Debating over Seeing A Wrinkle in Time?

Perhaps we can help you make up your mind. Check out our latest Sound Off on Speculative Chic for three different perspectives.

Welcome back to Sound Off!, a semi-regular column where members of Speculative Chic gather together to chat about the latest BIG THING in entertainment. This time, be a warrior and discuss A Wrinkle in Time, which premiered in the United States on Friday, March 9, 2018. Sound Off! is meant to be a reaction, but not necessarily…

via Sound Off! A Wrinkle in Time — Speculative Chic


The Latest an Greatest in Geek (according to Specualtive Chic)

Last week at Speculative Chic, we talked about the content that we’ve recently become a fan of. Selections include video games, TV shows, podcasts, and-in my case- comicbooks! If you’d like to see my take on Saladin Ahmed’s amazing Black Bolt comic, take a looksie!

So, it’s been a pretty brutal winter this year in North America (our home base). Are you as absolutely done with it as I am? It’s blowing snow as I write this, and the forecast predicts another snowfall this weekend. Fortunately, spring is just around the corner, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. When I…

via Roundtable: Shiny and New — Speculative Chic

Author-in-Training- The Self Publishing Route

Last week, I talked about why I decided to trunk my young adult fantasy trilogy. During that post, I mentioned that I had intended to publish that series through traditional means. This is not something that I will be doing with Red and Black, my forthcoming superhero novel.

This wasn’t an easy decision. As someone who grew up wanting to become a writer, I had always assumed that I would go traditional, and that’s even after self publishing became a viable option. But once Red and Black got to a point where I was ready to start submitting, I began to realize that traditionally publishing just wasn’t the right option.

And here are the reasons why:

I really hate the submission process
Writing the perfect query letter. Carefully researching agents and trying to find a good match. Going over submissions policies with a fine tooth comb. Does this agent want a synopsis that’s a page long? Two pages? More? What about a synopsis for the whole series? Should the query letter ruin the ending of the book, or keep it a secret? Should I expect a response within a month? Longer? Not at all? Is it better to try a small press? A contest?


Don’t get me wrong, most people who are traditionally published seem to think that every hour spent on the submission process is worth it, and I respect that. But the truth of the matter is, while I was trying to find a home for my young adult fantasy work, I was pretty miserable. So when it came time to start shopping around Red and Black, I found myself dragging my feet. And once I did start looking, I started to come up against another roadblock.

The genre problem
Trying to find agents looking for young adult fantasy books? There are plenty of them out there. Superhero books on the other hand?

Not so much.

Sure, there are successful superhero books, even if you remove those associated with Marvel or DC comics: Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart, or Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex, for example. But the impression that I’ve gotten from listening to agents is that superheroes just aren’t that successful in books. Now this may sound strange considering how well they do comics, movies and television, bit it actually makes sense. When it comes to superheroes, most people show up because they’ve fallen in love with a certain character or team, and want to follow their journey. They may not feel the same for some rando created by an author that they’ve never heard of.

This left me with a much smaller pool of agents to chose from. I tried more urban fantasy-focused folks, but that’s a genre that’s not nearly as popular as it used to be. Some people might call Red and Black new adult, but that term tends to imply… erm steamier circumstances then occur in my superhero book.

The one thing I’ve seen emphasized over and over again by blog posts and podcasts related to finding an agent is the importance of finding someone that’s going to be a good fit for you. And I wasn’t really finding that, at least not when it came to people who were currently available.

A higher degree of control
As I’ve been working on Red and Black, I’ve come up with a lot of ideas of how I’d like to release the series, as far as supplementary short fiction and such. But if I were traditionally published, a lot of those decisions wouldn’t be up to me. Many traditionally published authors say they have very limited control over how their books are released, including picking cover art, or even the titles of the books. The more I’ve looked into self publishing, the more having a higher level control over my own content has appealed to me.

High quality self published works
I’ll admit it. For a long time, I was one of those people, viewing self published works as little more than poorly written vanity projects with clunky cover art, and typos galore. And I had read one low quality indie book several years back, so that meant that they were all trash, right?

Then I read Rachel Aaron’s Nice Dragon’s Finish Last Back in 2014, and my mind was blown

Nice Dragons Finish Last (and the Heartstriker series as a whole) was like a breath of fresh air. A book that melded multiple genres (urban fantasy! science fiction! romance!) in really exciting ways. And it wasn’t published by a traditional publisher, but self published. Reading this book made me realize that I was being too judgmental when it came to indie books. In the years since, I’ve watched authors I respect (Gail Carriger, for example), happily go hybrid, causing me to more carefully examine indie publishing and the benefits that come along with it.

Being able to start small
As much as people like to complain about gatekeepers, there’s a good reason why getting traditionally published involves jumping through a lot of hoops. After all, they’re going to invest a lot of time and money into your work, and want to make sure that it’s worth it. And authors who don’t make a significant return on that investment are going to be penalized for it. Maybe that publisher won’t want to sign a new contract with them. Or maybe they’ll do it, but for a much smaller paycheck. This is something that Mur Lafferty has talked about recently on the Ditch Diggers Podcast in regards to selling her sci-fi murder mystery Six Wakes. Given that the book has since been nominated for a Philip K. Dick award and a Nebula, it’s clear that smaller advance had nothing to do with the quality of the book.

But when it comes to self publishing, the higher degree of control you have means that you can decide how much of an investment you want to make into that final product, and what you consider a financial success to be. In self publishing, the game is all about building an audience over time, rather then making a big splash with a debut, which I find very appealing.

Which brings us to our last point.

This is going to sound awful, but do you want to know the real reason I decided to go head with self publishing Red and Black? I finally had the money to do so.

At the end of 2017, I ended up switching jobs. Previously, I had been working two part time jobs. This added up to full time work, but from multiple locations. When I quit these positions for a more traditional 9-5 job, each place paid me out for my unused vacation time, and a portion of my sick time.

And let me tell you, I do NOT take a lot of sick days so those fuckers had built up.

This allowed me a small cushion that I used to pay off a few hundred dollars in medical debt, and invest in a professional editor. Self publication, for all of it’s benefits, is incredibly difficult to do when you don’t have a lot of wiggle room in your budget, but still want to put out a high quality product.

The decision on whether to self-publish or traditionally publish can be really tricky. Hopefully, in explaining why I decided to self-publish Red and Black can help someone who’s currently waffling back and for between the two options. Because there really are benefits to each. Despite my decision to go indie, I still strongly believe that traditional publishing is the best way to reach a larger audience, faster, if just based on the fact that people are more likely to trust a work that has already been vetted by a team of professionals. Regardless, I think that self publishing is the best decision to make with my little superhero book Red and Black, and I’m really excited to see what the results will be.


This post is part of the new Author-in-Training Project, where I document my path to publishing Red and Black, and the lessons I’ve learned on the way. Please click on the Author-in-Training tag for more posts. There’s not much yet, but more will be arriving in the future.


Off to Camp NaNoWriMo!

A few days back, I impulsively signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo, which starts on April first.

Some of you might be scratching your heads right now. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is very much a November mainstay-and given how the yearly event has grown in popularity over the years, I highly doubt that they’ll be changing that anytime soon. Camp NaNoWriMo, on the other hand, is a writing program put out by the same folks that have made NaNoWriMo such an important staple in my writing life. Just like NaNoWriMo, it’s all about people coming together to tackle a specific writing goal over the span of the month. But beyond that, it can be quite different.

You don’t have to write 50k
The overall goal of NaNoWriMo is well known at this point: write a novel (which the program designates as 50k) in the span of one month. This is a task that many people (like myself) see as a worthy goal to conquer and surpass. Others may find the idea of putting down that many words in such a short period of time to be an impossibility.

If you’re in either of those categories, then Camp NaNoWriMo could be great for you, because it’s so damn customizable. Sure, you could do the traditional NaNo thing and write 50k in 30 days, but you don’t have to. Don’t want to write a novel? Then why not a script, a short story, or a work of nonfiction? You can even do poetry. Does the idea of writing something new, when you still have to revise your last NaNo novel sound inconvenient? That’s fine too. You can set a revision goal instead. And your success doesn’t have to be measured by word count. You can decide you want to write for so many hours or minutes. What about a page count/line goal? All options.

While NaNoWriMo is all about everyone working towards the same goal, Camp NaNoWriMo is about everyone working towards their own specific writing goals, while supporting each other. And that’s kind of beautiful.

Going to Camp
Take a look at the Camp NaNoWriMo website and you’ll immediately notice a Summer Camp, or writing retreat theme. And to that I’d say, have you seen the giant ass pile of snow still on my lawn?

Of course, this isn’t exactly fair. Camp Nanowrimo is a world wide event, after all. And given that the events also runs in July, I’m willing to suspend some disbelief.

As part of this Summer Camp-theme, you can be sorted into Cabins, which appear to serve as a sort of support group. The cabins can have up to twenty people. You can either set up a cabin yourself, or select to be sorted automatically. If you chose the later, it’s up to you whether you want the sorting to be completely random, or if you want to be placed into a cabin with people writing in a similar genre, with a similar word count goal, or of a similar age. If Cabins don’t sound like you’re thing (and I don’t blame you, human interaction of any kind can be kind of terrifying), then you don’t have to do one.

My Camp NaNoWriMo
I have completed (and won!) NaNoWriMo a grand total of seven times now, but Camp NaNoWriMo is a totally new experience to me. And in this spirit of newness, I am chose to do something different and not write a novel because fuuuuck that right now. I’m too focused on getting Red and Black published, and all the bells and whistles that come along with diving into indie publishing. Instead, I will be writing a novelette (probably 10,000-12,000 words) that takes place in the Red and Black universe.

As for cabins, I’m not sure what I’m going to do there yet. I want to take part in one, but I’m not sure if I want to customize it in anyway, or go completely random.

So while I was thinking that over, I’d thought I’d mention it here. Are you consider doing Camp NaNoWriMo? It sounds like a great way to get some writing done. If so, I’d be happy to set up a cabin. Just leave a comment here or send me an email at And if you’re looking for a genre specific cabin mate, I will be writing a superhero story (although it reads a lot like urban fantasy).

As someone blessedly fond of habits and repetition, I don’t do much (okay, anything) on impulse, but this sounded like so much fun. A nice way to flex my creative muscles in a time when I’ve been so focused on revising and publishing. I, of course, will be blogging the results of my time at Camp for any of those who will be participating, or are considering singing up for July, but aren’t sure as of yet, so make sure to follow here for the results.

And to my fellow participants, I will see you at camp!


Author-in-Training- 4 Reasons Why You May Want to Trunk Your First Novel

First off, thank you to everyone that has checked out my recent post announcing the upcoming publication of Red and Black, as well as The Author-In-Training Project. I really appreciate the support and encouragement that has been thrown my way so far. It has put me in a really positive state of mine.

So let me take that opportunity to talk about failure.

Although I have published a few short stories, Red and Black will be my first published novel. Now a few of you may be scratching your heads and thinking “wait a minute, didn’t this crazy chick talk about a young adult fantasy book a while back?” To those I’d say “Why yes! And that’s a damn good memory you have!”

Because a while ago I wrote not one book, but a complete series (called The Darkwood Trilogy) that went through beta readers, and various edits. I even published a short story in that universe (“The Paper Doll”) in the sadly defunct YA literary magazine, Inaccurate Realities.

These books will never see the light of day, and for good reason. Sure, there’s a lot about that trilogy that I am proud of (especially the third book!) but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed to move on if I wanted to continue to grow as a writer. And I’m not alone here. A lot of authors I admire have admitting to “trunking” (or choosing not to release) novels written before publishing their debut, meaning that a writer’s “first novel” is often far from that. Fantasy author, Brandon Sanderson, for example, wrote six books before his debut, Elantris was published. Nowadays, we live in a world where anyone can self publish, without the permission of a publisher, so how do you know when not to? When is it the right decision to put that book away and start something new? It’s true that I don’t have the answer for everyone, but here are some of the questions I asked myself when making the decision to trunk Lady of Darkwood and the Darkwood Trilogy as a whole.

Have I moved on as a person?
This was a big one for me. There are some things in Lady of Darkwood that may have reflected the books I was reading as a teenager, but feel more troubling from an adult perspective (a disturbingly large age gap in-between the teenaged female protagonists and one of the love interests, for example). I think it’s safe to say that if the book you’ve written no longer reflects your values, or outright contradicts them, it might be time to move on to something that represents you better.

Have I moved on as a writer?
This one is a little trickier, because you should always be growing as a writer. But if that growth is pretty fricken obvious, then you might want to sit down and think about the time you would need to invest into tearing the book apart and Frankensteining it into something else, versus the time you could be spending on a new and exciting project. The villain in Lady of Darkwood, for example, was incredibly ill defined. I remember asking a couple of my beta readers about what they thought their motivations were, and getting completely different answers (and both or them were dead wrong). This was a sign that I had been so focused on “shocking” the reader, that I hadn’t put enough thought into more important things, like character development. This was an incredibly rookie mistake. Your debut novel should represent the strongest work you have produced up until that date (or at least something close). If it doesn’t, then you have a problem.

Have I moved on as a reader?
I’m a big believer that you should write the type of book that you want to see more of in the world. Tamora Pierce, for example, wrote the Song of the Lioness Quartet because she wanted to read more books about girls being heroic, and was finding a serious lack of that published. Lady of Darkwood was conceived  when I was sixteen and reading a lot of young adult fantasy. And while I still enjoy books like that (speaking of Tamora Pierce, I’m really looking forward to checking out Tempests and Slaughter!), I, and the market at large has mostly moved on from the types of works that were popular in the late 90s/early 2000s. Red and Black, born out of my love for superhero comics, fast paced urban fantasy novels, and strong secondary romances, better reflects the stories that I am excited about reading today, which means I am more excited about writing them. And that’s important!

Is this book pushing me forward, or is it holding me back?
Have you spent years (maybe even a decade) working on a project that’s ultimately going nowhere? You might be. It’s a common problem with newbie writers. It was certainly was one for me. It’s hard not to look back on all of the time I spent re-writing those books, or querying agents and think about all of the hours I could have been pouring into another project. Could Red and Black have been finished earlier if I had only started it sooner?


Which, if you too have spent years working on a novel that you realize needs to be trunked, sounds pretty depressing. But to that I’d say that failed projects don’t have to be viewed as wasted words. When it comes to writing, we seem to be under the impression that if it doesn’t get published, then the time you spent on it was pointless. And that’s bullshit. Through writing the Darkwood Trilogy (and other, less complete novels I wrote through my teens and twenties) I learned so much, Especially when it comes to structuring a series, developing characters, and working with beta readers. Had I not written the Darkwood trilogy, Red and Black would be a much, much weaker novel.

Just because a novel never sees the light of day, or is only read by those nearest and dearest to you, doesn’t mean that the time you spent on it is wasted.

So, if you have a Darkwood Trilogy in your life, you may want to sit down and take a serious look at it. Because sometimes trunking a novel is the best first step you can make towards starting your writing career.

At least it was for me.

This post is part of the brand new Author-in-Training Project, where I document my path to publishing Red and Black, and the lessons I’ve learned on the way. Please click on the Author-in-Training tag for more posts. There’s not much yet, but more will be arriving in the future.


Awesome Epic Fantasy- Check out my Review of Oathbringer

Attention Stormlight Archive fans! My review of Oathbringer is now up on Speculative Chic.

Oathbringer (2017) Author: Brandon Sanderson Narrated by: Kate Reading, Michael Kramer Genre: Epic Fantasy Series: The Stormlight Archive (Book 3) Length: 1,248 pages (Kindle); 55 h and 4 m (Audiobook)* Publisher: Tor Books Why I Chose It: I read Oathbringer as part of 2018’s Resolution Project. Also, I’m a big fan of both the series and the…

via Epic Characters, Epic Page Count: A Review of Oathbringer — Speculative Chic


WAKANDA FOREVER: We review Black Panther on Speculative Chic

Are you one of the handful of people who hasn’t seen Black Panther yet? Maybe we can convince you otherwise. Check out this great group  post I took part in.

Welcome back to Sound Off!, a semi-regular column where members of Speculative Chic gather together to chat about the latest BIG THING in entertainment. This time, join the cry of “Wakanda forever!” and discuss Black Panther, which premiered in the United States on Friday, February 16, 2018. Sound Off! is meant to be a reaction, but not…

via Sound Off! Black Panther — Speculative Chic