Jenn Gott

Word Wrangler and Professional Daydreamer

Author Check-In: The Busy Season Edition

So, the long-and-short of this post is that I am temporarily removing the pressure of having to update my blog at least once a month, for the rest of the year.

Basically, although I don’t update my blog a lot, the updates that I do make take up a surprising amount of mental space for someone who isn’t A Blogger, and right now (between gearing up for the holiday season, local elections, family events and birthdays, busier work at the part-time job, etc), I really want to devote the rest of my attention toward getting my next two books written. I’m not saying I won’t post anything before the year is out, just that I don’t have to. This year was an experiment in finding a blogging schedule that works for me, and for the most part, I’ve been happy with it. In 2018, I hope to build on what I’ve learned, and update even more. But for now, yeah. I need the space, I need the focus.

In the meantime, know that I’ll be working hard on both Beacon Campaigns 4, and Hopefuls 2. I’d like to have News to share before the year is out, though we’ll see how busy this season makes me.

See you all soon!

Monthly Author Check-In: September 2017

What I’m Writing: Whispers of the Ice (The Beacon Campaigns, Book 4)
What I’m Reading: Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo—and it is just so, so good.
What I’m Loving: Several YouTube channels, which I’ll talk briefly about below.

WIP Excerpt

He expected the girl to panic, and plead for her life. Most of them did. It didn’t save them one way or another, but most of them did. And this one, so young, so girlish, so very very naive—if anyone was going to fall to their knees and blubber and beg, surely it would be her.

She didn’t, though. Oh, she was afraid, certainly she was afraid. She had paled underneath her lady’s tan, her heart fluttering so fast that Tol could see it thundering in her breast. Her eyes were wide and wet. When she spoke, her voice was small as a sparrow. But she did not beg.

“What did I do wrong?” she asked.

“Nothing,” Tol said.

“There must be something.”


“Then why?”

Tol shrugged. “Does it matter?”

“It does to me.”

“It won’t for long.”

First, a writing update:

September was the breakout month for my work-in-progress.

By this, I mean that I had finally wailed and gnashed my teeth enough that I was willing to admit that I needed help; so I stitched together everything I’d written for Whispers of the Ice, put in placeholder notes for everything that still needed to be added (spoiler: it was a lot), and gave the document to my husband.

A lot of writers choose to keep their first drafts to themselves—and hey, you do you, whatever makes you happy—but I don’t. Graeme sees the story in a linear progression, while I jump all over and write whatever I can get out of my head, whenever I can get it out of my head. This is great, except: well, sometimes the problems that I am trying to solve are way too spoilery for me to discuss with him, and though he tries his best, there’s just no way for him to offer practical solutions if he doesn’t know where I am going. So eventually I hand him a Frankenbook. Now I am back on track, with plans and goals and enthusiasm that comes crashing in one day and then disappears in the middle of the night but hey, at this point I’ll take it. Forward progress is forward progress is forward progress, no matter how it happens.

And yes, if you pay close attention you will see that I have jumped back to focusing on just the one book, rather than trying to juggle both series at literally the same time. Turns out that trying to hold two disparate universes in the forefront of my head at once is detrimental to the quality of my work (such a shocker, I know). On the other hand, with the breakthrough I’ve had on my WIP, this means that I am back to my usual power-writing method, so it really won’t be that long before I’m able to return to my superheroes.

Recently, I’ve gotten really sucked into watching YouTube videos that break down the techniques of visual storytelling through film and comics: Every Frame a Painting, Channel Criswell, Now You See It, Strip Panel Naked.

You guys, I cannot even begin to tell you how beneficial these have been to my writing. I realize that it may sound nonsensical—trying to apply visual storytelling methods to the written word—but studying a different form of storytelling has gotten me to think about stories in ways that I’d never considered before. Plus, it turns out that there’s actually a lot of tricks and tips that can easily be applied to prose as well as movies and comics, and I’m trying to craft some blog posts that delve into that in greater detail, but for now, if you’re a writer, just… do yourself a favor, and check these channels out. And if you’re not a writer, check these channels out anyway, because this stuff is seriously just so cool, and you’d never realize the kinds of things that are happening in your favorite movies. Art, in all its forms, is the closest thing that we will ever get to magic. So, yeah. Watch the videos, and be dazzled.

Jenn Recommends: Superhero Books!

While the most common forms of superhero storytelling have always, of course, been visual (comics, movies, TV), there has been an uptick in superhero novels in the last decade or so, as well. And though it can be tricky to pull off, there are a number of them that I think have done an astounding job. Below are some of the books that fueled and inspired me while I was working on The Private Life of Jane Maxwell.

Superhero Novels

Dreadnought and Sovereign by April Daniels

One of the most recent superhero fiction that I’ve tried, and also hands-down a masterpiece of the genre. Dreadnought captured an elusive but indelible superheroness that I kept chasing when I was working on my own book. This story manages to be happy and sad, real and fun, light and dark and hopeful all at the same time. It’s a glorious encapsulation of everything that makes superheroes great. Plus, it features a transgender lesbian as the main character, and who doesn’t want more of THAT?

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Would any list of superhero fiction be complete without this title? My favorite V.E. Schwab book by far, this book breaks and subverts so many expectations, and delivers it all with a flare that delighted me to no end. I love everything about it: the nonlinear narrative, the characters, the prose, the world. Normally, I’m all for lightness in my superheroes, but if all “dark and gritty” superhero stories were like Vicious, I’d be seriously tempted by the dark side.

After the Golden Age and Dreams of the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn

If there’s anyone that I look to as my go-to How To Write Superheroes author, it’s Carrie Vaughn. These books capture the exact same delight that I experience while watching any of the bigscreen counterparts. Fun and big and splashy, these are solid superhero books. You’ll get exactly what you expect when reading these.

Soon I Will be Invincible by Austin Grossman

I admit that I haven’t read this one in a while, but the enjoyment of it still shines bright in my mind. This one, like Carrie Vaughn’s work, was among my introduction to superhero prose. I loved the exploration of the villain in this one, and the backstory that’s woven in.

Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond

While I’m primarily a Marvel girl, Superman will forever hold a soft spot in my heart. So when I heard about a book from Lois Lane’s perspective, updated to be YA in the modern world, I knew I had to read it. Fallout does not disappoint, and it’s fun to see a superhero story where the primary characters are those normally left outside the main focus. Looking forward to reading the sequels.

Nonfiction about Comics and Superheroes

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

Not only is this a wonderful and fascinating history of an iconic character, it’s a delightful lens through which to explore the history of the women’s movement throughout the 20th century. This book enriched my appreciation of Wonder Woman tenfold, and entertained me as much as if it was a novel.

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History by Hope Nicholson

This one is an enjoyable reference book of female comics characters, broken down by decade. It explores the history of comics in relation to their female characters, and provides an interesting overview of how women superheroes got treated throughout the years.

Last Night, a Superhero Saved My Life: Neil Gaiman, Jodi Picoul, Brad Meltzer and an All-Star Roster on the Caped Crusaders That Changed Their Lives Edited by Leisa Mignogna

As with any collection of essays, some of these I enjoyed more than others, but on the whole this book was fantastic. I loved how it showed the impact that superheroes can and do have, not just on society as a whole, but the way that they shape and inspire individual lives. If anyone ever doubts the importance of superheroes as an archetype, just hand them this book.

Novels about Comics, and the People Who Make Them

Draw the Line by Laurent Linn

When I first picked up this book, I actually thought that it was going to be a straight-up superhero novel, playing with similar threads that I was exploring in The Private Life of Jane Maxwell. Instead, and to my relief (because I’d hate to be rehashing things that have already been done), this was an exploration of the importance of superheroes as inspiration, and what it means to stand up for yourself and your own beliefs in a world that doesn’t always want you to. And if I have one weakness, it’s everyday heroes. I loved this one.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Not actually about superheroes at all, but rather webcomics, this was still such an amazing and important novel that I had to include it. It’s hard to describe without giving it away, but this novel explores identity and artistic pressures and inner monsters with such grace and skill that it took my breath away. Just read it.

Bonus: Books on my Radar

The following are books that I haven’t read yet, but look like they’re going to be amazing.

Monthly Author Check-In: August 2017

What I’m Writing: Whispers of the Ice (Beacon Campaigns 4), AND Who’s Afraid of Amy Sinclair? (Hopefuls 2)
What I’m Reading: Any Other Love by Elizabeth Barone
What I’m Loving: Lucy Bellwood’s 100 Demon Dialogues PLUS: Sarah’s Scribbles! A two-fer this month, because everyone needs a little honesty and a lot of humor.

Skipping the WIP excerpt this time. Because Reasons.

Jenn Gott

Photo by Corie Kelley

Got my author photos back! I’m absolutely thrilled. Thanks a million to Corie Kelley, who also took the time to throw in a few “couples” shots of Graeme and me. Above is the “official” portrait, though there were a number that I really liked, so it was a tough choice.

In writing news, I continue to be blown away by the reception that The Private Life of Jane Maxwell is receiving. So much, that I really cannot in good conscience work on JUST the Beacon Campaigns for a while. So… I’m trying something new, balancing working on TWO different books/series at once. Not that I haven’t ever had two books in production at the same time, but I’ve always kept one as my primary focus, and the rest were things I played with if I needed a break… Trying to draft two different universes at once is interesting, but I’m determined to make it work. Even if yesterday I realized I need to rip out a huge section of Whispers of the Ice and rework my plan, siiiigh.

Also, apparently I took an unofficial break from social media this month? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. THINGS just kept coming up, I guess, and sometimes Shy Author needs to bury herself under the blankets and user her spare time to re-watch Downton Abbey and Arrow. I’m feeling better now, so hopefully I’ll be more chatty in September.

Monthly Author Check-In: July 2017

What I’m Writing: Everything! And nothing. (Honestly, it’s been more nothing than everything, and it is lovely.)
What I’m Reading: Last Night, a Superhero Saved My Life, edited by Liesa Mignogna / The Last of August, by Brittany Cavallaro
What I’m Loving: Catastrophe, which is the perfect blend of funny and weird and tragic and funny, and exactly what this writer needs when she’s on break between major projects.

WIP Excerpt

Uh… Here, have a random snippet from a random side project:

She blows in by a tempest.

It was the usual way, back when such things happened. Back when the island was bright, and laughter rang freely through the house. Gods and heroes riding high on the backs of angry storm clouds, thundering through the heavens like a pack of wild dogs. Or floating by on gentle breezes, whispering sweet nothings to the mortals down below. Slipping through the crack of a door, a snowdrift spread across the packed dirt. Sola remembers when the island was awash in shifting weather patterns, as her aunts and uncles and half-cousins ran free through the doorways. Roving bands of bastard children flitted in and out of sight, flashes of their naked backsides dipping into the waves like seals.

But the weather has been stable for so long now. A flat gray sea, a paler gray sky. Once or twice a year, perhaps, a ripple will grace the sands of the island. Sola runs down to the beach, gray water against gray sand. She stands tall along the shore, waiting to see if something will happen, but it never does.

They’re here!

First off: THANK YOU to everyone who’s bought the new book so far!! This has been my strongest launch yet, and it’s super exciting!

As you might have guessed, I’ve been on a temporary vacation from writing to rest and recharge after my latest book release. Don’t worry—I’m back at it in August, which is disturbingly close as far as I’m concerned. I’ve spent my time reading and watching TV and swimming (seriously, just so much swimming), and focusing on getting sufficiently mellowed out so that when I dive back into work full-time again, I can make some hardcore progress. First up: finishing book four of The Beacon Campaigns (Whispers of the Ice). It’s already halfway there, so I’m good shape to start, but the complication is going to be that now I need to nail down exactly how the second half of the series plays out. These books are so big and interwoven that I really need to know where I am going with all of the books that follow, so I don’t inadvertently write myself into a corner in the future.

Don’t get me wrong, I am looking forward to it. It’s just… been nice, to take it easy. I’m going to miss it.

Meanwhile, a couple of fun things have been keeping me busy:

  • I cut my hair! Which, if you know me in person, you understand that this is a serious bit of news, but for those of you who are staring at your screen going, yeah, AND?, let me explain: When I was in my early twenties, I decided to grow my hair out, on a lark. And I spent the next decade+ not cutting it, and eventually it got down to my ankles, and then I hacked it way back, and then it grew down to my knees again while I was deciding what I wanted to do with it next. And when I say that I cut it, I mean that I seriously cut it all off. As in, the breeze blows across the back of my neck now. To say that I love it is kind of an understatement.
  • I am finally getting official Author Photos! This had to wait until after the big chop, because the last thing I wanted was to end up with a photo that would represent me for all of two months or whatever. So this afternoon I met up with a friend who is a fantastic photographer, and we had a blast snapping pictures. I’ll be getting those in a few days, probably, and then the only difficulty will be choosing between them.
  • I may be doing my first author event sometime in the next few months. Probably (almost certainly). Details are still being determined, but eeeeee!

Seriously, did I say how excited I am about the response this book has gotten? Because holy Batman, this is amazing!

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