December 30, 2011

back to basics outline

If you remember, I plan on doing a new blog series after the New Year. I’ve been brainstorming for ideas for the past several days. What’s funny is that the most difficult and complex ideas—plot, character, structure, etc.—they’re the easiest for me to explain. The basics, the simple ideas—grammar, punctuations, writing coherently—they’ll be the most difficult for me to explain. I’m no English teacher. I didn’t go to school to teach people the basics of writing. I went to school to write. By the time I got to college, I already had a pretty good understanding of the English language. So most of it comes naturally. I don’t have to think about it. This blog series is going to force me to think about it, the same way I have to think about characterization and structure.

This is what I have so far:

Grade School Basics:
  • Parts of a sentence
  • Syntax, sentence variation
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling
  • Capitalization
  • Grammar
  • Research
Creative Writing Basics:
  • Point of View
  • Scenes
  • Plotting
  • Structure
    • Three act
    • Hero’s Journey
    • Propp’s Fairy Tale
    • Snyder’s 15 key beats
  • Literary description – metaphor, simile, symbolism
  • Show vs. tell
  • Voice and style
 Storytelling Basics
  • Characters
    • Protagonist
    • Antagonist
    • Supporting characters
    • Archetypes
  • Setting and description
  • World-building
  • Exposition
  • Dialogue
  • Pacing
  • Conflict
  • Theme

Revision Basics and Writing Tools
  • Outlining
  • Revision methods
  • Critique groups and beta readers
  • First read-through
  • Analyzing your story
  • How to revise…
    • Character
    • Plot
    • Beginning
    • Middle
    • End
    • Scenes
    • Exposition
    • Setting and description
    • Theme
  • Final polish
    • Chapter openings
    • Chapter endings
    • Dialogue
    • Word usage

It’s likely I’ll go more in depth than this, depending on what I come across while working on this series. I may add a few more things I haven't thought of yet. Since I’ll be working on the sequel to The Clockwork Giant at the same time, you can be certain that problems I come across will somehow find their way into this series. Some of these things I’ve talked about before, in which case, I’ll add links to relevant posts.

Now, while this is a lot to cover over the next several weeks, I’m sure I missed something. Is there anything I didn’t mention that you’d like me to cover? And if you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to email me, or comment here.

This series will probably start January 9th. Monday, I’m doing a post about December sales for The Clockwork Giant. Wednesday, I’m announcing the giveaway winners (enter here). And Friday… well, I don’t have anything planned for Friday yet, but it seems counterproductive to start the blog series on a Friday.

So there you have it. I hope you all have a good New Year’s celebration!

December 28, 2011

holiday giveaway

Now that 2011 is winding down, I have a little present for you. As part of the New Year’s / post-book release / 100 blog followers celebration, I’m giving away some free stuff!

So the only rules are that you must comment on this blog post. I won’t be doing the giveaway anywhere else, so this is the only place you can win. You have until next Tuesday to enter (Jan. 3), and I’ll announce the winners on Wednesday.

The prizes:
1)      The Clockwork Giant in whatever format you want, digital or paperback
2)      $10 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble
3)      $5 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble

To enter, just comment on this post, and tell me: what books did you receive/read this holiday season?

December 23, 2011

merry christmas

I know a lot of people will be travelling today and tomorrow, off to visit family for the holidays. I wish everyone a fantastic Christmas, and I hope you all make it to your destinations safely. And of course, if you need something to bring to the family dinner, here are two dessert recipes, easy enough for children to make.

Gingerbread Men
Prep: 35 minutes | Chill: 3 hours | Bake: 5 minutes per batch | Makes: about 36 cookies

½ cup shortening
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup molasses
1 egg
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Wax paper
Mixing bowl
Hand mixer or Kitchenaid or extreme talent with a spoon
Cookie sheet
Cookie cutters

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in molasses, egg, and vinegar until combined. Beat in as much of the flower as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill dough about 3 hours or until easy to handle (I skipped the chill step and just floured my hands, the rolling pin, and the wax paper I was working on).
  2. Preheat oven to 375oF. Grease a cookie sheet. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough at a time until ¼ inch thick. Using a 2 ½-inch cookie cutter (or any size really… I made miniature gingerbread men), cut into desired shapes. Place 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on cookie sheet 1 minute. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. If desired, decorate cookies with icing, candies, and sugars.

Peanut Toffee Chocolate Clusters

1 ½ pounds of chocolate candy coating
1 bag of toffee bits
16 oz. of peanuts

Large mixing bowl
Wax paper

  1. Chop the chocolate coarsely and then melt it according to the directions on its packaging. The chocolate should be smooth.
  2. Add peanuts and toffee bits. Stir until well coated.
  3. Spoon mixture onto wax paper. Let cool.

Seriously, easiest candy recipe ever.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas/Festivus/Winter Festival celebration. Happy Holidays.

December 21, 2011

royalties, hobbits, and candy

A few things today… I now have four reviews of The Clockwork Giant on Amazon! As far as I’m concerned, I’m doing rather well. I’ve sold 21 books in the past week, most of them on Amazon, and even one international sale. I’m hoping to get more through Smashwords once the book goes live on Apple iBooks, Kobo, and Sony Reader. And maybe sales will pick up after Christmas when people have more money. I’m not sure that the wave of new e-reader owners will give me many sales, seeing as they’ll likely only download books in the FREE -- $0.99 range. That’s what I did with my first e-reader. Anyway, I’m doing better than I thought I would with sales. I figured I’d be lucky to sell 10 copies in the first month. Instead, I’ve sold double that, and I’ve accrued $76.05 in royalties. That’s $76.05 that I didn’t have before. Woo!

December 19, 2011

here's to you, 2012

I did the same post last year, and from my almost-2012-perspective, 2011 was a good year. It wasn’t a great year. It certainly wasn’t an amazing year. But it wasn’t a bad year either. I’m perfectly content with this past year.

I finished and released a book. I started two D&D campaigns, one of which, still in progress. I didn’t get all the games that I wanted, but the only one that really mattered was Skyrim, and I’ve but 60+ hours into it. I’m probably getting The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for Christmas from my husband, so I’m looking forward to playing that.

We didn’t get to do much camping this year, like we wanted to. And all that money I spent on craft and d├ęcor supplies didn’t necessarily go wasted, but our house is still not very decorated. We did manage to paint the two bedrooms and the dining room, and we put down new floors and had new windows installed.

December 16, 2011

back to basics

Earlier this week, I had a bit of a rant. In an effort to support my fellow Indie authors, I started searching for self-published books to read. I thought I was doing pretty good. Realizing that not everyone has graphic design experience like I do or the money to hire someone who does, I ignored covers. I selected books based solely on the blurbs they offered, and then the sample.

But what I found while searching was disheartening. Here is my rant, edited for language, because I got a bit heated about it.

i just realized: there's a good reason self-published books have such a bad reputation.

dear authors,

if you plan on self-publishing, please have the courtesy to hire an editor, or run spell check at the very least, and please take a rudimentary college English writing course. you make the rest of us look bad when you don't.

yours truly,

brooke johnson

December 14, 2011

post-publication stress

Well, I am officially a published author. It’s still a bit surreal. For the past two days, I’ve been obsessively checking my sales, and if it wasn’t for spending time with my goddaughter, my best friend, and my mother-in-law, I’m pretty sure I would have driven myself crazy. I think I’m holding it all together pretty well. There hasn’t been any hysterical crying… yet.

Really, I feel quite calm about the whole ordeal. I just feel like I should be doing something. I mean, I know people aren’t going to rush to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, foaming at the mouth wanting to buy my book, but I would like to encourage them to do so. However, I have absolutely no skills in marketing. I’ve tweeted, Facebooked, and Google+’d about my book. I started a Google Ads campaign, targeted toward Nook and Kindle owners. I plan on starting a Facebook ad campaign today. I have sent book review requests to several bloggers, a few of which who have agreed to review it. I’m in the middle of answering some interview questions for a blog set to go live next year, and I have another guest post to write for a fellow blogger. I feel like there is more that I could be doing, but I don’t know what. And I don’t want to overwhelm social media with promo tweets lest I become a spammer. That’s the last thing I want.

December 12, 2011

buy my book!

Well, seeing as I suck with timing and all that, looks like my book is available for purchase!

It's 1881, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Chroniker City, the global hub of technological advancement in the modern world. Based off the British coast, the city is home to the most prestigious polytechnic university worldwide, a center of mechanical ingenuity teaching everything from clockwork mechanics and thermodynamics to electromagnetism and electricity.

Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, dreams of one day becoming a member of the Guild, an elite group of inventors and innovators who envision a future fueled by technology, but her ambitions will only come to fruition if she can find a way into the illustrious university—an institution reserved for men only. When she meets Emmerich Goss, an accomplished engineer newly recruited into the Guild, Petra discovers that he needs help building a top-secret, government-sanctioned automaton, and she is just the girl to help him.

Together, they craft the clockwork giant, and as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra finds that she can love more than gears and mainsprings.

You can buy it at Amazon here.
At Barnes & Noble here.
And at Smashwords here.

And hopefully by the end of the week you will be able to purchase it at the Sony Reader store, Kobo store, and the Apple iStore. I’ll be sure to add the links when the time comes. But if you want it right now, you can get a compatible version from Smashwords.

The official paperback will be available early next week from Amazon and Createspace, but you can get a copy from Lulu right now, if you’re so inclined. Just click here.

If you’ve read the book, would you please rate and review it on the above websites? It would be much appreciated.

December 9, 2011

preparing for release day

With my book release only a few days away, I’ve been unable to think of anything else. And yesterday, I received the first proof for the paperback version of the novel. I hope to have it available for sale at the same time as the ebook, but depending on lulu’s distribution terms, that may or may not happen. I faintly remember something about six weeks after the proof is approved, but that could have been for a different distribution package.

I only have a few changes to make to the paperback. I have to add in a few blank pages so that everything shows up properly. I have to edit the page numbers so that they only show up in the actual story rather than beginning to end. Which was something I didn’t think was possible. Google proved me wrong. I never knew you could break a document into sections in MS Word. The more you know….

December 7, 2011

only the beginning

With The Clockwork Giant coming out in six days, my nerves are all a jitter. My first reviews have gone up, and the book is officially out there. And as insecure as I am, I question whether or not I made the right decision, not about self-publishing, but about publishing itself. Is my book really worth publishing? I mean, it is my first completed novel. Aren’t those supposed to suck?

Now, I know that it’s the best book that I’ve ever written. I know that I couldn’t improve it anymore even if I worked on it for another six months or a year. I love this book. I made the decision to publish, because well, what have I got to lose? People may love it. People may hate it. Hopefully readers lean toward the first one, but I know not everyone will. And while I know that The Clockwork Giant is the epitome of my writing career so far, I know that it is in no way the best book I will ever write. I still have a long way to go as a writer, and I was reminded of that fact yesterday.

December 5, 2011

peripheral publications

With only a week until the release of The Clockwork Giant, I’ve decided that I’m going to work on a smaller project before delving into the sequel. I had a thought a few months ago—since there will be a full year between releases of the Chroniker City novels, why don’t I release a novella length short story collection? I could easily write several short stories concerning minor characters from Chroniker City, telling of events that happen between books, without giving away any major plot points of the main story. I’d want the short story collection to tie into the larger story, but I’d also want it to stand on its own, where a reader could pick it up at any time in the series.

December 2, 2011

celebrating christmas traditions

Now that it’s December, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas… shopping. As of the beginning of the month, I’ve purchased gifts for my closest friends, but none of my family. I don’t know what to get any of them. They should give me Christmas lists.

This year, we’ll be spending Christmas with my family. First, Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house, Christmas morning with Dad, late Christmas morning with Mom, and Christmas lunch with my other set of grandparents. Last year, we went to my family’s Christmas, and my in-laws’ Christmas, driving 1000 miles over the course of three days. It was too much, so we’re starting a new tradition: swapping Christmas destinations every year. With my family, we’ve had several traditions over the years. Most of them faded as we got older, but I remember most of them.

November 30, 2011

beginning again

So, yesterday, I finally started my next novel, and I started it off with a bang. I wrote roughly 3700 words, though I’m pretty sure they’re mostly crap. It happens. Especially with me. It’s a fact: I suck at writing beginnings.

I don’t know what it is about introducing characters and plot and world-building and all that, but I just can’t do it well. The first two chapters of The Clockwork Giant went through a dozen revisions each, and I ended up cutting the entire second chapter in the final draft. So, when I started writing the sequel yesterday, I decided I’d skip the beginning and just get into the story. I had been putting off writing because I wanted the beginning to be perfect right off the bat. A very unrealistic goal. Rather than drive myself crazy trying to get the beginning right, I just jumped into the story right after the introduction stuff would happen. And I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. I’ve never started a book so strong.

November 28, 2011

book release countdown

So, only two weeks left until The Clockwork Giant release. I always wanted to publish a novel by the time I was 25. Looks like I’m ahead of schedule.

At the beginning of last week, I started my marketing efforts, sending review copies to book bloggers and advanced reader copies to my giveaway winners. People are reading my book, possibly at this very moment, and to be honest, it’s a bit surreal.

I’m already having dreams (nightmares?) about book reviews, and I know my husband is sick and tired of me asking if he thinks the book will do well. What if I get nothing but bad reviews? What if no one likes the book? What if it’s awful? etc. This all goes with my insecurity as a writer, of course. And I know that if the book was bad, my beta readers would have said something—right? Well, whatever the outcome of this release, it’s too late to turn back now. I queried about thirty book bloggers to consider The Clockwork Giant for review, and already, nine blogs have agreed to read and review it. I gave away eight copies of the book as part of the giveaway. Now I just have to wait for those people to post their reviews and hope that they liked it.

November 23, 2011

what i'm thankful for

When I got out of bed this morning, I was just going to do a simple post, wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. But, instead, I’m going to share with you what I’m thankful for. I think it’s good to look at your life and single out everything that’s good about it, rather than everything bad, like we so often do. I have plenty to be thankful for, and though my life isn’t perfect and there are a few dark spots, I’m still happy.

So, I am thankful for…

My husband, who is so supportive of my writing career, and who puts up with my melodrama and super emotional disposition. He makes me laugh daily, and I smile when I think of him. If there is a such thing as fate, I believe with my whole heart that we were made for each other.

thought going through my head: This is too silly.
What if I land on my dress and tear it?
Gah, Aaron already jumped. Okay then.
But I'm not happy about it.

November 21, 2011

giveaway winners!

So, I held a giveaway last week if you didn't notice. I had a total of 37 (I think) entrants over all four social networks.

A breakdown for you people who like numbers:

24 entrants on Google+ (I have 600+ followers)
6 on Facebook (29 followers. woot.)
8 on Twitter (260+ followers)
11 on the blog (95 followers)

A few people entered on every network, some just one, and others two or three. The giveaway was as successful as I expected it to be, though in unexpected ways. I expected more Twitter entrants and not nearly so many Google+ entrants. So that was a surprise, a good surprise. My collected experience now tells me that Google+ is a really good promotion/marketing tool. Your mileage may vary.

Now for the winners!


Reece Hanzon 


Rosemary Crawford


Peter Smalley
Harold Chester
Sonia Medeiros

and finally, the blog:

Angela Brown


So, as for you winners, send me an email to with your choice of for Kindle, .epub for everything else, and .pdf for you people without ereaders--and I'll send it right away.

As for you non-winners, I have a special something. Another drawing!

Robin McIntyre

You also get a copy of my book, so send me an email with your choice of format.

Now, really, for the rest of you... unfortunately, you have to wait another three weeks before my book becomes available for purchase. But, I will be having another giveaway the day after the release, so there will be another chance to win!

Thanks to all of you who entered and those of you who have been with me since I first had the crazy idea to write a steampunk novel. You're awesome.

November 18, 2011

review: the shoemaker's son

“The Shoemaker’s Son” – Gayle Ramage

1807. As a young boy, Brogan O'Malley encounters the strange and enigmatic Darcy on the streets of Edinburgh. Ten years pass and Brogan, now a petty thief, meets her once again and is surprised to discover she has not aged one day.

A further ten years later, it's 1827, and Brogan's life has taken a turn for the worse. About to become involved with unscrupulous bodysnatchers, William Burke and William Hare, the reappearance of the ageless Darcy sees Brogan discover a secret that will change his life forever.

November 16, 2011

for the love of Thor

Before I go into today's post, don't forget to enter the giveaway. Win my steampunk novel The Clockwork Giant! For every ten people who comment, there will be one winner, and there are multiple ways to win.

So after five days of nothing but Skyrim, I suppose it’s time to get back to business. I’ve vowed not to touch the Xbox today, except in the case to move it when I clean up the disaster zone my living room has become. And while I will have to start using my brain beyond figuring out how to sneak through a cavern stocked with Falmer without being noticed, I decided that today should be a fun post. I haven’t done a non-writing post in a long time (those posts where I lament about not writing are technically still about writing). I used to do fun little posts about snippets of history or magical creatures because they fall under the category of my interests, and I think I should start doing those again. If only once a month or something.

It should come as no surprise to most of you that I love the Norse. I’m not sure exactly when my passion for helmed, hairy, fur-clothed men began, but that fascination has done nothing but grow over the years. Every archeological discovery regarding the Norsemen excites me—tombs, ships, houses, jewelry, gravestones. I’ve read all the Norse myths multiple times. I know the Elder Futhark (in fact, I made a set of Elder Futhark runes), and I’m slowly learning Icelandic. I once tried to write a novel set in a Norse setting (which indubitably failed). I dream of successfully writing a Norse epic someday, maybe after the Chroniker City novels are finished. And when I first found out that the next Elder Scrolls game would take place in Skyrim, the home of the Nords, I think I died of awesome.

November 14, 2011

the clockwork giant giveaway

[Sorry for the lateness of the post. My sleep schedule is all wonky after a weekend of Skyrim.]

It’s finally time for a giveaway!

In one month, The Clockwork Giant will be available for purchase, but what’s the fun in waiting until December to read it? I’m giving away an indefinite number of eARCs to an indefinite number of readers. It just depends on how many people enter. I think for every ten people who comment on this post, I will give away one copy. And, don’t worry, you can increase your odds.

Not only will the giveaway take place on my blog, but you can also enter through Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. Each site will have a separate giveaway, and you can enter all four of them. Please note, however, while it increases your odds to enter all four, if you win one, then your name will be removed from the other three giveaways.

So how do you enter?

First, comment on this post. Easy peasy.

Second, tweet about the giveaway on Twitter. Something along the lines of “RT if you want to win an eARC of the YA Steampunk novel THE CLOCKWORK GIANT by @brookenomicon”. Any sort of wording will work; just make sure you tag me in it. And it would be nice if you followed me too, but it's not necessary to win.

Third, comment on this post on Facebook, or post on my wall. It would also be nice if you "like" me while you're there, but that's not necessary either.

Fourth, comment on this post on Google+. If you share the post to your circles, be sure to include the link to the post so that people can comment on the original. And again, if you'd circle me, that's be awesome, but not necessary.

So there you are. Four ways to win an eARC of The Clockwork Giant. Enter by midnight, Sunday November 20th, and I'll announce the winners next Monday, who will have to send me an email or DM or whatever with their contact info so that I can get the eARC to them. 

Comment and spread the word!

About the book:

It's 1881, the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Chroniker City, the global hub of technological advancement in the modern world. Based off the British coast, the city is home to the most prestigious polytechnic university worldwide, a center of mechanical ingenuity teaching everything from clockwork mechanics and thermodynamics to electromagnetism and electricity.

Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, dreams of one day becoming a member of the Guild, an elite group of inventors and innovators who envision a future fueled by technology, but her ambitions will only come to fruition if she can find a way into the illustrious university—an institution reserved for men only. When she meets Emmerich Goss, an accomplished engineer newly recruited into the Guild, Petra discovers that he needs help building a top-secret, government-sanctioned automaton, and she is just the girl to help him.

Together, they craft the clockwork giant, and as the deadline for its completion nears, Petra finds that she can love more than gears and mainsprings.

And there's a nifty little book trailer in the sidebar if you have a minute to spare. 

November 11, 2011

brb... skyrim

So, at the precise moment of you reading this, I am doing something along these lines:

I have been waiting for this game since there was just a hint that it might just happen. And oh my god Nordic setting? Did you see the dragons? Dragons! And the beauty of the landscape, and the utter brilliance of the new graphic engine. And a men's choir singing the theme in Draconic. Draconic, people. How cool is that? I will not lie. The main theme makes me tear up a bit. Just a bit though.

This one actually does make me cry. Don't make fun.

And here are some more videos for your viewing pleasure. Check out more at

November 9, 2011


I’m one of those scatter-brained people who can never seem to get anything finished in a reasonable amount of time because of how distracted I get. Especially with chores. Halfway through folding a load of laundry… I need to go look up this really obscure fact right now. *drops towel and goes to computer* *opens browser* Now why did I come back here? *opens Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Blogger* *An hour later, husband comes in asking why I haven’t finished the laundry* Oh… I… umm… forgot?

I almost always have three or four projects going on at once, and I can’t focus on just one for very long. I get excited about it. I itch to work on it. And then I start, and about a third of the way through, I get another idea for a project. Then I want to work on it, but a third of the way through, another idea comes strolling into my head. For instance, earlier this week, I started a craft project. I bought all the materials I needed, and then some, and I sat down to work. And I haven’t touched it since Monday. Other things were more important, and now my sitting room is a disaster zone.

November 7, 2011

changing gears

Last week, I tried working on the sequel to The Clockwork Giant again, and things were going nowhere. I couldn’t write because the plot was a bit ho-hum, spawning one of last week’s posts (go big. go bold. go dangerous.). But even though I knew the plot needed work, I couldn’t seem to plot properly. Things were just a mumble-jumble in my head, with no sense of order to rope in the chaos.

So I changed gears. I knew I needed a better plot, but I didn’t know where to start. So I started doodling the inside of a PBV-1 (technological terms!), and after drawing the gauges, instruments, and controls, I started to fill in the scenery. Then, there were other PBVs, airships, explosions, and bullets raining from every direction. Well, that’s interesting, says my muse Victor. So I ask him, How can we get Petra there? And ever-so-dutifully, Victor started giving me more images—airships, an EMW (more abbreviations!), a battlefield, and the Guild council chambers. I didn’t write any new scenes. I kept on with the drawings, and when I ran out of steam on one thread, I started another. Only when I had a good number of drawings did I start transcribing the images to scenes, which actually only turned out to be ten. But those were ten scenes I didn’t have before.

November 4, 2011

review: death cloud

Death Cloud – Andrew Lane

It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe. So begins Sherlock’s true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent.

November 2, 2011

go big. go bold. go dangerous.

So, two weeks ago, I officially started writing the first draft for the sequel to The Clockwork Giant, but since starting, I’ve written very little. Yes, last week, we installed laminate floors, and as a result of that, I had a lot of projects to do during the day that couldn’t wait until I was done writing for the day. That said, I don’t think I would have gotten much written anyway. Something’s wrong with my plot, and until yesterday, I didn’t know what.

Now, being NaNoWriMo, this is as good a time as any for this post. Oftentimes, writers come to a standstill in the middle of a project. All of a sudden, nothing makes sense. It’s all crap. Every last bit of it. Might as well scrap it and start over. When I was a pantser, this happened to me all the time. I just sort of wandered around until things made sense. Oh, that’s what I was trying to say? Okay, now I can write properly.

October 31, 2011

tricks, treats, news, and surprises

So, a few things today:

First off, Happy Halloween! When I was a kid, this was my favorite holiday of the year, and it still is. Unfortunately for this night of candy, costumes, and fun, I’ve been too distracted by the approaching release date for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, only eleven days away! If I would have had the focus or time this year, I probably would have made a costume. Even though we don’t go anywhere for Halloween, I like dressing up for handing out candy. I wanted to make a Victorian dress for this year, but obviously that didn’t work out. Time I would have spent sewing the costume was instead spent installing laminate floors throughout our house, which is nearly complete. We still have to put floors in the closets and get transitions for the bedrooms, bathroom, and kitchen, but for all intents and purposes, it’s done. Last year, I went as a pirate lass (which just so happens to be my fallback costume when I fail to make a new one). Guess I’ll be shouting YARRRRR when I hand out candy tonight.

October 28, 2011

happy (or not-so-happy) endings

A lot of industry professionals and other writers can’t seem to stress enough how important a solid beginning is for a novel’s success. I mean, when we submit novels to agents and publishers, most of the time, they require the first ten pages, or the first chapter. There are numerous blog posts that discuss how to hook a reader. And yes, I agree that beginnings are important. We have to make the reader care in a page or less and then keep them caring long enough so they want to know what happens next. It’s a difficult skill to master.

But equally important, if not more important, are endings. The final note of a book can oftentimes make or break a book. I don’t pretend to be an expert on writing good endings. In fact, I think endings might be my weakest skill as far as writing goes. I don’t know how to tie everything into a neat little bow at the end, and it sort of comes out as a tangled knot that needs much reworking before being even close to presentable. I can, however, analyze endings and decide whether or not the ending could have been better.

October 26, 2011

do-it-yourself proofreading

It’s been a while since I’ve actually discussed anything writing related. Reason: I haven’t been doing much writing. I did start writing the sequel to The Clockwork Giant on Friday, but that has officially been put on hold until Monday, at the earliest. For those of you who don’t follow along on Twitter and Google+, my husband and I are doing some major renovations to our house, and if we’re to get it all done in a timely manner, I have to sacrifice my writing time. In fact, I have to go do some drywall right now so that I can paint it this afternoon. …

Now that’s done, I can focus on this blog post.

So, the new novel has about 1300 words, and they may or may not be utter crap. That’s first drafts for you. But, I don’t want to talk about first drafts today. I want to talk about second drafts, third drafts, twelfth drafts, and zomg-worked-on-for-ten-years drafts. I was lucky enough to go through one major revision and several smaller revisions. If I want to be technical, The Clockwork Giant went through half a dozen drafts, but I call the current draft the third draft because it includes me changing material that came about in the major revision that I call the second draft (which was really the fifth draft, but I don’t want to confuse you).

October 24, 2011


My newest obsession.

This weekend, I transformed our old dining table (hand-me-down from my grandmother) into a new one, using about a pint and a half of latex paint, and half a pint of polyurethane. It took hardly any time at all and cost me about $50 total in materials, but there were lots of leftovers to use on later projects. And I went from this:

look at my handsome husband sanding away

To this:

I did a bit of distressing before the last coat of polyurethane to give it that aged look. I like how it turned out. I still have a bit of detailing to do. The little grooves in the legs and around the bottom of the table top will be painted a light, creamy brown.

October 21, 2011

procrastination is procrastination is...

I finished plotting the second novel in my steampunk series, but I haven’t started writing yet. Why? I’m scared. I’m afraid that it won’t be as good as the first book. I’m afraid that the plot is boring. I’m afraid that I’m a terrible writer and this whole writing thing has been a colossal waste of time. I’m afraid no one will read my books when I publish them. I’m afraid that I finished the first novel by some weird mistake, and there’s no way that I could ever write a second book. I’m afraid that everyone I know will think I’m a failure since I’m self-publishing.

That’s a lot of fear to overcome. 

So I’ve been sitting, waiting. For what, I have no idea. And the more I wait, the more I worry. It’s a downward spiral of doom.

Yesterday, in an attempt to be productive, I tried coming up with titles, to no avail. I tried writing a blurb. No success there either. I did everything but write. And all this procrastination is killing my brain. I was so utterly unproductive yesterday that I had a brief stint of lying in the floor wondering why the hell I ever decided to be a writer (and I won’t deny, as emotional as I am, there were tears). Luckily, that was remedied by a trip to On the Border and a $10 margarita. Everything’s funny to me when I get a bit tipsy, so my feeling of worthlessness quickly evaporated when I was giggling about how weird it felt to chew black beans. My husband just kept laughing at me.

I feel much better today, but the fear is still there. 

But, as Laura Pauling so eloquently expressed on her blog today:

Just write.

So that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m going to sit at my computer. Butt in chair. Hands on keyboard. And I’m going to write. Maybe it will be terrible, maybe it will be brilliant. Either way, I need to get the words off my chest and start this next book. Worrying, procrastination, and hiding under my desk isn’t going to help me finish it. The only way to write a book is one word at a time. 

If you’re stuck, if you want to start a project but haven’t yet, if you feel inadequate or worthless or talentless, put that all aside and just write. None of that matters today. Just write.


And in other news, I’d like to start interviewing some indie and self-pubbed authors and reviewing some indie and self-pubbed books. So if you self-publish or have a book with a small publisher, or if you know someone who does who wants some blog coverage, send me an email at and let me know if you’d like an interview, book review, or both. And I’m willing to read just about anything as far as book reviews go, though you’ll really have to blow my mind with zombies, werewolves, dystopians, and post-apocalyptic stories.

October 19, 2011

planning a writing career

As you all know, I’m plotting the second novel in the steampunk series while tinkering with revisions on the first. I plan to have ten to twelve months between releases, giving me plenty of time to finish the novels and do a good job of it. Yes, I can write the first drafts in practically no time, but revisions, beta-readers, and critique partners stretch that time out. I want to produce the best book possible, and I’m fine with taking a little extra time to do that. Originally, I wanted to publish The Clockwork Giant by the end of this month, but that’s not a realistic goal. I need to finish revisions, write up the extra bits for the book, formulate a marketing plan, format the eBook, etc. That will take a bit more time. Yes, I could release the book by the end of the month, but it wouldn’t be the best book possible, and that’s a disservice to my prospective readers.

October 17, 2011

imagination required

This weekend, my husband and I went camping on Petit Jean Mountain with my dad and his girlfriend. I’ve been going there every year since before I could walk. Check out my amateur photography!

October 14, 2011

friday stuff

I have a bit of a busy day ahead, so this will be short and random.

Music note: Listening to "Run Run Run" by Phoenix, which is probably my favorite song of theirs.

October 12, 2011


So since I’ve made the decision (again) to self-publish, I would like to take a moment to talk about eBooks, since they’re the primary product of self-publishing.

Now, there’s a lot of debate about what an author should do in regards to creating his or her eBook. Some authors relinquish all control and let a self-publishing company or a vanity press do the work. Some authors rely only on an editor and a cover artist. Other authors rely on less. Me? I rely on myself and my husband. Sometimes, I wonder if that’s such a good idea.

October 10, 2011

self-publishing again?

This weekend, I visited family, read The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan, had a long discussion with my husband about the publishing industry and what path I want to take, and I started plotting the second book in my steampunk series.

I always feel relaxed after leaving our grandparents’ house. They live in the middle of nowhere, northeast Arkansas. No phone service. No 3G. No internet. Just trees, deer, and old people. It was nice. I spent most of Saturday reading, and then while the Razorbacks were owning Auburn, I started working on my next book (shows how interested I am in football). So far, I’ve plotted twenty-odd scenes. I’m still trying to figure out where exactly I want this book to end, and what I want the next book to be about, so it may be another week or two before I finish plotting. That said, I’m excited for what I have so far.

October 7, 2011


I have officially had my blog for a year now!


I started this blog not really knowing what I wanted to get out of it. I didn't really know what to talk about, and I kind of fumbled around for topics for a little while. Now that I've been at it a year, I still have trouble coming up with topics sometimes, but that's okay. When I write a post, I do it that morning, when I'm still a little sleepy, eating my cheerios, and rocking out to some techno. That's why they're a bit scatter-brained and rambling. But that's who I am: scatter-brained and rambling. Just ask my husband.

For those of you that have been reading since the beginning, I thank you for your continued readership and support. You made me feel like this blogging thing was worth doing. I know that my posts may not be entirely original or helpful sometimes, but I do my best. I write about what is important to me and what I happen to be experiencing at that time, whether it be revision trouble or writing craft or a particularly awesome Dungeons&Dragons campaign. For those of you that have joined me along the way, you've given me reason to keep blogging, keep writing, and keep making friends on the internet. I don't feel like I'm shouting to the clouds, knowing (hoping) you semi-consistently read my posts. And for those select few of you that comment nearly every week, you are the awesomest of the bunch.

This blog spawned with few enough followers, I could count them on one hand, and they were all people I knew in real life. In a year, I've gained nearly ninety followers. Eighty-eight people who make me feel important.

In hindsight, I'm glad I did this blog. I probably shouldn't have started out with five posts per week, but it's a learning process. I've met some great people, and I've learned a lot about myself and my writing, just by putting my journey out there for the world to see.

Here's to another year of blogging and making friends!

To celebrate, eat some of this fudge. This is my recipe, so it may not be proper fudge, but it tastes good all the same. It's awesome. I promise.


1     stick unsalted butter
1     5 oz. can evaporated milk
1½  cups sugar
1     tsp. vanilla
3     cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


Line a 8x8x2 baking pan with foil, wrapping it over the sides. Butter a 2-quart saucepan and the foil in the baking pan so that the fudge doesn't stick.

Mix the butter, evaporated milk, and sugar in the saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until it boils. About ten minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and continue stirring for six minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in the chocolate pieces and vanilla until melted and smooth. About a minute or two. Pour the fudge mixture into the foil-lined pan. Spread it evenly.

Cover and put it into the fridge to cool for 2-3 hours.

Cut into squares and devour.

Have a great weekend everyone!

October 5, 2011

growing as a writer

Over the course of my writing career, I’ve learned a lot, mostly how not to do things. And that’s been a hard journey in itself. Once a writer gets past that point, when they understand what not to do and what to avoid, then the learning becomes even more difficult. We know the rules by heart, but no matter how many books on craft we read or how many writing classes we take, no one can teach us how to do things right.

A lot of the time, to write a good book, you either got it, or you don’t. And most of us don’t. That’s something we have to earn. We have to work for it, book after book after book. I think I’m finally getting there. I’m at a level of competence, but I still have a lot to learn. Hardly anyone writes perfect first drafts, and those that do, well, they aren’t human. Biowriters. That’s what they are.

October 3, 2011

revision party-time

Well, I’m in the middle of revisions, and they’re going a lot better than I thought they would. If you remember, I posted a comprehensive revision checklist about three weeks ago, and well, it turns out that I don’t follow it very well. Rather than do several readings for each section, focusing on one thing at a time, I’m just going through fixing things as I see fit, following my gut instincts. I just happen to examine and change several things at once. I think I work better that way.

I’ve already finished the first eight chapters, and my changes have ranged from word choice changes to sentence deletions and rewordings, from moving passages around to deleting entire scenes, and even rewriting of certain passages. I’ve changed plot points and descriptions, but mostly, I’ve deleted stuff. I’m a very repetitive writer, and most of the time, that comes across as me beating the reader over the head. The remedy is simple. Select. Delete. Moving on.

September 30, 2011

publishing battle swaperoo

Some of you may remember a post I did a while back about choosing to self-publish rather than go the traditionalroute. In that post, I talk about my evolving perspective of the publishing industry. I concluded with self-publishing because “in the eye of the reader, [the mode of publication] doesn’t matter.” They just want a good book.

Now, the problem with this line of thought is the fact that it takes a lot of work and even more luck to get a self-published book in front of a reader. If I have any insight into the everyday reader’s mind, they choose books based on a) recommendations from friends or Amazon, b) randomly stumbling upon it in a book store, or c) searching for a specific type of book.

Most readers choose books based on word of mouth. When a friend is reading a book, or two friends, most people who enjoy reading don’t want to be left out of the discussion. Why do you think Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games have done so well? People talked the books up to their friends.

September 28, 2011

different writing forms

So, it’s common knowledge that I’m a novelist. I write novels. It’s what I do. It’s all I do, and that may not be the best thing. When I start a project, I immediately think of it in novel format, an overarching story of 60,000–80,000 words. Maybe I should start thinking smaller.

Maybe I should write some shorter fiction, just to break things up a bit, to train myself in brevity. And of course, to have fun. I love short fiction. The shorter the better. Most of my short stories come in at less than 1000 words. The longer ones rarely go on more than 1500 words. Then there are the sweet select few that are less than 500 words. Those tend to be my favorite. They’re punchy, poetic, and rather alliterative. Here is one that I particularly love that’s less than 150 words. And it’s best read aloud.

September 26, 2011

the writer's curse

I’ve come to realize that as writers, we are cursed. I think most people who pursue some sort of artistic career can say the same of their profession. The curse eats away at us, makes us doubt, feeds us with insecurity and despair, until we dare to give up.

That curse is fear.

I’ve been reading quite a bit lately. Amazing books. I’m nearly finished with A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin, and I am in awe of how seriously epic his books are. And somewhere in the back of my mind, I think Why on Earth am I a writer? I could never write something so brilliant as this. I’ve regressed into that awful place of comparison, where I pit my writing against the greatest authors of our time and watch as my words are ripped to shreds, stomped on, spit on, and carried away on the wind. I can never compare to Martin, Rowling, or Jones. I can never write something so great, so why do I even try?

September 23, 2011

review: the princess curse

The Princess Curse – Merrie Haskell

Twelve princesses suffer from a puzzling—and downright silly—curse. Ridiculous though the curse may be, whoever breaks it will win a handsome reward.
Sharp-witted Reveka, an herbalist’s apprentice, has little use for princesses, with their snooty attitudes and impractical clothing. She does, however, have use for the reward money, which could buy her a position as a master herbalist.
But curses don’t like to be broken, and Reveka’s efforts lead her to deeper mysteries. As she struggles to understand the curse, she meets a shadowy stranger (as charming as he is unsettling) and discovers a blighted land in desperate need of healing. Soon the irreverent apprentice is faced with a daunting choice—will she break the curse at the peril of her own soul?