Book releases, so many book releases!

Dearest Readers,

The end of the year is fast approaching, and what a year it has been! Moving to writing full time has been exhausting, but has felt natural and wonderful from the first day! I have been working on a variety of supercool contracts (one of which you’ll hear about fairly soon!), and I have also had time to settle into my own writing, both finishing projects I started before the transition and launching news ones.

Projects like what, you ask? I’m so glad! Let’s start with the one that just came out on November 20th – Mahalia!


Available at Amazon

Mahalia was my first novel, and a story I truly loved. However, as I went back to look at completing the trilogy, I could see all of the truths and complexities I now wanted to bring to her battle for survival. Mahalia is resourceful, loyal, and courageous, and I am so glad to share her story with you again! You can find it here at Amazon, and I hope to have it out to all retailers soon!

Next up? A little bit of holiday cheer!


Available at Amazon

The holidays can be full of laughter, love, unexpected camaraderie, and unexpected shipments of rum. Wait, what? That’s right – your favorite crew members aboard the Persephone, as well as Miriel and Catwin, Saira and the Wizard and Demetrios and more, all have holiday stories to share? Chasing rogue wizards around in summer snowstorms? Stealing a despot’s Christmas dinner? Oh, yes. And each story has a recipe included with it. Deck the Ship with Boughs of Holly will be out December 4th – you can get it HERE on Amazon!

Oh, did you think we were done? Not even close!

cyborg not finalAvailable at Amazon

Earlier this year, I was given a remarkable opportunity to appear in not one, but two more of the Future Chronicles anthologies. An original short story, Legacy, appeared in The Future Chronicles Special Edition earlier this year, and another original story, Indigo, will feature in The Cyborg Chronicles. Indigo pushes the boundaries of what it means to be human, where exactly the line blurs, and what happens when a human accepts the chance to become something more… The Cyborg Chronicles will be out on December 28th, and you can preorder it here!

And one final project for this post. Need a little Romance with your SciFi? Need a little SciFi with your Romance? Either way, I’ve got you covered. The Dragon Corps series follows a group of elite soldiers in humanity’s far future. Love, loyalty, passion, and mystery intertwine – always with a happily ever after for our sarcastic, lovable heroes. Dragon’s Honor and Dragon’s Vengeance will be out just after Christmas – preorder them here!


Preorder Dragon’s Honor at Amazon.


Preorder at Amazon.

Happy Holidays to you all, wonderful readers! May they be filled with warmth and happiness, and high hopes for the new year!


Editing: Let Me Count the Ways

Dear Readers,

As the first draft of my manuscript is now complete, I thought I would give you a window into the editing process. Editing is both wonderful and terrible. It’s the stage at which you get to tackle everything you didn’t like in the writing phase and find a crazy number of new things you don’t like. You lose scenes you loved. You struggle with scenes you need but don’t like. But at the end, miraculously, there’s another draft that’s so, so much better.

Then, of course, your beta readers and/or editors get their hands on it and tear it to shreds. So it goes.

When I started writing novels, I had no idea what I was doing. Some people read up on story structure and writing techniques before writing, but not me . I waited until later for that. The first time, I dove in headfirst and flailed around for a while. It worked out pretty well, being pretty much the best way for me to do anything, but I really didn’t know enough about what I was doing to know what needed edits, either.

Now I do. This is a double-edged sword. It leads to better manuscripts, but now I despise my first drafts. Ah, well. To give you an example, these are the things I’m doing on the first few rounds of edits before this goes to beta readers:

  • there are three chapters I want to cut almost all of (nothing really happens)
  • there’s an entire subplot I want to cut out, along with all the scattered references to it in the rest of the manuscript (ugh)
  • subtle but consistent references need to be made to the properties of magic in this world
  • there are some basic reader expectations of when things should be happening. You know those times when you’re reading a book or watching a movie and you think, “it really feels like something should be happening right about now”? Yeah. We want to avoid those moments of wondering. I’ll try to move plot points in line with those expectations, though perhaps without the rigid precision laid out in Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering
  • I’ll be doing a causality edit a la Jack Bickham in Scene & Structure. What this means is that I go through every scene and make sure there are ZERO leaps in logic or understanding. If something happens, there needs to be a response to that before the scene goes on. Every. Scene.
  • I’ll do a tension edit. Each page is pulled out one at a time and edited to make sure tension is building all the way through. Keeping it to one page (printed out) means that I can’t get lost in the scene and forget what I need to be doing.
  • I’ll be doing a scene purpose edit. This means I go through the scene and make sure that everything builds towards, well, the central purpose. Why is this scene in the book? (If I can’t answer that, serious changes need to be made.)
  • I’ll be doing a chapter linking edit. Is the information from the last chapter integrated? Are the transitions jarring? (Sometimes they’re meant to be, sometimes not.) Can we tell immediately how much time has passed from the last chapter and why we are where and when we are?
  • I’ll be doing a consistency and fact-checking edit. This is for details large and small: when did Character X find out about Plot Point Y? What color are Character Z’s eyes? Is that one made up word capitalized or not?
  • I’ll be doing a spelling & grammar edit. Typos, typos, typos. So many typos. I abhor them, but I make them. Don’t think you’re better than making typos. You aren’t.

Here’s the thing: over the course of this process, more things are going to come up. I’ll need to fix those as well. I may need to write new scenes as I determine I need them. I may, in fact, need to change major plot points. I won’t know until I start fixing it.

Authors, what do you do in edits? Readers, what questions do you have? Ask away!


Manuscript Last Resorts

Dear Readers (and Fellow Authors),

WOW, can a manuscript fight you, right? At one point a while back while speaking to the lovely Robyn Lythgoe, I described the process of writing Remnant asĀ  similar to being dragged backwards through a hedge. This latest manuscript has been difficult in a different way: now that I’m writing full time, I found myself freezing up over every chapter, sure that I wasn’t doing my story justice.

The fact was, I just needed to get through my first draft and then edit it, but at the time I was consumed with the fear that I was a complete failure. Which was not so fun. On the plus side, I have come up with a gigantic list of things I resorted to in order to get it done, and have ranked them below in vague order of helpfulness. May they speed up your own manuscripts!

Helpful things:

    • A friend introduced me to habitica, which is about the most fun ever – it’s an RPG that you play by completing your to-do list
    • If you can’t get out of your chores for 10 days or so, put them on autopilot. Example: planning out two weeks’ worth of meals and buying all the groceries in one shot. (What’s for dinner? Oh, right, that thing. Do we have the ingredients? Sure do. Excellent.)
    • Point-by-point plotting of the chapters I was trying to write. Just a rough overview. One character brings up a valid point, and the other responds…how? Plan it. Very useful.
    • Turning off my internet while I write – and, in fact, blocking facebook and twitter entirely on my computer (I use LeechBlock, which is quite helpful – for instance, I realized that I was checking the news ridiculously often, so all of the news sites are blocked between 7:30AM and 5:30PM)
    • Seriously, I can’t stress this enough, DON’T go on social media between writing sprints. You will lose a staggering amount of time. (I imagine this will be doubly true leading up to the election next year)
    • I developed a mini-workout routine to do between writing sprints: 2 types of cardio, each for 30-45 seconds, a set of planks or sit ups, and some arm weights. Other authors have concurred that standing up and moving around helps them stay in the groove
    • Making sure to take an hour or two to decompress every evening. Reading, watching a movie, playing a video game – whatever it was, it needed to have nothing to do with my manuscript
    • I didn’t use it this time, but I’ve always had good luck with Freedom – it’s an app for Macs that completely shuts down internet

Not so helpful things:

  • while sunlight is great, getting out of the house was definitely a mixed bag on the helpfulness front. Walking to the library, while it didn’t take TOO long, tended to remind me that I had other errands to run. And other errands, while nice, weren’t as nice as finishing my manuscript
  • Bribing myself with episodes of Netflix or battles in mobile games. Again, a mixed bag. I tended to get distracted and not get back to things as quickly as I wanted. The moral of the story? Use the timer function on your smartphone, or buy an egg timer for a low-tech alternative.

Really not helpful things:

  • Every few chapters, I would decide that the whole manuscript needed to be revised and switch around everything, thereafter taking hours to correct every conversation and later chapter to reflect the changed order of events. Say it with me: write first, edit later
  • Usually around the time I tried revising things, I would go into a long self-lecture about how much of a failure I was. This sucks. It is no way to spend your time. Let my experience be your guide on this one, because I have tested it. EXTENSIVELY.
  • Unless you’re just really on a roll, don’t try working into the evening. Working late really doesn’t give you much value for the money beyond the first time you do it. It costs you the next day, which results in too much caffeine, which results in disordered sleep, which results in more caffeine…and on and on it goes. And getting out of that cycle is time consuming.

Authors, readers, what are your favorite strategies for staying on task?


An Update – and a Thank You

Dear Readers –

A quick update, so you know what I’m working on, and then a fairly involved thank you. Update first: the second season of Saira has an excellent plot and some really cool twists and turns, and I am delighted that you will get to read it…at some point. At present, it is not coming out the way I intend it to, and I am puzzling out where it is going – which is a very nice way of saying I’m beating my subconscious with a bat, and then re-reading all of my favorite YA Fantasy series in the hopes that something will magically fall into place. Meanwhile, the Mahalia reboot is so very, very close to being entirely plotted (it’s a trilogy, y’all), and after straying into somewhat colder, more dystopian territory, I am back to sun-drenched gardens and a lot of laughter. It feels better, and I will be happy to start writing soon. Meanwhile. a new idea is coming into shape in my head, a SciFi story that is reaching deep inside and stirring up some very primal emotions. I wish I could tell you which order these would come out in.

I may be speaking with you about summer produce, but my mind is thinking about the coming robot apocalypse. And also Mahalia.

I may be speaking with you about summer produce, but my mind is thinking about the coming robot apocalypse. And also Mahalia.

I just realized that it’s Sunday night. Now, I’m sure that some of my dislocation in time is due to the fact that my husband is away on vacation, so there isn’t his work schedule to accommodate. However, the simple fact is that I’m not dreading tomorrow. To be honest with you, it’s been a difficult few weeks since I left my day job. I’ve faced up to some hard truths about how quickly I can work and the standards I’m holding myself to now that I can write full time. As there are still bills to be paid (and an adorable puppy to feed), I’ve been taking other writing jobs on the side. In my dreams beforehand, I’d already have three manuscripts out the door to beta readers and editors by now.

Not that I've been spending TOO much time thinking about this...

Not that I’ve been spending TOO much time thinking about this…

It hasn’t happened that way. Instead, I’ve floundered my way through some of the most intense exhaustion of my life, realizing that just because I have ten extra hours each day doesn’t actually mean I can spend all ten of them writing. I’ve been frustrated by the fact that I’m not spending all of my time on my own work, as I am still taking other writing projects to pay the bills. I’ve had tearful conversations with my confidantes about how scared I am that I’ve made a terrible mistake – because to be honest, this is terrifying as hell. I’ve been on and off the grid for email and calls, and things I swore wouldn’t slip through, have.

Missing apostrophe aside ... also accurate.

Missing apostrophe aside … also accurate.

But it has also been amazing. I’ve slowly been learning the difference between the distress and eustress – that is, bad stress and good, productive stress. I’ve been able to take long lunch breaks once or twice per week to talk with people I deeply admire, hearing their stories and their worldview. I’ve had the opportunity not just to write in new genres, but to be paid to do so, and in the process I’ve researched all sorts of amazing topics. I’ve been able to go to the library every day. I’ve read more books in the past two months than I did in the two years beforehand. I’ve had more evenings to spend curled up with my husband, watching a movie.

Objective in progress.

Objective in progress.

Tonight, as I realize it’s Sunday night, I also realize that tomorrow I’ll get up (still early, as I do my best writing in the morning) and go to work on…whichever of my projects I want to work on that day. I’ll sit down at my own desk in a sunlit room with a cup of coffee and spin stories out of half-remembered dreams and that part of the brain that seems only accessible via the fingertips. Tomorrow will be a terrifying morning, I think – I am working on a story that feels like it is inches from tearing the still-beating heart out of my chest. I hope you will love it like I do. But it will be a Good morning, too, with a capital G.

Ideal writer's retreat. THERE'S NOWHERE TO GO, KEEP WORKING ON  YOUR MANUSCRIPT. With a guard who will give you infinite tea, but no boat until you produce the correct number of words.

Ideal writer’s retreat. THERE’S NOWHERE TO GO, KEEP WORKING ON YOUR MANUSCRIPT. With a guard who will give you infinite tea, but no boat until you produce the correct number of words.

And I owe it to a heap of ridiculous stubbornness, that’s true, but also to a crap load (technical term) of good luck: that my husband kept encouraging me to write the stories I told him about, that each of you picked up my books at just the right time to love them, that I had parents who read to me every night, that I met the fantastic crew of authors who provide inspiration and support to me now, that any number of things large and small fell into place. Right now, I feel very lucky.

On the plus side, no matter how bad things get, I do write SciFi and Fantasy.

On the plus side, no matter how bad things get, I do write SciFi and Fantasy.

Stay tuned!


Link Roundup – July 27th

Hello, all, and welcome to a new week!

This week, I am continuing to double down on Mahalia, but my main focus is clearing my schedule for the kickstarting craziness that will begin in the middle of next month. Character reveals, story line, demos, and more are on deck, and so I am completing a few projects up for clients in the meantime!

Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite links from last week:

What interesting things did you stumble across last week? What are you all reading?

Wishing you a lovely week,


Poll: Where do you find and buy ebooks?

Dear all –

A strange query for you today. As I look ahead in the year, I hope to learn more about how you, my readers, find and read my books. So let me know! Where do you buy, what e-readers do you use?


Link Roundup!

Hello, Dear Readers!

What a week it was! Freelancing work took over the house, my husband returned from a weeks-long business trip (the puppy is over the moon happy, as you might expect – there are double the people to adore him), and I am currently beating the Mahalia draft into submission with a large bat. …I mean, I’m crafting it carefully out of well-picked words.

I tell you, sometimes writing feels like finding one’s way around a swamp, blindfolded. Ah, well. I’ll let you all know when there are beta opportunities!

In the meantime, here’s a round up of the most interesting things I read on the web last week. What were your favorite news stories, geeky or otherwise?

One last thing – we are still looking to gain support for our Thunderclap, and there are only a few days to go! If you think this is something your friends would like to hear about, you can sign up HERE!



5 Writing Lessons I Learned Ghostwriting for New York Times Bestsellers – a very interesting look into what makes a winning manuscript

The ESA wants to build a village on the moon – and I want to go

Video of the earth opening and closing during the 2011 earthquake in Japan – terrifying, but also incredibly interesting

A rundown of folk music themes from around the globe – I may have snorted beer up my nose reading this, and it was still worth it

Things Could Be Worse mugs – because who doesn’t want blue-and-white old school willow mugs … with rampaging robots, cthulhu, and alien invasions on them? (Answer: no one.)

“The Expanse is the show we’ve been wanting since BSG” – from iO9. Pretty psyched! Any book fans want to weigh in?

Caramelized peach and lavender scones – in case you want to throw up your hands, ignore your life problems for an hour or two, and have delicious baked goods. Sounds like a good plan to me, in any case.

In case you missed the New Horizons news last week, it completed a flyby of Pluto and took some jaw-dropping pictures. Or it might be an Illuminati plot. You know, one or the other.

…and a lovely quote to send you off into your week!

change your life

Writing Full Time: How I Did It

Recently, as you know, I took a step that terrifies me: I quit my 9-5 job, and to write full time (both for myself, and freelancing). Now each morning, I am in my little home office, surrounded by my notebooks, a steaming cup of tea beside me, and I feel the anticipation of being at the top of the roller coaster, in that exquisitely tailored pause before the cart goes hurtling down a hill.

So how did this happen? Did I get lucky?

Yes and no. When people ask me if I know how lucky I am, I can’t help but think, yes, but not in the way you mean. I was born without health complications that would keep me from writing as much as I do, I was born to a family affluent enough that I did not need to take care of younger siblings or get a job to help support us, I was born to a family that highly valued reading and education – and I am very, very sure that this is only the tip of the iceberg. So as it happens, yes, my success in writing can be attributed to a great deal of luck.

But if you mean, as I think most people do, that luck is responsible for what success I have had… I would have to say that, too, is an incorrect assumption. What I did was actually not all that special, and so what I would tell you is twofold:

  1. Success in any endeavor is often the result of luck, and those who succeed over the long term often do so by deliberately or inadvertently doing things that place them in the way of good luck; and
  2. In writing, as in everything else, this can be learned and achieved. Above all, continue to show up, continue to strive for quality, and make your books easy to find.
  3. The secret third thing is, don’t be a dick. We’ll come back to this at the end.

Let’s break this down.

Continue to show up. You’ve probably gone onto Amazon or a similar site at some point and seen “new releases.” In fact, that’s often how media is sold: what’s new, what’s just been released, what’s suddenly interesting to the public. What this means is that websites are primed to show off what’s new. And what is new, of course, is your new book. No, not the last one you wrote – the one you’re writing now. If you aren’t writing one now, go do your inspiration thing, be it running or reading or watching movies or digging through old Popular Science magazines, until you are struck with inspiration, and then start working again. Unlike other advertising, which you must pay for, a new book is an automatic boost to the old ones, and it’s like advertising that pays you. Which, I mean, is kind of the best thing ever.

But Moira, I just wrote a book… And now, if you want to keep being a writer, you must write more things. Indeed, if you are a writer, I promise that you will write more things. In fact, scratch what I said above about books. It doesn’t need to be books. Learn to listen for that little spark of inspiration and nurture it, allow yourself to daydream, and try to capture it. Writing exercises, short stories, mimicking style – write anything and everything you wish. What you can’t do anymore is allow your fear of failure to keep you from writing the next book that’s inside you. I know, the reception to the last book wasn’t quite as glowing as you hoped, and you’re worried that what comes next might be complete failure. That feeling, unfortunately, isn’t going to go away, so you might as well learn to write around it now. (Sorry. No one warns you about that one.)

It’s as simple as this: at any moment, the person who turns one of your books into a bestseller could stumble onto them. That person might not even know what it is they’re doing. They read the book, they like the book, they tell a few friends – the right friends, the friends who also like the book and tell their friends, and… But none of that is going to happen if there isn’t a book for them to stumble onto. And furthermore, your chances of them stumbling onto it are markedly higher if you have multiple books, any one of which might be that bestseller or which might lead them to that bestseller.

Continue to strive for quality. Getting better at writing is pretty much inevitable. As you continue to write, you will continue to grow in your writing. However, writing is a lot like running. Let me explain: when I began running, even going half a mile made me feel like I was going to throw up. Gradually, as I kept going to the point of wanting to throw up, that feeling receded. Now, even if I haven’t run in a couple of weeks, I can lace up my sneakers and run a 5k. Writing is similar: only by forging through the undergrowth and swampy recesses of unfinished drafts can you uncover the stamina and courage to keep doing that. It does take courage. Make no mistake about that. Also, however: you can do it. And if you strive for quality each time, you will do it, and your books will be better.

Make your books easy to find. Make it as easy as you can for people to stumble onto your books. Website, facebook, twitter, tumblr, heck, even instagram. Be there. And that leads us to the final point.

Don’t be a dick. Don’t be that person who does the tech equivalent of crashing through someone’s living room window, screaming, “buy my book!” Just don’t. Don’t do it. And don’t be that person who takes readers to task for not liking your book. That one’s also bad. In fact, it’s this simple: behave like a reader when you’re online. You like reading, watching shows, tap dancing, rock climbing, whatever – be that person. Don’t be a brand. …and don’t be a dick.

Can I guarantee you success in writing if you follow the steps above? I really can’t. Can I say that I whole-heartedly believe this is the best, surest way to success? I can. Go take the world by storm, authors! I believe in you. And as always, email me if you want to talk more about any of this.


“Go Set a Watchman” & Reader Ownership of Characters

Today, the sequel to Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” has been released. After the controversy, in which many alleged that Lee did not even wish to release Watchman, there has sprung up a new controversy entirely, over the identity of Atticus Finch.

Those who do not want to be spoiled on the novel should stop reading – and also probably not go on Facebook or read the NYTimes. This stuff is everywhere.

Still with me? Good. Atticus Finch is now…well, violently racist. Attends KKK meetings, rants to his daughter about desegregation, the whole nine yards. And this is causing some legitimate grief in the reader community. Finch has inspired generations to stand against injustice. Many say they attended law school because of him. How many, now, are braver and stronger people because they read “To Kill a Mockingbird”? And, to be frank, do they have a right to feel betrayed that Finch’s character is so changed in “Go Set a Watchman”?

No, and yes, and no again. The characters come from Lee. She created them, and their evolution is up to her. She is the final arbiter of how Atticus Finch changes over the course of his lifetime. And yet, at the same time, Finch has become a cultural force beyond Lee – because that is how art works. Art is not created in a vacuum of the creator and the work itself, it is created with the intent of being viewed, and of sparking something in the viewer’s soul. In this, “To Kill a Mockingbird” was wildly successful. Readers do not own Atticus Finch and his views in the way Lee does…but they own the cultural moment he sparked.

And yet again, we see the betrayal that comes from the fall of a hero. Those who are set on a pedestal often “fail” us, given none of the privacy that we would have to indulge in weakness, fear, cowardice, and greed. Because Atticus Finch is now so racist, we feel that our own bravery and pursuit of justice was built on a lie.

And that, dear readers, is up to us to fix. Characters can be an inspiration, and yet be terribly flawed. Characters can be an inspiration, and later act in ways we hope we never do. We are still the people we became because of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and we have the choice to remain those people no matter what occurs in “Go Set a Watchman.”

Yes, sometimes our heroes fail us. But isn’t the point of heroes to inspire us to be heroes ourselves?


Writing Full Time: Early Lessons


Hello, Dear Readers!

As many of you know, I recently began writing full time, with a combination of freelance writing projects and my own work. It was an incredible opportunity, and I am so lucky to have gotten it. I know that many of you here are also hoping to be full-time writers, and I’m working on expanding the A to Z of Indie Writing to include my path to this – because it is doable. I swear. I hope to survey other authors so that you have an idea of how varied the path is for everyone.

We’re coming up on one month already, which doesn’t seem possible, but I did the math and there we are. So here, without further ado, are some of the best lessons I’ve learned and had passed along to me:

  • Do your own writing first. Or whenever your peak productivity is. If you’re splitting between freelancing and your work, do yours first.
  • You can only do so much. Actually a surprise. I thought I could work 15 hours per day, 7 days per week. But as it happens, that’s a LOT of writing. You’ll run out of brain if you try that. So, you know, take up a hobby. And don’t overbook.
  • Anything you do right now, you don’t have to do later. This is the only rule of freelancing, really. If you do it now, you don’t have to worry about getting it done. You don’t have to stress about it. You don’t have to keep slogging away. What will you do when you get done with it? I don’t know, but get it off your plate, even if it’s a job you want to be doing.
  • You’re going to have to try a few different schedules. I had a grand plan, which was to work on my own work until I burned out for the day, do some chore around the house, work on a client project, take the dog for a walk, work on another client project… And so on. And it turns out that that just doesn’t work for me. Since then I’ve pinpointed that focusing on one thing per day gets me much further, but I’m still trying to figure out how to structure breaks.
  • For reasons that won’t be apparent, you will occasionally discard all lessons you have learned and do things with wild inefficiency. Remember when I figured out that I need downtime and I should work on one project per day? Yeah. Remember when I inexplicably threw that lesson out the window last week? Yeah… Why? No idea. My brain is a mystery to me. You’ll probably do this, too.

Are any of you freelancers? How do you schedule your days? What would you like to share?