Friday, February 26, 2010

Moving Forward

I'm now planning on self-publishing, unless I hear unexpected news from one of the as-yet-unresponsive agents I've queried. I've set a tentative release date in mid-June, since I need the structure of a deadline.

There are a bunch of plus-sides to this. I'll get the book out this year. Two books, actually, since my business model works better if the sequels come out fairly rapidly. I keep creative control over the cover art. With POD services, I don't have to shell out big bucks for a vanity press.

It still feels like I'm punting, though. I have to remember that Christopher Paolini self-published ERAGON, then got picked up by an agent, got a big publisher, and ended up with a movie deal. It can happen. And, IMHO, MINDER is much more original than ERAGON (which was still an entertaining read, despite the obvious draws from Anne McCaffrey, Tolkien, and the Star Wars Trilogy).

"Success" for the self-published simply means that they get into the agent-publisher system through the back door.

So, now I'm looking for publicity and marketing opportunities. I have the book trailer and the website in the works. If you (or someone you know) does book reviews for your blog, newspaper, artsy underground newsletter, etc., please email me a mailing address and I'll send you one of the advanced reader copies once they arrive. I'll also have a virtual launch party here in the blog, as well as contests and giveaways and all. If you know of some good YA fantasy fansites, post a link below, and I'll spring for ads there. I'd love to hire a professional publicist, so please post of link or something if you can recommend anyone.

Oh, and for follower appreciation, I'll send signed copies to any of my first 20 followers who email me with their mailing addresses.

Thanks for signing up.
Thanks for reading the blog.
Thanks for commenting.
Thanks for being there from the start.

Feel free to email now; I'll keep a "to mail" file, and make sure you indicate your screen name, if it's unrelated to your real name. Also include the name to which you'd like the copy signed.
My request for early-copy-receivers: please read the book before the release date. If you like MINDER, tell your friends about it. Write about it in your blog; post a highly-starred review on Amazon; that sort of thing.

Then, if MINDER hits the big-time, you can always hit me up for a blurb for your own book.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Waiting for News

Amazon will post the winners for their novel contest today.
I'm waiting to see if I make the cut.

In the meantime, enjoy the funny:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Other Slush Pile

Precipitation the consistency of a convenience store beverage is sloshing from the sky today. I don't believe in the sun anymore. Perhaps it still exists, or maybe it is now only a mythical thing, the stuff of legend.

* sigh *

I'm off to drown my sorrows in the half-melted foam of mini-marshmallows on the top of my hot chocolate.

But, before I go, here's a wicked funny parenting article, courtesy of my friend Jenn:

BTW, I'm looking for a pro editor for a manuscript critique. If you know someone good, please email or post a comment.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Plans for World Domination Continue Apace

I now have a couple of artists doing samples for me for the book trailer. This is cool. I have daydreams in which the trailer goes viral and gets millions of hits on YouTube. MINDER becomes a NYT bestseller, the artist gets known for his or her iconic style, and Glenridge's "Angels" is the number one cover of American Idol hopefuls next season.

Yes, it's just a dream, and I know it won't actually happen that way.

But it could.

No, I know it won't.

Unless it does.

Actually, my dreams are on a sliding scale. My definition of success includes Rowling-like fame and fortune, of course. Every writer has that dream, just like everyone imagines winning an academy award, Olympic medal, or Nobel prize. C'mon, you know you had that dream once, too. Perhaps you've even stood in the shower, clutching the shampoo bottle, saying, "I'd like to thank the academy..."

But I'd also consider myself a success if I could make enough money writing that I no longer needed to teach. Then I could write full-time.

And earning more than a teaching salary isn't much of a bar, so the "success zone" is pretty wide.

Never be afraid to redefine "world domination."

Apropos of nothing, I haven't given funny stuff for a while now, so here's something that shouldn't be as entertaining as it is. Enjoy!
Thanks for the link, Ramona!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Any Artists Out There?

Are you an artist? I'm making a book trailer and other promotional materials for my book MINDER. I need some cool-looking stills drawn. I'm going for a graphic novel feel, so I'd like bold, black-and-white designs with accents in one or two solid colors, if appropriate. They need to be at least 8"x10"s that can be scanned.

There will be about 10-15 stills. Here are some of the scenes; I hope that they inspire you! (all the characters here are 16-18 years old)

The silhouettes of two lovers leaning in for a kiss in an abandoned, wooden church, backlit by the cone of light from an up-pointing flashlight. The guy is tall and lean, with hair that hangs a little too long in front. The girl is short and more petite, with shoulder-length, dark hair.

Three boys lying dead in the back of a van (as seen through the open side door), without a mark on them. The far one slouches against the far wall, and his face hangs loosely. The one nearest the viewer is belly-down, but his head turns toward the viewer and the pupil in his one visible eye is "blown," so there is no color left around it This is from the opening scene, which can be downloaded from:

A line-backer-built guy with freckles running down a dark hallway. He's looking at the viewer and has a ball of fire in his hand. His hair is mussed; he's wearing a t-shirt and jeans, and there's a mix of fear and determination on his face. (in the next still, the fireball fills the frame).

A tall and slender blonde girl closes her eyes as bright golden threads shoot in all directions from around her head, like the sun. She can either be sitting on her dorm bed or standing in the woods.

If you are interested, please email me a sample of one of these (kate AT katekaynak DOT com). I will choose the artist who best captures the feel of the book. I have a bunch of scenes I would like to create this way, and I'll send you a PDF of the manuscript, so you can get a good feel for the story and the characters.

I'll pay $50 per image, contingent on approval, and I have a "for hire" contract I'll need you to sign. You'll be credited as the artist whenever I use the images. The primary purpose for these is the book trailer, but I'd love to use them in other promotional materials, as well. BTW, the music for the book trailer is the second half of the Glenridge song Angels (starting around the 2:05 mark). Have a listen here.

More info about MINDER and the GANZFIELD series at:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Intrepid Souls

Brenda and Snowdon,

Thank you so much for sharing your queries! Critiquing your letters provided a nice break from revising my own writing. As a reward for putting yourselves out there, I'm offering both of you the same level of brutal critique on your first ten pages. Just email them (pasted in the body of an email or attached as DOC files, but NOT DOCX files) to me at : kate *at* katekaynak *dot* com in the next week or so.

I really enjoyed seeing what other people are writing these days. I'm still doing revisions on MINDER and plotting the two books I plan to write this summer. The first is the next installment of the GANZFIELD (a.k.a., MINDER) books. The other is set at Yale, with a MC who can see ghosts.

And someone needs to talk me out of writing the screenplay about the vampire and the middle-aged woman, because it's disturbingly compelling to me.
Logline: How Stella got her grave back.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Query Letters

I got my first taker on the query letter review in yesterday's post. What do you think? Too harsh? Spot on?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Disgruntled Idol

I've figured out something about myself:

I'm a harsh critic. Vicious. Simon Cowell-ish.

My comments on other people's writing hurt, because I tell them the truth, rather than giving them a bland and insincere "It's great." Only a few people actually get praise from me on their manuscripts.

"Why?" you might ask.

Well, if I don't tell them the truth, they'll waste their time querying agents with a manuscript that's not ready. I know how that feels; I've done it myself.

So, today I'm offering a free ego-mauling. Post your "query letter" book description to this thread before 7am EST Friday.

But don't put in any personal info like your mailing address, because there may be tin-foil-hat-wearing nut-jobs reading this right now. And I might not even be related to some of them.

I'll post brutally honest critiques of the the queries right here in the comments section (limited to the first 10 responders, if it comes to that).
The bad news is: I have high standards.
The good news is: If you meet these high standards, you know that you're really good. And if you don't, I'll tell you why not, so you can fix it.

I'll pick someone from the pack, based on the query, and offer that person a critique of their first 10 pages. Look for the announcement of the winner in Friday's post.

So, it's a cruel world, and I'm offering to make it personal. Anyone up for the mauling?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow Day

When did the hearty people of New Hampshire get so wimpy?

I walked the kids over to school this morning, only to find the parking lot empty. I hadn't checked my email over breakfast, and the principal has declared today a snow day.

For the record, it's not snowing. If snow had been falling, I'd have checked for the snow day email.

What's 3 inches? That's nothing! And it's 30 degrees out! That's frikkin' BALMY for this time of year!

Has the media's talk of the "snowpocalypse" struck fear into even the intrepid New Hampshirite?

And why do I like saying "snowpocalypse" so much? Snowpocalypse, snowpocalypse, snowpocalypse. Try it with a deep, movie trailer voice. "In a world - where everyone expected the climate to get warmer - SNOWPOCALYPSE."

Oh, and I've got some blunt feedback on MINDER waiting in my in-box. I glanced at it, had a sick sense of cold dread hit me in the chest (a snowpocalypse of the heart, if you will), and immediately closed the email to read later.

So now I've got THAT hangin' over my head. *sigh* At least the snow will be pretty. If it ever starts falling, that is.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Book Crush

I'm in love. I have a serious crush.

This isn't like the major crush I have on Trevor in MINDER, which my husband only tolerates because Trevor's partially based on him.

This is a book crush.

I read Molly Harper's NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS cover to cover yesterday.

Reading this book should count as a cardio workout, because I laughed my ass off.

NICE GIRLS is the story of a small town librarian who gets laid off from work, drinks her severance gift certificate away at the local Shenanigans, gets mistakenly shot as a deer on the walk home, and wakes up as one of the undead.

And the plot isn't even the best part.

Harper has a wonderful writing voice, with delicious turns of phrase. I can't wait to dive in to books 2 and 3 of the series.

Bottom line: I loved this book.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Online Presence

I facebook. I twitter. I blog.

I also use nouns as verbs on a regular basis.

So, am I spending my time wisely? What are the best sites to type a few lines and connect to people? I'm enjoying Litopia, which is an online writer's colony.

And should I be sad that my mom doesn't read my blog? *sigh* Should I just chalk that up to her lack of techno-savvy and forge ahead?

And does that mean I can use bad language now?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Random Thursday in February

Can't ... think ... or write ... at ... normal speed.

Curse you, New Hampshire winter!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

That's Why I Chose Yale

I just love this. It's campy-cool, like the show GLEE.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Should I Self-Publish?

I love my book. But the lit agents haven't beaten down my door yet.

So, Plan B: self-publishing.

I'm considering it. I think I'd go print-on-demand, probably through CreateSpace or Lulu. I have a script-doctor taking a look at it now, since I want some kind of editorial review on it.

I'd also need a publicist. Got any recommendations?

I'm considering an unorthodox business model. What would happen if I gave the downloadable version of MINDER away for free? Would people be interested enough to pay for copies of the rest of the series? I think book 2, ADVERSARY, is getting pretty polished. I could have it ready in a month or two. Thousands of free copies of MINDER would get my name and my book out there, but they might cheapen my "brand." So I don't know.

Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, February 8, 2010

You know you're the Main Character in a ...

... YA novel if: you're sixteen and dealing with things that fill you with angst.

... YA paranormal romance if: you're sixteen and in love with a vampire/werewolf/fairy/angel/fallen angel/telekinetic. And it fills you with angst.

... mystery novel if: you trip over at least one dead body in the first three chapters, and then someone makes a comment about how they do things on CSI.

... romance novel if: certain naughty bits on you and/or your irresistible love interest are heaving, throbbing, surging, etc.

... historical romance novel: if this occurs while the lace of your bodice is ripping, and/or someone makes a double-entendre involving his sword.

Please add to the list!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

On the Road

I'm traveling to a training session today, and will be wicked busy for the rest of the week.

You know you have three little kids when a 9-hour training session seems like a vacation.

Anyhoo, to keep you busy, here's a fun link:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Character Development

In one of my many day jobs, I am learning leadership development training. One of the foundations of the methods we use is Porter's Motivational Value System (MVS). It shares some similarities with Myers-Briggs, but is superior in many ways.

Here's the nutshell:

People have different things that motivate them.

Some people truly want to help others and make them happy (BLUE).
Some people want to be independent, get things right, and make every detail perfect (GREEN).
Some people want to be in action, take on challenges, and win (RED).

Every person is a mix of these three motivations. If one of the three MVS groupings really captures them, they are a Red, Blue, or Green.

Some people are blends of two, such as Red-Greens, Blue-Greens, or Blue-Reds. And some people are blends of all three; they are called Hubs.

So, why am I bringing this up? Well, this stuff is FANTASTIC when doing character development. Before I even write the first line of dialogue for a new character, I figure out a bunch about him or her and fill out a character sheet. I started doing this after reading Orson Scott Card's book, ELEMENTS OF WRITING FICTION.

Here's my adapted character sheet:

STEREOTYPES – (play on & violate) :
NETWORK – (work v home) :

Of all of these things, though, the most important thing for me is the MVS. If I know what the character wants, then I know what he or she will say and do, and how they will go about it. Notice that only the final aspect has to do with physical appearance. If your character development is:

Martha is tall, thin, and has straight-brown hair, then no one is going to care about Martha.

However, if Martha is the kind of person who defends her friends and loved ones like a mother bear, who thinks all forms of cheese are evil, and absentmindedly twirls her hair when she's thinking, she suddenly seems much more real, right?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Careful, or you'll end up in my novel

Many of my characters are based on real people. Friends, relatives, and ex-boyfriends all find their way into my work. In MINDER, I knew I needed to flesh out one of the characters (Dr. Williamson). But had no idea who the man was -- until I shared a cab in New York last April. By the time we'd arrived at Penn Station, I knew I'd just shared a cab with Dr. Williamson.

I called an old friend last night, because I realized that a character I'm developing for my next book, BOOLA, is basically her. She's cool with it. And it helps that the character, Stef, gets most of the best lines.

So, fellow writers, where do you get your character inspirations? Fellow readers, how would you feel if you recognized yourself in a friend's book?

How about in an ex-girlfriend's book? Would you admit it?