New Adventures of K.D. Upton

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Photo by Anita Martinz

Good day to all! Spring has sprung, especially the allergies, and I’m on a new course of writing like never before. Daily challenges aside, I’ve put pencil/pen to paper almost everyday this year, and I’m thrilled at all the progress. Of course, writing is like fine wine. It takes time, but I’ve got lots of fun and challenging adventures on the horizon that I can’t wait to share.

What’s on the list for this year? Glad you asked! The Protectorate series continues with Anna on a whirlwind trip across the globe, hounded by traitors and enemies alike. Ancient artifacts, archaic rites of passage, ill-inclined organizations, and personal struggles threaten to topple Anna’s fragile world in her quest of self, vengeance, and salvation. Teeth will gnash, guts will churn, and lives will be lost! Stay tuned;-)

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In addition to my labor of love, I’m gearing up for a new writing adventure. EDITOR. Yes! I’ve always had a passion for the written word, and I’m now embracing editing into my tasks of writing, blogging, medication consulting, and sleeping somewhere in between. With years of experience, professional publications, and nagging from other writing professionals, I’ll add a page on the blog in the near future for my anticipated launch as an editor. Looking forward to a great launch!

However, not only am I anticipating my book launch and editing, I’m knee-deep in craft books to hone dialogue, character arcs, plot, etc… I’m also on a steep learning curve when it comes to Photoshop, book trailers, merchandise, etc… It’s enough to make my brain explode. No matter the age, though, one can always learn! As I continue to rewrite/edit my current WIP, I enjoy learning/trying new techniques to take my writing to a higher level. With that in mind, I’d love to hear what sources you use for improvement in writing, and if you’ve got some easy pointers on how to navigate Photoshop, I’m all ears! Please comment below or send me a DM.

And if the above wasn’t enough, I’m learning a new language: Norwegian!!! Why? Well, I want to! My filled days make life worth living, and I encourage you to pick up a book, any book, and dream. That’s what life is for, isn’t it? Dream and then go after the dream. You’ll be glad you did;-)

Until next time, happy reading, happy writing, happy dreaming!

KD

Life Update!

Exciting times ahead, and I want to keep you updated. First, I’m all into Tai Chi for health! My health, like many out there, needs attention, and I’ve discovered the benefits of this ancient form of marital arts. As a writer, I’ve got to be centered, focused and as stress free as possible;-) Of course, stress is a common companion for any writer, but it doesn’t have to rule you. Plus, stress wrecks havoc on our immune systems, skin, hair, organs, you name it. So, if you haven’t tried Tai Chi, give it a go!

Next, I’m avidly writing the second installment of The Protectorate series. While it’s slow going, it’s coming along nicely. Like fine wine, my books get better with the wait;-) So, stay tuned as I get closer to finishing it and sending it off to my trusted and brilliant Beta Readers!

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In addition to life’s events and writing, I’m thrilled to read any second I get. My current reading list includes: The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki, Defiant Brides by Nancy Rubin Stuart along with lots of books/articles on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Who says you can’t have fun researching? My love for all things historical runs deep, and I’m up to my shoulders in research for my series.

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Cover via Amazon.com

 

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Cover via Amazon.com

Lastly, I’m gearing up for a new path in writing, and I can’t wait to share it. However, I’ll release information on it in due time. Just know that lots of time, energy and effort have gone into this new project, and I’m thrilled for the opportunity!

So, what books are you reading? I’d love to know! Comment below and read on:-)

Happy writing/reading,

KD

A Time for Thanks

Thanksgiving is two days away for those celebrating in the United States, and I’m salivating at the prospects of pumpkin pie, turkey and stuffing, pumpkin pie, ambrosia and rolls, pumpkin pie and, well, you get the gist. For me, I love to plop down onto the sofa, stuffed to the gills with good food rumbling inside of my belly and surrounded by my loved ones watching my most anticipated event of the season… The AKC Dog Show, of course!

Yes, my love of dogs goes beyond borders, kingdoms and realms. They put a pep to my step and bring out the ooey gooey talking, lovey dovey heart of a child the second I lay eyes on my pup. *sigh* She’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of in a dog, and she never lets me down. Always devoted to my mundane habits of tap, tap, tapping away at the keyboards or midnight kitchen jaunts stealing yet another glass of water after my foggy mind attempted to write down a concept ripped from my dreams. Yep, she jumps to attention, her velvety soft ears pointed in my direction, and her gaze giving me the once over just to make certain I’m safe. I melt in those pools of soft chocolate, and I thank my lucky stars for the gift that she is.

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Of course, I’m grateful for my kids, too. Oh, yeah! My kids rule the roost in this family of complete and normal dysfunction. *wink* We’re no less dysfunctional than the rest, this I know, but we excel in our failed attempts at hitting the laundry basket or keeping all the peas on the plate. Sure, some land on the floor and get stomped and smashed to smithereens, trailed through the house in a final blaze of glory, while the pup even turns her nose up at it before plopping down on her half of the couch in a huff. “Silly humans,” she must think as she refuses eye contact for the next five minutes in hopes of shaming we mere mortals into tossing her a salmon flavored treat, down on our knees, begging for her forgiveness.

And I digress. Family. Right. You know, we’re all family if you think about it. My dog is as much a part of this family as the humans. That’s what I love most about my spouse, children and pup. If someone is ill, another fixes meals or picks up the laundry or simply sits by our sides binge watching Netflix or HuluPlus, sympathizing and caring in the best way we know how. We have our ups and downs, but our family is strong and have weathered many a storm. To this I am THANKFUL. GRATEFUL. BLESSED.

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So, while many are posting days of ‘Thanks’ during the month of November, I’m there with ya, shouting to the world how wonderful these people (Canines, too!) are by my side, but it’s no different than the other 11 months out of the year. I choose to live each day with a grateful heart regardless of the month.

One final word of ‘Thanks’ goes out to all my family near and far. Merriam-Webster lists “Family” as “a group of people who are related to each other,” or “a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head,” but I beg to differ. My family constitutes those in my household but extends to those special friends in my life that are neither ancestrally related or by marriage. My family circle is blessed this Thanksgiving with wonderful family and friends living in Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Michigan, Colorado, California, and Australia and is enriched by those I’ve met through writing from the UK, Norway, India, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and the list goes on and on. There’s lots to be grateful for, and I wish all my family and fellow #NaNoWriMo writers a wonderful end to November.

Best of luck, happy eating, and, of course, happy reading/writing!

KD

NaNoWriMo and Exercise

Hello November!! My love for this month grows exponentially each  year, and yet, my body wasn’t quite as prepared for the onslaught of writing and exercising that I’d imagined. Of course, I don’t think anyone can be completely prepared for the NaNoWriMo experience, but that shouldn’t stop anybody from attacking it.

It’s been a whirlwind of keys flourishing over the keyboard, hand cramps as a result of using a pen and paper routine before entering it into the digital realm, researching, writing, writing, and did I mention writing??? Yesterday, last week, today, and tomorrow all blur in total confusion, elation, and hard work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the mire of a fulfilling writing life, I mentioned in a previous post about dipping my toes into the world of exercise. I believe it’s important to have a fit body to be an effective parent, spouse, and, of course, writer. With a lot of autoimmune issues, I struggle to tread water working full time, writing and being in ten places at once; let alone exercise. Yet, I believe it’s possible, and so I push on, and this November has started brilliantly.

NaNoWriMo: The Marathon

You know, there are a ton of similarities between exercise goals and writing. The first one being the decision to do either. One day, we decide, “Today, I will exercise,” or “I will write…” The courage to begin is probably one of the hardest things to conquer, but we begin anyway, and we charge forth as any energetic, bright-eyed, hopeful person does. Of course, it doesn’t take long before our first stumble or road block in the form of injuries, fatigue or writer’s block rears it’s ugly head. It is to these moments that can make or break us.

Not only does the will to begin need to be etched in stone, the courage to continue needs to be forged in iron, or adamantium (whichever you prefer). Yep, I went there;-) We must lace up those shoes and hit the pavement to work our way up to the 26.2 miles of a marathon, and writing is no different. Our mental muscles must be worked from flabby to fabulous over a period of time which varies from person to person. No matter how long it takes, we must continue to run, walk or even crawl across that finish line in the end because only we possess the ability to do so.

Where to begin?

However, I got ahead of myself. Allow me to backtrack. After we’ve determined we want to traverse down the path of exercise or writing, we eventually settle into a routine of sports drinks, fruits and veggies, or triple shots of caffeine, nights filled with jotting down notes from dreams, and the ever incessant clack of the keyboard. I’d be remiss if I left out the multitude of google searches, thesaurus checks or reading other books for inspiration, but the same would go for exercise, too. In order to cross that finish line, we must make ourselves knowledgeable. So, off to the races we go.

Next…

Next, we try routines. Some work out while a mass of others fall by the wayside, but we keep going because our inner drive compels us to, or we envision all those people that told us we couldn’t or wouldn’t ever make it. We run from our fears or head them head on, but we run nevertheless. Yes, we pay our dues, and we come out better people for it. Sure, we may not end up where we previously envisioned, but that’s okay. We may start out practicing for a marathon only to end up running a 5k, or we may outline a lengthy novel that ends up being a short story, but who cares? It’s still an achievement.  It’s all a part of the process, and who knows? Maybe, just maybe, we end up running that marathon. It may not be pretty, but come Hell or high-water, we drag ourselves across that finish line and relish in the euphoria of accomplishing the once unthinkable.

Yep, exercise and writing go hand in hand. There’s lots of planning, training and perseverance in the slimmest of odds, but the results are well worth it. So, today I write to you frazzled, fatigued, and sore, but my mental muscles are growing in size along with the once puny muscles that quivered at the sight of weights. My first battle conquered, I plod on with hope in my heart and an arsenal of knowledge in my pocket.

While I tackle this month of writing and exercising, I’ll keep you updated on my failures as well as successes. Until then, lift, read, run, squat, and write on! I’m interested in hearing your tips for this month of writing, too. I look forward to your comments and messages!

 

Happy writing and exercising,

KD

Writer’s Life of Research

Good day to be a writer, don’t you think? I know NaNoWriMo is around the corner and lots of people are vigorously preparing for the onslaught, ahem… process. My life, unfortunately, is filled to the brim with research, editing, formatting, rewriting, and writing, among other life adventures, that I am not participating in November’s 50,000 words. However, for those of you that are, I wish you the very best in your November adventure!

For me, daily life consists of, well, writing. Of course, I write a little, but my mainstay of writing is the research. Tons of hours go into research, and I’m not ashamed to say it. Studious as a college freshman, I read, highlight, take notes and inspect pictures to the ‘nth’ degree before ever putting pen to paper or typing like the wind on the keyboard. Some writers plan every nitty gritty detail of each chapter using excel spreadsheets, and that’s great if it works for you! Alas, it’s not for me.

So, what’s my plan for writing? Glad you asked;-) I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants with a skeletal outline of the beginning, middle and end. Of course, I throw in notes for the parts between the beginning and middle/middle to the end, but that’s it. I write, edit, rewrite, edit, so on and so forth until the inner instinct kicks in, telling me it’s ready to publish. However, this post is more about my love of research. So…

For me, research is key to elevating a good book to a great one. Sure, it takes loads of time. Sure, it can seem cumbersome and slow down the time it takes between published books, but it’s my cup of tea, and I’m sticking to it. For instance, right now, I’m writing my second in a series beginning with The Protectorate. Globe trotting and running head first into trouble, my main character Anna never had it so bad  good;-) Since her travels take her to the likes of Austria, Argentina and Germany, among others, I get to research these wonderful places and put Anna through the ringer either in a rainforest, museum or war memorial. It allows my mind the ability to create with an ease I’d never have without all the research.

You see, I’m one of “those” people who can’t write without knowing a little about the places my characters visit. While I don’t have to be spot on, I’d like to be as accurate as possible, and until I’ve made enough money to travel to those far away places, I’ll have to settle for second hand accounts of places my characters visit. Of course, I use google, but I also read countless books on historical places and speak to people who’ve been to some of these places. Pictures from trips are a treasure trove of information as well. It’s important to utilize all sources when writing.

In my second book, Anna travels to Germany, and I’ve had the pleasure of reading up on the culture, museums and places to visit. One such place I’ve stumbled upon is the Wilhelm Kaiser War Memorial in Berlin. Snug in the center of shopping and hotels, this museum has a history that compelled me to write it into the second of my series. I’ve spent days on learning the structural aspects of this restored church, architecture and history before ever putting pen to paper. Even after all the research, I find myself wanting to know even more about it’s history, and this is why I love the writer’s life. Folks, we get paid to dream, and research is a huge part of that for me.

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Photo credit: Thomas Favre-Bulle

 

Is researching a must in writing? No, but I’d be lost without it. So, off I go into the world of researching and writing, and who knows? Maybe one of these days, I’ll visit a place close to your home;-)

I love to hear from you! Has anyone visited the Wilhelm Kaiser War Memorial in Berlin? Where else have you gone that’s stuck inside your memory banks forever? Comment or send me a message, and please, whatever you do, keep reading!

Happy reading/writing,

KD

Indie Author Love

According to Amazon, October is the month to celebrate indie authors, and we writers are to share why we decided to go the route of self-publishing. While each author writes for various reasons, so too do we publish according to our own wants, desires and beliefs. Regardless of which way we choose, we all share the same goal of making an impact in the writing world.

Traditional publishing has always been touted as “making it” in the writing world, but with the advent of Amazon, we no longer must wait for those form letters telling us “Thank you,” but “No, thank you.” Our dreams need not be shattered with letter after letter of rejection. Instead, we studiously write, our fingers flying over the  keyboards or cramping under the strain of pen to paper for hours on end. We edit and rewrite knowing there’s somewhere for us to achieve a dream.

Self-publishing opened doors that were permanently rusted shut for the vast majority of writers until the likes of Amazon, Kobo, Apple and many others declared, “Come one, come all who write. We have a place for you!” Millions of writers flocked, and still flock, to upload their cover designs, copyright pages, dedications and tear stained manuscripts. We clinch our jaws and fidget in our chairs for eons, inching our index fingers ever forward towards the ‘enter’ button that would load our books onto the internet for all to see.

Sure, the odds are stacked against us, and our sales may forever be severely less than desired, but it’s the dream, the possibility of reaching the masses that compels us onward.  My journey has been fraught with ups and downs, and I soldier on. Life happens, loved ones get ill, bills must be paid, and yet we writers still keep going. Do some fall by the wayside with the enormity of our task? Absolutely. The researching, world building, editing, rewriting, formatting, and feedback could make anyone want to run for the hills, and some do. Lots of people give up for many valid reasons, and there’s no shame in that. This world is not for the faint of heart.

So, why do we do it? Why do we go the route of indie publishing? Why do we put all of our eggs in that basket knowing the majority fail? All great questions. While I can’t answer for everyone else, I can tell you my reasons.

Growing up in a military family and moving around lots as a child, I greeted many schools and new faces. One of the constants in my life that never changed, though, was books. The library was my sanctuary, no matter what town/city we moved to. Books don’t judge; they welcome. They are friends, sometimes best friends, when everything else falls apart.

Don’t get me wrong, my childhood wasn’t terrible. Moving around meant leaving friends behind and forced me to adapt to changing environments. I believe it helped make me a good storyteller.

I’ve always wanted to write books, but up until recently it wasn’t a real option. I choose to be an indie author because I like to control the process. I no longer need someone else’s acceptance to publish to the masses. It’s incredibly difficult to get a publishing company to take notice, and time is of the essence. I wish to publish on my own terms, and I’ll take the hardships that go with it. Yeah, it’s a TON of work, but hard work always pays off.

Will I ever be successful at writing? Yes! I’m already successful. So, for now, I choose to self-publish, and I applaud all writers in whichever way they choose to publish. As for me, you can find me on my blog with WordPress, twitter and google. I’ve even ventured into Pinterest.

I’d love to hear your stories of which publishing path you’ve taken. Please feel free to message me or comment below!

Many thanks to all the storytellers out there! You can and do make a difference;-)

 

Happy reading/writing! #PoweredByIndie

K.D.

Writing in a Hailstorm

Good Day to everyone! After what feels like a lengthy absence, I’ve hit the ivory of my keyboard to write again. A hailstorm pelted my life for the last couple of weeks, but I’m up and running again for what will surely be an extraordinary next couple of months. Time to catch up on all things written;-)

While the last couple of months have been filled with illness, it has also been a refreshing breeze. Not allowed to read or be on a computer, I’ve had ample opportunity to observe life and disconnect from the internet which has been spectacular. Creative minds never cease, and it is to this trait that I laud for my sanity with a ban on electronics.

Okay, I’ll admit, at first I panicked. What? No electronics, you say??? Are you nuts? I’m a WRITER, but these quickly diffused once the lurching and knotting of my stomach lessened and my mind unfroze. This would be a time of opportunity; not for sitting on the couch with a gallon of ice cream and a box of Kleenex. Pride, barely intact, I propped my chin up on a pillow and plastered a smile on my face, resolving to see this as a springboard and not a road bump.

The next steps fell in trickles then downpours once the first one took shape. As most would agree, sleep was in order. Lots and lots of sleep was achieved. If sleep were an Olympic event, I’d have a shiny gold medal right now. Next, hydration. Contrary to popular belief, wine is not for hydration. I know, a shock to me, too! So, I settled for my next favorite beverage: water. It sounds bland, but I spiffed it up with lemon juice and reveled in the fact that I was tripling my vitamin C intake. The pharmacist in me was doing backflips, I can assure you;-)

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Info on Vitamin C found at NIH.gov

After the sleep and hydration came…meditation. Yep, you heard it from the lion’s mouth. I’ve never been one to incorporate meditation in any kind of way into my daily life, but without the crutches of entertainment/stress relief coming from the internet or TV, I had a ton of time on my hands. Being a “Type A” personality when it comes to certain venues in life, I needed a stress reliever. What was I to do?

I remember in college taking a relaxation/meditation class for one of my general education requirements. At the time, it was an inconvenience, but let me just say that it came to the rescue in my time of crisis. Albeit approximately twenty years later, give or take a few years, I have been extraordinarily grateful.

As a side note, I’ve been told to practice yoga, and while I’m sure it helps others, each person is different. Having arthritis, lots of the positions have ended up hurting my joints rather than helping, and that’s okay. I think I’m more of a Tai Chi kind of person anyway.

Back on track, the meditation was word focused, and I have to say that as absurd as it sounds, the word “relax” helped me to…well, you know…relax. Silently repeating “Re” on the inward breaths and “lax” while I breathed out helped the contorted mass of muscles in my neck, shoulders, lower back, etc… I couldn’t believe it! After ten minutes, I opened my eyes and felt like a bowl of Jello. Decidedly better than a ball of wire, I immediately determined to meditate prior to every writing session. It clears the mind and lets the fountain of words flow onto paper.

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Photo via Tribunist.com

Once my symptoms cleared a bit, I admit, I binged on Netflix. Well, sort of. I can only watch a couple of shows before I have to turn it off. Drat you seizures! BUT, it was the rocket to my mood that I needed. All I’m saying is if you haven’t seen the show Superstore, you’re missing out.

The remnants of illness linger, but I’m ready to gradually increase my workload over the next couple of weeks. It’s phenomenal to be back on the computer, hacking away at the keys. Hopefully, the rest of the year will be smooth sailing. Of course, I’ll look like a walking Halloween sign for the remainder of Fall and Winter seasons as I must wear a mask, but I’ll have plenty of hilarious tales to tell you with all the stares and encounters I get upon my journeys out into the world.

So, until then, read lots, eat well, and write often!

Happy reading,

KD