Jenn Gott

Word Wrangler and Professional Daydreamer

Monthly Author Check-In: March 2018

Uh, so yeah. This is, technically,  April. In my defense, I spent the end of March wrapping up a draft of Whispers of the Ice, and I make no apologies about missing this Check-In deadline because of it.

What I’m Writing: Beacon Campaigns 4, 5, and 6, in various stages of production. Because yeah.
What I’m Reading: Less by Andrew Sean Greer
What I’m Loving: AJR’s album “The Click”

WIP Excerpt

They moved at a sedate pace, but steady, like the ticking of a metronome. Every step of this act had been scripted, every breath accounted for. Twice over, in fact. He knew that she knew that he knew. She probably suspected. The only thing left in play was which one of them had out-maneuvered the other, out-anticipated the other. Which of their traps were meant to be traps, and which were meant to be seen and avoided, thus leading to further traps? In his mind—and no doubt hers—there were plans layered upon plans, contingencies for every conceivable outcome. If she struck first, if he attacked from the left; if it happened in the courtyards, or the kitchens, or his bedroom; if he went with magic, if she went with bullets. The only thing neither of them considered was to let the matter lie. Concealed on Tol’s person, right at that moment, he had: three knives, two pistols, one rope (coiled around his leg), an old-fashioned water skein filled with lamp oil, a vial of poison, and a dead rat.

Early proof for color testing and eeeee, look at how pretty it is!

I’m going to keep this short and simple. March was super-insane-productive, and April is off to a start that is going to kick March’s ass. As mentioned, I wrapped up the most recent draft of Whispers of the Ice on… whatever last Tuesday was. The 27th. My goal was to finish that by the end of March, so I managed several days early on that one. I’m reworking four last scenes during the beginning of this week, as I chip away at my easiest edit notes. Then it’ll get another re-read, and the heavy lifting of structural edits gets into full swing.

MEANWHILE, Books 5 and 6 are taking shape. This series is heavily interwoven, so I’ve always juggled two books at a time. 6 got an early start just because it’s the end of the series, and therefore more important to make sure that the groundwork is laid early.

I do not yet have words to describe what it’s like to actually be crafting the final book—mostly because I just started it yesterday, with a 6,000 word burst of enthusiasm. Give me a while to sort myself out, and maybe I’ll start having Feels about it, but for now I am just itching to get to all of the really good, rip-your-heart out scenes. Which, if I am productive again today, should start as early as tomorrow, so… if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to work for this author.

Cover Reveal: Whispers of the Ice (The Beacon Campaigns 4)

Aaaaaaaaaand we’re off!

The last thing that Praxis Fellows expected was to ever return to her family’s home, but when Pon Lanali seizes control of Durland and danger looms behind every corner, there is no other choice. While Yandosia may not be Praxis’s favorite place, only the Fellows can provide a safe haven for her and Kaedrich Mannly.

Except that things at home aren’t quite what Praxis planned on. With the fate of the family company hanging in the balance, rivalries and betrayals become common ground—and now something darker is lurking, unburied from the deepest depths of the mine. How long can Praxis and Kaedrich resist being drawn into the quagmire of family politics? And just how much damage is Lanali doing to Kaedrich’s own home up north while the two of them are stuck under the ice?

For real, thank you for being so patient with this book. I know that it’s been a long wait, and I hope that you all will love it once it’s finally out in the world. I finally love it (and believe me, that’s not a sentence I was sure I was ever going to reach). I’m hoping for a late spring/early summer release date, so stay tuned!

Monthly Author Check-In: February 2018

What I’m Writing: Whispers of the Ice, The Beacon Campaigns #4
What I’m Reading: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
What I’m Loving: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and do I EVEN need to explain why?

WIP Excerpt

There were eight Fellows children. In a large family especially, every child has their role. So it was with the sons and daughters of Prawl and Prestina.

There was Prewish, the oldest. His job was to always be right. It was a heavy burden, and one that he did not shirk, even when lesser men might cave under pressure.

So in late January, I did something that I’ve never done before: I read one of my already-published books.

For people outside of a creative industry, this might seem like a strange—even absurd!—statement for me to make, but hear me out. Writers, well… we spend a lot of time working on/obsessing over our books before they’re published, and then once they are out the door, it becomes a whole game of marketing, and reviews, and marketing, and your friends and coworkers all buying a copy and swearing they’re going to read it, and more marketing, and there’s all these opinions flying around about the final product, and you’re trying to focus on the sequels but you’ve still got skin invested in the first one because we need readers in order for the sequels to sell, and… it all gets up in your head, is what I’m saying. I wrote The Lady of Souls more than three years ago. I forgot a lot of what happened in it. I even kind of forgot what level of quality the book is—I mean, I know it was the best I could write at the time, or else I wouldn’t have published it, but I also know that I’ve grown a lot as a writer since then; so does that mean that if I look back on it now, I’ll cringe and think it’s terrible? This is the fear that has been holding me back. I write a book, and then (creatively speaking) I run away from it as fast as possible, out of fear that it’ll disappoint me.

But. I mean, 2017 kicked my ass, and January was a month of recovery and reflection and spinning my wheels. Book four of The Beacon Campaigns has been a work-in-progress for a looooooong time, longer than anything since I first released The Lady of Souls. It was the Beacon book that I was half-working on when the election of 2016 hit, and it was also the book that I had the least clear vision of what it should look like, at the point that I started writing it. I knew what function it needed to serve in the larger narrative of the series, but not what shape it should fill on its own. All this combined to give me some major mental blocks to work through, and I ended up putting off finishing it far longer than I should have. To my Beacon fans: I’m sorry, you deserved better.

Soooo, like I said, I re-read The Lady of Souls. And then I read Fixing Fate. And then Heart’s Blood. And then everything that I had written so far on Whispers of the Ice, which was frankly like 3/4 of the book if I’m being honest. And what I found, far from being the outgrown mess that I had feared, was a series of books that I really really like.

This is all my long-winded way of explaining that I am back into full production mode, hard at work on The Beacon Campaigns 4, Whispers of the Ice. That’s going to be my next release, sometime in the first half of this year. It feels really good to be working this much, and it feels really good to be back in this universe, sharing space with these characters.

(If you’re a fan of the Hopefuls series instead, don’t worry, there’s plenty more planned for you, too. In the meantime, though, have you looked into the Beacons books? We’ve got girl heroes, a slow-burn f/f romance, and lots of snark and sass. 😉 )

Anyway, that’s where it all stands. Cover reveal is coming soon, and subscribers to my mailing list will get it sooner, so be sure to sign up for that. In the meantime, I’m going back to work. I’ve only gotten one writing session in today, and I’ve still got at least three more to go, so it’s onward and upward.

Play it on Repeat: The Value of Re-Reading

So, the last three novels that I read are, in order: Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng; and the only reason that Everything I Never Told You hasn’t been read twice (yet) is because I had to send back the library copy I read the first time.

This immediate repetition serves to highlight, first and foremost, just how utterly and amazingly fantastic Celeste Ng’s books are, oh my god, why aren’t you reading them literally right this second? But also, it got me thinking about the nature of re-reading books, and the many benefits that I’ve gotten from the practice over the years.

Let me start by saying that not everyone does this. Which, if you’re anything like me, I know, is a “wait, WHAT?” moment, because seriously—wait, WHAT? It’s true, I’m afraid, it’s true. I have, in point of fact, seen more than one person espouse about how they make it a policy to never re-read a book at all. Ever.

This choice they make seems to come down to basic math. X number of years left of your life, Y number of books currently in your TBR, with Z new releases coming out each month = you will never have time to read everything you want to read. The idea, then, is that by re-reading a book you’ve already read, you’re not spending that time reading a new book, and this is, theoretically, one less total book that you’ll be able to read in your lifetime.

Which, ignoring the fact that these same people who make this argument can usually quote entire episodes of their favorite TV show from memory because they’ve binge-watched the whole series eighteen times in a row on Netflix and don’t you dare try to tell me that it takes longer to read a book than to cram in twelve seasons of whatever… I don’t know, that seems like a pretty unsatisfying way to live your life. I mean, I guess, technically the math holds up? Assuming that I’m going to decide to read during this same time block if all I have to read are new books versus a really good old book, and that’s no guarantee that I’ll make that choice, but FINE, let’s play your game. Technically, you’re right. Of course you’re right. But once you start down that road, where does it end? If I read a book, I am also not taking piano lessons, working on my next novel, cooking a healthy dinner, or spending time talking to a loved one. And if I do any of those activities, I am not reading a new book. For me, that leads to nothing but a circular mess of anxiety and indecision, and who is to determine the relative value of each activity anyway; and what if you read a new book, congrats, but it sucks, THEN WHAT?

Putting all of that aside, there are also just so many reasons why re-reading books is a great idea, the first and arguably most important being that it’s fun. (And where, exactly, does fun factor into this grand equation of reading New versus Old, hmm?) Maybe you don’t enjoy it, and that’s fine–you do you–but there is a lot of pleasure to be gained from reading a story that you already know. The first time that you read a book, the main question you’re asking of the novel is what’s going to happen next?, whereas the second time you read a book, it’s about the joy of watching what you already know is happening, unfold. You can luxuriate in the fictional world that you’re inhabiting without needing to always rushrushrush to the next scene.

This comes down to the fact that—and I cannot stress this enough—your experience of reading a book the second time through is going to be different than your experience of reading it the first time. Always. It has to be, because when you read a book that you’ve already read, you have a deeper understanding of the characters and situation than you did when it was all still new. Revelations that didn’t happen until halfway through the plot will shape how you relate to the choices the characters make in chapter one. Not even necessarily huge, sucker-punch moments that change the way you look at everything that’s come before (insert Jenn side-eyeing Everything I Never Told You), just the little everyday understanding that comes from spending time with a person, aka a character, and how you learn to know them better with each passing day.

I feel like this part is especially important for writers, and for this reason I kind of worry about writers who don’t re-read books. How can you possibly learn how to weave in those moments that readers will look back on and realize they meant something completely different than they thought, if you don’t go back and see how other writers play this game out? I know that in my own work, I plant little throwaway lines that don’t necessarily seem to mean anything the first time you read them—or mean something fairly unimportant—but that, maybe even four or five books later, once you get to the relevant part, if you go back and re-read the first novel, you’ll realize that was actually a hint about what was to come. Are a lot of readers going to miss this? Sure. And that’s fine, and the story holds up if you don’t take the time to spot these “easter egg” foreshadows, but they’re presents to the readers that do put in the effort.

Additionally, I mean, your experience reading a book is going to change every time you read it, in fact, simply because you change. Read a book once at 20, once at 25, once at 30, you’re going to pick up on different things, different themes will resonate with you more than others; characters that once seemed awesome will now seem like assholes, or maybe the stodgy old fart now actually makes perfect sense to you. And this perspective can shift your entire understanding of the book—or not! It depends on you, it depends on the book. But you’ll never know unless you revisit it.

I don’t know, it’s just… books are huge, glorious, detailed works of art, filled to the bursting point with things that you can discover and probe and unpack, and no matter how hard you read it through the first time, you will never find every piece of it in one go. For writers, you will never understand the art and craft of how it was done, all in one go, and for readers, there is still just so much to learn about and enjoy and revel in. Books are made to be appreciated, not just checked off a list. And I think that flat-out refusing to give them that due, is a disservice not just to the book, but to yourself.

Plus, you know… it’s really just so much fun. It is seriously the ability to keep your cake, and have it too.

Favorite Stories of 2017

(Shush, it’s still technically January, I can still do year-end retrospectives!)

Let’s be honest: 2017 was a hard year. I had a number of personal highs, sure, but on the whole I will not be looking back on it with any great fondness. So it was important for me to find books and movies and TV series that lifted up my experience, and while I didn’t set any records for quantity of new media consumed, I was overall quite satisfied with my reading/watching choices. Let’s just dive straight in, then, a roundup of my favorite new-to-me fictional worlds.


One thing of note from this past year: I ended up reading a lot less genre fiction than I have in… a long long time. This wasn’t a conscious choice, not really, although I was eventually aware of the fact that I was craving literary fiction. As a genre author myself, I obviously adore a lot of science fiction and fantasy novels, but… I don’t know, sometimes I just need a break from all of the excessive world-building and high-stakes plots and fake political upheavals, in favor of slow-burn, introspective glimpses into the human psyche. Not to mention the heavy emphasis on the beauty of language for it’s own sake that literary fiction often provides. With that in mind, here are the books that I enjoyed the most in 2017.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill

If we’re breaking things down by category, then this book wins “most beautiful prose” for the year. That is… honestly the only thing I really remember about it? Which makes it sound like the book itself wasn’t very good beyond that, but it was–it’s just that the writing itself was so gorgeous that it kind of overrides everything else. Listen, I read a lot of beautiful books, okay, but I don’t remember the last time I was this blown away by the craftsmanship. Heather O’Neill’s metaphors and similes, especially, took my breath away with their ability to be so unique and imaginative and yet so spot-on that it made me wonder how I’d never drawn the connection before. It’s been a while since I was outright jealous of someone’s writing, but this one did it for me.

No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal

I made an effort in 2017 to consume more #OwnVoices media, and I have to say, the experience did not disappoint. No One Can Pronounce My Name was gorgeous. It was also the first book I’d read in more than a year that was written by a man, and it was the perfect title to break my girl-power streak on. I adored these characters, and I adored the slow unfolding of the past, and the way they grew and moved toward their futures. Also, as someone that had recently joined a writer’s group, every scene from that setting made me want to laugh out loud.

Dreadnought by April Daniels

I already talked about this one in my post on quality superhero fiction, but it was so great that it easily deserves a spot on my year-end roundup as well. I loved this book so much. Not only was it a fantastic superhero story, I loved the #OwnVoices capture of the trans lesbian experience. From an outsiders perspective, I’d say this was easily the best book about a transgender individual that I’ve read yet. Gorgeous book, heartbreaking and hopeful and funny and empowering.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Sometimes you need a book that just makes you feel good. When Dimple Met Rishi is the perfect romcom: nerdy, adorable, just the right amount of drama, ultimately satisfying. I loved everything about this #OwnVoices novel, but from a personal perspective, having the plot that so heavily involved both programming and drawing (especially drawing superheroes) made this a book that was basically tailor-made to win me over.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Also mentioned in my superhero and comics fiction post, but… I’m calling it, this was my favorite book of 2017.

Unlike some of my other favorites, this was not a light or easy book by any means. The subject matter gets really intense, and the protagonist has a lot of anxiety issues that were a little too close to home, at times. That said, this book left me breathless. SUCH an amazing look at life as a creator, as an outsider, as a person trying to find their place in the world. I loved everything about this book, but I especially loved the moment when I realized that the monsters in the title were not, in fact, a reference to her webcomic universe at all. I’m not going to say anything more on that, but… it’s beautiful. Seriously, jut go read it.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Another top-notch, #OwnVoices romcom, but this time featuring two equally adorable romances playing out simultaneously. I mean, there’s no way I am not going to love a romance set at a con, okay? That alone just checks for many boxes for me that it’s not even funny. Throw in a diverse cast, shyness, cute YouTubers, and a positive look at fandom? My heart was doomed from the start.

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

This is one of those books were, the whole time I was reading it, I wouldn’t have necessarily jumped up and down and professed my love for it, but… As soon as it was over and I had some time to reflect, I found my thoughts circling back to this #OwnVoices book over and over again. I guess you could say that this book was impactful, more than anything else. So many things end up reminding me of it, that even now, a few months later, it’s trailing with me like an imaginary friend.


Wonder Woman

What more needs to be said? I already wrote about how much this movie meant to me, and every bit of that original post stands up upon multiple rewatchings. Favorite movie of the year, most important movie to me of the year.

Thor: Ragnarok

And then, of course, there’s Thor.

OH MY GOD THIS MOVIE WAS WAY TOO MUCH FUN. I mean, I’m a fan of the Thor movies anyway (second only to Captain America), but this? This is the best parts of Thor, filtered out and then amplified a hundred times and thrown in splashy, amazing colors at the biggest of big screens. All I can say to the powers that be behind the Avengers franchise is: MORE OF THIS, PLEASE.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Yup, it’s on my list. While I admit that my first viewing of this movie did not fill me with the same pumped-up amazement that I felt upon leaving The Force Awakens, the longer I sit with it, and the more I read about all of the implications and storytelling decisions that this movie made, the more I like and appreciate everything that it was saying. Easily the most… complex Star Wars movie of the franchise. I admit, I didn’t think the world of Star Wars had it in it, to tell a story this layered.



Listen, I’ve watched/read a lot of Sherlock Holmes adaptations, okay? Sherlock Holmes, like Pride and Prejudice, is almost guaranteed to get me to tune in. Modern day re-imaginings, old timey retelling, descendants of Holmes and Watson stories… doesn’t matter, I’m there. A lot of them–a lot of them–I think are really, really good, even if they have slightly different “takes” on the Holmes character. But this one? This one became my absolute favorite almost instantly.

On the surface, there were a lot of changes. Holmes is living in current-day New York, and Watson is an ex-doctor turned sober companion–not to mention a Chinese-American woman. And I admit, I held off on this show for a long time, in part because I thought the sheer number of changes to canon would weaken the story.

Oh my god, I was so wrong. This adaptation feels the most true-to-canon of anything I’ve ever watched. I love the way that they had to adapt Sherlock’s personality to fit and make sense within the 21st century, and it really revealed to me just how much of what we typically associate with “Sherlock Holmes” is, in fact, just the way that his character reacts to, and reflects, the Victorian, male-dominated society that he was raised in. Not to mention how fantastic it is to see the Watson character treated with such respect, by both by writing and Sherlock himself. Not just the best Sherlock story, but easily my favorite new-to-me show of the year.


That said, 2017 primarily was my year of comedy. With everything going on in the world and a few recurring issues in my personal life, I needed escapism more than ever. In that light, I fell in love with…


I don’t care if it wasn’t popular, I loved this tragically short-lived series. The combination of a superhero-filled world, but decidedly unremarkable characters, made it an instant hit with me. Were parts of it a little clunky? Sure. But I adored all of the easter eggs that the show was filled with, and the primary cast made me laugh so hard that I just couldn’t care about the rough edges. This show was a bright spot in an otherwise fairly dark few months for me, and I will always be grateful for it.

The Orville

I grew up on Star Trek: TNG. Every week, sprawled on my parents’ living room floor, eyes wide in wonder as the crew of the Enterprise raced around on campy adventures and rose above the petty impulses that plague our human nature. Listen, there is a time and a place for science fiction that plunges deep into the complexities of moral gray areas, and I am all for that, I guess? But mostly what I like from sci-fi is hope and optimism about the future. Old-school Star Trek series still deliver that, and The Orville delivers that. The Orville makes me feel the way I did when I was ten, watching TNG, when the world still seemed good, and the future looked like nothing but gleaming ships and social progress. Especially now, I need a show like this. I think maybe we all do.

Fresh off the Boat

This has become my go-to pick-me-up show. Like I said above, I’ve tried to diversify my media consumption lately. I’ve loved reading about experiences outside of the WASP-y upbringing I had, and immigrant/first generation stories especially have found a special place in my heart. It helps that this series is set in the ’90s, and that I was almost exactly the same age as the oldest child at the time. But I adore how endearing this series is, how much heart is has. It’s sweet and funny, and it somehow manages to capture both what it’s like to be an outsider, and what it was like to be an American in the ’90s middle-class, all at the same time. Don’t even ask me to pick a favorite character, because they are all fantastic.

So there you have it, finally, a glimpse into the stories that sustained me last year. What about you, what were your new favorites in 2017? Did you try any of the ones I did? Let me know in the comments!

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