Special Mid-Month Update!

Snowspeeder topI come bearing excellent news! But first, a little bit of background.

After Steel Victory was accepted for publication and I received my publisher’s blessing to create a series with that world, I gave myself a goal. The next book in the series would be delivered to my editor by the time the previous novel was published.

Steel Empires book 2, Steel Magic, was delivered less than a month after Steel Victory came out. Book 3, Steel Blood, was also delivered less than a month after Steel Magic was officially released. Not too bad, and it certainly avoided major time crunches later, but still not technically meeting the goal.

Last Saturday, June 3, in the early afternoon, I emailed a solid draft of Steel Empires book 4, Steel Time, to my editor. Steel Blood doesn’t come out until July 19.

I feel like a rock star.

In celebration, I got to indulge in my other recent passion. Specifically, building my next intricate LEGO set! The Snowspeeder from the Battle of Hoth during Empire Strikes Back was released for this year’s Star Wars day, and I’ve been saving it for just such an occasion. You can see the final product above, and check out the nerdy building process after the jump.  Continue reading

May Wrap-Up & June Goals

No matter how many things I crossed off the list this past month, my to-do list keeps getting longer. Since I’m at the point where I’m doing work (writing blog posts) to take a break from doing other work (line edits on Steel Time), let’s jump right in.

May Wrap-Up

  • I have printed out a copy of Steel Time to do my final pass through before it gets sent off to my editor for her review. The good news is that it is solidly below 90k words! Based on the recommendations of my beta readers, I cut two and a half scenes (which are saved and will appear on the blog as deleted scenes after publication). That got me down to 92k words, and my massive word search for passive and filtering language took care of the rest. That’s a huge weight off my shoulders (my editor was pleased, too).
  • I created a form for anyone interested in participating in the July blog tour for Steel Blood. I’m still looking for volunteers, so check it out!
  • I totally forgot to include Balticon on my list of goals last month! I had a blast last weekend, which you can read about in my con report.
  • Let’s not talk about book 5 right now.

May Book Reviews

May Speculative Chic Contributions

June Goals

  1. Finish and input Steel Time line edits and submit to my editor. I have a the LEGO Snowspeeder set waiting for me in celebration.
  2. Finish coordinating the Steel Blood blog tour and start writing guest posts.
  3. Book 5 outline. There’s a heavy sigh there, which is a poor representation of how I feel about the book. I’m excited to write it, but I’m also scared that I won’t do my story ideas justice.

As usual, thank you to everyone for coming along for the ride!

LEGO cats

Helpful cats are not actually that helpful.

April Wrap-Up & May Goals

You know that saying, about how the best way to get something done is to ask a busy person?

Yeah, apparently I need to be that busy person.

Broadkill beach selfieDid I get everything done that I set out to do this month? Nope. But I did a bunch of other cool things, like see my little sister’s final college dance performance, attend my first Orioles game of the season with my best friends, escape for a weekend to Broadkill Resort, and participate in the March for Science in Washington, DC! On the work front, I also had the pleasure of beta-reading the next novel in one of my favorite series.

April Wrap-Up:

  • Alas, there is no fully detailed outline to book 5 yet. Book 5 doesn’t even have a name yet (ugh, I know). I have lots of notes, and lots of crazy ideas. I’m feeling really overwhelmed by this book for some reason, so it’s taken more than usual to scrounge up the time and effort to sit down and COMMIT to taking the time.

April Book Reviews:

April Speculative Chic Contributions:

May Goals:

  1. Finish final revisions to Steel Time and submit to my editor.
  2. Start organizing the blog tour to celebrate the release of Steel Blood this summer.
  3. Outline book 5…?
Science March

I may be a medical editor by day, but what else would a fantasy author wear to the March for Science? With friends Karrie and David outside the EPA.

January Wrap-Up & February Goals

rdsp2017I had a very good, low-key January that also included some major news and accomplishments. First of all, I’m excited to announce that Steel Empires #3: Steel Blood will be released July 2017 from Raw Dog Screaming Press, along with a full slate of other amazing books. Want to know what Victory has been up to during the events of Steel Magic, while Toria and Kane have been mucking things up in Europa? My tag line for the next one is “Romeo and Juliet with werewolves and weredragons…with bonus feminism.” Who in their right mind cast Victory as Nurse? Oh…that’d be me.

January Wrap-Up:

  • The other good news: I finished the first draft of Steel Time! It clocked it an an astounding 105,951 words, which is waaaaaaay over my publisher’s word limit. Lots of work still to be done.
  • Because it’s so long, I’m still working on the first round of revisions before I can send it to my beta readers. I’m about halfway done, and it’s already down to 99,927 words.
  • On the plus side, I’ve been getting some reading done and I’m keeping up to date on my book reviews!

Continue reading

December Wrap-Up & January Goals


My 2016 holiday/birthday TARDIS acquisitions, with bonus Alex-cat photobomb. (Not shown: Hand-painted miniature TARDIS I’ve already moved to my desk at the day job and the gorgeous laptop slipcase that a sleeping cat had claimed when I was ready to take this picture.)

Happy 2017 to all! This year I’m looking forward to continuing work on the Steel Empires series, contributing to Speculative Chic, reading lots of amazing books, and attending fun conventions, and watching lots of great movies and television shows. This year’s motto is probably “Work hard, play hard.” Continue reading

NaNoWriMo 2016 (sort of)

timey-wimey-quoteIt’s that time of year again, kids! When the writers in your life disappear for hours upon end, consume copious quantities of caffeine (and sometimes alcohol), and come out the other end of 30 days with some semblance of a book completed. Though I’m not officially signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which consists of 50,000 words in 30 days, my goal is 30,000 words in 30 days. This will hopefully get me close to the end of Steel Empires Book 4.

If you follow me on social media, you already know that I’ve been particularly obsessed with all things time travel lately. This isn’t new, really. I’ve maintained a fascination with the TARDIS for almost ten years, and so I figured it was time to put my own spin on it.

Today, I’d like to officially introduce you all to my current project: Steel Time.

Question 1: What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I already talked a bit about this above, but I’ve known since soon after I started drafting book 2, and decided that this would be a 7-book series, that I wanted to explore time travel at the midpoint of the major story arc. Don’t worry: I won’t be resetting my world and wiping out things that have gone before. Instead, I wanted something epic to bring Victory and Toria back together as POV characters in a novel.  Continue reading

June Wrap-Up & July Goals

June has definitely been one of my rougher months in recent memory. The bad news is that I don’t feel like I got as far on a lot of my projects as I wish I could be. The good news is that I’m spending the long holiday weekend with my husband!


His funny face is because he thinks selfies are silly.

Mississippi is hot and humid and gross, but you can’t beat the view from the condo he’s staying in for 5 months.

June Wrap-Up:

  • The substantive edits for book 3, Steel Blood, are complete. I’m about 75/260 pages through my final hardcopy markup to check for basic spelling/grammar/typo issues.
  • I put together my research list for book 4, Steel Time, and…had a bit of a meltdown because I had literally no time to work on it. However, I have the best friends in the world who also think researching weird stuff is fun. Go visit David’s blog and tell him how awesome he is for letting me outsource some of my work to him! So far he’s covered symptoms and immediate care of seizures and a variety of women’s clothing issues from the 194os for me.
  • Needless to say, not a word has been written for Steel Time yet. But I have committed to 30k words for Camp NaNoWriMo to finally get some motivation going.
  • I attended Seton Hill University’s In Your Write Mind 2016 and had a blast. Make sure to check out my con report for the weekend.
  • Book reviews completed last month:
  • Survived my first month sans husband. I got a few house projects done, but I’ve still got a pretty big list of things to accomplish.

Work stress has put a damper on a lot of my energy for things lately, but I’m trying my best to power through.

July Goals:

  1. Steel Magic book launch on July 6! Have you pre-ordered your copy?
  2. Steel Magic blog tour! Check out the schedule here.
  3. Steel Magic release party at East City Bookshop in Washington, DC, on July 19. All are invited for a reading, signing, raffle prizes, and most importantly, celebratory cake! RSVP here (no admission required).
  4. Not all the love this month will be for book 2. I will definitely have Steel Blood submitted to my editor for consideration this month.
  5. Another fun event I have coming up at the end of the month is my third year as a returning guest at Pittsburgh’s Confluence convention!
  6. Book reviews! I didn’t get much reading done this past month, but I still have four books waiting for reviews in the queue.
  7. And finally, my Camp NaNoWriMo commitment of the first 30k words of Steel Time drafted. Considering I’ve done 50k words each of the previous two Novembers, 30k words should be a snap, right?


May Wrap-Up & June Goals

I’m not going to lie: This month has been really busy and kind of rough. I’m satisfied with my progress on some things, and not as happy with others. Unfortunately, June is looking like more of the same.

May Wrap-Up:

  • The Steel Magic cover reveal happened, to great success! A great group of people came together and featured me across both blogs and social media. I’m incredibly thankful for all the help, and it was great to how excited people are for my second book.
  • I also had a great time at the Dog Star Books reading and signing at Bluejacket Books in Dayton, Ohio, with fellow authors K.W. Taylor and Matt Betts.
  • I finished the scene-by-scene outline for book 4, Steel Time, but have not yet had a chance to do any research, because…
  • I’m not yet done with book 3 edits! I’m about halfway through the substantive revisions needed for Steel Blood.
  • But I still managed to get some reviews of great books done!

My favorite photo set from the reading. From left to right: K.W. Taylor, J.L. Gribble, and Matt Betts. (Photo credit: Tom Kollman; layout credit: K.W. Taylor)

June Goals:

  1. Finish substantive and line edits for Steel Blood and submit to my publisher.
  2. Start research on Steel Time.
  3. Start drafting Steel Time! I’d like to get 20k words done, but I will be happy with 10k.
  4. Participate in Seton Hill University’s In Your Write Mind retreat, which will include moderating a panel discussion on freelance editing and participating in the mass book signing (where advance copies of Steel Magic will be available).
  5. Book reviews! (I currently have 9 waiting on reviews.)
  6. And finally…

Well, this last one isn’t a goal so much as a lifestyle decision. Part of the reason June (through October) is going to be pretty rough on me is because it’s just me and the cats for a bit. My husband is away for military training in his new career field. Before you feel too sorry for me, this is significantly better than a deployment, because he’s only one time zone away and I already have multiple trips planned to visit him! However, I know that I will have to be extra dedicated to working out regularly (for both my physical and mental health) and not sliding into bad eating habits (because I already hate cooking, and cooking for one is even worse).

On that note, I’m off to do a few miles around the lake near my house. Wish me luck!


STEEL TIME Research Topics


Most writers should identify with this.

The scene-by-scene outline of Steel Time is 95% complete! I just have to work out the final conflict sequence of events, which I won’t be able to do until after I complete some research. I know some authors do their research after coming up with the general idea for the book, but I’m the other camp. I’d rather do a complete outline, then go back and figure out specifically what I’m going to have to look up to not sound like a total idiot.

Here’s the final list of topics that I ended up with: Continue reading

April Wrap-Up & May Goals

What a roller coaster of a month!

April Wrap-Up:

  • Vacation successful and new job started! I’m three weeks in and enjoying myself immensely. I’m doing a very different sort of editing, along with a bunch of other interesting projects. My small team is great, and I love the area of Baltimore that my new office is in.
  • I finally got cranking on the Steel Time scene-by-scene outline this weekend and have just the climax left to do!
  • I received a full review of Steel Blood from one of my favorite beta readers, but haven’t gotten a chance to dive into his notes yet because I got distracted by another major project, which was…
  • Doing a last major publicity push for Steel Victory before Steel Magic is released this summer. Over the course of the last week, I put together a database of close to 100 book review bloggers and submitted Steel Victory for consideration to everyone who was currently accepting (between 60 and 70). So far I have sent out 16 review copies! If you are also a book review blogger interested in reviewing Steel Victory within the next few months, please drop me a line!
  • I only poked at the prequel story edits a bit on the cruise, but nothing substantial. Because there have been so many changes with Amazon self-publishing lately, I’m no longer in a big hurry to get those ready.
  • Book reviews! I’m down to a backlog of 11 books. Here’s what I was able to post after the cruise this month:

Zip-lining in St. Thomas above Magen’s Bay

May Goals:

  1. Steel Magic cover reveal! This is coming soon, so let me know if you’d like to participate.
  2. Dog Star Books book-signing in Dayton, Ohio, later this month (Saturday, May 28)! The link goes to the Facebook event page for more details. I’ll be joining Matt Betts and K.W. Taylor for a few hours of discussion on science-fiction and fantasy, including readings and time for Q&A.
  3. Finish the Steel Time outline and do all the research I’ll need in preparation for writing. More on that later this week.
  4. Steel Blood edits.
  5. Book reviews!

What are you all up to in the next few weeks?

Currently reading: Frost Burn by K.T. Munson and Nichelle Rae