Kaylin’s First Sale Story

Everyone has a first sale story…

My journey to publication has been an enlightening experience, to say the least. Exactly one year ago, I was in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico on an annual family vacation. While everyone was sunning themselves around the pool, I snuck off to check emails at a local internet café. Lo and behold, I spotted a familiar name in my mailbox: Champagne Books. At this point, I had already received letters from approximately eighteen publishers – kind and complimentary mind you, but still rejections. So you can imagine my state of mind as I sat there on a metal chair determining if I really wanted to open that message and ruin a perfectly good vacation.

I took a deep breath, glanced around at other customers typing away, and then returned by attention to J. Ellen Smith’s letter. I am pleased to offer you a contract… I almost fell off of my seat. Was it really possible that someone saw the potential in my story? Ten minutes later, I was back at the pool with a strawberry Margarita in one hand, a printed out message in the other, and a huge grin on my face.

However, arriving at this point in my journey was an adventure in itself. Sixteen years ago, my world was turned upside down. I lost my beloved father to colon cancer after an intense two and a half year battle. I was angry at him, at God, at the world in general. I needed an outlet and found it by sitting down in front of my computer, releasing emotions that were racing through my head and heart. This therapeutic exercise gradually evolved into a related fictional story about a woman’s personal journey to find faith and forgiveness. In the process of writing Flaherty’s Crossing and exploring my main character’s growth, I found myself learning and growing as well.

I entered this “genre-blending” story in numerous contests, knowing that agents and editors would be involved in final round judging. I was amazed that I won time and time again, but there was never a request for a full manuscript. I set to work creating a great query letter. I requested reviews from my rough-draft manuscript, and participated in pitch sessions at various conferences. Although I eventually received numerous requests for full copies, I learned a very difficult lesson from trying to market a book that is “out of the box”…so to speak. Although Flaherty’s Crossing was truly a labor of love and the agents who read it consistently loved my voice and writing style, they weren’t sure how to market it or where it would sit on the shelf.

Now this didn’t prevent my manuscript from grabbing the interest of one visionary agent in New York. She complimented me for being original, and absolutely fell in love with this story. However, after being under contract for only six months and having received rejections by eight of the largest publishing houses, she felt that changing the story line completely and emphasizing romance would ultimately be the best solution. Long story short, we parted ways and since I no longer had agent representation, I sought out smaller houses on my own.

In closing, all I can say is…persistence pays off. On February 1st, Champagne Books officially released Flaherty’s Crossing and I’m proud to announce that I’ve chosen to donate all my proceeds to the colon cancer research project at Providence Medical Center in my father’s name. In the meantime, I’m busy writing again and have discovered my passion for creating action-adventure stories. It’s my hope that once Severed Threads is completed, it will touch lives and inspire readers as deeply as Flaherty’s Crossing.

You can visit Kaylin online at www.kaylinmcfarren.com or visit her book’s website at www.flahertyscrossing.com.

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Kaylin’s St. Paddy’s Post

With St. Paddy’s Day just around the corner, do you have special plans? As for myself, I intend to visit a few of the finest Irish pubs in the Northwest, just to watch a bit of clogging and to enjoy some rollicking tunes… and maybe a green beer or two as well. But this fun-loving holiday would not be complete without enjoying a few of my most-prized, hearty recipes. So to my loyal readership, enjoy with my blessings:

Guinness® Corned Beef – This is a “melt-in-your-mouth dish and well-worth the wait! (Prep Time: 20 Minutes/Cook Time: 2-1/2 Hours)

4 pounds corned beef brisket
1 cup of brown sugar
1- 12 oz. can of Guinness® Irish Stout beer
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C)

Rinse the beef completely and pat dry. Place the brisket on rack in a roasting pan or Dutch oven. Rub the brown sugar on the corned beef to coat entire beef, including the bottom. Pour the bottle of stout beer around, and gently over the beef to wet the sugar. Cover, and place in preheated oven. Bake for 2 1/2 hours. Allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Note: During the last hour, add vegetables in the roasting pan as well. Try a wedge of cabbage, new potatoes, onion, carrots, etc. You may need to add a little more beer with your vegetables.

Kaylin’s One-Hour Buttermilk Rolls – A nice replacement to the standard Irish Soda Bread (Preheat oven to 450 degrees)

2 packets dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine, divided
1-1/2 cups lukewarm buttermilk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4-1/2 cups bread flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar and 1/4 cup butter. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add buttermilk, salt and soda, and stir to blend. Add flour and blend to form dough. Set in a warm place and let rise for 10 minutes. Turn dough out on a floured area and knead briefly until smooth. Roll dough with a rolling pin to about 1/4″ thick. Cut in circles with a cookie cutter. Brush with some melted butter. Fold in half and place on a greased cookie sheet. Brush the top with more melted butter and let rolls rise for 40 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 1-1/2 dozen

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The Business Plan

Everyone believes they have the perfect story to tell, an old family recipe for strawberry jelly that will make them rich. It all seems so simple. Just type up a few pages, haul out a few berries. Focus solely on the end product. But no one tells you about the disappointments, failures, or overwhelming commitment that goes into producing anything of value. That goes into creating a successful project that you can proudly attach your name to.

My husband and I started a sauce company 25 years ago. Seems like a lifetime ago now. It was a simple endeavor -.a way to pay the bills, make a name for ourselves and establish a future for our family. All we had to do was mix up some ingredients, fill a few bottles, apply a few labels. There didn’t seem to be anything too difficult to handle. And. as time went by, we found ourselves whistling merrily as we filled our multiple case orders. We were so excited by the number of bottles that were going out our doors, we never considered the cost of growth – the fact that the more products we sold, the more money it took to stay in business. Long story short, we ended up selling everything we could get our hands on. We even cashed in our life insurance policies, sold our cars, and took out loans against our home…all in order to stay ahead of the game. It wasn’t until we were faced with bankruptcy that we realized the price of commitment – the price of our hope. The crazy risk we’d taken with our children’s futures simply to have our name and product sitting on store shelves.

But there’s more to this story. It’s about believing in something so completely, so intensely, you’re willing to put everything on the line. You’re willing to commit every waking hour in your day.

At this point in our lives, we’re fortunate in being able to enjoy the fruit of our labors. But that doesn’t mean we get to sit back calmly and watch the world go by. There’s always competition to consider, and although there are lots of store shelves, space is limited. With any product, service, or book you create, it all comes down to offering something substantial – something memorable and gratifying, and your willingness to commit to your beliefs. It’s a struggle to be noticed, to see sales numbers grow. Whenever someone asks me now how they can get their special recipe into the marketplace, how they can be successful too, I find myself looking back and wondering if I’d known about all the hardships and sacrifices we endured over the years – the weekends we spent apart and the vacations we forfeited – would I have continued on my path? Would I have encouraged my husband to follow his dreams? The only answer I can offer is to consider your options. If you can stay positive even when you’re faced with life’s greatest challenges, then I say go for it. Risk is about living life to the fullest. Whether your dreams are in recipes or the written words in a paperback novel, strive to market yourself to the best of your ability and you just might reap the rewards.

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Kaylin’s “Thought for the Day”

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anyone could have.  ~Author Unknown

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The story behind Flaherty’s Crossing

I’m often asked about the story behind Flaherty’s Crossing and to be honest, it’s not an easy one to tell. My father was a hard-working Irishman who aside from expecting dinner on the table promptly at 5pm never had much to share or complain about. There were disappointments, of course, since money was often tight. But my dad was content working his blue-collar job, reading the nightly newspaper, watching sports, and visiting occasionally with neighbors. My only interaction with him came from camping and skiing trips where he spent most of his time working on outboard motors and insisting that my family had a good time. I never had a serious or lengthy conversation with my dad as he preferred to keep his emotions hidden away. But sixteen years ago that all changed when he was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Over the course of his two and a half year battle, I was given small glimpses into his past. I discovered that my father’s inability to communicate had little to do with the affection he kept buried inside. But this cruel disease was aggressive and soon took its toll. Before long, it was time for me to bid him a final farewell. I was not only heartbroken over losing a parent but also for never knowing who this man truly was. As a result, I was angry at him, at God, at the world in general. I needed an outlet to release all my pent up emotions and found it in front of my computer, punching away on keys. This therapeutic exercise gradually evolved into a related fictional story about a woman’s personal journey to find faith and forgiveness.

In the process of writing Flaherty’s Crossing and exploring my main character’s growth, I found myself learning and growing as well. I discovered I wasn’t alone. There were thousands of daughters and sons like myself who had similar stories to tell – who had strained, complicated relationships, but loved their parents none the less. I’ve learned that through my writing, I can inspire and touch lives and can urge others to mend fences and relationships before it’s too late. This novel truly has a purpose. Not only did Flaherty’s Crossing heal my heart, but I believe the message it carries can make a difference for other families as well. I’ve chosen to donate 100% of my proceeds to the cancer research center at Portland’s Providence Medical Center with the hope of finding a cure in our lifetime. This story has opened my eyes to possibilities and given me a voice that I plan to use in future stories with the intention of inspiring and uplifting lives.

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Another fun recipe :D

With St. Paddy’s Day rapidly approaching, thought I’d share another great recipe from my card file. This one should help with writing content.

Mint Chocolate Martini

1 oz vodka
1/2 oz white creme de menthe
1/2 oz white creme de cacao

Pour ingredients into shaker filled with ice, then pour into chilled
martini glass. Garnish with chocolate stick and mint sprig. And enjoy!

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Kaylin’s Interview at Literature & Fiction

February 16, 2010/Interview by shelaghwatkins

Kaylin McFarren is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. She received her AA in Literature at Highline Community College, which originally sparked her passion for writing. In her free time, she also enjoys giving back to the community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest.

Shelagh: Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Kaylin

Kaylin: For the past twenty years, I’ve worked in PR and marketing for my family-owned conglomerate, the Yoshida Group, which consists of eighteen diverse corporations. I was appointed as one of nine commissioners to the Oregon Arts Commission by Governor Kitzhaber while working as the director of a nationally-acclaimed art gallery in Portland, Oregon. I’ve also served on numerous college and charity foundation boards, and continue my commitment to hospitals and children’s causes. For most of my life, I’ve written poems and short stories, and along with novels, currently write articles for a syndicated travel magazine. Although Flaherty’s Crossing is my début novel, it has already garnered numerous awards and received recognition as a 2008 Golden Heart® Finalist.

Shelagh: How long have you been writing?

Kaylin: Most of my life. I honestly remember writing poems when I was five years old. I got into short stories when I was in junior high and eventually some of them ended up in my high school newspaper. My interest in writing continued for years but was limited to public relations with an emphasis on press releases and daily correspondence. In regard to novels, although I’ve contemplated penning one for some time now, I’ve actually been writing manuscripts for a relatively short period of time.

Shelagh: What, or who, inspired you to write?

Kaylin: I had a great English teacher in sixth grade, Mrs. Tuttle. I remember her telling the class that we could create a magical world with words. She gave everyone a journal and instructed us to write something in it everyday. To this day, I still fill up journals with my thoughts, poems, and short stories.

Shelagh: Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Kaylin: When I started Flaherty’s Crossing, it was based on my personal experience – the death of my dad and my emotional journey to acceptance. But after opening myself up to an amazing literary world – reading extensively, doing writing exercises, taking workshops – the door to my imagination was opened. Now days, I literally “dream up” my stories from beginning to end and have had to resort to keeping a notebook on my bedside table.

Shelagh: What genres do you write and which is your favorite genre to write?

Kaylin: When I first started writing Flaherty’s Crossing, I had no idea how to define this story. After completing and entering contests, I learned to categorize it as mainstream fiction, involving all kinds of elements: suspense, drama, romance …you name it. But with my second book, I’ve become a bit wiser and made a conscience decision to write action/adventure romance. I believe this is rapidly becoming my forte. I can’t wait to get to the next chapter and to fish my characters out of shark-infested seas.

Shelagh: Can you tell us about your favorite hero and/or heroine in one of your stories?

Kaylin: Drew Coleman in Flaherty’s Crossing is one of my favorite characters. He’s an attractive, middle-aged divorce attorney who has spent most of his life trying to live up to his father’s expectations. In the midst of struggling with his obligations and job responsibilities, Drew’s marriage to Kate Flaherty explodes over trust issues and is left in total disrepair. However, when he learns his wife’s life is at risk, his priorities quickly shift and he discovers where his love and loyalties truly lie.

Shelagh: When you write about a hero/heroine, are there parts of your characters that you take from your own experiences in your life?

Kaylin: I suppose there are. Most definitely in regard to conversations, careers, and relationships. I guess that’s what makes them more believable –three dimensional, you might say.

Shelagh: Do you have favorite props that you use to bolster a story? Why do you use them?

Kaylin: Well, when I was writing Flaherty’s Crossing, I kept my father’s picture close by to remind myself of the kind of person he was. But aside from that, I’d probably say no. That is, if you don’t consider a periodic glass of wine a prop.

Shelagh: When you are writing a book, do the characters become a part of your everyday life? How do you deal with it if they take over your everyday world?

Kaylin: When my characters interact, encounter grave situations, and express their emotions, they become more real to me. I don’t think I’ve had to deal with them taking over my life; although, I do worry about getting them out of trouble if they’re cornered and I’m detained and not able to write for a while.

Shelagh: Do your families encourage you to write?

Kaylin: Absolutely! I think my husband believes I’ve somehow found my identity and purpose in life. As for my children, they’re awesome – asking me all the time how my writing’s going. My oldest daughter is an author as well and she’s constantly spurring me to stay focused and on track.

Shelagh: You have a busy life with a career and family. How do you find time to write? Do you have a schedule?

Kaylin: My children are grown, my husband travels extensively, and I have a great library with lots of peace and quite. This affords me the luxury of writing as much as I like, which could easily involve working from 10am – 10pm. However, my family finds ways to drag me away on family vacations, to movies, and to restaurants just so I don’t completely alienate myself.

Shelagh: If for some reason you could not write anymore, how would you creatively express yourself?

Kaylin: I actually studied visual arts in college and love to oil paint. Guess that’s why I ran an art gallery for seven years. I suppose if I couldn’t write any longer, I’d dig up my old supplies and find a way to paint my stories on canvas.

Shelagh: You have a special project for all of the proceeds from your book, Flaherty’s Crossing. Can you tell us about this?

Kaylin: I’m donating 100% of my proceeds to the cancer research center at Providence Medical Center in my father’s name. There’s information all about the research project I’m funding on my new website: http://www.flahertyscrossing.com

Shelagh: Why did you decide to give all of your proceeds to cancer research?

Kaylin: After witnessing my father’s relentless battle with terminal cancer and his passing at the young age of 64, my emotions were in complete turmoil. I was angry at him for leaving, at God for the suffering he endured, at the world in general for not taking notice. I searched for an outlet – a way to vent my feelings, and was fortunate in finding the resolution I needed by writing Flaherty’s Crossing. In the course of creating this story, I had the opportunity to speak to various individuals who have lost loved ones and came to realize that everyone is somehow affected by this non-discriminating disease. This novel became more than a fictional account. It evolved into a personal journey – one that my father has traveled on right beside me, inspiring and encouraging me all along the way. In order to honor his memory and to do my part to bring an end to this terrible disease in our lifetime, I have chosen to donate all the proceeds from the sale of this book to the cancer research center at Providence Medical Center, and strongly urge anyone who enjoys reading to purchase a copy of Flaherty’s Crossing.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and upcoming events?

Kaylin: My websites: http://www.kaylinmcfarren.com http://www.flahertyscrossing.com

Shelagh: Thank you for joining us today, Kaylin.

Kaylin: Thanks, Shelagh!

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Kaylin’s Thought for the Day

Here’s something for you to ponder. Why don’t they make the whole plane out of that black box stuff? 😛

Check out new fun features and excerpts on Kaylin’s two beautifully designed websites:


Kaylin McFarren
Stories that touch the soul…

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Considering a Virtual Book Tour??

Six months ago, I went to a friend’s book signing event. I looked around in this large chain store and was amazed by the small turn out. In fact, had this USA Today best-selling author not been stationed near the coffee bar, there would have been eight people to welcome her release. Even though she performed a reading and answered questions, she sold only five books. Now I’ve been told this isn’t typical. Should authors send out invitations in their communities, they might sell as many as two hundred books. Yet as I considered the possibility of sitting at a table for hours on end, hoping someone would notice me, I came to the conclusion there had to be a better way.

I contacted Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours to connect my book with interested readers through the medium of weblogs and personal websites. In a nutshell, this tour consists of visiting a given number of websites in a given about of time, the same as I would do at stores during a real book tour. At these stops, I might be interviewed, take over a site for the day, answer questions from readers, get my book reviewed, or do all four.

Is it true that word-of-mouth is the best means of advertising? I would venture to say yes, but only time will tell. As of today, my travel arrangements are confirmed, I’m on the road daily, and there wasn’t any need pack a bag. 😀

Footnote: Looking to create your own book tour? Check out http://blogsearch.google.ca/?hl=en&tab=wb Put your (sub)genre(s) into the search window and it’ll bring up blogs with your genre of interest. Check the results out one by one and rank them by their Alexa ranking, from highest to lowest, and you’ll have a nice list of most popular blogs in your genre(s) to choose from that you can start approaching to ask about guest spots.

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