The Code

There is Snow

Natalia learned how to muffle her crying, how to put on a mask that said to the rest of the world I am a well-adjusted individual. Pay no attention to me.

Winter isn’t like I remember it. When I was a youngun’ in Kelowna I remember heaps of snow that dominated the world. They peaked like egg whites whipped to perfection, so thick you could burrow into them and tunnel like a prairie dog to the other side of the world.

I’m sure climate change is the reason for the grey, barren world outside of this bus depot now. I find it strange when there is no snow to hide the earth in the winter. Snow is like a magician’s cape pulled over a box containing a rabbit. In the spring it is pulled back to reveal flowers where there was once something else. Without snow, the magic of the seasons seem somehow more hollow, almost exhausting. I’m happy for the blue sky, and the sense of infinity that comes from living on the prairies during this time of year, but I wish there was snow to blanket the earth and create that sense of incredible wonder again.

In the winter I always find myself stalling when it comes to writing. Maybe it’s the fact that I am cold 90% of the time and my fingers would much rather be buried in a blanket than tapping away at a keyboard. I can’t do that now. There is a sense of ownership to this journey, that even the three or four people who have read Between Fire and Pines and The Skeletal Bird are owed an ending, and unfortunately I am still rather far away from that. There is a lot of work to be done this winter, and I have to drag myself out of this melancholia that had set in and remind myself that in my very tiny world, I too am a magician.

Plot, characters, setting, events, deaths, births. They are all woven together to make my cloak, and beneath them exists a final product, another book. It isn’t as simple as the cry of Abracadabra or Alakazam. The end product of this magical act must be tended to like the snow tends to the earth in the winter. It is done beneath the surface, where no one can see what is taking place.

I like being a magician with words, although I’d hardly call myself adept at the craft yet. But magic can be learned and the bulbs in the frozen ground can be tended to, and amazing things can grow where you least expect it.

Book 3 has been a challenge for me, and I’m not sure why. It is at least  partially a case of “I wrote the original plot so long ago that it no longer fits with the overall narrative, and also it was stupid.” At the same time, something hasn’t been fitting quite right. It’s like a shirt that’s been washed too many times. It no longer fits right. Without a finished draft I can hardly go back and begin to identify the problematic feature. Instead I have to barrel on through the whole thing until I have that beginning, middle, and end. That’s when my favorite part of the magic show takes place. The illusions, the  misdirection, all the bits and pieces that I get to put into place. The moments of quiet reflection and the other moments of explosive action.

I was speaking to a writer friend of mine not too long ago and he was just about halfway through The Skeletal Bird. I always get nervous when it comes to my friends reading my work, especially when they have the same desires that I do to succeed in the industry. We’re hard on each other, if only to help each other improve and succeed. This friend told me that he was enjoying it, but in particular he loved the moments between action and dialogue. The little reflective moments that don’t build on plot or characters, but create a striking visual and help cement an author’s voice. I was extraordinary happy with that, and quite embarrassed by the praise. It meant a lot to me, and helped carry me through some severe moments of doubt.

At the same time, I think maybe doubt it a product of a winter without snow. You look around the world and wonder if its possible this cold will ever cleave itself from the earth, if you’ll ever feel the warmth of a spring sun. Winter is a time of doubt, and it can be remarkably exhausting if you don’t have the means to survive it. I have words; a little bit of magic in my hands.

I wouldn’t mind a bit of snow either.


Between Fire and Pines  and The Skeletal Bird are both available on Amazon, Kindle, and Kobo! If you’e read them, please consider leaving a review on Goodreads! It helps readers make informed decisions. Like, “This book wasn’t as bad as I thought”, or “This book is like a Michael Bay wet-dream”.

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

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!

Between Fire and Pines Update and Other Such Stuff

Between Fire and Pines has been out for just under a month n0w, and what a month it has been. At the insistence of one of my managers our store is now stocking numerous copies. I also have my first author signing planned for June 25th. I’ve sold 15 copies in-store, another 15 hardcopies online, and roughly 10 ebooks. So either somewhere out there 40 people are about to start demanding their money back or I’ve just ruined my reputation in the eyes of these 40 individuals.

But through all that, one thing has remained consistent. The feedback has been the same.

I couldn’t put it down. It just kept moving.

I call that a win. From the manager who definitely doesn’t read gore-suspense-thriller to the friend who offered the single review on Amazon, they just had to keep reading.

Now somehow book club has learned of it, and I can never go back to book club. Too bad. It was fun while it lasted.

I’ve paid for a small amount of marketing, which didn’t result in any sales; lowered ebook prices to extreme measures, which did result in sales; stared in bewilderment at the hardcopy of my novel, realizing I can never rewrite it again.

 

And that was when I hit the brick wall. Both metaphorically and literally because I wasn’t watching where I was going. It was bound to happen. I’ve heard people say it time and time again. When you finish that first book you experience this sort of atmospheric burn-out, probably from sheer bewilderment that it could possibly be done and in print. This is a problem because I have 8 more books I need to write, and yes, for those of you wondering, I do have enough ideas for all 8 books. This may be my first rodeo, but I have been training with this horse for thirteen years. Yeah, how do you like them metaphors?

So I hit the wall, and then the wall resulted in a strange mental stress which, perhaps unexpectedly, resulted in an intense, holy-shit sort of physical stress that, for the last week, has made my body just… just awful. Cranky, bitchy, chronic painy awful. Screw you, chronic pain. You’re such a dick.

We got a dog this week as well. Alex’s compensation for canceling the trip to Japan. Her name is Whiskey. She is an 8 year-old shepherd mix and she is derpy as hell.

Stress after stress. There was an article in CBC about Prince’s Fentanyl overdose. They spoke to several doctors who stressed the challenges of dealing with chronic pain patients. They did not speak to any patients themselves though, because… reasons, I suppose. It irked me. Not because what they were saying was wrong. I imagine it must be difficult to deal with chronic pain patients. I agree, opiates are over-prescribed. But if you are going to talk about chronic pain, perhaps CBC readers would benefit from actually hearing from someone who suffers from it.

It upset me, to hear that the conversations were difficult for doctors with no concept of how much of a challenge it is for patients to come to doctors, with all their fears and flaws exposed, and say “I need help.” Then to top it all off be told that, “Hey, it’s as much psychological maintenance as it is the physical pain. There is no magic cure.” You can’t just throw that at someone who is looking at pain for the rest of their life. At least ease them into it, jeez.

Where was I? Oh yes, stress led to pain and pain did a number on my creative juices, and it’s only after a couple days of writing notes by hand that I really feel like I can accomplish something again. Book 2. Because book 1 is finished and out of my hands. Nope. Still surreal. I’m probably 2/3rds of the way through the draft. Plenty of explosions and emotional highs and lows. Less gore though. I needed to tone that back. The ending will be more succinct, and Natalia’s growth as a character will be clear. At least, it will be if you’ve read the first book, which you can buy from any of these fine establishments:

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Directly from CreateSpace (So I get more moneys)

You can also check it out on Goodsreads, unless you are in book club. If you are in book club, please forget everything.

 

 

The Code: Between Fire and Pines

My New Year Resolution, apart from not being such a big baby when it comes to chronic, debilitating pain, is to finally get off my ass and get The Code published. In the first week of the new year I found an editor and got a quote. $1575, and a 6 to 8 week turn around time. I made contact with my fabulous artist again, and set my plan into motion.

Because I am trudging away at paying my student loans and my credit card, and because I can’t rightly expect my husband to pay for all the bills, I estimated that it would take two months before I could even afford the deposit of $700 for editing services. It was far too long.

I’ve always been amazed by the generosity of strangers, and it struck me that my best option to speed up the process might be to start a campaign to help pay for all that is required. Enter GoFundMe.

In four days I’ve already been able to raise $315 thanks to dear friends and family who have patiently put up with my dreams of writing over the years. Today I turn to you, lovely readers.

I’m hoping to raise $1800 to cover the remaining costs of hiring Maddison Barut on again to do the art for tee-shirts and postcards that will be offered as rewards for contributions. She is so talented, and the cover she created for The Code gives me chills every time I see it.

My editor is out of town, back next week. By then I hope to have the $700 deposit ready for her. Any small contribution would help! If you donate $35 you get a tee-shirt! $40 gets you a signed copy of the book! A friend donated $100, so I’m pretty sure I owe her a kidney.

If you’d like to help out, please visit the GoFundMe page here. I won’t be too annoying about it, but you can expect to see a few more writing related posts in the next little while (and hopefully less My life is awful please make the pain stop.)

If you can’t afford to donate, or don’t care enough to donate but do care just enough to talk about it, please consider sharing this with your friends and family online and in the terrible place known as The Real World.

Also, Keith doesn’t want anyone to see this picture. Here it is.

Keith and Parrot Lovin'

Suck it, Keith. Oh wait, you already did.