Kristen Otte

Finding Love and Laughter through Story


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The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Holiday

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The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Holiday is finished!

What is this pug holiday book?

It’s a PDF with six stories. Five are holiday themed Zelda stories from the first three Zelda books. (You can see the list below). If you haven’t read any Zelda books, the holiday collection is the perfect introduction. The stories are great bedtime stories for children and the collection is free.

If you already read the Zelda books, don’t despair!

Batpeach

The sixth story is a brand new exclusive story. It’s the first in a new Zelda spinoff series starring Peach! Well, really it’s starring Batpeach, and the spinoff series will continue with more volumes in the future.

The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Holiday is free, but only available to my email list. Simply click here and sign up. I also email my list 1-2x a month about new releases, promotions, and stories, so you receive a free pug book and updates on when to grab my books for cheap!

I hope you enjoy the pug holiday fun!

The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Holiday

A Pug Scary Story from The Adventures of Zelda: The Second Saga
A Pug Thanksgiving from The Adventures of Zelda: The Second Saga
A Pug Christmas Story from The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale
Zelda Meets Peach from The Adventures of Zelda: The Second Saga
The Easter Egg Hunt from The Adventures of Zelda: Pug and Peach
Batpeach – Volume 1

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What’s Next? (And a Zelda Launch Debrief)

Hello Friends! I hope all my blog friends and followers enjoyed the pug palooza on the blog last week. If you didn’t, I have good news–the pug posts are back to a once a month schedule.

In all seriousness, thanks to those who helped publicize the launch of the third book in the Zelda series: The Adventures of Zelda: Pug and Peach. Zelda fans have commented the third book is the best so far.  I agree–I feel like the Zelda saga hit a fantastic groove with the introduction of Peach in the third book.

As for the launch success, I had great publicity and traffic on the blog and on social media. The conversion rates could have been better, but I am getting a better sense of what works and what doesn’t work for promotion of children’s books.

For the most part, advertising or email list sites don’t seem to do much for Zelda book sales. I have a theory they may do better if the first Zelda ebook was free. On the other hand, working with the pug community sells books, and they are super supportive. I mean who doesn’t love Chubbs the Wampug?

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So what’s next for me?

I’m taking a hiatus from the Zelda series for several months to focus on my young adult and longer fiction works. I’m currently halfway through the first draft for my second full length young adult novel. It is a follow up to The Photograph, but I hesitate to call it a true sequel or series. This book takes place several months after the end of The Photograph, and follows the story of Lillie Gable, who was a secondary character in the first novel. I should finish the first draft in the next two weeks. After the first draft, I will go through and do my first round of revisions, then send to beta readers. I’m thinking a late winter of 2015 release (maybe February?), but it’s too early to say yet.

I also have a completed first draft for the first book in what will be my Ozais series. The Ozais series is a fantasy project that I am super excited to write. I wrote the first draft this summer, and I will be working on revisions when Lillie’s story goes to beta readers. I’m hoping for a spring release for the first Ozais novel. This is by far the most ambitious of my current projects, so I’m taking care to make sure this series is well-planned.

Finally, I will sneak in some Zelda writing this winter for the fourth Zelda book. I already have plenty of ideas for this fourth book–it’s amazing that the stories for Zelda and Peach continue to emerge. I expect the fourth Zelda book to release in the summer of 2015.

The above projects are on my plate for the fall and winter.  I’m doing very well with time management right now, but basketball coaching starts at the end of October, making my schedule much trickier to manage. However, I’m writing faster and better with each project so I’m hopeful I will meet my goals.

What are you writing this fall?


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The July Update

Every month I send out an email only update–some may call it a newsletter. In this email update, I share news on books and special offers that I don’t reveal anywhere else. My email list is the first to know. If you want to join this list, click here.

But this month, I thought I would share with all my wordpress friends and followers. So here you go!

Free Review Copies!

The adventures continue with double the sneezes, wrinkles, and slobber…

The third book in the Zelda series, The Adventures of Zelda: Pug and Peach, is next to be released. I will be sending out free review copies of this book.

If you would like a free copy, review the first or second Zelda book on Amazon or Goodreads. Send me a link to the review, and I will send you a free Zelda book next month! Please leave a comment with any questions.

ThePhotograph_Ebook_Final

Thanks to those who purchased a copy of my new novel, The Photograph. When you finish reading, please leave an honest review at Amazon or Goodreads. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

The Works in Progress

Besides preparing The Adventures of Zelda: Pug and Peach for release, I am writing, writing some more, and marketing.

My current writing project is the first draft for a YA fantasy novel. Technically I finished the first draft, but I write sparse first drafts, so I’m adding more depth and detail to the novel. The complete first draft will be done in a week or so.

After the first draft of the YA fantasy is finished, I will put it to rest for at least a month. The plan is to start the “sequel” to the Photograph. But in this novel, the protagonist will be Lillie, not Rachel. It would have made sense to write this directly after The Photograph, but I don’t always make sense!

I am also working on booking author days, writing workshops, and book signings for fall. I am hoping to have a few events each month starting in September. My concentration is the greater Cincinnati area, but I am looking at a Cleveland area “tour” this fall. If you are connected with a school, bookstore, or library that would host me, please send an email.

Catch up on my Latest Blog Posts

In my latest video post, I talk about balance and margin as an author. Zelda and Peach make an appearance in this video. Well, actually they play in the background during most of the video.

I followed up on a popular post with specific details on Author Days in Marketing on No Budget – Part 2 Author Days. 

My June Book Reviews are up on the blog. I read a psychological thriller, two young adult books (one with time travel), and a faith based memoir.

Thanks for following and reading.

 


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The Pitch for The Photograph

ABNA

I am excited to announce my contemporary young adult novel, The Photograph, is moving on to the second round of the Amazon Breakthough Novel Award in the YA category. In round one, judges evaluate the submissions based on the pitch (think Amazon book description). I started as one of a few thousand, but now I am one of 400 in the YA category. In round two, novels are judged by content of the first few chapters.

I am super excited to make it to round two, and to celebrate, I am sharing the pitch with you! Here it is….

The Pitch

Sixteen-year-old Rachel Brandt is excited about her six-month anniversary with her boyfriend, Brent, getting her driver’s license, and competing for a district championship in her first season on the varsity basketball team.

But when Rachel stumbles across a photograph of her parents, she can’t shake the feeling that she is meant to find her mother, whose identity is a secret her grandparents have closely guarded. All Rachel knows is that her mother disappeared around the time her father was killed in action in the Gulf War a few months after she was born.

Her discovery of the photograph sends Rachel on a search for her mother against her grandparents’ wishes and propels her life into a tailspin. She never imagines her search will reveal a series of lies that jeopardizes every important relationship in her life and ultimately lead Rachel to question her identity.

The Photograph is a contemporary young adult novel that follows Rachel’s search for her mother through the backdrop of her basketball team’s quest for its first district championship in twelve years.


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The Final Hour – A Short Story

At the beginning of January, I had a story burning inside me, so I took a break from revising The Photograph and Zelda book promotion. The words flew on to the page (or rather my macbook) in a matter of hours. The result is this short story titled The Final Hour. All writing is personal in one way or another, but this story is heavily connected to the emotions and struggles from last year.

The Final Hour is available here on this blog, Wattpad, and also in the Amazon Kindle store. The Final Hour will be free on Kindle for February 25-27 and after it will be priced at $0.99. If you read on a Kindle or a Kindle app, I would love for you to download the story for free today or tomorrow. Also, I would love your honest feedback. Let me know what you think!

Cover Design by James, GoOnWrite.com

Cover Design by James, GoOnWrite.com

The Final Hour

 

When I wake up to the phone ringing, my heart fills with dread. I glance at the clock. 4:02 a.m. The scenarios start running through my mind, and instantly I am awake and alert. The last time the phone rang at this time of the night, Mom’s heart had stopped beating.

I hear hurried footsteps approaching my doorway; I sit up, anxious for the news.

“Jake, get dressed, we need to go to the hospital,” Dad says.

“What about Claire?” I ask.

“I’m about to wake her up. She’s coming with us.”

“Is that the best idea?”

“I don’t know,” he says. “But Grandma and Gramps are meeting us there.” Even in the darkness, I can see the redness in his eyes.

“Okay.” I get up and turn on the lights in my room. I find a pair of jeans, throw on a T-shirt and a hoodie. I walk into the hallway and bump into Claire, my ten-year-old sister. At this hour, she resembles a zombie—her eyes are barely open, and she’s stumbling toward the bathroom. I change course and walk to the other bathroom downstairs.

Once my eyes adjust to the light, I splash warm water on my face. I stare into the mirror. My blue eyes are surrounded by dark circles.

“Jake, are you ready?”

“Yeah, Dad.” I open the door and walk to the kitchen. I look at Claire and give my dad a questioning look. He shakes his head from side to side, and I know Claire has no idea why we are heading to the hospital. I don’t know either, but I’ve learned to expect the worst.

The warm, humid air smacks me in the face when we walk outside to the car. I take off the hoodie immediately but carry it with me. The hospital is a cold place.

The drive is only fifteen minutes. At this point, I am confident that my father and I could drive here with our eyes closed. The car ride is silent except for Claire’s light breathing in the back seat. I wish I could fall asleep like she does. Honestly, I wish I could fall asleep and wake up to a new reality—a new life where my mother isn’t dying.

We pull into an empty parking garage. Dad hurries us out of the car to the front entrance. We sign in, get our visitor badges, and head for the intensive care unit. Claire is almost running to keep up with us. Dad’s pace worries me even more.

We pull open the doors to the ICU waiting room. Grandma and Gramps are waiting inside.

“Jake, why don’t you sit with Claire for a few minutes in here?” Dad says. I nod. Dad, Gramps, and Grandma walk through the double doors to the ICU.

“All right Claire, let’s find something on TV to watch.” I know I usually can find cartoons around channel 40. I walk up to the TV and flip channels until I find something suitable. I glance up at Claire.

“Will this work?”

“Sure,” she says. “Jake, what’s going on with Mom?” Her wide-open eyes plead for the truth.

“I don’t know Claire, but I don’t think it’s good,” I say. I look at her, wondering if she comprehends what I don’t have the heart to tell her. We both stare at the television. Minutes pass, but it feels like hours.

When the double doors open, Claire and I both jump. We turn and look, but we tune back into the television when we realize it’s not our father. Another few minutes pass before the doors open again. My father calls to me; Gramps and Grandma join Claire on the couch.

As I approach, I notice Dad’s face is flushed, and his eyes are puffy. I take a deep breath.

“The doctors say this is it. Mom’s organs are shutting down, and it is time to say good-bye,” he says, looking at the floor.

“But she was awake and talking a couple days ago,” I say.

“I know, son. But her body is giving out. There’s nothing else they can do.”

“No. She’s come back from this state before.”

“And it was a miracle. We had more time with her. But this is it.” My father reaches for me and pulls me in. I protest, trying to keep up a tough-guy image, but after a moment, I give in. A few tears well and drip onto my shirt. I back away and regain composure. I have known this day was possible for a month now, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

The doors open; I remember Claire.

“Claire,” I mumble. “What do we tell her?”

“We tell her the truth,” Dad answers. “She needs to say her good-bye, too.”

“It will crush her.” I am losing my mother at seventeen, but Claire is only ten. I am entering my senior year of high school this year; I’m almost an adult. Claire has so much more growing up to do. And now it’s without Mom. I can’t bear to think about it.

“Hey, we are going to make it through this,” Dad says, grabbing my shoulders and looking into my eyes. “We are going to be okay.”

I look back at him. It’s hard to believe him at this moment.

We walk into the waiting room. Dad motions to Gramps, who moves to a new chair, and Dad sits next to Claire on the couch.

“Claire, we need to say good-bye to Mom now. It’s her time to go home,” he says. Dad waits for a response from Claire, but she says nothing.

What really is there to say?

“Is she awake?” Claire asks, breaking the long silence.

“No, dear. The doctors have her sleeping so she isn’t in pain. But you can still say good-bye. She will hear you.” I can’t listen anymore. I stand up and walk to the other side of the room and sit down at a table. I take out my iPhone and play the latest mind-numbing game. I don’t want to think right now.

“Jake, c’mon,” Grandma says. My family is moving in the direction of the double doors. I stand up and walk through them.

My father leads us to Mom’s room with Claire at his side. The nurse tells us to take our time and to tell her when we are ready. The room is eerily quiet except for the beeps of the machines and her ventilator. My father walks to the left side of the bed and takes Mom’s hand. Claire stays at our father’s side, clutching his other hand. My grandparents walk to the opposite side of the bed. Gramps lays his hand on Mom’s shoulder, and Grandma takes Mom’s right hand. I watch from the foot of the bed, trying to ignore every inclination that is telling me to run away from this scene.

“I wish I didn’t have to say good-bye to you,” Grandma whispers.

“We love you,” Gramps says. He gives his daughter a kiss on the forehead and takes Grandma’s free hand. Grandma whispers something into Mom’s ear and kisses her on the cheek. She releases her grip on my mother, nods to my father, and turns for the door. Grandma takes my hand as she passes and squeezes it before exiting the room.

“Jake, why don’t you take Mom’s other hand,” Dad says. I take Grandma’s spot next to the bed. Mom’s hand feels strangely warm.

“Claire, it’s time to say good-bye,” Dad says softly. Claire looks at him and then to our mother.

“Good-bye, Mom,” she says. She turns away from Mom and buries her face into my father’s side. I hear the sniffles; I need to escape this place.

“I’m sorry, Mom.” I walk out of the room, through the double doors, out of the ICU, and into the hospital hallways. I hear my name, but I don’t stop. I am almost running by the time I pass the desk at the entrance. I shove open the doors and step into the fresh air.

Compared to the dry, cold hospital air, the summer humidity has never felt so good. I walk to the other side of the building, out of immediate sight from the hospital entrance, and collapse to the ground.

I breathe in the fresh air. Peeks of light are breaking through the sky. The sun is beginning to rise. I stare at the sky, wanting this day to end.

“Jake, it will be okay,” Claire says, walking toward me. “But we have to say good-bye.” I see my grandparents waiting at the corner. Claire offers her hand to help me off the ground. It’s almost comical; there is no way her tiny frame could support me. But I can’t deny her gesture. I grab her hand and stand up.

“I’m so tired of all this, Claire. I’m tired of all this hurt,” I say as I walk with her to our grandparents.

“I know,” she says. “Me, too.”

My grandparents say nothing, and we walk back in the hospital, down the white hallway, through the double doors, into my mother’s room. My father is still next to her, stroking her forehead and whispering to her. When we approach, he waves us in. The beeps of the machines and the rhythm of the ventilator have disappeared.

“It’s time,” he says. I know I can’t escape this time. I walk to Mom’s free side. I grab her hand. It has already lost some of its warmth.

“I love you, and I will miss you,” I whisper. I squeeze her hand. Claire walks over to me and grabs my other hand. My grandparents stand at the foot of the bed. The nurse stands behind them.

We watch and wait. Mom’s breathing is labored. I can see it’s a struggle for her without the machines. I glance at the monitors behind Dad. The heartbeat blip is taking longer each time. I can’t believe she is fading so quickly. I look at Claire. She is staring at Mom with tears in her eyes, but for some reason she is smiling. Gramps has his arm wrapped around Grandma. I hear a slight gasp, and I turn back to Mom.

“It’s okay, honey. Let go,” Dad says to her. I hear one last breath before I notice the flat line on the monitor above him. We stand for a few more minutes, hoping for a miracle.

The nurse moves into the room.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” she says. She looks at Claire and me. “Your mom was a fighter.” She nods to my father.

“It’s time to go home,” he says. He gives his wife one last kiss on the cheek and stands up slowly. He waits by the door as Gramps and Grandma give their daughter one last hug. When they finish, Claire nudges me to the side. She walks up to Mom and whispers in her ear.

“Enjoy the stars, Mom.”

Mom’s hand is freezing now. I can’t believe her body is cold already. I have nothing left inside me, no words to say. I turn and walk away.

My father, sister, grandma, and grandpa walk through the double doors for the final time. We exchange no words, only tears and sniffles. As we walk through the hospital, I examine the white hallways I’ve memorized over the past few months. I don’t want to see these hallways ever again. When we pass by the front desk, the woman tells us to have a good day. Nobody responds.

The doors slide open in front of us. The sun has risen, and the brightness is blinding. I feel a small hand grab mine.

“The sun is up,” Claire says with a smile.

“Yes, it is.”

“It’s going to be okay,” she says.

“Huh?”

“Mom said as long as the sun rises every day, we will be okay,” Claire says, releasing my hand. She runs forward and grabs Dad’s hand. I hear her tell Dad the same thing. Her words are something Mom would say. I stop for a minute. I hear birds chirping amid the sounds of the street and cars. I see my family walking in front of me. Claire is now skipping. I look up at the sky, the few scattered clouds, and the bright ball of sun. I take a step forward.