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We catch up with KS Barton as she talks about her Norse Family Saga. Since we last talked, she has released several books, including starting a new series.
And she still gets time to read and recommends Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles.
I wanna welcome Kim Barton back to discovered wordsmiths. Kim, it’s been a while since we’ve talked whether on the podcast or in a group or something.
So how have you been,
K.S.: I’ve been good. It has been a long time. I think. I think it was actually before the pandemic. probably, yeah. So it’s been a hundred years.
Stephen: Yeah. Yeah. We we’ve sent messages back and forth in Jay’s group a bit. Yeah. Yeah. Refresh everybody. Last we talked, it’s been a while.
Tell us about what books you were working on and how those have gone since we talked to you.
K.S.: Yeah. I’ve done a lot since we talked last, I had just released my first book. And then in 2021, I released the second two books in that trilogy, so that Trilogy’s all done and out. And then in this past April of 2022, I released my fourth book, which is the first book in a two book little series.
Stephen: Oh, nice. Okay. Yeah. So you’ve gotten quite a few out. You haven’t been rest. No,
K.S.: no. Yeah. I had the first three the trilogy was done. It was all written when I released the first book. So I was able to I had stockpiled them and then released them. Okay. Pretty
Stephen: quickly. So how was that series doing?
What’s the feedback? What are you doing to keep it alive and marketing that what are you doing with that whole series considering you’re working on other stuff now?
K.S.: Yeah the series is called the Norse family saga series and it’s actually going really well. I’ve gotten some nice feedback for it and it’s.
A lot of people say about indie publishing. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not tearing out of the gate, but ’em slowly but surely building up an audience and getting some sales and reviews and yeah, I’ve gotten some nice reviews, some nice feedback about it.
So that’s gone really well. Yeah, mostly what we’re focusing on is I say we, because my partner, my, my husband is also my business partner. So he helps me with a lot of that kind of stuff is we do those those email promotions, like fussy librarian, e-reader news we put out those to find some readers that way.
Stephen: Okay. So you released the three books a little bit apart not years or anything. Did you find that the sales of book one kept jumping, growing as you released books? Two and three? You
K.S.: know, I’m not really sure because I think I only waited about three months in between each book. Okay.
And so it was and and since I was an unknown writer anyway, , I think those those nine months or whatever I didn’t really see it, but I do see an uptick every time I release. Every time we do one of those promotions, it does better. And when I release the book, April.
I did see like some of some must be people going back and reading the original trilogy,
Stephen: Okay. So the new book, you they’re feeding each other a bit. It sounds like which is what I always hear happens.
K.S.: Yeah, they’re connected because the book I published in April, which is called Raven marked, it is about a secondary character in my original trilogy.
I just really liked this character and I wanted to know more about him. And so I wrote a short story and then that short story became more than that. nice. Nice. Yeah, they’re connected there. There’s not one’s not a prequel or comes after. They’re just they’re just connected by that world.
And by that family,
Stephen: okay. And when you were working on the original trilogy, did you have plans to do this secondary character or did that just come about as you were writing the first trilogy? He just popped up in the middle of the second book in the trilogy. I forget who it was. We called them mushroom characters.
K.S.: cause he just pop up and you’re not expecting them and yeah, no, just in the middle of that, my second book, he he just walked into. The feast hall was a Viking story. So he just walked in and I
Stephen: went from there. Nice. So are there plans for a whole trilogy on this? Did you say? I have two
Okay. For his series? Yeah. Okay. Yeah. The second book will be coming out in, I’m not sure exactly when, maybe around
Stephen: November. And you said you’re doing things like free Booksy and promotions like that. And they’re going well. Are you doing anything else, marketing wise, any other ideas that you’re working on?
K.S.: No. , I’m trying to build up my newsletter I’m sure that’s something you hear from everybody. It’s like I’m working on work building up my newsletter. So I’ve been working on that, doing some promotions. I think I have a promotion coming. Next week, I think it is. Yeah. And I put things at the put a call to action at the end of my books to join the newsletter and it’s on all my social media.
I’m not on social media that much, but I do have that like on all my pages if you wanna know more if, and get a free story, join my newsletter.
Stephen: Nice. Do you now I lost train of my thought do you see that more people signing up with each of the promotions, do they stay on and do you think that the newsletter is helping discover for them to discover all your books and get the whole series?
K.S.: I think so. Yeah. Every time I do a promotion, either, either one, that’s trying to like deliberately trying to build my newsletter list or one that. One of those email promotions to buy the book. I do get new subscribers and of course, like anything people leave for whatever reason and that’s okay.
But yeah it does help.
Stephen: Okay. So you’ve got this side character you’re working on and it’s the north setting is, are you gonna stay in that universe or are you going to do something else after this?
K.S.: I wrote, I’m just now finishing a novel that kind of takes place in that world.
It’s basically the same world only. This one is fantasy. This one is about, so one of my characters, he, his father told him stories about how they were descended from the elves. and I just decided to kinda run with that little story just for fun and tell the point of view from the female elf who saved this member of his family.
And it just turned into a, just a little fun novella. Other than that, I started also so outside that’s inside that world, outside of that world I started working on a historical fantasy with Aries. As part as the main characters and then some of the other gods and other supernatural beings from Norse mythology, it’s still gonna be Norse mythology and Vikings, that kind of stuff.
But this one will just be completely fantasy.
Stephen: Okay. So you got a lot going on, you’ve been busy with all that. Yeah. And do you think now that the whole COVID pandemic seems to be lightning a little bit, for the most part we’re getting still back and forth a bit. Do you think that’s helping your writing and do you think it’s helping your sales of the book or do you think that COVID actually made things.
K.S.: In terms of writing it, I like a lot of people, I really struggled in 2020 for a lot of different reasons. Some not just I know a lot of people were saying, oh we’re writers, we stay at home. Anyway, we write from home. We’re used to it and I’m pretty introverted, but it’s not the same as out of work for a little while and those kinds of things 2020 was a pretty 20, 21.
I was pretty productive. I got a lot of writing done the second book and the one that’s supposed to come out in like November or so I did nano Remo for that because I needed something to I think that was in 2020 nano Remo of 2020. I was like, I need to do something. That’s just gonna jumpstart my writing and that book came out of that.
You know what, writing’s just, it’s not a steady progress. It’s, there’s lots of peaks and valleys sometimes I’ll just be riding like crazy and things are going easily. And then sometimes I feel like I’m walking through a swamp and my feet just keep getting stuck. And every step is hard and slow and just a drag.
It’s never. All one thing.
Stephen: right. Yeah. Especially if you are. I bet king and Patterson, they might have a little different viewpoint, but when you’ve written dozens of books and every one of ’em is an instant seller to millions, it’s a totally different perspective than trying to have a life and family and get some writing done.
Yeah, definitely. So it, the NaNoWriMo you did is that the only one you’ve done.
K.S.: No, I think I’ve done it four times. Okay. The first couple I didn’t have any kind of a plan. I didn’t know what I was doing. And so those didn’t go well, I ended up just I got so far behind in my daily word count.
I just quit after about, I don’t know, maybe 10 days, but I did, I won one other time. Like I think it was 2018 or so. And. So I’d done that. And then, so I was more prepared for this one. I had an idea of what I was gonna do and I was ready to sit down and crank out those 1600 words every day.
And so it worked well
Stephen: and that’s, I’ve heard that a lot the most successful people with NaNoWriMo, cuz I’ve not actually done it are the ones that plan prepare, outline, have things together. And then they do all the writing pretty much. And just worry about that. The story’s ready to go. It’s the most successful from what I’ve heard.
Have you thought about doing it again now that you got some other thoughts and new series and all that?
K.S.: I might every year’s different every year. I think about it it’s always in the the writing consciousness or come around September or so people start talking about it and thinking about it.
And last year I decided not to do it for various reasons, and it’s always in the option for me because. When I can get on that role, it’s really fun. And it’s nice to get I had, I think I’ve, it got 55,000 words done that, that particular nano Remo that last time I did it.
And that’s a nice feeling. Yeah. So it’s always an option.
Stephen: I, I think the best part of nano Remo, and this is outside observation is it helps motivate, helps push you a little bit. You have a goal, it’s a short term, you wanna hit it. And I. For some people I’m not saying everybody, but I think some people that’s a good way to get started.
Okay. For one month, I’m gonna really focus on this. I’ve got a goal of doing this and it’s the same thing. I talk to parents and teachers about, you gotta get the kids some level of confidence and excitement about what they’re doing. If they feel they’re not going to write well, And they’re worried about that, then they’re not going the right, but if they just get it done, they’re like, wow, that was easy and better than I thought that encouragement of in their own self helps push more than anything most parents and teachers could probably do.
K.S.: that’s true. there is something to be said for just finishing something, even if it’s not that great. I know a lot of writers we tend to do that. I just heard something recently and I think maybe it was I forget who it was. It’s something about the 80 20, like once you’re 80% done with your manuscript the next 20%, you’re probably just gonna mess it up or it’s time to send it on to someone else.
and I can feel that cuz you just, those last, that last 20%, you can just fuss with it and fiddle with it and just keep messing with it and going back and over and Ugh until you just, yeah, either you drive yourself crazy or you change too much of it or you lose. What was special or something like that?
Stephen: Absolutely. I found that with my own stuff. I know if I just write and get through it, I can go back to edit and worry about story more than but I also have seen personally over the last couple years that. Growth in what I’ve learned. The second book in my fantasy series that I’m getting ready to release, I was like, okay, it’s mostly done.
I need to go expand a little bit and blah, blah, blah. And then the one day I was just thinking about it, I’m like, oh, wait, This is even better. Oh, wait, this is, and it wasn’t worried about the sentences. It wasn’t worried about the grammar. It was the overall story and making it much more epic.
It was like, oh, this is so much more exciting to read. And I’m like, okay. I just have to rewrite the whole thing. That’s not a problem but it was not so much fusing with it here and there and here and there, it was a total this is not the story. This is what the story needs to be.
And I think you have to reach a certain level to appreciate. That with yourself and understand that.
K.S.: Yeah. Yeah. There’s that whole thing about a work of art is never finished, simply abandoned. That’s one of my favorite I have to remember that it’s like at a certain point, you should have to let that thing go
Yeah. I, when I was thinking about the second book and oh, this’ll be great and I’ll rewrite this and blah, blah, blah. And I. Man. Is there some better stuff I should do at the first book? I’m like no. Don’t do that stuff. Keep rewriting that forever.
K.S.: Yeah. I’ve done that before and I think oh wait, those books are already published and out.
I am there’s, I’m not messing with them anymore. Unless there’s like something like some really bad error or something I had done. I might fix it, but if I have to just put that in my head, like those are gone, they’re gone. They’re. They’re my little people who are out in the world.
and I’m not gonna you’re bad.
Stephen: Yeah. You’re a librarian, correct?
K.S.: I’m not technically a librarian. I work in a library. Okay. All right. My my actual title is I’m a library program instructor. So I do like different things at the library, like homework, help and reading help, and those kinds of things.
Stephen: So now that the pandemic’s lifting, do you see people coming back to the library? Do you see like people that were getting books during the pandemic remembered? Hey, I like the library. I like visiting that. Do you see more people coming to the library like that?
K.S.: Oh yeah. Yeah. We had people we only closed for, I think.
For the first three months of the pandemic. And then we opened like where we, people could come to the door to like, if they needed to make copies or if they wanted to pick up their they wanted to reserve books and then pick ’em up and we’d take ’em out to their car for them and stuff like that.
So we were, we’d been open for a long time, just minimally for a long time. But then yeah. Oh, people came back into the library. Oh, I’m so happy. You’re here we’re so we missed the library people came in with their kids and to get them library cards and yeah, we had a, and we have a really neighborhood focused branch where I work.
And so a lot of the community was really happy when we were open. Cuz we also, I also work in a place. Has a lot of underserved people. So a lot of people use our internet. They use our computers, our copy machine, our fax machine those kinds of things too. And honestly, now a lot of people come into the library to get out of the heat, yeah. I’ve heard that there’s some places like saying, Hey, we’ve got 37 libraries around the city. Go visit. Get out of the heat. Yeah,
yeah. It’s we realized, I think the community realized when we were shut down for a while, and then we were just open minimally. Now how essential the public library really is in the C.
Stephen: Thank Ben Franklin for his forward thinking. . Yeah. We’re a part of Jay’s community. Ha since we’ve talked last, besides Jay’s commute, are there any other new uh, Communities or groups or events you’ve been to, or any classes you’ve discovered or anything like that would be something to pass on to others.
K.S.: I did for a few months. I did. I don’t know if you’ve another past story grid, certified editor, Ann, Holly, and Rachel arm. Ramirez. I know they used to do like the editor round table podcast and they are. And they work with Sue Campbell. She’s a marketing person and they have a group called happily ever author , which I think is a really catchy thing.
And it’s a paid membership group and I was in there for a while and I learned a ton. They have this holistic three prong approach to it with marketing and writing your story and your mindset. And it was a really great, it was a really great. Community.
Stephen: Okay. We’ll put a link to that for others.
Okay. That may be listening, looking for something. That’d be great. All right. Kim it sounds like things are going well for you. I think that’s great. Do you have any for readers or writers, any words of wisdom, words of advice you’d like to pass on?
K.S.: oh my, yeah I would. Just when I was talking about the peaks and valleys a little bit ago, I would say to just remember that it’s, sometimes it can be hard and that having a community of other writers will save you will help you.
I don’t care if they’re online, if they’re in your com if you see them in person or both I’ve in our. The author life, community group that you and I belong to. I’ve made a couple of close friends and now we talk outside of the group and it’s just, it’s, it just helps inspire me.
It just helps me when things aren’t going easily. It’s just so nice to have some people who are there. Your family, it can often be no, not everybody has a supportive family, but even if you have a supportive family, Unless they know what it’s like to try to write. they don’t quite know what it’s like to write, especially something as long as a novel or a series.
So it’s yeah. Build a community.
Stephen: So I’m gonna back up a second. Have you read anything in lately that you would love to recommend any good books? This is so weird because reading, I’m struggling to read lately. It’s like I pick up a book and I go Ugh. I don’t know what’s happening to me.
K.S.: But I did on a recommendation. I listened to the audio book of Madeline Miller’s the song of Achilles and I loved it and I loved the narrator too. He did a fantastic job. So I guess that was the most recent book that I. Wanted to like, I’d have to stop myself from listening to it because I needed to go to work or whatever.
Yeah, that was a
Stephen: last, okay. I just love, yeah, it’s funny you say that, cuz I’ve been, not struggling so much to read, but. Struggling to find something that I’m enjoying. Yeah. I don’t know if it’s that. Now that I’ve delved deeply into story structure and sentences and grammar and all that, it gets hard to read something without your brain editing and analyzing, or I don’t know if that’s it or I just have so many things going on that I’m always think.
Hey, shouldn’t you be doing something else besides reading
K.S.: but reading is so important. It’s like one of the most important things as writers that we can do. I know
Stephen: it’s not like I don’t have a stack of books to read,
K.S.: right? Yeah. My, my two B red pile gets pretty or my physical one and the one on my Kindle just gets out of hand.
Maybe that’s part of it. Sometimes it’s there’s too many choices.
Stephen: Very much so could be I go to bookstores or sometimes the flea marketing yard sale, and I pick up books and I have a stack and every now and then I’ll get adventurous and I’ll say, okay, this is the order, the books I’m gonna read next.
So I don’t have to think about, just take top one. Then I got all these books on my Kindle and I get new ones all the time and add it to it. and then, you know what I do I check something outta the library and read that and it’s yeah, what am I doing? I
K.S.: know. And I like to support indie authors too.
So I buy lots of people’s books and then I start to read ’em and then like yesterday I was at working at the library and I happened to see this book on the shelf and I grabbed it and I’m like, that looks interesting. So I checked it out. It’s I have a million books in my Kindle that I need to read.
And. That’s one of the problems of working in a library.
Stephen: I bet. Yeah. It’s if you work at the pizza place, you’re always eating pizza. You work at the library. You’re always reading, checking out books or wanting to at least. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Are you still playing drums? I see ’em in the background. Not too much now.
Not as much as the reading even,
K.S.: huh? Yeah. Yeah. Not as much as I, I sh I’d
Stephen: I understand my son and I he’s buying an electric set. And so we are converting the living room into a music room, music and media, cuz we’ve got our TV and video games in there, but we’re setting up the drums. We’re gonna set.
I got piano in there. We’re getting fixed up, putting my keyboard up. I gotta stand the guitars were already in there with amps and stuff. We’re trying to get back into playing a little bit more.
K.S.: Nice. That’s great. Yeah. If my son still lived at home, I might play with him cuz he plays bass and guitar and all kinds of things, but he’s out.
I’m an empty nester.
Stephen: Yeah, I’m trying to learn some guitar. I got an acoustic I’m struggling with it. It’s probably the hardest instrument I’ve tried to learn to.
K.S.: It is hard. I struggled with the guitar too. I gave it up and I played bass for he was teaching me bass for a little while and I liked that better.
It was easier. the not being able to bang on a drum. I just banging on a drum is just best.
Stephen: Yeah. And I miss piano playing. That’s why I want to get my piano fixed up. I used to play piano some, and it’s just nice. Cuz you can sit down and play everything play a whole song. You. That’s true.
Cool. All right, Kim. I’m gonna let you go. We’ll move on with our day. I appreciate you getting back on catching us up as to what’s going on and I’ll probably see you online in the community. All right. Thanks for having
K.S.: me back. Thanks. All right, bye.
I enjoyed the discussion and learning more about the author, Kim Barton.
Thank you for providing the link in TAL (The Author Life) Community.