hard to really care and not get emotionally involved, especially if that person is someone we genuinely connect with on a deep level.
How do you care and let go, and care and let go, and care and let go? It’s like getting your heart smashed over and over again, but what’s the other option? Not caring?
I think the depth of her love is really a reflection of how God is with us. He’s always standing there with open arms, willing to take us in and comfort us and be there for us, and somehow, He loves us enough to let us go again with no real guarantee that we’ll come back. It’s such an incredibly vulnerable place to be. For me, that was one of the hardest things about watching Beth go through the things that happen in the story, watching her suffer because of her great love.
I’ve had people describe Cowboy as Cinderella in reverse, which is rather interesting to me because in one sense, Ashton is the Prince on the white… okay, tour bus. But many readers have said they really felt Beth is the one to rescue him from the pit, which is also true. I don’t know. Maybe sometimes in a relationship we’re equal parts the one saving and the one being saved. I certainly think that’s true of this story.
The truth is I love these two characters. They’re like old friends now, and I love this story. Every time I read it, it makes me want to fall in love all over again!
Staci Stallings, the author of Cowboy and ten other books currently available on Kindle & Nook, enjoys writing books that touch readers deeply. Whether the story is about losing someone or fighting for what you believe in, you can bet it will hook you and not let go until you sigh as the ending slips in place in your heart. You can find out more about Staci at her blog: http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com and more about her books at: http://stacistallings.wordpress.com.
Join Staci Stallings and 9 of her author friends at WoMen’s Literary Cafe’s Christian Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!
We have the honor to be visited by Christian writer Shawn Lamb who will be sharing her perspective on how her faith influences her writing. She also has a new book that you should all check out.
“In several interviews I’ve been asked if I consider myself an author who is a Christian or a Christian author. My answer is the same – I am a Christian and I cannot compartmentalize my life. Who I am in Christ comes out in everything I do. I make no apology for the Christian influences or message in my stories.
When one is an author, or trying to break into the industry, there is a great deal of pressure to compromise, to make the story palatable to the reader. This can take the form of inclusion or exclusion according to the mandates by the publisher. Such was the case with The Huguenot Sword when I actively shopped it around to publishers.
Over the course of 3 years, the manuscript was bounced between 6 publishing houses. And I mean literally bounced. Four of the publishers were Christian, and when one door shut, the editor of a house recommended me to a fellow editor at another publishing house. Not a very common occurrence in the industry, to recommend a perspective author to a rival publisher, but that is what happened to me. For 18 months Bethany tried to find a way to sign me, but for one reason or another, it fell through. During these submissions, some editors wanted me to exclude historical facts and dumb down my language in description and dialogue. In short, they wanted to turn my well-researched historical fiction into historical light.
In the meantime, 2 of the Big Six in New York tested me with various requests before considering a contract. But they wanted the inclusion of sex and inappropriate material. Colossians 3:23- whatever you do, do heartily as to the Lord and not unto men. For me it was an easy decision to refuse. Yes, I lost a publishing contract, but I could sleep at night with a clear conscious of honoring God.
I learn a lot during this intense period – authors are at the mercy of publishers and often requests go against what the author feels is best for the story. The need for compromise is ever present in the choices we face each day. Where Scripture is clear, the choice should be easy. But in the gray areas, is where we falter. Authors have stories to tell, and must decide whether to honor God in our stories or not. To dumb down the language wasn’t a really horrible compromise to make, if I had agreed. But it was not God’s timing back then. Now it is.
With the advances in self-publishing and having complete control the content, after 35 years, I’m able to present The Huguenot Sword in its entirety. This is the first book I ever wrote when I was age 16, and by God’s grace, now is the time for it to see the light of publication. Enjoy!”
Shawn Lamb is the author of the epic Christian YA fantasy series Allon and once wrote for the animated series BraveStarr, produced by the same studio that did He-Man and She-Ra. She has won several screenwriting awards including a Certificate of Merit from the American Screenwriters Association.
Her books can be found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shawn-Lamb/e/B002LPYXF0/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Connect with Shawn Lamb on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000208991898&ref=name
Join Naty Matos and 9 of her author friends at Women’s Literary Cafe’s Christian Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their e-books to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE! http://www.womensliterarycafe.com/content/december-2011book-launches