First of Her Kind

FOHKcoverToday I have a very special guest, author K. L. Schwengel. Her new novel,  FIRST OF HER KIND, is out and she’s here to talk a little bit about it and also what helps her to write.

Kathi, tell us a little about you before you begin your post.


I live in southeast Wisconsin on a small farm with my husband, a handful of Australian Shepherds, Her Royal Highness Princess Fionna (the cat) and assorted livestock.  Growing up as the youngest daughter of a librarian, I spent more time between stacks of books and secluded away in the dusty archives than was probably even remotely normal.  With so many characters and ideas spinning in my head, I had to get them out onto paper or risk what little sanity I possessed.  (Try being the youngest of nine children and see how sane you stay.)  I have been spending my free time sitting in front of some type of keyboard or another since I was a kid and got my first typewriter.  It wasn’t even electric.  Before that it was pen and paper, which I still resort to from time to time.  I have published a few poems and non-fiction articles, but my real passion is fantasy and urban fantasy.

When not writing, I train and trial working Australian Shepherds, paint, dabble in photography, graphic design and anything else creative my assorted muses send my way.


I knew there was a reason I liked you, other than being an author.  You have Aussies like me.  What a great breed!  Ah, so before I digress any further, you have complete control of my blog at this point.  Take it away.



Music cleanses the understanding; inspires it, and lifts it into a realm which it would not reach if it were left to itself.  ~ Henry Ward Beecher

There is nothing that can move my soul like the right piece of music. Whether it takes me to the heights of emotion, or has me bouncing across the floor in a carefree, childlike (though I won’t say graceful) dance of joy, it never fails to affect my mood.

When I’m writing, there is always music playing. My collection is vastly eclectic, containing everything from Gregorian Chants to Heavy Metal. I load my 6 disk player with whatever I think will best reflect the section I’m working on, and set it on shuffle. On really good days, the music fades into the background as I lose myself in my characters and the dance of words across the page. On bad days, when stringing words together is like trying to tie a knot with frozen fingers, it draws me along, guiding, helping set mood and create images.

No one can deny the power of music. Everyone, I’m sure, has that song that will immediately whisk them back to a time and place, that will move them to tears, make them smile, or evoke a memory so strong they are momentarily back within it. It’s probably the closest to time travel as we’ll ever actually come.

As I write, there are certain songs that connect with my characters or scenes in much the same way. Currently, working on book two of my Darkness & Light series, I find myself leaning on Dead Can Dance, a fairly recent discovery for me. If you write fantasy, I’d suggest giving it a listen. Powerful. Great music to read to as well. And what were some of my influences and inspiration while writing First of Her Kind, book one of the series? Definitely The Two Towers soundtrack, Sully Erna’s album Avalon, some Evanescence, and a healthy dose of Clannad, Enya, and Loreena McKennitt.

Words and music have been joined since the beginnings of time, and together, create magic. Who am I to argue?


Wow, even our taste in music is similar!  I love Loreena McKennit and Enya!  At times I listen to music when I write.  When I do, it is usually Celtic instrumental or classical music playing in the background.  In fact, I’ve picked several scores I’d like played during certain scenes of my novels when they are made into movies.  (yes, I dream of my novels being turned into movies.  I know.  I’m such a dork.)

I loved your post, Kathi, and agree with the power music has over us and the feeling it can invoke.  I can’t imagine a world without music.

So, can you share a blurb of FIRST OF HER KIND, please?


Everyone, it seems, wants to dictate what Ciara does with her life: Serve the Goddess, destroy the Goddess, do as you promised your aunt. All Ciara wants is to keep the two magics she possesses from ripping her apart.

And that won’t be easy.

Not only are they in complete opposition to each other, blood ties pull her in divergent directions as well. And then there’s Bolin, the man sworn to protect her. There’s no denying the growing attraction between them, but is it Ciara he wants? Or her power?

None of which will matter if Ciara can’t overcome her fear and learn to use her gifts.  No one knows the depths of the ancient power she possesses, or what will happen if it manages to escape her control.

Will she lose herself entirely? Or be forever trapped between darkness & light?


Awesome!!  A book right up my ally!  Where can everyone find you, Kathi?


You can find me at all these places:






You can also find my books at any of the following:




Print Version:



Thank you so much for stopping by today, Kathi.  Please come back and visit again sometime.  Good luck with your new novel!

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I have a novel to publish, short stories to edit, and a new novel to write in 30 days. I’m swamped.

Remember this fantastic scene from the Princess Bride?

Swap the words for the title of this post and that’s me facing down NaNoWriMo which starts a week from today. Am I nuts?

Unlike Prince Humperdink, I am not a planner. I don’t outline, I don’t figure out my characters or what they’re doing. I just write. Now, I do have a plan in my head. I know where I want to start and how I want to end but that’s it. I guess you could say my writing style reflects my everyday look at life.

I don’t plan. In fact, I hate to plan because nothing ever goes right when I plan. The best vacations I’ve ever had were the ones where no plans were made except to say “We’re going on vacation to [fill in the blank]”. Once we got to wherever we were going, my family and I did whatever caught our interest. We’ve never had an itinerary to uphold.

One of our best vacations was the one we took two years ago to Key West over Labor Day weekend. It was literally a spur of the moment trip, completely unplanned. I told the boys we were going to the Keys the next day (you should have seen their faces! priceless!) and to go to bed early. I got online and made reservations for us and the pooches (they love traveling, too) at a fabulous Sheraton Hotel on Key West beach (at an AWESOME rate that I couldn’t even believe myself] and off we went. I even took 1 extra vacation day from work so we would have 4 fab days in the Florida Keys. I got to live out two of my dreams: to see Hemmingway’s house and stand at the southern most tip of the United States. Kewl!

Hopefully, NaNoWriMo will offer the same opportunity to fulfill one of my dreams: to write and finish the second installment in my 3-part saga. I have butterflies in my tummy, my nerves are starting to twitch, and my brain is gearing up to face the unknown. The trip is going to be a fantastic one and I’m going to learn a lot, especially about myself. Can I stay focused? Can I make and accomplish goals? I believe I can. What I am sure of as a writer, is if I can get through and succeed at NaNo, I can succeed at anything. Today – Little Town, Florida. Tomorrow, New York! Look out world! I’m coming for you!!!

(gotta love the ‘I am awesome’ message!)

New Author to look out for – Heather Burch

Guys, this series looks amazing!  If you or anyone you know is a fan of YA fantasy fiction, this series will fit right in.  I have got to get her on my blog when the book comes out.

Check out her website and read all about the Halflings.  I am stoked and ready to buy.

The Latest on Word Count for Fiction

I have had several writers, authors, aspiring authors, etc. ask me what the industry word count is for fiction these days. My response has always been: it depends on the genre and the publishing world at the time; however, I must say, the industry standards have been pretty stable for the last few years. But, just to make sure, I checked in with several agents’ sites to see what they had to say and have come up with the following guidelines. Keep in mind that these are only suggested word counts; rules get broken all the time but usually by published authors, not newbies, and books that are e-published usually don’t have to conform as much to the rules. With that said, here is what I found:

An average novel length is between 80k and 100k, again, depending upon the genre but this can be broken down even further.

middle grade fiction = Anywhere from 25k to 40k, with the average at 35k

YA fiction = For mainstream YA, anywhere from about 45k to 80k; paranormal YA or YA fantasy can occasionally run as high as 120k but editors would prefer to see them stay below 100k.

paranormal romance = 85k to 100k

romance = 85k to 100k

category romance= 55k to 75k

cozy mysteries = 65k to 90k

horror = 80k to 100k

western = 80k to 100k (Keep in mind that almost no editors are buying Westerns these days.)

mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction = A newer category of light paranormal mysteries and hobby mysteries clock in at about 75k to 90k. Historical mysteries and noir can be a bit shorter, at 80k to 100k. Most other mystery/thriller/crime fiction falls right around the 90k to 100k mark.

mainstream/commercial fiction/thrillers = chick lit runs anywhere from 80k word to 100k words; literary fiction can run as high as 120k but lately there’s been a trend toward more spare and elegant literary novels as short as 65k.

science fiction & fantasy = 100k words is the ideal manuscript size for good space opera or fantasy. For a truly spectacular epic fantasy, some editors will consider manuscripts over 120k but it would have to be something extraordinary. And regardless of the size, an editor will expect the author to be able to pare it down even further before publication.

Agents and editors cannot stress enough that there are always exceptions to every rule, especially in SciFi and Fantasy. However, debut novelists who are trying to catch the eye of an agent or editor for the first time should probably err on the side of caution with your word count.