April Wrap-Up & May Goals

math hotel roomI’m totally having that weird feeling of having accomplished so much in the past month while also doing not much of anything at all. Take a look below and let me know where you think I fall on that spectrum.

Currently reading: A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet #2) by Madeleine L’Engle
Currently watching: Catching up on various DVRed shows and looking for a light-hearted series to watch (give me suggestions in the comments!)

April Wrap-Up

  • I’m about 3/4 done with the beta read I’m working on, and very much looking forward to finding out how it ends.
  • The future of the Steel Empires series is basically to continue writing more of the series. However, I’m going to be involved in a really cool project to celebrate my publishing company, and I can’t wait to start sharing the details of that.
  • Both of my work trips to New York City and Arlington were incredibly educational and awesome. Part of what I love about my day job is that I get to work on topics that I’m passionate about. As an added bonus, I spent last weekend on the beach with some good friends. So, a month heavy with travel, but I enjoyed every moment of it.

April Book Reviews

April Speculative Chic Contributions

May Goals

  1. A slightly less busy travel month, and this time it’s all for the fiction writing! First up, I’ll be signing books as part of the Women Writing Mysterious Worlds event at Cupboard Maker Books on Saturday, May 5 from 1 to 3 PM. Come say hi if you’re local to the Enola, Pennsylvania, area!
  2. At the end of the month, I’ll be returning to Balticon in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor over Memorial Day weekend! I’m not sure what my full schedule is yet, but I’ll definitely be reprising my Alternate History presentation, which you should definitely come check out and see how nerdy I get.
  3. On the home front, I have some research books to review in preparation to write the as yet untitled sixth book in the Steel Empires series.
  4. Meanwhile, I have to get the final edits on book 4, Steel Time, back to my editor…
  5. And make revisions to book 6, Steel Shadows, now that I’ve gotten reviews back from most of my amazing beta readers!
  6. I also need to finish the book I’m beta reading, and complete a shorter critique for another friend.
  7. Finally, I’ll be copy-editing a book currently in production that I’ve been dying to read for literally years.

I love my life. Busy as hell, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And on the plus side, the weather is FINALLY getting warmer here in Maryland! Editing is much nicer when completed with windows open, and even sitting outside.

Advertisements

March Wrap-Up & April Goals

It’s been another whirlwind month at Casa Siamese, filled with lots of reading, blogging, editing, and other such shenanigans. I’ve been doing a lot of working out, and I’m counting down the days until the weather finally gets warm enough for me to walk outside. (Yes, I’m aware that I could walk outside now, but you underestimate my intense dislike of the cold.) Don’t think I’m living too perfect a life, though — the to-be read pile keeps growing out of control!

Currently reading: Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert (as part of Comic Book Girl 19‘s online book club)
Currently watching: Jessica Jones season 2, when I’m not catching up on the shows piling up on the DVR

March Wrap-Up

  • The SHIELD Helicarrier LEGO set is completed! It was pretty epic, and a lot of fun to build. Keep an eye out for my build report on the blog soon.
  • The latest round of copy-edits on book 4, Steel Time, were completed and sent off to my editor!
  • My presentation on alternate history at the Uniontown Library as part of their 2018 Author series was a blast. It went so well that I immediately volunteered to do a modified version at a few of my upcoming conventions this summer, and one has already accepted it for programming!
  • I also had the expected great time at Cleveland ConCoction, exploding soda bottles aside. (See the full sordid tale at my con report, linked above.)
  • And finally, I’m about halfway through a book I’m proofreading for a fellow RDSP author. It’s a total blast, with a great twist on mythology, so I’ll definitely be shouting about it from the rooftops when it launches.
lego and wine

LEGO construction at Casa Siamese requires the proper levels of hydraulic fluid.

March Book Reviews

March Speculative Chic Contributions

April Goals

  1. Once I finish proofreading the book I’m working on, I’ve got the first half of another to beta read! Luckily, pretty much all the authors I know are crazy-talented, so this is all more of a privilege than a chore.
  2. I’ll be meeting with my editor this month to finish up work on Steel Time and discuss the future of the series. Don’t panic! Basically, come June, will I be working on book 6, working on a series of short stories for gradual release, or both?
  3. No conventions this month, but I will be taking two trips for the day job to New York City and Arlington, VA. The topics for both are fascinating, so I’m happy that so much cool travel is part of BOTH of my jobs.

That’s it! Now, I’ve got a cup of hot coffee, a cat snoring on my lap, and a bunch of emails to catch up on. It was warm enough for a hoodie and no socks today, but the local weather report is threatening mixed snow tonight. You can come anytime now, spring…

coffee and cat

A difficult life, I know.

Author Interview with Nicholas Conley

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing two projects by Nicholas Conley, so I jumped at the chance to pick his brain about his latest novel. Intraterrestrial was a wild ride, and you can find my review of it here.

IntraterrestrialABOUT THE BOOK

Adam Helios is a bully magnet without many friends. When he starts hearing a voice that claims to come from the stars, he fears he’s losing his mind, so he withdraws even further. On the way home from a meeting at the school, he and his parents are involved in a horrible car crash. With his skull cracked open, Adam’s consciousness is abducted by the alien who has been speaking to him for months.

After surviving the wreck with only minor scratches, Camille Helios must deal with her guilt over the accident that left her husband badly injured and her son in a coma. When the doctor suggests letting Adam go, Camille refuses to stop fighting for her son’s life.

Lost among galaxies, Adam must use his imagination to forge a path home before his body dies on the operating table. But even if he does return to Earth, he may end up locked inside a damaged brain forever.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


The premise of this book revolves around traumatic brain injury (TBI). Can you tell us about your interest in this topic?

So as with my previous novel, Pale Highway, the inspiration for this book came from my years of working in the long-term care unit of a nursing and rehabilitation home, where I cared for people with many health conditions. When I started writing Intraterrestrial, probably my biggest goal was to always make sure that the main character — Adam — is in the driver’s seat from start to finish: he’s always the central protagonist, never just a supporting character in his own story. It was extremely important, I think, to show that Adam’s TBI doesn’t make him into a plot device. Both before and after the accident, he’s a real person, with the same sorts of hopes, dreams, fears, thoughts, and feelings of anyone else.

I also wanted to explore the painful family dynamics that are caused by accidents like this one, which I saw all too often when I was working in that field. When a kid gets thrust into the medical system, their parents have to be intimately involved in every step of the process, and those parents have an insane amount of pressure (and expectations) placed on their every decision. There are no easy answers, I think, so I felt like it was important to look deeply into the pained humanity behind every person in this narrative — Adam, his parents, the medical professionals — to see each person honestly, openly, as human beings instead of caricatures.  Continue reading

Con Report: Cleveland ConCoction 2018

Cleveland ConCoction 2018 logo

As always, I had a fantastic time at Cleveland ConCoction this year! It’s one of my favorite cons, for the people I get to see, how many books I tend to sell, and especially how well this convention treats the authors they invite to participate in programming. I wish other conventions would take note!

FRIDAY

My flight from Baltimore to Cleveland was smooth. But after collecting my bags in Cleveland, it was time for something totally new. Since ConCoction moved hotels this year, I had to rent a car to get there. I’d never rented a car before! But the process was smooth, and I drove a nice Ford Focus hatchback out of the rental lot.

Luckily, the snow had tapered off and the roads were clear, so I only had to deal with flurries during the drive. I arrived at the hotel with enough time to drop my bags off in a friend’s room, then it was off to three panels in a row!

First, I moderated a panel on coming up with characters, where we discussed elements of character creation and everything from basing characters on real people to effective ways to leave things up to the reader. Then, I launched right into a panel on mistakes that beginning authors tend to make. This discussion touched on both writing issues and submission issues, and we got some great questions from the audience. The themes I tend to push on panels like this are “Don’t be a jerk” and “There’s no one, right way.” Finally, supported by soda and chips acquired by a friend, I headed for a discussion on author perspectives on fanfiction. We never really reach consensus, which is totally fine. All authors have different goals with their careers and different ways they are willing to get others play in their sandbox.  Continue reading

Review: A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time cover 1I read this novel for my 2018 Resolution Project over at Speculative Chic, the other blog I contribute to. This year, I resolved to fill a gap in my knowledge of the science-fiction classics and read the book before the film comes out in March.

I succeeded! You can find my full review at Speculative Chic.

Overall, this book holds up as an entertaining and unique story for a new, adult reader. I look forward to continuing this series and experiencing more of L’Engle’s fantastic imagination.  Continue reading

Cleveland ConCoction Schedule

Cleveland ConCoction 2018 logo This weekend, I will be attending Cleveland ConCoction for the third year! This is one of my favorite conventions in terms of how authors are treated and the variety of events. I made some great friends last year that I can’t wait to reunite with.

The convention is a new hotel this year, farther from the airport. Slightly inconvenient for me, but I’ll get to have a new experience: renting a car! Here’s my schedule for the weekend, hopefully to be filled with other awesome new experiences.

Friday

  • 2 PM: Stories of Coming up with Characters
  • 3 PM: Mistakes Beginning Authors Make 1.0
  • 4 PM: Author Perspectives on Fan Fiction
  • 9 PM: Vampires, Werewolves & Gods: Rewriting Legends 1.0

Saturday

  • 5 PM: Author Showcase: Reading from Steel Blood
  • 10 PM: NSFW Authors Panel 2.0

Sunday

  • 11 AM: What’s in a Genre?

I’ll have all three of the current books in the Steel Empires for sale in Authors Alley, and when in doubt, you can probably find me in the hotel bar with Brent Seth and Sara Dobie Bauer. I’m also looking forward to the awesome party that Barfleet throws!

Will I see you in Cleveland?

February Wrap-Up & March Goals

Wow, the year is flying by. So are the deadlines! Just kidding — I’m actually on pretty good track with all of my current projects. But things are only going to pick up again before they slow down.

Homemade foodOn top of everything else, my husband and I joined one of those meal delivery services in an attempt to eat healthier and learn new skills. Since my social media has already been inflicted with a bunch of food pictures, it’s only fair to spread the love here.

February Wrap-Up

  • I completed my review and revisions to book 5, Steel Shadows! It took longer than I expected, until the day I tied myself to my kitchen island with a ton of tea and cranked through the last third.
  • And off it went to the beta readers! I have a mix of readers in terms of how far they’ve read in the series so far, so I’m interested to read their final notes.
  • I had a blast at my first Farpoint convention a few weeks ago and made some awesome new friends. You can read about my adventures and check out some cool cosplay in my Farpoint con report.
  • My presentation at the Uniontown Library Series is coming up quick! Luckily, I found out the presentation part is significantly shorter than I thought it was. That means I’ve done literally nothing to prepare yet. (I’m too busy building LEGOs right now, honestly.)
Farpoint Jessica-Xena and Jay-WW

With cosplayers Jessica Crouse and Jay Justice at Farpoint 2018

February Book Reviews

February Speculative Chic Contributions

March Goals

  1. Finish my current LEGO set! I’m finally working on my biggest set to date, the SHIELD Helicarrier from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  2. The Steel Empires work never ends. Now that book 5 is out of my hands for a few months, it’s time to do another round of proofing on book 4 and get it back to my editor.
  3. I need to put together my presentation on alternate history for the upcoming Uniontown Library Author Series.
  4. But before that, I’ll be heading to Ohio for one of my favorite annual conventions, Cleveland ConCoction!
  5. And finally, I have some beta reading of my own to do! Two projects due within the next month or so, but authors whose work I always enjoy. Definitely more of a pleasure than a chore.

Wow, that was a lot of movies in February. I think I’ve got even more lined up in March, considering I already saw Red Sparrow last night (review to come over at Speculative Chic this Tuesday).

2018 is shaping up to be a hell of a year! I’ve got my convention schedule pretty firmed up (note to self: Update events page at some point). To top everything off, the husband and I scheduled a Caribbean cruise this December. Definitely something to look forward to!