Update and Teaser

Over the past few years, my writing projects have been bullied and pushed around so much by life events that I’ve started teaching them self-defense. I planned my wedding while writing Chains of Water and Stone and moved in the middle of drafting Unbound. As for this new project? Egads. Suffice it to say that for three months this past fall, my husband and I had all our things in storage while we and the pets bumped around from West Virginia to Kansas to Minnesota to Michigan to Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine during his post-graduation job hunt. Whew! After an arduous 1000-mile trek that involved a 26’ U-Haul, a horse trailer, a pickup, a car on a flatbed, 2 people, and 3 animals, we arrived at our destination in Maine, and I now have the cutest little office.

Anyway, self-defense. I’m teaching my books a special judo-chop right now. When someone tries to stuff them in a corner and say, “But you’re not as important as getting the vehicles registered in Maine,” then WHAP! Straight across the throat.

In more salient news, I’m having tons of fun with my current project. (I don’t think I can call it “new” anymore.) After a few early transformations, it’s settled on being a fantasy romance set in a somewhat mythologized ancient Greece. I wanted it to be a stand-alone, but it has grown so much that I may have to make it a duology. (Thoughts on this? Do you prefer a super long stand-alone or two regular length books?) I’m about 95% committed on its title, so I hope to share that soon. I will say this is definitely an adult book; it’s a bit grittier and far more intimate than The Griever’s Mark series.

I’ve been sharing some snippets from the book on my Facebook page, and I’ll have a lot more to share throughout the coming months. For now, I’ll leave you with this teaser:

In the dusky shadows, the road was like a despondent, unending path through the Underworld. Oz’s horse started to jig, and he gave the reins an instinctive jerk, making the animal toss its head and almost rear. Beside him, Akeron raised a fist to signal a halt. The men bunched close behind them, whispering, “Kerkyon, Kerkyon.”

The horses jigged and sidled, and Oz’s skin went tight with gooseflesh. When he and Akeron had passed through Eleusis before, it had been full daylight, and the dead king had not troubled them.

A voice like a dry, lifeless wind came whispering through the gloom. “Who comes to challenge me?

—————————
Copyright © Katherine Hurley, 2017
All rights reserved.

New Project

I’ve been working on my new book (or series? It seems to be growing…) and thought I’d share some news of it. The ideas have been brewing since before I started drafting Unbound, but I never like to reveal a half-fermented idea; somehow, it breaks the spell.

Here’s a peek at some of my research material:

IMG_20160211_1340348_rewind[1]

Now, this will not be a historical fiction. Rather, I’m looking at Greek myths and legends to help shape my fantasy world. You can expect the “vibe” of ancient Greece and some people and places that have been appropriated from history and mythology. It’s too early for me to pin down exactly how closely my world will reflect that of ancient Greece, so I’ll only say: some the same, some different.

I am thrilled about this project. Seriously. It’s gonna be awesome. I love the world I’m creating, and I’ve got a new cast of complex characters to play with. I started drafting this week. The beginning is always slow work for me, but I can feel it picking up.

As an end note, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who has been reading (or plans to read) Unbound. I had immense trouble getting The Griever’s Mark and Chains of Water and Stone off the ground in their early days, so the growing success of the series–and the strong debut of Unbound–have meant the world to me. When I put Unbound up for pre-order three weeks before its release, I thought, “If I can get 50 pre-orders, I’ll be happy.” I had over 600. As you might imagine, I spent much of January distracted by numbers. It was a pleasant distraction, but now I must move forward. To Greece!

Unbound Cover Reveal

At last, I present the cover of Unbound:

Unbound_Front Cover Reduced Size

 

And here’s the full cover:

Unbound_Full Cover Reduced File

Another gorgeous piece of artwork from Apple Qingyang Zhang. One of the greatest pleasures of self-publishing is getting to work one-on-one with your people. I absolutely love working with Apple, and watching the development of a new piece is one of the highlights of any project. For a visual feast, check out her website.

Unbound will be released on January 21st, and the ebook is already available for pre-order on Amazon. Like the other books in the series, it’s available for download through Kindle Unlimited. The paperback will be available on release day, but Amazon makes paperback pre-orders really difficult for indie authors to set up. I wussed out–sorry.

If you use Goodreads, you can add Unbound to your books.

Unbound is the final stages of revision. I have a few minor changes to make and the daunting task of formatting ahead of me this week. I love this one. It’s definitely my personal favorite in the series, certainly the one I’m most proud of. Initially, I wrote an outline for the book, but I got about 1/3 of the way into drafting, scrapped the whole thing, and started over without an outline. I think I’ve now cut outlines from my life for the last time. I seem to write better without them, even if it makes my husband cringe and exclaim, “How can you not know the ending?!?” I just have to say, “It will all work out.” And it does. It did. I love the ending. I could never have imagined such an ending in bullet point form. It grew out of the characters and the mood and the action. I hope you’ll love it, too.

Coming Soon!

I put in a big final push to finish The Griever’s Mark series, and I can now tell you that UNBOUND (yes, I’ve finally committed to a title) will be up for sale in January. Next week, I’ll do a cover reveal here on the blog, and I’ll have the ebook up for pre-order on Amazon. The paperback will be available on release day but not before–Amazon makes that a big pain for self-published writers.

I can’t wait to share the cover. It’s gorgeous, maybe even my favorite. For now, I’ll leave you with the back cover summary for Unbound:

As the growing conflict forces Logan to embrace his newly discovered heritage, he fights to control a power he has long kept buried—a power that threatens everything he has tried to make of himself. Desperate to spare Astarti yet another burden, he tries to hide his crumbling control, but she has long since learned to recognize a lie. As Logan becomes a danger to himself and those around him, Astarti must find a way to help—even if he doesn’t want it.

Unfortunately, Astarti has other problems. Good and evil wear ever-shifting faces, the right course of action grows increasingly unclear, and the stakes are only getting higher. In this final installment of The Griever’s Mark trilogy, Astarti must decide, once and for all, what she stands for.  And what she is willing to sacrifice.

Story, Character, Writing–What Matters Most? (Part 1)

“Just tell me a story,” my husband (who at the time was my boyfriend) would say.

“What does that even mean?” I would beg him to explain. “A story of the characters?”

“Just tell a story,” he would repeat, frustrated, as though it were as simple as that.

 

***

No doubt many of you will have no trouble with his advice. Yeah, you’ll say with a shrug, a story.

It wasn’t so simple to me. At the time, I was in an MFA program, taking classes in “craft” and polishing up a novel that was too commercial for the literary crowd and too literary for most general (?) readers. I loved fantasy but found precious little tolerance for it in academia. More to the point, I was surrounded by writers (my professors and fellow students) who did not value plot. Not only did I never (in NINE years of creative writing classes!) take a course in plot construction, I heard again, and again, and AGAIN that I should not even THINK about plot. I should care only about characters and sentences. (I have so, so, so much more to say on this subject of MFA programs, but I won’t here.)

Anyway, in the years since then, I’ve come to understand story (or plot) much better. Perhaps I should say that I relearned what most readers know by instinct. Yes, it’s the events, but it’s more. It’s the way you (the reader) experience the events. It’s how immersed you are in them, how much you care about what is happening, both within the world of the book and, of course, to the characters. Tell me a story, my husband would say. And now I know what he meant. Make me experience it. Make me care.

As I’ve written The Griever’s Mark series, I’ve thought much about what matters most. Plot? Characters? Writing quality? My husband would say plot. The answer isn’t as simple for me. I want to say characters are most important, but I have to admit that when I read more literary work with too much emphasis on the complexities of the characters and too little emphasis on what’s happening, I get bored. But I also get bored with books in which I’m not invested in the characters. However, if I were to be stuck in, say, a prison cell and had a choice between two books, one with a good plot but flat characters and the other with good characters but a flat plot? I would grudgingly snatch the book with the good plot from your hands and disappear into my grubby little corner. So, as usual, my husband is right. ~grumbles, sniffs sharply~

But.

BUT. ~raises finger~

A plot with really good characters is definitely best of all. I will care more about the events if I care about the characters. What I’m really, really reading for is how the characters handle the events and what the events show me about them. (So I’m still right a little, aren’t I? Yes?)

And that brings me to the last element: the writing.

Some very successful writers will tell you that the writing doesn’t matter at all. “Just tell me a story!” they’ll shout.

Maybe it’s my academic background still clinging to me. Maybe it’s my mother’s influence. Maybe it’s just me. But I can’t quite agree with that. After all, doesn’t the writing tell the story?

I want to say more on this, but you are probably weary of my rambling. I’ll leave this as a cliffhanger, to be continued. (Yes, I know, worst cliffhanger EVER.)

By the way, for anyone who remembers my last post (about moving and getting my horse in the trailer), I’ll say that I did get her in the trailer and she’s all settled in at our new location. I’m loving our new place. Here’s my office. My last one was very dim, so I really appreciate the morning light in this one. This is the view from my armchair. Yep, I have the best job in the world. (To answer you freakishly sharp-eyed folks, yes, I’m rereading Chains of Water and Stone. When I’ve had a break from writing–because of the move–I have to re-immerse myself. Is it weird that I’m enjoying my own book? But, gah, I have found a few typos. Un.be.liev.able.)

IMG_20150917_1129009_rewind[1]

Book 3 Almost Has a Title…

Later this month I’ll announce the title for the third book in The Griever’s Mark trilogy. I want to tell you now, I really do, but I’m only 95% committed to it, so I’ll hold off. Ugh, painful to wait!

I’ve been working hard on drafting, and I’m aiming for a November release. I’m about to get slowed down on my progress, though, because I’m moving in a few weeks. It’s only across the state, so it will only mean a few week break. My last move was from Minnesota to West Virginia with a 24′ U-Haul pulling a horse trailer (which, fortunately, my husband drove) and a loaded down Subaru containing lamps, books, a carsick dog, and a screaming cat. (Yeah, I drove that one, and that cat can scream.) This move will include all those same items and creatures, but at least it’s a 3-hour trip, not a 2-day one. The biggest challenge, as always, will be getting my horse in the trailer. I’ve been making her eat her grain in there all summer, but she is NOT okay with me shutting the door. Most of the time, she stands like this:

IMG_20150123_110644_hdr[1]

I think you can see the problem.

Back to writing news.

I’m trying out a new writing/revising system. Usually, I spend the first part of my day revising what I wrote the day before, then I move forward to draft new material. While I like this system, on Chains of Water and Stone, I ended up cutting about 100 pages that I had laboriously written and revised.

In an effort to avoid such dark times filled with too much peanut butter and too many episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, I’ve decided to try something new. First, I wrote a more complete outline. Usually my outlines are super sketchy and filled with arrows and question marks and unhelpful notes like, “Astarti and Aron argue,” or, “Needs some use of earthmagic.” The outline for Book 3 is much better. As for drafting, I’m trying to not work on revisions every day. I don’t think I have the willpower to write a whole draft from start to finish without circling back, but I’m pushing myself for as many pages as I can before I start revising. You see, when I write something that I KNOW is not good, I can’t–I just can’t–ignore it. You’d think that after writing two books (plus one I wrote before The Griever’s Mark and will publish someday), I’d have a tried and true system for drafting and revising. Some of us are slow learners, I guess….

 

Of weddings and cakes and the return to normality

I just got back from my wedding/honeymoon, and I must say it was a blast! Of course, a wedding has its hectic moments, and I can’t say I never got overwhelmed, but it was definitely fun. Homemade wedding cake, craft beer, beautiful violin music, friends and family, and, of course, my husband and best friend. I have always loved rituals, and I’m glad we had our ceremony and didn’t just “go down to the county clerk” as some well-meaning, pragmatic souls suggested. Funnily, I used to think of myself as pragmatic, but when I actually look at all my major decisions in my life, I struggle to find a single pragmatic one of any real significance. Huh.

Cake and Flowers

Anyway, I am home and looking forward to settling back in to my writing schedule next week (after I catch up on some things around the house and with the pets). I have the basic structure of Book 3 of The Griever’s Mark series in my head and can’t wait to start making it real. I’ll try to be a bit more active here and on Facebook now that my life is returning to normal!

Chapters 1-3 of Chains of Water and Stone

If you want a sneak peek at Chains of Water and Stone, I’ve put chapters 1-3 up on the site. There’s a link on this page if you scroll down to CWS. Enjoy!

Last Round of Revisions!

I’ve had some great chats with my beta readers, who are SUPER, by the way! *sends hugs via cyberspace* I was really pleased that my trusty crew gave me the warm fuzzy feeling that they ACTUALLY LOVED THE BOOK and weren’t just saying that. 😉

There are a few things I want to work on before I call the book done. I plan to spend a lovely weekend fiddling with it. Honestly, I cannot WAIT. I have been absolutely drowning in wedding preparations and will consider working on the book a much needed break. I am getting married on May 1 and there is so much to do! If I’ve been a bit quiet online lately, I blame it on the wedding. (A word to the wise: don’t ever, and I mean EVER, schedule a book release the same week as your wedding!!!!!!! I will say that this was not intentional; the book release date was set before the wedding date. Long story….) It’s going to be a super casual wedding and I don’t need, expect, or even want it to be perfect, but I also don’t want my lovely guests who’ve traveled so far to attend to mutter quietly, “What on earth is going on here? Where do we even sit?”

Regardless, everything with the wedding is starting to get under control, so I can turn back to what I love most: my writing. (And my pets–I’m sure I’ll squeeze in a horseback ride. It would be neglectful not to, right?) On that note, here’s a picture of me and Hope from a couple of weeks ago. Okay, okay, so I haven’t been  spending ALL my time working on the wedding…. (Egads, look at that hay belly on full display!)

Katherine and Hope

I’ll try to stay in better touch once things settle down! Have a great weekend!

Katherine

Update on Chains of Water and Stone

This is just a quick note to say 1) Sorry for the long silence! I’ve been very engrossed in my revisions of Chains of Water and Stone. 2) I just send CWS off to my beta readers!

The revisions were quite a big task for me. James Michener once said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” I find that I, too, do a better job with revising than drafting. Does this apply to you? (It doesn’t have to pertain to writing fiction.)

I’m sure I will make more revisions after I get feedback from my early readers, but it’s good to have the book at this state of completion!

Hope you all have a great weekend. I plan to spend what remains of it OUTSIDE instead of at my computer!