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!

Amazon Buy Link
A TEXAS PROMISE

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.


27 comments:

  1. Great observations, Laura. Number five struck me as I'm writing a series now. Terrific covers!

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  2. Thank you, Sandra! Yes, that was something that never even occurred to me before I started on that second cover. So much to consider in this business. Best wishes on your new series!

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  3. Writing is a unique journey for each person. I am thankful for the encouragement and support of other writers. :-)

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  4. Great post, Laura! Your books have obviously been well-received (they sound wonderful!), and this list reads as though it was compiled from a well-seasoned author. I always joked that I'd be a "Grandma Moses of Christian publishing," lol. There's definitely something to be said for age and wisdom. The only place we differ is that for my longest-running series, I have a father and two sons who closely resemble one another. However, that's also my series where I purposely chose not to feature characters on the cover (except for the prequel since I found a female model who was perfect as the family matriarch). Blessings in your continue writing adventures!

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    1. Hi JoAnn! I've thought of Grandma Moses, too, lol. And I agree about the age and wisdom. I couldn't have written the same books in my youth that I'm writing now. I try to trust that it's all happening in God's time, and not my own. Thank you so much for your kind words - wishing you blessing in your writing adventures, as well!

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  5. These are some great insights. One sentence stood out to me - that part about writing making you cry. Tears of every kind are jerked out by writing and every tear is used and seen by God. I have to say I love the happy tears but the sad tears certainly have their purpose. I love your books, Laura. Really looking forward to the next one!

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    1. Thank you, Cindy! I love what you said about every tear being used and seen by God. Such comfort and inspiration in that thought. And I love your books, too!

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  6. Laura, I love your thoughts! The tears of joy after meeting a reader who was touched by your book....priceless! And I smiled at the technology issues....yes! When I think I finally know how to do something....the app CHANGES. Belonging to a group of writer friends is indeed a treasured blessing. Thank you for your uplifting post, my friend!

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    1. Hi Sherida! Those technology issues are an ongoing issue for me, for sure. I'm grateful and blessed to have kids and grandkids to call on for help. Thank you so much for your kind comments!

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  7. I love your new cover! I thought it interesting how much trouble you had because of descriptions in the first book. It sure made me think!

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    1. Hi Sherrinda! I'm glad you found the post helpful. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

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  8. I love all your advice, Laura.
    I know many authors that started writing later in life. I didn't get serious until later either. So cool that your writing affects people!

    And I love that you had a reader call your characters by name and made you cry.

    I know I've told you this before, but you've got the best covers!

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    1. Hi Connie! Yes, knowing that people get that close to your characters is just such an inspiration. So cool. And thank you for commenting on the covers! Looking forward to reading your book, soon!

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  9. All excellent tips and suggestions, Laura!

    Being an author is one of the most challenging/rewarding careers I've ever had. And, as with many things, "age" is relative. Great insights!

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    1. Hi Cynthia! Thank you so much! And yes, age is relative. I'm grateful to still be learning, no matter what age I am.

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  10. Awesome post, Laura! I can relate to so much of what you shared ...

    I'm 63 and recently released my fourth indie book.

    I also have reading glasses stashed everywhere in the house!

    Happy tears - and tears of frustration.

    And being surprised that men have read and loved my stories, which are all romances.

    I love your cover!

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    1. Thank you, Dawn, I'm glad you enjoyed the post and could relate! And thank you for the kind comment about the cover!

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  11. Hi Laura! Thanks for guest blogging today. I love this post. As a writer who started later in life, I totally identify with you.

    I would have never thought of the trouble familial resemblances could cause with covers. Thanks for mentioning that.

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  12. Thank you, Terri! I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to your readers - I had a wonderful time!

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  13. Hi, Laura! I loved your first two books, and I hope you don't mind that I hope you are plugging away on the third because I can't wait to read Nathaniel's story. And thank you for sharing what you've learned.

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    1. HI Tanya! Yes, I'm working on Nathaniel's story now. So glad you enjoyed the first two - and thank you for letting me know. Looking forward to reading your book!

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  14. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Laura. And I think it’s wonderful that men are reading your books because that’s a great testimony to you as a storyteller! I love your covers too. And I “feel” you on the age business as I didn’t get my first contract till my 60th birthday but I have two books out with another one coming this year and more in my head waiting to be written. As you said, we can quit when He says it’s time!

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    1. Hi Laurie! I appreciate the kind words so much. So glad to hear that you have another book coming out this year! Looking forward to it!

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  15. Thank you so much for sharing some of your experiences here, Laura. As a first time author, I can relate to much of what you said here. I too treasure and deeply appreciate so many who've come alongside me with their support both online and in person. All the best with A Texas Promise.

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    1. Thank you, Pat! Glad you found the post relevant. Wishing you all the best with your book, too!

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  16. Laura, all sound advice. Writing a series is SUCH A HARD LEARNING CURVE. I'm still learning. It makes me crazy.

    Sincerely,

    LCK FAN!

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