Friday, February 13, 2015

Interview with Katrina Buckhold

She’s abrasive and gutsy and uses the ‘f-word’, making interviews with her challenging.

Katrina as a young teen
“She” is Katrina Buckhold, known as Serena on the street and as Felicity Randal when in witness protection. She’s only four-years old in the prologue to THE TRAZ, the first book in the BackTracker Series, but by the end of the series she is a grandmother.

The BackTracker series is a study of how a person changes over times, how life affects our personality and our outlook and how some traits we are born with never change.

Only the first three books in the series are published, THE TRAZ Book 1 (also available in a School Edition), FATAL ERROR Book 2 and FIREWALLS Book 3. Katrina ages from four to twenty-four in those first three novels. I thought it would be fun to interview her as she appears in each book and compare her answers to some of life’s basic questions as she matures—or doesn’t mature, depending on your perspective!

Katrina as a cop on the cover of FIREWALLS
Question: Katrina, what do you want to be when you grow up?
(4-year old Katrina in the prologue to THE TRAZ) A cop like my dad, or maybe a computer person. I love computers! 
 (14-year old Katrina at the end of THE TRAZ) I don’t want to be f*ing anything other than what I am, okay? 
 (20-year old Katrina half-way through FATAL ERROR) I’m going to be a cop, whether they want me to be or not.
(24-year old Katrina towards the end of FIREWALLS) Although Shrug says otherwise, I am already f*ing grown up. I’m a cop fighting cybercrime, okay?

Question: What do you most regret about your life?
-(4-years old) That we moved from the Arctic. If we’d stayed there, my mom wouldn’t have started drinking.
-(14-years old) That my Mom killed my dad.
-(20-years old) That my mistake killed Lukas.
-(24-years old) That instead of staying in school, I ran with The Traz biker gang. So much bad happened because of that decision.

Question: What do you think is your best characteristic?
-(4-years old) I’m smart. Did you know I wrote a melody with my computer?
-(14-years old) I know how to get what I want. I’m independent.
-(20-years old) I analyze things and see patterns that others miss.
-(24-years old) I sometimes wonder if I have any good characteristics. People don’t seem to like me much

Question: what would you like to improve about yourself?
-(4-years old) I’d get taller. I’m too short. People think I’m a baby.
-(14-years old) That I’d learn to keep my f*ing mouth shut.
-(20-years old) I’ve learned so much about life these past two years. I now need to learn to forgive myself.
-(24-years old) I need to let go of the past and seize the future. I need to learn how to love.

Who’s the most important person in your life right now?
-(4-years old) My dad.
-(14-years old) Shrug.
-(20-years old) It was Chad until he betrayed me and married f*ing Debra.
-(24-years old) Chad, no doubt.

What are you looking forward to?
-(4-years old) School!
-(14-years old) Being free of the gang.
-(20-years old) Becoming a cop.
-(24-years old) Getting married.

Thank you for talking to us, Katrina!

If you'd like, you can follow Katrina on twitter



Favourite Passages: FATAL ERROR

Favourite Passages: FATAL ERROR Book 2 BackTracker Series found FATAL ERROR one of the most difficult books to write. Although targeted at teen and ‘tween readers, it explores the complicated subject of justice.

An adolescent’s brain is just beginning to comprehend the grey areas between right and wrong and fair and unfair, concepts that set the foundation for a mature sense of justice.
FATAL ERROR Book 2 in the BackTracker Series could well be a teen’s first brush with a novel whose characters are neither pure evil nor super heroes, a story which forces them to judge for themselves what is right and wrong and decide where justice lies.

Keeping the literacy skills of youngsters in mind while exploring these difficult concepts challenged me. I’m proud, though, of how it turned out. Although written deceptively simple, many passage contain layers of meaning, making FATAL ERROR an interesting read for both youngsters and adults.

In this scene from FATAL ERROR, young Katrina is perjuring herself on the witness stand as she desperately tries to conceal her guilt…or is she?

Tears smudged her vision. Her mouth trembled at the memory of poor Lukas and she began to sob. Soon her cries were streaming through the microphone into the hush of the courtroom. "Lukas didn't deserve that!”

She wept for him, for her dad, for the girl she had once been—before The Traz had destroyed her. It seemed like she sat there forever, weeping and trying to wipe clean the stain of murder on her hands—in her soul.

"Are you finished with the witness?" the judge asked.

Even the adults don’t always get it right in FATAL ERROR. Here Sergeant Kindle and undercover officer, Shrug, debate guilt and blame. Whose fault is it that Katrina was traumatized during her year with The Traz biker gang? Although Shrug invited her to ride with him, Sergeant Kindle was his superior officer in charge of the undercover operation...

"You once asked if it was fair that I didn't tell you outright that I’d involved the girl. It wasn't fair,” said Shrug.

"When I asked you if it was fair, it's not like I already knew the answer," Sergeant Kindle replied.

"You know the answer now?"

"I know your answer now. Not sure about mine."

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Chill with a Book!: Favourite passages: THE TRAZ - Book I The BackTrac...

Chill with a Book!: Favourite passages: THE TRAZ - Book I The BackTrac...: Favourite passages are worth savoring which is why I enjoy the highlighting and commenting features of my Kindle. As delightful as it is to...

Eileen Schuh,Canadian writer

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Let me tell you a story...

Let me show you what I mean...

‘Show, don’t tell’ is a difficult concept because there’s no way around the fact that written words are simply marks on a page. They have no colour, sound or movement and are only two dimensional. They aren’t photos, videos, graphics or paintings. Let’s face it, no matter which ones we use, written words tell things—left to right, top to bottom, one word at a time.

How do we add dimension to them? The more obvious ways, like dressing them up in bold or italics or empowering them with exclamation marks, don’t seem to impress editors or readers. We must be more creative.

If I write, “She was embarrassed,” that is considered in literary circles to be ‘telling.’ If I say, “Her cheeks reddened and she turned away,” that is showing—although of course my words are simply telling you her cheeks reddened and she turned away. 

What makes it showing is readers must become involved in the writing, must draw their own conclusions about why her cheeks reddened.

I’ve discovered two main aspects to what makes writing ‘showing’. One is writing so that readers are enticed into becoming intellectually involved in the story and the other is writing to elicit their emotional involvement. 

Eliciting emotional involvement is often done through powerful word choice and symbolism along with superb character development. Getting readers intellectually involved, requires what I call ‘empty spaces’.

Research has shown that humans are attracted to empty spaces. It is why we find things like lace and ferns more beautiful than solid fabrics and poplar leaves. It’s why newspaper graphic artists balance print with white space on page layouts. The hypothesis is that our mind feels compelled to fill empty spaces, thus drawing us into the visual field and giving us the feeling we are becoming part of what we are viewing—something we apparently find enjoyable.

This could also explain why readers like being shown not told—it compels them to insert their own thoughts, feelings and conclusions into the story. They become part of what is happening.

Some writers mistakenly believe that ‘showing’ is using flowery language and extensive verbiage in an attempt to draw pictures with their words. Quite the opposite is in fact what is needed. Good writers leave spaces in their descriptions--vacancies that compel the reader to intellectually participate.

Excellent writers goes to great lengths to keep the reader from realizing they are investing themselves in the story, the more subtle the techniques, the more profound the literature. Poetry is probably on the top end of the scale, with each word demanding an intellectual and emotional investment from the reader. What is being said and how does it apply to me? Poets (and novelists as well) often also use the rhythm and structure of words and sentences to further draw readers into their writing—between each beat is a space that the reader must fill.

Symbolism also requires the investment of the reader. It’s pretty easy to pick out which of these sentences ‘shows’ and which one ‘tells’: “She was nervous.” vs “The feral howls of a lone wolf drew nearer.”

As with all writing techniques and advice, showing not telling can be misused and overused. I’m often guilt of that. Clues I give that are meant to spark a reader’s emotions or understanding are often not clear to those who don’t share my cultural and background experiences. The void I leave for the reader to fill must be tiny if it is important that a reader understand a specific event.  I don’t have to ‘tell’ them Shrug is guilty, but I do have to tell them more than ‘Shrug diverted his eyes,’ because in many cultures, diverting one’s eyes is a sign of respect, not guilt.

Although flowery writing isn’t needed to create reader involvement, powerful writing is. Avoid cliché’s because we’ve heard them so often, they don’t elicit much of a response in us. Find unique words and phrases that the reader has never before read. The more specific a word or phrase, the more powerful it is. “A violent thunderstorm” vs “Rolling black clouds and shards of lightening.” 

Combining powerful writing with empty spaces and emotional connotation takes everything up yet one more level.

The thunderstorm made her nervous. Or…

Above her, black clouds roiled and shards of lightening split the sky. In the distance a lone wolf howled. She shivered.

Brought to you by THE TRAZ
" will be drawn into their lives & story."
"I just had to finish it..." 
"It was hard to put down (even for sleep)" 
 "Great Strong Story--a wonderful read"