Yes, I'm alive...and I have news!

If you’ve spent more than 30 seconds looking around my site, you’ll know that I’m not a blogger. Unfortunately, in the world of Kathy, blogging goes hand-in-hand with things like cleaning toilets and doing laundry—not on my list of favorites. You’d think writing is, well, writing. I’m an author. I enjoy putting words on the page, so I should love blogging. Um…not. I’m much more comfortable inhabiting the world of my imagination than telling people about my real life. My life isn’t anywhere near as exciting as the lives of my characters. Who really needs to know what my dog did yesterday? Or what delicious dish I made for dinner last night? Seriously.

Okay, I could probably come up with something to blog about that isn’t quite so boring—maybe something about where I get my story ideas—but I have a limited number of hours each day to devote to writing. Frankly, I’d much rather spend them creating new worlds, characters, and adventures. And judging by the number of people who have taken the time to leave comments on my blog, they just want the sequel to Deadly Remains tout de suite. Spending hours thinking up, writing, and editing blog posts isn’t going to get the sequel out any quicker, that’s for sure. (I do make the time to reply to all blog comments, though.)

However, posting once a year is probably pushing it. So I am going to make an effort to let you guys know what I’m up to with a little more frequency.

At least so you know that I’m still alive and kicking…and typing away. ;-)

Now for my update. I have exciting news. (Well, I think it’s exciting.) The book launch for my latest novel, The 7th Tear, is November 1st!

Let me start by saying this novel is not the sequel to Deadly Remains. Late last year, I took a brief hiatus from writing the sequel in order to participate in the National Novel Writing Month challenge. (If you’re curious about this crazy event, you can check out the NaNoWriMo website.) For the challenge, I decided to write a story based on a vivid dream I had last year. After spending the month of November writing over 50,000 words, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the story. Obsession set in. I had to finish it, adding another 27,000+ words. And then I had to polish, edit, get feedback, edit some more, send it to the copyeditor, and (finally) get it ready for publication. This took many months of hard work, and, yes, I had to take some time away from Lire’s sequel, but hopefully you will agree that it was worth the detour.

Here’s a little taste of what’s coming!

Fairytales suck...

... and Samantha Jennings is living proof. Raised by a mother as wary and bitter as she is beautiful, Samantha has longed for most of her twenty-nine years to know more about her past – who her real father is, who she is. She never imagined her grand revelation would come in the form of a smug tabloid stringer on her doorstep.

In an instant, Samantha is transformed from anonymous veterinarian with a passion for whales to bastard American royalty under relentless scrutiny from every conceivable direction. Desperate for escape, she takes a job nursing rescued sea mammals on a private Caribbean island, a place so remote even maritime navigators barely know it exists. Her new employer is wealthy, charming, fiercely handsome, and his interest in Sam is clearly more than just professional. Happy endings may be in short supply, but she dares to hope that hers could be in the making.

And then Sam overhears a conversation, one not meant for human ears, so unnerving it threatens to undo both her heart and her mind. Her fairytale has only just begun and it's far from the simple fable she thought it was.

This book is a paranormal romance. So, I have to ask—did that come through in the jacket copy?

Now, you might wonder, why November 1st? Why the two month wait? Aside from getting the print version formatted and ready for production, I'm taking the time to send out advance copies to reviewers. As you probably know, word of mouth is a big deal for all authors, but it's especially important for a relatively unknown author with only one other book under her belt. Early reviews will hopefully generate some buzz and help people decide whether or not to invest their free time in my latest release.

Well, that's the latest. I'll keep you posted on how things go. Keep your eyes peeled for November 1st!

What makes a book truly memorable?

Not long ago, I discovered GoodReads, a terrific website devoted to book lovers, where members can discover, recommend and keep track of their books. This website is a happy discovery because a recent move to a smaller home has relegated all of my beloved books to storage for the foreseeable future. And besides, as a rabid Kindle enthusiast, I rarely purchase physical books anymore. GoodReads gives me a way to see all of my books in one place, their covers lined up neatly down the page. I love that! Whenever I get a spare moment, I engross myself in the process of stocking my digital book shelves. I actually get a little thrill out of growing my own personal library. Although I've really just started filling my virtual shelves, the process of searching for books and, more interestingly, rating books I've read has me thinking: Why do certain books leave a lasting impression on me and others, while I may enjoy them in the moment, just don't stay with me?

Over the course of my forty-odd years, I have read hundreds of books. I love reading. And here's something that struck me as weird at first: I can't recall ever reading a "bad" book—presumably because I stopped reading the genuinely terrible ones and promptly forgot them. Without exception, all of the books in my digital bookshelf were ones I eagerly devoured. But a lot of them, while I distinctly remember liking them, left me with almost no reliable specifics years later. Sometimes I remember almost nothing about the characters and have only the vaguest recollection of the world. Does this mean that the dimly remembered stories on my bookshelf aren't 'good reads'? After thinking about it a bit, I don't think so. They were certainly memorable enough that I can recall reading them. I remember their titles. I remember liking them. I recognize their covers. But in some cases the stories are completely lost to me.

And that set me to wondering...  What makes a book truly memorable?

Some of the stories that have stayed with me seem to be the ones that introduced me to a genre. The Dead Zone (Stephen King), Songs of Earth and Power (Greg Bear), The Deed of Paksenarrion (Elizabeth Moon) and Guilty Pleasures (Laurell K. Hamilton) are all novels that thrilled me because they were so new. You know how you can remember exactly where you were when something big happened? That's sort of how it feels for these stories. Not only can I remember the books themselves; plot, characters, the locations and rafts of little details, but I also remember exactly where and when I started reading each of them.

Others have stuck with me because they tugged strongly on my emotions. The Five People You Meet in Heaven (Mitch Albom) brought me to tears as I learned the true meaning of the main character's life. The adversities faced by the characters in The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett) had me angrily stomping my feet on more than one occasion. The story was that upsetting for me. (It also sports what may be the best opening line I've ever read: "The small boys came early to the hanging.") Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels made me laugh out loud, mostly because I can totally see myself making the same clueless choices with, I'm sure, equally disastrous results.

I also tend to remember stories that spin a familiar plot in a clever way or offer an unexpected perspective, sometimes both! Wicked (Gregory Maguire) was one of those books that made me say, none too greenly, "Now, why didn't I think of that!" Although the story parallels the tale of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum), Maguire's inversion of Baum's story utterly captivated me. Nor will On A Pale Horse (Piers Anthony) fade from memory any time soon. I read his first book in the Incarnations of Immortality series over ten years ago, but the notion that Death is a job, one that can only be filled by killing the previous occupant, led into such an engaging romp that I ended up reading all the other books in the series back to back.

Some stories seem to live on the power of a single character. Dracula (Bram Stoker), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë), the stories of Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), The Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien) all fall into that category for me. I may lose some of the details, but the protagonists will be with me forever.

I've just read and thoroughly enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows) and The Mystery of Grace (Charles de Lint). I wonder if, ten years from now, I'll be able to recall their stories with more than just a little detail. I hope so, because it really was a pleasure reading both of them. But I guess if they do slip away from me, I can always go back and read them again!

So, what do you think? What makes a book both good AND memorable? What books do you still remember clearly, even though you may have read them years ago? And finally, do you still give books you clearly-remember-enjoying-but-can't-recall-the-exact-story a 'liked it' or better rating on GoodReads? How come... or why not? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

My Indie-publishing Journey

I'll be the first to admit that, when I decided to independently publish my first novel, I was freaking clueless.  Deadly Remains was my first finished manuscript, I didn't know any other published authors nor did I have any contacts in the publishing world.  I didn't realize that there are some interesting (and sometimes rather contentious) opinions about self-publishing and the authors who choose to release their writing in such a manner.  My decision to go the independent route had little to do with what other people were going to think of me.  (Although I'd be lying if I told you I don't care about what other people think.)  In spite of my ignorance, or maybe because of it, I simply decided that the best person to take care of me was me, a notion my Dad did his best to impart throughout my upbringing.  If mistakes were going to be made, they would be my mistakes.  Any success would be mine to enjoy.  My book would succeed or not based on its own merits.  Besides, the way I figured it, some of my best lessons in life have come from making mistakes. One thing I've learned is that the labels 'indie-published' and 'self-published' are misnomers.  Shhhh.  Don't tell, but I didn't do everything by myself.  Although I had control over every aspect of my novel's publication, I couldn't have pursued the independent path without help.  My husband, who has been an avid supporter of what initially began as a hobby, helped me with much of the heavy lifting.  Under the auspices of our independent publishing company, Scry Media LLC, we worked hand-in-hand to do everything we could--editing, formatting, cover design, marketing--to make my novel a success.  I enlisted family and friends as critics, taking their advice to hone the narrative, make sure characters felt 'real', find plot loopholes and tell me whether the story just plain worked for them or not.  The entire process took many months, countless revisions, and many hours in front of the computer, but it was a labor of love.

Another thing I learned is, while it isn't necessary to spend gobs of money to produce a quality product, the publication process isn't always easy or straightforward.  There are many details that are fairly simple, like setting up a company, opening a business bank account, and getting an ISBN, but formatting the text properly can be tricky and time consuming.  At least it was for us.  It sounds deceivingly simple—just convert a .docx file into an .ePub file and upload.  Ha!  Unless things have changed for the better in the last nine months, the conversion, especially for uploading to Apple's iBooks, is often tedious and frustrating.  (And if, God forbid, you have footnotes with links elsewhere in your book…good luck!)  This is one of the reasons why companies like Smashwords and Lulu are in business.  For a cut of your sales, they will take on the job of formatting and uploading your book, both for sale on their and other major e-book sites.  If you don't have the inclination to deal with the vagaries of HTML, PDFs, section headings, or art safe zones, self-publishing with this type of aggregator can help accomplish your goal of getting your work out there.  That said, I'm here to tell you that it isn't impossible to do it yourself thereby keeping the majority of the profits in your own pocket.

My husband and I spent many hours combing the internet for information and experimenting before finally arriving at a conversion process that worked to get my .docx file into the electronic forms acceptable for upload to the three big players:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple.  Each company has different file requirements for submission.  Wrangling the bits for print publication through Amazon's CreateSpace involved yet another pipeline fraught with its own intricacies, mainly to do with getting the cover precisely put together.  (Tip:  don't even think about formatting your book cover until you know that your manuscript is carved in stone.  The number of pages directly affects the size of the spine.)  None of it was easy, but with persistence and determination anyone with a computer and some choice software can do it.

Here are some of the software packages we used.  (We had better luck finding the inexpensive tools we needed on the Windows OS side, but things may have changed in the past year for Mac users.):

Microsoft Word






Universal Barcode Maker

In addition, my husband's blog posts about the conversion process might also prove helpful.

I am proud of what we've managed to accomplish with a little money and a lot of gumption.  On Amazon alone, Deadly Remains has sold over 5,000 copies with admittedly little in the way of marketing, the majority on Kindle—way more copies than I ever dared dream.  (While this might not sound like a huge number, keep in mind that as an indie-author I'm keeping 70% of the e-book's sales price.  To make the same amount of money with a traditional publisher, I'd have needed to sell 20,000 copies.)  Even more exciting is that my novel is currently running at a 4/5 star rating with over thirty reviews, a majority from people I've never met who have taken the time to offer their thoughts and constructive criticism.  Although I find it completely terrifying, hearing from my readers has been both gratifying and instructive.

More than anything, my indie-publishing experience has taught me that I have so much more to learn!  Whenever I start to feel self-doubt creep into my mindset, I remind myself that this is only the beginning.  Deadly Remains is the first manuscript I've ever written and I know that I have much more to offer.  You can bet I'll be striving to better myself both as an author and indie-publisher, and I'll continue to learn from my mistakes and successes.  If you're an aspiring author, I hope my experience has shown that if I can do it, so can you!

I'm an In-print Introvert

This week I created a Twitter account (@KatBayless), but I'm almost positive that social media and I go together about as well as higher taxes and the Tea Party.  The thought of actually twittering makes my stomach clench and a cold sweat spring from my pores.  Two days ago, I made my very first comment ever on another author's blog.  You'd have thought it was a life or death event with the way I agonized about it.  It was only three measly sentences, one of which was a single word—"congratulations!"  (You think I'm kidding, don't you?) Until I self-published my first novel, it hadn't occurred to me that I'm a bit of an introvert.  Wacky as it seems, this discovery was a shock!  It's not like I have a problem socializing.  I have friends.  I like to talk.  I love learning new things about my friends and acquaintances.  Really.  It's only when I translate my inner thoughts into the printed word for the world to see that I get nervous.  How ridiculous does that sound coming from an author?  (Please, don't answer that!)

Maybe being an in-print introvert is not so strange when you consider that up until my book was published, writing had been a solitary pastime.  It wasn't until my novel was uploaded to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks that I was forced out of the private world I had created, confronted by the realization that others were actually reading and evaluating my work.  Amazing, but terrifying at the same time!

Now adding to my distress is the need for marketing.  As a self-published author, I was already aware that word of mouth was going to be the key to my success.  So it stands to reason that in order to increase my sales, I have to let as many people know about my book as possible.  To do this, I have to put myself 'out there' even further.  I have to learn the art of tooting my own horn.  Although I am unequivocally proud of what I've accomplished, this is something that does not come easily for me.

So, I started out with baby steps.  My first task was to create a presence on the web.  I purchased my domain names— and—from Network Solutions, but there are other domain sellers out there, like GoDaddy for example.  For a quicker way to set up my blog, I installed WordPress on my site.  If you can't afford to purchase your own domain name, don't despair.  WordPress offers a cost-free way to start blogging quickly by using a hosted version of their package.  It just means you will have a slightly longer web address with "" at the end.

My husband, who has been such an asset and a tireless supporter, dedicated his artistic talents to creating a Deadly Remains book trailer video for YouTube.  This wasn't an easy task, but I think it turned out beautifully.  (See for yourself.  The viewer is on my sidebar.)  It's amazing what can be accomplished with free software, some stock artwork, a little know-how and a lot of time!

Next, I created my Twitter account and tried to find other aspiring and published authors to follow.  Maybe someday I'll actually tweet, but, for now, I'm comfortable taking the cautious approach to this new media outlet.  This will be a work in progress.

In addition to looking at Twitter, I've spent the past few days reading other writer's blogs and perusing various literary forums looking for information that might help me in my endeavors.  There is a mountain of information out there that could easily suck up hours and hours of my already limited free time.  Again, work in progress.

One blog that I'm currently checking out is Rachelle Gardner's.  I hit pay-dirt on the 'How To Market Your Book' post and am still working through all the interesting links she provided in that one entry.  Thank you Rachelle!

Because my book is a contemporary fantasy, I've found the forums to be compelling reading.  Again, I've only scratched the surface there and I plan to spend more time delving deeper into that site's archives.

It is thrilling to know that there is a vast community of other aspiring and already published writers out there who are blogging about their experiences.  It is SO nice to know that I'm not alone!

Maybe this social media thing isn't so bad after all!

Book Signing

On July 16th, 2011 between 1 and 4 pm I will be signing copies of Deadly Remains at The Butter Paddle in Los Gatos, California.  (The store will have paperbacks on hand for purchase.)  The Butter Paddle is a wonderful gift shop, staffed and run entirely by volunteers.  All of the store's profits go to EMQ Families First--a charitable organization that benefits children and families in crisis throughout California.  You can learn more about the Butter Paddle and EMQ by visiting their website at  I am honored to have the opportunity to participate in this special event!

I'm not a blogger! (Yet.)

Okay, I admit it.  I am a blogging newb.  Posting my thoughts, discoveries, and questions on-line for everyone to see is, quite honestly, outside my comfort zone.  If it weren't for publishing my novel and trying to generate interest in the thing, my guess is that I'd happily be going about my life contently reading the occasional blog, but never posting on one--never mind actually having one of my own. I had a friend tell me once that I had very well worn paths.  Pretty sure that's still true, but also completely crazy since my husband and I have moved over ten times and lived in four different states in the last fifteen years.  I suppose once I get comfortable with a given place or activities, the tendency is to keep to the status quo.  Maybe getting over my blogging shyness will be one step toward forging a new path, one that will expand my horizons.  Before I know it, blogging will be another experience inside my comfort zone and I'll have to try something else that's new.  Twitter?  Oh noes!


This is my place to babble.  I honestly don't know how much time I'll have for blogging.  Between the kids, writing, crafting, and (reluctantly) keeping the house clean, I'm incredibly busy!  But when I have a spare moment or two, this is where you'll find me.