Coming Soon on Amazon Kindle Scout!

It’s happening, my darlings! It’s finally happening!

Hammer Up! formerly known as “Stop, Hammer Time!” on my fanfiction page has been uploaded to Amazon Kindle Scout.

It’s been rewritten into a more orthodox format (all the frisky humour and jolly smut has been left intact, worry not!); edited; and a ‘pretty’ cover has been designed.

Once the text is approved, we are up! I’ll give the link in all my possible media, and the game is afoot, my lovelies! We will have 30 days to herd enough people to vote for it, and make it happen. If it gets published, I get a tasty morsel of cash, the book becomes available on Kindle, and everyone who voted gets a free copy!

And now the reveal… the cover!

Isn’t Phro a doll? 😉

Stay tuned! And fingers crossed, it’ll be a smooth and triumphant journey!

Gilmore Girls Revival and the Question of Motherhood

So, I started writing the Gilmore Girls fanfiction. About a minute after I finished watching the Revival. Right after my six year old son, who was sitting next to me said, “No, she isn’t pregnant.” (Don’t ask me what he meant 🙂 I’m not sure how extensive his knowledge on human reproduction is.) But while G. went back to his Octonauts, I sat down and started writing.

After I posted the first chapter, I’ve received a few wonderfully kind reviews. They were generous – and no less thought provocative. I have to say, that while I am a fast writer, I’m a slow opinion former. I like to give it time, to look at different sides, to ponder, and to sleep on it, preferable for longer than my average three hours a night.

There are a few things that have always bothered me in this show, and one of them is the prevailing idea of motherhood being an obstacle in the life of a woman. While not a false notion, and sadly rather well-spread, the portrayal of pregnancy as a disaster that ruins a woman’s life has seemed like a one-sided, disturbing idea for me. The character of Lane would be the best example of what I mean. I was glad to see her have a satisfying, fulfilled life in the Revival; but the initial representation of her character in the last seasons of the original series made me uncomfortable. She’s shown to break out of the constrictions of her home life, from under her mother’s control, finally doing what she always wanted – and she’s immediately placed into a new ‘cage.’ She describes the short time between these two events as a ‘small window.’ And then it’s taken away from her. Or at least it’s portrayed this way.

Lorelei’s pregnancy with Rory is also always discussed as a disaster, a calamity. The scene of the young her trying to get into a white dress for yet another function of her parents – perhaps, symbolising virginity/purity, and alluding to a wedding dress – reads as a loss of innocence, a disaster that has already befallen the character but is yet unknown to her.

And now we see Rory in the same position, and of course, the first reaction is ‘why?’ Why would the writers put her through the same?

Her circumstances are, of course, different. She isn’t as young and alone as Lorelei was. And she does have a supportive family, like Lane did, while not having a partner. (Don’t get me started on what Logan has become. He was my second favourite of men on the show, after Luke. And second favourite among Rory’s BFs, after Jess.)

And although I approve of symmetry of plot twists, and I in no way oppose or feel unsatisfied by what we are shown, I have one main point to make here.

The show lacks one large aspect in the discussion of motherhood – and it is the woman’s choice.

Being pregnant isn’t a mistake that Rory made. Getting pregnant, perhaps. We don’t see the discussion of what contraception methods she used. (Which I think would be very much useful in the first show. I watched it as a young adult, just starting my journey into the world of relationship. I learnt, or thought that I learnt, a lot from GG. There were things they could have informed me of, to be honest 🙂 )

Lorelei had made her choice then. To keep Rory, to bring her up, to bring her up alone. And yet, there is certain hush-hush tone to this discussion on the show. Their relationship worked out. It’s what the show is about. But did we see that big moment in Lorelei’s life when she took control over her life? No, we didn’t. I wish we had.

Rory is facing the same choice at the moment.

I feel it should be explicitly shown in media these days that a woman has the right to choose.

I like the idea of two men in Rory’s life, just as Lorelei had. Jess as a reflection of Luke. And Logan as a reflection of Christopher. And perhaps, Logan’s sudden sliminess is supposed to show that he is indeed as weak as Rory’s father.

But it isn’t about choosing between the men, as it seemingly always was written for Lorelei. (Thank goodness, at least there was the opening of her own inn that was there to counterbalance all that talk about having or not having a man in her life.)

It is now about Rory choosing to keep the baby, or not. It’s about her deciding whether in this strange limbo in which she found herself, she can and/or is willing. It’s not about her learning on her mother’s experience. It is her life. It is her body. It is her choice.

It doesn’t matter whose baby it is, and whether there was indeed that sincere longing in Jess’s eyes when he looked at her through the window. It is about Rory deciding. To finish, or not to finish her book. Where to work. Where to live. To have, or not to have another Rory. (It can be a boy’s name 🙂 )

Motherhood has to be a choice, available to make, and not judged whether it is made, or not. I just wish it were shown this way in media more. Many of us grew up with Rory. And now as adults, we should be able to see her fight for that right.

Two Completed Projects and a Dozen Running :)

Hello!

Update, update, it’s time for an update on what Katya’s doing 🙂 (Clearly some writers/artists here have had a wee bit too much chocolate. But seriously, chocolate affects me like booze does normal people, while booze just knocks me out 😀 And there was this box of Lindt elves; and they were glossy and plump; and pretty foil wraps fell off; and one followed another… 😛 )

Uhem, where was I? 🙂

Alright, the two completed projects:

A. “Hammer Up!” (formerly known as “Stop, Hammer Time!”)

It’s been edited; the cover is made; and it’s ready to go, but… I’ve been thinking that it’s holiday time now, and we all have families to visit and eggnog to drink. And judging by how it goes on FF and A03 sites, most people are not very active online around this time. So, how about we do the whole voting + getting a free copy if the story wins (and Katya gets a bit cash, and doesn’t have to get a soul-crushing, boring job for a bit longer) in January?

Let me know what you think!

B. Russian folklore + familiar characters = young adult fantasy novel

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It’s written! I’m serious! 😀 I wrote a novel in exactly a month! I started November 7th, and was done December 8th. I would have finished December 7th (not intentionally at all), but I was writing the final battle scene, and then my alarm went off, and I had to go pick up my son from school! I am almost certain that people on the bus thought I was mad! I was buzzing, and mumbling, and twitching 🙂 But then the next day I finished it!

I like it. That’s all I can say. I do have couple degrees in literary studies, so I have all these critical urges from time to time – but it just flew from under my fingers, and I love it. Those of you who have warm and fuzzy feelings towards Thorin/John (which I assume are all of you 😀 ) will enjoy a certain character in this story for sure.

I even decided to try to go with the traditional publishing, and am currently looking into publishing houses, and agents. Does any of you happen to know anyone in that terrifying, cut throat business? 🙂

In the picture above, you can see a magical compass, fuelled by a person’s blood, which allows one to search for a hidden relative, or object – and the book will actually explain how to build one. Have I gotten your attention? 🙂

3. What’s going on meanwhile:

Fanfiction, of course! On fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own. Now that my mad writing spree is over, I’ll dedicate more time to my FF.

I’ve also been recently reminded that I have a Wattpad page. I’ll clean it up and post some old Thorin stories there, and…

A new idea! (Clearly, those chocolate elves should’ve stayed where they were!) How about a romance story on Wattpad, where a lovely chick whose job is to be a muse (she’s a personal coach for creative peeps) is torn between two blokes? One is tall, dark, and blue-eyed (we all know the type, don’t we? 😉 ), and another one is sort of “Bilbo meets John Watson?” (They do kind of look alike, don’t they? 😀 ) The plot is already formed in my head, and ooooohhhh, the delicious angst! 😀

Also, I’m finishing the next chapter for the Agatha Christie style story for my Patreon supporters. They will also get some exclusive scoop into the freshly finished novel; character designs; and Christmas watercolour cards by yours truly.

There is also a story for Etsy that is slowly taking shape. I’m still working on choosing a character design style, and the overall plot, but as promised a whodunit with Gwen (yet another version of Wren); and both John/Thorin and Einar is on the way! Once I’ve set my mind on the overall style, it’ll be a go – and I hope you enjoy it!

Writing aside, I’m also working on my art, including a family portrait commission, which is equally daunting and exciting 🙂 There is also polymer clay; dry pastels; the birds of Manitoba that I want to draw… and who needs sleep anyway? 🙂

Oh, and of course, there is suspicious new character in my Dr T Series 🙂 Did you like Eva? 😉

Thank you for your interest, my duckies! There is no writer without readers!

I’ll keep you posted what’s happening!

Cheers,

K.

 

 

 

Two New Projects

Hello!

I decided it was a good idea to write on my blog more often, just to keep you posted regarding what’s going on, and more so, to get some feedback from you, my duckies!

So, there are two ideas that I’m nursing these days (besides the usual lot of FF, AO3, and JukePop writing; Stop, Hammer Time! editing for Amazon Kindle; the Etsy shop; and (for some inconceivable reason) my sudden interest in the birds of Manitoba.)

Idea #1: Taro Cards

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Some time ago I wandered in our local occult/New Age shop. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but I do have broad interests 😉 I chatted with the owner about my art and such, and that I was considering drawing a deck of Taro cards. It was just a vague thought at the time, but it sprouted when she bestowed me with the deck that had previously belonged to our main Taro reader in the city. The reader had given it up for ‘adoption,’ and the lovely lady in Radiance Gifts shop thought I was the perfect candidate 🙂

So, now, armed with couple books and keen interest, I decided to venture into drawing a deck. I’ll keep you posted. I’ll be posting designs on my Instagram (check it out for birds of Manitoba as well, if it tickles your pickle 😉 ) and I’m considering later selling the deck on my Etsy.

Idea #2: A modern fantasy story based on Russian folklore

This one has been brewing in my brain for quite a while. There are all those fascinating characters from my childhood – Koshey Bessmertny (Deathless), and Baba Yaga, and Vassilisa the Wise – and I always wanted to write them, and the dark and thrilling and mesmerising stories I listened to as a kid; but I also wanted to give them a twist.

It is something that is done a lot these days (see Percy Jackson, and hundreds of other stories of the same sort); and I even heard that there is a fantasy novel about a girl in the States (maybe, Canada) fighting Slavic monsters. I will of course have to do my research. I’d hate to be unoriginal!

Also, I’m not sure about the format of it. Should it be a novel? Should it be a webserial – on JukePop, or this blog? Or should I sell it by a chapter on Etsy as I’m planning to do with the whodunit?

Altogether, the things I do know for now:

1. The main characters are:

Miroslava ‘Mira’ Krapiva, a fourteen year old girl living in Winnipeg with her mom;

Yana Krapiva, Mira’s mom, a Russian immigrant to Canada; a baker in a local organic bakery;

John Bessemer, going by nickname Kosh, a mysterious man from Yana’s past;

Vasya, previously a rag doll, now a fully functional, yet very hormonal teenager.

2. Here’s the first chapter 🙂

Escape From the Woods || Sample Chapter

All of it very is much approximate! Feedback is highly appreciated!

Here are the first drafts of two characters’s appearance:

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Please, let me know what you think!

Cheers!

Katya

 

Escape From the Woods || Sample Chapter

Escape From the Woods

Chapter 1.  A Pendant on the Table

woodman

“This whole screeching seriously freaks me out,” Alycia whined, and pointed at real estate signs hanging from a pole near an apartment building they were passing.

“Well, Winnipeg is the Chicago of the North. The Windy City.” Mira shivered, and tightened the scarf around her neck. The wind was always the strongest on Grant Avenue. The street was wide; and with the church on a hill on one side, and a Hydro station on the other, the winds would speed up.

“Let’s take a side street.” Mira grabbed Alycia’s sleeve, and pulled.

“Just not a back alley, OK? They freak me out.”

“Everything freaks you out,” Mira grumbled.

They trod through Harrow Street, rustling with November leaves under their feet. Some lawns were neatly cut, and others were covered in wrinkled brown leaves. Some had half rotten pumpkins left after Halloween; some were already decorated with cheesy reindeer and inflatable Santas.

“Is your Mom home tonight?” Alycia asked in a hopeful voice. Mira’s Mom being home meant treats. She worked in a bakery, and never came home empty-handed.

“Yeah. She had the morning shift today. She promised some cinnamon buns.”

The girls made the last turn, and Mira pushed the back lane gate open. They crossed the patchy, sad looking lawn of the back yard, and Mia climbed the stairs of the porch, habitually jumping over a broken step without looking.

“Your Mom needs to have someone fix it for her,” Alycia mumbled just as always.

“Well, she says once Tom Hiddleston marries her, she’ll hand him the hammer.” Mira rummaged through her backpack looking for keys.

“I thought it was Benedict Cumberbatch.”

“He was last week. We rewatched Avengers couple days ago.”

Alycia laughed, while Mira fumbled with the lock. The key didn’t turn.

“Did she forget to lock it again?” Alycia asked with a chuckle, and Mira rolled her eyes.

“I mean it’s not the North End, but we do live in the ‘hood,’” Mira grumbled mimicking quotation marks around the word.

They entered and were pushing off their boots when Mira noticed that the lights were off in the whole house.

“Mom?”

No one answered, and Mira flapped the light switch. The tiny hall of their house remained dark.

“Light bulb dead?” asked Alycia, and Mira gave out a nervous laugh. Something felt iffy.

“Yeah. Tom has a lot of work to do here,” Mira joked in a forced light tone.

They stuffed the jackets on the washing machine, and went into the kitchen. When the light went on, Mira exhaled with relief. There wasn’t anything to creep her out, let’s face it; but seeing their good old kitchen – with its IKEA table and her Mom’s collection of mugs – felt good.

And then she say the Kolovrat on the table.

“Freaking hell,” Mira breathed out, and rushed to the table. The Kolovrat – a heavy round silver pendant – lay on her palm.

“Is that your Mom’s necklace?” Alycia asked, but Mira was already rushing out of the kitchen.

“C’mon! Alycia, move! We’re leaving!” Mira grabbed her jacket, pushed one arm in, and was pulling on her boot, when Alycia appeared from the kitchen.

“What are you doing?”

“Move! Get your stuff! We’re leaving!” Mira pushed the other foot into the boot, and glared at her friend. “Alycia!”

“Are you nuts?”

“Listen, I’ll explain everything, but right now we need to go!” Mira shouted at her friend, and the girl shook her head and started getting dressed. To Mira it felt like the blonde was plodding through molasses.

“Hurry! Alycia, c’mon!” Mira pushed the jacket and the backpack into Alycia’s hands, and pulled her out of the house without letting her get dressed.

“You’re totally crazy, you know that right?” Alycia mumbled, while Mira dragged her across the street, into the house of their neighbour, Ms. Klaassen.

***

Mira rang the bell, clutching the pendant in her hand inside her pocket.

“Why are we going to your neighbour?” Alycia asked in a cranky voice, but Mira ignored her.

Ms. Klaassen was a white-haired, wonderfully liberal lady in her sixties. Mira adored her, and spent hours in her living room, having tea and listening to stories about Ms. Klaassen’s youth, and running away from her Mennonite family in Steinbeck, and going to the Folk Festival, and how Leonard Cohen once told her she was a sexy thing.

Mira rang the bell again, and the door opened.

“Mira, how lovely of you to stop by!” Ms. Klaassen greeted her with a wide smile.

“My Mom… She left me the pendant. She said to come to you at once if it happened,” Mira breathed out, and lifted the hand with the Kolovrat sitting on it.

“Oh dear,” Ms. Klaassen gasped, wrapped her arm around Mira’s shoulders, and pulled her inside. “Come in, come in! And you too, young lady,” she ordered to Alycia. “Straight to the living room, you two.”

Mira rushed through the old, lop-sided house, maneuvering around Ms. Klaassen’s assorted furniture.

“Mira, what’s going on?” Alycia asked in a small voice, and Mira plopped on Ms. Klaassen’s worn down couch. Dylan, the elderly mongrel, lifted his head, gave Mira a look over from his basket, and went back to sleep with a sigh. The girls could hear Ms. Klaassen move around, somewhere in the depth of the house, rustling with something, dropping things, and judging by the sounds, closing windows.

“My Mom has this rule,” Mira started. Alycia stood awkwardly tucked in a corner of the living room, right next to a statue of a Cupid with a missing left foot. “This is her pendant.” Mira showed the Kolovrat on the open palm. “She never takes it off. And the rule is – if I find it sitting on the kitchen table, it means I have to drop everything I’m doing and run here.”

“Like a code message, or something? Does it mean she’s in danger? And you?” Alycia asked worriedly. Mira shrugged. “I mean, does it have to do with a guy? Like you have an abusive dad, or something, and you two ran away from him?”

“I don’t know,” Mira answered. “I told you everything I know. She never talks about my Dad, and about her life in Russia. No friends, or family, from back there. Just the two of us.”

Mira looked down at the silver circle of the Kolovrat. Six axes formed a circle that was supposed to represent the Sun, and the circle of life. There were some smaller symbols weaved into a pattern around the rim, but Mira’s Mom never spoke of them. She never explained anything about it, to be honest; Mira had to Google it when she got curious. There was just the rule about the kitchen table.

Ms. Klaassen came into the room, her glasses bobbing, propped on top of her disheveled head.

“Alright, alright, I think I got everything,” she was mumbling under her nose. “The money, the phone… Let me see…”

She hastily dropped a wild assortment of objects on a coffee table. Mira gawked at a box potentially containing a new iPhone; a fat sealed envelope; and a plastic bag with what looked like socks, underwear, and couple t-shirts.

“Alright.” Ms. Klaassen exhaled sharply. “So, my instructions are such. I am to give you these things, and then find you a room in a small hotel, and settle you in it. Before it, I need to give a call to a John Bessemer.” Ms. Klaassen started patting her jeans clad hips, probably looking for her phone. She always forgot it in her purse. “Oh, and you’re supposed to put on the pendant. There’s a silver chain in the bag with the clothes. You need to put it on, and never, under any circumstances to take it off.” Ms. Klaassen recited diligently. “Where’s my phone?”

“Have you checked your purse?” Mira offered in a bleak tone. The situation felt surreal.

“Ah yes.” Ms. Klaassen rushed to the hall, in search of her tote bag.

“Is it mafia?” Alycia asked from her corner. “It must be mafia. Russian mafia, like the one they showed in Spooks. You know, with creepy tattoos on their backs.” Alycia vaguely gestured above her shoulder.

“I don’t know, OK?” Mira hissed back, and stuck her hand in her short copper curls. “I do not know! I mean, my Mom has some weird rules, like no speaking Russian in public, and other stuff, but that’s just crazy!”

“Yeah. I bet it’s mafia…” Alycia drew out, and then Ms. Klaassen reappeared.

“Alright, I found the phone, and here’s the number.” She shook her loyal phone book in her hand. She was the only person Mira knew who had a real phone book – a small, leather bound notebook, worn out, with receipts and random pieces of paper sticking out of it. “Do you girls want anything while I’m calling? I can make tea.”

“No, we’re good,” Alycia answered quickly, and Mira glared at her. She was no less curious about the call and didn’t want to leave the room, but maybe she wanted tea!

“Alright, alright…” The neighbour mumbled some digits, pressing the screen of her old Motorola with a tense index finger, and then she pressed the phone to her ear.

The voice that answered was clearly male, and very low.

“Mr. Bessemer?” Ms. Klaassen gave out a small awkward cough. “Hello! My name is Edith Klaassen, and I was given your number by Yana Krapiva. She told me to call you in case of emergency.”

Ms. Klaassen listened to a short answer from the man, while nervously twirling her phone book in her fingers.

“Yes, yes, she told me to call you. I have her daughter here, and…” The man sharply interrupted her with a question. “Yes, daughter, Mira,” Ms. Klaassen answered. “What is it? Fourteen. She’s fourteen. Yes, and she’s in my living room.” Now Ms. Klaassen and the man were talking at the same time. “Yes, I know she can’t stay here, Yana told me it’s not safe. I’ll put her into a hotel. And yes, she has the phone. She will turn it on. I have to say I’m completely clueless in the questions of technology… What?” the woman asked, clearly interrupted again. “Yes, of course, I’ll let her know that she needs to text you to let you know where she is. Alright… Yes… Alright…” She was now listening, and nodding, and confirming, and Mira tore her eyes off her and looked at Alycia. Mira wondered if she was just as pale as her friend.

“So, I guess you aren’t coming to school tomorrow, heh?” Alycia whispered.

Mira suddenly realized that it was really happening, and bit into her bottom lip. Her hands were shaking.

“I’ll text you, OK? Or message you,” she answered quietly.

“Sure.” Alycia nodded. Neither of them looked sure.

Ms. Klaassen hung up, or more precisely, the man did, and she was now staring at the screen.

“What a strange man,” she muttered, and then looked at Mira. “Well, my dear, it’s time to go. And you…” She turned to the other girl.

“Alycia.”

“Alycia, I’m sorry to be so rude, but you need to go. Do I need to give you a ride? I’ll just have to look up a hotel in Yellow Pages…” She was now looking for her glasses, which were still sitting on top of her head.

“No, it’s OK. I live just couple streets away, so I’ll just.. go.”

“Yeah, right…” Mira jumped on her feet. “You look up that hotel, Edith, and I’ll show her out.”

“Lovely, lovely, my dear.” Ms. Klaassen was already rummaging through the skyscrapers of book stacks that covered every surface in her living room.

The girls shuffled to the door. They both seemed to be stalling, and suddenly Alycia sniffled.

“You will text me, right? I mean, if you can…” she choked out, and Mira swallowed the knot in her throat.

It felt weird to look at Alycia – same old Alycia, with her red backpack, and a Gryffindor scarf, and sweatpants, and her blonde hair in a bun.

“Yeah, of course. I’ll text you about everything, as soon as I know.” Mira answered in a fake cheery tone. “I mean, it’s a real adventure, and I bet it’s just one of my Mom’s spasms, and tomorrow it’ll all be fine. Or even tonight, you know?” She made a jerky gesture, which was supposed to look like a nonchalant wave of a hand. “I bet she’ll show up in half an hour, and will pick me up from the hotel, and we will laugh about it.”

“Yeah…” Alycia opened the door, and looked at Mira over her shoulder. “Well, good luck, I guess. And… See you.”

“Bye,” Mira answered, closed the door, and pressed her back to it. She could hear Ms. Klaassen clank and bang with something in the kitchen. The dim hall looked spooky, and Mira hurried into the living room.

Ms. Klaassen was stuffing an apple and a sandwich in a Ziplock into the bag with clothes that she’d brought out for Mira.

“Alright, my dear. I’ll drive us now, and you turn on your new phone. And Mr. Bessemer said you’re supposed to leave your old one at home, so you just give it to me, and I’ll drop it off. He was very insistent on not leaving it here, so I promised I’d take it to your house.”

“I can’t leave my phone! I mean, I have my stuff there!” Mira exclaimed helplessly, and Ms, Klaassen threw her a sympathetic look.

“I know, Mira, I know. It’s all very sudden, and so unfortunate, but we need to go. And your Mom was adamant that we need to listen to her and to that Mr. Bessemer.”

Biting her bottom lip again, Mira put her Samsung on the coffee table, and after a pause she opened her backpack and took out her iPad. Something told her, it had to go too.

For a moment she asked herself whether she should leave her school books as well, but then she brushed the thought off as ridiculous. She’d be back home soon, and go to school – back to normal life. That was just some crazy misunderstanding.

Dropping her keys, and mumbling something about her glasses being in the car, Ms. Klaassen went to the back door. Mira put the plastic bag and the envelope into her backpack, grabbed the iPhone box, and walked after her.

***

The first thing she did in the car was put on the Kolovrat. It lay on her neck as an unpleasant weight. Some vague memory came, of sitting on her Mom’s lap, and picking the pendant up. The thing weighed a ton, and was disgustingly cold on Mira’s skin under the shirt.

She was unpacking the phone, and putting the prepaid number in, when Ms. Klaassen sighed near her.

“So, my dear, first things first. That envelope your Mom left you? That’s money. She told me to tell you she trusted your judgement, and that you’d do just fine, but because she didn’t know for how long you needed to last on your own, you should still be careful.”

“Last on my own?!” Mira screeched out. And that was when it all became just a bit too much. “Wait, do you mean to tell me she’s not coming back?”

“Mira, my dear…”

“No, no wait, I’m just not getting it, OK? She disappears, leaves me cash and a phone like in a spy movie, and I’m supposed to text some guy where I am, so I guess he’s coming to pick me up, or something…”

“Yes, Mr. Bessemer is driving from Saskatoon to pick you up, that’s what he told me,” Ms. Klaassen muttered.

“Oh that’s just great. So, some guy is driving from Saskatchewan to pick me up in a hotel, and it’s unknown for how long I’m supposed to stay on my own, and I haven’t even heard about him! I mean, my Mom never spoke of a single guy in her life, and now, all of a sudden, there’s some Mr. Bessemer that I’m supposed to listen to.”

“Mira, I’m sorry,” Ms. Klaassen’s voice trembled. “I have no explanation for you. Your Mother never divulged anything to me. When she first told me of all this… procedure, to be honest, I thought she was joking, But she spoke of it again and again, and I eventually agreed. I don’t know anything, Mira, I’m sorry.”

“That’s just fantastic,” Mira grumbled, and turned away, her eyes on the darkness behind the car window.

Winnipeg streets rushed by. Everything was familiar. There’s her Mom’s favourite pizza place; the Tim’s they stopped at on the way from the pool; the park she played in when she was small, and where Dan Jansen kissed her last year. The guy was a jerk, but she kind of liked him,  because he was tall and cute; so they went out to movies couple times, and then he kissed her. She hated it, and was complaining to her Mom, who was trying not to laugh, but failed. Mira could just see how her Mom wrinkled her nose, and was coughing, hiding her usual giggles. Mira felt her eyes prickle.

“But how’s my Mom going to know where I am? Is she with that Mr. Bessemer?” Mira asked quietly, without turning her head. Ms. Klaassen sighed and once again reminded Mira that she knew nothing. That was just perfect, wasn’t it?

In the hotel Ms. Klaassen talked to the clerk, pretending to rent the room for both of them. She made a fuss about having two beds there, her acting appalling, and then they took an elevator to the seventh floor.

The room was dim, and cold, and smelled of detergent. Mira dropped her backpack on the disgustingly bland coloured carpet, and switched the lights on.

“Well, my dear…” Ms. Klaassen awkwardly shifted between her feet. “I’m sorry to leave you, I’d rather we had dinner together, but I promised to take your phone into your house right away. I’ll order your some room service, and then I’ll be off. I’m also supposed to make sure no one comes to clean your room, and bother you in any way. And you text Mr. Bessemer, with the hotel address, and the room number…” The woman handed Mira a piece of paper with a number. It had a Toronto code. “And don’t take off the pendant, alright?”

Mira nodded, returned Ms. Klaassen’s tight hug and mumbled hurried goodbyes – and suddenly she was alone in a hotel room.

***

Mira texted the number, and received a short ‘OK. Stay there. Wait for me. Don’t talk to anyone’ in return. She ate the steak and mashed potatoes Ms. Klaassen ordered for her, watched TV, and went to sleep. Falling asleep turned out quite easy. The sheets were crisp and clean, and Mira had never slept in such a wide bed. There were so many pillows that she built a wall around herself, and fell asleep clutching Lisa in her hand. Lisa was a three inch tall ragdoll, her Mom made for her. It was distinctly Russian looking, with yellow yarn braids, red cheeks, and a flowery dress, and was normally hanging on Mira’s backpack. Mira was often asked if she’d bought it on Etsy.

Since she had nowhere to go in the morning, she didn’t set an alarm, and when she woke up the sun was shining through the curtains. A sunny day in November was a rare gift in Winnipeg.

Mira went down to the restaurant in the lobby, quickly ate her breakfast hoping no one would ask any questions, and hurried up back to the room. She then proceeded to watch TV all day, throwing glances at her iPhone. There was no data on it. She could of course use the hotel’s Wi-Fi, but ‘don’t talk to anyone’ in the mysterious Mr. Bessemer’s text probably meant no social media. She snacked on some crappy chips and candies from the minibar mid day, and for dinner she finished her last night’s food. The steak was still fine. She’d prudently put the plate and ms. Klaassen’s sandwich into the room’s tiny fridge for the night. The question of the food for the next day was troublesome. She wondered if she’d be allowed to order room service, but then she decided she’d just go out, buy something, and bring it to the room.

That posed the question of money, and Mira fished the envelope out of her backpack and gingerly ripped one side open.

She’d never in her life seen so much cash! There were four thick stacks of hundred dollar bills, new and crisp, and a smaller envelope inside with twenties and loonies and toonies. Mira couldn’t even imagine how much was in the stacks, but somehow she felt almost sick at the thought of counting it. Until she did, it was still just a weird adventure that she didn’t have to fully participate in. Counting money and planning budget would make it real.

She stuffed the money back in the backpack, and looked in the plastic bag. Cheery socks, colourful underwear – all the usual stuff she bought for herself – were also new, and neatly folded. Tees were the cool kind, ordered from ThinkGeek probably, couple with Tardis, and one with R2D2. All of it was just screaming her Mom, and Mira pushed it inside, wrapped the arms around her knees, and started crying.

***

It was a quiet hissing noise that woke her up. She opened her eyes in the darkness of the room, and listened.

The sound was coming from the door, somewhere low, as if from the appalling brownish greyish carpet. The hiss was high, like air escaping an inflatable mattress. It was also slowly approaching Mira’s bed.

Mira felt frozen, still staring at the blackness above her, just listening. She ordered herself to turn her head, and look – but couldn’t.

And then a loud knock came to the door making her jump up and press her hands to her middle. There was a nasty taste in her mouth, just as always when she was scared or nervous, metallic, and bitter. She then slid off the bed and minced to the door.

In the peephole, she was presented with the fisheye view of a tall, dark haired man, with black beard, in a black peacoat, collar upturned.

And at his feet, slithering and twisting, Mira saw a giant knot of stark black snakes. She could clearly see the forked tongues darting out, the scaly bodies, the beady eyes – and at the same time, while the man seemed corporeal and mundane, the snakes were as if shimmering, not quite present, like a hologram in a sci-fi movie.

The man impatiently jerked his neck and knocked loudly again.

“Mira, open the door! It’s me, John Bessemer.” The voice was low and authoritative. There was an accent too. Mira watched Doctor Who with her Mom. That was Northern British accent – like Eccleston’s Doctor’s. 

“Mira!” the man called again.

The snakes hissed louder, and Mira saw three or four of them slide under the door. She pressed a hand over her mouth muffling a squeak and jumped away from the door. There were no snakes inside, but the sound was there.

Mira rushed back and jumped on the bed, wanting nothing but to get her feet off the floor. She then pulled her knees to her nose and wrapped her arms around them.

Another knock and another ‘Mira, open the door!’ came, and she covered her ears with her hands. And yet, she could still hear the high monotonous hiss.

Cake, or Death? (Help Me to Choose What to Write!)

Hello!

In the immortal words of Eddie Izzard – cake, or death? (Seriously, his routine “Dress to Kill” is one of my most favourite things in the world!) Please, help me choose which story to write first!

I’ve decided to try a new format: I’m planning to write a webserial, and sell it in my Etsy shop $1 per chapter. Each chapter will be an instant download PDF file, meaning you pay, and it gets emailed to you right away. Each file will include a chapter and at least three illustrations. Depending on how this format is received, a new chapter will be posted bi-weekly, or monthly.

Here is the sample of a PDF file you’d be able to purchase:

Pierce and Schrupp. Chapter 1 (Sample)

And now the question! Which of the two stories would you like to see written? Please, let me know here in comments (an anonymous answer with a number would suffice 😀 but I’m always happy to hear more from you!); or on my writer’s Facebook page.

Option 1:

katya-kolmakov

Red Velvet and Florentines

(romance/humour/erotica)

Edith ‘Eddie’ Lark is a genius dessert chef from Canada, working in a fancy restaurant in New York. Suddenly, her life falls apart: The man she was going to marry leaves for Australia, and her working visa has expired. The owner of the restaurant proposes her a harlequin novel solution – to get married for her to stay in the country. Eddie isn’t sure it’s a good idea: the man is a bag of cats, a workaholic, and knows nothing about her – and seems to want to know even less – including the fact that she has a five year old daughter.

 

Option 2:

(whodunit/romance/humour)

Gwen Pierce and Otilia Schrupp are a successful team of a mystery writer and an illustrator. When the two of them witness a grotesque murder at an art show, they are torn between sticking their noses into the investigation led by a dashing inspector, Einar Sigurgeirson, and minding their own business. Meanwhile, a series of break-ins into Gwen’s home brings her closer to her neighbour, while the investigation is pulling her towards one of the suspects.

So, what do you think, my darlings? 🙂

P.S. All the drawings used for the covers and illustrations will be available for looking at and purchasing on my DeviantArt page.

Updated Schedule + “Stop, Hammer Time!” News

Hello!

Firstly, here’s the new and adjusted update schedule (considering the latest developments):

Monday: Fairy Wars on Archive of Our Own (AO3)

Tuesday: Sunny Side Up (Star Trek/ Hobbit crossover fusion, in collaboration with Wynni) on AO3 (bi-weekly)

Wednesday: Ice Ice Baby! on fanfiction.net and AO3 (simultaneous updates, just choose whichever site works better for you)

Thursday: Fairy Wars on AO3 and Better Than One on JukePop

Friday: Stop, Hammer Time! companion pieces on fanfiction.net + assorted projects, including occasional fanfiction

Saturday: Dr T Series on this blog

Sunday: zoo with the kid/watercolours/breathing 🙂

How’s that? 🙂

Regarding Stop, Hammer Time!

I decided to enter Stop, Hammer Time! (after a major rewrite and editing, of course) into a publishing contest on Amazon. It’s based on public voting through the month of November. If enough people vote for it, it gets published through Amazon, I get paid a bit, and they promote the book. The best part is that every person who voted gets a copy for FREE!

So, my darlings, let’s make it happen in November. Vote for SHT and gently entice your friends and family to do the same! I’ll keep you posted about the title (I’m sure STH is copyrighted) and the overall state of the project here, or on my Facebook page.

Thank you!

Cheers,

Katya

Update Schedule and Patreon News

Hello!

I decided that it would be nice of me to post my update schedule, since I was asked several times, and generally, I feel people are already twitching nervously since I’m jumping from platform to platform, updating in a seemingly frantic fashion 🙂

Firstly, yes, I am. There’s a lot going on, and it is very much frantic 🙂

Secondly, here’s the schedule in case you want to read something else by yours truly (or all of it! But who has that much time? 😉 )

Monday: Fairy Wars on Archive of Our Own (Celtic mythology and The Hobbit fusion)

Tuesday: Read Like a Book (BBC Sherlock fanfiction; previously posted on fanfiction.net) on Archive of Our Own

Wednesday: fanfiction day 🙂 Either Four Corners of Middle Earth or Read Between the Lines on FanFiction. Or both. I can’t help it! I want it all!

Thursday: second chapter a week for Fairy Wars on AO3 + Better Than One (romance/mystery/erotica parody) on JukePop

Friday: catching-up day (there are couple things here and there, such as a new Star Trek fusion crossover Sunny Side Up on AO3, and the exclusive for my supporters on Patreon 1930’s Agatha Christie style mystery story Lady Leary Mysteries; so it’s not like I have nothing to do 😉 )

SaturdayDr T Series on my blog.

Sunday: no updates. I’m probably in the zoo with my kid. Have you read the chapter in Better Than One about goose poop? Yeah, that zoo 😛

And now, regarding my Patreon:

Firstly, my most heartfelt gratitude to my Patrons! Your support is most appreciated! I’m hoping my Patreon to grow soon, and then I don’t have to find a job 😉 and can just continue this updating madness, and finally finish my children’s book Axolotl Returns, and start looking for a publisher for it! (Let’s face it, if you like my Johns, you will love Uncle Darius 😉 )

As for the exclusive Patron posts that are only available for you if you’re donating (as little as) $1 per month:

I’ve sort of lost my interest in my Rodhina Project. I blame the lack of a dark haired, blue-eyed male protagonist 😉 The interest will, of course, be back in September, when I am planning to start working on more art for the upcoming Winnipeg Comic-Con where I’m going to have a table. We are having William Shatner as a guest this year! I’m excited 🙂 (Also, whatever art I create by then will be surely available on my Etsy shop. I’ll keep you posted.)

So, I’m thinking for now my Patrons will receive exclusive chapters of Lady Leary Mysteries as a reward for their support: The general rating ones, containing the investigation plot will be available to all my Patrons (pledges starting at $1 per month); and for those pledging $10 – erotic companion pieces. (I’ve written one already. I’m completely infatuated with this story, and this couple thrills me. So I wrote ahead, which I only do if I can’t contain myself 😀 I hope you like them too. And again, the fashion!)

So, see you in my multiple platforms and (hopefully) my Patreon!

Love you all,

K.

P. S. Did you see my modest doodles on my Instagram? I’m planning to start posting my doodles on a DeviantArt page. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

News, Updates, and a Request

Hello!

Firstly, some news. For some personal and health reasons (mainly the lovely inherited arthritis I have nibbling at my fingers), I resigned from my job in the bakery, and am considering going back to teaching in September.  Which means? Plenty of time for writing and drawing all through the Summer! (And growing veggies and flowers, but I also have a colony of bunnies in my yard, so no high hopes here.)

This leads us to piece of news numero duo. I’m starting regular updates of my pseudo-Viking, pseudo-Slavic webserial on my site Rodhina. The next chapter is almost ready, and more art is to appear soon. I’m planning to update the story every two weeks at least. Please, sign up for the newsletter here to be notified of any new stuff to check out.

Fanfiction writing will continue as before, and since Blind Carnival on Jukepop site is almost complete (the epilogue will be posted next Thursday), I’m considering starting a new romance/erotica webserial. The plans are so far vague.  Dr T Series on this blog will continue, updated every Saturday just as before.

And now the big news!

The upcoming weekend, my dear friend Virginia McClain and yours truly are going to Keycon! I’ve never been to it, but I’m all hyped up! And we are ‘dealers,’ not visitors there! I’ve never been called a ‘dealer.’ That tickles my pickle!

Basically, it’s a fantasy and sci-fi fair, and we have a table, to sell stuff! Virginia brings her book (Properly worth checking out! And the sequel is in revision stage!), and I will bring my Rodhina prints and will be giving out leaflets to promote the site. Yay!

Which brings us to the request!

By Friday, when (hopefully, but honestly, very unlikely) a huge wave of new visitors will come to my site, it would sooooo great if it looked alive. So…

A. The new chapter and new art will be posted tomorrow (Those of you signed up to the newsletter will get an email, and those of you supporting me on Patreon will receive an exclusive scoop into some very exciting pieces I wrote to post later, such as *drums* Gosta appearing, and *gasp* Ani’s daughter!)

B. I would like to ask my readers to comment on the existing chapters and art, if you haven’t. At the moment the poor posts look rather lonely, and your efforts will hopefully encourage the newcomers to participate. C’mon, lets cheer for Einar (or Gosta, if you prefer Heughan over Fassbender… Oops, I meant, Priblizhnik Gosta over Glava Einar) 😀

Thank you, and see you next time (hopefully, tomorrow on Rodhina site, where you can get from the menu on the top of this blog)!

Cheers,

Katya

P.S. Here is a gratuitous doodle of Deadpool by yours truly 😉

IMG_20160516_103932

The Question of Current Projects

Untitled design (9)

So, I draw now. It is a new endeavour, and unlike writing (I at least have a couple of literary theory degrees) it is a completely unknown territory. I had never even tried picking up a pencil until December 2015, and buying inkpens for myself as an early Christmas gift was clearly an odd impulsive gesture.

When it happened I was in a process of looking for someone who’d draw a map for my webserial Ani on JukePop that was stuck, and I needed inspiration for. Eventually, several of possible collaborations fell apart, and here I am, buying watercolours and more Microns.

These days Ani has turned into Rodhina, my fantasy world site, where you can find the story and my illustrations. Soon, the prints will be available on my Etsy shop The King and Wren. The shop is a pet project, it’s small and cute like a button. More work will be put into it soon, but for now my MiniThorin pendants are there, and more is to come.

ETSY SHOP

Fanfiction is still my favourite pastime. It is still for the Hobbit, and it’s still all about Thorin and Wren (she is Werna now, a Dwarf, and a better match for a Dwarven King). BBC Sherlock is another fandom I’m trying to write in, so far with Wren as a life saver, not too drift too far, and for the feeling of safety.

Blind Carnival on JukePop that became an unexpected popular continues, but the end is nigh. Once it’s over, I’m considering writing the romance series “May to December” that I planned last Summer but never got a chance to mull over.

On this blog, Dr Talso surprisingly read and loved, is reaching the point where I will run out of already written chapters and will have to put more effort into the story. It’s no trouble of course, since Dr John Thorington, the world renown neurosurgeon is a very stimulating subject.

In the nearest future I will need to sort out what I’ve already drawn, and decide what goes where. I have a DeviantArt page, and Instagram, both currently a mess, and it’s time to admit that I do draw and will continue (all thoughts of the level of skill and quality aside).

Alright, that’s it for now! Feel free to ask questions, and don’t miss The Book Giveaway (details below!)

BOOK GIVEAWAY (1)

As a birthday present from me to you, I’ve set up a

*GIVE AWAY of two hard copies of my novel!*

In the week of April 23rd to May 1st, follow my writer’s Facebook page and/or Instagram, and send me a personal message or leave a comment in one or both of these platforms, for a chance to win my book. Messages in both double your chances.

The winner will be chosen by the means of a five years old pulling a name written on a piece of paper out of a top hat 🙂 The books will be signed and mailed to the winners Monday, May 2nd.

Cheers!