Monday, September 3, 2012

Gearing Up To Get An Agent! Blogfest

Surfing a bunch of writing blogs the other night after dinner, I kept coming across the acronym GUTGAA. What the heck is that? I wondered. Thanks to the wonders of Google, I quickly found myself at the blog of Deana Barnhart, mastermind and creator of the Gearing Up To Get An Agent! (GUTGAA) blogfest.

Intrigued, I perused her site. Sounds fun! I decided, and signed up for the six-week cyber-fest, which is designed to connect unpublished writers with one another, and with potential agents and small presses.

First on the agenda is what Deana Barnhart has termed the “Meet and Greet” bloghop, in which we are directed to post today—Monday, Sept. 3rd—a mini-bio about ourselves, along with the answers to seven questions posed by Ms. Barnhart. The idea is everyone then hops around to all the other participants’ blogs to check out their Meet and Greet answers, and all the writers get to know a little about each other. Cool, eh?

Okey, dokey, here goes!


Leslie Karst is my name. Leslie means “low meadow” in Scottish; karst is the geologic term for limestone sink-holes. At five foot two inches, I stand relatively low to the ground. Make what you like of this.

My favorite Beatle when I was ten was Paul; later in college I switched allegiance to John. I adore anything with cream or butter in it, especially Explorateur cheese (which has a really cool, retro rocket ship on the wrapping) and sauce BĂ©arnaise. I have a mint-green Bianchi Veloce road bike named Blanche (rhymes with “ranch”) that I love even more than my 10-inch Italian chef’s knife.

I used to spend my days drafting legal briefs, but now that I’m retired from the law I get to write fun things like mystery novels and essays about food and cooking.

Meet and Greet Questions and Answers:

Where do you write?

At a large desk in the study. The desk has to be large because it hosts a printer and scanner, as well as my laptop and variety of knick-knacks, including: a raccoon skull my friend Julie found while repairing her deck, some really bitchin’ quartz rocks I brought back from Alaska, and a photo of my dad with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (See also answer to next question, below.)

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

A stack of books, containing, among other things, Pidgin Grammar by Sakoda and Siegel, Roget’s New Pocket Thesaurus, Ngaio Marsh’s Opening Night, and Murder in Paradise by Loos and Castberg. A bit farther to the left is Ziggy, our Jack Russell mix, snoozing atop the pillows on the couch.

Favorite time to write?

Mornings, after my bike ride or Ziggy’s walk.

Drink of choice while writing?


When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

I need silence when I write, as I’m easily distracted. That’s why I have to close the study door when Robin has the Arts Channel playing on the TV.

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

Hot lava, on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.

What's your most valuable writing tip?

Something I was taught the very first day of law school: Banish showoff words like “utilize” from your writing; the simpler “use” is always the better choice.

I will keep you posted with further GUTGAA updates. And any fellow GUTGAA participants who read this, if you post a comment I’ll be sure to check out your blog, too!

Thanks Deana, for creating and hosting the blogfest!


  1. Hello! So nice to meet you! Glad you found the fest. Should be fun :)

    Good tip. Goes along with, why use many words when a few will do? Simple is usually best :)

  2. Leslie, this is great. I'm going to join in, I think, though not until tomorrow.

  3. Hi Leslie
    I love your blog title, and I agree.LOL, looking foward to reading your query as I love a good mystery, especially with a dinner scene.

    Best of luck with GUTGAA. You can find me over at blog 152 when i grow up i wanna write a kids book, cheers Julie

  4. Your tip on use vs. utilize is something I recently learned from a workplace writing class (free at my company, which is wonderful!). I think newbie writers (myself included esp. in my earlier novel attempts) think a bigger/fancier word is better, but it might not be the best word. I learned over time that the writing I most connected with was spare, and those wordy-words weren't used. The story and the characters shine through when the writing just gets out of the way.

    I'm curious how hot lava inspired your story. My imagination is already taking off... :)

    Here's my GUTGAA Meet & Greet post: A Girl and her Diary

  5. Nice to meet you! I enjoyed reading your post, and wonder how hot lava could inspire a story. Good luck for GUTGAA!

  6. Leslie, I thought I'd pass on the blog of one of our fellow GUTGAA participants, because she is writing her mystery series about her time spent in Alaska. Her blog is called Defending the Pen.

    And I've got mine up at Story Dump.

  7. Because every good mystery needs a dinner scene...I never thought of that and now that I have, it's so true! Great to meet you!

  8. To answer the burning (pun intended) question posed by several visitors: I spend a lot of time on the Big Island of Hawaii, which is home to one of the most consistent active volcanoes on the planet. While down at the lava flow some time back I was struck by how it would be a terrific place to dump a body. The idea for a new mystery m.s. was born.

    Thanks to all the GUTGAA visitors! It's been great fun blog-hopping and getting to know everyone!

  9. What an interesting post and a fascinating idea for a new mystery MS!

    (You kindly commented on my GUTGAA post and referenced Jeanette, just thought I'd let you know in case you wanted to visit the real Jeanette instead. However I thoroughly appreciate you visiting and commenting on my blog so thank you.). Good luck in GUTGAA

  10. So nice to meet you via GUTGAA! Sweet blog! ... makes me hungry! I'm a Stanford graduate physician who became a patient who became a doctor again....and I'm so happy to be here to meet you, even though it's past MN! Love your advice about using simple words, and hat's off to you for Law School ... just so sweet!

    Dr Margaret Aranda