Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kim Lauer: What is Wrong With All the Self-Publishing?

Kim Lauer: What is Wrong With All the Self-Publishing?: What is wrong with all the self-publishing? Only that I don’t have time to read all these awesome books that intrigue me. I see many indep...

What is Wrong With All the Self-Publishing?

What is wrong with all the self-publishing?
Only that I don’t have time to read all these awesome books that intrigue me.  I see many independent authors advertising their books on their blogs, on twitter, on facebook, and anywhere else they can.  As a result, my attention is continually being grasped by a title or a premise.  I started to actually write the titles down on a scrap piece of paper so that I stopped forgetting them.  I plan on downloading them all and reading them when I finally have some time; maybe during the holidays.
I have read a few already and was privileged to get to write reviews and post the author’s website and twitter address on my blog.  Our electronic age has really made interacting with the author of your favorite books not only a possibility but an enhancement of the reading experience.  I love that I can tweet someone about how much their book moved me.  I am excited knowing that the author can and will read my review.  We can even ask questions and learn more about the motivation and development of our favorite characters.  What people used to have to go to signings and readings for, we can get with clicks of buttons. 
All of this said, I am still trying to get published the old-fashioned way – for now.  Maybe it is because I don’t trust myself to publicize and promote as well as many authors.  Maybe I am still na├»ve about how this all works.  One thing is for sure; I am extremely grateful to all the indie publishers out there.  It is a real pleasure for me to get to read your work and to be able to interact with you online.  Thank you for giving us worlds to explore and lose ourselves in and for taking them time to make us feel like family.
I have a handful of titles I will include in case you want to be as hungry to devour them as I am, but beware!!!  Once you get sucked in there is never enough time to read all the books that look so great.  You can get all of them at amazon or smashwords. 
Cornerstone – Misty Provencher
Frightened Boy – Scott Kelly
New Blood – Paul Dorset
The Paradox Series – Patti Roberts
The Fall of Billy Hitchings –Kirkus MacGowan

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kim Lauer: Review of Farsighted

Kim Lauer: Review of Farsighted: I just finished reading Farsighted by Emlyn Chand. The book is about a blind guy named Alex who starts to have visions of the future. H...

Review of Farsighted

I just finished reading Farsighted by Emlyn Chand.  The book is about a blind guy named Alex who starts to have visions of the future.  He works together with some other psychics to prevent something awful happening to his love interest.  Overall, I enjoyed the book very much.  I loved how the reader was transported into Alex’s world without sight.  The author did a fabulous job of describing things with sounds and smells and touch.  I definitely appreciated this new way of sensing what was going on in the book.  I also felt at times that it was pleasantly ironic to be sort of blind to what was going on in Alex’s glimpses of the future.  This is not an easy task to accomplish for a writer.
I am a youth worker, and as a result I always think about whether I would recommend the book to my youth kids.  I think Farsighted is something they would enjoy.  Alex explores feelings of independence and deals with parental issues that every teen faces.  The book also provides the bit of fantasy and romance that my girls especially enjoy reading about.  I think Farsighted can offer some good discussion about people with disabilities and how they survive “normally” in the world.
The book I am currently working on getting published is about seven kids who find objects that give them supernatural abilities.  I enjoyed reading about Alex and his friends who have special gifts.  I liked how they were living in a very normal world, with classes and parental issues and hormones, but that they also possessed talents that helped them to make a difference in the world.  This theme is something I am trying to portray in my manuscript as well.  I always get nervous when there are books similar to mine, but Ms. Chand’s characters and story are very different than my own, and she possesses a smart, direct writing style that isn’t easily duplicated. 
Thanks, Emlyn, for allowing me to read your manuscript.  I know many people in the online community have been talking about it.  It reminded me of a scene from You’ve Got Mail (yes, I am that old) when a character mentioned that it was like the whole city was talking about Kathleen Kelly that day.  It was like everyone was talking about Farsighted all at once, and I am privileged to be one of them.  I know this isn’t the last we have seen of Ms. Chand, and I will be continuing to follow her and the lovable Farsighted characters. 
You should check them out too!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kim Lauer: Research While Working

Kim Lauer: Research While Working: How lucky am I that my current job allows me to also do research for my books? Before you get too excited and jealous, let me clarify. I...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Research While Working

How lucky am I that my current job allows me to also do research for my books?  Before you get too excited and jealous, let me clarify.  I am not given permission and payment to leave work and do research for my writing.  I am, however, provided with opportunities to research middle school youth and their silly and sweet behaviors on a regular basis.  I am a minister to children and youth, and I write Middle Grade Adventure/Suspense books (with light fantasy).  I am a lucky girl.
This weekend will be one of those times when I get to fully immerse myself in the world of a child.  I am going camping Friday-Sunday with sixteen third-fifth graders.  I am really looking forward to this weekend for many reasons.  I have never done a trip for this age group, so I am excited to get to know these kids better.  I am also pumped about the amount of time we will get to spend in God’s Word together.  Obviously, the writer in me is eager to get to observe and learn from such a magical group of little ones for two whole days. 
I hope to be able to report back on some things that I learn from my fun weekend.  Usually when I set out to do observation and get ideas from the kids, I end up forgetting to take note and get sucked into having a blast.  That, too, is fine with me.  I aim to be a fun adult that the kids can bond with and someone who brings them closer to Jesus.  If I get a little insight into their brains while doing this, all the better.    
I was just feeling blessed today that God allows me to do research for my writing, while fulfilling my current role as a youth minister.  I wanted to share my joy with all of you.  I hope you are feeling affirmed in your current vocation too.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Faking Faith Review

I recently read Faking Faith by Josie Bloss.  I stumbled upon the book when looking for possible agents.  I was immediately drawn to it because of the premise.  A teen girl goes way too far, way too quickly with a boy.  She then is drawn into an online world of super-fundamentalist, homeschooled Christians.  She pretends to be a girl, Faith, with the same beliefs.  This facade eventually provides her with an opportunity to submerse herself into one of the super-Christian girl’s family.  We then see the complete opposite of the dating spectrum, with dating escorts and basically arranged marriages.
I am a youth worker, and so I was interested in reading this book about a girl who pretends to have faith in order to fit in to a world with which she has no experience.  I am also always looking for new ways to discuss dating with my middle school kids.  To be honest, I was apprehensive as I started reading that the Christian girl and her extremely fundamentalist views were going to be made fun of and Christians would, yet again, get a bad name.  I was pleasantly surprised by the honesty and vulnerability of both the protagonist and this Christian girl, Abigail.   Forgiveness and second chances was a major theme in this book, and I appreciated it.
I think it is a great book for teens because it shows both extremes of the dating world.  The main character makes a big mistake and then sees how others are making different missteps by being too strict about dating.  The novel ends with the protagonist finding a healthy view and understanding of dating, and the reader ends up rooting for her and her new love interest.  I would definitely recommend it to my youth kids, and we will be discussing the book further in some upcoming discussions about dating.  I have to just say thank you to Ms. Bloss for not exploiting Christianity and making Abigail so lovable and loving.
You should check out the book too.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Editing That Manuscript...Really Editing

                I recently edited my manuscript, I mean REALLY edited.  It was 152,000, and now it is at 108,089.  It was painful, slow, and consumed most of my thoughts. I took the middle and put it in the beginning.  I then cut a lot of the beginning out, parts I loved about the protagonist.  I then took out some scenes that didn’t really need to be there to support the story.  Some of those particular moments were my favorite.  One character, who I adore, is pretty much just in the background now.  With all that said, the process was also quite rewarding.  My manuscript reads better now, the exciting moments come sooner, and let’s face it…a publisher or agent is more likely to pick it up now with a smaller word count.
                Now I know what editing is and its purpose.  Six months ago I “edited” my first manuscript, which was finally finished.  I ended up adding more description of things, more thoughts of the protagonist, and even more scenes.  I also spent a lot of time taking out and putting back commas.  That was not editing.  What I did this week was, and I am thankful that I finally found the true meaning of the word edit.  I also wish I would have “googled” the word count of some of my favorite novels earlier.  A novice can be easily deceived by page numbers.  I definitely was thinking my book was shorter. 
                This whole process reminded me of something I have learned along the way about God.  He edits us.  Sometimes it is painful, and the whole process can be slow.  It usually consumes all our thoughts and time when God makes changes in our life to help us grow.  The situations are usually the ones that hurt the most, but it is so worth it in the end. 
                My daughter was in the NICU for the first week of her life.  We have ABO incompatibility.  It was the toughest week of my life to watch her get poked and see all those wires connected to her tiny chest.  I could only hold her for about five minutes every day.  It hurt, but so many good things happened as a result of that time.  My relationship with my sister is stronger, and God prepared me more for motherhood during that week than any book ever could. 
                I am thankful that God edits us.  I don’t ever want to be complacent.  I also don’t want to be a 150,000 word manuscript full of a lot of useless and confusing fluff.  I want to be the easily read, fast paced 108,089 book that can’t be put down.  As the author, I also know it needs more editing and can be even more concise.  We’re never finished, and God, thankfully, is never finished with us.
Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God