Creativity, Sensitivity, Laziness and Courage

(Reblogging here with Marcia’s permission)

In which I make the point that it is horribly hard to send our “babies” out to agents and publishers, something I think is overlooked in the ongoing debate re: indie vs. traditional publishing… Would love to hear you all’s thoughts on the topic.

by Kassandra Lamb

Please note that this is not a post about the pros and cons of indie vs. traditional publishing per se (I will cover those in a later post). Rather this post is about the “between a rock and a hard place” spot where new writers often find themselves as they explore how to get their words in front of readers’ eyes.

The indie vs. traditional publishing controversy was resurrected in December, 2016, by a Huffington Post article with the rather obnoxious title, Self-Publishing: An Insult To The Written Word? by Laurie Gough.

Quite a few indie authors immediately responded with some eloquent replies. And then the Alliance of Independent Authors published their New Year’s post: Successful Indie Authors 2016: Part One.

These two posts, along with the responding comments, represent the two sides of this controversy, but I noted that one thing was missing from the discussion. Indeed, I have never heard this point made during debates about the issue.

Creatives are, by definition, sensitive souls.

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One of Van Gogh’s self portraits, this one with a bandage where his ear once was. Creatives’ sensitivity sometimes leads to madness. (public domain)

It’s a cliché really—the tortured artistic poet/painter/musician/actor/author who drinks too much, uses drugs, suffers for their art with an angst-filled life, etc.

But like all clichés, this one has a kernel of truth at its core.

So why would we require that these sensitive souls endure months or years of rejection before they are allowed to show their work to the world?

The author of the Huff Post article calls literary agents and traditional publishers the “gatekeepers” of the written word. Indeed, that term is bandied about a lot in the world of trad publishing. The implication is that they are saving the unwashed masses of readers from bad literature by carefully vetting new works of fiction.

In addition to the implied insult to readers, the reality is that all too often these days agents and publishers are not always as concerned about the quality of a story as they are about whether or not they think it will sell.

That’s not just my perspective; I’ve heard agents say this at conferences. With regret in their voices, because they know good stories are being rejected and good writers are being discouraged by those rejections.

No one deals well with rejection. And the more important an achievement or some aspect of ourselves is to us, the greater the blow to our spirits if it is rejected… READ MORE

An Interesting Concept for Releasing a Series/Trilogy

One of my sister authors at misterio press is doing an all-at-once release of a new trilogy. Thought you all might be interested in how she’s doing it.

Binge Reading – No, It’s Not What You Think

by Kirsten Weiss

Call it the age of Netflix.

It’s spoiled us for the wait – no longer do we have to hang on an aching seven days to find out what comes next on our favorite TV show. With shows produced by Netflix, we can now binge watch the entire season over a weekend. (And yes, I’m guilty of this – Longmire! Stranger Things!).

So when I heard about “binge reading,” I decided to take the plunge with my new Doyle Witch cozy mystery series. Fortunately, my patient editors at misterio press were willing to take this journey with me, because a lot ended up happening in a short span of time.

The concept is simple – launch all the books in the series at once… Read More

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When & How Should Series End? — Guest: Kassandra Lamb

Hi, All! I’m guest posting today over at Jami Gold’s cyber home. She has an awesome following of authors for her writing oriented blog. Thought you all might be interested in this topic…

When (And How) To End A Series?

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I’m currently writing Book 9—what I thought would be the last book—in my Kate Huntington Mystery series (Note to my readers: don’t panic; I think I’ve changed my mind—more on this in a bit).

When a writer sets out to write a series, often there’s no set number of books in mind. The vague thought is that we’ll keep writing as long as readers are reading and we’re still coming up with story ideas.

But everything has to come to an end some time.

When Should We End a Series?

When should a writer stop a series? Here are my thoughts on possible reasons to say “the end,” based on my own ruminations about winding down the Kate series. Read more…

 

#ExcerptWeek ~ANXIETY ATTACK, A Kate Huntington Mystery (#9) by Kassandra Lamb

Hi, Everyone!

Here’s a sneak peek at the first chapter of my next Kate Huntington adventure…

The police radio chattered with unintelligible codes. Kate shoved a dark curl out of her eyes and stifled a yawn.

The uniformed officer in the driver’s seat glanced her way. A corner of his mouth quirked up. “Don’t know who said it first, but it’s true. Police work is mostly boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror.”

She flashed him a smile. “Sorry. It’s been a long day.”

What have I gotten myself into?

“All available units,” the radio squawked. “Shots fired. Armstrong building.”

The officer sat up straighter.

Kate couldn’t make out the address the dispatcher rattled off. All she caught was “…third floor.”

Armstrong building. Why does that sound familiar?

“Unit 12 responding.” Officer Peters hit the siren and lights. The cruiser surged forward.

Kate’s heart went into overdrive.

At nine o’clock on a rainy Sunday evening, the business district of Towson was relatively quiet. The few cars on the roads quickly got out of the way. Kate suspected it wasn’t nearly as easy to get to a crime scene during a weekday, when these streets would be teeming with cars and pedestrians and delivery trucks.

Her heart rate kicked up another notch as they careened around a corner onto York Road. “Remember to call me once you have the scene secured,” she yelled over the wail of the siren.

Officer Peters nodded slightly without taking his eyes off the slick road in front of him.
He pulled into the parking lot of a high-rise office building. Braking to an abrupt stop, he killed the siren and unhooked his seatbelt. The actions seemed to happen all at once. Continue reading

6 Answers Writers Have for the Grammar Police

I thought you all would find this post interesting, and Marcia said today would be a good day to reblog it here. Enjoy, and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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One of the frustrations of being a fiction writer is the occasional need to defend ourselves when accosted by the Grammar Police.

Now, that’s not to say that we don’t sometimes become the Grammar Police ourselves. Most of us have had a lot of training in the use of language, including proper grammar. So we grind our teeth when we see flat-out errors (apostrophes in places they don’t belong is one of my pet peeves).

But often our own grammatical “mistakes” really aren’t mistakes at all.

Certainly we writers do sometimes make boo-boos in our writing. Anytime one is feverishly typing — trying to get the words down before the muse snatches them away again — there is bound to be an occasional “your” slipping in where we meant “you’re.” (That’s why it’s so important for writers to get fresh eyes to proofread their final work.)

But many of the things the Grammar Police see as horrific errors are more examples of literary license and/or the evolution of language.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

1.  Sentence fragments are okay in fiction. Honest! They are. For emphasis. They should be used sparingly, but it really is okay to leave out the subject, or even the subject and the verb, or some other component of a grammatically-correct sentence, when writing fiction.

Read more…

 

9 Summer Treats That Can Harm Your Dog

(I posted this on my website recently since it’s related to my new release, but thought I’d share here as well.)

American_apple_pie by Larry D Moore CC BY SA 3pt0 wiki

(photo by Larry D Moore, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Common)

Summer is a fun time for the whole family, including the family dog. And outdoor barbeques and trips to the ice cream parlor are often part of that fun.

But stop and think before sharing your summer treats with your canine best friend. Many common human foods and ingredients are harmful to dogs.

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Of course, an all-time favorite treat is ice cream, but please don’t share that cone with your pup and don’t let him/her lick the bowl. Here are two of the three reasons why.

1. Chocolate: A lot of pet owners know chocolate is bad for dogs, but they may not know just how harmful it can be. In very small quantities, it’s probably not a big deal, but why take the chance. In moderate quantities (and dark or baking chocolate is worse), it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, restlessness and agitation. More extreme symptoms that may lead to death are abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, and seizures. Continue reading

Good Reads! #BookReviews

I’m the curator of the blog for my indie press and we periodically do a book review post. This time I got a plug in for Marcia’s delightful Wake Robin-Ridge series.

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What We’ve Been Reading Lately

by Kassandra Lamb (on behalf of the whole misterio gang)

Time for another round of book reviews from some of our misterio press authors. Most writers don’t get to read nearly as much as they’d like to, because so much time is taken up with their writing. So when we discover a really good book, it’s an extra special treat!

book coverKirsten Weiss ~ The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)

Supermodel Lulu Landry takes a swan dive off her balcony. Is it suicide or murder? Down-on-his-luck PI Cormoran Strike has been hired to find out.

The Cuckoo’s Calling, this first-in-the-series mystery novel by Robert Galbraith, aka JK Rowlings, is one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a long while.

Read more…  (including my review of Marcia’s books)

Missing on Maui #ExcerptWeek

by Kassandra Lamb

Missing on Maui FINAL

A row of palm trees and tropical underbrush–with foliage Kate recognized from houseplants in Maryland–greeted her at the edge of the beach. She was about to step out onto the sand when she noticed a young man loading a canoe off to her right.

The predawn light made his movements seem furtive. He hefted a large gray sack and slid it into the boat.

Kate’s fertile imagination wondered if there was a body in that sack.

Stop that!

She’d had more than her share of adventures with corpses and wouldn’t mind if she never encountered one again, thank you very much!

The young man, a blond wearing a tropical shirt and swim trunks, leaned down to shove the canoe into the froth at the edge of the ocean. Then he climbed in and lifted a paddle to steer the boat further out into the surf. Once clear of the breaking waves, he let the boat drift. It shifted around, and Kate could now see that it was an outrigger–from one side, a float extended on two curved supports to keep the vessel more stable. The increasing daylight revealed a mast. A white sail unfurled in the early morning breeze.

Ah, that’s what was in the sack–the sail.

The man looked back to shore, his head turning slowly as if scanning the beach.

Kate instinctively moved back into the shadow of the palm trees, then wondered why she’d done that. She was considering stepping out into the open and waving, when the man turned his head toward the open sea and pulled in the sail to make it taut. The boat skimmed off across the water.

Kate soon forgot the young man as she walked along the deserted beach. Beams of sunlight streamed across the water, sparkling like bracelets on a young girl’s arm. But the puffy white clouds in the sky were only slightly tinged with pink. Disappointed in the poor showing the sunrise was making, Kate turned her head toward land.

There, above the mountain, the sky was streaked in pale yellow and pink.

Duh, this is the western side of the island. The sun would set over the ocean this evening.

Kate yawned, unsure if her jet-lagged body would be able to stay awake until sunset.

She strolled on the beach, one eye on the rolling surf and one on her footing. The sand was deep, making it hard to walk. Ahead of her, the shoreline curved outward a bit into the sea, giving her a view of sand and water juxtaposed against red and black lava cliffs. She sucked in air at the beauty of the sight. The green hillside sloped upward to the top of the dormant volcano that had formed this section of the island of Maui.

Kate set a goal of rounding that point. Then she would rest. She slogged forward through the thick sand. The sun was now peeking above the top of the mountain, and the sea sparkled in various shades of blue, from turquoise to indigo and everything in between.

By the time she reached the point, her legs were wobbly from the strain of walking in the deep sand. She gingerly lowered herself to sit on the beach. Leaning back on her elbows, she raised her face to the morning light.

She hadn’t realized she’d drifted off until one elbow gave out, dumping her sideways into the sand.

The sound of a throat clearing. She startled and jerked her head up.

A massive shadow blocked the sun.

Missing On Maui, A Kate on Vacation Mystery

It’s an awkward situation at best, and a deadly one at worst.

Days before Kate Huntington is scheduled to leave for her niece’s wedding on Maui, she receives a frantic call from said niece. Amy’s mother–Kate’s rather difficult sister-in-law–is at it again, alienating the groom’s family and even the wedding planner. Can Aunt Kate come early and run interference?

Soon after her arrival, Kate discovers that young women are going missing on the island, and Amy’s maid of honor is hanging out with a notorious local player. Is he involved in the disappearances?

Hawaii is supposed to be a relaxing paradise, but Aunt Kate is kept busy locating a new wedding planner (the delightful Pali Moon), refereeing between Amy and her mother and chasing down errant wedding party members… Oh, and facing off with a psychopath.

AMAZON US     AMAZON UK    AMAZON CA     APPLE     KOBO     NOOK

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Sunset on Maui

Interview with Kate Huntington: Psychotherapist, Fictional Character and Reluctant Amateur Sleuth #FabulousFridayGuestBlogger

by Kassandra Lamb

Missing on Maui FINAL

I write a series of novellas called the Kate on Vacation cozy mysteries that parallels my main Kate Huntington Mystery series. I recently released the story of yet another of Kate’s vacations that got a bit more exciting than she’d planned.

That started me wondering how Kate feels about all this murder and mayhem in her life, so I sat down to have a chat with her. Here’s what she had to say:

Kassandra Lamb: You have a real propensity for stumbling over dead bodies, Mrs. Huntington. How do you feel about that?

Kate Huntington: Please, call me Kate. And honestly I don’t care for it all that much. I do like solving mysteries, but I wish there weren’t so many corpses involved. It gets kind of stressful after a while.

Kassandra: Have you always liked mysteries?

Kate: Yes, I loved puzzles as a kid, and I guess that’s part of what drew me to psychotherapy as a profession. I like to help people of course, but I’m fascinated by the puzzle that is the human psyche.

Kassandra: So in this latest adventure on Maui, except for the whole people-going-missing thing, how did you like Hawaii?

Kate: I loved it! Hawaii is absolutely gorgeous. And the people are very friendly. And the food! The mahi-mahi and the fresh pineapple… And once Skip was able to shake free from his work and he and the kids got there, we had so much fun.

Kassandra: Speaking of Skip and the kids, what’s the deal with your name? I notice you still use Huntington, which was your late first husband, Ed Huntington’s name, but sometimes you go by Huntington-Canfield, which is quite a mouthful.

Kate: Well, I’d already established my reputation as a therapist as Kate Huntington, so I use that name professionally. My daughter is my first husband’s biological child, so her name is officially Huntington-Canfield. At her school and in some other settings, I use the hyphenated name. And sometimes I just go by Kate Canfield.

By the way, why are you asking me this? You’re the one who saddled me with these cumbersome names. Why couldn’t you have made Eddie’s name Smith? Then I’d be Smith-Canfield. That rolls off the tongue so much easier. Continue reading

Living With (or Without) Our Characters @KassandraLamb #FabulousFridayGuestBlogger

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I’m thrilled to be doing my first guest post here on The Write Stuff. Thank you, Marcia, for rolling out the red carpet!!

The second most common question we writers tend to hear is how do we come up with our characters. (The first one being where do we get our story ideas.)

Like the story ideas, our characters come from several different sources. Some are loosely based on people we know. Some are loosely based on ourselves (the protagonist of my Kate Huntington stories is definitely my alter ego; the person I wish I was).

450px-sunset_024591 Sunset at Assos by Nevit Dilmen

How I visualize Kate Huntington (maybe without the flowers) ~ photo is “Sunset at Assos” by Nevit Dilmen ~ Used with his permission ~ I love his photography!

And sometimes a character who was only supposed to have a bit part gets their teeth around that bit and takes off running. One such character is the tough female cop who’s assigned as police protection when someone is trying to kill Kate in Book 1 of that series. This cop wasn’t even supposed to talk much except in the scene where she is first introduced.

Officer Rose Hernandez is short but solidly built (Kate refers to her as “compact”) and she can arch an eyebrow at a forty-five degree angle in the most expressive way. By the end of Book 1, she has rebelled against her incompetent superior – and me – and has gone rogue, helping Kate and her friends find the killer on their own. And by Book 3 she’s a central character in the series.

Still other characters are total figments of our imaginations, perhaps a conglomeration of some interesting-sounding personality traits–someone whom we wish we knew. I have a few of those scattered throughout my books. I’m fond of feisty women, but I don’t meet enough of them in real life. (Note: feisty is tough but with a big mouth and a sense of humor – maybe it’s just as well that there aren’t too many of them *cough* us *cough* running around in real life 😉 )

The main character in my new series is such a woman, although she would probably refer to herself as snarky rather than feisty. She’s a thirty-something divorcee who trains service dogs for combat veterans with PTSD.

ToKillALabrador PROMO FINAL

I had so much fun writing the first book in this new series. Bringing this character to life was a blast. And now that I’ve breathed life into her, I wonder where she will take me. Because I am quite sure she does not plan to do as she’s told!

But now that I have two series going, I’m having a very interesting experience with my characters. While I’ve been focused on my new heroine, Marcia Banks, Kate and her friends have been whispering in my ear, “What about us?” One of them (most often Kate) will nudge me at some odd moment, with a cool idea for some plot twist in the next, as yet unwritten, Kate Huntington mystery.

So this will be my life for the foreseeable future, caught between two worlds…oh wait, it’s three worlds – Kate’s world and Marcia’s world and my real-life world (which I do try to visit now and again).

When I’m writing Kate’s stories, Marcia will be making snarky remarks about my neglect of her, and when I’m telling Marcia’s tales of mishap and mayhem, Kate will be nudging my elbow and Rose will be arching her eyebrow at me.

And then there is the role that our readers play in our characters’ lives. For without readers, our characters’ life force would fade away. Every time a reader picks up one of our books, they breathe new energy into the people who live inside that book.

And if we’ve done our jobs well, the characters will live on in the reader’s mind for a while after the last page of the book is turned. And the reader will be wondering what Kate or Marcia is up to now…

Authors, how do you experience your characters? Do they haunt you if you’re too slow about writing the next chapter in their stories?

As readers, what characters have lived on in your minds for days after finishing a book?

I’m so excited about this new series that I’m inviting everybody to a Facebook party to celebrate! Please click HERE to say you’re coming and put the date on your calendar, Tuesday, April 12, 2-8 pm, EDT.

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Here’s the blurb and links for the new book:

To Kill A Labrador, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery

Marcia (pronounced Mar-see-a, not Marsha) likes to think of herself as a normal person, even though she has a rather abnormal vocation. She trains service dogs for combat veterans with PTSD. And when the ex-Marine owner of her first trainee is accused of murdering his wife, she gets sucked into an even more abnormal avocation–amateur sleuth.

Called in to dog-sit the Labrador service dog, Buddy, she’s outraged that his veteran owner is being presumed guilty until proven innocent. With Buddy’s help, she tries to uncover the real killer. Even after the hunky local sheriff politely tells her to butt out, Marcia keeps poking around. Until the killer finally pokes back.

Just $1.99 during the Pre-Order period. Available on:

AMAZON US    AMAZON UK    AMAZON CA    APPLE    NOOK    KOBO

P.S. To connect with me, check out my website, email me at lambkassandra3@gmail.com, or come “like” me over at Facebook (Or feel free to send me a friend request)