Houses of the Broken is starting to hit the expanded distribution network. Now available at Barnes and Noble online!
Houses of the Broken at B&N
I spent so much time at Barnes and Noble in my formative literary years, I had every section memorized. It’s where we went to talk, to learn, to browse, to sample all of the exotic music you couldn’t find just anywhere. It was the first bookstore/cafe in our area, and we drank it up. I still wish they made the Italian Cream Sodas I grew to love… every so often I feel nostalgic. This was before Borders, before Starbucks and before books came inside slabs of silicone.
Giddily, we’d walk down the aisles of our favorite sections, looking for new covers we hadn’t seen before, enticing us to touch them, heft them and see how the pages felt flipping through our fingers. At that age it was probably best that I had to be thrifty with my money. I had to choose… carefully… what next adventure I wanted to take home with me. I rarely left empty handed, if I had a choice.
I admit, I still like the feel of a trade paperback. Hardcovers are nice, but just too pristine. The paperback, ideally one that fits in your pocket, is a great companion. It goes everywhere with you, there to quell your boredom or sooth the anxiety while waiting for something unpleasant. The tattered edges growing dark from use and life experience. Favorite pages creased from being read again, and again, and committed to a memory always held close to the heart.
But now we have iPhone and Google for that…
July 8, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, barnes and noble, blog, book, evolution, novel, publishing, self publishing, writer | 2 Comments
With any luck my newly posted Kindle book will behave. I say luck because it took 2 of us working on multiple attempts to even get close to some consistent formatting. I don’t know where the ‘easy’ button was for this transition, but they sure hid it well.
Only when researching in the depths of the forums did the real truth come out… complications. Formatting issues. Shifting images and line spacing… Even now, while it looked good on the preview, I still can’t be truly… perfectly sure… that it will look right on the various devices and formats…
So I’ll cross my fingers and share the link… the content is there… if only it looked pretty…
Houses of the Broken on Kindle
July 6, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: amazon, author, blog, book, kindle, novel, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
See what I did there?
I’ve been sitting on pins and needles since the launch of Houses of the Broken last week. To put it mildly, I’ve learned a lot. It’s been interesting watching how Createspace and Amazon handle the publishing, and sales. And torturous as to how long it takes for sales to report from the various outlets.
Every day I check my ‘sales’ list, and my Amazon ranking. Some days I’m happy, some days I’m said, some days I’m just plain confused. I need to get a better media blitz together, but it’s difficult when no one returns your inquiries… I could argue back from a ‘no,’ flat out ignoring is a lot harder.
In many ways, it’s what I expected: It’s a lot of work. It’s a leap of faith. It’s not great for immediate gratification or questionable self esteem. And Kindle formatting… good grief. Don’t let the ‘it’s easy as pie!’ sales speech from CS or Amazon fool you. If you have a formatted file for a print book… be prepared to completely reformat it. This is still a work in progress and I even have people to help. I’m already wondering if the $69 fee to convert it in CS might have been worth it… but I’m the stubborn sort, and I like to know how things work for myself. So… Kindle version will be out… eventually… Besides, spreading out the action should be good… I think.
For now, I’m keeping an eye on the sales numbers vs. the number of copies that are showing up in people’s hands. If they don’t match, I’m not going to be a happy camper and that will lead to a whole other series of blog posts in the future. But for now… I must wait.
Take a chance on me!
July 3, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: amazon, author, blog, book, CreateSpace, novel, perserverence, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
Now available in print, and soon in Kindle format, Houses of the Broken.
Anna Shaw never intended to go home again. On the run from her demons since an early age, she never looked back to her sadistic father and the family she left behind to suffer at his hand. But with age comes the nostalgic longing for the familiar, and after years of distance from her estranged family, the only contact remaining to Anna — her sweet baby sister Lacey– uses their mother’s illness to lure her back into the fold one last time.
What starts as a bittersweet family reunion with her ailing mother and four of the younger siblings Anna so willingly abandoned as a teenager soon becomes a snare of animosity and deceit, proving once and for all that the perverse legacy of their father is more than just skin deep. And when the handsome stranger Anna met on the arduous journey back to her family shows up on Lacey’s doorstep with her vagabond sister, Silver, Anna discovers that her gruesome tendencies are not just hers alone.
With no one left to lead the family, Silver and Anna fiercely struggle for control of a twisted birthright. Anna must face a difficult reality that gives her only one choice to stop the fraternal darkness from spreading, setting off a chain of events that will leave her an unsure fate and no place left to call home.
Houses of the Broken is currently available at the following outlets:
Houses of the Broken on CreateSpace
Houses of the Broken on Amazon
June 24, 2013 | Categories: Blog, Houses of the Broken, News, Works | Tags: amazon, author, book, CreateSpace, NaNoWriMo, novel, photographs, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
Katherine Alton is a professional designer and an amateur herbalist who enjoys burying things in her garden. An avid fan of dystopian literature, she was drawn to the bittersweet and the macabre at an early age. Unable to shirk the unrelenting gray skies of the Great Lakes region, Katherine has been working on finding more constructive outlets for her creative impulses.
That don’t involve digging.
June 24, 2013 | Categories: Katherine Alton | Tags: author, dystopia, writer, writing | Leave a comment
It has arrived. Snuck right up behind me, in fact, a day early. My hands trembled in excitement as I tugged at the packaging. In a moment, the reveal. Glossy cover, straight spine, not a bad heft… my PROOF is here.
I flipped through the pages, surveying what I could at a glance. Text right? Check. Images formatted? Check. Any obvious glitches? Nope. So far so good. Closer inspection… where did that ‘s’ go… gah, there’s another one missing…
Yes, there are typos. After all the eyes and editing, there are still typos not willing to reveal themselves until they’re in glaring black and white. But I’ll find them., as many as I can. I still have time.
There will be tweaks inside and out. Little things. Picky things. Things to add more polish and shine, but overall I am very very pleased. And soon it will be ready for public consumption.
But will the public be ready?
June 18, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, book, CreateSpace, NaNoWriMo, novel, publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
This is the theme of the week and this potentially wine laced tirade. Nothing has worked right the first time, but perseverance is paying off. I hope.
I bought ISBN numbers. Or at least I thought I did. A few hours later my celebration was cut short by a note from customer service… somehow I had managed to log in to their site during a test phase. So neither my account, nor the numbers I bought were valid.
Try, try again.
ISBN numbers re-claimed, profile re-established, onward to the final phase. Createspace and uploading! *the crowd goes wild* The proof comes up, I start to page through it. The few minor image issue flagged aren’t really important until…
Where did my header go? *crap*
I had wanted blank pages in the front of the template, which CS hadn’t provided. Apparently in my previous attempt to insert them, I manage to scrub out the header information in the entire file. Not good news. Thankfully there was a formatting fairy to the rescue, and I was able to get the doc fixed to re-upload. On to the cover.
Oh, we only take PDF not JPEG. *sigh* Ok… cue email to my friend doing cover art. //facepalm.
It’s taken 2 tries on everything this week, but things seem to be working… now I wait to hear from CS and see if my info and files are all up to snuff.
And now we wait, until the morning…
June 12, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, book, CreateSpace, novel, perserverence, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | 3 Comments
The coffee is coursing through my veins this morning. I guess that’s what happens when it’s a freshly opened can. I want to do everything and nothing, all at the same time. Or at least, everything I want to be doing is nothing I ‘should’ be doing right now, which happens to me more than I’d like to admit.
But I bit the bullet. Made the leap. Bought some ISBN’s. After all of my fussing and fretting I went with the 10-pack. Now I get to figure out how the whole process works as I finalize my interior file. This is turning into a busy week, iron after iron plunging deep into the fire. Photos to edit, files to upload, design meetings to be had, social media marketing to post…. and then there’s my day job, which try as I might, does not appreciate being ignored for shinier, more exciting (to me) things.
I’ve come to realize in recent years that the Universe loves to subject me to the ‘all or nothing’ approach. If I’m doing one thing, 10 more pop up. If I have nothing to do, I can’t stir anything up to save my live. I guess it averages out but it’s like having your cake and getting the batter jet pumped straight into your bloodstream.
Folgers don’t fail me now…
June 11, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, book, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
Getting close. So close I can taste if. If that would be a normal thing to do with a book, of course.
Wrapping up the odds and ends, formatting. Dotting T’s, crossing I’s… and maybe getting a little punchy in the process. I spent a good part of the past two days trying to decided what I want to do with my ISBN. I know I can’t use the free one and do what I want to do, but then I start looking at options like buying your own, buying blocks… etc.
I’m the frugal sort. I like to buy in bulk. Do I really need a block of 10 numbers? It’s a crapshoot.
My heart sank for a moment today when I read that I needed a separate number for the e-book as well. I think I may have audibly hallucinated some antique cash registers chiming in the distance. I’m not afraid to put a little money out for the product, but I want it to be a reasonable risk/reward. What it comes down to is I want to be prepared, but not over do it.
The short version is, for what I want to do, I don’t need a 2nd ISBN. Bullet dodged, but not easily. Most of the answers fell in the category of well-you-can-if-you-want-but-you-don’t-have-to-but-it-might-be-best…. or not. InterwebFAIL.
I still have a little time to decide but not for long.
What’s the worst that could happen?
June 4, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, book, CreateSpace, novel, publishing, writer | Leave a comment
I’ve been in a bullet biting mood.
I unceremoniously sat down this past week to start formatting Houses of the Broken for CreateSpace. I was in the mood, which is something that has not happened for a very long time. ABNA helped me in a few ways. I made it a few rounds, got some good feedback and most importantly… was faced with a deadline to get my stuff together.
It took an hour. No lie.
Well, for the first blush at least. Before I knew it, I had a nicely formatted novel looking document sitting in front of me in Word format. Immediately I learned a few things….
My manuscript program sucks for grammar and spell checking. So does Google Drive. Word is where it’s at. This was a bit disheartening at the time. I’ve been using Scrivener, which I really like for formatting and ease of story organization but good grief… the amount of errors that flashed up on the screen once I copied it in to Word was just plain disconcerting, given it was something I thought I had made a substantial amount of read-thrus on.
I’m not sure how to rationalize my work flow now. I like the way the manuscript program organizes, but if everything ultimately ends up in Word… why waste time going back and forth? It seems like extra busy work .
Very soon we’ll be wrapping up the graphics portion of the document and then it will be proof time! I can’t wait to get a copy in my hot little hands, though I’m sure the minute I open it up I’ll see 20 more glaring mistakes that mysteriously weren’t there the last 30 times I looked.
But it’s getting close… so close I can almost read it.
May 29, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, book, CreateSpace, novel, perserverence, publishing, self publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
I disavow any knowledge of April. It’s dead to me. Water under the bridge. A pillar of salt in the rear view mirror, if I was to look…
ABNA was the least of my obstacles this past month. (There I go immediately talking about what I just swore I wasn’t going to talk about…) April really doesn’t deserve a recap, so it’s not going to get one. I will just bask in the sunny glory that is May for today, and savor it. The light is at the end of the tunnel and a little mental recoup is hopefully on its way.
It finally quit snowing… for a few days… I’ll take what I can get at this point. Any day I don’t have to scrape off my windshield is a good day at this point. All of this may have been telling me that I need to revisit my first complete NaNo (that rarely gets talked about and/or admitted to): Mother Nature, Inc. It’s been sitting in the shame pile for a couple years now but never quite quit nagging at me. Might be time to give it a fresh look and a serious scrubbing.
As always, too many ideas, not enough time. But now I can make espresso at home… who needs sleep?
May 1, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: abna 2013, author, blog, NaNoWriMo, perserverence, writer, writing | Leave a comment
I’ve taken the better part of the day to mull over my thoughts on this morning’s list.
I didn’t make the cut.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was a complex mixture of disappointed, unsurprised, and relieved. In my mind, I made it about as far as I expected/hoped to go. The feedback was fairly positive overall, even my final review. Sure, I’ll wonder why I didn’t make it and why others did. That’s human nature, but really… it doesn’t matter. It was a lesson that gave me nothing to lose.
There is no negative outcome for this, which is the great part. I made it far enough to get some decent feedback, and I didn’t have to pay a cent. Complete strangers told me what my close friends had been trying to get me to believe all along. And I won’t lie, it felt good.
Maybe I was a lucky one, even in losing. I saw some of the reviews that came in… there was some tough loved dished out here and there. I had my critiques, but they weren’t unfounded.
Well… except for the one that said I had a foul mouth. *mwah*
Within 10 minutes of getting the news, I was letting my dear photographer Shane know to put the new book cover on the top of his to-do list. Problem is, I’m too much of a designer and I have a vision for this production. Sure it would have been great to be published, but I have ideas… bigger than just pages and pages of text. I’m not sure I would have taken well to middle management telling me ‘Oh yeah, that’s sweet that you have cover art all worked out, but this is what you’re getting.’ Not for this one, the next one maybe, but not this one.
This one is mine.
April 16, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: abna 2013, amazon, author, blog, book, book competition, novel, paper, perserverence, publishing, writer, writing | 2 Comments
Patience is not one of my virtues. Well, not many things are, but patience is right up the top of the ‘not’ list. I’d even say it’s my #1 non-virtue.
Tomorrow marks the next cut in Amazon’s ABNA 2013. This time it’s the semi-finals. I’m not going to lie, it’s a big cut and it’s a scary one. My odds at this point are 1 in 100. Though technically I think they’re 1 in 95. The unexpected twist (as opposed to the expected twist?) was that today I happened to find that… the Publishers Weekly reviews were posted. Ahead of schedule… BUT… and this is a Sir Mix-a-Lot big kind of but… the cut list doesn’t come out until tomorrow.
So here I am, with a fresh review that I can fixate on, and no clear direction as to my fate. The review was pleasantly pleasant. No outright raving, but no cursing me to a fate of never touching a pen again either. After a month of eager anticipation, I get to wait a little more.
This is how tomorrow likely plays out… I go to work, get my coffee, sit down to check my emails and take a deep breath, nonchalantly going to the ABNA page. I breathe a sigh of expectant semi-relief as I see they’re not there yet.
And then I proceed to refresh the page for 4 more hours… while trying to maintain the illusion of working. Eventually, the page will change, and I will freeze in my tracks, body flushing with anxious anticipation. More than likely, my boss or coworkers will pick this exact moment to ask me a question, or buzz me for a phone call. It will likely be a complicated question involving lots of nitpicky details. I will nod blankly, pretending to acknowledge them, as I click the link for the list, all the time in my head repeating *no whammies no whammies no whammies,* peering through the corner of my eye while I try my best to get them to go away in a speedy manner.
The list won’t be long. I’ll probably have to look a few times, just to be sure. If I’m not there, I’ll check again. If I am there, I’ll check twice, convincing myself that I actually remember how to spell my own name and book title. I will have to print the page out either way, just to be sure.
And then I’ll space out for about 30 minutes. I hope my boss is more virtuous than I am.
April 15, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: abna 2013, amazon, author, book competition, publishing, writer, writing | Leave a comment
When the pressure builds exponentially, and the chaos turns to white noise, this is the dead calm. When the little distractions and annoyances fall away, leaving you with the meat of the problem, a semblance of direction and a path of action, this is the dead calm.
A nemesis identified in the eye of the storm gives you no path of retreat. Surrounded and poised for action, your only option is to dig in and overcome; there is no choice, there is no hiding.
Face it. Take it on. Persevere.
Perseverance has been the theme of the new year. As much as I had hoped 2013 would issue in a phase of ease after the debacle that was 2012, it just hasn’t happened. There have been moments of stumbling, moments of feeling overwhelmed and swallowed up by the evolution of life. But even the spider climbed and re-climbed the spout when it needed to. I could do without the Sisyphean tasks, but I really have no choice.
Onward, I roll.
April 11, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: difficulty, evolution, nemesis, perserverence, sisyphus, writing | Leave a comment
Use your time wisely.
April 10, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: advice, blog, motivation, writing | Leave a comment
First of all, for all those brought here looking for leathers and feathers, this is not about you. Sorry, that’s a whole other post. I’m talking about good old, self controlled, nose to the grindstone discipline. The kind that motivates you to do what you do, to make yourself better, to hone your skills and to get into a good habit.
Habit’s are hard. It’s hard to kick bad ones and even harder to start good ones. That New Year’s resolution you made to eat better, exercise more, be nicer to you coworkers? How’s that going right about now? No matter how good your intentions, it’s often tough to carve out time to sit down, focus and commune with your inner Muse. Muse’s are fickle beasts, but you have to feed them often or else they’re hell to lure back off of the sofa from their piles of bacon and duck based reality TV. They need action, and so do you!
Less talk, more action.
Call it what you want, but I like that as an inspirational slogan. I find myself sometimes caught in what one friend refers to as: analysis paralysis. It happens when I’m picking out a new computer, it happens when I’m looking for the perfect pair of black boots, and it happens when I’m trying to put a story together in my head. A million variations of ‘If this, then that…’ drone on in my brain, driving me to the point of fatigue. Two hours later I look up, no resolution has been made, and I’m ready for bed.
It’s easy to over think things or to over discuss things. Sometimes this is a good trait, if you can thoroughly go through your options but… and this is a BUT…. you need to know when to stop and make a decision. Nothing creative will ever truly be ‘finished.’ There is always more that could be done, tweaked, moved, streamlined, polished… sometimes you just have to accept your idea and act on it.
The difference between a writer and a wanna-be writer? Writers write. It’s just that simple.
Maybe it’s notes on the back of a receipt, maybe it’s a text to yourself on the phone, maybe it’s a whole day of pouring your soul out into a blank journal, any way you cut it, it’s progress. Don’t assume you’ll just remember things later… as confident as we are in our memory skills, there’s always something ready and willing to pop up like a weed in the place of the masterful idea you once had while in yoga, but never bothered to jot down.
So get off your ass, sit your ass down and put the thoughts into corporeal form. Don’t make me have to crack that whip.
It’s Mz. Alton, if you’re nasty.
April 5, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: author, blog, discipline, inspiration, motivation, resolutions, writer, writing | Leave a comment
I’m a design professional by trade. All you need to know – aside from the fact that it is not fashion related – is that it’s not near as glamorous as people seem to think it should be.
There has always been more than my day job on my mind. For years, I tried to figure out how to channel the thoughts and ideas into a tangible form. Sometimes I cook, sometimes I create, sometimes I write. It’s never enough, my hive is always swirling with ideas, usually at the most inopportune times.
I’ve always been an avid reader, especially as a kid. As an adult I’ve been enjoying revisiting some of the ‘classics’ that I never got to in school, or were considered too scandalous for juvenile consumption. While my reading has always leaned more classic sci-fi and fantasy, I don’t feel the need to emulate my inspiration; I write what comes to me. A healthy nudge comes in handy once in a while, but forcing a story never works.
Dystopia draws me. Ray Bradbury has always been one of my absolute favorites. As a teenager “A Sound of Thunder” made a huge impact on me. As an adult “Fahrenheit 451” did the same. Another early favorite was “The Year When Stardust Fell” by Raymond F. Jones. It’s been a hard one to track down, but it’s worth a read. For years I scoured second hand book sellers just trying to find a legible copy… now it’s on Kindle. Go figure.
Pretty soon we won’t need paper books at all…. but what happens when the power goes out?
April 2, 2013 | Categories: Katherine Alton | Tags: author, bio, dystopia, sci-fi, writing | Leave a comment
This is going to be a short one today, because life has a way of popping up at the most inconvenient times. Personal tragedy of some close friends, and a sun that refuses to shine has me stuck in the philosophical rut of “What’s it all about?”
Why do we do the things we do? The writing, for me, is an outlet. The things that collect in my head in the wee hours and the in between times. I like to share it, if I think it’s something someone else can relate to, or enjoy. And yes, it’s nice to show other people what you’ve made. But money and fame has never been an illusion of mine.
The bottom line is, I do it for me, not them. If you could see my archives, you’d understand. I’ve been writing in a silent collection for years, with no intention of things ever seeing the light of day. But they’re there, for me, as a snapshot of my past, my experiences, and the occasional crazy dream I was able to capture before it slipped away in the morning light.
Maybe it’s a phase that will fall by the wayside when something more “Important” happens in my life, but I don’t think so. It’s how I balance, how I maintain, and how I help myself understand the world around me. A friend recently said to me “What is life, but a series of passing phases?” The point being, indulge the creative urges. Explore yourself, the world around you.
I’ve always been the type that would rather know, than ask “What if?”
April 1, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: balance, creative, philosophy, writing | Leave a comment
The back-lit glow of the tender oregano leaves on my kitchen windowsill catch my eye this morning. As much as I fancy myself a green thumb, I’m surprised that this plant has lasted all season. Every now and then when I’m cooking I grab a few sprigs and toss them in to the daily special, just because I can. It is a picture of both form and function, sitting attractively in in its vintage, green McCoy planter that I scored at a garage sale for a whopping twenty five cents… and then allowed to subsequently fall victim to an over curious puppy who loves to topple over my plant stands.
In recent months I’ve become quite adept at the art of super gluing. I’m sure that will come in handy if I ever have children as well. I try to push out the thoughts of using it to glue their mouths shut or their hands together, though it’s the first thing that comes to mind.
Maybe it’s best I stick to pets.
The weather has turned chill and I find myself quickly seeking solace in comfort food. I love to cook. I love to share. Cooking for one can be sad at best, but I’ve adapted. Right now the smell of garden fresh rosemary and thyme are wafting through my kitchen as my first real attempt at beef stew simmers away quietly on a stove that is a mere year younger than me.
I braved the wet chill outside to harvest the last of the edible items from my garden for this endeavor. A hand full of onions, some sprigs of rosemary and thyme and I was on my way. If I get another nice day, I need to turn the garden over for next year. If there is a next year. Either way, it’s best to be prepared. Unlike the rest of my family, I do not have a rototiller or a plow or a tractor. I have a shovel and my hands.
My garden is not big but it is more than adequate for my needs. Each spring, when the sun first shines, I head out with gloves on, shovel in hand donning a sweatshirt that quickly becomes a tank top once the blood gets pumping. I turn it once. I turn it twice. I turn it three times. The next chance I get, I hoe it, rake it, whatever seems best at the time. And then I turn it again.
A little time getting dirty is very Zen to me. Send me out in the middle of a patch of dirt and I’m a happy girl. If I’m sweaty, smudged with earth and covered in bits of organic material I consider it a happily successful day. It’s more productive than going to a gym and a hell of a lot cheaper than therapy.
I do not like being trapped in suburbia. I’ve tried it. Large tracts of builder homes where a family farm once sat, makes me want to cry. It’s hard to fight your heritage sometimes. I come from a line born of the earth. Living life inside an artificially controlled environment, under the glare of fluorescent lights, does not soothe my soul. Put some sunshine on my shoulders and some grass under my feet and you’ll see the shoulders relax and a smile bubble forth in no time.
Any given day I spend about ninety percent of my time at home in the kitchen. I never go in the living room. I rarely sit at the dining room table. Kitchen and bedroom are the only two rooms I occupy on a consistent basis. I like it here. It’s warm, it’s well lit, and it’s full of food.
Every party I’ve ever had has eventually ended up in the kitchen, no matter how small the kitchen was. Eventually I came to the conclusion that a much better use for the living room furniture would be to move it to the kitchen when it was time to entertain. This idea, while initially met with more than a few quirked eyebrows, was a stunning success. My dream kitchen has room for at least a love seat, if not a sofa in it. My dream living room, I could care less about.
I suppose there should be a chair or two in there, just to keep up appearances.
March 29, 2013 | Categories: Third Life | Tags: earth, garden, green thumb, kitchen, rosemary and thyme, serials, short story, writing | Leave a comment
This life, while well intended, was a matter of necessity and a good bit of dumb luck. My marriage ended badly, as most marriages that end are prone to do. In a classic case of when it rains it pours, this put me in a difficult position at work during a rocky economic time. I tried and tried to make the best of the situation, but as soon as I was almost done jumping through the hoops to get my life back on track, I was downsized. Before I know it I’m joining the growing throngs of thirty-somethings retreating to the safety of their parents basement to regroup in a time of distress. This arrangement never works well for any of the parties involved, as people who have had to live back under their parents wing all well know.
After a brief sentence in the basement of my youth, I took on the daunting task of making the old family homestead once again habitable. Trying to breathe life into a house that was never particularly nice or well constructed ended in futility but succeeded as a stop gap.
I have a million different things on my mind right now. I can’t focus. I did not get the job. I do not have to move in four weeks or less. I still have to give my kitchen a makeover and now my family is fulling embracing my new significant other. Some days I swear I slipped into a bizarro life when I wasn’t paying attention.
I’m getting ahead of myself. I tend to do that. Often the brain works quicker than the fingers or mouth will compensate for. As a result, most days I only get to express every third thing that actually comes to mind. It’s just easier that way. I find people who aren’t used to my… energy… tend to glaze over and reward me with nothing short of the feeling of beating my head against a brick wall. I’ve taken the time to communicate with you, the least you can do is smile and pretend to listen. It’s the pop quiz at the end that always gets them…
Sometimes I’m evil like that.
I had expected this month to turn out much differently. Yes, I’m only five days in, but it’s amazing what a difference a day can make.
My first honest attempt to leave this town behind has been thwarted. This was not pleasant news. The job market is thin at best for my industry and missing out on an honest opportunity is daunting at best. I guess my shock and awe at not only being called once, but being called back a second time should have been a good indicator. Always listen to your gut. Always.
In many ways, I’m breathing a sigh of relief. The acquisition of that job would have meant a month full of frenzy and a winter full of angst. A quick temporary move up to my home town with enough clothes to last me and my pets riding shot gun while simultaneously trying to wrap up the home improvements at my actual home several hours away, list it on the market and wait for it to sell as I start the renovations on an old house I just couldn’t help but get myself in to. Which is not habitable, of course.
I’m sensing a pattern.
Indeed, I was mentally steeling myself for life once again on the open road, mid winter, through the heart and soul of the snow ridden hill country. I was organizing my closet in the slow hours at work, debating what things would be of critical nature to take for the new job and wondering if they had a dress code that would force me to go shopping. Again.
I hate shopping.
March 28, 2013 | Categories: Third Life | Tags: crisis, leaving, old house, serial, short story, unemployment, writing | Leave a comment
I pull off my mirrored sunglasses and pink Harley jacket and sit down at the bar for lunch. It’s only Tuesday but I need a break.
The effeminate bartender in front of me stomps his foot and declares across the bar, “I hate women!” Looking over just a second too late at his new patron.
“Oh, sorry…” he smiles sheepishly.
“It’s o.k., I hate women too.” I flash him a grin and a wink and order my beer.
I shouldn’t be here now. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Though ‘this’ isn’t really a bad place to be. It’s the two year anniversary of the split from my husband and honestly, I don’t need solace or even a shoulder to sniffle on. This makes me smile.
I take a glance around the bar and wonder why everyone in this town has to look like my ex mother in law. A healthy dose of paranoia has kept me looking over my shoulder for the past two years. In truth it was mostly unfounded, but old habits die hard. Every trip out in public starts with a scan of the crowd. Every venture in to the mall veers me far away from her favorite stores and the family’s known haunts. And I don’t go to Wal-Mart unless I absolutely have to. It really doesn’t inconvenience me much, and at this point it’s become a matter of habit. Most days I hardly even notice.
I’ve never seen her. And nowadays I’m not quite sure what I would do if I did. Visions of hair pulling and assault charges danced in my head for the longest time; initiated from either side of the fence. Some days I wake up and hear her being quoted on the local radio. Yeah, that’s a lovely start to the day. She practically runs this town, and I do my best to live under radar.
I take a deep breath and remind myself that all of that unpleasantness was twenty four months and thirty five pounds ago. A bold cropped haircut, some new clothes, and a revived inner confidence that has brought the sparkle back to my smile and I’ve practically put myself into witness protection right before my very eyes.
It was unintentional, I swear. Mostly.
I’ve carved out a nice little life for myself really, despite the odds. Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit. Other times I probably give myself too much. I practically have the American dream. A nice house, built in the twenties, with built ins and beveled glass as far as the eye can see. A spunky, not so little, lab pup waiting at home for me that likes to keep me on my toes by chasing her down for my favorite shoes. Or socks. Or deodorant. My two cats, who at this point have become my longest standing adult relationship, lurk on the radiator boxes at the window sills waiting to watch movies with me or get a belly rub if I feel so generous. When I walk into the kitchen they twist themselves around my ankles and pretend it’s an option for me to walk away.
There’s even a nice little vegetable garden in the back yard that out produces anything I could possibly eat by myself without turning orange from tomato overload. On the weekends I mow my lawn, do my laundry and head to the local butcher shop for a little bit of meat and a lot of gossip. What more could a girl ask for?
And what am I thinking as I sit here? I. Want. Out.
March 27, 2013 | Categories: Third Life | Tags: crisis, serial, short story, writing | Leave a comment
I’m not sure how many notebooks and files I have going at any one given moment, but there are a lot. Half baked ideas, works in progress, bits and pieces of future stories left to germinate between the pages until I can get back to them. Not everything has to be a novel, and that’s ok.
For years, poetry was my thing. When I was in the mood, I could sit down and churn out 5 to 10 poems in a row, as fast as I could write, on a variety of topics. This was in the ‘old’ days. The days when you carried a journal, or a at least a pen, picking up bits of scrap paper, receipts, napkins, whatever was handy when inspiration struck. Even with electronic storage at my fingertips, I still do that a lot of the time. Every so often I have to empty out my purse and jacket pockets and carefully sort through all the scraps of paper, to make sure I’m not losing a future punchline or writing prompt. It’s not pretty.
In an effort to contain and sustain this habit, I will soon be launching (read as: once I beat the formatting into submission) Katherine’s Serials. The intention is to provide an outlet for the less than novel length creations that storm their way out of my mind, demanding attention.
They can’t wait to meet you.
March 27, 2013 | Categories: Blog, Serials | Tags: paper, poetry, stories, writing | Leave a comment
In late January I received a shared link from a friend of mine on Facebook about an upcoming novel competition being hosted by Amazon. I had somehow never heard of it before. Scanning the link I realized that the day it started was THAT day.
My manuscript at that point had been edited and read over by others twice, but the compilation of the final edit and formatting had not yet been done. I had been slowly navigating the path of preparation for self-publishing for my first true, full length novel, Houses of the Broken, but I had been taking my time.
The story had sat and brewed in my head for a couple of years before finally deciding to pour itself out on to the page during NaNoWriMo 2011. It wasn’t my first successful NaNo but it was the first one I’d like to actually admit to in the light of day.
There I sat, well over a year later, with a 3/4 edited manuscript in my hands, wondering if I could beat the submission deadline.
I went for it.
One very intense weekend later, I submitted it, pitch and all. I’d never done a pitch before and I agonized over it. “But the suggestions in the instructions aren’t even anything close to the examples of the previous winners…” I lamented over and over to my friends kind enough to listen. My network of very tolerant and supportive friends/critics indulged my madness and offered suggestions as I wrote, and revised, and revised some more, a pitch that would get me through the door. (Not meant to rhyme, I swear… but it may be a good incantation to recite for future pitch-writing sessions…)
I’m proud to say that I am currently a Quarter Finalist in the Mystery/Thriller segment of Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards 2013.
My submission excerpt for Houses of the Broken can be found on Amazon.
I’m thrilled to have made it as far as I have so far, but even if I don’t advance another round, I’m still planning on pursuing the self-publishing route for this piece, and I plan to document some of the highlights (and lowlights) along the way.
In the mean time, check out the Gallery for Houses of the Broken. My very talented friend, Shane Montross, worked along with me as I wrote the novel, shooting an image every day for the content I had written the day before. You can find Shane Montross Photography here.
Until the next deadline I wait, and I write.
March 25, 2013 | Categories: Blog | Tags: book, novel, photographs, publishing, writing | 3 Comments