September Wrap-Up & October Goals

Steel Time Jacket.inddHow is it almost the end of the year? What happened? Where have I been?

Writing and reading and traveling, for the most part. Oh yeah, and I published my fourth book. Welcome Steel Empires Book 4: Steel Time to the world!

But now October has already started, so there’s no time to waste!

September Wrap-Up

  • Hey, something I completed! I built an awesome LEGO set to celebrate turning my fifth book in to my editor. The built report will show up here next week.
  • Hey, something I absolutely did not complete! As of the time of this writing, book six is all of eight outlined scenes on the floor of my office. But it has a title — Steel Justice. So, a partial win? Maybe?
  • Book 4, Steel Time, did have awesome blog tour. If you missed any of the stops, you can find the full round-up here.
  • Two conventions were also attended this month, which probably contributes to my current haze of mild exhaustion. You can find my con reports for both events below:

September Book Reviews

September Speculative Chic Contributions

October Goals

  1. Finish the detailed outline of book 6. I have no idea why this book is giving me such a mental block.
  2. Write at least 10k words of book 6. Maybe once I start, it’ll go a lot easier.
  3. No conventions this month, but I’m attending two writing retreats over two weekends. The scheduling was unintentional on my part, but I’m looking forward to handing out with writers. Hopefully some of their productivity and enthusiasm for their projects will rub off on me.
  4. I have one more book to read for my Speculative Chic 2018 Resolution Project, so I’d better add it to the list before 2018 slips away from me completely!

A question for you writers in the audience — what do you do when you’re so intimidated by a project that you’re too terrified to even start it? This isn’t writer’s block, I think. I’d appreciate any advice.

For you non-writers, gentle and not-so-gentle nudges on social media of “You should be writing!” are probably welcome in the coming weeks.

These guys are not helpful:

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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.

Review: ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times by Andrew MacLean

ApocalyptiGirlA post-apocalyptic story starring a strong female character and her adorable pet cat? This should have been right up my alley. But despite the art being streamlined and stunning, the story never quite grabbed me.

Though the internal narration conceit was very cool, it seems the author erred on the side of “less is more” when it came to world-building. Unfortunately, that “less” led to a world that didn’t make much sense. I also did not figure out Aria’s place in it soon enough to care, and only finished the story because it was so short.  Continue reading

January Wrap-Up & February Goals

SS 1st draft word countWow, is the first month of 2018 done already? Seems like it flew by in a whirlwind of writing and reading and LEGO. Oh wait — because that’s basically all I did this month.

January Wrap-Up

  • First of all, the good news: The first draft of Steel Empires #5: Steel Shadows is DONE! Final word count clocked in at 85,836 words. You have no idea how happy I am that I don’t have to stress about cutting 15k+ words like last year.
  • While letting that first draft simmer a bit, I also finished major edits for book 4, Steel Time, and sent them back to my publisher. In addition, I wrote up my acknowledgements and the back cover text, and the book is on its way to layout!
  • Now it’s back to revising Steel Shadows, which I’m about 1/4 done with. I’m enjoying it, so that’s a good sign, right?
  • In the midst of all that, I also beta read a novel for a grad school friend. IT WAS SO GOOD, YOU GUYS. When it’s a bestseller, I’ll totally get to say that I got to read it first.

January Book Reviews

January Speculative Chic Contributions

February Goals

  1. Finish revisions on Steel Shadows and get it out to my beta readers!
  2. Note to self: Find beta readers…
  3. I’ve added another convention to my list! The weekend of Feb. 9-11 I’ll be attending Farpoint in Hunt Valley, MD (just north of Baltimore).
  4. And at some point, I need to start thinking about the presentation I’m giving in March for the Uniontown Public Library’s 2018 Author Series. I’ll be discussing how alternate history can be used to create amazing stories!

How’s 2018 working out for all of you? Have you accomplished any of your New Year’s resolutions? I did mine! (See my Speculative Chic post about reading A Wrinkle in Time.)

Now, time to get back to work on Steel Shadows. I have my biggest LEGO set to date to build once it’s off to the beta readers!

fireplace cats

Hard at work on their own New Year’s resolutions.

Annual Holiday Update

Below is the holiday letter my husband and I sent in our cards this year. Thank you to all of you for also being amazing supporters. I couldn’t have gotten through this year without you.


Dear Family & Friends,

This has been a much-needed quiet year for the Gribble household. Of course, quiet for us still means lots of work and travel!  Continue reading

STEEL BLOOD featured on The Skiffy and Fanty Show: A Book By Its Cover!

In a surprise blog tour spot that I knew was coming, but had no idea of when, Steel Blood has been “reviewed” as part of a relaunched monthly feature at The Skiffy and Fanty Show: A Book By Its Cover! It’s a joke column that literally makes up a book review based on what the cover alone looks like, and I was honored to be chosen. The writer has been a good friend to my publisher, and he even dropped in references to my three cats!

When novice librarian Nicki Blakougar becomes suspicious of Shadowseizer’s research activities, he begins to investigate. But this curiosity heats up into endangerment after Nicki trips some of the sorcerer-knight’s wards and his spying is discovered. Narrowly escaping alive, Nicki goes to Lucy, his kitten-hood friend and now City Chief, for help. Together with the aid of Thun-daar Constable Alex Blulynx, Nicki and Lucy set out to figure out Shadowseizer’s ultimate intent and stop her slaughter of rare dragons at any cost.

Here are the actual cats, for reference:

Skiffy Fanty cats

From left to right: Nicki, Lucy, and Alex

Thanks for supporting small press, Skiffy and Fanty!

Review: SHORT FUSE by Brent D. Seth

Short FuseDisclaimer: I acquired this novel at a convention through a book trade with the author, whom I consider a friend.


What an incredibly refreshing science fiction novel to find in a market that sometimes feels saturated with overly complex space opera and violence-infused military epics. Though this novel includes complex world-building and plenty of (sometimes violent) action and adventure, the tone and voice were a pleasure to immerse myself into.  Continue reading