AuThursday – Karen Docter

Please welcome author Karen Docter to the Clog Blog!

Thanks so much for allowing me to visit your blog. It’s always fun to talk to readers!

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I fell in love with stories when I was really young. My mother would take my sisters and I to the public library every Saturday. We’d load up on the maximum number of books we could check out and we’d start reading them the moment we got back to the car. We couldn’t wait to get home. I was out of reading material by mid-week but I’d just reread my favorite ones until we could trade them out. I went through the entire children’s section by the time I was nine.

I loved our librarians because they knew me and were able to transition me to the adult section. I read way beyond my years. I moved into SciFi (loved all of the greats, Heinlein, Asimov, etc.), Suspense (grew up on my mother’s Perry Mason and Ellory Queen stories from her Writer’s Digest Books) and Romance (ala Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer) I read everything those two ladies wrote (which was A LOT) and I got hooked on romance. SciFi and Suspense are also my “go to” reads, although I’ve since started picking up just about any romance across the sub-genres now.

I have a Technical Journalism degree and taught English Composition at a community college, but never really wrote for anyone but myself and English classes until I decided to write my first romance novel <mumble> years ago. J I have so many romance stories in my TBW, “To Be Written” pile I’ll have to live forever to finish them all.

How do you make time to write?

This has been a challenge in the past couple of years. I have been battling a number of health issues and my writing efforts were not productive. Last month, I climbed back in the saddle and am finally writing again. Marketing and social media cuts into my writing time so I seldom get to my writing until noon. But lately, I’ve been forcing myself into some new habits to get writing into my schedule.

I started a JUST WRITE session from noon to 4:00 every weekday with other writers on Facebook. Turns out I’m not the only one that is finding it a challenge to make writing time! J My Just Write sessions have grown a bit. We check in at noon and JUST WRITE for one-hour stretches. At the top of the hour, we check in with our progress (not word count generated, just progress – word counts make me crazy) and I encourage everyone to get up and stretch and take care of bodies. Too many of us don’t take proper care of ourselves and that is why so many of us experience health issues. Anyway, I run the JUST WRITE sessions until 4:00 when we sign off. I am creating another habit to go to the gym pool for a couple of hours weekdays.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

Yes, and no. I used to have problems with what people call a traditional writer’s block before I learned how to use the “W” plotting technique. I’m a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants) at heart. But I’d get sidetracked and then lock up because I didn’t know how to proceed.

It took me a while to find a plotting technique that allowed my pantser self to create without shutting down my need for direction. I wrote my first three books as a pure pantser, and then had to spend years trying to revise my babies into something I could sell to a publisher. It was miserable. When I learned the “W”, it allowed me the structure I needed without compromising my creativity. Now, I seldom experience true writer’s block.

That said, I do run into times when I can’t write because of health reasons. I may want to create, but when I’m in severe pain I can’t. I also discovered I wasn’t getting enough oxygen (took doctors forever to figure this one out) which meant my brain wasn’t getting what it needed to climb out of the fog. I’m on the upswing and my brain is clear so I’m crossing my fingers that blockages because of health are a thing of the past.

I highly recommend finding ways to take care of you. It’s hard to be creative when your mind or body is stressed. If your writer’s block is caused by this don’t beat yourself up. That just adds to your stress. Take the time you need to decompress. Go outside. Do something fun. Get completely away from your writing. When you get back to the writing, it’s highly likely you’ll know what’s blocking you. That’s the way it works for me.

Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.

I actually write two genres, contemporary romance as Karen Docter and romantic suspense as K.L. Docter. For years, I was focused on getting published at Harlequin/Silhouette. Because of my love for suspense, though, I was finding it challenging to rip the suspense elements out of my contemporary stories. The publisher lines I was aiming for didn’t allow for that element.

I was struggling to rip apart one particular story and ranting about it to one of my CPs (critique partners) about how difficult it was, and she told me to write it as a romantic suspense. I told her, “But I don’t write suspense.” She told me, “Karen, you already do. Just let it go.” I let go and K.L. Docter was born. It became much easier to write contemporary romance because I was able to switch personas and pour all of my suspense leanings into those books instead.

Interestingly enough, I started a contemporary romance series called True Love in Uniform that you would think would be filled with suspense but I’m able to focus the stories on the cops outside of their jobs. There is a bit of cop shop because let’s face it, police officers are cops 24/7 but it’s not the focus on the stories. I can go hog wild with my serial killers and woman-in-jeopardy stories as K.L. though so my muse is happy.

…and, related back to your question about writer’s block? I no longer face blockages that stop me cold because if a cop book isn’t working for me, I just turn my thoughts over to the suspense book. Something is always working now. The other benefit to splitting my personality! J

 How are you publishing your recent book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

I’ve gone completely Indie. Before my health issues reared their ugly heads, there wasn’t really anything that had the same distribution model as the traditional publishers. When I came back to my writing, though, Amazon was breaking loose and I could finally see a way for me to publish myself. I was tired of trying to break into the few spots the traditional publishers had available—I had several senior editors who liked my work but I could never get the right book on the right desk at the right time—and I decided that I had the background to do what I needed to do, as long as I was willing to work hard.

It was a no-brainer for me. I was in the business world for over 30 years and could run a business. Why not? I published a book I had at a traditional publisher for two years, through four senior editors, and never looked back. I had a few hits and misses as I got started but, once I identified my strengths and weaknesses, I hired professionals to do the stuff I couldn’t and did the rest myself. I have two professional cover artist (one for each genre) and a formatter (I’d rather have a baby than format my own books J ) and I do the rest. Someday, I’d love to hire a PA who can take a lot of the marketing off my desk because I’m spending half my day doing that when I want to be writing. Someday!

I can’t imagine ever selling to a publisher now. I like having control over my own work and hate deadlines. J

Are you an Introvert or Extravert?  How does this affect your work?  I’m kind of an introvert, although many who know me on Facebook would call me an extrovert. Like all social media, I can be a lot more open hiding behind my pages. I grew up an introvert, hands down. It took getting married to change that. My husband’s entire family is giving and gregarious and open. They taught me to be myself and not apologize for who I am. It was amazingly freeing. Because of them, I transferred my ability to manage businesses into runningan RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter for over 20 years. I donned a lot of hats, both on the board and as chair. The demands of the positions forced me to get more “out there” in the industry. I’m still not comfortable going into a new situation or talking to a crowd of people, but I can usually hold my own now.

What is your favorite motivational phrase?

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play”~ Arnold Toynbee

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Karen – This is a hard one. I’ve given a LOT of advice to aspiring writers over the years. I even taught hundreds of writers how to plot using the “W” plotting technique. But the truth is there’s so much to learn, I can’t give you specifics in this space. However, let me try to talk generalities.

  1. Learn your craft. Join writers’ groups and take online classes. Build your knowledge base. Research. Do whatever it takes to learn your craft, including industry and marketing.
  2. Write the best story you can. I know it’s easy to say something is “good enough” but for whom? Ultimately, to me, that means my readers. I believe readers stick around for the authors who give them the stories they want to read again and again. I don’t think “good enough” is good for the long haul. Of course, that’s just me. I can’t publish a book I’m not behind 100%.
  3. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. I don’t think any of us ever stop learning. Or we shouldn’t stop learning, no matter where we are in our career. The market is always changing. Readers change. You change. Stay up to date on the industry and beef up your strengths.

If you don’t know something or are weak in some area, either learn how to do it or pay professionals to do it for you. I don’t have the expertise to do my own graphics. I don’t want to learn. I’d much rather just write my stories. I’m stretched far enough as it is. So, I will always have a professional do my covers. Covers don’t have to cost a fortune to be professional. It’s one of the costs I’m willing to pay for my career because covers sell my books. Formatting makes me crazy. Friends keep telling me, “It’s easy.” Yeah, right. Did I mention I’d rather have a baby than format? J Getting a professional is soooo much less expensive and I can again turn that time to my writing. I can market and play the social media game but someday (hopefully sooner rather than later) I’ll hire someone to do that for me, too. I want to write full time.

  1. Always believe in yourself. The sad truth is that writing is a solitary career and you have to be your own cheerleader, first and foremost. Don’t let the naysayers control your dreams. If you want to write the book, you’ll write it…as long as you believe in yourself.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t surround yourself with like-minded authors and readers, filling your life with more cheerleaders. The more, the merrier! They’ll be there when you start to question yourself…and you will. Take my word for it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wanted to throw up my hands, wondering why I’m beating my head against one wall or another. My support base is always there to help me over the rough patch. You need this support for those times when it’s difficult to believe in yourself.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

Website/Blog: http://www.karendocter.com

Twitter: @KarenDocter

Karen Docter FB: https://www.facebook.com/karen.docter

K.L. Docter FB: https://www.facebook.com/kldocter/

Book Bench for Romance Lovers (FB Group): https://www.facebook.com/kldocter/?ref=bookmarks

Goodreads: https://goo.gl/bsswDd

Karen’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Karen-Docter/e/B008TST8TY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1506370391&sr=8-1

K.L.’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/K.L.-Docter/e/B00JV92NFQ/ref=la_B008TST8TY_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1506370395&sr=1-1

Join me on Saturday when we read an excerpt from Karen’s book, Cop on her doorstep.~Tina

 

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Writer Wednesday – Retreats

My apologies for missing last Writer Wednesday.  I’d returned from an annual Writing Retreat for the Founders of Writer Zen Garden, and found myself forgetting.

I’ve attended this Retreat annually and the theme or tone of the meeting varies from year to year, depending on where we are at in our lives.

This year before meeting, one member suggested more writing time, and I’m so glad she did. 

We routinely do Morning Pages, Free Write and a CRAFT.

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WZG 2017 Craft

This year we added in Writing Prompts, Mind Mapping and Creative Journaling. 

The Mind Mapping and a prompt on setting were exactly what I needed.  I tend to write dialouge heavy, so this was very helpful to help me find a balance. 

If you are planning on hosting a retreat, Even a self-retreat, there are a few things I would recommend: 

  1. Have goals – This is reason for the Retreat.  Finish a book, commune with like minded writers, relax.  Whatever it is, even if each writer has different goals, this will help with making a plan, so everyone walks away with what they want. 
  2. Have a plan – Get input from all people attending your retreat.   Pick a location. Create a schedule.   Share it.   A plan will give you framework for your retreat to ensure everyone has fun. 
  3. Have Fun – So you can’t hit the park, because your location has suddenly been deluged by rain.   You spent more time chatting and less time writing – been there.  If you think of the plan as a framework and not a schedule, you can better roll with it. 

Last year I hosted the WZG Writing Retreat on my Farm.   I’ve toyed with the idea of coordinating a spring retreat for local authors at my farm or at The Smokey Hills in Minnesota. 

The goal for me has always been to catch up with authors about what they are writing and trying to re-energize my own writing.   This is for both retreats and conferences.  Before investing time and money into any event, be sure you have a goal.  My goal helps set the expectations and I can measure sucess from it. 

My goals were met, so I would call the retreat a success. 

Here are some other great blogs on planning retreats:

http://rawdogscreaming.com/8-things-learned-planning-writing-retreat/

http://www.alexrwhite.com/how-to-plan-a-writing-retreat-part-1-goals-and-rules/

https://www.janefriedman.com/value-writing-retreats/

https://jenniferlouden.com/create-your-own-writing-retreat/

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/do-it-yourself-writing-retreats

Join me next week as we continue my query journey.~Tina

Writer Wednesday – Request

Last week, right after I posted my rejection post.   I received a request for an additional 50 pages from another Agent.   The Universe must have a plan.  

I had met this agent at an RWA conference a couple of years ago when the manuscript was just getting started in my head and on paper.    She had given a talk on agents and how they help you in the business.  That talk made me look at querying agents for this book that was an idea in my head.     Especially since what I had written was such a bit of a departure from my current work.   

I will still have to wait a few more weeks before I hear back, but this is exciting news.  I remember listening to her talk, and getting a good vibe.  

As you read this, I’m heading to the airport to go on my annual retreat with the WZG Founders.   And plotting my next book.   More on that next Wednesday. 

~Tina

Tina’s Teaching

****Please Forward to your Writing Groups****

S.E.N.D presented by Tina Holland
Workshop begins: August 7, 2017
Class length: Two weeks
Cost: $15 (free to RWA® Online Chapter members)
Registration opens July 24, 2017

Link to registration: http://rwaonlinechapter.org/?page_id=466

Workshop Description:

Submit your work

Establish your brand

Next book

Discover your strengths.

Are you struggling to find a home for your finished manuscript?   Have you submitted your book, but have no idea where to go from here?   Tina Holland’s SEND workshop may be for you.  In this class, you’ll learn:

1) How to research and SUBMIT to a publishing house and get what you want.

2) How to ESTABLISH your brand, even when writing different genres or standalone books

3)  The importance of working on the NEXT book

4)  DISCOVER your strengths as a writer and learn to use them to your advantage.

About the Presenter:

Tina Holland was born in Frankfurt, Germany and is now settled in the Red River Valley of North Dakota. She lives on a hobby farm and enjoys horseback riding, camping, travelling, and reading books by her favorite authors.

Tina has been published since 2005, and continues to release books as her schedule allows. Tina is a member of RWA Online, Zen Writer’s Garden and the F-M Word Weavers. She hosts a blog at https://tinaholland.wordpress.com/ and you can reach her at  tina@tinaholland.com
Deadline to register is August 7, 2017

FMI: http://rwaonlinechapter.org/?page_id=466

Or email Patti Fischer at fisc40pa@aol.com

You do not need to be a RWA® member to take the class.

Note: RWA® Online conducts all workshops via a message board system located on this website.  However, access to the site is restricted by login and password to ensure that the workshop is only available to those that are authorized to attend.

AuThursday – Candi Fox

Candi Fox Author PhotoPlease welcome Paranormal Romance Author Candi Fox to the Clog Blog!   Candi, can you Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I find as the years pass along, I’ve become more fearless. I hope that my writing reflects this. I live in Tulsa, with my large fur family and my wonderful husband. We enjoy ghost hunting, Ren Faires, and horses.

How do you make time to write?

I’m lucky I get to stay at home. I write every day. When I am not writing, I’m either researching or pimping books.

What genre are your books?

My books are all in the paranormal category. Some more erotic, some thrillers and suspense.

What draws you to this genre?

My paranormal journey started when I was two and saw my first ghost. From that day on the paranormal was drawn to me. Maybe, I was drawn to it. Either way, it’s been a big part of my life.

What are your current projects?

I’m more than half way finished with Darkest Knight, the third book in the Killing Chronicle series. My novella for a hot summer anthology is at the editors. My WIP is my first contribution to the multi-author Tulsa Immortal series. I also have a YP series in the works.

Are you an Introvert or Extravert?  How does this affect your work?

I can be both. I have PTSD, depression, and anxiety. I have weeks where I am completely happy not to see anyone but my husband. When I am out and about or in a group of people talking, I am a complete extravert. I love talking to people. This combination is great for writing. During my anti-social times, I get a lot of writing and research complete. When I am in a social mood I get a lot of ideas for characters.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Squirrel. Everything. I have days where EVERYTHING distracts me.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Write every day. Just put it on paper and worry about making it good during the editing process. Read at least twice as much as you write.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.candifox.com

Harlequin's Deception (1)Join me when we read an excerpt from Candi’s story HARLEQUIN’S DECEPTION, part of her NAKED TRUTH Series.  ~Tina

White Reviews by Crystal button

Teaching at Writer Zen Garden

wzgI’m teaching my FEARS workshop this weekend at Writer Zen Garden if anyone is interested. Classes are free to members. Membership is free.

http://writerzengarden.com/forums/

Feel free to share with any writer friends.

AuThursday – Your name here

img_0982We are getting to the end of the year and I’ll be looking for Interview Candidates for 2017.  

If you think this is something you might be interested let me know. 

I post Interviews every Thursday and Excerpts on Saturday.  I’m thinking of adding some new items like Wednesday Writer Space – More on that to come. 

I don’t do reviews or blitzes, as I want the readers to get to know the writer and what makes them tick.   

Reader make-up seems to be a mix  of Fans, Aspiring Writers, Actors and Veteran Writers.  This page if  viewed more as informative and educational rather than promotional. 

I’ll post the Clog Blog Results at the end of the year as I have in the past.   

Stay tuned next week for more writers. ~Tina