The Dash

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… (main website)

Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest pages retail page for Vol. I in e-format retail page for Vol. I in e-format retail page for Vol. I in print


Thanks very much for reading, and take care!


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.