The SPENCER HILL PRESS SUMMER BLOG RUN will be coming to a close soon. Only a few more awesome authors to meet. Remember everyone who has left a comment on any of the blog posts is automatically entered to win the grand prize--a very generous B&N gift card from all the authors who have participated in the blog run.
You know, because we were thinking of you and your love of books. So, we wanted you to go buy some.
*a twenty-one gun salute by exceptionally good-looking men*
Not only is Kate a writer, but she is also my beloved publisher--a woman of many talents with creativity oozing from every pore.
Yeah, she loves her job.
Kate is the author of the Ganzfield Series: Minder, Adversary, Legacy, Accused, Operative, and Soulmate (Spring 2013), which has won Reader's Choice Awards and has gotten rave reviews. Don't believe me? Check it all out here.
As a matter of fact, you can go check out all sorts of neat stuff about Kate, and stalk her. No seriously, stalk her, she's funny like that.
Thanks Kate for visiting my little blog...again. Yeah, she came back for seconds.
When did your love for reading take root?
I was very young. I come from a family of writers (I'm the fourth generation of published authors), and I've always been surrounded by books.
As a child, what is the very first book you remember reading that you absolutely loved?
I remember reading Charlotte's Web when I was six--it was the first "big kid" book I ever read on my own, and I loved the magic (talking animals) and drama (who probably will be killed and eaten) of it.
What is your favorite genre?
I adore speculative fiction in many forms, but probably YA fantasy or paranormal romance would be my favorite.
What book is on your nightstand, right now?
Neil Gaiman's American Gods (paperback, for fun) and Michelle Pickett's Milayna (Kindle, for "big Picture" edits).
If you had to thank one person in your writing career, who would that be and why?
Only one? That's not fair--it takes a village to raise a writer! But the one person I really do need to credit is Stephenie Meyer--reading the Twilight books re-awakened my inner adolescent, re-infusing my narrative voice and re-kindling my desire to write another novel (my first is still unpublished... and justifiably so). Not that I wanted to write a Twilight-clone book--my main character's name, Maddie Dunn (plain and brown), is the opposite of Bella Swan (pretty and elegant bird) for a reason.
As I've already stated, Kate is a person of many talents, she also has a Ph.D. in Social and Developmental Psychology. Tell us, how has your interest in social development and in psychology influenced your characters in your books?
I use a lot of psychology in my stories (which could be considered "psych-fi"--a term I think is frighteningly clever, but which makes most people groan or give me a frowny "huh?") to make the parapsychological abilities as realistic as possible. And I use personality psych (Elias Porter's Motivational Values System) for all of my character development; it's a great system for understanding why people act they way they do, and how they will act in different situations.
How do you manage to fit everything into your tight schedule?
Basically, with the writing/editing/publishing, the corporate training I do, and the three kids under age seven, I work about 14-16 hours a day, seven days a week. But I really do love what I do, so it's not drudge work--it's fun!--so I don't need much of a break from it. And I stopped watching a lot of TV--that freed up a lot of my time... although someone has to tell me what finally happened in that last season on Lost.
Besides writing, reading, and fighting crime with your amazing superpowers, do you have any other hobbies?
Kayaking--I took the kids out today on the lake by our house. I used to do a lot of arts and craft stuff--knitting, drawing, sewing, needlepoint, baking--but I no longer have time for much of it.
Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share with us?
This is the second time this week I've been asked for a recipe! I just gave my "Turkish Mushroom Chicken" to them, so I'll give you "Spaghetti Pie:"
Boil water for:
12 OZ SPAGHETTI
Cook as usual until al dente, then drain. Try to time the pasta with the completion of the other ingredients (grate the cheese first!). Avoid overcooking; the pasta should still be firm, so it will not break apart when mixed with the other ingredients.
As you set the pasta water to boil, add:
to a large frying pan. Chop:
4 CLOVES GARLIC
1 SMALL OR 1/2 LARGE ONION
1 PINT CONTAINER OF CHERRY TOMATOES
1 CAN PITTED OLIVES
Heat frying pan on medium-high, then cook the garlic, onion, tomatoes, and olives uncovered, until the tomatoes begin to break down. Reduce heat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, mix:
1 CUP HEAVY CREAM
3 STALKS OF FRESH BASIL
1 TABLESPOON RED PEPPER FLAKES OR CRUSHED RED PEPPER
Add the egg and cream mixture to the other ingredients in the frying pan and stir. Then add:
8 OUNCES OF GRATED FONTINA CHEESE
5 OUNCES OF FRESH, GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE
6 OUNCES OF CRUMBLED FETA CHEESE
Add the drained pasta to the frying pan and stir all the ingredients together. Cook for 5 minutes in the frying pan, then place entire frying pan in the oven OR pour ingredients into 2 ungreased pie pans or casserole dishes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for a few minutes, for easier slicing. Serves 4-6 as a main course, or 8-10 as a side dish.
I think it's originally from America's Test Kitchen, but it has been a bunch of years.
For all the writers out there, I'm going to have to briefly touch on the publishing aspect. You can thank me later:
Why did you become involved in publishing?
Three aspiring authors started talking at BackSpace Writers' Conference a few years ago. We were all frustrated because, despite getting really good responses to our queries and first pages in the group sessions, we hadn't been getting offers from agents. We started talking about how we wished publishing worked--a publisher who would invest in authors, grow their careers, give them a say in their cover art, and so on. It was like we created an eHarmony ad for our dream publisher. I didn't let the idea stay just an idea--I started researching what each aspect--editing, printing, marketing, etc.--would require. I never got to a point where the research said, "And that's why you can't do it," so I did it.
Being on both sides of the fence, a writer and a publisher, has one influenced decisions on the other?
Oh, it's a grass-is-always-greener thing. When I'm editing, I dream of when I can write my own book again. When I'm writing, I'm drawn back to editing something I don't have to write.
What is the biggest thing you have learned?
Just about every manuscript can be made publishable with enough editing… but often it's less work to just write another book, instead. I've become very selective in the projects I take on, and the projects SHP takes on, as well.
As a publisher, what type of books are looking for?
I love books with a strong narrative voice, vivid characters, an engaging plot, and logically-constructed systems of magic, sci-fi, and world-building.
What is your favorite part of the publishing aspect of your job?
I get a huge kick out of the reaction of a debut author holding his/her actual book for the first time. I often send the bound proof (the first time the book is in book form) without letting the author know it's coming, so they get that surprise moment. We just had one last week that still makes me smile; she recorded her reaction:
If you had could tell one thing to all the writers out there, what would it be?
Don't just write one manuscript and then stop writing to try and sell it. Keep writing, knowing that your first book you write probably won't be the first one you publish. If you love to write, then write. Make the process your reward, because it's hard to make a living doing it (What's the difference between a writer and a pizza? A pizza can feed a family of four). Don't write with the goal of "selling" in mind; if you write something beautiful/amazing/unputdownable, you'll be able to find a publisher for it.
First thing to pop into your head….
Cheeseburger or escargot?
Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, no Coke--Pepsi.
Pie or cupcakes?
PJ bottoms or skirt?
Shots of tequila or wine?
Mike's Hard Limeade.
Most embarrassing moment in your life? (Like everyone else, you have to share...mua ha ha)
Third grade, my first time singing a solo, and, in front of the whole school, I sang the wrong verse.
Tell us what you like to share on your blog.
Amusing YouTube videos, book and SWAG giveaways, and info about SHP authors. If you stop by, please scroll down and feed the fish.
Can you give us a brief description of the first novel you ever wrote?
Bagastana was a MG fantasy in which twelve-year-old twins fall through a portal with a gruff, talking bear (hence my nom de blog). This alternate world is filled with Celestials, like Bear, who are immortal, shape-shifting creatures responsible for most of the world's mythology. But with the portals closed, they mostly hang out making lesser beings do their bidding. For example the ant queen Celestials made the mortals under their control shift into worker ants and then sent them to fight the ant armies of the other Celestial queen ants. And, of course, the twins had to face the Big Bad to get to the one portal that would return them home.
Why young adult?
It's where my narrative voice falls. I'm naturally snarky and probably emotionally stunted.
Tell us a little bit about your favorite character in any of your books.
Maddie Dunn is smart, snarky, strong, and yet vulnerable. I love writing from her point-of-view—especially because, as a telepath, she also knows what's going on in the other character's heads, as well.
Tell us about the Ganzfield series.
It follows the story of Maddie Dunn, a 16-year-old who survives a terrifying event by doing the impossible. She ends up at a secret training facility (think X-Men, but with better science), where people with different abilities cluster into cliques, so it's like most high schools, except the jocks can use mind control on the band geeks, who can set things on fire or see what someone is doing hundreds of miles away. Maddie's strangely drawn to this one guy (see the teaser below), and her bond with him gives her the strength to overcome her past, as well deal with all the crazy stuff life throws at her.
Okay, the crazy stuff *I* throw at her. If I ever met her in real life (a la Inkheart), she'd probably fry my brain.
Time for the Tantalizing Teaser Temptation ...
A flashlight clicked on in the middle of the large room. The beam swung over to hit me in the face and I flinched at the sudden brightness.
“Maddie?” Trevor asked again, sliding the light down so I was no longer blinded. “What are you doing here?”
I felt my cheeks flush. I seemed to be blushing a lot around Trevor. At least it probably wasn’t obvious in the dim light. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you. I didn’t know anyone else was here.”
“You didn’t wake me. I had a... dream.” He was suddenly embarrassed; the warm, sick feeling flowed off him in waves. “You shouldn’t be in here. It’s dangerous.” I’m dangerous.
I felt a sudden, strong desire to comfort him. “How are you dangerous? That was my dream!”
I stood up, wrapping the quilt around my shoulders again and checking that the front of my shirt was still intact. I walked over to where Trevor sat up on a solitary mattress on the floor in the center of the room. “I came out here because... ” it spilled out of me in a confessional rush. “Apparently, I’m the kind of telepath who can broadcast thoughts as well as hear them and tonight I woke everyone up in the dorm with my nightmare.” I felt like crying.
Trevor might not be a telepath, but he picked up on my distress easily enough. “Hey, it’s okay.” He set the flashlight next to him on the floor so that it pointed straight up, creating a small fountain of light. It dimly reflected off the white ceiling and revealed a constellation of dust motes that swirled in the air above us. Still in his sleeping bag, Trevor pulled his legs to the side and gestured for me to have a seat on the mattress.
I hesitated for a second--I’d never been on a guy’s bed before. No, it was okay. Trevor was... nice. There was a warmth to his thoughts, like hot chocolate after a day out in the snow. A gentle strength pulled me in and made me feel safe. If only everyone’s thoughts felt this good. I tucked my legs under me and pulled the quilt tighter as I sat.
“That was your dream? Are you okay?”
I smiled at him. “I am now. You kind of came to my rescue. Thanks.” Man of my dreams flitted through my thoughts and I rolled my eyes at myself. What kind of sappy fantasy was I weaving about Trevor? Yeesh. I wasn’t that kind of person. “You were very brave.” I meant it, but I winced as soon as it left my mouth.
I had no right to start crushing on Trevor. Someone so kind and decent wouldn’t want to be with someone like me. I was dangerous.
For all the lucky people who stopped by, Kate is kind enough to give away...
A signed copy of the new edition of Minder and a bunch of Spencer Hill SWAG.
Just two things to enter:
1) You have to follow my blog. Need directions---scroll back up closer to the top, right hand side and click follow
2) Tell us what you did during Labor Day.
Contest ends Saturday, Sept. 8th.
Winners will be announced Sunday, Sept. 9th.
Oh, and don’t forget, everyone who comments is automatically entered to win the grand prize of a Barnes and Noble gift card at the end of whole summer run.
Thank you all for stopping by. Please leave Kate a comment thanking her for her time and for the ultra-cool prizes.