Life Update

The Winter Writing Blues...Or Rather Craziness

I have this idea in my head that most writers love the months of January and February. It's the dead of winter, so the temptation of summer sun or spring walks doesn't exist. The days are spent inside, and the weather is perfect for writing. Stay inside, bundle up, and put your fingers on the keyboard...That is unless your name is Kristen Otte. For those who may not know, I do a few other things besides write pug books for kids and young adult novels. I teach reading on a part-time basis, and I am a high school basketball coach. During basketball season, my life schedule is a little crazy. I love coaching and teaching, but the schedule of both lines up so I'm not home until 8pm most nights. Naturally, my writing projects suffer a bit during this time.

Basketball season is winding down over the next two weeks, but my husband and I are house shopping right now. We hope to move sometime in March. In other words, the craziness will continue a bit longer. During these busy life moments, it's easy to set aside the writing projects, but I've learned I can't stop writing when life gets busy or crazy. So I press forward with the projects when I can–mornings, weekends, late nights to meet my self-imposed deadlines. To help me meet these deadlines, I'm sharing the projects so you can keep me accountable. And so you can get excited!!

Here's what's on tap for this Spring:

1. The Release of The Evolution of Lillie GableI'm slating this for March 2015. Edits are done, cover and formatting is almost done, so I will hit this target without a problem.  I'll be sharing the cover and exact release date in the very near future.

2. Write the First Draft of the Fourth Zelda Book!!! - I have already started the fourth Zelda book and will return to writing now that the Lillie book is done with edits and formats. Writing Zelda books are still so much fun and this one will be special. I plan to share the first draft with my Wattpad fans as I write!

3. A New Website - After a few successful and fun years here, it's time to move away from wordpress.com. I need more freedom to sell books directly from my site for author days and do some other things to help my author business. This is a big step for me.

4. Five Author Days - I have five author day visits scheduled at local elementary schools for this spring. Author days are tons of fun and a great additional source of revenue for authors. I can't wait to speak with these students and share the love of writing with them.

Those are my plans for the next three months. Like I said, I share my goals to hold myself accountable.

What are you up to the next three months? 

The Annual Review: Looking Back on 2014 and Ahead to 2015

Happy New Year from Zelda Pug!

Looking Back

2014 was a big year. My husband and I moved to Cincinnati. We both started new jobs and adjusted to a new life and a fresh start. I dedicated more time and effort to writing fiction and good things started happening for my writing career. Here's a few highlights:

1. The Photograph

In June, I released my first full-length young adult novel. This first novel took several years to write, edit, and publish, but I'm proud of the result.

2. Zelda Book Sales

I released the second and third Zelda books in 2014. With the release of the third book, the series began to gain some momentum. In November, I set the first Zelda book to free in ebook format. Since then, I've seen increased ebook sales of the second and third books in. Also, paperback sales skyrocketed over the holidays for all the Zelda books. Before you know it, Zelda pug will take over the children's book market! :)

3. Author Days & Events

In 2014, I visited three elementary schools for Author Day events. During these events, I spoke with students about writing, publishing, pugs, and sold lots of Zelda books. I loved Author Visits and have more planned for 2015. I also set up a table to sell books at many community events and enjoyed those outings as well.

Looking Ahead

Overall, I'm very pleased with my writing output and sales in 2014. 2014 was the first full year of writing seriously, and I'm happy with the results. With the successes of 2014 in mind, I've started planning for 2015. I have a few goals in mind, and I'm working out the others. Here's a few I can share.

1. Publish my second novel:

I'm currently working through edits on The Evolution of Lillie Gable, my second contemporary young adult novel. I'm happy with the story, but I have a few details to work out. Either way, the book should come out this spring!

2. Publish the fourth Zelda book:

The fourth schedule is next on the project list. I expect an early summer 2015 release. It should be another fun book!

3. More Batpeach

I wrote the first story of a new spinoff series from the Zelda books for my newsletter subscribers and Wattpad fans. Batpeach will return in 2015 with more fun crimefighting stories!

4. More Fiction on the Blog

With my increased writing output and stories available, I will be posting more sneak peek snippets of my novels and stories. I also am stopping my monthly book reviews posts. I'm not reading as much at the moment, so it seems silly to have a monthly post with one or two books. Instead, I will post a review or highlight a book I loved.

That's a portion of the plan for 2015. I'm excited for this year and my writing career!

What were your successes in 2014? How can you build on those for 2015?

Cincinnati - Here we come!

800px-Cincinnati-skyline-from-kentucky-shore-night Brian, Zelda, Peach, and I are packing up our bags and heading south in a few weeks!

Brian and I are ready for a new adventure, and we are excited about the move. He will be the Worship Director at a church in West Chester (a suburb north of Cincinnati). We are both excited about the church and the new position for him. I am looking for work in the area, preferably part time so I can keep writing and publishing books. It’s going to be a crazy few weeks for us as we pack up, move, and get settled into our new place!

Driving Home

jim

When I started driving, my stepdad gave me his car, a white Buick Regal. I called it the boat. When the Buick stopped running in college, he encouraged me to get a stick shift Jetta. He told me I would love driving stick shift, even though I never had. He drove my 2004 galactic blue Jetta off the lot and took me to Mentor High School’s parking lot. After a half hour of patient instruction, I drove my brand new car home. Almost ten years later, I still love driving my Jetta. I’m glad he convinced me to buy a car I didn’t know how to drive.

During high school, my stepdad took me to a The Who concert at Gund Arena (now the Q) in downtown Cleveland. He loved music, especially classic rock, and was so excited The Who was going on a reunion tour. Honestly, I didn’t want to go to a concert with my parents in high school. But, he said the show would be great so I obliged. He was right. I was amazed with the energy the band had on stage, especially since they weren’t in their prime. It was a good night.

When I came home from college, Jim had a habit of borrowing my Jetta for a spin around town. He loved driving stick shift, so I wasn’t surprised when he bought a stick shift Mitsubishi Eclipse a few years ago. Since he no longer needed to borrow my car for a fun drive, he loaned me his car when I was home from North Carolina for a few days or when I moved back to Cleveland, he switched cars with me for a week. He knew how much fun I had driving his car. The V6 Eclipse goes much faster than my Jetta.

I drove home tonight in my stepdad’s stick shift Mitsubishi Eclipse. I flipped through the cds in the car and found The Who in slot 5. I turned the radio up, opened the sunroof, and put the windows down. It wasn’t long on the highway before the tears came.

I think it’s fitting that my stepdad passed away on Father’s Day. How many people get to say they have one great dad, let alone two?

Happy Father’s Day. We will miss you Jim.

The End of One Chapter is the Start of a New Chapter

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA My life has been filled with teenagers for the past ten years. For two summers during college, I served as a camp counselor at Camp Wanake for middle school and high school campers. I graduated college with a degree in social studies education and a license to teach middle school and high school students. At Habitat for Humanity, I worked with area high schools to start a Youth United program at the affiliate. I worked with Citizen Schools, another fantastic nonprofit, which mentors at-risk middle school students. And of course, I have served in youth ministry for the past six years - the first three years at Rocky River Presbyterian Church and the last three at Forest Hill Church.

The past ten years have been wonderful. I have worked with amazing young people, incredible families, and great organizations. I learned so much about people, youth, myself, the church, organization, faith, and God. I got paid to lead mission trips, go whitewater rafting, and teach youth about Jesus. I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything.

For the past several months, I have felt my passion shift. After many conversations with my husband and weeks of thoughtful prayer, I decided to leave my position as Youth Director at Forest Hill Church. I am excited for a new chapter in my life start, but leaving a position where you invest your time and heart is never easy.

I am especially excited about my future in writing and speaking. For the past couple years, I talked about writing and publishing, but I haven't focused enough time to seriously pursue a career in writing. Soon I will have more flexibility in my schedule and brain power to write. I can't wait to crank out more stories and book more venues to speak and teach about living your best story. I hope you will continue to follow along my journey.

The end of one chapter is always the start of a new chapter!

The Legend of Zelda Update

I planned on April being a big writing month. My goal was to have the first Legend of Zelda collection out on Kindle by the end of the month along with significant progress in the novel revisions. Those were my plans. And then life happened. My stepdad has been in the hospital for about a month now. For a couple weeks, it was pretty scary and I spent many hours in the hospital. Thankfully, he pulled through the worst of it and is on the long road to recovery. Needless to say, I'm not reaching my writing goals this month. But that's life and I will put aside my goals to take care of family whenever it's needed. The good news is I received great feedback on my Zelda stories a couple weeks ago at my writing group. From that feedback, I am revising all twelve stories of the first collection and I think the revisions will make the stories more enjoyable for children and adults. After the revisions, they will go through final edits, cover design and formatting. I have formatting under control, but looking for recommendations for designers and editors. My new goal is to have the first Legend of Zelda collection available by the end of May. The goal is very attainable on my end as long as life doesn't get crazy again and I find a reasonably priced cover designer.

I am really excited about the Zelda stories and my novel. Hopefully, I can get my butt in gear and get them out into the world soon!

Thanks for the prayers, love and support the past several weeks!

Writing Fiction During the Rough Stretches of Life

I am sure you have experienced one of those days, weeks or months where nothing seems to go your way. It could be a bunch of little things that add up to a tough week. Or something monumental which affects everything else in your life. Either way, those stretches are not fun. Currently, Brian and I seem to be stuck in one of those rough stretches. Most of the bad luck is inconsequential in the grand scheme of life. We replaced the throttle in my jetta which was an unexpected expensive repair. Both of our jobs are in busy, wear you down stretches. My stepfather is very sick. Amidst this rough stretch, I started wondering if or how the rough times affect my fiction writing.

For me, writing fiction is an escape from the world. I get lost in the characters and world I create. So when the world sucks around me, I find myself eager to write, to immerse myself in a world I create and control.

On the other hand, I also find myself adding more conflicts to my stories and being more realistic with how my characters handle adversity. For instance, I'm working on novel revisions. In one section, my protagonist, Rachel had way too good of a reaction to bad news. So I promptly made some notes to change her reaction to match the news.

The good news about writing fiction is you get to create the ending. In my life, I'm not sure when the bad luck will turn. But, in my stories, I can create a happy ending. Maybe that's why I'm so eager to spend time writing when I'm not feeling the greatest, because I know I will always end the story with a good resolution.

How does the rough stretches of life affect your writing?

The Random Update

This is the post of random updates. Every once in awhile I have updates to share with you and can't make them fit in my normal blog routine. So here's the randomness! Enjoy friends!

The Monthly Digest

Many of you read my posts through my mailchimp email newsletter. Others follow my blog through wordpress. And a few others stalk me on twitter (and used to on facebook). Now there is a new email option - the Monthly Digest! The Monthly Digest is sent out once a month and highlights all the blog posts and writing updates from the past month. If you are a once a month kinda gal or girl, click this link to get signed up!

The Fiction Recommendations

I moved my fiction recommendations post so it's a static page on my blog. Therefore, you can easily find it and access it when it's time to find a new book to read. Also, I already have included some of your suggestions! Check out the new page here and leave some comments with your book recommendations.

Basketball Season is Over

It was another fun season of basketball with the middle school girls at Laurel School. But, now the season is complete and my attention is focused on writing (when I'm not doing the youth ministry stuff). I'm excited to get back into the groove of afternoons of writing and editing!

I quit Facebook.

I gave up Facebook for Lent. It's been over a week now and honestly, I don't miss the timesuck that is facebook. I'm not sure I will go back after Lent. Anybody else out there quit facebook? How did that work for you?

Zelda Zelda Zelda

Zelda is the head of her intermediate class at Petsmart! Crazy, I know. I may have to write a story of her adventures with Rebecca the trainer and Danner the doberman. The Legend of Zelda series is coming along nicely. I have published 5 stories on the blog and have written 4 additional stories. The final 3 stories of the collection will be written in March. I hope to have the first Legend of Zelda Collection for sale in late April. I'm also working on an illustrated edition of the Legend of Zelda Collection which hopefully will be ready in late April as well.

Going Under the Knife

Finally, I am going under the knife on February 26th. I am having outpatient surgery on my left hand and will be out of work for a couple weeks. Say a prayer for a speedy recovery!

That's it for the random update. Have a great week!

The Workshop, Basketball, and Writing Update

After a very slow August, September is moving along nicely. I'm happy to report I'm making progress after resetting my priorities last month and wanted to share my progress with you.

On October 3rd, I am presenting the Discover Your Story workshop.

The free workshop runs from 7:00pm to 8:30pm at Forest Hill Church and all are welcome to attend. During the workshop, we explore our stories, find meaning in our stories and understand the greater purpose of our stories in an interactive and intergenerational setting.

For the next year, I am focusing on extending my reach through speaking and workshops. I am really excited to lead this workshop and hope this is the first of many Discover Your Story workshops.

On October 13, I running a 5k in Cleveland. My fitness and running regime slipped over the summer, but I am back in gear. Last Saturday, I cranked out a 5 mile run and I'm consistently running 3-4 times a week and balancing my off days with strength and cross training. It feels great, especially with the cooler fall temperatures.

I received official word I am returning to Laurel School to coach the seventh and eighth grade girls' basketball team this winter. I knew I was returning to Laurel, but I was waiting to see if a coaching spot at the high school opened up. But, the coaching staff is returning and I'll be back with the middle school girls. I love basketball. I love coaching. The season starts in the first week of November and I can't wait!

Youth Ministry at Forest Hill Church is going well. I wrote about the great start to the program year last week.

Last, but not least, I wanted to give a real update on my writing progress.

The bulk of my writing time goes to editing my first draft of my novel. The first draft edits of my novel will be complete by the end of September. After my first draft edits, the next step is a first reader. I'm looking for a volunteer to read my book and give me general feedback on plot, characters, etc. The first reader is not a copyeditor, but an avid reader who can tell me if my novel is any good (seriously!). That's where I stand with my novel. It's been a huge project- much bigger than I imagined or expected. But, I'm making progress.

My other writing project is my next nonfiction work on living a radical Christian life based on Jesus's life and ministry in the Gospels. This project is mapped out and outlined. The next step is writing and I know writing this book will go much faster than my novel. But, the project is at a standstill while I finish first draft novel edits. I realized working on two writing projects, a blog and youth ministry simultaneously was too much for my brain. When I finish first draft edits of my novel and send it to a first reader, I'll continue work on this book. This book will be a great companion to When Light Hits the Path.

Whew. I think that's it for the update. In case you are wondering, Brian and Zelda the Pug are doing well. I'm hoping one of both will guest post in the future.

Thanks for following my journey and supporting my adventures in writing!

Peace & Love,

Kristen