Saturday, November 9, 2013

News and New Books!!

My first post on Operation Awesome in months went up yesterday and you can find out what I've been up to here.

It involves this ...

Isn't she beautiful?

Between paperwork and meetings for our buying/building project and baking a bun in the oven, I vacillate daily between Cloud 9 and Garbage Pail 5. It's a roller coaster-y time. But I find that to be true generally when my life is filled with blessings.

With every blessing comes a lot of work to make it worth it. New babies? Poopy diapers! New house? Unexpected expenses! New job? Awkward adjustment period!

While I've been hopping between clouds and garbage pails, so to speak, my blog partners have been very busy pumping out novels. Check them out:

Over the summer, Michelle McLean released ...

Amazon  Goodreads

A woman with a past…

Widowed mother, Brynne Richardson, gave up her bandit activities when she left California to make a fresh start with her young daughter in Boston. Working for a handsome doctor fulfills her need to be useful and independent, but he creates another yearning she can’t deny. 

A man with a purpose…

Dr. Richard Oliver assumes Brynne is just another debutante hunting for a rich husband, until she intrigues him with her steady hand for stitches…and guns. He can’t put her out of his mind, but the young widow has mysteries he’s determined to unravel. 

A love in danger…

When smugglers raid the much-needed supplies from the clinic, Brynne must resurrect her bandit persona for the good of the sick and the poor. Her secret life threatens to destroy everything she’s worked so hard to protect…her life, her family…and her heart.

and more recently ...

Amazon Goodreads

Ceri McKinley never stopped wishing that her ex-fiancĂ© Jason Crickett would come back into her life. But when he finally does, he comes with a request that puts them both—and all of humanity—into jeopardy.

Jason only wants two things: to bury his brother properly and to convince Ceri to trust him again after he jilted her. But when Ceri agrees to help him get his brother back, they end up fighting for their lives as the second zombie uprising threatens them all.

And Angela J. Townsend, through Clean Teen publishing, released ...

Amazon Goodreads
Angus MacBain is unaware that his ancestral roots hail from an ancient sect of Scottish kings. When his dying grandfather gives him a dragon pendant, thirteen-year-old Angus learns of a legacy that will take him across an ocean to the island of Iona and thrust him into a heritage he did not know he had. 

He soon discovers that his mother, whom he had believed dead, is really a seal fairy, in hiding from a dangerous enemy. To save her, Angus must undergo a perilous journey of destiny and power to battle an evil Dacian knight and those who serve him. With only his family shield and the advice of a wizened vampire hunter to protect him, Angus must navigate dangerous terrain and dark enemies, in a land where the past and the present mingle, and sleeping kings wake.

and the day before Halloween ...

Amazon Goodreads
When 17-year-old Dharma Moore moves to Bayou country so her scam artist mother can work as a Paranormal Investigator, she discovers more than ghosts haunt the abandoned plantation they now call home. Centuries ago, a voodoo curse was placed on the swamp waters surrounding the old plantation by a murdered slave. A terrible curse that snares Dharma. To save herself, she must face the terror of the haunted waters, find the dead woman's skull and convince the slave's soul to release her from its torments. However, there is more to this curse for Dharma personally than anyone else knows as she discovers an ancient secret that links herself to the property—a secret kept from her by her own family. To survive, she must accept the help of locals and to learn to embrace the truth—that magic is not only real, but that it can be very, very deadly!

Max Gladstone and Wes Chu both came out with sequels to their big hits, THREE PARTS DEAD and THE LIVES OF TAO:

Amazon Goodreads
The new novel set in the addictive and compelling fantasy world of Three Parts Dead

Shadow demons plague the city reservoir, and Red King Consolidated has sent in Caleb Altemoc — casual gambler and professional risk manager — to cleanse the water for the sixteen million people of Dresediel Lex. At the scene of the crime, Caleb finds an alluring and clever cliff runner, crazy Mal, who easily outpaces him.

But Caleb has more than the demon infestation, Mal, or job security to worry about when he discovers that his father — the last priest of the old gods and leader of the True Quechal terrorists — has broken into his home and is wanted in connection to the attacks on the water supply.

From the beginning, Caleb and Mal are bound by lust, Craft, and chance, as both play a dangerous game where gods and people are pawns. They sleep on water, they dance in fire... and all the while the Twin Serpents slumbering beneath the earth are stirring, and they are hungry.

Amazon Goodreads
The sequel to The Lives of Tao.

The Prophus and the Genjix are at war. For centuries they have sought a way off-planet, guiding humanity’s social and technological development to the stage where space travel is possible. The end is now in sight, and both factions have plans to leave the Earth, but the Genjix method will mean the destruction of the human race.

That’s a price they’re willing to pay.

It’s up to Roen and Tao to save the world. Oh, dear…

So as you can see, my peeps have been busy bringing the AWESOME to the world of fiction. I'm so proud of them! If you get the chance, any one of these reads will transport you to another world with characters to love/hate and compelling endings. Happy reading!!

Katrina's blog pic

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where I Was and How I Found Peace

Never Forget 9/11

It was my first month away at college, Brigham Young University. The Deseret Towers dorm common area had a big screen TV playing the news when I first heard classes would likely be canceled for the day. I watched the replaying footage of the second plane striking over and over again while reporters cried on air. As a Communications student, I would see the same footage played over the coming weeks as we discussed the way this event had rocked and changed the industry. My RA was a mess, worried about her family in New York. Nobody could get through on the phones. I didn't think I knew anybody immediately affected by the attacks, but I was still in shock. How could this happen here?

On days like this one, war seems inevitable. There's a general sense of doom and unease. So I, along with tens of thousands of BYU students, filed into the Marriott Center for a prayer service--in place of the usual Tuesday devotional--searching for peace to quell the feeling of doom.

President Bateman said, "This morning, as most of you know, one of the greatest tragedies that has occurred on the mainland of the United States took place. Thousands of lives have been lost, and thousands have been injured." He appealed to us not to rush to judgment, not to be afraid, and to remember the good news of the gospel. Then he quoted Jesus:
"Let me turn to the words of the Savior. At the Last Supper, after finishing the meal, the Savior and his disciples sang the Hallel. The words of the Hallel are from Psalms 113 to 118. Chapters 113 through 116 are sung before the meal, in which thanks are given to God for the deliverance from Egypt; chapters 117 and 118 are sung after the Passover meal. I invite you today to read those chapters in Psalms. 
Those chapters talk about being saved from death. They are talking about the Atonement. So, at the Last Supper with His eleven disciples—Judas having left and Jesus knowing where he was going—Jesus is then singing about His own death.
In that setting He went on to talk to His disciples about the most precious gift He had to give them. That gift was the gift of the Holy Ghost. These are His words: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). 
And then He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27).
He knows where He is going, and there is peace in His heart. He knows He is going to the garden, and He is going to the cross. He is telling them He is leaving them His peace.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

FULL SPEECH, quoted above

VIDEO: THE TIMES IN WHICH WE LIVE, October 2001 by President and Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley


Jessica Brooks remembers over at Operation Awesome:
Using Your Words -- Remembering September 11th
Katrina's blog pic

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


The Deaths of Tao, sequel to The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu, has a COVER and it's just as awesome as the first:

Add on goodreads

The sequel to The Lives of Tao.

The Prophus and the Genjix are at war. For centuries they have sought a way off-planet, guiding humanity’s social and technological development to the stage where space travel is possible. The end is now in sight, and both factions have plans to leave the Earth, but the Genjix method will mean the destruction of the human race.

That’s a price they’re willing to pay.

It’s up to Roen and Tao to save the world. Oh, dear…

It's out from Angry Robot Books October 29th 2013. Looking forward to reading this with the hubz! 

Katrina's blog pic

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Blog Chain: This I Believe

Kate gave us today's topic: This I believe. Do you find yourself repeating certain themes in your writing? Can readers glean what you believe in or some of your life philosophies from reading your work?

The Beauty of Innocence

Could readers glean what I believe from reading my work? Absolutely. I think it would be hard NOT to put that into my writing. Probably the most common themes people will find in my books are...

  • the elusiveness of reality 
  • the importance of forgiveness and love 
  • transcendence
  • innocence
  • human weakness
  • the need we all have for rescue

I'm still figuring out how I want to express these in my writing, genre-wise and topic-wise. But if you read my early drafts of diverse genres, you'll see similar themes emerging.

How about you? What themes crop out of your life philosophies?

Make sure to check out the other links on the Blog Chain! Catch up with Christine Fonseca to see yesterday's blog chain post,

and check out Demitria Lunetta's tomorrow.

Katrina's blog pic

Friday, July 5, 2013

Daughter of Chaos Cover Love

Have you seen the new cover for DAUGHTER OF CHAOS by Jen McConnel?

I'm gushing over it at Operation Awesome today. This is the first book I read for Month9Books which is getting published, due out March 2014. Be excited. Be very excited.

Katrina's blog pic

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Blog Chain: The Three Little Pigs

Amparo's says:
Confession: I can't draw to save my life. *sigh* If you had some seriously epic drawing skills (or if you already have them) which published book would you have loved to illustrate? Why does that book--and its characters/premise--strike you as something you'd love to work on as an artist?

Funny you should ask! I do occasionally write children's books, in the hope my mom will someday illustrate them for posterity, but yesterday I was thinking of a retelling of The Three Little Pigs. I have three little boys and they are currently obsessed with it. They get under the stairs and pretend the wolf is on top of the stairs trying to get in through the chimney. Adorable! Anyway, the other day I came up with a slightly adapted version for my three-year-old, and he loved it so much I thought I'd write it down and turn it into a custom picture book. I haven't done it yet, but it wouldn't be that hard. 

What WOULD be hard, of course, is the illustration. I am not a talented artist and haven't ever really put in the time to become one. Still, I might illustrate this book (pigs aren't so hard, especially if you draw them wearing overalls). 

What I love about the story is the lesson of building on a sure foundation so you can't be blown away with the wind. It goes nicely with my boys' favorite bedtime song:

The wise man built his house upon a rock.
The wise man built his house upon a rock.
The wise man built his house upon a rock,
And the rains came tumbling down.

The rains came down and the floods came up.
The rains came down and the floods came up.
The rains came down and the floods came up,
And the house on the rock stood firm!

The foolish man built his house upon the sand.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand,
And the rains came tumbling down.

The rains came down and the floods came up.
The rains came down and the floods came up.
The rains came down and the floods came up,
And the house on the sand washed away! 

I realize it's not really the spirit of the question, which would be what I'd like to work on visually! After watching the movie Thor, I think I'd like best to work on something from another planet because the majestic scope of the cinematography in that movie was just breathtaking. So maybe Thor or Superman or certain scenes from The Lord of the Rings. But for practical purposes, the thing I'd most like to be able to draw right now is The Three Little Pigs. :)

Make sure to check out the other links on the Blog Chain! Catch up with Christine Fonseca to see yesterday's blog chain post,

and check out Demitria Lunetta's tomorrow.

Katrina's blog pic

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blog Chain: Summer Flings: Do they really exist?

I chose the topic for Blog Chain this time around:

Have you ever written a summer fling? Or are all your fictional relationships the deep, forever kind? If you did write one, how would it begin (the meet cute)? Where would it be set? Give us a few paragraphs sample. 

Surprisingly, though I wrote this prompt, I haven't really written a summer fling. I'll have to think of a new one for the assignment. 

Synopsis: Jaron, a philosophy student visiting hick cousins in Ohio, falls off a hay wagon and lands on a stranger's farm in the middle of nowhere. After blacking out, he comes to with the barrel of Agnes' rifle at his nose. An endlessly practical but lovely corn farmer, she's in the middle of a feud with the mega-farm ten miles upwind, who claims she's growing their patented seeds. The last thing she needs at her door is one of their spies. While Mr. Philosophy waxes poetic about her corn-silken mane and muses over the possibility that reality is completely subjective, Agnes tries to get in touch with his cousins so he can do what men do best and leave. Jaron doesn't remember their phone number, he lost his phone in the fall, and can only tell her their names and horribly mispronounce the town where they live. 


"Coshocktown? You mean Coshocton?" Agnes rubbed her forehead with her whole palm. "You're in Plainfield. That's at least ten miles and it ain't flat."

"Well, could I trouble you for a ride?" Ten miles didn't seem that far. Maybe he could take a hike in the morning, after the rain stopped.

Her hand fell to her side and she stared. "Our truck mysteriously stopped working two days back. About the same time another young gentleman came poking around the farm. Another spy!"

Back to the conspiracy theories again. Her patience for his theories on existentialism wasn't likely to improve, either. He'd have to try another tactic. "Our? Is there a Mister Cornsilk?"

Her eyes went from narrowed to slit-thin. "No. And there never will be. If it weren't for this stupid rain and the flash flood warning I'd send you on your way on foot." 

She spun around and tossed a folded quilt. He caught it with his stomach.

"This must be the Midwestern hospitality I've heard so much about," Jaron mused.

"Don't get too used to it."

A little boy with brown hair like a sheepdog and brand new Levi denim walked into the room with a math book. "Explain it again, Aggie? I can't figure out these stupid fractions! Who's that?"

With a deep sigh, Agnes took the boy under her wing and gestured toward Jaron. "This is what a city boy looks like. Take a good look at those skinny limbs and baby-soft hands. It's what happens to a person who forgets how to work." She gave the boy a swat on the bum and told him she'd be in to tuck him in soon. 

Jaron's made-for-children grin collapsed. "Nice. Really nice. You know, you're shaping his reality, too."

Agnes groaned. "Good night!" 

Before he could even think of a response, Jaron found himself alone in a dark, wood-paneled room on a tattered sofa, with only a mutt for company.  

Make sure to check out the other links on the Blog Chain! Catch up with Christine Fonseca to see yesterday's blog chain post,

and check out Demitria Lunetta's tomorrow.

Katrina's blog pic

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Sensitive Little Girl, a Long-suffering Woman, and a Miracle Man

What's been on my reading pile lately?

Well, I'm glad you asked! I've been dying to share:

Understood Betsy

A warm and charming portrayal of life in the early 1900s. Sheltered 9 year old Elizabeth Ann has always heard her Aunt Frances talk about "those horrid Vermont cousins." Now she is terrified. Aunt Frances can no longer take care of her, and she has been sent to stay with her New England relatives. "Betsy" gradually comes to enjoy the challenge of living with her country cousins, and she has a difficult choice to make. A delightful book.

My thoughts: I haven't had so much fun since Anne of Green Gables. Highly recommended to women with daughters, or just women who remember being little girls.

I actually read this with my oldest son, who is six years old, and he had trouble sitting through read-aloud time with it. I believe this says more about little boys in general than it does about this charming book. I would read it again, and I'm sure I will with my other two boys. The shift in perspective it offers to a new time, a new place, and universal human experience is of great worth.

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen's most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne's family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?
Jane Austen once compared her writing to painting on a little bit of ivory, 2 inches square. Readers of Persuasion will discover that neither her skill for delicate, ironic observations on social custom, love, and marriage nor her ability to apply a sharp focus lens to English manners and morals has deserted her in her final finished work.

My thoughts: I particularly loved the conversation between Anne and Harville near the end about who loves strongest and longest between men and women. The warmth of the conversation made what could have been an obnoxious debate into something healing for everyone who heard it. It's likely the part which will stand singularly in my memory when this title is mentioned in the future.

I read this for book club and some of the insights gained there helped me to appreciate it even more. Not only was this Jane Austen's last finished work, but she was apparently very eager to finish it before she died. This explains its short length and the less polished parts of the book. But it also makes the symmetry and depth of character all the more amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed Persuasion and would read it again.

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife

A SCIENTIST’S CASE FOR THE AFTERLIFE Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.
Then, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.
Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.
Alexander’s story is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.
This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.

My thoughts: 

"But while I was in coma my brain hadn't been working improperly. It hadn't been working at all. The part of my brain that years of medical school had taught me was responsible for creating the world I lived and moved in and for taking the raw data that came in through my senses and fashioning it into a meaningful universe: that part of my brain was down, and out. And yet despite all of this, I had been alive, and aware, truly aware, in a universe characterized above all by love, consciousness, and reality.... There was, for me, simply no arguing this fact. I knew it so completely that I ached. 

What I'd experienced was more real than the house I sat in, more real than the logs burning in the fireplace. Yet there was no room for that reality in the medically trained scientific worldview that I'd spent years acquiring.

How was I going to create room for both of these realities to coexist?"

-Eben Alexander, M.D. from Proof of Heaven, a Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife


Absolutely phenomenal NDE narrative. Near-death experiences are a fascination of mine and I've read many, all interesting and edifying in some way, all similar as Dr. Eben Alexander discusses. But this one is unique in two major ways:

1) The status of Dr. Eben Alexander as a known and acclaimed neurosurgeon, a confessed skeptic of extended consciousness phenomenon and religion, and a bacterial meningitis patient who was comatose 6 full days, miraculously making a full recovery beginning on the seventh.

2) The writing. Dr. Alexander's wife, Holley, apparently has a higher degree in fine arts and I'm going to guess she's a writer. While I don't want to take anything from the work of the good doctor, I am going to assume that much of the emotional beauty and literary finery in this record is due to her influence. In the acknowledgments he does thank her along with a few others for editing. Most NDE stories, while still fascinating and wonderful, are written rather poorly. There are emotional moments here and there and a great deal of thought-provoking imagery as people try to explain exactly what happened and what they saw in a place too good for words. But I never opened up one of these books expecting to be transported so completely as I was in Proof of Heaven.

The marriage of these two special situations makes Proof of Heaven my new favorite NDE account, surpassing Return From Tomorrow by George C. Ritchie, which got me interested in these stories in the first place.

To sum up: read it. It is soul-lifting for the believer and mind-opening for the true skeptic.

Your turn to share! What have you been reading?

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Blog Chain: His eyes narrowed... again. (Overusing words/scenes)


Christine asks: What are your "go-to" scenes or phrases? You know, the ones you have to remind yourself NOT to use too frequently? What do you do to keep yourself from being overly reliant on them?

If I have any go-to scenes, they're probably revolving around relationships. I feel like I'm always writing a falling out or a making up. This means there are a lot of repetitions I have to watch out for in my writing, like fuming and eyes narrowed.

I find the synonym project by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi to be the most useful tool in revisions for getting rid of these little glitches. They have a book out called the Emotions Thesaurus that is an essential reference tool. In the sidebar at that link, you'll also see character traits, physical traits, setting, and symbols. They've got unique ways to say pretty much everything!

What scenes or phrases do you over-use?

Catch up with Christine Fonseca to see yesterday's blog chain post,

and check out Demitria Lunetta's tomorrow.

Katrina's blog pic

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

UV, W, X, Y, and Z -- Mysteries of Science Explained by Electricity

UV, W, X, Y, and Z, the last days of the A to Z April Challenge.

Yes, obviously, I failed a little at the challenge, but at least I failed with flare! This last installment includes fascinating links from around the web! Since I'm a huge fan of speculative fiction, specifically science fiction, I thought I'd share some of my research links with y'all. These articles/videos are a great way to kickstart your imagination if it's been dormant (like while line-editing) for a while.

From the sun to water vapor to ancient artifacts to futuristic bandaids, electricity rules the world

Electric Currents Create Magnetic Fields in the Sun 
(okay, this doesn't start with u or v, but UV rays... from the sun... get it? 

Let it Rain - how electricity governs our Weather

Robot finds mysterious spheres in ancient temple in MeXico < See what I did there? (This discovery is beneath the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, which is connected with electric plasma theory/unified theory of myth/ancient cosmology)

ElectricitY Can Help Heal Wounds (Dnews video) 

The Mysterious NaZca Lines video (More photos here) These are also possibly lightning-related

Hope you enjoyed the science and archaeology tour! Be sure to head over to Operation Awesome tomorrow morning bright and early for our Mystery Agent one-sentence pitch contest.

Katrina's blog pic

Monday, April 29, 2013

Q, R, S, T: Quasing, Roen, Sonya, and Tao

Spies and aliens: a match made in heaven.

Go read The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu (Couple's Review)

It's my first couple's review with my husband after we used THE LIVES OF TAO for our date book over the course of the past month. A chapter or two each date night kept us laughing and intrigued. But last night we couldn't put it down after our usual few chapters. There was too much at stake! We read for a couple hours and both very much loved the ending.

Quasing from Quasar

The Quasing are an alien life force that relies on a host for survival. They feed off enzymes in carbon-based life forms and also get protection from wind, cold, and heat within our relatively harder casings. Without a host, their thin membranes can be shattered by a strong gust of wind, scattered to the Eternal Seas. What's intriguing about these aliens? They've been here on Earth since before mankind, and have been instrumental in mankind's evolution. Once mankind reached an evolutionary stage where they could be equal partners, the Quasing split into two political factions: The Genjix and The Prophus. The Prophus tend to consider humans as partners worth protecting. The Genjix consider humans a means to an end. They are supremacists at the core. Author Wesley Chu did a thorough job creating this alien race. Hardcore sci-fi fans will find plenty to love in The Lives of Tao.

Roen Tan

One reviewer compared our protagonist Roen Tan to Brendan Fraser, such is the quirky lovable nature of his character. Much of the humor in the first half of the book is drawn from alien Tao's attempts at getting couch-potato Roen out on a running trail, or out of an attempted assassination alive. With all his faults, Roen is lovable because he is humble, compassionate, and loyal to friends. Also, the man can't lie to save his life... literally. Not exactly the type of person you'd cast in the role of international man of mystery. And yet it works so well in The Lives of Tao.

Sonya Lyte

Sonya shows up at Roen's door to train him in hand-to-hand combat and fire arms. Well matched to his goofy sense of humor, she also knows when to get deadly serious. Unlike Roen, she is not an accidental host, but the daughter of her quasing's former host. She was raised for this, and it's intensely personal for her. Like Roen comments at one point in the book, she would never be a Bond girl, but she'd be the one kicking James Bond's butt.


Formerly known as Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, and the creator of Tai Chi, Tao has been influencing human politics since before human politics existed. He has millennia-old enemies who hold millennia-old grudges, and his chubby, uninitiated host Roen Tan gets to deal with all of it. Tao has a few things in common with Roen. He's fiercely loyal to his hosts and his friends, even to a fault. He's compassionate, too, seeing his host as an equal partner and allowing Roen to choose whether or not he takes a wise, ancient alien's advice. Their relationship is mostly humorous at first, but deeply bound by shared loyalties and mutual appreciation in the end.

(Letters and concept of A to Z April challenge here)

Buy on Amazon: The Lives of Tao

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Friday, April 19, 2013


The Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is more than halfway through. Time marches forward. While I'm not officially linked up, I'm participating for the fun of it.
Due to the Boston Marathon massacre, I've been unable to blog, or do much of anything besides fix meals for my kids, answer their questions, tweet, facebook, and obsessively watch the news. 

Now that they've got the last suspect on the run, and everyone has been identified, I feel it's time to move forward with business as usual, though I know for many of us life will never, ever be the same. 

If you are struggling to cope with this unspeakable tragedy, I strongly suggest reading author Carrie Jones' recounting, "I have a bad feeling," reprinted with permission by Huffington Post. 

Now to the alphabet letters. I figured I'd do N-O-P together and then Q-R tomorrow, which will catch me up officially. Instead of three individual topics to make this post truly dizzying, I'm combining them into a phrase:


This is a phenomenon found in all art (and computer science, too), wherein some "ghost in the machine" or Providence puts a meaningful or mystical element into something otherwise completely man-made. 

Most artists purposely work symbols, spiritual or political statements into their art, whether with brush or pen. But often, through no device of their own, the thing that most resonates with people is the thing they did not intend. 

A bunching of paint that resembles an angel in the corner, or the unwitting symbolism that meant nothing during the author's time but means everything to us today. 

You may have experienced this when a reader said of your short story, "Wow, the way you drew your villain is so deep. I've never seen anyone do that before."

"What?" you say, with interest. 

"Oh, you know, making him mute, as if to say we're all incapable of expressing our true inner selves."

"Oh that," you say. "Right, that's... what I meant to do. Exactly."

Maybe you did. Maybe you didn't. 

But it's there. Not On Purpose is why art is art. It's the magic that allows every single viewer or reader to see in your art something intensely personal, just for them. Or sometimes it's the magic that unites us all, striking every human being on a higher level, something basic to all of humanity. 

Either way, it's usually quite a shock to the artist, if he or she is still alive to ruminate on patron response.

In pre-published writing, this type of reader feedback may spur a new direction in the story or a sequel or a complete rewrite. Post-publication, it's simply something to celebrate. 

Not On Purpose makes art transcendent. If you find it has happened to you, don't argue. Embrace it. Maybe the universe isn't whispering,

Or maybe she's talking specifically to you.

Katrina's blog pic

Thursday, April 18, 2013

BLOG CHAIN: Thick Skin is Scar Tissue

Alyson asks: Have you developed thick skin as a writer? How do you handle having your work critiqued? Do you love revising? Hate it?


I think I've developed a pretty thick skin (a nice way of saying scar tissue), but there's still a sting when I'm criticized, especially if a reader didn't get my character at all. 

My favorite critique partners mix the praise with the critique, and that goes a long way toward soothing the sting. When I receive scathing reviews someday (still unpublished), it'll probably be really hard for me to take. I plan not to read them whenever possible.

As far as revising to critiques, I love it, especially when the suggestion jives with me. Like a, "Why didn't I think of that before?" sort of thing. If it doesn't make sense like that, I'll generally skip the advice or else try to solve the lump in the road in some other fashion.

Revising by myself is the bane of my existence. I think creativity is a cooperative process that needs to involve at least one other person. I'm cognizant that not all writers feel this way. But then again, most solitary writers drank heavily and/or killed themselves.

How about you? Thick skin? What types of critiques sting the most?

Catch up with Christine Fonseca to see yesterday's blog chain post,

and check out Demitria Lunetta's tomorrow.

Afterglow Book Reviews: Jessica raves about SNARK AND CIRCUMSTANCE by Stephanie Wardrop
Katrina's blog pic

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Marlowe: THE OTHER MARLOWE GIRL by Beth Fred

M is for Marlowe Girl.

Want to combat real-life pirates

Me, too! 

Today I'm sharing Beth Fred's sequel to THE FATE OF A MARLOWE GIRL. 

Add it on Goodreads

Book Two, titled THE OTHER MARLOWE GIRL, is about an ex-ballerina-turned-stripper-turned-ballerina-again.

The blurb:

When twenty-four-year-old dance school drop out Kammy Marlowe is evicted by her mother, she goes to her favorite bar. She finds an unlikely friend in the blunt eye candy, Enrique. But Kammy knows there is no way she and Enrique have a shot because he's her brother-in-law’s brother and has been privy to her wild past. 

Enrique swears he’s only interested in the person she is today, but their relationship is tested when her ex-husband's drug dealer attacks her, looking for money. With no options and a money hungry drug dealer on her back, Kammy accepts a position as a dancer at a strip club. But when Enrique shows up at the club, their relationship is over. With no reason to stay in Texas anymore, Kammy auditions for the Bolshevik Ballet and gets the opportunity to go to Russia. Only Enrique is determined to stop her. 

Will she give up the chance of a lifetime to stay with the man she still loves?

A little bit about Beth:

You know she's sweet because she used the A to Z challenge to promote OTHER writers! I caught wind of her beautiful book and pirate trouble while reading this post featuring Afterglow's own Jen Daiker.

From her darling blog:

Meet Beth Fred! That's me! I'm a full time ELF keeper and part time writer/blogger/writing instructor. I'm represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. I like my tea hot, my romance sweet, and my guys chivalrous. Real men hold open doors, refer to you as ma'am, make promises they keep, and aren't afraid to profess their undying love. It's not breakfast if there aren't carbs(at least, not in the South). Fajitas, carnitas, and churros are just few of my favorite things. Bet you can't guess where I'm from ;)

Katrina's blog pic