Let’s Be Real Here

This topic comes up in just about every interview I’ve been in (whether as the interviewer or the interviewee)…

DO YOU UTILIZE REAL PEOPLE, REAL PLACES, REAL EVENTS IN YOUR WORKS OF FICTION?

Truth is there is always a figment or two (or three or four) of reality in fiction. Whether it be a location the author is familiar with, crafting a character similar to someone you know (it’s fun especially if you don’t like the person), or a message you hope to convey in your writings.

In REKINDLED PROPHECY, I’ll admit that is a lot more truth/reality than you would think in a story about guardian angels, angels, demons, shadow creatures, etc.

  1. I do believe in guardian angels, angels, demons, shadow creatures, ghosts, etc. For me as an author, my own types of characters are 100% real. While the story is a figment of my imagination, I still believe in the truth that these entities exist.

2. The locations in REKINDLED PROPHECY are all based on real places.

The country western bar in the beginning (while with a different name that I do not even remember) did really exist along the Arkansas/Tennessee border. I spent way too much time there during the early 1990s.

The Irish bed & breakfast in rural Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley 100% existed. How do I know? I was married there, underneath the same gazebo Kelly and Matthew were married under. The name was changed in the book since the inn was under foreclosure at the time and I could not get owner approval from the bank to use the name – they said to wait until the property sold and ask the new owners but that never happened.

There really was a koi pond made from a refurbished rectangular pool and the bull frogs were so loud that the innkeeper did leave ear plugs in guest rooms. Sadly, the inn is now closed and for sale if anyone is interested in retirement as an innkeeper.

Even the area of town in Washington, DC where Greylyn goes to find the psychic and battles a demon army – yep! 100% described based on real life knowledge of DC.

3. I may have based a few characters off my friends at the wedding party in the book. And yes, they were known as the “Sex and the City” girls as a joke. And of course, the lovely innkeeper was based off the innkeeper at the time of my own wedding (again, name and hair color changed). Seriously though, that sweet woman made the best eggs benedict!

4. Greylyn’s pride and joy – her 1968 British racing green Camaro? Well, I just so happen to own one. It’s currently being reconstructed from the inside out by my hubby and youngest son who hopes to one day claim it for his own. (Ain’t gonna happen, sweetie!)

Stock photo

5. The drink Greylyn prefers – the Godfather – is my hubby’s favorite cocktail and the only way I will drink scotch.


Ingredients
60 ml Whisky – Blended Scotch whisky
20 ml Amaretto liqueur

So you see, I like to include a lot of truth in my fiction stories.

For places I have not gone to, I research and even find native residents of the location to give me tidbits so I can describe the area accurately. While I have not gone to Ireland yet myself (it is at the top of my bucket list) but I was lucky enough to find a sweet lady originally from one of the areas in Book 3 of the series (which is mostly set in Ireland, and Hell but I haven’t met anyone from there yet). She spoke with me at length about Dun Laoghaire and sent me pictures of the local pier. She even suggested I add something about a 99 (which is Irish for soft serve ice cream and is sold on the pier at Teddy’s), which I did.

For me, there should always be a hint of authenticity in every piece of fiction. It makes it more interesting. So whether you are reading my guardian angel stories, or anything else by me, you can trust there will be glimmer of truth in every one.

The fun part is figuring out what’s truth and what is fantasy.

Thanks, dear friends! And I hope you have an amazing Autumn Equinox!

Writer’s Motto

My apologies for not posting a lot over the summer. Here it is the last day of August and I realized I had not posted a thing on my own webpage.

Which episode is the "double facepalm" image macro from? - Science Fiction  & Fantasy Stack Exchange

Now I could list a lot of excuses, but they would be just that…excuses. In the words of a good friend of mine, stop being a victim with excuses and take radical responsibility for every aspect of your life, and especially your career.

So I am, pleading for your forgiveness and hoping all my readers didn’t abandon me.

Since the author spotlight feature fell through this month, I’ll subject you to my author ramblings instead. You’ve been warned…rant ahead!

*****

I see this a lot of social media and I hear this a lot from other authors all the time. The agonizing question of how to handle bad reviews, negative comments on your social media posts, lagging sales, etc.

I’m not immune to the self-pity party either. When I see someone didn’t like my book, gives a bad review, or says things like “Liked the book, but I am not sure I will follow the series” or book sales lag, or I get my royalty check and can only treat myself to a Starbucks coffee with the proceeds…well, my confidence takes a hit.

It’s a natural emotion and ALL authors go through this. Daily there are posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. about this very topic when an author wonders if it’s even worth it to continue writing. And it makes me sad that someone (again, I’m not immune to the same thoughts and emotions) feels so distraught that they would contemplate giving up their life’s dream.

So what do I do to keep myself from giving up the writing career that has been my one deep desire, my soul purpose?

I’ve been told, ignore the reviews. Or only read the 4 and 5 star reviews. Well, I can’t do that. It’s physically impossible for me to see there’s a review and NOT read it. Besides, reading good reviews makes me happy. To know that my story touched someone’s imagination, that it resonated with someone else…THAT is sheer bliss!

Therefore, I had to make a change in my own thoughts and deeply seated beliefs to accept that “I am not everyone’s cup of tea” and “I have to be okay with that” because for every person who doesn’t like my story, there are others that do.

And it is for those others that I write.

You're not everyone's cup... | Quotes & Writings by Sourav Padhi | YourQuote

To maintain my own sense of worth, my own confidence, I can’t allow others to bring me down. I wasn’t put on this earth to reach everyone. I wasn’t put on this earth to surrender my imagination, my dreams. I wasn’t put on this earth to deny my soul purpose of creating stories of fiction and fantasy that have a glimmer of hope, light, and truth to shine in a dark world filled with fear and chaos.

I am a storyteller who is passionate about guardian angels and want to bring divine light and love to the world through fantasy and fiction.

So dear readers, I hope and pray that my stories, my characters connect with you and delight you. I hope you await the next book with bated breath. It is for you that I write (and the fact that the characters are not going to let me rest until their stories are told). For you, I give you my heart and soul served up on a page.

For all others, thank you for giving me a taste but I do understand that…

I am not everyone's cup of tea and I am totally cool with that. We can't  please everyone and shouldn't be in the business… | Cup of tea quotes, Tea  quotes, Tea

writers motto

Love and virtual hugs to all! Until next time…

If you’re looking for some amazing Sci-Fi and Fantasy books at amazing prices, check out the Book Throne Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Fair at https://www.bookthrone.com/sci-fi-fantasy-bookfair

 

 

July Author Spotlight — M.J. Kaestli

The fireworks are over, unless you live in my neighborhood which seems to think two weeks before and two weeks after the 4th of July is primetime for fireworks until all hours of the night.

So why should we stop the fireworks? And this time, I don’t mean the ones that go BOOM and frighten my tiny puppy.

These fireworks come from a seemingly endless pool of fiery romance. So let’s meet the source of this fun, steamy romance that’s better than a roman candle backfiring and hitting your neighbor’s leaf pile…

M.J. Kaestli writes Young Adult (YA) Dystopian Romance. She writes strong female leads who don’t know they were born to conquer the world.

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Hi, M.J.! Thanks for joining us. Please give our readers an introduction of yourself, not just the writer in you, but who you are.

I’ve created and shared stories since I could speak and written them since I could
hold a pen. I publish under M. J. Kaestli and I’m primarily writing YA Dystopian
(currently 5 out of 7 books in series).

On top of writing, I’m also a book reviewer. I post weekly book recommendations
on my website, YouTube channel, Instagram and Facebook. If you enjoy YA,
Dystopian, and Urban Fantasy, then come check out my reviews!

I live in Vancouver Canada and I love and go for nature walks along the sea wall
or in the forested areas. I hope to someday soon add a dog to those walks and my
home. I will admit, I often walk in the off-leash section of the park just so I can pet
all the dogs. It’s time I get my own…

What genre do you prefer to write and why?

My first love is Dystopian and I have since I was a kid. I think the reason is
because my dad was a survivalist. Any and every illness, turn in the economy,
governmental change, and new technology were all viewed as potential culprits for
bringing the end. How life as we knew it would soon end was weekday
conversation at the dinner table in my house.

I used to have regular nightmares as a kid and often daytime anxiety as well. I
thought way too much about how or if I would survive our looming destruction.
When I discovered Dystopian books at first it was a comfort because it represented
the reality I lived in and always ended well.

I know it sounds like I should hate Dystopian, but I think it safely explores
elements of humanity that really opens the mind to what surrounds you. I don’t
write out of fear of the future but more out of wanting to see the world on a wider
spectrum, to consider what I’ve never considered.

Do you write under a pseudonym? What made you decide to do so/or not? What
inspired your pseudo?

Yes, M. J. Kaestli is a pen name. There were a few reasons why I wanted to
publish under a pen name but I’d say the most prevalent is because I want to write
so many different genres. I’m a fan of grouping genres together under one
umbrella to protect the reader and ensure they continue to get what they want
without confusion.

I knew I wanted this pen name to feature strong female leads so I drew inspiration
from the strong women in my life. The M is for Michelle which is my real first
name. The J is for Jean which was my mothers name. And Kaestli was the maiden
name of my great-grandmother. I never got to meet her but was inspired by stories
of her as a child. She seemed to have more spunk and attitude than what was
deemed appropriate in her day.

Do you have a small or large circle of author friends? How do they help you
become a better writer?

My circle of non-writer friends has become rather thin. Most of my friends both
locally and online are fellow writers.

I’m heavily involved with my local Nanowrimo community. We formed our own
group outside of the annual writing challenge and host weekly write-ins. I think
writers need to be constantly surrounded by other writers, even just to have people
who make you feel normal.

As writers, we sacrifice so much of our personal time and money in pursuit of a
dream most think isn’t realistic. It’s too easy to give into self-doubt, insecurity, or
doing something easier with our time. We need each other for emotional support.
There is also a huge perk to get an extra set of eyes on your work or to have
someone to bounce ideas off of. Collaboration helps to keep the words flowing,

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or do you prefer writing series?

I’m incapable of writing short stories or stand alone novels. If the idea isn’t
multiple books with complex plots then I can’t get excited enough about it to get
through the writing process.

The State Series has overlapping timelines with multiple character points of view.
It has taken me longer to finish than I would have liked so moving forward, I plan
to work more in worlds with multiple series while releasing the timeline and main
character. I hope this speeds up my process while holding the integrity of what I
love in the finer details.

Do you base characters off people you know If so, do you let them know before
they read the novel?

Everyone and everything I’ve experienced in my life has an impact on my writing.
Modeling characters after real people isn’t something I do with intent, but can
happen organically. And yes, if I become aware of it (which usually takes time for
me to see it) I will tell them.

My main character Freya in The State Series was just a character to me until I
finished writing the first 3 books. While editing, I realized that Freya in so many
ways was my mom. She passed before I finished writing Compliant and so I never
got the chance to tell her.

What does success as a writer look like to you?

This is a hard question as there are multiple levels of success. Naturally, I want to
earn enough money that I don’t have to do anything else to live. I want to focus
full-time on writing and have the money to hire out all the background work I can
so that I can write even more.

But there are other kinds of success than money. I think my biggest moment as an
author was receiving feedback from one of the first people who read Compliant.
She read it in less than 24 hours and reported she was a “bad mom” because she
couldn’t put it down. To me, knowing I’ve touched someone’s life is success.

I feel that the world is made a better place through reading and storytelling. It’s an
honor when I can help connect people with stories that impact them, both as an
author and reviewer.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice or strictly as a business?

It’s definitely both and more. I feel like when I started taking my writing seriously
was when my life really began and I discovered who I am. It’s spiritual,
therapeutic, entertainment, social, all the things.

It’s also a business because if you want to share your stories with the world, you
have to spend money to get them out there. Publishing is expensive. And if I want
my stories to touch lives (which I do) I have to pay money to market them. There
has to be a balance of both income and spending. Plus, the more income I receive,
the more backend work I can hire out, and the more books I can write.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Of course! I love to read my reviews because it helps me to figure out what the
readers liked about my books so I can try to give them more.

The most negative review I’ve received was someone hated my main character
(and wrote paragraphs about how much and why) but then closed with saying they
would still recommend my books because the story’s so good.
I laughed, shrugged, and thought they must have really loved my story because
they really hated Freya. I want people to feel something when they read my books.
Even hating my character is better in my mind than writing one that’s forgettable.
You have to take the good with the bad because someone else told me Freya was a
real person to them. We each have our own tastes. My books aren’t for everyone
and I accept that as I don’t like every book I read that others love.

What is your favorite childhood book?

Monica Hughes became my favorite author in elementary school when my teacher
read our class Space Trap. It was the first Sci Fi book I was exposed to and that’s
when I discovered I love to read.

I later found Invitation to the Game at my library, the first Dystopian novel I read.
I was forever changed. I checked all her books out multiple times and they had a
huge impact on shaping my young mind into the person I’ve become.

When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

The moment I understood what an author was as a child. I used to talk people into
corners telling them my stories before I could write. Once I realized why I had no
friends, I started to quietly write my stories down. At the time, I didn’t know it was
a possible answer to the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Ideas have always come easy, it’s the writing that was hard. As I’m also dyslexic, I
struggled to get through the writing process as I was continually challenged with
spelling, grammar and the use of language. That kept me blocked until I realized
one day that 40 was just around the corner (I was 36.5).

I set out a very clear goal to write every day because I had to finish at least 1 novel
before 40 and self-publish it. I was about 6 months late on publishing Compliant,
but I had written about 6 books by 40 and published the first 3 in series by the end
of that year.

I still struggle with sentence structure, grammar, spelling, all those things that
received the red pen strike from my English teachers. But, I learned that the only
thing that really matters is I tell my stories to the best of my ability. Between
editors and all the software’s available, I have no longer allow my limitations to
hold me back.

Thanks so much for joining us, M.J.

If you want to learn more about M.J., her books, and what she has coming up in the future, you can find her at the below links.

Her website & blog: https://www.mjkaestli.com/

Purchase link for her latest book: http://mybook.to/Compliant

Amazon.com: Compliant: A Young Adult Dystopian Romance (The State ...
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H8Z34QX?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mjkaestli/

Book Review YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6Zxh5Fz7FQuEQ0-D-uy61w?view_as=subscriber

Until next time, dear readers! Stay safe, Stay cool!
KC

Lessons Learned and Big Announcement

First, let’s get the BIG announcement out of the way because quite frankly I’m too tickled pink to put this off.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE…

Book of the Month

After some fantastic reviews from The Naked Reviewers last week, they chose my paranormal fantasy romance book, Rekindled Prophecy – Book 1 of the Greylyn the Guardian Angel series, as their Book of the Month for March 2020!!!!!

The book was also named as the Book of the Week from 2/26/2020 to 3/4/2020!

Somebody pinch me! Okay, not THAT hard! Geez, now I’ll bruise.

*********************************************

Now for the original posting for this week ~ Lessons Learned from my first book signing event at Penned Charleston this past weekend.

See the source imageTo sum it up  – it was a series of unfortunate events which ended happily ever after.

  1.  Should travel the night before the event. I was stuck in a traffic jam on I-26 EAST towards Charleston with all lanes blocked due to a horrific accident. Nowhere to turn around, just had to sit there and continue sitting for a long time. Ended up 1 1/2 hours late!
  2.  Bring an assistant! Can be anyone, friend, foe, hubby, kids! Just bring someone to help out so the author can make trips to the ladies’ room and get food/beverages. Initially the hubby was supposed to attend with me, but he was easily persuaded to ditch me to take our youngest son to a wrestling tournament in Fayetteville, NC. Figured I’d be okay on my own, but easily see now how having a helper with me would have made the whole experience run more smoothly and enjoyable. Also assistants were working the venue by walking around and visiting all the tables and mingling with the guests/readers to direct traffic to their author’s tables. Assistants also freed up their authors to walk around and meet new authors and just mingle.
  3.  Double-check swag before the event. I found a typo on the bookmarks as I was sitting at the table Saturday. To say I was horrified is an understatement!
  4. Bring more swag! Some authors had some serious swag at their tables. Some had raffles going for their super swag. I had bookmarks with typos, postcards with book info (which I ran out of), candy (mints and chocolate), and mini hand sanitizers.
  5.  Personalized labels for swag (such as the hand sanitizers) can be easily purchased I learned from one incredibly helpful author assistant. One lady had personalized packaging for candies and chocolates!
  6.  When the venue doesn’t provide linen table cloths for the tables, bring your own nice linen table cloth, not a flimsy plastic tie-dye one.
  7.  Check into vinyl posters and heavy duty easels. Most authors had 8-10 foot posters set up behind and beside their tables. I had a foam board 12×18 book poster propped up a stack of books on a chair beside me.
  8.  Purchase easels for posters and something to connect the banner to the table.
  9.  Purchase book stands so the books aren’t just laying down on the table.
  10.  Sneak in snacks. The venue said no beverages or food to be brought in – they provided water stations and some appetizers were handed out in the beginning during setup (which I missed due to #1). I ended up eating more of my own candy which was supposed to be just for visitors to my table.

Sounds a bit like a disaster, right? Actually, it wasn’t at all! I met a lot of amazing authors, author assistants, bloggers, reviewers, cover artists, and most especially readers! I learned a lot! I made some contacts including a lovely author in my local area (Hi, Haven Cage!) who also organizes local author get-togethers, and I now have a Reiki healer to call locally when my chakras are imbalanced. So, HUGE WIN!

Sadly, I ended up leaving right after the event rather than staying for the 60s-themed party that evening (another Lesson Learned – STAY FOR THE PARTY!).

Hopefully this Lessons Learned segment will benefit other newbie authors as you go to your own book signing events.

Well, I’m off to celebrate my Book of the Month award with some of my leftover chocolate from Penned Charleston!

I hope everyone has a fabulous week!

1st Ever Book Signing!

I am beyond excited to be attending my first EVER book signing event this coming weekend (2/29/2020) in one of my favorite cities on planet Earth – Charleston, SC.

New Release banner

Since this my first book signing, and Penned Charleston is such a HUGE event, I will admit to being a bit intimidated and nervous.

What if I don’t bring enough books?

What if no one wants a book?

What if my brand new Square card reader doesn’t work (or user error – I’ve never used one before)?

What other items should I bring?

What if the banner doesn’t stay attached to the table? What if there’s no place to hang the poster of the book cover?

And so many other questions have been playing roller derby in my head and are only gaining speed and momentum as the day edges closer.

Luckily, other authors have heard my pleas for help and offered amazing advice, so fingers crossed that I will be as prepared as I can be. I have my banner, my poster (well, actually it hasn’t been delivered yet – Yikes!), bookmarks, pens (have been ordered but have not arrived yet either – Double Yikes!), candy (individually wrapped mints and chocolates, plastic candy bowl, bright tie-dyed table cloth because the event is going with a 60s theme, lots of hand sanitizer (also order, but not delivered – Triple Yikes!), Square card reader (still gotta learn how to use this thing), oh and…books!

Unfortunately, due to the short notice when I signed up for this event, I was unable to coordinate a pre-order form and list so I could bring just the right amount of books, with a few extras. So I will selling books directly at the event instead and my inventory of books in my current possession isn’t that extensive. I genuinely am hoping to run out of books and have to take orders to send readers afterwards. Lesson learned for the next book signing (Queen City Book Fair on 5/23/2020) is to have a pre-order promotion well in advance and to institute all the lessons I will learn this upcoming weekend.

So if you are anywhere near Charleston, SC or want an excuse to visit this amazingly charming city, please join me this Saturday at the North Charleston Marriott for Penned Charleston! The weather forecast is calling for a mild 55 degrees and mostly sunny!

Hope to see some of you there. If you don’t live close and have a book signing event like Penned Charleston near you, please send me an email or private message here and I’d love to see about attending closer to you if you’re interested in getting your own copy of Rekindled Prophecy signed or just want to meet up and chat.

Until next week!

Besties,

KC