Author: K.L. Gilchrist

Part of the Story

Photo by Zurem Meru on Unsplash

Me and Kevin Hart

Comedian Kevin Hart and I have a lot in common.

We share a deep love for Philly.

We were both raised by single mothers.

We share the same height 🙂 .

But it wasn’t until I read his recent memoir that I related to the successful comedian as a fellow artist.

In his book, I Can’t Make This Up, Kevin Hart writes about his experience auditioning for the NBC television show Saturday Night Live. His agent managed to snag him an audition with Lorne Michaels and crew in 2012. Kevin brought his best material. He presented. He shined. He joked. They passed.

Now, as we all know, Kevin went on to become one of the most well-known and recognized comics in recent years. He’s held the top spot as the most well paid comedian in America for two years running and shows no sign of slowing down. Was Kevin disappointed to have lost out on SNL? Absolutely. Did he let it stop him from working on his art? No way.

And while Saturday Night Live continues to be one of the most popular shows on NBC, they actually have quite a record of rejecting talented comedians. Steve Carell, Robert Townsend, John Goodman and Donald Glover were all rejected by SNL. Jim Carrey was actually rejected twice. Ouch!

For all of these people, rejection and disappointment is a piece of their history. If you are a comic, a writer, a painter, or a business owner, disappointment will be a part of your story as well.

Why is Disappointment a Part of the Story?

Because it is. It must be. Even my own publishing journey contains disappointment.

A few years ago I received an offer for a publishing deal. I’d sent out a query letter to a publisher along with a sample chapter. A month later I received an email and a phone call. The email surprised me. When I later heard a voice on the phone telling me a company wanted to publish my novel. I was over the moon. The representative told me congratulations and spoke with me about their editing team, contracts I’d receive, and how long it would take before the book was published and distributed.

Then the rep asked me to promptly send in my check for $4000 along with my signed contract to get the ball rolling. I declined. The company continued to contact me regularly until it shut down due to bad business practices.

I was disappointed. But I didn’t allow the experience to determine my outcome. All artists are taught to have a thick skin when it comes to rejection. We aren’t often taught how to handle career circumstances that just didn’t work out. But they happen.

A Setback is a Setup for a Comeback

Yes, I borrowed that title from Dr. Willie Jolley. It is true by the way. However, it’s only true when you rebound from the setback with a mindset of determination. If Kevin Hart had allowed the SNL rejection to stop him, he wouldn’t be the highest paid comedian (and we might have been spared Ride Along 2). But, he also wouldn’t have been able to list the experience in his book as a part of his unique journey.

My experience with a predator publishing company helps me when I speak to aspiring novelists and non-fiction writers. Women have contacted me through social media to tell me about their upcoming book and new deal and the first thing I do is tell them to check the web about the companies business practices. In at least one case I know of, someone avoided writing a large check to a publisher.

Your experiences contain value. Disappointments matter, but they can never determine the future because you are writing your own story every single day. And unless you didn’t wake up this morning, your story is not over yet. Keep going. Work on your talent. Push forward. Let your setback launch you forward to your comeback.

Lifehacks for Writers – Tools for Productivity

Some years ago I set forth on a journey to write the Great American Novel. After all, I loved to write. I loved to read! I loved to read great writing! I wanted to move beyond corporate writing and see my name on a cover for a change. All I needed was a story premise, time, and a reliable computer. That’s all any writer needs. Right?

I found out the hard way…if I wanted to complete my life’s work I needed to be serious about it. That meant employing more than a computer equipped with Microsoft Word. Novel writing, script writing, non-fiction, even regular blog posts, require organization, concentration, and technique. You can learn technique from books, conferences, seminars, blogs and so on. But enabling yourself to get organized, focus, stay on track and do the work? That, my friend, is a little harder. But never fear fellow writer, your friendly Documentation Diva is on the case! Peek into my toolkit and see what goodies can help you to produce your life’s writing work.

Tool For Making Time to Write: iPhone Calendar

You’ll never write anything if you don’t schedule time blocks when you are only creating. During a writing block, I don’t dawdle, I don’t doodle, I write. To keep myself on track, I enter a daily time block in my iPhone. I include an alert in it. It dings 15 minutes before the block to tell me, “Get your butt in the chair and write…now!” I’m sure Android has an equivalent calendar but I don’t know what it is because I’m an Apple disciple not fluent in Droid. 🙂

Tool For Concentration: Focus@Will

I tell people about this service so much you’d think they paid me to squawk about it. Focus@Will is a music service (think Pandora or Spotify). But, it is no ordinary music service. This music helps you concentrate. How can I describe it? You know what? I won’t. Here’s a quote from their site:
Focus@Will’s has a unique library of instrumental music that you won’t find anywhere else. Every track has been remixed, re-edited and scientifically remastered specifically for focus enhancement. We’re soothing your fight or flight mechanism, engaging your brain’s limbic system, to increase your attention span and general concentration.

Engaged ya’ll! Focused ya’ll! This service is worth it’s weight in gold, but will only cost you a small monthly fee. I know what you are thinking. Special music just for work? No, seriously, try it for free for 15 days and you’ll get hooked. For writers who have a hard time disengaging from kids, distractions, and life in general, it’s a godsend.

Tool For Staying In My Chair: The Pomodoro Technique

You can read all about Pomodoro here. I’ll break it down into a few simple doable steps. Get a timer (any kind will do, even a kitchen timer, or an online timer). Sit down in your writing area. Make sure your writing tools are available (laptop or iPad or pen/notebook or green crayon and cocktail napkin). Set the timer for a 25 minute interval. Start the timer. Write. Keep writing until the timer goes off. After a writing interval, either stop for the day or stretch and set up another interval. I guarantee you can write ANYTHING this way, and by the end of the week you will have made decent progress.

Tool For Organizing Long Writing Projects: Scrivener

Scrivener is a latecomer to my toolkit. I used to write everything in OpenOffice on Mac (because Microsoft is the devil). Saving multiple drafts of everything, I would create folders on top of folders. Yikes! Then, I wrote my shorter blog pieces and eBook content using Evernote (another great tool). When I discovered Scrivener it made me fall back in love with creative writing. Scrivener includes templates for every type of output you can imagine (novels, ebooks, non-fiction). But where it really helps a writer is with organization. Scrivener organizes your characters, plot, summaries, notes, chapters, and research. It even stores images. The first time I wrote a character sketch then included a thumbnail picture of what the character looked like, I started to see my story as a budding drama waiting to unfold. When you can see it, you can achieve it.

Tool For Website and Blogging…What else: WordPress

If  you are new to the blogging and web design, WordPress is the way to go. Yes, this is my opinion. No, you do not have to take it. But, I still recommend WordPress for three main reasons. One, they have awesome free templates with crisp, clean design. Two, it’s relatively easy to use and you want to spend your time blogging, not fiddling around with web widgets. Three, did I mention, its free?

So, ladies and gentlemen, these are my main tools to help me git’er done. Do you have a tool you use for productivity? Post it here in comments! Thanks!

Straight Outta My Trunk

Straight Outta My Trunk
Copyright 2017 DZonny Photography

I didn’t want to do it.

I swore up and down I wouldn’t do it.

I told my family I wouldn’t do it.

I LIED.

Yes, I sold my books straight out of the trunk of my car.

Following wisdom from others

And I’m grateful! Here’s why. On my day-to-day, I’d hand out promotional postcards for the novel. And the women that I’d meet would ask me, “Do you have any on you right now?” And of course, I didn’t. Then they would tell me, “well you know, you need to keep copies in your car.”

So I piled a bunch of books in my trunk and in my husband’s SUV. One month later and we are both SOLD OUT. Praise God! And thank you to all the women who bought an autographed copy of Broken Together and didn’t mind shaking the car dust on the cover (wink).

Lessons learned

Through selling out of my trunk, I’ve learned something on this journey of mine…

First…when you’re selling any type of art, don’t assume everyone will be happy purchasing their copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Some customers will want to make the exchange right then and there, and in the case of books, are very happy to get your autograph.

Second…I learned I’m in good company. Authors Kimberla Lawson Roby (Sin No More), E. Lynn Harris (And This Too Shall Pass), Andy Andrews (The Traveler’s Gift), and James Redfield (The Celestine Prophecy)…all have one thing in common with me (yes, me). They all sold printed copies of their novels themselves.

Third…have faith in your ability to sell on your own. I’m fresh out of “car trunk copies” and have to order more because I don’t have them on hand. This time I’ll have copies of the book with stickers on the front that say “Signed by Author”.

Lesson shared…be prepared

But the moral of this story is, be prepared as an author. Have copies of your book in your car. Keep a nice pen to sign them with. Carry bookmarks showing your website name. Purchase candies or pens to give away when people ask about your book.

Believe in yourself. And for my fellow faith writers, trust that God often provides exceedingly and abundantly more than you can ever imagine.

Want to fund your publishing dream? Rob a liquor store.

Get Money
Photo by Vitaly on Unsplash

Want to fund your publishing dream? Rob a liquor store.

I was just kidding. Please don’t do that to fund your publishing dream. You will go to jail.

But in the movie, Get On Up, there’s a scene where James Brown talks one-on-one with Little Richard at a hamburger stand. Little Richard is on break from his job…flipping burgers. The two discuss their dreams for music stardom, then Little Richard levels with James Brown about what he needs to do. Richard tells James where to go to get some records made up he can distribute. They will cost $100. Richard asks James if he has $100. James says no. Richard tells him to rob a liquor store.

That scene hit home for me, and if you want to publish a book, it should say something to you too. If you’ve got a dream, you find out how much it costs, then go get the money.

What about crowdfunding?

This post is all about funding your book publishing dream. I’m going to keep this brief and to the point. First, you will need money to create a professional looking product. And when you mention that you need money to publish your book, I guarantee you there will be at least one person in your life who mentions using an online platform to crowdfund your book. Ignore that person. I’m against crowd funding a book for one reason. It’s your dream. Not random folk on the Internet. Yours.

You may have the greatest idea in the world, but that doesn’t mean you are entitled to siphon cash from other people’s pockets to gain an audience to read your stuff. Especially now. With platforms like Wattpad, Smashwords, Pronoun, Kindle Direct Publishing, free blogs on WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and who knows what else will be available after I publish this blog post, there’s no point.

Want to get your words out there? For goodness sake, just get them out there.

No crowdfunding? What are my other options?

Short and sweet…this is where you get your publishing funds:

  • Your day job. Whatever you do from day to day to make your paper, the day you start writing, start setting aside a percentage of your cash each payday and transfer it to a separate bank account to pay for your publishing team. If you can’t set aside funds from your day job, or you don’t have a day job, or a night job. OR…
  • Contract. What can you do that people will pay for that is NOT against the law or sinful (I’m a faith writer, gotta put that in there). Do that and set aside those monies to fund your publishing.  OR, lastly….
  • Flip It. What books/paraphernalia/appliances/clothing/shoes or other junk do you have in your house or apartment right now that you aren’t using. SELL THAT STUFF. That George Foreman grill? Put it on eBay. A book you never used to study for the LSAT? Sell it on Amazon. The ring your fiance’ proposed with, but then he ran off to another country? Get it appraised and sell it. Jewelry you and your niece created from seashells last summer? Market it on Etsy. Now connect all those seller accounts to your a new bank account you set up for your extra funds and every time something sells, the money automatically funds you. Bonus points for you if you have the time to let the funds marinate in a high yield savings account.

That’s it! Now you know what to do. Start hustling…

How I Married the Wrong Person

I Married the Wrong Person

I’ve been married for nearly 20 years. Twenty years. Seems like a long time.

About This American Life

I listen to a wonderful radio show called This American Life produced by WBEZ. These are the same folks responsible for the wildly popular show, Serial. (Side Note: Please don’t sleep on This American Life, its one of the best programs out there.)

Choosing Wrong

Anyway, they produced an episode called Choosing Wrong. It’s all about people who make the wrong choices. The episode is full of human examples of selecting the wrong thing, from Wilt Chamberlain opting not to shoot underhanded even though doing so was his best method for hitting his free throws, to a dude who regrets his vote for Brexit, to a chilling nine minute segment with Alain De Botton about how you, me, and anyone married…all of us are married to the wrong person.

I listened to the marriage segment three times in a row. To say it was eye-opening is an understatement. The chilling part is, all things considered, Botton is right. I chose the wrong partner (follow me for a bit before you think you need to counsel me about the perils of divorce). The reasons for marriage are complex. Certainly we marry because we love the other person. But the one thing Botton surmises about our defective spousal choices is our lack of knowing very much about ourselves.

What Did I Know?

Me? I married in my early twenties with no clear idea of what I wanted for a career. More of a reactor than an instigator, I struggled with being proactive in all areas of my life. I did not possess respect for my skills as a writer (I wrote in the closet, publishing romance stories that did not have my name on them). Being sensitive? I hated that too.  Also, I didn’t have a lot of requirements for my husband at that time, other than he be a fellow Christian, a hard worker (like my dad), that he be kind (since I’d dated my fair share of selfish idiots), and he should be health-minded with nice teeth (another throwback to my dad). And he would have to love reading because a writer cannot be married to a guy who hasn’t read a full book since high school.

But that was it. I had my list of things I was seeking in a partner, but there was so much about my OWN personality I missed back then. Did I know I was an incurable introvert? Nope. That I would develop an unquenchable thirst for line dance, bop and cha-cha? No. Did I realize I hate clutter and will do anything to avoid it to the point where even Tony Shaloub from the TV show Monk would shake his head at me? That I have no patience? That I listen to way too much hip-hop and not enough contemporary Christian music. And on, and on, and on. I understood none of that nor how all those personality quirks would affect my marriage through the years.

An Imperfect Partner

I can’t explain the whole concept of how our disillusionment with marriage begins with ourselves, but we tend to blame it on our partners. And bit by bit, day by day, we look at our partners and they look like less of what works for us and more of what we don’t like. We see them under the microscope, up close and personal in a way the rest of the world doesn’t see. We can easily pick at anything under that level of scrutiny. And we do. We know our marriages aren’t perfect. Our partners aren’t the best people in the world. The wisest of us accept that. We also stomach the fact that on the other side of the mirror is a fiercely imperfect person in a committed relationship that appears one way in Facebook and Instagram pics, and another way entirely in the cocoon we call our homes.

The main characters in Broken Together are imperfect.

Because people are imperfect.

Because marriage IS imperfect.

Mine.

Yours.

Err’bodys.