Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

Which Books Are You Grateful For?

Despite all the negativity surrounding Thanksgiving, the holiday endears itself to me more each year. Why? At its essence, the American tradition of Thanksgiving is about coming together with family, sharing a special meal, and taking just one day to express gratitude. 

Thanksgiving turkeyThanks to Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), Thanksgiving has started to be overshadowed by Christmas shopping, But, as Americans have become desensitized to the “amazing” deals, and Black Friday sales have pushed themselves into Thanksgiving night, there’s been a quiet call to reclaim the good parts of Thanksgiving. The family time, the gratitude, the restfulness. Yes, please.

For the second year in a row (and in my entire life), I’ll be spending Thanksgiving away from my family (and, almost as regrettably, my Uncle Dave’s famous smoked turkey). Now, I know you might not be an American or a meat eater, but I have a strong feeling you’re probably a reader. So, fellow bookworm, would you indulge me in a little bookish gratitude?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and our insatiable craving for book recommendations, drop the title of a book you’re thankful for in the comments. It could be a book that brought you joy, helped you through a difficult time in your life, or even one you wrote yourself!

Gone GirlWhat book am I grateful for? I’ll give you a simple answer and a serious answer. I’m thankful for Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn for getting me through the bulk of a 14-hour plane flight from Australia to the U.S. No matter what I do, I cannot sleep on planes for more than a few minutes at time, so having that novel engross me to the point where I lost track of time was a huge relief.

On a more serious note, I recently found myself grateful for one of my own novels. A reader shared that reading The Courtesan’s Avenger had served as an escape from her depression and that the themes of the novel resonated with and inspired her. That is exactly why I write, and it meant so much to me that something I imagined could do that for her. I was also thankful to “pay it forward,” as several books have helped me through tough times or made me feel less alone.

Now, before you scurry off for turkey or holiday shopping (no judgments), share your own bookish gratitudes in the comments. Feel free to add non-book gratitudes too – mine include my husband and our feline son, the friends who invited us to share Thanksgiving with them this year, and the internet for connecting me with you!

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Author Business & Publishing, Musings & Bookish Things, Writing & Publishing Articles

Why Do You Write? (An Idea Revisited Two Years Later)

If you’re reading this, I assume you want to be or already are a writer. I also assume that there’s a decent chance you want to be a full-time author. So, if that’s you, let me ask you two difficult questions: Why do you write? And why do you want to be a full-time author, when there are hundreds of easier career options?

writing and coffeeNow, your gut instinct is probably something like, “Come on, Kate! Writing is my life. Those questions are so easy!”

But do me a favor and really think about it. I’ll give you a personal anecdote while you ponder your own situation …

After my recent move from New Haven to the Bay Area, I’ve had a difficult time getting back in my creative groove. I have a lot of perfectly valid excuses: organizing the new place, adjusting to a new work and household routine, exploring new shops and landmarks, to name a few. But, I think I finally understand the real issue.

Whenever I meet new people, I introduce myself as a writer. I include my novelist side, but I always admit, with a twinge of unnecessary shame, that my books don’t pay the bills. I’m “really” a copywriter for a wine marketing company (which has actually helped my fiction writing). It sounds super-sexy on paper, and while most of the time I just stare at a computer screen like every other office worker, it is a great job. Though I’m still the lowest rung on the company ladder, I could make copywriting/marketing a long-term career. And I think it would make me happy.

It would be SO. MUCH. EASIER. to just let go of my author ambitions and relax into the 9-to-5 life. I’m NOT saying every 9-to-5 job is easy, and I’m definitely challenged at my work, but giving up the author stuff would relieve me of several challenges. I could stop spending nights and weekends at the computer. I could stop heaping guilt on myself when I don’t meet my creative goals. I could stop spending hard-earned, harder-saved money on editing, cover designs, and marketing expenses. I could stop all the other nuisances of indie authorship and still call myself a professional writer.

Live your dreamBack to you: your situation is obviously much different from mine. Maybe you’re working a job you loathe. Maybe you have tons of extra money to shower on self-publishing. Maybe you view writing solely as a career and aren’t bothered by any of the emotional, passionate aspects.

Still, I ask again: Why do you write? And why do you want to be a full-time author?

(If you’re a fan of the Sterling & Stone trio, you can probably guess that I’m a big believer in Sean’s “Know Your Why” mantra, which this insightful article discusses more eloquently than I can.)

While contemplating this question, I remembered a blog post I wrote over two years ago. It lists the reasons why I write, along with some great additions from fellow writers in the comments. They all still hold true, but they don’t answer why I want to write fiction professionally and not just as a hobby.

After giving it some careful thought and seriously evaluating my larger personal/life goals, here are a few of my reasons:

Writing is my greatest passion.
Writing is my most employable skill.
Creative satisfaction means more to me than conventional success.
I want to be my own boss and set my own working hours.
I want the freedom to vacation when and how I choose.
I want to work be able to work from anywhere in the world.
I don’t want to regularly manage other people.
I don’t want to give up my dream to help someone else achieve theirs.
I love storytelling.
I want the opportunity to make my daily work meaningful and valuable.
I want to entertain, inform, and educate others.
I want to make a difference in the world and provide a source of escape for others.

Conclusion? Being a full-time writer both satisfies my creative passions and provides several practical benefits that “regular” jobs cannot.

If you’re in a similar situation to me (and I know at least one of my friends reading this is), do yourself a favor and ask these questions. You might realize that writing is just a hobby for you — and that is 100% awesome. Or (more likely, I bet), you’ll realize that full-time authorship is really the career you want. If that’s the case, you’ll be armed with a list of reasons to keep you motivated when the going gets tough. And trust me, it will get tough.

But, if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s also wholly, completely, utterly worth it.


Leave your reasons in the comments and cheer on your fellow authors. If you’re already living the full-time dream, I’d love to hear whether your “why” remains true now that you’ve reached your goal. 

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

Should Books Be Written on Soapboxes: Social Responsibility & Literature

As someone raised in the Midwest, I learned at a young age not to discuss sex, politics, or religion. While I’ll gab about the former with the right people (and after a glass or two of red wine!), I tend to avoid politics and religion. From a cultural standpoint, I learned by example that discussing these issues seems pointless and sometimes rude. How can I, as one little person, cause any real change in the world? Why waste my time trying to alter someone’s mind on such divisive topics? What does someone’s political affiliation or religious beliefs matter if they’re a good person?

protestFrom a personal standpoint, I feel I have no right to discuss these issues. Since I don’t have a political or religious association of any kind, who would take me seriously? How can I ensure the information I learn is even factual? And, given how much I hate conflict, why open myself up it?

However, with the current state of the world, politics and religion are becoming increasingly difficult to avoid. And perhaps rightly so. Between the radical propositions made by President Trump, Alt-Right/Nazi rallies (a phrase I never thought I’d type in present-day context), and devastating climactic events, politics and religion arise in nearly every conversation. And as I sit there, mouth clamped tightly shut while friends and family members rattle off their views and theories, I have a realization.

While I don’t often voice my views on contentious issues, I’ve written them into my books.

In the Desertera series, I’ve woven in several topics I care strongly about — sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. I advocate for a positive view of female (and all) sexuality. I grapple with the de-criminalization of prostitution (an issue I’m still uncertain about). I support homosexuality by making it a non-issue in society (except for where it prevents the nobles from having biological heirs). I condemn classism and social stratification. And, especially in the final books of the series, I’ll warn the reader about climate change.

Listed bluntly like this, I marvel at my boldness. I do have opinions — quite a few that would shock my fellow Midwesterners — but I’ve made them more palatable, I hope, by lacing them in fiction. And I’m not alone. Not by a long shot.

Most of the literary fiction I studied in college contained moral or political messages for the reader. Many of my author friends use their writing to advocate for causes or social issues. Hell, Science Fiction as a genre basically serves as a warning from the future (it’s one of the reasons I’ve always been attracted to it). You’ll find the same agendas in nearly every form of artwork at nearly every stage in history.

This brings me to the crux of this article: As an author, do you feel a social responsibility to stand on your “soapbox” in your writing? And as a reader, how do you feel when authors “preach” a message within a novel?

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer.

On one hand, inserting your views into fiction can be a noble endeavor. It gives readers with similar views a safe place in entertainment. It allows readers with different views a chance to consider a new perspective without being personally attacked. And it offers you, as the author, to remain at arm’s length from the topic.

On the other hand, shouldn’t fiction just be fiction? In a world where the news constantly showers us with depressing topics, our social media feeds fill with contention, and our dinner table conversations get usurped by arguments, we need a break. Isn’t it just as noble for books to offer pure entertainment and unbiased escape?

I go back and forth on this issue a lot.

As a writer, I do feel an obligation to make my fiction meaningful. Though, I don’t always agree with myself about what is “meaningful.” Sometimes, I want to use my fiction as a platform. Other times, I just want to offer my reader that innocent escape.

Same goes for when I’m reading a novel. Mostly, I appreciate when an author attempts to make me think deeper — so long as she writes in way that feels respectful to me and doesn’t belabor her point. Though, other times, even the slightest hint of an agenda will make me cringe and wonder, “Why can’t I just enjoy this story for the story’s sake?!”

Maybe it’s about choosing which type of author you want to be, or which type of writing is right for each particular story. Maybe it’s about knowing what your ideal reader expects. Maybe it’s about striking a balance between theme and entertainment. Maybe it’s about being sneakier, having your cake and eating it without the reader even noticing you baked it.

My specific answer keeps changing, based on whether I’m writing or reading, the story itself, the mood I’m in, even the day (it’s no coincidence that I’m writing this on 9/11). But my politically correct, moderate, agnostic answer remains the same: as long as the author respects the story and the reader, that’s what matters most, soapbox or not.


What do you think? Do authors have a responsibility to advocate for their political/religious views in their fiction? As a reader, do you expect a “message” from the author, or are you only looking for entertainment? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

 

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Geeky Things

Join the 2017 Brain to Books Cyber Convention

Hi, everyone! I normally don’t post on Saturdays, but I wanted to share an awesome event that’s happening. This weekend is the 2017 Brain to Books Cyber Convention.

What is the B2BCyCon?

Straight from the horse’s mouth:

The Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo—or B2BCyCon for short—is an annual event hosted online by Brain to Books.

Every April, Brain to Books welcomes in the new season of book releases, blog tours, and rising authors in the largest Convention and Book Expo anywhere online. For three days, we shine the spotlight on the undiscovered author. Readers, book lovers, and authors are invited to celebrate these hidden talents with Brain to Books. We have games, prizes, awards, contests, book readings, discussions, giveaways, drawings, and raffles.

The Convention is a single three-day event stretched across the internet. We are on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and more than three dozen websites worldwide. We are on Goodreads, podcasts, the radio…We are in Greece, Japan, Australia, Bristol, New York, California, Alaska, Hawaii, South Africa, Jamaica, Israel, and India. For 72 non-stop hours, undiscovered authors—both indie and trad—can find the largest and fastest growing author support group available today. We are the event for readers. We are the event for undiscovered authors.

In other words, it’s a great chance to meet your new favorite author, join in fun bookwormy discussions and win loads of FREE books and swag.

See the complete list of events here.

If you’re a Science Fiction fan, be sure to stop by the SciFi Soirée on Facebook. You’ll learn about dozens of great authors and books and have the chance to win prizes. I’ll be hosting at 7 p.m. EST, so come over and say hi!

That’s all for now. Have a fantastic weekend at the Con, and I’ll see you back here on Monday for your regularly scheduled post.

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Geeky Things

Cover Reveal: A Time to Die by Jonas Lee

Jonas Lee’s A Time to Reap was one of the first independently published novels I read. Now, I’m thrilled to be a part of his cover reveal for A Time to Die, the final novel in the Legend of Carter Gabel trilogy.

If you’re a fan of time travel science fiction, this put this series on your to-be-read list! Beyond time travel, there’s teleportation, mind reading, and a whole lot of snark. My best comparison? Think young adult X-Men.

Check out the awesome cover and read the book description below. Then, pre-order your copy for JUST $0.99 (the price will go up after release day!).

Carter Gabel saved his own life, and rescued his city from destruction. But, after the Pirates forced him into hiding, he spent years holed up in Crighton, city of ghosts. Just as he thinks the world has forgotten him, a knock on the door interrupts his life and as he opens it, his next journey begins. An unexpected foe waits for him at the end to challenge everything he knows and all that his future holds. What must Carter do to survive? And what does he sacrifice to become a legend?

Pre-order your copy today!

About Jonas Lee

Writing out of the Black Hills of South Dakota, Jonas likes coming up with new and creative worlds that speak to the plausible while remaining believable. With a fist-full of peanut M&Ms and a cup of coffee, he has written three novels about a snarky, supernatural teen able to time travel and more.

Beyond writing, Jonas has a gift for useless knowledge through watching trivia shows and a love for cinematic adventures. Music fuels his writing and you can see him with at least one earbud in every day.

Connect with Jonas

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jonasleeauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8417690.Jonas_Lee

Website: http://JLFiction.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorJonasLee

Instagram: @Author_Jonas_Lee