Pages

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Blog Hop

Hello, Blog. My, my, my, I've missed you. Time rushes by in the blink of an eye, but luckily I have good friends who give me a nudge now and then to post something. Today's post is prompted by my pal Yvonne Montgomery. *waves at Yvonne*
I had the most wonderful weekend last weekend in Colorado with all my Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers friends at the annual Colorado Gold conference. It was inspiring to be around so much intense creative energy. I came away with a few ideas and some career decisions, so I feel energized going forward.
The mission of this Blog Hop is to answer four basic questions about my writing. So here goes:

What am I working on?

Now that's a loaded question. I actually have a few projects in the hopper at the moment, and no contracts, which is a bit disheartening, but that's how it goes in this business. I can't imagine myself not working on a book, contract or no contract. I have to write. 
I currently have two completed novels, one of which I used to talk about on this blog quite often and even posted some excerpts. That one was called Mystic Taxi and I recently retitled it Demon Fare. It's the first in a planned series. My agent submitted the manuscript to a number of publishers, but there were no takers. It's been a while since it made the rounds, but no matter because I've decided to publish it myself.
I was hoping to have it out by last fall, but I got back into it, rewrote quite a bit, got involved in another project, and then I decided to work on a better plan than my last self-publishing attempt (which was a re-release of a perviously published book). This one will be very different. For one thing, it's an urban fantasy and not a romance. You'll be hearing more about Demon Fare in the weeks to come. It's currently being copy edited before I make advance reader copies. But at least I can share my cover with you:


Oh, yeah. I almost forgot to mention that I'll be using a pen name for my self-published books. I'll post the synopsis for Demon Fare at a future date. Really. I promise I will.
I've also finished a fantasy romance called Mirror Reader that's the first in a series. The fate of this one is uncertain, but my goal is to have it traditionally published. Last week I had sample pages from the manuscript critiqued by Peter Senftleben, editor with Kensington Books, in a critique workshop at the Colorado Gold conference. Peter is a great guy, lots of fun. He said he enjoyed reading my pages, was impressed by my unique concept, gave me some great comments and wonderful compliments, but he apparently didn't like it enough to ask for more. I was bummed, but you know, life goes on. Avon expressed interest when I won second place in a contest a year ago, so there's still that opportunity waiting for when my agent decides to send it to them.
Here's a very short blurb for Mirror Reader
Alice Dodgson, a descendant of Alice from Wonderland, possesses a psychic ability to read the past in mirrors. She faces a painful past when a dangerous god abducts her little girl out of revenge for a crime Alice didn't commit. She is forced to ask for help from the man who broke her heart eight years ago… the man who fathered her child and doesn't know he has a daughter.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write weird stuff. I can't explain it much better than that, but my stories are... different. It's a blessing and a curse because even though publishers ask for something new and different, they don't always want to take a risk on something too new and different. That was the fate of poor Mystic Taxi/Demon Fare. It's a unique concept that blends urban fantasy, alternate history and steampunk with a dash of dystopian. Which brings me to...

Why do I write what I do?

I write what I like to read. I often struggle to find well-written books that hold my interest. So writing what interests me and gets me excited seems to fill my need for good storytelling. I still read a lot, I just don't always finish reading the books I start. 

How does my writing process work?

Sometimes I start with an idea, sometimes a character. I never know which it will be. For Mirror Reader, the idea came to me in a dream. I can't remember how I got the idea for Demon Fare, but the sequel starts with a character. 
Once I have a general idea, I "storydream" for a few weeks before I set pen to paper or finger to keyboard. My storydreaming usually happens when I get up in the morning, when I'm drifting in and out of sleep. It's kind of a hypnotic state and it's when ideas flesh themselves out in my mind. Sometimes it happens at night as I drift off to sleep.
Next I draft out a synopsis with my inciting incident, three to four turning points, black moment, climax and resolution. These may change, and probably will, as the story unfolds. I don't really plot, though it wouldn't hurt if I spent more time on plotting, but that's the joyous part of writing for me. The "aha!" moments of creativity. Yet I also need structure, which is why I draft a synopsis before I begin. And I also complete character sketches of the main characters, protagonist and antagonist, and a few ancillary characters as they come up. 
I'm not a fast writer, but a methodical one. My first draft is usually pretty clean, but it's very thin. It always needs bulking up and layering in of various story elements. That's the "pre-writing" part that comes before the fun part, when I can dip my hands in up to my elbows and really work the story out. That's like heaven to me.
Thank you for reading!

Friday, July 5, 2013

New Fashion Art to Share

I'm no fashion plate, but I LOVE designing clothes. Therefore, I design virtual clothing. Here are two fashion motifs I've created for this 3D model.



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dipped My Toes in the Self-Publishing Pool...

It comes as no surprise that a lot of traditionally published authors are now giving self-publishing a try, myself included. My foray into this bold new world is my previously published romantic suspense novel, DESERT GUARDIAN.




This book has been through a lot. I originally wrote it for a contest sponsored by Harlequin back in 2002. The goal was their Intrigue Line, which I enjoyed reading very much, but I didn't even come close to winning. Oh, well. It was worth a try.

I still wanted to have a category book published with Harlequin and back then, they took longer books than they do now. My next favorite Harlequin line was Silhouette Intimate Moments (it's now called Harlequin Romantic Suspense). So I sent them a query and one of their editors requested the full manuscript. Eureka! Things were looking up.

The editor, Shannon Godwin (who is now an editor with Entangled), sent me an email and asked me to call her. I called her from work (shame on me) and we talked on the phone for over an hour. She'd only read half the manuscript and was incredibly excited, especially since the concept was so fresh and original. She sent me a long revision letter, I made the revisions, she sent me another revision letter, and I made those revisions as well. No offer yet, but it felt like just a formality at that point. I thought I'd finally made it in!

Fast forward 18 months and a move from Colorado to Oregon. I followed up with Shannon to see where we were, and that's when I received my rejection letter, plus the news that Shannon was no longer with the company. I was absolutely crushed.

I took a sabbatical from writing for a while. I was now living in a new town, away from my dearest writing buddies and my amazing writers group, RMFW. I felt lost and alone, and I was struggling to find a job. Once I finally settled into my new home, I dusted off DESERT GUARDIAN and gave it another polish. Small press publishers were popping up all over in 2005, so I figured I'd give one a try. The Wild Rose Press published DESERT GUARDIAN in October of 2006.

I think the most I made from book sales with TWRP was about $100 for the ebooks and maybe $600 for the print books. The brick and mortar bookstores wouldn't carry it because it was POD, and there was only the Fictionwise ereader for ebooks at the time, and Fictionwise was the most popular distributor for ebooks because Amazon had yet to get in the game. The whole process was kind of meh. I learned a lot about this new area of ebook publishing (not so new anymore) and considered it a great learning experience. The contract was only for 3 years, so I got my rights reverted to me in 2009.

I dearly love this book and the thought of it never seeing the light of day again didn't sit well with me. Though it's romantic suspense, I couldn't resist including a few mystical elements, and I can't write anything that doesn't have some crazy in it. The concept of cults fascinates and horrifies me, like a wreck on the road you can't ignore. The characters I created for this book start out terribly damaged, and it was a joy for me to heal them on the page.

I'm very pleased that self-publishing is now recognized as a viable option for authors. I decided to educate myself as much as I could to see if self-publishing was the right direction for me. I still plan on continuing my traditional publishing career, but I'm adding self-publishing to the mix. I thought DESERT GUARDIAN would make a good project to start with. My craft has improved by leaps and bounds since the original book was published, so I gave the manuscript a good overhaul. I cut about 4000 words, intensified the relationship between the hero and heroine, and hired a professional editor. I designed a new cover for the book and did the ebook formatting myself.

One day ago, DESERT GUARDIAN went live on Amazon in their KDP Select program. So for the next 90 days it will be available only through Amazon at the affordable price of $2.99. Amazon Premium members can borrow it from the Kindle Library for free. I'm in the process of formatting the book for print right now, and since page layout design is a specialty of mine, I'm going all out... just because I can. :)

Will I self-publish anything else? Oh, yes. I have 3 more projects lined up, one of which is a novella that I intend to make permanently free. Another is the book of my heart that's a mash-up of my favorite genres. And the other... well, you'll just have to wait and see. My current work in progress is destined for traditional print, but one never knows what the future holds. I'm keeping my options open.

I need to get the word out about DESERT GUARDIAN, and I'm begging for reviews. Hint, hint. Most of the best advertising venues won't accept books without a minimum of ten 4-5 starred reviews, so please help me out here.



Here's the blurb:


When Kelly Bancroft receives a suicide letter from her brother, she knows the star-worshipping cult he belongs to is to blame. She travels to the California desert to try talking him into leaving the deadly Star Mother cult, but he's nowhere to be found.

Cult intervention specialist—and ex-cultist—Sam Reed, aka The Arrow, has his work cut out for him when he teams up with Kelly to rescue her brother. Sam has good reason to avoid the cult that killed his mother, but he's made it his mission to save those who have fallen under Star Mother's spell.

Deluded by their fantasy beliefs, the cult's followers await a starship that will deliver them to utopia on another planet. The caveat? All passengers must leave their bodies behind.

Will Sam’s and Kelly’s romantic relationship help or hinder them in their struggle to stop a mass suicide? Or will they themselves fall victim to the cult’s fatal madness?


Praise for DESERT GUARDIAN:


Desert Guardian is a fast-paced story that kept me glued from the first page. Wow, what a ride! I loved this book so much. The dialogue is excellent, the banter between Kelly and Sam top-notch, and the roles they play are absolutely outstanding. — 5 Angels, Fallen Angels Reviews

The suspense is exquisitely developed but the love story between the wonderful hero and heroine absolutely shines… Readers will definitely want to make time to settle in for the duration of Desert Guardian. — 5 stars, Romantic Observer Reviews

Desert Guardian captivates the reader from the opening chapter, with a mystery/suspense driven plot worthy of reading. Ms. Duvall creates strong, dramatic characters as Sam and Kelly confront their own personal emotional demons… — Romance at Heart Magazine

“Karen Duvall’s Desert Guardian grabs the reader's interest from the first page and never lets go.” — Jasmine Cresswell, USA TODAY bestselling author




Monday, June 10, 2013

New Artwork - Feeling Romantic

I designed these gowns in Photoshop, and then assembled them in a 3D virtual world environment where I also captured the images as photographs.







Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Knight To Remember - Excerpt


The following excerpt is from chapter one of my third (and not-yet-published) book in my Knight's Curse series called A KNIGHT TO REMEMBER. This was supposed to have appeared yesterday at one of the blog stops in my branding tour, but for some unknown reason, it never got posted. So I decided to post it here. I want everyone to know that a third book in this series is underway, and here's a small taste of what's to come. I hope you enjoy it. :)

************************************************

Taking another step forward, I tightened my grip on Aydin's hand and he gave mine a gentle squeeze. My tension eased just enough for me to suck in a breath. Our connection to each other helped fade the darkness from my mind while it clarified my thoughts. I couldn't let fear get in the way of our mission. Four young women were depending on us to rescue them and their unborn babies. We had to get to them before their fallen angel husbands killed them all.

The black fog we trudged through slowly dispersed to reveal a ramshackle village stuck in the past. This wasn't Hell, but close enough. Demons and humans passed each other on the street, and not one of them gave Aydin or me a second glance. That's because we blended right in. I tugged at the filthy burlap dress that ended just above my knees and straightened the tattered shorts I wore underneath. I wanted my jeans back.

Dirt puffed up in clouds from the medieval road beneath my bare feet and the scent of animal droppings singed the hairs in my nose. Even with my super senses turned down low, the stench was almost unbearable. I hated this horrible place. Plenty of unpleasant smells filled the air and the suffocating odor of sulfur wasn't the worst of them.

"Watch where you step," I warned Aydin, as he plodded forward to peek around the corner of a crumbling mud building. His black angel wings dragged through something thick and wet and pungent. I cringed and said, "Too late."

He flicked the wing and I ducked as a clod of smelly dung whizzed past my head.

"I can't get used to these things." He twitched his feathers like a preening bird. "I don't know how real angels manage them."

"Yours are only temporary so you don't need to know." I tugged gently on the changing charm that hung around his neck. Satisfied it was securely fastened, I assumed a submissive pose so I could begin my ruse as Aydin's slave. I handed him the end to the rope tied around my waist. "Don't drop this."

"Chalice, is that really necessary?" Eyes like crescents of frozen jade, his gaze skimmed me from top to bottom. His scowl looked menacing, and anyone who didn't know what a lovable immortal he was would think him the savage beast he pretended to be. He glanced at the stuff on his wing and his lip curled in disgust. I covered my mouth to hide my smile.

"We can't let anyone find out who we really are. If we get caught, they'll never let us go." I nudged him forward and bowed my head, trying my best to look persecuted. "As soon as we find the pregnant squires we'll get the hell out."

"Amen to that." He tugged the rope and I faked a stumble.

I stole sideways glances at the milling crowds that wound through various stalls in the village marketplace. Smells of unwashed fur, sweat, spoiled herbs, fetid meat and baked goods wafted up my nose and crawled into my stomach. It was time to flip off the switch on my senses or I'd soon contribute something to the mess already staining Aydin's wings.

I was about to mentally shut the door on all sensation when I caught a conversation that pricked my interest. "…he's not back. Word has it he's been banished."

"The Fallen search for him," the second voice said.

"They'll not find him. Pharzuph is as good as dead."

I exhaled in relief. With the evil fallen angel Pharzuph still gone from the black veil, it meant one less obstacle in our way.

My coiled nerves finally relaxed now that I was starting to acclimate to the environment. My heart beat at a normal rhythm and I walked a little closer to Aydin, close enough for subtle waves of his body's heat to flow over me. His presence gave me courage. We were stronger together than we could ever be apart.

©2013 Karen Duvall

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blog Tour: Author Spotlight

I'll be doing a mini blog tour called an Author Spotlight over the course of the next 3 months. I'm doing this mostly to promote my brand rather than any one book. I have a few new book irons in the fire right now, so my goal is to maintain reader interest and hopefully gain new readers along the way.
My guest posts on these blogs will be a mix of interviews, excerpts and articles. I want each appearance to offer something different, including an interview with my dog. She has a lot to say about what it's like living with a writer, and she doesn't sugar coat it either. I'll also be offering teaser excerpts from a couple of unpublished projects.
Here are the tour dates for the rest of February and all of March. I'll post dates for April and May when it gets closer. To see the full schedule, you can find it here.

Feb 23rd
Jill Archer
               
Feb 25th   
Froggarita's Bookcase

March 4th   
YA Books of Witchcraft and Wizardry

March 5th   
Bornean Bookworm Reads

March 11th   
Book-Marks The Spot

March 16th
Pure Jonel   

March 20th   
Sab The Book Eater   
                       
March 27th   
Lovely Reads