Frame of Reference


Autumn is usually my favorite time of year.  The cooler weather, the blushing trees, the omnipresence of corn stalks and apple cider and even pumpkins, although they actually taste vile to me.

I get creative in the autumn.  There’s something about the exuberant last celebratory display of nature before it curls up and goes to sleep under the snow that makes it almost compulsory to tell stories, and I have always done my best work in October and November (thanks in no small part to NaNoWriMo).

This year is a little different for me.  It has been full of distractions, conflicting priorities, and anxious circumstances.  My day job is getting more complex, I’m starting to get competitive with archery, and I’ve got a lot more travel on my schedule over the next few months.


Worst of all, my lovely cat companion Oliver has recently developed some very serious health problems that have taken up all of my attention and changed my outlook a little bit.

I haven’t been wholly there – or wholly anywhere, really – for quite some time.  The almost-finished first draft of Dark the Wayward Dawn has gone untouched for days, then weeks, then months at a time.

I only have one scene left, but I just can’t seem to make myself sit down and finish it.

It’s not just because I’m busy and stressed or that I don’t care about bringing these four books to their rightful conclusion.  I haven’t lost interest in these characters or their struggles, and I haven’t abandoned the idea that there is some cosmic reason why I feel compelled to share them with a very small segment of the world.

It’s mostly, I discovered this morning, because I just really don’t like the way I’ve written it.  I hate the way it’s turning out.  I’ve managed to put my characters in a really stupid situation that gives them no plausible way to triumph without making everything even stupider.  I will have to rewrite a fairly large portion of the ending in order to put everything to rights.

And I’m thrilled to say that.

I’ve written before about how much I love eureka moments, when everything becomes startlingly clear and you can finally move on from a problem that’s been plaguing you.  I don’t know exactly how or when I will be able to address the situation, but it’s a major relief to know what is holding me back, at least.

I hope to use NaNoWriMo as a catalyst for revision and finishing the draft, even if I don’t commit to the full 50,000 words this year.  A little progress will be better than nothing, and hopefully set me on the right path again.

I can’t promise a publication date for the last book, for those two or three people who are still interested, but I can promise that it will happen at some point.  I’m committed to that, even if it takes me forever.

So it’s onward and upward, slowly but surely.  Thank you for your patience with me.  I hope it pays off some day.





Um…hi. It’s been a while.  Well, maybe a little more than “a while.”  Seven months?  Yeah.  I’m sorry.

It’s probably easiest just to say that I needed a break from writing for a while, although I never intended for it to be this extensive.  One busy, tired, distracted day just kept rolling into another and another, moving me a little bit farther downstream each time until I stopped to look around me and realized I didn’t know how I had put so much distance between me and my creativity.

Winters are difficult for me at the best of times, and it never seems to be the best of times anymore.

Spring has been cold, grim, and rainy – I just stopped using my heavy quilts last week, and I’m not putting them in the closet yet just to be safe.

I have a little bit surprised at how deeply the crushing despair of our political situation has affected me, since I have never before been a very political person, but the constant fear that my values, protections, and freedoms (not to mention the lives and safety of those less fortunate than I) could be obliterated at any moment has added greatly to the pervasive sense of gloom and doom.

It’s almost the middle of June already, and I feel like I haven’t really been able to get purchase on this year.  My brain is always somewhere else; there’s always something happening that isn’t quite under control.  I keep telling myself I will do everything tomorrow, next weekend, next month, after this event or that trip or those projects – later, when I have time to focus – but that time never seems to arrive.

This includes my writing, of course.  And it doesn’t help that I am stuck in the middle of my least favorite part of the process.  I have to write the climax scene of my last novel of The Paderborn Chronicles, which means bringing all my loose threads, plot bunnies, stray ideas, and wayward characters from the last three books together in a perfectly woven tapestry of heartbreak and triumph.

No big deal.

I know how it’s all going to end, which is actually part of the problem.  In my mind, I’ve finished the story, so what’s the point in writing it down?  I’ve mentally moved on, which absolutely does not help the two or three of you out there who might still be waiting to see how it all turns out.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t finish the series.  I almost have. I will.  It’s going to take me longer than the first three books, but I will do it.  For many reasons, I have to do it – and I promise that to you.

After I do so, however, I’m going to have to have a good long think about what writing fiction means to me.  My life has changed dramatically since I started this whole writing malarkey.  My hopes for myself have changed.  So have my expectations.

It’s not all bad, though. I am less focused on fiction because other good things have taken root.  I write every day at my job, which I very much enjoy.  I am starting to move into being competitive at archery, which is fun but incredibly challenging.  I’m thinking about getting certified as a coach, which would let me get more involved with the youth program at my club.

I’m doing things, but they just aren’t the same things I used to.  And while I would love to keep the thrill of getting lost in the art of storytelling as part of my life, I’m not sure how I’m going to do that right now.

So please bear with me through this lengthy existential crisis, if you can.  I’m happy with the way Dark the Wayward Dawn is shaping up, even if the title is a little bit on the nose at the moment.  I’ve started to have a new wave of ideas about how to finish it up well, which is encouraging.

I just need some time to come out of the fog and paddle back upstream.  Once I can do that, it will be much easier to see where the rest of this journey will take me.  I appreciate your patience in the meantime.

Enter to Win a Signed Copy of Dark the Chains of Treason!

chains1Morning, ladies and gents!  This is your captain speaking.

Did you know that from now until August 24, you can enter to win a signed copy of my latest novel, Dark the Chains of Treason?

No?  Well, maybe that’s because I’m just telling you right now.

But it’s true!

The winner will receive his or her copy via overnight mail, so you actually get a few days’ head start on the rest of the pack.

And if you’re not sure it’s worth investing all that typing energy to enter a contest for the third book in a series you haven’t read yet, just remember: the first and second installments of The Paderborn Chronicles can be had for mere pennies on Amazon.

They’re really good.  I promise.

You’ve got one whole week to get those entries in, so let’s get started!

Pre-Order Dark the Chains of Treason for Kindle!

Hello there, guys, gals, and other individuals!  I may have been very quiet so far this summer, but it’s only because I’ve been working hard.  No, really.  I have proof.


Yes, that’s right.  You can now pre-order a Kindle copy of Dark the Chains of Treason before it becomes generally available on August 29.  Paperbacks will be available for sale on the release date, as well.

So why should you pre-order?  First of all, it’s literally only one click, so that’s easy.  Second of all, it’ll make sure you don’t forget.   You’ll simply wake up on the 29th with the book in hand, feeling all magical and powerful.

And third of all, it’ll give me and my Amazon book ranking lots of warm, fuzzy feelings without actually costing you anything extra.  If those aren’t good enough reasons, then I don’t know what are.

This is, of course, the third book in the Paderborn Chronicles, and so you may not be feeling particularly excited or interested if you haven’t read the first two yet.

But you’re in luck!  Dark the Night Descending and Dark the Dreamer’s Shadow are both free through the Kindle Unlimited program, and just 99 cents and $2.99 respectively to purchase if you’re not a member.

Paperback copies are also available for $12.99, which is pretty darn economical for all the heart-stopping action and explosive thrills of following a hopelessly unlucky character who has absolutely no idea what the hell he’s doing at any point in time.

I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s pretty much just like looking in the mirror.

If you’re still on the fence, you might want to stay tuned for the next week or two so you can enter my next Goodreads giveaway.  There may be extra super prizes involved, too!

Alert, Alert! Imminent Kindle Book Giveaway!

Tired of reading about how quickly the world as we know it is coming to the end?

Want to regain a sense of perspective by reading some escapist literature about a universe that is definitely much closer to collapsing under the weight of impending doom than our own?

Click here to download for Kindle

Well, you’re in luck!  Because next week the first two books of The Paderborn Chronicles will be available for free on Kindle!

That’s right.  From Monday, June 27 until Friday, July 1, you can snag Dark the Night Descending and Dark the Dreamer’s Shadow for free on Amazon.

It’s the perfect chance to dive into the series for the first time or refresh your memory before Dark the Chains of Treason hits the virtual shelves this August.

If you can’t wait that long, you can always read any of my novels for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription or pay just 99 cents to get your hands on the first volume of Arran Swinn’s five-star adventures.

Click here to download for Kindle

No matter how you acquire your copy, I will once again do what all authors must do and beg you, abjectly and on my knees, to leave a review when you’re done reading.

Honest feedback is worth more to me than the royalties I might get from a full-price purchase, so don’t feel awkward about writing a review if you get the books for free next week.

There will be more reminders forthcoming on my Facebook page and Twitter account in case it slips your mind over the weekend.

Download!  Read!  Have fun!  Do it for free!  Write a sentence or two in a review on Goodreads or Amazon and I will be eternally yours.

Deep Freeze

Hey there, everybody.  It’s me.  You remember me, don’t you?  No?  Uh, well, this is still my blog, the last time I checked.  The last time I checked was two months ago?  Wow.  Okay.  Maybe you have a point.

I’ve been pretty gosh darn busy this winter, and every time I think about putting up another post, I somehow find myself distracted by a million other things.  See, I’ve moved up the ladder at my day job since the beginning of the year, and I’ve been so run off my feet with things to do that I don’t have much time left to squeeze in a good article or two on a regular basis.

That’s a pretty sorry excuse, and one I’ve used plenty of times before.  But here’s the thing: just because I’m not actively posting on Inkless doesn’t mean I’m ignoring you.  I read all your comments and value each one of your follows and likes.  You guys always make my day.

It’s true that I have less time to focus on my writing career, such as it is.  I’m trying to use those moments well.  So I’ve decided that it makes more sense to put my novels first and my blog second. I’m using my time to edit, rewrite, create, and brainstorm, which has always been one of my greatest joys in life.

For those of you who enjoy Inkless but don’t read my books, that’s probably not much consolation, and I do apologize.  But for the few of you who are looking forward to Dark the Chains of Treason, the next installment in the Paderborn Chronicles, that’s pretty good news.

I’m hoping – hoping – to be able to publish it by the late spring or early summer.  It’s in really good shape so far, and I think it’s going to be a firecracker.  I’m just going to have to ask for your patience while I get used to my new responsibilities and work out a new pattern for getting things done.

This whole process is not necessarily being helped by the fact that I’m heading out to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks, mostly for a major work-related conference but also for a mini photography tour of the Southwest.  I’ll be hitting Zion National Park and Antelope Canyon, among other things, and I’m really looking forward to it.  I can’t wait to share my pictures and adventures.

So that’s where we stand for the moment.  Please be assured that I am making progress.  It’s not ideal to be so scatterbrained about it, but I can only do my best.  Thank you for being so understanding – it really means a lot to me as I slog through the daily grind.

If you’re really dying to stay up-to-date on the latest trials and tribulations in the Life of Jen, you can always follow me on Twitter.  There are a lot of cat pictures.