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    Katie Ganshert
    Cliffhangers, Trilogies, and Money … Oh My!

    IMG_3712Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Voxer.

    It’s basically the best app known to man. At least, it’s the best app known to anybody who starts to twitch whenever the phone rings, but also isn’t the biggest fan of texting.

    Essentially, it’s a walkie-talkie app. Only you don’t have to talk live.

    For all you nay-sayers out there wondering, “Why don’t you just leave a voice message?” or “How is that different than that text-talking feature?” Trust me. On Voxer, you NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT SOMEBODY ANSWERING THE PHONE.

    It’s basically a guarantee that you will always get their voicemail. Even better? You don’t have to waste time while the phone rings and the outgoing message plays. And you also don’t have to waste time calling your voicemail to check messages. AND! You can talk live if you want, walkie-talkie style, without the stress of hooligan children screaming like banshees because they have a hooligan-banshee radar that starts going off whenever mom puts the phone to her ear. With Voxer, I can totally give them the glare of death and THEN play the next message without being distracted by their general banshee-ness.

    If you’re still skeptical, that’s okay. This post isn’t about Voxer.

    It’s about how I use Voxer to stay in touch with friends. Especially friends who don’t live nearby, many of whom are fellow writers.

    And sometimes, we writers talk shop and sometimes, talking shop involves deep and meaningful discussions about readerly reactions to our work.

    One author and I have talked quite a bit about a certain reaction we both get when it comes to our young adult fiction. Both of us have trilogies. And for the most part, our readers thoroughly enjoy them.

    But like any work of fiction, there are also readers who don’t.

    Almost always, when our books get a heated review, it’s to do with cliffhangers.

    And often, those heated reviews come with two common accusations.

    Namely, that the book in question isn’t a complete story.

    And closely following, this idea that we are money-hungry authors out to make a quick buck.

    To this accusation, my friend and I try very hard not to laugh. Something other authors will more than likely understand.

    Let’s just say, there aren’t very many of us who are rolling in the dough. By and large, most of us authors are average folk trying to pay the bills doing what we love.

    With that said, I thought I might add a wee bit o’ perspective:

    The book in question (The Gifting) is currently free.

    That means it costs zero cents for a reader to download and enjoy (or not enjoy. It’s all subjective, man.) Zero cost. This book I worked on for months and months costs nada.

    Now, this is book 1 in a trilogy. The Gifting Series contains three books in all.

    So let’s move on to book 2, also a book I worked on for months and months.

    This book is sold at $4.99, a price cheaper than the average fast-food meal, which is consumed, on average, in less than 15 minutes. (I don’t actually know if that’s true, as I made the average up. But it has to be close.)

    Last, but not least, we have book 3, another book I worked on for months and months AND MONTHS, because wrapping up a trilogy in a satisfying way is no joke, people. No joke.

    This book is also sold at $4.99.

    Altogether, you can get the entire trilogy for just under $10.

    It’s a trilogy that has provided thousands upon thousands of readers hours upon hours of entertainment, a fact that delights me to no end. There is nothing more encouraging to an author than hearing from readers who enjoy the work we pour so much of our time, energy, and hearts into, and I have been immensely blessed to hear from such readers.

    All this to say:

    If a reader isn’t a fan, or doesn’t agree with how this book (or any book) was written, that is TOTALLY copacetic. I get it. Such is the subjective nature of literature. Thankfully, there are a plethora of books and authors to choose from and surely one will strike their fancy.

    But for the sake of fairness, I don’t think we can accurately accuse an author of wanting to make a quick buck. There is nothing quick about writing a full-length novel. There is especially nothing quick about writing a complete trilogy. And there is nothing money-hungry about selling months and month and months and months and months of hard work (260,000+ words) for $10.

    I mean, we spend that much money on a movie theater ticket, and that’s only two hours of entertainment. Don’t even get me started on the price of popcorn. (Yet, I can never resist buying it, which makes me part of the problem.)

    Now, onto the other part.

    The cliffhanger part. And the assumption that if a book ends in one, it isn’t a full book.

    When the idea for this story came to me, it came as a complete package.

    An overarching story (like most trilogies tend to be). I knew where Tess was going to begin, and I  knew where the entire thing was going to end and I also knew that it was going to be BIG.

    I promise there was nothing sneaky or manipulative about my intentions. I simply couldn’t put out a 260,000+ word novel. Not only would the length scare the majority of my target audience away, the price point would have to be adjusted accordingly, and that would scare people away, too. And thus, my story would languish in sad, sad obscurity.

    While I’m not money-hungry, I am one of those bizarre authors who actually wants readers to read my work. It’s why I write, after all.

    The solution?

    I found a way to split that overarching story into three separate stories that address three distinct story questions.

    The Gifting (book 1) is, in fact, a complete book. The story question in book 1 (Is Tess crazy?) is completely resolved by the end.

    Then we have a widening, where the story world grows larger. Readers are enticed to read book 2, which begins a new story question and a new story adventure that is resolved in book 2, followed by another widening, an enticement, and a third story question that is resolved in book 3.

    I didn’t do it to be tricky or manipulative. I did it because I had a story to tell and this was the best way to tell it.

    If you’d like to try it out at no cost to yourself, The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert (that’s moi) can be downloaded at any of the major online book retailers (follow the link to download from your favorite one). If you don’t want to spend money on book 2, that’s all bueno. Rest assured, you will know whether or not Tess is crazy by the end.

    Interestingly enough, book 2 ends on a higher note of suspense than book 1 (similar to how Catching Fire ends on a higher note of suspense than The Hunger Games, and Insurgent ends on a higher note of suspense than Divergent.) What’s interesting about this, to me, is that The Awakening doesn’t receive the heated reviews (in this respect) that The Gifting does. I have theories on this, of course, but these theories are too big in scope for this particular post.

    Perhaps I’ll save that for another day.

    Have thoughts? Please chime in. I love reading comments. You don’t even have to agree with me. Just please be courteous!

    Katie
    Comment Link 14 Comments

    I Disagree With You So I Must Hate You

    disagreement(Wherein, I use the word penis and vagina. Sorry if this makes you uncomfortable.)

    Please hear me. I’m not writing this post to force my opinion or get into a debate about transgender issues.

    That’s not what this is about.

    The whole transgender/bathroom thing is simply—if I may be cliché—the proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back.

    The straw came in the form of an article.

    I must confess, I haven’t actually read the article.

    So I guess it’s not the article itself that had my camel-back breaking.

    It was the article’s title:

    Stop Using Your Children as an Excuse to be Hateful.

    I saw it pop up on Facebook and I just about had enough.

    Which is really too bad, because who knows? Maybe this article is the most well-written, profound thing ever to be published on the internet.

    I don’t know.

    Nor do I care to know.

    Because the second I saw that word—hateful—was the second I wanted nothing to do with it.

    And that, my friends, is the point of this blog post.

    The second we start pointing fingers and calling someone hateful because they stated an opinion contrary to our own is the second we lose all opportunity for civilized, constructive discourse.

    It’s the second we perpetuate the “us” verses “them” mentality and toss any chance at understanding right out the window.

    The people I have talked to who are concerned about this transgender bathroom thing aren’t hateful people.

    They don’t walk around calling transgender people pedophiles or perverts. They don’t even walk around thinking transgender people are pedophiles or perverts.

    They are simply concerned that once a person with a penis is allowed to go into the woman’s restroom, we’ve removed all recourse for actual pedophiles and perverts.

    Call me crazy, but I think that’s a legitimate concern.

    Call me crazy, but please don’t call me hateful.

    It’s a word I’m really, really, REALLY starting to hate.

    Especially when it’s used to describe a person with an unpopular opinion—a person who isn’t actually being hateful, but simply disagreeing with whatever popular culture deems “loving” or “right” at the moment.

    It’s like Trump’s name-calling tactics whenever anybody disagrees with him.

    Please hear me. I’m aware.

    I’m aware that sometimes, people are hateful.

    But can we please just call a spade and spade?

    Hate is hate.

    Disagreement is disagreement.

    Yes, disagreement can lead to hate.

    We’ve all seen it happen a thousand times over on Facebook.

    So allow me to get this out of the way:

    Broken Person who doesn’t like the way society is headed and goes on to call transgender people perverts and sentences them to hell on social media? Just stop. Please.

    Especially if you associate yourself with Jesus.

    That’s not how He operated.

    When the crowd wanted to stone the prostitute, Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” And then He waited–He waited until every single person in that crowd was gone–before He called that woman up and out of sin. He did it privately. He did it in love. He did it with the intension of healing.

    The only people Jesus called out publicly were the religious leaders of the time.

    So please, for the sake of Jesus, stop.

    But this thing goes both ways.

    Broken Person who is fired up about transgender equality and goes on to call every person who holds a conviction different from yours a hateful bigot?

    How does this make you any better than the person you’re pointing a finger at?

    I’m going to take a minute and do something that might not be smart.

    I’m going to express my contrary-to-popular-opinion opinion.

    Maybe in doing so, I will alienate some readers. Authors are supposed to avoid talking about such things on a public forum, after all. But sometimes, my thoughts and opinions get so heavy, I’m compelled to share them.

    This is one of those times.

    So here it is, my unpopular opinion:

    I think that a person born with a penis is a male, and a person born with a vagina is a female.

    It’s not the same as skin color. This is not the same as the civil rights movement.

    God made the human race in all different glorious shades, from dark-as-night to whiter-than-white and everything else in between.

    It’s beautiful and wonderful and it couldn’t be any clearer that we are the ones—us broken human beings. We are the ones who decided to categorize skin color.

    As far as I can tell, God made two distinct types of anatomy.

    God made them both, male and female.

    But then Eve wanted to be like God, so she took the apple and she ate it and then she gave it to Adam and he ate it, and sin entered the world. And with sin, comes brokenness.

    Utter, absolute brokenness.

    All of us are walking around wounded, desperate to feel good and whole.

    Me.

    You.

    The man dressed like a woman who just walked into the woman’s bathroom.

    All of us are broken.

    All of us are human.

    All of us are trying to feel whole again.

    And while I’m on a roll, I might as well state another unpopular opinion.

    One that I believe with every single fiber of my being.

    The only solution, the only thing that is going to fix the brokenness and fill the emptiness inside any of us is the God-man Jesus Christ.

    Tolerance is not the answer.

    Jesus is the answer.

    These beliefs of mine shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, as I’m a self-professed Christian.

    I’ve made Christ my King.

    I’ve experienced—first-hand—His healing and His comfort and His provision and His joy and His goodness.

    So I don’t say this out of hate.

    I don’t say this out of intolerance.

    I don’t say this out of anger.

    I say this out of love.

    Absolute, overwhelming, desperate love for this giant, diverse, walking-around-wounded race called humanity.

    If you are transgender and you are reading this, please hear my heart.

    I don’t hate you.

    I would actually like to get to know you.

    I would love—absolutely love—to have you over for dinner. I would love to sit down and break bread together and get to know YOU. Not the label. Not whatever group you identify with. But you. Broken, complex, made-in-the-image-of-God YOU.

    I want to understand.

    I want you to share with me what it’s like to walk in your shoes.

    I want you to share your heart with me and I want to be able to share my heart with you.

    If you are someone bursting-at-the-seams passionate over transgender equality, absolutely appalled that I think penises mean maleness and vaginas mean femaleness and you are reading this, please hear my heart.

    I don’t hate you.

    I would actually like to get to know you.

    The same invitation holds true about my dinner table.

    I want you to share your heart with me and I want to be able to share my heart with you.

    In love.

    But how is that ever going to happen when disagreement has become synonymous with hate?

    Katie
    Comment Link 19 Comments

    Me Before You: One Reader’s Opinion

    me before you cover

    SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

    It’s 5:30 in the morning right now. On a Saturday. And thanks to the little dude in the next room who woke me up to inform me that he’d gotten sick all over his bed, I’m awake.

    I’m awake and I can’t fall back to sleep.

    I can’t fall back to sleep because I keep thinking about this book I finished listening to last night.

    Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

    I didn’t like it.

    I know. I know. I’m in the total minority. People LOVE this book. I mean, as I sit here right now there are 10,400+ reviews on Amazon and the average rating is 4.6 out of 5. I’m not super great at math or anything, but that’s a darn good score.

    I get it.

    Jojo Moyes is a brilliant writer.

    And the audio. Well, listening to a British accent for 13+ hours is definitely NOT torture. I love British accents. I’m slightly obsessed with British accents. I think I drove my meme-obsessed husband mad because while listening to this audio, I developed my own British accent, evidenced by this meme he texted me the other day.

    IMG_4447

    It’s going to take me some time for my inner dialogue to stop sounding like a plucky girl from London.

    I feel like I also must say that I read this book because I saw the movie trailer.

    After having watched Love, Rosie, I became a giant fan of Sam Claflin. He was absolutely charming in his role as Alex, and not too shabby as Finnick Odair, either.

    Anyway, I saw the preview and I thought, “Oh, this movie looks heartbreakingly wonderful!”

    I’m weird like that. I actually like sad stories.

    I’m okay with people dying at the end.

    This seemed right up my alley.

    I downloaded my copy from audible and stuck in my ear buds and began to listen to what I thought was going to be a romantic love story.

    And at first, I fell in love. I fell in love with taciturn, distant Will Trainer. I fell in love with the aimless but spirited Louisa Clark.

    I listened raptly as their relationship changed from antagonistic to agreeable.

    I smiled and cheered when Louisa began to break through Will’s barriers.

    And then it happened.

    The thing.

    The BIG BAD AWFUL THING, I’ll call it. (BBAT for short.)

    We learn why Louisa was hired.

    We learn that Will Trainer–who lives life in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic thanks to a motor accident–has plans to take his life via physician-assisted suicide (PAS) after having already tried and failed to take his life in a less dignified manner.

    We get a heart-wrenching glimpse into his mother’s perspective, who desperately doesn’t want her son to do it, but is at a loss for options.

    Louisa Clark is her last hope.

    This was the point where I started to get squirmy. This was the point where I started voxing two of my friends who had already read the book intensely passionate, angsty messages that basically went like this …

    “He’s not going to do it, is he?”

    “Surely, he’s not going to do that.”

    “Please tell me Will Trainer is NOT GOING TO DO THAT.”

    “Oh my gosh, if they fall in love and Will actually goes through with it, I will NOT BE ABLE TO DEAL.”

    Louisa Clark (or just plain Clark, as Will calls her) finds out about this plan and after a strong initial reaction, decides she’d going to stop him from doing the BBAT. Thus begins a string of adventures (some painful, some beautiful), all meant to convince Will that his life is worth living.

    Spoiler alert. Just in case you didn’t notice the blaring red one up above.

    It doesn’t work.

    Louisa and Will do fall in love. Louisa tells Will it was the best six months of her life. And Will, oddly enough, returns the sentiment. It was the best six months of his life, too. He admits that he could live a good life with her.

    But it’s not enough.

    And so, off he goes to Dignitas (a facility in Switzerland) and ends his life.

    Okay. Look.

    I get it.

    I get that this is beautifully written and makes a reader feel all the feels. I admit that the only reason I didn’t cry is because I’d purposely gone into shut-down mode for the sake of self-preservation and all that. I get that Jojo Moyes takes the reader deep into the mind of a man who goes through with a decision many of us don’t agree with, and she has this way of getting you to understand it. To sympathize with it. To break over it. To really see it.

    I get that in life, love isn’t always enough.

    But you guys.

    I still don’t like it.

    I really. Don’t. Like it.

    In fact, as soon as I reached the epilogue and Lou opens the letter Will wrote before the BBAT, I texted one of my friends, “I hate this book!”

    And I’m trying to figure out why.

    Why this intense visceral reaction of dislike?

    At first, I started thinking it was this agenda. Jojo was trying to romanticize euthanasia and I wasn’t going to swallow that pill. No, ma’am. Not me. I don’t like books with agendas.

    But I *think* (this particular opinion is still formulating) that was just my anger talking.

    I don’t think Jojo wrote the book to advocate for PAS anymore than my Gifting Series is an attempt to indoctrinate young minds with right-wing or left-wing ideology (it’s been accused of both). My political opinions pretty much start and stop with “Trump is repulsive”. At this point in time, I don’t have much else to say.

    I really think Moyes was just exploring the life of someone who chooses PAS.

    And really, if my beef is with the suicide, how then can I like Romeo and Juliet? I don’t mean to spoil anything here, but um, they both kill themselves.

    And here we come to it.

    The thing that really gets to me.

    Romeo kills himself because he cannot live without Juliet.

    He can’t live without her and she can’t live without him.

    They can’t bear to live without love.

    Will Trainer can’t bear to live, period. Even with love. He has it, but this love isn’t enough to keep him alive. Lou isn’t enough to keep him alive. Love isn’t enough.

    Look. I get it.

    That’s life.

    And in life, love doesn’t conquer all. Sometimes it just isn’t enough.

    I get it. I really do.

    But this isn’t life.

    This is story. And story is supposed to be BIGGER than life.

    I want story to be bigger than life.

    I especially want love stories to be bigger than life.

    I want love to win.

    I want love to conquer all.

    I want love to beat all the odds and change a stubborn man like Will Trainer. I want love to not just be enough, I want it to be MORE than enough. I want it to convince him that life is worth living.

    Color me romantic, it’s what I want.

    But it’s not what I got.

    Me Before You wasn’t bigger than life. It was just … life.

    Real, raw, broken life.

    Which is why I think so many people love it.

    And why, ultimately, I don’t.

    Because it was only part of what’s real.

    I think behind every great story is a deeper, bigger truth.

    Stories are never just stories.

    Jesus knew this. It’s why he used them to teach. He used them all the time. Being as He’s God and all, I think he’s got pretty good insight into the human psyche. Story speaks to a larger truth.

    There’s this giant narrative unfolding all around us. One that is true.

    And stories–the kind that I apparently prefer–reflect that deeper, bigger truth.

    The whole thing.

    Why does my heart long for LOVE to win?

    Because love ultimately did win.

    On a cross 2000+ years ago. Love won. Despite what everything popular in our world might say, love CAN and DOES change a person. Love CAN and DOES change lives. At least, the right kind of love. The perfect kind of love. Please hear me on this, lest I start spreading dangerous ideology. I’m not talking about the kind of love we can give at all. I’m talking about the life-giving love of a God-man who died a brutal death all for love.

    Why did my heart recoil at the ending of this book?

    Because that’s part of the big narrative, too. We’re a broken lot, walking around in a broken world. And sometimes we’re dealt crappy hands and we just .. we don’t know how to deal. We don’t want to deal. That’s life.

    But see.

    It’s only PART.

    There is so so SO much more.

    Something infinitely better than that particular end. Where a bloke decides to stop living because he doesn’t like the hand he’s been given.

    I guess I want the books I read to point to the more. And this one didn’t. At least, it didn’t for me.

    Tell me, what did YOU think?

    Let it be known, I love talking books. I love that we all come to stories with our own thoughts, beliefs, opinions, preferences, life experiences. So even though the story has the same words to everyone who reads it, it’s a totally unique experience to everyone who reads it. So please, chime in!

    Katie
    Comment Link 23 Comments

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