Monday, October 24, 2011

Author Karen A. Wyle's Twin-Bred & Giveaway Contest

Karen A. Wyle was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University. She now considers herself a Hoosier. Wyle's childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever-published novelist. While writing her first novel at age ten, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age nine. 
Wyle is an appellate attorney, photographer, political junkie, and mother of two daughters. Her voice is the product of almost five decades of reading both literary and genre fiction. It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of law practice. Her personal history has led her to focus on often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.
You may find Karen on her Facebook Author Page, on Twitter @WordsmithWyle, on her author site, and on her blog, Looking Around.

Many writers know from childhood that they were meant to write. Many others come to writing late, often after raising families or developing other careers. I'm one of those who did both.

From early childhood, I considered myself a writer. I had a poem (not a very good one) published in the local paper when I was in 3rd grade. When I was 10, I decided to write a novel as a labor of love for my 5th grade teacher. It was my ambition to be the youngest published author ever, and I was somewhat crestfallen to learn that a 9-year-old girl had claimed that honor. I completed the novel, despite this setback. I wrote two pages a day, longhand (of course – this was in 1965), in pencil, and stopped at 200 pages or thereabouts. It had its acceptable passages, but was mostly dreck (although, if I am ever psychoanalyzed, the analyst could paddle happily about in that book for several years). I began to realize my novel’s failings when the teacher, to reward my achievement, read parts of it to the class during story time.

I tried to write a second novel – about an orphan, I believe – at age 14, but stopped after 40 pages. For the next few years, I concentrated on poetry, of varying quality. I still considered myself a writer, but felt I had not yet found my proper area of focus.

Then came college. Cue ominous music. In my junior or senior year, I took a seminar in writing short stories. I wrote at least two stories and some shorter assignments. (I found them while visiting my parents last summer. They weren’t bad.) One day, in class, the instructor commented casually that I had done a pretty good job at something or other, given that I was “not a born writer.” Through all my shifts and doubts, “born writer” was the one belief about myself I had maintained. For whatever combination of reasons, I let that teacher’s assessment crash down on me like a boulder from a cliff.

I am not sure whether I wrote another poem. I know I wrote no more fiction for many years. I did become a lawyer. I came to concentrate on writing appellate briefs. I took pride and some comfort in my frequently confirmed ability to work with words. I described myself as not a writer, but a wordsmith.

At age 36, very pregnant with my first child, I wrote what was almost a poem – a picture book manuscript, just 88 words long, called “Mommy Calls Me Acorn.” Over the next 19 years (and counting), I wrote more picture books. They tended to be short on character and plot. I told myself and others that writing anything with characters and a plot was beyond my talents.

A few years ago, I took a plane somewhere, and got to chatting with the man in the next seat. I don’t remember how I came to tell him the story of that college class. I suggested a way to interpret or explain the instructor’s comment: perhaps she meant that I was not a born storyteller. He raised an eyebrow. Apparently, he thought I had told my story well enough.

Just before November 2009, my older daughter, a wildly talented young artist, heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and decided to take part, her senior year in high school (and one college visit) notwithstanding. She won – and produced a wonderfully entertaining novel. I began to toy with the thought of trying NaNoWriMo myself -- someday. Someday came the following year. I gave myself permission to start without knowing whether I could possibly succeed. Give it a few days. See what happens.

What happened was that the facility in writing I had gained, over many years of producing words in quantity, made it surprisingly easy to sit at the keyboard, or go for a walk with pad in hand, and have events and characters and dialogues emerge. There was, of course, effort – but it was natural. And while my characters didn’t throw me the wildest of curves, they frequently wrote my scenes for me.
I "won" NaNoWriMo by passing the 50,000 word mark by the end of November (actually making it to 60,000), and spent the next ten months or so expanding and revising and editing my science fiction novel, Twin-Bred. And editing. And editing. . . .

During that process, my goals for the book changed. At the start, I was busily researching the process of finding an agent and/or publisher. I wrote and rewrote query letters, made long lists of agents, and followed agent blogs. Somewhere along the way, I started hearing about the recent changes in the publishing industry and the surrounding landscape. I learned how much more practical it had become to publish one's own work, as a POD (print on demand) paperback and/or an eBook. I read many a blog post about the pros and cons of self-publishing, and gradually became convinced that for me, it made eminent sense. I am thrilled, tickled, and delighted to be self-publishing Twin-Bred this month. I have rough drafts of another novel and a short story awaiting my attention, and I intend to self-publish them in due course.

I cannot generally endorse the view that all trials and setbacks are disguised blessings. There is too much in human experience to which that statement can't even remotely apply. But for me, it has often been true, and I believe it is true of my long detour away from and back to my identity as a writer. This -- not thirty years ago -- is the time to be writing fiction.

eBook Giveaway: Simply leave a comment with your name for this post. Please make sure your user profile you sign in to comment with has an email attached where I (Nora B. Peevy) can contact you. On Sunday, October 30, 2011, I'll announce the winner here. The author will email your ebook to you afterwards.

Suggest a song and win an eBook: Karen A. Wyle is running a special promotion for Twin-Bred. Be the first reader to suggest a song for a Twin-Bred playlist and if I agree with your selection, your name and song choice will be included in an appendix to a future edition of the book!

Please send an mp3 file or a link to a YouTube video where I can hear the song, to Karen A. Wyle at (At the same time, please let me know if you'd like to be on my email alert list, so you can hear about upcoming releases and events.)

I'll post occasional updates about the playlist on Twin-Bred's Facebook page.

Purchase Twin-Bred here:

Amazon: The Kindle Edition & Paperback

Barnes and Noble: The Nook Edition

Createspace (paperback)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Waiting for my writing experience to feel natural like Karen's...I'm jealous. :)