Monday, September 7, 2015

Laundry Blues

My laundry is making me sad.

Not because I'm doing laundry, because that's a given in this house. It's because of what's in the laundry. I'm washing the towels and bathing suits for the last time today.

The kids go back to school this week (I started back last week), and the pool is closing. My aunt and uncle are so gracious to give us carte blanche use of their pool, and this summer, boy did we use it.

The last day of school. I feel like it was yesterday.

But it's all done. The beach vacation, the lazy days of summer have faded away, and although it's going to be near 90 and humid today, summer is over here in Upstate New York. The leaves are starting to change, the nights are getting cooler, and pumpkin-spice seems to be everywhere.

Normally, I like the change of seasons. I find it invigorating, and one of the reasons that I don't think I could live in a year-round warm environment. But this year, I'm hanging onto summer with a death grip.

For me, this summer was one of the best ever. I worked part-time in the afternoons. It was just enough. The rest of the time, it was me and the kids. There were swimming lessons, and camps, and household projects. But more importantly, there was time. Time to relax. To watch movies, To read books. To play with toys. To enjoy one another.

Catskill Animal Sanctuary
My son, who two years ago couldn't dive head first into the water is now doing back flips off the diving board. My daughter's creative side has flourished and grown, given the time to do so.

She made an entire cat clan out of clay. My favorite is the on the coaster. It's a cat lying on its back playing with a ball of yarn.

This coming week brings the onslaught of the schedule. The dry-erase calendar seems busy and full, but half of the scheduling information isn't added yet (Confession: I haven't used the calendar since June!). Soccer and scouts and religion and dance and band and open houses and and and ...

I'm tired already.

So, while the last remnants of summer are spinning away, shaking out residual sand and chlorine, I'm mentally preparing myself for what's to come.

It was a great summer. I hope the school year is as good.

The men, kayaking.

An osprey nest at sunset


Monday, August 3, 2015


Last week, all over the interwebs, the phrase #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter was trending. Some pretty famous peoples even tweeted about the rude things people feel free to say to them, just because they're writers. You can read some of those tweets here.

I joined in on it and came up with some of my own tweets. They got retweeted several times and had a decent reaction. But the thought has stuck with me, most likely because when I talk about being a writer, people tend to lose that inner-voice that tells them what they are about to say is rude. I've had these things said to me. By people I know. To my face.

(FYI, I'm an indie author, which means I'm self-published. This is by choice, not necessity.)

So, here's my list of #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter:

  1. "Oh, is this like 50 Shades?"
    • Just because I'm a woman who writes doesn't mean I write erotica or BDSM. That is not the same as women's fiction. Not at all. Oh, and if I did write that, I'd be laughing all the way to the bank.
  2. "Indie publishing is the new version of the vanity press."
    • Um, no, it's not. Indie authors sell more each month than the Big 5 publishers. Indie publishing is not a fad, and it is not vanity. It is about having control of my work and getting paid what I deserve for my book.
  3. "Sorry, we're out of regular. How 'bout decaf?"
    • Must. Have. Caffeine.
  4. "How much do you make?"
    • How much do you make? This is just rude.
  5. "Hey, how 'bout you give me a book for free?"
    • Yeah, because I write just for the hell of it. You sell cars? How 'bout you give me a car for free? Oh you can't because you have to make a living? Guess what, I do too!
  6. <With righteous indignation> "I don't read."
    • Nothing to be proud of, Rusty.
  7. <From a fellow writer> "Anyone can just throw an e-book out there."
    • Yes, maybe anyone can. But that doesn't mean that's what I did. And, at least I did it. Don't knock indie publishing until you've tried it.
  8. "I'm looking for suggestions for my book club. Not your books."
    • You are an evil troll. I mean, of course I'm going to suggest my books. Because I think I write quality books and would like nothing more than to have new readers discover them. I would love the input and feedback that a book club could provide. But thanks anyway, you heartless beast.
  9. "Maybe someday, you'll actually get published."
    • Um, I am published. Five times over. I am legit. To quote the ever-so-eloquent MC Hammer, I'm '2 Legit 2 Quit.' This comment is especially ironic coming from the person still waiting to get discovered. And, for the record, I've turned down publishing contracts because I don't feel like paying people to do what I've already done. It's like taking a pay-cut to do the same job. Makes no sense whatsoever.
  10. "Is this you?" <pointing to cover with barely dressed woman on it>
    • Please stop. Your idiocy is showing.
I'd love to hear what you think #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter could be. Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Release Day!

(Don't tell anyone, I'm running a day behind. I should have posted this yesterday, but I spent the day with my kids, and then date night with the hubs. I still think I have my priorities in order).

Killing Me Softly is now available!

Here's the blurb, in case you missed it:
Sadie Perkins has a sixth sense about things—especially people dying. Her clairvoyance has never bothered her until she starts to believe that her visions are causing the deaths of those around her. After her latest relationship ends ... badly ... Sadie swears off love for good. While searching for an uncomplicated life, Sadie finds her hands full not only with a home renovation project but with defending herself against suspicion of murder. There's a fine line between predicting someone's death and causing it. Has Sadie finally crossed that line?
Enter contractor Max Schultz, who is not only good at working on houses, but he's good at working on Sadie too. Much to Max's dismay, as he's trying to win Sadie's heart, he finds Sadie's first love, Henry Fitzsimmons, is back in the picture, snooping around.Sadie doesn't know which way to turn or who to trust, including herself. Can Sadie clear her name and open her heart all at the same time? 

The video teaser (just because I really like it):

And a small excerpt, because I know you are dying to read it (get it...dying!):

The first person I ever killed was a has-been comedian. 
I didn't mean to kill him, of course. The tabloid websites said it was drugs and alcohol, but I knew the truth. It was all my fault. My friends and I had been out drinking, and I quoted a line from this guy's most popular movie. The movie was still relatively obscure, and I had to explain it. Someone asked, "Whatever happened to that guy?" and my answer was, "Oh, he's probably drinking himself to death right now."
Guess what? He was. 
This sort of thing happens to me more often than I'd like to admit. I don't even know what to call it—psychic ability, premonitions, a sixth sense? It's not creepy, not really. Just enough to send a small chill up my spine. It never bothered me—until death got involved. Most of the time, it's pretty innocuous. Like someone from my past will pop into my head, and the next day I run into them. Or I think about a song that I haven't heard in years and then suddenly it comes on the radio. Nothing big, just coincidences. A lot of coincidences. 
Until the day it started turning fatal.Rob, my boyfriend of almost two years, doesn't believe me. When something happens and I tell him, "Oh, I had a dream about that," or "I was just thinking about this," he says I'm trying to be dramatic and seek attention. (which wouldn't really be such a big stretch, considering my family. We're the poster children for dysfunction). But I'm not like the rest of my family. I actually don't even tell many people about it because I don't want attention, certainly not for this. I want to be taken seriously. I teach high school American history. With kids these days being tougher and tougher, I need as much street cred as I can get. The last thing I need is for them to think I'm some kind of quack or whack job. 
My best friend, Therese, knows all about it. She's one of the few people I can talk to about this topic. She doesn't judge me or think I'm weird. I think she thinks I can predict the future or something. Which would be cool, but it is not what I do. I think I'm just intuitive at times. Who knows? 
Over the years, since the comedian episode, I think I've been "responsible" for at least four deaths. A couple celebrities, a distant relative, and a well-known local businessman. When I have the dreams or make the comments, I don't recognize them as premonitions. They're just random thoughts that pop into my brain and often fly out of my mouth without me even realizing what I'm saying. People are used to me doing that. It's only later, after the event, that I realize what happened. In each case, I made an unkind remark. It's not just a premonition—I say something mean and then someone's dead. 
If you're intrigued enough, head over to my 'Books' page (tab is at the top of the screen) for purchase links.

As with any book, this one was the result of so much support and love from my family and my friends. I am truly blessed to not only have friends in the physical sense, but those online communities who jump in, no questions asked, and lift me up. Becky, Celia, Tracy, Jayne, Wendy, and to all the Wenches, thank you so much.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

An Open Letter to Nook Press

I'm in an unhealthy relationship, and I don't know what to do about it.

No, it's not what you think.

Let me set the stage. Flashback to Valentine's Day, about five years ago. Maybe it was six. Either way, my husband got me a Nook. It was a relatively new movement, and I was a little on the skeptical side. I wasn't sure I could give up physical books. But once I downloaded my first books onto my Nook, I was in love. My Nook went with me where ever I went. It has hundreds of books on it. I've spent hundreds of dollars, including on a Nook Simple Touch when my Nook (First Generation) started crapping out.

I felt betrayed when my husband bought a Kindle Fire. We are not an Amazon house, we are Nook people.

When it came time to publish my first book, I sought out Nook Press, the Nook self-publishing platform. As an afterthought, I also put the book up through Kindle Direct Publishing. But, I'm a Nook person.

Two years later, I realize that this is unhealthy. Many of my author friends are exclusive to Amazon. I don't believe in this business model. Plus, I think of those people like me, who are loyal to their Nook (or iBooks, or Kobo, or Smashwords). I don't want to deny anyone the chance to read my books, should they want to.

But now, I have to ask, Nook Press (and Barnes & Noble, your parent company), why do you have to make this so hard?

Why can you not get on board with what the other platforms are doing?

Why can I upload my book to your site FIRST, and two days later, it is STILL not available? It was available on Amazon in about 2 hours and Kobo in less than an hour.

Why won't you let me do pre-sale?

Why won't you let me price a book free?

Why do your representatives on the service chat NEVER have an answer, and ALWAYS have to kick it to management, who SELDOM follow up?

And most importantly, why are my books not coming up when I search for them? They (all 5) are available through Nook Press. Yet, when I search, only one comes up. No wonder my sales are pitiful through Nook Press. You can't find my books even when you're searching for them.

I can live with your formatting pains when you upload a manuscript. Sure, you put random chapter breaks in, but I can deal with that.

I can deal with the 65% royalty versus Amazon's 75% royalty.

I can even handle that you have NO CUSTOMER SERVICE, including for price changes on the weekend. (Actually, that is truly terrible. No excuse really).

And we're not even going to mention the paperback printing service that has no option for distribution. WTH?

What I cannot deal with is that you will not sell my books. Are you trying to run yourself out of business? I mean, the rumors circulating about Nook are not favorable. Yet, here I am, trying to support you. Trying to make a difference.

And yet you will not bend one inch to meet me. I am paying you 35% of every sale for what? You're not even doing the job you promised to me.

I still want to love you Nook, but you are making it very hard.

My books on Kobo

My Nook Books Available

My books on Barnes & Noble

ADDENDUM:  I went in, and re-published my books on Nook Press, making sure my name was listed as "Kathryn R. Biel." For some reason (because I distinctly remember typing the R. in on Killing Me Softly), it had been left out. Hopefully you can now buy my books on Barnes & Noble and through Nook. But again, this is something I had to figure out, as there is no customer support on the weekends. Also, I sort of feel like a search engine should be able to differentiate this.

Friday, June 26, 2015

School's Out for Summer!

Today was my last day of school!


This has been my first year working full time, which was quite the adjustment. However, it has been totally worth it to have the job security that I have. I work with great people (and the kids are always great). The peace of mind I get from knowing what I'll be doing in the fall is priceless.

So now, I have the summer ahead of me. My next book, Killing Me Softly, is going to be released on July 7th.

I'm ramping up into final edits and promo for it. As such, I made this little teaser for it:

Killing Me Softly hasn't even been released yet, and I'm already thinking about my next project. The "L" book, if you will. I have about 73 days of vacation before I report to duty again. While I do work a little over the summer, it won't be like my regular job. So, if I can write just over 1,000 words every day, L will be about done by Labor Day. Seems like a high goal, but I'm going to aim for it.

Also in the works this summer, Hold Her Down, the audio book. I'm working with the same narrator who did I'm Still Here. Yeah, if you missed it, I'm Still Here is available in audiobook on Audible and iTunes.

Plus, summer is the time for no lunch boxes, alarms turned off, swimming, cleaning house, and catching up on reading. I cannot wait!

Keep in touch and I hope to have more updates soon!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

This Time, The Twos Will Be Terrific

Two years old.

For most parents, it sort of sends a chill down the spine. A little feeling of anxious anticipation/terror. The dreaded terrible twos.

This time around, for me, two years old is going to be great. Of course, that's because it's my book that is two, not a toddler.

Two years ago, late on a Thursday night, I hit the publish button, and Good Intentions was released into the world. It was so not ready. It had a horrible cover. It needed more editing. But it was out there.

I need to admit something. Like most new parents, I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I thought I had researched. Turns out, it was not nearly enough. You know, like you read What to Expect When You're Expecting cover to cover, but then have no idea what to do with the actual baby. Yeah, that was me.

I'd like to think I've learned. That I've improved my skill. That I now know where and when to ask for help. The last two years have been amazing. When I hit publish, I wanted to sell four books to recoup the cost of the terrible, terrible cover that I'd created. That was it. Then I got into paperbacks and marketing, and the expenses rose. It was okay. According to the IRS, I have three years to start making a profit before this is just considered a hobby. I never expected to sell books. I never expected people I didn't know to read my books. I never expected people to like my writing. I never expected to be a writer.

I didn't know what to expect.

I love having a creative outlet. I feel I'm so much happier, no matter what is going on in my life. I have a way to process and deal and escape. The part of writing that has been the best for me is the people. I am thankful everyday for the great people I have met--the writers, bloggers, fans (yes, I even have a few fans!).

I know I put acknowledgments in my books, but these thanks need to be said often and loudly. This whole process never would have taken off if not for the constant support from my best friend, Michele Vagianelis. If you're observant, you will notice there's a Michele in every book. That's because none of my books would happen without Michele.

My husband has been my quiet support. I think my writing surprised him as much as it did me, and he's expressed surprise that I've stuck with it. That being said, he's come up with a long term plan for my writing, and is supporting me in getting there. My kids are great, wanting to know my progress, sitting next to me while I'm writing, and even beginning to write themselves. That is one of the best rewards.

The ladies (and gents) of my internet writing groups, ChickLitChatHQ and Writing Wenches, are just the best ever. From all corners of the globe, at all hours of the night, I can count on support, help, and someone who gets what I'm going through.

My local writing group, Albany NaNoWriMo, has been so cool to hang out with on Sunday nights. With school winding down and a new project starting up, I'll be at Denny's again soon!

Becky Monson has become not only my cover designer, marketing guru, and sounding board, but one of my closest friends. Not a day goes by when we don't talk, and she is primarily responsible for setting me on the path to success.

Aven Ellis, Jayne Denker, Celia Kennedy, and Tracy Krimmer are other fantastic writers who share my journey, my struggles, and boost me up along the way. They let me bother them at all hours with questions and need for opinions.

My editor, Karen Pirozzi, has spared me from the embarrassment of typo after typo, error after error. If you bought Good Intentions when it was first released, it was before Karen helped me out. She makes my books so much better.

So many other people have helped along the way: Cahren Morris, Sue Rys, Amy Buser, Chrissy Wolfe, and last but not least, my mom, Mary Rose Kopach. These ladies read and critique, and help me put out the best possible book that I can.

To everyone who has purchased my books, told their friends, left a review, sent me a message, THANK YOU. Thank you for making the past two years even better than I could have imagined.

(By the way, I think I've finally settled on a cover. Which one is your favorite?)

So, cheers! Here's to another two great years!

P.S.--Good Intentions is only $0.99 to celebrate its birthday, and stay tuned for more book news in the near future!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Les Pommes Frites (aka French Fry!)

Congratulations to my friend Glynis Astie, on the release of her third book, French Fry!

Let me tell you about French Fry first (and say that five times fast):

Sydney Durand had finally achieved the perfect life she had always wanted. After a whirlwind romance with a charming Frenchman, she endured the three weddings it required to satisfy the members of the newly formed Bennett-Durand clan. All she had left to do was stroll into the sunset with Louis to enjoy their long-awaited happily ever after.

But everything changed when the stick turned blue. Suddenly, Sydney finds herself facing the daunting task of becoming a mother before she has even returned home from her honeymoon. Keeping a tenacious hold on her hard-won happiness, Sydney is determined not to give up without a fight – no matter what or who is thrown in her path…and that includes an overbearing mother-in-law, a know-it-all father and her own anxiety about having a baby.

Will she finally be able to tame her neuroses for the sake of her unborn child? Or will her hormone-induced panic cause a meltdown of epic proportions? One thing is clear: Sydney and Louis’ nerves are going to fry…

Sounds interesting, right? French Fry is the third installment of the French Twist Series (French Twist, French Toast), which chronicles the whirlwind romance and marriage of Sydney and Louis.

But wait, there's more! It's GIVEAWAY time! Glynis is also doing a giveaway this week! Head over to Book Mama Blog to enter. Here are the details and don't forget to enter! Giveaway begins on 5/13/15 at 12:01 AM and ends on 5/20/15 at 11:59 PM. Three prizes will be awarded:

  1. $25 Amazon Gift Card and e-book set of the French Twist series
  2. 2 e-book sets of the French Twist series

This giveaway is open for the US only.

Glynis never expected in her wildest dreams to be a writer. After thirteen years in the Human Resources Industry, she decided to stay at home with her two amazing sons. Ever in search of a project, she was inspired to write the story of how she met and married her wonderfully romantic French husband, Sebastien, in six short months. The end result became her first novel, French Twist. As this was just the beginning of their epic love story, Glynis continued to chronicle their adventures in the sequel, French Toast and the final installment in the series, French Fry.
When Glynis is not writing, she is trying to keep the peace amongst the three men and two cats in her life, finding missing body parts (Lego pieces are small!), supervising a myriad of homework assignments and keeping a tenuous hold on her sanity by consuming whatever chocolate is in the vicinity.

Connect with Glynis!