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.