5 Minutes With Kat Heckenbach

Another fellow Realmie is here with us today. Kat and I have been online friends for long enough that I really can’t remember when we first “met”. The first time we saw each other in person was at the very first Realm Makers four years ago. She’s a fantastic person who is a bit of a mentor to me, as well as my “conference mom”, as I dubbed her last year.

*Tell us a little bit about yourself/your novel:Author Photo - Kat Heckenbach

I’m a mishmash of interests. My whole childhood was filled with drawing, and I even intended to become an art teacher at one point. But I changed my college major to Biology after I realized I didn’t want to teach full time and I found myself fascinated by my college science classes.

However, I never used my degree in the science field—I used it to get a job running the math program at a local tutoring center. After I had my first child, I quit that job to stay home, and eventually started homeschooling both my son and daughter. While they were still pretty young, the writing bug bit, and here I am: artist, science geek, math nerd, teacher, and now writer. On the lighter side, I’m a Whovian and a Trekkie, and am obsessed with Warehouse 13. Of course I’m an avid reader, mostly of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. My favorite dog breed is boxer, and I’ve owned two (so has one of my characters). I live in Florida, but don’t go to the beach unless I have to. I’d much rather spent my days walking around in the woods, working on art, reading, writing, or hanging out at theme parks.

As for my novel, Legacy Rewound is the third book in my Toch Island Chronicles series. The series started off in Finding Angel as the story of Angel, a 13 year old girl in foster care who discovers the cause of the amnesia she suffered at a young age was being magically transported half-way across the globe when she was attacked by a madman who was after her magic Talent. All of this is quite a shock to her, but in some ways it’s not because she’s always felt “different.”

In the second book, Seeking Unseen, Angel’s friend Melinda takes the stage, discovering her own magic and helping save Toch Island from another madman. In Legacy Rewound, Melinda stars again, now forced to make a decision that could change history after very special magic (the music played by my favorite character, Elven rocker Kalek) has sent her into the past and brought back one of her ancestors—a man who hates magic and may put an end to it if he returns to his own time.

*What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve ever had to research for a story?

You would think, with me being a fantasy, sci-fi, and horror writer, that I’d be researching all kinds of weirdness. But what’s actually strange is that fact that most of my research has been ordinary things. Sheep-shearing (for Finding Angel). How bridges were built around 1900 (for a ghost story I’m working on). What kinds of plants grow in the Midwest (for a paranormal romance set in the Colorado area). I often joke that one of the reasons I love writing fantasy is I can make everything up so I don’t have to research!

*Where do you usually write? Can you show us a picture/describe it?Kat workspace

I have this awesome roll-top desk I bought from a friend of mine. Her husband’s dad is a woodworker, and while he didn’t build it, he did refinish it and it’s beautiful. I love that it has all these little cubbies, and I can roll the top down when we have company, since the desk is in my dining room, which also serves as our homeschool room and my art room, and is open to the living room. I technically write on a laptop, so I could sit anywhere to write, but I love that desk.ear protectors

The main problem is my need for absolute quiet while writing, so I wear the kind of ear protectors you wear while using power tools and stuff—decorated to they don’t look so dorky.

*Do you have a strange quirk or habit while writing or preparing to write?

Well, I mentioned the need for absolute quiet and the ear protectors. I know that’s kind of odd among writers—so many write to music. I’m also odd in that I don’t snack while writing. I’ve been asked several times in interviews what I snack on while writing, and my answer is nothing. A glass of water sits nearby, but that’s it. Another thing about me is I’m old-school. I don’t use any fancy software like Scrivener; I prefer index cards and spiral notebooks for all my story notes and such, and Word for the actual writing. I need to be able to lay everything out on the dining table top and physically move index cards around as I plot. Doing it on-screen is just not the same for me.

*Can you give a hint of where the story is going next? What’s next on your plate?

Legacy Rewound is the last book of the Toch Island Chronicles trilogy, but I’m working on a prequel that tells the backstory of one of the villains from Finding Angel (can’t say who—spoilers!). It won’t be full novel length, though. I’m going to publish it in a collection, along with short stories from that world that are already published in magazines and anthologies, some that have yet to be published, and a couple that have yet to be written. I also very much would like to turn one of those short stories into an illustrated chapter book for kids.

Outside of Toch Island, I am working on a middle grade ghost story, about a girl, Amelia, staying in a small town with her land-developer father. The bridge he wants to tear down in order to build a new one is rumored to be haunted by the man who built it over 100 years ago. Amelia discovers the rumors are true, and finds herself in a battle against her own father to keep the bridge intact. I’m really excited about finishing this project!

Thanks for having me here on your blog!

Glad to have you, Kat! Here’s more about Legacy Rewound:legacy-rewound-fullsize front

Melinda knew Kalek’s music created powerful visions, but it wasn’t supposed to actually send her into the past!

It definitely wasn’t supposed to bring someone back to the present with her. Especially notsomeone tied so tightly to Melinda’s own past, someone to prove, once again, that her family ancestry was made up of psychopaths who should never have existed.

Now it’s her chance to change her lineage– and history– forever.

Kat’s online hangouts: website| Finding Angel website| Facebook| Twitter| Amazon Author Page

Your regularly scheduled program…

*chirping crickets*

Have you ever simultaneously tried to keep up with your writing schedule, prepped for a conference (which includes making things to sell and making your costume at only two and a half weeks to go), prepped for visiting relatives, dealt with a teething baby, and kept to your normal blogging schedule?

I’m definitely at the point of wanting to curl up under my blanket and pretend the world doesn’t exist.

Next week will be the one year anniversary of the publication of Forged Steel, and also my birthday! So in a very Hobbit-like spirit, Forged Steel will be free for three days (17-19th) and on sale for several days after that. If you haven’t gotten it yet, snatch it up! (Also I’ll have discounted print copies at Realm Makers this year in case you’re going to be there and want a print copy.)

The week after, I’m hosting the wonderful Kat Heckenbach for a 5 Minutes interview.

And the week after that, I’m going to be at Realm Makers, so there’s going to be more chirping crickets.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go turn into Wonder Woman and accomplish seventeen million things today. Because I promised Toby we’d go to the firefighters competition tomorrow afternoon, and I’m not going to miss that even if it does mean my mom might cringe a little when she walks into the house tomorrow night. (Sorry mom. I got grandma’s cleaning gene after all.) 😉

A non-so-writerly update

UpdateSo, I kind of forgot I didn’t have anything scheduled for the June update. So…


Burnt Silver: we’re not discussing it.

Secret MG Project: Still not done. Grr. By the end of July, I swear. This thing WILL stop growing and it WILL. BE. FINISHED.

Short Stories: ha. *mumbles incoherently*

HOWEVER! I critiqued a book, beta read a book, AND formatted a book for three different friends in June. So hours were logged at the computer, just not writing my own stuff.

Personal stuff:

I’ve done a lot of biking. And several days at the lake. Oh yes, and we broke our trailer axle on the way out to the lake last week…that was a bit of an adventure, seeing smoke suddenly billowing from the back of our trailer. So that puts a bit of a kink in our biking plans, because we can’t really transport our ridiculous set-ups without the trailer. (well, we can…it just takes a lot more set up and tear down and with a hyperactive little toddler and a crabby teething baby, both of whom cannot wait one more second to get the trip started…we like to minimize that time as much as possible.) 😛

Our Missouri trip was successful! And no one got too terribly cranky during the car rides. (much.) I crocheted cousins Elsie and Judah (or “Jujah” as he is fondly known in this household) sun hats so they matched Jase. We didn’t get a picture of the cousins in their matching hats. *head desk* I still haven’t sewn the buttons on my Multiplicity shawl, nor have I finished casting off on the shawlette I started knitting right before the trip. (picot bind off, how I hate thee.) I HAVE however cast on a winter hat for Justin, because I felt guilty that my dog ate a hole in his hat last year. (yes, I know it’s July, but trust me, if I don’t do it now, it won’t get done. also I’ve set myself up for a lot of Christmas knitting and I’m guessing that will pretty much be it for the rest of the year…) Toby has requested a matching hat (and what the heck, I have a skein left over so I’ll probably make one for him and maybe one for Jase if I have enough leftovers)…basically I have a whole queue of projects. Which makes me happy, because I honestly love projects.

Oh yeah, and somewhere in July I’m not only going to make costumes for Jase and me, but crochet stuff to sell at Realm Makers. Yeah. I’m a nutcase. I need to go back to sleeping 6 hours a night. It’s all good. 😀

5 Minutes with K. M. Carroll

Today’s author is a gal who I got to know a few years ago, as I was starting to write my own urban fantasy. Kessie was super helpful, and her own books are quite a lot of fun!

*Tell us a little bit about yourself/your novel:

I’m Kessie Carroll, writing under K.M. Carroll. I live in Arizona, have five kids, and Ikessie-newpic-small
love to tell stories. The book I’m currently releasing, Magic Weaver, is the fourth book in the Spacetime Legacy series. It’s YA urban fantasy– although more in the vein of Diana Wynne Jones than Patricia Briggs. More fun, less gritty.

What it’s about: When her friend is accused of magical crimes, Xironi the catgirl sets out to capture the chronomancer responsible. But the chronomancer’s life has been cut into dozens of ghosts, and to bring her to justice, Xironi must first weave her back into a single being.

*What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve ever had to research for a story?

The Sedona vortexes are pretty strange. There’s lots of debate about whether they even exist. If they do exist, that’s some seriously weird stuff. We’re talking portals to alternate realities, aliens, monsters, time travel. That’s not even my book– that’s the actual stories I dug up.

*Where do you usually write? Can you show us a picture/describe it?

Here’s my desk. I used to write here quite a lot. Now I write mostly on my ipod, and uploadkessie-writing-desk everything to my computer for editing/formatting. I have a bunch of small people who view my computer as their own personal gaming device.

*Do you have a strange quirk or habit while writing or preparing to write?

I enjoy a nice cup of chai tea, with heavy whipping cream. I get the really good organic cream from the health food store, because it turns tea/coffee/hot chocolate into its own separate food group.

*Can you give us a hint of where the story is going next?

The Spacetime Legacy series will have five books. Since Magic Weaver is book 4, I’ve got one more book to go. The whole series has been building toward a big bad apocalyptic finale, so that’s what I get to write next. My hubby has wanted me to write a prequel to the series, so I’m actually going to roll the prequel into the finale. The heroes will have to dig into the past in order to defeat Inferna, the evil angelus. It’ll be long and convoluted and violent and glorious. I love writing apocalypses.

Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog today!

Glad to have you, Kessie! Here’s more information about Magic Weaver:

As a catgirl from another world, Xironi Heartlight spent her childhood trying to blend in with magic-weaver-fullsizeEarth’s humans. She lives with her grandfather in a huge house he expanded with magic, and earns her living by weaving space into tapestries on her magic loom.

When her friend Carda asks for her help to investigate a series of magical thefts, Xironi is caught up in the twisted schemes of an imprisoned sorcerer, and Alatha, the cutthroat politician he has forced to obey his every command. An innocent girl is taking the fall for it – Revi, the ex-assassin Carda has been training in magic.

Now Xironi and Revi, together with Carda and his friends, must hunt down and capture Alatha’s probability ghosts from multiple timelines so that Xironi can weave them back together – before Alatha’s final strike brings the fury of an alien race upon them all.

Check it out here!

Kessie’s online hangouts: Facebook | Twitter| Website


My first Beautiful People meme post

So, I’ve seen these a lot at Mirriam’s blog, and I just recently started following one of the lovely ladies who thought it up. Basically, it’s a set of questions for your characters, similar to how I often use questionnaires to get to know my characters better before actually writing the book. As the title says, it’s my first one, though I’ve meant to do it for some time. I actually hemmed and hawed a long time on what character to use for this–I was stuck between the MC of the Secret Project, Pip, and one of my characters from Forged Steel, Eliaster.

Eliaster won out. Because Pip is actually a child still, and this Beautiful People is the childhood edition.


  1. What are their first childhood memory? Lots of bright little fairy lights and loud noises and people. I think it’s an Underworld Market…my mom bought me a honey stick that tasted like roses, I remember that much.
  2. What were their best and worst childhood experiences? Best…reading with my mom in our sunny library. Back when we lived in Chicago. Worst…when mom died.
  3. What was their childhood home like? Open, airy, huge. Lots of white with big splashes of color. My mom loved color.
  4. What’s something that scared them as child? Raised voices, anger, anything that indicated violence. Funny, considering what I’ve done in my life, and what I’ve become.
  5. Who did they look up to most? My dad, Cormac. He always seemed level-headed and sure of himself. I rarely heard him raise his voice. And he was fun when I was a kid.
  6. Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?  Curry. I’ve always loved curry. Least favorite would be haggis…still is. My mom used to make it occasionally. She and Jarlathe loved it. Dad always said nothing with internal organs would ever cross his teeth…I agree.
  7. If they had their childhood again, would they change anything? I’d get us out of Chicago sooner. Show my dad the danger of the Lucht Leanuna, before he unknowingly stepped on their toes.
  8. What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious? Sneaky. Guess not much has changed. 🙂
  9. What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like? Back then, everything was good. My dad and I got along, and I pretty much adored my mom. I think I thought she was some kind of saint or something. I’m pretty sure I was a mother-hen to Jarlathe even back then.
  10. What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become? I actually wanted to be a counselor, like my dad. Travel the world mediating between various fae groups, finding solutions, keeping humans safe from us. In a way I guess that’s what I did become, only my dad manages to keep to words, while I have to use a sword. Someone has to save you wimpy humans from the monsters under the bed, though, I guess.

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Ritual –> Habit



I’ve read that creating steps that flow from and into  each other, and always keeping them in that order, makes it easier to create habits. A ritual that forms a habit, if you will. (I really wish I could remember where I read this. Really, really, really. Because it was genius and mind-blowing. It probably came from Teddi Deppner’s blog, because she’s awesome like that.)

Anyway, I did a test run with my daily after-shower and morning habits. I set up my bathroom cabinet so that everything I need to do flows downward in a left to right fashion. Two weeks later, I no longer forget anything that I need to do–it’s easy to remember. Easy-peasy. Turning it into a ritual made it all a habit.

So I started doing this just a few days ago with my writing. I discovered a delicious drink I absolutely love–London Fog. Earl Grey tea with sweetener, a splash of vanilla, and creamer. Mmmmm. (Thank you Gretchen for posting about this on FB!). So at the beginning of my writing time, I make a cup of this tea and get a glass of water, then go upstairs, put on my elbow-length writing mitts and slippers (what? It’s still cold in my office!), turn on my music, and immediately open my writing document. Occasionally I bring a snack but I’ve been trying to quit snacking while writing. Of course there are occasional changes to this, like sometimes I need to get the tablet for Toby and put Jase to sleep first, but this is my ritual when it actually comes to writing.

It’s helping. By making a ritual out of steps that easily flow from one to the other, it’s become easy for me to get into the writing mindset. Yes, it takes a little bit longer to get ready, but I’ve found the increased productivity even in these few days that I’ve been trying it is so worth it.

Another benefit I’ve found of establishing this sort of routine is that it means I’m no longer as much of a stickler for writing at a certain time of the day. I used to do that because it was the only way to get myself in the writing mood. Now, as long as I go through my preparation ritual, I’m ready for writing whenever I have the time for it.

My next goals, once I’ve established the writing ritual into habit, are to establish rituals for daily exercise, a decent bedtime, and a good morning routine. I anticipate the morning routine being the hardest, simply because it’s hard to get up before my boys (but again, so worth it, especially in terms of my attitude throughout the day…something about being able to enjoy a cup of coffee in peace…)

If you have a hard time remembering all the stuff you need to do daily, or find you need to get in the mood for something, I highly suggest using a preparation ritual to help you turn things into habits. I think I’ve tweaked this a little bit from the original that I read, but this definitely works for me.