How a writer’s path to e-publishing became a hero’s journey.

Jan 21 2015 Published by under Gettin' Real

Pamela K Witte

Pamela K Witte

I published an ebook this week— Jet Lee: Dragon Warrior, a small, but heartfelt project that has me brimming with pride!

Click the pics for awesome Pamela k Witte links!

My career as a writer has been quite a journey, and looking at Jet Lee Dragon Warrior on today, I can’t help knowing that my journey has been that of a true hero. I’ve traveled down a writer’s road filled with potholes, bumps and curves and it has been the most phenomenal experience of my life.

When Jet Lee Dragon Warrior came to me on a sleepless night, thoughts and ideas whirled around my insomniac’s brain, demanding my attention until a plot took shape. Jet Lee and his sidekicks wouldn’t leave me alone. Their story was short and engaging and awesome. So, I challenged myself to write it in six weeks. My critique group promised to keep me honest. Forty-two days later I had the first draft of a book. It was a quick read, action packed, fast-paced, exciting, and it had heart. It would be a wonderful book for reluctant readers, kids who dread complicated plots and humungous words. Quite pleased with myself, I sent it off to an editor friend who said it would be difficult to market…

JetLVSRedEyesSo, poor Jet Lee Dragon Warrior sat on my hard drive.

A few years later, while working as an author advocate, I was struck by the amazing phenomena that had recently become self-publishing and e-publishing. The concept that had once been a sort of murky, ambiguous form of getting your words out was now plausible and popular. I thought of Jet Lee, stuck away in my computer, and felt a project brewing. Knowing that any project worth doing is worth doing right, I decided to approach e-publishing with an ALL IN attitude.

Throughout my writer’s journey, I’ve made every effort to do things well. I started with the study of writing and reading books. I took courses, joined associations, went to conferences, learned to blog, mixed, mingled, gained name recognition and turned into an avid author’s advocate. All of these things paid off when I decided to try publishing myself.

While poising myself to launch Jet Lee Dragon Warrior, I developed a fun website,, that reflects both me and Jet Lee. I challenged myself to design professional marketing materials. I conquered social media, built Facebook pages, learned the intricacies of tweeting, networked, and jumped at any opportunity to work on new projects that would help me with my own. I became so proficient with design and technology that I joined the Book Store Building Team at SCBWI and spent many long hours launching their beautiful online bookstore.

Along my path to e-publishing I found an exciting, affordable illustrator, learned how to format a manuscript, took advantage of every person willing to read and edit my words. Then finally, I sat back in my desk chair, took hold of my mouse and clicked my way onto When I found Jet Lee Dragon Warrior looking very real and legitimate, pride sizzled through every blood vessel and vein in my body. My heart thumped. My fingertips tingled. I knew I was my own hero and I smiled.

Jet Lee Final Cover

Children’s books are my passion. I’ve spent countless hours writing, reading and learning about the joys and pitfalls of writing a good kid’s book. My next goal is to have a beautiful, traditionally published hardbound copy of one of my adventures sitting in my office right beside my computer. E-publishing Jet Lee Dragon Warrior is just one proud step of my journey and it happily reminds me that I’m far from finished!

Jet Post Card-1

Jet Post Card-2


5 responses so far

Tech Yourself: 6 iPhone Apps That Will Put You In Your Story

Feb 27 2014 Published by under Tech Yourself


bat cat

Your suspicions are correct. The above picture has nothing to do with anything. I just like it.

iPhone apps for writers aren’t all markdowns and note-catchers. Today we’re looking at 6 apps to help authors broaden their thinking.



Say, you plan to write a story/novel about a kid lost in the wilderness, only your feet have never touched bare earth. Don’t let that stop you!

survival guide icon


Based on the Military Survival Guide, this app covers shelters, obtaining potable water, food, weapons, strategies pertinent to particular topographies, and the psychology of survival. Make sure you’ve covered all the bases in your novel. Useful in real life too.



outdoors america gps


Street, satellite and topographic maps let you plan the best setting for your story.





Scenario number two: Your main character hunts serial killers. Sure, it’s been done. But not like YOU’LL do it.

psychopedia iphone app icon


Look up mini-bios of serial killers by name, country, chronology or number of victims. With a mugshot. Also, large list of unsolved serial murders. Great for surveying MOs quickly.



micro-expression trainer iphone app icon


Want to tell if someone’s lying? Train to recognize those tiny facial clues that will let you know how the suspect really feels. Good for fine-tuning facial description. Gotta admit, I have always noticed micro-expressions on my own, before they were ever discovered as a thing. I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING.




You daintier writers out there might like to give your character a volunteer job at the zoo. Here’s how to get the feel of working around animals.

pocket penguins iphone app icon


One of the first apps I ever downloaded, so you know about my priorities. The California Academy of Sciences has three livecams on the penguin exhibit. Also, watch the biologist answer crowd questions during appointed times. I COULD WATCH THIS ALL DANGITY DAY.



pocket zoo with live animal cams iphone app icon


Currently there are 32 livecams on this sucker, but not gonna lie. They don’t all always work all the time. Nevertheless, pretty nifty when they do. Right now the app is tiger-heavy, but also hippopotami, manatee–right this very second there’s a diver in the tank–elephants, beaver, gorilla…and much, much more. Also a list of animals with static photos and a sound sample. OKAY IT’S JUST FUN, TOO.



I don’t publish app prices, as they are tremendously subject to change. But most of these apps are free. Look to the app store to help with setting, character description and other elements of your story that you can’t get from Wikipedia.

headdesk gif


8 responses so far

Firehouse Five: To Resist or Not Resist: Is It A Sense of So What or Stall?

Jan 16 2014 Published by under Firehouse Five

I&A is proud to feature monthly guest posts from the Firehouse Five!

Guest post by Victoria Dixon

What is the difference between that sometimes daily sense of resistance to writing and the intuitive sense of “So What?” If you’re a follower of Steven Pressfield, as I am, you’ll know how he goes on about resistance. It is a force – a personal antagonist – that lives to stop the creative process. If you’re alive, you’ve experienced resistance. It is my belief that resistance can sometimes be confused with a different, much healthier intuitive sense I call “So What?” I’ve had an active sense of “So What?” since college and I think it can be a telling, helpful thing.

Like anyone with a creative bone in their body (i.e. everyone) I’ve experienced the sensation of “I don’t wanna.” Most of the time, I open my document, find something that needs adding to, explanation of or what have you and I worm my why back into finding out what happens next to my characters. There have been times when this has proven impossible.

While writing the first draft of my last novel, I reached a point about 1/4 of the way in and realized there was something wrong. I’d write, rewrite and no matter how I broached that plot point, I came away thinking, “So what?” There was no power in what I’d written, it provided no forward momentum for the characters and gave the story no life. As the newbie writer I was, I didn’t know how to fix the problem and I became stuck on that segment for six months, trying to let my brain simmer on the issue.

If I had this to do over again, I wouldn’t let the issue “simmer” for so long, but in my defense, I never stopped writing. I switched gears and sometimes projects. I wrote short stories, worked on other sections of the novel and did a lot of research to try and work through my block. In the end, it’s important to know what worked was not the research, though that helped other parts of the book. What worked to end the block was the writing on other sections of the story. I used what Holly Lisle refers to as “Candy Bar” scene writing. I jumped to other exciting scenes in the book and ended up completing enough of the next section, I jumped over the problem area and kept going.

In hindsight, I believe I suffered from a combination of Resistance and So What? because I still had a problem on that same area of the novel during my second draft and that’s what I mean by “telling.” This wasn’t just a case of Pressfield’s resistance or stalling. This was my intuition telling me what my characters were doing was wrong. The issue was not my characters actions, per se, but me telling them what the plot said they had to do. They were stymied, unable to develop or act naturally.

This is when listening to intuition and not assuming it’s just resistance can be helpful. If I’d continued to jump that spot in the story or try and power through it and stick to my preset plot, my novel would still be schlock. When I listened to that block and what my characters were saying, they changed the book in huge, amazing ways. The novel went from dead drivel to a living, breathing tale. It is not published yet, but earlier drafts were nominated for awards and I’m not giving up.

There are a lot of writers out there, including Pressfield, who will tell you to sit down, shut up and do it and they’re absolutely right. You will never write a thing without putting your butt in the chair each and every day and writing. You know that by now. The question is what to do when that’s difficult.

This is more than just a question of discipline and powering through blocks. If what you’re hearing is just that brutal, cruel voice telling you nasty messages, that’s resistance. Keep writing and you’ll wrangle it into submission. However, if your sense of “So What?” or whatever you call it is telling you what you’ve done has no point, or is lifeless, listen to it. Consider what it’s telling you.

It might have some helpful suggestions.


Victoria Dixon
Victoria is an author of magical realism and historical novels. She has published short stories and poetry in online and paper journals and completed one novel. It is set in an alternative reality of Han Dynasty China, 208 A.D. Writing and researching that novel gave Victoria a love of literature with Asian settings and that’s where she plans to continue to write for the foreseeable future. Victoria works out of her home in flatter-than-a-pancake Kansas, U.S.A.

No responses yet

YA & MG authors say- It’sTime to Crash the Gate on Spooky! !

Oct 15 2013 Published by under Gate Crashers

Spooky Pam

“Surround yourself with people who know more than you and soak up knowledge like a sponge!” P.K. Witte 

Feeling Spooky? How do YA & MG authors go CREEPY?

It’s that time of year again. Goosebumps trickle down your spine, spider webs catch in your hair.  Rats go skittering across the floor, ghouls and dark forces lurk evilly in your dreams…. It’s so unnaturally wonderful to be spooked. Murder, mayhem, ghosts, creepy plots; these are the ingredients that brew up spooktacular reads. Especially when youthful minds turn to the changing of the seasons, crackling leaves, ghostly graveyards and all that goes bump in the night. Come October, readers start craving bone-chilling reads like vamps crave blood. But, writing the icky stuff can be daunting, even haunting.   So let’s see on how kidlit writers handle the creepy, gory, spine chilling stuff. Let’s hear from some spooky, paranormal, gritty, ghostly, goosebumpy writers…

Time to get into the Spooky Zone.

Don’t forget your nightlight. CandleClick the Pics for awesome links

Check out this trailer, it’s seriously scaaarrryyy…

The Flame In The MistKit Grindstaff

Kit Grindstaff

Setting is one part of building a spooky scene: breathing eerie life into the very surroundings. But however creepy an event is, description is dry without being fed through the character’s reactions; the visceral effect, their thoughts, and whatever action they take. How to find those reactions? As ever, memory and imagination is the writer’s best friend! To create the scenes in THE FLAME IN THE MIST where main character Jemma faces ghosts, ghouls and other ghastlies, I dredged up things that have made my own flesh crawl. A walk through a damp, spooky graveyard…A spider scuttling across my path…a dark night with howling winds….Anything that evoked in me the feeling I wanted to evoke in Jemma, and through her, the reader. Keeping the point of view close was key: seeing through her eyes puts us in her skin. So when, on the eve of her thirteenth birthday, Jemma hears the wind seeming to whisper, “Sweet thirteeeeen….“, hopefully the chills that crawl up her spine will also crawl up the reader’s – along with whatever their own memory banks bring to the spookfest – and propel them with her through the pages as she strives to overcome the darkness in her path.

Cynthia Leitich SmithFeral Nights Final Cynthia Leitich Smith

I love to put a modern spin on the classics–the quintessential monsters like ghosts, demons, shapeshifters, blood drinkers. Sometimes with humor, seldom with gore. If I have to close my eyes to type it, I know I’m on the right track. If I can’t keep myself up at night, I have no business trying to scare anyone else.  I brainstorm lists of monster traits and their modern metaphors and then ask, how can I make it all so much worse?

Taken by Antisdels studio, I own rights to this

The Key & The FlameClaire Mcaterer

There are two kinds of scary: loud scary and quiet scary. To me, quiet is much worse. Yes, it’s scary to get chased through a castle by someone wielding a sword, but at least the adrenaline has somewhere to go. Quiet scary is sneaking around, hoping you won’t be caught; getting up the courage to tiptoe past the snoozing prison guard; venturing down the dark, dark stairs. I try to work with all that coiled-up tension and tease it as long as I can until the tiniest mouse squeak makes you jump in your chair.

emma passTHE FEARLESSEmma Pass

My next book, THE FEARLESS (out 3rd April 2014 in the UK from Corgi/Random House and early 2015 in the US from Delacorte) is set in a near-future, post-apocalyptic UK. The main character, Cass, faces many challenges as she tries to rescue her little brother after he’s kidnapped by the Fearless, people who have been given a drug that turns them into crazed psychopaths. It’s a bleak, lawless world, and the Fearless aren’t the only people Cass needs to watch out for… The creepiest bits of the book are probably the settings – amongst others, a railway station haunted by a madman, a ruined city, a derelict shopping centre… I researched my settings by reading lots of books and blogs about abandoned buildings and places, in particular Hashima Island in Japan, which inspired Hope Island, where Cass and her brother live with a group of people who fled the UK mainland to escape the Fearless when they first invaded.  I love to scare myself silly, and writing certain scenes sent shivers down my spine as I imagined myself seeing them through my characters’ eyes.


Elle Cosimano9780803739260_NearlyGone_CAT.inddElle Cosimano

How do I get into the creepy, spine-tingling zone when I’m writing? I always approach the first draft of a new scene with a strong sense of direction, but when I’m writing a particularly suspenseful one, I try to come to it with as little premeditation as possible. By keeping the scene a little shadowy in my own mind, I’m allowing myself to feel the same sense of dread and discovery my characters feel as new details or reveals unfold. If my own heart isn’t racing when I’ve finished writing that scene, then I know it wasn’t scary enough.

Amy Christine ParkerGatedAmy Christine Parker

Creepy scenes are among my most favorite to write. Because much of my creepy stuff is psychological in nature, I prep by reading books on stuff like the psychology of serial killers  or cult leaders and watch videos of real life villians—paying attention to body language and speech patterns in particular. I also tend to write those scenes at night when the house is quiet and dark. It helps get me in the mood.

The Murder ComplexLindsay Cummings


Lindsay Cummings

I have always loved spooky stuff. I can’t handle it…but I love it! Most of the stuff I write is very action packed and gory…I like to watch action movies, creepy villain scenes, read a creepy thriller, and it gets me excited to write those kinds of scenes. I also LOVE days when it’s cloudy or stormy. That just puts everything right into place! :)

Cat WintersIn The Shadow of Blackbirds

Cat Winters

When I work on my spookier and grittier scenes, I find it best to set aside time to sit down and write as much of the scene as possible in one sitting. I don’t necessarily have to listen to creepy music beforehand or read anything intense to get into the right mindset. I just need to plant myself down in the chair, envision the setting as if I were there, follow the lead of my characters, and let the story flow.

Another great trailer for getting your spook on!


 So there you have it Gate Crashers getting spooky!  Now go for it. Creep yourself out. Plug away on your WIP in the lonely hours of the night…and know when it comes to writing, you’re never really alone.

One response so far

Getting Personal! Gate Crashers’ Author Interviews

Sep 19 2013 Published by under Gettin' Real

Pamela K. Witte
If isn’t personal what the heck is it?

Author Interviews That Rock

Kristen Kittscher


Click the pics for Awesome Links

Kristen Kittscher

Kristen  deserves a humungous shout-out for WIG IN THE WINDOW! WIG made me laugh, brought
tears to my eyes, had me flipping pages like a mad woman, kept me up past my bed
time, and thoroughly entertained me! Huzzah. I loved it! This isn’t just for

Okay Kristen, please tell the readers a little bit about yourself & your book. What is the blurb on your book cover?

Fans of the humor and clever clues in the Sammy Keyes books will enjoy The Wig in the Window, first in Kristen Kittscher’s funny middle-grade mystery series. Best friends and seventh graders Sophie Young and Grace Yang have made a game out of spying on their neighbors. On one of their midnight stakeouts, they witness a terrifying, bloody scene at the home of their bizarre middle-school counselor Dr. Charlotte Agford (also known as Dr. Awkward). At least, they think they do. The truth is that Dr. Agford was only making her famous pickled beets. But when Dr. Agford begins acting even weirder than usual, Sophie and Grace become convinced that she’s hiding something—and they’re determined to find out what it is. Soon the girls are breaking secret codes, being followed by a strange blue car, and tailing strangers with unibrows and Texas accents. But as their investigation heats up, Sophie and Grace start to crack under the pressure. Will solving the case destroy their friendship?

Just to get us started, how old are you?

Older than I look, I hope.

Where are you from? 

I was born in Pittsburgh and lived in over thirteen cities while growing up. For the past fifteen years, I’ve called Southern California home—and it’s where The Wig in the Window is set.

What inspired you to write THE WIG IN THE WINDOW?

I’d long wanted to write but was always finding excuses and didn’t really have the confidence to complete something. One day, though, I stumbled across a free-writing exercise based on my exploits as a middle school “spy” with my best friend in my seaside suburb of Los Angeles. It struck me: why hadn’t I ever thought of writing for kids? That tiny paragraph had all the makings of a story that would entertain the funny, precocious students I taught. I scrawled a note: “Rear Window meets (edgy) Nancy Drew: two savvy, bold girl sleuths exposing adult hypocrisy?” With my seventh grade students as my muses, I charged forward.

How does being a middle-school English teacher affect your writing style? You do an amazing job getting into your characters heads. How did you develop your authentic kid voice/vibe?

My middle-school teaching gave me a bird’s eye view of the friendship ups-and-downs I remembered from my own childhood and inspired me to want to tell a story that explored those. I think that’s what helps me get into their heads! My kid voice is a work-in-progress—even when I was a kid, I didn’t always sound like one. Sometimes I slip out of it, and it takes me a bit to drop back in. However, simply taking the time to try to imagine my characters’ frames-of-reference and perspective helps it come out of me.

I love Sophie and Grace’s best friend dynamic. Does that come from your own childhood?

I did not have a specific one of my own friendships in mind when I wrote the story. Grace and Sophie’s friendship does exaggerate an uneven power dynamic I’ve felt, though—even as an adult.

Sun Tzu and  THE ART OF WAR come up often in the story, do you have a special affinity for ancient Chinese history? Do you have a martial arts background? Are Sophie’s awesome fighting poses real?

I don’t have a special affinity for Chinese history or martial arts, but Sophie and I share the same enthusiasm and curiosity. As a kid I had serial obsessions: I loved reading about the occult for a while. Then I was really into engines and inventions. While my best friend was Chinese-American and I was interested in learning the language, I fortunately never took my interest as inappropriately far!Sophie’s fighting poses are all real, but I relied on YouTube and the generosity of author and self-proclaimed “martial arts geek,” Jenn Reese (ABOVE WORLD, MIRAGE) to help me with them.

WIG IN THE WINDOW is incredibly funny and sometimes very deep and insightful, even sad. How did you balance your emotions while writing?

I wanted the book to work as a fun mystery but also on other levels, so it’s gratifying to hear you say that. Thank you. I agree with James Thurber, who was famous for saying, “Humor is a serious thing.” Laughter is a great defense mechanism against pain, fear, and absurdity—and I think kids instinctively rely on it even more frequently than adults, sometimes. By injecting humor into the book, I could create some scary situations and thrills for kids, yet still give a feeling of safety, hope and relief. I’m still learning how to balance all the emotions, but I appreciate the vote of confidence. Essentially, I try to stay with the scene as much as possible, slow down time, and imagine it as a twelve-year-old would. Later, I do a lot of revising to make sure I get it right.

You use awesome-fun words like boobs and crappy! Did you wrestle with yourself the first time you typed them?

It’s funny, because I think most people who know me have probably never heard me say either of these words unless I’m reading out loud from my book. Boobs especially, is one of my least favorite words, right there next to fart, which also makes some appearances. I wrestle with myself now! It’s embarrassing! But here’s the thing: when you’re writing, you marry yourself to a character and try to channel the world truthfully through her eyes and voice. Sophie Young makes some flip judgments and broad characterizations—and like a lot of kids, I think she’s fascinated by appearances. I cringe at “boobs.” Sophie, not so much.

What made you want to write in the first place?

I wish I could answer this. Perhaps it’s corny to say, but it feels like trying to answer why I wanted to breathe in the first place.

Do you have a theme in WIG IN THE WINDOW that you find particularly important?

How much time do you have? It’s odd, when you start to write, you have no theme in mind—by the end, you can talk about it all day. It might sound high-falutin’ considering WIG is a fun mystery for the 8 – 12 set, but I was interested in the often uneven power dynamics in friendship, in the difficulty of trusting oneself, and the danger of making assumptions.

Feng Shui plays an important role in Sophie’s life, do you dig it too?

I can see myself becoming very interested in maximizing energy flow, but I’m too impatient to apply all the principles! I gave Sophie her interests because I noticed how many middle schoolers try on new identities and try to derive power from something outside themselves. It fascinated me to think of what tension that could introduce in a friendship when the other person actually did share that heritage.

You have cool FBI type stuff in WIG IN THE WINDOW, and lots of history and interesting facts about Chinese culture. How much time did you spend in research?

I don’t feel like I spent any time doing research, but looking back, I know I didn’t know any of that before. I would research as I went along, and it felt like procrastination. I’d watch Tai Chi videos on YouTube or look up FBI protocol. It certainly didn’t feel like work!

If you could transport yourself into your book who would you be? Why?

Oh, Trista Bottoms. Hands down. Wouldn’t it great to be that self-assured, funny, and smart? She’s a loyal friend, too.

Why Middle Grade?

Like my main character, who’s name literally means “wise” and “young,” I love that pre-teens are old and ‘wise’ enough to understand larger truths about the world but still have great enthusiasm and a sense of wonder. It’s also fun to be a little silly.

What keeps you writing?

A desire to tell better and better stories.

What is the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?

I don’t think it was so much as advice as encouragement, but I think often of something author Sean Murphy said in the online course I took with him (Write to the Finish): he said he believed that if you want to write, you have a story to tell. I took that to heart and stopped worrying about whether I had “it” or not, and got on with learning how to tell stories.

What is the most important thing for a writer to remember?

That every book was once a directionless mess, and that time can work it all out.

Do you belong to any cool writerly groups on or off line?Lucky 13 logoSleuths spies_Banner_2012

I’m part of a very cool group of kids’ mystery authors who blog: Sleuths, Spies and Alibis. (You can follow us on Twitter, as well, @KidlitMysteries. I also helped start The Lucky 13s, an online group for authors whose first books are coming out in 2013.

Just for kicks… What are some of your favorite TV shows, movies?

Is it any surprise I like mystery shows? Colombo and Murder, She Wrote are particular favorites. It’s true. I’m secretly 85.

Other than writing, what do you like to do for fun? Hobbies?

I like to spend most of my time with words: crossword puzzles, Scrabble, reading. But, truth be told, lately I haven’t had time for hobbies, other than enjoying hikes with my dog, if that counts! I’m fairly social for a writer, so I dedicate spare time to hanging out with friends and family.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

It changed all the time. My first dream was to be a cab driver so I could drive ALL DAY LONG!

I’m dying to know… Sequel?

Yes! The Tiara on the Terrace is in the works. Young & Yang go undercover in the Royal Court in their town parade to stop a murderer. It’s sort of a Miss Congeniality set in middle school.

Any closing words of wisdom for other author-wannabees out there?

If you can somehow find it in yourselves to stop worrying about whether you have talent and just get on with it, do! I still have trouble, but it’d be so helpful to embrace doubt as part of the process and just plunge forward.

Just Click the Links to Check Out WIG’s Fantastic, Fun Trailers

And there you have it! Personal and Real with Kristen Kittscher! Thanks for the super-cool, insightful interview, Kristen. 

Check out Kristen’s tweets!


Check out Kristen on Facebook!

Check out Kristen on Facebook!


One response so far

Next »

    RSS feed
  • The Basics

  • Blog Authors

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • I&A Tumbleweeds

  • Tweet tweet

    • On I&A: Getting Personal! Gate Crashers’ Author Interviews
      about 4 weeks ago
    • On I&A: How a writer's path to e-publishing became a hero's journey.
      about 4 months ago
    • On I&A: Tech Yourself: IT'S CHRISTMAS, GUYS!
      about 6 months ago