Kim and I continue talking, but we switch from her book to talking about communities. Specifically, author communities and how they benefit writers.
We have both been in different groups and met in a great mastermind group. Everyone has different experiences and all groups are different, but there are good and bad to look for.
Stephen: All right, well, welcome back Kim. Uh, now we talked about your book. So let’s talk a little bit, uh, for writers. So to get started, um, writing your book, what did you learn and what would you do different or what have you done different with the next couple books? Oh,
Kim: that’s a good question. Um, what I’ve learned is that not only the craft of writing, but the whole process of writing is.
About iteration. It’s like a constant learning, adjusting. To, to find how you do it best. And I, and I imagine that you might settle into something and then realize, you know, a different season has come upon you and your life has changed and you have to change it again. So, yeah, in the last year in particular, I’ve really been playing around with.
With my schedule and how I write and how I arrange my life around my writing to try and get it so I can be productive. And I think I’ve, I’ve hit on something that works now. So I think iteration, like constantly changing and adjusting until you find something that works is really important and something I’ve learned along the way.
Stephen: Uh, uh, have you read, uh, the Snowflake Method? No, I
Kim: haven’t. That’s one of the few things I haven’t read.
Stephen: Uh, I, I’ve had multiple people recommend it, so I did read it and it was funny. The way it’s written is very interesting. Um, but I, when I was reading it and I’m, I, I went back to the one guy and I said, oh my gosh, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
And, you know, nice. Well, good. You discovered it all on your own. So I, I agree. I, I’ve found that my. I do my best writing in the revision, not the initial writing. Mm-hmm. Uh, that’s just to get the story outta my head and get the mechanics over with the, the real writing is starting to come when I revise it, and not just, eh, from everything, the, the, you know, 50,000 foot view of maybe I move this scene or break this up, or whatever, down to the minute, you know, this sentence and this sentence could be stronger if I did this to them and put these words in, rearranged it and cut this out.
So, The revision for me definitely has become where I do what I feel is the best part of the writing.
Kim: Yeah. I, I’ve grown to love revision. I hated it at first, but the, the, the, the adjusting for me was also like, not just about the actual writing, but it was about, How I structured my time when I’m actually writing.
So I’ve, I’ve recently adopted the Pomodoro method or, okay, so, so I write for tw I set my timer and I write for 25 minutes or, or edit or whatever I’m, you know, doing in that moment. And then the timer goes off and I get up from my chair and I, and I move around. I, you know, if I, maybe I’ll do. I’ll little laundry or I’ll do some body weight exercises just to keep myself, you know, halfway in shape.
But I have to get outta my chair and outta my office and go walk around. And then after five minutes I go back and I set my timer and I write or do whatever for 25 minutes and then I take another break and. I didn’t think I would be productive by doing that. I thought that break every 25 minutes would, would be difficult, but it’s actually having that constraint has made me like, okay, I’m gonna write for 25 minutes.
I’m not gonna, you know, fiddle around and stare at the wall or something. I’m just gonna write. And so it’s actually made me more productive, those
Stephen: breaks. And, and I like that you said that, uh, because one of the things I definitely advocate is having some constraint, some sort of framework of some sort.
Um, And I learned this, discovered it, I guess, myself. It was always I, my thought and way of doing it, when I resisted it, I didn’t do as well. But if you just put a blank page down and say, well, I’ll write something, it never goes, well, it, I don’t get that many words. But if you put it down and say, okay, you’ve gotta write a story about two kids going up a hill to fetch water and you’ve got 1500 words.
Yeah. Um, I, I, I will get a much better story out of it with that constraint, like you said. So how much writing do you do a day in those, uh, groups of 20, 25 minutes.
Kim: Well, it depends. You know, when I, when I did NaNoWriMo back in November, I was, I was averaging at least 20 between 2000, 2,500 words every day.
Nice. Yeah. Some days I was getting over 3000, which was more than I think I’ve ever done. And uh, so maybe when I’m not quite so intense like nano, I can maybe get about 2000 words. Maybe, yeah.
Stephen: 1800. Okay. Um, so when you are writing, uh, what software and services are you using? I use
Kim: Scribner to write and I use pro writing aid to do proof writing and some, you know, basic editing stuff.
Stephen: Okay. Do you use anything like, um, Sorry, my brain, uh, froze up there. Uh, when you use Scribner, um, do you, uh, export it into Word and do anything with Word? Because I know a lot of people use Word cuz they’re afraid of Scribner, or do you pretty much do it all in. Uh, Scribner.
Kim: Well, I’m all over the place. I do use Scribner.
I do put stuff in Word. Um, when I send things to my critique group, I put ’em in a Google Doc so we can all share it. So I do kind of use all three of ’em in various ways.
Stephen: Okay. And I, I talked to a guy the other day that, uh, used Google Docs for everything. Um, me personally, uh, I started with Word but discovered s Scribner because I liked the be being able to put a scene or a chapter within one grouping and easily move it around.
Yeah. Uh, unlike Word I thought it was a lot harder. Yeah.
Kim: I like that function too. So I have each chapter as a folder, and then I have each scene as a, as a little document within the folder. And, and yeah, I like the, the index cards on the corkboard that you can use. Uh, and I always write like a little summary in each one of those so I can go back and just go to the corkboard really quick and see which scenes and I mark when they’re done or when they’re, you know, uh, you know, need work or whatever.
And so that way I can just go back and quickly look what what’s going on in each chapter, and then what needs to be done.
Stephen: Right. And I, I like that. And it’s funny I mentioned the Snowflake method. It seems to me that Scribner fits the snowflake method fairly well, that I can, uh, grow it and modify it. Um, now are you on Mac or pc?
I have a pc. Okay. So have you tried the beta release candidate of the newest version? Scribner three? I don’t think I have. So, so you’re still on one.
Kim: You know what? I don’t even know. I’d have to,
Stephen: I’m not person. So, uh, Scribner, they have the Mac version, which is at version three, and it’s, uh, the more robust version for pc.
They had version one and they said they were going to release a version three that had, was, was pretty much the same as the Mac version. So you could go between ’em and not really notice a difference. Nice. Uh, it was supposed to be out like two years ago and they’re still kind of working on it. But they’re really close and they’ve been releasing free beta release candidates for people.
And I’ve actually been using the version three beta for the past year. Uh, and there’ve been a few hiccups and problems obviously, but for the most part I like it. Um, I know the compile function seems to have a lot of power, but for me it’s almost a little too confusing still. Um, but I was just curious if you’ve tried it.
Nope, not yet. Okay. Well, uh, when it does come out, uh, we’ll have to talk and see if we use a new one. Uh, so your, your book, uh, and I know other writers might be interested in this, you’ve got it on Amazon. Do you have plans to take it wide or are you leaving on Amazon and using Kindle Unlimited?
Kim: No, I think once the entire trilogy is out, I’d like to go wide.
I, I like the idea of people in countries that don’t have Amazon being able to get the book,
Stephen: so, okay, so what do you do? Like baby steps. Okay. Right, right. Gonna
Kim: have be on Amazon and then learn a few more things, which with each book, and then kind of go, okay, we’ve got this, you know, under our belt, and now we can maybe go and.
Put it out in some other
Stephen: markets. Right? And, and we go back to that and I’ve seen a lot of people, and they always get the same advice. They’re like, oh, should I go wide? Should I do Kindle Unlimited? Should I use this? Should I put it here? And someone will inevitably ask, okay, well how many books do you have done?
They’re like, none. I’m just starting on my first one. And everybody’s like, focus on finishing the book first. Worry about the marketing later. So, you know, you don’t have to get overwhelmed. Um, just. Yeah. Take it a step at a time. Right, right. Okay. Um, so the, the thing the topic of discussion for today, uh, that you wanted to, uh, bring up would be community.
What, what were you thinking, uh, with community that you wanted to do? I
Kim: think I wanted to talk about community because it was so important to, to me in my journey, especially early on. But even if still, I mean, I don’t think I, I’m not sure I ever would’ve started my novel and I’m almost certain I would not have finished if I had not.
Being a part of a critique group that mm-hmm. Wanted submissions regularly. I think it was at first, it was every other week. And then I joined a new group, a different group, and it was every week. And if it hadn’t been for that with them expecting things, I’m not sure if I actually would’ve finished or if I would’ve just petered out like I had tried, you know,
Stephen: in the past.
Which I think happens to a lot of people. And it’s interesting too because uh, both of us would advocate community. Uh, we’re in a community together of some writers. Um, but it’s also, uh, the opposite of what most writers feel because a lot of writers are very introverted. Very much. I’m good with the pandemic cuz I get to stay at home type of thing.
Right. Um, and it’s scary to go out. Uh, and get into a community. Uh, you mentioned you had a critique group community. Uh, is that the first community? Have you had any that you went to that you were like, yeah, no, this isn’t for me. Um,
Kim: so far everything’s been pretty good. The, the critique group. I’m still, we’ve, we’re still all together and I think, you know, with the, to, to have a successful critique group, you know, you have to trust the people.
You have to be working with people who know what they’re doing. And I think you also have to have a lot of like guidelines, like what you’re going to critique and how you’re going to critique. So, Yeah, I mean there’s been some, I belong to some like Facebook communities, like different groups and I’ve, one has been really successful.
It’s just for historical fiction writers and we’ve all been really supportive of each other. You know, we have feedback week and different things like that and, but there’s been some that once they get really big, Then, then I think they become, they’re not, they’re not really useful anymore. There’s just too many people too, too much noise.
And I, I think they lose their effectiveness.
Stephen: Yeah. The, the other problem I’ve found with a lot of critique groups, couple things, especially the ones, uh, I would go to live like in the evening, there was never enough time to critique more than a short bit. So it never, uh, really. Uh, helped with the story development or the overall plot in a story.
It was always focused on the commas and the periods and, uh, the wording choices in a very short bit of text. Oh
Kim: yeah, that’s, yeah, we don’t do that because we usually deal with earlier drafts, so it’s like, I don’t care about, you know, copy editing. Just tell me big things like, does this work? So as an example, this recently, last week, I had written the first chapter of a book.
And I wasn’t sure if it started in the right place. They had read the original first chapter and they liked it, but I wasn’t sure that it had started it in the right place. So I wrote a new first chapter, sent it to them and said, I just wanna know if this is starting in the right place. And they all said, no.
Your original first chapter was better. Nobody corrected any grammar or did anything like that. It was just like, this was good. This okay, no, this didn’t work. And that kind of thing, because. To me, it’s just a waste of time to do any kind of copy editing, line editing at at early drafts, because you might just cut that entire chapter out or that whole scene.
Now what’s the point of, you know, putting a comma in if you’re gonna delete the whole
Stephen: thing? And that’s probably, um, where I got, uh, discouraged by, uh, most groups because I wasn’t as interested in, should I use this word choice or put a comma here. You know, I, I want to know, was the story good? What could make the story better?
And that’s, I think, harder to find. Um, And I, I find it nice and interesting. So your group, do you meet at regular times or are you all just casual? When someone has something they like blast it out to the group and everyone provides us feedback when they have the time. No, we meet every week. Okay.
Kim: Yeah. Uh, pre pandemic, we either met at a, you know, like.
Um, kind of cafe restaurant that we could linger or we’d meet at somebody’s house. Yeah, now we meet through Zoom, but yeah, we meet every week. We’ve all become really good friends too, so that helps. And the nice thing about finding a group that you like and you trust and sticking with them is that they really know your writing.
Almost even better. Like my group knows my writing better than I do, so there’s been times where, you know, they catch me and they go This. Your character wouldn’t do this. And then I read it back and I go, oh, they’re right. He wouldn’t, because, you know, or this isn’t working. And I totally trust them. And, uh, so yeah.
And, and having that weekly, even if we don’t have anything, we still get together and we’ll often just talk about what, what we’ve done. Like even commiserate like. I had a terrible week. I didn’t get any writing done. This is awful. My kids are making me crazy. You know, just, or, or you know, we might message each other and go when we’re stuck and, you know, writing is hard, you know, I think we need to, to remember to, to take note of that, that it’s, it’s hard.
Writing a novel is hard. It’s difficult. There’s a lot that goes into it and I think it’s okay for us to. To reach out to our other writing friends and just go, oh my God, I’m stuck. This is hard. I don’t know what to do. And just have them go. Yeah, it is.
Stephen: You know, I, I think that’s really great because it is difficult to find those, uh, I mean, uh, we’ve got tonight, uh, if we’re both there, an accountability group that we’ve been meeting with, uh, evenings on Tuesdays, and it’s kind of casual, but, um, It is very difficult to find people you feel comfortable with.
And the the one group I do like, but I probably won’t be offering any of my writing anymore because it, it’s, we meet once a month and it’s very short. You know, time, there’s always a speaker or something like that, but then there’s four or five people that read something and everyone provides feedback, but most of the feedback is on, you know, the, the craft in stuff, not so much the, uh, story itself.
And you gotta watch it. And I don’t know if you’ve experienced this with groups, but you’ve gotta watch, like you said, trust the people. Because the one, there was a story read the one time that was a horror story, and it was only the beginning part of the story. And this one guy kind of jumped all over the writer, uh, about, you know, you gotta cut this whole bunch here because it needs to start right with the action and get the people hooked and all this.
And I read through it and I, I. Disagreed with him. I said, no, what you are saying may be exactly what a thriller needs, but I like horror and horror. You’ve gotta build that up. You’ve got to get to know the characters. You’ve gotta get that sense of the surroundings and the, the time where you’re at. Uh, if you just jump in with, oh my gosh, there’s a ghost up in the attic, nobody cares.
Right? Uh, So you really, like you said, gotta have a group you trust and people that, and people that know what they’re talking about too. Not that he didn’t, but he didn’t know horror. Uh, cuz it’s a mixed group, right?
Kim: Yeah. I think that’s important. And, and whenever one of, uh, one of the women in my group writes romance and I’ve read some Roman, I mean, I do read some romance, but I’m not as fluent in that genre as some of the other members in the group.
And so I, I’ll either say, well, This might be a convention of the genre. So I might, sometimes I’ll step back from critiquing if it’s like, well, I didn’t like this, but maybe it’s because I, you know, I don’t know what’s supposed to be there, or I don’t understand this, or something like that. I. So, yeah, it’s also good to know the genre of, of your fellow members.
Stephen: And also, it’s not bad if you do have people you like, but you write different genres to have somebody in a genre read your stuff that’s, you know, a different genre than what you normally write. Because if they’re like, look, I don’t know the genre, but this is what I felt reading it, or this is what I picked up on, uh, for me it, it might give you a.
Different perspective, uh, that could help. But, uh, you, again, you gotta have enough knowledge of yourself in story, uh, and be comfortable cuz to say, yeah, that’s really not what I’m going for. And that doesn’t work in sci-fi the way it does in romance because Right. You know? Uh, but again, that all comes from doing it in experience.
Kim: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And then there’s. I know, you know, with the pandemic it’s been hard, but I’ve joined several different groups where we have done like online write-ins, so you just like, you know, go to a Zoom link and there’s a whole bunch of different writers. Sometimes I’ve been in rooms where like Tony, different people are there.
And everybody, you know, leaves their cameras on and the microphones are muted and, and you just write together. And it’s, it’s surprisingly helpful. You wouldn’t think that just having somebody on a, on a screen on your computer or, you know, on the computer next to you or whatever some people do, that would be so helpful.
But it, but it is, it’s nice to know that there’s other people all around you. Doing the same thing. And it’s kind of funny to look at the screen and see somebody like rubbing their head cuz they’re like, and it’s, they’re stuck. But that’s, you know, it’s a, it’s a form of community too to, to know that you’re not alone when you’re writing that there are others out there.
Stephen: Uh, definitely the community and getting the feedback, especially when you get a group you like, like the, the group we’re in with Jay, uh, pretty much everybody’s helpful and, and tries to be helpful, not just. Saying annoying things or negative things. Um, and there’s a little more trust, I think, because the people really want to be writers and, and be there.
But I think also, and this correlates to your por method, that it’s a mindset. If, you know, I’ve only got 25 minutes to write, your mind shifts into a different gearing that’s focused on writing. You know, if you know there’s 20 other people staring at their cameras to see if you are the one writing or not, it, it keeps you in that mindset.
Yeah. It’s almost a competition, but you know, sometimes competition leads to some of the best advances. It pushes you. Yeah.
Kim: I think that’s why NaNoWriMo works for so many people because. Not only are you, do you have that word count to try and meet every day, you also know that there’s tens of thousands of other writers out there doing it at the same time, and everybody’s like, oh, I’m gonna get my word count in, you know, whatever it is that your goal is, whether that’s the main one or not.
Yeah, I, I don’t. See a problem with that kind of competition, like, am I, am I, I’ll look at the screen, and it’s like, oh, good. Not everybody is writing, other people are staring off into space.
Stephen: So, yeah. Uh, well, at the beginning of the year, I, uh, unfortunately threw down with Lon, uh, challenged him and he’s definitely getting way more words than I am lately.
Kim: yeah. So there, there’s other groups as well, you know, like, uh, I know like, uh, I belong to the local Romance Writers Association chapter. I know like doesn’t the sci sci-fi fantasy, isn’t there a group for them? Yeah, there’s Thriller writers. Yeah, there’s groups like that. If you have a local chapter of something like that, or Sisters of Crime, I Sisters in Crime.
We have one of those here as well. Like, I think belonging to an organization like that can be helpful too, cuz then you find people in your genre. The groups usually have speakers come in, sometimes they have agents come in if you wanna traditionally publish, right? So those,
Stephen: those are helpful. It’s definitely good to have those resources in, uh, connections.
Uh, even if, uh, you’re not submitting something for others to read, having all those other. Connections, resources and pushing you and meeting with people. Uh, I mean, I’ve met with a couple writers just to have a cup of coffee and chat, especially because I work from home, uh, you know, which didn’t change much with the pandemic, but when you’re working from home, you don’t see people much.
So it helps you clear your mind sometimes to have someone like, oh yeah, I, I only got a hundred words yesterday, and, oh, I know what you’re talking about. You know? Right.
Kim: Exactly that, that sense of community, that is, I just think it’s really important because we just, we have this, I, this, this version from movies.
I, and I don’t understand why movies and TV shows still put this version of writers forward since people who write those shows are writers, but maybe they do it more collaborate, uh, I don’t know what it is, but this, you know, the person sitting at their typewriter or their computer all alone and then.
Stephen: They, well, I, yeah, interrupt. I, I think that really goes back to what we talked about with your book, that you could have rewrote things and done it so that people were sitting up more than laying down. But we also have a romantic notion in our head, and if you change that, In the story, it can be jarring and that could lead people to, yeah, I didn’t care for that book a lot.
You know, and it could be something as simple as, well, that writer was running around frantic at a job all day and then was just typing late at night while everyone slept. That’s not what a writer is. Right. You know? Well, yeah, actually it is folks. Um,
Kim: Yeah. We have to change the narrative of what being a writer actually is.
Stephen: Yeah. You know, um, there’s a, there’s a comedy horror movie I enjoy with Alan Tud called Tucker and Dale versus Evil, and it’s poking fun at the whole. Um, genre of scary movies, but also a little bit of, uh, redneck, hillbilly people. But it’s a funny movie. Funny, funny. I love, I love Alan Duick and that movie.
Just everything about it made me chuckle. I’ve watched it a couple times. Um, but, you know, is. Their depiction of a quote unquote hillbilly. Correct? Well, probably not, but it’s got enough of those stereotypes that we can enjoy it and laugh about it and make the movie good. So there’s a balance there too.
That’s getting a little off topic, but.
Kim: Well, no, I think we were talking about, you know, the, the, the writers sitting alone and, and I think you’re right, a lot of writers are already introverts and I think that might be a, the default for a lot of us. It is for me too. I’m an introvert, even though I work at the library at the public, it’s, I still prefer to be at home and, you know, just kind of reading and doing my thing.
But it’s just when you, when you. Just sit and try and do it alone. I, I think you’re more likely to maybe either not ever finish it or, you know, maybe. Just feel like it’s, it’s just too much of a burden, you know? Cuz like I said, writing a novel is, is hard work. And, and I think if you have somebody or many somebody’s to share that with and to, to get some feedback or about any part of it, or even the marketing part or any of that, I think it’s a really good thing.
Podcasts like this or any of the other podcasts, I listen to a lot of podcasts about writing and, and the, and, and they’ve helped me. So much and I would consider that like part of my community, even though I don’t know most of them, so, right.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I listened to quite a few podcasts, but that’s also where I did discover some communities, like with Jay.
Um, yeah, me too.
All right. Well, um, before we go, Kim, uh, we like, again, we could probably talk martial arts for a while itself. Um, do you have, uh, any last minute advice you would give new, new authors
Kim: advice for a new author? I would say, is this the same advice I give to new parents to be patient and be gentle with yourself because.
It’s hard and there’ll be a lot of setbacks, and you just enjoy the process as you, as you, as you, I don’t know, uh, experience it. So yeah, I think patience is, is something that I think is really important to remember. You’re not going to it just with the writing. You’re not going to be the writer you want to be immediately there.
I forget who it was, had talked about that. Like you see a work of art and you want to be, do something as good as that, but then when you do it, it’s nowhere near as good as what you want it. But that first step is to know what you want, you know, to, to recognize that work of art. I thank you just to be, to be patient and gentle and, and enjoy the process because if you don’t enjoy the process, Then, you know, why do
Right. Exactly. And I think something you said earlier that it though you hadn’t been writing, but it had been like eating at your brain and pinging and you couldn’t stop thinking about it. I, I was even gonna mention then that’s kinda a lot of times the difference between somebody who. Will, that has to be a writer and will write no matter what, in somebody who’s just like, well, you know, I think I can make a million dollars off this.
You know, it’s that. I, I have to write it. It doesn’t matter. I just have to write.
Kim: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. If you feel that pull and do it and, and enjoy it, and if success comes along the way, that’s a
Stephen: bonus. Yeah. And that, I mean, there are definitely ways to help encourage success. Exactly. Yeah. You still have to write and you have to, uh, want that desire to write, to get you through those tough times.
Exactly, exactly. And tie it all up. A lot of times that’s what community does. They help encourage you.
All right. Great. Well, Kim, it’s been really fun talking to you today. Uh, I enjoyed myself. Uh, yeah,
Kim: I love, I
Stephen: enjoyed myself too. Great. I wish you luck on your next couple books and we’ll have to touch base again. All right, sounds great. Thank
Kim: you. Thank you for listening to Discovered Wordsmiths.
Stephen: Come back next week and listen to another author discuss the road
Kim: they’ve traveled, and maybe sometime in the near
Kim: it might be you.