You read that title right, I’m participating in my first Instagram Hop! If you’re a reader of Romance, of any kind, then this is for you. Look at those prizes! Follow me on IG to see the rules and how to enter @HeatherKarnAuthor. How can anyone pass this up when it’s so easy to enter?
I’ve been wanting to add more topics to my blog, and this begins one of those topics! I love to travel, but I don’t get to do a lot of it…yet. While thinking about this topic, I realized there’s so many fun and interesting places that I’ve been that most of my readers have either never heard of or haven’t had a chance to go, so this is me traveling again via the internet! There are also so many other places I want to visit, and if you happen to live in the area I discuss, feel free to comment on the posts! I’m excited to do these, and I hope you get a better flavor of what I’m like.
Today’s Journey: Hale, MI
On today’s trip around the world, we’re starting off a little closer to home. My home, to be exact, or rather, the home of my childhood and young adult years. I grew up in a little town in the northeastern lower peninsula named Hale. (For those who may not know, Michigan has two peninsulas, the Lower and Upper.) Both peninsulas are beautiful! What I love most about Hale is that it’s surrounded by forests, lakes, and farms.
Before moving to Madison, WI, I’d lived in a few bigger cities, but nothing prepared me for Madison’s size and living here. It’s honestly a breath of fresh air to go home where life moves a bit slower and you can avoid and weekend traffic by taking the back dirt roads. Seriously, traffic in Michigan moves in two directions on summer and holiday weekends: North on Friday night and South on Sunday. If you want to avoid the rush, go the opposite direction. Once Hale started getting busy, we always took the back roads where we needed to go.
One of my favorite things to do was to walk in my grandpa’s woods. I’d also play with my sisters and cousins in them. We’d get lost, get our feet wet, and give a pint of blood each to Michigan’s state bird: the mosquito. Because of this, I’ve grown to love nature so much. My goal is to eventually own a house out in the middle of the woods. Living in the city is killing me slowly. It’s also why you’ll find that so many of my stories’ settings are rural and in forests. If I could spend my time anywhere, it would be the forest, first and foremost.
If you’re ever in the area and feel like stopping by Hale to check it out, here’s a few things to note:
*You’ll need to purchase a Kocher’s doughnut
*Grab an ice cream cone at The Victorian Cafe
*Attempt to run up all the stares at Iargo Springs (not far out of town and totally worth it)
*While you’re at Iargo, check out Lumberman’s monument just up the road
*Buy some bacon from Alward’s Market
*There are about 60 lakes in the vicinity, so take a swim or go kayaking!
*Visit my dad and sister at Bernard Building Center (Bonus points if you let Tasha design your kitchen/bath)
*Finally, check out the small town restaurants. You won’t want to miss them!
Last November, I participated in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, along with many other authors. The goal: write a 50k word novel in the month of November. Well, mine reached 50k by halfway through the month, so I decided to see if I could pull off 100k since my novel wasn’t even close to being finished. If you were keeping up with me, you know that I reached my goal and finished the novel, writing over 104k words in one month. It was crazy!
Well, I’m happy to report that this book is now available for pre-order, for a special pre-order price of $.99! It releases April 13th, and I can’t wait! But for now: the cover reveal!
Fire Dragons, the most powerful dragon race on Earth.
Until the war left them as shadows of the race they once were.
Little more than slaves to the water dragons, they’re kept in line through destitute conditions and tracking devices. Sparks has known both lives, the prosperous and the starving, so when the opportunity arises for a little indulgence, she jumps at the chance, setting into motion a chain of events from which there is no turning back. With her fire power and dragon acting out, Sparks has no choice but to attempt escape, or face the consequences of her actions.
On the run, Sparks’s countdown begins. If she can’t remove the tracker, she’s dead. So when a gorgeous stranger shows up offering his help in exchange for hers, she has little choice but to accept. It isn’t long before Sparks discovers that Phoenix may be more than he seems, and that their lives are tied together in ways neither expected. Time is of the essence, but will they have enough to save both Sparks and her people from the water dragons?
On Tuesday, December 4th, I had the privilege of speaking to the 7th and 8th graders at a Wisconsin middle school about writing, publishing, and other ways they could join in the publishing industry. It was so much fun. The kids were amazing. While I know most likely want nothing to do with writing a book (and some were likely bored), they were so respectful and paid attention to what I had to say. Others are interested in writing and I was glad to be able to give them a little bit of knowledge to help direct them.
Not only did I talk to them about these three aspects of the author industry, I tried to make as much of it as possible applicable to all of them. First, I presented to 3 classes of 7th graders before having a few hours for a break and then finished the day out with 3 classes of 8th graders. Needless to say that they were glad to have someone in the classroom to listen to who wasn’t a teacher.
In the afternoon, the 8th graders would all come into the classroom and were like, “We don’t have to write today.” I heard that before every single class. Sorry folks, but you do. 😉 I gave each class a chance to ask whatever questions that they wanted, and whatever time was left, I gave them an assignment (which they handled with grace, of course). They were given three scenarios to write up to practice “Show, Don’t Tell”, and some read their work out loud, and it was really good.
So, why does this impact me so much? I was their age when I wrote my first book. When I was in 8th grade, we were assigned to write a scary short story (I think it was around Halloween) so I wrote the scariest one I could think of, or most intense. At the time that was difficult for me. However, I loved the story and wanted to build on it, so that short story became the first chapter in my novel. I wish I would’ve known then more about publishing (although at the time publishing a novel wasn’t nearly as easy as it is today with ebooks).
Back then I knew very little about the craft of writing a good story, but I wrote everyday (by hand) and worked on my craft. Since then, I’ve learned so much more, and I hope that I can inspire others to follow their dream and give them a bit more knowledge than what I had at their age.
I hope I was able to impact the group, but one thing was certain, they sure reminded me what it was like to be back in school again. It reminded me a lot of the few years I substituted a while back. Good luck to all of you! You’re amazing!
For authors, goals can be an important part of the writing process. So can keeping track of dates on a calendar (this includes past and future events). While these can be two separate topics, and rightly should be, I’ve combined the two in my progress to complete my dream.
How combining Goals and a Calendar help me
Goals are important because they break down the process to complete our dream into smaller, more manageable steps. Each goal itself can have a multitude of smaller goals needed to accomplish it. With a broad dream of becoming a self-published author, there are several large steps, or goals, that need to be completed before the dream can come true. Writing the book is one of them, and obviously a crucial one, but there is more beyond that which needs to be done.
To keep myself from going crazy while remembering what I still needed to do and to keep on a schedule, I began using an Excel calendar. This allowed me to choose dates for when each goal was to be completed by, while giving me the opportunity to be flexible. The calendar is fluid, meaning I can change dates as I need to. It keeps me organized and on task for things that I still need to do, and since I’m rewriting book 2, it allows me the opportunity to keep track of the progress for that one as well.
Breaking down your Goals
First, you need your dream. Once you have that, you can start breaking that dream down into goals that need accomplished to make the dream come true. These goals can be as big as you need them to be. Here are some that I’d suggest as an author: First Draft, Revising/Rewriting, Marketing, Beta Reading, Odds & Ends.
Each one of these large goals that are needed can have as many smaller goals as you need to accomplish them. For the first draft of books 1 & 2 I didn’t have goals. As I said in previous posts, I was never planning to publish them so I wrote whatever came. It wasn’t until the Revising/Rewriting step that I began to make goals. That’s when the dream of publishing came alive. I’ve never broken down in a list what I needed to do to complete each of the above goals. Instead I threw them into a calendar to keep track of.
This is June’s calendar. It lists all the goals that I wanted to have completed that month, and what day I completed them. Obviously it also has some personal items, but I wanted those listed so that I could plan my other goals around them.
In May I began to plan June & July’s calendars and set dates for my small goals. For my Marketing goal, I knew I would need a website and a Facebook author page. If I wasn’t sure when I would do it, I made a note on the bottom to be sure I remembered that it still needed to be done.
The chapters listed I handle differently. I don’t project when they will be done. I did at first, and after constantly changing the dates earlier or later depending on when I finished, I gave up. Now I enter the chapter revisions the day that I finish them. This helps me to see trends that I may otherwise miss, such as that it appears I can rewrite two chapters per week. This in turn pushes me to see if I can somehow rewrite three in a week. Remarkably I just had my first three chapter week!
Even smaller Goals
There are various amounts of goals you can set for yourself. In later posts I’ll go over what works for me to break down goals and accomplish them. For now though, know that goals are there to help you and motivate you. There’s nothing better than accomplishing a goal, especially if you beat your goal deadline. If you don’t make the deadline, it’s okay. Be fluid with them. Life happens, and books take on a life of their own (more like the characters) so that what you had planned must change.
When you reach a goal, especially one of the bigger ones, celebrate! I’m horrible at this. I’ve yet to do anything special for myself when I finish one of the goals, especially the writing and rewriting of Perfect Scents.
If you’ve just made the goal to self-publish, or if it’s been your dream for forever, make your goals and then break them down into smaller goals of what you need to do to accomplish this dream. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, and still do, and so will you. Don’t let that deter you. You can do it!
*Side note: this knowledge also applies to other dreams besides becoming a self-published author*