October 5, 2014

what i've learned...


It’s funny to realize how much I’ve grown as a writer over the last few years.

I used to think I knew everything about writing, that the "rules" were golden and never to be broken. I used to think that it was my duty to point out everyone else's "wrongdoing", to correct their mistakes, to criticize anything and everything I thought might could be improved.

I used to compare myself to this author and that author, wondering if I would ever be as talented as them, if I could ever reach their writing level. I used to fear that because I had yet to find my success that I would never amount to anything, that my writing was garbage, that I was garbage (though, admittedly, I go through phases of this still).

I used to look down on other writers, whether it was because of the genre they were writing in, their lack of talent, their uninformed rule-breaking, or their seeming lack of commitment.

It’s funny how someone can both think they're superior to other writers and yet suffer such debilitating doubt at the same time.

And in the last few years, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that things I thought were true and absolute are a lot more wibbly-wobbly than the black-and-white picture I’d constructed in my head.

I’ve learned that the "rules" aren't golden. Grammar, mechanics, and such, yes, those should be followed, but in fiction, style trumps all. It’s not my place to point out someone else's mistakes unless they ask me to. Unsolicited negativity gets you nowhere in life.

I’ve learned that comparing myself to other authors, whether it's comparing myself to their voice, their style, their talent, their creativity, or to their successes and failures, is a waste of my time. That's time I should be spending cultivating my voice, my style, my talent, my creativity... time I should be spending working toward my success and learning from my failures.

I’ve learned that it's okay to aspire to someone else's ability to tell a story, as long as I don't lose focus on what makes my fiction mine. I’ll never write like Terry Pratchett. I’ll never write like Tolkien or J.K. Rowling or Neil Gaiman or Rick Riordan or Diana Wynne Jones or the lovely Rae Carson. I just won't. I can't. I’m not them.

But I will write like Brooke Johnson.

I’ve learned that it's okay to feel a little jealous at someone else's success, but ultimately, someone else's success in the writing business is my success. Their success means people are reading. And to me, that's a good thing, regardless of the book.

I’ve learned that success will come to me if I keep trying. I’m not garbage, just an undiscovered gem that needs a lot of polishing and shaping.

I’ve learned that every writer starts somewhere, that everyone has the potential for a great story in them. It takes work, and it takes practice, but I shouldn't look down on someone because they don't approach writing the same way that I do. I shouldn't look down on someone who is earlier in their writing journey than I am, because of what genre they write, their lack of a daily word count or reliance on a muse, or because I don't much like their style of writing. That’s petty and rude. And the world has enough petty and rude people.

Like I said: I’ve learned a lot in the last few years.

And I know I have a lot more to learn, about writing, about storytelling. it's humbling in a way, to recognize how far I’ve come and still see how far I have to go before I’ll really know what the hell I’m doing.

But I’ll learn.



[this is a post I originally shared to Google+, reposted here so that I can find it later]

September 10, 2014

a big announcement!


I have some big news today!

I am happy to announce that I have signed a three-book deal with Harper Voyager Impulse, the digital-first imprint of HarperCollins’ Science Fiction and Fantasy division!


As part of the contract, Harper Voyager Impulse will be republishing the first book in my steampunk series, The Clockwork Giant, and my associated novella, The Mechanical Theater, (tentatively titled), as well as publishing a sequel, with an option for a third novel.

This would be why, if you happened to notice, I removed my books from the market a couple of months ago and once again joined the ranks of the unpublished. I wanted so badly to tell everyone what was going on (especially those of you who asked!), but I had to keep everything hush-hush until the contract was finalized. Well, after months of negotiations and contract revisions, the contract has been signed, and I’ve been given the go-ahead to announce.

August 1, 2014

a slightly depressing update

Well, August is here—already?—and I still don't have The Wizard's Heart ready for publication, even though I last said it would be ready no later than July. Well, it's not even remotely close to being ready. Beta-reader feedback was mixed, and I have since been working to address all of the issues they had with the book—everything from characterization to plot and everything between. It's been a labor of angst, frustration, tears, and cursing, but I am making progress, if slowly.

However, as a result of all this, I really do not know when the book will release. Once I finish the current draft, I'll have to read through the whole manuscript and make additional changes for clarity and consistency, and then I plan to send the book out for a second beta-read. It will likely be months from now before I receive feedback from a second round of betas, no sooner than the end of September. At earliest (assuming that I actually have a better book after this draft), I might—might—have the book ready by December. Maybe. Gosh, that's depressing. But it is what it is.

In other good news, I will soon be able to make a super awesome announcement regarding a super amazing thing happening next year. But until then, we can all be sad about the delayed release for The Wizard's Heart.

In other other news, Dark Lord in Training is coming along nicely. I'm really enjoying the change of pace and coming up with ridiculous situations to put my characters through. It is a nice distraction from the seriousness of The Wizard's Heart, and it's a lot of fun to write. If you want, you can read snippets week to week on Google+ at the #DarkLordinTraining hashtag.

July 11, 2014

a little bit about Dark Lord in Training


I was tagged in a little questionnaire exercise, and I thought why not? Something fun to do in an otherwise dull and unproductive week.

Because I’m not really in the mood to talk about The Wizard’s Heart right now—edits are beyond exhausting right now and me and the book are just not on good terms at the moment—I’m going to answer questions about Dark Lord in Training, the middle-grade fantasy that I am oh-so-slowly drafting.


1.    What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Alden Millard. Fictional.

2.    When and where is the story set?

The story is set in the Kingdom of Erilea, but most of the story takes place inside the Evil Lair of Ryxik Hathmor the Blackhearted. It’s a standard fantasy setting, upgraded slightly, because apparently they have decent plumbing and gas stoves. So, I don’t know. Maybe it’s like a weird mid-1800s tech-level fantasy world. That works, I suppose.


May 23, 2014

for those of you wondering what i'm up to...


I’ve been rather quiet as of late, but I’m slowly getting back into the swing of being social with people again. I’ve been swamped with freelance editing work in addition to working on my own stuff. I’ve edited five books since the beginning of the year, totaling approximately 265,000 words. I’ve run The Wizard’s Heart through another draft and have started the revision notes for the next based on beta-reader feedback. And, on top of all that, I’m taking care of a six-and-a-half-month-old full-time. So, you know, I’ve been busy.

But, as an update, I wanted to let you all know where I am on things.

Some of you will recall a bit of desperation when I received beta feedback for The Wizard’s Heart. I received a lot of negative comments—flat characters, predictable plot, dull setting, clich├ęd concepts, subpar writing, outright boring to the point that a good number of beta readers didn’t even finish the book. You know, happy stuff. I was angry. I was upset. I wanted to just burn the book and forget I ever wrote it. I’m tired of working on it. I’m tired of it not being good enough. I’m tired of trying to make it better. All of that led to a particularly whiny post that basically said ‘fuck it, I’m just going to publish this stupid thing and get it over with’. But with some distance and perspective, I realized that I can actually tackle the seemingly overwhelming edits to make this a good book—maybe even a great one.