When I Grow Up

I knew I wanted to be an author when I was six years old and my aunt told me that “The White-Pawed Kitten” was one of the best stories she’d ever read. And then my mom, a much less effervescent person, told me that it was pretty good work for a six-year-old. So I knew I must actually have some potential.
When I was little and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them. “I want to be an author!” I remember that they would laugh, but my mom always smiled like she was proud of me. I think she probably was. It made me happy to think that everybody else thought I was ridiculous but my mom knew I could do it.

My mom has always been there to make sure my dream became a reality. When I showed her something I had written, first she would attack it with her trusty red pen. Maybe for a softer hearted kid that would have discouraged them. I don’t know. It always made me feel better that my stories were good enough for my mom to take seriously. She never laughed and said they were dumb. She just told me how they could be better.


And then, when I left the story behind because I had moved on to other stories, my mom would say, “When are you going to finish that story I attacked with my red pen? It was good. I want to know what happens.”

As I got older, she kept me surrounded by lots of good books to spark my imagination and give me examples of strong writing. (Okay, that was just because she and my dad love to read.) In high school she bought me a “How to write a novel” workbook to force me to finish my first book. And it worked! That’s how I finished the first book in the Grover Cleveland Academy series (which, much to my mother’s dismay, I will never publish, because it sucks).

If my mom ever doubted me, she never told me. If she ever thought that my becoming a published author was unachievable…nope, she never thought that.

And now here I am, a published author. Not famous or anything, but that was never my goal. I wanted my stories out there for other people to read, and that’s what’s happened. Did my mom one of the biggest reasons for my accomplishments? Yes. Yes she is.

All of this rambling to say, thanks, Mom, for being the best mom an author could ever have. I hope I can be as supportive of my daughter whenever she finds out what she wants to be when she grows up.


Posted in Into the Flames, Personal


In case you’ve forgotten, I have actually published a few things. Here’s the short list:

  • Grover Cleveland Academy series
    • 1: Into the Flames
    • 2: Diving In
  • Tales from Pocatello: short stories
    • 1: The Soldier and Kerri
    • 2: A Telling
    • 3: Starcrossed


(P1) The Soldier and Kerri(P2) A Telling(P3) Starcrossed

And now it’s time for the much longer list. The list of things I want to finish. All of these I’ve been sporadically writing on over the past few years. It’s a lot, and as you can see I like to waste time writing lists instead of actually writing, but I have hopes that someday they will all be published. And so you can dream with me, behold:

  • Grover Cleveland Academy series
    • 3: To See Clearly
    • 4: Flying Free
    • 5: Title Pending
  • Tales from Pocatello: short stories
    • 4: Fire and Lightning
    • 5: Title Pending
    • 6: Ground Zero
    • 7: Ausrine
  • City of Orphans (stand alone novel from Pocatello)
  • Paranormal Series
    • Lost Causes
    • The Key of St. Hubert


Posted in Writing

In Case of Tornado…

What would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island? This common question is a game, of course. What about if your house were on fire, what is the one thing you would grab? This scenario is more plausible, but it’s still really a game, isn’t it?

Well here in Oklahoma, there’s a question I ask myself every year, and it’s not really a game: What would I grab if a tornado were coming toward my house?

That’s right, gentle readers, it’s tornado season, and despite my exterior of nonchalance, I’m getting kinda antsy. It probably has something to do with the fact that I have fewer phalanges in my hands and feet than friends and family members whose houses have been affected, if not outright destroyed, by tornadoes. Even my antique typewriter is rumored to be a two-time tornado survivor.

The most frightened for my house I have ever been was two years ago. About a week after the big kahuna of tornadoes destroyed half of Moore, another big one was forming a few miles west of there. For about half an hour it looked like it was going to come right through Mustang, where we lived. I grabbed my computer, a stack of diapers, half of the laundry in the dryer, the dog, and my children, and headed to the tornado shelter.

A mere two weeks ago, another tornado was coming at our new house. I grabbed my computer, toddler underwear, the dog, and my children, and headed to the tornado shelter again. This one also missed us, but the torrential rain and hail that followed in its wake literally flooded our street. We were fortunate, but many of our neighbors were not.

So I guess my question has been answered, and the kids and clean undies win the day.

But here’s my confession. There was something else I really wanted to grab both times, but I didn’t because it would be too selfish and time consuming. (And really, really heavy.)


I know it’s stupid, but I would really regret it if something happened to these notebooks. I know that everything written in them is nothing more than a teenager’s scribbles. When I die, no one is going to look in them and go, “Wow, this this is brilliant! It should be published posthumously!” There is nothing to be salvaged here. Not a single predictable plot line, not one shallow, cliched character. No turns of phrases here that will make someone pause and think about life.

But if a tornado comes and destroys my house and these notebooks get tossed into the winds, or if a flood rises up into our bedroom and blots the words out of these pages, I will cry. A lot. And a part of me will be lost forever.

And now, to quote the Doctor:

We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?

Posted in Personal, Writing

Eats, Shoots and Leaves

IMG_20150424_073940Eats, Shoots and Leaves isn’t a technical editing guide, but it is fun to read about the foundations of grammar and identify with the author’s struggles. It’s always good to know that we sticklers of punctuation are not alone. Only, if you get paid to be a stickler, you’re called an editor. And that’s awesome.

My favorite part of Eats, Shoots and Leaves is how Lynne Truss gives the history of many parts of punctuation. It’s not something I would have thought to worry about, but it explains a lot of the problems people have now with punctuation. Like with commas, for example. Lynne explains that commas were first used as marks to indicate where to pause and breathe when people were reading aloud. Marks to clarify the meaning of a sentence were rare and added sparingly lest the original author’s meaning be changed.

Over the centuries, however, commas started being added more and more as writers (and editors) felt that more clarification was needed, leading instead to more confusion and to lots of readers hyperventilating.

Rules, therefore, have been created regarding commas so that people will stop adding them willy nilly and getting everybody confused.


I find it rather amusing these days when people say that they inserted or omitted a comma in their writing because it “sounded right.” Because of this some people end up adding a lot more commas than we need, or putting them in places of personal preference rather than where the rules dictate that they go.

The reason it sounded correct is because we are used to hearing the rules, even if they are not taught to us, not necessarily because it is where we would naturally take a pause.

But there is little doubt that after all these millennia of trial and error, punctuation is necessary. A tiny little mark can mean the difference between life and death for poor Grandma. So let’s all learn the correct placement of our punctuation, okay?

Posted in Editing

Keeping Up with CMOS

A couple years ago for Christmas I bought my mom the hardback copy of the 16th edition Chicago Manual of Style, and she loved it.

I didn’t grow up to be an editor because my mom is an editor. Well, maybe I did. But that’s not the point. The point is that we (as well as most of the rest of our family) have a love of grammar in common and we often spend a lot of time commiserating over many people’s incorrect use of it.

The other day my mom was complaining about one of her client’s (let’s call him “my brother”) unnecessary addition of commas. I hate unnecessary commas as much as the next person, but in this case, I informed my mother, my brother was correct and the commas should have remained. She was certain that she was right, but I explained the rule and advised her to look it up in the handy manual I bought her.

I then decided it was best to review her understanding of that vs. which, and found that she was wrong on that as well. She assured me that the rule she stated was correct–at least, it had been many years ago when she started editing. And that probably was the rule then. But unfortunately, language is mutable, and therefore so are its rules.

This experience with my mom was a good reminder to me that it’s important to stay current with grammar rules. That’s why I’m taking some time to look over the old editing books that I have as well as checking out some new ones. As I go through them, I’ll attempt to share some of their nuggets of wisdom with you.

In the meantime, here’s the rules I reviewed with my mom.

  • Commas in restrictive and nonrestrictive appositives. CMOS states, “A word, abbreviation, phrase, or clause that is in apposition to a noun (i.e., provides an explanatory equivalent) is normally set off by commas if it is nonrestrictivethat is, if it can be omitted without obscuring the identity of the noun to which it refers.” It continues, “If, however, the word or phrase is restrictivethat is, provides essential information about the noun (or nouns) to which it refersno commas should appear.”
    • Example of the first: Ursula’s husband, Jan, is also a writer. (Ursula has only one husband.)
    • Example of the second: O’Neill’s play The Hairy Ape was being revived. (O’Neill wrote a number of plays.)
  • “Which” vs. “That”. CMOS’s explanation is lengthy, so I’ll just say that if the information is integral to the sentence and leaving it out changes the meaning of the sentence, use “that.” If it’s unnecessary, superfluous, or in any way extra, use “which.” “Which” requires a comma. “That” does not.
    • Example of that: The version of the manuscript that the editors submitted to the publisher was well formatted.
    • Example of which: The final manuscript, which was well formatted, was submitted to the publisher on time.


Posted in Editing

An Editorial Personality

byNickHi, my name is Jessie, and I’m an ISTJ. That means I’m Inverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judgmental. It means I like schedules, to-do lists, and rules. It means I find pleasure in rote tasks and focusing on small details. It means that I love editing!

Over the past few months I haven’t had a chance to edit much more than friends’ posts on Facebook. Which I’m not actually going to do because that’s rude and there’s only so many times you can lament a misused your/you’re before it gets boring.

I’m working to change that and challenge myself to be a better editor. If you want to help me be better by giving me a manuscript to work on, please do!

In the meantime, I’ll be trying out some new editing books, rereading some old ones, and digging into the Chicago Manual of Style for some buffing up.

Here’s some tried and true editing and writing books that I recommend:

And of course, I’ll be doing a lot of reading! Because the best way to learn how to read well is to read good books, and I think the same thing goes for editing. Here’s what’s on my to-read list for this year:

Sounds something like a list of things to do. And if there’s nothing I love more than a list, then it’s a plan to make a list.

So yeah, that’s me. Welcome!

Posted in Editing

End of Summer Review

Gentle readers, it feels like this summer has fairly flown by. I kept waiting for the Oklahoma summer heat to hit us, and now that it has, everybody is going back to school. The days have been filled with kiddie pools, treks to the park, dragging the toddlers to the library, and an [un]healthy dose of Braum’s shakes and Sonic slushes. But now that August is more than halfway over and I am wishing for bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils, I look back and realize that I did manage to get a lot of book-ish things done this summer. Maybe not all the things I was planning, but when all’s said and I done, I can’t complain. Behold:

Summer opened with the release of my newest short story, Starcrossed, which you can purchase for your Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader for only 99c!

With that story out of the way, I was able to focus on the second edition of Diving In (Grover Cleveland Academy 2) with its shiny new cover that matches the new cover of Into the Flames!

Diving In_cover_Redo

In June I beta read a novel for a friend and also edited a short story of hers, which is now out in the digi-verse, if you want to check it out. I really like editing and it was good to get some done for someone else, even if it was just for a short story. (Pssst, don’t forget I am available for all your editing needs!)

Somehow I managed to write on a number of different projects, and it’s kept my creative spirits high. Even when I’m not writing, I am thinking about the characters and plot lines. Here’s what’s been on the forefront of my mind the past three months.

  • Lightning and Fire, my fourth Tale from Pocatello, is coming along nicely. I’m in part three (of three)!
  • Julia v. David  will probably never be published, but I like to work on it in my spare time.
  • To See Clearly, Grover Cleveland Academy book three, is nearing completion. On this draft, anyway. I’m in chapter nine (of thirteen)!
  • Ground Zero, my sixth Tale from Pocatello, is starting to take shape. Last week it was merely a vague concept of a story I wanted to write, and now it’s got a backstory, two main characters, and five thousand words of plot! I’m really excited about this short story. Hopefully I will continue to be excited about it until its publication, which may not be for a couple of years.

In addition to all this writing, editing, and publishing, I’ve also read some stuffs! I’ll go ahead and brag. You can read all my book reviews on my Goodreads profile.

  • Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
  • Cinder (Lunar Chronicles 1) by Marissa Meyer
  • Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles 2) by Marissa Meyer
  • Cress (Lunar Chronicles 3) by Marissa Meyer
  • Summer Knight (Dresden Files 4) by Jim Butcher
  • Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters (It’s a comic, but it totally counts!)
  • The Topic of Serpents (Lady Trent Memoir 2) by Marie Brennan
  • Only Human (Doctor Who) by Gareth Roberts
  • EarthWorld (Doctor Who) by Jacqueline Rayner

And that’s my list of what I’ve done this summer! What did you create? Did you read any good books by the pool? Make a fort and create a new fantastical world? Try a new recipe? Let me know!

Posted in Personal, Pocatello

Starcrossed, Available Now!

starcrossed-finals-type copy


Gentle readers, you need to do me a favor and check out my new short story. It’s available for Kindle here for only 99 cents. In my humble opinion, it is pretty great. I really enjoyed writing it, and I think you will enjoy reading it. It’s only 27,000 words, so you can probably read it in a few hours. Great for summer reading! The synopsis is below.

Earth is exhausted, drained dry by the constant demands of humanity. In a desperate bid to save mankind, the best and brightest of the population join with a genetically engineered set of superhumans and fling themselves toward the stars in hopes of finding a new home.
But even in the midst of humanity’s Exodus to the void, individuals lead the way. Michael, the feckless and guilt-ridden stowaway; and Jamie, engineer, mechanic, and inventor of the ship’s interstellar drives, find themselves thrust together. Forced to rely only on each other for survival, they soon discover the universe is a lot weirder than they ever expected.

Posted in Pocatello, Uncategorized

20 Things I’ve Learned in My 20’s (so far)

I might be on the tail end of this fad, but here I am. Here’s a list of twenty things I’ve learned in my twenties. And since I’m only twenty-six, I probably have a lot left to learn. I’ll let you know when I do.

  1. Apparently, once you graduate, nobody really cares what your GPA was.
  2. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to have an amazing, memorable wedding.
  3. Poor planning can make a trip miserable. But having a special person who just laughs at your poor planning can make it not as miserable.
  4. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to have an amazing, memorable vacation. Or you can spend hundreds of dollars and also have an amazing, memorable vacation.
  5. You don’t have to take years to decide you are ready for children. But you may have to wait years after you decide you are ready to actually have children.
  6. If you know what you want out of life, work as hard as you can to get it. You may have to work really, really, hard, but it will be worth it.
  7. Working hard for something when you’re a grownup isn’t like studying hard for a test in college. And it mostly involves making phone calls you don’t want to make and signing lots of repetitive forms.
  8. Sometimes you can work as hard as you can, and you will still fail. Either because of yourself, or because of other people, or because of something else out of your control. It just happens. Life isn’t fair.
  9. You must resign yourself to the fact that you will never get to sleep in past eight o’clock.
  10. If you can resign yourself to the fact that you will never sleep in past eight o’clock, taking care of one child isn’t that hard.
  11. Taking care of two children is kinda hard.
  12. You are not perfect, so your children are not going to be perfect. Probably far from it.
  13. Letting your child roll off the bed once or twice is not going to kill her. But you should try to learn from your mistakes and not put her on the bed again.
  14. Being mad at someone is not nearly as rewarding as snuggling with him. So tell him you’re sorry, even if you don’t think you are wrong.
  15. If you don’t want something that your significant other does want, tell your significant other. It’s better to talk (or argue) about it than to go along with something you don’t want to do and secretly be mad about it the whole time.
  16. You can’t be good at everything, but you can be really, truly good at at least one or two things, so focus on that.
  17. There is such a thing as too much ice cream.
  18. Coffee is wonderful.
  19. Being a nerd is awesome.
  20. Watching your children turn into nerds is one of the funnest experiences ever.
Posted in Personal, Uncategorized

To See Clearly: An Excerpt

It’s been almost a year since I published GCA2: Diving In. I’ve been working on the third installment on and off since then, and I’d like to say that I’m close to publishing it as well, but alas. That would be a lie. Id like to tell you that I haven’t posted on this blog for four months because I’ve been steadily working on GCA3. Alas, that would also be a lie.

But I have been working on it rather steadily for the past few weeks, and I’m feeling confident that I will get there, and that this book will be finished soon. -ish.

You all have been waiting so very patiently for me to finish, though, and I’d like to thank you all for that. Therefore, here is an excerpt of GCA3: To See Clearly so you can get an idea of where this story is headed. I hope you enjoy it.

And SURPRISE! it’s not another story about Rahab at Grover Cleveland. The main character is Bracken Carnegie and the story is set two years before GCA1: Into the Flames.

B is for Bracken

B is for Bracken


Bracken got up and went to Analiese’s room. He rapped on her door and waited for her cheerful “come in” even though he could see through the door that she was just sitting on her bed. She had already changed out of her uniform and was wearing a Flogging Molly shirt and pajama pants.

Bracken sat down on her desk chair and propped his Converse up on the edge of her bed.

“Hey, there, stranger,” Analiese said. “What’s up with you?”

“I thought you wanted to talk about cheerleading camp.”

“Oh, what happens at cheerleading camp stays at cheerleading camp,” Analiese replied glibly. “I want to know if you found anything to do around here for the past two weeks while I was gone.”

“As much as usual,” he said. He thought about telling her about the tattoo, which was constantly reminding him of its existence with its itching, but he hadn’t gotten it to show off. It was there to remind himself that beneath the surface, he was different. That he would always be different. And that was something even Analiese wouldn’t understand.

“What are you thinking about?” Analiese asked, leaning over to scrutinize him. She had the same piercing deep blue eyes that he did. But they looked better on her pixie face, and he doubted they could see through solid objects.

“Do you remember Ianto?”

“Ianto?” Analiese scratched her head. “It sounds familiar. That’s a funny name, though, isn’t it?”

Bracken sighed; of course she wouldn’t remember. She had only been five, and Ianto, a teenage employee of their parents, wouldn’t have been interesting to her. “He was Mr. Jamison’s son,” Bracken said.

“Oh, yeah, I remember now. I had forgotten his name,” Analiese said. “He died when we were little, didn’t he?”


“You were thinking about him? Why?”

Bracken took a breath, ready to tell her about the vision, about how it was all his fault. But instead the words came out as, “No reason in particular.”

Her pursed lips told Bracken that she knew he was holding back, but she didn’t push it. She never did. Instead she said, “Mom’s being a jerk to me today.”

“According to you, she is always a jerk.”

“Yeah, but you’d think she could at least notice when I get home from a two-week camp. Like, ‘Hi, Ana, I’ll tell Maria to set another plate for dinner.’” Analiese flipped her hair. “Instead I had to go tell Maria I was back myself.”

“You love talking to Maria. And Maria loves to give you cookies and milk like you’re still five.”

“I know.” Bracken could almost hear the words she didn’t say: But that’s not the point.

They sat in silence for a minute, Analiese biting her nails and Bracken flicking his cigarette lighter on and off. Bracken had a vision of Analiese sitting in this very rom, packing to go off to her boarding school. Nothing too exciting there. What was the point of having visions if they were mundane things, things that he wouldn’t even want to change? What did Bracken care if Analiese packed three pairs of flip-flops?

Bracken heaved a sigh. The flashing lights of his visions often gave him a headache.

“What did The Patriarch have to say to you?” Analiese asked, probably thinking that was what the sigh was about.

“I got expelled from Manchester.”

“Big surprise there,” Analiese said. “You know, one of these days you could try not getting expelled.”

“Not getting expelled?” Bracken repeated, as if she had made a revolutionary suggestion.

“Yeah. Just, like, try not setting fire to the dorms. Or not playing strip poker with the dean’s daughter. Or not disassembling all the computers in the lab and selling the parts on e-bay.”

“I don’t need a list of all my grievances, thank you, counselor,” Bracken said. “And besides, the fire was an accident.”

“But why were you smoking in the dorms in the first place? Why do you do any of it in the first place?” Analiese crossed her arms. “You don’t strike me as the type of person to need attention from authority figures.”

“I do it to distract myself.”

“Distract yourself from what?”

Bracken stood up, knocking the chair over in the process. “I get enough of these interrogations from dad and my teachers. I don’t need them from you too.”

Analiese raised her hand to grab his arm. “Sorry, sorry. I’m sorry.”

Bracken sat back down. “It’s okay. I just…I know nobody believes me, but I don’t do it to get in trouble. I just…”

“Sorry,” Analiese said again. “So where’s dad sending you this time? Boot camp? Yank out that earring, and you’d make a fine soldier.”

“Ha ha, no thanks,” Bracken said. “No, he’s not desperate enough for military school yet.”

“So where is it?” Analiese asked.

“Does it matter? I’m just going to get expelled again.”

Posted in Writing | Tagged as: , , , , , , , ,