Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Miss Mabel's School for Girls

Katie Cross

Never underestimate the power of a determined witch. 

Letum Wood is a forest of fog and deadfall, home to the quietly famous Miss Mabel’s School for Girls, a place where young witches learn the art of magic. 
Sixteen-year-old Bianca Monroe has inherited a deadly curse. 

Determined to break free before it kills her, she enrolls in the respected school to confront the cunning witch who cast the curse: Miss Mabel. 
Bianca finds herself faced with dark magic she didn’t expect, with lessons more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. Will Bianca have the courage to save herself from the curse, or will Miss Mabel’s sinister plan be too powerful? 

Miss Mabel’s School for Girls is the first novel in The Network Series, an exciting new fantasy collection. A gripping tale about the struggle to survive, it will take you to a new place and time, one you’ll never want to leave.

Katie Cross looking not too worried to be here.

I love when an author agrees to be interviewed here in the Glitter Globe. 

Today’s victim glittery guest is Katie Cross. Katie is a Young Adult author, and her recently released novel Miss Mabel’s School for Girl’s is rocking the Glitterverse. It’s available wherever awesome books are sold, including clicking right HERE. I have two copies, well, thanks to Katie's participation in the Kindle Match program I do. One of each, paper and electronic. How cool is that? An obsessive fan can never really have too many books.

Welcome to my glittery domain, Katie Cross. May the odds be ever in your favor!

S. R. Karfelt

Is it true that you wrote MMSFG in seven weeks? (Please lie, WOA took me five years.) Yes. I did write the first draft in 7 weeks. The subsequent 8 million drafts took over a year after that. 

In order for my readers to get to know you a bit, please describe your ideal footwear. My ideal footwear looks like a pair of flip flops, walks like a pair of flip flops, and does not flap like a pair of flip flops.

Now describe what you wish your shoes could be if they could be enchanted to be comfortable no matter what they were. Practicality is for the birds.

We both like to run, and unless you run with your arms pumping madly and your feet doing what some people condescendingly call “walking”, you probably not only write faster but run faster than me too. Please feel free to brag about your most impressive running accomplishment here. Most impressive? I dehydrated myself almost to the point of collapsing in the desert on my first marathon. I didn't see another soul from mile 13-26.2. Okay, I saw two people. And carrion birds. And vultures. And funny images in the heat waves.

Have you ever gone fishing on a hot summer day, sitting on the dock when the bank gave away, with your hands in your pockets and your pockets in your pants, watching the fishes do the hootchie-kootchie dance? Well kind of. I actually taught the fish the dance first.

Let’s say you could have a museum filled with anything, what would you fill it with? Brownies, but mostly brownie batter. I'd like to see the progression of brownies, and try a lot of different mint flavored brownies. But I'd dedicate a special room to gluten free brownies, then I'd dunk my face in the batter and forget who I was for awhile.

Judging by some of your social media comments concerning your own Dear Hubby, I’ve concluded that we’ve both married based almost entirely on naked abs empathetic kindness. Would you recommend others follow this wise spouse selection process even though we’ve scored the top two in this category? Yes, I would recommend it. As long as you appreciate being second in line behind hand guns, the grunts of him working out (now that one I don't mind at all), consider taking a Hunters Ed class together as a fun date, and the male tendency to think everything fart related is hilarious. 

If you could institute one policy to make the world a better place, what would it be? Stop judging my flip flops.

Thanks for playing today, Katie! If you’d like to get to know Katie better, and you do, she’s a blast, you can find out more about her by clicking right HERE

Monday, April 28, 2014

BLANK - A Shieldmaiden's Voice - Available May 15, 2014!

Some people have a hard time fitting into the world.

All of her life Carole Blank has been a little faster, a little stronger, and a little uncooperative. The voices in her head want her to follow their rules, and although they’re usually right, Carole doesn’t always listen.

As a Marine, Carole’s unnatural abilities and penchant for fighting are useful. Unfortunately, her inability to follow orders over the demands of the voices gets her into trouble.

Enter Lieutenant Colonel Ted White, a man she is inexplicably drawn to. A man who sentences her to the life of an assassin while denying her the only thing she’s ever wanted—him.

Follow the journey of a woman born in the wrong world, as she fights for a place to belong and sacrifices everything for those she loves.

BLANK is a prequel and Book Two in the Warrior of the Ages series.

by S. R. Karfelt

There will be an on-line release party with excellent and awesome giveaways. You can
S. R. Karfelt/Nicole Mason Photography
participate right here on release day. I’m looking forward to you meeting Carole Blank. She’s a little amazing, a little scary, and not a little unique. Her story is both heart-breaking and an affirmation to the will of the human spirit.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Begin Again – Why Your First Draft Isn’t A Novel

Blown Glass Flower by S. R. Karfelt

Glassblowing is a hobby I’ve picked up. I’ve yet to make anything completely on my own, so I’m a novice however enthusiastic. There’s always an expert gaffer at my side giving instruction. Sometimes the gaffer will use the blow tube to create a small version of what we’re going to make together. It gives me a visual of the process. After they’ve masterfully made a miniature glass flower or such, they’ll immerse it into a pail of water to cool it and then heartlessly smack it into a bucket, breaking the glass into pieces.

They don’t even mind throwing away their little masterpiece. It’s just a tool, a rough draft, practice.

That is where you need to be as a writer too, because your early work isn’t a book. It’s a draft. Ouch, right? I’m not saying it isn’t brilliant. I’m saying it isn’t ready to show the story you want to tell.

With some work writing can be made ready. If I put the time into glassblowing that I put into writing, I think I could change my novice status. It’s a matter of how much work I’m willing to do.

Yep, writing is work. Welcome to the real world.

First drafts are some of my favorite writing. They contain too much information but its information the writer needs to know, not the reader. They might meander, and have too many characters and detail, or they might be bland and basic, and detail needs to be painted in later.  They’re sure to be full of errors, and telling instead of showing, an important distinction.

After writing my first draft of Warrior of the Ages, and doctoring it quietly for a couple of years, I gave a version of it to someone to read. I waited impatiently for their astonished praise. It didn’t come. “Ah,” they said, “You can’t have thirty pages of backstory.” WHAT? What are you talking about? They didn’t like it. The story didn’t say to the reader what it said to the writer. The work came in when I started to make that happen.

I had to learn how to write a novel by today’s standards.

I’m attaching the beginning of Warrior of the Ages from a few years before publication. If you can make it through the end (feel free to skim) you’ll see the beginning of the published book. There’s a bit of a difference.

Warrior of the Ages by S. R. Karfelt
An Early Version

He actually tried to make it a point not to complain about it.  It's not like he had anyone to talk to about it anyway.  But he didn't allow himself to even think negatively.  If he ever did it could spiral down into darkness in an instant.  Into madness even.  It wasn't like he opened his eyes at birth and thought "Oh damn, here we go again".  He didn't usually even remember until he was about five or six, or if he was really fortunate later.  Once he'd been nine, but that time his Clan had been so chaotic that he probably just hadn't had enough time to think about much more than survival and food.  Of course every Being of Earth had Shades.  The dark ending memories of random Beings who had gone on before them.  They came unbidden to everyone's mind during dreams and sometimes even when they were awake.  No one liked their Shades, but they were useful.  It was a shortcut to learning languages, or facts of life - like war or danger or consequences - and most especially Shades taught you that life was short, very short.  They taught you that life could end in the blink of an eye.

            Yet Kah'tahr's Shades were different, very different.  They weren't random moments from other Being's last moments on earth.  They were real memories, his real memories.  Because Kah'tahr didn't stop.  Oh he died.  He'd died countless times.  He couldn't think of a way he hadn't died - well no - there was one way he hadn't died and he was kind of hoping that he'd go that way sometime.  He had died in every awful conceivable way a man could die, and many dull ways and some that actually made him laugh when he remembered.  He could remember every single death if he'd ever taken the time to go through them, and he could remember every single life too.  It was just that Kah'tahr certainly knew how short life was and he definitely didn't waste time going over the past. 

            The memories came in handy of course.  Like with all Beings of Earth he used the past to determine his current actions.  Still he tried to hold from the knowledge of his past as long as he could.  He tried to immerse himself in childhood, especially if he were lucky enough to have one where he truly could be carefree.  Those were his favorites.  His reality would start to intrude in flashes once he reached the age of consciousness of course.  Still as a child that simply meant he was a bit brighter than most, a bit more talented, at first anyway.  Then it usually came when something familiar stirred it.  A deja vu that even a five year old couldn't deny.  Then the memories would come flooding through like a tidal wave, like a hurricane, his reality.  Oh, I am again. 

            His name was not the same of course, he had whatever name his parents had given him.  His Clans were usually as diverse as any Clan of Beings of Earth, though he had often been in the same Clans.  He'd often had the same names too.  He wondered if anyone, anywhere really realized how many different ways the name John could be used.  One thing NEVER changed though, and that was the way he looked.  At seven feet tall he'd stood out in a crowd for eons.  He almost never looked at himself, not in a reflective surface and not in a mirror.  He didn't have to, not even to shave.  He knew that face, every curve and dimple and divot on it.  He knew his body, knew exactly what his strengths and weaknesses were.  He knew his talents, he knew his giftings and he knew his duty.  For no matter where on earth he was born or to what Clan he knew what he would become.  Warrior. 

            For the last few centuries he'd been Warrior of ilu, before that it had been called  a variety of similar names, before that Warrior of El and on and on and on.  His duty was to protect, to protect his Clan and if he were fortunate to do whatever was necessary to ensure the survival of his kind.  That is what he did.  He tried.  While he repeated time after time, always looking the same, he was not completely alone with the awareness of that repetitive anomaly.  There was inevitably recognition.  He starred in many Beings Shades - at least physically.  He recognized the look as he'd come to think of it.  Sometimes it was just a pause and a stare and sometimes it was more pronounced, "I have a Shade where this Being looks EXACTLY like you" to even the times when he'd been put to death for it.  Usually by a warring Clan, but occasionally by his own.

            Always looking the same had drawbacks.  He'd been born into countless clans where he surely did not look like anyone else.  As a grown man he had dark blond hair and steely eyes and towered over most of his Clansmen.  It kind of caused a stir when his parents were Asian, Indian or African.  He wondered if he and his parents were often put to death for it.  Especially a mother.  The times when he had no Mother and was never told what had become of her, he worried that she'd been punished for having a son that didn't belong physically.  If that was the case, or if there were times when he was killed as a babe for that difference he never remembered it.  Most Clans would never kill a babe.  Most Clans would never kill a woman.  But some did.  He never lasted very long in those clans, he never lasted very long in general.  That wasn't much of an anomaly.  Most Warriors of ilu didn't make it to their hundred birthday.  A few times he had lived to be fifty though, and he remembered those times fondly.  Usually twenty or thirty was as good as it got.  It didn't really matter how talented or skilled you were, when your life was battle it was all a matter of math in the end.  Sooner or later your number was up, right or wrong, good or bad, all were born and all died.

Warrior of the Ages
By S. R. Karfelt

Immortality probably made a man patient. Part-time immortality, the kind that Kahtar had been inflicted with, didn’t. Crammed inside his squad car in what was possibly the hottest May Day in his existence reminded him of being locked inside an iron maiden. Except those weapons of torture had been wooden coffins, not metal, though if memory served they had better ventilation.
Across a clearing framed by spindly trees, his rookie sat inside a second patrol car. Kahtar watched Honor Monroe gaze at himself in the rearview mirror, both hands twisting his spiky hairdo to perfection, and paying no attention to his surroundings. The kid had no idea how close he was to being shaved bald. Not that there was anything dangerous around for miles, but still.
Closing his eyes to shut out the visual of Honor now picking at his teeth, Kahtar gripped the steering wheel and stilled. Military crew-cut almost flush with the ceiling, it brushed against the fabric with each breath. His mind sharpened and focused, flying outward like a stealth aircraft, scanning with a precision beyond the capability of any man-made radar. The beating wings of buzzing insects, larvae crawling through rotting wood, the clear air rife with invisible particles filled his senses. His scan moved up through the blossoming trees before plunging down, far beneath the mulch of last year’s fallen leaves. Kahtar forced his mind through the forest floor. It took years to learn to identify what was in the ground, but he’d had plenty of time to perfect the skill.
Abruptly pulled from the depths of the earth by another warrior’s scan crossing into his, it felt like a shard of glass plunged deep into his brain. Pressing his fingers against his skull he tried to ease the dark shadow. The interfering scan lifted as the culprit approached.
“Hoy!” His entirely too enthusiastic rookie rounded the patrol car, hair artfully arranged, teeth apparently picked. “Sorry about that! Not used to being around my own kind anymore!”
A tour of duty in the Middle East might have made the man forget his manners, but it hadn’t dimmed his chipper demeanor. Honor Monroe approached police work with the same animation he gave a game of stickball. His hand smacked against the windshield, and the kid peered at him, shouting through the glass.
“Chief? We’re partners today. Real cops sit in the same car with their partners.”
Kahtar glared into Honor Monroe’s bright eyes. “Monroe, I doubt your own mother would sit in a car with you all day.” For emphasis Kahtar rolled the window up. Honor wisely hurried towards his own squad car. The kid had a lot to learn. It was very tempting to scan right through his head, but Kahtar resisted the impulse to make him cry on his first day playing cops.
Closing his eyes to focus, Kahtar’s scan resumed, moving down the country road. Scanning asphalt felt almost poisonous, he could practically smell it, taste tar on his tongue. Simultaneously, he shoved his mind east and west, following the road in both directions at once. From one edge of his scan came movement, a vehicle from the west. It blew through his mind, instantly engulfed by his mental radar. He digested every minute detail: 3,109 pounds of metal and synthetic substances, one 140 pound human being, vehicle speed fluctuating between 65 and 70 mph. For today, barely speeding was still speeding because Honor Monroe’s scan still hovered dangerously near, and Kahtar was in no mood to have it bite into his head again. Besides, the more unpleasant he could make a trip to the village of Willowyth, the less likely people were to want to return.
Turning the key, Honor’s second voice, somehow as enthusiastic as his real voice, sounded in Kahtar’s mind. “Chief? I feel it too! The car’s yellow!”
Ignoring Honor, he edged the patrol car to the roadway. The speeding car appeared atop a little knoll, a bright yellow Saab convertible. Honor Monroe insisted he could scan color, and although often wrong, he did seem to have some sort of extra gift. Honor’s annoyingly enthusiastic second voice sounded very faintly as Kahtar pulled onto the highway behind the Saab. “I was right, wasn’t I?”
“Just stay out of trouble. I’ll be fifteen minutes, tops.” He wondered if his second voice sounded as annoyed as he felt.

S. R. Karfelt - Blown Glass Paperweight

The delta between my first drafts and my completed novels has grown closer. I understand how to show instead of tell better. I still have a fondness for my stream of consciousness writing, and someday I’ll find a way to incorporate that into a novel in an acceptable manner. In the meantime I write on, and continue to learn.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wild Rumpus


The day she was born was the happiest day of her parent’s lives. “She’s perfect,” said her father, “Absolutely,” said her mother, and she was, absolutely perfect. Okay, that’s pretty much plagiarized word for word from Kevin Henke’s book Chrysanthemum, but it captures my feelings completely. I’m not referring to the births of my books, those had much longer and more painful labors, nor were they absolutely perfect upon arrival. Nope, I’m referring to the birth of my oldest daughter. In celebration of her birthday, I want to tell the story of her birth, glitter globian style.

Once Upon a Time…I was in the hospital well in advance of my daughter’s birth because I just don’t do pregnancy well. Either that or I really put my back into it and gestate with all of my might. Let’s look at it that way. You know all those gorgeous pregnant women wearing their designer gowns or two piece swimsuits? Slackers! And a pox on all their houses! No, no, I don’t begrudge them their perfection at all. I’m far too jealous for that. I wanted to be one of those annoying women. I looked more like one of those primitive fertility goddess statues carved from a hunk of clay. People around me would run and take cover. No, that’s an exaggeration. People would actually gasp in horror and ask if I needed help or was okay.

There were extravagant baby showers I couldn’t attend because I was lying somewhere like an orca on the shore. Friends visited me to toss water on me so I wouldn’t dehydrate, and specialists tried to get me back into the water. Family traveled across the country to tend to my other children, and to decorate the baby’s room because I couldn’t do much with my short flippers.

A team of medical professionals had managed to relocate me to a hospital. Plopped on top a groaning gurney, I gestated. Loudly. I’m never doing this again, I said, often. My mother-in-law demanded I birth my daughter on tax day because her plane was leaving the next day and she was sick of waiting. I cooperated. With the help of a team of Obstetricians, early labor was purposely begun and my baby was magicked out. Truly magicked too, as difficult and complicated as pregnancy was for me, labor was just that easy. I could be the poster child for the woman who births a baby and returns to work in the fields. My husband handed me the video camera to film while we were in the delivery room. I wanted to walk back to my room with my baby. They wouldn’t let me. “I feel great!” I told Dear Hubby. “I want to have a sister for her as soon as possible! That wasn’t bad at all!” Dear Hubby, my mother-in-law, and visiting friends in the labor and delivery area tried to slap sense into me, but they couldn’t catch me because I was dancing around with my perfect baby.

My perfect baby had shoulder length black hair at birth, and it stuck straight out like a terrified chicken. Since Dear Hubby and I are both blondes, this phenomenon caused my mother-in-law no end of concern. She tried to slick it down and hide it under baby hats. I fluffed it up, slapped a big bow on it, and called her Max in honor of Where the Wild Things Are. Max has often asked what time she was born, and my answer always is: at the right time and just in time. Max was a horribly perfect baby, she roared her terrible roars and gnashed her terrible teeth and rolled her terrible eyes and showed her terrible claws, and when I look back over time I see very clearly, she really was absolutely perfect.

My Wild Thing

          “Oh, please don't go—we'll eat you up—we love you so!” Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Numbered Days


According to Stephen King “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered.”  Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On Writing is in the top two of my all time favorite books about writing. This quote kicked me a good one. Being on the outs with polite society is something I struggle with. (As if I have a social life in any part of society, but hypothetically I mean.) I write Action Adventure and I tend to give the muse free reign in order to give the story all the room it needs to live. That means I write what I write with the full knowledge that not everyone will get it or approve.

There’s a quote I picked up at writer conferences, and I have to paraphrase it because I can’t remember the exact wording, but it goes something like this:

Don't write to please everyone; if you do no one will like it. Write for yourself, and some people will like it and some won’t. ~ Who said this first? I couldn’t find the source.

Fact is the book hasn’t been written that everybody likes. At the last conference I attended, it was mentioned that if you try to sell your book by touting that everyone will like it, you have just lost all credibility. As a matter of fact the top selling books are:

1.    The Bible – Six Billion Sold
2.    Quotations of Chairman Mao – 900,000,000
3.    The American Spelling Book – Up to 100,000,000*

Which of those books do you have? I know many of you will own a copy of the first one. Okay then, would you say that everyone likes that book? The point is there is no book that everyone will like.

As a writer of course I want people to like my work, but I’m also fully aware that life doesn’t work like that. I write Action Adventure with a slight twist of fantasy—think time travel, immortality, mind reading, etc. I also like to inject wry humor into my writing. I tend to see humor in most situations. That doesn’t mean, however, that I won’t tackle painful or uncomfortable topics, including layering in a bit of inappropriate humor. Or interject a naughty word into dialogue, or a mildly racy scene if it is relevant to the story line, both things that can leave me on the outs in some circles.

Do I care? Yes. Do I care enough not to write a story that is on my heart? No.
Recently I read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and throughout the book I was touched and inspired by her candid honestly regarding her childhood. It certainly isn’t easy to bare your soul in any book, let alone in such a painful and honest memoir. It does make me wonder what constitutes the type of writing that knocks an author out of polite society? Some obvious answers came to mind.

1.    Taking a politically incorrect view of any topic? I’ll bet this is one. We seem to be currently in a world where you can lose your job for contributing financially to the wrong cause. And you will be judged by an army of Tweeters. Context/Personal Privacy are so Old School.

2.    Creating a worrisome or frightening character? If you write the next Hannibal Lecter, will your neighbors still ask you to babysit? Has Stephen King ever been asked to babysit? Hmmm. (Note to self…)

3.    Did E. L. James, who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey, get into trouble with her Mum?

4.    How about a memoir that will get you uninvited from all family events throughout eternity? Although after reading The Glass Castle, that’s not always a bad thing.

5.    When you plop down next to your Pastor/Spiritual Advisor at a function and he says, “I read your book,” how does that make you feel about how the assassin in the book handled moral dilemmas? Or does your mind go immediately to checking out a new church?

Does it seem a better option to write within a box, using popular guidelines? To attempt never to offend? Why not simply write defensively and cautiously? Ah, that is the question. My answer is because as a writer I feel an obligation to tell my stories in an honest, candid way. My question for you is twofold. How far will you go to stay within the boundaries of polite society? What is more important truth or comfort?

*Stat quoted from Russell Ash’s The Top Ten of Everything 2002