The Code Series

Sometimes I only think about The Code.

The Skeletal Bird – Now Available!

This post is an unfortunate month late, but that is what happens when you try to balance work with writing and a whole other sundry of fun activities!

Book 2 of The Code Series is now available for purchase at the finest Amazon retailer near you! That includes Kindle (Huzzah!) I’m very proud of the end result. Writing is about evolution of skills, and I’m proud to say that I, at the very least, can tell that I am slightly less awful at putting sentences together. I hope those of you that enjoyed Between Fire and Pines might be intrigued enough to consider picking up a copy of The Skeletal Bird! There is less gratuitous violence because I got that out of my system, but plenty of lovely explosions and biker gangs to keep you occupied if you have a short attention span like m-

And for the weekend, the price for both Between Fire and Pines and The Skeletal Bird will remain at $1.99 for Kindle users because I am too lazy to change the price, so grab it while you can! Links to purchase are below the break

Three months after the Siege on Alcatraz that almost took her life, Natalia Artison returns to New York to confront the evil that has relentlessly pursued her since her parents’ death. With her reluctant new guardian in tow, Natalia learns that her parents legacy, one steeped in blood, is endangering both her and everyone she holds dear.

As her enemies begin to converge, Natalia struggles to manage her survivor’s guilt and find her place in the world of the Special Operations Initiative. When her guardian’s family is taken hostage, Natalia must choose between what is safe, and what is right. She will have to push her fears and insecurities to one side, and prove to all those who doubt her that she will not be broken.

Natalia Artison is no victim.

Not then. Not now.

Not ever.

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Kobo

And once you’re done, please consider leaving a review on Goodeads! It helps other potential readers find The Code Series and, in turn, assists in my life goal of not having to wear pants to work because I work at home and at home I don’t have to wear pants.

Happy reading!

-Kathleen

Happy New Year – Introducing the Idiomatic Podcast (Coming Soon)

I haven’t met some of my closest friends in person. I’ve only spoken to one or two of them through Skype, and another handful on text message. But I love them.I love talking to them about writing and reading and the triumphs and failures of the craft. And for a while I’ve been playing with a thought…

What would it be like to share these thoughts with other people? To share our comedy and our wins and losses and our anger at Keith who never gets off his ass to write even thought he totally should and we are so disappointed in you, Keith.

What would it be like to podcast?

Tough, I think is the proper word. Hard as hell, even. It involves time, which I do have a bit of. It involves money, which I now have more of thanks to a new job. It involves knowledge of software, of which I have zero. It involves patience. And patience? I have that in abundance.

I can’t say what spawned it. Maybe being back at the chat room, talking about New Years writing goals. Amber brought it up, reminding me that I had this idea.

It exploded from there. Ideas thrown about. The purchasing of a microphone and a Mumble Server. Reading, experimenting with this and that. Downloading Audacity and wondering why I had the, ahem, audacity, to think I could do a podcast. it would be classic Kathleen. Invest time and money into something. Give it an honest go. Flounder. Fail.

Not this time. We have a plan. And hopefully, starting the second Sunday in February we will be able to share it with you. The Idiomatic Podcast. A group of rotating authors, some early in their careers, some just lifting off, some veterans, talking writing, books, tropes, and more. The first couple won’t be perfect. We’ve promised ourselves we’re only allowed one F-Bomb per episode. The dreams are big. Could we get local authors on to take part? Could we interview people? What all do we talk about? Well we have that covered enough. There isn’t enough time in the world for us to talk about everything on our minds, so hopefully my audio editing skills will magically present themselves.

Get ready, you idiomatics. We’re coming for ya’.

The Code, Book 2: The Skeletal Bird – Coming Soonish

I’m not sure what it is about November. Perhaps it has something to do with NaNoWriMo, which I unfortunately bailed on this year. Or perhaps it is the fact that it is also Extra Life (which was a grand success this year.)

Something about November forces my writing to a complete halt.

want to write. I want to be productive. Especially given how well Book 2 is coming together. Alas, I took nearly a month off of writing and now I am desperately behind.

That’s not to say I didn’t accomplish things related to writing. For instance, I came up with the title. That’s pretty good, eh? Ha ha. In reality, I actually accomplished much more than just a title. This is my favourite point in the writing process, when I take the core of the story and build an intricate frame around it. It really is the little things that make the plot.

That being said, I’m also coming to terms with the fact that Book 1, as proud as I am of it, is not a reflection of my skills now. And isn’t that always the way of it? Your skills as a writer are always changing, always evolving. You become more theatrical, more concise, more in tune with what a reader is looking for. Your voice becomes more lyrical; bolder, brighter. It becomes everything you could have imagined.

And then the next day it becomes that all over again. Because your skills as a writer are not static, they are constantly evolving, and at some point you have to step back and say “Yes, this is as good as I can make it with my current skill set.” Even though one day you know you will look back at it, face palm, and pray for the sweet release of death.

I was fortunate enough to meet a local author yesterday, who told me about a time she saw Yann Martel speak. Martel, of Life of Pi fame, explained how he hated the first line of the novel and eventually just had to come to terms with it.

Yup, that sounds about right. Come to terms with it. Deal with it. Suck it up, cupcake. You’ll never look back at your old work and thing that it was the best thing ever. It is always changing. As you grow and evolve so does your writing.

Still, that desire to go back and press the ‘edit’ button is so, so tempting…

Where was I? Oh right. Book 2.

Coming June (probably) of 2017! Book 2 of The Code Series. The Skeletal Bird.


It has been two months since the Seige on Alcatraz. Natalia Artison and her guardian, Jim Wilkinson, have been on the run, changing names, identities, and stories, in the desperate hope of staying one step ahead of those that want them dead. 

But things have changed, and it is time to go home. With old enemies now on their heels, and an innocent child the victim of circumstance, Natalia and Jim must agree to forge an alliance with one who wants them dead in order to prevent an even more vicious enemy from coming down upon them.

Even an alliance with the devil cannot protect the innocent. With Jim’s family caught in the crossfire, Natalia must decide which fate is more horrendous: one where she is the killer, or one where she is the killed. 


 

Awwyisss.

Until then, may I recommend you purchase a copy of Between Fire and Pines from Amazon and become acquainted with the world of Natalia Artison and the Agency?

Until next time,

Kathleen

Fractals

She was built of fractals that continued to break down, leaving behind smaller halves of the same person.

Several days ago I finished the second draft of Book 2 of The Code Series. It was a little surreal. I’ve spoken before about earworms, and how some idea can get nestled down into your skull and refuse to leave until you rewrite your entire manuscript. The original draft of book 2 was a bit different. I finished it and didn’t feel satisfied. It felt disjointed and not the least bit cohesive. Whether or not that was true, it’s hard to say. I generally go with my gut on these things, so I took a couple days away from the draft, figured out where I went wrong, and deleted 70k words. And while I shed a bitter tear for all the words lost, I knew that it was the right thing to do.

Now with the second draft finished I feel much better. I have the same stomach squirm (elusive cousin of the ear worm) that is telling me this is it. Now I’m on the right path. This is a draft I can, and will, work with.

Enter my favorite part of the process. Not rewrites, because screw rewrites. No one likes them. No, this is the part where I go through the manuscript and begin to develop the ideas that were half assed. Increase that, add more blood to that, throw in another explosion here, more drama, less mystery, more ghosts. Any and all of it. It is essentially a full rewrite, but I start with major changes (13 at last count) that need to be addressed. And these changes are what give the story an air of mystery. They are the pieces of thread that connect all the stories together.

love this part of the process.

And yet, while I’m busy writing, and moving, and dealing with a huge barrel of drama at work (and the barrel is full of bees and the bees are on fire) I have mistakenly forgotten that marketing is a valuable part of the whole process. If I want people to read Book 2, I really need them to read book 1. I am no good at marketing. I get into slumps where I’d rather read or write new things. Anything than create another tweet that says “Hey! Look at me!”

Okay, story time…

The other day at work I got a call. Usually when people call me at work it is to ask about consignment which I, bizarrely, agreed to take over when the Consignment Manager left. This time, however, the phone call was for me, Kathleen, the author. The woman on the other end explained her son had bought my book and wanted to come in to introduce his Grandma to me, who had been reading the book with him over the last few weeks.

I knew this kid, because he was there at my signing and bought the book while I nervously looked at my mom, telepathically screaming to her What do I do oh my god this isn’t appropriate for someone his age oh my god oh my god oh my god!

Since my signing, the kid, Yago, has come to see me at work a couple times. We’ve had lots of fun talking about the book and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. On the day his mom called I was having a brutal day. I was miserable from all the drama and getting accused of things I hadn’t done. I was tired of being part of the rumor mill and just wanted to go home. Getting to see Yago again would be a highlight so obviously I enthusiastically told his mom to bring him on over.

A few hours later I was standing at the front, being introduced to his grandma, who slyly told me that Book 1 was the only time she would ever say those words around him. (Oh my god, how many times did I drop the F-bomb? I’m so sorry, Grandma!) I explained that I was having a miserable day until they showed up, and how happy it made me to see them. I gave Yago my card so we could email if he wanted to.

He wasn’t happy that [Spoilers] died, but he liked the book all the same.

It was an amazing experience. My first real fan. The first person who has no real reason to care about my writing, and he liked it. It was remarkable and heartwarming and made me feel like, despite all the mistakes of the first one, it was still a palatable book and was worth the marketing effort and the exhaustive hours and the tears and struggles. That the fact the series is going to be 9 books long isn’t ridiculous – it’s worth it, because it is a good story that is worthy of being completed.

It felt like a renewal. It sparked the flame again. It was marvelous. Now, with only 9 days until we move, I’m saying screw it to packing for a while, and I’m going to sit down and edit the hell out of Book 2. Because someone out there is waiting eagerly to see what happens next, and I don’t want to disappoint him.

Fun reminder! You can buy a copy of my debut novel, The Code: Book 1 – Between Fire and Pines, from Amazon right here or read an excerpt here!

The Magical World of Commerce

I wouldn’t say I’m burnt out by writing; far from it. If anything, I have more drive than ever to get back into book 2 since I completely redid the entire damn plot. The problem is I have other responsibilities. I have work, book club, cleaning the house, taking care of the pets, laundry, beta reading, and a brand new John Connolly book which is definitely calling out to me.

So, yeah, I’ve got some stuff I have to do. I’m a little busy. And because I get easily distracted I have made a point of not obsessively checking the stats on my KDP page for the ebook versions of Between Fire and Pines (hello, buy me on ebook here!).  I logged in every hour in May. In June I checked every other hour. In July I did it maybe three times a week. Now we’re into August and I hadn’t even considered checking how sales had done until someone on Critique Circle asked me how many I had sold.

I honestly had no idea. Twenty maybe in hardcopy online? Another ten as ebooks? Who knows. I’m not Wonder Woman!

The usual process goes something like this: I post on Twitter and Facebook several days in a row, I see a couple ebook sales. That is how it works. Very simple. But I haven’t been marketing in the slightest. I’ve been bored with marketing, more keen on getting off my ass and writing some excellent explosions (I am a one-trick pony and the pony is EXPLOOOOSIONS.) I get bored of waving pictures of my book in people’s faces, crying “Here! Look at this! Buy me!” Which is ironic given that the first piece of advice I gave to Amber about social media work was ensuring that you stick to a schedule that your fans can rely on.

Ha, Doctor, heal thyself. Or in this case, Communication Professional, listen to your own damn advice.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I go onto the KDP and see that between the end of July and August I sold some ebooks! I wasn’t trying. I have no idea how that happened! I’m fairly certain everyone I know has bought a copy, so it certainly can’t be friends or family. Are… are random strangers buying my book? Did some random person with no emotional investment in the time I have spent on this project actually purchase my book?

What the hell? Is that even possible? Is that allowed? Are people allowed to buy books when they don’t know the author? I mean, maybe they are, maybe they aren’t! I have no idea given that I am new to this particular club and have only just recently sacrificed the necessary woodland creatures to Baphomet to summon the powers of creativity.

Being an author can be confusing at times.

Of course, realizing that yes, random strangers can and just may buy copies of my book, whether through bribery or blackmail, has forced me to realize that yes, I ought to get back into marketing and, hey! Maybe if you stick to a schedule, things will actually turn out for the best!

And if not there is always another sacrifice to the glorious leader, Baphomet.

The Code Book One: Between Fire and Pines is available on Amazons everywhere!

Header image by Eliphas Lévi (1810-1875) – Scan aus: Hans Biedermann –- Dämonen, Geister, dunkle Götter, Graz: Leopold Stocker Verlag 1989, Lizenz für Gondrom Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Bindlach 1993 S. 45 ISBN 3-8112-1008-4, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5947736

 

 

The Wicked Earworms: Part Deux

So, ha-ha, funny story. Ha, oh boy. Remember… hahah, remember how I finished the draft of Book 2 and it was like, Woaaa, draft done in record time! Hooray!

I may have been jumping the gun a tiny bit on that.

Not that I was displeased with how Book 2 worked out. It followed my previously written draft precisely. Each element fell into place without hesitation. Wait, no, that might be a bit of a lie. Each piece was gently forced into place with a mallet. I was writing to get to the end of it and, as I learned somewhere along the line with book 1, that is not way to write a strong piece of literature. I’m not suggesting you have to love it every step of the way, but I think there is something to be said for understanding that what you write has value, even if it isn’t immediately apparent.

In this case, I couldn’t see the value, and believe me, I tried. I loved the ending. It was strong, full of action leading into the next book. Maybe, just maybe, a bit to much action.

And then I deleted 75,000 words and was like, “Yeah, I should probably rewrite that.”

The problem was that somewhere between finishing the draft and deleting 75,000 words, I wondered what would happen if…

If… Jim’s family were involved more heavily in the plot.

If… I cut the traitor of Lena Barnett

If… I didn’t send them all the way to Russia, but kept them closer to home.

If… Pete were my secondary antagonist.

If, if, if… damn you earworms, making me think about things. But there you have it. The seeds were planted, and I couldn’t very well ignore them. And in many ways I’m glad it happened so quickly. If I had been attempting to rewrite Book 2 over and over again, knowing that deep down I was never satisfied with the outcome, I would end up wasting a lot of precious time on trying to fit a square peg up my nose (which is a roundish hole, I suppose.)

Still, 75k is a lot to lose, even if I have saved it elsewhere just in case I change my mind. But I won’t. Because Jim’s family is now involved, and Pete is back and there is no more traitor named Lena Barnett, and somehow, in erasing and creating new threads I can see how the whole woven story has pulled closer together to keep out the breeze.

75k is a small price to pay for a stronger story.

 

(Header By sarefo – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=716296)

The Validation of Publication in the Writing Nation

How many months has it been? Only two, two and a half if we’re being exact. Two and a half since I released the monster that is Between Fire and Pines into the universe to see what corpses it might drag back with it. The response has been quietly enthusiastic. Friends and family and coworkers have been wonderfully supportive, buying excessive copies and getting me to sign them, making me feel like a celebrity with a coy smile. They have joked about my future career in writing and, during my first ever book signing, a manager and coworker ran to the table and started screaming, “I can’t believe I’m seeing the Kathleen Sawisky!”

It was hilarious, and made even more amusing when a random stranger decided to take a picture of me, as if I was someone important.

It’s been fun and challenging and, at the same time, I don’t feel much about it. And it took me nearly two months to realize why.

It doesn’t feel legitimate.

Oh sure, self-publishing is tough. You take every aspect of it into your own hands. You pay for the editor, the artist. You learn how to format, you make changes, order another proof, make more changes, until you’re satisfied. Or you do what I did, get so excited that you just roll with it and discover all the errors after and realize that you will simply have to call it a SPECIAL FIRST EDITION WITH ORIGINAL AUTHOR ERRORS, and hope you can market the shit out of it that way while subtly making changes for the second edition.

Self-publishing is hard work. It involves a lot of sweat and tears. It means sitting alone at tables, trying to convince random strangers to buy your book, or in my case last weekend, try to convince random strangers that, while you want them to buy your book, no, you do not think it is appropriate for their 12 year old. Whatever. I warned them and I signed the copies so no taksies backsies.

So, yeah, self-publishing is hard. And at the end of all of it you would think that I would be able to stand back and look at my work and think, ‘Yeah, I did it. I made it. This is mine. This work is mine.’

Except I could also poop on a piece of paper, call it my life’s greatest achievement, and self-publish it right now.

As difficult as it is, there is no denying that self-publishing lacks a sense of validation or legitimacy in the eyes of writers. The public, at least according to my boss, who keeps telling me to be more enthusiastic about it, doesn’t care. It is a book. It is a complete story arc that was created from nothing. It is one hell of an accomplishment. So why am I not giddy about what I’ve done?

God damn it all to hell. I want validation.

I only realized it after a friend of mine, there ever charming animal whisperer, Amber Pierce, told us she had not one but two offers for representation! Don’t get me wrong. I nearly peed myself, I was so excited for her! But damn it, jealousy is a fickle mistress. Then Ashley Whitt, who is my favorite Canadian ever and my critique partner, got requests for her brilliant work, The Fairer Sex, and I was, and continue to be, so damn excited for her! These ladies have worked their asses off. They’ve queried and gone into contests and queried again, and I assume stapled small non-denominational bills to the queries maybe? I don’t know what the rule is on bribery.

The point is, their hard work paid off. And mine is too, in its own subtle way.

I guess deep down I still just want someone with some industry oomph to look at my work and tell me, “Hey Kathleen, this is an awesome book. Those who have read it and said that it grips you right from page one and doesn’t let go are correct and also your hair is lovely and no one notices your bad posture.”

Okay, maybe I don’t need that last part.

And I fully admitted both to Ashley and Amber that I was a wee bit jealous, because it is amazing and of course I would be! And that got us talking about validation, and how sometimes we need it.

I don’t want to believe that I do, that I can be content in what I am doing here and now, but honestly… Yeah, it would be nice. It would be nice to have more reviews, and have an agent in your corner who is as enthusiastic about your manuscript as you are, who will go to other people in the industry and gush endlessly about your brilliant thriller.

I don’t know. I don’t want to say I’m experiencing an existential crisis, but it sure feels like it. That’s not to say I won’t keep going. The plan is to self-publish book 2, hopefully with another brilliant cover by David Fross, hopefully after my wonderful copy editor has sunk her claws into it (this time I will be more aware about my own changes after the fact and carefully go through the proof copy so I don’t bollocks up all her hard work.) And maybe, just maybe, someone will notice. Some random stranger might buy a copy on Amazon and leave an okay review and tell a friend. And maybe, just maybe, that okay review will lead to two or three more. Who knows! And then, when I feel like I’ve earned it, I’ll query. I’ll present the series to an agent and tell them about the hard work and the self-publishing and how I worked my ass off to make a name for myself.

And maybe, just maybe, they will say, “Okay, sign here on the dotted line.”