Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Nuts and Bolts

First things first, thanks to everyone who purchased Second Olympus during my birthday sale!  I hope everyone loves it (or at least doesn't want to throw tomatoes at me). Once again, I beg,implore,grovel at your feet to PLEASE post reviews to places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  The number of reviews a book has (doesn't matter if they're good, bad, or indifferent) dictates which books get picked up by the system for things like "If you liked this book, you might also like THIS one!" which can bring me to new readers.  The general rumor is that 50-ish reviews is the golden spot for being included in the system algorithms, and you'll note that not a single one of my books has that many reviews on Amazon.  Love an author?  Leave a review.

Secondly, A Line in the Sand, better known as JJD5, is now available for preorder!  Ebook only, of course, because preordering the print copy isn't something that's available at this time.  The release date is currently January 23rd (bonus points if anyone can guess why), so I'll try to have the print copy released prior to that, so that we can all hopefully be reading on the release date.


Now, you might be saying "But why is there no cover art?  We want a cover!"  Well, yes, so do I.  Very very much, in fact.  But, things have to go in a certain order when designing a cover, so I'll gladly bore you with excessive details.

Pick up the book nearest to you.  Look at the spine.  Most likely, the cover of the book has a front piece, a back piece, and a spine piece.  Well, the front and back covers will always be the dimensions you designate.  For example, my self-pubbed JJD covers will be 5x8.  The spine dimensions, however, are determined by how thick the book is.  More pages = thicker book = wider spine.  Everything has to fit just so to line up with the edges of the book.  So, you can't begin designing a print book cover without knowing how many pages your book has, first.

Look!  Visual aids!

So where does that leave me?  Well, last night I finished making editing notes on JJD5. Some were handwritten new paragraphs, others were things like "Awkward sentence", or "re-order" or "WTF?".  My next step is to start typing all those changes into the actual Word doc that is my manuscript.   Once that's done, I can copy/paste the document into a template that will become my print book file.  I have to decide all about the front-of-the-book material, and if I want to include pages at the back from any of my other books, that sort of thing.  Only when that is ALL done, and I can get a final page count, do I then request my cover from my cover artist.

I'm hoping to have the edits all done by the 16th at the VERY latest.  That was the deadline I gave myself, and getting it done sooner would make me do a happy dance.  I'll probably spend a couple of days (or three, or four) getting the print copy formatted and prepped, and then I'll email about the cover.  I'm pushing the time limit to get everything set for a January 23rd release date (all final files have to be uploaded by January 13th at the very latest), but I'm way behind where I wanted to be originally anyway, and I hate to drag it out any longer.

In the meantime, while we wait, I give you my Christmas Groot.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy Birthday to ME!

So, in honor of my birthday at the end of the month, I've decided that I'm going to make the ebook of Second Olympus just $0.99 for the entire month!

If you haven't tried this one yet, now is the time!

You can find Second Olympus at your favorite retailer!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ode to Sarah

 I was seven years old (almost 8!) when The Terminator came out in 1984.  I don’t remember a lot of the marketing around it, but I have a vague recollection that I thought it was some kind of horror flick, which put it solidly on the “mom won’t let me see it” list.  And given that it was rated R, at seven, she was probably right.

However, I was about fourteen when T2 came out.  Now, kids talk, so I had a general idea what the original movie was about.  I could even quote a few of the lines that had made it into pop culture.  So I was all gung-ho about T2.  I think, by this point, my mother had given up on trying to protect my impressionable young mind.

I can’t remember if I saw T2 in the theater, or waited until it came out on VHS. (yeah, that dates me a bit)  I do remember being wowed by the special effects, and that my father loved them too.  Even now, when I watch it again (it’s one of my comfort movies), I always have to think that my dad loved it.

I also remember wanting to BE Sarah Connor.  Like I had wanted nothing before in my life.  She was strong.  She was decisive.  She was fiercely protective of her child.  She wasn’t scared of anything. There was no softness to her, no apologies, no hesitations.  She got the job DONE.

I wanted to be that, so very badly.  To have that much knowledge of the world, to be prepared for any situation that might come up.  To just not be scared.  I taught myself archery, herbal lore, field medicine.  Never could handle the noises guns make, so I skipped that part, but at one time I was wicked with a throwing knife and a hatchet.  I was ready for it, if the time ever came.  I didn’t know what IT was, but dammit, I was ready.

Later, as I grew up, I came to understand more of the subtleties of the character.  I mean really, no way around it, she was batshit crazy.  Sure, her delusions weren’t actually delusions, they were true, but that foreknowledge had taken a toll on her mind.  She struggled with day to day life, trying to connect the reality she lived in with the one that everyone else saw.

More than anything, I took away that she wasn’t perfect.  She made mistakes.  I found some comfort in the fact that she probably wasn’t going to win Mother of the Year, but she could probably come in a close runner-up.  She loved her son with everything she had, and she tried desperately to prepare him for the worst possible scenarios.  It was the only thing she (or anyone) could do.

I have tried to do the same with my own daughter.  No, not training her to lead the rebellion after a robot apocalypse (though, I bet she could).  Just to be prepared for whatever the world might throw at her.  I try to challenge her mind, asking her to think over questions and situations she may never actually have to confront.  I try to challenge her body, making sure she is strong and healthy and capable of taking care of herself.  I’m not training her to be a prophesied world leader, but her generation will someday have to run this world, and at least one of them should have a vague idea about what they’re doing.

I’m not sure if I ever became Sarah Connor.  Probably not.  I did let go of some of my more militant habits (if I try to throw a knife at you now, I'm more likely to injure myself than you).  Put on a few pounds more than she would probably have approved of.  But I like to think that she’d have agreed with how I’ve raised my child.  I guess only time will tell if I’ve done her justice.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Five Years In

On July 6, 2010, A Devil in the Details released.  Over the past few weeks, I've been contemplating what it means to be five years into my publishing adventure.

Of course, to say that I'm five years in is probably inaccurate.  Prior to the actual release of Devil, there was the whole getting the sale, and before that, there was getting the agent, and before that, there was the writing... And it seems like I've been writing SOMEthing forever. 

So where am I now?  I'm on my second agent, I have six books published (four traditional, two self).  I've written quite a few other books in the spaces in between.  Jotted down ideas for a LOT more than that.  I'm obviously not rich and drinking mai tais on a beach somewhere. (does anyone know what a mai tai actually is? I've never had one)  I've changed Real Jobs once, in the interim. My kiddo went from seven years old, to twelve. (a teenager soon, wtf?  Who allowed that?)  I went from seeing my ten-year anniversary with hubby, to my fifteen.

Not sure I'm where I wanted to be (see aforementioned beach and mai tais), but I also think that my wishes and expectations were based on a misconception of what this whole "being an author" thing is really like.  The journey I've been on so far is actually fairly typical, from what I've been given to understand in the time since.  Very, very few of us get the Big Sale and go on to Fame and Fortune and Movie Deals. I have to remind myself of that on the days when I've slipped down the hill into "why bother land".

In all honesty, I can't complain about where I am. My stories are in the hands of so many people that I don't even know.  People are living in my worlds, even if just for a little bit, and that's really all I could ever ask for.  I think about this a lot, especially as Jesse's story is slowly reaching its end.   Even though I know how the story ends (and a little bit about what happens after the big finale), I'll miss running around in Jesse's world.  I wonder if other people will do the same.  I wonder if they'll be willing to follow me into new worlds.  I have plans for the Arcane West world.  Caleb and Ernst are waiting patiently for me to get back to them.  I have plans for new worlds, amazing worlds.  I want to visit space, I want to adventure in dustbowl era Kansas.  I might revisit Elysia, sometime in the future, to check on Geoff and Lia. 

I'm looking forward to writing another post like this in another five years.  They say (y'know, "they") that the ten-year mark is when an author really starts to have a career.  Not sure I believe it, but the only way to find out is to keep moving forward.

So I guess maybe what happened in the last five years is not so important as what might be coming in the next five.  Stick around, you'll probably be as surprised as I will.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I Survived 1st Grade!

Today, I had the great honor of going to talk to a class of first graders at Scott Elementary School.  This was my very first school visit as an author! I was a little uncertain at first what I was going to say to young kids who aren't really the target audience for my books, but they came up with some really great questions about the writing process, and at the end, we all wrote a short story together as a class!

First pic is me talking to the little ones.  They had questions planned out ahead of time, but once we got started, the little hands shot up and there was no plan after that.  It was great.

Before I left, we all took a group picture, and there was a small riot over who got to stand actually touching me.
Then, we had to do the obligatory silly face picture:

Also, once they figured out that I knew the Baymax fist bump noise, I was infinitely cooler.  Many thanks to Miss Boyle who invited me to come and spend time with her students!  I had a blast!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

And the winner is!

Ok, I don't know about y'all, but I had a LOT of fun doing this. (And the folk who run IMDB are currently trying to figure out why I spent the last hour rapid-fire looking up actors I wasn't familiar with to check out everyone's cast lists)

So, after careful consideration, and some very scientific wibbly wobbly timey wimey type calculations, I have come up with my winners.  Drumroll!

Or not.

First place, and winner of the $25 Amazon gift card is:  Dragonflylass
Second place, and winner of the $10 Amazon gift card is:  Josh

Both of you email me at kari.stewart21 (at) gmail.com, and let me know what email address you want your gift card forwarded to. (If Amazon isn't quite your thing, let me know, we'll talk.)

Of course, if you showed me yours, I now have to show you mine.

Some of these are absolutely in my head who should play it.  Some of them are folk who would be good, but there were other really good ones in the casts you all came up with, too, and now I just don't know!   Some of them would require some makeup, and possibly some CGI to pull off the right look, but ain't movie magic grand?  ((And obviously, there were just a few where I couldn't make up my mind))

Olympus Tower:
Heracles – Chris Hemsworth
Artemis – Charlize Theron
Persephone – Hayley Atwell
Demeter – Madeleine Stowe
Hades – Richard Armitage
Hephaestus – Ron Perlman

Geoff – Nicholas Hoult
Lia – Riley Keough
Ambert – John Goodman  / James Earl Jones
Jon / Rik –Bret Dalton
Keras – Steve Buscemi / John Leguizamo
Raffa – Jaimie Alexander / Katee Sackhoff / Michelle Rodriguez

Anyway, thanks for indulging me in this bit of silliness.  I'm glad you all read and enjoyed Second Olympus.  Tell all your friends, and remember to leave reviews at your favorite sites. Every one helps.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Second Olympus: The Movie

Only in an author's fondest fantasies are their books actually made into movies.  But that doesn't mean that we can't dream. I mean, c'mon. Imagining stuff is what we get paid for!

So imagine with me, people!  In the comments below, leave your ideal cast list for the characters listed below.  They can be past or present, you can specify young or old (for example, young Marlon Brando is very different than older Marlon Brando).  If you need more inspiration, check out this earlier post featuring my Second Olympus Playlist!

I'm limiting everyone to ONE entry per person (yes, I know that there are a several married couples who may be competing, so it's up to you guys if you want to enter as one, or as individuals)  ((I may have just ruined a couple of marriages))

Because I know there are folk who are busy this weekend (*waves hi to the Malice Domestic crowd*), I will leave the contest open through next Wednesday (5/6).  I'll post the 1st and 2nd place winners that evening.

1st place winner gets a $25 Amazon gift card, and 2nd place gets $10!  Woohoo!

Remember, only the first 12 characters are must haves (and if you truly can't figure one out, it's okay to leave it blank. I've got a few I haven't cast yet, too).  If you want to put some names to the "Others" section, you can do that just for fun.

Olympus Tower:

Jon / Rik (they're twins, remember?)

Art forger
Old Stan
Young Stan

And....GO!  (Have fun, folk)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Your Mission

Should you choose to accept it, and I really hope you do, or this will be the lamest contest ever.

So, people often tell me (usually in reference to the JJD books), “Hey, this would make a great movie/TV show!”  Well, in all honesty, I’ve never believed that the JJD books would translate well to film.  There’s too much internal introspection in dear Jesse’s head that I think would be lost on the big (or little) screen.

However, I have always believed that Second Olympus would be my “movie book”.  I have a soundtrack picked out and everything.  And occasionally, I amuse myself by daydreaming about who would play who in that movie.

So here’s what we’re going to do!  I want YOU to cast my Second Olympus movie.  I’ve got a list of main characters below, and I’d love to know how YOU picture them.

Now, you’re thinking, “As fun as this is, this seems like it could take some time! What’s in it for me?”  I’m so glad you asked!  I will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to my favorite cast list.  Second place will get a $10 Amazon gift card!  To win, I want casting for the 12 “main” characters. (the “others” listed at the bottom are just for fun, if you have someone perfect in mind)

Since this kinda requires that you have READ the book, and not everyone reads super fast, I’m announcing this today, and then NEXT Friday (May 1st), I will put up a new post and THERE you will list your answers.  That gives you a week to read and ponder.

REMEMBER:  Don’t leave your answers on THIS post, wait til next Friday and we’ll do it then.

Now, you may have see me mention a few actors that I see in a couple of the roles, but don't feel like you're bound to that!  I want to know what YOU picture.  So get reading, and on May 1st, have your cast list ready!

Second Olympus Cast List

Olympus Tower:

Jon / Rik

Art forger
Old Stan
Young Stan

Monday, April 20, 2015

Tomorrow, Tomorrow!

Second Olympus releases tomorrow.  Hold on a second while I pause to truly take in that statement.  Part of me still hasn’t quite registered (despite the fact that I’ve had two early readers come back already and say they loved it).

For those who haven’t ordered yet, shame on you!   (I kid)  Here is the list of where to find the book:

Print copy:

Smashwords (for a variety of formats in one place!)

Remember, if you love the book (any book, really), or even if you don’t, PLEASE go out and leave a review at Amazon and/or B&N.  I can’t emphasize enough how important reviews on these sites are for authors.  And I don’t mean just glowing “OMG, I wanna have this book’s babies” kind of reviews.  They don’t have to be deep, in-depth literary analysis of each line of prose.  They can just be a “hey, this rocked my socks” or “It was just kinda ‘meh’ for me.”  All reviews are valuable, so please, take a few minutes of your time and drop a few lines.

Next week, I think I wanna play the “Cast the Movie” game with this book, so for those of you who will be reading this week, think about who you envision in these roles.  I will tell you right away that for Keras, I’m picturing Steve Buscemi, or maybe John Leguizamo.  Let me know how you see him!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Second Olympus - Cover Art!

Once again, Robin Ludwig Design has knocked it out of the park.

For those who want to read the back, you can click on the pic to make it bigger, or here's the text:


The war amongst the Greek gods lasted over three decades and when it was ended, the sun was snuffed from the sky, Artemis sat on the throne, and the muses were murdered.

Without the power to create or invent, the human race languished for generations, trapped within the walled city of Elysia, their lives governed by the steady tick of the great world clock and the watchful eye of their increasingly erratic goddess.

But in the lower wards, far from the shining beacon that is Olympus Tower, a crippled boy named Geoff has grown to manhood, unaware of the legacy contained in his own mysterious bloodline. When his loved ones are threatened, the world will finally wake under the power of the muse, and the insane goddess Artemis will remember the very dangerous power of human imagination.

And just another close up of the front, 'cause I lurve it!

Current plan is to try and have the preorder option processing by tonight, with an eye to an April 21st release date.  Most likely, I will release the print copy a few days prior to that, to make sure that everyone can READ it on the release date.

I'm so excited!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Gooey Sticky Syrup

I suppose by now that it’s pretty clear that I’m not gonna hit the March 24th release date for Second Olympus. Well, it was worth a shot.

The good news is, the cover art is still in progress, and that’s really the only thing I’m waiting on.  Once I get that, I can hit the button and get this ball rolling.  Still hoping to give it a “pre-order” period, even if just for a couple of week.  Still hoping to have this out in April, but no promises, and no set date.

Other than that, I’m just plodding along.  Got that feet stuck in thick syrup feeling, lately.  I’m making progress, but it’s slow and steady, rather than abrupt and thrilling/terrifying.  Truthfully, I’m not sure which is better.  Patience is not one of my favorite things, but neither is abject terror.

Folks are getting antsy about JJD5. Trust me, it’s coming. I pick at the outline now and then when I need a break from MMwD, and this morning, I actually wrote down the first few paragraphs of a chapter just so they’d quit taking up room in my head.  Goal is still to have this one out and available this year, though not sure just when.  Won’t be a summer release like the others, but I feel like that’s not so important in the big scheme of things.

Nothing else going on but life in general. As it happens to all of us.  (well, most of us, I guess. I don’t discriminate against the undead)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Second Olympus - The Playlist

As mentioned before, I had a playlist for this book.  Most of the music was sent to my by a friend, and while it wasn't for the purpose of connecting it to the writing I was doing at the time, it just worked out that way.  Perfectly, in fact.

I wanted to make a Spotify playlist to link here so that you could all listen to it as well, but unfortunately, some of this music is a little obscure, and therefore not available.  I DID manage to find them (most of them, anyway) on Youtube, and so I've made you a Youtube playlist instead.

Again unfortunately, I can't figure out how to get that playlist to display MY notes on the songs to you, so I'll be doing that below.

It's not my intention for you to sync listening to the songs to reading the book.  That would be silly, and impossible.  It is also worth it to note that I very rarely picked a song for its lyrics.  Some of them aren't even in English.  More, I picked it for the sound of it, the mood I felt it conveyed.  Also, don't bother looking at the videos themselves. They were chosen as the best example of the music I could find.

The name of the song & artist are available in the videos above, so down here, I'll just label them by number, and where I believe they fit in the book. I hope that I've left them suitably vague so as not to provide spoilers.  More one of those "when you've read the book, you'll understand" kind of things.  It's also worth noting that I've always believed this to be my "movie book", so it's only fitting that I have songs for the opening & closing credits.  Trust me, in my head, it's EPIC.

1 - Opening Credits
2 - Artemis' Theme
3 - Looking out on Elysia
4 - Heracles' Theme
5 - Taken
6 - Den of Iniquity
7- Hunt with the Black Hound
8 - Demeter's Theme
9 - Across the River
10 - Sanity Stretched Thin
11 - A History of Things Past
12 - Through the Dark
13 - The Airship
14 - Death in Olympus
15 - Closing Credits

More than all the music above, I'm hoping that if you find music that YOU like for this novel as you read, you can mention it in the comments below.  You'll notice that there are certain characters that I never found a theme for, so I'm always on the lookout to update my tunes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Second Olympus

Yesterday, as I was working on my copy editing phase for Second Olympus, I Googled something involving the use of the possessive apostrophe on names ending in S. (I know, wild and crazy stuff, right?) The amusing thing was, the first hit that popped up was a thread on a writers’ forum from 2008. It was my thread, asking the same exact question for the same exact reason on the same exact book.

First off, let’s not talk about my powers of retention. Second, it made me realize that by the time Second Olympus actually releases, it will be 7 years old, and it will have a long road behind it already.

I started writing Second Olympus (then called Muse) back in 2008 after I’d finished the first JJD book (then called Third Strike, since we’re talking trivia). I was querying, trying to find an agent, and I knew I had to keep writing to get my mind off of it. A stray conversation late one night with a friend lead to the idea of Muse, and I got to work.

It was unlike anything I’d been writing, up to that point. I had a trunked epic fantasy under my belt, and JJD1 which was urban fantasy. Muse was…different, which was scary and exhilarating all at once. I stretched myself beyond my own literary box, and in the end, I was really proud of what I’d done. I think I finished it sometime in early 2009, about the same time we sold the JJD series.

Of course, from that point, I got busy with JJD stuff and new projects. Every so often, I’d go back to Muse and revise bits and pieces, send it to new readers, get their thoughts, add my own. My first agent wasn’t super gung-ho about it, I could tell, not because it was badly written, but because he just didn’t see a traditional market for it. And that’s their job, to know those things.

Time went on, years went by. I wound up with a new agent. When she asked about other projects I had, I of course sent her Muse, ‘cause I was still super proud of it. She had the same feelings about it, that traditional publishing probably wasn’t going to be interested. That was the point where I’d just had success getting JJD4 out on my own, and I knew that I could do this. So, with her permission, I moved forward with self-publishing Muse. That actual decision was made…probably July-ish, 2014? (Yes, looking at the date in the picture below, that was exactly when I made that decision)

I did another round of new beta readers, and their suggestions really made the book into what it is at this moment. I came up with a new title, and hopefully on March 24th, 2015, you will all get to read Second Olympus. (See what I did there? Slipped a release date right in like that. Ain’t I sneaky?)

I can’t even count how many rounds of revisions this thing went through. I probably have four different printed copies of this thing floating around my house, and at one point, I just quit printing it out and started making my editing notes on the same draft, just in different colors so I could tell the evolutions apart.

(This picture is the pile of previous drafts of everything. Muse, JJD1-JJD4, Peacemaker, MBG. I have no idea what to do with these. Do I throw them away?)

I should finish the copy edits this week on my lunch breaks, and then this weekend, I’ll get the print copy formatting done. Once I have a firm page count, I can commission the cover art and get this ball truly rolling.

My goal for release is March 24th, like I said above, contingent on cover art and zombie apocalypse, of course. I’ll try to get everything up for pre-order by March 1st if I can (the print copy won’t have a pre-order phase, but I’ll make it available a few days early, like I did with JJD4, so we can all read on the release date). I’ll also try to have limited print copies available for reviewers who want them, so folk definitely need to let me know. (kari.stewart21 (at) gmail.com)

I keep going through these deep highs and lows with this thing. The highs are where I’m SO FREAKIN’ EXCITED to have this book out and available. After all this time, it’s still one of my favorite stories. The lows are where I’m damn certain this is garbage, and that fans of my JJD books aren’t going to like something that’s so very different from what they’re used to from me.

I guess time will tell.