Last March I went to London and Paris for the first time ever. When I landed in Heathrow, I was actually reading my auntie’s feedback on my first novel. Yes, that was me shuffling through customs, trying to make sense of her critique and not burst into tears. Jet-lag is a beast, y’all. So is discovering that your 14th draft is equivalent to an experienced writer’s first.

I was thinking a lot about my first book as we toured around London. I reread parts of my book on the train to Paris. I pondered character arcs as I drank the best cup of cocoa in the world. I tried to patch together solutions for the recently illuminated plot holes.

So naturally, when I came home, I started writing a completely different book.

SMOKE, STEEL, & IVY began with my trip across the pond. Images, settings, beverages, feelings–I lifted all of them from that trip and deposited them into my new work in progress. For example…

Yup, I wrote an opera. It’s part of my book.

And let’s not forget.

There was a woman sketching some sculptures in the Victoria and Albert museum and that academic study had me imaging desks and other pupils in that gallery…burning the midnight oil.

My travels to London (touring the tower bridge engine room, the organ music at St. Paul’s, a chocolate caramel torte at the Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martin of the Fields), struck chords with me. Walking around London in the cold early spring time, that was colder and wetter than my Mojave Desert winter had been, it inspired me.

SMOKE, STEEL, & IVY’s heart is my favorite fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Y’all, that fairy tale has been near and dear to my heart since I was three. The addition of the myth of Atalanta just made sense. I found other magic along the way, too.

Harley and the Davidsons got me thinking about drafting and design in a different way. Can you imagine designing anything without a computer?

Victoria. Yes! YES!

Sharon’s Cameron’s Rook. And although her The Forgetting isn’t a comp title, the fact that The Forgetting and The Knowing are companion books that can be read separately or together, and in any order. That got me excited!

Lastly, Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare by Giles Milton was amazing. I remember hearing a review of it on NPR and feeling like the universe was on my side.

And… I put in my vertigo. And my love for my bicycle (mine’s purple), and the nasty spill I had on it. And what I know about cherry blossoms. I write what I know, y’all. My fairy tale fantasies are rooted in what I know. Always.

I’m still revising like mad for #AuthorMentorMatch. This week I wrote my query. I revised about 20K words. And I’ve been listening to K.M. Weiland’s podcast at the gym like a total boss. Deadlines are very motivating. So is the opportunity of sharing something special with people who, maybe, are excited to see it.

Happy writing! Good luck to all my new #AuthorMentorMatch friends!


  • […] there you go. Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to poke around. You can read about my influences for this book here. Good luck and happy […]

  • Ona March 9, 2018 Reply

    This. Sounds. AMAZING!!!

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