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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Backstage with MERELY PLAYERS

Ever wonder what goes on behind the story? I'm going to let you in on my research as well as a segment called, "What was I thinking?" Yes, I'm going to allow you to see into that frightening thing called...a writer's mind.
 

 
It's here! After years of dreaming, my first novel is finally in my hot little hands. Now, as promised, I'd like to share some of my research with you.
 
DOLPHIN THERAPY
The Gulfarium is a real place and located in Fort Walton Beach, FL. I spent ten years in Fort Walton while my husband was in the Air Force. We were stationed at both Hurlburt and Eglin Air Force Bases. Go to www.gulfarium.com to check this place out.
 
I became aware of the dolphin therapy program probably in about our ninth year. I had a friend with two autistic children, and although she didn't utilize the program, she mentioned it to me as a possibility.
 
My imagination latched onto this little bit of information, and I began playing the "what if" game. What if my heroine was a dolphin trainer/therapist? What if she were a "fish out of water", and better suited for something else? What if she didn't really know what she wanted to do with her life, and the "something else" tried to lure her away from this noble profession? What would that "something else" be?
 
Now, before my research I knew absolutely NOTHING about dolphin training or therapy. I did know a little bit about acting, and especially high school plays. My youngest son has been acting since junior high. Ah ha! My hero was born. I may not know about dolphins, but I sure know something about drama geeks.
 
Again, I played my game. What if my hero aspired to become a professional actor? What if he became so successful that he left the "little people" behind? What if one of those people was his high school girlfriend? And what would happen if they met again after ten years? Hmm. I do believe I created sufficient conflict to start my story.
 
Then came the research. OY! This is not my forte. I pray I someday become so successful that I can pay someone to do my research for me. However, I'm not there yet. So,  I poured over the internet to learn about dolphins and training. I also found there are several facilities that use dolphins as a form of therapy. Just put "dolphin therapy" in the Google search engine and see what comes up. I found that therapists use these marvelous animals as a reward. If the child completes a task, the dolphin does a trick. But moreover, the love between animal and child can bring healing. The program at the Gulfarium is called the JF2 Dolphin Project, with Dr. Janet Flowers at the helm. Go to http://www.gulfarium.com/jfdolphin.html#what for more information.
 
And thus, a novel is born. If you're not in the Heartsong Presents book club, but would like your very own Merely Players, you can order it from their Website at www.heartsongpresents.com/book/detail/1597893382/

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Ditzy Author

In honor of the Sisters Grimm cozy mystery series that I pitched at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas last week, I have written a fairy tale.

The Ditzy Author
by
Kathleen E. Kovach
Once there was an author named Kathy. Now, Kathy, who lived in a dry climate a mile above sea level, found herself in the land of Wet, also known as Dallas. She traveled to Dallas for the ACFW Conference, where she planned on meeting with Heartsong Present's Mystery editor, Susan Downs. She knew upon her arrival that this meeting was to take place at 2:45 on Saturday.

She also wished to speak to JoAnn Simmons, editor of Heartsong Presents romance. She spoke to JoAnn at lunch on Friday and gained permission to book an appointment with her, as well.
And so, she did.

Kathy was given a slip of paper as a reminder of her appointment. The slip clearly said, "Saturday, 3:00."

Somewhere between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, Kathy lost her mind. This probably happened at the Barbour Author Appreciation dinner. Between the fantastic food, lovely fellowship, and highly entertaining skit, Kathy's mind slipped from her head and rolled under the table. Not realizing this, she left the dinner and started telling her friends that she had an appointment with JoAnn at 9:00 the next morning.

Kathy awoke excited Saturday morning, thinking her appointment was a mere few hours away. The general assembly ran over by ten minutes, and Kathy raced up to the Mezzanine where the appointments were held. Since it was just on the floor above, she chose not to take the elevator, which had been know to be sluggish, especially when one was in a hurry.

Perspiring from her exertion, she found JoAnn and sat, PLOP, in the chair across from her.
"I know I'm late. The assembly ran over, but I got here as fast as I--"

"But," JoAnn interrupted, her eyes round with surprise and confusion. "Your name isn't listed here."

"Oh!" Kathy hopped up, thoroughly embarrassed. "My meeting this morning must be with Susan. I'm so sorry."

And out she dashed.

She found Susan in a room across from JoAnn and sat, PLOP, in the chair across from her.
"I know I'm late. The assembly ran over, but I got here as fast as I--"

"But," Susan interrupted, her eyes round with surprise and confusion. "Your name isn't listed here. Oh, I see, you're supposed to be here at 2:45."

If Kathy thought she was perspiring before, she was wrong. She broke out into a full sweat, rivaling her shower that morning, upon hearing these words from Susan Downs. You see, Kathy had already written twelve chapters of a book that she had set her heart on for this particular editor to accept. If she'd already made a bad impression, she simply didn't know what she was going to do.

Susan, however, took pity on the soggy, red-faced author in front of her. She smiled, checked her schedule, and said in a calming voice, "You know, there isn't anyone waiting for me. Why don't we do go ahead and do this now."

Somehow, Kathy got through the appointment, stammering through inquiries like, "Who are your suspects?" and "Is there a ransom note?" Kathy knew the answer to these questions, but as was mentioned, her mind lay somewhere beneath a table at Truluck's Seafood, Steak, and Crab House. Susan, with divine grace, requested a proposal from Kathy, who was very grateful.

Later that day, Kathy honored her original appointment time with JoAnn, and was even a little early. Both JoAnn and Rebecca Germany, JoAnn's Barbour boss, sat at separate tables, but very close. Rebecca wasn't seeing anyone at the time, and so listened as a now composed Kathy, (who's mind must have somehow managed to walk the block and a half to find her,) pitched three contemporary Oregon romances. JoAnn requested a proposal of only the first one, apparently wanting to see if Kathy could truly follow through. After her morning faux pas, Kathy couldn't blame her. JoAnn did, however, say she'd consider the others after she looked at the first offering.

Kathy, now very happy that her editor appointments were over, chatted a moment longer with the Barbour editors. Somehow the subject turned to the decadent desserts they had been enjoying at the conference, and JoAnn told her that Rebecca loves dark chocolate. Kathy heard herself saying, "I have a box of chocolate covered mint Oreos in my room. Contract me, and I'll give you some."

The editors laughed, but as Kathy walked out, she began perspiring once again. Should she be so bold with people she wished to impress? She decided the answer to that was "yes." She didn't want a job, she wanted a relationship with someone she'd hopefully be spending the next few years with.

She raced up to her room, (via the elevator, having learned her last lesson with the stairs and the Dallas humidity,) grabbed the box of Oreos, and ran back to the appointment rooms. A woman was waiting in a chair by the door and Kathy asked if she was going in to see JoAnn or Rebecca.

"I have an appointment with JoAnn."

"Perfect!" Kathy said as she thrust the box into her lap. "Give this to her for me, please."

"Should I tell her your name?"

"No, she'll know who it's from."

"But," she said as she thrust the box back at Kathy, "maybe you should write a message on the box so she doesn't think it's from me."

"No, trust me. She'll know it's from me."

After arguing a moment longer, Kathy left, satisfied that she'd done the right thing.

However, after thinking about it the rest of the day, she began to worry that perhaps JoAnn, and thus Rebecca who was sitting next to her, would consider this a bribe.

Now, the Ditzy Author had one more thing to worry about.

She debating with herself the rest of the day. Then she decided after attending the Spirit-filled conference and hearing the anointed speaker, Liz Curtis Higgs, that the Lord would not have her worry about something so trivial. He reminded her that He is in control of her writing career, and nothing she had done after she'd misplaced her mind would thwart the plans that He had for her.

Kathy resolved to leave the conference with confidence and forget about the ditzy things she had done that weekend.

And so, she did.


~The End~

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Ladder of Publication - Next Rung, Cover Art


I recently experienced one more rung in the ladder to publication. My cover art for both Merely Players and Love Letters (where I have a novella entitled "Cookie Schemes") arrived via e-mail a couple of weeks ago. May I just say, "WOW! I'M AN AUTHOR!"

It's one thing to dream of this all of my life, but to see my name above a title is. . .well, it's. . .quite odd actually.

My thought process went like this when I saw my cover.
1. As blood rushes to my ears, I hover over the attachment. Do I really want to see my cover? Will it meet my expectations? How could they ever sketch what's in my head?

2. I click on it, and suck in a breath. My title pops out at me. The title that I beseeched God for. Once I had that title, the theater backdrop for my story came into view and I not only had a title, I had an allegory.

3. Then I looked at my name. I'm sorry, I know I've given my writing over to the Lord. I know that it's all about Him, and all to His glory. . .but it's my name! My name!

4. My name? What have I done? People will read this and see who wrote it. My picture will even be on an inside page. What if it's a horrible book? What if it's full of grammar faux pas and dangling modifiers? What if it stinks?

5. Get a grip. God was your writing partner through this. Yeah, maybe it's not up to par with a multi-pubbed author, but it will touch lives. The ministry is in God's hands, not yours. So relax, and continue to learn with the next book. And the next.

6. Why am I talking to myself when I should be e-mailing this to everyone I know? This is a huge deal!

Somewhere in there I became critical of the artist, because afterall, this is my baby. They didn't have her hair right and I think he had a sweater tied around his waist that looked like a rope belt. Uh-huh. He wouldn't wear that. But, they had asked me if there were any minor changes, and I think the end result is beautiful. He's leaning in, very sure of himself. Her. . .not so much. It looks like a picture taken by someone hiding behind the sand dune. Perfect for my story line. And the emerald green water and white sand are perfect.

I'll put the cover of Love Letters on another entry when we have a finalized picture.

I don't know if I'll ever get over seeing my name on a book. I hope I never do. Yes, my writing career is all about God. But, I think He allows me these little moments. And when I get letters stating how my words touched somebody, that is God's moment. He did that. I only told the best story I knew how.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My Debut Talk or With God As My Partner, Why Would I Fail?

Last night was yet another testimony to God’s amazing provision.

I had been asked to speak at a local writer’s group, Words for the Journey Christian Writing Guild. This would be a step up in my writing journey. Now, first of all, I never saw myself as a “speaker”, I’m a “facilitator.” I run groups like Bible studies, critique groups, workshops. But speak? All by myself? Whatever would I have to say?

Now, understand, getting up in front of people is not the issue. I’m the last-born, I crave attention. My problem stems from being able to concentrate, and say the things I should at the appropriate moments. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADD, but I’ve always felt I had it to some extent. My son battles with it and I see many of my symptoms in him. Please read this paragraph again, because it’s the last time I’m going to use that excuse.

This how good God is. A month and a half ago, I was still sweating the prospect of speaking and being able to concentrate. I attended Words For The Journey to hear a fellow ACFW author, and it was flawless. All tied up in a neat little package. I was impressed and made mental notes on how I might be able to put something together like that. Afterward I spoke to her about my fears of ADD and however was I supposed to keep it all together! I found out that she also has had the same fears, even though she was never diagnosed. She said she stopped claiming ADD over herself, and it freed her to be the speaker that God had called her to be. Wow! As she continued to reassure me, I saw ourselves on horizontal paths.

As my time to speak drew near, I asked a choice few people to pray for me. As those prayers were lifted up, my fear began to diminish and I felt myself getting excited at what God was leading me into.  

I didn’t know what to speak on. It was suggested I talk about writing for Heartsong Presents, but I’ve only written one book for them and am still learning the ins and outs. Plus, when/if I decide to talk on that, I’d like to have a book to offer at the same time. Mine comes out in October. So, I prayed.

Now, when I say I prayed, I don’t mean the on my knees, pouring through the scriptures, fasting kind of prayer. Ever since God made Himself my writing partner, it’s like sitting and talking to a friend over tea.

Picture me at my computer, lounging in my big chair, tapping my lip and saying, “Well God, any ideas?”

“Why not start your speaking career the same way you did your writing career?”

I sat up straight, intrigued. “What do you mean?”

“Your writing career started with that article you wrote for the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference back in 2002, right?”

“Right.” My heartbeat quickened. I began to catch up with the Almighty in His thinking.

“Why not turn that article into your topic? It was about writing with My voice. I gave that to you, and allowed it to win first place so you would have a definite starting place to launch your writing career.”

I nodded my head. “So, You think I should speak on writing with Your voice, pulling from that article.”

“I KNOW this is what you should do.”

Power rumbled from his still, small voice, and I immediately brought up that article on my computer.

The following is more testimony to God’s gentleness with me, and His never-failing grace.

I began an outline on writing with God’s voice. I kept it on my computer for a month while I worked on other things. As God would give me more ideas, I would plop them into that document before I forgot them. So, I had a working outline two months before I was to speak. Plenty of time! Or so I thought.

I had been booked for the end of July to speak. But when the June speaker had to rearrange her schedule, I was asked if I could bump mine up a month. I didn’t even panic, because God was in charge and He’d already taken my procrastinating little self and got me started.

Over the remaining three weeks, God continued to refine my outline, giving me little nuggets here and there. A week before, He gave me something so off-the-wall, I felt it a privilege that He’d called on me to carry out it out. Don't think God has a sense of humor? Ask Him why he wanted me to present "The Hokey Pokey" in four different voice styles! (Caution, marketing attempt coming up: If anyone is curious about that, book my talk on "Writing With God's Voice.")

Then--and I know this is God--the day of the talk, (I was speaking at 7:00 that night) I had everything done. So I could chill, relax, color my hair . . . I wasn't rushed at all. Wow! Talk about a God thing! My friend asked if I was nervous or excited, and I told her I was "in the zone." I felt the prayers, and I was neither nervous nor excited. I simply felt like the clay pitcher that God would use to pour his Living Water onto those He brought to the meeting. The talk itself was well received and, surprisingly, well attended. Of course, I had a handful of my peeps there from my local group, but the others didn't know me. So, yes, it all was totally God.
I pray that as each of you come up against something that seems overwhelming, or terrifying, or simply out of your comfort zone, that you'll: 1) seek God's will first on the matter 2) ask for prayer 3) relax and know that God is in control and He won't let you drown as you step out of that boat in faith.

Our God is an Awesome God. He reigns from heaven above . . . yet He lives in our hearts. He cares about us, and wants to be a partner in whatever we’re doing.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Conference Jitters

Okay, maybe "Conference Jitters" is an understatement. Perhaps "flop sweat" more accurately describes what's happening to you. So, first of all, let's all take a collective deep breath...let it out slowly...close your eyes and climb into your Father's lap.

Now, let me tell you a story. In my backyard right now is a robin's nest right in my bird feeder. I haven't fed the birds for awhile, so apparently they thought the restaurant had closed and they decided to renovate it. Every day, all I have to do is look out of my kitchen window and observe this wonder of nature. Mom and Dad take turns feeding, warming, protecting. It's a beautiful thing. And when Mom brings back a juicy worm, a half dozen scrawny beaks appear over the top of the nest, wide open and eager for their meal. Now, what I've noticed is that when both parents are gone, there is no activity. One would think it was empty. Not a peep. (sorry, couldn't resist) But as soon as that worm appears over their heads, up they pop, ready to take it all in. I wonder what they were thinking when this nutritious gift first appeared above their heads. I doubt any of them ducked. I'm sure not one refused the worm. And I'd bet the farm none were frightened. No, they must have been surprised by this gift suddenly dangling within their reach. Then, each time Mom brings another one, they throw open those little mouths, confident that another meal is on its way.

Aren't we like those baby birds, not able to see past our earthly limitations? Yet as God gives us nourishment, and helps us grow stronger, we gain confidence because He is right there with us, feeding, warming, protecting. Next week as we attempt to sell our work, let's never forget that, unlike these baby birds who will someday leave that nest, we always have the assurance that our Heavenly Father is continually with us, feeding us with His love, warming us with His presence, protecting us with His Holy Spirit.

May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech. --Thessalonians 2:16-17 (The Message)

Dear Abba Father, thank you for putting those birds in my back yard. They are a physical picture of Your love and provision. May we all be as eager as babies, our mouths wide open, chirping for more of Your nourishment. Let us feel your presence next week, and let us know, no matter what news we may receive, that You are in control. Please put a fresh heart in each of us, one that can never be broken or bruised, please invigorate our work which we purpose for Your glory, and please enliven our speech as we put that work before strangers. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Monday, February 13, 2006

New Look!

Hey! I’ve updated three of my blogs! What do you think? I went on Google and searched for Free Templates Blogger, and this site had what I was looking for: http://blogspottemplates.blogspot.com/. When you get there and click on “Get Template” it asks if you want to open or save, and I opted for open. It gave me two pictures and a text of the HTML to copy and paste in your blog template area. They explain that they no longer keep the images on their own Photobucket* site, but tell you how you can get your own account, (I already had mine and it is very essential if you have a website or blog). I copied and saved their pictures in My Pictures on my computer, then went to Photobucket and downloaded them so they can have their own URL address. Then I went back to the text, and replaced that URL with theirs, which is very easy to find because they have the word “replace” right in their address. And look what came up! Gorgeous! I used the same template for Giggling Grandma and simply replaced the feather pen with my own picture. I had to resize to 1000 ppi and I lightened it and made it slightly blurry, and voila! I love the effect! Go to http://gigglinggrandma.blogspot.com to see the result. I downloaded a different template to my stories and devotions blog: http://storiesanddevotions.blogpot.com, and the only thing I don’t like about it is the type seems pretty tiny, and I couldn’t see in the template where to change it.

So, check these out and see if this template site may work for you. I got very bored with the standard templates in blogger.

A word about Photobucket*, http://www.photobucket.com: This is a convenient site to place your own pictures to get an URL address. When you put pics on your Website, depending on your program, you may need a Web address for it to pull from. I use Go Daddy, (yes ACFWers, even despite the raunchy ads. I had it before they started this campaign,) and it allows me to pull pics straight off my computer. If you mess with templates, like I did with Blogger, you’ll need a URL to do anything fancy.

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, February 3, 2006

Nifty Trick With Unseen POV

Guess what! Guess what! I’m done with the chapter by chapter synopsis (first draft). I found a nifty trick that I want to share with you. As I was writing out what was happening in my synopsis, I realized that I needed to figure out what the villain was doing at the same time. Now, I had already started color coding so I could keep track of whose POV I was in. Pink for the Heroine and Blue for the Hero. So, I used Brown for the villain and started following her/him throughout the story. This way, I managed to keep the timeline from jumping all over the time space continuum. No Delorean’s in my wip, no siree-bob! I also needed to follow the heroine’s sister when they separated, so I put that in orange. Now, when I turn in my synopsis, it will be a pared down version of what I’ve written, and I’ll take out the villain’s and sister’s POVs so the editor doesn’t think they’re in the story as written. Of course, they are there, but behind the scenes, and I’ll reveal that through my POV characters. I’m pumped! Now, I hope I can write the thing with this skeleton I’ve created. I’ve done this on a smaller scale with my novellas, so I ought to be able to do it with a 65K novel. Right? Please tell me I’m right!

I’m on my own deadline with this. The daughter-in-law is moving her entire household here, (minus hubby who is leaving to Korea,) and I’d love to have this off to the editor before they arrive - in three weeks! Yikes! What I need to accomplish now is some final research and write the first three chapters. Can I do it? Please tell me I can!

Friday, January 27, 2006

OKAY, I'LL UPDATE ALREADY!

I received an e-mail the other day from a writer friend. The subject was ACFW* business, but at the end of her post she locked her caps and cyber-shouted, “UPDATE YOUR BLOG!” That’s all she had to say on the matter. It was concise, focused, and spoke volumes of her angst over reading about the same contract over and over. Guess I need to update my Website, too. So, Camy, the following “update” is for you!

Ah, the life of a writer. One huge thing happens, such as my contract that I posted about in September, then it’s back to work. Long, dry spells between successes is what my life is all about.

But, perhaps I shouldn’t use the word “dry” because this is the time when I get to play. When I meet somebody for the first time and they ask me what I do, I tell them I stay in my pajamas all day and play with imaginary friends. (Okay, the part about the pjs is only partially true. Most days I get dressed, or throw on some comfy knit pants and a t-shirt. But, man, it’s nice to work in slippers!)

I’m currently working on a cozy mystery that I hope is picked up for a series. Mysteries are fun to write, but I’ve found I have to approach them differently from regular romance. For one, I really have to know whodunit from the get-go. When I started this, I had somewhat of a premise, and I knew the crime, but I had no clue as to the villain. So, I plunged in and wrote five chapters before it dawned on me. You must understand, I’m a SOTP, Seat of the Pants, writer. I don’t gain any insight until I’m actually in the midst of the story. And yet, plot I must! Writing those chapters helped me get to know my characters, my setting, and finally, my villain. I’m treating them as one long writing exercise, because most of it probably won’t make it in the actual story.

I’m now working through chapter by chapter, sketching what’s happening briefly. This may seem debilitating for a SOTP, but I’m learning to free up my right brain, even while organizing with my left. I’m halfway through my planned chapters—figuring out how many chapters I’ll need with math…ick—and am quite pleased with how it’s turning out. It’s nice to see the story in one chunk, where I can spot holes easily. Or, if I need to make a change in chapter twelve, I can easily go back and adjust things in chapter three if need be. Now, for those of you who know me, your jaws are probably scraping the floor. Yes, my name is Kathy and I’m learning to plot.

I’ll try, for Camy’s sake, to update regularly on my plotting journey. I have a feeling that wasabi isn’t the only thing that kicks!**


*ACFW – American Christian Fiction Writers
**Go to Camy's Website to get this reference :->