Showing posts from 2016

2016: A Year in Blog

Well. That was quite a year, wasn't it? Was it the worst year ever, as some have asserted? Hell no. One-third of us haven't died of plague, so I suppose we're still doing better than the Middle Ages.

Well, my biggest writing news of the year has to be the benighted anthology which did not happen, but lead to me self-publishing again--this time, a short story called "When Mary Left." In addition, I decided to take Pearl out of Kindle Select and make her release wider. So far, wider release isn't yielding all that many results, but you never know. There's a big ebook world outside of Amazon and I'm keeping Pearl there.

I attempted NaNo, wrote one short story, and decided to pack it in. I'll figure out what to do with that short story come the New Year.

2016 was definitely the year of distraction for me: on the one hand, there were starts and stops of writing and research on my Victorian novel, which is definitely "on" again. On the other h…

2016 Reading Challenge: Finished!

Well, I have finally reached my 44 book reading challenge goal in 2016.

Next year, I'm thinking I'll go for a lower goal (I have some writing projects on the horizon, after all) but anyway, here is the list from number 34 to 44

34. Lady of Devices (Magnificent Devices #1) by Shelley Adina. Fiction/Fantasy/Steampunk/YA/Historical Fiction/Victorian England. 2 stars.

35. The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones. Nonfiction/History/Medieval/England. 4 stars.

36. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Nonfiction/History/Biography/Science/Medical. 4 stars.

37. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler. Fiction/Science Fiction/Historical Fiction. 4 stars.

38. Forbidden (Old West #1) by Beverley Jenkins. Fiction/Romance/Historical/Western. 3 stars.

39. The Winter Crown (Eleanor of Aquitaine #2) by Elizabeth Chadwick. Fiction/Historical Fiction/Fictional Biography/Medieval/England/France. 4 stars.

40. The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister #0.5)…

That Time I Put Pearl on Smashwords at 2:30am

Um, yeah.

So this means that I now have three different outlets for my wee novella:

-Kindle Direct
-Draft2Digital for Nook, Apple, and Kobo
-Smashwords for...well, everything else they offer that aren't the above

Here is Pearl's link on Smashwords.

Because I should really be asleep right now.

Also, this all began because I was researching whether there were blogs or newsletters I could advertise in for Kobo, Nook, or Apple readers.

And this is my Smashwords interview.

IWSG December

Well, it's the last IWSG post of 2016 and what a year it has been. The IWSG posts every first Wednesday of the month. Check us out here. Our co-hosts for December are Jennifer Hawes,Jen Chandler,Nick Wilford,Juneta Key,JH Moncrieff,Diane Burton,andMJ Fifield!

My one insecurity the past month has been: "Where is my writing mojo?" I can't seem to burrow into a project as deep and as much I'd like to. NaNo didn't work out (I came out of it with one complete short story and two beginnings, so it wasn't completely wasted), but yeah, other than short spurts, I'm having a hard time advancing. This happens sometimes, so I'll just work my holiday season and finish reading some books and see how I can get back into my Victorian draft as I plug along.

The IWSG question this month is a big one: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

My instinct is to give a long sarcastic laugh, becau…

Pearl is on B&N, Apple and Kobo!

Hey everyone,

After some thinking, I have decided to expand Pearl's reach beyond the Kindle Select program and put the novella up on other retailers! So if you know anybody who buys their books from Apple or Kobo or B&N (pending), do let them know.

Pearl is still on Amazon, too. But she's wider now and wider she will stay.

Thanks for your support!

On Kobo:

On iBooks:

And finally, on B&N:

The Hamilton Mixtape

Sometimes a song will come out of a Broadway show and become a hit or a standard on its own--think of most of the songs in "The Sound of Music" or some of the songs from "Les Mis." But as far as I know, The Hamilton Mixtape, which came out yesterday, is the first "mixtape" of a Broadway show. As in, different artists have reinterpreted, recorded, in some cases have written songs inspired by the show and its music.

When Lin-Manuel Miranda originally thought "ah-ha! I'll write a musical out of this book!" when he read Ron Chernow's biography on Alexander Hamilton, he wasn't thinking of writing a straight-up musical but writing and recording a concept album. Well, fast foward a few years and a megahit musical and Grammys, Pulitzers, Tonys, and various other awards and that "concept album" idea has spawned The Hamilton Mixtape, which was great company on my way to and from work yesterday.

There are demos that never made it into…

Elizabeth Chadwick

Have I waxed poetic on how much I love Elizabeth Chadwick's historical fiction on this blog? No?

I first heard about British author Elizabeth Chadwick several years ago when she was interviewed on The Word Wenches blog about her book The Greatest Knight, the first of her William Marshal books. Now, William Marshal is a famous historical figure of the English Middle Ages: a knight, Crusader, courtier and politician and solider to the early Plantagenet kings, advisor to the English kings, and eventually, the regent of the underage Henry III. He was there when Henry II's sons rebelled against him, he was an important figure while Richard the Lionheart was off Crusading, and he remained loyal to bad King John and was one of the signatories of Magna Carta.

But I'd not heard of him before coming across mention of Elizabeth Chadwick and her novels.

I read a history book on the Plantagenets recently and of course, William Marshal was mentioned and I may have squealed because Chadw…

NaNo '16: Day...Whatever

I think we can give up the pretense that I'm still doing NaNoWriMo this year. I have one completed short story ("Haunted Lake") and two beginnings of short stories ("The New Bride of Banner's Edge" and "The N Train"), but that's as far as I got.

I want to complete those stories and the others that I have ideas for, but...not just yet. Work is getting busy, I'm volunteering at the library, and it's November, which means that I'm entering my why-am-i-so-tired time of year.

However, I am back to the Victorian novel--I picked up where I left off and I'm actually really excited to continue writing that. I'll probably be switching between this novel draft and the short stories through the end of the year into early next year.

What got me to turn back to my Victorian novel was watching the new Netflix series The Crown. The Crown is a ten epsiode series (season two is filming now!) about Queen Elizabeth II of England (the current q…

November 8, 2016

I'm writing this more for myself than for an audience, so feel free to not comment if you don't want to. I feel like history is made and it passes us by and we forget about it--and this is particularly true of Americans, the country in which I was born, the country in which my father was born, the country where my mother immigrated; Americans are stereotypically not very good with geography, other countries, or history.

Just to note: November 9th, today, is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, which happened in 1938. And not to equate a democratic American election with the Night of Broken Glass which ushered in the Holocaust, but just a note there.

Nazi Germany started with an election, too. You think it can't happen in America?

We've had an arduous election cycle--something on the order or two years of yammering, inane politicians, attack ads, ridiculous rhetoric, and far more disturbing, large rallies of rural, working class, not-terribly-well-educated, mostly white pe…

NaNo '16: Day 7

Current Word Count: 8,105 words
Where NaNo Says I'm Supposed To Be On Day 7: 11,666

This is my fifth NaNoWriMo and unlike past NaNos, I'm behind by quite a bit. Three thousand words is no joke, y'all! However, because I'm writing short stories this year (a whole mess of them), there's a new little spark when I begin a new story and that keeps me writing a bit longer and writing more, which is good.

Win NaNo this year or not, I want to have a few shorts that I can configure and maybe sell in 2017. That's the real end goal here.

The last time I did NaNo was in 2014.

Things That Have Happened Since the Last Time I Did NaNoWriMo in 2014:

In 2014,  I wrote 50,000 words of an early version of my Victorian not-yet-finished novel. Since then, I have:
-written and published Pearl
-written a short story, revised the short story, published the short story as "When Mary Left."
-continually written and stopped and started on that Victorian novel
-become a Distrac…

IWSG November

It's November and it's time for the monthly IWSG blog hop! The IWSG is a large group of writers who come together for commiseration and we post every first Wednesday of the month! Come check us out here.

Well, NaNo has begun. I'm writing short stories this year, but unlike past years, I'm very aware that I don't have all the time in the world to hit that 50K, which is one of the reasons why I decided to write short stories. Anyway, before I try to get more words down, let me answer this month's IWSG question:

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

Well, there are many fantastic aspects of being a writer. One of them, to quote a historian I've recently begun reading and following, is that history lets him indulge in "licensed nosiness"--and I feel like writing lets me do the same thing sometimes. Being a writer lets me explore different things and I'm quietly nosy, quietly collecting dialogue, characters, settings, and anecdotes in my hea…

Self-Publishing Promotions

One of the things I struggle with in Indie Author Life are the promotional aspects.

1. I make peanuts on my self-published work, so although I think everyone should read them, how do you reach everyone on peanuts?
2. I'm not naturally a "look at me" kind of person (more of a "why are you looking at me?" kind of person), so I don't like to bombard social media with things about my work.

In trade publishing, the publisher often has a marketing and publicity department to take care of promotional things, though an author is expected to promote and market the work more and more these days.

Things I've Done To Promote:

-Obviously, social media.

-Make wicked easy graphics using PowerPoint or, when I have something to promote, like a new story or a Kindle Countdown Deal. People seem to respond to pictures more readily than a block of text on an author Facebook page.

-A few blogging friends were kind enough to review my book on their blog or interv…

The Upcoming NaNo Thing

First of all, a bit of promotional business:

"When Mary Left" is now in Kindle Unlimited, so if you're in that or have Amazon Prime, you can read it for free! Otherwise, the story is 99 cents.

To celebrate the short story being out, Pearl is on Kindle Countdown for a bit.

So, what's next?

Well, I'm still working on the draft of the Victorian story. It's going to take a bit, I'm going to try not to rush it.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo the other day. Instead of writing 50,000 words of dreck (as I've done in the past), I'm going to write a bunch of short stories, maybe a novella. I plan on revising them and releasing them or submitting them to whatever next year. Basically, I'm writing myself a backlog

I have a few ideas:

-A story about Julius, Pearl's brother.

-A story based on a marriage certificate I found: an Englishman and an Asian woman get married in Nagasaki, Japan in 1895.

-A weird speculative idea I've had in the my head for a bit:…

"When Mary Left": A Short Story is now available!

A new short story is now available for purchase on Amazon!
When Mary Left

In 1793 Boston, Mary Dawkins faces the ultimate turning point: an unwanted pregnancy.
Available on Amazon
Add it on Goodreads!
99 cents!
As usual, all reviews are welcome and seriously appreciated!

It's #IndieAuthorDay

Today is Indie Author Day!

There were events at libraries across the country talking about indie publishing and since I'm so far an indie-published author, I thought I'd talk a bit about independent publishing.

"Independent from what?" Some ask.

When I was studying publishing in college and grad school, independent publishing wasn't even something we talked about and justifiably so, since this was before the Kindle. The large publishing houses are big corporations. They are mostly trade publishers. Trade publishers publish in the established ways.

Smaller, independent publishers also publish in the established model, but they're often tiny--sometimes they're more niche, sometimes they're more cutting edge than the bigger publishing houses (because they need to be to keep competitive in the market). Sometimes they're associated with larger companies (like the many publishing arms of Amazon or Smashwords or another things).

So when we say "indi…

IWSG: Story Cooking Time

It's time for IWSG: The Insecure Writer's Support Group comes together every first Wednesday of the month to vent. Check out the group here.

Well. It's October. Let's see what's up in my writing world:

--September wrapped up with a story I was about to get published not being published. My rights have reverted back to me, but I haven't gone through the story yet to see how much of it I want to rip apart and revise. I remember there were parts I didn't particularly care for the last time I read it, which was sometime around May or so.

--The novel draft is still plugging along and still going a bit more slowly than I'd like, but advancing nonetheless. At least I write faster than Diana Gabaldon and George R.R. Martin? :-)

--I have an idea to write four or five short story/novella/novellettes in November for NaNo, then figure out which ones I might want to submit, self-publish, expand into a longer idea...

Which brings me around to the IWSG October questi…

Genre, Literary, and Upmarket Fiction

For a while now, I've been aware that I don't write what's known in publishing circles as "genre fiction."

Of course, most fiction fits into a genre or at least, a category--they're not necessarily the same thing--but genre fiction, specifically, means that a book is commerical (so, basically, it has a broad appeal) and it fits into specific, easily-identifiable genres--it's a romance novel, it's a thriller, it's a mystery, it's fantasy, horror, sci-fi, blah blah. They're entertaining reads, they're often fast-paced, they satisfy a reader's genre expectations, they have strong writing hooks, and broad audience appeal. Many of my writing friends write genre fiction and that's awesome.

But I was never really sure if I fit into that.

Historical fiction is a genre, but it isn't necessarily "genre fiction." It's not often published in mass market paperbacks, for one thing, and with the higher word count historicals…


I have hit the 45,000-word mark on this first draft of my as-yet very untitled work.

This is significant because I'm estimating that 45K is about the halfway point.


I've finally stopped being a perfectionist on this thing and started a revisions document, so I can note down the things I want to change when I get to revisions, so then I'm just a-typin' along.

45K might seem like a lot of words to be only halfway through a novel draft, but this is historical fiction (well, women's historical fiction? Women's fiction? Whatever). Historical fiction is usually somewhere in the 90,000 to 110,000-word range and sometimes is as long as 120,000 words.

I think 90K is about the limit of this particular story. And after some of the unnecessary drama of the past few days, it's time to move on and celebrate getting to the halfway mark.


An Anthology Announcement: When Publishing Goes Awry

You all might have seen and read some of the posts I've done on here and on my author Facebook page about an impending anthology that I had a short story in.

Past tense, yes. Keep reading.

This anthology came together late last year and I was super excited about it because I was looking to have another piece out in the world after Pearl, but I'm not a fast writer, so this offer seemed like a perfect solution. It would be my first experience with a publisher who isn't me and I would be in the company of so many talented authors. Short stories take less time to write and I hadn't written a short story since college, so it would be like using an old artistic muscle.

Well, things haven't quite worked out. The authors are currently trying to decide on a solution.

As much as fiction writing is about inspiration and other twee sort of things, the publishing side is a business: is it selling? How can it be marketed? Who is the audience? There are contracts and clauses, mar…

TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier #CoverReveal

TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier #CoverReveal

Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3) Author: Crystal Collier Genre: YA Paranormal Historical Release Date: November 1, 2016

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.
In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.
Can Alexia escape her own clock?

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, h…

9/11, 15 Years Later

Half a lifetime ago, I was a fifteen-year-old girl who had just begun her sophomore year of high school and was still not back in the swing of the school year. I was in the car with my mother on the way to school one pleasant, blue-skied Tuesday morning. We were driving on an overpass, the Z100 Morning Zoo blaring out of the radio when one of the DJs suddenly said, "Hey, I think I saw a plane fly into the Twin Towers!"

What? It didn't make sense. All my life, the Twin Towers--the World Trade Center--had loomed, two huge silver buildings at the foot of Manhattan, distinct from the other towering figures anchored in Manhattan's bedrock. When I arrived at school, on a mission to get myself switched from Earth Science into Chemistry, the DJ's exclamation left my mind.

I went to a large public high school in Queens, New York, one of the many schools built for about one thousand students and instead, in that fall of 2001, buzzing with about three thousand kids. We were…

IWSG September

It's the first Wednesday in September--must be time for IWSG! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a large group of writers online and we come together to exorcise our writerly insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month. Our co-hosts for today are: C. LeeMcKenzie,Rachel Pattison,Elizabeth Seckman,Stephanie Faris,Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata!
This past month, I have been insecure not so much with the quality of my current draft, but with the speed. I am a slow writer. I am also an easily distracted writer. I am also not quite an outliner; I have a very loose and vague outline, which comes to bite me in the ass at least once per draft when I'm sitting there staring at my document, going "Right. So she lands there. How do I get her there?"

I resorted to what I do during NaNoWriMo: I put my Word document in full page view so that I can't look at the word count, turn off the Internet on my computer, and force myself to type.

I also read two writing…

33 Books Read!

Here we are at the almost three-quarter point of the year... and here I am with 33 books read!

What are you reading?

23. The Suffragette Scandal (Brothers Sinister #4) by Courtney Milan. Fiction/Historical Romance/Victorian England. 4 stars.

24. Plastic Smile (Russell's Attic #4) by SL Huang. Fiction/Science Fiction/Action/Thriller. 4 stars.

25. A Leaf on the Wind of All Hollows (Outlander #8.5) by Diana Gabaldon. Fiction/Fantasy/Historical/ Novella. 3 stars.

26. The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy by David Cannandine. Nonfiction/History/Social history/Britain. 2 stars.

27. Collecting The Constellations by Emily Steers. Fiction/Mystery/Thriller/Contemporary. 5 stars.

28. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. Nonfiction/History/American History/African-American history/Twentieth century. 5 stars.

29. Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing: Revised Edition by Libbie Hawker. Nonfiction/…

It's Saturday. Have an excerpt.


After effectively getting some creative juices re-flowing because, after I bitched and moaned about this latest writing project to my best friend, she broke out into song: "Chapter 18/I hate Chapter 18/That's two thousand words/ I gotta delete," I have decided to re-read said Chapter 18 and figure out why I hate it quite so much. (Upon reading it over, I see that it's actually not so bad. Why is writing so annoying like that sometimes?)

Also, I need to figure out where the heck the pacing went in this section of the novel, because it's taking a bit to get to the frickin' point already.

In the meantime, have an excerpt from about thirty pages ago.

5 Things I Learned About Colonial India

My main character, one Miss Victoria Ponsonby-Courtney, was born in India in 1873. Although my story takes place in England and Victoria was sent to England to live at age six, she carries a few memories of her Indian childhood and they help illustrate her insecurity--in herself and her familial and social position. It's not a huge portion of the story, but it's important to the character and the era.

Queen Victoria wasn't the Empress of India for nothing, after all, and the 1890s, when Victoria lives, was very much a time of the British Empire.

Authenticity vs. Accuracy

Among historical fiction writers, the authenticity vs. accuracy debate is a thing. That is, depending on the kind of historical fiction you're writing, you are going to have to balance historical accuracy, the absolute facts: the year of certain Big Events, the layout of cities and towns in whatever era you are writing, the politics and social conventions of the time, the clothing, attitudes, maybe even language.

I guess I'd say authenticity is integrating all the factual things with the elements of fiction--characters, a plot, atmosphere, dialogue--and making the history work in the context of the story (and with your perspective of the history)--and to make sure all of that is readable and entertaining.

An Interview With Author Emily Steers

Emily Steers and I both went to Emerson College and I remember sharing at least one writing class--there may have been more. Emily just released her first novel, Collecting The Constellations, a mystery-action-adventure story. So naturally, I had to interview her for the blog.

Charlotte Daly is goal-oriented, inquisitive, and tireless— ideal for her role as a researcher at a prestigious museum. She’s celebrated as an up-and-coming talent. She just never expected her greatest find to come from her great aunt’s basement.

It’s dazzlingly unique—a dagger made entirely of blue sapphire, flawless except for a few specks in the handle. To determine its secrets, Charlotte convinces her boss to let her re-trace her aunt’s travels to its source– with the accompaniment of her longtime friend and co-worker, Rory Hobbs.

Charlotte’s clues take her to Kathmandu, where they discover Charlotte’s aunt may not have been the noble adventurer she imagined. Conspicuous wealth, violent attacks, and grand myths…

IWSG: My First Pieces

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a large group of writers--and we post on the first Wednesday of every month. Thanks to August's co-hosts: Tamara Narayan,Tonja Drecker,Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor,Lauren @ Pensuasion,Stephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders!

What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

I started writing when I was 9. I wanted to be a "writer" by the time I was 12. To say that I have a backlog of childhood scribblings is not an understatement.  Cheekily, I started calling it my "Juvenilia" because that's what Jane Austen called her childhood scribblings. 

I mean, none of it's good. Oh, except for a snarky poem that got published in the elementary school magazine; that one was pretty fun. I have some of these pieces in a folder, on yellowing pieces of looseleaf. I have some things from high school and more from college, too. It's the college stuff where I can…