Years That Ask Questions

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” –Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

I have been through what felt like years of questions and some brutal answers since I penned the ending to Where Angels Can’t Follow. In the last year, I’ve used my powers of the pen in the technical arena, and I have used my writing to empower victims of violence to not stay silent, to be screaming loud. My home was broken into a few months ago, and I was attacked quite violently by someone I was close to. It has given me perspective and deep gratitude for my village. But none of those people could have helped if I had been cowed into silence.

I still felt like I briefly lost my voice, the one I speak with and the one I write with, when I was stuck in hellish flashbacks. It’s not the kind of time loop one wants to be in. I discovered from reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk that research indicates one does indeed literally lose activity in the part of the brain responsible for speech when reliving traumatic memories. I am grateful to my caving community and every friend who reached out. You helped me find my voice again when I could barely find the air to fill my lungs.

I can think of quite a few literary greats who struggled with loss, depression, anxiety, and pain. Though it’s a hell of a crucible, the pain makes us great; it makes empathetic people who can get at the heart of any struggle with accuracy. I have my well of pain now to pull from as I write. And it’s a comfort to know that all I have been through the last couple of years will be instrumental in creating powerful new worlds and characters with depth.

Where Angels Can’t Follow is in some final editing phases now. I’m nitpicking the word choices and filling in the gaps. This one will be done this year so that I can make room for the other characters that keep trying to push their way to the front of my mind. Thank you all for waiting so patiently. And thank you to my friends who are not so patient, too. (I needed the nudging.) I am looking forward to sharing my mix of New Orleans, voodoo, archangels, classical Renaissance art, and generational differences with all of you.



My latest book has an inseparable thread of artistry woven throughout. My main character is a sculptor, and as a writer, I know some of the madness of art. I’ve been inspired by many of the quotes I’ve found about sculpting

Matisse quoteand art in general, a few of them even found their way into the novel. I found this one inspiring today.

I find myself often forgetting as I write which events have already taken place. Sometimes I am a week removed from what happened in the book, and 7,000 words later, I reintroduce a character everyone’s already met. In Iron Shards, the most egregious instance of this was when I killed the villain off on one day and then killed him off again on the next. I don’t read my work for coherence when I write, I just get the story out and worry about logic and coherence later. So, I found out during editing that I’d killed a character twice.

The editing process takes much longer than writing the novel. Dwelling on every painstaking detail, trying to find my own mistakes, and acting as my own sanity check is grueling. I lose sight of the whole work again as I perfect fragments, and I begin nitpicking my choices. I doubt myself and wonder why I thought I could publish something I wrote “a lot” in.

But I have stubbornness issues. I think all novelists must to persist. And we have an obsession with the stories spilling out of us. I don’t know how to stop, even when my words are inadequate, even when rejections roll in. As I have begun my final round of checks on the latest novel before it goes to my beta readers, I read lines that sound so amazing that my eyes jerk back to the beginning. Did I write that? That description rocks! And I remember why I push forward. All of the affirmation I need is here. All 98, 069 words of it.

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 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.