Friday, December 20, 2013

Gay Teacher at Catholic Highschool Fired for Marriage

Friday December 20, 2013

Yesterday, in my neighborhood of Sammamish Washington, a beloved high school teacher, Mark Zmuda, was fired because he married his gay partner last summer and someone in the Seattle Catholic Church Diocese found out. Losing one's job because of sexual preference might otherwise be illegal and excellent fodder for a law suit if it wasn't a CATHOLIC church and the teacher's contract stipulated that he follow the doctrine of the Catholic Church or be terminated.
The gay man, who was the vice principal at Eastside Catholic School was a patient, loving teacher. Someone who was accepted and loved as part of the ECS family. A man who coached the swim team. Students loved him. Maybe even his faculty members. But someone ratted him out and now he's without a job at Christmas, the Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ, a man known for his compassion.
The students apparently never saw the firing of Mr. Z coming but he must've. When he confided in another teacher that he'd married the love of his life, another man, last summer, Mark Zmuda probably saw the writing on the wall. What is most amazing, absolutely shocking about what happened next is the reaction from the students at the school. They did not like this decision one bit. And why did they not agree with the Catholic Church's reaction to the same-sex marriage? Because they are kids who've been groomed by the school's philosophy to be charitable, accepting, unselfish, forgiving, non-judgemental.
ECS prides themselves (if that is allowed when being Catholic) on being charitable and is always running a collection of some sort for poor people, impoverished community members, fellow human beings who are down on their luck. Some of them might have even been gay but then the Catholic Church is famous for the don't look, don't tell policy, just look at the religion's history of pedophile priests. They like to keep their dirty laundry hidden within the Vatican walls. And ECS might have let the marriage of Mark Zmuda stay a secret if one of the other faculty members hadn't reported the marriage to the Seattle Arch Diocese. The school asked if Mr. Zmuda would rather resign or be terminated (FIRED) and he chose to resign, probably still hoping to get some sort of a job after this fiasco, a job with an employer that doesn't give a flying fig if his life long partner is the same sex as him.
An assembly of all students was called on Thursday to reveal that Mr. Zmuda was "resigning", a piece of news that left the kids shocked. They loved Mr. Z. How could this happen? Oh wait! They attend a Catholic School, a tidbit that many students forgot. Many of the student body are Catholic, some are practicing Catholics but many are just plain not religious at all. Most of the neighborhood kids I know who attend ECS don't go to a church of any kind, although religion is taught at the school and the doctrine of Catholicism is recognized.
What happened Thursday afternoon was divine. Mr. Z spoke to the student body and then two female students made the ultimate brave choice to stand up and tell the crowd that they are gay. One girl said "do I have to leave now too?" OMG! That was someone's child there. She must've made the decision to come out in support of Mr. Z when she heard the terrible news for non-heterosexual people in the catholic school system. I am absolutely aghast that someone, not yet an adult, had the bravery to stand up in front of their peers and question the Catholic Church's decision to persecute gays. One day away from the Christmas break, Mr. Z is fired. But what will lie in wait for those two girls who came out at the assembly? Acceptance from the student body is pretty evident but is it acceptable to be a gay student in the Catholic School system as long as you didn't sign a work contract to say you won't be a gay teacher? And what about teachers who are divorced? Live together before marriage, practice birth control? Do they get fired as well?
While Mr. Z was picking up leftover garbage off the commons floor after the assembly that announced his termination, the ECS kids took to twitter and suddenly the tweets were firing all over the Pacific Northwest. A staged walk out/protest was in the works. Kids would leave their classrooms and meet in the commons area to stand up for the right to marry the person you love, gay or not. And after meeting in the lunch area the numbers of actual kids with opinions were too great for the small area and they took the protest outside.
Twitter was on fire and soon the schools within 20 miles were either joining ECS in protest in a gym sit in of their own or trying to get over to ECS to join the cause. My son goes to the high school 1/2 mile down the road and their teachers had to block the exits to keep students from leaving school to join their rivals next door to protest. Several Eastlake students made it to the campus but were told to go home by security at Eastlake, the neighboring school.
Over at ECS, the students chanted, cried, and eventually made their way to the main road to tell the town that they weren't having this decision. When the priest in residence at the school, another beloved teacher, came out to talk to them, they chanted for the nun who runs the school, to come out until she arrived to tell them it was not a school decision but a church decision. Oh yea, did you kids remember the school is Catholic? And Catholics do not embrace homosexuality and especially not gay marriage, it appears.
Funny thing is that the school's position was  made clear by the teachers' support of letting the students walk out of the classrooms without baring their way. When asked if they'd be marked absent, most teachers said no. One in particular emphatically told the kids "yes". Makes me wonder who snitched on Mr.Z. Security was not used to break up the scene, only keep the kids safe as they expressed their right to protest. How cool is that?
The point is that the kids took a stand, showed values that the Catholic Church has not embraced yet in their doctrine of forgiveness, charity, and love. But here's the message that the protest should have sent along with re-hire Mr. Z. The Catholic Church has succeeded in teaching young people to have Christian values of love and acceptance and compassion. It worked. Maybe there is some hypocrisy in the Church doctrine but the kids seem to know what's right and what's wrong. They haven't had 2000 years of following rules and social guidelines that don't make sense anymore. The world is overpopulated, we can accept gay couples.
As Bob Dylan said, "the times, they are a changin'." Maybe the new Catholics of this world, the ones who are still in school, will accept the gay lifestyle, unlike Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame who equates gays with terrorists and is in hot water this week for showing America he is a redneck and a small-minded person. That guy is all over Facebook right now, dropped by his channel, A&E, and the subject of controversy for being a gay-hating bigot. That's another story. One that involves freedom of speech and again, religion.
Eastside Catholic high school can be proud of their students even though there isn't a hope in heck of Mr. Z getting his job back. For that to happen the whole huge Catholic Church would send a message to the world that they now accept gay relationships and that would be one gigantic miracle of enormous proportions.
From Vatican City, to the Seattle Diocese to Eastside Catholic - Free Mr. Z!

Kim Hornsby is an author of Amazon Bestseller Novels The Dream Jumper's Promise and Necessary Detour, as well as short stories in the genre of The Bachelor called The Husband Hunt. She resides in Sammamish Washington and speaks out when she is passionate about a cause.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Cookie Recipes for the Lazy (Busy) Mom!

December 13/2013

I love Christmas! Love Love Love!
I'm starting my enthusiasm a bit late this year because I just got back from a vacation (who doesn't need one just before Christmas?) but yesterday I got out the tubs of decorations and will devote the next few days to transforming the house into a Winter Wonderland. As I write this I have my inflatable snowman waving to my street on the front lawn, surrounded by a family of twinkly lit penguins. The lights will go up on the trees and house next week. I like to do a big reveal like that guy in National Lampoon's Vacation. Flip a switch and make my family say "ahhhh.."

This year on my blog, I thought I'd offer some of my favorite cookie recipes.I use the word recipe loosely, seeing they take very little effort. I used to go crazy with the Christmas cookies. Really, I did, but I'm a busy mother and don't have the time to bust a gut on cookies, especially when all my kids want is yummy, colorful reindeers or fun confections to munch on, not award winning works of art like these blue cookies.

Every year I host a Cookie Exchange at my home. If you've never done one of these, it's a fabulous way to get ten types of cookies and only actually bake five. You take plates of your cookies to an exchange and trade. You end up with the same amount of cookies but have different varieties so that your kids aren't eating the same Snickerdoodles and Santa shortbread throughout the whole holiday season.

The first year I did this I spent a hundred hours perfecting my cookies, rolling the fondant, making cute little Christmas characters with my decorating gun, placing garnishes just so, arranging them on Christmas plates or in darling decorated boxes and tying each grouping with a Christmas bow.
Not anymore! After seventeen years of kids,I make the easiest cookies that have the best appeal to children's simple interests, put my my exchanging cookies into fun containers and stick a pre-made bow on top. The effect isn't as magical but like that old Burt Bacharach song says "Make it Easy on Yourself." 
                     Not like in this picture. These cookies took someone ten hours to make!

Here's a recipe my kids LOVE that takes very little time and although they are called Reindeer Food, my darling children re-named them . . .

Reindeer Poop

Mix Cocoa Puff Cereal with Melted Marshmallows, Form into small balls, Sprinkle with Colored Sugar, cool. eat.
(See how easy that is!?)

We also like to make Fudge which happens to be the yummiest and easiest thing to make

Chocolate Fudge

Buy the Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk with the fudge recipe and follow.
(That saved e-space!)

          Now for something that is not chocolate. At least not brown chocolate...

Pretzel Canes

Dip Rod Pretzels in melted white chocolate, 2/3 way up the length, then sprinkle with Red and Green sprinkles, M&M's in the hardening chocolate, nuts or edable decorations. Or drizzle with icing.

Okay, now for non-chocolate. . .

                                                                    Melting Snowmen

Make sugar cookies, (see thumbprint cookies below, or buy plain cookies!) Paint them with white stiff frosting and secure a partially melted marshmallow at the top to simulate a melting snowman, with a toothpick and food coloring, make a snowman face and then top off the marshmallow with a hat made from a piece of Chocolate (oops-chocolate again!) If you're feeling fancy, make arms that melt into the icing in the cookie.
Personally, I find this cookie rather sad but it's all the rage this year.

And now for something with absolutely no chocolate!

Thumbprint Cookies

Makes about 20

2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

2 large egg whites

3/4 cup finely chopped nuts of choice 

1/3 cup jam (any flavor) 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla extract and salt. Gradually stir in flour. Form dough into 1-inch diameter balls. Dip in lightly beaten egg whites, then roll in nuts. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Press down center of each with thumb. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Just before serving, fill centers of cookies with jam. Or, fill centers with 1/2 teaspoon of jam before baking.

I have some cute decorating ideas, stolen from really clever women, on my Pinterest page if you'd like to see a Christmas Pizza or Christmas tree veggie platter. Or take one of these curly pretzels or the grid pretzel, melt a rolo candy on it, stick a green or red M&M on top and there you have it! Perfection. 
These little edible critters are cute too and I bet you could buy the chocolate covered pretzels (you would think I owned stock in the pretzel company?!) buy pre-made cookie dough, get chocolate chips and those red decorations they sell that taste like cinnamon. And suddenly you have reindeers. Heads anyhow.

Here's a great site to find cookie recipes.

                                  These are very cute but very time-consuming CAKE POPS

Whatever you do this year, remember the old Chinese Proverb, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" so pace yourselves and enjoy the season.

Kim Hornsby is an Amazon Bestselling Author. Her Christmas Novella Christmas in Whistler is climbing the charts this month in the anthology Christmas by Candlelight. If you need something to look forward to at the end of the day, download this book to your Kindle, phone, ipad or whatever and treat yourself to a little Christmas escapism romance! Click on the title above to see it on Amazon books.

Her novels are Amazon Bestsellers  Necessary Detour, a Romantic Suspense and The Dream Jumper's Promise, a Suspenseful Romance.
Visit her Amazon Author Page for a list of her novels. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Kindle Countdown Deals Flops Big Time!

Update is below the post to describe why Kindle Countdown flopped!

December 1st at 8 a.m., my novel THE DREAM JUMPER'S PROMISE goes to .99 from its regular price of $2.99. I'm trying a new thing on Amazon called Kindle Countdown Deals and I'm not sure this will be a good thing for this book but I'll see at the end of the week.
You tell them how many days to run the deal and give them a starting price point. They reduce the price then build back up incrementally over that time period. If I remember correctly, my book goes to .99 tomorrow morning and after two days goes to $1.99 then on the seventh day, back to $2.99. They put a little ticking digital clock beside the price to show how much longer at this price.
The idea behind this is sales for the week it's discounted and to create buzz and good ranking for the book after having it on sale. I'm hoping Amazon puts it on some list that readers can access for cheap books because I'm limited in what I can do promo-wise. I'll be away all week with limited internet availability.
I want to do free days at Christmas and Amazon insists I keep the $2.99 price point for two weeks after the last day on the promotion so that'll put me at about December 20th when I can reduce the price again.
As a first time author, I'm still trying to gain readers and convince people to read my book, take a chance on a new author, write a review.
UPDATE!!! You cannot do a FREE Promo after Kindle Countdown Deals. You must wait until the 90 days are up.

I'll update this blog next week when I have a chance to see if Kindle Countdown Deals works or not. I'm headed to Nicaragua tomorrow for some jungle time and won't be available online. This is me hiking in the jungle in Nicaragua.

Lately my book has not been selling at $2.99. It does far better at free :) or at $1.99 and although I never guessed that I'd be okay with offering my book for so little, I now realize this is the way to build a career.
The second in the series THE DREAM JUMPER'S SECRET will be out the first week of February and that should be a big shot in the arm for the PROMISE book, as well. Anyone out there have experience with Kindle Countdown Deals? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Nominated for BEST INDIE FIRST BOOK by Indie RomCon
Amazon Bestselling Author Kim Hornsby

December 13th UPDATE: I really hoped there'd be some breakthrough sales of this book with Kindle Countdown Deals but I sold very few copies of the book at each price level. It was almost like there was a sign on it saying "don't buy this." My sales plummeted. Maybe they were going to anyhow, seeing it's the Holiday Season and romance readers enjoy reading Christmas Love Stories, (like Christmas by Candlelight) but I've never seen such poor ranking for this book since it was launched! Not just that, but now I can't adjust the price to where it does make sales because I'm locked in at the higher price for 2 weeks after the promo. All round, this did not work for me at all. Good thing I have other books and novellas out there. And I have a husband to support me while I try to make a go of it as an author!

UPDATE!!! You cannot do a FREE Promo after Kindle Countdown Deals. You must wait until the 90 days are up. This has successfully tanked my book sales now for 2 months. I will never do this promo again. Little did I know when I wrote this blog in December.

The Dream Jumper's Promise

Tina Greene can't accept the presumed surfing death of her husband, Hank. Months after signing the death certificate, she trades mourning for saving her Maui dive shop from bankruptcy. When Jamey Dunn walks back into her life things take a strange turn. Dreams of Hank have the dive instructor questioning her sanity and leaning heavily on Hank's best friend, Noble. Jamey and Noble clash at every turn, both desperate to help Tina. When Jamey suspects Tina's strange dreams hold clues to Hank's disappearance, he must reveal his unusual ability to visit dreams. Trusting the man who once betrayed her doesn't come easily when the decision to let Jamey enter her subconscious has a price. As Tina, Noble and Jamey decipher the mystery of Hank's disappearance, grave danger sets in to reveal that one person is a traitor, one is flirting with insanity and one is an impostor.

Kim Hornsby is the AMAZON BESTSELLING author of THE DREAM JUMPER'S PROMISE, NECESSARY DETOUR and THE HUSBAND HUNT. Visit her amazon page to find inexpensive downloads and print books.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

American Music Awards Hits and Misses

This year, the AMA's was the year of the production number, but we saw that coming, didn't we? Singers, dancers, Cirque de Soleil twirlers, rappers, fire eaters, costumes, lights, props, smoke machines and stage managers galore! I can't imagine the circus that is backstage at the AMA's, but I digress.

Katy Perry opened the show with a geisha version of UNCONDITIONALLY that had all of the above. Well, maybe not the fire eater but she nailed the opener with a Japanese theme complete with parasols, cherry blossoms, Japanese drums and K.P. herself dressed in full geisha gear, including sock feet, which I have to think is way easier for navigating up the grand staircase while singing and dancing.
Katy sang Live (no lip syncing)
Pit Bull was the host this year and although he leaned heavily on the Latino card, he was classy in his tuxedo and was absolutely adorable as a totally different type of host. His scripted Schtick was fun and the crowd loved him. Well done Pittie!

T. Swift presented the first award, luckily it wasn't to One Direction, whose lead singer, Harry Styles has an infamous T. Swi song about him. Wearing a tight, tiny gold dress that wasn't nearly long enough to cover any of her legs, she accepted several awards over the course of the evening and spoke with such heart and clarity that no one can blame her for her silly dalliances with boys who are barely finished high school.

Moving on. ONE DIRECTION Those boys can actually harmonize beautifully and if you feel like poo-pooing their talent, you try making 5 part harmony. Watch until the end to see their second award. Fans love these boys.
Ariana Grande sang next and with just her voice and a 4 Tops-style backup singing line, she rocked the house. Who needs smoke and mirrors when you have a voice like hers? My eleven year old daughter has been following A.G. for years on YouTube and loves her from Victorious on Nickelodeon.  Lady Gaga got to her feet, always one to recognize a good voice. She later won a big award and was all teenage gushy and silly in her acceptance speech but isn't she only 13 or something? Amazing!
Why would a man who has a men's clothing line show up to a huge awards show in a plaid shirt and ripped  jeans? Chewing gum. Marc Anthony. Booo
Did anyone else feel like Imagine Dragons was the only true rock performance of the night? When those nerds did Demons that morphed into RadioActive, the crowd went all rock star wild. With everyone on their feet, the 4 Dragons drummed the solo in RadioActive and brought down the house. Little does my daughter know we have tickets to see them in Seattle in February. When they finished, she was affected, aflutter and couldn't speak. Love this band. Not lip syncing.
Taylor Swift won a few more awards, spoke eloquently and the show went on with interactive commercials of JLo hawking Kohl's and pretending she was an action star, Pit Bull hawking Fiats on the beach, and Mackelmore referring to the injustice of Traynor Martin.
What's with the Shark Tank entrepreneurs in the audience? Marc, Damon and Robert had aisle seats and camera time. Who bought them camera time? And then they presented, without a woman among them. WTF? Where was Lori or that real estate woman?
Pit Bull and Kei$ha did a duet. Lip Syncing. Both of them. In her Daisy dukes and nose ring, she did a fine job of dancing and lip syncing to her own song.
It was fun to see Imagine Dragons win Alternative Rock and receive an award from non other than Joan Jett and David Grohls. They even said so.
Justin Timberlake performed a song that was amazingly fun like each of the 40 people on stage with him were lead singers in a speakeasy club. Great song, great performance J.T. and the crowd loves this Golden Boy. He's funny, musically talented and handsome. And not lip syncing. What's not to love? J.T. for president.
The Ceremonies- rock triplets?
Bill Maher who has no business on a music awards show stage, presented the Icon Award to Rihanna's mother who presented it to her in a charming mother/daughter moment that showed the world that Rihanna is just a girl from Barbados who isn't so far removed from when she used to sell fruit to tourists. Did you know that she has 33 Million twitter followers or is the most viewed artist on YouTube? Me neither. Social media works! Regardless of all her tweeting and instagraming, Rihanna won the first ever Icon Award and sang like a true performance artist. She definitely shines bright like a diamond. Not lip syncing.
Awards were given, Pit bull's presence faded like he'd been fired mid-show, and I worried that someone might fall on their extremely pointy award. "Hold it away from yourself!" I shouted at the T.V. Especially after Avici (Tim Berg) lumbered gawkily to the stage to get his EDM award. Worst ever acceptance speech, even for a Swede whose first language is not English.Christina Aguilera sang a tres understated duet with someone at a piano and showed the underbelly of a superstar in an amazing performance.
Lady Gaga and R. Kelly did a skit/song about the president having an affair with an Italian lover who looked like Marilyn Monroe that was strange. Interesting skit and love the song and love R. Kelly and love Gaga but it kind of fell flat. Too much weirdness even for Gaga? but not lip syncing.
Miley Cyrus and her kitten backdrop proved that the girl can sing but please darlin', lose the cat and weird teenager bedroom backdrops if you want to be taken seriously. It's just wrong. I'd say 99% of your audience didn't even notice your high cut undies because they were staring at the kitten, who was lip syncing very poorly.
All in all the AMA's were highly entertaining with even a TLC reunion near the end. With loads of  fake snow, lights, movie screen backdrops and fabulous sets, the evening was well done, beyond entertaining and fun. No twerking but hey that's a good thing. Wholesome Tay Tay Swi Won for Artist of the Year.
Ah, and after the ending, it said that One Direction is taking over America on Tuesday, or did they mean to say Good Morning America? I dunno.

Kim Hornsby is a former rock singer and entertainment specialist as well as an Amazon Bestselling Author.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Juan Pablo has chosen his Queen

Filming of The Bachelor 2014 has finished, if you can believe that.
The first night at the Bachelor Mansion in Los Angeles was September 17th in Agoura Hills (near Britney Spears house) in California. The scoop is that they stayed briefly in the L.A. area, after the opening night, had a few days/dates and left for Utah. Juan Pablo loves to ski and on his Bachelor application, he said that his favorite place to go was skiing in Utah, so this is no huge surprise.
But the next location was a HUGE surprise to me, if the rumors are correct. The whole show picked up and left for South Korea, where they filmed a spot with a dance duo who has millions of hits on YOUTUBE. Really? Okay, I'll wait to see this. Then they went to Vietnam, apparently and ended in Miami after hometowns. If you love spoilers, check out Reality Steve who seems to have a spy on the inside of The Bachelor. Chris Harrison, are you moonlighting?
One of the oldest contestants was eliminated in Miami, leaving 3 gorgeous women to go to St. Lucia with Juan Pablo.
You have to think this man is trying to find someone compatible with being a part time mommy. It would totally suck if he thought with his 'heart' instead of his head. I know someone who made the first choice and the children are virtually ignored now. Very sad. I think Juan Pablo is smarter than that.
I can't wait to see this all play out on Monday nights in January. CAN;T WAIT! As I type this Juan Pablo presumably has proposed to someone and is waiting out the three months to be with her. How frustratato! That's my attempt at Spanish. Luckily we have Thanksgiving and Christmas to distract us before the regular Monday nights resume and we find ourselves planted in front of the T.V. hoping Juan Pablo finds his true love. It's something to look forward to in January which has the highest suicide rate of all the months. Oops. Did I say that?
If you find it hard to wait, like I did, you might want to take up reading. I'm an author and created my own little Bachelor world in these stories.

I recently wrote a short story (2-3 hour reading time) where I used Juan Pablo as the hero. I made him French but still very sweet, compassionate, parental and sexy. It's #1 on Amazon Christmas stories this week in Anthologies. My story in the book is Christmas in Whistler.
Also, check out my Pinterest board for this story. I loved writing it and paired him with Julianne Hough.
 I think they'd make a cute couple. What do you think?

Friday, November 8, 2013

NaNoWriMo Musings Along the Way

I may be feeling too confident. Everything might come to a crashing halt any day now but so far I'm ahead of schedule for NaNoWriMo. If you are one of the people left in the world who don't know what I'm talking about, it is National Novel Writing Month for all us people across the world who want to tackle the horrendous task of completing a novel in a month.
Have you ever said, "writing a novel couldn't be that hard", or, "I could write a novel if I tried"? Well this was your chance. Don't despair if you haven't signed up. You can sign up late or do it next year. It's an annual thing so anyone who procrastinates can jump in next time. 
I stared at my computer all summer, wishing I could get going on the second in The Dream Jumper Series. I have readers waiting for this thing. I just couldn't get motivated. Publishing #2, The Dream Jumper's Secret, was originally planned for this fall but without any words on the page, that didn't look good. I had the basic story line. I just couldn't write it down.
At the last minute I signed up for NaNoWriMo when I realized that my hubby will be away on trips over half the month of November and I'll have the freedom to write with uninhibited abandon. Don't get me wrong, he's a wonderful husband, and I love him dearly, but he does blame the state of our messy house on my novel writing. He works from home so I imagine he spends the whole day wondering when I'm going to get up from my keyboard and do something around this 4,000 square foot house. And I spend most of the day cursing the day I let him buy this big place, wondering how expensive a cleaner would be. Until I hit the bestseller list I haven't been able to justify paying someone to clean. I'm driven by the need to prove something, most days.
So you see, I had two problems with the novel--no motivation and lack of support. Then I realized I had a third problem. Fear. I love the first book. It was nominated for BEST INDIE FIRST BOOK by Indie Rom/Con this year, has 166 reviews, has been downloaded 67,000 times and I consider it as small success.

I'm terrified to write the second one in case it's not nearly as good. Here's what helped give me that last push. Just before November, I read a series of 3 books by an author I felt was on my level 11 months ago. She and I published around the same time, went neck in neck on the free lists last winter and I was intrigued by her provocative cover and title. Sins and Needles is the name of the first one. I foolishly didn't read it, thinking it was about drug use, not tattooing. Okay, I'm a dork. But I also didn't want to buy it and help her do better than me. Did I tell you I'm competitive?
She published the second book in her series a few months after the first, then the third a few months after that, managing to fit in a prequel as well. According to what I've read about her, she writes at an alarming speed, holed up in an office, stopping for nothing until the book is done. In the last year, her books rose to the top of the charts, she's now represented by Scott Waxman of the Waxman Agency and is published by Hachette. This month, she is my hero. Not just because she wrote quickly but also because she turned out some fine reading. They are romantic/suspense, but more erotic and more suspenseful. Edgy. Hard to describe. Just buy the first book and see if you can get through the swearing, sexy scenes, and gritty descriptions. If so, you're in for a wild ride.
Before I started NaNo I took mental note of what made that series so compelling and decided to get off my fat arse and write the next book in the series. I plotted it out, penned out 35 scenes like Bob Mayer said Jennifer Cruisie does and signed up for NaNo. Excitement started to rear its lovely head. On Halloween night I was like a race horse chomping at the bit, pawing the ground at the gate, anxious to start writing. It was difficult to not jot down even a few words.
November 1st, I woke up, wrote my 2,000 words and left on a girls' weekend with my laptop. I woke each morning I was away, hours before the other ladies, got myself a cuppa and planted myself in the big chair by the roaring fireplace to write 2,000 words. I came home the first weekend with a really good start to my book. Yipee!
Did I lose steam? Not so far. I'm still writing like a maniac. Everyone has their writing process. This is the process that worked for me-- plotting ahead of time and planning scenes. My friend Geri, is the opposite. She needs to do away with all the obsessive planning and just give herself permission to write a very rough roughdraft. See where the story goes just before she writes it down.
Once I gave myself permission to just write the damned thing, much like the Cherry Adair Finish the Damned Book Challenge, I was off to the races. (With all these horsey references, you'd think I was a jockey). And now I'm up to almost 40,000 words this first week. They are not all great words and the rewrite is going to be horrendous but I'm getting this story down. I know now that I will finish this book by the end of the month unless I become like the hare in that fable where it falls asleep and the turtle wins the race. Knowing I'm 4/5th's of the way done is a beautiful thing over here in my head. I've set my sights on a Valentine's Day publication and am having the cover artist get busy for the second book in the Dream Jumper series.
Having this glorious international challenge, knowing that there are thousands and thousands of us out there in far-reaching countries, struggling to write, helps spur me on. I have a competitive nature but it's all friendly and fun. Mostly, I'm challenging myself to be the best I can be.
Also, checking in on word count is right up my alley. If you're writing and want to friend me, my name this year is Kimberwrite and I'd love some friends. I asked to join a group here in Seattle and didn't get a reply, so I took that as a no.
If you are stuck and can't get going check in to NaNo's motivational speeches by bestselling authors. Some are very inspirational.
Here's what works for me if I get stuck along the way.

1. Get up from the computer. Go do something else. Think about what you are going to write next but deny yourself the action for an hour. It's like the 'takeaway' in sales techniques.
2. Go back to your synopsis and read what you intended. If you don't have a synopsis, maybe try writing one.
3. Write out the next two scenes, making sure you are making it almost impossible for your protagonist to achieve their goal.
4. Pretend you are the protag. Get inside her head. Then write from that angle. Not necessarily first person POV, just be her and then try writing.
5. Music the protag would listen to, stick a hat on your head for different characters,
6. Give yourself permission to write a terrible book. Don't worry about editing, choosing the best words, the most narrative descriptions. You are going to fix that in the coming months. Just write what comes to mind.
7. Don't read back what you wrote and don't backspace more than two sentences. Keep the bad stuff and just continue.
8. Have fun!

NaNoWriMo is to be credited for more than just getting those first time authors to write their novel. It helps writers like me drop all the expectations and just sit down to write. Isn't that what it's all about?

Kim Hornsby is the author of two full novels The Dream Jumper's Promise and Necessary Detour, two short stories based on THE BACHELOR and has two contemporary romances in the Seasons of Love Series. All are available on Amazon.

                                                   Find Kim at

Monday, October 28, 2013

Kindle Direct Publishing Select Free Days. Read this First!


There are thousands of readers out there who will pay for your books but many of them will barely look at your novel without a sign it's worth paying for. Especially if you are a new author and without a huge following. 
One way to help get sales is to offer your novel free. This generates free ‘sales’ and looks good on paper, even if you don’t see money for those downloads. And, if you’re in this for the money, I feel kind of badly for you right now. (Imagine me patting your back and handing you tissues) I have done KDP Select free days about 10 times now and feel like a bit of a Select Amazon expert.
Amazon Headquarters in Seattle

For free days, I upload a version of my book that includes a note after THE END to ask if the reader sees fit to review, the author would really appreciate it.
In the days after free days, sales escalate. So do the reviews a week or two later. The ranking looks much better approximately two days later. Don’t freak the morning after free days when your book is 164,000 in rank. It’ll decrease as the day goes on.  Soon after, you’ll get reviews. Many of the reviews that follow your promotion will start out like this “I wasn’t sure what to expect but …”
Why do they expect so little? Because it was FREE! The expectation is less than if the reader paid $12.99 for an e-book download. It’s no wonder some of the best books don’t have all 5 star reviews.  Novel readers want their moneys' worth. I have yet to read Gone Girl because of the cost. Just sayin’. Oh and now it's going to be a movie, without my help.
                                                              Gone Girl Cast Announced

 If you have lots of reviews that are above 4 stars, you'll get more real sales eventually. This is fact. The readers who don't subscribe to free day lists on a daily or weekly basis will jump on board to buy the book when they see more reviews. Books with 200 reviews and over a 4.7* rating are more likely to catch on than 6 reviews and a 3.2* average. Do some hopping around on Amazon, and check out Safe Haven, Sins and Needles and Warm Bodies. I use those three because my novel was lumped in with them and I spent weeks/months watching. Two were movies and one was a breakout series that came out boom, boom, boom and caught on like wildfire.

I'm a stat watcher. I watch my stats daily, sometimes three or four times a day. When things are going well with a book, I’ve been known to wake up in the middle of the night and check stats. By stats, I mean ranking, not sales. It’s not necessary to check my sales if I’m looking at ranking on the Amazon list. Ranking reflects sales. Another thing I do is keep track of books that were published the same week as me. I love to reflect on how their sales are better than mine. From this obsessive activity, I’ve learned a lot. Here’s some of what I know to be true. The ranking is directly related to sales and sales are affected by :

1. 'NY Times Bestseller' at the top of the cover, or something similar
2. Lots of good reviews – Over 100 is good, Over 300 is better
3. Amazon Ranking (or Kobo etc) Less than 10,000 in Kindle books is great

The above indicators help a reader to avoid paying for a clunker. And there are a lot of poorly written books out there right now, with self pubbing at an all-time high.

4. Whether you have the power of a publisher or NY publishing house behind you.
5. Whether it's a series, or not. Series are BIG!!
6. COVER! Non-pro covers are overlooked on a regular basis. Pay the $200.
7. Whether the author has a following. If this book is the third of a series, the sales should be better than a first one with no second published.
8. Ads, marketing, word of mouth, BUZZ!
9. If you love ranking, find a rare category and boast that you are top ten in psychic romance. Sure it might be Romance, Suspense, time travel, werewolf, psychics but you’re top ten!

I watched Safe Haven rise to the top of the lists this year. And stay there. For a long time. Yes, Nicolas Sparks has a huge following. Look at the list above and the only one not used was #5, the series, and instead of that he had a movie with Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel.

I also watched a novel (comparable to mine) rise to a USA bestseller in the last ten months. The author did free days with me, right after we both published late December 2012, both of our books did well, then she published the second and third in the series within two or three months of each other and her rise to stardom was imminent. The writing is pretty clean for a self- pubbed author, the cover is hauntingly compelling and she has over 200 reviews on each of the 3 books. Ta Da! She went free several times with the first one to get her stats up, published the second, went free to get those stats up and the rest is history. What this author did with her high concept romantic suspense novel that I did not do, was release 3 in one year, had a pro cover to start with, and who knows what else. I'm still watching her... Not that The Dream Jumper’s Promise was left in the dust. It’s done well for itself. Especially for a first novel, but without a second in the series to keep the readers engaged, I lagged behind.
And so, dear readers, these are my observations. I’m a huge fan of Free Days. And of marketing those days to the absolute max. When my thriller, Necessary Detour, went free over Valentine’s Day in 2012, with The Wild Rose Press, I had 42 ads out there to announce the deal. Some were free to me, some cost a few dollars. None cost over $20.  I got 35,000 downloads in 5 days and made almost $2,000 in the following month in royalties as well as landing #42 in Author ranking, above some very heavy hitters. That was a month to remember.

If you decide to do KDP and take advantage of the 5 Free days, here’s my gift to you. 

Do 3 of your 5 days at the beginning of the 90 days, and do 2 days, 60 days in. To advertise, log on  to see 20-30 sites that will advertise for your free days at little or no cost. Then sit back and watch. 
You’re welcome.


Kim Hornsby is the  author of KDP Free Days, a cheap eBook on Amazon that elaborates on how to get the most out of your Select Free days.
She's also the Amazon Best Selling Author of Necessary Detour and The Dream Jumper's Promise. He highest ranking as of November 10, is The Husband Hunt, a perma free short story that reads like watching a series of THE BACHELOR.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Writing Romance is Harder Than it Reads!

Ever read a romance novel and think "I could write this stuff!" Well you can't. Not without years of hard work, training and tears. For those of you who have the know-how, (and I don't mean the personal romance know-how) and the education, this doesn't mean you. I'm talking to the people who poo poo the genre and say it is easy to write a romance. If it were, wouldn't everyone do it?
If a romance author let you think you could do it without a degree in creative writing, or at the very least classes and workshops on novel writing, they are probably one fine writer. Making the story flow, making you feel you are a part of the story and can write like that if you tried, is the sign of a good writer. It might look simple, but it is not.
Thank God I didn't know this before I started my first novel. I said those above fated words while reading a Susan Wiggs romance one summer. It seemed to me that there was nothing to thinking up a compelling story and then just typing it out. No offence to the author but sheesh, just write a handsome man, a woman the reader would care about, a nice setting, story and BINGO! Publication.
I was so confident, I started writing in the fall and had a spring power outfit hanging in my closet for an inevitable meeting with my editor in New York.
In some ways it's wonderful to be so confident. I'd just been on a family vacation in Canada, over the border from Eastern Washington, and decided to set this blockbuster hit on a lake, like the one we'd just been to. And then I started writing. And deleting. And writing. And deleting.
This wasn't my first novel, but it was my first romance. I'd already written a Women's Fiction that had been rejected by some of the finest agents and editors in NYC, so you see, I wasn't totally green. Just unpublished and uneducated about the process of novel writing. Aside from a few workshops on the Hero's Journey, I had no clue. I didn't even read romance but after reading Susan Wiggs' novels, I thought I might start.

Then I read somewhere that the second book doesn't usually sell. It's purpose is solely to babysit the dust bunnies under your bed, The third book was the one that would sell. Regardless, I finished the book, sent out a queries, and got rejected by some of the finest agents and editors, not only in NYC but all over this fine country. It was unanimous. No one wanted it. No one wanted the first thirty pages, let alone the full manuscript. Although I loved the high concept, no one else did. I'd written a story about a modern day Goldilocks and the Three Bears, something that apparently would sink like a lead hard copy, and I was told repeatedly that it was a bad idea. It had either been done to death or couldn't be done, I can't remember which.
That was bad news to me, who had a series all planned out with Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk about modern day women who find themselves in similar circumstances to the nursery stories. The completed romance was titled Goldy and the Bayers, about a rock singer who suddenly retires and escapes the media by hiding out at her lake house, only to find herself spying on the family next door - the Bayers.
The completed manuscript collected dust for several years while I continued writing. I'd gotten too far in to quit now. I had thousands invested in Writers' Conferences and posit notes and felt I owed it to myself to prove that writing a book and getting it published was super simple! Dammit!
When I saw a call for Fairytale stories by Entangled Publishing, I ventured under the bed to get Goldy, and sent the pitch to several other publishers while I was at it.
Then I got a shovel, a pick ax, and a big garbage bag and started editing and cleaning up the first three chapters. When several publishers asked for the full, I smirked and told myself to dig out that Power Suit for NYC. Turned out I hadn't exactly written a romance. No siree. According to several agents who almost considered representing me at this point in my almost career, the story wasn't formulaic enough. Apparently there is a definite formula to follow for romance and I hadn't done that. In the first few pages my hero did not catch the protagonist when she fell off a ladder in her Daisy Dukes, his hand getting tangled in the jean rips, until they broke apart, embarrassed. I wasn't sure what the formula was, but when one of the queried editors suggested some easy changes to make it fit the formula, I gladly said yes and signed on the dotted line. Thank you Ally Robertson!
Writing romance is not easy. And it isn't just me who's had a hard time at this. Most writers will tell you that if you think it's easy, the joke is on you. Writing a romance (and a believable sex scene, while we're talking about it) takes a ton of skill and talent. It is not the walk in the park it looks to be and next time you read a novel that's as smooth as a piece of crustless cheesecake, think about the craft that goes into writing your entertainment.
How about it writers? Anyone ever heard that romance writing is easy?

Kim Hornsby is the author of Amazon Bestseller, Necessary Detour with The Wild Rose Press, originally named Goldy and the Bayers.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Miley Makes Audience Cry

Miley Cyrus has a business plan in place, that's for sure!
Step 1, do something so provocative that the whole world is talking about it.
Step 2, announce the breakup of your engagement to a man who bounces back the next day with another woman. (this guarantees sympathy for you)
Step 3, Show your actual talent at the next huge concert and feel free to show emotion.  What is step 4? Release the next song on your album and watch the reaction.

Saturday night, Miley Cyrus performed in Las Vegas at the i Heart Radio Festival and sang with such talent and emotion that she had the audience in tears, along with her. THIS GIRL CAN SING! I think amidst all the boohaha about her strip dance with Robin Thicke, we forgot that she has singing chops. Oh yes she does. The video isn't up on youtube yet of the performance but you can bet that when it is, the world will be tuning in to see the train wreck but ending up moved by her performance.
As a singer/entertainer I have to wonder if the tears were all part of the plan. It isn't hard to get caught up in the emotion of a song and let a few drop. Regardless, Kudos to Miley again for making her name a household word again this week. Notice I didn't give credit to her bizarre, look-at-me-I'm-screaming-for-attention outfit?
What's next? Can't wait.

Note:Adam Lambert's set with Queen was one of the most awesome performances I've ever seen. LOVE THAT MAN who sings pretty darned close to perfection in concert! Putting his own spin on Freddy Mercury songs, he rocked the stage and at the same time did not try to take away from the guaranteed perfection of QUEEN. Well done Lambert.

Kim Hornsby is a former rock singer who now makes her living as an Amazon Bestselling Author. Necessary Detour is a suspense novel about a newly retired rock singer who can't stop spying on her neighbors to save her own life. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Blog Hop Fun (for me, at least!)

Carol Mason, author of The Secrets of Married Women, The Love Market and Send Me A Lover   interviews me below. Seeing she is one of my favorite authors and almost as famous as Kate Middleton in the U.K., I was thrilled to be included in this blog hop. Take it away Carol...

I am going to ask 11 questions of Kim Hornsby, author of The Dream Jumper’s Promise and Necessary Detour, to name two. Kim, here goes…

1. Describe the type of books you write, as I believe you also write under a pen name.
 I'd like to think I write novels that appeal to smart women who like a little mystery and romance. (Men have been known to enjoy my books too!) THE DREAM JUMPER’S PROMISE has the added aspect of supernatural dream sharing and serendipity, something I hope to layer into my future novels. NECESSARY DETOUR is romantic suspense after my editor worked her magic on it to make the romance more important for the Wild Rose Press Crimson Rose suspense line.
I took a stab at contemporary romance this year with the pen name Kiki Abbott, writing a type of fan fiction, about the TV show THE BACHELOR. Because Romance sells the best, I figured it couldn’t hurt to take a stab at romance and I have to say it was super fun! I also wrote a novella for an anthology available on Amazon with 3 other authors, titled Sweet Summertime Romance.

2. You were once photographed with Sylvester Stallone. Is there something about you that we need to know?

Ha! I sang with the Maui Philharmonic Swing Band for years and in 1994 we were working a “Hollywood Party’ on New Years Eve on Maui and the host was  film producer, Shep Gordon. Loads of celebrities showed up every year and that year Frank Stallone, the writer of the song Eye of the Tiger, from Rocky, was in the house. I asked him to sing with me on stage and he declined. When his brother Sly arrived with his posse of followers, I spoke to him on a set break. He let my friend take a pic of him with me if I did not sell the picture to a magazine. Having just finished a film in Florida with Sharon Stone, he talked about how hard he worked out to look good on film. He's much shorter than you'd think and very easy to talk to. In my singing career, I met a lot of celebrities, including Maya Angelou. I spent about a half hour talking to her backstage. My band opened for her keynote speech to a convention group. Unreal!

3. What is your ultimate dream as a writer if you could map the course of your writer’s career?

 I LOVE THIS QUESTION! I’d like to be as famous as Janet Evanovich, write like Elin HIlderbrand and rub elbows with Jodi Piccoult at writer conventions. I hope to be traditionally published in 2014, have film options that same year and be able to write full time with a gorgeous office and the respect of my husband who does not support my career choice at this point.

4. What is the best novel you have read recently and the one that disappointed you the most, and why?

I read a lot! A book a week. I have read and loved so many books in the last few months. The Secrets of Married Women was gorgeous,Looking for La La was hilarious, The Rules of Dreaming was cerebral, ROOM was haunting, The Girl From Long Guyland was like a blast from the past, Summerland was perfect, and the book that disappointed me the most was a N Y Times Best Seller and not as good as I would’ve liked. Sorry author! I also feel okay saying I did not like Safe Haven as much as most people. Straight romance is often disappointing to me. At this point in my life I like Women’s Fiction. If it has a romance…BINGO. Or a mystery to solve!

5. Describe your writing process – to plot or not to plot, before you begin?

Plotter or Pantser?  I plot a fair bit, write, and see where it takes me so you might say I’m a plotser or a pantter. I like to know where I’m going, what the conflict is and who the main characters are before I start. With Dream Jumper, the big surprise ending (the twist) was added just before I published, as an afterthought. Am I ever glad I did that! Read my reviews to see how important the surprise ending is.

6. Since you first started writing, up until now, how would you say you have grown as a writer?

As a writer, I’ve grown by about 7 pounds. But then, I also had my 50th birthday in the last few years. I'm in that stage of life where I 'm trying to embrace my new curves. Kidding aside, I'm now working on the first book I ever wrote because I love the story so much. I have grown as an author a lot in nine years, thank goodness. My writing is stronger, cleaner and has more cut to the quick in it. Phew! 

7. How do you come up with a book idea?

The question should be ‘how do you deny all the ideas you have for books?’ I’m inundated with ideas, shooting at me all day long.

8. How secure are you as a writer (given that creative people are thought to be quite insecure about their art)? If you had a great book idea and 5 of your writer friends shot it down, would you write it anyway?

 I am overly secure as a writer. The first book I wrote, there was no question that it would be a household word. I had a business suit pressed and ready for the big agent meeting. This is why I teach the course Channeling Your Inner Rock Star, a workshop on public speaking. There is no doubt in my mind that I’ll be successful as a writer. It’s just a matter of when. I suppose it’s better than being shy but being overly confident has its drawbacks too. Keep in mind that I used to make my living as an actress. I had a youtube channel called Dr. Venus, offering love advice as a foreign 'doctor' of love.
That said, if 5 writer friends shot it down, I'd listen. I still feel like a baby in this industry and my writer friends would not shoot something down they didn't feel was all wrong. I'm thinking here of my critique group and their advice is golden.

9. Without giving away any plot, what is your favorite scene in a book you’ve written?

  I love the scene in The Dream Jumper’s Promise where the main character, Tina, walks the beach with an old boyfriend who’s come to Maui and finds her in a terrible state. Her husband has gone missing and is presumed dead but she can't accept his death without a body. Her dreams of him are driving her nuts. The old boyfriend, Jamey, feels he must reveal that he can enter dreams. And with this strange and unbelievable ability he offers to visit her dreams to help her determine her husband’s whereabouts. They have quite a history together and after an argument, he kisses her. Writing a book where there is a missing husband, an old boyfriend and a confused woman had to be handled very carefully but I'm told it works.

11. Tell me about Beach Read Authors. What can readers hope to find there?

  Beach Read Authors is a blog group I formed with several up and coming novelists who write gorgeous, compelling books that can be savored to read on vacation. We have blog posts, contests and cross promote each other’s work. If you find yourself at our site, you can discover over twenty-five different books of all genres by nine different authors who write like their life depends on it. Love this group!Beach Read Authors

10. If you were forbidden from writing novels, what would you do that might come close to satisfying you?

 Writing short stories and stringing them all together. Or painting, drawing, some form of art. I once won an award in the American Songwriting Competition but that's a hard life, writing songs. I feel like music is behind me now.

Thanks Carol for the fun questions. As someone who used to practice being interviewed by Johnny Carson in the mirror as a child, I was tickled to answer your questions!