Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spies vs. Espionage!

Look what I got in my mailbox! 

Shiny new books with a common concept: spies! 

The Gail Carriger one is SIGNED! I may give it away if I can bear to part with it when I'm through reading.

Etiquette & Espionage on Goodreads (Gail Carriger's first venture into YA, set in the same world as the bestselling Parasol Protectorate series)

Tomorrow is our March 1st Mystery Agent contest!!! If you write for children from PB thru MG on to YA, and you have a polished manuscript, enter to win a full read from a first-class literary agent. That'll be at Operation Awesome!

Katrina's blog pic

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

THE LIVES OF TAO by Wesley Chu: Cover Reveal!!

Sharing the awesome! Operation Awesome's very own Wesley Chu has his cover for his SF book.  Introducing...


Seriously, just stare at this for a minute if you're not laughing yet. It goes perfectly with the book.

When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it. 
He wasn’t. 
He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans. Now split into two opposing factions – the peace-loving, but under-represented Prophus, and the savage, powerful Genjix – the aliens have been in a state of civil war for centuries. Both sides are searching for a way off-planet, and the Genjix will sacrifice the entire human race, if that’s what it takes. 
Meanwhile, Roen is having to train to be the ultimate secret agent. Like that’s going to end up well…


Here is the link on good reads: HERE

It comes out in just a few short months (April 30th) so add it to your list.

Or go ahead and PREORDER it now!


Wesley Chu was born in Taiwan and immigrated to Chicago, Illinois when he was just a pup. It was there he became a Kung Fu master and gymnast.

Wesley is an avid gamer and a contributing writer for the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. A former stunt man and a member of the Screen Actors Guild, he can also be seen in film and television playing roles such as “Banzai Chef” in Fred Claus and putting out Oscar worthy performances as a bank teller in Chicago Blackhawks commercials.

Besides working as an Associate Vice President at a bank, he spends his time writing and hanging out with his wife Paula Kim and their Airedale Terrier, Eva.

OKAY, now don't forget the always awesome MYSTERY AGENT CONTEST on March 1st. We've got an agent who specializes in children's books (PB, MG, YA) with specifics here.

Katrina's blog pic

Friday, February 22, 2013

Jinx: The Hazard of Writing about Bad Luck

Source, to buy

On my way back from checking the mail, I tripped and fell down on the asphalt while holding my baby. It was a scary half-second, but instead of falling on my baby and crushing him, my mom superpowers kicked in and I rolled, arching my arm around his little head as we fell. It happened so fast, though.

Totally rattling. I was rattled.

And then when I had time to process what had happened, I thought (a) Yay for maternal instinct! (baby didn't get a scratch, though I lost some skin), and (b) man, what rotten luck!

Rotten luck. It's the curse of Graylyn Stephens, my MC in COULD BE WORSE. But why am I suddenly seized with it? Is bad luck contagious? Did I jinx myself by daring to write about forces I can't possibly hope to understand?

*knock on wood*

What do you think? Have you ever felt jinxed? And should I keep writing COULD BE WORSE? (I'm 19k words into it.)

Katrina's blog pic

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blog Chain: Mash-ups and Re-tellings

Margie's topic: Pick a book or story and imagine it in a new genre. For example, what would Oliver Twist be like if it was a sci-fi novel. Would Fagin have been a robot? Do you prefer your new creation or the original?"

Okay, just for fun let's imagine Romeo and Juliet ...
as a YA Paranormal Romance

Sixteen-year-old Romeo Montague, a nice boy from a nice family is as intrigued as anybody else when the Capulet family moves in. Parents, daughter, cousins, aunts: they all have perfect bodies, loads of cash, and impeccable style. But when Romeo finds out about the rivalry between his father and Joe Capulet going all the way back to elementary school, he understands Juliet Capulet is off limits. 

The Capulets have a secret, a reason for returning to Huckleberry Falls after a decade away. Juliet is about to come of age, whatever that means. Romeo's best friend Mercutio overheard Joe Capulet whisper of taking her to the top of the highest waterfall for some strange ritual. For the boring old hick town of Huckleberry Falls, this sounds like opening night at a rock 'n roll concert, so of course he wouldn't miss it for the world. But what they expect to be entertainment turns to tragedy when Juliet's demented cousin hears Mercutio snickering and throws him over the Falls to a stony death. Juliet, glowing like a firefly, dives into the abyss after him, lifting his broken body as if it were weightless. Her tears fall on his face, and Mercutio awakens from death.

But Mercutio will never be the same. His wicked wit gone, he jumps at shadows and whispers to himself about angels and gods, turning him from Mr. Popular into the Huckle High resident freak, and Romeo into his always-angry protector. Romeo mourns the loss of his friend while having to defend him from the cruel kids in school who are only too happy to take revenge for all the cutting things Mercutio used to say. To make matters worse, Juliet keeps trying to edge her way into Romeo's life, inviting him back to the Falls and certain death at the hands of her kin. 

In his nightmares, he sees her, the angel of justice, meting out God's wrath upon him. Then the nightmares melt into dreams of soft ruby lips and the smell of honeysuckle in the mist. He's at the falls with her again, as at home in her arms as his own childhood bedroom. In horror, he awakes, shivering and wet at Huckleberry Falls. How many nights has he gone sleep-walking to the Falls? And why is Juliet's family staring at him as though he holds the key to their ascension?

Something has happened to him. He's glowing an eerie pale pink in the mist of the Falls. His memories unreliable at best, Romeo faces an impossible choice: betray his family's loyalty by helping their enemies gain ultimate power, or die at the hands of the fair Juliet.

Of course I'd prefer a YA Paranormal Romance to Shakespeare. His words were pretty, but I pretty much hate all his plots. :)

What do you think? Do you like mash-ups and re-tellings?

Check out Christine Fonseca's thoughts from yesterday and Demitria Lunetta's tomorrow.

Katrina's blog pic

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

IndieReCon: IndieReCon Schedule/Agenda

What if I told you there was an online writer's conference going on today on the web... for free?

Well guess what! There is!

Check it out at the link below:

IndieReCon: IndieReCon Schedule/Agenda: IndieReCon Agenda Tues Feb. 19th - Thurs. Feb 21st) (This conference is in EST time zone) Note: Everything will remain online for ...

Katrina's blog pic

That Can't-Breathe Feeling: Anticipation

Source:, Original inspirations

I've been excited lately, rather a lot. It's not that everything is working out perfectly for me. Far from it. It's just that I'm anticipating a lot of things.

I'm in the middle of my first project as an editorial assistant for Month9Books. As soon as I finish, they're going to send me another awesome pre-published book to pore through. In short, I'm loving this new job, at the same time I am terrified that I'll mess up and lose the opportunity. This results in that can't-breathe feeling, or what many authors have described as waiting with bated breath.

There are other areas of my life that give me that feeling, too. Of course, being a writer, I feel that way all the time about one project or another. Will this plot hole be resolved to the betterment of the book? Will my betas like the pages I sent? Will that agent ask for a partial, or a full? Will this finally be the one? Since I'm working on three writing projects simultaneously, I end up feeling the full emotional impact of these questions in triplicate.

Then there's the anticipation a parent feels for a child each time he shows his potential. I get that in triplicate, too. Hee hee. Three boys, triple the awesome, triple the mess.

Last but not least, it's been a long road with my husband's career and trying to end up where we want to be when we put down roots, finally get out of apartments, and decide to stay. We've moved 7 times and been married for 7 years. We just moved last November for the seventh time, and this isn't a permanent residence for us, either. As much as I may have loved being a rolling stone in my early twenties, that feeling is going away pretty fast as I near July and my thirtieth birthday. The feeling that's replaced it is...


It's not hope. It's not fear. It's just that in-between anxiousness that promises either/or. It's potential. It's almost promise.

Do you know this feeling? What has you feeling this way?

Katrina's blog pic

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pubslush: Kickstarter for Writers?

Pubslush 101

This just came to my attention and I already love it. I don't know if I'll ever use it for my own publication aspirations, but I've already pledged to support another author's writing project. I'm a sucker for good sci-fi, and the author I chose to support seems to know exactly what her goals are for this book/series, and how she wants to get there. You can find authors/books you want to support, or post your work and see how many people you can get on board.

I'm excited to see what authors do with this. People are endlessly creative, and I'm sure there are ways of using Pubslush that haven't been done yet.

What do you think about crowdsourcing/crowdfunding for the arts?

Katrina's blog pic

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bookish Fantasmic Across the Blogosphere Today

  • First I wanted to blog about Angela Ackerman's fabulous Valentine's Day gift to writers:

Emotion Amplifiers, a free pdf download, and companion to

The Emotion Thesaurus

Add it on goodreads

So, as a result of my finding way too much awesome across the writerly blogosphere, you're getting a Bookish Fantasmic Across the Blogosphere Today post.

Add it on goodreads

Enjoy the Bookish Awesome!!!
Katrina's blog pic

Thursday, February 14, 2013

THE CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White: Cover Reveal

Epic Reads revealed Kiersten White's cover for her November 2013-release, THE CHAOS OF STARS:

*faints from the pretty*

Isadora’s family is seriously screwed up.
Of course, as the human daughter of Egyptian gods, that pretty much comes with the territory. She’s also stuck with parents who barely notice her, and a house full of relatives who can’t be bothered to remember her name. After all, they are going to be around forever—and she’s a mere mortal.
Isadora’s sick of living a life where she’s only worthy of a passing glance, and when she has the chance to move to San Diego with her brother, she jumps on it. But Isadora’s quickly finding that a “normal” life comes with plenty of its own epic complications—and that there’s no such thing as a clean break when it comes to family. Much as she wants to leave her past behind, she can’t shake the ominous dreams that foretell destruction for her entire family. When it turns out there may be truth in her nightmares, Isadora has to decide whether she can abandon her divine heritage after all.

I love that this book has a young girl dealing with being normal around paranormals, so to speak, just like Paranormalcy did. Of course, Evie finds out she's a lot more than normal in that trilogy. Will Isadora discover she has more power than she thinks, too? Methinks so. :) 

Kiersten also has a psychological thriller called MIND GAMES coming out this month, but I haven't decided yet if I'm going to read it. I'm one of Kiersten White's biggest fangirls, pretty much from the moment I met her blog and her adorable book. But MIND GAMES is a different sort of book from what I generally read. It makes me nervous, the way HUNGER GAMES did when I first heard of it. I may cave and read it, but probably not before I have the pleasure of diving into Isadora's world in THE CHAOS OF STARS!

Squee! So excited!

Katrina's blog pic

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fear as an Inhibiting Force

Since I got such interesting responses from my post, Hope as a Driving Force, I thought it might be helpful to look at it from the opposite angle:

Fear as an Inhibiting Force

As much as a character's hope drives her forward, her fear keeps her from budging from the safe zone. This is where the trope of the reluctant hero comes up again and again in popular literature. Bilbo Baggins is practically dragged from the Shire by seven dwarves (er, I may be confusing him with Snow White). Anyway, the fear of the unknown is a classic one--universal within all of us. But people also have very specific fears that hold them back, keep them from facing their adversary or their potential or their own flaws.

On Monday I talked about hope in the context of my character Tapti Singh in a YA time travel/coming of age novel. Today I'm going to switch WIP's and talk about fear in the context of Graylyn Stephens. 

26-year-old Graylyn Stephens, a quality assurance customer service rep, knows all 112 ways a toaster can malfunction, and that 11 of them involve electrocution. She's also the unluckiest girl on the planet. Tired of landing in pot holes and hospital beds, she takes up extreme sports in an effort to chase the bad luck away.

Graylyn is pretty much afraid of everything. She isn't cursed with agoraphobia, per se, but she goes into every situation in her life fearing the 'three things that will go wrong before breakfast.' Self-fulfilling prophesy dictates that three horrible things do happen to her... every day of her life. These bad things range from the annoying (dropping her towel in front of her high school crush) to the tragic (her parents dying in a car accident during her first year of college, leaving her to take guardianship of her teenage sister). And everything in between.

Graylyn's fears keep her from doing anything she really wants to do, because--well, if you can't even walk out the door without tripping, why would you want to risk failing at your lifelong dream?

You may be wondering, if her parents' untimely deaths didn't pry her fingers from the safe zone, then what possible inciting incident would?

It's not too much of a spoiler to tell you it's her own car accident/near death experience.

Being unable to move a single muscle without incredible pain does something to you. Having the very real force of instant pain holding you back requires you to face those intangible things that have been holding you back in life. This I can tell you from personal experience. Some parts of Graylyn's story are embarrassingly autobiographical.

When Graylyn makes the switcheroo from unlucky to in charge, the story gets massively more interesting. She still has fears, but she's keeping them at bay. Of course, it isn't until she faces those fears thoughtfully--taking responsibility for them--that her character arc is complete.

Here are a few of the fears she lives with every day:

  • She's afraid she'll never find love, thanks to the competition of her little sister, the chastity vow she took at her father's request in high school before he died, and the behavior of a couple first class jerks.
  • She's afraid she'll never have meaningful employment, thanks to having to drop out of school to take care of her sister, and the fact that she's been at the same company ever since.
  • She's afraid her best friend might be in love with her, and she's afraid she might love him back, threatening the solidity of her one consistently good thing: his friendship.    
  • She's afraid to speak up for herself in mixed company, sure everybody is judging her before she even opens her mouth.
As you can see, many of these fears are strapped to blame

Most people go from fear to blame pretty easily in an effort to avoid responsibility for their own choices. 

Think about your own fears and how you may be blaming something/someone else for what's holding you back. Heck, I even do it with my writing. "I can't finish this story because I a) have no time with three kids, b) don't have the knack for structure other writers seem to have."

Your characters will probably do that, too. 

What do your characters fear, and who/what are they blaming for their failures? Once you know that, you'll know exactly what they need to grow as characters.

Happy writing!

Katrina's blog pic

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hope as a Driving Force


What motivates your character? 

Sometimes it's fear, or revenge, or pity. But beneath the layers of motivation, there's a core HOPE. What does he hope will happen? What are his reasonable expectations vs. his greatest hope -- the best possible outcome?

In one of my stories, my main character's initial hope is completely unconnected with the shiny premise. That's because she isn't expecting time travel to pop up in her life. After it does, her hopes begin to center around that:

  • She hopes the genius who invented time travel doesn't botch the past.
  • She hopes they can get their scattered group back together in the 15th century before their 21st century boat leaves them marooned.
  • She hopes whoever's blowing things up in the past doesn't irreparably change the timeline.

And some of her hopes still involve the mundane:

  • She hopes her co-staff, the hot Welshman, won't drop her like a hot potato when he finds out she isn't the poor cruise worker she appears to be, but a trust fund baby just like the spoiled passengers he detests.
  • She hopes she'll get into Cambridge in the Social Anthropology program as an international student. 
  • She hopes she'll be able to balance her incoming wealth with her social consciousness and not be like those yuppies she's studying in her anthropology journal.
  • She hopes the arranged marriage her parents have planned will just go away, although she also fears the uncertainty of anything less than an arranged marriage. 

You can see how some of her hopes are complex and even contradictory with her fears. That's real life for anyone going through a Decision Point in her life.

What is your MC's greatest hope?

Katrina's blog pic

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Valentine-ish Blog Hop: Entangled in Love

(Click here to check out what the other authors are giving away during the Entangled In Love blog hop!)

Michelle McLean, author of TO TRUST A THIEF (which I just reviewed today on Afterglow Book Reviews) is giving away a copy of her brand new book on her blog.

Enter to win here: Entangled in Love Blog Hop

Here's the trailer, as seen on
Also, join the Entangled authors for a Twitter Party February 8th at 9pm EST.

The deets:
Date : February 8th, 2013.
Time : 9pm EST.
Hashtag : #EntangledInLove
What : We’ll be asking Valentine’s day related questions and each question has prizes to be won! Answer right for a chance to win some of the many awesome prizes!
Where : Follow the instructions below!
1. Go to Fill in the hash-tag as #EntangledInLove
3. Fill in the hosts
4. Enter your twitter handle, follow the tweets, answer the questions and you may just get lucky!
Don’t forget to mention the #EntangledInLove hashtag in your replies!
Good Luck!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Blog Chain: Elusive Balance

SourceMaxwell Holyoke-Hirsch

Lisa's farewell topic for the Blog Chain The balancing act. How do you balance your writing time with everything else in your life--including, kids, job, book promotion?

Answer: I don't.

Honestly, this is just life, and balance is a lifelong pursuit for everybody. Somebody can think she's got it all figured out for a week or two, and then fate or God or the devil throws her a curve ball and it all falls apart again. 

Examples of curve balls in my personal life:

  • death in the family
  • near-fatal car accident
  • pregnancy
  • new baby
  • restructuring the group blog

Then there are the things you choose, which come at you straight on like fast balls:
  • coordinating with authors/agents on writing conference
  • coordinating with authors/agents on mystery agent contest
  • agent revise and resubmit (hasn't happened to me)
  • editorial notes (hasn't happened to me)
  • release week for your own book (hasn't happened to me)
  • writing three books at once (living it, loving it)

Whether you choose your stress or merely suffer through it, balance is an ideal and not an actual destination. The best I can hope to do is cope. How do I personally cope with the struggle for balance? Why not throw some more bullet points in this blog post? :)

  • Prioritize: God/spiritual health first, family (husband, kids, parents, siblings) second, career (blogging, writing, reviewing, reading, editing) third. This is the ideal, not the reality in most cases. But it does help to remember my ideal.
  • Be flexible: Remember that the best-laid plans of mice and men are not going to turn out perfectly. This is easier said than done, too. It's disappointing to see a plan foiled by a curve ball. As fast as those fast balls are, at least they come at you straight, and you know what to expect. When something goes askew at the last second, that's the worst kind of stress. Expect detours.
  • If all else fails, breathe: Literally stop what you are doing, take a breath, and do some purposeful relaxation. Yoga, running, ice cream, dance, karaoke... whatever does it for you personally. For me, it's running and ballet, or curling up with a non-required-reading book. 
Since I haven't had the fun or stress of publishing a book, my insights are restricted to juggling the usual writing-with-a-family stresses (well, plus homeschooling). 

For more insights from people further along in their publishing road, check out Christine Fonseca's thoughts from yesterday, and meet our newest blog chain member, taking Lisa Amowitz's place: Demitria Lunetta.

Welcome to the Blog Chain, Demitria!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Indie Elite: Writing A Serial

The Indie Elite: Writing A Serial: The advent of ebooks and indie publishing has allowed the revival of a form with a storied history, but not many tales in the recent past: ...
The Indie Elite featured a piece by Susan Kaye Quinn, author of the Mindjack Series, all about the new resurgence of serials. I found it enlightening about serials in both the past and present days.

What do you think about amazon's new e-serial program? Would you write one?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Checking In 2-5-13

Here's my progress with the three major writing projects I've got going. To some of you, this looks like a walk in the park. Maybe others think it looks like too much to be doing at once. The nice thing about the middle one is that I'm sharing the fun with my sister/co-writer, Aubrey. She doesn't have a writing blog yet, but if/when she gets one, you can bet I'll be sending you in her direction regularly. She's awesome.

So I probably end up writing on the joint project (time travel YA) about once a week, if that. Even so, our progress has been steady and I'm proud of where we are now. Halfway point! Woot!

The MG Superhero rewrite has been a challenge. I'm enjoying it, but I'm also worrying over it a fair bit. See, I've already written this novel once -- it turned out all lighthearted and cute (until the end). This time I'm writing post-WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, and I think I know what it needs to make it truly awesome:

Worldbuilding. I'm focusing on that part much more this time around, giving my characters' towns history, larger conflict, and fun details. The trick with worldbuilding for me is consistency. It's so easy for me to forget about some little detail I once mentioned and meander my way into a plot hole. Right now I'm working on the fuzzy middle bit. Well, to be clear, it's the beginning of the fuzzy middle bit, so I've quite a ways to go. Once I solve the problem I'm facing right now (like building a bridge from one side to another), I'll be able to get back on track in my outline.

The NA Contemp piece is kind of my writer candy right now. I've never written anything strictly contemporary - no paranormal elements at all. Well, unless you count bad luck. But I don't. So this is new for me, and I'm being a bit self-indulgent with it, actually including some of my own life experiences (fictionalized beyond recognition, of course). I haven't hit an 'oh, crud' moment in this one yet, so it's all Cloud 9 beautiful.

What are you working on today? 

Just for fun, here's a clip of my newest project:

I wake up in a tangle of smelly sheets with tiny pink flowers on a sea of white. I lift my head a quarter of an inch, but the shooting scream running up the back of my neck drops it back to the stiff pillow. I know exactly where I am. It's the Joyce Mercy Medical Center on 9th street. It's the closest one to Spencer's building, and the one I came to when I slipped on ice at the soup shop down the block and got a concussion. That was when we first got together -- maybe the third date. And that was when it all started downhill. Perhaps it was my bad luck that turned him off. Or maybe it was the sex thing even then. Most guys seem to think third dates are some kind of magic number. Sometime somebody told them a fairy tale about a guy who propositioned a girl three times and on the third time she turned into a sex goddess and gave him everything he wanted. And we females just go along with the fairy tale instead of telling our boyfriends that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Sex Fairy Goddess don't really exist. The fact that I can't even lift my head to find a clock aggravates me. And I want Spencer to come running through the door, apologize for being a dickhead (almost literally), and say he didn't mean it. Just so I can have the pleasure of dumping him. That's how much my neck hurts. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

2013 Pens for Paws March 12-16!

2013 Pens for Paws March 12-16!

Angelica R. Jackson holds a charity auction every year to benefit the Fat Kitty City sanctuary where she volunteers. It's called Pens for Paws because this charity auction is specifically for writers like you! The auction items include critiques from super agents, author swag, newly released signed books, etc.


See you there!