Happy Friday Rambles, everyone. Today I’m talking about pressure.

Stress. Anxiety.  I have it.

Why, you ask? That’s simple:  The Matt Archer series is doing better than I expected, especially Blade’s Edge, which is getting really strong reviews.

And it’s scaring the hell out of me.

Doesn’t that sound totally counterintuitive? I’m doing well, so I’m stressed out? WTF, Kendra?

Even if it sounds stupid, I get why. I’ve learned enough about the business to be nervous now.  MA1 (Monster Hunter) flew from my fingertips with a ton of joy and the fun of discovery. It was the 4th novel I wrote (the other three will never, ever see the light of day) and I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Ignorance is bliss, right?

MA2 (Blade’s Edge) took a lot more work. I’d written a couple manuscripts between it and MA1, so I knew more about my craft and could see the flaws. I’d also gotten used to tough critique and sought out more this time.  The manuscript was torn from my soul with a pair of rusty pliers and bled onto the page like so much junk. Then I worked for months to clean it up—and it turned out better than I thought it might.

Much better.

Now I’m drafting MA3 (Title TBA), and I’m going through the same thing. Scenes I wrote a few years ago show their age. Scenes I wrote last week feel repetitive, derivative and stale.  Deep down I know there’s gold somewhere in the 90k+ words I’ve slapped on the page, but right now I’m worried it won’t measure up.

Here’s the thing…the story in MA3 is so much bigger, and MA4 will be bigger still. Some really epic crap is happening to Matt—and to Will, Mamie, Uncle Mike and Aunt Julie. Everyone is altered in some way by the end.  The question is…can I tell this story in a way so people will care?

The other issue is one of time. Can I write MA3 fast enough to meet the deadlines I’ve set for publishing it? I had a head start with the first two – they were drafted before I started down the road to publication. Now I’m writing against the clock and that adds its own pressure. I don’t want to turn out crap in a hurry, but I also don’t want people to wait a year  or more to find out what happens to Matt next. The benefit of self-publishing is that I can tell the story more quickly, without leaving readers hanging for ages before they get the next installment.  The flip side is that I have to write more quickly. I can’t agonize over a single sentence like a used to.  In some respects, that’s good. I’m getting more efficient.  In others, I’m having to fight for time to write and hope  it will be enough.

But it’s not all “woe is me” all the time—I love putting Matt into the world. I love hearing that people enjoyed the story. And thanks for the support y’all have given me on this journey. I know at some point I’ll pull my head out of its funk and things will be awesome again. I just have to have a moment of self-doubt every once in a while. But I’ll get past it–no one likes a whiner, anyway. :  )  

What gives me hope is a very simple fact from Earth Science in seventh grade:  How do you make a diamond?

Time and pressure.

 So how about you? Is there an endeavor that’s left you a little breathless, wondering if you’ll succeed? Or is there some mantra you think I need to try to get past my own doubts?

The Girl and the Wolf: Interview with Kait Nolan

We have a special guest today on Monsters and Mayhem. Kait Nolan is an awesome writer, self-published author and generally kickass lady. Trust me, if you aren’t following her yet, you should be!

Kait’s here today to talk about her YA Paranormal novel, Red — in which Little Red Riding Hood falls in love with the Wolf and, as a result, creates a curse that follows her daughters down the family line to Elodie, the main character. I loved Red — great tension, lots of excitement and mystery, and a compelling romance–and I wanted to know more about Kait’s thought processes as she wrote about “monsters” both human and paranormal.


Q1:  Why did you decide to retell Little Red Riding Hood?

Well, I’m a big fan of fairy tale reboots that do something different and interesting, and I got to wondering first, what would happen if Red fell in love with the wolf and then found myself really interested in the consequences of that life choice—waaaaaay on down the family line.  And that’s how I got to Elodie.  So Red isn’t so much a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood as an extrapolation.


Q2:  Do Werewolves hold a special appeal for you? If so, why?

They do.  I love them.  Apparently.  I’ve got three books with them so far.  And honestly, I don’t know exactly what the appeal is.  I find wolf pack behavior fascinating, and I like the idea of mates being something that’s much deeper than attraction.  They seem a lot less, I don’t know, fickle than people.


Q3:  Your non-human characters often show more compassion than the humans around them. As a writer, how hard is it to portray the “monsters” as sympathetic?

Not hard at all really.  I have a harder time showing the humans as sympathetic, and I guess that’s because so often in real life people are very self-absorbed and caught up in their own stuff, not willing to look beyond their own prejudices or issues to trying to see the other person’s perspective.  If you take a so-called monster, they’ve always been the odd one out, so I find it easier to make that sympathetic.


Q4:  Smokin’ hot romance, Red’s got it. What are your thoughts on love scenes in YA? Is there a line you wouldn’t cross, or do you think anything goes?

There is a school of thought that there should be no sex in YA and that it should be some kind of moral or message that this kind of behavior is wrong.  First off, I think those folks are living on some planet other than reality.  Teens are having sex (whether they should or not isn’t really the point) and they’re going to likely throw those moralizing books at a wall.  With that huge surge of hormones and all the confusion involved with coming of age, I think it serves a far better purpose to show characters struggling with these issues, show them coping, considering, and making informed decisions.  I think it’s a reality that teens deal with and they need to see characters address the issue in a mature and responsible way.  I think the most important thing is not to trivialize the consequences, whatever they are.


Q5:  Elodie is a strong-willed main character–which I love. Do you think YA is showing a good trend toward female role-models?  What books would you recommend?

I think it’s a mixed bag.  Certainly there are a lot of fabulous strong-willed, smart heroines out there.  Like Meghan Chase from Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, Aria from Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky, Rachel from C.J. Redwine’s Defiance, Alina from Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, or Karou from Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  There are scads of others.

But for every one of them, I think there are probably others with weak, rather whiny heroines that are trying to capitalize on the formula made so popular with Twlight.  So I think it’s our duty as writers to continue to show fantastic, unique, smart, capable heroines to counteract the Bella effect.  Not that all women have to be physically able to kick-butt or survive alone on a mountain, but they should all have the inner strength to stand up for themselves, for what’s right, and to demand to be treated with equality and respect in their relationships.


Q6:  Tell us a little bit about your journey in publishing Red.

Red was my first foray into YA.  My background is almost entirely in adult romance (paranormal, romantic suspense, contemporary) except for WAAAAAY back when I was a teen and was writing more of what I wanted to read.  It was a great deal of fun to write (even though Elodie kept frigging waking me up to talk about her issues at 3 in the morning) and has absolutely whetted my appetite for more stories about teens.  So much so that I have two other YA trilogies in mind as I move forward.  I chose to go ahead and self-publish Red as I had my adult paranormal romance because while I think it’s an interesting and different take on werewolves, traditional publishers all have one or more already in their pipelines and were not likely to be interested.  So it’s enabled me to really begin to build a second fanbase among the YA community, which I hope to boost my appeal when my agent pitches the first of those YA trilogies to publishers in the spring.  Fingers crossed!

Fingers crossed here, too!  Thanks for stopping by!

About Kait:

Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss.  When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.

Kait is represented by Laurie McLean of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency in San Francisco.

A passionate believer in helping others, she has founded a writing challenge designed forpeople who have a life (aka we NaNoWriMo rejects who can’t give everything up for the month of November).  Please check out A Round of Words in 80 Days.

You can catch up with her at her blogTwitterFacebookGoodreads, and Pots and Plots.


Reading Addiction Blog Tour: October 29 through November 26

Matt Archer is on the road again, this time with the Reading Addiction Blog Tour. I’m really excited about this tour because a number of the bloggers have taken the time to read Monster Hunter and write reviews. There’s also an awesome giveaway–you’ll have plenty of chances to enter to win a Nook and other great prizes. See you on tour!

October 29 – Reading Addiction Blog Tours – Meet and Greet
October 30 Whoopeeyoo! – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
October 31 – The Adventures Within – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 1 – Winged Reviews – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 2 – Wonderland Reviews – Review/Interview
November 3 – My Seryniti – Review/Interview/Excerpt/Giveaway
November 4 – My Escape – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 5 – Zone Out Mode – Review/Giveaway
November 6 – My Chaotic Ramblings – Excerpt/PROMO
November 6 – Debbie Jean’s Blog – Review/Excerpt/Giveaway
November 7 – The Solitary Bookworm – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 8 – Little Red Reads – Review/Interview/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 9 – Dedicated Readers Only – Review/Giveaway
November 9 – Kinx Book Nook – Review/Excerpt
November 10 – My Cozie Corner – Review/Giveaway
November 11 – How I See It – Review/Giveaway
November 12 – Kimmie’s Bookshelf – Review/Excerpt
November 13 – Words I Write Crazy – Review/Excerpt
November 14 – Book Lover’s Hideaway – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 15 – Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews – Review/Interview/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 16 – Sweet Southern Home – Review/Giveaway
November 17 – Books and Beyond Review/Giveaway
November 18 – Waiting on Sunday to Drown – Giveaway/Excerpt/PROMO
November 19 – Jenn Renee Read – Review/Giveaway
November 20 – Known to Read – Review/Giveaway/Excerpt
November 21 – Moosubi Reviews – Review/Interview/Giveaway
November 22 – Turning the Pages – Review/Excerpt
November 23 – One Page at a Time – Review/Excerpt
November 24 – My Reading Addiction – Giveaway/Excerpt/PROMO
November 25 – Crazy Four Books – Review/Interview/Giveaway
November 26 – Unabridged Ana – Review/Giveaway