Friday, September 30, 2022
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Talk Deadly to Me
I started out writing in the mystery genre as well. Short stories that were dark and mean and full of the tropes I grew up reading. My brother was a lawyer by then and he would sometimes tell me stories about his clients. I remember one was about a guy who killed his aunt and a fellow resident at a boarding house. The cops found him sitting on the steps, waiting for them, a bloodied hammer in his hand. I didn't want to seem blood-thirsty, but I told him to keep the stories coming.
Weirdly, I have no interest in lawyer shows or true crime. Except for Homicide Hunter. I love Joe Kenda. I love that he always caught the bad guys. I LOVE his wry delivery. I love the way he tosses off observations about how dumb crminal behavior is, or just observations in general. "Nothing good ever happens at two a.m."
I'm writing it under my real name, and I hope people will like it. It's a return to my roots. And you know what they say about roots being noursished by blood. You can pre-order it here.
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
A man whose brain has been altered creates his own reality for an afterlife. This work by Japanese author Haruki Murakami is a wonderful introduction to his work.
In a future world where people are known by their occupations or descriptions, a human data processor called a Calcutec is summoned to a meeting. What happens next is a story that mixes a stylized reality with a dream world populated by people from the “reality.”
It’s hard to categorize the genre of this book, which slipstreams between science fiction, hardboiled noir, cyberpunk, horror, and literary fiction. (There’s definitely a little Franz Kafka here.) The book will remind readers of China Mieville’s The City and the City, with its two different worlds existing simultaneously.
It’s hard to nail down the theme of the book as well. Murakami is working with a palette that includes ambiguity, consciousness, and self. In both sections the hero is adrift a bit—an outsider who’s being kept off-balance.
The book is also a dazzling romp through the tropes of pop culture, and cross-culturally (and self-consciously) hip, so it has that going for it as well. Find the book here.
Monday, September 26, 2022
Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi
Until the day she's finally had enough and tells her section head that she can't clear away the detritus of a meeting she wasn't in--coffee cups stuffed with cigarette butts. She tells him she's pregnant and the smell nauseates her. Her life changes immediately--for the better. For one thing, she's no longer expected to work hours and hours of overtime. The first night she goes home at a reasonable hour, she's shocked at how packed the metro is, and how bright and inviting the supermarkets are. (Usually by the time she gets there, all that's left are limp vegetables.) She has time for leisurely baths. She has time to cook. She begins taking aerobics class and incorporates stretching exercises into her daily routine.
She starts taking care of herself and as the lie lingers, she comes up with all sorts of strategems to maintain the ruse, including using an app that tracks pregnancy. Along the way she interacts with a large cast of characters, from co-workers to other mothers, and the book becomes a reverie on loneliness that's bittersweet and incredibly affecting.
Yagi knows human nature. Shibata is a wonderful character and working women will completely sympathize with her frustration at being the only woman in an all-male environment. There are bits and
Diary of a Void is a lovely book. You can find our more here.
Sunday, September 25, 2022
Twelve Rooms with a View by Theresa Rebeck
The story of what happens when Tina's bossy older sister Lucy (scarily efficient and not empathetic at all) installs Tina in the apartment to establish residency while she and the other heirs fight things out in court is more about Tina finding her self-esteem (and love) than anything else.
There's a lot of fun to be had with the quirky characters, the plot full of twists and betrayals and the little side trips into such topics as moss. Tina is a wonderful character and we cheer for her as she finds allies and learns how to deal with her enemies. There's a particularly delightful little girl named Katherine who figures into the mix, and also a gorgeous socialite the doorman is in love with. Rebeck winds everything up in a very satisfying way, in a way that will send you searching for her other books. She really knows sibling dynamics, and it's a pleasure to watch her move her characters around. The apartment sounds fabulous, and so do the contents of that hidden room!!
Saturday, September 24, 2022
For this new collection of rewritten fairy tales I've gone back to Beauty and the Beast. My story is called The Dragon's Pearl, and it's a retelling set in a setting that's modeled after the Han Dynasty in China. The "beast" is a dragon and I've made a number of changes to the story, including the heroine's relationship to her father. (Spoiler alert: He's a scholar and a jerk who does not value her.)
I'm also rewriting Beauty and the Beast for my story in a billionaire collection that's a charity anthology. That one's called Hero's Kiss, and it's about a military veteran who returns from war scarred by an IED. I bought a cover to use for it years ago, but it now seems rather old fasioned. My story is going to be a bit tamer than a lot of the stories--it does have a "billionaire" cover after all. My heroine is an activist lawyer named Ruth (after RBG) and she loves her father but it turns out that he's an unluckyhere.
I've also written a really dark YA version of The Little Mermaid, called Blue. That was one that I bought the cover for and then had to write a story around it. I knew from the beginning it wasn't going to be a fluffy version of the story, but then, the original story is so tragic before it was Disneyfied. I did change the ending but it deals with some pretty tragic story elements.
I've ssigned up to write a contemporary version of Rapunzel that will take place in a luxury high-rise apartment and feature a thief with our modern-day princess. I haven't worked out all the little ways in which the new story will have the old story embedded in it.
In the meantime, if you've never seen the gorgeous fairytale retellings and illustrations by artist Kinuko Y. Craft, check her out here. She has an absolutely stunning 2023 calendar on sale.
Just look at her Sleeping Beauty.
Or her Cinderella.
Or her Beauty and the Beast
Or her Cupid and Psyche
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Grady Hendrix is a genius!
If you haven't discovered his writing, please let me introduce you to him.
Here's his website. His tongue-in-cheek "About" section on his site is hilarious.
Here's his bio on Wikikipedia.
Here he is on Goodreads.
Another new boxed set...
The call for submissions had me at "Witch Queens." I once wrote a historial novella about Catherine the Great being a queen, and I keep thinking about giving QEI the same treatment. I like research, so that would be fun. But it woul also be fun to set a witch queen story in my mythical fantasy worl of the Twelve Realms. I even have a cover for it. I like the cover for the anthology. You can preorder it here.
Boys and balls!
Balls, Bats, Pucks, And More.
It’s all part of the game.
Watch as these guys battle the biggest game of their lives. Winning the hearts of the ones they love.
Some of your favorite authors have come together to celebrate two of our favorite things: love and sports.
Whether it's friends to lovers, brothers best friend, or midlife romance, these couples are going to score -- on the field of love AND in the bedroom.
Preorder Bases loaded now. Exclusively on Amazon.
Tuesday, September 20, 2022
Happy Birthday Stephen King
I think King is the Dickens of our time. And I say that even after reading Insomnia. The less said about that, the better. I hope he lives to be a hundred.
If you're watching House of Dragons and just can't get enough Dragons, then this is the promo for you.
Book Promotions for September
Sespite the banner, the books here are an eclectic mix of genres, from straight up sci fi, space opera, fantasy, epic fantasy, and beyon. You can browse through them here.here.
Kleopatra with a K
This first book has everyting a reader could want--history, pageantry, sex, betrayal, great characters. The only thing its missing is dragons. (And you won't miss them.) Kleoatra's time was so far in the past that even the ordinary feels magical. This is an extremely satisfying book.
Saturday, September 17, 2022
It's almost autumn
Friday, September 16, 2022
Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does...
I don't make a secret of my politics. Bu telling you to register to vote has nothing to do with who I vote for. It's one of the duties of being a citizen. The country doesn't ask much of you. Occasionally you might be summoned for jury duty. And every so often, they ask you to vote. If you aren't registered, visit this site. The mid-terms are important. The presidential election is important. The city council elections in your home town are important. VOTE!
I am cheered to see that celebrity influencers are geting involved too. Normally I just roll my eyes when I see a TikTok star or an Instagram influencer talking politic. But the lousy turnout of millennials shows that the regular messages are reaching them. So pieces like this are welcome: https://youtu.be/V2cYnsYqlZE
I love book covers and I cannot lie
One of my favorite things about being an indie author (and I've been traditionally published) is hat you have control over what your cover looks like. In trad publishing, even heavyweights like King and Patteson don't have that much say. But as an indie, you can have exactly the cover you want. (That doesn't prevent a lot of indie covers from being awful, but you could say that about a fair number of trad published books as well.)
A cover will make me want to pick up a book. The cover of Mexican Gothic, for example, is so beautiful it looks like a piece of art I want to put on my bookshelf facing out. (It's a wonderful book, but that cover is what snaggedme.) If ou haven't seen it, I urge you to look it up. I couldn't post the cover because it's protected by copyright, and I couldn't.
When I started publishing 11 years ago, you could buy a lot of covers for under $50. There were a couple of designers who specialized in inexpensive covers. They all used the same photo sources--Deposit Photo, Shutter Stock, Dreamstime--so you started to see the same faces over and over. (I have the same model on several books. His name is Gunther, and his images are up at a site called Period Images. Another of their models, Karl, is on a couple other books.
Prices have gone up, but you can still snag some bargains if you cruise the sites. The one I use most often is Book Cover Design. They have tons of designs and one of the things I like about them is that they don't accept covers that use AI-generated images. I've seen a lot of posts touting how writers can make their own covers quickly and freely using sites dedicated tojust that. Right now, honestly, they mostly look awful but in a few months, who knows? (This is different from covers using characters that designers have patiently created on their own.) But the way AI images are created involves a kind of "sampling" from other images, that are the property of the designers who created them. In other words, depending on how you look at it, it's sketchy or it's stealing.
I have stockpiled a lot of covers, which turned out to be a good investment when prices started going up. A lot of designers I bought when they were just starting out are now in the $200-$300 range per cover. But there is one drawback. Styles in covers change and what looked like an awesome cover back in the day looks hopelessly dated now. Or you bought covers for a series you planned and now find yourself writing in another direction. (I have a number of covers for horror stories and I don't really write those that often.)
Man Chest Ahead...but my story is sweet
I write a lot under the pen name Katherine Moore. "She" is my most successful pseudonym and the one with the best accolades. (I worked hard to get that USAT bestselling author, yes, I'm goig nto mention it often.) Her brand is sweet, cozy, feel good stories and while I'll occasionally get a little spicy (and it's very little), I mostly stay in the Hallmark zone, if you know what I mean.
But I also contribute to a lot of anthologies and in general, the covers are geared to an audience that's looking for more heat. I often feel like "which story is not like the others?" But the thing is, I don't really read the sexier stuff. I'm not a prude--sex is awesome in movies--but when I read it, it often sounds really clinical and I get distracted by the words. Rod, shaft, manhood, cock. Or pussy, cunt, mound, vagina. It's not that I want to say "thing" and "ya-ya" but I'd rather take you up to the bedroom door so you can imagine what happens then.
Which brings me back to those covers. Basically, if you see I'm in an anthology with a Man Chest cover, it means that I've been invited to play along even though my story isn't as sexy as my fellow writers' fiction. If you like your romance across the spectrum, you will be a happy reader. (As Kat Parrish, I have done some Man Chest--the Rezso novels are sexier.)
Thursday, September 15, 2022
A different kind of shifter
So when I write about shifters, they're likely to be somthing else. I have a whole series of books spotlighting women who shift into a tiger, a lion, and a snow leopard. The tiger story is called "A Tiger's Heart" and it's included in this anthology, Shifter Time. You might enjoy it. The title is taken from a Shakespeare play because I love Shakespeare and look for any opportunity to use it. It comes from Macbeth, one of my favorite plays despite its cursed reputation. It's a description of Lady Macbeth, who has a tiger's heart "wrapped in woman's hide."
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
A Sense of Place
When I moved from L.A. to Bellingham, it was a bit of a weather shock. I moved in January and it was the coldest day my new hometown had experienced in many years. It was 28, and the doors and windows were all open to air out the new paint fumes and allow the movies easy access. It was also raining. The last few years I lived in Los Angeles, it didn't rain much. It rained so much in Bellngham that if you took a shower and left your used towel on the towel rack--it wouldn't get dry. Things stayed damp. Mildew was a problem. Black mold was a problem. The house smelled of sporacide for a month after we started treating the mold we found everywhere. Bellingham was not beautiful in winter.
But come the fall--it was the most magical place I'd seen in years. The oaks and maples and birch trees exploded wtih brilliant colors. I hadn't seen fall--my favorite season--since I left my parents' home in Virginia. I loved fall in Bellingham. There were many other reasons to love the city. Located halfway between Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle, it had a park with a waterfall. The best indepedent bookstore on the West Coast, and tons of restaurants. It had a rich history that was literally embedded in its sidewalks--glass squares that provided illumination for the tunnels below--remnant of a dark past when Chinese immigrant workers lived in those tunnels. There was a road that ran adjacent to my bank that led to Canada. It was lined with trees and in the autumn, it looked like a road to some fairyland place.The city was criss-crossed by hiking trails that the deer also used. The deer were not shy and it was not unusual to see one passing. That also added to the fairytale atmosphere.
But for some reason, it was really hard for me to get a sense of the place. I tried writing a short story set there for an anthology of Pacific Northwest stories called something like Blood and Rain. I failed miserably. I didn't know what was wrong, why it just wasn'tcoming. And then one day I started writing Deus Ex Magical, the first in my "Ostrander witches series, and I realized...my character lived in Seattle. I had taken the name of the series from a friend of mine who lives in Seattle, and I knew the city. And then, I wrote an spin-off story for my L.A. Nocturne series and decided my hero was going to be a guy who grew up in L.A. but hated it. Instead, he lived in the Pacific Northwest, in a town that's modeled on a place called Centralia. Centralia is home to about 18,000 people and it's full of Craftsmen houses and people who own guns and belong to White Nationalist groups. It also has fabulous thrift shops, a real community feeling, and a tiny, family-owned grocery store that showcases apples grown in Washington state. (Cosmic apples are the best I've ever tasted.)
I've been here a little over a year and I've already written two novellas set here. One is about a vampire killer who goes after a demonic vampire killing immigrants in the Algarve, the coastal area that's home to a lot of Brits and Americans who love it for its heat and similarity to So. California. The other was Second Honeymoon, which is a silly rom com of a story that takes place in a deserted apartment that's basically modeled on mine. Portugal and its second city Porto, don't have the same cachet of other European countries and cities, but it suits me fine. I am a woman of a certain age and the young ones call me Dona Caterina. I sort of like that. Learning the language has been tough. But I feel at home here, and that means I can write the city. Being able to do that tells me I'm at home.
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
For the Rest of the Year
I've been quiet on here for the last few months because it has been a crazy time. But thanks to a week of reflection and recharging centered around my landmark birthday yesterday, I now have more focus and clarity on what the last third of the year will be like.
I got the idea from a fragment of a news story I heard on the radio years ago about an important man who was murdered, along with the woman in bed beside him who was, "presumed to be his wife." Who the story didn't name, as if she was merely collateral damange to the death of the man, whose name I actually HAVE forgotten. Wish me well on this journey and you know you'll hear more about it as the list run (which will take a year) progresses.
I'm also continuing to join boxed sets, including those with proceeds going to charity. (I'm a sucker for charity anthologies because I feel guilty not being able to contribute more financially and I've been in a number of anthologies that have pulled in a lot of money for deserving charities. They're a great bargain for the readers as well.) Look for my fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast (Hero's Kiss) in a breast cancer anthology coming soon.
I've been playing with a third pen name, Katia Kozar, these last few months, and "she's" starting to get a little traction. In gneral, this pen name is reserved for stories that my regular pen names don't. They're not cozy romances or mysteries like Katherine Moore writers, and they're not romantic fantasy, urban fantasy or the PNR that Kat Parrish writes.
But both those other pen names will be busy too. Kat's launching a series of space opera-y tales set in my Quincunx universe--a tale of neutral "hospital planets" caught in the middle of a territorial war as an exo-virus rampages through human and alien alike. All the hospital planets are named after famous Earth doctors (real and fictional) and the first three books are called, Kildare, Salk, and Paracelsus.
There will also be two more entries in the Ostrander witches series, with Mother Nature (a tale about Roz Ostrander, who's a weather witch) and then Expecting Magic which is about an Ostrander cousin whose talent is somewhat subtle but whose unborn child is already exhibiting talents. I never expected Deus Ex Magical to kick off a series.
I hope to reactivate (and reinvigorate) this blog with a lot more book reviews. Maybe a few movie reviews. (Was anyone else appalled at the arc for Brad Pitt's character in Lost City?) But I'm really looking forward to the |Weird Al Yankovic movie.
So it's good to be back.
I hope I'll see you here!