Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Blog Tour + #Giveaway: Sealer’s Game by Kathy Coleman @Katallina @XpressoTours

Sealer’s Game
Kathy Coleman
(Sealer Saga #1)
Publication date: October 22nd 2019
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Hell hath no fury like a goddess scorned…

As Champion, Carita of Bel Auryn thought she would spend her days fighting demons. Instead, she is drawn into the latest scheme of the Moon Goddess, Ruby: a contest to choose a man who will have the “honour” of fathering her child. When Ruby encourages Carita to choose a man for herself, she picks the man she is most drawn to–and immediately regrets it.

Lucian Veradayne is the Lord of Death. He knows he must win Ruby’s game at any cost. It doesn’t matter that he has avoided her for two thousand years. Nor that she tried to kill their first child. And it really doesn’t matter that he would much rather woo Carita. The Soul Well has given Lucian a prophecy: he and Ruby must have another child. A child who will save the world.

Dealing with their mutual attraction will be the least of Lucian and Carita’s problems. They are not the only ones who have been drawn into Ruby’s game. Someone else wants to win. Someone who wants Ruby dead. Will Carita and Lucian be able to protect her long enough for a victor to be named? And if they succeed, will they be able to walk away from each other to ensure the prophecy is fulfilled?

Sealer’s Game is a 55,000 word fantasy romance novella about the King of the Underworld, a kick-butt warrior priestess, and a ruthless goddess who will stop at nothing to get her own way. It contains language, descriptions of violence, and sexual themes that may not be appropriate for all readers. Recommended for ages 18+.

Interview with Kathy Coleman

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I think the best choice for me would likely be a ball python. I’m picking a snake because they are misunderstood and can often be a cause of misplaced fear. I write a lot of characters who can relate to those things. I’m choosing a ball python in particular because they are actually relatively friendly and will just wind around your arm or neck and chill.

While the contrast between perception and reality for actual ball pythons and how it causes people to treat them frustrates me, the analogy they can represent here is one that I feel really reflects my work and some of the themes I hold most dear. Digging deeper and understanding who people are. Realizing that people can change or that we can totally misread someone and not realize it right away. The reality that ignorance and fear can make normally good people do abnormally bad things—things they wouldn’t do under any other circumstance. 

How many hours a day do you put into your writing?
I tend to go through cycles where I am writing a project and others when I  am not. When I  am working on something, it generally has the majority of my attention and I want to be working on it as much as possible. But I also have early onset Osteoarthritis, which can mess with my hands and wrists. So even when I am tackling a story, I have to take my health into account and that can mess with having a set schedule. That said, when I am working on something, I do tend to try and write every day so I can build a flow and so that I stay with my characters and their stories while they are in the drafting stage.

Do you read your book reviews? If yes, do they affect what you write in the future?
I’m not quite at a stage of writing where I’ve had much experience with receiving reviews yet. So, I can only answer this hypothetically at this point. But I ran a book blog from 2011-2014, and one thing that I know from that experience is that all reviews, regardless of star rating, are valuable. A one star review might bruise an author’s pride, but when mixed with other reviews, some lower ratings can actually give your book legitimacy and authenticity. Not everyone is going to like every book. And that’s fine. Books should be written to tell their specific story, and that often means they are going to work for some readers and not for others.

As for how much I let outside critique or influence effect my work? If I agree with what someone is saying or can see the value in their advice, it’s possible that I may take it into account. Sometimes a reader or beta can clue you in to something that will make a story better. Sometimes their taste is just different than mine, and sometimes something happened in a story for a reason I know but my readers currently don’t.

I’m not likely to make major alterations to the course of my series based off of reviews, but if three reviewers mention something, like ‘though if I hear the word despite one more time I’m gonna toss my Kindle.’, that’s the kind of base level, objective change that I might easily make a note of and take into account. Ultimately, the goal is to create the vision in my head that each scene puts there, while trying to convey that scene in a way that takes the reader there with as little effort on their part as possible.

If a reviewer’s commentary can enhance what I’m already doing, that’s awesome. But if it doesn’t, I’m not afraid that I’ll read something and just auto-implement it. I tend to know where my series are going and have long term plans for them.

Do you leave hidden messages in your books that only a few people will find?
This often happens when I am drafting and I find myself taking them out.  Song lyrics, book titles, phrases or sayings that I know are from another book, movie, tv show, etc. I try to strike a balance between using things when they are clever and fit, and giving them the ax when they don’t.

If we are talking more about themes than about symbols or references, I often end up figuring that out during multiple rounds of edits and I try to make sure its there if people want it, but not to an extent where I’m clubbing my readers over the head with it. While I believe that an author should make sure as much of their world is clear and navigatable by a reader as possible, I also believe that it is important to assume the reader is smart enough to figure out how what I wrote made them feel.

Many of my characters, and the things I make them go through, contain shades of grey and to spell out any type of morality for my readers would undermine one of the main focuses of my work. Which is to create a world where what is perceived as ‘evil’ or ‘the bad guy’ really depends on whose perspective the story is being told from at any given time.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Sealer’s Game?
The main characters of Sealer’s Game are Lucian and Carita, so let’s talk a bit about them.

Lucian is the Lord of Death and rules the Underworld. He is one of the most ancient beings in existence and has been witness to pretty much everything throughout history. He is fairly even tempered, a skilled physical combatant, and a secret history nerd.

One unique quirk he has is that when people invent new technologies, Lucian can’t interact with them stably until their inventor becomes a member of his kingdom. Things have done a variety of odd stuff over the centuries if he touches them prior to that, ranging from disintegrating carriage wheels, to free falling elevators, to exploding DVD players.

  Carita is a Warrior Priestess who trained at the moon temple of Bel Auryn. She has wanted to become Ruby’s Champion since early childhood and has spent most of her life striving toward that goal. I think one of the most interesting things about Carita is that we meet her just as she is on the cusp of getting everything she thinks she has ever wanted—only to discover that none of it is as she envisioned and the price of getting it cost something she would never have been willing to pay had she been asked to do so directly.

Then she meets Lucian, who pushes her even further away from her original goals. She makes me think of myself entering university and myself now. How different life can turn out vs. what we envision for ourselves when we are young, and how vastly different our vision and reality can end up being—for better or for worse.

Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?
I am two scenes away from having the rough draft for Sealer’s Queen written. That’s the sequel to Sealer’s Game and will provide a full Happily Ever After to Carita and Lucian’s story. I plan to work on edits for that over the holidays and heading into 2020.

But I will be taking a pause from that to write—or at least start—the rough draft of book three in the Sealer Saga, Sealer’s Key, as my project for NaNoWriMo 2019. That book is about Ruby and Lucian’s son, Zakariah, meeting the love of his life but being forced to let her return to a living realm to save the people of Zynedia. Will this be enough to convince him that he needs to get serious about finding a way to claim a physical form? Only time will tell.

Do you allow yourself a certain number of hours to write or do you write as long as the words come?
If I’m drafting, my pace depends on how easily a scene is coming along. If I can see what is going on, I roll with that as long as my characters want to ‘talk’. If a scene is giving me trouble, I will eventually push through with timed writing sprints to try and override any need to try and be perfect. My motto is ‘I can edit anything except a blank page.’ I also treat completing the word counts for my drafts like a video game. Every 1,000 words is a level that earns a treat—usually a piece of chocolate or a Starburst candy.

For editing, I go through my novels scene by scene and take notes before touching anything. Once I’m happy with the changes I’m going to make I work through the book making big changes first and then working my way down to smaller ones. Since I’m a big fan of outlines, I usually don’t have to re-write whole books or chapters, but sometimes I’ll figure out a better way to do a scene or its entire structure may change. It really depends on the book. I added three scenes to Sealer’s Game during edits, whereas there are four or five either getting re-writes or heavy changes in Sealer’s Queen. It all comes down to doing what the story needs to be the best it can be.

Do you have a certain number of words or pages you write per day?
When I am doing my rough drafts I am usually working during NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo, so I’m shooting for a minimum of 1667 per day. I tend to skew heavier close to the beginning and can have a bad habit of coasting later in the month since I am a terrible procrastinator.

What inspires you to write?
I write books I want to read. While the idea that anyone else might want to read my work is thrilling, during the writing process its the fact that I want to know what happens next that puts my butt back in the chair. There tends to be a distinct difference between part of a story being in my head, where I can still change it, and that story bit being pinned to a page so that I can, in essence, hold it in my hands. Like a child catching a pixie or firefly in a jar and marveling at its dust or light. Something magical and ethereal is forced to exist within reality where everyone—not just me—can see it.

Would you rather

Read fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction. I love non-fiction too, especially through Audible, but it’s important for an author to read in their genre and genres surrounding it to keep a finger on the pulse of what is going on there. 

Read series or stand-alone?
Series, by a mile. The reason I like writing a series also ties into why I like reading them. Stories in a series can weave together and build a larger over-arching narrative with recurring characters and a central theme or plot that ties individual adventures together. Whether the binding factor is a set protagonist in an evolving world, like Harry Potter, or a different protagonist in each installment that takes place in a growing setting, like Kristen Painter’s Noctourne Falls books, it really works to draw me in and keep me coming back for more.

Read Science fiction or horror?
In their purest forms, I’m not really a big reader in either of these genres. My main reading genres are romance, fantasy, and contemporary. But if we start to look at my media consumption as a whole, and consider my love for psychological thrillers and worst case scenario video games like Virtua’s Escape, A.I. Somnium Files and Danganronpa, horror definitely wins out. The fact that many horror creatures and tropes cross over into paranormal romance, which I love just as much as fantasy romance, probably cements this choice even further.

Read Stephen King or Dean Koontz
Stephen King. I’ve read and enjoyed many of his books throughout the years. If I’m being honest, I have to admit I’ve never read a book by Dean Koontz. 

Read the book or watch the movie?
Ideally, the book should be read first. That doesn’t always happen, but the book always has details a movie must take out. The fun of book to movie adaptations is seeing something you love be brought to life on a giant screen. The hard part is that readers kinda go through what we writers do when that happens: no matter how good the film is, it never fully matches what was inside your head.

Read an ebook or paperback?
Ebook, but I’m picking this purely out of practicality. I used to adore reading physical copies, but my eye sight isn’t what it used to be and I need to be able to control the size of font that my reading materials are in to have an optimal reading experience. I miss the sensation and smell of holding and reading an actual book, but being able to engage with the text itself is more important.

Be trapped alone for one month in a library with no computer or a room with a computer and Wi-Fi only?
My boyfriend and I have been together almost twelve years. We are long distance and use Skype and Discord to talk. I can go a month without books. I would have a much harder time going a month without him—unless I had a really compelling reason. Probably not the answer people want to hear from a writer—reading is essential to any storyteller—but at least it’s honest. :)

Do a cross-country book store tour or blog tour online?
I actually love the fact that I can have an online tour. First, because I was able to actually make that happen. A real world tour would have likely been out of my budget. Second, because of my health.  A cross-country tour would present physical challenges that might take away from my overall ability to interact with readers.

With a blog tour via the internet, my full attention is on the tour rather than mobility (things like stairs, escalators, or ice can be issues for my cerebral palsy), accessibility, or how my arthritis is acting that day. One of the key things I’ve learned spending all of this time with Lucian and Carita is a much more refined appreciation for living in the present.

With that in mind, thanks very much for taking the time to check out this interview. And thanks, Nancy, for having me as a guest on The Avid Reader. I hope that you and your readers have found this interview interesting. :)

Author Bio:

Kathy Coleman lives in a little town in Ontario with her parents, one younger brother and two mischievous little dogs named D'Argo and Coco. She attended Trent University, majoring in English and Cultural Studies.

When she is not being kept awake at 3 a.m. by characters who refuse to quit talking, she can be found performing karaoke at charity events, updating her book blog I Write, I Read, I Review, shopping, or playing video games.



Giselle said...

Thanks for being on the tour!

pippirose said...

The cover is gorgeous!

Daniel M said...

sounds like a fun one