on reading, choking, and remembering to breathe

We started reading One Thousand Gifts while on our honeymoon. Cuddled in bed, I would read aloud until tears choked up my throat and my husband would have to take over.

We started another book too — The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson. Hodgson’s voice is as unique and expressive as Ann’s, and the story is as intense in its own way, but the experience wasn’t at all the same. See, we read an eBook version of The Night Land, and as wonderful as this story is, reading from a phone screen is not nearly as beautiful as reading from a book.

The tactile sensation of turning pages and weight shifting in your hands as you near the end of the book; tattered paper cover or hardback wrapped in shiny sleeve… Why have we forgotten this joy?

We read from screens more than paper. Even if we aren’t sitting in front of computers, we have smaller versions in our pockets — or more likely in our hands.

I used to carry a book in my bag so I would always have a way to fill the moments-in-between. We don’t have moments-in-between anymore. We have filled the cracks that used to let in light and make it easier to breathe with a digital glow that is slowly suffocating us.

I feel that choke-hold when I take a walk in the fresh air and try to breathe deep. I swallow hard, trying to loosen the noose that pulls me home to check email and social media.

Next time I think I’ll take a book.

how (and why) I made Consumption a purple cow

The first time you see a cow, you notice it. But after driving past dozens of brown cows, they cease to be exciting. If a purple cow shows up, though — now that’s remarkable.

 

Seth Godin’s 2003 book Purple Cow initiated me into the world of marketing. In it, he makes the case that in order to sell something it must be literally “remark-able.” The idea or product needs to be easy for people to talk about and share, and it has to be remarkable enough that people want to talk about and share it. Like a purple cow. If you saw one, wouldn’t you tell somebody?

Marketing has been a hobby of mine ever since reading Seth’s book. There are all kinds of marketing ideas out there, but the best ones boil down to one thing: focus on your audience.

And so, when I set out to write and publish my novel, Consumption, I set out to create a purple cow that will better the lives of the people who read it.

A novel is a brown cow in a field of brown cows. The first step toward creating a purple cow was to make my novel different, but I didn’t want it to stand out simply for the sake of standing out. I wanted to make my novel outstanding in a way that would benefit my readers. So instead of writing twenty-some normal chapters, I broke my novel up into eighty-one vignettes that are easy to read, even in our internet culture of short tweets and digital screens.

Now that I have written Consumption, I’m using “purple cow” concepts to guide how I publish it. Brown cow novels are published in their entirety as ebooks, paperbacks, or hardbacks. My purple cow novel will be published here on my website as a serial, one vignette at a time. The story takes place over the winter of 2016-17, so my audience can read the story as it unfolds, beginning tomorrow under the full moon on Karina’s 18th birthday.

Choosing to publish Consumption online for free this winter makes it easy for my readers to share it. If a vignette touches them, they can share it on social media. If they know someone who would enjoy the story, they can text them the link.

Consumption won’t be available for free forever. Eventually it will become an ebook and a paperback that people can buy in order to support my work. By then I will be on to creating my next purple cow as I come up with more ways to make the lives of my audience better. Because in the end, that’s the point of a purple cow: providing people with something that makes their own lives more remarkable.

Would you like to read Consumption?

Consumption-cover moon-01.png

Karina’s story begins under the full moon of December 13, 2016. Would you like to read her story as it unfolds?

Consumption started years ago as a short story. This autumn I expanded and rewrote it, turning it into a novel of vignettes — that is, instead of twenty-some chapters like a book would usually have, Consumption is made up of 81 vignettes (or mini-chapters).

 

vi·gnette

(vinˈyet) noun
A brief evocative description, account, or episode.

I will be publishing this novel in a more “traditional” format before long, but in the meantime, I want to share Karina’s story with you. Since it takes place over the winter and spring of 2016/17, I am going to release the vignettes on my website as they occur, as a serial. So on December 13, 2016, you can read the first vignette under the same full moon Karina sits under.

 

se·ri·al

(ˈsirēəl) noun
A printed format by which a single larger work, often a work of narrative fiction, is published in sequential installments.

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If you haven't already read the summary of Consumption, {click here.} Today is the last day to vote for my story and let New Wrinkle Publishing know that you'd like to see this novel published! Just click the ❤️

cherish the writing process {thoughts from author Lynnette Kraft}

Lynnette Kraft is the author of Ingrid and Archie of Outlandish, both published by New Wrinkle Publishing. I asked her some questions about her writing process, and today I have the pleasure of sharing some of her thoughts with you!

“Each person on Earth was created with a purpose. There are those who seem to fit into the mold of normal society (although I think most people have to work hard to do that), but there are those who can’t fit in, because there is something that immediately sets them apart as different. I like to write about those characters.” — Lynnette Kraft

Ingrid and Archie, two of Lynnette’s characters, and Karina, the main character of my novel Consumption all have a certain quality that sets them apart as different. Ingrid is mute, Archie can’t look up without having a panic attack, and Karina’s anxiety and OCD cause her to withdraw from society.

I asked Lynnette to share a little of what it’s like for her to get into the heads of these “different” sort of characters.

“I try to see something deeper in just about every situation. It benefits me at times and other times it makes life a little too deep. Because of this, I can really get into my characters' heads… As a mother, I’ve experienced things through my kids as well. I’ve helped them through fears, anxieties, sadness, anger, etc. So, I guess I mother my characters a little too. They feel through my emotions and they learn to cope through my counsel.” — Lynnette Kraft

Lynnette’s characters and their circumstances drive her stories. It’s easy for her to begin to write, but once she’s knee-deep in the story she finds herself thinking, “Where the heck am I going?”

“The best way to get past this is just to sit down and write more. I know that, but I tend to stay away from it in this phase and honestly, that’s the worst thing to do. Carving out alone time to build the story is so crucial! (I’m in that stage right now with my next story and [my own advice] just yelled at me to grow up and be a writer! ha!)” — Lynnette Kraft

It encourages me to hear that I’m not the only one who has to tell herself to “grow up and be a writer!” I hope Lynnette’s words encourage you too.

“The process of writing a story should be just as satisfying as finishing a story. Yes, it’s hard work and sometimes absolutely mind boggling, but there are so many little victories along the way and writers should gain momentum from those victories. We should cherish the entire process.” —Lynnette Kraft

 

New Wrinkle Publishing is holding a contest to choose the next book they will publish. My novel, Consumption, is in the running! Click that link to read a summary and excerpt of my story, and vote by clicking the ❤️ if you'd like to see my story published alongside Lynnette's!

an excerpt from Consumption {a novel}

Last week I told you that I'm writing a novel called Consumption. This week I decided to share an excerpt, so without further ado, meet Karina:

 

New moon means a dark night. Karina only ever uses the one light near her bed, so when night falls early she feels her way around in the dark and turns in before eight. Sleep comes easy, but it doesn’t stay. Midnight blackness suffocates, paralyzes… but it is almost a welcome feeling. At least she doesn’t have to breathe, doesn’t have to move. Breathing so shallow and being so still makes her pass out again, and surely her breathing returns to normal when dreams she won’t remember take over.

New moon means winter break is almost over. Winter break’s end means back to school. Back to school means back to people. Karina makes herself stop thinking about it.

She enjoys the dark night alone.

So alone. Like the nights from her childhood. Hiding under the covers in the darkest of dark because if she could convince herself that she was choosing the darkness she could forget that even if she faced her fears long enough to steal across the bedroom floor to the light switch, flipping it up wouldn’t last long. Dad liked the darkness, so Karina learned to embrace it too.

She would comfort herself, cuddling her books, whispering to them of the new friend that would join them in the morning. Eventually she would fall asleep dreaming of being carried away to the new world in the new book. That was the real reason she loved them so much — the books took her from her dark reality into colorful worlds of adventure, where the people always lived happily ever after, even if life wasn’t perfect. As she grew up she learned that you didn’t even need a happily-ever-after to have a satisfying ending.

Will her ending be satisfying? Or is that just a perk of fiction, where a meticulous author crafts and controls the characters so that the ending comes together in a way that makes you breathe deep and smile?

In this world of random chance, can she even hope for a beautiful ending?

 

Want to read more of Karina's story? {Click here} for a summary and another excerpt. While you're there, vote for Consumption and let New Wrinkle Publishing know that you'd like to see this novel published! (You can vote once every twenty-four hours.)