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Release Day and Sale

IMD Sale

To celebrate the release of The Earl and the Artificer (IMD #3), the entire Ingenious Mechanical Devices series is on sale this weekend! On Saturday, January 30th and Sunday, January 31st, you will be able to get the entire series for under a cup of Starbucks.

You can find the books here:

The Earl of Brass (IMD#1): FREE

The Winter Garden (IMD#20): $0.99

“An Oxford Holiday” (short story): FREE

The Earl and the Artificer (IMD#3):$0.99

 

**The prices above are only guaranteed for Amazon US. I’m not 100% sure if the sales will appear on all markets, so please check before you click buy**

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Bookish Favorites

We all know what we hate to see in book, but what makes us giddy with anticipation? As a follow-up to my Bookish Bitching post, I will now list 20 things I love to see in books.

  1. Leather-bound, embossed, gilded books
  2. Artistic book covers
  3. A series that matches yet each cover is unique
  4. Vibrantly colored book covers
  5. Old book smell
  6. Box sets for series, especially with pretty/illustrated sleeves
  7. Complex characters
  8. Maps at the front or back
  9. Characters who are romantically involved yet their relationship isn’t based solely on sexual attraction
  10. Books with diverse casts, especially main characters
  11. Antagonists who are morally ambiguous
  12. Atmospheric settings and genres
  13. Male and female characters who are just friends
  14. Authors who write a finite series in a timely manner
  15. Books that cross genres in a unique and surprising way
  16. Books with illustrations to match the text
  17. Characters who are human (have strengths, flaws, dreams, moments of weakness)
  18. Authors who enjoy interacting with their readers
  19. Goodreads/Amazon/Barnes and Noble recommendations that lead to new favorites
  20. Books that hit the spot and make it so you can barely put them down

What are some bookish things you love?

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5 Editing Tips and Tricks for your Manuscript

With The Earl and the Artificer ready for publication in a little over two weeks, I thought I would touch upon one of the major steps in the writing/publishing process: editing.

Editing is one of my favorite parts of the writing process and also one of the most daunting. When you finish your 300 page manuscript and sit staring at the mountain of papers, editing seems like an endless process. Really it is, since you could edit it forever, but at some point, you must edit and release it into the world.

Here are some tips and tricks for getting your manuscript edited and ready for publication:

  • Edit as you go. I know many writers suggest writing a first draft in some sort of adrenaline and creativity-induced haze, but I find that I just can’t do that. If you’re like me, you’re a tinkerer. Embrace that habit… to a point. The problem with editing as you go is you can easily end up not moving forward. If you worry about getting stuck, try beginning your writing session by only editing what you wrote the previous session. That way, you have a certain area you’re allowed to play with, but you do it before moving forward.
  • Make a list of things you need to edit as you write. This goes along with the previous bullet point. To keep you from going back and tinkering or to simply have a good idea of what you know needs to be fixed, keep a list of things you want to edit. It won’t cover the entirety of your editing, but it will ensure you don’t forget thing you had been dying to fix at the time.
  • Know your weaknesses. This may be the hardest aspect of editing. Writers tend to either think their work is perfect or all drivel. Know what you aren’t good at. This can be learned through feedback from writing groups or even reviews of your work. Often, overwriting is a problem in first drafts. Be on the look out for overwriting or over-explaining, especially if you know you are prone to it. I have a problem with lay versus laid, so as I’m rereading my draft, I circle every one I find. That way, I can check it with a chart I have to confirm I’m using the correct tense. It may help to make a list of your known issues that you can reference as you edit.
  • Have someone or something read your work aloud after you’ve edited it. This was an old trick we used in my university’s writing center. If you read something out loud, you’re more likely to catch errors or hear when a sentence is awkward. I usually can’t find someone who is willing to read my 300 page book out loud, but Adobe Acrobat Reader has a text reading feature where it will read your document aloud. It’s like a GPS reading a novel, so some of the pronunciation is awkward. Overall, I found it quite useful for proof-reading my editing novel. I heard the errors and was able to easily correct them on my word doc. Anything that lets me play on Facebook and edit at the same time gets my vote. As mentioned before, this is a trick for after your book has gone through several rounds of editing and is in the final polishing stage.
  • Edit by hand. Yes, I’m killing trees, but I have found that I pay closer attention to what I’m reading on paper and make more thoughtful choices while working on paper versus strictly on Word. On paper it’s “permanent” while on the computer it can be easily changed. It’s all psychological. Plus, there’s less of a chance of being distracted by Facebook or Twitter while working on paper. I also tend to edit my edits as I type them into my computer after hand-editing.

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New Year, New Books

Ahhh, another year as an indie author has passed. 2015 has been quite the year for me. I feel like I’ve accomplished so much, yet there’s so much more to do in 2016.

This year I released my second novel, The Winter Garden, along with a short story, “An Oxford Holiday”. While getting through another two semesters of graduate school, I finished writing The Earl and the Artificer and got to meet and hang-out with my best friend who came to visit from the UK. My boyfriend and I celebrated our tenth anniversary. Honestly, this year has been pretty fantastic for me.

I’m a little afraid of 2016. This year I will finish my MFA in Creative Writing and have to look for a real job, which feels incredibly daunting.

Anyway, I have a few solid goals for 2016:

  • Edit, format, and publish The Earl and the Artificer (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #3) by January 30th. You can pre-order it here.
  • Write more books! It’s a fairly obvious goal, but I’d like to write at least two books in 2016.
  • Write every day that I’m not editing. For a while this year, I was really good about writing at least a couple hundred words every day, and that really upped my productivity. I want to start doing that again once I plot out the basics for book 4.
  • Read the books I own. This may sound odd, but I bought a lot of books in 2015, and I haven’t read most of them. In 2016, I’d like to catch up with my reading and try to only buy sequels to what I’m currently reading and not buy twenty for every one I read.

I could go into a bunch of smaller goals I have, but I’m sure those will come up throughout the year. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in 2015, and I can’t wait to see what 2016 will bring.

Stay tuned for more stories, new characters, and future publications! I know 2016 is going to be a great year!


 

The Earl and the Artificer (IMD#3) is available for pre-order on Amazon for 99 cents.

eata final cover

 

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Chapter Preview- The Earl and the Artificer

It’s less than a month until The Earl and the Artificer is released in ebook and paperback. Between now and January 30th, I will be posting about The Earl and the Artificer as well as the process I’ve gone through while getting it ready for publication.

If you would like to pre-order The Earl and the Artificer, you can here for 99 cents.

eata final cover

As promised, here is the first chapter of The Earl and the Artificer, coming January 30th:

 

Chapter One:

The Ninth Earl

 

Elbow-deep in steamer engine innards and covered in grease was not how Hadley Sorrell expected her honeymoon to begin. The wedding and journey to Dorset had been surprisingly smooth, but their luck never lasted. She should have expected the steamer to pop and belch smoke in the middle of the road. Glancing over her shoulder, she watched her husband stare off, his grey eyes locked on the rolling waves as they lapped against the piebald coast in the distance.

“Hold my leg, so my dress doesn’t blow up,” she called. “Eilian!”

“Sorry!” He snapped to attention and held her billowing gown, his prosthetic hand resting behind her knee, as she looked into the hood. “Are you certain you don’t need help? I feel bad just watching.”

“It’s fine. I don’t think there is room in here for you, anyway.”

Leaning into the front of the cab, she brought her face close to the boiler as the heat of the kettle stung her cheeks. The metal coils of the heating element had melted into a blackened cake that smelled of burnt hair. Using the sides of the hood for leverage, she pivoted back until her satin boots met the road’s white gravel. Staring down at her cream dress, already streaked with soot and grease, she sighed and wiped her hands across it before smoothing a lock of henna hair behind her ear.

“I can’t fix it. It’s burned out.”

“We could take the bicycles into town. I don’t think it’s that far.”

“Let’s just wait for Patrick to come back. You know he won’t be long.”

As Hadley lingered in the road, reconnecting the pipes and organs from the disemboweled car, Eilian listened to the pastoral silence. Under the waves and the rustling trees, there was a faint noise he couldn’t identify and it was growing louder. Gravel hissed on the other side of the bend. By the time the steamer broke from the tree-line, it was barreling down the narrow lane. Eilian waved his arms to catch the driver’s attention, but he never slowed. Wrapping his arm around Hadley’s waist, he darted and turned, falling back onto the grass in time to watch the car hurtle past in a blur of steel and wood.

“Good Lord, he nearly ran you down!”

Hadley sat in her husband’s lap, arms and legs wrapped around him. As she tried to uncurl her legs from his lap, the muscles of her thighs locked and shook. Resting her head against his collar, she inhaled the sweet, earthy scent of sandalwood that lingered on his skin and let him hold her a little longer. If he had been slower— She shook away the thought.

“It’s no different from London. They would sooner run you over than look at you. Help me up, and I’ll finish before someone else comes.”

“No, let me do it. I’m already part metal. What’s one more limb?” he replied, kissing the top of her head and carefully disentangling himself from her skirts.

Watching Eilian from the grass, Hadley smiled to herself. The mechanized fingers of his right hand flexed at a thought, reattaching the engine’s cords and tubes with ease. It had been a year since they met, when she came knocking on his door with a tape measure and an idea for an electric prosthesis. They had shared a tent in the dusty lunar gorges of Palestine while she was disguised as a man, but there would be no more charades or mutterings from his mother about scandal or imagined impropriety. Now, they could finally be together. A thrill laced through her breast at the thought of such liberty.

“Incoming!” she called as a steamer chugged down the lane, slowing to a stop a few yards away.

Eilian stepped out of the way, his eyes trailing to the black-haired woman in the driver’s seat and beside her, his butler clamoring out the door. Patrick burst from the cab, sputtering apologies and half-formed phrases.

“Pat, slow down. I can’t understand a word you’re saying,” Eilian said as he joined him at the steamer’s hood.

Taking a deep breath, Patrick pushed his glasses up his nose and collected his thoughts. “Sorry, sir. She’s willing to take you and Lady Dorset up to Brasshurst Hall. I’ll stay behind and wait for the mechanic.”

The woman with the full features of a Caravaggian saint climbed out of her cab, her voluminous skirts rustling with each step. Her dark eyes ran between the young man with the wayward hair to the woman in the stained dress at his side. “Sorry to intrude, but your valet said you were headed for Folkesbury? I am headed that way now if you would care to join me.”

“That is very kind of you, Miss—?”

“Mrs. Rhodes,” she replied, walking back toward her steamer while the butler dithered between the trunks and bicycles tethered to the back of the hissing steamer.

Eilian held the passenger door open for Hadley to slide in. “I hope we aren’t inconveniencing you.”

“Not at all, I was heading back home. Brasshurst Hall is on the way.”

A pang of guilt rang in the pit of Eilian’s stomach as he watched Patrick grow smaller behind them.

“I was surprised to hear you were headed for Brasshurst. No one has been up there in ages. I almost didn’t believe Argus—my husband—when he told me the earl’s servants were coming up from London to clean the house. Are you his guests?”

Hadley’s lips twitched into a grin, and she shot her husband a knowing look. “He is the earl.”

“Oh.” Mrs. Rhodes’s eyes left the road long enough to search the nobleman’s face for any sign of offense while her own cheeks burned. “I beg your pardon, Lord and Lady Dorset. I— I was expecting someone… older.”

“No harm done, Mrs. Rhodes. You were probably thinking of my father. I have only been the earl for a few months, and I— Is that the house?”

Over the tops of the closely clumped elms and oaks, the spire of a tower rose. As they cut through the brush, Eilian’s eyes widened. Knowing his father, he had expected a conservative Georgian brick manor with a square roof and a smooth face, but the house was like none he had ever seen.

Brasshurst Hall was an asymmetrical monster. It had a Gothic portal and face on the front, a Palladian annex shooting off the side complete with columns and pediments. Straining his eyes, he could make out the latticed windows of a sultan’s harem floating above another layer of cathedral spires and pointed arches. The weathered grey-brown cloister stone was half-covered with ivy and wisteria. Following the gravel drive across an old stone bridge, the orangery appeared. The greenhouse’s glass and metal body bulged from the side of the manor like a verdurous boil. No wonder his father chose to move them to London.

When the steamer slid to a stop, Mrs. Rhodes swallowed hard, looking between her passengers. “I do hope you will call on us while you are in Folkesbury, Lady Dorset. My cousin is staying with us, and he has been eagerly awaiting your arrival. He lives in London, too, near Bloomsbury. You may have heard of him. Nadir Talbot, the novelist.”

“Yes, I think my brother read his last book, the one about Cleopatra. He enjoyed it very much.” When the woman’s eyes lit up, Hadley continued, “Thank you so much for giving us a lift, Mrs. Rhodes. I will most certainly pay you a visit once we are settled.”

Watching the steamer roll away, Hadley sighed as the grin fell from her cheeks. She would have to pay calls in a few days, drifting from house to house pretending she was the Countess of Dorset and not Hadley Fenice of Fenice Brothers Prosthetics. It was hard enough to pretend she was an aristocrat for a few hours at their wedding. How was she supposed to keep it up the entire time they were in Dorset? At least her etiquette books were packed in her trunk and Folkesbury seemed like a small town. Maybe no one would notice that she wasn’t a born aristocrat.

Eilian’s metal hand pressed against her palm. “So, what do you make of it?”

“It’s… different,” Hadley replied, her gaze running over the bright blue brace and ledge door set into the deep rings of the Gothic façade.

“I’m beginning to wonder if insanity runs in my family.” Eilian opened the door and turned to her with open arms. “Well, shall we?”

“You’re going to pick me up? Are you sure you can carry me?”

“I have before.”

Slipping his arms around her shoulders and behind her knees, he hoisted Hadley against his chest. She wrapped her arms around his neck and braced herself in case his prosthesis couldn’t bear her weight. Whenever he picked her up or held her close, part of her still wanted to look around to ensure no one was watching, yet she didn’t want him to stop.

“This is a silly tradition, Eilian. You don’t have to do this.”

“I want to; it’s good luck.” He kissed her cheek and pushed the door with his back. “The Romans believed carrying a bride over the threshold would protect her from evil spirits…”

Eilian froze in the doorway. The tunneled hall was dark, looming over them and pressing close to his head. While the floor had been swept and the old rug laid out, the ribbed arches were webbed with spider’s silk. As the dust motes danced and surged around them, he tightened his grip on her. Turning toward the sun’s rays, he reached to close the door but left it for fear of the shadows rushing in or what might lie beyond the threshold.

“I think we are a little late if we want to beat the evil spirits.” Hadley’s eyes roamed over the clots of long dead insects and debris spun into the grooves of the stone ceiling as he set her down. “I thought the maids were supposed to come and clean up.”

“They were. Maybe I didn’t send them early enough. There are only three of them, and I had no idea the house would be this large… or filthy.”

Taking Eilian’s hand, Hadley stepped into the great hall. The house groaned and yawned somewhere deep within. Hadley raised her eyes to the high Gothic windows and skylights she had seen on the drive up, but they were so choked with ivy they barely emitted enough light for her to make out the family coat of arms carved into the hearth on the other side of the room. A pile of furniture covered with once white sheets stood in the corner, blocking off the entrance to the dining room. The wood-paneled walls were caked in grime while the pointed arches in the upper arcade were cloaked in curtains of cobwebs as opaque as silk screens.

Rubbing her arms, Hadley stared into the mouth of the massive hearth. A granite lion’s head snarled back at her, a spider skittering from his drawn lips to his meager mane. She pulled a handkerchief from her purse and stood on tiptoe to wipe the crest above his head. An otter and a fox stood on either side of a shield surrounded by acorns and leaves. In the fox’s paw was a key while the otter clutched a scallop. Between them an oak sprouted, and a banner stretched across its roots. With her finger wrapped in the linen square, she scrubbed at the stone until the thin letters peaked through. It all had significance. If only she knew what.

“Eilian, what does it say?”

The earl squinted, tracing the letters with his fingertip as he pronounced the familiar phrase. “Salus in Arduis. A refuge in difficulties. Maybe in better days. Come on, let’s see if we can find the library or the orangery.”

Walking into the windowless hall, Eilian felt along the wall for the gas lamps’ switch but found only the dusty edge of a picture frame. He reached behind it, but when something in the shadows brushed against his hand, he lurched back, bumping into his wife. Raising his eyes, he met the face of a man in a powdered wig as the lamps lit with a gurgling sigh. The third earl stared down at him from the wall, the grey irises beneath the cocked brows and the signet ring on his finger were all that tied them together, and he still hadn’t been able to wear his father’s ring yet. He swallowed hard. So these were his ancestors. These were the men he had to live up to.

Eilian took a step forward but stopped, moving back with his eyes locked on the painting.

“What are you doing?”

“His eyes follow you.” He shuddered and tried it with the fourth earl’s portrait further down the hall. “Do we really have to stay here? Can’t we just go to Greece instead?”

Hadley rolled her eyes, avoiding the women hanging in a row on the opposite wall. Why look at them when she knew what she would see? They were a line of noblewomen, born and bred to be the wives of aristocrats, all perfected in oil and exuding a hauteur she couldn’t hope to emulate. She dreaded the day when she and Eilian would sit for their portraits, when their faces would be placed beside his ancestors and everyone would see the glaring deficiencies in the ninth Earl and Countess of Dorset. Reaching the end of the hall, she tugged at the pocket door. With each inch it slid, the thrumming hum of an engine grew louder, but on the other side stood the library. Eilian drifted in behind her, his eyes wide as they followed the bookcases up the wall where they melded with the coffered ceiling.

All of the houses prior eccentricities and sins were forgiven at the sight of the library, which rivaled his back in Greenwich. He ran his hand over the edge of the cabinet before turning the key and pulling it open. Books by Pliny, Archimedes, Al Jazari, and the Banū Mūsā brothers stared back at him. Carefully pulling the last tome from the shelf, Eilian cradled it against his chest with his prosthetic arm and turned the fragile vellum pages with the tips of his fingers. His gaze darted over the tight lines of Arabic and intricate schematics as he settled in at the divan under the window. He wondered who else had cared about ancient engineers.

Hadley’s cream gown floated at the edge of his vision until she knelt on the chair beside him and wiped at the window. She swatted at his shoulder, but his attention never wavered from the page.

“Eilian.”

He had never been able to find a pristine copy in Arabic, even in Cairo and Constantinople. His friends at the Oriental Club would be envious if they knew of his find.

Hadley gripped his shoulder and squeezed. “Eilian, look!”

Glancing up, he met her wide blue eyes, the freckles across her nose stark against her sudden pallor. She motioned for him to peer through the hole in the dust. Between the trees and dense foliage of the greenhouse, a figure sat in a wingback chair beside the algal pool.

“Someone’s in there.”


 

Like what you read? You can pre-order The Earl and the Artificer (IMD#3) here (out January 30th) or you can share this post on social media using the buttons below. Exposure is one of the best ways you can help a writer or artist out.

Stay tuned for more previews in the coming weeks!

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Cover Reveal: The Earl and the Artificer

Yes, I’m still alive! I’ve been super busy with grad school and the huge amount of work due at the end of the semester. Now, I’m free! Still waiting on one of my grades, but I’m done with classes for a month, which means I’m back to author business.

Well, I’m back into author business full-throttle. The cover for The Earl and the Artificer is done. Behold!

eata final cover

I finished the book a few days ago, so now all that’s left is some final editing and proofing. If you’re interested in pre-ordering The Earl and the Artificer, you can do so here for 99 cents (the price will jump after publication). It will be released January 30th!

Here is the blurb:

What mysteries lay buried beneath weeds and dust?
Following their wedding, Eilian and Hadley Sorrell journey to Brasshurst Hall, his family’s abandoned ancestral home. As Eilian struggles to reconcile his new roles as husband and earl, he finds the house and the surrounding town of Folkesbury are not as they first appear.
Behind a mask of good manners and gentle breeding lurks a darker side of Folkesbury. As the Sorrells struggle to fit in with the village’s genteel society, they find their new friends are at the mercy of Randall Nash, a man who collects secrets.
Soon, Eilian and Hadley become entangled in a web of murder, theft, and intrigue that they may never escape, with the manor at the heart of it all. Something long thought lost and buried within Brasshurst’s history has been found—something worth killing for.

Over the coming weeks, I will be posting sniplets from the story and more info about what you will find within the pages of The Earl and the Artficier.

Have a Merry Christmas and a happy holidays, everyone!

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September in Review

Starting in January, I decided it would be a good idea to look back at each month and see what I have accomplished in my writing and marketing as well as reflect upon what needs to be improved in the future.

September means… GRAD SCHOOL IS BACK IN SESSION, which really means added stress, learning how to juggle again, and feeling anxious on the days when I have class. Ultimately, I was less productive than I hoped, but I still got quite a bit of writing done. I really shouldn’t complain now that I look back at the stats.

What I did accomplish:

  1. Wrote 17,000 words of The Earl and the Artificer (77,000 words total)
  2. Read Pantomime by Laura Lam, Afflicted by Brandon Shire, Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker, and The Cogsmith’s Daughter by Kate M. Colby
  3. Wrote every day and kept my creative reservoirs filled for the most part
  4. Survived my first month of the new semester without freaking out too much
  5. Gave away The Earl of Brass for free in record numbers

Goals for October:

  1. Finish writing The Earl and the Artificer (about 13,000-15,000 words)
  2. Begin editing The Earl and the Artificer
  3. Read 2-3 books
  4. Keep on top of my school work without too much stress
  5. Have fun while my best friend from England is staying with us (really looking forward to this one)
  6. Get the ball rolling on the cover for The Earl and the Artificer
  7. Begin outlining book 4

So I didn’t write 20,000 words, but I did write 17,000 and that’s pretty damn good for a month where I have class. At first, I was kicking myself for lower productivity level, beating myself up for not cranking out 3,000 more words this month to meet my far goal. This kind of thinking is rather self-destructive and completely counter-productive. I should be really happy that I wrote 17k in a month because usually during the school year I’m lucky if I write 5,000 words.

I still can’t believe I’m this far into The Earl and the Artificer. It’ll be out soon. SOON. I still can’t really fathom that; it doesn’t seem real. I began writing it (half-heartedly) in February and really got into it in June. So from July to September, I’ve written 62,000 words. For some writers that wouldn’t be much, but I have never written this much this fast before, and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve been able to do this year. This month I’ll be moving into the production aspects of The Earl and the Artificer with editing and cover design. It’s insane how fast it’s coming.

What shocked me this month was how much I read. I really didn’t expect to get through four books. I fluctuate between reading voraciously and not picking up a book for a week, but I enjoyed the mix of books. A dash of romance, some info on writing, and a bit of fantasy.

So the most exciting thing happening next month is that my best friend is coming from the UK to stay with us! We speak all the time on messenger, but we’ve never met. I’m hoping we’ll have time to hang out, see the sights, and enjoy our time together while she’s here. I’m super stoked. I don’t socialize very much outside of the university, so I’m hoping we can have a lot of fun. Also, I’ll finally have someone to go to the amusement park with as long as the weather holds.

Well, that’s it for now. Let’s see what October brings.

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Fear, Self-Doubt, and an Update

This post would have been written earlier, but I woke up with the worst headache I have had in a while. The kind of migraine that makes your face hot, your eyes sore, and your neck stiff. Oh well.

Anyway, this post isn’t about migraines, it’s about The Earl and the Artificer and writing. I’m hitting that “I’m nearly done, so now I’m getting really self-conscious about my story because I don’t know if it’s good or not.” Part of the problem I think comes from the fact that I really liked The Winter Garden, and this book is nothing like it. There isn’t that darkness or intimacy that I enjoyed writing in that book, and because I know that will be in book four, I feel myself being pulled toward that book while forcing myself to finish this one.

The odd thing is, I like this book. I like the softer tone, the different focus on intimacy, the role Hadley plays in this book, and the new character, Nadir Talbot. I keep reminding myself that I feel this way every time I hit the 2/3 mark of my manuscript. Typically, I’m a fairly confident person, so feeling down about my work is a bit soul-sucking. This book has done this to me more than either of the others, and I have to think I’m doing something right. I’m trying some new things, expanding the cast of characters and delving into history. Probably when I begin editing it, I will feel better about it, especially after I tighten things up and smooth over some early draft hiccups.

Thus far, I am at 68,000 words (not including what I’ll write tonight). Something else that’s bothering me is that I wrote so much in August that September feels meager. I know, grad school started, so I need to consider that I have new sources of stress and that I’m adjusting to the new schedule and balancing act. I’m set to hit my minimum monthly goal of 10,000 words in a few days, and I should finish in October. That scares me. I’m nearly done. Oh my god, I will be DONE soon. I’ll finish it and it will be out in the world before I know it.

Writing makes you vulnerable, and at the moment, that terrifies me. After two times, you would think I would be over it, but you’re laying yourself out for judgment each time you publish, letting the reader get an intimate glimpse of your inner world. Sometimes it’s just harder than others.

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Incoming Rant: An Open Letter to Traditionalist Writers

To all the writers I know who scoffed, hesitated, or snickered when I said I was self-publishing,

Thank you for devaluing my hard work. In one instant, you went from supportive friend I was probably itching to talk to about my work to “that jerk” who once again reminded me of the ignorance of some writers. You are the ones who make me hesitant to admit that I am a self-published author when I am damn proud of my work and what I have accomplished in a little over a year.

Thus far in my fairly short career as an author, I have received tons of support from friends, fellow writers, and even people I met through Facebook and Twitter. I’ve even gotten messages saying how people loved my work or my characters, which made my day, but what always sticks out are the friends whose reactions surprise you by how subtly patronizing or rude they are.

They stare for a moment as the words “self-published” leave your lips, and with a small chuckle and glance to the side, they mutter, “That’s great.” Then either go off topic completely or ask you why you are not saving yourself for a traditional publishing contract like you’re supposed to do.

Well, I don’t want to. I want my freedom. I want to control all aspects of my work. I don’t want my characters homogenized or my work shelved after it doesn’t move twenty-thousand copies in a month. I don’t want my work’s worth to be solely valued for how much someone else can make off it. Yes, I could have possibly ended up with movie deals or a display in Barnes and Noble, but more than likely, that wouldn’t have happened even if I did go the traditional route.

I say all this, having repeated it numerous times before, and then you say the worst thing you could ever say to a self-published author. “But anyone can slap a book on Amazon.”

Thank you for devaluing all of the work I put in to making that book successful. Yes, anyone can slap a book on Amazon, but that doesn’t mean it will sell, and by saying that, I have to wonder if you have any idea the amount of work that went into slapping that book on Amazon.

First there were the hours I spent writing that book, editing it, having beta readers and an editor take a look at it. The amount of hands it passed through alone should be enough to impart some legitimacy to my endeavor. Then, I worked with an artist to create my covers, and I formatted both versions of the book myself (ebook and paperback). What takes an entire publishing team at least a year to do, I do in a few months. You have no idea how much I do, and I don’t think you care to know.

While you’re waiting for that agent or publishing house to respond to your query, I’m working on building my business. More than likely, I have never said anything negative about your thousands of query letters or that I think your time would be better spent self-publishing, gaining a following and presence, and working on your next book even if I’ve thought it. You may not know it, but a lot of authors self-publish and traditionally publish and they get those contracts because they have proof their books sell. I may have even sent you links to open submissions or contests to help you while you chose give me a patronizing pat on the head.

I have proof that my way is working. I have sales and fans and people who like my work. While you could say anyone can find someone who will like their work no matter how bad, just know someone could say the same about you.

Signed,

Your friend who chose the other path

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August in Review

Starting in January, I decided it would be a good idea to look back at each month and see what I have accomplished in my writing and marketing as well as reflect upon what needs to be improved in the future.

Much like July, August has been a rather productive month. It seems so long ago that it just started, and I am absolutely amazed that it’s already over. This month I have tried to get as much done as possible before graduate school started again for me in September. Usually when school starts, my productivity tanks for a while as I adjust, but I’m hopeful that September won’t be too bad.

What I did accomplish:

  1. Published my series companion short story “An Oxford Holiday” on Amazon
  2. Wrote 25,000 words of The Earl and the Artificer (60,000 words total)
  3. Met my “far” word count goal for the month
  4. Read For Love or Money by Susan Kaye Quinn and 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love
  5. Released the audiobook for The Earl of Brass
  6. Proofed the first 15 minute clip for the audiobook of The Winter Garden
  7. Put The Earl of Brass ebook on sale for 99 cents for a limited time.

Goals for September:

  1. Write at least 10,000 words of The Earl and the Artificer (but optimally more like 15k to 20k)
  2. Read 2-3 books
  3. Manage my grad school stress
  4. Continue to write every day
  5. Balance life, writing, and fun
  6. Refill my creative reservoirs
  7. Possibly work on another bonus short story (if an idea takes shape)

So I think I have finally found something that works when it comes to keeping my productivity up and at a good pace. Seriously, the word count tracking spreadsheet has done wonders. I’m now about 60,000 words into The Earl and the Artificer, which blows my mind because I’m over 2/3 through it! A few months ago, that was unimaginable. Now, the end is in sight in a few months (probably October). During this time, I also finished and released the audiobook of The Earl of Brass and the ebook of “An Oxford Holiday” on Amazon. Now that I know I can work on a short story and a novel without sacrificing either, I hope to release more companion short stories in the future. The best case scenario is that I might be able to release a Halloween themed one in October, but I can make no promises there, especially with the semester starting. I also got a glimpse of the audiobook for The Winter Garden, and it is perfect! I am so looking forward to hearing more, and while I would like to say that I hope my narrator will send me some this month, I won’t push it. He has a life outside of narrating.

This has been an odd month. I’m feeling very productive in terms of what I have produced, but as of the last few days, I’m feeling incredibly drained. Last week, I had a workshop to go to, which is mandatory for my degree. I enjoyed it and it was incredibly interesting (about teaching writing), but it kind of drained me. It’s hard for me to be social and outgoing while surrounded by new people. It’s done now, just in time for the semester to start. Yay… Prepare to see me crawl back into my shell for about a month while I continually scream internally until I’ve adjusted to dealing with people again. Current status: exhausted and in denial that school is starting again in a few days. Today, I will be reading and chilling with my dogs in hopes of recovering some of that creative mojo since it’s edging toward burn-out level.

Kate

This month also brought a new addition to our family: Miss Kate (named by my dad). Kate is a border weenie, meaning she is dachshund and border collie. If you think she looks oddly familiar, it’s because we have 2 other border collie mixes (Edgar and Finny) who are also black and white and look a lot like her. The boys are still ignoring her, but they seem to be getting along. Don’t let her cute face and squeaky toy voice fool you, she has plenty of attitude. She already hip-checked Edgar and took a bone from his mouth.

For September, my hope is that I can keep writing every day, even if it’s only a few hundred words. 500 a day for 30 days still equates to 15,000 words. I only have two more semesters of grad school left until I have my MFA in creative writing, so I just need to power through and get it done. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be able to start outlining book four of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices. I’d love to begin writing that while editing The Earl and the Artificer.

One last thing of note: The Earl of Brass is on sale for 99 cents for a limited time on Kindle. You can pick it up here.

eob 99c promo

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