Indie Author Interviews: K. J. Garnet, Oracle urban fantasy series

Every now and then on this blog I do interviews with indie and speculative fiction writers. Today I would like to introduce you to K. J. Garnet, the pen name of Kelly and Jenni, a pair of writers working on a new urban fantasy series about the oracle Val Ferrel.

Oracle in Doubt

First off, please tell us a little bit about you and your work.

K: I’m the “K” (Kelly) of the K.J. Garnet writing team. I’m the author of 3 non-fiction books and freelance writer in my field for magazine and editorial work.

J: I’m the “J” (Jenni) of the K.J. Garnet writing team. I’ve been a developmental editor for over twenty years first at major publishing houses and now as a consultant for independent writers.

We’ve written a paranormal fantasy aka contemporary/urban fantasy series about a medium named Val Ferrel who is a special kind of psychic called an oracle. Unlike the Greek oracles, who were seers, our oracles have a special ability that lets them siphon psychic energy from the land of the dead. In our fictional world, psychics are common and the world has evolved to accommodate people with these extra sensory abilities and those without.

When you write fantasy, how do you go about world-building?

K: I’m into the scenes and the details. Once we have the characters, I start writing scenes to get a sense of who they are and what makes them tick. I like to get into the characters’ heads, find out what drives them, and how their interactions affect the story.

J: I tend to think big and then start adding the details-the why of this particular thing/place/animal, how does it work, where can someone get it, what do our characters use it for, when will it affect the plot? For the Val Ferrel series, we didn’t want to get overly complicated, so we chose a familiar contemporary world but added some twists and tweaked it.

What kind of magic systems do you use?

J: We’re writing a contemporary supernatural or paranormal series, so our “magic” is a fast and loose version of ESP-empaths, prognosticators, mediums, telepathy, telekinesis. There’s a bit of superhero-ness without the origin story; the powers just exist in our world and the technology grew up right alongside it, like jewels imbued with psychic energy protects people from intrusive telepaths, or machines generate energy fields to block the psychics from using their innate powers.

Do you have a writing routine?

J: I try and write every morning except on the days I know Kelly will be writing. We share the same file and try to meet at least once a week to discuss the latest scene or chapter. Sometimes our talks go on for three or more hours since we’re still evolving our writing partnership. We’re getting better at predicting what the other one meant or intended. Having a broad outline of the story helps to keep us on track although we both have a tendency to come up with a lot of new and shiny ideas. My editorial side always urges us to stay on track, and setting a publishing deadline reminds us not to get too distracted.

K: Unfortunately, I have a demanding day job. My writing time is limited to weekends and whenever there’s a spare hour or two. I was desperate in the beginning to contribute late at night after the work day was over, but that didn’t work well. Scenes were treading into the psychedelic.

What made you decide to become an “indie” author?

J: Control. I like being able to control all the aspects of production, publishing, and sales. I like being the boss of my creative endeavors.

K: What she said. Love the fast turn-around time as well. I’m getting too old to wait 2-3 years from agent to publication!

What have you already published?

J: This is my first published work.

K: This is my fourth and fifth but we’ll count it as first for fiction.

What are you working on now?

J: We’re working on the third book in the Val Ferrel series, ORACLE IN CHARGE. After that, sky’s the limit-we have a ton of ideas plus a handful of half-finished projects.

Do you make your covers yourself or do you hire a cover artist?

J: We’ve hired a cover artist and designer.

What do you think are the advantages of indie publishing? Of traditional publishing?

J: The biggest advantage of being independent is the money-we receive 70% of
our sales. No traditional publisher gives that kind of royalty. Plus, we control all aspects of the publishing-no publisher would give us final approval on cover art and design, interior art and design, marketing strategy, cover copy/sales copy, pub release dates, formats.

For us right now, there’s no advantage to being with a traditional publisher. Our goals are different than a traditional publisher, so being independent works better for us.

K: Also, our books don’t have a 3-6 month shelf life before being remaindered. Word of mouth works well on the internet.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

J: If you’re thinking about publishing yourself, hire (at least) a copyeditor and a cover designer. Have common sense expectations-it will take time for your potential fans to find you. Keep writing, keep publishing. Make mistakes, learn from them, do better next time. Never forget that publishing is a business.

If you’re not quite ready to publish, learn how to self-edit. Read everything. Do your homework on the craft. Don’t rely on spellcheck. Finish your projects even if you don’t think they’re “good enough”. It’s always easier to edit a draft than to struggle with the “perfect” sentence or scene or plot. Remember this is not a zero sum game-you are not competing with all the other writers in the world. Write what makes you happy-not all stories are for all people, and that’s okay.

K: For indie authors, remember you are your own promotions department. Learning something about advertising copy and marketing will be extremely helpful.

How can people get in touch with you?

They can reach us at

Goodreads author page:

And here’s the description of the first book of the series, Oracle in Doubt:

A failed psychic medium is forced to work with an enigmatic government agent to close a gate to the afterlife before it releases the dead back into the world of the living.

Val Ferrel was once a successful psychic medium for the Boston Police Department, until a botched case blew out her abilities and ended her career. Fleeing to the West Coast to escape family responsibilities, she struggles to make ends meet. When a simple job for a ghost-hunting show puts her in contact with an angry ghost and activates startling new psychic abilities, Val knows she’s in over her head.

Agent Daniel Norris, director of the Agency of Extra Sensory Remedy and Response, is cool, confident, and plans everything to the last detail. His Agency’s directive is to prevent the aristocratic psychic Families from returning to dynastic rule; his mission is to control a feisty psychic the Agency blames for the appearance of a new gate to the afterlife. But as Val destroys plan after well-laid plan, Daniel never dreams they’ll both hold the key to solving the case.

Working with the stuffy Agency director is the least of Val’s problems. Can she stay hidden from her own family before the aristocratic syndicates move in? More importantly, will she be able to control her own powers before the living fall prey to the dead?

The monthly SFF promo is here again! Over 100 books for 99c each, Sept 3-4


We have another great promo for fans of science fiction and fantasy this month — over 100 books, all for only 99c! The sale officially starts tomorrow, Sept. 3, but a lot of the books are already reduced in price. Like my contribution, Shadow of Stone. the second book in the Pendragon Chronicles series, available on Amazon for only 99c. Or my collection of short stories, Oregon Elsewise, available on B&N, Kobo and Apple for only 99c.

Oregon Elsewise

So check out the sale, and good luck finding something you want!

And sorry about the recent radio silence. I decided to mostly ignore social media until I get the next couple of books finished. Once I get a few of those projects off my plate, I’ll be back.🙂

My thoughts on trigger warnings (Reblogged)

This is something I’ve thought about a lot, given the fact that there is a fair amount of violence in a number of my books.

I want to discuss trigger warnings. A lot of books have them. If the book deals with a sensitive subject that might be a trigger to a traumatic past event, a lot of readers like to know beforehand.…

Source: My thoughts on trigger warnings.

By Popular Demand: Pantsers, Plotters, and — Puzzlers!

After posting about Libbie Hawker’s book on plotting, I thought I would reblog this old post about how I tend to “puzzle” my way to plot.🙂

Ruth Nestvold - Indie Adventures

Over on Karen Huber’s blog a few days back, I mentioned a term I snapped up somewhere, an alternative to the two writing poles of plotters and pantsers — the puzzler. Several people in the comments were quite enthusiastic about the term, so I figure it just might deserve a blog post of it’s own, rather than a mention hidden in some comments somewhere.

I always knew I was more of a plotter than a pantser. Some of my writer friends can take a couple of prompts and immediately start writing a story. I can write stories from prompts too, many of my stories have been written that way, but I just can’t do the “immediate” part. I have to brainstorm and play with ideas first. More than anything else, I need to know the ending before I start. If I don’t, I invariably get bogged down somewhere in the…

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Great writing book on sale for only 99c — and no, it’s not mine! :)

I just noticed that a book that has helped me a lot in organizing a couple of recalcitrant manuscripts is on sale today for only 99c — a book I paid full price for! *g* It’s Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing.

Libbie Hawker, Take Off Your Pants

I admit, I can’t tell you yet whether her method works to create more successful books, since I have only applied it to a couple of books that are still WIPs, including the Pendragon Chronicle prequel that I’m working on right now, Ygerna. But what I can tell you is that when I dug the notes and scenes I had written a while back out again and applied Libbie’s plotting method to them, I finally had the feeling that I had a story that made sense and that I could finally finish.

One of the points she makes that has helped me the most is her emphasis on the main character’s flaw, and how integral that should be to the plot as a whole. I’ve created plenty of damaged and flawed characters in my time, but her plot structure can give you a great tool for building that more directly into the plot. In any case, her main plot points resonate with me as a writer more than a lot of of other writing advice out there. Here is her basic plot structure, so you can see if it might make sense for you:

– Opening Scene
– Inciting Event
– Character Realizes External Goal
– Display of Flaw
– Drive for Goal
– Antagonist Revealed
– Goal Thwarted
– Revisiting Flaw
– Repeat above several time (drive for goal, antagonist / goal thwarted)
– Aid from Ally
– Character Change
– Girding the Loins
– Battle
– “Death” / Overcoming Flaw
– Outcome

Another thing I like about this structure is that it doesn’t insist that the main goal is clear right from the beginning. Not only that, it admits that the main goal could well be tied to the character’s flaw — which will eventually have to be overcome. It reminds me of another piece of writing advice that I’ve been internalizing for a long time now: remember to distinguish between what your main character wants and what she needs.

So if any of this resonates with you as a writer, and you feel like you could use some help in plotting your books faster, grab this book for under a buck while you can. I have no idea how long this sale will be going on, since it’s not mine.🙂

Over 100 #FREE Science Fiction and Fantasy EBooks! August 6-7

Here we go again, everyone, another HUGE group promo for all lovers of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and everything in between!

August free book promo

Over 130 books, divided into specific genres such as dystopian or SF romance, as well as by vendor. The sale doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, August 6, but many of the books are free already. So click on image above or here, — and get lost in the offerings!

My contribution this month is my collection of dystopian short stories, The Future, Imperfect.

The Future, Imperfect.

Here the description:

“The Future, Imperfect” is a collection of near future, dystopian short stories by Ruth Nestvold. Environmental changes — slow in some regions, catastrophic in others — have had a major effect on our world, not for the better. While water wars and pandemics have devastated the Mediterranean region, and a major earthquake and the resulting destruction of nuclear power plants and sensitive research facilities have made much of California a wasteland, corporate-sponsored enclaves defend themselves from the have-nots. What can any one individual do to make a difference is such a world? These are the stories both of those who tried and those who failed.

Don’t be deterred by some of the reviews. The stories are just that, short stories, and are not meant to be novels. Nor are they teaser pieces — this is the sum of my dystopian work so far. All of the stories but one were previously published in traditional venues like Asimov’s before I put the collection together. The book will be free through Monday, so get it while you can.🙂

How to Sell a Lot of SF/F Short Story Reprints – Part 1, by Deborah Walker.

This sounds like a great strategy for increasing income for short stories — which I will have to try!


Please welcome Deborah Walker to the guest spot on the Milford blog for the first of a two-parter on selling reprint stories. Subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss Part 2 which will be up in a couple of weeks.

What’s a reprint?

When you sell a short story to a venue you’ll usually sell first rights with or without an exclusivity period. This means that once any exclusivity period is over, you’re free to sell the story to another venue as a reprint. Between zero and 12 months are common exclusivity periods.

Occasionally a venue will ask for all rights. That means you won’t be able to resell your story as a reprint. That’s your call. But remember that you can negotiate. I know of one short story publisher who requests to buy all rights as standard, but who will immediately offer a first rights contract if…

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Per-Page Rate Back Up for June, 2016 (Kindle Unlimited)

Good news for writers: per page rates back up again.🙂



Kindle Unlimited paid $0.004925 per page read, which is up 5% from May’s rate of $0.004686, almost back to April’s rate of $0.00495663.

The per-page rate has flip-flopped up and down 5% every month since March, but every month has been considerably higher than January’s rate of $0.00411.

The KDP Select Global Fund for June was $15.4M for June, 2016, slightly higher than May’s $15.3M.

To see the payout in other countries, see here:

What does all this mean?

  • The per-page rate has held fairly stable for half a year, between $0.0045 and $0.0050 per page.
  • The per-page rate has risen as high as 5% on multiple occasions. So while it occasionally dips as much as 5%, it rises almost as often.
  • There was a tendency for the per-page rate to dip initially, which also happened when Prime borrows were first introduced…

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Over 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books for only 99c each!

99c books in July

It’s that time of the month again — when we roll out another big Science Fiction and Fantasy ebook sale!.🙂 July 2-3 you can get over 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books, organized according to store and sub-genre, all for only 99c each.

My contribution this month is the collection of previously published short stories that I wrote with Jay Lake, who we lost two years ago last month, Almost All the Way Home From the Stars.

Almost all the way home from the stars

Enjoy! I hope you find something you like.🙂

Let’s Get Digital Is Free. Maybe Forever?

If you don’t already have this, get it! David has lots of good info to share.

David Gaughran

digital2OPT FREE at Amazon | Apple | B&N | Kobo

I first published Let’s Get Digital in July 2011, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and then released a (much) revamped and updated version in September 2014.

Combined, both editions have sold well over 25,000 copies at this point, which is about 24,000 copies more than I ever hoped. So my sincere thanks to all of you for that – particularly the generous authors who contributed to the book and the army of writers recommending it to others.

Speaking of which, a friend told me the other day that she was grateful I’d written the book because it gives her a quick and easy way to answer emails from newbs.

Well, let me tell you, I’m totally fine with monetizing other people’s laziness. If I could monetize my own laziness I’d be richer than Croesus (one of the original investors in…

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