Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Pie-mas!

Tonight, I may have made the world's most perfect pie crust. Join me in basking in its beauty, won't you?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cover Art!!!


Jesse James Dawson is a Champion, putting his life on the line for those foolish enough to bargain with demons and fighting to save their souls. But even a Champion needs some downtime, so Jesse takes his annual camping trip to Colorado for some male bonding over friendly games of paintball.

Unfortunately, the fun and war games are interrupted by a pack of creatures summoned up from the very depths of hell by an entity Jesse prayed he’d never see again. With the lives of his friends and a teenager’s soul on the line, Jesse’s only hope may lie with an even more dangerous enemy—his personal demon, Axel…

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kari's Queries, lucky 13

We're coming up on the Winter Holiday break for my high school friends (they don't let you call it Christmas break anymore), so the queries will be going on hiatus soon, at least for a little bit.

When we come back next semester, we're gonna change things up a bit, and maybe see some of the kids' own writing. I'm really excited about it!

In the meantime, I have this week's questions. Everyone stay warm, I hear it's downright nasty where ya'll are.


Who is your biggest inspiration and what have they done to inspire you?

I don't think I have a good answer for this one. There are a lot of people in my life who have inspired me to do this whole writing thing. Some of them cheered me on, cheered me up. Some of them I just felt the petty need to say "Ha! I did it, so neener neener!" (see, not all inspiration comes from good sources) But to pick the "biggest" one...

I write because I love it when people say "Oh my god, I want to read more!" "Wow, you totally had me wigging out there!" "Dude, I cried, seriously." Yeah, the praise is great, I won't deny that, but even more, I love knowing that I was able to take that person out of this world and put them in another, even if just for a little while.

Even if I had never been published, I would still write for those people, the ones who want to be transported to a different time and place, to walk in a hero's shoes (or a villain's) for just a little while.

So the really sappy answer to this whole question is, the readers inspire me. All the readers. All the ones who have ever read my stuff, the ones who might someday, and the ones who never will. I keep writing for them, because making them happy makes me happy.

After getting the cover art for your books, does it change your image of the way you imagine them?

Well, I've only had this experience twice so far, so right now I'll say no. The model on the covers of the JJD novels is not quite how I envisioned Jesse, but in all fairness, in my head Jesse still looks a lot like my hubby. Does the cover model make a good Jesse? Oh yeah! There are no words for how much I love my covers. But I don't think the Cover Jesse will ever replace Mental Jesse as my "go to" image. The original picture is still too entrenched in my head.

That is something I'll be curious to watch for, as time goes on. (and, higher powers willing, I publish more books) How will the cover art influence me, not just for the JJD novels but for everything I ever write? How will it influence how my readers see my characters?

For me, it's something to look forward to. For you, it probably just makes me sound like a big geek.

Have you ever thought that one of your books was going to be really good but then someone else reads it and he or she thinks it is not?

Oh yeah. Always. It happens with everything you ever write. There's always going to be someone who doesn't like it.

But I get the feeling that's not exactly what you're asking. I think you want to know, has anyone ever not liked something enough that I abandoned the idea? The easy answer to that is no.

I don't think I've ever truly abandoned an idea. Oh sure, I've got that one novel, Avarice, that has gone to live with a nice family in the country, but it's not GONE gone. Someday, when I feel like I can finally do it justice, I'll pick it back up again. Someday. And I didn't banish it because of anything anyone else said. It was something I came to recognize myself about the work. It wasn't ready yet.

When one of my betas, especially one of my early readers (Miss Chie, my hubby, Theo), tells me there's something not working with a piece, I listen. I mean, that's why I HAVE them, to catch the things I can't see. But then again, I've never had one of them say "OMG, this thing suuuuuuuucks! You should burn it, and break your fingers, and never write again!" They can always find some value in even the worst of my efforts, something to salvage, something to polish up. Even discarded writing isn't worthless writing. You learn, you grow, you scavenge the awesome pieces and use them later.

Now, to tackle the question on a more personal level... My hubby doesn't like Muse, and it's probably the writing I'm most proud of at this point in my life. Did it sting a little? Yeah a bit. But in truth, Muse isn't the kind of thing that he would normally like anyway, whether I wrote it or Joe Bestseller wrote it. So I can't really fault him for not liking something he already didn't like, y'know? Doesn't mean the writing's bad, just means it's not his thing.

That's something any writer has to learn. Just because a person doesn't like what you've written doesn't mean that the writing itself is bad. It just means it's not for THAT particular audience.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 12

Are there any authors' awards, such as how actors have Oscars? If so, have you ever attended a ceremony or received an award?

Short answer: Yes, and no.

Long answer: Yes, there are author awards (well, most are actually book awards), though they're often exclusive to genre, rather than all-encompassing "OMG it's the best book EVAR!!!!!111".

For example, we have the Nebula Awards. These are awards presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. They have categories, just like the Oscars. Short story, novel, novelette, things like that. Big awards ceremony, from what I hear. I've never been.

(Remember, I'm just starting out in this big crazy publishing world. Maybe they'll notice me later. ;) )

Another big sci-fi/fantasy award is the Hugo, voted on by members of Worldcon.

There's the O. Henry award, for short stories. I'm sure you've all heard of the Newbery Medal (kids' books). There are awards for mysteries, and romance, and poetry and pretty much everything you can think of.

And of course, the big daddy, the Pulitzer in five different categories.

Here's a link to a Wikipedia page on Literary Awards from all over the world. (I know, I know. Don't tell your teachers I sent you to Wikipedia)

So yes, there are awards. No, I've never been. But maybe someday!

Hey Kari! I'm your biggest fan and I find great enjoyment in out weekly readings with you. Now, onto my question, What is a typical day in the shoes of an extravagant author such as yourself?

You're my biggest fan? Wow, it's so great to finally meet you! I always wondered who you were!

Extravagant... Har har. Prepare to have your illusions utterly shattered.

Honestly, my day goes pretty much like yours. I get up at 5:30 a.m., check the news to see if I need an umbrella, sunblock, or a parka. Roll my kiddo out of bed, get her dressed. Take her to daycare, then I go climb on the public bus to head to the Real Job(tm). At work, I do my work... (duh) On my lunch break, I generally eat at my desk so that I can get in some writing or revising. In the evening, I take the bus home again, pick the kiddo up, go do dishes, and dinner and laundry and all that other domestic stuff. Kiddo goes to bed at 9, I work out for about 20 minutes, then I sit down to do some more writing, or revising (*cough or playing WoW cough*) depending on what deadline I'm working on.

On Saturdays and Sundays, I can usually fit more writing time in, and during kiddo's karate class I can usually revise like the wind!

It ain't glamorous. But I can think of a lot of worse ways to spend my time. Maybe someday I'll be rich enough to quit the Real Job(tm) and spend my days staking out my own personal table in some trendy coffeehouse, but I don't expect it any time soon.

The Stephen Kings and J.K. Rowlings of the writing world are rare. Most writers I know still have their day jobs, or have a spouse who has a really good job to support their writing addiction.

Writing won't make you rich, but I can't think of anything that would make me happier.

On bad days when you get 'writer's block', what do you do to clear your mind and overcome it?

Sometimes, it's as simple as changing the music I'm listening to. If I've been hitting the same tunes for a while, switching them up can shake something loose. Related to that, sometimes stopping to write something else will help me get through a stuck spot. Often, I'll stop and whip out a short story for my WoW guildies, or a few pages in a project I haven't "officially started" yet. Something to get the words flowing.

Sometimes I stop to read someone else's writing. That almost always does it. Like I'm absorbing someone else's creative vibes.

Sometimes (and you're gonna laugh at this) I take a nap. Strangely, I do my best creative thinking in that fuzzy place between awake and asleep. I keep a notebook by my bed, and when I come up with something right before drifting off I can scribble it down so I don't forget it.

And then sometimes, there's nothing to do but let it go. There are days when I'm truly stuck, when all I can do is stare at the blinking cursor of doom and send Miss Chie these texts about how much I suck and how I'm a big fraud, etc. etc. When it gets like that, sitting there trying to force it is just going to make me more stressed. More stress = less writing. Vicious cycle.

Then, the best thing I can do is walk away for the day. Come back tomorrow.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ok, I'm a dork.

I fully admit that I'm a dork, but this just made me smile all day. How awesome!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 11

Here we are, back in action, folks! Hope everyone had a good turkey day. Now let's start answering questions to get some of those extra pounds off!

(Whaddya mean it doesn't work that way?)


Which book of yours, finished or in progress, is your favorite and why?

Oh wow, that's a tough one. See, books are kinda like your kids. You're supposed to love them all equally.

However, like I'm sure you all know, parents have favorites. Even if we're not supposed to say so.

I think, at least at this moment, my favorite one is Muse. I'm extremely proud of Muse, in the world I've built, in the characters I've created. Even knowing that Muse is due for a major overhaul, once I get Book 3 in the can, it's still something I'm looking forward to with a great deal of excitement. I can't wait for everyone to see it, as I see it in my head. It's going to be freakin' amazing.

I think Muse stands out for me because the world truly is entirely of my own making. I mean, the JJD novels, those are set in the real world, our world. Sure, there's supernatural stuff going on, demons and whatnot, but when I describe a Kansas City street, it pretty much looks like any other city street you could think of.

Muse, though... That world came completely out of my warped little mind. The situation, the circumstances... Everything was mine to twist however I wanted, and the more twisted I made it, the happier I found myself. I stretched myself the most, with Muse, and I think that exercise is going to do me a lot of good in future books.

Have you ever considered who your literary executor would be and how you would want your works handled as to tampering, changing, and such?

I have thought about it. See, when you get to be old like me (I just turned 34! Ugh!) you think about stuff like that. Grownup responsibilities and whatever.

I suppose part of it would depend on when it became an issue. I mean, right now... If I croaked tomorrow, the only thing we might be able to finish up would be the JJD stories. I doubt anything else would ever get published. As for someone to finish writing them for me... Dunno. Miss Chie knows my future plans for that series just about better than anyone, but I don't know if she'd be able/willing to try and continue it without me.

If we're talking fifty years down the road when I've published eleventy-thousand novels and have the Nobel Prize in literature... Hm. I suppose my back catalog would just go on earning my descendants money. Who knows what other works I might have stuffed under a mattress by that time, that my great-grandkids can whip out and publish as a "never before seen work". Maybe by then I'll have figured out who I would trust to do my writing for me.

Why, one of you looking for the job? (I kid. I'm a kidder.)

Do you ever write other things like short stories or poems?

I was all set to say no to this question, when I realized that it wasn't precisely truthful.

I wrote poetry, once upon a time. Like, when I was in grade school. I think any writer tries it, at least once. I sucked at it, I fully admit that. Granted, I was also like eight. I sucked at pretty much everything at that point. I don't even try any more. There's a certain artistry to poems that I just don't have. I prefer to beat people over the head with my hefty tomes.

As for short stories... I was about to say that I can't write short stories. Usually, my ideas just can't be contained in less than 80K words. And then I realized that I generally write two or three short stories a week, just for fun. See, I play World of Warcraft, and my guildies and I write stories about our characters for fun. It's nothing for me to sit down and bang out a two thousand word story for my guildies and call it a relaxing half hour.

So yes, I do write short stories, but nothing publishable, and it's only for the enjoyment of a few friends. I suppose, someday if someone wants me to write a short story for an anthology or something, I could give it a try. But I bet I'll do a lot of freaking out about it first.


And that's today's answers!

I'm a bit scarce around the ol' blog here, 'cause I'm hard at work on my edit notes for A SHOT IN THE DARK! I'm always afraid that I'll sit down with my manuscript and my red pen and nothing will come to me, but so far I've been able to mark up the first few chapters quite well. I'm excited about it again as I read through it, and I think ya'll are really gonna like this one.

Monday, November 29, 2010

So You Want to Write a Novel

Watch. Laugh. Then weep, because I've HAD this conversation with people.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Such a Tease

The bad news: I still can't show you my cover,'cause they're still doing artistic things to it. I don't see how they can make it any more awesome, but hey, if they can find another iota of space to pack some more awesome in there, I'm happy to let them.

The good news: I can show you the back cover copy! So here you are, folks, what A SHOT IN THE DARK is all about.


Jesse James Dawson is a Champion, putting his life on the line for those foolish enough to bargain with demons and fighting to save their souls. But even a Champion needs some downtime, so Jesse takes his annual camping trip to Colorado for some male bonding over friendly games of paintball.

Unfortunately, the fun and war games are interrupted by a pack of creatures summoned up from the very depths of hell by an entity Jesse prayed he’d never see again. With the lives of his friends and a teenager’s soul on the line, Jesse’s only hope may lie with an even more dangerous enemy—his personal demon, Axel…

It never fails to amaze me how they make my books sound so much cooler than I remember them being. I can't wait for you guys to read this one.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 10

This is our 10th Kari’s Queries! Woohoo! Snoopy Dance! Kermit Arms!


This also turns out to be one of my lengthier ones, proving that once you get me talking, I just won’t shut up. But really, I had important stuff to say!

News first! Today, I got my edit letter for A SHOT IN THE DARK, so my Nanowrimo days are at an end for this year. I have until January 1st to get these revisions done and back to The Editor. I’ve only done a cursory glance over the list so far, but it looks mostly cosmetic, which is good. The one big kicker (which I knew already) is that this book is coming up shorter than anyone would like. One of my big tasks over the next month and a half is to figure out if there is a subplot I can add, or expand on. The Editor has given me some ideas to think on, and I’m excited to let those stew in my cranium for a few days before settling in to work.

I am still waiting on permission to show ya’ll my cover art and back cover copy. I’m SO excited about this, guys, I can’t wait for you to see it!

And now, on to my questions.


How did you find and pick out your agent and publisher?

Hm. Trying to decide how much lecturing ya’ll can really put up with.

Ok, first off, I found my agent by writing a query letter. This is a letter of (typically) no more than three paragraphs, describing your book, and a little about yourself. The format will vary depending on whether or not you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, and there are a ton of resources around the web to help you learn how. My personal favorite is (as you all know) Absolute Write. Tons of info there on just about every subject imaginable, and if you’re not comfortable enough to participate, you can still lurk and learn a LOT.

Once I had my query letter, I used Agent Query and Query Tracker to make a list of agents who were accepting manuscripts in my genre. Using that list, I researched further online, making sure nobody was a scam, trying to get a better feel for who was really looking for the kind of thing I had written (agent blogs are a wonderful resource), who might be a good match for me personality-wise, etc. At the time, I was also really broke, so those who took email queries went to the top of the line, as opposed to those who only took snail-mail queries.

Over 6 months, I sent out 28 queries. One of the very last ones I sent out was to my agent, the wonderful and amazing Chris Lotts. He got back to me almost immediately, requesting the full manuscript, and a couple weeks later, he called to talk to me. We clicked on so many things, not only on his vision and enthusiasm for Devil, but for what I wanted to do with my career as an author.

(Note: An agent should never just want to represent only one book of yours. You should think of it like a long-term partnership, or dare I say it, marriage, which can span your entire writing career)

I did not choose my publisher. As part of what an agent does, Chris submitted my manuscript to editors at various houses that he knows are interested in urban fantasy like what I’d written. I don’t know who all he submitted to, because knowing would probably have made me more neurotic than I generally am. Really, I didn’t know what was happening until he called me to say “Hey, I have good news.”

HOWEVER… This is not to say that you cannot choose a publisher. While many publishers only look at submissions that come from agents, there are some who take submissions directly from authors without having an agent involved. In the sci-fi/fantasy world, Tor publishing is one of those. I know there are others, both in my genre and in others, but I’m not well-versed. A bit of internet research will do you wonders here. I know that most of the ones who do are generally slammed with submissions, and I’ve heard of people not hearing a word back for two years or more.

CAVEAT: Please please PLEASE do your research. There are a ton of “publishers” out there who are really just after your money. If they ask you to pay for “editing fees” or for your cover art design, or anything really, run the other way. A REAL publisher pays YOU, not the other way around. When in doubt, google the publisher you’ve chosen plus the word “scam” and see what pops up. Also check out Preditors & Editors, and on the Absolute Write forums, check out their Bewares, Recommendations and Background Checks section. This warning goes for agents too. Do your research, and don't pay ANYbody money.

What is the hardest part about writing a book?

The hardest part… Hmm… I think each book has its own unique brand of hell involved. (Can I say that to high school students?)

For any new book, there’s always the challenge of how to make the plot fresh and unique. There’s the intense interrogation of new characters to find out how they tick and why they do what they do. There’s the construction of a brand new world, sometimes, from the ground up. Everything from the geography, to the economy, to the theology.

(Tell you a secret, though, world-building is actually one of my favorite things to do. Shh. Don’t tell.)

For the JJD series, I’m finding that my challenge is in keeping Jesse’s sense of humor as his world gets darker and more dangerous. One of the things that has made the JJD series likeable is Jesse’s snarky wit, and sometimes I catch him sliding into a gloom and doom mindset, and then I have to step back and think, okay, how can I make this funnier?

I think humor is actually one of the hardest things you’ll ever try to write, because as anyone who’s ever told a joke knows, no two people will laugh at the same thing. What’s absolutely freakin’ hilarious to me may draw totally blank looks from others. (Ok, 90% of the time, DOES draw totally blank looks from others)

So yeah, I think writing humor is my hardest part.

What is your favorite or most influential movie to watch?

I guess that depends on what you’re wanting to be influenced to do.

As far as favorite movies… I have a few I fall back on when I just need something comfy on the TV. Crybaby is probably my very very most favoritest movie in the whole world. It’s the movie I want when I just need to let my brain relax, or when I’m banishing the zombies I just finished reading about. I have discovered, however, that I cannot watch it and write about Jesse at the same time. Jesse apparently does not like Crybaby. Big goober.

I also tend to stick Empire Records in for the same reasons, though Jesse doesn’t seem to avoid that one as much. If you notice, most movies that get my repeat business have a major soundtrack to them. Music seems to be the thing that draws me the most.

Influential… Hm. Well, I think that movies, like books, are something that you can always learn from, as a writer. There is a pattern to telling a story, be it on film or in print, and watching a wide variety of movies can help you learn to see that pattern. It can help you see what happens when you deviate from that pattern, why sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

One movie I saw recently that really struck me from a story-telling perspective (don’t laugh) was The Expendables. Now, this movie probably isn’t going to win any major awards, but it was highly entertaining, and several things really excited me about it. This movie had the potential to be a giant walking cliché. I mean, we had just about every major action star from my childhood (yes, I know most of you weren’t born yet when these guys ruled the silver screen, but even you know who most of them are) and guns and explosions and…! Wow! Boom! Bang! Kapow!

BUT, the writers acknowledged those clichés, paid homage to them even, and yet managed to avoid falling into them. I thought it was a great example of how to take a plot that’s been done a million times (like most plots, really), and still make it unique and entertaining.


Ok, I’ve babbled enough for one post.

Next week, Kari’s Queries will be on hiatus while we all go stuff ourselves with turkey and/or the vegetarian dish of your choice.

Everybody be safe, and I’ll see if I can’t come up with more fun and frivolity for you in the meantime.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 9

How do you think of your ideas for your book?

Oh wow... My ideas come from LOTS of places. It can be totally random stuff.

I have an entire book I want to write, totally based off of one song. In fact, I've been inspired by music several times. Sometimes it's a lyric...sometimes just a single word... ("Hey, that would make a great name for a pirate ship!" Poof, book idea.) Sometimes it's just the mood the song invokes, trying to imagine a scene with that in the background.

I've found ideas in "what if?" kinds of questions. What if there were no more muses in the world? What if there was a supernatural fire-fighter, and what kind of world would require such? What if King Arthur was reborn as a modern teenage boy? stuff like that.

It almost always starts with one key image in my head, and then I have to spend the rest of the time trying to figure out what kind of world/person/situation would create that image.

If you can't tell, world building is one of my favorite things to do. I could go on forever.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Well... The first draft? Or entirely? I'll just answer both.

I can usually come up with a decent first draft in two months. After that, there's the whole beta-reading and revision process, and really how long that takes depends on how long I have. Devil, which was written with no deadline in mind, took about nine months total. Shot was a bit more hurried, just because I had a deadline to turn it in to my publisher. And realize that I also started completely over on that one, halfway through. In it's current form, it took about five months.

Of course, that said, it took me the better part of a year to write Muse, 'cause I did it in fits and starts, and as soon as I'm done writing Book 3, I'll be heading back to Muse for a major overhaul. There'll be at least two years worth of work in that book by the time I'm done.

Really, a book takes as long as it takes. I know people who can write an 80K word book in a week. I know people who write a book every two or three years. Nobody's doing it wrong.

When writing a book does your publisher dictate your corrections or do they just let you do whatever and if they do not like it have you revise it yourself?

First off, I have to say that I love love love my editor. She sees things in my book that I miss, and we're usually pretty in sync as far as fixes go.

But she never tells me that I HAVE to do something. She'll point out a trouble spot, let me know what she thinks is wrong, offers her suggestions on how to fix it. Then, I have the option to agree with her and make the changes, to agree with her but fix it in another way, or disagree with her. It's a constant dialogue, all with an eye to making the book the best it can be.

Now, yes, if I absolutely refused to do ANY revisions, there would probably be some serious problems. There are a few authors out there who have decided they are above editing, and sadly, it shows. I will always need my editors. The reason they get paid for what they do is that they're good at it.

How would you go about picking beta readers?

Initially, my betas happened by accident. Miss Chie happened because she had skills that I thought could help me, since she was an English teacher. Most of my betas happened because they too read urban fantasy, and their reading experience helps me ferret out plot holes and lame ideas. Some of my betas are writers themselves, and they can offer me good advice on pacing, and word choice, and structure.

I try to use the same betas for every book. The ones I have now have been through three books with me (two of the JJD series and then Muse) and I know I can count on them for insightful opinions. However, now and then real life interferes and one of them doesn't have time.

Then, I'd try to choose someone who had something new to bring to the table. If I was going to write YA, I'd probably find a few teens who could offer their thoughts. If I wanted to write a... I dunno... A spy thriller, maybe. I'd find someone who likes those kind of books to give it a glance. Stuff like that.

I find that it helps to have both readers and writers as betas. They read differently, but both of their outlooks are vital to making a book a coherent whole.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 8

Another installment, and the kiddos are getting a leeeetle punchy.

Why are you friends with Mrs. Chie?

Because no one else will have me.

And sometimes, she comes to my house and makes me really good food. Seriously, have you had her banana bread? Ooh, or her oatmeal scotchie cookies? Om nom nom....

Sorry, where were we?

In all seriousness, though... She is someone I can count on to not only be brutally honest with me when there's something in my writing that isn't working, but she also knows how my mind works well enough to suggest logical alternatives. It's invaluable. That's the writing-friend part.

But she also listens to me whine about my basement flooding, or answers my cooking questions at weird hours of the night, or gives me advice on how to get stains out of a shirt.

That's what friends do.

Have you ever read somebody else's book and gotten inspired?

Every time I read a book, I get inspired. In fact, a lot of times when I'm having a stuck day, I'll sit down and read something, just to shake my brain cells loose.

Inspiration can take a lot of forms. Sometimes, it's the basic "Oh wow, I can do better than this!" Sometimes, it's the absolute certain knowledge that nothing I can write will ever be as good as what I've just read, but I'm sure as hell gonna try. (Shh, don't tell them I cussed.)

If you want specific books that inspired me? Hmm... The comic book ElfQuest. Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series. More recently, my good friend Stacia Kane's Downside Ghosts series. (might be a bit risque for you guys, but if you don't tell, I won't) The Dresden Files, of course.

Everything I read teaches me more about the kind of writer I want to be.

If you had never met Mrs. Chie, would your books be what they are now?

See, this is where I'm about to get all philosophical.

Imagine that you left the house one morning, and instead of turning right like usual, you turn left. And you pass a coffeehouse you've never seen before, so you go in. And inside, you meet the man/woman of your dreams, you get married, you have kids, you live happily ever after.

But if you'd have turned right, none of that would have ever happened. Maybe you turned right, saw a runaway bus and saved a kindergartner from it. You were a hero you went on Oprah, you became a world-famous author because of your heroic deed.

Both outcomes were pretty good, and the only difference was whether you turned left or right.

That's kinda how I look at the results any of my beta readers have had on my work. Without Mrs. Chie, I might have still been published. But maybe it would have been with a different book. Or maybe it would have been Devil, but the storyline would have taken on a whole different twist.

So, no, without her, none of my books would exist in their current form. They might still exist in SOME form. Or not. It's hard to say.

Everyone around me has an influence on what I write, from Mrs. Chie, to the crazy guys I ride the bus with, to some random homeless guy I pass on the street. And the results just depend on whether I turned left or right that day.

Wow. That was kinda deep.

That'll teach me to post this stuff late at night. You get the Deep Thoughts with K.A. Stewart version.

Have a great weekend, ya'll!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Heads Up Folk!

Pleased to announce that Book 2 of the Jesse James Dawson series, A SHOT IN THE DARK, is now available for pre-order on Amazon!

The official release date is July 5, 2011.

I'm so excited!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Just 'cause I've been talking about it... Here is my Halloween costume this year. A Mad Hatter, of my own design. (pieced together, not made)

And in writerly stuffs...

Over at The League, Kevin Hearne has the cover up for his upcoming debut! Go check it out and tell him how freakin' awesome it is!

NaNoWriMo started today, and I managed to get more than the daily goal, but less than my personal goal. I'll take it.

That's all I know, folk! I'll be typing my fingers to the bone until the end of November, whereupon I shall take the last day of the month off for my own birthday. So there. Nyah.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 7

A couple short questions today, courtesy of my high school friends.


What was your first impression of Mrs. Chie?

First off, you'll notice that I changed your teacher's name up there to her "codename." That's to make it all seem cooler. Second off, I wondered how long it'd take for you guys to start asking me about her.

Let's see... You realize that it's been many years since I first met Mrs. Chie, and that I've slept since then, right? I mean, I'm almost 34, the brain cells don't work like they used to.

If I recall correctly, Mrs. Chie was actually my hubby's friend first, so I kinda met her through him. I don't really remember exact first impressions, but I do remember the moment I found out she was a high school English teacher. I was working on Avarice at the time (the book that went away to a farm to live with a nice family that loves it) and I asked her, "Hey, do you think you could look at a little bit of this for me?"

Well, looking at a "little bit" of this turned into looking at every scrap of writing I did during the day, as I did it. Mrs. Chie is one of my "alpha-betas", meaning she gets to read every word that comes out of my head at just about the moment that I get it typed down. Before ANYone else. Her advice is always thoughtful and spot-on, and I'd be lost without her.

Do you ever get recognized in public?

Are you kidding? My own family pretends they don't know me in public. (Okay, that's not true.)

No, I don't get recognized in public. I imagine that very few authors do. I mean sure, there's the big ones. Most people would probably recognize Stephen King or J. K. Rowling if they passed them on the street. Stephanie Meyer, maybe. I'd recognize Jim Butcher, but that's 'cause I'm a rabid fan (and because he lives in my city, so running into him isn't unlikely).

But for the most part, I think authors have a rather peculiar kind of fame. I mean, their fans can be just as rabid as any movie or rock star's, but their appearances aren't as...public?

I don't ever envision being chased down the street by a pack of screaming fans. Book enthusiasts (at least in the adult literature world, I make no promises about the YA world) tend to be a little calmer than that.


AND... Do you know what's coming up on Monday, folks?

That's right, it's NaNoWriMo time!

After much waffling and a few Real Job(tm) scares, it has been determined that yes, I WILL be doing Nano. And I WILL be using Nano to get started on Book 3 of the Jesse James Dawson series (still untitled, of course). I was going to work on a new project, but as time got closer, it just wasn't speaking to me like Book 3 has been.

Thanks to my hubby (and to Mrs. Chie), I've been able to brainstorm and fill the hole in my outline, so really, I'm pretty good to go! In fact, I could start today if I wanted (but that would be against the Nano rules)

If anyone is participating in Nano and wants to buddy me, leave a comment with your username, and I will gladly add you. The more the merrier!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy Release Day!

Happy release day to Jim Butcher (and happy birthday too!) for his short story collection Side Jobs.

Been waiting for this one. All you Dresden fans, you know what I'm talking about. But I can't get my hands on it until this weekend, so no spoilers! Shhh!

Also, happy release day to a write friend of mine, Tim Power, for his middle-grade novel, The Boy Who Howled!

Gonna be grabbing this one for kiddo, I think it's right up her alley.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 6

And here is the next installment of questions from my high school friends! They're really starting to get some insightful stuff going on here!

What is your favorite novel made into a movie?

Ooh, my favorite? Hmm…

Well (and this probably marks me as old) I’ve always been a fan of The Crow, which was based on a graphic novel rather than a book… I think as far as adapting the imagery faithfully, and the overall atmosphere of the world, the movie did a wonderful job.

The Lord of the Rings movies were also amazing adaptations. At the risk of being lynched by a mob of angry Tolkienites, I would say that those movies kept the epic essence of the books, and eliminated some of the more…meandering sub-plots. Normally, when they start hacking things out of books to make them into movies, I get a little wary, but in this case I think it worked to the good.

I will also cite The Dresden Files. It was a TV series, rather than a movie, and while it altered a lot of Jim Butcher’s details, I think it kept the heart and soul of the books. I was sad it only lasted one season.

The first few Harry Potter movies did well, I think, but they eventually started leaving so much out that I think it was a detriment to the later movies. It’ll be interesting to see how the final two play out, with some of the pertinent details never established.

It would honestly be easier for me to list the book-to-movie progressions that have disappointed, mostly because you remember the bad stuff easier than the stuff that went well. Especially with books that people dearly love. They hate to see their beloved characters tampered with. For a really good movie, they’ll be a bit more lenient, but if the screenplay/direction/acting just isn’t there…nope.

Do you ever find yourself struggling with making your plot lines original sounding? If so, what kinds of things do you do to make it more interesting?

I see what you did there, sneaking two questions into one. Ya’ll are just trying to see if I’m paying attention.

Well, first I need to respond to this question like this: There are no original plots left. True story. If you break down every book/TV show/movie into its base components, every story has been told.

I mean, just off the top of your head, how many different Romeo & Juliet movies can you think of? Y’know, the ones where the boy and girl come from different places in life, but try to find love despite their warring families?

Or how about the “stranger makes war on an unfamiliar people, then learns to love them and adapt to their ways”? Just thinking about it now, I can come up with four and that’s not even trying.

So yes, I struggle to make my plot lines original. But really, I just have to remind myself that, while the storyline may have been done already, it’s still a storyline that people enjoy. I mean, the Romeo & Juliet dynamic has proven popular for centuries now. Why mess with a good thing?

The thing I can control is my execution of the plotline. The easiest (though also often done) method is to take the standard trope (stop: Look the word up. Miss Chie will be happy if you do) and turn it inside out. Take one of the basic elements and make the opposite happen.

Maybe your Cinderella is the boy in the story. Maybe the dark and sinister man is actually the good guy. Maybe the zombie plague is really the cure for cancer. Who knows?

Whatever you decide to do, it’s HOW you do it that makes it uniquely your own. While Jesse’s core story, that of one underdog against the world, isn’t unique, Jesse himself is. I’ve never seen another protagonist done quite the same way, and that’s why he catches people’s attention.

If you sit around and try to think up a plot that’s never been done before, you’ll never put a single word on the paper. Don’t try.


I had a lot of fun with these this week! Thanks so much!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Evil League of Evil!

Well, ok, not quite...but close.

Remember I had news? Well, this is it!

I have been asked to join The League of Reluctant Adults! If you've read my blog for a long time (there's like...two of you, right?), you'll know that it's something I've always wanted to do, so when they asked, I said yes WITHOUT the alcoholic coercion!

There are actually three of us being inducted (kidnapped?) on the same day, so all this week on the League blog, they'll be doing introduction posts. Kevin Hearne's is up now! Go check him out... Er... I mean, go introduce yourselves, and learn about his upcoming books!

But really, I'm very excited about blogging with such an amazing group of authors, and I hope you'll all duck over there and get to know some folks you may not have read yet.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 5

You will notice that this week's queries are a day early. That's because the kids in question have a day off tomorrow. Enjoy it kids! Wish I could be off too.

(Yes, I know I'm already WAY off. Har har har)


Did you ever want to throw away a piece when you were almost done with it?

Actually did throw away a piece... Or at least trunked it. (Trunked: meaning to stuff in a trunk, never again to see the light of day) I was 78,000 words into Avarice when I finally hit the realization that it was fatally flawed.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a good story! And I think someday when I'm a better writer, I'll go back to it and make it everything I know it could be.

It was a hard decision, and sometimes I still go back and open up a few of my favorite passages just to read them again. In little snippets, it's really good! But as a whole it doesn't hang together like it should.

(Ask Miss Chie about that. She's read it)

With the assurance that Jessie James Dawson will save your soul, what would you sell your soul for?

Even knowing I'd get it back for sure, I think the only thing I'd sell my soul for would be my daughter. That's just kinda a mom thing to do. There's nothing in the world that I want that I can't get myself.

Wow, that was kinda a short answer, wasn't it?

What was your "Plan B" if you did not get published?

Plan? There ain't no plan...

Seriously, I didn't really have a plan B.

I suppose that, had I never been published, I'd still be trying. I honestly expected it to be a much longer process with a lot more rejection than I had.

I guess, if I hadn't succeeded, at some point in the future I would have had to step back and re-evaluate my life, and decide if I wanted to keep going. I think every writer hits that point.

Honestly, I may have eventually given up submitting to agents/publishers, but I never could have given up writing. I get all twitchy when I'm not putting new words on paper, and I'm not a very pleasant person to be around.

Though, I could totally see myself putting my work up on the internet for free, maybe, if I hadn't been published. Y'know, like a serial novel on my blog or something.


I guess I'm just glad I never had to make that decision.


And in my own news, when I got home last night, I had the back cover copy for A SHOT IN THE DARK waiting for my approval. It looks great! It never fails to amaze me how other people can make my books sound so much cooler than I remember them being.

When I have permission to share that with you, of course I will.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 4

Where did you go to college and why did you go there?

I went to school at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri, and I earned a BA in English with an emphasis in Literature.

Honestly, I chose Jewell because I visited and fell in love with the campus. It was beautiful, it was small enough that I didn’t feel like a little worm on a big hook, and they had a good English program.

I actually chose my degree track with an eye to being a writer someday. I chose the literature emphasis so that I could learn how to read and to break down what I was reading into its key components. If I could learn how all the pieces fit together, I knew I could build my own.

Who inspired you to write your books or become an author?

Oh now see, ya’ll are just getting tricky now. You tried to ask me this a couple weeks ago, and I kinda dodged the answer. Tricksy hobbitses.

Hm… I don’t know that I can lay my original urge to write at the feet of any one person. Especially when I was young, the greatest thing anyone did for me was simply NOT tell me to stop.

I suppose, though, as I got older, my husband was one to truly encourage me. If I said I wanted to be published, he took it as fact and never let me forget what I was striving for. No matter how dejected I got, or how neurotic, he was there to keep me moving.

And, I will admit, that the author Jim Butcher was also an inspiration, and for a totally ridiculous reason. Seriously, you guys are gonna laugh at me.

I picked up one of the Dresden Files books, way back when I was first starting to be a fan, and I read the author bio. And it said that he lived in Independence, Missouri. And I was suddenly like, “Holy crap, this guy lives like fifteen minutes from me!”

For some reason, it was like a light going on in my brain. I thought, if HE can do this, if he can get published and he lives right here in Missouri not spitting distance from my house, then I can do it too. The mystique was suddenly removed, and it all became very possible for me.

(side note: I have since become very good friends with Jim's sister, who is a lovely person, and despite living so close together, we don't get to hang out nearly enough)

What was it like knowing your work was going to be published?

Well, I almost wrecked my car. True story.

When I got the call from The Agent, telling me that we’d sold the JJD series, I was driving home from the dentist of all places, and my 6-year-old is watching me from the back seat, very worried, saying “Mommy, maybe you need to calm down…”

Even though it was what I had been working for all along, it was still fairly surreal. I think part of me thought it was a really elaborate practical joke until about the second advance check cleared the bank. (it would have gone down as the MOST expensive practical joke ever, btw)

And even now, a little part of me still can’t believe that people are reading my “little story”. People I don’t know, have never met, have never even heard of. They’re reading words that I wrote, learning to love characters I invented.

Surreal is the best word I have for it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Heads Up!

You have a chance to win a copy of A DEVIL IN THE DETAILS here at Secrets and Obsessions! Winner is chosen on Wednesday, so get a move on, leave a comment!

Also, it's October and do you know what that means? It means that November and NaNoWriMo are just around the corner!! Do you have your NaNo idea yet?

I'm currently working on the research portion of mine. My participation of course depends on my edit schedule with Book 2, but barring that, I'm planning busting out my words like everyone else!

If anyone wants to be my friend on NaNo, leave your user name in the comments so I can add you to my list!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 3

The kids took pity on me this week. No counting questions!

Would you ever base a book on your life?

Not really. I’m not that interesting.

Ok, no, you need a better answer than that.

There are always bits and pieces of my life that make it into my books. The JJD novels especially, since Jesse’s little family of three highly resembles my own family. But I’m not nearly as cool as Jesse’s wife, and any magical ability I have seems to center around summoning every cold virus in a twenty mile radius. (can you tell I’m sick right now?)

And since the spider bites I keep getting fail to turn into super powers (Not fair!), it’s probably best that I base my books around other folk.

Which kinda leads into the second question!

When you think of characters for your novels, do you base their characteristics off of people in your life, or do you make them up completely?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: I pick and choose. Some characters are based on people I know. Some are entirely out of my head. Most are amalgamations of several people I know. For example, the character of Dr. Bridget Smith in the JJD book is kind of a blending of several doctors that I know.

I take this trait here, and that look there, and smush ‘em all together.

The really amusing thing is that people will see parts of themselves in characters where I never had any intention of there being a similarity. They’re like “That’s totally me, isn’t it!” And I’m afraid if I say yes, they’ll be made, and if I say no, they’ll be disappointed.

If you had to pick a career besides being an author, what would it be and why?

Ok, don’t laugh. I actually have a good answer for this one.

If I wasn’t an author, and I didn’t have to work at the Real Job ™ , I would totally be a doula.

I see by your blank looks that you have no idea what that means.

A doula is a birthing assistant. Not a midwife, per se, but someone who helps the mother through labor and delivery by being there to support her, take care of the little things so she can concentrate on the important stuff (like having the baby) that sort of thing.

I learned about doulas when I was pregnant with my own daughter, and it always seemed like something that I would not only love, but that I would be good at.


And with that, I shall crawl back into my bottle of NyQuil and bid you all good eve.

I have some good news coming up soon, but it's going to have to wait for another night. Nothing life shattering or anything, but I'm pretty stoked about it. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kari's Queries, part 2

Here we are again with another installment of Kari's Queries, where I answer the burning questions of high school English students. (well, so far, not a lot of burning, but I have hope)

I don't know about ya'll, but I'm enjoying this.

How do you create the plot lines for your books?

Often, it starts with one scene. One image, one moment that just sticks in my head. It makes me want to know, what lead up to that moment? What is going on, how did they get there? What happens next?

Sometimes, I’ll start with the end. Especially with the JJD series, I have a list of things that must happen to Jesse over the course of the series. So, each book is simply a way to get him there.

Each plot has to have a start, it has to have conflict, it has to have different threads that ultimately come together. It feels like braiding really long cords so that the colors line up just so.

I get stuck, sometimes. I have them at point A, and I know they need to get to point B, but I have no idea how or why. Usually, I follow Jim Butcher’s school of thought there. (If you haven’t read any of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, go find it. Now. I’ll wait.) His rule of thumb is, if it makes his hero’s life more difficult, put it in there.

I think it’s amazing that the fictional characters of the world haven’t formed a union to protest their treatment.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

Oh wow… Good question.

Ok, understand that I was an only child, and we lived in the middle of 50 acres of forest. Needless to say, we were quite a ways away from any other kids. So…I read. A LOT. The first fantasy book I remember reading was The Hobbit. I was in first grade. (we’ll discuss my freakishness later) I think that was the book that showed me how awesome the worlds inside my head could be.

And, because I was alone a lot, I had a lot of time to explore those worlds. The people I made up, the adventures I had… I think I was probably in third grade before it occurred to me that I could write down those worlds, and other people could visit them too!

The first stories of any length that I remember writing were essentially fanfic of my favorite comic growing up. I didn’t use those characters, but I put my own characters in that world. I made my friends into elves and we rode giant wolves. (Bonus points if any of you recognize the comic)

The thing is… I’ve always been a writer. Even if I’d never been published, I would STILL be a writer, ‘cause I couldn’t stop if I had to. I’d go nuts. Being an author, being published… That’s just gravy.

How many books did you write before your first book was published?

Again with the counting! Ya’ll are just trying to fry my brain, aren’t you?

Ok, well… We’ll start with this thing I wrote before I ever had a computer. Typed the whole thing out on my mother’s Brother typewriter. Epic fantasy, separated twins, girl with silver hair…a wolf with wings… It was bad. REALLY bad. I was….um….twelve, maybe? (1) Then I wrote a couple novel-length type things that were essentially bastardized fanfic of a couple different fantasy series that I loved, so we’ll count both of those. (2) (3) And then I wrote two (still fanfic, never let anyone tell you it’s not good practice) novels based on some RPG characters some buddies and I played. (again, freakishness, discuss it later) (4) (5) This takes me pretty much up to my…second year of college? So…20-ish.

Then I started Avarice. Got 78,000 words into it before I realized it was fatally flawed, and since I had the idea for Devil already, I swapped. But we'll count it as a completed novel at that length. (6) That makes Devil number 7. Lucky number seven. However, while I was going through the querying process with Devil, I also wrote Muse. (8)

So, technically, I wrote 8 novels before my first was published. I’ve written three more since then.

When you put it that way, wow. I’m way more prolific than I thought.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kari's Queries, pt. 1

Welcome, folk, to the first installment of Kari's Queries!

Working with my beta-reader, Chie, I will be using my Fridays to answer questions posed to me by her high school English classes. I'm excited about this, and I'm hoping the kids are too.

(Taking into account that the internet is full of weirdos, I of course don't identify Chie by her real name, nor will I identify her school. It's just safer that way.)

((No, you are not one of the weirdos in question. You either. YOU are. Yes, you. In the fez.))


How had your high school English classes helped you develop as a writer?

See, you're just looking to me to prove that you need to pay attention in Miss Chie's class, aren't you? I'm wise to that game...

No, seriously... All that stuff they keep hammering into your head about grammar and spelling, and sentence structure? All of that is IMPORTANT. If you think you have a story to tell, you must first tell it in a manner that other people can read easily. Spelling and grammar. Folks tell you that "Oh, don't worry about that, an editor will take care of that if you get published." But if your work isn't stellar to begin with? No editor will look at it.

They also taught me to read. And you're thinking "Hey, I learned to read in like kindergarten, you must have come from a crappy school!" No, I didn't mean like that. I mean, they taught me how to read analytically. How to dissect a paragraph, a chapter, a story, to see the flow, to see how the words combined together to make a coherent whole. If you want to write, you must learn to read. You have to recognize those elements in other stories if you're going to use them in your own.

But aside from the basic mechanics, I have to say that my high school English teachers always encouraged me to write. I had one teacher who let me spend the entire year in the computer lab, working on a book. (now trunked, never to be seen, and only barely removed from fanfic) None of them ever told me "well, maybe you should think about preparing for a REAL job" or that I wasn't being realistic. I wish I knew where they were right now, so I could say "Hey, look what I did!"

If you could give one person one piece of advice to help them get a book published, what would it be?

Just one piece? Just one person? Oi.

Geez, there’s so much to say about the various stages of this mad mad mad mad mad mad process.

Um… Well for the writing aspect of it, I would say “Allow yourself to write utter poo.” You can always go back and fix crappy writing to be amazing writing later, but you can’t fix the stuff you never write at all. So it doesn’t matter if the first draft stinks to high heaven, ‘cause the last draft won’t. Nobody ever has to see that first, horrendous draft unless you want them to. There’s no law that says you have to let anyone read it before you’re happy with it.

For the publishing part… Don’t give up too quickly. Getting four or five rejections is nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. I have friends, published authors, whose rejections numbered in the multiple hundreds before they finally got an agent, before they finally got that book deal. For some of them, it was the third or fourth (or seventh) book they’d tried to get published. They didn’t give up, and every book they wrote just made them better writers.

Ooh, can I give one more piece of advice? Please? Well it’s my blog, so I’m gonna anyway. So there. Neener.

Develop thick skin. Like…adamantite-plated T-Rex thick skin.

For every part of the process - from finding an agent to getting reviews on a published book - there are going to be people who flat out don’t like your writing. Some of them are professional about it, and some of them are bugnut crazy and equate your writing ability with your right to continue to exist on this planet. You just have to remember that your book is not YOU. Just because Person XYZ didn’t like your book doesn’t mean they’re saying horrible things about YOU as a person. (Unless they are, and then you file them under the bugnut crazy category as mentioned above)

Those truly professional criticisms, whether they come from an agent, an editor, a book reviewer or one of your own beta readers, can truly help make you a better writer. Look at what didn’t work for these people. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of taste, and you chalk it up to just that and move on. Other times, there really is a fundamental flaw, and you can correct it, making your next work that much greater.

How many times do you submit your story before it is finally perfected enough to be published?

Oh god, you’re gonna make me count, aren’t you? Don’t you know English majors don’t like math?* Lessee. I do a first draft. (1) Then I go through that draft and rework it with all the notes I made while I was doing the first draft. (2) Then I send it out to my beta readers. Once I get their notes back, I sit down and revise to take those into account. (3) Then, if I’m still not happy with something (the length, the flow, a hinky plot point), I may let it sit a week or two then go back and do yet another revision. (4)

So I think it’s usually the fourth or fifth draft that I send on to my agent and/or editor, depending on how close I am to my deadline.

It should be noted, though, that this is my process after finishing oh…nine novels? A DEVIL IN THE DETAILS, taking place way earlier in my learning curve, had WAY more drafts than this. I know, because I keep finding hard copies of various versions stashed in places around my house. Not sure if I should throw them away…hmm… Point being, it took me quite a while to whittle the process down to this concise version you see here. Mostly, it takes as long as it takes.

Also, remember that just because I turned it in doesn’t mean I’m done revising. Right now, I’m waiting on my edit letter for A SHOT IN THE DARK (Jesse Dawson Book 2), wherein The Editor will tell me what works, what doesn’t, and then I’ll be revising yet again. After that, there will be copy edits, then page proofs, and THEN it will be in the version you will eventually see on shelves.

*a blatantly false generalization


So, there we are, the first batch of questions! This was fun, and I hope we all came out of this better people. Or...something.

Stay tuned next week for more Q&A, and hopefully, I'll even manage to post some other things in the meantime, bad blogger that I am.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Think of the Children!!

First of all, yes I know the pictures on this post are broken. No, I don't know why. Hazard of working from the library computer, I'll have to fix it when I get home tonight. Until that time, just go click the links and view(buy) the books in question!

ETA: Ha! Fixed them!

Now, second first of all, I want to announce that thanks to one of my great beta readers (Hi, Chie!), I will be undertaking a project this semester wherein I answer all questions writing-related from an entire class full of high school English students.

Chie’s secret super-hero identity is a high school English teacher. And this semester, she’s having her kids submit questions for me to answer. I’ll be doing a few every week, spanning the semester, and probably posting the answers every Friday. Check back here for these installments of Kari’s Queries!

And in that vein, I have a few recommendations for some of our very young readers who may just be getting started! Now, while I only write adult novels (at the moment. (no, not THAT kind of adult) ), I think there is nothing so awesome as a kid who likes to read. (I know, I used to be one!) If you’ve got a young reader in your house, there are a couple of new books out this week that they might be interested in:

We have Wildfire Run, by Dee Garretson. Billed as a cross between MacGyver and 24 for the middle-grade crowd. It sounds so awesome!

We also have Nightshade City, which I love just for the name of one of the characters: Billycan . And everything else about it is awesome too! Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, says: "Fans of Redwall and the Warriors series will love this heroic tale of good versus evil in a subterranean society of rats."

(In the interest of full disclosure, both authors are friends of mine, but that doesn’t mean I’m biased or anything! Their books really are that awesome!)

And speaking of awesome books, here’s a couple for the BIG kids too (read: we adults who refuse to grow up):

Today marks the release of Cameron Haley’s debut, Mob Rules! And if Amazon doesn’t deliver my copy tomorrow, I’m gonna have to cut somebody, I swear. Been looking forward to this one for a while. Also, check out Cameron’s blog for a contest!

And we also have Harry Connolly’s second book in his Twenty Palaces series, Game of Cages! (The first book was Child of Fire, also a highly recommended read, and also one I’m waiting on Amazon to deliver to me, the big goobers)

I love nothing more than a jam-packed release day, don’t you?

And in my own life (the Cliff’s Notes form), I have finished my self-imposed writing vacation as of today, and for the month of September I will be working on the outline for Book 3. Really looking forward to it, and I’ve already come up with some really great elements that I think folks are gonna love.

The Agent emailed last night to say he’s reading Book 2 and loving it, so that makes me a bit giddy-happy today too!

I’m still toying with the idea of doing NaNo this year, and like last year, I probably won’t decide yes or no until November 1st. It’s honestly going to depend on what my edits for Book 2 are shaping up like. I will say that I DO have an idea for a NaNo novel, including soundtrack and appropriate research materials. Regardless of whether I do it for NaNo, I’ll probably write this one anyway. The characters have taken up residence in my head already, and writing it is the only way to evict them.

I also want to give a shout of thanks to all those who have read A DEVIL IN THE DETAILS and put reviews up on Goodreads and Amazon. I know that I look at those reviews when I’m debating on picking up a new author, and anything that brings in a new reader is a good thing!

Devil has been out for roughly two months now (and it still feels so surreal to see my book on a shelf!) and if you haven’t read it yet…why not?? No, really, I get it, times are tough and not everybody has the cash to splurge on books. So, with that in mind, have you thought about your local library? Libraries are some of my favorite places, and librarians are some of my favorite people. (Though, between you and me, I’m always vaguely disappointed that no one ever really bursts into song like in The Music Man). So if you have a huge wish list of books, and just can’t afford to buy them ALL, check out your library. They’ll be happy to see you, too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

That's all she wrote!

Ok, no, not really. Ya’ll should know better than that. But I am officially declaring that I turned in Book 2 last night. As of now it looks like the title will be A SHOT IN THE DARK. (Will let you know release date as soon as I know) It’s shorter than I like (though not nearly as short as I’d feared) and I’m hoping we can cure that minor malady in editing. The Editor is awesome, I trust that she can see things I haven’t.

And quite frankly, I had hit the point where I was doing more harm than good with all my fidgeting. Keep that in mind, folks. There comes a point when you really have worked on something TOO hard, and you just need to step away.

My rest-of-the-year schedule looks like this:

September: Outline Book 3, submit that to The Editor for review.
October: Outline Nano project, tentative title “The Pugilist and the Alchemist”
November: Nano
December: Start Book 3

The Nano stuff is, obviously, optional, and there will be edits for Book 2 in there somewhere, and those take priority. Once I get Book 3 done (please please please let it be ahead of deadline this time instead of two-and-a-half weeks late), I intend to go back and revisit Muse. I’m very anxious to implement a lot of the stuff The Agent and I talked about. (spoiler: There may be cannibals)

(Also, realized yesterday that my ultimate fangirl moment would be my favoritest ever comic book artist doing a graphic novel of Muse. Seriously, I’d faint dead away in the most girly way possible. No, I won’t tell you who it is, ‘cause then they might find out, and I’d feel like a total loser.)

There’s been a lot going on in my brain lately, and stuff I keep meaning to blog about, but I’m afraid if I try to cram it all into one post, it’s gonna turn into a TLDR.

I went to a great book signing and met up with some awesome internet friends (if we’ve met in real life, does that now make them real life friends?). Sadly, there were very few pictures taken, ‘cause there was so much gabbing going on! Can’t imagine how that happened.

More reviews for A DEVIL IN THE DETAILS are coming in, and for the most part, folks seem to like it! You have no idea how much this still boggles my mind. They like my little story? Really? Sweet!

And I shall leave you with this article, which oddly, did NOTHING to alleviate my zombie-phobia, since it is all contingent on there actually BEING zombies in the first place:

Why the zombie apocalypse won't work.

Things on future blog posts agenda:

Questions people frequently ask me about getting published, and my responses.
Cons I should attend, sound off on your favorites.
Cats on books!

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Mission

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Yes, that’s the burning smell you detect.

Take a gander over to the left, and check out my little mission statement. I wrote that three years ago. Three! Can you believe it?? I wrote it before I ever dreamed up the idea that would become A DEVIL IN THE DETAILS.

And as I sit here and look at it right now, I have to wonder if maybe it’s a bit outdated. Maybe I need a new mission?

My original mission was to “survive the writing, the querying, and hopefully the publishing.” So let’s break it down.

Surviving the writing: When I wrote that mission statement, I was writing what can only be called an epic pirate princess fantasy. (Don’t judge me.) Shortly after I started this blog, hubby and I came up with this brilliant UF idea, and gradually it took over my life, and the epic pirate princess fantasy got trunked. 78,000 words. Someday, I might go back to it, but as it stands now, it needs a major overhaul.

So then I wrote this great UF thing we’d dreamed up. And I had high hopes for it! (and well, we all know how that story turned out.) In the time since writing Devil, I’ve finished four other books (counting Devil’s sequel) and I’m currently doing the research portion of a new project, just something for fun, maybe for NaNoWriMo this year.

So while yes, I have survived the writing, it seems that the writing is ongoing process, and therefore the survival should be an ongoing goal. So maybe that part of the mission statement should stay.

Surviving the querying
: I queried Devil for six months. An eyeblink in publishing time, really. I know people who queried for years with multiple manuscripts before they found an agent. I sent out twenty-eight queries, again a teeny tiny drop in a huge potential bucket, and got favorable responses from a third of those. I signed with The Agent.

Now, I don’t envision having to go through the actual query-for-agent process again for quite some time. I LIKE The Agent. He’s awesome, and he deals well with my neuroses. And as far as I know, he’s gonna be an agent for a long time, so we’re settled for a while.

However, querying for an agent isn’t the only “query” in this big wide world. When I have a new project ready, I run it past The Agent. When I think there’s someone who might give me a blurb for one of my covers, I can ask. I send emails to book bloggers to see if they have time to review me, or if I can do a guest post or interview for them. All of these are essentially queries, in the sense that I’m putting myself out there. I’m waiting to see if I’ll be shot down.

So maybe that part of the mission statement should stay, too. Hmm.

Surviving the publishing: Holy crap, I did it. I have a book in print. I used to sit, in quiet times, and imagine what it would feel like to hold one of my books in my hands, and now I know what that’s like. As of July 6th, 2010, I am a published author.

But you know what? There’s a TON of stuff that has to happen even after the book hits shelves. How are my sales doing? How are my reviews? More blog appearances, con appearances if I can afford it, promo materials, give aways.

Publishing isn’t a one time occurrence. It’s not like Christmas, it doesn’t have one day and then gone. It’s a continual process, even not counting the sequels that are coming up behind the first one, which would kick me clear back to the first part of the statement, the writing.

So I guess I’m still surviving the publishing, too. Double hmm.

I have to say that the last three years of my life have been the scariest, the strangest, the saddest, and the super…est. (Hey, I was going for some kind of pattern there, and it kinda let me down. So sue me.) I achieved my dearest dream. I lost my mother. I survived cancer. I celebrated ten years with the greatest man in the world, and I watched this tiny creature I gave birth to grow into an amazing little person with her own thoughts and opinions and dreams.

And as I look forward to the next three years, at least two of which will be devoted to writing/editing/publishing the next two books in the Jesse James Dawson series, I have to wonder what wonderful and terrifying things wait for me there.

So I guess my mission statement stays, and ultimately I can just hope that I survive.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Adventures at Comic-Con

Ok, yes, I know I didn't actually get to go to Comic-Con.

Or....did I?

Check out the blog of one of my wonderful writing friends, who took it upon himself to escort "me" around the con all day on Saturday. It looks like I had a great time! (and the Elvis Trooper may have to be my new avatar)

Notes From the Lair

In other news, Book 2 is nearing completion. I had a slight hiccup when my word count came in at 71K words (which is 9K shorter than it needs to be. That's roughly 36 pages short). I hemmed,I hawed, I sent frantic emails to The Editor. And then my lovely betas Chie and Theo came through for me, and I got an inkling. A hint. An inspiration!

Translation: I know how to fix this monster. And even better, I have part of the new stuff already written, because it was something I cut out of the OLD version when I started over back in January. Bonus!

Hoping to get this finished within the next two weeks, 'cause it's getting to be that time, folks! The Editor emailed me today to say she needs back cover copy-type writings, and if I have any ideas about the cover, I should speak up now or forever hold my peace. Truthfully, I'm so happy with the cover for the first one, I can't imagine what there could be for me to say. Now, book 3? Yeah, that one I need to talk to someone,'cause some stuff changes there. What stuff? I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

It should also be noted that I still do NOT have a title. At least, not one I'm happy with. And it's this second title that's so important, 'cause it'll set the pattern (if there is one) for the rest of the titles in the series! Think think think...

Maybe I should get some honey. Works for Pooh. (Note: Mead is made of honey. I'm just sayin'.)

So! I'll shout out to the world at large. Any title ideas, folks? I think I'm avoiding a "devil" theme in the titles, 'cause they're being used by another great author. But any other thoughts?

Also spoke to The Agent last week (see, this is what happens when I don't blog for a while. I have SO much to update you on!) about Muse. We talked for an hour and a half! I'll just say that my work on Muse is not done by a long shot, but I think The Agent hit the nail on a head on quite a few points, and that when I DO get time to rework it, it's going to be even more amazing than it already is. I'm so hopeful on this one, guys.

Off to have a weekend! There will be....weekendish stuff! (I have no idea. It's been so long...)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Book Signing!

As promised, here are photos from my very first book signing, with fellow author Kasey MacKenzie!

Warning: LOTS of pictures in this post!

First, our table:

Then we did some signing:

And more signing:

Very happy customers!

Queen of the photobomb:

Yes, she did it to Kasey, too.

I had great attendees, too! I had betas:

And Rogues:

And I had people taking pictures of people taking pictures. Very meta.

We had an amazing time, and the bookstore staff were just awesome to us. I hope every book signing I have goes like this one did. (That's assuming there will be more. There'll be more, right?)

And in case you are wondering, the button I'm wearing says "Souls Taste Like Peeps".

Oh! And one more pic, just 'cause I can.

I gots new hair.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I promise, there will be a recap of the book signing very soon, complete with pictures and color commentary, and possibly a guest appearance by Axel himself!

In the meantime, I offer this as entertainment.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Does she ever shut up?

No, no I don't. So there.

Currently, I have about eleventy billion people in town, all of them eager to go to my very first book signing tomorrow! Anyone in the Kansas City area, you are so welcome to come to this signing. Please. Somebody show up.

But anyway, that's why this blog post is going to be short and sweet.

I'm popping up all over the internet this week. You can read an interview with me, and enter to win a copy of A DEVIL IN THE DETAILS over at The Oddshots! You can also find out my favorite girly drink.

I've also popped up over at Dark Faerie Tales, where I confess my villain love and you can enter to win yet another copy of the book!

Ooh, and I just got word of another interview up with me here! This is the one that is posted in the World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto! So for those who don't live in Toronto, here's what you were missing.

I have to say, it's amazing, getting feedback from people I don't know. So many people have emailed me, or messaged me on Twitter, to say how much they're enjoying it. That makes me so happy. I mean, that's all most writers want, really. Just to have someone else love their characters, live in their world for a little bit. It's awesome.

Thanks, everybody. You're awesome too.