Rockin’ the Blog Hop

It’s been far too long since my last post, a drought that will be remedied as I ramp up the information wagon (I think there’s a mixed metaphor in there somewhere) as I put the finishing touches on my next book and gear up for its publication. To kick things off, I’ve been invited to participate in the Writing Process Blog Hop that’s been making its way around the author blogosphere. Considering how I’m in the thick of my writing process, with one upcoming book done, one almost done, and a few more projects jockeying for position to command my attention next, I figure this came at an opportune time, and I’m excited to share with you some of the method behind my madness.

A tremendous thank you to the author who invited me on this little trip, Tom Avitabile. Tom is a bestselling thriller author, and a great guy I got to hang out with at ThrillerFest last year (our booksigning tables were but a stone’s throw from each other at the event as well). His latest book is THE GOD PARTICLE, about which you can find more info here:

As followers of the Blog Hop know, authors are asked four questions about our books and processes. So here goes…


1) What am I working on?

I’m finishing up THE DUBAI BETRAYAL, the first in a new spin-off series featuring Wayne Wilkins, a fan favorite character I introduced in FROM THE ASHES. It’s got a more military/technothriller vibe to it than my other works, but it’s ripe with the conspiracies, twists, compelling characters, and unique locales that my readers have come to expect. Having lived in Dubai for two years and spending time exploring many of the book’s key locations in both the desert metropolis itself and elsewhere throughout the Middle East, this has been an exciting book to plan and write, and I believe that my intimate familiarity with the sights, sounds, and smells of the city’s wonders–both on and off the typical tourist track–will take the already thrilling story to the next level. THE DUBAI BETRAYAL is due out early next year, so watch my website and social media channels for release information and teaser tips in the coming weeks and months.

THE DANITE PROPHECY–originally announced as THE DESERET BLUEPRINT when I finished it in 2012–is done, and my agent has it in the hands of some of the biggest editors in publishing. It is a history-based conspiracy thriller in the vein of FROM THE ASHES, but with a much bigger scope and much higher stakes than my debut. Years of research, several trips to key sites, and covert access into highly guarded secret strongholds have laid the foundation for a tale rooted in shocking historical facts, real-life conspiracies, and deadly secret societies operating on American soil for nearly two centuries. THE DANITE PROPHECY will be the first in what I’m planning to be my new flagship series, and I’m excited to introduce you all to the series’s characters and tease out more info on the real-life historical secrets at the heart of the book after it secures a publishing home, which I’m hoping and praying will be very soon.

After I’ve finished DUBAI and the gears are rolling toward its publication, I’ve got two potential books for next on my slate: the second Jon Rickner book and the second in the series DANITE will be launching. Which one gets the nod first will depend on a variety of circumstances, but I’m excited about them both. More teasers to come in that department as well…


2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ve always tried to make it a point to try to find unique ideas that no one else has touched yet, or to take existing subjects or tropes and turn them on their heads. For example, when everyone else in the subgenre was doing Templars and Catholic secrets to death, I was inspired to write about a Depression-era conspiracy involving the Rockefellers, Nazis, and the Hoover administration set in New York City. And though I have plans to use Templars and the Catholic Church in future books, I will be using them in ways that will keep even the most seasoned reader of history-based conspiracy thrillers on the edge of their seat, trying to guess what new angle or twist I’ll come up with next.

I also make it a point to get into my characters’ heads, giving them a personal reason for why they do what they do. This includes not only my likeable-but-flawed protagonists, who often are battling personal struggles of their own, but also my love-to-hate-them antagonists. Everything my characters do needs to be personally grounded, otherwise readers won’t care. Shiny perfect heroes and “mwahaha” evil villains don’t give readers a personal connection to root for or against. Giving them a personal quest (yes, even the villains, who are, in their minds, the protagonists of their own story) makes them more than just vehicles to drive the plot forward; it makes them someone in whom readers can believe and become invested.

One other aspect that I think gives my book an edge is the authentic sense of place. Myriad reviews for FROM THE ASHES cited its faithfulness to the locales and authentic ability to bring New York City to life. Much of this stems from my conducting research trips to most key sites in my books, which gives me the ability to see, experience, and discover things that a Foder’s guide or a YouTube video might not. These trips and my passion for detail and hidden things not only allow me to write these places with vivid authenticity and authority, but also allow me to discover fascinating elements that can be game-changing for the scene and for the story itself.


3) Why do I write what I do?

As long as I can remember, one of my deepest passions has been puzzles. In writing my novels, I become a puzzle-maker on many levels. On the surface, there’s the actual puzzles my character has to solve (e.g. Jon solving Rockefeller’s riddles in FROM THE ASHES), which are a delight to research and concoct, challenging my characters and readers alike in finding a solution. The historical elements also provide a puzzle-making opportunity, looking at well-known and obscure historical facts and piecing them together in such a way as to create a fascinating yet plausible new piece of historical speculation that has significant consequences for today’s world. And then there’s the story-making itself, building the illusionist’s maze for the characters and readers to travel along, butting up against deadly dead ends before finding the trap door that will send them down an entirely different path, twisting and turning into a delightfully thrilling experience that keeps them breathlessly anticipating what will come next.

Travel and history are also lifelong passions, and exciting, exotic, and unique locations, particularly ones that are either relatively unknown or used in an original manner, are prime fodder for setpieces, especially when there’s an intriguing history, legend, or secret associated with it. As for history, it’s essentially a collection of the stories of the past, good, bad, and ugly, with secret forces jousting for power, kingdoms rising and falling in spectacular fashion, conspiracies and subterfuge hiding inconvenient truths from the eyes of man, all set against a backdrop of cultures that are at once foreign and familiar. And, of course, all those powerbrokers, wars, kingdoms, cultures, and hidden secrets have had an indelible imprint on future generations–including our own. For those who question what effect history–and new discoveries that change how we understand that history–really has on our modern world, I answer simply: “More than you think.” In delving into worlds modern and ancient and exposing historical cover-ups and timeless truths, I get to not only plumb the depths of history and my own imagination for the most fascinating and potentially devastating secrets and conspiracies thousands of years of human history could devise, but also the real-world implications of these deceptions from centuries past, drawing on current events and modern threats to make the menace–both historical and modern–more real than either could be on their own. And that is an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience.


4) How does my writing process work?

I tend to write in bursts. Before I ever put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking, as I use my laptop for writing), I’ll already have a pretty good idea of where the story is going, the characters, major plot points and twists, key locales, etc. I’ve been a full-time student or had a full-time day job throughout my writing career thus far, so a lot of my “writing” time has been mulling and conceptualizing while driving to and from work or doing other aspects of my daily life. This focused daydreaming planning stage will often overlap with other projects, so I’ve actually got several future books running in this stage at once. I’ll also do preliminary research here, collecting news articles, learning about pertinent subject matter, looking at potential locations, and traveling to key sites while taking plenty of notes, photos, and videos.

Then I start writing. I’ll do character outlines for the main protagonists and antagonists and a very rough one or two page plot outline setting down key plot points, locations, and other macro elements. I then write the first 5-10 chapters and revisit the character outlines, seeing what needs to be added or revised depending on how those characters are playing out on the page and what new ideas have come to me while writing. I’ll also write out a chapter-by-chapter outline of the rest of the book, specifically addressing the POV character, the setting, and what key plot points will occur therein. Then begins the big push to the finish, and with the story fairly well fixed in my head by that point, it tends to go relatively quickly considering this is the stage involving the bulk of the actual writing. I’ll use special character sequences like a triple asterisk to call out elements I need to go back and check on later (details, translations, etc.) so as not to constantly disrupt the narrative flow by kicking back out to my research materials and Internet searches (like the cross-referenced information black hole that is Wikipedia, where I can spend days losing myself in researching ideas for current and future projects if I’m not careful). After the first draft is done, I search for those special characters, fix the attendant elements, and give the manuscript a solid read through before sending it off to my first readers. And then, the much less fun but still important (and at times revelatory) editing process begins…

For more information on my current and future writing projects, as well as behind-the-scene tidbits and other shenanigans, check out my Facebook page and Twitter feed, which, like I mentioned earlier, are about to get a lot more busy in the build up to THE DUBAI BETRAYAL’s publication.

For more on the Writing Process Blog Hop, check out the next two authors on the tour below, and be sure to check their websites September 8 for their own Blog Hop posts.

Thanks for stopping by, and see  you real soon!


Peter Murphy

Peter Murphy was born in Killarney where he spent his first three years before his family was deported to Dublin, the Strumpet City.

Growing up in the verdant braes of Templeogue, Peter was schooled by the De La Salle brothers in Churchtown where he played rugby for ‘The Wine and Gold’. He also played football (soccer) in secret!

After that, he graduated and studied the Humanities in Grogan’s under the guidance of Scot’s corner and the bar staff; Paddy, Tommy and Sean.

Murphy financed his education by working summers on the building sites of London in such places as Cricklewood, Camden Town and Kilburn.

Murphy also tramped the roads of Europe playing music and living without a care in the world. But his move to Canada changed all of that. He only came over for a while – thirty years ago. He took a day job and played music in the bars at night until the demands of family life intervened. Having raised his children and packed them off to University, Murphy answered the long ignored internal voice and began to write.

He has no plans to make plans for the future and is happy to let things unfold as they do anyway.



K.W. Cholewa

I’m K.M. Cholewa. I’m a novelist, ghost writer, and writer of personal and political essays.

I am the middle child of five of a Polish immigrant father and a college educated, American mother who eloped in Switzerland after meeting in Germany in the 1950s. My last name is difficult to pronounce. Yet, I’ve always been fond of it and felt it gave me a certain anonymity in the world, sort of an anti-Cheers, where nobody knows your name.

My first home was the bottom floor of a two-flat in Chicago. Mom danced to Tom Jones on t.v. and Dad played poker in the back room of Ozzie’s Barber Shop on Lawrence Ave. We later moved to the suburbs and it was different. Serious white bread. Still, my parents threw some good parties. There was always booze in the house, but not in a bad, alcoholic way.

I am the proud product of benign neglect.

No complaints.

I attended the University of Illinois and overall I would have to say I was quite happy there. I loved moving away from home and having my own bedroom for the first time in my life.

After college, I moved to the Jersey Shore, and lived there, more or less, for the next two years. I liked the life. Good money waiting tables, writing a little for the local beach rag to have something for the resume, and hanging out by the ocean. I loved the off-season, too, when it went ghost town.

I hit the gas hard out of New Jersey when it was time to go and went to graduate school at the University of Montana’s Writer’s Workshop which had a good reputation and was sort of “hot” at the time. We don’t need to go into all that but I came out with an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in English with a teacher training emphasis.

Cosmic journey, yadda, yadda.

Working in politics, yadda, yadda.


I live in Montana.

With my dog, of course.

K.M. (Kate) Cholewa (Ho-le’-va)

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