October 2020 Update

I fully turned my attention to BLOOD OF SALT, TEARS OF PEARL this month, creating some brief character profiles to help with revisions, completing the first readthrough of my first draft, and I’m now working on restructuring the novel with a new outline for the second draft. I’m trying something new with this book (a lot of new things, actually!) and revising on the outline level before I dig into the actual draft. I’m hoping that by focusing on the outline now, and making all of the drastic changes when I’m dealing with simple summary paragraphs versus pages and pages of text, the actual rewriting process will be smoother that it has been in the past.

I’m not sure exactly what prompted me to try this out, only that I knew I needed a game plan to master this 272,000-word monstrosity if I wanted to finish it any time soon. I’m hopeful that this more disciplined revision process will enable me to cut the word count by half in the second draft, but we shall see. As of today, I’ve outlined the prologue and sixteen chapters, covering the same amount of story as roughly twenty chapters of the first draft (or roughly 150,000 words). That puts me a little more than halfway through the book now.


Word Counts in September:

Blog/Newsletter: 2,189
Cartridges & Catacombs: 3,235
Other: 381

Total Words Written in September: 11,144
Total Words Written in 2020: 95,520


Plans for October:

I hope to finish this revision outline by the end of next week, if at all possible, but it may take a little longer, depending on how difficult the revisions are. (I’m also in the midst of planning a virtual convention scheduled for the end of the month, so that is going to eat into my usual writing time a bit.) The middle of the book probably needs the most work of everything, but I think I may be over the worst of the plot hurdles thanks to the work I put in yesterday. Now, it is mostly just a matter of reframing all of the subsequent scenes so that they reflect the changes I’ve made—mostly. There are still some tricky scene sequences I need to figure out, but once I get to about the two-thirds mark of the book, everything should come together a little more smoothly.

Once the new outline is finished, I plan to let it rest for a few days, read through it one more time to make sure that everything adds up, make any necessary changes, and then get started on the actual rewrite. Because much of what I will be doing is rewriting, with very little new material needed, I should be able to write the second draft at a good pace. I’m hopeful that I will be able to finish the draft before the winter holidays, but we’ll see. That gives me roughly two months and change to complete it, which I think is doable based on my current day-to-day routine. That would require an average of about 4000 words per writing day, assuming I’m able to start the rewrite beginning Oct. 12, and assuming my second draft clocks in at about 200,000 words. Hopefully, the second draft ends up far less than that, but it’s hard to say at this point in time. My goal for the final draft is 135,000 words or less, so the closer to that I can get in the second draft, the better, and I’ll be rewriting with that in mind.

Cutting 137,000 words may seem like an impossible task, but I managed to cut 70,000 words from the first draft of The Guild Conspiracy, and another 30,000 in subsequent drafts, with a final published word count of 98,000, so this really isn’t much different from that.


Writing Talks:

I started a live writing vlog on Twitch this month. You can tune in every Friday at 1:30pm CST to listen to me talk about what I’m working on! I posted two videos in September:

9/18/20 – First read-through, revision plan, and editing goals
9/25/20 – Draft 2 outline, restructuring act breaks, and writing multiple POVs


Cartridges & Catacombs:

I’m doing my best to keep up with my gaming blog, though I missed a week due to being sick.

Nintendo Super Mario Bros. Direct 2020
Games this Week… Wandersong
Games this Week… A Begrudging Return to WoW
Games this Week… Choosing a Character for Shadowlands

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September 2020 Update

I dabbled in a few different things in the month of August, between getting ready for the start of the school year and then falling back into that routine. I spent most of the two weeks since school started reading, relaxing, recharging, and doing odd things around...

August 2020 Update

July was yet another slow month. I managed a little bit of worldbuilding and conlang work on STARCALLER, but I spent most of the month organizing and participating in Ozark Writers Workshop 2020 as both a host and panelist. Working on that took up most of my energy,...

July 2020 Update

June was a relatively slow month, though I did get quite a bit done in the first couple of weeks. Writing has very much happened in short, productive bursts with long periods of nothing in between. I did more worldbuilding for STARCALLER, and I even updated Patreon,...


October 2020 Update

I fully turned my attention to BLOOD OF SALT, TEARS OF PEARL this month, creating some brief character profiles to help with revisions, completing the first readthrough of my first draft, and I’m now working on restructuring the novel with a new outline for the second...

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The Brass Giant

Chroniker City #1

Seventeen-year-old Petra Wade, self-taught clockwork engineer, wants nothing more than to become a certified member of the Guild, an impossible dream for a lowly shop girl. But when Emmerich Goss—handsome, privileged, and newly recruited into the Guild—needs help designing a new clockwork system for a top-secret automaton, it seems Petra has finally found the opportunity she’s been waiting for…

The Mechanical Theater

Chroniker City #1.5

Petra Wade’s older brother, Solomon, has always dreamed of being an actor. Instead, he works grueling shifts in the clockwork city’s boiler rooms to help support his large adopted family. When Le Theatre Mecanique holds an open call for their upcoming performance, he decides to audition, but the only role he is suitable to fill is that of the theater’s custodian…

The Guild Conspiracy

Chroniker City #2

It has been six months since clockwork engineer Petra Wade destroyed an automaton designed for battle, narrowly escaping with her life. But her troubles are far from over. Her partner on the project, Emmerich Goss, has been sent away to France, and his father, Julian, is still determined that a war machine will be built. Forced to create a new device, Petra subtly sabotages the design in the hopes of delaying the war, but sabotage like this isn’t just risky: it’s treason. And with a soldier, Braith, assigned to watch her every move, it may not be long before Julian finds out what she’s done…


Brooke Johnson is an avid tea drinker, nonprofit co-founder, amateur seamstress, tabletop RPG enthusiast, and dabbling artist, in addition to all her book writing. As the jack-of-all-trades bard of the family, she adventures through life with her fiercely bearded paladin of a husband, their warrior princess daughter, a cowardly wizard of a dog, and two roguish cats that somehow rolled high enough persuasion to join the party. 

They currently reside in Northwest Arkansas, and once they earn enough loot and experience, they’ll build a proper castle somewhere and defend against all manner of dragons, goblins, and whatever else dares take them on.

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