Kristen Otte

Finding Love and Laughter through Story


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The Last WordPress Post

Hi Friends!

I am excited to announce my new website is live over at kristenotte.com. I’ve had a very fun run here at wordpress.com the past few years, but it was time to keep moving forward. With my author business growing, it was time for a new look. The new site is going to allow me to do things I couldn’t do here (like sell directly) and has more long-term functionality. I will continue to blog about writing, the author life, and sharing some of my works in progress. I’d love for you to continue to follow me. The best way to stay in touch is my email list. You can sign up here. The second best way to stay in touch is twitter and facebook. Thanks for the support WordPress friends! Keep writing!

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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 Gable – I’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? 


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The Never-Ending Revision Process

My part time day job is tutoring children in reading. I teach the mechanics and phonics of reading, along with comprehension. We encourage our students to bring in books to read for fun for the last ten minutes of each session. A few of my students requested to read the first Zelda book, and we read a chapter every couple of days.

As an author, I love that kids read and enjoy my books. With the Zelda books, I’m thrilled to receive an email that their son or daughter begged to keep reading Zelda each night before bed. But, when I read my own books again, I want to throw them out the window and start over.

Let me explain. Even when a book is “finished” or published, I find more sentences to change or chapters to revise. It’s a never-ending process for me. I haven’t read The Photograph since publication for that reason.

One of the benefits of being an independent author is the freedom to revise after publication. That’s what I am doing right now. I am revising the first Zelda book. I’m not changing content, but sentence structure and word choice. I wrote the first Zelda book a few years ago now, and since then, my writing has improved.

I don’t envision doing this for my other books, but it makes sense for the Zelda series. The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale is my best selling book. I travel to schools and events with this book, and with plans for a fourth and fifth book, the first needs to be strong so readers come back.

The revised version of The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale will be available in a week or two. I’ll post when it is available, so pick up a copy (it’s free in ebook form right now) and let me know what you think!

Authors – Do you want to revise after your novels are published? Why or why not?


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Margin and Balance with the Author Life

It’s been awhile since the last video post. In this short chat, I discuss balance and margin for writers, especially those working other jobs in addition to writing. I also give a writing update on the next projects for me. For the Zelda fans, she makes an appearance along with Peach. In fact, they spend a good portion of the video being goofballs behind me.

Do you have margin in your life?


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May 2014 Book Reviews

May was back to a normal variety of books, and I can honestly say I enjoyed every one. I read some fantasy, urban fantasy, contemporary YA, and historical fiction.  With the start of summer, I look forward to reading more and more in my lounge chair next to the pool. Happy Reading Friends!

Broken by CJ Lyons – Broken is my first book by author CJ Lyons. Lyons writes “thrillers with heart,” and Broken is her first foray into YA fiction. Broken is the story of a fifteen year old girl Scarlett with a life threatening heart condition. Despite her condition, she wants to live a normal life and enrolls in high school. In a week’s span, she encounters her first friends, her first crush, classes, and bullies. When I first starting reading this book, I thought it would be similar to “The Fault in Our Stars.” I was wrong. The story shifts into one of mystery and intrigue. I don’t want to give anything away, so that’s all I will share. I enjoyed the book and will read more from hybrid author CJ Lyons. 5 stars.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas – Wow. What a ride. Crown of Midnight is the second in the series about Celaena Sardothien, a kick-ass female assassin in a fantasy world. The first in the series, Throne of Glass, was a fun and enjoyable book, but predictable with its plot and characters. Crown of Midnight went nowhere I expected, and I loved it. We saw Celaena’s dark side in this novel, and learned more about how she became this killer. The love triangle between Celaena, Dorian, and Chaol faded away (yay). My only complaint was the plot structure. The first half of the novel felt a bit disjointed from the second half. Maas wrapped it up well in the last few chapters, so it made more sense, but I thought the continuity wasn’t great. Overall, this was a stellar sequel because the storyline grew from Celaena fighting for her life to Celaena fighting to save the kingdom. 6 stars.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – When I started reading this book, I had high expectations. I read and heard great things about this YA book. Plus, as a history major, WWII was one of my favorite subjects to study, so I love reading both nonfiction and fiction set during WWII. The book had a rocky start–it jumps right into the middle of the story, and I needed a few chapters to get into the book. But once I did, I loved it. The story of these two women and how they aided the Allied war effort is truly great. The author wrote that all though this is fiction, it is based in truth. Women could have served in the roles that Maggie and Julie did. The characters embody courage and truth. This is a book worth picking up even if you don’t normally read YA. 6 stars

The Element of Death by Becca Andre – The Element of Death is a novella which takes place between novels 1 & 2 in the Final Formula Series.  I picked this up in preparation to read The Blood Alchemist. The story is definitely spooky, but not enough to creep me out. I liked getting inside James’ head in this book and his character development, along with the interaction with Rowan. 5 stars

The Blood Alchemist by Becca Andre – The Blood Alchemist is the follow up to The Final Formula, and just like the first in the series, this book is very enjoyable. The book is packed with explosions, magic, and murders. Addie, an alchemist, works with her Element friends to solve the seemingly random murder of magical people using bullets designed by Addie. Throughout the mystery and action, the character relationships continue to develop and evolve, and I really enjoy the snappy dialogue between the characters. If you are fan of urban fantasy, I recommend you pick up this fun read–I couldn’t put it down. 6 stars. 

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King – I picked up this book as a recommendation from a fellow writer. The book is not revolutionary, and I’ve heard most of the information and tips in other books or writing classes. But, it is a handy reference book to have around and skim through in preparation for revisions. The exercises are also helpful. I’d recommend this to any new writer. 5 stars.

 

Rating System Guide

7 stars = Phenomenal book – one of the  best book’s I’ve read

6 stars = Great book – worth your time to read

5 stars = Solid book, if you like the genre pick it up

4 stars = Okay book, maybe lacking something in the way of language, character development, story

3 stars = I probably should have stopped reading this book.

1 or 2 stars = Serious issues with plot, structure, language, or not a book for me.