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Cover Reveal – Gerald and the amulet of Zonrach – by Carl Hackman

It is finally here, the time to reveal the cover for my debut novel, ‘Gerald and the amulet of Zonrach’. I just want to say a huge thanks to Sean Ricks who painted this awesome cover, and my publisher, Immortal Works, for the final design which will adorn my book on its release May 16th.

It has been a long, and sometimes bumpy, road to get to this stage and was it worth it? Without a shadow of a doubt. The experiences I’ve had since signing the contract are nothing short of amazing.

So, without further ado here is the cover for Gerald 🙂

Below is a poster for the launch party in four weeks time. This will be held at a local bookstore as well as online.

The kindle version for Gerald is also already available for pre-order on Amazon and the paperback version will soon follow.

You can follow the rest of the journey to the launch of Gerald by clicking on the links below:

Amazon Author Page:

Gerald and the amulet of Zonrach – ARCs

Hi all,

The launch date for Gerald and the amulet of Zonrach is rushing towards us. Only five weeks now until my debut novel hits the bookshelves.

Electronic ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) are now available for those who would like to read it early and post a review. It would be really appreciated if you can sign up at and leave a review on Goodreads, or anywhere else that we can link to.

The ARC is available in epub, mobi, and pdf formats.

Many thanks for following this journey, it’s an exhilarating ride. Share this to as many people as you can think of 🙂

Launch Party

Six weeks today before the launch of Gerald and the amulet of Zonrach. I’ll be holding an event locally. If you want copies for me to sign on the day I’ll have pre-order forms coming soon. This will enable my publisher to ensure copies arrive here for the event. I’ll be giving out bookmarks with each copy on the day.

Dress up as your favorite fantasy character. There is nothing like singing Karaoke afterwards as wizard or witch 🙂

Please share so that we can make this a fun event.

Artwork by Sean Ricks​
Author Photo by Michael K JENKINS​

#BookLaunch  #ImmortalWorks #Fantasy

First Author School Visit

This last Wednesday, 15th March, I attended my first ever author school visit at the International School of Sosua. Here is my experience of that day.

When I approached the classroom for my first talk of the day, slightly dreading standing in front of a class of seventh graders, a young lady exited an external covered locker area. She intercepted me and asked “Are you the author?” I said “yes” and she replied “I’ve read the first chapter of your book on your website and loved it.” She smiled and then disappeared though the doorway to the classroom.

As an introduction to my first ever school visit as an author, I must say it blew away my nervousness like a breeze dispersing a mist.

I entered the classroom and was introduced to the class and my talk commenced. I spoke about the usual things an author does when addressing an audience: how I came to be a writer; how long it took to write my first novel; how long it took to get published; my hobbies and the general life that encompasses being a writer. By the time I finished that part of the talk I was very relaxed and enjoying the experience.

When we spoke the week before the teacher, Hannah Anderson, wanted me to talk about creative writing and she also indicated that it would not be my only visit, so I felt I could deal with a single part of the craft for this talk. As an initial subject I picked characterization as I believe that is probably the most crucial part of creating a story that a reader will keep reading. If the characters are interesting a reader will want to follow their journey, if a writer doesn’t take too many liberties with plot and setting.

From the start of this stage of the talk the children were enthralled by the subject and very active as we created four races of characters. As I’m a fantasy writer it won’t be a surprise that I asked for those style of characters, but, as is the norm with young minds, they completely threw me with their suggestions. None of the Tolkienesque races I expected actually made an appearance and one of the races, agreed by all the class, was Dog. If that was what they wanted then who was I to stifle their creative juices. By the end of the session the ‘Dog’ race had actually turned into the ‘Flying Spider Dog’ race as the students had decided that this particular species had wings, eight legs and twenty eyes. To say that my first experience with a class of middle grade kids was hilarious would be an understatement. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the experience and was fully relaxed when I then had to repeat the talk with sixth grade students.

I conducted the same talk, but with different results when it came to character development. This class decided that the four characters we would design were to be Elves, Wizards, Eagles and Cyclops. These were probably more aligned to my expectations with regard to races, but, as with the seventh grade students, the attributes given to these characters were outside the box. The particular elf we were designing had a phobia about the color green and as it was a wood elf I could foresee big problems for this character. They also stated that the Elvish race would worship the Eagle as part of their Pantheon of gods. This was pretty amazing as they were now creating links between characters just by designing their attributes. For sixth graders I think this is a pretty advanced abstract thought process; creating potential connections before a story is even begun. By the way, the wizard had green skin, so another connection there with the elf’s phobia.

Thoughts on my first ever author visit? Absolutely amazing and I’d say to any other author out there who is offered an opportunity for a school visit; do it, it’s a blast 🙂

Look What I Found On Amazon Today

It finally feels real. After several years of querying and editing ‘Gerald and the amulet of Zonrach’ I woke up this morning and found that my publisher has put it up on Amazon. The feeling was indescribable, which I actually should be able to do, being and author and all that, but so many feelings rushed through my body at once that I couldn’t define one over another. Elation would probably be close, but there were definitely more.

Seeing your book available for pre-order was wonderful. It took six months to write the first draft, but then the work or trying to get it out into the world began: fifteen rounds of edits; submissions to agents and publishers; entering pitch competitions. The journey can be exhausting, but when you get that email saying that a publisher wants your book the hard work pales into insignificance. Each step of the journey then is new and exciting and when you suddenly find you are listed on Amazon and other book sellers and your name jumps out as the author it hits you; you have fulfilled your dream.

Gerald is available for pre-order now on Amazon

My Amazon author page can be seen here

I hope you enjoy Gerald as much as I did writing it. I am now working on the sequel which also looks to be a fun and exciting ride 🙂

Author School Visits

I’m pretty excited about the latest development as I head towards the launch date for my novel ‘Gerald and the amulet of Zonrach’

I had a meeting today with Hannah Anderson, one of the English teachers at the International School of Sosua, which went amazingly well. As a result I have secured a series of visits with 6th and 7th grade classes. The visits will start with an introduction to me and my writing, allowing the students to hear about the journey from starting a novel to finally being accepted for publication. After that we will be talking about various aspects of creative writing such as character, dialog and setting. Nothing too deep, but enough to allow them to get a feel for the process and hopefully inspire them.

From there we decided it would be great to write a collaborative novelette. All students would have an active part in the story we will tell. We have decided on a loose framework to allow their creative juices to flow. All the lessons will be interactive so that they can physically walk through the story. After each session their homework will be to write the scene we discussed and played out.

This is a very exciting time and I can’t wait to get stuck in 🙂

Gerald Launch Party

Hi All,

I just wanted to let you know that the ‘Gerald and the amulet of Zonrach’ release party date has been announced.

Spread the word to all your friends and let’s make this a book launch to remember!

Be there or be a smelly Orcling 😉

What I’m Working On

As the publishing process moves forward I just thought I’d share an image of what I’m working on at the moment.

The left side shows the marked up MS of GERALD that I received back from my editor at Immortal Works. The edits have to be done in MS Word using track changes so that we can both see the difference between the latest version and the original that was submitted. It looks a bit of a mess, but it is actually fairly easy to work on once you have got used to it. My publisher is creating the cover for GERALD at the moment and I can’t wait to see it. A publicist is also creating an author page for me on my publisher’s website along with a book preview page. As well as the website pages she is also liaising with a local school to help arrange the launch. This whole process is very exciting and still pretty surreal. I don’t think I’ll really believe it is happening until I get the actual book in my hands.

The right side shows my WIP (WILFRID) as I work on the first draft in Scrivener. I prefer this way of writing the initial draft as I can have all my research at my fingertips and I can also write each scene separately allowing me to move them around. This is a great way of ensuring that you are not head hopping (frequently changing points of view). Once this initial draft is done then I can edit it as necessary until it is ready for submission to a publisher or literary agent. At that point I export it in word format and send it off.

Kathleen Schrenk’s Writing Journey

This is the first, in what I hope, will become a series about authors’ journeys through the roller coaster ride that we call publishing. Our first author is Kathleen Schrenk. Read on and get an insight in what it takes to achieve a lifelong goal that many of us dream of.


I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, where I spent summer vacation catching toads, building subterranean clubhouses in vacant lots, and wading barefoot in streets flooded by afternoon thunderstorms. At the age of twelve, I discovered greater adventures—and air conditioning—at my neighborhood library. I practically camped out between the stacks to finish reading Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-tiki and Nevil Shute’s On the Beach.
After receiving a B.S. in education, I worked as a speech and language therapist in the public schools. I took a twelve year furlough to be a stay-at-home mom to our three sons. When the youngest entered kindergarten, I became certified as a classroom teacher and taught middle school science and language arts for twenty years—quickly discovering that sixth graders are some of my favorite people!
I left the classroom in 2001, but continued to work with children—as a volunteer tutor in Start the Adventure in Reading and as a docent for school groups in the New Orleans Botanical Garden in City Park. In 2005, following the devastation of my hometown from Hurricane Katrina and the floods that inundated the city, I focused my volunteer work on the recovery of New Orleans and on coastal restoration.
I serve on the board of the Louisiana SPCA, am a founding member of NOLA City Bark, New Orleans’ first off-leash dog park(2010), and the creator of Bark Bits, the dog park’s monthly e-newsletter. I belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Women’s National Book Association.
My travel articles about European carnival celebrations have been published in Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide, and my personal essay on Katrina recovery, Coming Home, appeared in Six Hens Magazine ( A Dog Steals Home, my debut middle grade novel, will be released by Pelican Publishing Company in March, 2017.
My husband and I share our home in New Orleans with our rescue dog, Lola, and accidental cat, Whodatcat.

My Writing Journey:

My first attempt at writing a children’s book has been like the many dogs and cats that find their way into my home and heart—serendipitous. One of those dogs, Dingo, was a slow-moving thirteen year-old when my first grandchild was born in 2011. As soon as my grandson could lift his head and focus his eyes, his gaze followed Dingo as he moved around the room. He liked to reach for Dingo’s plumed tail and eventually crawl to him. Dingo died before my grandson was two, but he missed him and often asked for him.
Inspired by their relationship, I decided to write the text for a picture book about a very young child and an old dog. I sent the manuscript off for a free evaluation to an independent editor I had met at the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. She replied that I had definitely established the relationship between the boy and the dog, but that I needed dialogue, plot, and conflict. How I wish I had kept that email! She went on to suggest that I join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and participate in a critique group.
Since she hadn’t dismissed me completely, I decided to take her advice and move forward with the book. I joined the Louisiana/Mississippi Chapter of SCBWI. There I connected with other writers of children’s books. I’ve been a member of SCBWI for four years now, and the support, knowledge, and advice I have received from fellow writers has been invaluable.
Although I benefited from critiques at SCBWI meetings, I felt the need for a more in-depth approach. I met regularly with an open admission critique group at the public library for about a year. I grew from those meetings and made some helpful contacts, but because I was the only children’s writer, the group wasn’t a good fit for me. I formed my own group with two friends—one a musician and lyricist, the other a poet. We had a great time, but I’m not sure how much either of us helped the other! Almost two years ago, I joined a writers’ group that was forming in New Orleans. We are strictly middle grade/young adult fiction and are in the process of whole manuscript critiques of each member’s work.
After eighteen months of writing, sharing in critique, and revising, my picture book had grown up into a middle grade, coming-of-age novel, A Dog Steals Home, which explores the themes of family and friendship. It remained tucked away in my computer while I decided what to do with it. I didn’t want to self-publish, but did not have the confidence to submit to a publishing house. I decided to send it to the editor who had originally rejected it and see what she thought. This time she was interested, and I hired her to work with me on the book. The editing process took six months and multiple revisions until we both felt it was ready for submission.
Then began the query process and my crash course on the business of getting a book published. I studied agents’ websites, sought advice from my fellow SCBWI members, and read books on the subject. I researched agents and publishers to find a good fit for my book and began to submit. In February, 2015, Pelican Publishing Company requested the full manuscript to review. In October of that year, I signed a contract with them. A Dog Steals Home will be released in March, 2017, almost five years after I began the project.
Meanwhile, I took a class in fiction writing at the University of New Orleans, attended writing workshops, and completed my second middle grade novel, Mystery at the Bitternut Inn. I have received the full manuscript critiques from my group and hope to finish revisions and submit it to Pelican Publishing before A Dog Steals Home is released in March.