The Fall of 2018 had me knee deep in North American paleontology research, not only to learn more about North American history, but as an addition to research I’m working on for the first draft of a new novel. I was born and raised in Montana, so dinosaur bones have surrounded me on all sides, but I hadn’t taken the time to research the mythological backgrounds of theses beasts, and the intricacies of the bone war between O.C. Marsh and Edward Cope in great detail. After all, these men canvassed the American West, including my home, searching to understand the bones of these giant creatures buried in the earth.

I picked up The Gilded Dinosaur by Mark Jaffe as a donation book sale for $2.00 back in November. And with a tagline of “The Fossil War Between E.D. Cope and O.C. Marsh and the Rise of American Science,” how could I go wrong?

I’m not a huge non-fiction reader—most non-fiction that comes my way is read for a purpose and then has to be intermixed with fiction. I believe this was my third non-fiction in a row (mental high-five!), but while this book was full of small interesting stories that entwined with the full narrative, at times everything felt so dry. I found myself shaking my head at times, thinking these historical figures were egotistical dummies who fought more than they accomplished. At one point, Cope applied for job after job, squandering his money, with nothing to show for it except a crumbling marriage and a huge production of scientific papers. Marsh hoarded his findings, keeping boxes of fossils unopened because of his jealousy of what others might uncover. Like, the point of unearthing them only to let them linger just seemed so…dumb. Better yet; pointless. What came through felt like a lot of life-choices that haunt men and women throughout their days: to pursue career and fame but spend your days lonely? Or to create a family only to continually seek career and fame, to be awarded near the end of your life?

I digress. The novel was well-written and well-researched, adding in tidbits of historical notes I was unfamiliar with. While it did get dreary hearing how Congressional funding was thwarted over and over from one department to another, it did reveal facts about the creation and overall purpose for the US Geological Survey, which was cool. Also, I didn’t know that so many people donated their brains to science, and that Walt Whitmans’ met a tragic end splattered on the floor by a laboratory assistant. My opinion? If you’re able to digest dryer bits of narrative entwined with sparkling gems of somewhat-fictionalized retellings, this book is for you. Jaffe definitely did justice to the story, but for me, my overall impression was that the keywords for the history is much more appealing than when you dig into the story itself. Overall, Marsh was a miser who didn’t pay his people on time and held grudges. Cope didn’t have enough self-preservation to keep his trap shut and thus offended a bunch of people who could’ve made his life easier in the long run. Yet both left a legacy of jumpstarting paleontology and categorizing dinosaurs. If I could have had more, I’d have liked to see a deeper exploration into the relationship between Red Cloud and Marsh, but perhaps there wasn’t more to the relationship than what had been disclosed in the novel.

And Julia Cope! Throughout the novel, I watched her grow up from an inquisitive young girl to one well-educated in science. The affection between father and daughter felt immense, yet I wondered how many times Cope saw his daughter throughout his life. He always seemed to be writing her letters and far away. She married at age twenty-eight, but I wondered what happened to her elsewhere; what she thought of getting a less than palatable job to support her family; if she pursued her scientific endeavors; but I do understand that perhaps the story of Julia Cope might be more interesting to my imagination as to what actually happened to Julia Cope.

Here’s an example though, of the style and type of gem that litter the novel that kept me going:

Cope stopped at the Little Eagle settlement, where he enjoyed the hospitality of a missionary, Miss Collins, who ran a prayer meeting and YMCA for the tribes. Her house had ‘mosquito bars,’ or screens which Cope said ‘made life endurable.’ Cope found Mis Collins and her assistant Miss Pratt both ‘good New England types,’ and it was from them that he learned the Sioux legend of the big bones.


Once, evil, giant monsters roamed the land. Then the Great Spirit sent powerful shafts of lighting to destroy the beats. Their bones were left scattered across the prairies and badlands. The Sioux would not touch the bones for fear that a similar fate would befall them. But a boy at the settlement knew just where a great many of these big bones were to be found and the next day, he led Cope across the prairie to the spot.


Sure enough, the boy brought Cope to a rich boneyard. It was, Cope wrote, ‘covered with fragments of dinosaurs, small and large…all around on banks and flats, bones everywhere. This was our destination.’ The greatest prize was a nearly compete skull of a dinosaur similar to a Hadrosaurus.


They had reached this boneyard as evening and its summer thunderstorms approached. So, after making camp and supper, Cope said he lay down to ‘dream of Dinosaurs except when the thunder and mosquitos work me.’ He crawled out of his nest of canvass and crates to see storms sweeping the plains on three sides with ‘lighting…in forked streams’ playing across the sky and descending to Earth in ‘blinding bolts.’ Black skies, low pale cliffs, alkali pools, and the bone mound looking like a grave in the flickering light. It was, Cope though, an eerie scene. He could almost believe the Sioux legend.

Merry Christmas, all! As 2018 comes to a close, I’ve spent a lot of time being with family and mentally preparing my to-do list for all the things I want to accomplish in 2019. Which, you know, is everything under the sun. But, I have one last foreseeable announcement!

After long last, the Sisterhood of the Blade anthology from Battlefield Press is available! A reimagining as if the Three Musketeers had been women all under a pledge to defend and protect Queen Anne, the anthology follows the stories of Padgett (a French rogue) Adina (a reformed pirate), and Aimi (a samurai) as they uncover mischief and political plots in turmoil-striven France and other countries beyond.

Here’s a snippet of my story in the anthology entitled, Souls with Brands, Sisters with Swords:

Even landlocked, the sea called to Adina. She had a sixth sense when it came to ships, all earned from her time sailing the big, wide blue. She smelled the Seine before she saw the long gray line of river water, but it wasn’t the scent of damp and rot that had her smiling. It was the undercurrent of wet, open freedom.

 Her hand tightened around the missive lodged in her pocket. She resisted the urge to double check the address scrawled in the hand of an old companion she hadn’t seen in years. Not since she had innocent blood on her blade and the shine of treasure brightening her eyes. Once upon a time—or once upon a pirate ship—she could’ve been an innocent forever: chasing her desires, taking what she wanted, doing exactly what her gut commanded without a care in the world beyond how she’d spend her loot. Soon after her adoptive father’s death, she learned that this so-called innocence was nothing but willing blindness and accepted cruelty.

It shamed her to yearn for that in passing since she’d joined the sisterhood. Especially when the lure of the ocean reeled her in and old pirate friends came a-calling. Siren spells weren’t singing maidens, but promises of tapping into the wild baseness of her nature.

As of now, you can purchase the anthology via DriveThru here in ebook, paperback, and hardback. If you’re so inclined, please leave a review! A few words mean the world to new authors.

About Sisterhood of the Blade

In an age when it is not proper for a woman to be a soldier, three bright, savvy, and well-trained female warriors must hide who they are when they accept the burden of protecting and helping their queen (Anne). But once you meet these three musketeers, you’ll realize proper was never a concern.

Aimi met and fell in love with Jacques Marlette when the oils trader visited her birthplace of Japan. After they married, she learned of her husband’s friendship with France’s current ruler, King Louis XIII, which in turn brought her close to the queen. Extremely loyal to the crown, Aimi still has the queen’s ear even after Jacque left France on an important errand for the king, never to return.

When Aimi was told of her husband’s death, she decided to not be the grieving widow, but she did vow that she would make some. Taking up her katana, she dove head first into rumors that the cardinal was plotting against the king and queen, for in those rumors lay the only clues to her love’s murder. Clothed in black or brown, and with a rifle never out of reach, she will protect her queen and all of France.

To aid in her quest, Lady Marlette hired two new “hand maidens” after Jacque’s death. They are the African pirate, Adina and the master tactician and French red-head, Padgett.

At the age of five, Adina was found by a roving band of pirates, who despite their brutish ways took the child in and raised her as one of their own. She spent years on the world’s oceans, and was recently dropped off in France after her adoptive father died at sea. She speaks fluent French, Italian, and Spanish, and her upbringing lends itself well to dealing with rabble. When it’s time to fight, Adina carries a cutlass and keeps a pistol at her side. She also wears a bandolier of throwing knives in her leather armor.

Padgett, meanwhile, is the definition of daddy’s little girl. Her father, a general in the French army, has made sure that his only child is well versed in swordplay and comfortable handling pistols, rifles, and other military weaponry. Growing up so close to the general, Padgett has also mastered the art of discussing tactics with anyone of any rank from any army. If negotiations fail, she’s always willing to take up her rapier and parrying dagger to prove her point. If the need arises, she likewise carries a pistol and her horse often comes equipped with a rifle holstered on its saddle. To honor her father’s wishes, Padgett tends to wear the tight clothing of a soldier and a cape that drapes across her from the shoulders down.

Living on the Marlette estate, Aimi, Adina, and Padgett train hard to serve their queen. They have a small armory, and money is never a concern. Together their tales are more than just a female version of the Three Musketeers, but a reimagining as if the queen had her own special guard.

This is the Sisterhood of the Blade.

The Falling Dawn is now available at the Missoula Public Library! If you’re looking to access the novel, please visit their website. The novel can be found in the Science Fiction and Fantasy section. Enjoy, new readers! And please leave a review!

I was so happy and grateful to be part of the 2018 Montana Book Festival in Missoula! I had two panels, both on Saturday.

The first one focused on Writing and Publishing for Young Adults and Children where I met many amazing ladies who’d written both fiction and non-fiction, ranging from pictures books to YA novels. While I don’t consider The Falling Dawn to be a young adult, part of the book is written from the protagonist’s perspective as a young girl who must rapidly mature to deal with the struggles that come her way. The discussion was fun and lively, ranging from writing techniques to time management to the state of the industry as a whole. The moderator worked at the Missoula Public Library and his enthusiasm saturated the room.

The second panel was a reading and Q&A about “Science Fiction.” While I read from The Falling Dawn, I did mention my new post-apocalyptic book that should be coming out sometime in 2019. The other three panelists were great, making me want to read their books! The Q&A consisted of inspiration, time management, and where the love or interest in science fiction originated.

Beyond my panels, I attended many discussions and readings that sparked conversation and insight. “Decolonizing the Myth of Cowboys & Indians” hit on sensitivity in writing, especially a writer’s ethics in portraying different cultures. “Portraying Different Cultures” had a similar line of thought, but also encouraged the idea that a writer’s job was to also break barriers and take risks. “The Synthetic Age” evaluated the consequences of the technology humans currently have and how it can be used to mitigate problems of our own making, philosophically asking if we have the right to use this power that can change the world. A discussion of the anthology Hearth contemplated the idea of home and fulfillment, wherever it may be found. The readings were powerful, even if the writers seemed a bit standoffish at the end. I can see it being difficult to speak on the meaning of home–whether it be a person long-lost, a home destroyed, or just places that are endangered due to climate change.

“Writing & Money” went through the financial side of publishing. I was glad they had a financial advisor to go through terminology. It actually got a little scary thinking about all that–especially when you’re suppose to be saving 10-15% for retirement out of every paycheck, you pay nearly half of what you make into taxes, and then you have to actually make a living on top of it. Handy tips included making yourself a business and assigning yourself an employee ID number. But damn, how anyone does it full-time, on their own, without the help of a partner/family gets props.

But one of the best things was the Book Trivia the last day of the festival. We won second place! Les Quizerables lost to Donde Esta La Biblioteca by ONE POINT, but it was a glorious fight, with ties nearly the whole game and great questions. Prizes were top notch, and we definitely enjoyed our bacon salted caramels with beer at Dram Shop afterwards, then spend out hard-earned Library bucks at the Used Book Section.

All in all, a fantastic weekend and a unique event to Missoula. I’m glad I was able to participate and attend. Books were sold at both locations (huzzah!) and I donated one to the Missoula Public Library.

Montana Book Festival Schedule!

Book lovers! The weekend approaches that’s full of readings, books, discussions panels! Maybe sneaking down to Caras Park for the brew fest that’s happening at the same time!

I’ll be on two panels and both of them are on Saturday, September 29, 2018:

  • Writing for Children and Young Adults: 2:00pm-3:30pm at Missoula Public Library
  • Science Fiction: 3:45pm-5:00pm at Shakespeare & Co.

Come and say hi! I’ll be attending a lot of panels over the weekend. Let’s just say there’s no way I’m going to miss Erotic Fanfiction Reading at the Union Club *wink wink*

Hope to see you all there!

I was lucky last Saturday to hold a reading at Shakespeare & Co., another independent bookstore in downtown Missoula. I had picked out three sections to fill out a half-hour slot, and tried to link the sections regarding style, place, and story consistency to avoid confusion.

A good friend made blue and gold macrons to match the book cover. My best friend made cookies that didn’t turn out right, so she showed up with wine. My grandmother made brownies. To say the least, we had a glorious spread of food for listeners.

The crowd was all friends and family, but it was a lot of fun having adult storytime with them. Since The Falling Dawn came out, I’ve found it interesting that a lot of people I know don’t read fantasy, and my book is their first foray into the genre. Before I started reading, I had to let them know that sometimes the appeal of fantasy is being lost in the world, and having to discover where you’re heading by simply forging ahead in the book. It’s a time where you’ll be somewhere you’ve never been before, and might never be again. I requested that if something didn’t make sense, don’t let the frustration become overwhelming, but enjoy it for that mysterious sense of unknown.

I sold one book, but was happy to be able to share the world with everyone. There was lots of praise, lots of smiling faces, and I didn’t read too quickly (phew!). Afterwards, we had cocktails and ramen downtown. Another good day on the books.

This past Saturday, I was happy to be selling and signing books outside one of Missoula’s independent bookstores, Fact & Fiction. I started at 10am and ended at 4pm. The farmer’s market was still going strong, so it was pleasant to people-watch into the afternoon. Friends and families walked by with homegrown produce and gorgeous flowers, drinking coffee or snacking on pastries or kebobs from the many food trucks parked downtown at Caras Park.

A lot of people stopped by to ask about the book—I had a big A-frame stand with some awesome posters to draw them in—and other simply responded to my ‘hello’ and ‘good morning’ as they walked by. Yes, I was that awkward person greeting people out of nowhere that they either responded to or ignored, by luckily, Missoula is a friendly place.

I had an old wood table to display my wares, a tee-shirt with the cover on front acted as my tablecloth, and then the two small displays had my biography and the other The Falling Dawn‘s synopsis. I scattered business cards all around, and signed books with my “Slytherin” snake fountain pen.

I only had ten books on hand. My new order of books hadn’t arrived yet, but I wasn’t worried. Throughout the day, I sold everything I had.

One guy picked The Falling Dawn up and commented on how he liked how vivid the first page was and he’d been awake for 24 hours and counting, so of course he’d buy a book!

Another guy picked up the book and bought it because he liked reading my bio and that we had a similar science background.

Another couple stopped by and told me they were visiting from Austin, Texas and that they’d have to pick it up online. They loved Missoula’s little downtown, and congratulated me on the book release. The guy, who was insanely tall, said he was writing a novel, and we chatted about the pros and cons of going after your dreams.

I’m always surprised at the people who are drawn to the cover. They’re varied and all much different than I’d imagined. I loved it! A very successful outing and a shoutout to Fact & Fiction for letting me hang out in front of their store all day.

How many days did you think your dreams were dumb?

I’ve thought it quite a few times. But this past weekend at the Barnes & Noble book signing at the Gallatin Valley Mall, I pondered: was it dumb to dream about sitting in a store and selling books? I guess not, because I was radiantly happy the whole time. I was called lovely and vivacious and welcoming. Family and love surrounded me. There’s nothing like sliding into a day and understanding your purpose within it—that you don’t have to seek, and ask, and question. Instead, you’re doing what you’re meant to do.

The world revolves around data and sales and the plus and minuses of numbers, but that day I was so scared something would go wrong, smiling and bright like a sunflower. This was a day of dreams. Just sitting at the front entrance of a Barnes & Noble, saying hello to complete strangers, shaking hands and talking to those who wished to say hi, to learn more, to ask What’s it about? Don’t forget this day, I thought. Never forget this day.

I played my book trailer and delighted—delighted—in those walking by who were caught by it, watching it for seconds or full minutes. One young boy asked his mother, “What’s the soundtrack playing?” and I smiled broadly and said, “It’s my book trailer. You can check it out right around the corner.”

The staff was fantastic and so supportive. I gave a copy to one of them that kept checking on me.

My book cover stared at me from the Local Montana Author shelf, the Staff Recommended shelf (top shelf, good like liquor, right next to Stephen King’s It), back in ‘section’ which I learned meant the science fiction and fantasy section (I adore lingo), and signs at each cash register, and the Starbucks. One girl picked up the novel in section, and shakily handed the book for me to sign like I was somebody.

We sold out of books. How’s that for a number?


Oh, Impromptu Beach Bum Book Tour! You marvelous adventure, you!

This summer I took a vacation to Hawaii to visit my mom, who lives on O’ahu. We island hopped to Kaua’i for a couple days. My ultimate goal was simple: visit as many beaches as possible and swim in the ocean as much as I could.

My mom was a little over halfway through The Falling Dawn, and thankfully, much to my apprehension of my artist soul, was enjoying it. She brought her copy along to read while we relaxed on the beach and what started as taking fun pictures for later use on this blog evolved into beach bumming with the Impromptu Beach Bum Book Tour where I beach bummed around with the book. It looks like I just wore two dresses the whole time, but I swear I had other clothes. I just wore the same two dresses to the beach. And I thank her for letting me use her book as my prop.

You can check out the Tour on Instagram. Here are the beaches we visited:


  • The sun was so bright I had to squint to see! The waves were high, but we were protected by the little cove.

Bellows Beach

  • Beautiful blue water! The waves were too rough to swim, but we stood as far as we dared, the waves pushing us over as we jumped them.

Laniakea Beach and Turtle Bay

  • North Shore fun! We saw green turtles spy-hopping and lounging on the beach. At Turtle Bay, we swam and claimed a piece of shade. We had shaved ice and shrimp!

Shipwreck Beach, Kealia Beach

  • First day on Kaua’i and we drove along the lava-rock coastline and wave-jumped on the beach. It was another hot day, and I couldn’t resist another shaved ice.

Poipu Beach and the Fern Grotto

  • Island tour which showed old foundation ruins of the ancient Hawaiians, the landing point of James Cook and finished at the Fern Grotto. Sunsets on Poipu Beach!

Napali Coast

  • Boat ride out to the Napali Coast with some goregous blue water. The guides told me an interesting tale about one of the sea caves, how the tribe would hang meat from the entrance and attract sharks. Then, they’d close the cave off with a net and the warriors had to wrestle a tiger shark. How much truth is in it? Not sure. Additionally, we saw a sperm whale while coming back into shore!

Kualoa Beach

  • With a great view of the Chinaman’s Hat, we swam and watched a storm roll in behind the green mountains.


  • We lost time swimming at Waikiki, and had a great time walking downtown and people watching

In the last six months, my goal to ‘Conquer the Backlist’ has nosedived into the ground. I’ve been creeping along in Adrienne Mayor’s Fossil Legends of the First Americans, and finally had some time where I was unable to work, unable to connect to the internet, and unable to write. Essentially, I had to sit around on my butt and read a goddamn book.

It was so nice. I generally don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but as this served as research purposes for the novel currently being scribbled in my spare, spare time, I wanted to dedicate some brain power to it. My future world-building was a stake. Mayor’s research had me reconnecting with the land instead, imagining a United States as an ancient boneyard covered in the remains of mastodons and dinosaurs. Mayor hypothesized that fossil legends are important to the historical understanding and enrichment of paleontological, anthropological, and archaeological studies—that many times large fossil finds correlate with specific oral legends. By using fossil mythology, not only can scientific evidence be gathered or pieced together, but those data points are pretty darn accurate.

Covering North America (but emphasizing the United States) in chunks, Mayor split up the book according to region and associated tribes, which added a unique flavor. Ideas and common threads pieced different tribal stories together—some distilled across space, others changed—showing a zoological assimilation of new data that became incorporated into legends that continued to evolve over time. Some of my favorites were fossil legends that came directly from places I’d been and considered part of my home—the place I’d gotten engaged was seeped in legend, the land my grandparents came from used to be a battleground between two giant monsters, the skeletons I’d seen in museums came from the earth of my state. It gave me new appreciation for those places and the only thing I wanted was more. More legends, more oral stories, which unfortunately had been lost.

And yet, strangely enough, some of those words had been incorporated into the scientific names of the prehistoric animals when they were ‘officially discovered.’ The old word for thunder crept into the Brontosaurus, potentially a thunder-creature because of the sound that might’ve come from its swinging tail. Wakan denotes a supernatural or strange ambiance to the unknown. In some languages, items are identified as being animate or inanimate—rocks and earth are most definitely thrumming with life. Additionally, learning how African-American arrival had influenced southern legends, creating elephant-like creatures or long-nosed monsters, was a facet of the ‘Notes’ section that I wouldn’t have read unless I looked. Mayor, I feel, had more evidence that could populate a whole other book on the topic–the Appendix and Notes sections could very well serve as more chapters.

To say the least, I’m curious to learn more about the history of America’s Bone Wars. Enough so that other nonfiction books will flavor my to-be-read pile.