September 2016 Goals

August was a good month of writing and working for me. I also possibly made a big break through on a problem that often eats up my writing hours: migraine headaches. I am trying the most common prescription medication again (Imitrex) after years of using alternative solutions that all either failed (various diets, herbs, remedies) or made matters much worse (acupuncture). At any rate, so far I’ve fully aborted two out of three headaches with Imitrex, which feels pretty miraculous after twenty years of impenetrable cyclical migraines. What this means is that I may have 2-4 more days of good solid writing per month to complete these goals.

Last month’s goals were:

  1. Work on ToB&L Book 4 revision. CHECK, but still slowly plodding through the plot– or plotting through the plod, as the case may be.
  2. Finish posting the matwork series to my Pilates Blog (2.5 exercises left!) CHECK
  3. Keep working on the various formatting and editing projects for other authors. CHECK–I made good progress and finished two projects.

This month’s goals will be:

  1. Work on ToB&L Book 4 revision. 
  2. Finish ToB&L Book 6 revision: The final four books of ToB&L are intricately connected, and so, as I’m revising book 4, I’ve been reading Books 6 & 7 to make sure events and logistics match up. I started revising Book 6 last month to fix continuity issues, and I realized I needed to take the story timeline further and add a few chapters at the end. I plan to finish this book’s ending this month.
  3. Begin ToB&L Book 5 revision: This book is getting a full rewrite similar to Book 4. I switched up the timelines and narrators in these two books and so they needed a complete reorganization. I’ve been having so many ideas about Book 5, and I’m very excited to share the narrators’ stories someday. Readers of the series have met these two narrators before in earlier stories, and one of them is the character most-asked about, and a personal favorite of mine.


Seven Questions : August 2016 : Taylor Rush

For this month’s edition of Seven Questions, I’m hosting romantic comedy author Taylor Rush. Taylor, who hails from Portland, OR, wrote the quirky contemporary romances Mistakes Were Made and her recent release, Best Laid Plans. Learn more about her and her writing with my seven questions.

1) Pitch your latest book in three sentences.

Sam and Wil are madly in love. Unfortunately, they are not particularly good at communication and what starts as a silly plan backfires on Sam. They both still want love and friendship, but can they find it together?

2) Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

My books are indie-published by Silurian Press, a small business I started in June 2015. Among the many things I’ve done in the past, I’ve worked in web programming and digital marketing, and my partner is an attorney. We both also find running a business intrinsically interesting.

This means I can keep overhead very low — I program the website, build the e-book, review contracts, etc. without having to pay anyone. This has been really helpful during the start-up phase of the business. I also enjoy working on a business plan and managing the finances of the business. Marketing has been harder, but I have found it helpful to think about the books as products in an online business.

I’m always open to different publishing possibilities, but so far I’m really enjoying running Silurian Press.

3) Your book is a quirky, unusual modern-day romance. Is this your usual genre or do you write others, too? What draws you to certain genres or types of stories?

For many years, I’ve written fragments of adventure, fantasy, or science fiction stories that may include romance. I’m most interested in the messed-up ways that people try to do the right thing, whether in the context of a romantic relationship, a friendship, or saving the universe.

I also like exploring the many ways all of us can fail to communicate with each other (or even within ourselves), and I find the different ways we structure our lives with work, family, and friendship fascinating. Writing is a great way to play out a wider variety of possibilities than I can experience directly.

And I’ll get to saving the universe someday.

4) What’s the best book you’ve read this year and why?

Always hard to pick just one! I really enjoyed Blindspot, by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore. It’s set in pre-revolutionary war Boston and follows characters on the periphery of the rebellion. I love books that tell the story of people we don’t hear from as much, and there is some steamy hot sex. The plot is also somewhat similar to some of the gender-bending Shakespearean comedies, which I also always enjoy. It’s a dense, fascinating read, and you’ll feel smarter for having read it!

5) What do you think makes a great sentence?

One that makes me bark with laughter — usually with a twist at the end or a simple statement that no one (usually) says out loud.

6) What is your next book about?

My third book, Good Fortune, continues the story of Sam and Wil (from Best Laid Plans). It’s a bit darker, but still funny. I got to write a wedding and a death, both of which made me cry. The book is in the copy editing phase right now, and should be available in November.

I’m just starting to map out two more books: one focusing on the younger days of Sue, a character in Mistakes Were Made and Best Laid Plans, and another taking place in Portland after Good Fortune when the city is hit with the big earthquake.

7) What’s your secret super power?

Organizing stuff — legos, books, old cassette tapes, tools. I love getting them sorted and into order.

Learn more about Best Laid Plans:

Sometimes, it’s better not to make plans. Samantha Queezy and Wilbur Dale are madly in love. But they are masters of mediocre communication, and they quickly complicate their lives. Their blissful romance runs into problems when Sam casually shares her youthful plan of marrying for money. Wil takes great pleasure in teasing Sam about her lack of ethics while slowly becoming obsessed with the idea. Their relationship begins to fray around the edges and both Sam and Wil have to decide what matters the most.

And more about Taylor:

Taylor is deeply committed to eating, reading, and writing. Growing up in Portland, Taylor spent a lot of time digging around in the woods and daydreaming with legos. After going back east for college, Taylor returned to Portland with dreams of saving the world. After being kicked in the shins by reality for a number of years, Taylor got into technology, data organization, and helping people manage their knowledge. This was great fun, but the stories kept bubbling out.

Taylor has no pets due to allergies, but has a dream of guinea pigs. Taylor has no tattoos due to anxiety. Taylor does have an excellent appetite, so the anxiety isn’t too bad.

August 2016 Goals

July was a whirlwind of activities, so thank goodness my three July goals were simple:

  1. Work on ToB&L Book 4 revision. CHECK
  2. Post at least 4 new exercises to my Pilates Blog. CHECK, I posted 4
  3. Keep working on various formatting and editing projects I’m working on for other writers. CHECK

August looks like it will be more of the same. I’m involved in several longer term projects that can’t be completed in one month so here are my goal for August:

  1. Work on ToB&L Book 4 revision. 
  2. Finish posting the matwork series to my Pilates Blog (2.5 exercises left!)
  3. Keep working on the various formatting and editing projects for other authors.

Maybe next month I’ll get a little variety in there!

Note: I’m running a giveaway for paperback copies of The Velocipede Races over on Goodreads. You can enter here for four more days:



July 2016 Goals

I was a little late this month on goals because I was on vacation with my husband in Kansas City, for a family reunion.

Last month I made three low-key goals to:

  1. Work on ToB&L Book 4 revision. CHECK
  2. Post at least 4 new exercises to my Pilates Blog. CHECK
  3. Do publicity for STERLING. Her pub date is JUNE 27th–I have a blog and a giveaway planned, and I may be doing a few interviews on others’ blogs, too. CHECK

I liked having a fewer goals and more freedom, so this month I’m only doing a few goals, too. Here they are:

  1. Work on ToB&L Book 4 revision.
  2. Post at least 4 new exercises to my Pilates Blog.
  3. Keep working on various formatting and editing projects I’m working on for other writers.


Seven Questions : July 2016 : Jessie Kwak

This month I’m hosting the talented Jessie Kwak, a fellow cycling writer. Jessie and I have shared space in the bikey short fiction anthologies published by Elly Blue, and her current work-in-progress will be published as the next novel in the Bikes In Space series, following The Velocipede Races as a pioneer in the emerging bicycle fiction genre.

She is a freelancer writer of many talents and projects living in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not working with B2B marketers to tell their brand’s story, you can find her scribbling away on her latest novel, riding her bike to the brewpub, or sewing something fun. Her latest fiction work is Starfallset in a futuristic world of space bikes and gangsters.


EJS: Pitch your featured book in three sentences.

JK: When Starla Dusai, the deaf daughter of a notorious space pirate clan, is captured by the Alliance, she finds herself in a remote prison with no idea what happened to the rest of her family. Rumors of her family’s destruction quickly make their way through the black market underbelly of New Sarjun, where they reach the ears of her godfather, Willem Jaantzen. As the jaws of the Alliance’s justice system close in around her, will Starla be able to find her way out – or Jaantzen, in?

EJS: Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

JK: It’s indie-published. I’m working on a novel right now for Microcosm Publishing set in this same world. Starla and her godfather, Jaantzen, are minor characters in this novel, but they kept nudging me to tell more about their story. I started Starfall as a quick backstory sketch, but it quickly took on a life of its own.

Even though it’s short, I put a ton of care into the production. I commissioned the cover art of Starla – which I adore – and worked with a professional editor and cover designer to make sure everything’s as perfect as it can be.

I own my own freelance writing business, so the business side of indie publishing is really attractive to me. Plus, I love the ability to work on my own timeline and release something when it’s ready.

EJS: Why sci-fi?

JK: I’ve been referring to Starfall as “gangster sci-fi,” which is a label I’ll probably apply to the rest of the novellas I have planned in the series. I would say the series is very much more inspired by movies like The Godfather and Ronin – just set in a far-future world.

For my entire life, I’ve loved immersing myself in fantastical places – both in what I read, and the stories I made up. I’ve shied away from writing sci-fi for a long time, mostly because I was scared of the science-y aspects of the worldbuilding.

I’ll be the first to admit Starfall is very soft sci-fi, though. My stories are all very character-driven – my goal is first and foremost to tell a good story with people you want to spend time with, then make sure the world is realistic enough that it doesn’t knock you out of the story.

EJS: What’s a favorite sci-fi book and why?

JK: Growing up, Dune and Ender’s Game were my absolute favorites. Now, though, I have too many to count! I love Rachel Bach’s Paradox Trilogy – there’s adventure, romance, and kick-ass characters. I’m also thoroughly enjoying James S.A Corey’s Expanse Series. Rollicking adventures and fabulous characters – so much fun!

EJS: What makes a sentence great?

JK: It has an element of surprise to it, and the reader feels it in their soul. Margaret Atwood and Margot Lanagan are both masters of great sentences.

EJS: How and when did you first know you were a writer?

JK: When I filled two spiral bound notebooks with a story in middle school.

 EJS: What are your writing rituals?

JK: Since I’m a freelance writer for my day job, I have to make a clear delineation between when/where I write fiction, and when/where I do client work. For client work, I sit at a desk with my schedule and phone and notepad beside me. When it’s fiction-writing time, I’ll take my laptop to the armchair or couch and put my feet up with a cup of tea or glass of wine, depending on the time of day. For me, evening is often a better time to do creative writing, while morning is a better time to edit and outline.

Learn more about Jessie:

Read an excerpt from Starfall

Get Starfall for free by signing up for Jessie’s mailing list:

Follow her on Twitter: (@jkwak).