Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kiya Blog Tour: Guest Post by Katie Hamstead

As promised, today I am lucky to have Katie Hamstead stop by to talk about the research she did on the origins of Israel for Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble). If you'd like to hear more from her, you can follow her on Twitter or check out her blog.

Thank you, Mara for having me on your blog.
The Origins of Israel
Abraham was the first father of the people known as the Israelites. Abraham married Sarah who gave him Isaac in their old age. Isaac then married Rebekah who gave him twins; Esau and Jacob. Jacob then traded for the birthright with Esau, and married Leah, then Rachel, and further down the line Bilhah and Zilpah. These four women gave him twelve sons between them, and Jacob become known as Israel.
These sons are:
From Leah – Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah(Jews), Issachar and Zebulun.
From Bilhah – Dan and Naphtali
From Zilpah – Gad and Asher
And from Rachel – Joseph and Benjamin.
Each of these sons fathered the twelve tribes of Israel, excluding Reuben. Reuben lost his birthright by sleeping with Bilhah. So, Joseph became the birthright because he was Israel’s favorite wife’s firstborn, (We all know the story of Joseph and the techni-colored dream coat! ) and became the father of two tribes; Manasseh and Ephraim, of which Ephraim is the birthright line.
So, now you can understand why it is so significant that Naomi (Kiya) is a direct line of Ephraim in Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh.
Israel’s time in Egypt isn’t well documented. We see at the end of Genesis Israel dies, but then many generations later, Moses begins Exodus. During this time they grew enormously as a people and somehow went from being favored by the Pharaoh to being slaves.
This is the time in which the Kiya trilogy is set.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What the Heck Am I Doing?

Have you ever had one of those "Well, duh!" type epiphanies? The ones that come out of nowhere (usually in the wee hours of the morning when you have to be at work at 7am, of course), blindsiding you with how obvious this revelation should have been to you even though it has been hiding for months?

I had one of those last night. Complete with interrupted sleep (Which might explain the rambliness of at least this post. The others? I'll get back to you with an excuse later). I've been working on my YA Dystopian WIP for a couple of months now, letting Heirs of War sit on the backburner until I get done. I hate interrupting one story to work on another. It messes up my flow.

So I decided when I started the WIP that I would write it to finish with the first draft. After all, it's a YA book so it's not like it will be the 200k that HoW 2 is trying to be. Shouldn't take much time for someone used to 5-10k days like me. Right?

Wrong. Apparently there's this little thing called life that gets in the way. So months later, I am only 10k in. Not a big deal. I'll just push through. I had said that I would give HoW another edit this summer, but I can push it off. No problem.

Wrong again. Here's the epiphany I had: HoW is much closer to being publication-ready than my WIP. I am most likely going to end up self-publishing HoW, so basically it is waiting on me. I just received some AMAZING notes from a critique partner (ahemRachelahem), so I now have some solutions to problems I've been puzzling over for almost a year. So why wait? Why hold back in the hopes of finishing one story's rough draft when I might be close to the final draft of another?

So I've decided to shelve the WIP and finish HoW, getting it ready once and for all for publication. I shouldn't be so proud of this revelation since it really is the most obvious choice, but I am. I feel good about it. And one thing I have learned in this business so far is to hold on to that feeling. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Why Third Person is My Writerly Comfy Blanky

I love writing third person. To me, it is so freeing. I love bouncing around from one character's head to the next. (Sometimes a little too much, as can be witnessed from the earlier drafts of Heirs of War). I've always written in third person. Maybe this habit stems from my first ventures into writing being in the form of scripts, or maybe I just enjoy pretending I'm the ever-omniscient (and in no way benevolent if you ask my characters) god of the world I've created. Who knows?

Either way, third person is definitely my preferred POV when writing. Which is exactly why I decided to write my new WIP (Altar of Reality) from the POV of the main character. Big deal, right? Oh, did I mention the main character is a teenager?

Before my beta readers remind me that Zelene and Ariana were both seventeen when Heirs of War started, I would like to stress that this teenager (sixteen, to be exact) is just your normal run-of-the-mill kinda gal. Biggest problem she has is epilepsy. That changes as the story moves on, but the point is she has no reason to be more mature than any other sixteen year old like Zelene did and like Ariana was forced to become with a quickness.

So, yeah...totally outside my comfort zone right now. And for the first time in my entire life I am having to force myself to sit down and write. With HoW, I had to force myself to stop. 10k days were pretty common to me. But this WIP is just supposed to be a much simpler tale in comparison, and yet it is so much harder to write.

I've been trying to figure that out as of late. I think it boils down to the same reason I don't blog a whole lot. It's not that I don't like talking about myself (well...mainly I just don't have much to say on that front. I write. A lot. The end.), but my personal story is so much more narrow than what I like. I love stories that are rich with characters, and I find that very hard to do with just one character telling the tale. Is it possible? Sure. I loved The Hunger Games and Vampire Academy, both of which have very lively worlds and characters with the story all told from one character's perspective. The question is: Can I do that?

Time (and beta readers) will tell. But for now, the moral of the story is this: Although the comfy blanky is, indeed, comfortable and safe, sometimes you really need to weather the storm without it. Because only then will you be faced with the questions I've talked about here, and only then will you start to grow as a writer.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Kiya: Inside the Egyptian City of Amarna

World-building is such a huge part of what we, as writers, do. Sometimes the city in which our story takes place can take on a life of their own. Just look at Tolkien's Middle Earth or the world of Hogwarts from the mind of J.K. Rowling.

Sometimes, though, they can be plucked right from history. I'm not sure which is harder--starting from scratch or doing the research for a real place. Katie Hamstead is here to show us the end result of her hard work for her novel Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble) by giving us a brief tour of the Egyptian City of Armana as seen by her main character.

Be sure to check back here for a guest post from Katie! Until then, you can follow her on Twitter or check out her blog!

The city of Amarna, built by Pharaoh Akhenaten’s decree and under his direction, was a short lived capital of Egypt. But, it is the city in which Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh is set. So, I’m going to give you a guided tour through Kiya’s eyes.
The city was centered around the main city, with suburbs built to the south.
“…and I beheld for the first time the city of Amarna. Long, white walls ran along the eastern shoreline, with a wide gate framed by pillars that faced the stone wharves. To the south of the main city, I saw smaller enclosed areas made from darker stone—the residential districts.”
Kiya, having grown up in Thebes, which was considerably older, not to mentioned designed for more than just one god. As she moves through the city she observes:
“I saw open streets and courtyards. The white walls of the buildings reflected the glare from the sun; the architecture looked modern and stylized, with hieroglyphs depicting the great Aten over each doorway. The men led me toward the palace down a wide, busy road, where people stopped and moved aside to watch us.
We passed under a covered bridge that led from a large, elaborate house into the palace, which had windows cut out along the middle.”
The city itself was used by later Pharaohs as construction material and torn down, so what is left now is mostly foundations which were buried by the desert. As a result, I couldn’t find much information on precise details. All I knew was the palace was located to the north, with the royal residences also in that vicinity. So, also knowing that the Pharaoh had many wives and concubines, I thought that they’d all be placed together in a protective, enclosed structure.
The women's wing was poorly named. It was not so much a wing as a dormitory. A large common area lay before me, with a pool in the middle. From this common area, several corridors branched off. Like everywhere else in the palace, the common area and corridors remained uncovered, but I could see that the corridors' rooms had roofs.”
To find out more about this city, check out these websites:
As well as, of course, your local library!