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Monday, September 24, 2012


Star of Justice's launch party happens in 11 days.

I've been able to ignore that less and less as the days tick off the calendar.

It's just a party. It's not a book signing, or a class, or an interview on national television. It's a party. There's no reason to be nervous.

Yet I am. A little knot has formed in my stomach and clunks around enough to awaken me in the wee hours of pre-dawn as I toss and turn.

I'm not very good at parties. I'm often over-bearing, less than gracious, and occasionally down-right rude when I'm the center of undivided attention. Ask anyone who came to any of my birthday parties before I stopped having them about 10 years ago because of the above-mentioned reasons. That's one of the reasons I put off the launch.

You'd think a grown woman would be above that, but once a Brat always a Brat when the pressure's on. 

I am also a little nervous about reading aloud. Will I get Merritt's accent right? Does it matter? These are Kansans. They won't know Scottish from Kiwi. Doesn't mean I shouldn't try. And what passage of Price of Justice is right for a sneak preview? The best parts so far involve new characters; they wouldn't make sense to normal people. This is assuming I have the guts to read anything aloud.

So far, about 25 people tell me they're coming. I've invited lots more, so we'll have to see what the final tally is. It's one of those moments when I don't know if I'll be excited or relieved to see who shows up.

Doesn't matter. It's a party. We're all going to have a good time. Every single one of us.

If nothing else, the Melted Snowballs will be delicious. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I've been following a discussion at one of my on-line writer groups about what makes a male character "swoon-worthy." The initial questioner wanted examples, too, and Vaulter was kind enough to throw Merritt into the fray.

Thanks, Vaulter, but I don't see it.

Weird, I know, to write a male protagonist that doesn't make me shiver, but Merritt is just a guy. A "man's man," if you will, but not what I consider my type. He's Caissa's complement. Fearless, intuitive, well-fed, competent with weapons - you know, the stuff she isn't. A savage man with a thin veneer of civility. Frankly, I've been surprised by how many people like him. He's a bit of a brute, although his heart is in the right place.

Don't get me wrong. Merritt is shaggy head and shoulders above many men in my estimation. His loyalty, integrity, and survival skills make him an admirable companion in almost any situation not involving white gloves and ballroom dances. He's just not my type.

None of the males in Star of Justice are my type, actually. I tend to go for the George Francisco's (Alien Nation, if the name isn't familiar) of the world: the husband/father provider that excels at his job yet makes time for his family. Or the weight-of-the-world carrier that takes responsibility seriously and follows the hard right, like Hank Hill. Yes, he's a cartoon character, but he's got the right stuff. 

The writers group seemed to conclude "swoon-worthy" depends on the swooner. Wise words. Since my goal has never been world-wide fame, I'll stick with "interesting" as my goal. If they turn out "swoon-worthy," as well, bonus.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Resistance is Right

The Lioness posted at NAF about the difference between resistance and procrastination. I'll understand if you want to take a moment to check that out. It's a short post. I'll wait.

Well, last night was the first time in about five days that I've had the time or energy to write on my WIP. I turned everything off but the computer and settled in to solve my most recent plot issues.

Forty minutes of resistance later, I was ready to give procrastination total control at the Turtle household. I added 100 words apparently ripped out of my own flesh, considering how hard they were to form, but can't tell that I've made any headway.

This is version...I don't know...twelve? for some of these scenes. I can't remember what I've kept and what I've chucked. My notes are spotty at best and missing at worst. I just read and wrote some of this a week ago and I can't remember what I did or where I am. Re-reading it last night showed I forgot what the characters were doing within two pages.

TT: Is this senility? Would I know?

I'm writing toward a climax I can barely envision, let alone resolve. That's not been fun.

It's not that the story sucks. Looking back over what I have, I'm pleased. I just can't see where I'm going and that makes it very hard to navigate. Sometimes I see clearly where I'm going and it scares the tar out of me. I have no idea how to write some of what may happen.

Part of me wants to flip a coin whenever I hit one of these junctures. What would that story be like, I wonder?

On the plus side, I'm halfway through the Lioness' most recent project and loving it. Would you believe I'm most fascinated by the part where they're setting up an LLC? Since my job for the past year has been filing business entity paperwork in Kansas, I guess it's understandable. Can't tell if that makes me an uber-geek or just the most boring person on the planet.

Probably the latter. Anyway, big thumbs up from me so far, Kristen. Good job.

Monday, September 17, 2012

About the Nudity...

It took two days and four naps to recover from my trip to the Hutchinson State Fair last week. Had a great time, but, man, it wears me out. Not sure it does the cats any good, either. Simon has been on my lap or in my face more this weekend than this previous year. I had no idea he cared.

TT: I'm hoping I'm recovered, anyway. Gotta go to work.

I wanted to take a moment to address an issue mentioned in a couple of Star of Justice reviews.

The nudity.

I am a prude. I dare you to find an American, non-Muslim woman more likely to cover up when heading outside. I don't wear shorts, swimsuits or halter tops. Or clingy dresses, shirts or skirts. Or plunging necklines. Or anything that might cause my brother to stumble. I am a jeans and heavy t-shirts, calf-length skirts and loose blouses kind of gal. Ask my mom. It seems to annoy her.

However, I have no control whatsoever over how my MCs behave.

It is not my fault that Merritt's clan is traditionalist. I'm not going to tell you how long they've clung to those traditions, but I will say only Scots would be stubborn enough to do it. They still speak Gaelic, too, and that's nothing short of a miracle.

It is not my fault that Raven doesn't want to get her hand-knitted dresses dirty or ripped when she shape-shifts into full druid and runs off to slaughter people. Do you know how long it takes to hand-knit a long dress? Or how hard it is to remove blood stains or mend holes, even with magic? Not to mention how stretched out of shape that dress would get if she transformed while wearing it. Her druid form is taller and thicker than her human form.

Would I behave that way? Absolutely not. I'm one of those people who shares the common nightmare of being naked without my homework. But my MCs are another story entirely.

Their story. I'm just the storyteller.

*evil grin*

TT: Dear Reviewers: Please do not think I disagree with any of you. All SOJ reviews I've read so far have been spot-on as far as I'm concerned, and I'm grateful for them and you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Kat Heckenbach Interviews Angel Mason of The Toch Island Chronicles

Hi. My name is, um, Angel. Yeah, I know, odd name. I get that a lot. But it’s what my charm bracelet says, and since that’s the only thing I have from the past that I couldn’t remember when I was found by Mr. and Mrs. Mason when I was six…

Oh, sorry. That’s not why I’m here. I mean it is—my story is why I’m here. But I’m not here to tell you that story. The whole thing is written out in a book. Yep, Kat Heckenbach wrote a book all about me. And today I’m going to ask her some questions about it. I bet you’d have questions for someone if they wrote a whole book about your life, wouldn’t you? Yeah. So, here we go.

A: Miss Kat, I—

K: You can just call me Kat, Angel. “Miss Kat” makes me feel like a preschool teacher. ;)

A: Oh, okay then. Kat…what made you decide to write a book? And did you know it would be about me when you started?

K: Let me answer those the other way around, if that’s okay. I definitely didn’t know it would be about you, specifically. I knew it would be about a girl, somewhere around your age, but I didn’t have all the details. I remember that age well (although junior high feels like a long time ago!) and it was a time in my life when I really started getting into reading fantasy.

A: Ooh! I love fantasy! It’s my favorite genre!

K: Yeah, mine, too. I loved the whole idea of being magic and finding a hidden world or something.

(Angel gives Kat a strange look.)

K: You okay, Angel?

A: Yeah…it’s just that….well…for me, that pretty much came true.

(Kat smiles.) K: Yeah, I know. I, um, wrote it.

A: Oh, right. Duh. Go ahead.

K: Anyway, your name came from my daughter. She was on this kick about naming all her stuffed animals and such “Angel.” It was literally the first thing that popped into my head. So I started there.

A: Cool! But you still haven’t answered about what made you want to write.

K: Right. Sorry. Like I said, I really got into reading fantasy when I was your age. I read all the time. My favorite place was in this tree in my back yard.

A: A tree? Really? Mine too!

K: Well, mine was this cool tree that was kind of knocked over, so it stuck out of the ground at an angle. I could actually walk up it, and sit at the top where a big branch stuck straight up. I would lean against the branch like a chair back.

(Angel’s eyes widen.) A: That sounds just like my tree!

(Kat smiles again.) K: That’s an odd coincidence. Is yours way in the back? Like by the back fence?

A: Yeah!

K: I bet you like to look out across the neighbor’s yard, too. My neighbor had this big, open field—

A: Mine too! Whoa, that’s so cool! I wonder if we have anything else in common! Do you have any brothers? I have three! My youngest brother is really cool and loves bugs.

K: Well, I do have one brother, but he’s not very into bugs. My son is, though. He loves them. We even count his bug-hunting as part of his homeschooling sometimes.

A: My little brother, Zack, homeschools, too. Wow…I bet they’d get along great.

(Kat stifles a chuckle.) K: I bet they would.

(Angel nods and bites her lip.) A: So, Mis—I mean, Kat. What else do you like to do beside write and read fantasy?

K: I draw. Mostly with charcoal pencil.

(Angel gapes.) A: No. Way. I draw, too! And charcoal is totally my favorite medium. That’s just weird…

K: Yep, pretty weird.

A: But we can’t have everything in common. (*arches one eyebrow*)

K: Oh, surely not.

A: I mean, like…I bet you weren’t a nerd in school like me. And I bet you don’t like science, do you? Not many artsy types are into science. (*crosses arms and looks confidently*)

K: Total nerd. And my college degree is in Biology. 

(Angel shakes her head as if to clear it.) A: How tall are you?

K: Five-foot-nine.

A: Five-eight! Hah!

K: I was five-eight at your age, too, Angel.

(Angel eyes Kat’s hair and points.) A: You’re not a redhead. 

K: Nope...not anymore. My hair has gotten darker as I got older.

A: Oh…this is just too bizarre. Even weirder than finding out magic is real…

(Kat smiles and leans forward, lowers her voice.) K: Maybe it is magic…

Kat Heckenbach grew up in the small town of Riverview, Florida, where she spent most of her time either drawing or sitting in her "reading tree" with her nose buried in a fantasy novel...except for the hours pretending her back yard was an enchanted forest that could only be reached through the secret passage in her closet...

She never could give up on the idea that maybe she really was magic, mistakenly placed in a world not her own...but as the years passed, and no elves or fairies carted her away...she realized she was just going to have to create the life of her fantasies.

Now she shares that life with her husband and two kids. Ok, maybe "share" isn't the right word--more like lives that life in her writing and tries her best to be normal the rest of the time...

Kat is a graduate of the University of Tampa, Magna Cum Laude, B.S. in Biology. She spent several years teaching, but never in a traditional classroom—everything from Art to Algebra II—and now homeschools her children.

Blog Tour Links: 
Ryan Grabow    
Travis Perry     
Greg Mitchell      

Friday, September 14, 2012

Guest Post at Magical Ink

Heather Titus was kind enough to read Star of Justice and review, and even kinder to offer me a guest spot at her blog.

I hope I didn't embarrass her.

Read my post at Magical Ink. Then bookmark her page, because she usually discusses people way more interesting than me.

Thank you for the honor, Heather.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A New Review by Heather A. Titus

Hey, I missed this in all the not-paying attention I've been doing.

Heather A. Titus, one of our NAF contributors and the winner of one of my book giveaways earlier this year, reviewed Star of Justice on Monday.

Read it here.

Glad you liked it, Heather. Your review is spot-on. No complaints here.

Sorry about Merritt. I can't do a thing with him.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Busy, Busy

Sorry about the absence, but I've been catching up on all those little tasks I mentioned last week.

I've added a second Bible study to my schedule, an eight-week inductive study of 2 Peter. That requires brain time so "good-bye" to some other brain activities while I'm doing it.

TT: Have you noticed you only have so much energy to expend? Adding something to your life necessitates cutting something else. It's the penalty for being merely human.

I've also hit one of those chapters in my WIP where things need to get cut or combined. Those tend to slow me down. I also realized I'd given the mirror way too many abilities, so I'll have to rewrite those scenes, too.

"Why does that matter?" My Dear Friend asked. It matters quite a bit. The mirror is a powerful magical item, but it's not all-powerful. It can't do everything, and it shouldn't. Overcoming limitations is a key ingredient in a good story, even for magic mirrors.

One good thing I did unconsciously was provide myself with a plausible reason for the current timeline. Took me a while to figure that out, too, but I've got it now.

TT: It's weird when the submerged part of your brain does stuff and forgets to tell the other part. Don't think it's diagnosable, but it is weird.

I'm also going through some changes at work. Good ones, I hope, but all change causes the Turtle to freeze before adapting. I've been a bit distracted overall.

Lastly, I've started reading Lioness's newest WIP about an accountant. She's been talking about it for a year or so, and the first draft is finally done. Yea! Loving it, btw, Lioness. It's got a nice flow to it, and the description rocks. I'm four chapters in on my Kindle and going strong.

So, I'm still here, just doing some stuff in the real world at the moment. I'll be back on track shortly.

Happy Wednesday, dear readers. Remember to put the trash out.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Aren't hangovers what people have the day after a three day weekend? I don't drink, so I don't actually know what one feels like, but I awoke with a headache, neckache, backache and a new kind of ache in my left jaw joint - can't think of what that's called at the moment - that is giving me an earache, too.

I have scheduled that mouthpiece adjustment, but it's two weeks away yet. I can make it. I'm tough.

The search for a new car has begun. I went to look at the first candidate late last night, a Subaru Outback just over my price point. It was a lovely car, but as I thought about how much I have to spend and how long it took me to get that money and how long it will be before I'll have that much money again to spend on another car, I've decided to keep looking.

Dave Ramsey is right. Buying with cash makes you think twice. And three times. Or more. It's a whole different feeling handing over dollars than signing papers, even if those papers place you in indentured servitude.

I'm thinking some of the aching this morning is due to the stress of looking at that beautiful car and making a grown up decision. Why else would I notice my jaw clamped tight while I was still awake?

Anyway, after a weekend of procrastinating that included buying a printer, a refrigerator and dismantling my entire living room, I finished that guest blog post, answered some survey questions to submit to some ACFW project, and wrote my post for my return to NAF on Wednesday. I also created a Launch Party poster that I need to put up in various places, all in a space of about 60 minutes while waiting for a call about the car, which means I was trying to avoid thinking about that.

Coming to the conclusion that weekends are not my best "writing work" time. They're just for recovery.

Anyway, full week ahead, for all that it's a short work week, so I'd better go lie down and let the aspirin kick in.

Happy Tuesday, folks.