Goals: June 2017

I’ve been calling this spring a “headwind season.” It’s been true on my bike and it’s been true in writing. Everything feels a little harder than usual. That said, my exciting news is that Mage and Source (Tales of Blood & Light 4) has finally been whittled into its final form, and it will be coming out in July.

My May goals were:

  1. LIGHT & SHADOW (ToB&L 5) revision and rewriting CHECK. I did one revision and got through about 2/3rds of another. This book is almost ready for a first reader.
  2. RE-READ The Eighth Octave Draft CHECK. There are just a few final outstanding issues to resolve, and then this book is also ready for a reader.
  3. FINISH various formatting jobs CHECK.


My June goals are a bit more ambitious:

  1. MAGE & SOURCE Final read through! The ebook is formatted an waiting to be read on my kindle!
  2. Prep LIGHT & SHADOW and THE EIGHTH OCTAVE and send to readers.
  3. Formatting jobs. (There’s always the next in the cue.)
  4. BEGIN Tales of Blood & Light BOOK SIX revision.
  5. Promote Mage & Source pre-order. If it isn’t on the list, it won’t get done.

Goals : March : 2017

February seemed to pass too quickly! Even so, it is a great relief to have the days growing longer and to see the sun a little in the morning and the evening.

Though I worked and worked, I didn’t quite manage all my goals this past month, due in part to work and to transportation difficulties caused by landslides. Both of these sucked up some of my writing mornings. I had to let my last two goals go by the wayside entirely just to make any progress on my first two.

February goals:

  1. FINISH ToB&L Book 6 revision. CHECK, although the end is still one big snarl.
  2. REVISE Mage & Source based on new reader feedback. HALF-CHECK. I worked and worked on this and got about two-thirds through. I ended up doing more rewriting than expected.
  3. START musical magic co-write. NOPE
  4. READ through newly revised River Running and send to beta readers. NOPE

March Goals:

I’ll be keeping it simple in March as last month I obviously planned for more than I could manage.

  1. FINISH  Mage & Source  revision.
  2. START musical magic co-write.
  3. READ through newly revised River Running and send to beta readers.




Writer’s Ink: Emily June Street

I really went down some unexpected rabbit holes in this interview. For those of you who’ve always wondered what music I like and which of my characters would make a good Pilates teacher, this is for you! Many thanks to Tamara for hosting me and asking such interesting questions!

Tamara Shoemaker, Freelance Editor

brickejs1Emily June Street is one of my favorite people AND one of my favorite authors, and the combination is a double-whammy. I’ve read the books she’s placed on the market thus far, and of all of them, I’m likely most excited about Sterling. Emily was kind enough to give me an intimate look at the book in its construction stages, asking me to do a developmental and line edit on the book, and I am in awe of not only the skill with which she writes, but the themes which she explores, the sheer strength of her world, and the intricacy of her magic systems and character descriptions. A master of her craft, Emily can most certainly hold her own in the annals of stellar fantasy literature.

So when I sent her my list of questions, I expected nothing less than amazing, well-thought-out answers, and Emily delivered. Come see…

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Sterling Print Version Is Here


I received my box of Sterling print copies early, so those of you who prefer print versions can get an early copy starting Monday 6/13 (my birthday!) at Flow or you can order a print version now from Amazon.

If you’d like a signed copy to pick up at Flow–or mailed to you–please contact me directly.

Ebooks will still be out on June 27. You can pre-order an ebook here.

Seven Questions : June 2016 : Tamara Shoemaker

Prolific YA fantasy writer Tamara Shoemaker joins me again for a third round of Seven Questions! Her latest book is Embrace the Fire, Book Two in the Heart of a Dragon series. Tamara is one of my favorite writing buddies. We have worked on each other’s books as beta readers, blurbers, and editors, and we have even co-written a story together in one of the Flashdogs anthologies.


EJS: Pitch your featured book in three sentences.

TS: Embrace the Fire continues the journeys of the four characters introduced in Kindle the Flame. Political intrigue boils into epic warfare as kings clash and nations dissolve beneath Dragonfire and magic. Kinna, Cedric, and Ayden are drawn inexorably toward a fearful destiny, and Dragons, Pixies, Seer Fey, and other creatures are pitted against one another as the conclusion dissolves into a cataclysmic end that will leave the reader dying for more.

EJS: Of all your characters, who is your favorite and why?

TS: I put little pieces of me in all of my characters (even the evil ones), so this is an extremely hard one to answer; it’s like choosing a favorite child. At the risk of alienating the rest of my characters and embroiling them in green jealous ink, I’m going to choose Ayden. The pull of a lonely soul who has never known the joy of a mother’s love or the touch of a friend is one of my “mushy” spots. I just want to give him a hug. I think it’s likely that I make some of the other characters hug him more often than is absolutely necessary to make up for his lack of attention. Poor soul.

EJS: What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

TS: I think the slice of the first draft from 20,000 words to approximately 70,000 words is the hardest. When I start a first draft, I’m on fire for 20,000 words. It’s still new, it’s fresh, and I’m still falling in love with the characters. By the time that 20k rolls around, the characters sag. They start to wonder: Who am I? Why am I here? Who created me? What if there is no creator? What if I’m just one big cosmic accident, and the only reason I exist on these pages is because someone, somewhere got incredibly confused? By the time 70,000 words rolls around, the characters have found their path in life. They begin to put their affairs in order, and they relax with their friends and family around them, cheering them on through the last few steps until the conclusion. But those middle 50,000 words are torture.

EJS: What do you think are the three most important personality traits for being a writer?

TS: Flexibility, determination, and a good mixture of talent with imagination. I know lots of people that have two, but not three, of those, and it’s never enough—not unless all three of those are present. Every writer has more weight on one or another of these, but as long as all three are there, a story will make its way from mind to book and into the hands of readers.

EJS: What makes a good editor?

TS: A basic understanding of what makes a good story. This seems simplistic, but there’s so much to what creates a good story that an editor’s job isn’t just a simple add-a-comma-here-delete-this-word-here. It’s understanding how to build a story on a solid foundation that won’t topple as the plot points fall into order. It’s identifying the main conflict and helping the author to build each character’s story around that conflict. It’s cheerleading—being the voice behind the author that beats down the author’s frustrations, whether derived from the editor’s critiques or from outside critiques, and being the one to pull the author through to the end, to a polished and completed book in his or her hands. A good editor is worth their weight in gold.

EJS: What is the best book you’ve read this year in any genre?

TS: I promise I’m not just saying this because I’m on your blog, but the best book I’ve read in a looonnngg time is Sterling by Emily June Street. It’s a wonderful romantic fantasy that is almost a twist on my favorite fairy tale: Beauty and the Beast. The plot is intricately woven, the character development is stunning, and the story arc kept me riveted. It releases at the end of June 2016, so keep an eye out for this one!

EJS: Are you working on anything new aside from your two fantasy series?

TS: Ha! I can’t seem to slow myself down. I’m enjoying building my freelance editing business: it’s always so exciting to read someone else’s work, helping someone polish their story to a high sheen, so I’m in the middle of a project there. I’m finishing up the third book in my Guardian of the Vale trilogy, and I’m also writing the first draft of the third book in my Heart of a Dragon trilogy. Recently, I’ve also begun drawing up plans for a historical romance series that I plan to put out under a pen name… you know, to work on in all my spare time. 😉

Learn more about Tamara, her books, and her stellar fiction editing services: https://tamarashoemaker.org/


Seven Questions : May 2016 : Sydney Scrogham

My Seven Questions author feature has been on hiatus, but it is not forgotten! Getting it back into full throttle with a May edition, I welcome the lovely Sydney Scrogham, whose new contemporary fantasy about overcoming a difficult past–and flying unicorns!–is coming out in June. Her book is Ariel: The First Guardian.When she’s not writing, Sydney is at the barn with her horse, Snowdy, or she’s catching up on reruns of the best TV show ever–Castle. She lives in Harrisonburg, Virginia with an adorable dachshund named Zoe.

Here’s a chance to get a tiny glimpse inside her mind with Seven Questions:


EJS: Pitch your book in three sentences or less.

SS: Abuse survivor Ariel Harte doesn’t need anyone—ever. But her companion animal is infected with a dark, magical force that can only be cured with the help of another human. Ariel must ask her ex-boyfriend, Ryan Tracey, for help.

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

Note from EJS–Sydney has a blog post all about how to make this decision that you can read in full here. However, here is the final portion of that post, from Sydney’s blog at sswriter.com, that explains which way she ended up going:

SS: “I want to have control over my books so I can make them look and feel like I imagine. I want to have higher royalties. Since I’m controlling the majority of my marketing anyway, I’m willing to commit to this for the long haul. I decided to self-publish because it is a good fit for my writing goals in this moment.


That doesn’t mean I’d reject a publishing contract from the Big 5. But I did recently reject a publishing offer.  After reading through the contract I was offered, I decided the only boost they could give me was a little extra marketing.

To me, that wasn’t worth surrendering to a cover I had no control over, signing away my ebook, audio book (even though there was no intention to make an audio book by this publisher), and print rights for three years (!!! – one year is enough…), taking about a 10% royalty from a sale, and having no say in the product price all in exchange for a tiny bit of marketing.

My book would’ve been published through Createspace with that publisher. That’s exactly what I could have done for myself and chosen my own cover, price, and a 70% royalty. Yes, it’s a little more work on my end, but to me, that’s worth it.”

EJS: What are your favorite genres/books to read, and do you think this affects your writing? How?

SS: I read a lot of romance, and then fantasy. I’m a big believer of what goes in comes out, so I tend to aim for the books that are labeled “best-sellers.” But still, if a book doesn’t capture me by the first chapter, I put it down. If I’m going to write things that are captivating, I’m going to only read things that are captivating.

EJS: What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

SS: From Ted Dekker, “Make writing your spiritual exercise.” That’s what I did with Ariel’s story. I journeyed into a painful situation from my past (no, I won’t reveal which one) and as my pain became Ariel’s pain, something shifted in me when Ariel got her moment of healing. I was set free, too.

EJS: What makes a great sentence?

SS: Clear, to the point, and—oh, plenty of personality.

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

I’ve always lived in a story. It started as a kid playing with toys for hours and hours, and then when I was 11, I wrote my first “book” that was not even 20 pages, a sentence on each page, and I illustrated it myself. Then I wrote a 30-some chapter book series about the Alicorns of Agalrae (creatures in my published books now), and after a lot of hard work, released Chase in 2015. I’ve never really stopped writing. It’s a part of me.

EJS: What’s your secret superpower?

Speaking and interpreting all the languages in the world.

EJS: Many thanks to Sydney for joining me for Seven Questions. You can learn more about her and her various passions at her website: http://www.sswriter.com/.

You can pre-order Ariel now on Amazon.