Monday, April 8, 2013

Guest Blogger: KateMarie Collins

Welcome KateMarie Collins!!!

Please tell us about your latest book.

  My debut novel, 'Daughter of Hauk', came out in March of 2012. It's dark fantasy, with some definite adult themes. It centers around the concept of being given a second chance and what we can do to correct things we've done wrong.

     I submitted another novel, "Lily", in December and haven't heard back yet. While still fantasy, this isn't nearly as dark as 'Daughter of Hauk'. It's more about the main character, Lily, finding her own strength to escape an abusive past and be the person she was born to be instead of a pawn to be used by others.

     'Son of Corse' is the sequel to 'Daughter of Hauk'. I'm on the final chapter of the first draft now, and hope to send it off to my crit partners/beta readers by the end of January. I don't expect to submit that one for another 4-6 months.

What can we expect from you in the future?

     Hopefully, a lot! 'Daughter of Hauk' is book one in a planned trilogy. 'Son of Corse' is almost ready to go to my editing friends for them to work their magic before submitting it. While I wait for them to share their wisdom, I'll start the third book in the series.

How do we find out about you and your books?

      The easiest way to find me is my blog, I'm also on FB ( and Twitter (@DaughterHauk).

Why did you decide to write fantasy novels?

     I'm a complete nerd! I love to escape into fantasy worlds. I still play pen and paper Dungeon & Dragons every week, my husband and I read comic books, and I'm a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. In the SCA, I spend my weekend re-creating the Middle Ages. I'm in my 40's and still play dress up!  LOL

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

      More than I'd care to admit to. My writing is very much a form of therapy for me, and has helped me let go of some personal demons far easier than counseling ever could.

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?

     I've always liked to write, but I never thought what I put down was 'good enough'. By the time I started high school, I saw my talent as nothing more than a way to get through essay tests. When I first wrote the email that eventually morphed into 'Daughter of Hauk', it scared the daylights out of me! It was the first thing I'd written that I liked and thought was good. Once the muse came out of the cage, though, she refused to go back in.

I grew up hearing a lot of people say that creative arts were fine as hobbies, but not something that you pursued as a career. There was always going to be someone else who was better, who would get the shot, that it was better not to try and be disappointed. I didn't want my two daughters to grow up thinking that way. I wanted them to take the shot and go after what they were truly passionate about, even if scared them to try. The easiest way for me to teach them this was to swallow my own fears and try myself. 

Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?

     Eeep! It varies for me. The first draft of 'Daughter of Hauk' was completed in less than four months, but I've been trying to finish 'Son of Corse' for the last four years! "Lily" took about 2 1/2 years, I think, to get the first draft done. If I'm in the mood, my fingers just fly. When I'm forcing's not pretty.

Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

     I try to schedule time each day, but I tend to have more fun (and the story is better) if I'm in the mood/go with the flow.

What is your writing routine once you start a book?

     I tend to form scenes in my mind, get down certain particulars, and then go write. But, if the muse takes hold, I can be on my computer for hours at a time.

What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?

     They're really good at recognizing I'm in a writing zone. I'll shut my office doors, crank the stereo, and get going. Every now and then, one of them will peek in on me. If my eyes are closed and the fingers are flying, though, they just walk back out.

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?

     I love to play Dungeons & Dragons. There's the SCA, as well. I'm also a big fan of hour long soaks in my bathtub. I'm a fairly social creature (when I'm not writing), so hanging out with my friends and family is a great recharge for me.

What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?

     First and foremost, my husband and kids. It's an amazing feeling to know you've done something that made them proud of you. As to writing, it's a lot of proving people wrong. I grew up in a time where you were told to suck it up if you got teased/bullied, and it happened a LOT. I've done something many of those individuals thought I'd never do, and being able to beat that kind of negative thinking down is pretty powerful.

Where do your ideas come from?

     Lots of places! Some come from Dungeons & Dragons games, others come from prompts put out by my online writing group. We have weekly challenges (optional) where a topic is thrown out and you do your take on it. "Lily" started as one of those, actually. And she just would not shut up! LOL

Do you feel humour is important in fantasy and why?

     I think humor is important in ANY genre! You need to give readers time to relax, laugh a bit with the characters, before you send them through the next round of tough stuff. There's a running joke between the characters in 'Daughter of Hauk' that I never explain how it came about, but it helps to diffuse tension and gives the reader a very good sense of how long these people have been friends.

What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?

     Romance is great, but I'm not a fan of erotica. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the genre, I just don't care to read it. Romance happens in real life, so having it show up in books is inevitable I think. Love can be a very powerful motivator.

What kind of research do you do?

    Um, what's research?  LOL If I come up with a section where I have to get something right (geographic location, for example), I'll go and make sure what I think is right is, truly, right. The details like that are important. Because you never know where your reader is from. Remarking that you can see the Grand Canyon from a hotel room in Phoenix, for example, would make a LOT of people scratch their heads.

Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre?

     I've got an idea or two for some urban fantasy stories, but I don't know that I'd stray far from that genre. I like making things from scratch.

What does your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend think of your writing?

     My husband is very supportive. He has no problem giving me time when I'm on a writing tear, even if he'd rather get out of the house, to get my thoughts out of my head. He's my main sounding board. I can start throwing plot ideas at him and he can give me suggestions that I hadn't thought of and takes the book into a whole new direction.

Do you ever ask him/her for advice?

     On general stuff, yes. All the time. 

Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)

     We live in Seattle Suburbia with our two daughters and three cats. One of the cats, Athena, is 15 years old but doesn't even weigh 5lbs. She stopped growing when she was about 6 months old. She LOVES to sleep on me, and will often insist on having her naptime while I'm writing. It took a few tries, but she did figure out a way to sleep and my hands stay free to type. 

     I have Associates and Bachelors degrees, both in theatre. I loved the technical aspects of the subject - props, stage management. Getting me onstage was, um, interesting! I may not be doing theatre any more, but I learned a lot from my time backstage. I've got the tools to deal with just about every personality type out there, and I was able to create a public persona fairly quickly once my book came out.

Fill in the blank favorites - Dessert. City. Season. Type of hero. Type of heroine.

     Cheesecake, Seattle, Spring, Strong and supportive, Even stronger and holds to her ethics.

What are some of your favorite things to do?

     Write, read, watch movies, do research into medieval history, build Lego sets, sew

Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?

    One of my favorite authors (I've got several) is Nick Pollotta. He's the only guy who can make me laugh out loud while reading. That, or groan loudly because I can't believe he went there with a particular pun. My favorite book of his was one he co-wrote with James Clay called 'That Darn Squid God'. Wonderfully written, but don't try to drink anything while you read it.

Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?

     Patricia Kennely Morrison, David Eddings, Stephen Boyett, Gregory Browne

What do you think of critique groups in general?

     They can be very good, if the critique guidelines are clear and followed. I don't get anything more from a 'that was good' comment than one that says "this stinks". Even a simple, "this didn't work for me, but I can't think of any suggestions" is better. With the online group I'm part of, our one hard and fast rule is never give a crit you wouldn't want to receive. Be constructive, but not snarky.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

     Hopefully, I'll have more books out with Solstice and a larger fan base. Even if my writing really takes off, I can see myself still in my office during the day trying to write while some cat naps on or near me.

How long have you been writing - have you always wanted to be a writer?

     I started writing in June of 2008. I've always had a desire to do something creative with my life - theatre, dance, writing - but it took some time for me to stop listening to the voices from my childhood that said I couldn't and begin listening to my friends and family who said I could.

How many books have you written, how many have been published?

     I've completed two novels. "Daughter of Hauk" came out in 2012, and "Lily" is still under consideration.

After you've written your book and it's been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?

     Yeah, I did :) We have two copies around the house that are special ones. My copy sits on a display rack above my desk, a constant reminder that I beat my own self doubt. The other copy is signed especially for my husband and sits in our bookcase, protected by the box it came in.

     Oh, and there's a copy on my Kindle and his iPad :)

Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?

     I think I'll always be fond of 'Daughter of Hauk'. There's a lot of me in Arwenna, more than I'd probably admit to, and I've had a few times where words I put in the book have come back to haunt/help me.

What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?

     "Daughter of Hauk" was the fastest, but there are sections that were NOT easy to write. Each of the books I've written, or are writing, have moments that were either fun or hard to write, so coming up with a favorite would be almost impossible.

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?

     The situation. I'm a huge fan of 'what if' in writing. Give me a situation and my mind will start playing with the possibilities.

What are the elements of a great fantasy for you?

     Details, details, details. I want to get lost into the world the author creates. Your character is going into a cave? I want to feel the rough stone walls or uneven dirt floor. I want to know what they feel, what they think, as things happen. Not just the bad, but the good.

What is the hardest part of writing/the easiest for you?

     There's some thing that I've done to my characters that mirror some of my own past. Those were not fun things to write. But, they advanced the story and helped me deal with those particular demons. The easy parts are dealing with interpersonal relationships/camaraderie. I've been blessed with some amazing friends and I love using banter between characters as a way to show how they care for each other.

Have you experienced writer's block---> If so, how did you work through it?

     Oh, yes! I think every writer has! Sometimes, my subconscious works it out when I sleep and I'll wake up knowing how to solve a problem. Those are the good days! Other times, it may take me weeks or months of thinking about a scene before I can transfer it to reality.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

     Knowing I did this on my own. That there is something I created out there that others find worth reading, maybe even praising. And that's something no one can ever take from me.

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?

     Laundry, dishes, or cleaning the house. LOL I've stayed home with my girls for over a decade. Managing the house and the various activities they're in is still my primary job.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?

     Don't be afraid to hit that 'send' button and submit your work. Sure, you'll get some rejections along the way. But you'll learn from those. Sometimes the biggest obstacle is simply getting the courage up to submit our work to a publisher.

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