Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pirates, Princesses, and Peeking into the Marden's Mark Series #Giveaway

Howdy y'all! Crystal Barnes here and I've got a talented lady with me today who's as special as her name--my buddy and fellow author, Kathrese McKee! Kathrese and I belong to the same ACFW chapter here in Texas, but you don't always see her in our group photos because she's more often than not the gal behind the camera. :)

Welcome to Stitches Thru Time, Kathrese. For those of us who don't have the privilege of knowing you, tell us a bit about yourself.

Thanks, Crystal, I’m happy to be here. For those who haven’t met me before, I am an author, teacher, and editor. My goal is to write epic adventures for young adults and anyone else who enjoys pirates and princesses combined with life's difficult questions. That means exciting stories, appropriate content, and quality craftsmanship. I am married to my college sweetheart, and we have four children, two grown-ups and two teenagers, three girls and one boy. I wasn’t born in Texas, but I was born to Texans. I hope that counts.

What are you currently writing?

Currently, I’m working on the second full-length novel in the Mardan’s Mark series. The first book is Mardan’s Mark, and the second one will be Mardan’s Anointed. There is a novella, Healer’s Curse, that should be read between the two books. I call it a companion novella to Mardan’s Mark because it takes place concurrently with that book. Characters from Healer’s Curse reappear in Mardan’s Anointed.

But back to your question. Mardan’s Anointed is at 135,000 words and counting. I’m close to the end, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I will have to give it a savage edit to keep the word count reasonable. I keep thinking about J.K. Rowling’s books in the Harry Potter series and how they grew longer as she progressed.

Mardan’s Anointed has to be on the long side because Aldan and Srilani, the main characters, both go through huge changes in their lives. That requires space. It feels like I’m writing two books at once, but hopefully, readers will appreciate how their stories intertwine.

I love the covers of your books! They look and sound so intriguing. Where did you get the inspiration for your story?

I would say that the entire series was inspired by Old Testament stories, especially the story of Deborah, but it’s a mash-up of patriarchs, judges, and kings. And pirates. Ha!

But seriously, my children were my inspiration for getting started. Back in 2007, I challenged my oldest daughter, Sarah, who was a senior in homeschool, to do NaNoWriMo with me.

We both wrote up a storm that November, and I simply kept writing after NaNoWriMo ended. I have notebooks full of handwritten chapters that will (thankfully) never see the light of day.

Later—much later—I decided that I had to get serious about Young Adult fiction, and I rewrote Book One with the encouragement of Laura Anderson Kurk, my critique partner and mentor. She writes Contemporary YA, but she graciously helped me with my epic adventure fantasy. I will forever be grateful to her for getting me started.

I'm glad you're working to give our young folks something wholesome to read that includes a great and godly message. What do you hope folks will take away from your story?

I hope they will take away a deeper appreciation of God’s nature without feeling as if they have read a sermon. In my stories, the Creator is referred to as “El.” Naturally, I want my readers to experience a rollicking good time, but I also want them to think about the nature of God and his care for us. His justice and his mercy. His timing and his will. My characters get pushed hard to make difficult, life and death choices. They believe in El, but they have to learn to trust him too. I expect any mention of a Creator will put off some readers, but for those who are searching, I hope they will be drawn closer.

Sounds like a wonderful message that you've weaved into your story. Thanks for sharing, and speaking of sharing... 

Do you have a favorite scene in the book? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?

Hmm. Can I do that without spoilers? Well, I suppose anyone who reads the cover of Mardan’s Anointed will be able to figure out that Srilani’s transition to palace life from surviving in the wilderness isn’t going to be a smooth one. One of my favorite scenes is between her and her maid, Ana, as Srilani insists that she will be wearing a sword at all times from then on. Srilani asks Ana to procure a more attractive belt and scabbard. Here’s a snippet:

"But why? None of the other ladies at court wear swords."

Srilani gave an unladylike snort. "None of them have been stolen by pirates either.” She closed her hands into fists on her lap. “We were with a squad of soldiers when we were abducted. We were supposed to be secure. The one lesson I learned from that experience is that I am responsible for my safety. If Father sets guards around me, I can’t rely on them entirely.”

Ana’s sympathetic expression encouraged Srilani to finish her confession. “I keep thinking that if I had worn a weapon that day, been a little quicker, fought a little harder, then things might have turned out differently." She stood and picked up the belt. "So tonight, I will wear my sword in this ugly scabbard, but for tomorrow evening, I want something more fitting. Can you do that?"

Sounds like my kind of gal. :) Lots of spice. 

Tell us, what is the quirkiest thing you've ever done?

A few years ago, I went to the trouble and expense of learning to ride a motorcycle as sort of a birthday present to myself. I even earned a license to drive one. But since then, I’ve never been brave enough to try it. If I ever do get up the nerve, I want to try one of the three-wheeled motorcycles like the Can-Am Spyder.

When you do, I want a ride! :D 

Before I stop asking questions of you, please tell our readers where they can connect with you. Where can readers buy your book(s)?

Readers can connect with me at My books are available on Amazon, but soon, they will be available in more places. Crystal, thanks for including me in Stitches Thru Time. I had fun!

It's been a thrill having you here, Kathrese! I'm so glad you could join us. 

Folks, Kathrese has kindly offered to giveaway one FREE paperback copy of Marden's Mark to one of this post's commenters. (Sorry, only shipping within the US. Winner to be announced in Monday's Weekly Windup post.)  

So let's chat... How many of y'all like pirate stories? Do you or someone you know enjoy reading young adult novels? Have you ever ridden a motorcycle?


  1. Huge pirate story fan here. MaryLu Tyndall is my all-time favorite author. I'd love to read your book. The only time I have been on a motorcycle was when I was given a ride home after babysitting. Very scary....definitely hold on. LOL

    1. Thanks! Somehow, this super-conservative, sheltered, Goody Two-Shoes girl managed to date two guys who took me out on motorcycles. I still can't believe my parents let me do that. Ha! And I married one of them; he still rides his bike to work after all these years.

    2. Haha, Deb! I grew up riding four wheelers on the back forty, so when I road a motorcycle for the first time with one of my older cousins that's what it reminded me of. Loads of fun!

  2. Loved Mardan's Mark. Terrific story by a terrific lady!

  3. I haven't read many pirate storiesbut I always enjoyed seeing movies with this theme. I do enjoy young adult novels and there are many excellent authors who are writing for this age group. My library has a large collection of YA and many adults read them also.
    Thanks for this introduction to Kathrese.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to learn about Mardan's Mark. Good luck!

    2. Sounds like Kathrese's story is right up your alley, Connie.
      So glad you stopped in!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, Kim. This is the second cover for this book; the first one was pretty, but this one really goes with the story better.

    2. Glad you enjoyed the interview, Kim. Thanks for stopping by! Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. I like pirate stories! And I've ridden many motorcycles. :-) And this series sounds like one adults would like as well! This adult, anyway.

    1. It's funny, adults have been the primary audience so far. I'm discovering that it's fairly difficult to reach young adults directly. So yeah. Thanks, Patricia!

  6. Love young adult and pirate stories. My daughter and even my grand daughters love young adult stories. I haven't been on a motorcycle in years. I don't know if I would have the nerve to nowadays. Lol.

    1. That's just it—I was fine in the parking lot, but the idea of riding on a freeway around Houston just freaked me out. Thanks for reading!