Defiant: Chapter Seven

Writing news this week: I’m off to the Realm Makers Conference next weekend.  Are you also attending?  Let me know and we’ll chat!

In this chapter of Defiant, we have a chase scene and combat.  Aida is in a lot of trouble!

Read Chapter Seven

Defiant: Chapter Six

People have asked how much longer I’ll be working on my second novel, and the answer is, “I do not know, but I guess we’ll find out!”  The second novel’s journey is very different from the first novel’s.

The first novel stewed in my brain for almost two decades before I finally got it all down on the page.  That’s a lot of time to soak in everything, find out who the characters are, identify and fix massive plot holes, and come up with all the story.

On the second novel, I had an idea for a mountain which gave powers during the last Winter Olympics in 2018 (no idea why).  I created a character, and some dragons around that idea for a writing class that March, and wrote a draft first chapter.  Then I left it alone until late summer as the first novel was winding down.  I updated the first chapter and wrote a few more before the Writing Excuses Cruise, but then got post-conference blah-brain and forgot how to write for a bit.  In February, I finished the first draft.

With few exceptions, most people have to do a lot of work on their first drafts.  Sadly, it does not appear I will be one of those exceptions.  Go hard or go home, I say, so I decided to add two more Point of View (POV) characters to the story, which is a major rework.

Now that I count, I’ve only been working on this novel with any focus for less than ten months.  In comparison to Defiant, that’s not a lot of time!

I’ve also learned a lot more since writing the first novel, so I feel like I have more to do in revisions.  It is no longer a matter of only making sure what is going on is clear and that I haven’t misspelled any words.  Now, I worry about character development and backstory, emotional beats, how each chapter begins and ends, the overall dispersion of information, and many other things.  It takes a lot more time. I feel like I’m building the story in layers.

On the upside, I’m still having fun doing it, and I think the end product will be an improvement.  The worst thing that can happen is I learn a lot of stuff, and the third novel is even better.

Happy reading!

Read Chapter Six

Defiant: Chapter Five

Work on my second novel continues, and I’m even working on some ideas for the third one.  It’ll be set in space!  In the meantime, we have Chapter 5 of my first novel, Defiant.  We learn more about the magical powers of the Kort while Aida tries to get information.

You can find all earlier chapters here.

Read Chapter Five

Defiant: Chapter Four

Work continues on my never-ending unnumbered draft of my second novel.  Adding two more Point of View (POV) characters after the first draft has proven time-consuming.  It is worth it though; I’m really proud of the story so far.

To answer a common question, the second novel is unrelated to the first.  They recommend moving onto a different novel instead of a sequel, at least until the first novel sells.  This way, if/when it doesn’t sell, you haven’t just spent a bunch of time on a second novel. It seems reasonable.  This novel did not sell, so if I’d been working on a sequel, that would have been a lot of unsellable words.  I won’t say wasted words, as I’m sure it would have been educational.  But not optimal for my goals.

In last week’s chapter of this novel, we met the mysterious Kort and Aida met a hot guy.  NOTHING could go wrong there, I’m sure.

You can find all the previous chapters here.

Read Chapter Four

Defiant: Chapter Three

I’ve discovered posting these chapters is encouraging for my current project.  I’m in the midst of revisions, which is somehow both exciting and a slog at the same time.

By revisions, I don’t mean editing for grammar and spelling.  That will come much later.  I’m going through and adding bits here and there to develop character arcs and fix plot holes and add all the emotion and detail I’m told readers want.  I spend at least an hour a day working on it, and I think I see progress.  It is just slow going.

In other news, someone asked me about my publishing plans.  The very simple answer is I’m aiming to traditionally publish.  The other option is to self publish, and those folks are amazing, but I’m not good at all the things one needs to be good at for that task.  When I finish this next novel, after the revisions and beta readers and the boring grammar and spelling, I’ll query agents to see if they’d like to represent me.  If someone agrees, then they’ll approach publishers to see if they’ll buy the book.  It takes a long time.

I’ll keep posting this first novel while we wait.  You can find all the previous chapters here.
Read Chapter Three

Defiant: Chapter Two

In case you missed it, I’m posting the first novel I wrote here on the blog.  Don’t worry – I’m still going strong on the second novel.  I’m knee deep in revisions.  All the revisions!  If all goes well, you won’t be able to read my second novel here as I’ll get it published.  For now, you can enjoy my first attempt at writing a story!

Last week, we met Aida and her friends in a delightful game of hide and seek before we got some backstory and lore via conversation.  You can read Chapter One here.
Read Chapter Two

Defiant: Chapter One

Last summer, I accomplished my goal to write a novel.  I loved the process so much that I’m doing it again!  In the meantime, my first novel has been hanging out on my computer as I don’t intend to publish it anywhere else.  Some have asked to read it, though, so I’ve decided to post it here on the blog.  Each week, I’ll upload another chapter.

Admittedly, this is a little awkward for me as my writing has improved and I know the next novel will be a much better read for you.  But this is still a fun little story, and I hope you enjoy! Read Chapter One

Implanted Danger

Remember back in November when I wrote about receiving an Honorable Mention with a story called IMPLANTED DANGER for Writers of the Future?  I’ve submitted that story to a few places since, and… it isn’t getting published.  That’s okay, though!  I was so pleased it did so well, to begin with.  It was such a vast improvement over my very short dragon assassin story (Lady Assassin), and I learned so much writing it, I have nothing but happy thoughts. As happy as this cat and his toe beans!



Aragorn demanded a nap.


As it isn’t going to get published, I thought I’d share it here with you.  I hope you like it, but more importantly, I hope you see the improvement!  Practice really does pay off for writing.  I wrote this story as part of Mary Robinette Kowal’s Short Story Intensive Class, and I recommend it if you’d like to level up your storytelling game. Read Implanted Danger

Epic Best of Appalachia Tour

I recently returned from an over the top Best of Appalachia Tour with Wildland Trekking, my sister in law, and eight new friends in the mountains between Tennessee and North Carolina.  I’ve struggled with writing this blog post because I’m not quite sure how to adequately capture how amazing it was with words.  Perhaps one way to summarize is to say our last day of hiking was canceled due to severe weather, but the other four days were so satisfying, I didn’t even mind.

Look at the water!

Travel and Tourists

We drove to Asheville on the Saturday before the hike.  The drive was long and boring, but boring is probably the best thing possible for a twelve-hour drive.  Sunday was Palm Sunday, and I attended Mass at the Basilica of Saint Lawrence.  Built in 1905, it is the largest, freestanding, elliptical dome in North America.  Everyone was friendly, and the building was beautiful.  My only “complaint” was there was only one bathroom, outside and down the stairs in an alley.  I suppose that’s what happens when your church is that old!

The plan was to shop on Sunday after church, but rain shortened our plans.  We still hit the mall and outlet mall and ate too much food, as one would expect.  That evening, we met up with our group to discuss the hike.


On Monday, we were supposed to do a hike at a higher elevation.  Due to ice and downed trees, the road there was closed.  I didn’t know that was even a thing that far south in April.  Thankfully, our super-guide, Nicole, was on top of it and we switched plans and did Wednesday’s hike instead.  We stopped about halfway up a trail to rest in front of one of the many waterfalls.  It was so beautiful, perfect, and picturesque that I had that feeling one gets when confronted with something much larger than oneself.  It was humbling and perspective-changing.  We discussed how the same thing could happen with tragedy, but we’d rather have the waterfall.

We stayed at Dancing Bear Lodge Monday and Tuesday nights, and I was unprepared for that amazing experience.  We had the restaurant (and amazing chef) to ourselves.  I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as much as I did on Tuesday night.  Our lodges all also had private hot tubs on the back deck.  It was the perfect end to both days.

Tuesday included a bear sighting!  We were far enough away to be safe, but I saw a momma bear and at least two cubs through the binoculars.  We explored some local human history before heading out on another eight-mile hike up to a waterfall.  This waterfall wasn’t quite as big as the one on the first day, but we were right next to it.  We were the only group there at that time, so we enjoyed lunch mere feet away from the amazing sight.

On Wednesday, we completed Monday’s eight-mile hike, which was part of the Appalachian Trail.  It was the hardest hike by far, and my Fitbit said I went up 200 flights of stairs.  We ran into several through-hikers or people who backpack from Georgia to Maine non-stop.  They were thrilled when our guide offered them our leftovers from lunch, and I’ve never seen anyone so happy about vegetables.  Our destination was Charlie’s Bunion, which was fantastic and high and also terrifying.  I was starving by the time we returned to Asheville, but the restaurant Wildland had picked out for us did not disappoint.

I was very sore starting on Thursday! Our hike was hilly and windy, but we had 360-degree views all around at the top of each of the hills visited.  We finished a little earlier and enjoyed walking around downtown Asheville before another perfect dinner.

As I said, Friday’s hike was canceled due to severe weather.  There was wind, flash flooding, and lightning just for fun.  We headed home early, and thanks to the weather, our twelve-hour drive turned into fourteen boring hours.  But again, better a boring fourteen-hour drive than a scary one.


This is the second Wildland Trekking trip I’ve been on, and I’d recommend the company to anyone looking for an excellent trip with good food, a good guide, and wonderful views. The Best of Appalachia Tour was rated an activity level 2.  I’m in reasonable shape but did find each day somewhat challenging.  Keep that in mind when planning, and make sure you’re prepared.  It’ll make the trip so much better.  Otherwise, they take care of everything!

First Draft February

February Writing

Only about 4,000 words written for the novel.  Why the decrease from January’s 42k?  I finished my first draft, that’s why!  The end flew by, mostly because I didn’t write as much there as I did at the start of the novel.  I already knew many of my planned revisions would affect the end, so I spent a little less time worrying what the trees in any particular location looked like and focused on the characters.

After the rush of excitement and ice cream, I closed the first draft window and let it sit alone for a bit.  “They” say to do this before the second draft so you’re not as attached to your work and you can come at it with a fresh eye.  “They” also publish more books than me (I’m at zero), so I thought I’d take the advice.

I did not stop writing, however.  I started up a new file and began work on a short story about a battle mage with a bad attitude.  Just to make it more complicated, I threw it in space.  My writing group seemed to enjoy the characters and ideas but said it was WAY too much story for the word count I’d used. The good news is they think it’ll make a great novel; the better news is I have a great writing group who tells me these things.  This is what writing groups are good for!

Now that the month is over, I’ve gone back to the first draft of the second novel.  I’m updating the outline and arcs, polishing my thoughts on the world, and adding two POV’s.  Yes, two more point of view characters, because one wasn’t enough and I like a challenge.  Should I add these POVs?  Who knows, but I have to try to find out.  This is where writing differs from my engineering job quite a bit, as there I generally know what I need to do.  I can also usually tell if my math is correct.  Writing is a lot less certain, at least in my limited experience.  Does that improve with time?  Let me know in the comments if you’ve had a different experience.

I know some people don’t enjoy the revision process, but mine involves a spreadsheet, so I’m quite happy.

Books Read

Legion versus Phalanx by Myke Cole.  I picked this up after finishing the first draft for something different.  As I haven’t read a history book of this type ever, this was different.  The author is a fiction writer as well, though, and I found the narrative easy to follow and enjoyable to read.  The events of more than 2000 years ago can seem difficult to understand, but he does a great job explaining the details and relating it to modern day motivations.  I’d call this a history book for people who don’t usually like reading history, and have recommended it widely.

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri.  I picked this out of a list of recommended debut books on Amazon, and I am so glad I did.  The novel was inspired by the Indian Mughal Empire, which I knew nothing about before reading but now want to study.  There are few swords, but plenty of tension in this tale, and I devoured it over two days, stopping only to sleep, eat, and work.

Games Played

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on the PS4, still.  This was the only video game I played this month.  The story with this game is excellent, and I am so emotionally invested I stayed up until midnight one night tracking down an evil group after they killed a friend.  I’m nearing the end of the game, but have more to look forward to as they’ve added a New Game + and there are DLCs.

Dungeons and Dragons.  Our group is going strong, and my druid is finally at a level she can cast some pretty badass spells.  Assuming she doesn’t get killed, of course.  She’s very squishy.  This goes well with my Critical Role consumption, which is still the only show I watch all week.

Entertainment Consumed


Dreary Walk

A dreary walk between winter storms

Just Critical Role, in terms of media.  Nature has been entertaining, however.  We’ve had snow, ice, tornados, wind chill warnings, and 60 degree days.  These often occur one right after the other, with little transition.  It is snowing as I write this.

The weather has made one of my other hobbies more difficult – hiking.  I’m training for a five-day hike in April in North Carolina.  I hate treadmills, so the bad weather has forced me to do something new.  This month, I became a mall walker.  That’s right, one of those people who just walks in circles in the mall.  I have to get my miles somewhere!



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