Honing your craft

How did I get Published?

Is Writing Your Dream?

It can be a long, lonely slog, this writing caper. That’s why books like this anthology from Serenity Press are so valuable in keeping your mojo, and therefore your muse, happy.

Writing The Dream is out now:

No two writers are the same, but they have one thing in common: they are storytellers at heart and their deepest desire is to be heard.

Writing the Dream shares the stories of twenty-five Australian writers, from emerging to established authors. Some are traditionally published, while others have taken the self-publishing route. Some have faced rejection after rejection, while others have had a dream path. But, while their writing journeys are different, all of them strive to create, entertain, inspire and inform. And all of them have unique and creative voices that deserve to be heard.

It’s full of tips and tricks, the good the bad and the ugly on being a published author.

 

Writing The Dream

Each author has also included five tips for writers, along with their journey to publication.

Here’s a sneak peek:

My Five Tips for Writers:


  1. Persevere: you know the one thing that all published books have in common? They were finished. Keep going (…as long as you are enjoying it.) Even on the days it sounds like crud, stick with it. You can always edit a bad page, but you can’t fix a blank one. (Except for those grey days when the muse calls in sick entirely, then I recommend buying stationary – file cards, Post-Its – knock yourself out).
  2. Find your pack: Writing is an isolating occupation. It’s true that I write by instinct, but when instinct fails, craft takes over. That’s when you need ‘handholds’: a cheer squad, hints and tips, writerly advice to keep you moving forward, and the best support comes from other writers. Publishing is an industry based on relationships: with bloggers, with editors, with readers, and between authors. It is the best use for Facebook I’ve found.
  3. Read: Read lots. Let real books be your bible. (Even the bad ones are useful, as you (a) notice (and feel clever) and (b) feel better about your own writing.)
  4. There is no one way to write: be wary of the person who tries to tell you to ‘plot’ when it the very idea makes you sweat, or ‘wing it’ when the very thought makes your eye twitch. Treat any advice like a smorgasbord. Taste it all. See if you like it, but at the end of the day, only eat the bits you like. There are no rules (except for these -these are gold J) It’s just what you have the skill to get away with.  Masters’ of their craft can get away with murder if they do it right, and with purpose.
  5. Readers aren’t idiots: Leave a gap for the reader to fill – to join the dots, to place the last piece of the puzzle, to feel involved. Sometimes you have to pull back to make people lean in, so you  don’t need to spell out everything (show not tell – but don’t do both).

Buy Ebook now on Amazon for $3.99

Buy Paperback version now from Serenity Press  (free notebook for a limited time

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Be yourself – everyone else is taken.

The Power of Imperfection

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The Odd Bunch, it says on the pack. But what they are, in fact, (along with clever marketing) is the anomalies of the carrot industry, bagged up and sold cheap: the equal opportunity of the vegetable world – ensuring even the bumpiest, lumpiest, stumpiest tap roots can still dream of becoming someone’s soup.

And, while exploring the bag of rogue orange freaks (laughing out loud at some of the amazing variations) I realise how interesting non-normal is.  Why would anyone want to be a boring, even-featured tap root, when you can sprout two orange legs that rival Razzamatazz’s fifteen denier Brazen Tan circa 1989?

Why appear ‘normal’?

Who wouldn’t want to be exceptional? (err… everybody?).  Most of us succumb to appearing normal (or try to in high school, at least). But why?

And why were these imperfect picks segregated? Why can’t we accept a few carrots-with-character in our bunch? They may look different, but they’re still carrots. They’re still nutritious. Still have a right to be pulped like ‘any carrot’.

And the very act of grading produce, rejecting those that don’t adhere to our idea of acceptable, merely precipitates the idea that carrots are all the same, pretty, perfect, proportioned specimens you seen lining the greengrocer’s shelves. But I figure, the more weirdo carrots that are allowed to mix with the ‘best’ of them, the less ridiculous they look.

Thus, the gauge of normalcy widens. The standard deviation grows. What’s deemed ‘average’ starts to look different.

Be a little ridiculous

If we all allowed ourselves to be a little more ridiculous (as many of us are, in fact, behind closed doors/in-front of our real friends/drunk), outliers would no longer lay in fringes, but be free to impact attitudes of the masses by their very existence.

Normalcy would be a thing of the past.  Healthy variation would be the new black.

So to all those quirky carrots, wishing and hoping (as you read this) that your ochre days culminate in a crisp Julienne cut, keep at it. Because if you keep trying to feign normal, you’ll never know how amazing you really are.

By Kylie Kaden

 

If you go to the land of normal, no one will be there,‘ Melissa George, Heartbeat.

 

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For All Women – By Brisbane Women. Originally Published at http://www.shebrisbane.com.au/opinion/normalness-power-imperfection/

Working From Home – With Children?

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I make things up for a living – in Ugg boots. It sounds perfect, doesn’t it?  Living the writer’s dream – to be your own boss, float from book tour to launch party with the flexibility to schedule work around family commitments…

And that’s where things come unstuck: the ‘work-around’ and ‘family’ bit.

Like the time I did a live radio interview while holding a cold-pack to my three-year-old’s blood nose as his siblings spear-tackled on the couch.  (It provided laughs, at least). In a conventional workplace, it’s rare that people bleed, or projectile vomit, use your mobile to text ‘poo’ to your recent call list or shoot squeezy yoghurt on your morning’s work. Think circus: scribble on the walls, crusts in the blue-ray and no continuity of thought.

Working from home is a broad term, including the stationwagon, park bench, school-pickup line. Author Kate Grenville once shared her experience: when her mother arrived to babysit, she’d drive to the park to escape her kids, and write in the back seat of her car – leaning on a boogie board.  Living the writer’s dream!

I did have a ‘real job’ once. They aren’t picnics. Days can be long and dreary, weekends tainted by housework (or what you think is housework before you live with mess-machines). But at least you have the luxury of an environment conducive to work. I used to snigger in my mind when people in my team (parents) asked to ‘work from home’ on pupil free days. It’s an oxymoron, really. (The concept, not the parents).

But I didn’t appreciate the perks of office based work until I was granted the freedom to fumble about in my ‘home-office’, three kids in tow.  Like the fact that as a ‘normal’ office worker, you get to leave work (not to mention, pee on your own). You’ get to drink your tea hot, are paid by the hour – even if you’re cruising the internet or talking with workmates about Friday-arvo drinks. You have Friday-arvo drinks.  (And workmates, for that matter).  You get a quiet, air-conditioned office without someone simultaneously skating over your foot, practicing the recorder while demanding waffles.   You don’t need to break up spirited-argy-bargy in the midst of cutting-and-pasting a paragraph, or commit to tuckshop (because you can, right?).  You’re provided with continuity of thought, regular feedback, reward schemes, printer-un-jammers, and the biggie: sick leave.

Working from home also means suffering the perennial feeling that you ‘could just finish…’, because you’re at work. All the time. Your laptop is just there, heckling. The potential for work exists, hence so does the guilt. When you pause to hang washing, you’re bludging from work. When hard at work, you’re neglecting the house/kids/fur-babies.  There is no ‘done’.

I shouldn’t complain. Of course, working from home has fringe benefits. No commute next to sweaty-thighed-hairy-man. No matching shoes required.  Wear what you like – the same thing two days running, nobody cares! You’re available for orthodontist appointments, viola recitals, Easter hat parades.  No one steals your lunch. There are no meetings-that-should-have-been-an-email when you are your own boss (and I’m a pretty good one).  And then there’s the thing where you get to do what you love. (There is that…)

Working around family (with ABC Kids chirping in the background) has its challenges, but it’s amazing how efficient you can be with the unpredictability children throw in the mix: when your deadline’s in an hour and the teething-two-year-old could wake any second.  Time-poor parents are superheros of productivity – after all, when you’re only ever a custard-cup away from a loaded nappy, every moment is precious.

By Kylie Kaden

First published in She Brisbane – for all women, by Brisbane women.

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F  :  Kylie Kaden Author Page

T  :  @KylieKadenAU

Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

USQ Bookcase 2015: Mainstream Publishing 101

Main stage USQ Toowoomba – Sat 18th July 2015 Meet the Author Interview with the inspirational Dr Janice Jones.

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Thanks for making me feel like a rockstar Team Alumni USQ!

So lovely to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

For those that missed the workshop on my road from slush-pile to shelf, download the word doc handout here:  USQ PUBLISHING HANDOUT

And here is a link to my answers to some evil questions (including my secret talent).

7 Questions with USQ Alumni Author Kylie Kaden

 

 

 

The Finish Line; A published Book. But will it change me or the way I write?

Losing Kate Kylie KadenMost writers spend months (years?) wondering if their little story has enough gumption for the big bad world, and I was no different. But my secrets out. It has happened – my final  copies of Losing Kate have arrived – with much fanfare (our dog bailing up the courier, and my three boys running naked in the yard with water-pistols).

I’ve had a busy few weeks flaunting Kate about, and now that the dust has settled it has finally sunk in. Publishing a book feels like a child leaving home. A hope that you’ve done your best, that you’ve brought them up right.

She’s gone. Out in the world. Alone. With only a thin coat of high-gloss and that fresh-book-smell to keep her Bembo-Font warm.

But so far, LK seems to be doing just fine; holding her own, keeping out of trouble – and has even been asked to pop over to Germany! (Guten Tag!) I am no longer worried that she’ll turn up at my door (by the box-full), demanding her old room back. She seems to be reveling in her new-found independence and I hear quite a few not-insane people outside-my-family have actually bought it!  So not a dismal failure! Phew!

So has the simple act of ticking “publish a book” off my bucket list, changed me?

I’m a fairly down to earth person (and still have the odd thought that perhaps Bev and Lex might’ve gone a bit nutty in that slush-pile-room picking my script). So I was sure this writing caper – that started as nothing more than a housework avoidance strategy, would not overwhelm me. I’ve never considered myself an arty person. I value honesty and saying it like it is. I’m not into art galleries, poetry, naval gazing, or the like.  I’ve always been one to not speak out unless I’m absolutely sure what I have to say is relevant, correct, and not about to bother anybody else.  I have confidence in my writing, and I am proud of my debut novel, but part of me has a slight twinge of unworthiness, being categorised as an “artist”. (Who asked me anyway?).

But now that my work, which despite being fiction, has pieces of me hiding-in-plain-sight on every page (even if it’s just a description of a person I observed on a train or the anecdote told to me over coffee), the rules have changed. In deciding to publish, I’ve been given the chance to speak, so by all fairness, the reader has the right of reply.  And of course, any self-obsessed author wants to know about it when they do.

I’ll admit, since the launch of Losing Kate a few weeks back I’ve become one of those self-obsessed people that Google their own name. All the time. Variations, just to be sure I haven’t missed a review, a mention, a new plug. And I tell you, self-obsession can be very draining! Even with corker reviews.  Although I am sure my condition is temporary..,I hope. (There’s washing to be done!)

When asked if it gets easier (with subsequent books) Helene Young, at her recent Brisbane launch of Safe Harbour, said, “No, it get’s harder!”.

And I think that will prove correct. Your first book was written in your own time with no one anticipating it. With subsequent works, readers have expectations, publishers have deadlines, writers can feel rushed (enter second book syndrome).

Last week (whilst self-googling, as you do, as a legitimate branding/business management strategy (cough)) I noticed Losing Kate sitting pretty at #1 on iTunes. In a mad panic I took a screenshot, thinking I’ll blink and miss this moment in (no-one-cares-but-me) history, only to be replaced by a proper-authory-person. But by some miracle LK darted back-and-forth in the big league between some esteemed company for a respectable few weeks, until Matthew Rielly and all his fabulousness took the reigns with a book or three ;). Yes, those self doubts may never go away (and perhaps they shouldn’t).

At the end of the day, I can’t take this gig too seriously, I make stuff up for a living. It’s storytelling, after all – not world peace or a cure for cancer, as this quote eloquently points out:

“Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armour and attacked a hot fudge sundae”  — Kurt Vonnegut, American novelist

So I plan to take any success or lack-there-of in my stride.  You can’t please everyone, no matter how good you think (or don’t) think you are.

Where you can find me:

Thanks to all the reviewers who have taken the time to invest time in a newbie and share your valued viewpoints (you can read some insights on Losing Kate at Goodreads).  Here is a link to a few.

Brisvegas dwellers, I’ll be out and about at local libraries and bookshops soon (calendar below). I am also making my way down to Sydney to meet up with RWA members, and attend the ARRA book signing on Saturday 9th August. (along with an array of other authors).  This is a ticketed event and you can buy tickets here. Please come say hi (I’m not too scary, unless you happen to be one of my son’s and haven’t eaten your peas, then I get pretty hard-core. I may even spit a little.).

Or if you’re a bit shy, drop me a line at contact@kyliekaden.com.au. I’d love to hear about your favourite characters, the annoying bits, and parts you liked best.

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More Than You Ever Needed To Know On How I Write

The Elusive Writing Process.

Contemporary Romance Author Lily Malone: queen of the simile, master of the detail, has kindly tagged me to answer some questions on How I Write. And well, after stroking my ego by saying nice things about me on her blog again, I couldn’t refuse. (That’s not entirely true – who can resist a rare chance to talk about themselves?)

In the year or so I’ve been fluffing around with one story, Lily (the beanie-clad beauty you see there) has managed to churn out THREE fabulous new releases. The latest, Fairway to Heaven is a fun, fresh read. It’s all about the utterly likeable Jenn, and how she got her Mojo back. But Fairway to Heaven offers a lot more than that. Whilst not the central storyline, it’s the first book I’ve read that paints a realistic picture of life with a toddler.  Brilliant stuff, Lily. 

FTHLilyMaloneIf you haven’t discovered Lily’s work, what are you waiting for? 

So, enough about me and Lily, here’s more about me:

More Than You Ever Needed To Know On: How I Write

What am I working on?   Other than folding a weeks-worth-of-washing….my second novel. In the tradition of Losing Kate, it has a what really happened  kind of suspense, but still has a love story as central to the conflict. It’s currently called Unguarded Moments, but my editor has a habit of changing titles on me so that may be temporary (I do trust you Bev!).  I don’t know exactly what it is yet (a tad disconcerting 90 thousand in, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise for myself!?). In essence it’s a catalogue of all the raw, unguarded moments the main characters share, and how each impacts on their lives. At least, I think…

How does my work differ from others of its genre?   Perhaps I’m a commitment-phobe, but I like to think of myself as cross-genre; a little lovin’, a little suspense, a lot of relationship dissecting. It’s eclectic. It’s honest. It’s unashamedly Australian.  

Why do I write what I do?  I guess I write about relationships, as, like a lot of women, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about them. Finding them. Ending them. Improving them. At sixteen it was when will I have one, at twenty-two it was when will I have a good one, and lately it’s changed into fine tuning the right one; he knows me so well so why can’t he read my mind, God damn it!

How does my writing process work?  I read somewhere that writing a novel is a bit like driving at night; you can’t see very far ahead, but you can make the whole trip that way. I’m very much a Pantser; I make it up as I go along. Often it’s a conglomeration of random ideas, little snippets that inspired me, or lyrics that challenged my view on something. These become the spice that are thrown in the slow-cooker in my head – they may, or may not go together. I just drive on till I see where I land. So let’s hope I don’t end up in a ditch with a horrible stew!  But if I do that’s okay, it’s all about the journey.

 So that’s it from me; I’ve done my dash, now it’s time to pass on the Blog Baton to another unsuspecting blogger. Only problem is, everyone I’ve asked was either (a) too shy, (b) too busy (c) done it.  This leaves me in a bit of bother, really. Perhaps someone could help me out. Perhaps you may wish to share how you write with us, make us feel less alone in this rather isolated profession…any takers??  Drop us a line if you do!

(BTW – since this post, the lovely Ali Morris will be picking up the baton. Thanks so much Ali (and Lily for being the go-between… you are making a habit of that!?))

 Losing Kate; a Women’s General Fiction, is being published by Random House Australia and is available on Ebook 26h March, and in Trade paperback 1st April.   

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Pre-order for your Kindle, or US copy at  Amazon

Pre-Order for ibooks at itunes.

Or  you can get the print version at Angus & Robertson – free delivery Australia Wide.

Blog Hop – Lily Malone Book Giveaway

Lily Malone Blog Hop Giveaway.

Golf. It can be defined as:

      a)    That peculiar practice of intentionally hitting a ball away, only to go find it again. Over and over …

(     b)    A reverse-anagram of flog.

(     c)    The sport responsible for widowing wives (from all walks of life) in the early hours of each Saturday, only to allow participants to return to the fold tired, and unable to complete domestic tasks set by said wife.

(      d)    The activity that helped Jenn get her Mojo back in Fairway to Heaven.

(      e)    All of the above!

You may have clued. I’m not a huge fan of Golf; golf courses, golf bats, I mean clubs… In fact, I’ve been rather resentful of all of these in the past, for spending more quality time with my husband than me. But alas, I’ve been asked by fellow author and friend Lily Malone, to participate in a great Blog Hop. Doing so means writing about Golf. So here I am.  

Writing.  About Golf.  Any minute now, a kind, interesting thing to write about Golf will hit me…I must say, this is feeling a little like penning a eulogy. Not that golf is dead (that would be a tragedy), but in terms of the principle of saying nice things about someone, even though you may not have had much time for them when they were still kicking. But my mother told me that there’s good to be found in everyone. So if I extrapolate this notion to everything…I do like golf buggies! I became rather fond of them when I was a bridesmaid, using one to jet about between photo-shoot locations with an Esky of Champagne in the back. Good times. My relationship with Golf Buggies was cemented further in a recent trip to Hamilton Island – as the only means of transport there, we hired one during our stay. Hmm, let’s see. Golf is also responsible for ensuring great chunks of land remain undeveloped, groundsmen get lots of practice tending too-perfect-to-be-real fairways and, local kids can still make an honest quid fishing out balls from water hazards.  

So that’s at least three positive things. Who would have thought? (Maybe mum was right).

But by far the best experience I have had with the sport has been in recently finishing Lily Malone’s new novel Fairway to Heaven.  Now, as you quite perceptively picked up, I am not a golfer, nor likely to be, but I loved FTH.

And, so too will you – as, you guessed it, I shall be giving 2 copies away to two lucky Blog-readers!  Don’t worry non-golfers. Golf may be in the first scene (err…and a final one) but the middle is a melding of vividly drawn characters, fresh succinct descriptions, and a heart-warming story of love and friendship – not to mention getting your mojo back after finding yourself down-and-out-in-the-rough with an unplayable -ball. (Proud Lily? I threw in a golf analogy!) Best of all, Fairway to Heaven is set (no, not on a golf course), but in a charming beach cottage you’ll want to take home, just as much as the man who inhabits it.

It’s Golf. But not as you know it.

To enter, “like” my author page  Kylie Kaden – Author  by 10th January 2014 or  if you prefer,  email me at kyliekaden@optusnet.com.au. Winners will be announced on this blog by 13th January 2014. Good luck!

This competition has now closed – congratulations to the lucky winners D. Huffer and K Foster. Your Smashwords gift copies of Fairway to Heaven should be in your inbox as I type…

Just like the best people, some of the best books are an eclectic mix.

GenreCon

Just like the best people, some of the best books are an eclectic mix.

For those that don’t know, GenreCon (run by the fabulous Queensland Writers Centre)  is a meeting of the minds, a conference for the writers amongst us that have their stories shelved in their own corner of the book shop.

Whilst, in fact, that isn’t me, I decided to gatecrash anyway, and see what I could glean from their writing conventions, their readers expectations, and their valuable experience.

I write general women’s fiction, and at times, wish I had a few “conventions” to give me some guidance on what readers want and expect. But mostly I think I’m just not creative enough to invent parallel universes or my own species. Similarly to historicals, I’m just too damn lazy to research if a certain poem existed in Federation Australia, or when the zip was invented, before I include it in a novel.

I like to think that the strength in my writing comes from being “real”, the polar-opposite of most genre fiction. Even romance beds itself (pardon the pun) on escapism, with the fantasy hero and all those heart palpitations and visceral reactions. But we all need that escape sometimes, and it delivers that in spades.   After all, who want’s to read about taking public transport or changing nappies? Those experiences are real, but aren’t exactly entertaining.

Hopefully, my strength isn’t in the detailed description of world-building, it’s in the ability for readers to relate. (That’s not to say that people can’t relate to a two headed zombie having a relationship with a vampire, but I’m far too boring to pull that off.)

Whilst you could say I write love-stories, you could say I write suspense, I think I write reality. Reality Fiction. There’s a new genre for you.  I like to think I write in a frank manner that people can relate to – because it’s honest. About relationships. About friendship. About people. And whilst sometimes we want to be drawn away into another time and place, sometimes we just want to make sense of the world we’re in.  I know many of the conflicts of fantasy and sci-fi are universal, but it’s nice to read how someone not-unlike-yourself, got themselves out of a dilemma too.

GenreCon was great. I caught up with some old friends, and made some new ones, and enjoyed the variety of speakers and workshops on offer. But I came away wondering, what is Genre anyway, but a marketing tool? A way to define a work in order to sell it? I understand readers need to be aware of what they’re getting into.  I hate investing time in a breezy chick-lit, only to find the main love interest turns out to be a ghost part-way through (sorry, the ghost thing doesn’t do it for me. Yes. I’m a skeptic to the core).

Genre is useful for that, for creating expectations. But what about cross-genres, and stories with square edges that just don’t fit in the round holes marketers need? Can’t the world hear those stories too? Books are as individual as people. Whilst they have defined personality traits (a bit like genres), there is no accounting for those eccentrics that just rewrite the rules (and, from my experience, some of the best people (and books) are eccentrics).  I’m still not sure what genre Losing Kate is – a mystery? A love story? A general fiction? Who knows (and who cares?!). It is what it is. Eclectic. Skizoid. Weird. The fact that it straddles genres may have made it harder to pitch, harder to sell (and shelve) but it did get picked up. So your cross-genre story can too.

Write the story in you, not the one that fits into a popular genre or the next trend.

Is the very existence of “genres” sucking the originality of our stories, with writers grinding away those rough edges to fit their novels firmly into the pigeon hole their publisher/agent needs?  Let’s hope not.

That would be a sad story.