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12 Jun / The Waiting Game

I remember my first love. I’d sit by the phone waiting for him to return a call. Desperate to hear his voice but unable to phone him because if I did that I’d call down the wrath of Murphy’s Law and my call would be placed through to his line at exactly the same time as he rang and then we’d both be thinking we were talking to other people.
 
As you do.
 
Perhaps this has something to do with my lifelong resentment of phonecalls?
 
More likely, it’s my awkward timing when I can’t scan a face for visual cues that it’s my time to talk but there’s still food for thought right there.
 
This week, I’ve been reminded of those emotions. The frustration. The longing.
 
Yes, I’ve been running the gamut while waiting for a publisher to get in touch and let me know if my book is on their go or whoa list.
 
Given the attachment I have to my current manuscript, there’s even touches of love mixed up in there.
 
Waiting is so hard. Admittedly, waiting to hear back from a publisher isn’t as bad as some waits I’ve had. Anything connected with a hospital or me sitting alone on a couch at night is usually a lot more worrying, but it’s still got it’s hat in the ring.
 
Oh. I typed ring and looked at the phone. Now, that’s just sad.
 
Anyway, got to end this blog post here. Otherwise, I might be typing and posting when they’re trying to get through to my computer via email and our electronic messages could bump and reflect off each other as non-deliverable packages in the night.
 
Or something like that.
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

Meet Jessica Knauss – Author of Awash in Talent

Jessica Knauss Author Photo
 
Please tell us about yourself
 
I’ve wandered all over the United States, England, and Spain, mostly with my husband. We’re currently settled in the beautiful American Southwest, but don’t know where the wind may take us next.
 
My highly praised novella, Tree/House, is available in ebook, softcover, and audiobook formats, and my genre-defying short stories have been collected in Unpredictable Worlds. My love of Spain has led to a medieval epic novel, Seven Noble Knights, which will debut December 15 from Bagwyn Books. Contemporary paranormal Awash in Talent is my first novel to be published. It’s available now from Kindle Press.
 
Find all the latest at my website and blog at jessicaknauss.com
 

Author Q&A

 
When did you first discover your passion for writing?
 
I didn’t so much decide to be a writer as I was born one. I was writing, illustrating, and stapling together children’s books before I knew alternative careers existed. When adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was baffled: I was already a writer. They asked if I was going to be a children’s book author, but I knew writing was an apprenticeship and responded that I was going to write at whatever level I was reading at, ending up with novels for adults, of course.
 
Awash in Talent is being marketed as YA/New Adult, and it was just as challenging as my historical novel, in different ways. Over the years I’ve found that categories of writing aren’t hierarchical. Writing for adults and for young people have different criteria, but neither is a higher level than another.
 
Knauss Awash in Talent
 
Which character or characters do you identify with in your book? Why?
 
Beth is a younger sister and is lavished with praise because of her Talent. That happened to me as a youngster, so I can understand that dynamic and why she becomes self-important, though I studiously avoid that fate.
 
I sympathize with Kelly, and I think my readers will, too. She’s a firestarter who doesn’t understand her own Talent and feels like an outsider. Oddly, that’s one of the most common feelings in the world.
 
Though I’m not a psychic like Patricia, I did go from California to New England for college and fell madly in love with the region, the way she does.
 
Do you dislike any of them?
 
My most notorious character is Emily, the self-centered, envious sister of multi-Talented Beth and a thoroughly unreliable narrator. While I wouldn’t say I dislike her, I sympathize with her in reverse. I think about how I would react to the situation she’s in, and I either take it to extreme levels or have her do the opposite. My true love is in a wheelchair outside my door and his wife is nowhere to be seen? I might, if feeling gutsy, wave at him from the window. Emily grabs the wheelchair handles and takes off down the street! In that way, she’s my most fun character.
It’s a great challenge to try to have the reader sympathize with someone so extreme.
 
Do you ever read your stories out loud?
 
It’s essential to read your stories aloud. At some point in the process, my husband has to listen to every one of my works. He helps me find awkward sentences and inconsistencies, and the process helps me find typos. It’s the best way to fine-tune dialog. If it’s hard to read out loud, then it’s not likely anyone would say it that way.
 
Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love scenes? Why or why not?
I feel so self-conscious, in fact, that I don’t write them unless they’re totally unavoidable to the plot. I do perversely enjoy writing scenes in which lovemaking is interrupted or frustrated. I have a theory that my love life is so satisfying, I don’t have any drive to write love scenes. I remember enjoying making up love scenes ages ago, when I was with a boyfriend who withheld affection.
 
What is the story of your first kiss?
 
This was the withholding boyfriend. We dated for six months before I was able to cajole him into a closed-mouthed lip bump. It’s likely that my teenage years of enforced chastity contribute to Kelly’s shyness and confusion when Brian is so attractive to her. (See excerpt below.)
 
Awash 3D-paperback

Excerpt from Waterfire: Awash in Talent, Part II

 
Kelly, the narrator, lives at a school for firestarters with her friends Jill, Raúl, and Brian. She has a major, and she thinks unrequited, crush on Brian.
 
Last night, we had another fire drill. Or so I thought. It was earlier than the alarms usually go off, about ten thirty. Jill and I had just gotten under the covers when the blaring started. We’re practiced at this now, so we had our flip-flops, sweatpants, and sweatshirts (it’s definitely fall now) ready to grab by the door. I checked Jill’s pocket for my safety sack and she checked for hers and we were out the door.
 
Since I got a buddy, fire drills have been kind of fun. I don’t have to fake-smile anymore. I just go with Jill and find our little group and stand around in good company, listening to Raúl’s latest stupid comments. This time, we went down to the designated area on the docks and quickly found Brian and his buddy in the crowd, but there was no hanging around.
 
“Hi,” I said casually, but both Brian and Raúl were panting, and Brian had this intense look on his face.
 
“There’s an actual fire,” he said. “It’s going to be a while before we can go back inside. Jill, can you cover for Kelly?”
 
She grinned like an accomplice. “I got this. And so does Raúl.” I watched her punch Raúl on the shoulder, but still had no clue what was going on until Brian grabbed my wrist and started moving away from the group. My heart was leaping out of my chest—Brian was kidnapping me. The boy I liked was taking me away in the dead of night. Didn’t he like Jill? What was he planning? What did any of this mean?
 
Pretty soon, we were holding hands and running, and finally the questions cleared out of my head because we were headed in the direction of Waterplace Park and, was that—? Yes, through the buildings, I could see masses of people gathered along the water’s edge, and flickering, shimmering air, and tendrils of smoke. We were going to WaterFire! In sweats and flip-flops over pajamas, but still. I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.
 
Before we even arrived at the waterfront, I could hear the snap-crackle of the burning wood. We gazed at the spot at the opening to the harbor where the first pyre juts out of the water. Each pyre rests a good foot or two above the water on a pole, both buoyed and anchored in place by three large black underwater spheres. Both the first pyre and the next one, headed inland at the mouth of the river, were burning low embers.
 
“Go ahead, Kelly. Refresh the flames,” Brian said, almost like a dare.
 
I started to protest, but then realized Jill had my safety sack and my patch was off for the night. The feeling of freedom almost knocked the wind out of me. I looked to make sure no one was watching—it was only farther down along the river that the real crowds started. I felt a whirlwind of crackling happiness around me and poof! The first pyre was healthily ablaze again.
 
“That’s so cool how you do that. You could become an arsonist and no one would ever suspect you.”
Awash in Talent Blog Banner
 
What is the best part about being a writer?
 
There are loads of advantages to being a writer. One is that I’m never bored because there’s always something to work on. Another is that inspiration can come from anywhere. You never know when that incident at the grocery store might come in handy. The most important is probably that you can make up entire worlds and decide what matters and what doesn’t.
 
What is the worst part about being a writer?
 
Working all the time without pay. Not a lot of people seem to know this, but it’s a fact.
 
Please buy books at new-book stores and check them out at libraries. A book is an author’s love, joy, and whole life for months or years. $2.99 or $4.99 is far from a rip-off, especially since you might spend hours enjoying it.
 
What are you currently working on?
 
The sequel to my historical epic, Seven Noble Knights, is my priority, but Awash in Talent is going to have a sequel, too, and I sneak in a chapter here and there. I hope they’ll see the light soon!
 

Get Social

 

Where can readers go to learn more about you and your work?
 
Author Website, Author Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Goodreads, Pinterest, Amazon Author Page, AWASH IN TALENT
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

03 Jun / Celery

I’ve just finished a very nice two-day break from work.
 
And by “break from work” I mean break from my day job and full-on with my writing job.
 
The joy of sending my work out to a line editor and a beta reader came to an abrupt halt two weeks ago when they unceremoniously sent it back.
 
Obviously, that’s part of the process and I knew it was but still. . . couldn’t they have done all the other stuff that needed to be done? The little rewrites and the corrections and the perhaps changing everything that happens in the end?
 
Except I think that would be a ghost writer and I don’t earn enough to pay myself to write let alone anyone else.
 
So, getting back to the point in hand, I decided to take a short break from insurance in order to focus on editing. I’d also agreed at some point to participate in a writer’s panel in the library and I thought two days seemed about right to recover and be able to interact normally with people again.
 
In fact, I was so worked up about the panel on Wednesday night that on Wednesday morning, instead of eating my celery for my mid-morning snack like a good girl, I ransacked the vending machine and ate a bag of Doritos and a bag of green onion chips.
 
Corn and potatoes. Stuff of champions.
 
I wouldn’t normally mention it, I eat out of vending machines so often there’d be room for nothing else, but the thing was I forgot about the celery altogether.
 
If I take something to work and don’t eat it as scheduled, I pop it in the fridge for the following day. If it’s a Friday, then I pop it in the organic bin because weekends and celery do not mix.
 
But as I said, I was stressed and feeling a bit anxious and once I’d overloaded on carbs and fake cheese flavouring, I completely forgot about the celery languishing in my bag.
 
Because I’m so organised, it was already cut, and I’d put it into a little Glad baggie with a sandwich seal to keep in the flavour.
 
I’m not sure the flavour of three day old room temperature celery is something that should be kept inside a baggie. On the other hand, when I broke open the seal and the aroma escaped, I discovered the flavour isn’t something you want exiting willy-nilly either.
 
So, celery is out of the question for the rest of the year. I’m hoping I can stomach carrots when the work-week rolls around again.
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

A fellow staff member was complaining at work today that she only had five hours’ sleep the night before.
 
Five hours! Sheer luxury.
 
For me, that’s the sort of sleep I sometimes crave to get. The kind of sleep I ache for. The kind of blissful, lengthy slumber that actual dreams can be made of.
 
Unless I’m taking a sedative to force the issue, that’s the kind of night’s sleep that can keep me going during the day’s when I’ve not been quite so lucky.
 
Eight hours I’ve long assumed is a myth propagated by an evil genius who wants to downplay the achievement of receiving any sleep in consecutive hours at all.
 
If it weren’t for viewing my darling achieve this same thing effortlessly, night after night, I would think it an imaginary proposition much like giving up sugar or eating a low-fat diet.
 
Damn my a-type personality that tries really hard to achieve things. Trying to achieve sleep is one of the things destined to make it stay far away.
 
Much like trying to knock it into my own head.
 
Doesn’t work.
 
Leaves bruises.
 
Leads to hopeless sobbing.
 
Until. . .
 
Finally. . .
 
Another successful night down. Only forty more years of this to go!
 
 
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You know the old phrase, “Your mouth’s writing a cheque that your body can’t cash?”
 
OK. Perhaps it’s not that old and perhaps you don’t know it, but I’m sure you can figure it out if you take a minute.
 
As an introvert I have a constant war raging inside of me. My brain is often thinking up sarcastic and witty retorts that have a way of flowing straight out of my mouth before I can stop them.
 
The downside is that as soon as the aforementioned retort is out of my mouth, people have a habit of turning and staring.
 
My brain likes being the centre of attention. Right up until the moment that it is, whereupon it remembers that it hates being the centre of attention and would like to crawl back into the dark hole it came from.
 
This is exacerbated by writing.
 
I like sitting alone at home typing out a whole lot of words. It’s fun. Even when it’s hard work that I complain bitterly about.
 
The great thing about a page full of type is that it doesn’t turn and look at you when you’re feeling vulnerable. A page of typing never dropped by when I was in a non-peopley mood and sat down on my couch to chat.
 
The sad thing about a page full of type is that nobody knows it’s there by accident.
 
If I want somebody to actually read the pages, I have to announce it to the world at large. Quite frequently. Far more frequently than my non-peopley soul would find comfortable.
 
Some of that “promotion” is okay with me. A lot of it is online, where I can happily pretend that all the other people are just more pages of type written by another introverted soul (and a lot of the time I’d be right).
 
Sometimes, though, I just have to bite the bullet and actually appear in public places and do things in front of other human beings.
 
Things like talk. About writing and stuff. And how there are books out there that you can buy for money that I can then redeem for food and electricity and wifi.
 
Usually when I agree to do these things the actual events are months away and I’m fine with the prospect of appearing in front of a crowd.
 
(I should note here that a crowd is what I call more than one person. More than two people if one of them is my darling because he doesn’t count-in the most wonderful way.)
 
So, I’ve agreed to things like appearing on TV or talking in front of rooms of people because my imagination likes to pretend that those sorts of things are just fine.
 
As the time for the actual event draws closer however, my brain reasserts a thing called reality and has to reluctantly agree that although it imagines itself an extrovert it would like to be that while living under a rock.
 
One such event is fast approaching. I am graciously being hosted, along with two other Christchurch crime writers, by the Christchurch South library at an event called “Murder in the Library.”
 
It’s next Wednesday at 6.30pm and that is now less than a week away. It’s becoming dangerously close to being soon and that will inevitably lead to it being tomorrow and then this evening.
 
My mouth has chosen yet again to write a cheque that my jittery nerves aren’t sure they can cash.
 
The good news is that, at the moment, there are three acceptances on the facebook events page. This nicely coincides with the number of authors who will be on the panel. I’m half-hoping that isn’t a coincidence.
 
I’m also hoping that “Murder in the Library” won’t turn out to be “Nausea and Stammering in the Library” but only time will tell at this point.
 
If you’d like to join me, and change the number of acceptances to four, then feel free to register for free tickets on the following events page Murder in the Libary – June 1st.
 
 
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Sometimes, it feels like I’m doing something that should be good but turns out to be bad.
 
For instance, on Friday I was poking around my hosting site and saw they had a special on premium DNS.
 
For a tiny, upfront annual fee, I could hook my websites up to a premium service that guaranteed my websites would be impervious to all kinds of internet nasties and would NEVER go offline.
 
Even if anonymous decided that my tiny website advertising me and my books to the world was worthy of their wrath and they launched a full-scale denial of service attack on little ole me, my website would stand up to the onslaught and retain its cyber presence.
 
I know that seems unlikely, but never say never.
 
So I signed up to the service and followed the email instructions to connect my websites up to their new, super-dooper, always-on, premium big-pants DNS.
 
Gosh, I felt like a grown-up.
 
After hooking it up I entered my website address into my browser to see if I could notice any difference.
 
I certainly could.
 
The whole thing was gone.
 
I then checked out my website that I haven’t quite got around to launching yet, so should have been showing a handy message from wordpress saying www.kathay1973.com is under construction.
 
Nope.
 
Nothing.
 
Apparently, when I hooked up to the new premium DNS, this took my existing DNS service down and I had to wait for between 48-72 hours for my new premium DNS to take effect.
 
So, in attempting to stop a theoretical outage sometime in the future, I caused an actual outage. Now.
 
This would possibly have been strikingly obvious to somebody who actually knew what they were doing, but my approach to website building and maintenance is haphazard at best.
 
I basically do stuff to stuff until it looks kind of like it did in my head, or I give up. Whichever comes first.
 
To be honest, this sort of approach usually ends in tears, with occasional bursts of joyous exclamation along the way.
 
But, it’s no way to run a business. The CEO should revoke my privileges and take my keys off me. Now.
 
The only thing I have going for me, is that my labour is free.
 
(That’s free for me only, everyone else has to pay)
 
Weighing up chaos against cheapness, cheapness has won out every time.
 
So, until I start earning enough to fire the volunteer worker who doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing and hire someone who needs to be paid, with actual money, I’m just going to have to put up with it.
 
Job security is nice, no matter how it arrives.
 
 
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Posted by kathay@orcon.net.nz in Katherine Hayton's Blog Read More

I don’t know why it happens, but if a New Zealander sees the letter Z in a page of text their eyes flick down to it immediately to see if it’s mentioning our country.
 
The word “new” causes little interest, it’s too common to draw attention, but the letter Z is just odd enough to be arresting.
 
This is usually a slight nuisance rather than a problem, but today I was reading a paragraph about a girl named Zoe at the same time as someone on the radio said “New Zealand,” so spent the next fifteen minutes reading and rereading the text trying to find the name of my home country.
 
I was absolutely sure it was there but did have to concede eventually that my brain had confabulated it.
 
Fifteen minutes. I could have… ehm… I don’t know? Maybe played five lives worth of Scrubby Dubby, or something else enjoyable.
 
But my stupid national identity made me search fruitlessly for some words instead.
 
It’s not as though I get something out of it. Reading “New Zealand” in a page of type isn’t nearly as satisfying as I may have led you to believe.
 
For a start, the word New is misleading. I’m fairly certain that our country is approximately the same age as the rest of the planet.
 
And Zealand? I’m sure it’s a lovely place to live. Apparently 45% of Denmark’s population think so and who am I to disabuse them of that notion?
 
Of course, we’re not even named after Zealand. Don’t be stupid. We’re named after Zeeland. Obviously. Our second wave of founding fathers couldn’t spell.
 
Zeeland, whose claim to fame is the highest death toll in the North Sea flood of 1953.
 
I wonder if people in Zeeland have the same compulsion with the last letter of our alphabet. Or folks who hale from Zimbabwe.
 
Q is another odd letter. Do people from Qatar find themselves needlessly scanning rows of text in homage to their home country? Or does it happen to people from normal capital letter countries too?
 
So many questions. There’s another fifteen minutes of my life I’ll never get back.
 
 
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17 May / Airplane Mode

So, I don’t know if you’ve seen this or not, but a pilot went on Quora the other day to answer an innocent question about why we have to put our phones on airplane mode when we fly.
 
Over the years there have been vague rumours of it mucking up the controls, or other rumours of it interfering in the plane’s ability to stay up in the sky, but the pilot had a different point of view.
 
They’re annoying.
 
No, really.
 
If mobile phones aren’t switched to flight mode then they cause interference in the cockpit. Rather like phoning in to your favourite radio talk back channel at 3am while you mistakenly leave your radio on in the background, tuned to the same station.
 
What?
 
No, I’m not in an old-person’s home. Why do you ask?
 
If there’s just one or two then it’s not such a problem. Multiply it by however many passengers you can fit on your local airliner-in cattle class at least-and you can see their point.
 
I’ve never actually questioned this request before because if I’m told to do something, I do it. Mein fuhrer.
 
That’s mostly a lie. If I’m told to do something and I’m in a tin can full of people that a person on a salary so low they qualify for a government rebate is attempting to propel into the air and keep there by magic or “physics” for at least a couple of hours, I do it. Without question.
 
And if the only reason I’m doing it is so that impoverished pilot who thought he was getting into a glamorous career (ha-ha) doesn’t end up with a headache, so be it.
 
I was only following orders.
 
 
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16 May / Lazy meals

Friday, I came home to a lovely meal of sirloin beef crusted with peppercorns and cooked medium (just like I like it). It was served with a side of wholegrain rice, a colourful medley of vegetables, and a serving of Portuguese sauce.
 
This evening I dined on a thin-sliced roast of venison on quinoa with a selection of green vegetables and topped with a light gravy.
 
Mmmmmmmmmmm. Eating food that I didn’t need to prepare.
 
All this comes courtesy of a new food service operating in town. They call it fitfood. I call it lazy food. In exchange for hard-earned money they send me complete meals ready to heat in the microwave for much longer than they indicate on their website.
 
They even go so far as to issue handy instructions on how to shake the bags halfway through. Thanks, fitfood. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known to grip the corners and jiggle the bag back and forth.
 
Of course, the supermarket also gives me food in return for my cash but they usually insist on me spending a lot longer doing stuff to it, before I can sit down to eat.
 
Not fitfood. They’re not into all that wasted energy. No, just heat and eat.
 
I really do think they should consider changing their name. I’m sure lazy food would attract more like-minded people to their website than the title they bestowed upon themselves.
 
Appealing to the health conscious crowd just alienates my sort. It was only by a happy accident that I discovered they actually sent you nice tasting food. Left to my own devices I would never have investigated them that in-depth.
 
So here’s a shameless plug for lazy food. Order it today and the prices should go down, then I can afford to be even more lazy.
 

 
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