Now Offering: Editorial Services for Novels

Please email me at if you’re interested. I’m looking to edit large-scale manuscripts. I am able to do line-editing, overall structure, character development, etc. As a teacher of English and creative writing, I have a wide breadth of editing experience. I also am writing my own novels and work tightly with a critique group in my community. Here’s what I’m offering:

– First 10 pages critiqued for free. From there, you can decide if you’d like to use my services in the future.

– Fair, competitive prices. I’m looking at a lot of the mainstream editing websites. Several of them charge nearly $1500 for manuscripts longer than 50,000 words. I would be looking for significantly less than that.

– Deep and insightful commentary on your novel’s structure, line-by-line writing, and developmental content.

Please pass this along if you know those that would be interested!

Review: Golden Son by Pierce Brown

I’ve already sprinted through three solid books in 2015, and have several around the house half-read, but Golden Son?

I devoured Golden Son.

It has the kind of compelling storytelling that demands your attention until the ride is over. For those that haven’t already discovered Red Rising, you should start there. Not only is the first installment amazing, but a massive bidding war was won by Universal and I’m pretty sure the movie will turn this into even more of a cult following than it already is.

I reviewed Red Rising (Post found here: ) if you want to read about it. Anyways, on to Golden Son and why Pierce Brown did it the right way.

1. Why not make your characters do the most interesting thing every time?

That’s what it started to feel like as I made my way through Golden Son. I wondered how Brown could follow an action-packed opening in a world without some of the constructs that the first book relied upon. The first novel involves an arena much like the type we see in Hunger Games and other dystopian stories. As we’ve also seen in those dystopian books, the authors struggle to maintain our interest as they remove the rapid-paced action of their original arenas.

Pierce Brown had no issue with that. The story takes us spiraling through one action scene after another. Betrayals are compounded by new alliances, new threats, and new challenges. In some ways, Brown is served by the populace he is writing about. The Golds in this society are simply lethal. There natural proclivities toward war and their insatiable hunger for power provides him the perfect backdrop for Darrow’s maneuverings. It really seemed like Brown was following one rule: do the most interesting thing. In each scene, he has his characters ratchet up the heat of what’s happening. Raised stakes, multiplying enemies, plots within plots. It makes for a joyride of a read.

I was at the World Fantasy Convention this Fall and Christopher Golden had high praises for Pierce’s work. He said that, in some ways, the story itself wasn’t something new. We’d seen lowly man rise up from the dust before. But he claimed Pierce’s writing and style and ability to drag us through his story at 150mph is just too good to pass up. I agree.

2. Internal Monologue

I always admire a writer that succeeds in their internal monologue because I find it so difficult to create. Genuine, internal feeling is difficult to conjure from thin air because, frankly, we have enough problems figuring out how we are feeling from moment to moment. Pierce has me feeling every emotion of his main character through genuine and provocative internal monologue. I simply love the way that Darrow considers others around him. At some points, the purpose is to analyze the threat they represent to his plans. At other points, he seeks to answer questions that each and every one of us ask about what it means to be human. He’s an easy main character to follow.

3. Present Tense

I’d love to analyze, at some point, how many authors write in the present tense. I’m not sure of Pierce Brown’s reasons behind choosing to write in this style, but I really find the present tense fitting for his purposes. Every scene seems to orient around dramatic actions, fighting, and moment to moment shifting in power. The present tense that’s employed in this story launches us forward and leaves us feeling active in the scene. I might as well be sitting at the war table or clawing through the mud after Darrow.

4. Sentence Structure

Recently, I noticed Joe Abercrombie discussing the topic of sentence structure on Twitter. He was lamenting the fact that we look at long, winding sentences as the “beautiful” parts of prose. In reality, a short and crisp sentence that fits the necessary tone can be just as lovely. The example attached to his post was Cormac McCarthy and his use of short sentences to emphasize, disrupt, and draw the attention of the reader to certain emotions. I really think the same thing is accomplished in Brown’s first two works. Really love the variance and I really hate that people will likely attack his use of short sentences as “uncomplicated” or “prosaic”. He knows his stuff.

Lastly, I will conclude by saying how much I loved his acknowledgements section at the end of the book. Sometimes, you just forget how much an author has gone through to get published. I just finished my first book. I had one very respectable agent take a long look at my novel (including rewrites and a second read), but we didn’t connect. Now I’m waiting to see if anyone will take my book on. I’ve just completed a second book, and I’ll begin a whole new process with it. It’s easy to read Red Rising and Golden Son, recognize the transcendent talent of the author, and think that there are just some people who it all comes to more naturally. Seeing the road he’s taken to get where he is was super impressive. It just shows that, if you really love doing something, you should continue to fight for your right to do it.

Either way, I highly suggest you get hold of this series before every single person you know is bragging about how much they like it. Someone once told me that it was the White Person’s Mecca to find a great band before everyone else does. I think it is EVERY reader’s journey through Middle Earth to stumble upon a great work of fiction that none of their friends have heard of. For me, that’s been Red Rising and now Golden Son.

Go get it!

Good Reads from Good Authors

You’ve heard the phrase. “Good readers make good writers.” Using mathematical properties I’ve long forgotten, I decided to inverse that phrase for today’s blog post. I would have to imagine that, “Good, established, published writers are really good readers.” So I tweeted out a question to some of my favorite and most beloved authors to see what they were reading. I asked, “What is the last book you read and adored?” Here were their responses: ________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sara Megibow- While Sara isn’t an author (as far as I know), she is one of the more responsive and charming literary agents on Twitter. Very responsive to my questions over the years and that proved true of this one as well.

Her response: “ARG! too many to choose from! Best AND most recent non-client book that I’ve loved was A TURN OF LIGHT by Julie Czerneda”


Robin Hobb –  One of the big names in fantasy literature, Robin Hobb is best known for her The Farseer Trilogy and recently released a new and wonderful book.

Her response: “Don’t tell Sam Sykes, but most recent was The City Stained Red.”


Django Wexler- Author of The Shadow Campaigns series and The Forbidden Library. Last year, I had the pleasure of Skype-hosting Django for my creative writing class and they loved him.

His response: “Hmm. Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone or Tainted Blood by M.L. Brennan.”


Pierce Brown-  If you haven’t heard of Red Rising, you’re going to. Darrow will be the next name on the lips of every teenager and lover of dystopian worlds. I read it this summer. Twice.

His response: “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell


Jason Hough- Author of the best selling science fiction series, The Dire Earth Cycle. Read this book last year and it reignited my love for all things science fiction.

His response: “easy! THE EMPEROR’S BLADES by Brian Staveley”


Michael Martinez – Author of The Daedalus Series, a wonderful mix of science fiction and alternative-almost-steampunkish history. I’ve read through the first book and am loving the second one.

His response: “Honestly, I don’t have one that springs to mind. I think as I keep writing books, I’ve become more critical of what I read!”

A big thanks to all the authors that participated. I may be editing and adding a few names as responses come in. But this should give all readers a few new names, books, and series to dip their metaphorical toes into. Happy reading!

Review: Half A King

I found myself at the beach, struggling through One Hundred Years of Solitude. A great, winding book with some astonishingly good writing… but also with a plodding sense of inevitability that left me bored. So bored. That’s when I saw that Joe Abercrombie’s new release. Now, I’ll preface this with the fact that I loved his First Law series. The third book did not have the typically satisfying ends that can come in a novel of such epic scope, but until that point they were compelling, rich, and most importantly: well-written. Here is the summary from Amazon:

“Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.”

Having read a great deal of YA this summer (Red Rising, Divergent, etc.) I dove greedily into Half a King and found it to be an excellent beach read. Here’s what I liked, and what I didn’t.


1. Word for Word Writing- The obvious difference that I noticed between this and a book like Divergent is that it’s just excellently written. Joe Abercrombie uses turns of phrase and twisted descriptions that really are without equal in this genre. I think we put up with authors who write competent descriptions because they’ve captured a unique idea or character or angle. I believe The Hunger Games really falls into this category. Is Collins a good writer? Of course. Is she excellent? Does she have brilliant phrasings that capture things the way we wished we could say or think them? Ehhh… What we can celebrate about Half a King is that it is written by an author who does not have to rely on a clever idea, but one that backs his ideas and characters with brilliant writing.

2. The Disabled Narrator- Yarvi is born without a hand. I believe that Abercrombie has really captured something that is so often missing in our fantasy genres… Characters of imperfection. Characters that are considered a certain way by their society because of their disabilities. Yarvi’s anger/bitterness/resentment/self-deprecation also seem incredibly authentic. I just felt slightly annoyed because… you know… I had my character losing fingers… which now seems not so unique. Oh well.

3. Triumphant Scenes- There are three or four scenes in this story, just like there were three or four scenes in each of Abercrombie’s other books, that simply rise above the rest. The fulfillment of character arc or the flash of unique magic/world building… they just astound you sometimes.

4. The Worldbuilding- While this really does fit a Viking saga kind of world… he’s built an interesting backdrop of gods and setting. I love how the pieces fit together and it aids his storyline.

What I Didn’t Love…

1. Some Predictability- While this is expected in the YA genre, I was surprised to find some of the reveals were easy to spot early on. I think there was one surprise that popped up and I said, “Wow, didn’t see that one coming.” The rest took only a bit of digging to unearth.

2. Convenience of Events– I didn’t know how else to say this one… Sometimes an author knows where they need and want the plot to go. I’m having trouble with that in my second book right now actually. But if you push a plot towards an “end” that isn’t the natural result of your character interactions or desires… sometimes it feels convenient or thrown together. I felt a little bit of that in this story, but only just so.

All in all, Half a King was easily my second favorite YA book this summer. I have to admit that I am still a little bit taken by Red Rising. The overall framework of Joe Abercrombie’s novel has a better pace to it than Red Rising does, but once Darrow is in the “arena”… well, you can’t really beat the action in there. Great book, though, and I’d recommend it heartily.

“What I Was Made For”

I still am figuring out how to write as a Christian. I don’t know that I’ll ever attempt to write direct allegory or painfully, in-your-face morality… but I want my pieces to be packed with what I believe and with who I am… The Breach might be the piece I get to do that the most. Here is an excerpt from that story:

The world vanished.

The empty, open air of the desert was replaced by the intimate cool of a cave. Ohone saw walls around him and lanterns lit ahead. He did not know why he was here, but he knew that he should walk. So he did.

At the end of the tunnel, a door. It was a circle, big and fat and round as an apple. Ohone was surprised to find that the door was open. A faint line of light sliced into the hallway. Something about that light told him he had been invited. He did not need to knock, and he did not need a key, he was simply expected to enter.

He set a tentative hand on the door and shoved. It slid open on oiled hinges. Before him was a vast cavern. He could not have said how deep or how wide or how long the room was, but it seemed full. Ohone walked past golden goblets and decorated armor and canvas paintings with intricate swirls. Not one treasure seemed the same as any other. Ohone thought the fullness had less to do with the treasure, and more to do with the reflective golden sheen they gave the room. There was a music, too, something rich and deep and on the edge of knowing.

With each step, the music grew louder and the objects grew brighter. When he had reached the center of the room, he stopped. There was a word for all of this, for this grandeur and splendor, for this brilliance and brightness. He felt that he knew the word, but he also felt like saying the word would have spoiled it somehow.

This, he realized, is what I was made for.

There was no transition back into the open plains, no shedding of golden walls, or fading of golden treasures, or softening of golden music, but a sudden and painful and forceful return to the present. Swati was there, of course, his hands warm and his smile sincere.

“What was that?” Ohone gasped.

“One day, you will understand that and so much more,” Swati said. “Do you trust me now, Ohone Beru?”



Goals for the Summer

It’s always good to have writing goals. These are a few of mine over the summer:

1. Editing and adjusting Grey Harbor. While agents are reviewing my work, a few of asked for certain edits to be attempted. I’ll be juggling some of my chapters and seeing if I can’t do just that.

2. Finish Make Bright the Arrows. This is book two in the Question and Answer series. I’ll probably work closest on this.

3. Get The Bonebreaker’s Daughter published. Just a short story, but one that I really loved to write and one that I think is a good snap shot of my ability.

4. Write at least 30,000 words in The Breach.

Those are my writing goals… With several trips planned and several weeks working at Duke Young Writer’s Camp, I’m not sure how well I can pull it off. But goals are needed to keep going, and now I have them. What are your goals?

Best Reads of 2014

This is a selfish list… but here are the books that I’ve read during the 2014 Calendar Year. My goal was to read 50 books this year (A good writer has to be a good reader). These are the books I’ve read, enjoyed, and am now ranking for your potential reading pleasure:

1. Red Rising by Pierce Brown- From start to finish, I was enthralled. As mad that I have to wait for the second book as I am about waiting for George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter.

2. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest- It might have just been the new world of steampunk, it might have been the flashbang style of what happens inside the city walls, but whatever it was… it worked.

3. The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater- I think she had the most likeable band of characters that I’ve read in a long time. It helps that her prose is full of clever turns of phrase and authentic interactions.

4. The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller- Considering I just got married in March, this makes sense. What a great book for understanding and gaining perspective on marriage.

5. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.- Finally read this. Dark and haunting and, at times, mystifying. But his writing is so good that you have to read it just to see a style that is borderline unachievable.

6. The Tarot Accounts by Keith Dupuis- A member of my writing group, Keith just finished his first book in the past few weeks. The world sincerely needs to be on the look out for his work. The stories of Rune and Brand will be bestsellers in no time.

7. The Daedalus Incident by Michael Martinez- Hard to figure out where to put this one! It was such a teasing, pleasurable combination of genres. I didn’t love one of the viewpoint characters though, and that caused it to slide a little in my eyes.

8. Looking for Alaska by John Green- I get the hype on him and totally understand now why my students find his work so appealing. It’s raw and unapologetic in its approach to a younger generation that is facing real life problems. I loved the characters, but also think his main way of interesting the audience in his characters is a bit cheap. Are there kids that have ridiculous and amazing talents? Of course. But a kid who memorizes the last words of famous historical figures? It’s plausible, but it made Pudge feel a little fake to me.

9. The Darwin Elevator by Jason Hough- The fact that this even cracks the top 10 is a credit to Jason’s ability. I’m just not that into science fiction, but I loved his characters. I actually thought the major weakness of his character was the major weakness that my character suffers from… A steady person that happens to be in the midst of incredible circumstances. Our characters lack that poetic individuality that makes them a long-lasting favorite in the eyes of an audience.

10. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb- Seriously a treat to dive down into what I would consider foundational fantasy. As with any book of this style, there are times where the description weighs a hundred pounds and the pace is too slow. But who wouldn’t want to be trained by Chade? Cool story and fun to read.

10. His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire) by Naomi Novik- Once again, the idea of this world is gripping and fascinating. Dragon air forces during Napoleonic times? Yes, please. The climax doesn’t pay off though, and the style can be weighty at times.

11. The Gunslinger by Stephen King- The prose in this story is just easy and interesting. There are some creative worldbuilding elements, but I struggled to fully enjoy them. A lot of chasing that amounts to little pay off.

12. Divergent by Veronica Roth- I’m sorry, but it just isn’t fun to read. I felt the same way about it that I felt about Eragon after reading Game of Thrones. You just can’t go back to something like that. I get why the book is popular, but I prefer the depth of almost every book above this one.

It’s May and I’ve only read 16 books… Good thing the summer is almost here.

Honorable Mentions Just Because I Read Them For Class and They Don’t Count:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Romeo and Juliet by Billy Shakespeare

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury