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Kacy Beckett Fiction

The books YOU want to read

Wandering Through Life

and Writing

Story Behind the Story: We are the Body

January 18, 2017

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

I actually wrote Married for Jeremy twice. I got it well underway the first time, then deleted it because I thought it sucked. I now advise all writers, especially new ones, to never ever ever do that. Sure, shelve a manuscript you don't like for awhile,  but never delete it!!! Anyhow, since In Search of Truth was such a purity promoting story, my mind kept wondering what a story with the opposite plot would look like. God wants us to be pure and righteous before Him, but at the same time, our culture tends to put certain sins on a pedestal and say they're worse than others which is just not true. I wanted to write a story that portrayed the forgiveness of God and how He can turn a bad situation into good when the people involved submit to Him.

The main plot plan for this story was to have an unplanned pregnancy, but when I started to explore why James was so flippant about well, most everything, I realized it was a little deeper than that. James grew up in the church, he knows the 'church stuff,' but he's been hurt. He's seen his father devote his whole life to the church and ignore him, and he's been hurt by various congregations, which makes him have no interest whatsoever in spending time in church now that he's an adult and has a choice.

Ellen realizes that Anna has a faith she's not used to. She was raised Catholic, and she goes to Mass, but she feels like there might be something more. She finds a church family that is welcoming and exactly what a church should be as the Body of Christ, but James is unconvinced.

The scene didn't turn out quite as I originally planned it, because characters have a way of taking over and writing their own story, but the inspiration for James' first adult experience in church was the Casting Crowns song 'If We Are The Body'. There's a section of the song that refers to a man slipping into the back row and feeling the judgement. That was what James expected to feel, but instead, the church welcomed him in. This is how church should be. We are the body, and we need to love like Jesus loved. This doesn't mean we accept sin, or that we tolerate inappropriate behaviours within our church, after all, Jesus chased out the people who had turned the church into a marketplace, but it does mean we have to look at people the way God does. God loves them, cares about them, and wants them in His family. Otherwise He wouldn't have sent His Son to die for them.

If you'd like to hear the song I referred to, a video version is here.

Casting Crowns is an amazing group who is doing great things for the kingdom.

 

 

One Year Anniversary!

January 11, 2017

So it's been a little over one year since I started this site. I think that's worth celebrating. 

This year I've only published two full length fiction books, (Stop Drowning, and There is That One), but I've published a few different short stories, and a Short Story Collection. 

I also got a new job. Full time with really good pay, which is why writing has kinda taken a literal back seat for me, or shall I say shotgun seat since I'm driving an 18-wheeler and they don't really have a back seat lol. Work is good, but it's technical and doesn't require much creativity, so it's still important for me to find creative stuff to do, like writing, and crafting. 

There are lots of different ideas rolling through my mind right now, and some of them will arrive in e-books in 2017, I promise. My newest novel, There is That One, is something that I've been working at since this time last year. In a lot of ways, it's my story. Sam is totally her own character, but the circumstances she is under are many I have faced myself which I feel helped me write with more passion. 

I'm planning on using all my writing earnings to help pay down my school debt. My writing earnings are still really small, but they do supplement the income I make at my job, and every penny counts. Once my school debt is paid, I'm going to start saving for the future, namely a farm of my own :) And a new truck, because, well, every country girl needs a good truck. 

Hopefully you have some goals for 2017. Remember to make them SMART: 

Sometimes the Sales Just Don't Come

December 5, 2016

So, I'm sorry to say that I actually haven't sold a single book in like probably close to a month now. My sales are always slower on Amazon than they are on Smashwords (I sell a fair number of books at Barnes and Nobel through Smashwords). The thing about Smashwords though, is that you don't get to see your sales right away the way you can on Amazon. Usually they update once a week, but not always. I usually find that my sales stay at the same level for a long time, then jump. Not so this month :( I haven't sold a single book on Smashwords. 

I'm saying this because I want new people to realize that sometimes, you can just go a long time without a sale. That's okay, it doesn't mean your a bad person. What it does mean is that you need to either start promoting the books you have, or better yet, write a new book though. 

Part of my no-sale problem is a lack of new books. I published my first books fairly close together but I've been on the road a lot, and  busy with other projects, and I haven't published a book since MARCH! Granted, it was the end of March, so it wasn't THAT long ago, but it was still long enough to cause a serious decrease in my sales. We people are forgetful creatures, so if we don't have an author right in front of us, quite frankly, we forget about them (I'm just as guilty of this as you are). So it's important as authors to keep writing, writing, writing. The more stuff you have, the more  you're gonna sell. It's that easy. 

 

Short Stories - Yes, or No?

November 15, 2016

I've been reading a lot about short(er) stories and whether or not their successful on Amazon and elsewhere. Responses are very mixed. Some people are like no, absolutely not, no freaking way. While others are raking in the big bucks. 

So there must be a middle ground somewhere. 

I'd start adding links to the articles that I read, but you can find the just as easily by googling 'Selling Short Stories on Amazon' the way I did. 

Some articles say that short stories are dead, and something that only made money back in the pioneer days when they were printed in magazines. Apparently only literary magazines publish them now, and even then, not many. You wanna make money, you gotta write novels they say. 

Others say that short stories are lucrative. Especially because they're quicker to write. If you're a fast writer, you could potentially tap out a rough draft for a short story in just a day or two, or maybe a week, but definitely much quicker than you could write a full length novel. The ones who are the most successful have dozens of stories, and often bundle them into groups of five or more. So they sell the shorts individually at a low price (usually either $0.99 or $2.99 depending on the genre), then sell the collections at a much higher price, but still one that makes it a good deal for the reader to buy that way. It kinda works like when you buy 50/50 tickets from whatever community group is selling them and it's the usual $2 for one or 3 for $5. 

I have a couple of shorts published, and also have full length novels. Truth be told, the novels sell A LOT better than the shorts. I did have the shorts in Kindle Unlimited for awhile, but I took them out because being exclusive only earned me a few cents each time the story was read because they were so short. There was a time when an author was paid per borrow, instead of per page read. When the payment was per borrow, shorts were more valuable, because you could put out a bunch of shorts, and earn each time someone borrowed them, even if they weren't a long read. Amazon caught on to this, and changed their system to what it is now. That being said, if you had the dozens of shorts that you seem to need to be successful, and people were borrowing them, you'd still be getting plenty of pages read, and might still make some good money in the KU program. 

The biggest problem with new authors, whether self published or not, is that they read the success stories from people who are making the big bucks, and assume that they're going to be the same. Unfortunately, the writing world is similar to the 50/50 draw, very few are going to win the dough. New authors are often discouraged when they're not making 10K a month on their first book. This is because this whole thing takes time. In all honesty, I'm still working a full time job and doing this on the side. 

That being said, there are a lot of writers making a full time living as self published authors. Most of these are not shockingly bestsellers, but rather writers who have done a lot of well, writing, and have a lot of moderately successful books published.

The cool thing about self publishing, is that instead of your book going out of print and disappearing forever if it's not a smashing success, it stays published forever. Print-On-Demand, and ebook publishing has opened doors that were never expected several decades ago. This means that if your book doesn't sell a million copies the  first week, you don't have to freak out. You can go back to your computer, type out a new novel or short story, and publish that. Rinse and repeat. If you're lucky, what will happen is that down the road, a reader will read, say book #4 in your series, get really excited about you, and go back and read the rest of what you've already published. Ka-ching. 

So the issue isn't so much the length of stories, but the quantity of stories. You need to be easy for a new reader to discover. The more items you publish, the better that chance will be. That being said, quality matters because if the first thing a reader finds is crap, they aren't going to seek out more of your stuff... just saying. 

What you need to do is:

Write what excites you

Write what you like to read

Write the length your comfortable writing (though push yourself once in awhile, and try something new - you might be surprised)

There are people who are successful in novels, people who are successful in short stories, and plenty of people who just aren't successful, but in my opinion, publishing more stories, or any length, is the best way to give yourself a chance to be one of the successful ones. 

-- oh, and the image above is a stock photo that I thought was absolutely beautiful, but I have no idea what it says... hopefully not something bad lol. 

I Really Have Nothing to Say But Here's a Post Anyway

November 10, 2016

So, are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how's it going? Did you notice how the title to this post rhymes? There's another month of the year where you strive to write a poem a day. It's called NaPoWriMo, and I'm actually not 100% sure what month of the year that is. Also a cool concept though, if you can write poetry... That is one area where I've never been gifted. That, and song writing. 

As the title states, I really don't have a lot to say right now. It's late where I am, and I should be sleeping, but I'm dealing with a hacking cough instead, and figure I might as well write a bit before going to sleep. If anyone has some good remedies for a hacking cough, I'd love you if you leave them in the comments. 

I am not doing NaNoWriMo, but I am trying to write a little each day and finally get DCFD book #4 off to market. I'm also going crazy with a sequel for WTTAW (which got a new cover btw. Did you see it on my FB page???) that is stuck in my head. Someday I'm also going to finish writing you the prequel to the DCFD series. You're going to love hearing about Roy before he came to Darcy Creek. 

Sandy, Micki's dad from IST , also has some great ideas on how to expand the ranch even further, and wants to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the business with a huge bash. Jason and Micki are already overwhelmed with the quantity of guests that are currently booked into the ranch, especially since Micki is now pregnant with #3, but they go along with it because Sandy is so excited. Unfortunately, Sandy might not be able to be at the party due to circumstances beyond his control. You should run right now and download your FREE ON SMASHWORDS UNTIL SATURDAY copy of In Search of Truth so you can read about Sandy, Micki, and Jason, and learn who they are so you're ready when this new sequel comes out in the next year. 

My main problem with writing, is that I have too many books in my head, and not enough time to write them down, even with a typing speed of 100wpm. I do promise that you'll be seeing some really good new stuff in the near future. DCFD is def going to be available by the New Year, and I hope to have the prequel out soon after. The prequel is currently in a notebook that is riding in my 18 wheeler with me, hoping to get written in during downtime, but there isn't much downtime for a trucker these days. 

So that's my pointless post for today. Signing off. 

Will You Be Participating in NaNoWriMo?

October 28, 2016

NaNoWriMo is a short form for National Novel Writing Month, though in reality, it's turned into a more international thing. 

Basically, you spend the month of November composing an entire novel. The idea is not to achieve perfection, but to give yourself the motivation and support to get lots and lots of words down on paper. After NaNoWriMo is done, you'll have a rough draft you can finally work with.

Since many people say they want to write a book, but never can seem to find the time or motivation, NaNoWriMo fills a unique gap in the writing dream. Knowing a gazillion other people are also going to be staring at the blank screen at the same time as you can make it easier for you. 

I've personally never participated in NaNoWriMo, but I know people who have done so with good success. 

November has 30 days. If you want to write a 50,000 word novel, you'll have to write a minimum of 1666 words each day. I'd suggest shooting for about 1800, which will finish your novel at 54,000 words. You may want to set a higher goal depending on how you write, and what genre you're writing in. I personally tend to write very short form and lack description on my first draft, so my final manuscripts often grow a lot between rough and final drafts. If you tend to be very wordy, you may want to set a higher initial word count since you know you'll be paring out a lot of unnecessary fluff. 

If I understand correctly, you can outline a little ahead of time, but can't actually writing any of the story until midnight on November 1st. Then you are free to write however you want, whether that is direct to the computer, or onto notebook paper, or some other innovative method you may have. 

At the end of the month, hopefully you'll be holding the next great bestseller, but regardless of the success or failure of what you wrote, if you wrote a novel in a month, you are a NaNoWriMo winner. 

So why not give it a shot? I'm still on the fence whether I'm going to or not, because I'm knee deep in a bunch of projects this year and am not ready to start a brand new book right now (I have three partials in the works that I keep flipping back and forth between), but you never know. 

Where it all Began

October 24, 2016

You know how you're in a group setting with other couples and all of a sudden the conversation turns to the 'how did you two meet' question? I'm not married, so I generally only get asked that question by strangers when I'm out somewhere with my brother. The best reply I've heard was the guy who said 'I guess it was an early meeting' when I explained we were siblings. Yep, that's true. I was not quite three when he was born, so we've known each other for a long time. Don't get me started about how awkward it is when people ask us if we have kids. Um, just the 4-legged kind, but most people call those type of kids goats. 

Anyhow, I digress.

Sometimes I wonder how certain authors get their ideas for stories. For me, that's a very diverse process because I can get ideas pretty much anywhere. I thought I'd share how my first novel, In Search of Truth, came to be. 

It was actually a school project. No, really. 

I believe it was for grade 9 or 10, but it could've been as late as grade 11. 

See, I was homeschooled and did a lot of the typical A Beka curriculum, and Saxon, along with stuff like Jensen's grammar. Jensen's isn't bad, but it's a little too technical for my disorganized little brain to enjoy. I did really like Writesource 2000, mainly because the cartoons were funny, though there is a ton of good stuff in that book. That being said, my very favourite high school project was the novel writing book. Now, if I could remember where the book is, and what it was actually called, I could do the writer a lot of favours right now. I'm sure it's still somewhere here in the house, and if I find it, I'll write about it, but for now I'll just have to tell you that it was white and blue and kinda in a workbook type format. 

The point of the book was to get highschool students to write an entire novel, and learn about the writing process in the process (Process, process, now there's an interesting English language phrase). Basically, you brainstormed your book, wrote the rough draft, then learned the editing and publishing process. Good times. 

You're probably guessing that In Search of Truth was the book I wrote for this course and you would be correct. I also considered a couple of other options, because that was also part of the program, but IST was the story that stuck for me. 

I wrote it by hand, then typed it, and the story you see today is quite a bit different from the original. My first idea was to arrange for Jason to arrive on the bus in a sport coat and shiny shoes, but I realized as I began to develop the story that he could never develop into the character I wanted him to be with that kind of start. I also at one point had Alicia come to the ranch to try to get him back, but realized that was way too cliche and over dramatic, so she got deleted, except for her important appearance at the beginning of the book. 

When I finished the book, I did make a few attempts to traditionally publish it. At first I was accepted into a publisher called Publish America, but I had a funny feeling about it and declined. I later found out they really aren't that reputable of an organization. I also queried a few other places, but ultimately decided that since I don't write in an exact genre, that traditional publishing was going to be really difficult. I went to Amazon KDP instead. At first, my very bad cover and lack of promotion net me exactly 0 sales. For two years. Or maybe even three. Then I started writing Married for Jeremy, and decided that I needed to learn everything there was to know about e book publishing. I wish I would've done that sooner and got my foot in the door when the market was less saturated those years back, but the great thing about the internet is that it's open to everyone, and we all have a chance to make our mark. 

 

 

IST doesn't sell as well as the DCFD series. I have two ideas as to why that is. One is that while I absolutely love the cover, it might not portray exactly what the book is about as well as it should. I'm considering changing it at least temporarily for an experiment. Reason two, which I think is even more likely, is that it's the only book currently in it's series. Writing a series seems to be the simplest, and most successful method for promoting a book. I regularly see sales bumps in one of the DCFD books. Like one day Married for Jeremy will sell, then a few days later, Protecting the Covenant, etc. It makes me think that one reader is actually making their way through all the available books which makes me happy. 

Does it Pay to be Exclusive to Amazon?

October 24, 2016

Back in March, I wrote a post about how I am slowly phasing out of KDP Select, or rather, the Amazon only method of selling ebooks. There are a lot of schools of thought on this question. Some authors think staying loyal to one platform is best. Others have amazing success getting page reads in the Kindle Unlimited program, and thereby make lots of money through KDP Select that they wouldn't otherwise get if they switched to another retailer. Others would rather spread the net wide and sell through as many platforms as possible. 

I am still 100% on board with new authors spending some time in KDP Select to allow readers to find them. Obviously a lot more promotion is also required, but having the ability to pay a subscription fee, then read whatever you want makes you much more likely to take a risk on an unknown author.

I've downloaded a lot of free books off Amazon, and let's just say it's a good thing I didn't actually spend money on them because I would've been very disappointed and maybe a little mad. These were books that were free as a free promotion, or perma free. They were pretty much worth what I paid for them.

What really bugs me is when people write a short story, write an amazing book blurb for it, and put it on Amazon with a ton of other short stories that pad this one little story out into a full length novel. There's nothing worse than thinking you bought a novel and getting 12 pages into it only to have it end. Oh, but please stay and finish the other 200 pages of 'bonus' content. Yeah, sure. My bonus content comes in the form of a short exerpt from the next book in the series, which will hopefully make you buy it (hint hint, wink wink.) I'm probably just a mean person who really hates short story collections. I guess I shouldn't go too crazy about this since I do have a few shorts published, and a few more in the works (or rather, in my brain wishing they could come out some day), so a short story collection is possible in my future. Though I will def label it as such so their are no surprises 12 pages into the so called novel. 

Anyhow, let me get off the soapbox and back to the topic at hand. 

Amazon is amazing. Easy to use, easy to navigate, has a gazillion books, and if books aren't your thing, also has everything else you could ever need, or want. But, it's only one of many places you can sell ebooks. 

When I started to move my small catalog of books away from KDP Select, my first stop was Kobo. Kobo is a really cool site. Looks great, easy to use, easy to upload, but I've only sold two books there in the last number of months. It's so easy to get started though, that you might as well put your books there and see what happens. Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and my dashboard will be full of sales on Kobo, who knows. 

My next stop on the website trail, was Smashwords. Sounds like a crazy name, and it is, but this site has given me by far the most success. It's a little difficult to get into Smashwords. You can publish to their site quickly, and easily, but to get into the premium catalog, you have to meet a number of criteria in terms of your book formatting, and cover. It's straightforward to apply these edits, but it does take some time. If you are going to go this route, get the Smashwords Style Guide (a free download) and follow it EXACTLY. I'm not much of a tech geek, but I've gotten all my books into the Smashwords Premium Catalog on the first try (except the DCFD boxed set because they needed a few changes made to the cover first, but the book content was fine). 

So why should you care about the premium catalog? Because you aren't going to get very far just on the Smashwords website. I've sold a bunch of books direct from Smashwords, but the real gold is getting into other online stores such as Barnes and Nobel. Most of my sales now come through Barnes and Nobel, and Smashwords is the only way I can have these sales because Barnes and Nobel won't work directly with Canadians. So it's a win for all of us. Barnes and Nobel can add my book to their catalog and make a little money from it, Smashwords gets a small cut, and I'm just happy my book is in front of another reader (and I like the royalties too obviously). 

I guess that's the conclusion of my experiment. I'm staying with Amazon forever (unless they, you know, close or something). I highly recommend that new authors start off exclusive to Amazon. Then I recommend you get well versed in Smashwords formatting and head over there. That being said, your book isn't the same as mine, so it's possible your story will be completely different. 

How to Come Up With Characters for Your Fiction Story

October 23, 2016

If you are a fiction author, published or not, you know how easy it is to get attached to your characters. You think of them as friends, and may even worry about them sometimes. But what do you do when it’s time to end a story, or book series, and you have to say goodbye to current characters and come up with new ones? Some authors have no problems coming up with new characters, and may even have too many characters in their heads, but others struggle to find quality characters to write stories about. If you are in this latter category, here are some ideas to help.

Clip Pictures from Magazines or Newspapers

Look through magazines or newspapers and clip out pictures of interesting looking people. You can use these clippings to make collages or file folders of different kinds of people. You can categorize them by how they look, such as making a collage of brunettes, or you can make file folders that are organized in any way that makes sense to you, and hang up pictures of people that look like your characters in a place where you can easily see them when you’re writing.

Perform a Character Interview

‘Interviewing’ your character can help you come up with physical traits, and personality intricacies. Come up with a selection of questions to ask your character, such as these good examples:

What is your birth date?

Do you have a pet? If not, would you like to get one?

Do you attend church? How regularly?

What type of vehicle do you drive?

Do you consider yourself to be tech savvy?

What is your earliest childhood memory?

How many siblings do you have?

What education do you have?

What is your favourite food? Do you like to cook for yourself?

Do you have any serious health problems?

Do you have any kids?

Do you exercise regularly, and if so, what types of exercise do you like (i.e. running, weightlifting, Pilates, etc)

Where do you see yourself in 10 years

Etc, etc...

While you are interviewing, you should imagine that your character is sitting across the table from you. Take note of how they look in your mind. Hair colour, eye colour, how they are dressed. Do they seem comfortable in this type of dress, or did they dress up for the interview? How do they portray themselves? Are they confident or nervous? Do they fidget?

A character interview may seem like a stretch of the imagination, but what would a fiction writer be without imagination? Don’t worry if you can’t come up with everything all at once. As you get started, you will find that the character will start to ‘take over’ and tell their story for you.

Flip a Coin

This is similar to a character interview, but with more chance. Come up with a list of opposite traits, such as quiet/loud, short/tall, blue eyes/brown eyes, casual/dressy, rich/poor. Write these out in two columns on a sheet of paper then get out a coin. Choose which column is heads, and which is tails. Flip the coin one time for each set of traits and circle the one that ‘wins’. This is a very risky way to develop a character and might not make a lot of sense. Don’t set the traits you arrive at in stone because your character might act differently once you start actually writing about him or her. This exercise can be valuable if you are really stuck trying to develop a character.

Use Real People

This option is the most risky. Unless you are writing a Historical Fiction story with your grandmother as the main character, this is probably not a good way to come up with characters. Unless you have express permission from someone to use them in your story, they may be offended if they read your book and recognize themselves.

On the other hand, going to a public place such as a mall, restaurant, or park, is a great opportunity to learn more about how people behave, and possibly get ideas for fictional characters. Find a spot where you can quietly observe without being creepy, and you may see an interaction that gives you an idea for not only a character, but maybe a plot too.

Just Write

Worst case scenario, if the above exercises don’t get you past the writer’s block your experiencing, just start writing. Open a blank word processor file, or get out some blank paper and begin writing something. Anything. Write about what you ate for breakfast, where you went yesterday, what you’re wearing, or any other random thing you can think of. Then try imagining any random character in your experience with you, and write about that. Any sort of writing will start to stimulate your imagination and a new character will probably pop right up.

Happy Thanksgiving

October 7, 2016

Well, it's almost Thanksgiving here in Canada. Families will be sitting down to turkey dinners and whatever else goes along with their holiday. It's a great time to reflect back on where we've been this year and what we've accomplished, as well as thank God for the blessings we have received. 

So here goes:

 

I am thankful that I have the best job of my life right now working for an Ag trucking company that is such a huge improvement over the freight companies I worked at earlier in my trucking career. 

I am thankful for my awesome boyfriend who has proved to me that despite the previous relationship disasters I've experienced, there are still a few good men in the world. 

I am thankful for the opportunity to write whatever I want because of self publishing. I'm no longer forced to write what 'the market' wants, and can put my own ideas down however I want and find readers who are interested in a different kind of book. 

I am thankful that God cares about our every need and supplies those needs in His own timing. I've spent a lot of life frustrated because things looked like they'd never turn out, but with patience and perseverance, and trusting in God's will, things do turn around. 

And I do need to plug my new cookbook  right here. If you'd like to know everything there is to know about baking bread, or if you just want some new bread recipes, pre-order your copy today. This link will take you to the American Amazon site. If you're from another country, just search for the big on your home Amazon page.

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