Out with the Old, In With The New


When I started 2017, I was feeling seriously optimistic. I teamed up with my husband, Ismael, and his sister, Megan, to create a free editing service called The Inkwell Council. Our trio had also united with Ismael and my son, Logan, to create a YouTube channel, The Geektastic Manzanos. I had written a new short story. I had finished a massive positive revision of The Order of the Key, my YA Fantasy novel. Everything felt like it was looking up. Megan and I had numerous conversations stating that this was our year. 2017 was gonna be awesome.

As it turned out, the year ran about fifty/fifty.


The Inkwell Council has been a tremendous success. We’re helping the literary community and we love every minute of it. What was initially supposed to be one 3-chapter edit of a fantasy novel a month, spread into two a month, novels or short stories of any genre. We’ve got a bit of a following and we’re having a great time doing it. Follow us on twitter here. To see more about what people are saying about us, visit here.


The Geektastic Mazanos, however, flopped. From the start, we saw the issues, but we figured we’d try it for a year and see where it went. This had been Logan’s idea from the beginning and Logan really wanted to make it happen. But Logan also has ADHD and that didn’t really make for cohesive video shoots. Also, we would have needed much more expensive equipment to shoot in the evening with any kind of visibility, and we had maybe two days where we had daylight time. Add to that increasing homework loads, and just how painstaking video editing actually is, and you’ve got a fun project that eats entire weekends. Logan’s spontaneity was being tamped down for when there was better lighting, and our enthusiasm just died a slow death. It didn’t help that, even with a giveaway, our subscribers didn’t make it over the 30 mark. That’s just sad. In the end, what remained was our love for taking loads of doofy geektastic pictures for our Instagram…so we’re keeping that.


The short story sold. Blue Ice was included in the Spring 2017 issue of the Corvus Review. It’s a big time favorite of mine, and I was so happy to see it land a home. Even better, I actually re-sold another short story, Choosing to Stand Still, to Fiction on the Web in August. All good news!

OK Media Pitch 1

The Order of the Key, however, did not fare well. After years of revising and contracts with questionable publishing companies, and queries to loads of agents and publishing companies, I haven’t gotten much of anywhere. I love Order, and I still stand by it. It’s a great story and I love its characters, but I don’t believe the market is right for it at the moment. Though I still await contact from a few outstanding queries (whom I’d be very happy to work with, should I hear back with a positive result), I’ve mostly dealt with the idea that it’s time to put The Order of the Key on a shelf. Just for now.


This is mostly because I’ve completed my new YA Romatic Comedy with fantasy undertones, Never Say Never. It’s fun and so very different from Order. I’ve fallen deeply in love with these new characters, and I hope you will, too. I’m currently in final revisions of Never Say Never, before I start putting this new baby out into the world, searching for acceptance. It’s a very exciting time in my life, and I hope you grow to love Brynn, Adam, Nina, Gabe, and Val. They are hopefully going to be meeting you someday soon.

So, that’s where I’m heading in the new year. 2018 will continue to be a year of determination, it will continue to be a year of meeting my goals. However, much like the outlines I make of my books, there’s always room for a little tweaking.

What are your plans for this year? Let me know in the comments.

9 thoughts on “Out with the Old, In With The New

  1. Congrats on the new project! I’m finally finishing the BA I started in 2002, so 2018 will be a year of increasing homework loads for me, too. But it feels so good. If I were independently wealthy, I’d be a professional student. (Okay, and also a writer.) 😀

    1. I am so excited for you! Congratulations on nearing the end of your BA journey! I always felt the same way about school. It’s so much fun to learn more and everything feels like a tidbit to file away for future writing. LOL

      1. Thank you! I still have at least three more semesters to go before I’m done, and I worry that it may take more than that, but I love school, so the only part that really worries me is paying for everything (since I have to take two days off work each week in order to do it). But still…it feels good to be doing something to make a change in my life. And yes – EVERYTHING feels like inspiration! 🙂

  2. Happy New Year, Justine! Boy, I know the pain of having to shelve a project, even temporarily. I have a manuscript I may have to do that with myself, though like you I still have a few queries out, so who knows? My 2018 plans include revising & querying my YA Contemporary Fantasy, my first writing conference–and pitching to a couple agents in person, eep!–and going to the World Science Fiction Convention, which is about 20 minutes from my parents’ house this year. Pretty exciting stuff!
    Good luck with your new project!

    1. Fun fact: As soon as I posted this blog, I got another rejection on Order. It’s like I called it to me.

      If you need any tips on pitching in person, I’ve done it a few times and I got requests on three out of four of my pitches. So I may be able to help. Never hesitate to chat me up about it. I’m so excited for you. Pitching is exhilarating and sort of terrifying, but I feel like it’s so much easier to explain your story when you’re speaking face to face with another person.

      Let me know how everything goes. BTW, do you have a blog?

  3. I’m so happy you have another story you’re feeling optimistic about. I wish you all the best.

    I hate that you feel you have to shelve Order though. 😦

    Obviously, you can tell me to shut up, mind my own business, go jump in a lake, etc. And if YOU feel like shelving is the right choice for you, if YOU want to wait for a better time for it to find its place in the traditional publishing world, then I support you in that. But since you do believe in the story so much, I just thought I’d ask–have you thought about indie publishing? I know it has worked well for many writers who couldn’t find a traditional publishing home.

    Again, I’m not trying to shove my nose where it doesn’t belong. I won’t even be offended if you ignore this comment, delete it altogether, whatever. I just thought I’d throw it out there.

    Happy 2018!!!! May it be your best year ever. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I totally understand why you would say this, and I don’t entirely disagree. I know for certain that I can’t self-publish. Knowing what my friends who have self-published have been through, I know how much money and time it takes, and I just don’t have that to spend. As far as a small indie publisher, I’ve tried with two and was burned twice, so I’m not too keen on going that route. However, if I did find one that I felt had a solid enough grounding that I would feel comfortable working with them, I still may submit it to them. In the end, this isn’t so much a goodbye to that book as a see you later. I really do love it, and I think I just have hit the point where I’m not sure what to do with it anymore.

      The real trick here is that I figure The Order of the Key is a very difficult book to describe, but Never Say Never, not being a series, has a very fun, easy to understand premise. Doors will open for it much easier. And once my foot is in the door, I have the opportunity to make Order something–on my terms.

      Never feel like you have to hold your tongue if you’re thinking something. I’m very difficult to offend and I love hearing outside opinions. 😉

      1. So glad you took it well! And bummer about sled-publishing not being a good option. I’ve seen and read so many positives about it recently and how it’s really opened doors and provided opportunities for many. But I totally get it about not having the money to put into it! I wouldn’t have that either.

        I do hope it does work out that this new book will open those doors for you!!! That would be awesome.

        Cheering for you always. ❤

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