Month: July 2017

Confess by Colleen Hoover| Book Review

confess colleen

Auburn Mason Reed recently moved to Texas, although we don’t know the exact reason why at the beginning of the book. We assume it has something to do with her harrowing past as the story begins itself with Auburn at fifteen years losing her first love to a terminal illness. New to Texas, and a needing some extra cash as her hair cutting career hasn’t exactly kicked itself of, Auburn lands on the doorstep of Owen Mason Gentry. Owen is a painter (yes, they both have the same middle name), and he needs help for an art opening in his studio, Confess. Owen has a unique way of working which I really enjoyed reading about. Random strangers slip real confessions through his door and he takes his inspiration from them.

They instantly have a connection and it’s written beautifully, not that cringe-worthy typical insta-romance. I must say the author did well in conveying each emotion, thought and feeling to show how genuine humans love. I was convinced during this book of both characters’ feelings towards each other. I gave this book a four star rating on goodreads only because parts of the story were a little too fleshed out causing me to lose momentum. But it ended beautifully. This was my first Colleen Hoover book and I am not disappointed. Next up is Hopeless!

Happy Reading!

xo Kat

 

I Removed My Kids Pictures from The Internet

Back in 2012 when my first daughter was born, I couldn’t help but share photos of her online. At the time, I used Facebook and Instagram as my main sites for social networking. They were both set on private settings which meant that only people I allowed to see my pictures would see it. I was still apprehensive about posting the pictures but almost all of my family lives on another continent so it was the only way for them to see her.

By the time my second child came around, I grew even more skeptical about posting my kids’ pics online. I started to limit the number of photos I posted as well as not post so frequently. When it comes to my kids I am very protective and a little anal to be honest, and I have since removed all of their photos from social media. Read more to find out why…

Lack of Privacy – Even the people you know personally don’t have respect for your pictures. Time and time again I specifically said don’t share my kids’ pics yet people were sharing them and using them as their profile pictures. How rude! I couldn’t imagine using someone else’s kid pictures. Another privacy concern is strange people viewing your children’s pics. No matter how much you try to keep your photos on lock down, it’s still on the world wide web, an infinite space with all sorts of people. Anything can be hacked, anything can be sent at the touch of a button. Now, I am in no way bashing anyone who shares pics of their beautiful kids but I’m left paranoid after some of the things I read.

Respect for my kids – I’ve always said that I would be mortified if my parents uploaded all of my childhood snapshots online for the world to see. Till date, I hide as much of my awkward childhood pics as I can. It’s just the way I am. One day I got to thinking what if my kids really have a problem with this later on? So I just don’t do it anymore. When my kids reach an age where they can make a sound decision if they want their pics online or not then I would be okay with sharing.

These are my main two concerns with putting my children’s pictures out there on a social platform. Do you feel the same or do you oppose? All comments are welcomed!

xo Kat

 

Alfred: The Boy Who Would be King by Ron Smorynski

alfred cover

Alfred is a typical eleven-year-old boy who spends most of his spare time playing video games on a second-hand computer he was gifted. He is an only child and lives with his mother whom he sees as beautiful and sometimes odd in the way she speaks and dresses. Alfred sees it as old fashioned. Alfred is drawn to books, as well as video games of medieval times, something which has his mother uneasy every time it’s brought up. He also sends his mother into a frenzy when he asked about his father, whom he has never seen or heard of.
One night, Alfred summons an old wizard by saying the name “Bedenwulf.” He believes this to be his father name. The old wizard appears to be out of sorts and has no memory of who he is or what he does yet he manages to transport Alfred into another world, a medieval one. There, they learn the old wizard’s name is Tirnalth, and they meet a faithless cleric, Verbogen.
In the fantasy land, Alfred encounters creatures such as werewolves and gargoyles. He is told that he might be the only surviving heir to rule the kingdom and that an evil witch has driven the entire kingdom into despair. Alfred is determined to fit into the role of King and save his people.
This book was basically advertised as something similar to Harry Potter so immediately it caught my interest. It’s a brilliant middle-grade story and reminded me of Rick Riordan at times. I laughed during this book so the author captures humor well but here’s my concerns about things that could’ve been done differently. Firstly, Alfred is eleven years old and I feel like there are times he sounds more like a preschooler with the excited clapping, and at other times, Alfred is sharing all this knowledge with people. Maybe rework the characteristics for an eleven-year-old boy and the story would work beautifully. With a little editing, this story is a gripping and exciting one for fans of J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan.

xo Kat

The Challenges of Writing Romance

Stay tuned for my post on Insta-Romances 🙂

Coffee Doll Chronicles

I enjoy both reading, and writing in the romantic genre. I think my obsessions with a good romance started at an early age. The first trigger was Indian movies which I looked at quite a bit because of my mother and most of them were centered around romances. For some reason the library at my high school carried Mills and Boon novels and I fell into that very quickly. My fifteen year-old mind went places, if you know what I mean. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mills and Boons, they are a set of romantic books published by it’s parent company, Harlequin Enterprises. Most of what I read was set in a historical period and till date I enjoy reading romances set in the far past. Not everyone enjoys romances or its sub genres but I do. I love a happy ending, flawed characters that grow, the…

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Having Your Kids Close In Age

Coffee Doll Chronicles

Let me just start by saying I am in no way qualified to advise anyone on how to plan their lives. Whatever I post on my blog is either taken from experiences or my bottomless brain. In no shape or form is my opinion meant to disrespect anyone.

Now that we’ve got that covered…

This morning I saw a post somewhere on social media(I choose not to name or specify) about reasons to have your kids close in age and it was of a sarcastic and entertaining nature albeit some truth bombs were dropped. I’ve been planning to write about the downside of having kids close in age and by downside I don’t mean anything bad towards our little ones. It’s just overwhelming for people in different situations. This post is focused on the plus side of having kids close in age.

  1. They play together. I think this is the…

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My Favorite “Me Time” Indulgences

Can you tell I’m not a summer person? Just kidding. I have been MIA for a while and with good reason. Uh oh! Here comes the vent! It’s honestly been overwhelming with the kids, work, house things, outings, errands ever since summer started. I forgot how hard it was having two kids create chaos all day as opposed to just having my toddler with me when my preschooler is in school. Insanity!

As a little hello to my new-ish subscribers and a salute to my fellow parent bloggers, here’s how I survive admidst the chaos.

Books! Books! Books!

I’m never not engaged in a book. As soon as I finish one, I begin another. No intervals. If you’ve read things on my blog from way back you’ll see how drowning myself in stories and book worlds helped me escape from a lot, deal with a lot and conquer a lot. It’s no different today than it was back then.

Creating my own stories

At this point you’re thinking I’m a real party animal, right? On a serious note, it’s something that always came naturally to me. Weaving my own stories and characters and it takes a lot of the stress off my back so to speak. It’s a positive activity that I enjoy doing with all my heart and it helps me wind down from a long tiring day just as much as reading.

Thrift-store Book Hunting

Oh, that wasn’t a different thing than reading? I enjoy finding gems for a buck a piece. I feel like I hit buried treasure when I see hard backs in pristine condition and I almost feel guilty for paying so cheap for them.

TV Junkie

I don’t watch TV daily, a few episodes a week if anything but I do love to get caught up and engrossed in a good long running series. Few of my favs are Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Vikings, Supernatural. What are some of yours?

Treat Myself to Something Extra

Whoever says money can’t buy happiness didn’t fully think that through. (Again just kidding.) It might seem trivial to some but a lot of parents would agree with me on this. We sometimes enjoy a nice fancy dinner or sometimes just splurging on a favorite make up product does the trick.

Planning

This seriously is one of my favorite things to do. I’m always planning things, from outings to redecorating to enhancing my own life. I am still a work in progress and I dedicate a lot of my spare time to working towards many goals. It might sound like a task but I feel proud when I accomplish something.

It’s not selfish to take a time out for yourself even though you feel guilty for doing it. The key to holding everything together is to take care of you first. Leave me a comment and let me know what are your favorite indulgences.

xo Kat

How I Outline My Novel

There are a few different effective and straightforward methods to outline a novel, however, I do it in my own way. Recently I’ve seen some questions pop up about outlining novels so I thought I’d break down the way I do it since it seems simpler to me, and in another post, I will discuss the other methods thoroughly.

I think my way of doing it is very close to the snowflake method but as you learn more about it, you’ll see that I don’t stick to it fully. I just want to let you know that even though there are actual methods and names for them, there is no wrong way you can do this. Whatever works for you will be best for you. As writers of fiction, things are almost always jumbled and coming to us rapidly and out of nowhere so we tend to note this down all over. From notepads, to phones, to different apps and software. You name it, we’ve written on it.

So without further ado, let’s get into it….

STEP 1

I would call this your idea phase. You know that moment when an idea hits you but it’s only a sentence long? This is just step one. Fun fact about Kat: I used to begin writing with just that first idea and it was horrible. I found myself being stuck more than usual. This is where you’re going to brainstorm. Write down all of the ideas, thoughts, characters, names, whatever contribution you have to bring to this novel, just write them down. It doesn’t have to be in specific order. It doesn’t even have to make sense at this point.

STEP 2

Now that you have all of your ideas down it’s time to really think about the main plot of your story. An idea can go anywhere whether it’s romance, suspense, thriller or a mixture of genres. Try writing a summary of what you’d like your story to be about.

STEP 3

Create character profiles. I’ll briefly explain here how I do this as I plan to create an entire post to help with character profiling. This takes some work, some critical thinking. Not only are you going to name your characters, you’re going to create a description of their physical attributes as well as what they do and what they stand for. For example, if your character’s name is Sophia and Sophia has long blonde hair, green eyes etc etc Then you’ll need to add to Sophia before you start writing. What does Sophia do? How does Sophia think or react? Does Sophia have a shy persona or is she outgoing? What are her likes, dislikes, boundaries.

STEP 4

I’d recommend naming and explaining as much characters as you can at this point. The main ones, their family members(if they have a part in the story). While writing you’ll most likely add characters or omit characters. Have no fear, these changes are doable and nothing is set in stone. Having a base of characters gives you ammo to write with so along with your main plot and setting, you can write something without having to stop every few paragraphs.

STEP 5

I should have mentioned setting earlier but here’s why I left it out until now. During your summary stage, you would have most likely mentioned the location or setting in which your book takes place. Let’s call stage five, research. Whatever you want to put into your novel and you feel like you need to know more about it, get on google and research the heck out of it. Look for pictures of places, houses etc You can save them for later use, or you can just makes notes as your description comes to life in your head. Another thing you want to research is jobs functions, weather of a particular location etc. Anything that you feel you need help with in creating a better summary.

STEP 6

Summary number two! So now that you have all of this information, write a complete summary with the added details of your characters and settings.

STEP 7

What you’ll do from here is expand your summary. Don’t get rid of any of your earlier work by the way. Expand your current summary. Add your sub plots or scenes as I call them. Any specific quote or line you need to place somewhere, add it all in. You can redo this as much as you need to in order to create your desired outline.

STEP 8

When you feel like everything makes sense, start writing. Having this guide will help you to write on days that you’re uninspired or lost because you’ll know what’s going to take place. Even if you get stuck take a time out and then get back into it. Remember this is only the first draft and another fun fact: My first drafts are often horrible and written very poorly with a few brilliant things in between. Patience is virtue when it comes to writing. Take your time, try to finish that first draft even if you’re not completely satisfied. Anything can be corrected, omitted and modified later on.

I hope this made any sense at all and I hope it helps you in your writing process. Good luck!

xo Kat

 

Freelancing Failures and Future Projects

Approximately seven years ago, I started a freelancing company focusing on computer repairs and networking systems. I even dabbled with a little web design but it never took off the ground. I am skeptical about going back into freelancing, having to market myself, reach out to people that don’t want to be reached out to. Nothing comes easy as we all know and I am prepared for the negative as well as the positive. This time around I’m going to extend my book writing into freelance writing services which I’ll cover more in another post. Here are some of the reasons why my freelance business didn’t work in the past.

No Respect as a Professional

Because I started out very young, and somewhat inexperienced, I was at a deep disadvantage. Most of the time you try to network with family and peers before strangers, and those close to me just couldn’t take me seriously as a professional techie or an entrepreneur.

Working for Free

People who know you tend to not want to pay you for your skill set. Even with a registered business, you’re still expected to do favors. It’s tough when you’ve put out the capital to start your business and struggle to make profits.

No confidence

At the time, I thought I marketed my business averagely. I gave out business cards, printed flyers, did social media and the traditional word of mouth. I still lacked the confidence to approach strangers and make a sound point why I would be a suitable candidate for hire.

Lack of Persistence 

Although you fail and fail, and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, in this line of work, you must possess persistence. It’s a risk, it’s a gamble and you must be on your best game at all times. Around the time things were going sour, I also migrated to another country so that was a major factor.

Death of Passion

Freelancing isn’t like landing a 9 to 5 job. Most people freelance because it’s what they prefer to do in order to utilize and enhance their skill set. If your heart isn’t in it or your skills are lacking, it really wouldn’t take off the way you want it too.

If you have freelanced in the past or doing it currently, drop me a line in the comments to let me know about your experiences. 

xo Kat

The Secret Life of A Writer

As a self-published author, and someone who’s starting with no strings in the business, I lead a double life. Until date I have hidden my writing projects and determination to be the best writer I can be from the majority of people I know, family members and peers.

My reasons for writing anonymously doesn’t have anything to do with insecurity or fear of rejection. As writers, it’s a benefit to yourself and your craft to actually get negative feedback. It helps you learn, it helps you improve.

My secret author life is not so secret anymore though. I’ve met some awesome and supportive people online who are basically in the same boat as I am. It’s been great to connect with my tribe you know, but there is still that darkness that haunts me when someone asks me what I do.

As it is, I don’t get paid for writing books, something I hope to change soon. My previous self-published projects only garnered a few dollars over the past year. For this reason only, I bite my tongue when I’m about to say to someone, “I’m a writer.”

I feel like hardworking, unpublished writers like myself aren’t taken very seriously until we land a publishing deal. So it’s not something I broadcast to each and everyone. Here are some of the reasons why I live this secret life:

Why are you so busy?

Having two kids, running errands, making sure everything is organized and writing makes me a busy gal. I don’t socialize much(not by choice, I just don’t know anyone) and I am home ninety-five percent of my life. People often have the impression that I sit down and watch TV all day while my kids are on tablets. This isn’t the case but I don’t say different. It’s hard to tell people I write most of the night, when I wake up in the morning my book is on my mind and I can’t wait to get to it. It’s hard to tell people I’m always writing down ideas or even parts of my book in a notebook or on my phone, whatever is available to me while I use the bathroom, in between cooking, in between homeschooling my kids.(My oldest attends school, we just do academic activities during school breaks).

People just don’t understand your drive, your thirst for writing. They don’t understand that sometimes you do it because it’s natural to you, it’s how you live, it’s what you love.

Oh, you’re a writer…what do you write?

uhhhh romance….uhhhh with sexy times. It’s hard to belt that one out. The look on the person’s face just screams, “Stay at home mom writing her teenage fantasies.” And then you’re back to being laughed at or not taken seriously. People expect you to be a JK Rowling or George Martin in one go. I promise you I don’t only write romance. It’s just what I’m comfortable with writing right now.

You’re still writing that book? 60,000 words isn’t much!

People who don’t write or even read for that matter don’t understand how much work, effort and time needs to be put in for a proper manuscript. Writing the first draft is the smallest task actually. These things take time especially when you have to give up sleep or something else to find that time to write. It isn’t easy and if you do it or have done it, give yourself a big ole’ pat on the back.

Wow you actually know what you’re talking about!

Okay so I got this one concerning my blog. I have to say I was taken aback. When you tell people you blog or write, they assume because they know you personally, you don’t know how to write professional and profess shock when they read something of yours. Did you not think I was smart enough? Or capable enough?

It’s all of the above really. I like writing anonymously, I like writing for readers, or critics even but I don’t write to attract negativity from the wrong sources. This my friends is why I lead a double life!

xo Kat

 

Mistakes I Made As a Writer

Since I have started working on book length stories, my knowledge and experience of the writing process has broadened significantly. When I started out with writing books, my basic process was to just start writing with one small idea I had at the time with barely any concept. I just had an idea, basic knowledge of my characters and I started to write. I found myself being stuck a lot along the way, that thing they called writer’s block. It would frustrate me to no end as to why I can’t just write my story and finish it despite having an idea of what I wanted to convey.

I took a break for a couple of months from working on a book, and I utilized that time to really study my craft and work on myself as a writer. Here are some of the mistakes that I made when I first decided to pursue writing books.

No Outlining

To be honest, I didn’t even know about outlining as a strategic way of writing a book. I had a notebook and I wrote down ideas and pieces of my story and I basically tried not to over do it, thinking that it was very incompetent of me to outline an entire book. I was both surprised and excited when I heard of well established authors doing this. Bear with me here, I was a total noob to this entire writing books thing. Previously, I had only done poetry and short stories for self fulfillment that I never let anyone else read.

Not outlining my story was a bad approach for me, and since then I have found it to help me write on days that I am not even inspired. When you have your lay out, you at least know what you want to say even if it’s first draft material.

Lack of Patience

When I first heard of self publishing, I was elated. I still believe that I am a novice writer, and I don’t think I have the confidence to pitch my book to any agent or publishing house so I felt like maybe this self-publishing route was a good one for me. As it was, I read a lot of great self-published books on Kindle, some of which are my favorite reads til date.

So I mustered the courage to actually begin writing the story in my head. Writing takes time, it’s a long process to have a completed manuscript, one that you’re satisfied with. Again, I saw prolific writers on Kindle just releasing book after book and often self-doubted myself as a writer. We all do at some point but I had days when I just felt like maybe I’m pursuing the wrong thing and that really affected me because the only thing I can say with confidence that I know how to do is write. Writing for me is living.

Underdeveloped characters

In my head my characters are well thought out. I am constantly always thinking of my stories and characters and it builds itself as time goes by. I do write down a lot of what I’ve come up with but when I read over my written work, I realize I need to personalize and give my characters more depth. If I didn’t learn how to do this, they would all sound the same. So it’s a matter of being one writer with many different stories to tell, and you have to fit yourself into many different hats/shoes. You need to spend more time with your characters, understanding their lives, their stories, their likes or dislikes, their jobs etc.

Rushed Content

This might come into play with my other points. Like I was saying previously, lack of patience invites rushed writing. In the desperation to have a finished book, my story and characters weren’t fleshed out enough. I felt like it was more a description of things, people and places, than a connection as a reader of my own work.

Too Much Telling, Not Enough Showing

This is a little tricky. Why do I say that? Because I’ve seen established authors do it. I’ve learned to correct my own essays in elementary school so when I read, I come across things that I feel should’ve been edited in a different fashion. It really interrupts the story for me but it is a learning curve. The best way to write, is to first be a reader.

It’s important to convey your characters thoughts and feelings not so directly to your readers. Readers are smart people, let’s not underestimate them. They can get bored and fall out of love with your writing before you can even blink. As an example, let’s talk about anger. Throughout the book, you wouldn’t want to repeat yourself like a broken record saying, “This person is angry” or “This person is furious.” A more comfortable way in writing the same feeling over and over is to describe what’s going on with your character. For instance, “She grips the edge of her seat until her knuckles go white.” Pardon my generic sentences, I couldn’t come up with anything else at this point.

A Thousand Rewrites

Frankly, I still do this and this is why I stress on outlining at least your basic idea before writing. Read over your outline and makes changes before you begin to write. Make sure you’re satisfied with what you have for a first draft. Anything else can be modified, fixed, added, chopped in your second revision.

Self-doubt

Even the best writers have self-doubt. I still doubt myself, and feel like I will be the laughing stock of the nation if someone actually reads what I’ve written. Previously I mentioned that I never showed my work to another human. Writing is me, I am writing. It’s how I truly feel. I want to be an author so badly, that I can taste it. If I give up writing, it would be like giving up a huge fraction of what makes me, me. Even though you self-doubt, there are avenues to make you feel better and comfortable as a writer. If you want it bad enough, don’t let anything stop you.

These are the main things that affected me as a novice writer. I’ve seen people ask questions relating to all of these so I thought I’d put together a post to share my experiences with writing. 

xo Kat