One of the perks of writing a novel can be the research that emerges the author in similar real-life settings. Since I enjoy meeting new people and visiting new places, this is a true bonus from my perspective.
Recently, I felt the need for more in-depth research on dog kennels for my upcoming sequel to Shards of Trust, so I reached out to Valerie Snyder at the Animal Inn. I was welcomed as though it was no big deal to have a stranger intrude on her busy day. Not only did she answer my list of prepared questions, but she also provided me with a grand tour of her country kennel.
I made a new friend, Elise, an extremely gentle, though shy, doberman with an affinity for dog treats. She remained by my side the entire visit, most likely hoping for another treat, which she gladly received before I left.
Her owner, Valerie, gave me a peek into the world of dog kennel owners, from starting out in the business to building repeat customers. Also, the tour gave me the visuals that I needed for creating and describing a similar setting in my book.
Sharing some of my ideas for the next book, Valerie helped me to see what was possible and what was completely unrealistic. This is important because, although it is fiction, readers still want to be able to believe what they are reading.
One word of advice, though, it definitely helps to have prepared questions, so that no one's precious time is wasted. Also, do offer to thank them in your acknowledgements when your novel is completed. But why wait? I'd like to thank Valerie Snyder at the Animal Inn for her assistance in helping me to craft my next novel. I look forward to continued research as the number of pages grow and the characters take on a life of their own.
Grandma Scher was the epitome of #patience. As though raising nine children through the depression wasn't enough, those same children, when grown, converged on her home every Sunday, their own children in tow, yet she smiled and hugged each and every one, knowing full well of the chaos to ensue.
Food preparation for such a brood was an act of patience as well. Soup often simmered all day on a back burner of the stove. Noodles for her famous chicken and noodles were made from scratch, using eggs from her chickens.
I can remember watching her slice the floured dough into strips that were then laid out all over her kitchen counters and table to dry. It was so time-consuming that I hopped from one leg to the next, thinking I would have given up in the blink of an eye. But the results were so delicious that I began to understand the slow and tedious process. Patience was not only a virtue, but could produce mouth-watering results as well.
Somewhere along the line, it seems that patience has ebbed from our lives for the sake of convenience. If something isn't instantaneous, we pout. We've been trained on fast-food, drive-ups, microwaves, single-serve coffee makers, computers, phones and other technology for speedy access to info, the flash of social media, and scheduled lives. This is what we wanted - convenience. But at what cost? Has it improved or cheapened the quality of our lives?
This #Thanksgiving, I find myself grateful for individuals who possess the patience of my grandmother: people who take time to do something well; people who mull over all the facts before making a decision; people who pause to think before they speak; and people who are willing to stop and listen. Maybe, if I can quit hopping from one foot to the next, I can learn to be one of these people, too. I sure hope so, but only if it doesn't take too long.
A couple weeks ago, I participated in the Indy Author Fair at the beautiful downtown Indianapolis Central Library, where I had the opportunity to promote my book, Shards of Trust, while surrounded by fellow Hoosier authors. I enjoyed hearing about the writing journeys of many of these authors. Whether it was their first book or fifth, I found that there was much to learn from each of them, no matter what stage of the journey they were on.
Two of the authors, who were set up at tables near me, revealed that they have their own internet radio talk shows. Not only were they promoting their own books via these podcasts, but invited other authors on their shows to do the same. I might take one of them up on their invitation, but as with many writers, there's a bit of fear when it comes to speaking rather than writing. As someone who likes to mull things over in my head, that would not bode well on the radio, but I'm always up for a challenge.
Since this was also a meet and greet, open to the public, I also met avid readers as well as aspiring writers. One young man in particular, was writing about an extremely difficult personal life story. His manuscript has been therapeutic for him, regardless of whether he publishes it or not. I hope he does, and wish him well.
Of course, I had to purchase at least one book. Who can resist when surrounded by so many great new ones? After all, I am an avid reader as well as a writer; the two go hand-in-hand.
Under a Dark Sky takes place in a dark sky park in Northern Michigan, which is not where Eden Wallace wants to be for some intriguing reasons. Forced into a relationship with others on the island, she finds herself searching for connections, secrets, and mysteries within their lives as well as her own.
Lori Rader-Day has written a page-turner with characters readers can relate to, love, or detest, depending on the chapter. She drops clues throughout the novel like pebbles in water, creating ever-enlarging ripples of truth. Is it too much to mention the red-herring in the water? Maybe so, but it's a pleasant surprise to be left guessing right up until the end.
Most writers know that writing can be a lonely profession, spending hours within our own minds sifting through thought processes regarding plot, sentence structure, editing, or any other myriad of writing steps. We find ourselves sitting at the computer (sometimes in our PJ's) or at a coffee shop with our laptop, or any quiet place we can find, seldom engaging with others because such an interruption often results in a disconcerting need for us to restart, reboot, or rewind our brains. So why attend a writer's group and purposely engage with others?
Quite frankly, I asked myself that very question, telling myself that the time could be better spent writing, since I didn't feel there was sufficient time in my day for it in the first place. I had plenty of excuses. If I was honest with myself, one of the top excuses was probably the fact that sharing my writing with other writers made me feel so vulnerable. Those precious words came from my thoughts, so if they didn't like those carefully chosen words, how did that reflect on me? Ridiculous logic I know, but how many of you have used similar logic?
I have searched out various writer's groups in my community, then landed on one that has been developed through our local library. It is still fairly new, but has already garnered a number of brave followers and has workshops lined up to supplement its efforts.
My first meeting surprised me. I found a diverse group of individuals from the community, who were at various stages in their writing journeys, looking for feedback from others who understood and sympathized with this difficult process. Individuals could sign up to read an excerpt of their writing, followed by initial positive responses, then questions that each author chose to ask of his/her peers. By pointing out the positives, I learned qualities to include in my own writing.
Perhaps the most important thing I gleamed from this encounter, was the unique voice of each writer. How encouraging to discover that it is actually important to find your own voice, and detrimental to try to mimic someone else's. Another lesson learned; writers need to engage with other writers; we need to get out of our heads from time to time, and if it causes us discomfort or anxiety, then at least we've gained new insight into writing about those emotions.
I highly recommend searching out a writers group near you for support, knowledge, and feedback. My special thanks to the Allen County Public Library and the Fort Wayne Writers Guild for developing these groups within my community.
As I said before when beginning this writing journey with other writers, "Ah, let me grab my backpack and join you." - M.A. Koontz
Looking for a short thriller for that beach read or a weekend getaway, but don't want to spend a lot? Shards of Trust is now available with a $2 off coupon through Book Shop. Follow this link, SummerSale18, and enter the code at checkout. Enjoy your summer!
Change always requires movement in some direction, and during this movement it can be difficult to determine if it is indeed for the best, until the dust settles. It seems that the publishing industry is in the midst of such change, and as with most change, there are factors that bring it about.
This past spring, I was interviewed by Lisa Roepe, a former newspaper reporter turned freelance writer, who was writing an article on this very topic for Sage Publications Business Researchers. Her article was featured in the May 7, 2018 issue, The Publishing Industry, in which Lisa takes a close look at publishing trends, including a growing number of independent publishers, along with an increase in audio books. She also delves into how practices of large publishers have affected first-time authors and the choices they make when seeking to publish their books.
Change is in the wind. Check out Lisa's article to learn more before the dust settles.
My mom used to quote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and tell me that "into each life a little rain must fall." She failed to mention that sometimes it pours, and then you discover that the bucket you're using to bale water with has a hole in it.
That about sums up how 2018 has been for me so far. The loss of my mom and dear sister, along with family illnesses, has taken a toll on my sense of humor. However, that same sister would be the first to say it was NEVER that great, while laughing hysterically and shooting milk out of her nose. Yea, it was like that between us.
Their lives remind me of that bright flash of light from the photographer's camera (which my sister was - a photographer, not a camera), followed by dark spots in my vision that faded to gray before disappearing. I'm still blinking from those circles of darkness, trying to focus on the resulting picture or memories that remain.
They will be missed; Mom, for her advice, and my sister for her laughter. I will hold memories of them forever in my heart. Rest in peace.
Today I finished reading a book by an author whose writing captivates me, leaving me eager to delve into her next novel. As an avid yet finicky reader, I enjoy sharing some of my favorites with my fellow readers. Before I reveal the author, though, let me first begin with some of the qualities of this author's writing that appeal to me.
It may sound simple, but for those of you who write fiction, believable characters are not always easy to portray. This author's characters and their emotions evolve and draw me in, allowing me to be a part of their lives. Their personalities are painted in words like an old house with peeling chips that reveal weathered layers from the past. Bit by bit the paint peels or is chipped away until a fresh new coat replaces the old.
I also appreciate how her settings are interwoven into the story line with ease, adding to the plot rather than halting it. A vivid picture appears in her reader's mind within each scene of her story, enhancing the senses.
The Sound of Glass is a great example of these qualities in Karen White's novels. Although this is only the second of her books that I've read (The Color of Light was the first), I look forward to reading many more. And since I believe she has at least twenty-four novels to choose from, it look like I'm going to have an ample selection.
Have you recently discovered an author whose books welcome you like a cherished friend; maybe someone whose writing style you admire? If so, share their name in the comment section, and I'll try to include them on a future blog.
And don't forget to take advantage of my Spring Sale through the end of April for Shards of Trust. Visit my home page at www.makoontz.com and click on the SPRING SALE button for details.