Kat's Blog

Kat's Blog

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Bash Rolls On

Hey! Where's my burger? Darn barbecue thief! Anyway, while I go hunt down the sneak who took my burger, please say hi to Gwen Miller! Welcome to the party Gwen.:-)

1: How did you start writing? 

Believe it or not, I started by writing letters.  One of the earliest contests I won was in sixth grade.  We were planning a field trip to the local dairy and my letter of inquiry to the dairy was chosen to be sent to the dairy.  I then moved to essays, and won a Voice of Democracy contest.  From there I wrote and presented messages, as part of a  student panel to a district PTA gathering, as speaker in our local Methodist Youth Fellowship sunrise service, as Missionary President to monthly church services, and finally as a Retirement Seminar presenter for Federal Employees.  

When I received letters, I noticed how they all asked about what I was doing and never told me what they were doing.  So when I wrote back, I told them.  Sometimes my letters were thirteen pages long!

I was always a reader.  So early in our marriage, I figured maybe, as a stay-at-home mom, I could help with finances through writing stories.  Sorry to say, pay does not accompany rejections slips.  I took several writing courses, but the only thing I actually sold before MuseItUp accepted All Because of Chickens was a crossword puzzle to “Wee Wisdom Magazine.”

2: What is the one thing you most enjoy about writing?

The play of words.  I will often rewrite sentences many times till I get just the words that convey the emotion or atmosphere I am trying to convey.  Oh, not all at once.  But every time I re-read after a cooling off period, I usually come up with a word that gives a better tone to the scene I am trying to create.

Least enjoy?

Besides the rejections slips?  I’d say the re-reading.  I do not mind the constant editing, but by the time a story is published, it has often been re-read maybe fifty times.  I found I actually got sick and tired of reading my own creation!  Maybe this is one of the reasons writers spend so much time reading other writers; the refreshing and rejuvenating it gives.

3: If you could go back in time and talk to anyone, who would you speak to?



I would love to hear His voice, listen to Him laugh, see His miracles, watch Him interact with the children, see His compassion with the sick, look into His eyes, and tell Him I love Him.

4: When you write do you plot out the story or do you let your muse run wild?

I start with an overall idea.  Then things happen; an act, a word, and expression, or an idea for a scene.  Sometimes this happens over a short period of time, sometimes over years—twenty or thirty.  I often write these down, but I also do a great deal of this in my head before I ever even start to get the project on paper.  But when I do start the actual writing, I will arrange and rearrange scenes and incidents to make them more natural.  I have also had the thrill of experiencing my characters actually “writing the scene” for me.  That’s fun!

5: Tell us a bit about your book.

It’s about twelve year old Sammy who is thrilled that they are moving back to the family homestead and heritage—farming.  But Dad’s ultimatum “…no crops, no animals, no barn…” shows Dad wants nothing to do with farming—either for himself or Sammy.  So why did Dad insist Sammy join a farming club?  When permission slips for Ag club summer projects are due, Sammy defends his project choice with “Technically, Dad, chickens are birds, not animals.”
Sammy’s problems begin with the early arrival of his peeps and the loss of his best pals.  His ingenuity to care for his chicks, make a new friend, and design a compost bin win him a new name.  His biggest challenge—can he butcher, then eat, his roosters?
Summer’s many adventures include solving a mystery, fighting a hawk and being disqualified at the County Fair. 
At the end of the project, has he won…or lost…the thing he wanted most—Dad’s change of heart about farming?

6: What inspired the story?

As an avid reader myself, I was appalled that the boys in our family did not enjoy reading.  That included not only our sons when they were young, but our grandsons.  I thought they might enjoy a “fun,” boy-centered story, centered on our own chicken raising project.  Our project was not connected to an Ag club, but to my love of home canning.

I was an avid canner and liked to do one new thing each year.  A friend of ours introduced me to home-canned chicken, and I wanted to try it.  And what better way than to “grow our own” chickens?  Since we lived in town, my husband fought the idea for a couple years with his winning argument being “We live in the city, they wouldn’t allow it.”  Bless the neighbor who pointed out the city line ran between our house and the neighbor’s; we were the first house in the county.  Needless to say, my husband lost his argument.

When we got the chickens our younger son took them over.  He would even go into their coop (yes it was an a-frame, built by our older son) and watch them lay eggs!  A lot of the happenings are some of our actual experiences, some were stories told to me by our neighbors about their experiences.  And one was based on our daughter’s high school science project with a baby peep.

7: Is this a series or a stand alone novel?

It started out as a stand-alone novel.  But since then I have had several ideas for additional novels growing from the original.  So far, there is one follow-up in progress, with ideas for two to four more.  And, no, I don’t think it will take twenty years to develop the sequels, at least, I hope not!

8: What advice would you give an author just starting out?

Don’t give up.  And develop a filing system early!  Over fifty years, I have bits and pieces written for story ideas—on envelopes, napkins, odd pieces of papers—whatever I could grab.  As these ideas would develop, along came more envelopes, napkins—well you get the picture.  I am currently trying to sort through a big box of pieces and putting them into labeled file folders. 

9: How do you balance writing with the demands of everyday life?

Not very well, actually.  Writing is very time consuming—at least it is for me.  I will spend a good eight to twelve hour day, or maybe a couple days, writing a single two to three thousand word chapter.  My friend, Lois, will read it in—what, less than an hour?—and give me a critique.  If I could just write as fast as she reads!!

Sometimes I resent that I have to sleep, cook, eat, do dishes, weed flowers, clean house, do laundry, shop—you know, live life!

10: How much research do you do for your writing?

Well, so far, I would say not too much.  A lot of All Because of Chickens was just relying on what I knew, although there was a little research.  Over seventy years of living has given me a wealth of resources to draw from.  Its sequels, however, may take a fair amount of research, since I am going to have to rely more on the experience and knowledge of others.

11: If you met a genie, what 3 things would you wish for? Why?

I haven’t the slightest idea.  There are so many needs in this world, how could I choose?
World peace, healing of the sick, and that the USA would return to putting God first, though would, I believe, be priority.  Then I think everything else would take care of itself.

12: What is the one thing about the writing world that most surprised you?

The comradery between authors, at least the MIU authors.  They are an extended family, eager to help, encourage, sympathize, lift up and pray for each other.  Much different from the cut-throat competition I expected.

13: What are you currently working on?

A light romance, which is almost done; a sequel for Chickens which is half done; and seeking a publisher for a couple finished children’s picture book.  These are the pen and paper (really, computer) ones.  Mentally, I am working on a Young Adult anthology I would like to see become a television series…how’s that for reaching for the stars?...and  a Bible study course.

14: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

Read, visit with family and friends, sew, knit, remodel our home, bake, cook, can, watch movies…oh, a host of things.

15: What is the one thing you’d like people to know about you?

Maybe that I am more than my writing?  I have fond memories of growing up in a small town in a very different era, the thrill of travel, interesting employment, fun hobbies, joys and sorrows, loves and hates.  I love to reminisce and share with those who like to listen. 

5 Bonus Questions

16: What’s your favorite color?

That is difficult.  Color, shades and hues, is something that attracts me, that I delight in.  But if I have to pick one, I would say blue.

17: What’s your favorite food?

I have an eclectic taste in food, too.  Oriental, Italian, old-fashioned regular food…roasts, chicken, stews.  And of course, deserts!  And I love salads.  But I guess I would have to say my most favorite is bread, especially fresh bread.  

18: Favorite TV show?

My all-time favorite is “Murder She Wrote.” That is the one that keeps me writing.  But close behind is “NCIS.”  I even relish the reruns! 

19: Favorite Movie?

This one is harder to pin down.  “Happy Feet,” “Ratatouille,” “While You Were Sleeping,” “Picture Perfect (with Richard Karn),” “Borrowed Hearts,” “Independence Day,” “Hunt for Red October,” “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “You’ve Got Mail.”  I play my favorites over and over.

20: Favorite Song?

“You Raised Me Up,” has special meaning for me.  It rang in my head constantly as a witness of the prayers for my husband and me while he was in hospital away from home and I was staying with him.  And I love the rhythm of “Deep Calls to Deep.”

MuseItUp Publishing


Barnes and Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/all-because-of-chickens-gl-            miller/1117251890?ean=2940045348300 


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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer Bash Rolls On

This week for the bash is something different. My good friend Sara Jayne Townsend is stopping by and she's talking about cultural displacement. Hi Sara and thanks for being here.:-)

By Sara Jayne Townsend

I was ten years old when I moved with my family from the UK to Canada.  To me, this strange new country was like an alien world.  I was told that everyone spoke English, but it sounded like a foreign language and I couldn’t understand what anyone said.  They all told me I had a funny accent.  I thought they were the ones with the funny accent.  They had perplexing words for things.  Their leisure activities were strange.  No one could understand how it could be that I’d never been on a pair of ice skates in my life, and they yelled at me when I played baseball wrong (I was playing rounders, which I thought was the game we were playing.  The equipment is the same but the rules are different).

There were too many changes for me to be able to deal with, at that age, and I rebelled against it by resisting as many changes as possible.  I insisted on spelling things the English way, and at age 11 had an argument with my teacher when he marked incorrect my spelling of ‘tyre’ – which to me was the correct English spelling, not ‘tire’ as the Canadians spelled it.

Only when I moved back to England at age 18, after high school, did I realise how Canadianised I’d become, despite my resistance to becoming so.  People kept asking me what part of the States I was from, despite my being ridiculed in Canada for my ‘funny’ British accent.  And despite feeling that I’d moved back home, I still felt I didn’t really belong.

I found out years later that this feeling of alienation in a different culture is known as cultural displacement.  It’s about more than just speaking with a particular accent.  It’s about the cultural references you grow up with; the shared knowledge that is an inherent part of your childhood.  Canadian kids are all put on ice skates as soon as they learn to walk, and everyone knows how to play baseball by the time they start school.  I came to Canada and entered school in grade five.  It never occurred to anyone that I might not know how to play baseball, or that I might never have been on ice skates before, because these things are such an ingrained part of Canadian culture no one thinks twice about them.

When I created my amateur sleuth Shara Summers, I decided to draw on these feelings of cultural displacement.  Shara has a British mother and a Canadian father; she is British born but has lived in Canada much of her life and has a Canadian identity.  At the start of the first book she is living in Toronto but goes to England because of a family crisis, and she ends up deciding to move back to England permanently.

I always had a notion that throughout the series, Shara will observe those little cultural differences between the two countries she is connected to.  Some of those are down to language (diaper vs nappy; elevator vs lift, etc).  But there are other things too – things you don’t notice when you’re a native of a particular country, but you do if you are an outsider.  The fact that Canadians always take off their shoes when they enter someone’s house – in Britain this is generally not expected.  The fact that when you are on an escalator in London you stand on the right hand side, and if you stand on the left you can expect to get shoved out of the way by someone in a hurry.  The fact that Canadian beer – which the British would define as lager – is always served cold.  Beer in Britain can be ale, which is stronger than lager, brewed differently and generally served at room temperature.  Wedding cakes in Britain are traditionally fruit cake.  Canadians collectively dislike fruit cake and most wedding cakes are sponge.

I dealt with my feelings of cultural displacement by transferring them to my amateur sleuth.  I hope having a foot in both countries makes her unique in the world of amateur sleuths.  In the real world, the person she has the most in common with is me.  But I was always considered a bit odd anyway, in both the countries I am connected to.

I don’t mind these days if people think I’m a bit odd.  The world is all the richer for its differences.

The Issue of Body

I don't normally rant but I can't take it anymore. First, Fox News calls Robin Williams a coward, hoping to use his tragic death for their own political agendas, and now this. Is Fox News just chock full of insensitive creeps?

Now, regardless of your political leanings, whether you support or are against the Obama administration, this is beyond contempt. Most people know that for the duration of her time as first lady, Michele Obama has been a public speaker about the need for better nutrition in our schools to combat obesity. It's a very important cause to her.

Fox news was apparently talking about nutrition in schools and then said Michele is fat and needs to lose weight. WHAT? Are you serious. Check out these two pics of Michele and tell me she's overweight.

I wish I was just mad at Fox but I'm not. This society as a whole is filled with creeps who make women...yes WOMEN...hate themselves. Ashley Judd was publicly persecuted for having a puffy face, Lady Gaga had the press salivating when she put on weight, and frankly every woman on earth is bombarded with the idea that if they aren't a size zero they're fat and ugly and not worth anything.

These two pictures are of me when I was 18. Not bad huh?

I weighed 140 pounds which turned out to be my ideal weight. But I loathed myself and felt fat and ugly. Now looking back I honestly think I looked pretty darn good. But I couldn't see it. I didn't look like Cindy Crawford or Christie Brinkley so therefore I was ugly.

Here's what I look like now.

Yes, I am overweight. I admit it. I weigh 260. But before you judge me and say that's what I get for stuffing my face I don't eat that much. I have hives and the only thing that controls them is a steroid called prednisone. It's horrible stuff with a lot of side effects, one of which is massive weight gain.

And once you've been on it and gained weight you can't seem to lose it no matter what you do. I swim a lot, but I have never lost a pound of the weight the drug has caused me.

However, I can guarantee people who look at me will see only the weight and will snicker and call me names behind my back. It will never occur to them that I and many others aren't overweight due to poor eating habits, but medical issues.

It's easy to judge, but one day it can just as easily be you. And frankly, I think instead of putting women down because we aren't Twiggy, maybe instead we should consider who people are. We aren't our bodies. So stop judging us by them.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Back To The Bash!

The bash is back and this week helping us to party is Susan Royal. Hi Susan and welcome.:-)

1: How did you start writing?
I can honestly say I never remember a time when I wasn’t making up my own stories, writing them down and illustrating them. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was listening to tales passed down by my mother, my father and my grandmothers.

2: What is the one thing you most enjoy about writing? Least enjoy? What I like the most is creating worlds filled with diverse characters who have fascinating adventures in places I would love to explore. What I like the least is the tedium of editing under a deadline. I begin to second guess everything I do.

3: If you could go back in time and talk to anyone, who would you speak to? Why?
I would love to talk to Ray Bradbury. The man painted pictures with words. He made fictional Greentown Illinois so real I wanted to live there. Another man I’d love to visit with is Mark Twain, because I love his wit.

4: When you write do you plot out the story or do you let your muse run wild? I start out with research, notes and character sketches, along with a very loose outline of what I EXPECT to happen. When I begin writing, it could go anywhere from there.

5: Tell us a bit about your book. From Now On is the second in a series titled It’s About Time. It takes place on the Isle of Man in a medieval world. Griffin has traveled across centuries to reunite with the woman he loves, but he and Erin may not get their ‘happy ever after’. Not if Lady Isobeil has anything to do with it. She forces Griffin to leave Erin behind and travel to eerie Manx Island. When he goes missing, Erin and his friends set out to find him. Followed by his strong-willed sister, Kateryn, they ride to Swansea and secure passage with the notorious Captain Akin.
     Erin sees firsthand how the island earned its dark reputation when she battles freakish weather, encounters a race of little people known as “Prowlies”, and experiences ghosts of the long departed. She discovers “ley lines” crossing the island’s mountain peak and making time travel possible. 
     Yet these obstacles pale in comparison to the secrets Erin uncovers while determined to rescue the man she loves

6: What inspired the story? I love the idea of time travel. Imagine finding yourself transported to another time. There’s something about the idea of getting up close and personal with the way things are. Experiencing them for yourself. Just thinking about it gives me goose bumps.

7: Is this a series or a stand alone novel? This book is the second in the series It’s About Time, but it can be read as a standalone. Frankly, I never intended to write a sequel until my daughter read the book, called me up and said, “This can’t be all. There’s more story to tell. You need to write a sequel!” She was right. And I’m just getting started. I’ve got folders full of ideas for my next installment.

8: What advice would you give an author just starting out? Join a critique group, go to conferences, enter short story contests, write, edit-edit-edit, submit and never ever give up.

9: How do you balance writing with the demands of everyday life? I try to spend several nights each week at the computer instead of watching television. I set mini-goals. Sometimes I come in from my day job and tell my husband “I’ve got to write tonight…you’re in charge of supper…I’ll see you at 10 pm or I have to take a break from writing, because I need to spend time with the family.

10: How much research do you do for your writing? I’ve done tons and guess what? I LOVE it. It helps to give me a feel for the era I’m writing in, whether I use it in the story or not

11: If you met a genie, what 3 things would you wish for? Why? I wish I’d gotten serious about writing at a younger age, I wish there were more hours in a day and I wish everyone had a family as supportive as my husband, kids and grandkids.

12: What is the one thing about the writing world that most surprised you? If you’re published, everyone assumes you are raking in the money. Authors are very supportive and friendly people.

13: What are you currently working on? I’m about to finish a young adult fantasy about Xander, a little person who solves mysteries.

14: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? I spend time with my children and grandchildren. I have a full time job. We live in an old farmhouse constantly in the state of renovation. I love to repurpose. I love flea markets and garage sales. I have been sewing since I was a young girl. Ditto painting with acrylics. I love photography. Music is another passion. (Now do you understand why I’d like more hours in the day?)
15: What is the one thing you’d like people to know about you? I love to laugh, and I hope my humor shows through in my writing.

5 Bonus Questions

16: What’s your favorite color? Teal, dark Red, Navy, Black

17: What’s your favorite food? Lobster, tacos, hamburgers

18: Favorite TV show? Xfiles, The Walking Dead, CSI,

19: Favorite Movie? Braveheart, Outlander, The 13th Warrior, Timeline, Last of The Mohicans

20: Favorite Song? Just Breathe – Eddie Vedder, Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House, Whatever Makes you Happy - Powderfinger