Author Interviews, Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Ask Me Anything: February 2018

Welcome to my February 2018 Ask Me Anything video!

Earlier this month, I asked readers from my Reader List and social media whether they had any questions about my books, writing and publishing, or anything else. As a reader, I love it when authors share more about their books and themselves, so I want to do the same for you!

You can watch the video right here. Or if you prefer to read my answers, I’ve summarized them below.

Will the fourth Desertera novel have a new main character? And if so, will you say who?

Yes! Sybil Tanner, who readers will remember as Dellwyn’s roommate and Zedara’s new maid, will be our leading lady. Originally, I planned for the fourth book to be written from Zedara’s point of view, but you’ll see why that wouldn’t work when you read it. I’m really enjoying Sybil’s perspective – she’s got a contagious vibrancy and energy, but she still struggles with trauma from her childhood and The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2). I hope you’ll find her as complex and charming as I do!

If you could only pay for editing or cover design, which would you choose?

As an independent author, you should always pay for BOTH editing and cover design whenever possible. When it comes to fiction novels, if I couldn’t afford one of those services, I would save money and wait to publish rather than put out an unfinished or unprofessional product. Even if you are a professional editor or cover designer, I would still recommend outsourcing that work to save time and get a second, unbiased opinion on your book.

That being said, I have skipped editing or cover design for other projects. The Desertera short story that I give to my Reader List subscribers is professionally edited, but since I don’t sell it at online retailers, I didn’t commission a cover. Instead, I made a simple cover in Canva (a free online design tool) to put on the landing page and give my readers an image for their e-readers.

For my nonfiction creative writing prompts booklets, I edited myself using online software and had the covers made by a friend, who is a professional graphic designer. Because I’m not publishing these booklets in print and they are just $0.99 each, I’m okay with them being slightly less professional and providing “pure” profit. However, I do intend to update them with professional editing and cover designs when my business allows.

What advice do you have for young or aspiring writers?

My best advice for young or aspiring writers is to read critically. I know that sounds like annoying school terminology, but it’s one of the most effective ways to learn about story and writing craft. As you read, ask yourself questions about the story. Does it flow well? Do the characters’ actions make sense? How would you change the plot to make it more powerful? This practice will help you think like a writer and nurture your creative instincts.

Another tip is to take advantage of any and all resources you have at your disposal. Borrow novels or writing craft books from your school or public library. Read writing blogs and listen to writing podcasts on the internet. If your school offers a creative writing elective, fit the class in your schedule. Ask your English teacher and/or librarians about local authors, writing groups, and other community resources. YOU are the best advocate for your writing, so do everything you can to learn and grow that passion.

What is your favorite wine?

My passion for wine began with Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, and even though I’ve tasted hundreds of different wines through the wine marketing company I work for, Aussie Cab is still my favorite style. It’s rich and full-bodied, with delicious, chocolatey, black-fruit flavors and just a hint of mint. It doesn’t get much yummier than mint chocolate in a glass.

What other books would you recommend if I like the Desertera series?

If you’re a fan of Desertera’s steampunk stylings, I strongly suggest Kara Jorgensen’s Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. The first book is The Earl of Brass. Her series is more classic steampunk, in that it takes place in Victorian-era London with a stronger emphasis on mechanical devices. However, it also has lots of fun fantasy and dark magic elements too and offers great character diversity in gender and sexuality.

I’d also recommend the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. The first book is A Great and Terrible Beauty. After her parents’ deaths, Gemma is sent to a boarding school in London, where she discovers that she has the power to transport her and her friends to a magical dimension. It’s full of strong, complex young women and social drama, with a swoon-worthy love story and a gorgeous Victorian-inspired backdrop. I picked it up in high school purely for the covers, and it’s still one of my favorite series.


That’s all for this video! Thanks to everyone who asked a question. I’ll be back in March with another round of Ask Me Anything, so feel free to submit your questions in the comments or through my contact page.

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Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series, Vlog/Video

Desertera Book Club: The World of Desertera

In this “chapter” of the Desertera Book Club, I recap the theology of Desertera’s creation and provide as much of an answer as I can to a question many readers have raised (and which my friend and fellow author, Jonas Lee, asked after watching the previous Desertera Book Club video)…

YouTube question

For those of you who want an “easy” answer: to the knowledge of the Deserterans, there are no other people left in the world.

For those of you want the full answer, here’s the video.

So there you have it! If you have any other questions about the world of Desertera, anything related to The Cogsmith’s Daughter, or future books in the series, leave them here or on YouTube, and I’ll answer in a future video.

Thanks for watching!

Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series, Vlog/Video

Desertera Book Club: Welcome & Name Meanings

For those of you who have read and enjoyed The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1), I’ve started a new playlist over on my YouTube channel called ‘Desertera Book Club.’ I hope this channel can be a forum for you to ask me questions, discuss the series as it progresses, and learn some fun tidbits and behind-the-scenes facts about the book.

The first video is spoiler FREE. It covers the pronunciation of some of the main characters’ names, as well as which names in the novel hold personal significance for me (and now will for those of you in certain geeky fandoms!).

I’m not sure how often I will post these videos on my website, so if you want to make sure you see them all, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Thanks for watching!

*Note: The Brisbane Lions is the team that rivals Collingwood. Thought I’d clear that up, lest my Aussie peeps shame me!


Do you have any questions about the Desertera series, or about my process as an indie author? Leave them in the comments!

The Desertera Series, Vlog/Video, Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Updates

Vlog: My First Line Edit Experience

In this vlog, I discuss my first line edit experience with The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1), including: a brief overview of the process, the kinds of comments I received, and how I feel about the experience in retrospect.

For those who dislike vlogs or who are hearing impaired, here is a summary of this video. 

My line editor took approximately two weeks with my manuscript. When she was finished, she called me to discuss her notes and comments, her mindset being that A) if she just sent over the worksheet, I’d make my own assumptions about her comments and B) it would yield a more productive conversation than email. I really appreciated the phone call, and it was incredibly helpful for me to discuss everything with her. After we talked, she sent me her notes page as well as the comments within the manuscript. I spent about a month doing my revisions based on her comments, then she spent another two weeks doing more revisions, then I spent 10-12 days with my final revisions. She did one final search for a few grammar rules, then passed it along to the proofreader.

Thus far, line editing has been my favorite part of the editing process. It is not as extensive (nor does it feel as artistically painful) as content editing, and it is really fun as a writer to see your work go from just a story to a beautiful, fluid story. I learned so much from this experience, and I already know my writing craft has improved because of it.

Red Adept Editing

Subscribe to my YouTube channel


How have your editing experiences been? What advice would you give to authors preparing for their first round of edits?

Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles

Guest Post: YouTubiness by Jonas Lee

YouTube… just let that site register for a moment.

cameraNow, what do you look at on there? Most of the time, for me, I watch a variety of three genres: gamer videos, dub-step dancing and movie trailers. There is an entire world of information, entertainment, nonsense and animal videos. Where does an author / book lover rate in that grand scale of things? Heard about Pluto lately? It’s rather lonely for an author out there right now. Can it change? I hope so. The next generation of authors are going to be more social media cognizant and try to reach as many platforms as they can.

Personally, I have my own channel (equipped with playlists) and I plan on developing it over time to make it something for fans to look at. It currently takes a look at various authors in stages of their careers as an interview. We talk shop and also get to know our personalities on the side. I’ve been able to have all walks of people so far from a best selling author, to seasoned Indies to people looking to publish their first novel. On top of that I am working on a couple of other YouTube projects sharing my experience being an Indie and some book reviews.

Now, think what you could do on channel of your own. What would you want to discuss, share or allow people to see? Even if YouTube is not your cup of tea, imagine completing an interview. As an author, what questions do you love answering? As a reader, which ones do you love reading? The main thing about sharing your personality is to always keep in mind to be you. It might throw your audience for a loop knowing that their favorite horror author loves watching cat videos or that the new YA author on the block wishes they could break dance (ok, that’s me).

The format you choose will dictate how much time you can devote, so pick wisely and don’t strain yourself to get followers. This is mostly for your own benefit at this point, no one else. That being said, if you aren’t on the YouTube’s that often, check out my site. Check out Kate’s site. Check out some fun stuff. I have my favorites below in case you’re curious (don’t judge):

Epic Rap Battles: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMu5gPmKp5av0QCAajKTMhw
Poppin John: https://youtu.be/lb08ewwocvk
BattleField Friends: https://youtu.be/kJgqc9h2jV4?list=PL1DD2991C3D415547
Skittles Commercials: https://youtu.be/AyYJlYxVJDc