Beautiful People, September 2016


More Beautiful People!

This post is for my Secret Project, Misfits, which I guess technically isn’t so secret any more since I’ve been talking about it a little bit on my social media. Essentially, it’s a middle-grade magical school fantasy novel–my short pitch for it is, “What Harry Potter would have been like if it had been about Squibs instead of witches and wizards.” (Which doesn’t help if you haven’t read the books, I suppose…)

It’s about a preteen girl, Epiphany Starr Scott, who has grown up thinking that she is the only Normal in her entire (large and loud) magical family for generations. Then, she accidentally makes a drawing come to life and attack a bully at school a few days before the beginning of Thanksgiving break. Because of this, she is sent to Saint Getrude’s School for Misfits, for kids who, for whatever reason, have powerful magic that is not easily controlled. There, she makes friends with the siblings Mozz and Amber Rose, the loner Eli Craven, and the cranky gargoyle guardian Fen. When strnage magical noises become concerning to Fen, and students begin to mysteriously vanish, it’s up to Pip and her friends to unearth a sinister plot unfolding in the school’s cellars.

I love it to death and have been having an absolute blast writing it (even though it keeps growing on me!)

  1. How did you come up with this character? I love the name Epiphany, and played around with pairing it with different names before settling with Starr as the middle and Scott as the last name. This is one of the first times I’ve built a character from their name first.
  2. Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast? Not literally starving.
  3. Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of? Pip is fabulous at sketching. She loves and adores it–until one of her drawings accidentally comes alive. After that, even though she has to draw sometimes just to scratch the itch, she has a difficult time enjoying it as much as she once did.
  4. List 3 things that would make them lose their temper. Bullies. Injustice. People misusing power that has been entrusted to them.
  5. What is their favourite type of weather? Least favorite? Pip hates the rain, but adores snow.
  6. What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality? She would totally be a Ravenclaw. I’m not sure about her MBTI–maybe an INFP?
  7. Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future? Given that her future is fairly up in the air at the moment–her becoming a useful member of the magical society requires her to master her insane magic–I’d say it’s fairly certain she’s more freaked out about the future.
  8. What is their favourite thing to drink? Orange soda.
  9. What is their favourite color? Least favorite? She loves teal–her hair is even dyed teal! Her least favorite color would be hot pink.
  10. What is a book that changed their life? I don’t know how incredibly life-changing it can be considered, but her illustrated version of the Beatrix Potter stories inspired her to begin drawing as a child.

5 Minutes with C. W. Briar

Welcome to another interview with…yes, you guessed it, another Realmie! Horror isn’t my absolute favorite genre, but at times I definitely appreciate the creepy thrill that comes along with books such as these. C. W.’s book is next up on my Kindle and I can’t wait to read it!

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

Wrath and Ruin is an anthology of fantasy and sci-fi stories mixed with good, old-fashioned horror. The scares come from suspense, creepiness, and monsters rather than the macabre. Rod Sterling’s The Twilight Zone is a good comparison because the stories mix thrills with the exploration of ideas and consequences. Some other influences were C.S. Lewis, H.P. Lovecraft, Michael Crichton, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The collection includes multiple genres. The Other Edge is a near-future sci-fi set in space. The Case of Elizabeth Flora is a throwback to pulp fiction and a twist on 50s monster flicks. One story is a multi-layered allegory. And Ghoul is a gaslamp fantasy/comedy/horror set in the late 19 th century.

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

(From an old Facebook post) My last month’s search history includes “time for corpses to
decay,” “women’s Victorian fashion,” and “alchemy” because #amwriting.

*Where do you usually write?img_20160905_124349968

I don’t have a dedicated spot at home, though I do use my treadmill and bookshelf as standing desks. I try to get out to Barnes & Noble or a coffee shop once a week to write because I have three wonderful but rambunctious kids. Starbucks is peaceful and quiet by comparison.

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

I have a long commute that’s all highway and very light on traffic. I hate wasting that time, so I use a microphone and a software program to type what I say out loud while driving (I keep eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, I swear). The program makes lots of mistakes with what it records, but broken progress is better than no progress at all.

* What’s next on your plate?

I’m completing another short story right now, then moving on to a novel-length project. I have multiple books I want to write, but I’m leaning toward one in particular. Ghoul, which is included in Wrath and Ruin, introduced the world to exonatural investigators Gideon and Rose. They have more adventures to be had.

Thanks for joining me, C.W.! Here’s more about his short story collection:

Some monsters are nightmarish beasts with fangs and grotesque bodies. Others come in the form wr-cover-smallof bad decisions we dread or regret. Both kinds haunt and stalk us while we are alone at night.

Wrath and Ruin is a collection of nine stories with a focus on fantasy and sci-fi threaded with quiet, traditional horror. Monsters, both literal and figurative, lurk in the shadows of this diverse anthology.

Hunters pursue a ghoul in Victorian-era Pennsylvania.

A psychologist interrogates the lone survivor of a mysterious shipwreck.

Astronauts investigate a derelict alien spacecraft loitering in Earth’s solar system.

A man flees powerful enemies in a bizarre, hostile land.

These are only some of the stories in this debut book by C. W. Briar.

Check it out on Amazon

C. W.’s online hangouts: Website| Facebook




With a whoosh…


Oh, um, bye, August. Hi, September. I didn’t realize you were so close.

So yeah, I totally spaced on blogging in August. It was slightly busy. We got home from Realm Makers (which was awesome as always), my brother and his girlfriend came to visit, then a couple of weeks later we went camping. Everyone around here is in frenetic activity, trying to squeeze in as much biking, swimming, and other summer activities as we can before winter locks us into its eight-month grip.

There’s not much news to report. I’m (still) not done with the Secret Project. I got stuck, in fact. But the good news is that I’m currently working on the novella that goes between Forged Steel and the sequel, Burnt Silver. It’s mostly written, so I just need to do some rewriting and clean up work, and hopefully *crosses fingers* we will have at least an Underworld Mythos novella to release this year. Hopefully. It’s tentatively titled Slag. We’ll see if it sticks.

Nothing crafty has been finished, either. Except for all of the stuff that I took to Realm Makers with me. Since then I’ve been gathering supplies and working on Christmas gifts. Cannot wait for Christmas this year! And I’m actually (for the first time in my life) looking forward to Hallowe’en this year too! (My reasons are a blog post in and of themselves, I think.)

Soooo…not much to say other than…I’m baaaaaack! (didja miss me? Didja?)

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. 😀