Writing, Apples, and the Alchemy of the Mind

Listen. Every authors hits a stage in their book where they question everything, where they doubt themselves, where they want to give up. It happens because you are comparing a working draft to finished manuscripts again. Which is a bit like asking why apples on the tree don’t taste like apple pie. There’s a relation to them, but apple pie does not grow on trees.
Finished manuscripts don’t have a final form until the cook in the reader’s head. You cannot produce apple pie with apples alone. You can’t produce the polished books like what you read elsewhere to a draft of anything you write.
Your drafts will always and only ever be apples.
Some of the stories are still seeds. Some are blossoms ready for the pollination (the work you put into writing the first rough draft), some of them are ripening in edits. Some of them are ready to harvest to go to the story-packing plant to be polished by beta readers and editors. Some of them are ready to get shipped to the store. But none of them become apple pie until someone buys the apple, takes it home, and does the work of reading the book. 
Don’t compare a still ripening apple to apple pie.
Don’t compare a manuscript in edits to a finished novel on the shelf.
They are not the same thing. And you’re hurting the end product by trying to rush the ripening process. Let it be. Let it grow. Let it develop naturally. Edit by edit. Line by line. This will get better and the book will get finished. Have some faith in yourself. First book for one hundred and first book, they all have a stage where you think they’re hopeless. They aren’t. They’re just growing. Be patient. 

Holiday editing slots now available for new clients!

Between today and November 25th I am accepting new editing clients to fill a limited number of holiday slots. These slots will have 2-3 week turn-around times (time needed depends on length of manuscript) and are reserved exclusively for new clients on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Also available between now and January 1, 2018 is the NaNoWriMo Editing Letter Special. For just $100 you get a synopsis-style editing letter and comprehensive editing plan to help you turn your rough NaNo draft into a polished manuscript at your own speed.
Add a 30-minute skype session for only $30 to any editing package (limited availability).


What genres will I edit?
Science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, romance, and crime fiction for any age group. If it goes boom, bang, or crash, I can help.

Why let me edit your work?
I started beta reading and critiquing in 2005. Prior to that I was a newspaper editor for a local paper. I’m a hybrid author with experience prepping books for Big 5 publishers, agents, small presses, and self-publication. I know what people are looking for right now and I know how to fix your manuscript.

Email me for samples of my editing style or referrals.

Why hire an editor?
There are no good writers, only good editors. And while every author should learn to edit themselves, we all need help on every book.

None of the books you love went unedited. There isn’t a single book on the bestseller list that wasn’t worked on by an editor. You can write a book alone, but you cannot prepare it for publication alone. A good editor won’t rewrite your book, but they will tell you what needs to be fixed, what needs to be cut, and what needs to be kept.

Every writer is at a different stage of development. All writers (including me) have trouble editing their own work. A fresh set of eyes can not only improve your writing, but can help you refine your style so you stand our in a crowd.

Do you have more questions?
You can always email me at liana.brooks1 @ gmail.com, subject- Editing Question, if you have a question that isn’t answered here.

Will the ending of BODIES IN MOTION be posted online?

Lovely Reader says…

Hey Liana, I was curious if your serialized version of Bodies in Motion was done at Ch 21, if there are more chapters coming, or if one needs to buy the book to finish the story. Since your site says it’s serialized through 9/8, I just wanted to be sure…

ANSWERS: The original plan was to have the whole book on the blog by Sept-8 (now updated!). That did not happen. The original plan was also for BODIES IN MOTION to be a novella. That. Did. Not. Happen.

So ignore the September 8th finale plans.

Chapter 21 finished posting on Friday, and there are 25 chapters in the finished novel ( which is 88,500 words long – or roughly 350 pages). That means the last chapter will publish after the release date. But it will publish.

CHANGES: With all serial projects like this there are some scenes that get changed in edits. These aren’t major changes, it’s more aesthetic work… fixing the make up, adjusting the typos, giving the pacing a little nip and tuck… If you opt to keep reading the unedited draft on the blog you won’t miss much. If you opt to buy the ebook or print edition you’ll find there’s a little bonus material, including character bios and chapter one of LAWS OF ATTRACTION.

You can pre-order the ebook now for $4.99
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Inkprint Press

Print Editions will also be at Conflux 2017 in Australia. I will, sadly, not be attending Conflux but Amy Laurens will be there with all the Inkprint titles including the Even Villains… series, Bodies In Motion, and her own Roads Between series.

Signed Editions I haven’t found a local bookstore to partner with for signed editions yet so those are going to be rarer. There will be a giveaway for a signed edition next week, and if you don’t win that you can order a signed edition directly from Inkprint Press starting September-19.

Think Spring! It’s time to book content edits for all your spring releases!

It’s that time of year again! With only four months left before the new year rolls around it’s time to book content edits for all those themed release you have planned for 2018!

The fluffy winter story, the wistful New Year’s Day story, the MeetCute Valentine’s story, even the epic fantasy you have planned for a spring release need to get booked now!

Why should you book so far in advance?

1) Content edits aren’t line edits. They’ll usually entail 3-4 weeks of writing and editing before they can be handed off to your line editor. Even a fast author will need a minimum of two weeks turn around for a professional level of content edits.

2) Deadlines help you focus. Time and again it’s been proven that setting a deadline is one of the best ways to achieve your goals. If you plan on publishing, you need to finish that book, and handing it over to an editor means you stop dithering.

3) Editing slots fill fast! Whether you’re booking a content edit with me, a line edit with someone else (I have recommendations if you need them), or scheduling cover art you need to do this 3-6 months (sometimes 6-9 months for artwork) before you need to finished project.

Ready to see your book on the shelf? Book your content edit today!


BODIES IN MOTION: Chapter 21 (Part 1)

ROWENA – warning! Long Chapter Ahead! (broken into 3 parts)

Start at Chapter 1

Rowena was quizzing Mars on historical battles he needed to know for the officer candidacy test when Titan walked up grinning like a lunatic. She raised an eyebrow. “You look cheerful for someone who had a bomb dropped on his head.”

“Was it an orbital bombardment?” Mars asked, looking a little too excited by the idea. “Rowena said it was, but the official story was that some grounders had a battery cannon that blew up.”

Battery canons didn’t leave streaks of light searing the night sky.

“It was a precision orbital strike,” Titan said in the infuriatingly calm voice he used when he wanted to understate the amount of danger he’d been in. “No one was killed.”

She rolled her eyes and she stood and stretched. “Only the Carylls would design a weapon that has that much precision and doesn’t actually kill anyone.”

“It would kill an intraorbital craft,” Titan said. “A precision strike like that would swat down fighters like flies. It would have been devastating if they’d ever used it.”

“I suppose it’s good she can’t break shields with it,” Rowena said. “Caryll’s had enough fights over the past few years, she could have rattled some cages with that.”

Titan pressed his lips together.

She shook her head. “There’s no shields down there, Ty. We all know that.”

Mars held his breath.

“Titan.” Rowena gave him a warning look.

He shrugged. “There’s a shield. A Balaur shield. Mal offered it up for trade after Landing.”

“To get banishment?” That idiot. Mal always expected as much from other people as he was willing to give, the good and the bad.

“To keep you alive,” Titan said with an apologetic look.

She closed her eyes. Poor Mal. Ancestors keep him.

Mars made a cooing sound. “That’s romantic.”

She glared at him as Titan shook his head.

“It wasn’t like that with me and Mal,” Rowena said. “We were life partners, Old Balaur wanted a Lee as Mal’s spouse, but it was never a romantic relationship. We were friends.” She looked at Titan. “Tell me he didn’t leave a note coded in the shield or something pointless like that.”

“Selena told,” Titan said. “I don’t know if I would have guessed it was Mal’s shield otherwise. It was much more elegant than the ones he made at the Academy. Beautiful work, while it lasted.” He sighed, then frowned. “That doesn’t go past us.” He pointed a warning finger at Mars. “The grounders think the shield was a warning system only. If they knew the Persephone could crack a shield like that we’d all be in trouble.”

Mars crossed his heart with two fingers. “Deleted from my implant already. I didn’t hear a thing.”

Rowena nodded. “Not that a grounder would talk to me, but same. I know nothing about any shields or Caryll death rays.” What a weird thought. Caryll really wasn’t the kind of person who would do something huge and showy. Rowena wrinkled her nose in thought. “I hate myself for asking… was Caryll hurt?”

Titan frowned in confusion. “No. Why?”

“I was trying to figure out what pushed her over the edge.”

Mars clicked his tongue and looked pointedly at Titan.

“Were you hurt?”

“Not significantly,” Titan lied badly. He didn’t look worse than he had before, but she’d known him too long to ignore that tone of voice.

“Should I be taking you near the Sekoos?”

He rolled his shoulders in a shrug. “Honestly? I want to go. They might be the only ones with answers right now.”

“I’ll come too,” Mars said, hopping down from his perch on the Sabiha’s landing gear.

“No,” Titan and Rowena said in unison.

Mars’ face crumpled in hurt shock. “What?”

“They’re not a crew for you to spend time around,” Titan said.

“What happened to equality and all fleet’s the same, respect every crew?” Mars argued. “You can’t say the Sekoos aren’t ‘our kind of people’ when you’re spending time kicking your heels with them.”

Titan looked over at her for support. “This is different. The Sekoos aren’t expecting you.”

“They’re scavengers,” Rowena said, cutting across Titan’s delicacy. “Users. What’s the heart of every crew?”

“Kids and research,” Mars said automatically, looking baffled.

Rowena nodded. “The Sekoos have neither. They take in disaffected people from other crews, the ones who can’t learn to keep their hands to themselves or never know when to shut their mouths. The strays bring old tech. ”

“There’s a place for them,” Titan said in his tight, calm voice that sent most people running for cover. “The Sekoos have skills the fleet needs, but that doesn’t mean you have a place near them right now.”

“They’re in trouble,” Rowena translated because she doubted Captain Sciarra had sat her fleetlings down for lectures about the importance of the right allies they way she and Titan had been lectured before going to the Academy. “Lily Sekoo has medicine that was stolen from the fleet. If she went looking for it so she had an excuse to spend time with Titan, that’s one thing. Dubious, but forgivable. If she knew about the theft in advance?”

Rowena shook her head. “The Jhandarmi are the closest thing the grounders have to marines. They’re the major law enforcement entity for the planet. And someone attacked their agents, that’s a declaration of war. The Sekoos are opportunistic idiots. One of them traded short term benefits or lifelong consequences. We all know how that engines runs.” She gestured to the graveyard of ships filling Enclave and the great, domed shield overhead. “Our ancestors, may they freeze in the black for eternity, decided their petty wars were better than keeping enough orun to breath. Now look at us.”

Titan cleared his throat.

She grimaced in apology. “We would have still run out of fuel. But, the fact remains, if you don’t think of the future consequence you aren’t likely to have a future.”

“Do the Jhandarmi want to question the Sekoos?” Mars asked. “Would the Captains Council allow it?”

“I’m allowed,” Titan said. “I’m a guardian and Selena is the OIA liaison with the Jhandarmi and she approves.”

“Selena?” Mars’ lips curled into a frown.

“Get used to it,” Titan advised. “She’ll be one of your in-laws soon enough.”

Rowena’s implant chimed. “We got to go, Ty. The Sekoos are waiting for us.” She nodded to Mars. “Keep out of trouble.”

“I won’t get caught,” he said with an impish grin.

“Mars,” Titan’s voice held a note of warning, “what you heard, it stays between us. You, me, Ro, and the captain. That’s it.”

:And your other captain?: Rowena asked, nudging him.

“And Selena,” Titan said out loud. “She’d aware of the full scope of this investigation. If anyone else asks, you know nothing. If you hear something relevant, you get the info to one of the four of us. Light speed. Got it?”

“Got it,” Mars said. “I’ll be the model of discretion.”

Titan nodded. “Good. Get back to the ship. I know you have studying to do.” He waited until Mars teleported out before turning. “He’s a good kid.”

“If he doesn’t make captain one day I’ll eat my rank,” Rowena said as they walked through the forest of landing gear.

“Sounds yummy. What’s yeoman rank taste like?”

“Stale bread and moldy ration bars.” One day she’d burn her rank. Toss it up in the sky and hit it with a plasma beam until there was nothing but slag.

Titan must have caught her expression because he bumped her shoulder. “We’re trying not to scare the Sekoos.”

She gave him a bored look. “Hate to break it to you, but anyone with three working brain cells knows enough of our histories to shake in their boots when they see us coming. Everyone knows what we can do if we want to.”

He nodded in agreement. “Still rules out the Silars.”

Rowena covered her mouth as she giggled. “Oh, ancestors, Ty! What are you going to do if you actually court Selena Caryll? I mean…” She shook her head in disbelief. “The logistics of it are insane. You realize that, don’t you? Captain Sciarra has to either invite Caryll to the Sabiha or meet her on neutral ground. They have to sign a non-aggression pact at the very least. There have to be introductions, and there are protocols. These things can take years.”

“Elea has until I finish packing my quarters,” Titan said.

“So, what? You’ll go live in Caryll’s hovel of an apartment? Or are you going to knock a wall out in the BOQ so you can push two of those tiny beds together?”

He smirked. “We’ll make it work.”

“You’re crazy.”

“I’m in love.” His smile was kind. “You’ll see. One day when your head is spinning because all you can think about is a person who lights up the night, and makes you feel whole, and loves you even though you know you don’t deserve it, you’ll understand.”

Rowena sighed and rolled her eyes. “Yes, I see that happening. Me? In love? Probably not before the heat death of the universe but stranger things have happened. Even if I felt something, which we all know is as likely as the emperor returning, we’d have to convince them to love me back. There’s not enough mind-altering drugs in the universe.”

“I love you,” Titan said.

“Not the way you love Caryll.”

“No, not in that way,” Titan admitted as he put an arm around her shoulder. “But then again I was never the brightest star in the fleet. Someone will come along and realize what Mal and I knew all along, you’re amazing, Ro. You’re loveable.” He gave her a tight, side-ways hug that made tears sting at her eyes.

“You’re an idiot, Sciarra.”

He let her go with a smile. “So you’ve told me.”

“Does Caryll know that we come as a package deal?”

“I told her,” Titan said as the bulk of the Golden Apple came into view. “You two will get along.” His steps faltered as he got distracted by his thoughts. “Eventually.”

Rowena let it go. It wasn’t that she couldn’t get along with other people. It was that she hadn’t, and there was no reason to expect anyone to forgive her for that. Apologizing wasn’t going to bring back the dead. Guilt and self-loathing wouldn’t erase the war. She’d tried it. What was left was survival.

She fell in step with Titan and pushed away a nagging sense of doom. Her instinct for trouble was well-honed, but it was useless to worry about now. Her best friend was in love, and in time he’d drift away from her, but that didn’t mean she was going to abandon him now.

A Sekoo guard with a too-loose uniform motioned for them to stop as they approached the outer perimeter.

Titan took an at-ease stance and Rowena followed suit.

“You Sciarra?” the Sekoo asked.

“Yes,” Titan said. :Do I look that different from usual?: he asked.

:I’m not in charge of explaining Sekoo behavior,: Rowena said, pushing a memory of utter confusion at him.

The Sekoo walked behind the Golden Apple’s shield and contacted someone with a box device.

:Are none of them augmented?: Rowena asked.

:Most of them aren’t,: Titan said.

:You’d think they would have traded for that by now.:

:No medics, maybe? Or implant allergies? I’ve heard it can happen.:

Lily Sekoo hurried down the ramp, dark hair neatly braided and pulled back. She looked almost professional.


Rowena’s teeth ground together as she fought the sense of wrongness in the scene. The two Sekoos lurking by the ram weren’t a problem, probably just chaperons trying to make sure that Titan didn’t woe one of their better techs for the Sciarra crew. She didn’t like Lily’s smile, but that wasn’t new, the Sekoos made her angry. All that tech and they still never managed to do more than scrape by. They kept waiting for a hand out, waiting for help, waiting for the emperor or whatever else. If she had all that tech she’d build a whole new ship.

:Think friendly thoughts,: Titan advised. :You’re shield’s slipping to battle mode.:

:All that pretty tech hoarded by people who want to melt it for scrap,: she complained. :Makes my heart break.:

:And here you keep saying you don’t have one.:

She sent gave Titan a mental kick in the leg. He only grinned.

“Commander Sciarra,” Lily said as she approached. “And, Yeoman.”

Rowen was definitely an after thought.

“It’s good to see you again, Technician,” Titan said. “How are you recovering?”

Lily’s laughed coyly and dropped her eyes.

:Flirting?: Rowena said. :She’s flirting?:

:Some people like flirting.:

:Just get me the meds so I can get out of here.:

Titan smiled. “Do you have the medication the Lees need?”

“Of course!” Lily looked over her shoulder and waved to one of her crew members. “Three boxes, as promised. Enough for the current crisis, and a little extra to set aside for even future misfortunes.”

Rowena watched the box with a knot in her shoulders. Ancestors, but she really was the worst friend ever. Eighteen pills for her best friend.

:It’s fine,: Titan reminded her. :Even if I didn’t need to interrogate the Sekoos, I’d do this.:

She took the offered boxes and checked the seal. “Looks good. Thank your supplier for,” she told Lily. :Do you want me to stay?: she asked Titan.

:I’ll scream if I need help.:

:Scream loudly,: Rowena said. :You’re isolated out here.:

Lily’s eyes narrowed as her smile turned sharp. “Is there anything else, yeoman?”

“Nothing,” Rowena said. “Good trade. Enjoy your, ah, hour.” She stepped away, still trying to shake the feeling of dread. Taking a deep breath, she walked faster. There was time for Aronia and the baby. The meds would buy them more time. “It’s going to be okay, Lee. Believe it.” I want to believe.


Meet The Characters
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A Very Belated Birthday Post

Every year around my birthday I do a review post. Kind of like a New Year’s Resolutions thing, but evaluating my year and my schedule in my own time. This year’s post is running late but here it is…

In the past year I’ve published one novel (DECOHERENCE came out last fall) and written two new novels. I found this kind of interesting because I usually have 60-80 plot bunnies running loose at any given moment. Writing folders from years past are filled with snippets, ideas for new universes, lists of unwritten characters, and this year that hasn’t happened.

In 2016 I started 14 new writing folders (meaning I had outlines for more than one book in the series) and about 50 partially-sketched outlines for random ideas that popped up. In 2017 I have 5 folders. One of those belongs to BODIES IN MOTION and the Newton’s Laws universe and already has a finished novel in it. Another belongs to the FREE FALL universe and also has a finished novel in it. The other three are series ideas I carried over from 2016 and might write in November. Finishing two novels from start to polished in a year is a new accomplishment for me, and I think it’s largely due to the fact that I didn’t go chasing off after every idea that came along. I’m getting pickier.

It wasn’t perfect. BODIES IN MOTION was meant to be a novella under 40k and it became an 85,000 word novel. The story I wanted to tell couldn’t be trimmed down that far, and it kept spawning side stories. But they’re fun so I let them grow. Interesting things happen when you let stories run wild.

In other news… I managed to move my family from Alaska to Washington, safely traverse Yukon Territory, and settle in south of Seattle. Not bad, considering. I also had the opportunity to publish with the Unbound Worlds Cage Match and Uncanny Magazine’s Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction.

As years go, I feel like this one has been productive and focused. Here’s to another round of that!


Hello out there!

Dear Reader,

At this point you are probably wondering whether or not I survived the drive through Canada and, if I did, will I ever return to the blog and stop leaving auto-posted chapters here. Regular readers are probably expecting a return to nice things like blog posts on writing or news about my favorite books.

Consider this the post you’ve been waiting for! Huzzah!

The summer blog break is almost at an end!

My kids go back to school September 5th, which means I will resume a normal blogging schedule (3-4 posts per week) on September 6th. Coincidentally, that week should see BODIES IN MOTION wrapping up for the grand finale and I should be kicking off a new project by mid-September. I have several posts scheduled including a series on encouraging young writers, fast drafting (and probably a reprint of the NaNo Boot Camp), and how to write a first draft you can work with. This will be interspersed with pics from my explorations of the Pacific Northwest and random other things that will appear randomly. (Random is good).

If there’s anything specific you’d like to see in my return to regular blogging feel free to let me know in the comments, my email, on Twitter, or in my Tumblr Ask box. I’m super excited to get back into a regular routine and my office is almost done, so soon I’ll have some pics of my new work space for you. What are you getting excited about?