Samantha LaFantasie, Featured KWA Writer

Yes, she’ll tell you, her last name really is LaFantasie.  And that’s fitting because Samantha mainly writes fantasy.  Her most recent novel, Heart Song, is an adult fantasy with lots of romance, available via Createspace   and/or Amazon Kindle.  She currently has been working on the first of a series of novellas, Made to Forget, that she hopes to make available this summer.

Samantha LaFantasieSamantha believes that writing fantasy suits her best.  She writes, “I love that there are very little rules to follow when writing fantasy.  It can be as varied as you would like it to be, as fantastical or mundane.”  When asked how writing has impacted her life, Samantha notes, “Each day I remember something from my past that has come about from writing.  From poetry and songwriting from my younger school years to the more serious undertaking of novels in recent years, writing has been my therapy.”  Samantha admits that while she got her reading start on R.L. Stine, she became addicted to fantasy with Weis and Hickman’s Dragonlance series.

For advice for new writers, Samantha admonishes that “It doesn’t matter how much or what you write.  Just write.  And don’t pay too much attention to the specific mechanics either.  You’ll find that they change with each person—which also says that there’s no right way to write!”

To read more from Samantha LaFantasie, visit www.samanthalafantasie.com.

Everett Robert, Featured KWA Writer

Our Debut KWA Member Profile showcases playwright Everett Robert.

Everett loves the theater and writes, “ When the opportunity to dip my finger into playwriting arose, I jumped at it and haven’t looked back.”  He goes on to say that he loves “creating a world and characters and being able to physically see them brought to life by actors.”

Everett RobertEverett’s current work-in-progress is a play called “The Three Challenges of Puss in Boots” for Theater for Young Audiences (TYA).  He believes that being a “writer has allowed me to see my works performed in venues that I never would have dreamed of, in front of people I never would have expected.”  Through Everett’s plays, students have been exposed to pieces of classic literature, such as Alice in Wonderland and Tom Sawyer.

Everett is an avid reader, enjoying Neil Gaiman, Lisa Mantchev, William Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neill, Neil Simon, David Mamet, Elmore Leonard, and Stephen King.

Not just a reader and writer, Everett is also an actor.  From April 25-27th, he’ll be performing with his 3-man Troop, The Way-Out-West Players, an original play called “The Fastest Play in The West” at the Bake-off At High Noon in Meade, Kansas.

Everett’s most well-known play currently is “The Absolutely True Story of Tom Sawyer as Told by Becky Thatcher.”  One reviewer writes, “So, you think you know what Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn were up to back when they were supposed to be painting Aunt Polly’s fence? Well, think again. Becky Thatcher clues us in on the real story. Everett Robert skillfully mixes the events as told by Mark Twain with scenes depicting what Becky Thatcher claims really happened— all in great fun and with charming humor. The playing of the traditional scenes provides a great opportunity to relive your favorite moments from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” as retold by Mark Twain while experiencing something fresh from the imagination of one of our best new children’s authors, Everett Robert. And you’ll never guess how Becky Thatcher came to know so much!”

Royalties and scripts can be purchased a Heartland Plays.  To read more about Everett and to see video of his work, visit Emergency Room Productions.

Member Profiles

As we continue to improve our website platform, the KWA would like to provide a new venue for our members to share profiles, information about upcoming releases, and their personal website information.  Periodically, we want to showcase what our wonderful members are up to!  That means we’ll need our members to provide us with great biographical and authorial information.

Be prepared to answer some questions, like:  Writer’s Name (this may be different than your ‘real name,’ but since we are in the business of promoting you as a writer, give us the name you would like the public to know you by); and Email (this would be only for the Website Coordinator to contact you about the date when your profile would be featured).

The questions are to help us describe you to our website visitors.  Anything you write will be recast in third person.  Feel free to leave questions blank if they don’t apply to you at this time.  Each feature will be approximately 200-500 words, depending on the amount of information you provide.

Are you a member of KWA interested in doing a writer’s profile?  Click the link below and fill out the electronic form.  April Pameticky will then be in contact with you about when your profile will be shared online.  It is our goal to do several member profiles a month, promoting through Twitter and Facebook.  Feel like your ready?  Great! Let’s click and go!

http://KWA.form2go.com/83566.html

Platform Building: Identify, Engage and Commit to Your Tribe

New home construction framing.Building a strong and successful author’s platform is every bit as vital as the construction of a dream home. It takes the raw materials of discipline and dedication to your tribe, or audience. As a writer, you are the proprietor of Company You, and must take control of your own marketing and public relations. Counting on a literary agent or publisher to handle this for you is antiquated thinking.

Pillars of an author’s platform include: book/blog writing, guest posting on other blogs, vlog/podcasts, published articles in magazines or periodicals, public speaking and networking via traditional or social media.

Identify your tribe/reader. Add value to your website/web presence for the audience. What are their characteristics?

Engage your tribe. Reply to comments and questions promptly. Write a blog. Let them know your speaking calendar. Post daily content on a Facebook fan page, Twitter feed, Google+ profile, or Pinterest page.

Commit to your tribe. Like a skilled juggler, keep the balls of social media in the air with discipline. Make a commitment to your brand and audience. Don’t let too much time go by without connecting with them. As your platform grows, the stronger it will become.

If you are unpublished, Michael Hyatt’s latest book, Platform, recommends you spend 90 percent of your time writing and 10 percent on platform building. This is true for fiction or non-fiction genres; however, non-fiction writers should have a strong online presence. You want to be considered an expert in your field.

The most important thing is to keep your numbers growing. Even if you only have 15 minutes a day, you can use the time efficiently. Post content or ask questions on your Twitter feed, Pinterest or Facebook fan page, then read two or three other’s blog posts, and give feedback.

Write a guest post on other author’s blogs, especially those who share your genre. If you offer space on your blog, most writers are happy to reciprocate. The Biblical adage, “Do unto others…” fits nicely in this case.

My blog’s focus is encouragement, so I post an inspirational quote and Scripture every day on my Facebook fan page. Consider what might add value to your online presence for your readers. Use organizational and scheduling tools like HootSuite. It’s a huge timesaver.

Check out the social media presence of authors in your genre, or one you respect. Glean what speaks to you, and then find your own niche. The time to build your platform is now, before you sell your first book. At least have the structure in place, so you can hit the ground running when your time comes.

“If you want to get a publishing deal, you need a platform to prove your books will sell.”—Joanna Penn, The Creative Penn

Sources: Who Needs a Platform?, Are You Hitting a Bulls Eye With Your Target Audience?, From Blog to Book: Building an Online Platform, Should Unpublished Novelists Be Platform-Building? www.rachellegardner.com; The 15-Minute Writer (Part 3): Building Your Platform, Building Your Author Platform Before The Contract, 4 Pillars to Build an Effective Social Media Platform, www.wordservewatercooler.com.

Dear Diary: Journaling for Writers

Girl's DiaryThe Hubster and I recently spent time with our daughter in Dallas, and took the opportunity to visit the Holocaust Museum. There was an exhibit of Otto Frank’s family photographs, father of noted diarist Anne Frank.  Diary of a Young Girl was a life-changing book for me, along with many other adolescents. Anne’s naïve, yet honest account of her time spent hiding from the Nazis is one of the best-selling diaries in history.

Journaling is useful for increased creativity for writers, documenting personal milestones and information to be used in future projects, and synthesizing personal stress. It’s a terrific way to create balance in your life. The sheer act of venting your pent-up emotions on paper is cathartic.

Writing in a diary gives you an opportunity to separate yourself from the events of the day and place them in their proper perspective. When you see a problem written out on paper, it becomes more bite-sized. The space that nebulous thoughts take up in your brain pan could be put to good use thinking about a new story line or lead character.

Noted personal productivity speaker David Allen wrote an article titled, “Finding Your Inside Time,” at www.writersdigest.com. This piece shares insights into fighting stress and frustration in your work and personal life through journaling. “Sometimes core-dumping is the best way to get started when nothing else is flowing—just an objectification of what is on my internal landscape,” said Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Viking).

In addition to Diary of a Young Girl, other famous diaries are The Journals of Sylvia Plath, Notebooks by Tennessee Williams and Go Ask Alice. Historical journals belonging to Lewis & Clark and several U.S. presidents are held in high esteem.

Group journaling is another avenue to make time for writing and networking with other writers. Each person in the group can take a turn conjuring up writing prompts. Reading aloud to the group should not be compulsory, but encouraged. New insights into self and others will be discovered and bonds formed through sharing your inner life.

It’s always a good idea to reread your diary entries, if only to see how your voice has evolved over the years. Keep the focus on your talent, not the busyness of everyday life. Besides, the contents of your personal journal will make a juicy memoir some day!

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.”—Anais Nin

Sources: “Keep Your Hand Moving,” Christa Allan, guest blogger on www.rachellegardner.com; “The Power of Group Journaling,” Suzanne C. Goodsell, www.writersdigest.com

Scene 2013 Conference Fast Approaches

Scene 2013If you missed the KWA meeting in February, HB Berlow–president, fills us in.  Discussing the idea of Writers Conferences, HB pointed out that there are “three primary reasons to go to a writer’s conference: learning, networking, socializing.”

A conference is a great opportunity to learn from other writers, to see what has worked.  Their experiences can provide great insight into what can be a very isolating experiencing.  April Pameticky notes that it was a presentation by Malena Lott at a previous conference that really inspired her to pursue and develop a blog.

A conference can be a great tool for networking as well.  It is recommended to have a business card ready and according to HB, “be prepared to talk about something interesting.”

A conference can also be an excellent opportunity to socialize with other writers.  Who else to better understand the isolating experience of wrestling with our muses than another writer?

The Scene Conference 2013 is uniquely designed to afford writers the chance to rub shoulders and learn from each other.  Interested in learning more?  Visit: https://kwawriters.org/scene/

The Best Books on Writing

I realize that many of the writers in the KWA have found their personal strides.  But I am a writer still exploring my creative voice.  As both a writer of fiction and a poet, there are several books that I return to time and again to refuel and bring zest to my work.   Hopefully a suggestion here will bring you some inspiration as well.

Each of these books is available for sale, but for ease I linked each book cover image to the Amazon listing.  Please keep in mind that many of MY copies were borrowed from the public library, but I highly recommend supporting Wichita’s own Watermark Books.

Letters to a Young Poet
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke“Seek those [themes] which your own everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, passing thoughts and the belief in some sort of beauty—describe all these with loving, quiet, humble sincerity, and use, to express yourself, the things in your environment, the images from your dreams, and the objects of your memory.”

These letters are available in a variety of translations, the best of which is the M.D. Herter volume. The advice shared with a wider audience in 1932 remains timeless.  A writer doesn’t have to be a poet to appreciate the sentiment that writing is difficult and that writers should find the courage from within to continue.

 

Writing Down the Bones
by Natalie Goldberg

GoldbergGoldberg is my favorite writer for practical writing advice.  She combines her Zen practice with her devotion to daily writing, and the result is gracious encouragement for every writer.  One of the early chapters, “First Thoughts,” describes the daily writing exercise, even down to choosing a pen that gets you excited about writing..  Goldberg believes you must write through the bad results to get to the good.  And writing everyday is the ticket.

 

The Artist’s Way
by Julia Cameron

This book literally describes a course of action that aspiring artists and creative people can execute to unleash their own Cameroncreativity.  On a week-by-week plan, The Artist’s Way retrains the brain to look and see the world in new ways, which will begin to feed into the creative life.  While written more for the ‘artist,’ each week’s efforts are beneficial for writers.  For example, toward the end of week 2 [in the chapter “Recovering a Sense of Identity”], one exercise is to “List your five major activities this week.  How much time did you give to each one?  Which were what you wanted to do and which were should?  How much of your time is spent helping others and ignoring your own desires?”  Sometimes acknowledging what keeps me from working on a project motivates me more to manage my time differently.

The Art of Fiction
by John Gardner

gardnerIf you write fiction, you must read this book.  I had written stories for years before I realized that I was making some basic mistakes by violating the reader’s sense of psychic distance.  I am embarrassed to say that I was also quite happily attached to clichés.  Gardner essentially breaks down elements of a story, providing great samples and examples of what works AND what NOT to do.  Ironically, there are popular genres where certain things Gardner determined were errors are actually acceptable forms—like in Romance, readers accept the easy slide between one point-of-view and another.

 Tell us what YOU read!

This list is not exhaustive.  There are many other books available to inspire the writer within.  The best resources are often other writers.  What is your must-have book?  Tell us about it in the comment section below!

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DSCN0574 A Poet and a writer, April Pameticky tries to find balance between her professional life as a writer, teacher, wife, and mother.  Her chapbook of poetry, Sand River and Other Places I’ve Been will soon be released by Finishing Line Press.

Catch up at AprilinWichita.

How to Write a Killer Author Bio in Three Easy Steps

A clean, concise author biography is your calling card, and can mean the difference between future sales and languishing in the bookstore bargain bin. Creative writing may be your bread and butter, but tooting your own horn can be a difficult task. Here are three categories to consider:

  1. Short form: Two sentences. In third person. Name, book title, publisher, where they can find you online. Around 25 words.
  2. Medium form: For speaking engagements, magazine articles, brochures. In third person. Name, book title, publisher, where they can find you, education, and background, if it pertains to your writing. Around 50 words.
  3. Long form: For query letters. In first person. One quarter (around 50 words) of the page for fiction. A little longer for non-fiction (add your platform and credentials). Push the current project, not your life story.

Make it professional, but with your personality; include memberships in literary associations, degrees in literature or creative writing, book awards and reviews.

Make a list of all possible facts, then start paring it down. Choose three credits to highlight. Keep personal information to a minimum. Readers want to know where to find you on the internet and other books you have written.

Share your newly-crafted bio with your critique group. Members can give you input on what to work on.

Don’t mistake this accomplishment, “Jane recently trained her tom cat, Sir Licksalot, to fetch the evening paper,” with this one, “Jane received second place for her essay titled, ‘Jambalaya,’ in the Deep South Gazette’s annual literary competition.”

Don’t talk about this life experience, “Hortense spent her teen years in and out of Juvenile Hall,” when this one is so much more relevant, “Hortense’s two decades as an EMT give her unique qualifications to write medical drama.”

Compose a biography like you’re writing a novel. Write and revise. Whittle it down until there is no visible fat. Your bio must be lean and mean! Below are two of mine, which I am currently crafting.

“Carol J. Martin is a veteran blogger, inspirational writer/speaker and Kansas Writers Association member. Female in Motion Devotions, her first book, received semi-finalist status in the Munce Group’s 2012 Writing Contest. Female in Motion can be found at www.fim-carol.blogspot.com.”

“While it began in 2007 as an exercise blog, Female in Motion (www.fim-carol.blogspot.com) quickly became more of a personal journal: Life as a Midwestern wife, empty-nester, inspirational writer/speaker, cancer survivor and most notably, Christian. Female in Motion Devotions, my first book, was a semi-finalist in the Munce Group’s 2012 Writing Contest. My faith simply wraps itself around everything I write and I consider it my mission to encourage women to seek God’s will for their lives.”

“Biography lends to death a new terror.”—Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Credits: www.rachellegardner.com, www.ehow.com, www.wordservewatercooler.com, www.freelancewriting.com, www.lulu.com/blog

Incorporating the Five Senses in Your Writing

I’m a foodie. The anticipation and joy in my heart that I experience while waiting for a restaurant entrée or homemade dinner is ridiculous. When the steaming plate is finally placed before me, I’m blissful. It is a feast for the senses.

If you want to engage a reader into your written world, you must incorporate sensory data, so their imaginations will ignite. Sense memory is one of the quickest ways to transport an audience into your novel. When describing the plate of Mexican food above, I could say that it looked good…but what does “good” look like? “The enchiladas were covered with melted cheese and spicy ranchero sauce,” immediately transports you south of the border.

Let’s go further, using all five senses: sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.

 

The combo plate included four enchiladas and a taco.

The combination enchilada plate at Carmelita’s was generous enough to feed four hungry lumberjacks.

The food smelled good.

As the server set the fragrant offering before me, the chile relleno’s spicy aroma tickled my nose.

 I heard music playing.

The mariachi band’s salsa tune was accented by the syncopated rhythm of the electronic cash register.

I ate my dinner.

My mouth discovered the creamy center of the queso blanco and spinach enchilada, while a hint of nutmeg in the béchamel sauce intrigued my tongue.

I grabbed my plate.

The stoneware platter was sizzling hot; I placed my blistered finger on the icy margarita glass.

 

Adding sensory details to a piece of prose imparts multidimensional imagery that readers crave. Jessica Bell, author of Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing, says that her writing changed when she added concreteness. “My writing had become cinematic, it had movement, my characters were three dimensional and I didn’t even have to mention their personality traits because I was showing them. But above all, my writing evoked emotion.”

 “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”–Anton Chekhov

 

Sources: WordServe Water Cooler, WritersDigest.com, novel-writing-help.com, writingcenterunderground.wordpress.com.

Ten Things Your Author Website Should Contain

The key to online visibility for an author/writer is a superior website. It is the foundation on which to build your writing career. A quality website can bring notoriety, popularity, respect and brand recognition. Conversely, a poorly-crafted URL may give you little notice in the digital world.

Following is a list of the ten items a writer’s website needs:

  1. Biography of the author
  2. List of books written by the author
  3. Calendar: dates where readers can meet and interact with the author
  4. Photos of the author, plus past events, appearances, speeches
  5. Links to purchase books on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other websites
  6. Subscribe to e-newsletter
  7. Links to the author’s Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest fan pages
  8. Link to book trailer(s)
  9. Author’s blog
  10. Contact page: where readers can write a fan letter or request an appearance

Some authors like to have their latest book or a main character take the lead on their website, like Lee Child (www.leechild.com), whose character, Jack Reacher, is the focus, or “The Passage” book trilogy, by Justin Cronin (www.enterthepassage.com). Others opt for a themed website, like Janet Evanovich’s (www.evanovich.com) site, that exudes a decidedly mysterious feel, or Kansas Writers Association’s own B.D. Tharp (www.bdtharp.com). Ms. Tharp writes hen lit, or adult women’s literature, and her website is warm, homey and female-friendly.

Your website doesn’t require an artsy design; however, it must have solid content. A basic template with great information will draw your readers in. “Your website is like the frame around a picture. Many authors spend more time on the frame than they do on the picture,” according to Thomas Umstattd, Jr., CEO, Author Media.

Purchasing the latest version of Dreamweaver does not guarantee you will be up to the job of URL architect. Website builders don’t come cheap, if you’re hiring one. There are some economical ways to do it, if you aren’t married to a computer genius. Helpful sites like (www.AuthorWebsites.com) and (www.elance.com) offer ranges of services to construct and host your ideal site.

A simple, well-kept author website can build a loyal following, as well as your own confidence. Researching like-genre sites may help you find ideas to use (or not!) as a template. The most important thing to remember is focus on your readers.

“When you type in an author’s name, his/her website is first thing that comes up. To be the first result that pops up in a Google search is reason enough to have a website.”–Annik LaFarge, author of The Author Online: A Short Guide to Building Your Website Whether You Do It Yourself Or You Work With Pros