Season of…

8e7595c8936ef026c73484fa8d93c9d3…Thanksgiving, yes?

I know it’s going to be a tough holiday for a lot of you. Certainly, it’s a tough one for me.

On the one hand, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite family holidays; one of the few occasions during the year when most of us are together at the same table. I very much look forward to visiting my parent’s home tomorrow; to great food and abundant wine; to (hopefully) some fun conversation; and especially to catching up on the news from my nephews, who I haven’t seen in a while.

On the other hand, I’ve long been aware of the false myth that forms the foundation of our Thanksgiving celebration. For reasons I would prefer not to get into here, that false myth cuts especially deep this year.

But a holiday is a holiday, and I wish all of you peace and rest over the coming weekend, and some good food and drink, whether it be with family and friends, or in a different sanctuary of your choosing.

I continue to plug away at NanoWrimo. Though progress has been hindered by an avalanche of grading over the last week, I expect to meet my personal goal of between 25k and 30k.

I find myself still in the process of moving Helen (protagonist of The Hunting Grounds) out of the way to make room for Katarina (protagonist of EvenSong). One thing I’ve discovered recently is that Katarina is much less reserved about her sexuality than Helen was. This small detail promises to make for some [ahem] interesting story telling going forward.

I’d say more, but it’s still all very much a work in progress. And who knows? The landscape might change again, this time next week.

In other news, artist Thomas Vandenberg has been hard at work on the cover for Daughter of Aithne, the third and final book of The Silver Web. We are shooting for a cover reveal sometime in December (just before Christmas!), with the release planned for March or April of next year.

That’s the news for the moment. Mostly, I just wanted to stop say Happy Thanksgiving! I’ll be back next week with more updates, and perhaps even a thoughtful post or two. (I still have one more idea brewing that was inspired by Tobsha Learner’s wonderful novel, The Witch of Cologne…)

All the best to all of you.


Well. That was interesting…


Nov 8, 2016, was a great day for me; my first opportunity ever to vote for a woman president. Hopefully, it won’t be my last. 

I know the big news this week is the election. While I have a lot of thoughts about that, I’m so saturated by politics on all my other channels that I’ve decided to not get into it here. I will, however, say this: There’s been a lot of anxiety this week, but also many signs that a brighter future is within our reach. I, for one, need some time to let the steam die down and to regroup. In other words, the topic of politics is not dead, just on a mini vacation. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Now, where was I pre-November 8?

Oh, yeah. I think I had started a novel. Something about trying to write 50,000 words in a month. What kind of a whack-a-doodle idea is that? In any case, I was clipping along just fine until I got bowled over by current events, and everything came to a screeching halt.

Still, sometime between November 1 and today, I’ve managed to pass the 10,000 word mark on my new paranormal romance/suspense novel, EvenSong. Miraculously, at least a handful of those words were written during this past week.

I’ve pretty much lost all hope of reaching the 50k mark by the end of the month; I just don’t know how I can make up for the lost time. But that’s okay. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my writer’s journey, it’s that some things are more important than writing. Family. Friends. Colleagues. Community. All of these came first this past week, and I have no regrets about that.

Despite my rather miserable word count, I’m actually pretty happy and increasingly excited about my progress on EvenSong.  I’ve managed a couple of extraordinary passages, if I may say so myself. And I made a very important breakthrough: I found the voice of my main character, Katerina.

Figuring out Katerina as a person has been a challenge since the idea for EvenSong first sprouted inside my head. I had been immersed so long in the voice of Helen from The Hunting Grounds that I had a hard time letting her go and allowing someone else in.

So imagine my excitement when, within the first couple of days of starting NanoWrimo, I happened upon Katerina’s voice, and it turned out to be completely different from Helen’s.

Where Helen is serious and skeptical, Katerina is bright and full of hope. While Helen is the consummate business woman, down to earth and practical, Katerina is a free-spirited artist, always playing on the edge between imagination and reality.

A woman with her own history of pain and loss, Katerina has nonetheless successfully nurtured the child within. For better or worse, she boldly dives into love and romance, eagerly dressing up the mundane with her own fantasies. She is fiercely independent. And she has a cat.

I must say, I like her. I like her a lot.

So that is my big news this week: I have at last tuned into the unique and compelling voice of the protagonist for my new work in progress. I know that’s not much compared to some of the events that have rocked our political sphere, but sometimes I have to hold onto the small things, the day-to-day achievements within my personal life, in order to weather the larger events of this world.

I’ve finished this week exhausted on so many levels, wishing I could resume a stronger rhythm with NanoWrimo, but unable to get there just yet. I’d talk more about why, but as you know…that would just lead us back into politics.

And that is a topic better left for another day.


Let the Writing Begin


This year’s Jack-o-Lanterns.

Wow – November already!

And along with November come NanoWrimo, the annual challenge to authors far and wide to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

For years I avoided NanoWrimo because I felt (rightly) the challenge didn’t fit my personal creative style.

Last year, that changed. I had a short novel in the works, and instinct told me NanoWrimo would be just the ticket to run that baby to the finish line.

The bet paid off. My 2015 Nano Novel, The Hunting Grounds, is now finished and in the querying stage, with at least one promising lead for a potential publisher.

So here I am again, ready to punish myself with another 50k challenge, and hoping it pays off.

In 2015, I cheated just a little. I was already about halfway through The Hunting Grounds, so rather than push myself through the full 50,000 words, I only had to complete about 30k in order to meet my personal goal and finish the novel. Still. Just that much nearly did me in. I was exhausted after 25k, and very happy to be done with my goal.

This year is a little different. My new work-in-progress, Evensong, has only a couple very rough chapters to its name. I still think 25k is all I’ll be able to do on this one, but if I could push it past that, even make the 50k goal and finish the first draft, I would be tickled pink.

So, we’ll see. Last week, I set up my Nano page and put together the blurb for the novel. It used to be, when I started this business of writing, that I’d complete the entire novel and then agonize over how to summarize it in 2-3 paragraphs. Now, I can write out the summary ahead of time, and instead I agonize over whether I’ll be able to deliver the novel promised in my blurb.

Just another example of how there’s no escaping anxiety in a writer’s life.

And now [drumroll] here’s the blurb for Evensong:


Evensong is a companion novel to The Hunting Grounds, part of The Path of Souls collection.

Katarina Sol conserves the craft of her grandmother, making fine dolls she sells at a toy and miniature shop in the quiet neighborhood of Brookside, Kansas City. When a puppeteer comes to town and sets up his business in a nearby theater, Katarina falls into an easy romance with Peter Detlef Kahler, a man who appears a fellow artist and kindred spirit. But as their relationship deepens, it also veers toward the dark side. Katarina begins to suspect an ominous power lurks beneath Detlef’s talent; that the magic of his puppetry is real.

Far from put off by this revelation, Katarina finds herself drawn deeper into a web of desire and mystery. Unable to resist the force of her own curiosity, she soon discovers Detlef’s sinister talent – and realizes it is also her own.

But unlike Detlef, Katarina’s training was never completed. This makes her dangerous in the eyes of supernatural beings that hold dominion over the Path of Souls. They have demanded Katarina’s destruction, and Detlef has given his oath to see it done.

Will Katarina perish according to the will of Detlef’s unearthly masters? Or will their nascent love succeed in breaking the grip of the supernatural realm and setting them both free?

Evensong is the second book of The Path of Souls collection.

Did I give you the chills? I hope so!

Those of you who were with me during last year’s Nano may remember that I do very little posting during NanoWrimo. All my precious writing time must go into this new baby. I hope you understand. But do stay tuned, as I will update you with my writing adventures – and perhaps, if I’m inspired, even a few excerpts! – in the weeks to come.

If you’re doing NanoWrimo this year, friend me! I’m easy to find; my handle is kgastreich.

If you’re doing NanoWrimo and are in the KCMO area, I’ll be attending some of the write-ins about town. Hopefully, we’ll see each other there.

Out with October, in with November. Let the new journey begin!