The man-friend and I went to the Amazon Books store last weekend, and [disclaimer on always loving indies best] it’s pretty cool. It’s like walking into your computer, with shelf talkers that show star ratings and top comments. And! They had the Amazon Echo on display, which is a weird Siri-like thing that sits on your table/counter/desk and helps you with stuff. And by “helps you with stuff,” I mean it can play Pandora. Turn off your lights. Order you some milk. Tell you the weather. Explain the meaning of life. (Maybe not that last one.)
Let me just say that I wouldn’t claim to be particularly tech-forward, normally. But since I met Ms. Echo, I’ve been obsessed. Maybe it’s my tiny, inner geek coming out. Maybe it’s that it takes too long to make my TV start Pandora. Maybe it’s the idea of having someone to boss around who will actually listen. For whatever reason, I find that this holiday season, I’m in love with a girl.
And her name is Alexa.
Here are her official features from Amazon:
Plays all your music from Prime Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and more using just your voice
Fills the room with immersive, 360º omni-directional audio
Allows hands-free convenience with voice-control
Hears you from across the room with far-field voice recognition, even while music is playing
Answers questions, reads audiobooks and the news, reports traffic and weather, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules, and more with Alexa, a cloud-based voice service
Controls lights and switches with compatible WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, and other connected devices
Always getting smarter and adding new features and skills–over 95 added since launch
All I have to say is that I’m glad my birthday is in January. Just in case Santa doesn’t get the memo.
The people who live in my house will tell you that I have an unfortunate thing for throw pillows. If you or a book lover in your life also enjoys a square bundle of squish and whimsy, here are five decorative pillow options perfect for resting while reading.
Now is the time when I express myself in t-shirt.
My daughters are seven now, and I’ve noticed that the universe of kiddos nearby sometimes uses the word “weird” in a negative way. You know that way, right? When the word is accompanied by a scrunched nose. A mocking tone. Frowny lips.
I like to tell my daughters that everyone is weird in their own special way. To embrace the weird. That un-weird is boring. After the four billionth time of repeating myself, I got to wondering: In what ways am I weird? Let me tell you, the list is long. But here are five randomly-selected ways I’m weird.
- The single most important factor in my decision whether or not to purchase a keyboard is the sound it makes when my fingers hit the keys.
- I’m proudly from a state with only two escalators. (Also, I’m afraid of escalators.)
- I smell every clean cup, mug or glass prior to use. Often, I will reject these receptacles until an appropriate-smelling one can be found.
- I laugh inappropriately when people get startled. I’ve been known to write a scene in which a character is startled just to make myself laugh.
- I never sleep with my limbs hanging off a bed because I think ghosts will touch me in my sleep. Because one did once. Or maybe it was a dream. Or…I guess it could have been one of my weird daughters.
How are you weird?
Frustrating is too small a word for the feeling of being stuck, creatively. You’re happily writing along and then suddenly all of the words are missing from your brain. You’ve forgotten where your story was heading. Where you were heading. And who put that semicolon there?
I don’t presume to have the keys to some mysterious world where prose flows like hot lava, but here are three tips that often work for me.
- Hug a tree. Not literally, unless you’re into that kind of thing, but going for a walk, particularly in nature, can release the creativity kraken.
- Massage your melon. I like to think of this as actually dislodging the blockage in your creativity cortex (which I’m pretty sure is not a thing), but head massages can help. Recruit a nice friend, or go pay your favorite hair salon to give you a massage-shampoo situation. Take a shower with a particularly strong stream. Or, in a pinch, just hang upside down a while. I didn’t go to medical school, but I’m pretty sure that increased blood flow to your noodle is a good thing. Noodle being the technical term, of course.
- Write something else. But, Cat, I want to finish this story/book/poem/tweet! Yes, I know, it’s the one you want, but is it the one you need right now? The best advice I’ve ever been given is, when really stuck, focus elsewhere. If you tell your piece you want to go on a break – It’s not you, it’s me. – she’ll look prettier when you return.
- Think of the worst idea, and do the opposite. I love this advice from a friend. When you think of the silliest/most ridiculous/downright worst idea for your next move, then think of the opposite (aka potentially better idea), you can strike gold. Or hot lava.
Check out my Just Say No To Writer’s Block board on Pinterest.
What tips do you have for getting over writer’s block?
My Amazon exclusive is coming to an end and soon COURT will be available for all e-readers. This final weekend, which just so happens to be my birthday weekend, I’m giving away COURT on Kindle for FREE! Happy my birthday to you!
If you’re inclined, I’d love an Amazon review after you read it. The more reviews a book has, the more eyeballs see it on Amazon.
Wow. Look at me: blogging for the first time since July. I’m going to breeze over the fact that I’m a disastrous blogger to announce that today — THIS VERY DAY! — my latest book, Court, is available in e-book form on Amazon!
Here’s the deal with Court.
I started my whole mental-outlining thing for this book about…[checking files…computing]…two+ years ago. I wanted to:
- Write something set in my home state of Wyoming.
- Tell a story from multiple perspectives.
- Write about a guy (or several).
- Write something different. For me. Maybe for everyone.
Court was born.
But let me tell you the thing about passion projects that are very much unlike your other books to date. Sometimes those projects are hard to market. Sometimes your editor doesn’t want to publish them.
Sometimes you publish them yourself.
Here’s what Court is about:
For more than 300 years, a secret monarchy has survived and thrived within the borders of the US, hiding in plain sight as the state known as Wyoming. But when the king is shot and his seventeen-year-old son, Haakon McHale, is told he will take the throne, becoming the eleventh ruler of the Kingdom of Eurus, the community that’s survived for centuries is pushed to the limit. Told through four perspectives, Court transplants us to a world that looks like ours, but isn’t. Gwendolyn Rose, daughter of the Duke of Coal, is grudgingly betrothed to Haakon — and just wants a way out. Alexander Oxendine, son of the Duke of Wind and Haakon’s lifelong best friend, already grapples with internal struggles when he’s assigned to guard Haakon after the king dies. And commoner Mary Doyle finds whispers in the woods that may solve — or destroy — everything, depending on your bloodline.
I’d really love it if you all check out Court. It’s about the price of a fancy latte, but it lasts longer. And, if you do read Court, don’t forget to review it on Amazon. Hope you enjoy it!
In this week’s edition of Fake Book Mad Libs, I get really sad about a tiny horse.
Author: Kasie West
Real Book: The recently-released Split Second, the sequel to Pivot Point
Fake Book: Mustache Yogurt
Pitch Perfect meets Spongebob Squarepants, Kasie West’s latest book, MUSTACHE YOGURT, is a glowing look at a blistering unicycle rider in pursuit of her mom’s motorcycle. But when her path intersects with a tiny horse–literally–she finally understands the complex phrase: “Kicked the bucket.”