Author Archives: Jaleigh Johnson

Going quiet

I was going to say ‘going dark,’ but that just sounded too ominous, like I was headed off on a secret government mission.  Actually, I’ve just got multiple projects going, with work on book 2 (title coming soon, promise!), notes and planning on a secret project, preparing for end of year/tax season madness at the day job, and oh yeah, the holidays are careening toward us.  But I’ve also been squeezing in some fun here and there.  This little game called Dragon Age: Inquisition came out, so I’ve been making mischief in the world of Thedas.  More on that in a minute, for those interested.

So, I’m going quiet on the blog for a while, but I’ll pop back in whenever I can with updates on all things Dragonfly and Solace.  For those celebrating this week, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, and I hope the rest of the holidays are enjoyable for you as well.  I’ll be back when I can.

And for those playing Inquisition at home, I’m not too far in the game yet–so much to do!–but as with the previous games, I’m absolutely loving it.  I made it out of the Hinterlands and have been poking around the Storm Coast and the Western Approach while getting to know my companions and deciding if I’m going to let Commander Cullen woo me.  In my head, our courtship would go something like this (spoilers for the first two Dragon Age games:

Inquisitor: So, if we’re going to be in a relationship in this heroic fantasy RPG, I have a few questions.
Cullen:  Fire away.
Inquisitor: Are you going to try to kill me at any point in our relationship?
Cullen: Never!
Inquisitor: *still sleeping with a murder knife under my pillow*  Good then.  Next question: are you secretly the heir to any throne in Thedas, thus potentially complicating our romantic future?
Cullen: No.
Inquisitor: Do you have lyrium burned into your skin?
Cullen: Of course not! Why do you ask?
Inquisitor: Has the potential to give you an unbearable level of angst. Final question, are you now, or do you ever plan to become possessed by any spirits or demons?
Cullen: Absolutely not!
Inquisitor: Hmmm…might need a urine sample to be sure.  All right, I think you pass inspection.  You may woo me now.
Cullen: Er, what if I no longer want to?
Inquisitor: I’m afraid you have no choice.  I’ve already selected the ‘Heart’ dialog option.

Love this game.  🙂


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Family Reading Night

A note this week for local folks, I’ll be participating in Washington School’s Family Reading Night in Monticello this Thursday, November 6th.

The theme of the night (besides reading, of course) is steampunk!!!!!  Ahem, yes, I’m a bit excited about this.

Events kick off at 5:30 p.m. and are open to the public.  Guests, parents and students will be able to move among different stations to learn about steampunk and see some examples of its DIY aspects.   There will also be cosplay, and I’ve finished assembling the last bits of my steampunk costume just in time.

I’ll be talking about writing, steampunk, and Mark of the Dragonfly from 6:00 – 6:30 in the gym.  There will be plenty of freebies to be had and fun activities for all.  If you’re in the area, join us!

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I’m deep into revisions for book 2 in the world of Solace.  Title coming soon!

As I was working today, it occurred to me that when people ask me how I get writing done, I tell them that I measure progress by hitting a daily word count, usually 1000-1300 words a day.  But for edits and revisions, my process is slightly different.  Instead of trying to hit a daily word count goal, I have a set number of pages that I try to edit before I quit.  So if I have a month to edit a 300-page novel, I know I have to get through at least 10 pages a day to make the deadline.

The trick is sometimes there are very few edits to make on these groups of ten pages, so I might finish in an hour or so, and sometimes there are monster edits that might take me three or four hours.  This is especially true if I have to change the structure of a scene, flesh out a character more, or add world building.  Everything has to flow, and some changes are easier to integrate into the text than others.  But no matter what, that daily goal always helps.

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Tour recovery

I’m back!  In some ways it doesn’t feel like I’ve been gone very long, but in other ways, it feels like I’ve been away a month.  Especially when I look at the piles of laundry to be done, housework to catch up on, revisions to start, and emails piled up in my inbox.  Overwhelmed, I am.

But then I look at this picture from the Tweens Read festival and I grin.  Totally worth the time away from home.


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I got a new phone!  If ever there was a way to procrastinate working on a book, this smartphone is it.  For one thing, it’s an Android, and I’m used to using an iPhone, so that’s taken some adjustment.  For another, it’s just really fun to play around with.

And oh is it a distraction.

Write some words.  Check the phone.  Write some more.  Oh!  Change the wallpaper.  Get Twitter and Facebook on there.  Set up voice mail.  Write a few more words–oh, hell with it, let’s check out ringtones!

But I managed to reach 100 pages on the work in progress this weekend, and I did some tabletop board gaming with friends and family, so I’m calling it a win.

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Updates and Recaps

Back and recovered from the Decatur Book Festival, and wow, what a great time.  Huge thanks to the festival organizers and volunteers for making this such an amazing experience.  The outdoor children’s stage (or the enchanted forest, as I like to call it) was a great venue for talking middle grade novels, and I had a blast describing Steampunk Stories with author Alan Gratz.  His new book, The League of Seven, is out now and looks amazing.  It has all the things I love about steampunk plus monsters that feast on lightning.  How cool is that?

Next up, fall is here and that means it’s time to gear up for touring again.  I’ve updated my website with all the cities I’ll be visiting, starting with the Tweens Read Festival in Houston TX.  Check it out if you want to know where I’ll be in the coming weeks.

And on the writing front, I’m at 25,000 words on the WIP and with edits on book 2 imminent, things could get interesting come October.  But busy is good, and I’d much rather be busy writing now rather than in February tax crunch time!

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

This has been the week of Jaleigh recovering from Gen Con, watching celebrity Ice Bucket Challenge videos and procrastinating on the WIP.

Okay, that’s not the whole story.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a friend who died of ALS back in December.  The celebrity videos are fun to watch, and awareness is through the roof, which is wonderful, but…this is a truly horrifying disease, and I still can’t believe how it took someone so young and vibrant and slowly stole the life from him.  I considered doing a video for my friend, but there are a lot of mixed-up emotions and grief wrapped up in all of this for me, and besides that I realized I can’t compete with the awesomeness of videos like the one Benedict Cumberbatch did, or Tom Hiddleston, or Neil Gaiman, so I’m not going to make the attempt or challenge anyone else, but I will donate in memory of my friend.  I think he would have enjoyed the Cumberbatch video best.

And I know there are so many wonderful and worthy charities and causes out there that need help and attention–this one just happens to be very personal to me.

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Get Pop-Cultured

Skokie, Illinois folks and anyone in the area, I’ll be doing a reading and signing at the Barnes and Noble at Old Orchard Center this Saturday, August 9th at 2:00 p.m.

The event will be part of B&N’s Get Pop-Cultured: Page and Screen Weekend, which, according to the website, “celebrat[es] the ties between books, movies, TV shows, collectibles and toys and games, featuring raffles and giveaways from A Game of Thrones, The Giver, The Maze Runner and more. Join our Jedi Academy at noon on Saturday.”

Sounds like a great time to me–I want to join the Jedi Academy too!


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Gen Con 2014

I can’t believe we’re almost to the Gen Con stage of the summer.  And this year will be my 20th.  Wow.

For those of you who are planning on attending, here’s a look at how my schedule’s shaping up.

Friday, August 15th

1:00 p.m. – Signing in the main hall
4:00 p.m. – Business of Writing: Working with a Publisher
5:00 p.m. – Writer’s Craft: Plotting Nuts and Bolts


Saturday, August 16th

1:00 p.m. – Middle Grade: Weaving Plots for Middle Graders
4:00 p.m. – YA: What Makes it YA?


Sunday, August 17th

10:00 a.m. – Just for Kids – Pre-Teen Writing Workshop

Hope to see you there!


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Planning Stages

I’ve been outlining my next project, something I’ve been thinking about and toying with in my head for a good while now.  No details yet, sorry–this is the stage of the story where it’s just me.  Well, me and my writing group, because brainstorming.

So as I start to get ideas down on paper and develop them, I’m reminded yet again what I planner I am when it comes to writing.  I can tell because the more I write about character profiles, species notes, setting details, plot points, and theme, the calmer I feel.  I know what my major characters look like, what their quirks, weaknesses and strengths are.  I know that one of them carries around a small gold chain.  When I realized why, I got goosebumps because I knew it fit perfectly.  The story is coming together in my head, the pieces falling into place.

All these details, including sections with each character’s goal, motivation and conflict, and eventually even the chapter outline, are handwritten in one of my journals.  That’s how I work.  When I do school visits, I bring samples from these journals to show the kids where my stories begin.  And sometimes the kids show me their notebooks where they write down their own stories or important thoughts.  And if I’m very lucky, one or two will come over to me after a signing, lean in and whisper, “I want to be a writer too.”  The whispers make me wonder if they’ve ever said the words out loud before.  Maybe they’re afraid of what people will think.  It’s a gesture of trust, and I love making these connections.  I love showing students that their writing journey is not so very different from mine.  All stories have to begin somewhere, whether you work from a detailed outline, scribble in a notebook, or just let the words and the story flow.  And sometimes, maybe you need to say the words, “I want to be a writer,” and make your desire known.

Everyone needs a place to start.

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