Tag Archives: fantasy

Chapter Nineteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The nineteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here or now also on Wattpad!

Not much to report for these past two weeks; I’ve been drafting, which for me is always a painful process. I won’t lie, things are slow-going at this point—I’m still working on getting into the groove of this story, establishing characters and back story. I’m by-and-large a pantser (as opposed to someone who plots out their books), which can cause the process to be slow but also allow for creative spontaneity. So hello to the insight that aliens really like hot sauce—but heaven forbid you look at my pathetic writing speed. Oh well, it’s just the way I work. :/

This may sound funny, but I’ve also spent the last few weeks paying close attention to bookstagram. There’s kind of a long-winded explanation to this… As an indie author, I do all my marketing and social media, and there’s not enough time in the day to be on all platforms, so I have to pick wisely about where I want to be posting. It might be surprising to some people, but common wisdom in the indie community is that building up your personal newsletter is key to success. The reasoning behind this is that you don’t have to rely on algorithms for your posts to reach your audience; even if you’re following someone on Facebook, for example, there’s no guarantee that you’ll see their posts. (As an aside, I don’t think that newsletters make you immune to an algorithm effectively gatekeeping you from your audience, given that it’s really easy for Gmail to drop your carefully constructed newsletter into the dumpster that is the promos tab.)

All this said, I have a strong suspicion that newsletters are not the best way to keep a YA-reading audience updated on new releases and updates, since the demographic skews younger. (And yes, I obviously understand that older people read YA too. I am one of them.) Which leads me to Instagram/bookstagram; if I had to guess, bookstagram is the current best way for YA indie authors to connect with new readers. That means that I need to be more participatory on Instagram in a way that best connects with readers… which is a roundabout way of saying that I’m going to be going for a more “bookstagram” feel on my Instagram account, so I’ve been hard at work on that. Maybe it takes some of the magic out of all those beautiful pictures to think about things through this marketing slant, but that’s where my head’s at right now.

Anyway, drop a line down below if you actually read any of the newsletters that you’re subscribed to! Do they even arrive in your main inbox or do you subscribe and then get them relegated to a spam/promo folder? I am mega-curious about this. Myself, I have been a major slacker at newsletters; I don’t think I’ve sent one out since March. Gotta be better at that.

That’s all for now, folks! Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Nineteen.

ARC: The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for sending me a free advanced reader copy of this book for an honest review. The Harp of Kings debuted September 3rd.

I have a lot of respect for Juliet Marillier for writing the Sevenwaters trilogy. It’s been years since I read the first Sevenwaters book, but I remember it being absolutely fantastic. I also read Wildwood Dancing last year, which I loved, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel.

So knowing that Marillier is an industry heavyweight and a fantastic writer, I couldn’t request an ARC of The Harp of Kings fast enough. This is the start of a new series, with three books already listed on Goodreads, and the premise seemed great: a shadowy fantasy organization that gets contracted for missions (basically a fantasy CIA), whose latest quest is to recover a stolen harp that is crucial to a coronation ceremony. The three young main characters on the mission are vying to be fully inducted into the organization; this mission will be their proving ground. Cool, right?

So with all this said, you can’t imagine how disappointed I was to read this book and have a difficult time connecting with it. Many of the characters, and especially the dialogue, felt wooden, like it was missing some spark of life. Much of the action also felt too unrealistic for my taste. To give an example, the female MC has an encounter with the detestable heir-to-throne, where he tries to rape her and she shoves him, causing him to fall and hit his head hard. Through the eyes of characters in a medieval setting, this is understandably seen as her attacking the heir. The fall-out from the incident, however, was less than serious; after a bit of politicking, all she needs to do is give him a formal apology and the incident is more or less in the past. This punishment-not-punishment is meted out by the heir’s advisors; despite the fact that he is a man about to take the throne, he’s essentially not able to follow through on his now hatred for the female MC. The whole thing just felt extremely unrealistic to me; I have a very tough time believing that there weren’t more serious consequences for the female MC. (Please understand that I’m not taking the side of the heir, but just questioning the logic of the narrative choices.)

I also had a very tough time with the ending. Spoiler incoming in:

3…

2…

1…

There is a literal hand-of-God moment where the question about who should be the true king is decided by a celestial presence on high shining a light on the one they favor. It was a textbook definition of a deus ex machina.

This then followed by a denouement that featured more wooden dialogue, with all the flair of an HR exit interview.

“What part of this mission gave you the most satisfaction?” This surprising question comes from Illann.

Dau catches my eye and we both grin. Neither of us is going to mention that escapade at the wall. “To be honest,” he says, “I spent most of our stay at Breifne feeling anything but satisfaction. I was pleased when Liobhan got Brocc out of that place. And I was pleased when the harp ended up in the right hands.”

“And you, Liobhan?”

“Working as a team. We got better at that. We learned as we went along. Only… without Brocc we’re not so much of a team. Sorry.”

Do you see what I mean? This is a book that has a great, interesting premise, but fell short in the execution. If you are a diehard Marillier fan then by all means check it out (I’m pretty sure it has some Easter eggs in there for her fans), but sadly I won’t be continuing with this series unless I hear very different things about the second book.

Chapter Eighteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The eighteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m conscious of the fact that a lot of people don’t particularly want to read a story in their browser. To that end, a pdf/mobi/epub bundle of The Gold in the Dark Part One will be out soon (October sometime). The plan is to get it up for free on Amazon as well. I’m also uploading each chapter to Wattpad for those of you who like to read there—if you’re a Wattpad user, please vote and add it to your reading list, etc!

These past two weeks have mostly been working on the Beauty and the Beast and Aliens WIP. I’ve realized (with the firm advice of my alpha reader) that the story needs a bit more of a lead-up to the point where we actually encounter the alien for the first time. I normally like to start things more in medias res, but this just wasn’t enough to build up enough sympathy for the main characters, who undergo a lot of anxiety and turmoil in the opening segment of the book, and it also wasn’t enough time to allow readers to buy into aliens. Vampires, ghosts, and other creatures are easier to swallow, it seems, than extraterrestrials. So now the book has a new first chapter and a few more characters as well, which should hopefully patch things up.

Also, just a quick reminder that Specter is on NetGalley until the end of the month! So if you’re a NetGalley member, definitely head over, give the cover a vote, and grab a free copy.

That’s all from me at the moment! Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Eighteen.

Chapter Seventeen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The seventeenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST! I know that this illustration was a lot of trial-and-error for Ally, but I love how the final illustration came out; I think it’s so elegant looking! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here. I’m also hopeful to have a pdf/mobi/epub document out soon for Part One for those of you who want to read on different devices and programs.

These past two weeks have been part of the busy season at my work, so my WIP word count has been less than stellar. Even so, I’m happy with where the new Beauty and the Beast and Aliens book is headed, even if it’s slow-going.

It’s also been a pretty exciting last week or so because Specter is currently on NetGalley! If you’re a NetGalley member, head on over to grab a free copy. The only reason I’m able to get Specter onto NetGalley is through the Kobo Writing Life team, so as ever: Thank you, Kobo! I love how dedicated they are to helping their authors succeed.

That’s about it from me! Things should hopefully be slowing down at my job, so I’m excited to dive back into heavy drafting. (And also a bit scared. Let’s face it—drafting is a bit like pulling teeth.) Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Seventeen. ❤

Chapter Sixteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, as always.

The sixteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! This chapter marks the beginning of Part Two, and it’s a good ‘un—aren’t you just dying to know what that gross thing is in the chapter illustration? New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST (and sometimes earlier). You can get started on the series right here.

These past two weeks have just been steady work on the Beauty and the Beast and Aliens WIP. I had to do a rewrite of the second chapter for major issues—the emotionality of the chapter was totally wrong, and I wanted to fix it before progressing. It’s funny how something can feel totally right when you get it down on paper at first, then a critique from a writing partner can totally change your view of things the next minute. So oh well, it was time to go back to the drawing board and give Chapter Two another shot… but it’s better now.

I also have found a new writing service, Dabble, that I can’t shut up about. As I mentioned in my tech tools of the trade post, I kind of hate Google, so I wanted to find a way to move away from drafting in Google Docs. Scrivener unfortunately won’t work for me for the time being as I need cloud capability, so that led me to Dabble—and I love it. It has online capability, a gorgeous GUI, word count tracking, dark theme, plotting tools… Honestly, I can’t speak highly enough about it. Thanks, Instagram ads—without you, I never would have found out about Dabble, and also about that adorable T-rex necklace that I impulse bought last week. 😉

That’s basically it! Hard at work on drafting, so that I can have the book out hopefully by next July. Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Sixteen. ❤

Chapter Fifteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of the lovely Ally Grosvenor, as always!

The fifteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! This chapter marks the end of Part One, but no worries—the next chapter will release on time in two weeks. New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST.

Lots of exciting things are in the works here at KJG Productions! I know a lot of people find it hard or annoying to read a book on a website, so to make The Gold in the Dark easier to read I’m going to be releasing Part One in mobi, epub, and pdf file formats. It will take me a little bit to pull everything together, so we’re looking at an end of September or early October release date for that.

Ooh, look how shiny.

Some other fun news is that Specter was awarded five stars by Indies Today! That means I get to throw this cool badge up everywhere. 😀 We’re a month past Specter’s release at this point, so promo is winding to a close, but if this is the first time you’re hearing about the book, just keep scrolling; I’ve thrown the blurb and the cover down below. It’s at a cool 4.6 rating on Goodreads and four and a half stars on Amazon right now. 🙂

I’ve been spending the last couple weeks in drafting mode. The Beauty and the Beast and Aliens WIP is really fun to write. I’m not going to mask that it’s been slow-going… I’m already knees-deep in a Chapter Two rewrite right now. I know a lot of people will think it’s strange to be rewriting a chapter so early on in the process, but I’m an edit-as-I-go type of writer. Is that what most professional writers recommend? No. Does it work for me? Yes—and it has a lot to do with the fact that my very opinionated husband serves as my “alpha reader.” I’m thinking of putting up a post soon about why I like having an alpha reader—anyone interested in that, I wonder?

Last thing I want to mention is that in the process of drafting I’ve discovered a useful new tool! I’m having to use Google Docs to draft this book, not Scrivener, and I haven’t been able to find any decent word count tracker for Google Docs. So that led me to Pacemaker, which is a tool specifically for anyone who needs to track their words. It has a lot of functionality and options, so I’m finding it really useful.

All right, that’s all I’ve got for now in terms of writing updates. Have a good rest of your weekend and enjoy Chapter Fifteen.


Blurb

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

Specter is available for purchase at any book retailer or from Hidden Bower Press. Even independent bookstores should be able to preorder Specter—and you can even request your local library order a physical or ebook copy! I love libraries, so making the book available everywhere was important to me in my publishing decisions. So please consider picking up a copy or adding it to your Goodreads TBR!

Chapter Fourteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, as always.

The fourteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST.

For this week in writing updates I’ve been drafting Beauty and the Beast and Aliens, which has been quite fun. It’s definitely on the softer side of sci-fi, maybe even veering towards science-fantasy territory, a genre that I love and would love to see more of! It’s been really interesting conceptualizing the aliens in terms of their “human-ness,” since there’s going to be a strong romance element—how alien can you make a love interest before things get too weird? I want to push the boundaries as far as I can, but don’t want to get into gross-out territory—tentacles, etc.

Also, if you’re looking to pick up a copy of Specter this is a good day to do it! (If this is the first you’re hearing of Specter, I’ve thrown the cover and blurb down below. Pitch: Stranger Things with a ghostly twist!) It’s on free promotion over at Kobo, and today is the very last day before the price goes up, so go grab a copy! Also, can I just take a second to say thanks to all the nice people at Kobo? It’s such a supportive company to indie authors—they have a podcast, respond very helpfully to emails, and offer authors all these ways to easily promote their books at low cost. Thanks, Kobo. 🙂

All right, that’s it for writing updates. Have a good rest of your weekend and enjoy Chapter Fourteen. ❤


Blurb

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

Specter is available for purchase at any book retailer or from Hidden Bower Press. Even independent bookstores should be able to preorder Specter—and you can even request your local library order a physical or ebook copy! I love libraries, so making the book available everywhere was important to me in my publishing decisions. So please consider picking up a copy or adding it to your Goodreads TBR!

Chapter Thirteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, as always.

The thirteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST.

This week in writing updates has been the book launch for Specter, combined with new beginnings as I picked up my new WIP (the Beauty and the Beast and aliens book) once more. It feels great to be drafting again, and I’m trying to push myself to work on the manuscript every day. My goal is to have this next book out a year from Specter‘s launch, which would be July 7th of next year. The even loftier goal is to have it out sooner… but I don’t want to jinx things. I’ve set a timetable for myself like this:

Drafting: 7 months
Editing: 3 months
Publishing: 2 months

We’ll see if I can pull it off. 😉 Anyway, that’s all for writing updates this week. I’m leaving the blurb for Specter down below, so if this is the first you’re hearing about it, please check it out! And have a good rest of your weekend and enjoy Chapter Thirteen. ❤


Blurb

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

Specter is available for purchase at any book retailer or from Hidden Bower Press. Even independent bookstores should be able to preorder Specter—and you can even request your local library order a physical or ebook copy! I love libraries, so making the book available everywhere was important to me in my publishing decisions. So please consider picking up a copy or adding it to your Goodreads TBR!

Chapter Ten of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

The tenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark drops today! This makes us a quarter of the way through the book, so there is plenty more to come. 😀 I’m a huge fan of Chapter Ten; it’s a turning point in the narrative, and introduces a crucial new character. As always, if you need to catch up on past chapters, no problem, since you can do that right here. New chapters post every other Sunday at 11 AM EST, and each chapter is also accompanied by a beautiful, custom illustration. Take a look at this week’s illustration; I’m getting some definite Edward Gorey vibes. If you’re not familiar with Edward Gorey, I’ve put a couple pictures down below for fun. You might also recognize his work from the iconic intro to PBS’s Mystery!

Anyway, enough waffling. At last, I can reveal that these illustrations are courtesy of the mega-talented Ally Grosvenor! I’ll have an interview up with her soon enough, all about how she got started with illustration, her approach to illustrating a work of fiction, her inspiration, etc.

Isn’t Ally’s work Edward Gorey-ish?

And here’s just a sampling of some of Ally’s art unrelated to The Gold in the Dark.

From the iconic game Portal.

In other exciting news, we are one week away from a cover reveal!!!!!!!!! And it is gorgeous. If you are wanting to stay up-to-date, just check back here, sign up for my newsletter, or follow me on Instagram @katiejanegallagher or Goodreads. In the meantime, have a fabulous Sunday and enjoy Chapter Ten. ❤

Chapter Nine of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

The ninth chapter of The Gold in the Dark drops today! If you need to catch up on past chapters, no problem, since you can do that right here. New chapters post every other Sunday at 11 AM EST. (And sometimes a little earlier, like this week!) Each chapter is also accompanied by a beautiful, custom illustration.

This week I’ve been drafting my new WIP! It’s fun to be drafting again in a painful sort of way, like I’m stretching old muscles. I’m also a bit out of my element with some of the details I need to research; a quick look through my browser history will reveal such searches such as “do landowners in Montana need elk tags to hunt on private land” and “Polish people gold rush.” As for why I’m looking these things up, that will have to remain strictly confidential for now.

There are some fun posts coming up on the blog soon, though, that I can tease with a bit more information! I’ll be doing a post soon about how music factors into my writing process, as well as about a very particular and bookish Connecticut diner. In the meantime, have a fabulous Sunday and enjoy Chapter Nine.