The story behind “People Like Us”

67402951_127330658574772_3050347179340135022_nI’m officially a published author!

My short story, a fantasy thriller titled “People Like Us” is out in the 2019 American Night Writers Association short story anthology Wards and Rumors of Wards, available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle.

This is particularly special to me because I initially wrote this story to prove to myself that yes, I can actually complete something.

In middle school I hand-wrote my first complete book and started another one. Then right before high school, my family moved half-way across the country and I stopped writing, partly because I didn’t want to be the weird girl. I’m pretty certain I never mentioned my dreams of becoming an author or an editor to any of my high school friends because by the time I started college, I no longer thought of it as a possibility. It was something I wanted to do someday, whenever I was good enough.

Despite being an English major and an editing minor, I never wrote for fun. Then when I was interviewing for my first full-time position for after graduation, the man interviewing me asked if I liked to write. I very nervously tried to down-play it, but yes I did and I had even tried writing a book. He said “Great!” and wrote it down in his interview notes.

Turns out, the man who became my boss and several team members all wrote as well. Outside of work. Frequently we’d chat about writing and after a few months, I shared my writing with him. Then I went to a couple of writing conferences.

Fast forward a couple years and I somehow was accepted to Brandon Sanderson’s writing workshop and had my first baby. That was a rough semester. I had extreme impostor syndrome and was absolutely convinced that I would be kicked out as the fraud that I was. I was still working on that book I started as a 13- or 14-year-old AND I was taking care of a premie baby, so I wasn’t even making that much progress. But somehow I still managed to write more than I had prior to this class.

For a YEAR after the class ended, I felt awful about my writing. Something was broken with my story and I didn’t know how to fix it. I wrote only 1000 words in that time period, which made me feel even more pathetic.

Finally I told myself I was going to work on a short story for Camp NaNo. Something completely different, just to get me into a regular writing routine and to prove that yes, I could finish something and that *I* wasn’t broken.

I started writing about a narcoleptic martial arts instructor. But then the story changed on me. It became a story about a telekinetic and telepathic martial arts student who would save her instructor’s father in a world where telepathy and the like were illegal. Basically it was a world where the Mutant Registration Act (from the first X-Men movie) existed. Next, I dropped the plot with the instructor and his father and focused on the student.

Finally, the story became “People Like Us.”

Almost two years after I initially wrote the story, I made a couple tweaks to include a Marsha Ward character per the call for submissions from the American Night Writers Association (ANWA) and pushed submit.

This story is completely different than anything I’ve written and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Story blurb: Registered micro-kinetic Hannah Medina fought hard to be accepted into med school but Dr. Booth would kick her out in a heartbeat if she knew about Hannah’s secret power. When Dr. Booth’s life is threatened, Hannah can walk away to keep her secret safe, but doing so goes against everything she stands for.


What I’ve Been Reading

Man oh man. The days are super long but the months go by way fast.

I went on vacation for a couple weeks in May (including the Storymakers conference), then we had family in town in June, so I’ve been trying to play catch-up and recover for the last month or so.

First, a quick update:

My entry in the Storymaker First Chapter contest placed 3rd in the romance category! I’m absolutely thrilled about that. One of my critique partners placed 1st in her category and another good friend won Grand Prize, which made the whole event that much more exciting.

I’ve also become a monthly contributor on the Historical Hussies blog. You can see my posts on the 3rd Friday of each month.

Now, on to the main topic of today’s post: Books and Reading.

Reading (and consequently) books, have been one of the most important things in my life, both as a writer and as a human being. In fact, one of my earliest memories is when I was in kindergarten or 1st grade, and the teacher was called out of the classroom for a few minutes (she had an aide, so we weren’t left unsupervised). Since it was reading time, she asked me to read “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” to the rest of the class. I was thrilled. And the copy of the book was ginormous. Literally bigger than me (but then again, I was ultra petite as a 5/6 year-old.)

I digress.


Since Storymakers, I’ve had several friends release some fantastic books and I try to do a quick shout-out on Instagram for those, but I can’t always keep up. Also, I’m always on the look-out for recommendations. So right now here’s what I’m reading or is on call in my TBR pile.

For Fun:

Yours Truly, Thomas – Rachel Fordham

60192973_536420803556839_7003213225817472960_nThe Redgrave Murders – A. L. Sowards

The Captain’s Daughter – Jennifer Delamere

Eleanor – Martha Keyes

Love in Disguise – Anneka Walker

Rescuing Lord Inglewood – Sally Britton


For Research/Learning:

The Ramayana

Preston Cotton Martyrs

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World

I’m also hoping to start the occasional author chat on the blog since I love talking to all my friends about what they’re doing.

Recharging the Well and Gearing up for 2019

Hi all!

I pseudo-won NaNoWriMo last month. Officially and technically, I lost since I didn’t write anywhere near 50,000 words. But I knew that it wasn’t possible. I’m just not capable of that at this point in time–both creatively and with my personal life. (Toddlers and pregnancy will do that to you.)


I did write the most words I’ve ever written in a single month and the most words in a single day. And I finished the first draft of my Victorian governess romance. Wohoo!

Those wins are way more important to me than NaNo right now. I mean, sure, I want to officially win NaNo. It’s even one of my writing bucket list items.


But this was a major win for me because it’s the first time I completed a full novel from beginning to end since middle school, and it was in a completely new genre for me. I’ve done plenty of shorter pieces and gotten a decent-way into writing other books before deciding those pieces needed trunked for the time being.

This month I’ve taken off writing to catch up on a bunch of reading–both pleasure and research. And of course, I couldn’t stop myself from beginning another WIP (think North and South with broken families). Guess this means I really do enjoy writing historical romance?

Anyway, beginning in January I’m diving into revisions. Ideally I’ll go through a couple revisions and be able to submit this piece later in 2019, but we’ll see what happens with that.

Also in 2019, I’m planning on writing another short story (think Sherlock Holmes, except with a nosy Victorian grandma and her long-suffering grandson) and getting as far into the first draft of the new WIP. Since I’m more familiar with my writing process and have a bit more of a solid habit, I’m hoping that baby Minerva will let me retain enough brain cells to write this next one a little faster, even though I’m working on everything else.

While I’m on the topic of 2019 writing goals, what topics would you like to see covered in the Business and Craft of Writing series?

Post-Conference Summary

It’s been over a month since I went to my conference and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. Now that my life is starting to settle back into a more-or-less normal routine, I thought it was a good opportunity to review the events.

First, I did not finish my first draft before the conference. In fact, it’s still not done, thanks in part to some epiphanies I had at the conference, but mostly to the fact that I just flat out haven’t had the time. (Seriously, I swear someone is messing with the clocks. And Daylight Savings hasn’t even happened/ended/whatever actually happens in the fall. But I digress.)

Second, the week prior to the conference, one of my friends mentioned that there were still openings for a query critique with one of the editors, so I figured I might as well go for it. I had a query more or less ready since I had to turn one in with the ten-pages I had already sent to the other editor for my manuscript critique. Of course, the night before I got on the plane, I decided to rework that query letter.

I’m… gonna skip the travel drama. Let’s just say that it featured stranger-men hitting on me at the airport at 5am in the security line, a flight surrounded by a group of men headed to a bachelor’s party sitting next to a group of similarly-aged women who were headed for a girls weekend, and then no cars despite reservations at the car rental place for a long line of angry, frustrated fellow travelers.

ANYWAY. I ended up being 5-10 minutes late for the Thursday workshops with only half a lunch instead of the full hour+ early I was expecting.

(Expectation vs Reality)



The critique group I was with was wonderful. There were five of us plus our sweet instructor. We all wrote some form of historical fiction and we ranged the gamut of newbie historical writers to multi-book published authors. I turned in the first chapter from my male main character’s POV since my true first chapter was already getting critiqued at that same conference. This version hadn’t seen any form of feedback prior to my sending it to them, so I was happy that most of their comments were a bit more nit-picky and on minor clarifications than any major problems.

That evening, I taught my writing support group about some website design 101 for authors from a web designer’s perspective via the chat feature of Google Hangouts *during* the keynote speech. (Fortunately, I had known that the two were on a collision-course due to time zones, so I wrote up my mini class in a Word doc, then copy/pasted it into Hangouts piecemeal and was able to more-or-less focus on the keynote.) Afterwards, I had the option of going to a book signing just down the road, participating in some writing sprints, or hanging out in the “networking” room and chatting with other authors. Between my stress and fatigue, I couldn’t make a decision and wasn’t in a good position to introduce myself to people, so I ended up basically muttering to myself while I shuffled around my plot index cards at an empty table in the networking room. That’s a perfectly acceptable and 100% normal writerly thing to do, right? Right??

Ok, so I don’t handle stress and exhaustion very well.

Friday morning I ran over to Kneaders for breakfast and took a wrong turn, so I ended up having to run back over to the conference session shoving my bacon & egg croissant sandwich in my mouth when no one was looking during the welcome speech because we technically weren’t allowed to have outside food. Whoops.

Fortunately, the rest of the day went a lot smoother and I didn’t resemble that second chicken nearly so much. The classes were amazing and like I mentioned earlier, I had several epiphanies on how to improve my current book.

Right after lunch, I had my query critique. I had ten minutes to show the editor my query letter and to discuss how to improve it. She surprised me when she told me that there were a few minor things I could tweak, but that she actually really liked it and then she pulled out her business card and started updating her work email. While she did that, she explained that if she were still a submissions editor, she would have forwarded my query letter to the acquisitions editors (her current position) for consideration. Instead, she wanted me to send her my book whenever it’s ready, even if it takes a year. So wohoo!

I skipped the rest of the class that I was already missing for this critiques and had a celebratory dance party in the hallway with the conference co-chairs while I waited for my husband to call me back so I could tell him.

And then I had to compose myself enough to go back to classes for the rest of the day. But that was ok, since these were ones I’d been looking forward to.

That evening I did a bit more socializing than the previous night and got to chat with some great authors before crashing.

Saturday was very similar. I went to classes, helped out at the timekeeping table for pitch sessions, then had my manuscript critique with a different editor. We spent a majority of the time going through her comments on my pages (which she emailed), then in the last minute or so that I had left, I explained that this was my first historical romance and I wanted to know how close to (or far from) the mark I actually was. Her response kinda stung because she was soooo spot-on. I needed to do more research. I had the right flavor, but not the depth she looked for. And the thing is, I’ve got a mountain of research books I bought specifically for this project, but I’ve only finished one of them. I’ve skimmed several of them and Googled several specific questions as they came up, but I started writing this book knowing that I had no clue where to start, so I figured I’d do the research *after* I finished the draft when I knew what sort of things I needed to research. (Hint: Waaaaaay more than I ever considered. Like, when were pens invented? And how did Victorian gentlemen bathe? Also, WHERE ARE ALL THE RESEARCH BOOKS ABOUT INDIANS FROM INDIA IN VICTORIAN ENGLAND?***)

Despite the minor sting of her comment, I loved that she told me. Everything she said was incredibly helpful and just raised my already-high respect for any good editor. In the future, I’m going to make a point of doing more research *before* I start a project instead of just waiting until the first draft is done. Of course, I’ll need to keep doing research afterwards, but what did I expect when I got into writing historical fiction?

My favorite part of the conference though, was actually after it was officially over. I was hanging out in the hotel lobby and Skyping my husband when one of my Thursday critique members caught me and invited me to join a large group that was going out for dinner. I got to spend the next couple of hours chatting with friends about the conference and made a bunch of new friends.

I loved it. And I can’t wait to go back.


***I know the people actually lived there. A country as wealthy and powerful as England and that colonized India for years would have at least some Indians in residence. But it’s aggravating how difficult this information is to find. I’m extrapolating way more than I really should.

Pre-Conference Thoughts

Next week I’m going to a writing conference and I’m soooo excited. I went to a couple writing conferences in 2014 and life has been, well, life, so this is the first real opportunity I’ve had since then to go. I decided I was gonna go all out for this conference. I could sign up for a pitch session, a query critique, or a manuscript critique. When I registered, I was nowhere near finished with my WIP (I’m a slow first drafter), so I went with the manuscript critique.


In an ideal world, I’m hoping the editor will love my story and ask me to send it to her when it’s ready. But that’s an ideal world. What I’m most (realistically) hoping for is validation. This is the first time I’ve tried writing this genre and I’ve been having so much fun writing it, but there are so many aspects of this particular story that I’m super insecure about. I know it’s not perfect.  This is only the first draft (plus a many-times rewritten first chapter).

Throughout the summer as the start of the conference got closer and closer and as I got further into this draft, I decided I wanted to complete the entire draft before I go to the conference. Keep in mind, I’d written about 40,000 words in about 9 months and I was looking at 30-40,000 more in like… 2 months and I still have a couple of very young children that I’d prefer to keep alive and happy.

Last week I hit the writing HARD to try and reach a writing goal from last year, and I broke several personal writing records.

Now I’m a week away and I’ve got seven chapters left. And I signed up for a query critique in addition to the manuscript critique, so I’ve gotta polish it up. And I have a bunch of critiques I need to do for the workshop I signed up for. It’s gonna be a busy week, but I think I can actually make it all happen.

In addition to all of the learning and writing-boosts, I’m hoping to make a bunch of writing friends at this conference. It’s a smaller one, so the odds of me actually being able to interact with people are significantly higher.

Now I need to go write.

Beginning Tai Chi

Back in 2014, a vegan friend asked me to take him to the nearby organic grocery store. While he was doing his shopping, I browsed the small workout DVD collection and happened upon a Beginning Tai Chi DVD. I had plantar fasciitis at the time and was trying to train for a RAGNAR, so this looked like a pretty low-key way to loosen up at home. Plus I’ve always had an interest in trying martial arts. tai-chi-silhouette-cropped-300x214

At the register, a pretty massive guy with an even bigger hipster beard noticed the DVD and started talking to me about how much he enjoyed Tai Chi and yoga. We chatted for a minute, then he invited me to a big all-day yoga conference thing that weekend. I made some sort of obligatory “Oh maybe I’ll go, but I’m not sure what my schedule it” type of comment and bemusedly finished up my purchase and joined my friend at the door.

He shot me this big, cheesy grin and said, “I think he likes you.”

I didn’t go to the yoga conference.

Anyway, the DVD has two 45-min parts and up until yesterday, I’ve never made it past the 20-min mark of the first part. A large reason for this has been the lack of available space and then the lack of time/energy. Yesterday I decided that Edgar was old enough that I could probably try doing the workout while he played. So I popped it into my computer and started watching the introduction. Immediately he ran over and started hugging my leg so I couldn’t move without knocking him over.

Every time I tried to start doing the workout, he’d come over and start climbing on me or want held. Eventually I gave up and just watched the rest of the first part while I played with him. That counts as a workout, right?