Try Something Different?

Why Change? 3 Things I Learned from Melissa Brayden Plus a Sneak Peek

Karin Kallmaker Captain of Industry, Craft of Writing, Sisters of the Pen, Stepping Stone 13 Comments

 I learned way more than three things during Melissa Brayden‘s “25 Tips You Need to Write Faster, Please Your Readers, and Sell More Books” session at the Golden Crown Literary Society last week in New Orleans. It was easily the most informative and useful technical session of the Con for me – 25 useful things in 50 minutes. Suh-weet!

Happily, there were a few items on Melissa’s list that I already practice (rituals do work!). Phew. Of course, a few I discarded as too far outside my existing practices (writing buddy? never gonna happen…). But then, well, some of the techniques Melissa reviewed concisely and with compelling examples, well, um… How do I put this?

Try Something Different?

They made sense. Like for how I work. #SHOCKANDAWE

These are my top three:

  1. Embrace the imperfect. Get the draft done, idiot. Okay, Melissa didn’t say idiot, that bit is me. And maybe my publisher.
  2. Write out of order. Wow, I hate that so much, stick a pin in my brain why don’t you, and dangitall it works.
  3. Train yourself to write in short snippets. Nothing short circuits my intention to write than the fear of being interrupted just as the mojo is making magic. But if I call it “sketching” and not “writing” – heck, I’ve done that all my life. I just have to write it down instead of thinking about it.

All three of these techniques will work, if I can change.


Yes, change.


I’ve always edited the previous chapter before writing fresh, and left myself notes at the end of a writing session about the next scene. That habit kept my continuity of character voice clean and clear, kept me from needing to outline, and it worked for books of 50-55K in length. which was Naiad’s ideal. My last six books, however, are all over 80K, one more than 100K. Though writing shorter books and more often is more lucrative, I like writing deeper, involved characters with complex lives.

Also true: estrogen loss sucks bilge water. I must take notes, I must sketch out what I used to easily recall. Hello Scrivener! If I’m learning how to do that, lo these many books later, I can learn the three new tricks that will get that first draft completed. Once that’s done it’s all gravy because I love like a lunatic love, love, love self-editing.

Dear Karin:
Carry your effing tools with you. What’s the freaking point of the cute little keyboard for the tablet if you don’t have it with you when you find yourself with 20 minutes free? Dolt.
Love you, mean it!
– Your Muse

What I know for sure is that I can’t go another two years without finishing a book! Now that I’m retired from my role of Editorial Director at Bella Books, and I’m about to preside over an empty nest, getting my groove back for writing is the only thing I’m thinking about. The work-in-progress is Captain of Industry, which takes place both before and after the events of Stepping Stone. (Because even bitches have backstories.) My other WIP, Craving Sunshine, awaits attention as well.

Here’s the current opening of Captain of Industry, which I read from at Golden Crown. (A couple people laughed politely, you know who you are, thank you.) It’s not on the Bella Books production schedule yet, but as soon as I get 50% written, I’ll be turning the outline in.

Thank you, readers, for staying tuned! This groove is for you.

Wine, No Longer in Glass – Opening Vignette
Captain of Industry by Karin Kallmaker

The bright party lights woven into the hedges and trees brightened the amber glow of the Chardonnay that was no longer in Jennifer Lamont’s glass. Droplets of wine shimmered in an arc away from her, and in each Jennifer fancied she could see snapshots from the A-list soiree that surrounded her.

In the nearest drop was the face of her ex, cuddling with the new love. The next reflected the painting up for auction. The ribbon of shimmering wine just leaving the fluted mouth of her glass gleamed with a hundred eyes that had turned from their vivacious conversations toward her crescendoing cry of alarm.

There were so many Beautiful People gathered in the expansive cliff-side backyard of some Southern California Internet tycoon, and they were all eager to show their support for breast cancer screening and research. All witnessing La Lamont falling off her five-inch Jimmy Choo heels.

Her date had bought the coveted, high-priced tickets for the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the wealthiest and most famous women in the country. Jennifer had agreed to be arm candy because of the auction of the new Leah Beck painting. Even though it was mid-week and she had a five a.m. make-up call in Los Angeles, she’d passed up sleep and gotten herself A-list dressed in a Michael Kors off-the-shoulder cocktail sheath. When her date—name to be forever cursed—had canceled at the last minute, Jennifer had demanded the address and made the drive to La Jolla on her own.

In the small pool of wine left in her glass, Jennifer thought she saw the white flare of at least one cell phone flash. Then the glass followed the wine arc across the terra cotta patio and she had one final split-second choice: fall hard, fast, and then roll her face away from most of the probable witnesses and cameras, or windmill, flail, and try to stay upright. Which would make the worst picture on SLY or Buzztastic? Which would she prefer to explain on The Tonight Show? Which would look more like she had caught her heel between the flagstones—the truth—and less like she was drunk—the likely headline?

All the while the clay tiles rushed toward her nose and an increasingly urgent part of her brain screamed, “Protect your face!”

She twisted to take the impact on her side, threw her arms around her head. But she never hit the ground.

Later, pictures confirmed that the back of her skull was only inches from the tiles. Not that most people looked at that part of the tableau. Instead, all eyes were on the wardrobe malfunction of the year—of two years, more accurately.

To her credit, her rescuer glanced down only briefly, then met Jennifer’s panicked gaze. With one eyebrow arched she asked, “You get regularly scheduled mammograms, right?”

Jennifer scarcely heard the laughter from those people near enough to have heard the question. Flashes of light from cameras didn’t blot out the face of the woman who had caught her.

She knew the sardonic edge, the light blue eyes. She knew the strong arms lifting her. Not again, she thought helplessly. Not again.

I know there are some mistakes in all of this somewhere. Embracing the imperfect… Sure sure. That’s what I’m doing.

(c) Karin Kallmaker, 2015

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