Hello! It is I, someone who maybe can write words.

Last month, I typed “the end” on the next Durga System novel.

(Novel! Full length!)

I stood up, stretched, and thought, “Just a light polish and we’ll be good to go!”

Then I gave the manuscript to my husband and it came back looking like the snippet in the photo above.


Anyway, all that to say that this is a short (and late) email because I’m in revision prison for another few days. But rest assured, a new Durga System story is on it’s way — and it’s gonna be good! 

For your To-Be-Read list

The one thing I have been doing lately (besides screaming into the editing void) is reading. And I have some recommendations for you.

You’ll find some great indie sci-fi, but the first book, Exit West, is a literary novel. It’s on here because I finished it last night for this month’s book club, and I can’t get it out of my head. 

It’s the story of two refugees — but more than that it’s the story of home. I keep thinking about it; if you grant me a moment, I’ll try to explain why.

Two things you may not know about me:

  • I grew up in a family with strong, relatively recent roots in the Old Country (The Netherlands).
  • I also grew up on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington State, on land that my great grandparents — immigrants — bought from the Yakama tribe.

My whole life I’ve been aware of my family’s immigrant past, and very aware of our settler/colonist present. These two things together have always compelled me to think about what it means to be “from” a place.

I’m “from” the reservation, but not in the way my friends who are Native American are I’m “from” The Netherlands, but not in the way my cousins who grew up there are. I’m considered American, but I grew up with kids whose grandparents grew up with mine, and most of American society still calls them Mexican or Filipino or Japanese.

Exit West fascinated me because of the way it explores what it means to be “from” a place, and examines the beautiful and terrible ways we live together as a human race.

Who do we consider part of our tribe?
How do we find family?
How do we live in peace despite historic grievances?
How are we fundamentally alike despite our differences?

These have always been an underlying question in my books, too — I just tend to put more gunfights and aliens in than you’ll find in Exit West.

Anyway, for claiming this was going to be a short email I certainly did wax poetical.


By the way, what are you reading? I’ve gotten some awesome book recommendations from some of you over the past few months, and I love hearing what’s on your TBR list. 

Exit West: A Novel


by Mohsin Hamid

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .

Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

Find it on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, IndieBound

The Legion and the Lioness


by R.D. Armstrong

They said I would never finish flight school. Never rank at the top of my class. Never fly with the top aces. Never return from combat against the Kelton androids. Never survive emergency surgery. 

Here I am.

The year is 2151, Earth is gone. A hellscape. I’ve been unfrozen after 72 years of cryosleep on a medical facility on Saturn’s moon, Titan. I have nothing, no home, no friends, no concept of this new world, these Titans.

All that remains is the old conflict that has blackened my veins and memories of the ones I loved still fresh in my heart. Forgotten for decades.

But it seems war hasn’t forgotten me, no, even in my slumber. My name is Captain Victoria Ann Belic, I was a wife and an ace fighter pilot, and have been revived for one reason—to die again.

Get on Amazon (free on Kindle Unlimited)

Hands of the Colossus


by Nicole Grotepas

Holly Drake just wants one thing: to destroy the Shadow Coalition and the evil at the heart of their business. With an endless supply of tips from the secretive man pulling her strings, Holly and her crew swoop in, break up the cash drops and steal the money. If one or two baddies die on accident, no big loss, right? They could do this forever, picking the Coalition apart till not even bones remain.

That is, until someone goes missing. In that moment, everything changes.  

To save the victim, Holly and her team will put everything on the line. Treacherous journeys across the 6-moon system in space-zeppelins, dangerous infiltrations of the Coalition, bartering with thieves and relying on the seedy underbelly of the 6-moons. Anything it takes. 

But…is the whole set up a trap? 

Get on Amazon (free in Kindle Unlimited)

The anti-Nano: Bikes In Space novel revisions

While other writers are hoping to add 50,000 words to their manuscripts this month, I’m on the mission to delete 10,000 from mine.

Yes, I’m revising.

I’m currently hard at work making sense of the first draft of my Bikes in Space novel for Elly Blue and Microcosm Press, which will be published in spring 2017. It’s based on the short story I wrote for Elly’s second Bikes in Space anthology, although the world of the novel has certainly grown and shifted from what I first imagined in that story.

(Want to read that story for free? Head here.)

Revisions are tough, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the writing process. As much as I try to plot things out, I’m very much a discovery writer. I’m constantly suppressing myself with what my characters say, or what they find when they open doors. These little discoveries and mysteries are delightful, but stressful at the same time. Why won’t my characters behave? Why do they make me sit and re-outline my plot every other chapter?

Granted, I think these little surprises makes for a much better story than what I originally thought of. But it does seem like instead of writing the story down in the drafting process, I’m making the material out of which I will pull the story later.

I’m creating the clay that I will use to sculpt a story during revisions.

Since I’m still digging into the plot I’m not quite ready to talk about it yet, but I have created a Pinterest board to collect all my visual inspirations. Here’s one of my favorite images:

anime stars:

It’s by illustrator Akaya Suda, and I think it’s just gorgeous. You can find more of Akaya’s work here.

If you’re curious to get a taste of the Bike Caper Novel (name still TBA), check out the Pinterest board, and sign up for my mailing list (in the sidebar) to be the first to know the news!

Follow Jessie’s board Bike Caper Novel on Pinterest.