Publishers Weekly called me Fascinating!

Well, not me exactly, but my book, which is ALMOST the same thing.

They had this to say about ALL DARLING CHILDREN: “Monroe’s fascinating reimagining brings out all the creepy undertones of never wanting to grow up.”

Waltz on over to Amazon and find out what the hell they’re talking about.

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Ain’t she GORGEOUS?

Guest Post! Starring Kelley Kaye

I have no idea what day it is, I just know it’s time for a post. Continuing our chat on the importance of reading (not just to my livelihood, but to your brains!), I’ve strapped Kelley Kaye down and insisted she give us a lesson-on-demand. Take it away, Kelley.

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Although my parents read books to me since birth (my father owned a used bookstore), I have also maintained that one big way I learned to read was by watching The Electric Company circa 1972. Do you remember that show? I loved the shadows talking to each other on the screen: BR.  EAK. Break. S. ING. Sing. Loved it!

So this is how the story goes. I’m three years old, and grandma has got me a book! I tear excitedly across the floor to my mother and say LOOK, grandma’s got me a book! Will you read me this book? And mom says, well, why don’t YOU read it to ME? So I do. And this is not a See Spot Run kind of book, I hear (I don’t remember, because I was three), but a legit story book. Mom was surprised. Did gramma already read you this book? she asks. Did Daddy? No, Mommy, I say. You asked me to read it to you, so I did!

And that was the beginning. My life since then has been a plethora, a myriad, a glut, multitude, overabundance, gross, nee a compendium of massive book love. I read books, sometimes (often) to the detriment of other things I should be doing (like homework, work, parenting, sleeping. Breathing), and my career(s) have always had something to do with books. Twenty years of teaching English, for example, and now I am living from both ends of the wire, and writing books.

As a teacher, I had a motto for which I became known: If You Don’t Like to Read, You Just Haven’t Found the Right Book Yet. I had a library in my classroom comprised of books from my dad’s store in every genre, every reading level, available for students to check out. I love nothing more than searching the psyche of my students to find out their interests. I listen, then twinkle my fingers over the collection, and voila! A book, often the perfect book, finds its way into the hands of my reluctant reader, and soon reluctance gives way to curiosity, experimentation, and finally, salivation. Salvation, too. Another human for whom getting lost in a book is better than sex. Okay, better than chocolate. Okay, okaaay. Better than almost anything else.

My favorite book story concerns a student from my first year of teaching: Elijah. I started my teaching career in Lake Tahoe, California, where the population was teeming with skiers. Skier kids (okay, usually snowboarder kids) are kinda like skater kids in any other town—they board to the beat of their own drum. Elijah was small and skinny, with very blonde hair that reached down to his shoulders and stuck out of a baseball cap that was always pulled clear down to his nose. He wore bellbottom jeans that were way too long, so the ends dragged along behind him in the dirt; they were his signature.

One of my classroom requirements was outside reading, anywhere from 300 to 800 pages of books of the student’s choosing. I let them pick for themselves because let’s face it: students often feel that the required reading for English is less than thrilling. When I shared my OR Requirement with Elijah’s class, along with my motto, Elijah confided in me that he’d never finished a whole book, and he was a freshman in high school!

So we talked for a while about his interests (snowboards, girls, animals) and why he didn’t like to read (books were too slow, books were boring) and after maybe ONE SECOND of thought, I gave him a book by Dean Koontz called The Watcher, a thriller about a boy and his dog. I told him to bring it back if he didn’t like it and we’d try another.

He brought it back a week later—I was disappointed that it hadn’t worked—usually Koontz is a sure-fire winner for bored readers. That’s not it! he said. I’m finished! Give me another! That year he read three Dean Koontz novels, way in excess of the 500 pages I had assigned his class. I went back to Tahoe during Elijah’s senior year and discovered he had read like 25 Koontz novels and was on to other thrillers.

I don’t know if he ever discovered a love for Jane Austen, but who cares? A reader is a reader is a reader. Once you’ve got the bug, it’s better than (almost) anything else. And if you don’t quite believe me, give me a call, because the only problem is you haven’t found the right books yet!

Kelley’s brains and books are available for you to stalk at the links below.

Death by Diploma on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Diploma-Chalkboard-Outlines-Book-ebook/dp/B01BLUB9CK/

Death by Diploma Book Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAMXkR3kA-8

Kelley and Kat on The Rack http://www.darkcomedyprods.com/kkaye.html

Kelley Kaye’s Kozy Korner: https://www.facebook.com/authorkelleykaye/

Kelley Kaye on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kelkay1202

Kelley’s Website: http://www.kelleykaybowles.com/

***Death by Diploma will soon be out on AUDIOBOOK!

I Read a Thing; Now My Brain is on Fire

We talk all the time about words burning themselves in our minds…

No. That’s a bad start. Forgive me. My brain is on fire.

There are a few things on my list of “Never Do’s”:

I never cry after reading a book, no matter how touching the subject matter.

I never highlight directly in the book, or make notes–instead, I copy things in journals in frantic, barely legible handwriting.

I never wander the apartment with a lost look on my face after finishing a book.

Then I read Catherynne M. Valente’s RADIANCE and all that went to hell.

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This book wasn’t particularly sad. In fact, without giving anything away, you could say the end is one of the more uplifting ones I’ve read of late. But seconds after I closed the book, tears started falling. Fuck, they’re still there. That’s because this prose–this fucking prose–gets inside your head and your heart and you don’t realize it’s messing you up until it’s done the damage. You’re drunk on prose and it’s only minutes until the cirrhosis hits.

The worst part is you’re thankful for it. Praise be the callowhale.

It’s a book about movies and making movies and the visuals are so striking, so intricate, that I found myself going back over descriptions–over and over–to suck every last drop of it out. ‘…a hat brim so sharp it’ll cut the night’ — ‘…rough garnet chips that do not glitter so much as burn against her childish waist.’

In all its space opera/alternate universe sci-fi flair, RADIANCE snuck up on me with its real factor–that’s a thing I don’t think I could ever forgive an author for. But god dammit if I’m not going to turn over and ask for another.

‘We live in a universe of lenses. We watch and watch. We all share one eye between us, the big black camera iris. We wait our turn to see what someone else saw on a screen. And then we pass it on.’

You’ll forgive me if I don’t turn on the television for a while.

PAN IS COMING – A Giveaway!

It’s Monday and I’m back in the seat after having spent two weeks on honeymoon hiatus. I KNOW. YOU’RE THRILLED.

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Ain’t she GORGEOUS?

My newest novel, ALL DARLING CHILDREN, is being released on Thursday, Oct 20th as an e-book (with the paperback to follow shortly after), and I want to give away a few of them because nothing makes Mondays better than free books.

So, to be entered, head over to my Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/katrinamonroewriter/ – give it a like, and I’ll select three winners at random on release day to receive an e-book copy on me!

As always, I’ll ask the winners (if they’re so inclined) to leave a review on Amazon once they’ve finished. Reviews really help in getting a writer’s work seen, so ANY book you’ve read and loved (or even not loved), drop a line or two on the ol’ Zon.

Cheers and good luck!

A TALE DU MORT is FREE This Weekend!

Saturday and Sunday, to be exact.

Most of you are already aware, but in case you missed my thousands of tweets on the stress of planning a wedding, I’M GETTING MARRIED!

In celebration (and who am I to resist a perfect promo set-up?) I’ve made A TALE DU MORT free for everyone this weekend. Here’s the Amazon link.

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GET YOUR READ ON and I’ll see you in two weeks with tales of a couple trying to wander London without looking too much like tourists.

How the F*** Do I Name My Characters?

If you’re a parent (or even if you’re not), it’s easy to understand the agony behind choosing a name for this squirming mass of flesh you’ve created. You want something that’ll represent them, something that’ll stand out, but not too much, and God forbid you pick something with an automatic and unfortunate nick-name attached.

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As writers, we go through the same torment. We peruse all the baby name databases. We say their names over and over to see how it’ll sit on someone’s tongue should they read it out loud. We scribble them in notebooks and on napkins and try to imagine a face that’ll reflect the person we want them to be. It’s torture, but it’s vital to the success of a book (in which I define “success” as a book readers talk about or think about after the cover is closed).

First, I want to say that I’m not knocking the Marks and Julies of the fiction world. Names don’t have to be unusual to stand out. It’s all about the name that accompanies the personality. Example: Andrew Yancy from Carl Hiassen’s BAD MONKEY and RAZOR GIRL. Pretty standard name, right? But when paired with the ironic swagger of an ex-detective-now-roach-patrolman, it’s a name that’ll stick in the reader’s mind. He’s Andrew, not Drew or Andy. Yancy is the kind of surname with a nondescript background, so you’re free to mold him any way you like in your mind.

For the writer who wants a more unusual name without throwing in useless consanents and ridiculous accent marks, I give you these examples:

Bunny Munro from THE DEATH OF BUNNY MUNRO. The name “Bunny” is ironic, given his less than soft nature, making it unusual enough to stand out. The same principle goes for Fat Charlie from ANANSI BOYS who is anything but fat and Abby Normal from Christopher Moore’s BLOODSUCKING FIENDS series who would love to be anything but normal.

You could go for something more literal, like SERGE STORMS from pretty much any Tim Dorsey novel who blows through the book like a category 5 hurricane on a mix of speed and coffee. Or there’s Mr. Wednesday from AMERICAN GODS, whose literal meaning takes a little bit of digging. His name is one of convenience, granted to him when he asks Shadow Moon what day it is and then replies, “Today is my day.” That statement alone is a summation of Mr. Wednesday’s character, which gives his name meaning.

Then there are names that carry with them the entire heart of the story. Osceola Bigtree from SWAMPLANDIA isn’t the protagonist, but she carries in her name (and her character) the soul of the book, which takes place in the swampy underbelly of South Florida.

In the end, readers will interpret your character names however they want. I could be totally off about Osceola, but her name stuck with me because I was able to extract meaning and because Karen Russell GAVE her name meaning, even if it wasn’t the same as mine. The name you choose isn’t as important to your characters as the reason behind it. Sometimes, it’s just because the name “suits” a character. That’s PERFECTLY FINE. Names that suit characteristics will make sense and serve to draw a clearer picture for the reader, making your story memorable.

I’ve given you some of mine; Now, let’s hear some character names that’ve really stuck with you, long after you’ve finished reading.

Birthdays and Celebrations– Or: Reasons to Open the Wine Before Noon

While the Google Doodle is blowing up balloons, celebrating being old enough to vote, we’ve got some announcements and shenanigans happening here, too.

First, ALL DARLING CHILDREN has an official (e-book) release date of October 20th. Mark it on your calendars, tell your friends, cuddle your Pooh Bear in nervous anticipation. For now, here’s a cover and blurb:

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Ain’t she GORGEOUS?

All boys grow up, except one.

On the tenth anniversary of her mother’s death, fourteen-year-old Madge Darling’s grandmother suffers a heart attack. With the overbearing Grandma Wendy in the hospital, Madge runs away to Chicago, intent on tracking down a woman she believes is actually her mother.

On her way to the Windy City, a boy named Peter Pan lures Madge to Neverland, a magical place where children can remain young forever. While Pan plays puppet master in a twisted game only he understands, Madge discovers the disturbing price of Peter Pan’s eternal youth.

If that don’t tickle your fairy tale bone, I don’t know WHAT will.

 

Second, I’m getting MARRIED. To celebrate, I’ll be making A TALE DU MORT free on Amazon from Saturday to Sunday. So, you can read (and review! please!) while I’m betting half my stuff that this will all work out just fine.

 

Finally, I want you all to wish Kate Moretti a huge HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY on the release of THE VANISHING YEAR, which Mary Kubica called “a stunner!” I’ll be picking it up today to take with me on my honeymoon. Here’s a cover and a blurb:

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Zoe Whittaker is living a charmed life. She is the beautiful young wife to handsome, charming Wall Street tycoon Henry Whittaker. She is a member of Manhattan’s social elite. She is on the board of one of the city’s most prestigious philanthropic organizations. She has a perfect Tribeca penthouse in the city and a gorgeous lake house in the country. The finest wine, the most up-to-date fashion, and the most luxurious vacations are all at her fingertips.

What no one knows is that five years ago, Zoe’s life was in danger. Back then, Zoe wasn’t Zoe at all. Now her secrets are coming back to haunt her.

As the past and present collide, Zoe must decide who she can trust before she—whoever she is—vanishes completely.

Pick up your copy today and don’t forget to leave her a review. Happy Tuesday!