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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Red River Writers Blog Tour#11 - Katie Hines

Today we have the pleasure of learning all about Katie Hines, whose first children's novel, Guardian, is being published in June, 2009. This is part of The Red River Writers Blog Tour and thank you to April Robins for helping me to arrange this.:)

Imagine you have made a secret promise that can lead you to an incredible treasure and an ancient power. But in order to fulfill that promise, you must defeat an age-old sect determined to claim the treasure and power themselves.

Thirteen year old Drew Newman becomes involved with several unusual strangers after he swears to his dying mother that he will find a lost mysterious journal, including two men of The Brotherhood of the Holy Chalice, and a stranger who invades his home and is later revealed to be the Guardian of the Holy Grail. All are looking for this same journal. To protect him his father sends Drew to his Grandpa Ian who possibly has the journal and who lives close to the probable location of the treasure.

Drew with his companions, and his cousin Zea races to recover the journal that Grandpa Ian says is the key to recovering the lost treasure of the Knights Templar and to finding the mysterious Holy Grail, pursued by the deadly Brotherhood. Grandpa Ian tells Drew the scar on Drew's hand came from touching the journal when he was younger. Which means Drew is a candidate for the guardianship of the Grail. He is kidnapped to an island where he learns more and meets a girl named Desiree who says she is a candidate for the guardian too since she has the mark on her hand as well.

Drew must decide who is right, his Grandpa or Desiree. Will Drew find the journal? Will he become the Guardian of the Holy Grail? Read Guardian to find the answers to these questions.:)

Guest Author Interview with Katie Hines

Welcome Katie and I'll start with the first thing that popped into my head after I read the synopsis.

1. Your novel, Guardian, coming out in June is described as a middle grade urban fantasy. What is an urban fantasy?

An urban fantasy is a fantasy story written in today’s time in a real world. For example, in “Guardian,” my characters live in Maine, and make a trip to Nova Scotia. The fantasy elements come in with magic swords and the like.

2. Would you please outline for our readers the steps you took to get Guardian published?

You know, Barbara, I worked on “Guardian” for several years. I did a bunch of rewriting, and testing plot elements out, trying to get the best fit. When I finally decided I could edit it forever, I decided I just needed to send it out. So, I sweated through a query letter and synopsis. I had been collecting, in the last year or so, a list of publishers that published the sort of book I had. I pulled out my file, and chose four publishers, and sent them a query letter and synopsis, depending on what their guidelines asked for. I publisher I didn’t hear from at all. The first publisher politely declined. The second said she didn’t feel qualified to edit a middle grade book, but that she liked it and would introduce me to a publisher who did. I sent the publisher the requested items and got an email back saying she found the book “interesting” and would I please make certain changes and resubmit.

Fair enough. But I was tired of working on it, and set it aside for a month or so. I opened my email and saw a note from her about something different. At the end of the email, she said, “Oh, by the way, your book is scheduled to come out in June, 2009.” To say I was flabbergasted was an understatement! I wondered what had changed. She told me that she had left the manuscript lying about her house, and her grandson, a vociferous reader, picked it up, read it, and loved it. I signed a contract the end of October, 2008.

3. What kind of publicity is your publisher giving you to publicize your book, Guardian? Do you have any book signings planned?

My publisher is going to attend a few book festivals in her area. She will not only be promoting 4RV Publishing, but also the released books at that time. One of the other authors, who I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting, is going to arrange some school visits. Those are all pluses. I shall be doing all other marketing and promotional work. Yes, I plan on doing some book signings, but don’t have any scheduled yet as I don’t know the exact date of the book’s release.

4. Do you plan on giving away anything related to the book to the people at your book signings?

You know, I’ve thought about that, and really don’t have a firm answer. At this point, I haven’t brainstormed about book signings. I know I want some promotional things, like a poster of the cover of the book (but they’re expensive to make), some postcards, bookmarks, etc. but I don’t have a firm plan of attack. I do need to think about it soon, because I’m going to need to invest some money in those sorts of things.

5. I noticed as I was reading your bio information that you stopped writing after high school. Did you write while you were in college?

The only thing I wrote in college was academic papers. I did do one research paper for honors lit that my teacher loved, and we were going to polish it a bit, and submit it to a journal that accepted underclassmen’s writings. But we never did that. I did keep a journal during my early 20s, before I was in college, to help sort out some personal turmoil I had. I ended up fashioning it into a memoir, which I had an editor at a book conference read the first 5 pages. Her comments showed me I didn’t have a clue about creative fiction, and that I needed to learn. So, I engaged in a learning spree. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on, then I began to write on “Guardian.”

6. You have written both fiction and non-fiction. Of the two which did you enjoy writing more? Why?

I enjoy fiction most, without a doubt. To be honest, I find nonfiction boring. I don’t really read nonfiction, but I read a lot of fiction, including fantasy. Fiction is about creating beyond the facts. It gives me the forum to explore my character’s feelings and angst. For me, nonfiction deals with facts, and doesn’t differ a whole lot from writing for college.

7. You mentioned that you are planning to expand your short story “My Name is Bib” into a full young adult novel. Would you please outline the steps you will take to do this?

I have written about 60 pages of “Bib,” which is several chapters. “Bib” is a hard one, because it deals with the life and emotions of a young girl whose older sister was murdered. “Bib” is one of those stories that is percolating, and I write when I’ve figured a new thing I want to deal with, and decide how to treat that particular facet of the plot.

8. When you decided to go back to writing how hard was it for you to start writing seriously? Did you take any courses to help you?

Because I wrote that memoir, I thought I would send it off and somebody would publish it. End story. Was I in for a rude awakening. Like I said, that one editor showed me I had a lot of learning and writing yet to do. I did not take any courses, other than through self-education. I did attend a couple of conferences, which were very helpful.

9. Please describe for our readers the process you use when you write.

First, I work on an idea for a book. Now, ideas are not hard to come by, they seem to be everywhere, but for me, only some of those ideas are begging to be written at a particular time. So I do a lot of thinking. Where do I start and where do I want to end up? Once I figure that out, I can begin writing. I write as far as I have ideas for that particular manuscript. When I get stuck, my husband and I do some brainstorming, and he is a springboard for a lot of the plot that gets written. I try not to do too much editing as I go along, but I sneak back in. When I finish a certain part of the novel, I usually find that I need to change something earlier to have something I’m writing about make sense. So, I go back and make those changes. But, I don’t want to necessarily lose the first work, so I create a new editing manuscript. With “Guardian,” I had nine editing manuscripts. I have had occasion to go back and pull information from an older version, so those are very important to me. By the time I finish the rough draft and done some editing along the way, the storyline is pretty much fleshed out, but I go back in and layer more conflict, more plot twists, that sort of thing. When I think I’m done, I use Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s book about the Frugal Editor, and use it to make sure I haven’t missed anything editing wise.

10. Do you have an agent? Do you think new authors need an agent?

I do not have an agent. I think whether a person needs an agent or not depends on the type of publishing houses they want to query. All of the major publishing houses will only accepted agented manuscripts. As a children’s writer, there are a lot more publishing houses that will receive unagented manuscripts, so I went that route.

11. I noticed you are writing chapter books. Are you doing this on your own or for a specific publisher?

I have a series of chapter books I’m writing about Grandma Helga. These are what I consider “fun” books to write because they’re silly and crazy. I have not approached any publisher about these books at this point.

12. Recently you had a series of blog posts about critique groups. Do you belong to one and do you think that they help with the writing process?

Yes, I belong to an online critique group. At one point I belonged to two online critique groups. Invariably they see things in the plot that are inconsistent, and I’m very thankful to have their ears and eyes. I can’t imagine that my manuscript would be ready without them.

13. When you start to write a novel what do you think of first, the characters or the plot?

Plot. But writing a novel, and thinking of the plot invariably makes me think of the characters, too. Who is going to go on the hero’s adventure? What personal problems is he going to encounter along the way? How will he change? To me, those questions are hand-in-glove with the plot and the ending climax.

14. This is the last question. You have written for a Catholic publication and yet you write fantasy. Do you incorporate parts of your religious beliefs into your fantasies?

Yes and no. I don’t believe that I need to incorporate my personal beliefs in fantasy. In “Guardian” I have, and that’s not something I had planned, but there are definitely elements of Christianity in the book. Hopefully, they don’t bash you over the head, but yes, I do have some of those elements. I have read a lot of fantasy that incorporates religion into their stories. I think it can be done tastefully and discreetly.

Katie, thank you so much for coming over here and sharing your writing process and marketing ideas with our readers. I am hoping that once your book is published you will come back and share some of your choices and your experiences in marketing both yourself and your book.
Remember, Guardian is not available until June so we don't have any free copies to give away. Katie will be available for questions and please leave either a question or a comment for her.

Please also visit The Red River Writers Blog Tour website for more information in case you are interested in participating in one of the tours.

My next guest author will be John Wayne Cargile, whose book is Cry of the Cuckoo.

Until the next time, please leave a comment or question for Katie Hines. Happy Passover. Gritting my teeth and eating matzoh for the whole week.:)


  1. Hi Katie,

    Congrats on your book :^)...
    What do you think is the most effective thing that you have done so far to promote your work? I noticed that you have a book trailer on youtube...

    Lewis Harris

  2. Barbara, thank you for hosting Katie today.

    Katie, VistaPrint has free postcards right now, and using your cover on one side and your info on the other makes excellent handouts.

    I do the black print back side, which is free with the postcards, whether you get free ones or pay for some.

  3. Hi, Lewis. At this point, I am doing a lot of different things. The most important thing is, I think, to establish an internet presence. You do that through a variety of ways: blogging, website, being hosted on other's blogs, social networking, and so forth.

  4. Thanks, Vivian, for the heads up about Vista print.

  5. Lewis and Vivian thanks for your comments.

    Vivian, you're welcome! I'd love to host you too.:)
    Great idea about the postcards. I had never thought of that.:)

    Katie, thanks for being here to answer questions and comments.

  6. Great interview, Katie. I look forward to reading "The Guardian." It doesn't matter if it is for children -- good writing is good writing!

  7. Carla,
    Thanks for stopping by and you are right! Remember Harry Potter was a set of children's books.:) But I'm a children's writer too, so I might be a little biased.:)

  8. It's never too early to get your cover recognized and vistaprint has free stuff all the time. If you place one order you get bombarded with their "special deal" emails constantly. Many a week. Remember that "free" isn't totally free - unless they are running a special on their image upload either half price ($2.49) or free which they do at times. They also had premier business cards free also, and in the case where they are running several marketing tools for free and if you use the same image - you only pay for the upload once because once you've uploaded the image, when you are doing other items - you can pick the option that says to use a previously uploaded image.

    Also, has very inexpensive bookmarks. I've checked other places for bookmarks and these were the least expensive. I've also priced other things through them but the few things I may consider haven't been needed at the moment or have been a bit more than I can afford now.

    I just ordered my second batch of bookmarks, 1000, for about $35 plus shipping from California to South Carolina of less than $13 - and the 2500 I ordered originally, only $70 plus a $13 shipping cost - so I feel that the 2500 was the best priced order but at the time, I needed to do a smaller order just because of funds and I had ordered 1000 for vivian (some company bookmarks). There are many places online that do inexpensive promotional materials; one just has to check.

    Interesting interview, as the questions were unique. Makes reading more enjoyable - thanks for hosting Katie, Barbara. See you all in the postings - E :)

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Wow! Thank you elysabeth for all of the information about Vista Print and I had no idea that you could get such good deals on bookmarks too.:)

    Also thank you for the comments about the interview questions. I try to gear each interview to the author. That way I think it makes it more individual. Hope you'll come back for my next guest author interview later in April.:)

  11. Katie, I am so glad you are utilizing The Frugal Editor. I think it's the sharing/helping part of my HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers I love the most. And thank you, Barbara, for bringing us an interview with Barbara! (-:
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Blogging at Writer's Digest 101 Best Website picks,

  12. Thank you Carolyn! I have learned a lot from you and your workshops at the Muse Online Conferences.

    It's so wonderful to have your comments here.:) I have been a fan of yours for a long time and we have been in many places together but have never met. We have to remedy that.:)

  13. My thanks to everyone who left a comment, and of course, to Barbara for hosting me!


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