Iron Spirits Begins


Publishing as an indie author is an ankle-rolling, uphill scramble. Traditional authors can probably expect decent sales when their books are released. An instant boom. And perhaps that’s what I thought would occur when my book was released, though I had my feet firmly planted in reality. No visions of thousands of copies instantly sold here. But as a self-published author, I can expect my work to build an audience over time, rather than grab immediate attention on book store shelves.

I tried to be sensible about this week’s agenda after publication. Put the house in order. The other mommies are judging you. The Normal Nancy in my head prodded. The realist in me snorted. Please. They long ago decided we were too weird for words. Polarizing. People already love us, or they can’t stand us. Normal Nancy conceded.

So, I headed back to my usual writing haunts to see what would happen. And I was astounded to see that the ideas still poured onto the paper, straight out of my head. Thoughts flowed so quickly that I felt more like a medium for plots than their creator. Two young adult book ideas fought for space in my head, including the sequel for Iron Shards. I have toyed with the idea of taking a break from it, writing something else, and coming back to it. But my brain is already full of lines, a title, quotes, and themes. John, Quinn, and Amber are begging me to tell their stories, so I am acquiescing to their strong pleas.

Other ideas were pushed aside, and I forced myself to sit and type this morning. I’ve been enduring the doldrums of formatting and editing for months. There’s so little creation for me in that. I half-worried that the stories wouldn’t flow unbidden once more. What if I only ever write part of that story? When I clearly heard Amber’s ideas in my head, getting a feel for her skin and perspective, I knew that my magic was still there.

At such times, I am reminded of a J.K. Rowling quotation:

“Words are […] our most inexhaustible source of magic.”

And I heartily agree.  

A Real Book

Iron Shards has always felt real to me. The ideas swirled in my mind on long car trips, worlds building themselves as the miles passed me by. As I typed out the pages, tap-tapping my way to a full manuscript, it became concrete.

As a book junkie, I know that some readers are serious fans of print. I don’t need a physical copy of a work to read it, but I admit that I keep hard copies of my favorites. (I’m going to need my hard copies of Harry Potter and Shakespeare if the world ever comes to end, okay?) I am flattered that others want hard copies of my work, and I was unexpectedly delighted when the paperback proof arrived for me to review yesterday. I stroked the cover, finally holding my brainchild. And to my children, the hard copy meant that I really had been writing a book. Did you think I was dreaming this project up? Of course, the book’s finally done. 

And if you feel the need to own Iron Shards in a tangible form, here it is. Iron Shards paperback The hard copy will also be available on Amazon in a few days.

And I can’t resist sharing a picture of how amazing my book looks resting on my desk.

Paperback pic

Publication Day

I like to think of myself as more deeply entrenched in math and science than your average English degree holder. I took calculus classes and organic chemistry. I suffered through a year of physics. Still, when it comes to computer coding, there are magical gnomes making the processes work for all I know, so I enlisted my computer-savvy spouse’s help for publication.

He is an absolute tyrant about formatting, and that’s something I need. Apparently, I’m a formatting nightmare. (Did you know that you don’t hit “Tab” to start a new paragraph when you’re writing a novel?) He has been worried for months about formatting my book for digital publication, and the process was in the back of my mind as a minor issue. I truly didn’t comprehend the scope of that project. I suppose I thought I would just upload it to Amazon and click “Publish”. Don’t these people know we’re writers, not computer programmers? Alas. That’s not what happens.

Instead, the book gets uploaded, and you check the formatting with various devices. I thought that all of the Kindle devices at least would be consistent. Naive author brain strikes again. They all had different start pages, given the exact same information. A few were awful, skipping my prologue or starting in the middle of my book dedication, a random “I love you” scrawled across the page. Why, Amazon? Why? 

I saw this as evidence of chaos in the universe, the computer gnomes taking my good intentions and scrambling them about. Josh took it as a personal challenge; he was frustrated and curious about why it wasn’t working as intended. He pulled open some html code. (That’s what he called it. I’m certain it was actually from the engineering grimoires.) He cursed a lot. See? Incantations!  And no matter what he tried or how many other wizards he spoke with, all of them confirmed the magic is broken. No one has a spell for getting a book to start anywhere other than the Table of Contents. A few, rare practitioners encountered wild magic and managed to get their books to begin on page one. But they don’t have a spell to share with the other mages.

I thought about the e-books I’ve read, and, indeed, they all begin at the Table of Contents. It’s not ideal, but people know how to scroll over. It’s fine, I insisted. At last, my wizard admitted defeat. He uploaded my book, and we went to sleep. What? You were thinking I’d have a wild party celebrating the release of my book? Engineering wizards and authors are usually introverts. Why would we do that? 

The alarm clock rang all too early on publication day, and I opened the dreadful phone to turn off the incessant music–only to see a Facebook message from a friend in England. She said that my book had typos in the description. Nooooooooo! At first my sleep-addled brain thought she must be referring to the words I made up that Amazon kept insisting were errors last night. It’s scary to click “publish” when Amazon keeps telling you that you have ten errors in your work. Screw you. I invented that word. It’s real! 

But after re-clicking my link, I saw what my friend meant. My stomach churned, my heart pounded, and I had to catch my breath. The book description is critical for any self-publishing author. It’s the crucial paragraph that perfect strangers read to determine if they want to buy the book. And mine had not one, but two typos! My wizard tried to calm me down, to explain that you couldn’t copy-paste this part, that he’d had to type it and must have made some mistakes. This is why engineering wizards don’t write books. 

I did some quick editing in the early morning hours, hoping to eliminate the errors before anyone in the US caught them. And now I can breathe again, and I’ve had enough excitement to last for the entire publication day. You might think I’m heading off to rest on my laurels, but I’ll do nothing so exciting. The book writing, editing, and publication processes have taken their tolls on my family, and I’m off to catch up on appointments, oil changes, and endless laundry.

On a different note, some of you are interested in helping this newly published author promote her work. You rock! Here’s how to help. “Liking” and sharing my pages spreads the word about my book to others and increases visibility. Also, if you read the book and want to help me out, review it. Book reviews increase the likelihood that others will choose my book to read.

I hope that you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

If you haven’t yet checked out the book and want to, here it is–Iron Shards.



Iron Tunes

While I was writing Iron Shards, I often sought peace at local coffee shops to collect my thoughts and put words on the page. Being a stay-at-home mom and a caver means that my house is constant chaos. School forms, cave maps, official letters, dirty hockey clothes, muddy packs. You get the picture. If I tried to write at home, those messes drove my inner OCD person crazy.

However, when I went to local shops, I often found that there were obnoxiously loud folks guffawing or talking over each other. Music was my solution. I love when other writers post their playlists, the soundtracks to my favorite books. I hope that you enjoy mine.

During my first draft, I listened to these songs incessantly, sometimes just one on repeat until even I didn’t want to hear it anymore.

Ed Sheeran “I See Fire”

Hozier “Take Me to Church”

Ed Sheeran “I’m a Mess”

Rachel Platten “Fight Song”

Muse “Mercy”

Shinedown “Sound of Madness”

Tove Lo “Scream My Name”

Lorde “Yellow Flicker Beat”

Coldplay “Viva la Vida”

Imagine Dragons “Demons”

Hozier “Someone New”

During the editing process, I was only obsessed with one band—Shinedown. I have listened to all of their albums until my family and friends are helping with my quest to find a new obsession. I found their latest work Threat to Survival particularly inspiring as I worked up the nerve to put the finishing touches on the novel and get it out to friends and the public. It’s tough to pick favorites because I love the whole album, but if I had to choose three songs from it, they’d be “How Did You Love”, “State of My Head” and “It All Adds Up”.

I hope you find my playlist inspiring. Now get out there. Create.


–Jessi Kallison

Iron Shards


A key is forged to unlock us all…

John Jones, a fourteen-year-old in small town Alabama, finds himself thrown into the chaos of fairy conflicts as different factions search for the cure to their iron allergy. Armed with witty sci-fi quotes, exceptional speed, and a penchant for honesty, John finds his first days of high school far from dull as he’s attacked by enemies, questions his own sanity, and finds that only he can save his parents when an ancient prophecy leads a dangerous faction to pursue him. Unlikely friendships and John’s own humanity—particularly, his iron immunity—become crucial to his survival in the cutthroat fae world as they target their creator, the Weaver.  The journey tests his mettle as he determines whether he is ruthless enough to bring his parents home.


Iron Shards

Iron Shards: My Journey

Creating Iron Shards has been a wild ride that began quietly, a flicker in my mind, a soft whisper saying, “Wouldn’t that be awesome?” Surrounded by breakfast dishes, after I’d organized my house from top to bottom in the first week that my youngest child began pre-k, I sipped my coffee and thought, “Now what? How many times can one woman organize her garage before going mad?”

I tossed the idea of writing out to my spouse, almost jokingly, to see how he’d react. And perceptive man that he is, he responded beautifully, bolstering my confidence until I was ready to pen my first words. A flood of ideas overwhelmed me, and I had no clue which direction I was heading. I just wrote until eventually I only lived one character’s story–the story I’m finally ready to share with you.

Once I passed the twenty page mark, I was holding more pages of one story than I’d ever written before, and I was excited to finally tell other people about my book as it began taking shape in my mind. I confided to a friend here, told a family member there until I was comfortable telling my local coffee shop friends about all of the tap-tapping happening at my table in the corner. And I discovered a marvelous trait about my friends: they all wanted me to succeed, and they all believed I would.

I wrote every day, a thousand words per day, until the story released its grip on me just after the new year. And you might be thinking that writing the story is the hard part. It’s not. The most difficult part is reading your own work and trying to tear it apart, to break it down so that it can be rebuilt as a stronger, more cohesive whole. I was challenged and frustrated as I found plot holes and idiotic turns of phrase. Did I really write that? What was I thinking? And every time I thought I was done, another error popped up or another beta reader offered feedback, and I was committed to reading the manuscript through once more. I have learned that the editing process doesn’t really end until the book is published, and even then, I’ll probably look back and still see things about the manuscript that could be better. Even if no one else does.

I am excited to be releasing Iron Shards to all of you on Amazon Kindle soon with both e-book and print options. After the publication day, I can move on to a topic dear to both of us–Book Two–Iron Spirits. Until then, keep an eye on my pages for the book release.