Friday, 24 February 2012

Undertow Blog Tour

Hey everyone, I’m excited to say that Callie Kingston is stopping by today, as part of her Blog Tour. She’s promoting her new book Undertow - which I read last month and can wholeheartedly recommend.

Below she tells us a little bit about herself, and, of course, Undertow - but first, before you read on, I will give you a very exciting heads up! Callie will be giving away one Kindle copy of Undertow at each stop during her blog tour (so, yes, that means here!) All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is to comment below - it’s as simple as that! And if you have any questions, Callie is only too happy to answer them. Everyone who comments throughout Callie’s tour will be entered into a grand prize giveaway which is to take place on her own blog at the end of the tour - and I must say, this is seriously worth checking out!

Anyway, I will now step aside and give you Callie Kingston…

Hey Callie, as an introduction, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I live in Oregon with my husband, children, three beagles, three rats, and a pair of cats. A former school psychologist, I’m intrigued by the challenges young people experience and the remarkable resilience they display. When not writing, I enjoy hiking, reading, and cooking vegetarian food. And drinking coffee.

So, what is Undertow all about?

Undertow is about a young woman who wants nothing more than to move beyond all the unhappiness in her childhood. When she becomes convinced that she was rescued from drowning in the ocean by a mythical creature, her mind begins to unravel, putting both sanity and her life at stake.

Book blurb:

Marissa is nearly eighteen and can't wait to leave behind her traumatic past. With long time boyfriend Drake, she thinks she has her future all figured out--until she discovers his betrayal. She flees to a desolate beach on the wild Oregon coast hoping to escape her pain, where, overcome with emotional and physical exhaustion, she dozes off beside a log. When the first icy waves strike her, it is too late: a rogue wave drags her out to sea.
     Somehow she survives, and now each night she dreams of a creature who rescues her. Determined to discover the truth, her obsession deepens, threatening both her sanity and her life until she once again risks her life in the frigid ocean. Will the creature Marissa seeks save her? Will she be lost forever in the eddies of her mind, or will Jim, her new boyfriend, keep her from drowning in the abyss?

Can you tell us a bit about when and why did you began writing?

Like most authors, I wrote all through childhood. But adulthood brought with it many responsibilities which crowded out the creative side of my life. It wasn’t until my mother passed away unexpectedly that I realized that life is unpredictable, and one should pursue any dreams they have while they have the chance.

Is there a specific genre that you prefer to write in?

I enjoy Contemporary YA the most, but dabble in Middle Grade and Contemporary General Fiction as well.

And what would you say is your biggest writing achievement to date?

Definitely publishing Undertow.

Ok, so coming back to Undertow, what inspired you to write this book?

One day, I was thinking about the Twilight Saga and how engrossing they were, while also questioning the choices made by its heroine. I mean, really: choosing to give up your life, your family, and your identity for a vampire? On the surface, it seemed a destructive and downright crazy choice, although one that certainly resonated with many young women. True love conquers all, right? But I wondered, what if she’d chosen differently? I wanted to portray a different story: one in which the heroine encounters a mythical creature, who may or may not be real, but her belief in him is viewed as delusional and suicidal. What would happen then?

Who is your favourite author, and what is it about their work that strikes a chord with you?

In the Contemporary YA genre, definitely Laurie Halse Anderson is my hands-down favorite, for two reasons: She tackles deep subjects which affect so many young people, and she includes lyrical elements in her writing. While her break out novel Speak deserves its status as a classic in this genre, Wintergirls was downright amazing.

What book are you reading now, and would you recommend it?

My TBR pile is huge! Currently, I’m devouring my friend Tara Kelly’s awesome new novel Amplified. Like me, she writes Contemporary YA, and her style is just so engrossing. Highly recommend both this novel and her earlier release, Harmonic Feedback.

Can you tell us a little bit about your current projects?

I just finished the third draft of Upstaged, another Contemporary YA novel, and have it out to beta readers. Anyone interested in being a beta reader? I’m also looking forward to starting my next novel, which I’m outlining now.

Where and when do you do most of your writing?

I started by writing in stolen chunks of time, during lunch, late at night, etc., and wrote the first draft longhand. My second novel was drafted on computer, which changed the feel of the project but definitely sped it up quite a bit. Now, I find that if I can spend a couple hours weekend morning and late at night, that works well for me. I love to write in bed!

What would you say was the hardest part of writing Undertow?

Portraying Marissa’s mental processes was challenging, as was deciding where to truly begin her story. The first three chapters were rewritten dozens of times before I was satisfied. Also, I decided to change from present tense, which beta readers said was too jarring, to past tense, and that was a bit of an ordeal. Edits later, I still found occasional tense shifts.

Who designed the Undertow book cover – and was the cover something you deemed important?

I designed the book cover, and as soon as I found the picture, knew it perfectly captured the story.

Did you try to go down the route of traditional publishing first – or did you feel that self-publishing was right for you from the beginning?

I actually queried Undertow widely, and received many requests. Ultimately, each one garnered the same response: having a protagonist in college was a tough sell for the YA market. I thought long and hard about making Marissa younger and putting her in high school, but the story simply wouldn’t work that way. And Undertow is very much Marissa’s story.

On the whole, how have you found self-publishing?


Can you share a little bit of Undertow with us, a sample chapter perhaps?

Yes! Undertow is at the Amazon Kindle Select store and has the “Look Inside!” feature, which allows readers to sample the first chapters.

And where can we buy it?

At Amazon. If readers don’t own a Kindle, they can download it to their computer, phone, or tablet. In the future, Undertow will also be available in print and possibly in other outlets such as Smashwords and BN. For now, it is in the Kindle Select program, where Amazon Prime members may also borrow it for free.

Do you have a website or blog where we can keep tabs on you?

Absolutely! My blog is and I have a Goodreads author page. Also, I tweet: @calliekingston
Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes. Remember: you alone can tell your story. And your story needs to be out there, or you would not be inspired to write it. So never quit writing. Get the feedback you need to grow your craft, connect with the writing community, and keep focused on the writing as a journey rather than worrying about the prize of publication.

And, finally, do you have anything else that you’d like to say to everyone?

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing this magical journey with me. Much love to all of you.

          (Please see bottom of the page for the tour dates for the rest of Callie's Blog Tour)


  1. I'm doing this on my phone, so I can't see the page properly. Is this the right place to leave a comment? I don't know.
    Anyway, sounds like an intruiguing read ... Can't believe the first draft was hand written! That's mad!
    Anyway, off to the beer festival now.

    1. Haha yes Kath, it is indeed the right place to comment.

      Have a few beers for me!!! :-)

  2. Hi Kath, thanks for stopping by to comment. Yes, writing long hand was quite a chore! Enjoy a beer for me,