Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Did someone say 'NaNoWriMo?' -- Some help to get you started

The time is nearly upon us!

For my fellow writers, you know what's coming in November: National Novel Writing Month. This annual challenge isn't for the feint of heart. It takes a lot of commitment and stubbornness to write 50,000 words of your novel in one month. But I have faith in you, and if you continue reading, I have some advice to help you prepare.

While my first attempt in 2010 was a disaster, I think I've learned a lot since them. I drafted my second and third books (still unpublished) in November the last two years, and, believe it or not, I'm ready to tackle book four. But just because I'm writing a book in a month doesn't mean I can't start inventing now. So, where to begin, you may ask?

The first thing you need is an idea. It can be anything, really. Sometimes I recycle ideas I've come up with in the past but never fleshed out. But if that doesn't work, you can find inspiration from dreams, other books or movies, real life, or other authors such as yours truly.

Next, start with something simple -- a basic outline. My friend Brandy M. Miller wrote a blog entry that I found very helpful in my "plotting" last year: http://40daywriter.com/preparing-for-nanowrimo-2014/. In fact, I timed myself using her method and found it didn't take me much time at all to come up with my starting point.

Her next blog entry (http://40daywriter.com/preparing-for-nanowrimo-2014-part-2/) gives you a format for fleshing out more of your characters and story outline. I found it really helped having a play-by-play for each character in each section of my book. Of course, they probably won't go with the plan anyway when the actual writing begins, but at least you can try.

The final steps Brandy suggests were ones I never got to last year, but think would have saved me from having to stitch a lot of plot holes after the fact: http://40daywriter.com/preparations-for-nanowrimo-part-3/. This entry deals with questions.

Of course, remember that a first draft is always far from perfect. And the editing is always the hardest part. Still, I'm intrigued to begin again this year and see how everything pans out.

Until next time.
Heather Kennison, Author

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sixty-three percent

Hello, faithful blog readers!

I realized I have been obsessing over a percentage. Today when someone asked me how things were going on my next book, I answered that I am 63% of the way through the rewrite. You see, I've calculated that I need to rewrite roughly 3% of my book each night in order to reach my goal. And my current goal (so I've informed my writer's group) is to reach 80% by August 29. It's been a while since I've done the math, and I've skipped a day here and there -- and will miss more due to an upcoming wedding -- but overall I'm sticking with my 3%.

But here's the problem: the 3% of Chapter 16 might be a whole lot easier than the 3% of Chapter 22, for example. So some parts slow me down, while others I breeze through. I'm just hoping that if I keep my eye on the goal, I'll get there. Don't give up on me yet.

In the meantime, I am also needing to rewrite my Western short story, which you will be seeing sometime before "Shifter" comes out.

Also, I wanted to say two final things. First, a reminder that "Shifter" is not intended for the same audience as "Dragon's Destiny"--so I do not recommend it for children younger than 13, but I think anyone in high school or older will be able to appreciate the themes as well as the mild adult content (language, etc.). Secondly, thank you, thank you, thank you for anyone who's bothered to (or plans to) leave a review of "Dragon's Destiny" on Amazon! You guys are amazing!

Heather Kennison

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

It's been one year!

Fifty-two weeks ago at this time, I was nervously answering questions from my future readers during a release day event for Dragon's Destiny. It's hard to believe how time flies.

And yet, despite having a year's experience under my belt, I'm still new to self-publishing. Just today, I discovered a clever marketing scheme that might help me with my next book if I decide to self-publish again. In the world of authors, I'm very much still considered an amateur. Everyone's got to start somewhere.

Tonight I'd like to reflect on the origins of Dragon's Destiny. The idea for the story originally came to me in high school, and somehow I knew even then that it would be my first book. It had potential, but it wasn't ready yet. The story was originally set in modern times on Earth, where Amadeus was able to pass off his birthmark as a tattoo. However, I knew later that this time period and setting didn't quite fit with my plot.

It took me several years to start writing down my idea, when the Inklings Theme House at Whitworth University inspired me to tackle National Novel Writing Month. I wrote about half of the book, and quit there. Fortunately for my readers, that wasn't the end. I'd begun and never completed several novels before, but Dragon's Destiny was different. It was the Elko County Writers, over a year later, who inspired me to finish this time around.

Interestingly enough, "the dragon" -- the unnamed entity mentioned throughout the book -- was never a part of my original story. To this day, it's hard to explain where he came from. The character of "the dragon" was developed from my beliefs and faith in God, and everything fell into place from there. I remember writing the dream scenes and secretly hoping I, too, would be granted a vision from the dragon. Alas, I was not so fortunate. Instead, I found the dragon in my book granted me many insights about life and faith that I'd never had before.

While Dragon's Destiny definitely has themes of faith and fate, I believe it has something for everyone regardless of their personal beliefs. If you are a Christian, however, I would encourage you to look a little deeper into the messages behind Dragon's Destiny -- maybe you'll reach the same conclusions I did.

Finally, if you haven't read my book yet, now is a great time. Dragon's Destiny is available on Kindle for free now through Friday. Get it here:

As always, thanks for reading.

Until next time,
Heather Kennison, Author

Monday, June 22, 2015

Baby steps

It's been a while since I've updated you on my progress, so I'll let you know how things are moving along.

I hit another wall in my writing. This was caused by a combination of doubts, chronic headaches and back pain, more doubts, excuses, and feelings of being overwhelmed. In short, I tried to bite off more than I could chew and life made me slam on the brakes.

So, moving forward. I am working week-by-week to make sure I accomplish something in "Shifter." Rewriting is taking a lot longer than I anticipated or even remembered, but I am getting there. I have a plan, I just need a deadline. Will get back to you on that later.

In the meantime, I thought I would write to let you know that I do not market myself as a "children's author." Many will find that my first book, "Dragon's Destiny," is appropriate and enjoyed by children as young as 7 or 9 years old. However, because some of the themes explored are large in nature, my recommended reading level is around 12 and older.

On that note, "Shifter" is not intended for children or young adults under the age of 16 or 17. There are no "explicit" scenes in it, but there are certain themes and actions by the main character that are not appropriate for young people. I will do my best to make this obvious when the book comes out, but in the meantime, if you know any kids who enjoyed my first book then please tell them to skip "Shifter." My following book, "Royal Blood," will be more appropriate and enjoyable for them.

My next plan of action is to continue tackling "Shifter" -- as well as a short Western-themed story -- in small pieces. Baby steps, as they say. It's all gonna be worth it in the end.

Until next time,
Heather Kennison -- Author

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Shifting gears

I've got good news and bad news. Let's start with the good news first.

Having reached a stumbling block in my rewrite of "Shifter," a friend of mine offered to read it and give me some advice. I am very thankful she did, and I know it's going to be a better story in the end. I'm actually excited to be making some of the changes and adding some new scenes.

Here's the bad news: Rewriting and editing are hard. And it's even harder to motivate myself to start doing them again, as anxious as I am to see the end product. Whenever I try, I find myself groaning to do something else.

My temporary solution is to step back from it -- a bit. In the meantime, I have been working on a short story and making minor changes to "Royal Blood" in hopes to finish it. Once I get excited about writing again, I think it'll be easier to deal with my problem child ("Shifter"). And I promise, I won't take too long!

Until next time,
Heather Kennison, Author

Monday, March 9, 2015

Soundtrack for 'Shifter'

Sorry, blog readers. I've been avoiding you.

You see, I've never really been all that good at blog posts. After a while, it begins to feel kind of like a second job, and I weary of it. So I try avoiding it at all costs, but that only makes it worse. It keeps nagging at me until I do something, and when I finally do post something, I feel so accomplished that I reward myself with laziness. I think I will refer you to Hyperbole and A Half's "This is why I'll never be an adult" for a better, accurate description of how this works in people like me.

Moving on. I've decided to have a little more fun with this post, and then maybe it will lead to more consistent updates in the future. I'm currently rewriting the last 44 (and counting) pages of Shifter. Every now and then, I hear a song on the radio that reminds me of my main character. So I decided to do a little "soundtrack" of music that fits in with my book. In return, I'm hoping it'll give me the power to plow ahead through the end.

Each of these songs touches upon some character or struggle in my book. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here it is:

1. Hazard to Myself -- Pink
2. One of These Days -- Tim McGraw
3. Bitch -- Meredith Brooks
4. Apres Moi -- Regina Spektor
5. Some Enchanted Evening -- from South Pacific
6. Hello, Dolly! -- from the musical
7. Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend -- Marilyn Monroe
8. Roar -- Katy Perry
9. Break Your Heart -- Taio Cruz
10. Rhythm of Love -- Plain White T's
11. Beautiful Monster -- Ne-Yo
12. Heartless -- Kanye West
13. Just Give Me A Reason -- Pink
14. Coin-Operated Boy -- The Dresden Dolls
15. Complicated -- Avril Lavigne
16. I'm With You -- Avril Lavigne
17. Breathe -- Anna Nalick
18. Unwritten -- Natasha Bedingfield
19. Beautiful Disaster -- Jon McLaughlin

That's all for now, though I'm sure I'll be updating this later as things come up. In the meantime, feel free to enjoy the soundtrack in ancipation of the book!

Heather Kennison,