Do you feel stuck in your creative writing? Try writing flash fiction. Michelle Faust welcomes Karina Kantas, a prolific author of 14 titles who writes in most fiction genres. Karina shares with Michelle how flash fiction is also known as one-minute fiction, consisting of 500-1,000 words. When you’re working on a novel and you get stuck in a scene, writing flash fiction can get your creative juices flowing again. Join in the conversation and discover how Karina uses flash fiction to her creative advantage. Don’t miss out on this practical strategy!
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Do You Feel Stuck? Try Writing Flash Fiction With Karina Kantas
In this episode, I have a very special guest from Greece, Karina Kantas. She is a prolific author of fourteen titles. She also writes short stories and when her imagination is working on overtime, she writes thought-provoking and dark flash fiction. There are many layers to Karina’s writing style and voice, as you will see in her flash fiction collection, Heads & Tales and in Undressed, she opens up more to her fans, giving them another glimpse into her work mind. This is going to be so exciting.
When Karina isn’t busy working on her new bestseller, she is a publicist, author, manager and VA. She is also the host of the popular radio show, Author Assist on the Artist First Radio Network and host of the YouTube show Behind the Pen. She has two podcasts, Narrations by KK and Behind the Pen. That’s amazing.
Welcome, Karina. I’m so happy to have you.
Thank you for having me. It’s nice to talk with you again.
Where did we go first? How about the work mind?
The first book that I wrote was the OUTLAW Series, which is about outlaw motorcycled thriller romances. Think of Sons of Anarchy, if you ever watched it or the Hells Angels and what they go up to. It’s a four-book series. The ideas came from nightmares that I had. That’s where the original stories came from for those four books. When you say flash fiction, I don’t know if people know what that is. It’s also called one-minute fiction. It’s a story of maybe 500 to 1,000 words. It’s tiny but it has to have a start, middle and end.Writing flash fiction gets your creative juices flowing again when you feel stuck. Click To Tweet
All of mine are very dark and twisted. That’s where the work mind comes in. A lot of you say, “I can’t believe this is the same author writing all these little stories.” I have so many different writing styles that you’d think you’re reading something from someone else but it’s all me. I love writing flash fiction. When you’re writing a novel and you get stuck on a piece on a scene, I like writing flash fiction because it gets the creative juices going again. Once the flash fiction is written, then I’m ready to go back and get into the novel again. That helps me.
I’ve done so much flash fiction. They are in eSigns, newsletters and they’ve been previously published but I thought, “I’ll put my little collection.” That’s Heads & Tales. The cover is blue but it’s got a beautiful, soft feather and then it’s wrapped up in barbed wire, which is like heads and tails where one side is soft and one side is hard or dark. That’s the concept. It’s exactly what I wanted. Every single genre is in there like fantasy, thriller, horror sci-fi and romance. They are many different stories of different genres mixed up in that collection.
The second collection is Undressed. It has poetry, prose and a collection of flash fiction. This is the one where I open up more to my readers who already know my writing style. There are memories that I’ve had and excerpts of stories that never went anywhere. I put them in because the ideas were fantastic. It’s just that I never bothered finishing them. There are published and unpublished work excerpts, as well as poetry, even though I don’t class myself as a poet. I certainly don’t have a passion for it. I have had poetry published and there are poems in Undressed.
Some of the stories and poems in there are very deep and meaningful to me. It wasn’t until I went on a podcast and he read two of my flash fiction. He said, “They’re very dark.” I’m like, “What do you mean they’re dark? It’s Sci-fi.” I looked at them and I was like, “They are quite dark.” I took all the dark ones out and made a little collection called A Flash Of Horror, which is a beautiful little pocketbook that you can carry in your handbag or the pocket of your jeans. It’s all flash fiction. They are very short stories in the horror genre. They won’t creep you out but they will make you think. They’ve all got twists at the end.
You want to hope that what you read makes you think, although it might creep me out.
You can quickly read one. It’s only one page.
I will have to try and read it because I shouldn’t say it would creep me out when I don’t know. I’m fascinated by all of this because I’m a non-fiction writer. I help people share their stories and craft their stories into something that they can publish. As much as I love fiction, it’s my self-doubt because I haven’t tried it but it doesn’t feel necessarily like my area.
I’m very fascinated by your talent and ability, especially to write in mini genres because when you think of many authors who have made a name for themselves, it’s because they’ve written in their same genre over and over again. It’s the recipe that works, so they keep going with it. I have one more comment and then I’m going to turn it back over to you because you’re the guest with a fascinating story. Sometimes, I dream vivid dreams. I have nightmares and pleasant dreams. I wake up sometimes and it’s like, “That was so detailed. That should have been a whole book or a movie.” It goes away too fast. I wish I could capture some of those because they’re pretty fascinating sometimes.
Dreams play like a movie. If you’re able to wake up and you have a pad and a pen right next to you, then you’re able to jot down the details that you remember. When I started writing the book, I first had a nightmare and got the idea of what was going to happen. The next night when I slept, I dreamt about the book and it went on to another scene. When I woke up in the morning, that went into the book. It worked like that until the book had finished. I was dreaming of the book every night. It’s very strange.
It’s amazing how the mind works. Everyone’s mind works a little bit differently but speaking in general, the mind is an incredible organ. Most of us probably don’t utilize it nearly enough.
I put a lot of myself in my books. The first one, In Times Of Violence, is very biographical. It’s a bit like The Outsiders on motorbikes if you know The Outsiders by S.E Hinton. It’s an amazing book. The film came out with Brad Pitt, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze and Rob Lowe. They were the brat pack. All the gorgeous guys back in those days did the film, which is based on the book by S.E Hinton. She’s the reason I became an author because I read her books. I wanted to read more rebel-type fiction where you have the two sides fighting against one another for a title or name to keep their name or part of their street.
I looked in the library and I couldn’t find any more books like that. I thought, “This marketplace is open for me.” I had a story to tell and that’s how In Times of Violence came out but Stone Cold is a young adult supernatural thriller. Taking off the gruesome murders and the supernatural parts, it’s very biographical. It’s about how I was bullied physically and mentally through most of my schooling in all the schools I went to. I get my revenge in this book. It gave me a lot of closure when I wrote it but the real names aren’t used.There is a piece of the author in all of their books. Click To Tweet
I love that because it’s such human nature to want to get that revenge but it’s not a positive action to take so to be able to get the revenge through your writing is terrific.
Never mess with an author because you’ll end up being one of the characters in a book but I did need to write that book. Anyone who is reading who’s a bully or who was a bully, what you don’t realize is that when you leave the playground, go back home, leave school, get a job and get married, you forget all about what happened in middle school but the victim doesn’t. The victim carries that memory with them through their college, relationship and motherhood with their children. It doesn’t go away.
I can remember things that happened back when I was 8 or 9 at the time. You would have to get therapy to release everything to try and forget. I’ve forgiven. I’ve spoken to some of the people that used to bully me at the time but I write that book to put some of the experiences that I had especially when I was attacked in my own home.
I had the girls follow me home to my house. I let them in. I didn’t know what was going on at the time. One of them got a knife and threatened me with it. She didn’t say anything. She just held it to my throat. I was being accused of spreading gossip about her at school, which I didn’t do. I had three others girls going around the house, taking and pinching stuff. I was in the kitchen with a knife at my throat and when all the girls came back in the kitchen, they realized things had escalated. They were shocked by what they saw.
I pleaded with her. I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I haven’t done anything. You’ve got me mixed up with someone else. Let’s finish this.” She put the knife back in the drawer and they left the house. I crumbled on the floor of my kitchen, which was cold. I was shaking. My dad came home five minutes after and because of the state I was in, I told him what happened. We went to the school and they got suspended.
Luckily, I never saw them again because it was towards the end of the actual school year but it’s something I’ll never forget. It’s in Stone Cold because that was part of the awful experience that I had. I did get some closure and therapy from writing it out but playing it over again after so long, takes to you to a dark place again. It’s hard sometimes to get back into the light and move away from that. When you go back to something as horrific as that, then you have to come back out, join the family, get back to your reality and not step back into the past.
You’re talking my language. That would be the first book I would go to and I will because I’m very intrigued to read it. I’m all about people’s stories. I’m fascinated by your mind and ability to make up great stories but there’s nothing like somebody’s personal story with what they lived through, how they lived through it and how they grow in strength out of it. You described beautifully what my passion is and that is helping people to get it on paper. You can’t release it until you’ve done that. You put it on paper, live through the details and forgive. Love yourself and release it to the world. That’s what I do.
That’s why I want to tell you that there is a piece of me in all of my books. Some are more biographical than others but they are experiences that I’ve had through my life from being bullied to being around outlaw bikers, singing in a rock band and the illnesses that I have. I have two serious chronic illnesses that have stopped me from living life as fully as I can. It’s all in there. There’s stuff even in the fantasy that would come from something I’ve experienced and then I put it in a different context. There’s always a piece of Karina in my books.
I’ve got to grab and read fourteen titles to know who Karina Kantas is.
The last one, Broken Chains, is a Dark Mafia Romance. It’s very explicit and graphic, so I don’t think it would be your book but there is everything that happens to poor, old Liz because I put her through the grinder before she gets her happy ever after. Everything that happened to her had never happened to me but as a writer, I have to put myself in her shoes.
I have to go through everything she has experienced to make sure that the reader experiences that as well. They can picture exactly what is happening in the book as a film that’s running and unless I can get into her mindset, become that character and write down exactly what she’s feeling, what’s happening to her and her emotions, it will come across in the book fantastically and the reader will be able to picture straight away what’s happening, then, I’ve done my job as an author but when you get into the darkness and violence, it’s difficult to move out.
Especially as an author, you suffer from depression anyway. Creative people do. It’s one of those things that unfortunately, we’re cursed with because we have a creative mind. When you’re in a flare-up or a bout of depression, that’s when you go into yourself and you can get into the darkness of where you are in the novel. Sometimes, it’s hard to step away and sometimes, you have to step away from the book because it’s too much.Carry on no matter how bad things get. Click To Tweet
I have seen that back when I put my anthology together, The Lemonade Stand. I had to step away because I was assisting with some of the editings. I kept immersing myself in these difficult stories and the challenges of these people that I had come to know and love. I thought, “I can’t read this anymore. I got to walk away from this for a minute,” but there’s always that light and that’s what I love to see when people share their stories. The people I work with have come out of it. They understand how this story has shaped who they are. You have had so many life experiences and it made you who you are. That’s probably why you write such fascinating stories because you’ve lived those stories. To me, it doesn’t get any better than that.
There are two sides to Karina Kantas. The first is that side with the writing, my business with Author Assist and my podcasts and then the other side is me having the disability with my chronic illness and taking fifteen pills a day to try and get up to be able to do things. People say, “Where do you get the strength? How do you manage to do and cope with all of that?”
It’s because I do all of that I can cope with it. I keep myself busy. I’m helping people. I feel like I’m doing something good in this world and I’m appreciated. I know what I’m doing and I enjoy what I’m doing. That’s what gets me up in the morning, gets me smiling, keeps me busy and going. My family is amazing. I couldn’t do what I do without their help with everything that’s going on.
If you focus too much on the pain or the challenge, then that is your current reality. My daughter had a chronic illness. It’s so hard to be on the other side of that because I don’t know what she experiences and what levels of pain she deals with but I also have known enough people that you have to find something you love. Everyone has a purpose and unless you’re putting yourself in your purpose, then you victimize yourself because you’re allowing the onus or disease to take over.
I refuse that to happen. The first thing that happened to me was getting Diabetes Type 1 over in Corfu, Greece. I nearly died. I was so high in sugar. They said to my husband, “If you didn’t bring her in when you did, she wouldn’t be here now.” It was so bad because I was wrongly diagnosed and all the medicine that I was taking were syrups and sugar. I was drinking Lucozade, which is like Gatorade, on the way to the hospital because no one suspected it was diabetes.
By the time I got to the hospital, I collapsed. I couldn’t walk. It was like, “Why me?” You have the why me, then you have the acceptance and then get on with it. Something else comes along and every year, my list of health problems has grown. You have so much strength. Sometimes, it’s so bad that I can’t get out as simple as that. I can’t do anything that day. Those days are some of the bad days.
The next day, I’m okay. I’ll get up and I do what I have to do. I’m not allowing that to win and to take over. I’ll carry on no matter how bad things get. They are pretty bad. For several years since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I’m not allowing that to take over. I’ll keep myself so busy that I don’t have to think about the pain. I don’t have to think about not sleeping, memory problems and everything else that comes with that chronic illness.
What I think about is what I’m doing next for my client, what’s happening tomorrow, checking my emails and doing stuff on Facebook. I work 10 hours a day, 5 days a week and then even at 10:00 PM when I’m closed for business, I’m still on the computer working. If any of my clients get in touch with me with a message, then I’m on there for them anyway. I go on Wattpad and read for many hours because I have insomnia and I don’t sleep. I keep myself busy for all those hours. I could go 74 hours without sleep and then I’m zombified. My body crashes. You can’t force yourself to sleep if your body and mind are not ready to do that.
I’m knocking on wood because I’ve experienced very severe insomnia. I seem to have that much more control. I’m so grateful because sleep is such a beautiful thing when you can. I know what it is and it’s hard but you keep going because you cannot force your mind to shut down if it’s not ready to.
It’s like, “Why are you on the computer at 4:00 AM?” I said, “If I weren’t on the computer, I’d just be laying here wide awake, so why not do something to keep myself busy until I’m ready to sleep?” If I can’t sleep, I’d be typing away on my computer and then the next minute, the computer will be on my lap. The problem with fibromyalgia is that sleep won’t allow you to get to then fall, which is where you dream. When you get to deep sleep and are ready for the dreaming part, you wake up. Even when you can sleep, you’re not having a full restful of sleep.
This has been going on for years and I’ve got medication after medication. My body’s used to it. I’ve got into a routine but unfortunately, it affects you mentally. I didn’t realize that insomnia could affect you and you’d have mental episodes. I’d have what I call spot blackouts. I’d be walking and all of a sudden, everything will go dark and then things will come back. It’s not like I’ve collapsed. My eyes were open but darkness was there. I didn’t know what was causing that until I went to a neurologist. He said it’s insomnia. I was so shocked that insomnia could cause an episode like that.
I’m going to shift gears a little bit. As an author, you can truly drive yourself and your schedule to what you can or cannot do. Your resume reads like a twenty-year-old with super energy. You do have clients and that’s my point. When you got a scheduled podcast or have plans, then it’s not easy to say, “Today’s not a good day.”The book cover has to sell your book. Click To Tweet
People rely on you and you need to go and get on with things.
Tell me a little bit about your coaching, Author Assist and how you help others.
Years ago, when I first had my first book published, I was holding it to my chest and cuddling it. I wouldn’t let it go. I was so proud and happy and then I thought, “What do I do next? How do I sell this book? How do people know about this book?” I had no clue. Over the years, I’ve found out how to do it correctly. It’s the dos and don’ts from authors, webinars and studying. Many authors are in the same situation that I was many years ago and I want to give back everything I’ve learned to them, which means I do one-on-one training to show them how to use special software and programs that are out there that authors need to know how to use to help them with their marketing and promotion.
I do full-time and part-time VA, which means I’m promoting every single day the author’s book around social media. I do newsletters for the authors, book trailers and narrations. I get the reviews. I get set up the ACX for audiobooks. I do graphics for promotions. I’ve got about 30 items or services I do. You look at it and it’s like a pick and mix. What the author needs help with, I’m there. I’ve done it and I know what I’m talking about. I did advertise in the marketing at college anyway, so I have that natural talent of knowing how to promote somebody and market their work.
It’s lovely to be able to give back though, because so many authors are in the same situation as me and I can say to them, “Let’s us have a look at your social media platforms. Let’s see what you’re doing wrong. Let’s see where we’re going with this. Let’s have a look at your blurb review book. Let’s have a look at the cover.” On Facebook, everyone knows that I’m a straightforward person. If someone asks my opinion on something, they’ll get it. Whether it’s negative or positive, I will tell them exactly my opinion if they want to hear the truth.
A lot of people accept that and are happy to hear the truth. I’d be like, “Your book isn’t selling because your book cover is not selling the book. The cover is the first thing the person sees before they read the blurb or reviews. That cover has to sell the book. It has to show what the book’s about and what the reader is going to get. It’s got to be eye-catching. It’s got to have a nice font and nice colors.”
I’ve been working with one of my clients for a couple of months. We started right from the beginning. She had two years with the books and no sales. I changed all the covers, we worked on the blurbs and I made her a new website. We made a new social media, so it was like a brand-new author. She had a new logo and branding. It’s going so well. She’s selling and people know who she is. They know what she’s writing about. That makes me happy when something like that works and they listen to me.
If I give my advice and suggestions, it’s up to them whether or not they’re going to follow them. I can’t force someone to do that but luckily, most of the people or authors that I’ve worked with that needed the help listened to what my advice was, followed it and has been successful. I’ve had my clients go up to Amazon bestsellers quite quickly by following my advice. I’ve had them win awards. They’re bestselling authors. I’m doing something right and I feel good that I’m helping people because all the jobs that I’ve done before I became ill never felt comfortable. I never felt satisfied and that I was doing something I should be doing. When I became ill, I couldn’t work and I started Author Assist, I felt like this was my path and what I was meant to do.
I feel the same way. It wasn’t until Lemonade Legend became a business that I knew what my purpose was.
When you find that path and you’re on it, it’s so fulfilling.
We don’t even think about ten hours a day or working on weekends. For me, it’s life and I’m enjoying that so why wouldn’t do that on a Saturday or Sunday? Also, if I want to go take a weekend somewhere, I can do that. It’s a great feeling to know your purpose and understand that. I can feel it when you’re talking about it. I love what you’re doing for people because I’ve experienced it too.
That first book is like giving birth to a baby. The other thing too and this is what I experienced in my first book, I spent a good amount of money for a company to help me. I had no idea what I was doing. I sell the book, which was all the marketing and the know-how because books don’t sell themselves. They don’t sit on Amazon waiting for people.A book is beautifully written when you lose yourself in it. Click To Tweet
There are so many big companies out there that say they are publicity and they can do this and that for you. They charge a fortune but you don’t get what you pay for and assumed you were going to get. Many people have been caught in that web. They are either hired PAs on Facebook. I have so many books in no time to promote my books, so I’ve had to hire PAs. Unfortunately, none of them have given what they promised and that’s something that I will not let my clients down.
If they’ve paid for a service, they will get that service. If they ask for something and I don’t think I’m capable of doing it, I will not take that money. I will tell them, “I’m sorry. I can’t do that for you.” With me, you get what you pay for but I got told off so many times because I’m not charging enough for all the work I do. They’re like, “With what you do for people, the hours you put in and the effort you put in, you should be charging more compared to all the other prices of the VA and Pas.” The reason I don’t is that I’m an author and I know how much it costs to write, publish, promote and market your book. I haven’t changed it in the last few years. I keep them as low as possible. We’re talking $10 a day for VA work. That is nothing.
You probably should be charging more than you’re charging. However, I appreciate your approach and the thought behind that because it’s those people who are charging a lot of money and who are not delivering on their promises who keep people from coming to someone like me or like you because they got burned, got a bad experience and then they’re like, “How do I know I’m not going to get burned again?” That’s a hard thing to overcome because there are a lot of those out there.
I’ve spoken to authors and I’ve said, “Let’s have a webcam meeting. Let’s meet and chat.” We do that first to see if we can connect or work together. You know when you’ve got that chemistry when you meet somebody and then I will ask them exactly where their problem is, what they need help with and I will explain to them what I do and what will happen if they hired me. I send them to the testimonials so they can read from my clients what I’m like working with.
All of them say the same thing. They say I’m honest, hardworking and very talented. They’re like, “If you need help with your book, you have to go to Karina. She’s the right person.” I’m so adamant about going through every single step with them with what I would do for them and promise like, “This is what you pay for. This is what you will get. I know you’ve been burned and I promise you, that’s not going to happen with me. I know I’m cheap but it doesn’t mean that because I’m cheap, I’m bad at my job,” which is the opposite. If I charge more, maybe people will think I’m better at my job than I am. I cannot do that.
I have been accused of giving away the farm more times than I can tell you. I have been in a place of scarcity. I know what it feels like to be on a budget and throw away money on bad services and all those different things, so sometimes when I see prices that are getting charged by coaches and businesses, I’m astounded. I’m like, “That’s a lot of money.”
They keep on emailing me. One was $2,000. One was $5,000, then another course was $700. I’m like, “First of all, I haven’t got that money and even if I did, I wouldn’t spend that money on what you’re offering. I’ll find another way of doing it.”
How can people get ahold of you who would like to work with you?
You can contact me on Facebook. It’s KKantas AuthorAssist. I have my page on there. Also, it’s KKAuthorAssist.Wordpress.com. My email is KKantasAuthorAssist@Gmail.com, if you want to email me but you can contact me anyways on Karina Kantas on Facebook because I’m there 24/7. If you want a service sheet that has all the services, all the prices and everything laid out to you, then please let me know. I will send that to you. For my books, Google or Yahoo, my name and everything will come up. I’ve been around for years and I’ve done everything I could be doing.
I’ve won awards for my documentary filmmaking, book trailers and books. I’ve had so many famous people on my show already and that’s going so well. I’m in years with the radio show. I’m around everywhere. I don’t have a pen name. I write in young adults right up to erotica and dark romance, so there is something for everyone. Karina Kantas, that’s who I am. What you see is what you get.
Who you are is a pretty fascinating person. Kudos to you for not letting your obstacles stop you from doing what you love to do in serving others. Writing and being an author are near and dear to my heart. I would so much rather sit down and read a book than watch a movie or TV.
I got a TV and I never switch it on. I don’t know the last time I switched my TV on.
Most of it isn’t interesting anyway. To immerse yourself in a beautifully written book, there’s nothing better than that.
To step away from reality into another one is amazing when you can lose yourself.
Sometimes, you need to do that. I applaud you and thank you for doing what you do and for serving others. I so look forward to having a continued conversation with you but we need to wrap this one up. I would love to have another conversation with you again.
Anytime. Thank you so much for having me.
It’s my pleasure. You’re a little bit of competition to me but I don’t care. I love it. There’s so much out there. I’m thinking I need to learn from you because you’ve got many years under your belt and I only have a few.
I’ll send you my service sheet. Maybe there’s something there that you need help with.
That’s it for this episode. Thank you all for reading to a little chat on being an author and loving what we do. I appreciate everyone that’s reading. Thank you.
- Heads & Tales
- Author Assist
- Behind the Pen – YouTube
- Narrations by KK – Anchor
- Behind the Pen – Anchor
- Karina Kantas
- OUTLAW Series
- A Flash Of Horror
- In Times Of Violence
- The Outsiders
- Stone Cold
- Broken Chains
- The Lemonade Stand
- Facebook – KKantas AuthorAssist
- KKantas AuthorAssist – Facebook
- Karina Kantas – Facebook
About Karina Kantas
Karina Kantas is from the UK but live in Greece. She has been in the publishing industry for over 27 years. Karina is a podcaster with two shows, a radio host, a BookTuber and YouTuber and run Author Assist which help authors through the writing, publishing and promotion and marketing stages and everything in between.
Karina is an award-winning author and filmmaker and has 14 books published in a mixture of genres. Karina also loves to sing and is actually representing Greece as a finalist in the World Karaoke Championship.