Thursday, February 27, 2020

A Few Random Things I’ve Learned About Writing and Publishing by Laura Kestner

I haven’t been a published author for long, but it’s been a wonderful ride so far. I know that the readers of this blog include many longtime published authors, but I’m hoping that these observations might be of interest to those who are just getting started. So here goes:

1. It’s never too late to pursue a dream. After talking about it forever, and starting umpteen books in my youth, I was in my mid-50s when I got serious about writing fiction. I will turn 60 this spring, and I’m only two books into an indie career.

But instead of being discouraged by the “only” in that sentence, I’m focusing on the, “two books” part. I’m truly thrilled to be able to say that. At any age. I have to admit, at times it’s difficult. Struggling to learn the latest app/feature/media whatsit, only to find it changed the next day. Struggling to read the small screen/fine print (I have reading glasses stashed in every room, the car, and in my purse). And my memory’s not what it used to be, and…where was I going with this? Oh yes, despite all that, I’m not giving up. I’m going to keep on plugging away at this, until He says stop.

2. At some point, writing/publishing will probably make you cry. And for varied reasons. Sometimes I’ve been brought to the verge of tears due to frustration and stress (scenes not working, characters not speaking to me, emotional scenes, etc.) But there have been happy tears, too.

For instance, the first time a stranger approached me at a book signing event and told me how much they enjoyed my work, and they called my characters by name (like real people!) and then they wanted to know what happened to those characters next, and when the next book would be out. I’m telling you, I choked up. And I wanted to hug that person, but it was a stranger, so I didn’t. Okay, that’s not true. I did hug them. And probably scared the daylights out of them with my happy tears.

3. You can’t always predict or choose your readers. You should have a target audience, no doubt about that, but sometimes those are not the only people reading your work. I always figured that my readers would be women. The first time someone sent me a message saying that her husband started reading my book before she could get to it, I was surprised. Then it happened again. Women were telling me they’d bought a copy for their father, or brother, son, etc. And that they enjoyed the book. As I said, I was surprised by this, and oh so grateful.

4. If you make a mistake, more than likely someone will point it out. Learn to be grateful for that. A multi-published author sent me a very kind email after the publication of my first book, letting me know that I’d made a mistake (referring to one of my characters as a U.S. Marshal, when his title should have been Deputy U.S. Marshal) This author also mentioned how much she enjoyed the book. I was appreciative, not only that she’d actually read my book, but that she cared enough to point out an error. I want to learn. I’ll make other mistakes, I’m sure, but I won’t make that mistake again.

5. Don’t be too specific in character detail on the first book of a series. Such as noting that three brothers bear a striking resemblance to each other. I did that. It can make cover design difficult, as well as future story lines. I loved the cover for my first book, Remember Texas. The designers came up with just what I asked for—a lawman (just a portion of the face showing), a train, and a church. The second cover was much more difficult. Fictional brothers may look alike but cover models usually don’t, and using the same model just wasn’t working out. I liked the final design of A Texas Promise, but getting there wasn’t easy.

6. Make friends with other writers, even if it’s only online. I’ve been blessed beyond measure to have a supportive family, and church family, to cheer me along and pray for me. And I’m grateful. But there’s something about having a few writer friends who know exactly what you’re going through—in the good times and the bad—that can be such a blessing. Praying for each other through looming deadlines, and the sting of rejection. Getting to celebrate when contracts are signed, covers are revealed, and books go live. I’m blessed to have a group of writer friends that understand the challenges and rewards unique to the writing life. It’s a special bond and I treasure it. And them.

Thank you so much for your time and attention, and a special thank you to Terri Weldon for inviting me to guest host. Happy Writing!

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When Sheriff Eli Calhoun first sees Maggie Radford she’s just escaped from a burning insane asylum. The young woman is disoriented, disheveled and dressed in rags. Even after questioning her, Eli’s sure of only two things—she’s lying about something and she’s terrified.

Unjustly confined to an asylum, Maggie Radford did what was necessary to escape—and now it haunts her. She asks God for forgiveness, even as she continues to spin a web of lies and deceit. She wants to trust the Moccasin Rock sheriff, but she can’t tell anyone the truth. There are people searching for her, including the man who had her committed.

As Eli works to piece together Maggie’s story, he’s also dealing with his own troubles. As a young boy he witnessed a shooting and is now stunned to discover that the gunman is a powerful business owner with political ambitions. Eli wants to stop him, but the would-be politician has plans of his own.

Complicating matters is an old deputy with a hidden past, an orphan baby, a young boy with a secret, and a midwife with a tragic story of her own.

As the danger escalates for both Maggie and Eli, their faith is tested and their developing relationship is tried. They must work together to solve the mysteries of the past—before their future is cut short.

After 25 years in community journalism, Laura Conner Kestner embarked on a career in inspirational fiction. Laura is a proud seventh-generation Texan. Born in Fort Worth, she now lives in central Texas. She is happily married to the “boy next door” and they have two daughters, two wonderful sons-in-law, six grandchildren, and just welcomed their first great-grandchild. She’s thankful for God’s grace, her family, and an opportunity to do the work she loves. Laura is an ACFW Genesis Award winner, ACFW First Impressions winner, and winner of the RWA/KOD 2017 Daphne du Maurier award for excellence in mystery suspense. Laura is also a three-time GOLDEN HEART® finalist. Her novel Remember Texas was a 2019 Will Rogers Medallion Award finalist, and a 2019 HOLT Medallion finalist for best first book. Her second book, A Texas Promise, released in October of 2019.