Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series

Three Reasons to Pre-Order The Courtesan’s Avenger

perf5.250x8.000.inddCan you believe we’re just FIVE days away from the launch of The Courtesan’s AvengerI can’t!

After working on this book for nearly a year (nine months, if you don’t count procrastination), it feels surreal that it’s finally going out into the world for everyone to read. On one hand, I’m really excited. As my second book, The Courtesan’s Avenger is (in my humble opinion) leaps and bounds ahead of The Cogsmith’s Daughter. I’ve grown so much as a writer, and I am thrilled to share the wonderful world of Desertera with you all once again.

On the other hand, releasing a sequel comes with a lot a pressure. Though The Cogsmith’s Daughter has only received little ripples of attention, most of it has been positive. What if no one likes the second book? What if it’s not as good? What if everyone hates that Aya isn’t the narrator this time? Well, there’s only one way to find out …

Pre-order your copy of The Courtesan’s Avenger today.

Why pre-order?

  1. The book will be downloaded straight to your reading device on next Tuesday, September 20. So it’s ready to read when you are.
  2. It gives me a little boost in the rankings on release day (aka puts one jab in the obscurity monster), but most importantly …
  3. It comes with a SPECIAL BONUS! A 20-question interview with me, revealing info you’ll won’t find anywhere else. Like …

Will the rest of the books in the series star new protagonists?

What is your favorite scene or moment from The Courtesan’s Avenger?

Often, writers know things about their worlds or characters that are never shared in the books themselves. Can you divulge any of those tidbits?

What can readers expect from the third Desertera novel?

… and so many more that I can’t share here (thanks, spoilers!).

If these questions intrigue you, be sure to pre-order your copy BEFORE next Tuesday.

And if you’re waiting on those pesky paperbacks, don’t fret. I’ve approved them through my printing company, so it’s out of my hands now. They should be available on time. Signed copies, of course, will take longer, as they must get to me to sign before shipping to you!

Author Interviews, Fiction Blog

A Conversation with Gabrielle of The Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Hello, everyone! Today, I’m thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with Gabrielle, the protagonist of Zachary Paul Chopchinski’s young adult novel, The Curious Tale of Gabrielle. We discuss her ‘time traveling’ journeys, family, and adventurous spirit. Without further ado, here’s the interview!


gabrielleKate: Welcome, Gabrielle! Thank you so much for taking time out of your travels to talk with me today.

Gabrielle: Thank you so much for seeing with me. I do hope that it’s not too much of a bother.

Kate: Oh, please. It is my pleasure! So, why don’t you start by telling my readers a little bit about yourself?

Gabrielle: Well my name is Gabrielle. I am 13 years old and I like to wander, as my mother calls it. My father calls it “adventures”, but I just say that I like to see things. Strange things… New things…Old things.

Kate: And you have certainly seen your share of strange things. In fact, the whole adventure began in your friend Alexandra’s shop of oddities. Could you tell the readers a bit about that fateful day and how you view it in retrospect? If you could say anything to Alexandra now about that day and your following journey, what would it be?

Gabrielle: Well, honestly, I can’t even tell you how it started…or if Alexandra is even a friend. She is a kind, but strange woman, and she is the reason why I’m on this journey to begin with. But…it’s all so strange. I hardly know her at all, yet she acts like she’s known me for years. Since the day my family moved to Envisage, I made it a personal goal to see it all. Something was so strange about Alexandra’s shop, I don’t even know how to explain it…it’s like it was calling to me or something. It seems that my journey began as soon as I opened the door. Stepping into the shop and seeing all of the weird but beautiful things, and then meeting Alexandra…AND that bracelet!

If I could ask Alexandra one thing right now, it would be “Where are we going?”.

Kate: I think that’s something we’d all love to know! Speaking of the bracelet, what was it like when you realized the bracelet had helped you travel across time and space?

Gabrielle: WOW! I’m still really not able to describe it. At times, it’s almost like a dream. HAHA, in fact when I woke up in the first life…man I really thought it was a dream. I kept trying to wake myself up! Like I could wake up at any moment and none of it would have happened. It can be really amazing at times. Other times, it is terrifying. To be honest, I have no idea what I’m doing, why I’m doing it or what will happen. I still ask myself why I took the journey in the first place, but it felt like something that had to be done. Like these spirits need me, you know?

Kate: That is very noble of you. The first two spirits you met were Heather and Fionn. What was your favorite part about sharing in their lives? If you could send them a message now, what would you say?

Gabrielle: The life that I shared with Heather and Fionn was amazing. It still is difficult to accept all that happened with that journey. They were amazing people and I felt like I could have stayed with them forever…I think about them a lot…sometimes I even dream about them, like I’m back out in the field running with Heather and life is good…simple…happy.

If I could say anything to them right now, it would be that I’m sorry for what happened and it truly broke my heart. I wish that I could have done more.

Kate: I’m sure they appreciate you listening to their story and know that you tried. But not everyone in your story is like Heather and Fionn. What was it like meeting Morrigan during your adventure?

Gabrielle: Humm…well at first he seemed like a strange kid. Now that I know him better…well he can be a pain in my ass sometimes…but he has a good heart. I don’t want to talk too much about him because, well you will see more when I share the rest of my story. I don’t want to spoil the surprise! Lets just say we have a…complicated and frustrating friendship.

Kate: Haha, fair enough. Man, the way you talk about this adventure is so matter-of-fact. Despite all the scary moments in your journey, you never fail to be brave. How do you do that?

Gabrielle: I don’t know. I guess I just think of my mother and father. My father always told me to never be scared of anything in life. That at most times, that which scares you is only as strong as you let it become. My mother never seemed to let many things intimidate her either. She was always strong and my father always said that this was what made him fall in love with her in the first place. Also, I don’t really think I could run away, It just isn’t an option that comes into my head, you know?

Kate: What do you think your parents would say about your adventuring? Do you think they would be proud, supportive, fearful?

Gabrielle: Since my father…left us, my mother has been very protective of me. She probably wouldn’t really be happy about this adventure. My father…hahaha…he was a great guy! You would really have liked him. He would encourage the whole thing as long as I told him the tale. HAHA! Honestly, I think they both would support me at times and be fearful for me at others.

Kate: It sounds like they are truly great parents. Okay, we’re almost out of time, so let’s end on a few fun ones. If you could choose where and when the bracelet sent you next, to where and what time would you like to go?

zachGabrielle: I know this isn’t really a possibility, but I would really like to go back to when my mom and dad were younger. When they were my age to see what they were like.

Kate: That would be very cool! If you could have taken one object or one person on your adventure with you, what or who would you have taken along?

Gabrielle: My father. He would have really liked this journey.

Kate: Great. Finally, your author, Zach Chopchinski, has sent you on a bit of a whirlwind by writing a second edition of your story. What is it like working with him, and do you have any requests for your next book?

Gabrielle: Oh yeah Zach…he’s a little weird. When we works, he insists on drinking tea, burning incense, listening to music and it being very dark. Not really my kind of scene, but I guess sometimes I have to do what he wants. He says it’s his version of a mix of sensory deprivation and immersion all rolled into one. He like to stay up late at night so that’s fun, I guess. I do like that he wrote in Morrigan in this edition. Morrigan can be cool…at least he’s someone to go through this with me. I wonder what sorts of things he will send me off to do next. In the future, I would like for him to maybe send me back to meet all of the people that I have met and will meet to talk about the amazing journey and to thank them for all that they have done, and give my condolences for what they experienced. I know its probably not possible, but it would be great to see everyone again.

Kate: As one of your readers, I know that I would enjoy that, too! Well, I think that is all the time we have for today. Again, Gabrielle, thank you so much for coming on my blog and sharing about your journey. If you wouldn’t mind, please tell the readers where they can read about your adventures and learn more about Zach.

Gabrielle: Well they can go to his website, www.zachchop.com, find him on something called Facebook and Twitter (whatever those are) and he wants everyone to know that if they ever have any questions or requests, to please let him know. I think that I should be going now. My bracelet is getting quite warm…… CLICK

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Mid-Month Check-In: December 2015

Well, everyone, we made it. This is my last mid-month check-in of the year. I’m not sure if I will do these again next year (if you feel passionately one way or the other, feel free to let me know in the comments), but I will keep doing the month-end updates. Anyway, as a special treat to all of us, I will keep this one short and sweet.

WRITING

I am currently working on two writing projects — Desertera #2 and a nonfiction project that I hope to reveal at the end of the month. I have created a writing schedule for myself and am trying to balance the projects. So far, things are going well, but I know they could be better. Given that I can’t go home for Christmas and almost everyone we know in New Haven will be gone, I’m looking forward to the holiday so I can get some major work done.

BUSINESS

I am still letting the business side of things stay quiet. The main project I am working on is sorting out the cover design for my nonfiction project, which I believe is well on its way. Other than that, I’ve finally finished my entire book review list, and I’m happily reading purely for my own enjoyment and education again.

MARITAL

Daniel is almost done with finals, and I’m looking forward to his break so he can tackle a few projects we’ve been neglecting. My day job is still taking up most of my time, but we’ve managed to fit ourselves into a comfortable routine. I’m not sure that I will ever fully adjust to living in New Haven, and there are still plenty of rough days, but I’m okay for now.

HEALTH/WELLNESS

I really really really hope I don’t jinx anything … but I haven’t had a full-on migraine in about two months (maybe longer?)! I’m not sure what exactly is the cause — I’m still a bit stressed, my sleep is worse than ever (thanks city noises), and goodness knows this move didn’t make me happier — but if lessening migraines is my one reprieve, it’s a pretty good perk. Otherwise, I’m still walking two miles a day (thanks commute) and eating relatively healthily. Hopefully I can add onto those good habits in 2016.

Well, folks, that’s all I’ve got for you. Let me know how your goals are going, and enjoy the rest of your 2015!


How are your new year’s resolutions going? Have you been keeping up with your own writing goals? Share your progress and/or commiserate as needed!

Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

Guest Post: Author Kate Evans on Writing Crime Fiction

I’m back from my traveling/holiday hiatus, and I’m thrilled to bring you a guest post from author Kate Evans. Kate E. writes crime fiction — a genre which I couldn’t write to save my life! — and she was kind enough to share what attracted her to crime fiction, some tips for researching for your crime novels, and the scoop on her newest book The Art of Survival (follow up to The Art of the Imperfect, which I reviewed here). Over to Kate E.!


Kate EvansWhy Crime?

A couple of years ago I embarked on a project to write/publish a crime series. I had already written five novels during the preceding thirty years, some of which I had tried to find an agent/publisher for. The last of these five was a long, rangy affair which lacked structure and clarity. I knew I wanted to re-tell this story and take it further, I also recognized I needed to find a shape for it, which would engage the reader. At some point in the middle of a deep sleep, my unconscious brain gave my conscious brain the solution; I woke up knowing I was going to write a crime series.

It was the obvious answer for me, for a number of reasons. Firstly, I read a lot of crime novels, so I was already aware of many of their characteristics. Secondly, I enjoy reading crime novels, which meant I was excited and motivated to get on with it. Thirdly, since I thought I would probably have to indie publish my novel, I wanted a clear genre to help with marketing and crime fiction is a popular genre certainly here in the UK. Finally, I agree with crime writer Val McDermid, when she says hers is the perfect genre for putting up a mirror to our society and asking questions about it. My novels explore ideas around what is good mental health and how the vulnerable and marginalised are treated.

In the UK there was an era of what was considered to be ‘cosy crime’ writing. It came after the First World War, and at first sight, it may seem odd that people would want to immerse themselves in more violence and death. However, it is often argued, these crime novels offered an antidote to the indiscriminate carnage of war, in that they gave a sanitised version of murder and there was always a tidy resolution.

I’m not entirely sure this was the case then, and I certainly don’t think it is now. I’m with writer Melanie McGrath when she suggests the attraction of crime fiction to both readers and writers is that it allows us to experience and explore emotions which would normally be unacceptable in polite society. She said, in The Guardian Books Blog June 30th 2014: ‘Crime fiction gives us permission to touch on our own indecorous feelings of rage, aggression and vengefulness, sentiments we’re encouraged to pack away somewhere… where they won’t offend.’ As a psychotherapeutic counsellor I would add it could also be healthy to do this safely through literature, rather than leaving our shadow side un-investigated, giving it the potential for erupting into our every day lives.

So that’s the why write crime, here’s a little bit about the research which I did to get me going. Initially, I read and re-read a variety of crime novels, this time really focusing on the plotting and structure. My novels are character-led, and I am not writing a police procedural, however, I do want the way the investigation unfolds to be believable. The sources of information I have used are: books, fiction and non-fiction, there are more and more handbooks for writers, including a recent one on forensics by Val McDermid; the court reports in the local paper especially as my novels are based in my home town; TV programmes, there’s been a recent fly-on-the-wall documentary about the police which proved invaluable; I have a couple of personal contacts within the police and legal profession; and the internet.

There’s more I’d like to do, for instance spending some time in the public gallery of a court, maybe having a tour of the local police station and asking a few questions. However, I remember seeing a more successful/famous crime writer than me at a literature festival and he said when he spoke to his law enforcement contacts he’s not interested in whether something has happened or is likely to, just whether it could possibly happen. I understand most police officers hate reading crime novels, so I don’t expect any will read mine, and what I have to do is make the story-telling authentic within the world of the characters I have created.

One of my main characters is a trainee and then qualified psychotherapeutic counsellor. This is a universe I am very familiar with. I enjoy depicting it honestly, and more accurately, than the vast majority of fictional versions I’ve come across to date.

I believe my strengths in writing are in creating believable layered characters and a strong sense of place through sensual descriptions. Up to now, I have, perhaps, been less skilled at structuring and pace. The crime novel with its moments of tension, red herrings and movement towards a resolution offers a solid format, not to be followed blindly, but to be played with and subverted. It has been invigorating to discover how it can be tailored to the stories I want to tell.

Art of SurvivalNew novel launched

The Art of Survival asks: What will fear push ordinary people to do?  What happens when little girls get lost? DS Theo Akande is investigating the disappearance of eight year old Victoria Everidge. Her mother, Yvonne, is a desperate woman. What is she capable of? Eminent journalist and newspaperman, Stan Poole, dies leaving a filing cabinet full of secrets. As these leak out, his daughter, Hannah, begins to question her own girlhood. She is losing her way. Her best friend, Lawrence, newly an item with Theo, finds it hard to remain supportive. Instead Hannah clings to her work as a trainee counsellor and to her client Julia. Julia is apparently no little girl lost, but appearances can be deceptive. Then a body is found.

About the author

This is the second novel by Kate Evans. Her first, The Art of the Imperfect, was long-listed for the Crime Writers Association debut dagger in 2015. Kate Evans is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Her book, Pathways Through Writing Blocks in the Academic Environment, was published by Sense Publishers in 2013. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Sussex University and teaches on the Degree in Creative Writing at the University of Hull, Scarborough campus. She is trained as a psychotherapeutic counsellor. She loves walking by the sea and afternoon tea, and has an inexplicable drive to bring a new generation to the poetry of Edith Sitwell. For further information, see: www.writingourselveswell.co.uk

Praise for The Art of the Imperfect

‘The first thing to mention is the writing style is incredibly strong. … The description through this book is brilliantly constructed so that I really felt completely immersed.’ Lizzy, My Little Book Blog

‘The book … retains its readability on a second or third reading and beyond. It is written by an unobtrusively gifted creative talent, whose gifts will assuredly go on expanding and enlarge their range … The novel is convincing enough to haunt us, and graze us into deeper thought.’ Dr Heward Wilkinson, UKCP Fellow, UKCP Registered, Integrative Psychotherapist.

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Mid-Month Check-In: November 2015

2015 is almost over — only a month and a half left. On one hand, this makes me very excited, as I love the “fresh start” mentality that comes along with the new year. However, on the other hand, the older I get, the more the speedy passage of time unnerves me. I think that for every single Mid-Month Check-In, I’ve marveled at how fast the time has flown. I guess that means I’ve been having lots of fun?

WRITING

grootDespite my hectic schedule and common sense, I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month. For the challenge, I started rewriting the sequel to The Cogsmith’s Daughter, and I’m now about 20,000 words in (meaning I’m behind for NaNo, but ahead of where I was in the draft prior to November). I’ll post more on this later, but this novel is just fighting me every step of the way. With The Cogsmith’s Daughter, all the words just came to me, as if Aya were telling me the story and I were merely dictating, but this one is like squeezing blood from a stone. But hey, “they” say the second novel is always the hardest. So once I’m over this hump, it’ll be smooth sailing, right? RIGHT?!

BUSINESS

After last month’s book launch, I’m letting the business side simmer down while I focus on writing. Mostly, I have read a few indie publishing/marketing books and watched a couple free video training series. I have been making plans for marketing as well as a production schedule for 2016, but overall, I’m trying to focus on drafting. It’s much easier to market the first book in a series when there are others to follow it. Or so I’m told.

MARITAL

“Real life” is relatively consistent. Daniel is plugging away at school work, while I spend my days at work work. He’s found a good place for himself in the Yale community and is really thriving here. I’m just trying to be supportive and taking it all one day at a time.

HEALTH/WELLNESS

I’m getting decent walking in still, thanks to my environmentally friendly commute. However, I have been feeling the sluggish effects of the professional writer’s life, and I want to start exercising beyond my normal walk. We’ve been eating relatively healthy, and my stress levels haven’t been any higher than normal. I would say that I haven’t had a migraine in the last month, but I won’t say that, because that would jinx it…

Anyway, I think that’s about all I have to report for November. I hope you all have a productive month (and slay NaNoWriMo, if you are participating).


How are your new year’s resolutions going? Have you been keeping up with your own writing goals? Share your progress and/or commiserate as needed!