Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series, Writing Updates

What You Need to Know About the Third Desertera Novel

If you’re signed up for my Reader List, then you know I’m hard at work on the third Desertera novel. (Those clever readers have also previewed exclusive samples of my first draft!) To help me finish the manuscript, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo (essentially a self-driven writing challenge) during the month of April, and I’m already excited to share it with you! So, what do you need to know about the third Desertera novel?

King Lionel takes the reins

As with the other Desertera novels, this one features a new protagonist. We’ll follow King Lionel as he tries to navigate the political waters (or sand dunes, rather) of Desertera. The poor guy has a lot on his plate: learning how to govern, satisfying the demands of the council and the people, pressure to marry an appropriate queen, and trouble from our favorite farmer-prophet …

It’s time to explore Desertera

That’s right – we’re out of the brothel and the hovels! As king, Lionel can take us to places within Desertera that Aya and Dellwyn couldn’t access … at least not without trespassing. We’ll finally check out the royal library (ah, the smell of dusty old books!), venture deep into the belly of the ship, and head to the outskirts of Bowtown.

There will be more Aya (and other friends, too!)

One of the most frequent criticisms of The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2) is that Aya didn’t hang around enough. Well, don’t worry! I’ve always intended for her to feature more prominently in future books. (I mean, the woman needed time to get her shop in order. Give her a break!) All our other friends will make appearances, too.

I can’t wait for you to read it!

Although I struggled to get started with this novel, now that I’m in the thick of it, I’m having a blast. Like the other books, it continues the story from a fresh perspective and allows a new view of Desertera. I’m also finally able to give you all some answers and steer the ship (pun intended) more towards the final destination … though it’s still a few books away.

Currently, I expect to publish Desertera #3 in late July. But to do that, I’ve got to get this draft wrapped up and sent to my editor. I’ll give you another update when that happens (and more still as I choose a title, cover, and official publication date) but for now, I need to get back to writing!

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things, The Desertera Series

How Books Connect the World

how-books-connect-the-world

How lucky are we as bookworms today?

At any given moment, we can jump on Amazon (or another website), buy a book, and read it seconds later. Or, if you’re a paperback purist, all you have to do is wait a couple days for shipping or take a quick trip to your local bookstore or library.

That’s all it takes. In a few seconds or a few days, you can dive into a novel’s world. You can learn about a historical event or philosophical theory. You can have a connection with an author and readers whom you may never meet, from nearly every corner of the world.

As the great Stephen King wrote: “Books are a uniquely portable form of magic.”

While perusing books on Goodreads and browsing through #bookstagram accounts, I’ve found myself in awe of these communities. Readers from all around the globe have joined together to celebrate the books they love. It’s so cool to hear other people’s thoughts on books I love, or to discover a beautiful photo of a book in an exotic location.

So, you can imagine my surprise (and delight!) when my friend sent me this photo of The Cogsmith’s Daughter. Unbeknown to me, she had taken a copy on vacation to the Cayman Islands. While reading on the beach, she found this grungy old machine and snapped a photo. Awesome, right?

It got my author brain thinking: I wonder how far the Desertera series has traveled?

A quick email to my Reader List, and I now have a decent idea. The map below shows the countries where I know readers have enjoyed The Cogsmith’s Daughter and/or The Courtesan’s Avenger. (If you don’t see your home represented, let me know in the comments – I’d love to add it!)

desertera-map

For a little-known (read: almost invisible) independent author with only two novels to my name, this map makes me really proud. My greatest joy (outside of writing, of course!) is connecting with other book lovers. To know that I’ve done exactly that on five out of seven continents stuns and humbles me.

I’ll definitely be referring back to this map as I continue writing the third book in the Desertera series. Writing is a solitary process, and sometimes I feel like I’m sending my words out into a void. But this map proves my inner critic wrong. My words are flying around the world – offering escape and entertainment to people everywhere (okay, a lot of places!).

If that isn’t a dream come true,  I don’t know what is.


Where do you call home? How have your favorite books connected you to new friends and fellow readers? Share in the comments!

Author Interviews, Fiction Blog, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Geeky Things

#SciFi Women Interview

Author and scholar Natacha Guyot recently interviewed me for her #SciFi Women Interview series. As the name suggests, Natacha’s interviews focus on female creators (authors, artists, designers, etc.) in the science fiction genre. In the interview, I talk about some of my early sci-fi influences (including Resident Evil and Sliders), as well as the versatility of the genre. You can read the full interview on NatachaGuyot.org.

science-fiction-pulpWhile I have done several fantastic interviews in my short time as an independent author, the #SciFi Women Interview was definitely one of my favorites. Because my current series, Desertera, belongs on the “soft” side of science fiction (steampunk/dystopian) and some of my future projects land firmly in fantasy, I often feel uncomfortable identifying with science fiction alone. However, answering Natacha’s questions reminded me of two important things: 1) how much I love science fiction and 2) that I actually have some street cred in the genre, both in nerdy passions and Desertera, however “soft” it might be.

For me, science fiction is the genre that allows the most “truth” in fiction. By pushing the boundaries of reality into an altered state or a potential future, authors can provide a critique of humanity and/or a cautionary tale about society that doesn’t deter readers. If you hold a mirror up to someone’s face directly, they’re unable to separate themselves from the reflection. But if you place a mask over their features, they can be more objective, while still aware of the truth beneath the façade.

Despite its criticisms and pessimistic exterior, as a whole, science fiction remains remarkably optimistic. A central theme that runs through the genre is the triumph of humanity over evils (be they aliens, technology, or other people) and the inherent goodness of humankind (or at least the protagonist). I’ve always understood the message of the genre to be: humans make mistakes and bad things happen, but they don’t have to stay that way.

Even if my desert dystopian land flirts with historical stylings and a feels like a fantasy kingdom, I hope that central theme still resonates.

But I do know one thing: I definitely need to write a straight science fiction (or maybe fantasy …) story next time around. I owe it to my favorite genres (and myself) to explore their creative playgrounds properly. And who knows? Maybe I’ll take you along for the ride in 2017 …

Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series, Writing Craft & Tips

Guest Post with Author Kate M. Colby #Desertera

My best writing tip? Give all your characters (major and minor) motivations. Read more on author Helen Jones’ blog!

Helen Glynn Jones

perf5.250x8.000.inddToday I’m very pleased to welcome author (and author-y friend!) Kate M. Colby to my blog. Kate has just released The Courtesan’s Avenger, the second book in her Desertera series (and if you haven’t read her first book, The Cogmsith’s Daughter, get yourselves a copy now!). Set in the steampunk world of Desertera, The Courtesan’s Avenger is a tale of murder, intrigue and justice – I can’t wait to read it 🙂

Today, Kate’s written an excellent post about character motivation, something she feels is key to good story-telling. There’s a lot of useful information here, so read through and let us know what you think in the comments. Take it away, Kate!

As an author, the question I get asked more than any other is: “What advice do you have for aspiring writers?” or some variation of it. With the release of my second novel, The Courtesan’s…

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