C.J. Duarte

Guest Post: CJ Duarte talks The Dash Vol II!

Another break between posts, I know, but I return for a great reason! My very good friend, and fellow author, CJ Duarte, has some news about the upcoming release of the second and final volume of his novel The Dash! I’ve been waiting for this for a good long while, so this news has made my day.

Want some background information? Check out the interview and review and second interview I’ve posted.

But why should I do all the talking typing when Duarte has written the news in his own words?

C.J. Duarte's The Dash - A review

Hello everyone! Thank you to Krista Walsh for giving me another opportunity to guest-post here. Especially because of the nature of what I’m about to share. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my work, you can search this blog for past posts that explain it in much better detail right now. But for those who are aware, I have a number of very special announcements.

To start off…the second and final volume of my debut novel The Dash at last has a release date! It’s in six months from now: October 24th, 2014. That date will mark the three-year anniversary of Volume I coming out in print (and the roughly one-year anniversary of it coming out in e-format, after various production delays). Needless to say, this is a profoundly bittersweet time for me after all these years. I hope that those of you who’ve been patient in following my writing all this time will feel rewarded all over again, to say the least.

Secondly, to build up to this announced release, I’ve now established a brand-new promotional presence on four major platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest!These minimalist but useful pages will feature exclusive bonus materials about my novel, on top of the already-huge amount that exists on my main website. There’ll be some new promotional poster images (Facebook), random and cryptic quotes from the book (Twitter), a character biography or two (Google+), mysterious images related to the book (Pinterest) and even more quirky features from all these outlets. I plan to sparsely update all four pages at the same time at least once a month, as well as cross-promote certain announcements if they’re major enough. So I highly encourage you to visit them all in addition to my main site! (NOTE: to keep these pages strictly promotion-related, my interaction with visitor comments, conversations, etc. will be kept to a minimum, if at all.)

Thirdly, for those who are aware of just how massive an undertaking it was for me to write this book, I’m also confirming my plans to take an indefinite hiatus from publishing new material after Volume II’s release period (with the possible exception of website updates and the like). There is no way I can fully express how special The Dash has been to me, and I’m optimistic that its success and reputation will only evolve from here. Thank you so much to those who have appreciated my work and I hope you check out Volume II later this year.


Here, finally, are all my pertinent links that you can explore at your leisure…

www.thedashnovel.blogspot.com (main website)

Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest pages

Amazon.com retail page for Vol. I in e-format

Kobo.com retail page for Vol. I in e-format

Chapters.ca retail page for Vol. I in print


Thanks very much for reading, and take care!


Greylands Interview: C.J. Duarte

Day Two of the Greylands interviews! Duarte offered a couple of stories under various pen names, as well as some really inspired contributions that couldn’t find their way in the completed collection, namely a poster and a video. But named or not, I couldn’t allow his efforts to be overlooked into the final compilation and he was gracious enough to answer my questions today.

Before I lead into his interview, for those of your who are interested, you can purchase your very own copy (and figure out which stories might belong to Duarte) here.

And now: C.J. Duarte!

1) Other than a fabulous contributor to Greylands, who are you?

I’m C.J. Duarte–or, depending on which part of Greylands you’re looking at, one or more other names. Other than being a semi-anonymous contributor to this project, I’m a novelist whose big, experimental debut The Dash is currently in mid-release (Volume 1 of 2). My first volume has also been fortunate enough to win the 2013 Readers’ Favourite Silver Medal in the General Fiction category this past month, and was simultaneously made available as an e-book for the first time. 

2) Small blog serial or not, it took a lot of guts to contribute to the project. What drew you to it?

The mysterious premise drew me to it right away, followed by the first chapter, and then the tantalizing offer for anyone to continue the story on any tangent they wanted–within reason, of course–for an unspecified amount of further chapters. That’s probably the other thing that still draws me to it today. The fact that the main author was able to take all these sometimes-disparate elements and wrap them together in a saga that’s both complete and open-ended.

3) Why did you choose the characters that you did? Did you know when you started with them that they would turn out the way they did?

Without revealing too much about certain plots or contributions, I chose the character(s) I did because they seemed more sympathetic to me. So I tried to expand on that as much as possible, to create a contrast with whatever elements I maybe wasn’t as drawn to, even though I respected them all the same. I had no idea if a particular contribution I made would be continued or forgotten about, but that’s the chancey nature of these types of projects, and also what makes them exciting and fresh.

4) Other than your own character, who was your favourite?

If I had to pick just one favourite character, it would probably be Pops. He may’ve been more in the background but to me he was a big part of what held the world together. He, along with certain other characters, was proof that there could be potential for hope and progress, even in a very grim atmosphere.

5) What other projects do you have going on? Can we expect to see other titles from you?

Not a whole lot that I’m comfortable specifying right now, other than my currently released novel. I’ve said in prior conversations that I’m working on similar story ideas that could very well equal or even surpass The Dash on a creative level. Until that ever happens, though, I hope people who read that book are satisfied enough for a while, because I know I would be.

6) Where can people find you on the interwebs?

I try to keep it simple: for now, people can really only “find” me on my official blog-turned-general-website, thedashnovel.blogspot.com, which I update on a fairly steady basis, and where there are lots of interesting sections and materials to explore. And if they’re even more interested, they can acquire Volume 1 of my book at the following clickable links:
Amazon.com (in e-format)
Kobo.com* (in e-format)
* This just became available this past weekend, so the timing couldn’t be better to try it out!
Chapters.ca (in paperback)

And he’s back! Q&A – C. J. Duarte

A big “Welcome Back!” to C.J. Duarte, who was here 10 months ago to discuss his novel The Dash, and now he’s back again to update everyone on his goings on. Hurray!

How have you been? Keeping busy?

I’ve been great. The support from numerous people is very much appreciated and I can’t express my gratitude enough. In terms of book activity, I’ve been sporadically updating my website and promoting Volume 1—keeping an eye on things, but at the same time not letting them get in the way of my regular life. When you’re an unknown author and have almost no resources, you learn to be more appreciative of any bit of positive attention, because that’s how a lot of literary successes are built. They’re built not only by savvy but by patience as well.

The Dash has been out now for about 7 months. Any thoughts on the whole process looking back? Anything you’ll do different for Volume 2?

Wow…honestly, I’m very content and have no regrets. To me this book is an automatic success for three reasons: it got finished at all, it got accepted by a publisher, and it’s getting interest from many different people. Of course I wouldn’t argue with even more success, but anything beyond this stage is more of a bonus. When you work on such a big, personal project for so long, you’re not exactly in tune with the status quo. You’re doing it more for yourself, which is how it should be in my opinion.

Speaking of which, how is Volume 2 going? Any particular phase you’re at?

Volume 2 is still being finalized in various ways, including its release date, which I still have no clear projection for. I’ve said it would be ready around late 2012, but things can always change: it may come out a little earlier, or a little later—or when you least expect it. This should not discourage people from reading or revisiting the first volume, because I made it layered enough that it could practically stand on its own. Questions would remain of course, but none so nagging that you’d lose sleep, I don’t think. Certain things are better left unexplained, after all, for the sake of balance.

Without giving much away, what can readers who read (and thoroughly enjoyed, on my part) Volume 1 expect from Volume 2? There were so many incredible loose ends!

Thanks for the kind words. Readers can expect a slightly longer installment, denser with text, and with more psychological elements. So depending on what you thought of Volume 1, you’ll either see Volume 2 with more appreciation, or more bafflement—or perhaps, more of both. Claire Bead (the central character) will be trying to stabilize her life more, with some additional obstacles, connections and other strangeness along the way. I must admit: if you thought Volume 1 had loose ends, you haven’t seen anything yet!

Any other projects in the works yet?

Not necessarily. I’m always coming up with ideas, but it’ll be a long time before I get into a similar process as I did with The Dash. I never planned on being a prolific writer, let alone a really high-profile novelist, so your guess is as good as mine as to what will come next with me. But I’ll tell you this much: if or when my newest novel comes out, you won’t be underwhelmed. What I may lack in quantity, I try to make up for with quality, so no matter how long you may wait for my next work, you’ll find that it was worth every second.

Over the past 10 months, have you learned anything about your writing methods? Anything that you’d consider changing or found really works for you?

Yes: I’ve learned that I really like to take my time and stick to a more low-key principle, regardless of what others may think. I’ve also learned that I’m a lot more practical and methodical than the average writer. I’ve never written constantly and obsessively, but in shorter bursts. And I’m very much an “outline” writer to start with—which people might not believe while they’re reading The Dash, but it’s true. The story definitely becomes more spontaneous the bigger it gets, but for the most part I’m an old-fashioned pragmatist with this craft, even though I have appreciation for it all the same.

Now that you’ve done the mind-twisting/dark fantasy/horror genre (is there one category that really sums up The Dash?), what other genres would you consider?

That’s a good question. One of the things I’m really proud of with this book is that it has so many different levels, it leaves open a window for almost any type of creative offshoot. Naturally, that’s also part of the challenge: when you come to the end of writing a 1,500-page experimental, serialized novel, it’s hard to even fathom what you can do after, out of the countless options. I think it’d be fun to attempt a pure genre: a romance, or science-fiction, or a more straightforward mystery. There are so many stories that I’m discovering or brushing up on, it should give me more than enough inspiration going forward.

Parting words?

Yes—thank you again to those who have supported me and continue to do so. I’m proof that you don’t need an endless network of connections to succeed in life. It can certainly help, but don’t undervalue yourself if you don’t have it, or if you feel you’re misunderstood. As long as you have faith in yourself and in good ideas, you will prosper, period. That prosperity may not be staring you in the face right away, but it will be there, if you want it to be.

C.J. Duarte’s The Dash – A review

The only thing more difficult than trying to find time for great book in a busy schedule? Trying to find time for two. As I was reading O’Branagan’s Threshold, I was also making my way through Volume I of The Dash – and both authors succeeded in sucking me into their worlds – Devin onto a ranch in Montana, and C.J. into the black-and-white world of Cloak Valley.

And I don’t mean black-and-white in a rational, logical sort of way. I mean literally.

Claire Bead is a twenty-three-year-old Canadian woman with dreams of becoming a successful author, at the turn of the first decade of the twenty-first century. When she cuts work one day in a fit of desperation, Claire suddenly finds herself thrust into a dangerous bind, one from which she expects no escape. Just as suddenly, however, she feels her body disappear into thin air. 

What follows is an epic mystery unlike any other, as Claire wakes up to discover herself in a whole other world: the picturesque, whimsical, black-and-white town of Cloak Valley, Monochrome. Crippled by an imperfect memory and by the fleeting uncertainty of whether she is alive and dreaming, or dead and dreaming, Claire, with the help of others, tries to make sense of the muddled existence in which she finds herself; to make sense of recurring visions, which may or may not be dreams within greater dreams; and above all, to make sense of her own fractured identity and intangible history. As she becomes more and more comfortable in a strange land, she prepares for a future that might be either some form of an afterlife, or the last rush of unconscious desires that fly through Claire’s mind, before she meets her demise.

A sprawling tale of spiritual self-discovery, misadventure, terror, intrigue and romance, The Dash also provides its readers with an invaluable capacity for personal interactions, at the least expected moments. It is not only a story to be read, but a story to be experienced. Just as Claire must eventually find the answers to life’s most profound questions, in an increasingly-formless world, so can the reader be thrust directly into Claire’s viewpoint, and embark on an enchanting ride sure to both heighten the senses and nurture the heart.

There are some crazy fans out there. Fans of films, books, shows, and graphic novels that stand outside the lines of genre. Fans who are proud of themselves for their own unique tastes, and passionate about the often overlooked, but usually exceptional “cult classic”. If you are one of these people, then you must pick up this book.

The story begins when Claire – for reasons yet to be explained – jumps out of a window. It just gets more bizarre from there. After she wakes up, she begins her exploration of a town full of fascinatingly odd characters, in a setting that very quickly takes the reader out of their own reality and plops them down unceremoniously into one that is, although very similar in many ways, a little skewed.

For me, stepping into Cloak Valley was a bit like stepping into a graphic novel. It’s a world where everyone’s reactions and emotions are exaggerated and where people’s flaws and quirks become the focus-point of who they are, like walking caricatures. Not a single character fit the mould for a typical human being, and yet somehow could be related to, attached to. This is what I loved most about this book,and it is also what marks The Dash as something new and unique.

The plot follows multiple story-lines and multiple characters, but everything comes back to Claire as she tries to figure out what’s going on around her. Another aspect I love about the book is the very deep feeling of metadrama that pops up occasionally through out. As a writer, it seems that Claire has the worst case of writer’s block ever experienced. As a writer reading this book, I can appreciate that.

A project nearly a decade in the making, the dedication Duarte shows in crafting this piece shows in every vivid (if colourless) description and every character with a signature accessory. It is not only a novel, it is a craft piece of art, and, if you are prepared and willing to try something new and different, then I recommend you order the book here. You won’t be disappointed.

Book Teaser videos – reupload

I’ve been posting these videos everywhere for awhile, but C.J. Duarte (Click here for my Q&A about his debut novel The Dash!) recently toyed with them a little bit to make them widescreen and they look SO good that I had to repost.

The first one is for The Fenwith Trials, a story of a series of witch-burnings in 15th century-type England: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WBaQ2I-ZmY

The second is a very sneak preview for the manuscript I’m currently working on called Playing with Fire, a fantasy novel about a sorceress named Katerina:

Please check them out, comment here, comment there, anything to support my books and C.J. Duarte’s wonderful work!!

Q&A with C.J. Duarte

 Hello again!

As promised, I have a Q&A session with a buddy of mine who was lucky enough (and worked hard enough) to get his first novel accepted for publishing. I’ve been hearing about this epic work for years now, and it is with relief and excitement that I finally get to read it soon. Here, C.J. discusses his novel, the process of getting it published, and his favourite part of writing – below will be a link to his website if you want to follow him directly.

C.J. Duarte – The Dash

About You:

1) I’ve known you a pretty long time, but let’s pretend I haven’t. What can you say about yourself? What do you think would be written about you in the back of the book?

Probably “The Dash is the first novel by C.J. Duarte,” and that’s it. In fact, that’s the only thing I want written about me in the back of my book, because I’d really like to be one of those writers who leaves their work more open to interpretation, and does as little personal publicity as possible. Creating an artistic work is not always easy, and the more ambitious it is, the greater the risk–but the greater the reward as well, usually. So for as long as I can, I’d prefer to keep living as low-key and normal a life as possible, while still retaining a casual online contact with any fans or other people who wish to communicate with me about my writing.

Questions about the Writing Process:

2) How long have you been writing? In high school, you and I often worked together on writing projects, but when did it really become a clear that it was the career path you wanted/needed to take?

 I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. There were a lot of experiences with elementary school teachers being impressed with some of my writing projects, and encouraging me, but it wasn’t until late junior-high school that I really thought about it as a serious career choice. English tends to be a good subject for me–more so on the storytelling side than on the technical or historical side–but again, it wasn’t until mid-high school that I seemed to do better in English than in practically any other subject. So that was a clear sign. Plus I’ve always been lost in my own imagination, so the template of the English language gave me an ideal platform for that.

3) What motivates you to keep writing? Getting started on that first page is the easy part, I find, but when you’re a couple chapters in and the ending you’re really looking forward to writing seems so far away…how do you keep yourself going?

What honestly motivates me to write, is the fact that there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing in terms of career plans. Of course I enjoy the creative process, but the fact that it’s very relaxed, old-fashioned and solitary also gives me great peace of mind. The desire for me to write is motivated just as much by health and well-being, as it is by artistic and financial dreams.

4) One thing I always want to know about other writers is if you have a routine when you write? A particular place, CD, beverage, anything like that to get yourself in the right mindset?

There’s really no set routine for me; ideas come up at any time and on any level. Having said that, I used to do a ton of writing during late-night hours because it was a period when I was more nocturnal and excitable. But now I’ll pretty much write at any time if I have the energy for it. I also like to take walks, listen to music, watch a movie or TV–anything like that. And if a great idea comes up but I can’t jot it down in time, I don’t normally fret, because the mind can be so cyclical that your inspirations will come right back to you if they were interesting enough.

5) The journey from manuscript to publication can be long, tedious and frustrating…but somehow you managed to surpass of all that. What can you tell us about the process of getting published? What route did you take with it?

 In early 2010 I contacted a few people I’d met from the literary industry, and they gave me advice about taking a break from my material, fine-tuning it and so on. By the end of that year, I was extremely fortunate to discover Baico Publishing and sent them my work. A few months after that, they offered to publish it, just like that! Needless to say, this is the kind of quick, relative ease that most writers never ever experience with publishing, so I’ll always be very humbled by having had such amazing luck, especially with Baico. They’re a small but super-efficient operation that publishes a huge variety of titles every year, has a direct relationship with their clients, and gives the author virtually all the control over creativity, design, promotion, etc….so if you’re like me and you have a lot of ideas and “visions” about your work, then you really can’t do much better than Baico, for sure.

Book-Directed Questions:

6) What about The Dash? This is your first full length novel, I believe, and by the sounds of it, it’s quite a trippy epic! Even if you’re not comfortable giving away the plot, can you give one sentence about the narrative that would make people want to read it?

 Fasten your seat belt, it’s going to be a very bumpy ride.

7) Considering the length of the novel, when did you start your first draft? How long did it take you from first draft to final edit?

 Beginning in late 2003, I brainstormed and scribbled and sketched my way to something resembling a decent story, until finally a manuscript was completed in late 2009. A couple of years and two or three major re-edits later, I’m now waiting on the formatted copy of my book to look over, before it goes into printing.

8) What was your favourite part of writing the book? Not scene or anything, (unless you care to share ;)), but throughout the process. What was the most difficult part?

My favourite part was generally the mystery and adventure of the whole process. Even when I was well into rewrites, there were still surprises and parallels between certain passages that I’d forgotten about or never noticed before. The most difficult part was maintaining continuity, and deciding what to cut out once the chapters got more complicated. Yes–it sounds hard to believe, but there is deleted material from this giant book. Basically they were passages (or many pages, in some cases) that were too redundant, too arbitrary, or too unsavoury.

9) Now that The Dash is well underway to being released for the masses, are you developing any ideas for your next project?

 I’m working here and there on my next novel, which promises to be just as long, complex and imaginative as The Dash is. (Which means it’ll probably be serialized, too.) I have absolutely no clue when it’ll be completed, though, let alone released, so don’t hold your breath!

10) Most importantly: IS THERE A RELEASE DATE PLANNED? Any estimates of when it might be?

We’re aiming for Volume I to be released sometime in September 2011, with promotion beginning at about the same time. As for the release of the second and final volume, we’re not a hundred-percent sure about that, especially since I haven’t fully tweaked it yet. I’m hoping it’ll follow within a year of Volume I’s release, assuming that the first volume is successful enough.

One last question:

11) As a final question – in one sentence – what advice would you give any aspiring writers out there?

Try to give people an emotional connection to your writing, and don’t worry so much about “originality” or about new media/open media, because I believe that truly good writing will always be appreciated, sought out, and compensated in some way no matter what.

 Well there you have it: some great advice and great insight into the workings behind what should prove to be a dazzling story – can’t wait to learn more about it.

I want to send a very special thank you to C.J., because he has played a big role in my own motivations to keep writing. With a knack for marketing, and a great understanding for video and photo editing programs, he has made quite a few little book trailers and posters for my finished novels. With his permission, I’ll probably post some here eventually.

All the best to you, my friend – you have my complete support!

To follow the progress of The Dash and author C.J. Duarte, please follow the link to http://thedashnovel.blogspot.com/