Clockmaker by Kristen Brand

The crew of the airship Sultana are nearly destitute. No one knows this better than their captain, Melek, who’s almost desperate enough to sell her treasured family heirlooms to pay her crew’s wages. Then a reclusive gentleman wearing a strange golden mask offers a fortune to transport him and a mysterious cargo to Istanbul. Needing the money, Melek can’t bring herself to refuse, even when her instincts warn of trouble.

Now strange noises haunt her airship at night, and deadly warships stalk the Sultana through dark, stormy skies. Melek’s masked passenger refuses to explain his private affairs, and she enjoys arguing with him perhaps a little too much. But he’s even more dangerous than she suspected, and she’ll have to unravel the dark intrigue he’s brought aboard her ship before it kills everyone on board.


So I have to say, this is by far my favorite of my sister’s books so far.  Captain Melek was already my favorite minor character from The Ghost Machine and I thought “there’s no way Kristen could possibly make her any more bad ass.. I mean come on.  She’s already my steampunk hero” but NO.  Somehow I love her even more!  And you’re in luck; it’s finally available for purchase!



Almost Invincible

Miss the release of Almost Invincible?! Click here to get it now!

It’s the third in the White Knight and Black Valentine series from Kristen Brand (aka my sister and role model).  It goes back to Dave’s POV, and what’re two traits we love about the ex-superhero?  His humility and how much he loves his family.  Well, Kristen knows him better than any of us, and she decided to make this book his worst nightmare.

A superhero theme park complete with a White Knight ride.. poor Dave…

A pack of supervillains with a vendetta against him.. getting worse..

His daughter trapped inside said theme park with said supervillains.. well shit..

I know what you’re thinking.  “Now I simply HAVE to get it.  Thanks J.E., for asking me to spend a whole $2.99!  Wait.. that’s not even a whole Starbucks drink.. Okay, I forgive you.”  So I’ll repeat: click here to buy it today!

Chapter 8: Questions on Questions

Hello again, my dear readers!  I am so terribly sorry about my lack of posting these past few weeks.  My internship has exhausted me far past what I originally expected.  But, the hiatus is officially ended!   I sat here thinking how best to kick back off my writer’s blog, and then realized: I have a sister who just so happens to be a published authors.  As to not overwhelm her, I kept this interview short; but, I thought you’d enjoy hearing some responses from the beloved Kristen Brand.

Question #1: What were the biggest factors in your decision to become an indie author rather than traditionally publish?

I’d been thinking about self-publishing for a while, as Hero Status had gotten rejection after rejection from traditional publishers and agents. I thought Hero Status was great, but part of me still worried I was biased and the book wasn’t as good as I thought. But then it happened! A small but respectable publisher was starting a digital-first imprint and acquired my book. Success at last!

Three months later, I got an email from the press saying that they’d acquired too many books and unfortunately had to drop some authors—including me. Now, they were a class act about the whole thing and returned my rights (You hear horror stories from authors where less reputable presses did no such thing), but it was still disappointing. And yet. And yet, these publishing professionals had deemed my nerdy little book good enough to acquire. That was the outside validation I needed, and I decide to go ahead and publish Hero Status myself.

Question #2: How did you decide on your editor?  Cover artist?

There are loads of freelance editors and cover artists out there whom indie authors can hire, some good, and some not so much. The key is research. There are online resources out there with lists of recommended editors, but instead of taking the word of some random person on the internet, I think it’s better to look at some of your favorite indie authors and see who they hired. Authors will usually thank their editors at the end of the book, so this isn’t as hard as it sounds. I approached my editor because she worked on one of my favorite fantasy series, and I didn’t remember seeing so much as a single comma out of place when I read those books.

As for cover art, I went with an artist recommended by a friend and fellow author. That’s another great strategy: hang out on forums with other indie authors and see who they had good experiences working with. And of course, look at other covers the artist has done in your genre.

Question #3: What has been your biggest challenge as an indie author?

Definitely marketing. I think I’m like most authors in that I like to write, not sell things. Figuring out how to get more people to buy my books has been a challenge—but a fun one. The indie author community is great about sharing strategies and helping each other out, and I’ve learned so much since I got started. I read plenty of blog posts and listen to podcasts on the subject (The Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast is a favorite), and while I’m better at it than I used to be, I still have a long way to go.

Question #4: You’ve a two-book superhero series with one set to be published later this year.  What’s it been like to try to take over a genre that’s considered to be an “unmarketable” genre?

It’s funny that superhero fiction doesn’t have a bigger place on the shelves of bookstores. With superhero movies being so popular and profitable, you’d think there’d be a ton of superhero books out there, but I haven’t found that to be the case. Still, there are definitely readers who love the genre. It may not be as popular as something like paranormal romance, but plenty of indie authors have found success by serving a smaller niche.

Question #5: Do you have any advice for people considering self-publishing that you wish you knew?

I’d probably advise people that if you’re writing a series, wait until you have two or three books finished before you publish the first—at least if you’re a slow writer like I am. Putting books out three or so months apart can help give your series momentum and keep it selling well. Being able to publish so fast is one of the major advantages indies have over traditionally published authors, since it keeps your books fresh in your readers’ minds.

Compare that to me, who publishes one book every year or so, and…yeah. It’s an area where I have definite room for improvement.

Question #6: Where can these readers find you and stay updated on your writing whereabouts?

You can find me at my author website, It has information about my books plus free superhero fiction you can read online. I’m also on Twitter at @BrandedKristen, where I talk about writing updates, comic books, and other randomness.

Prologue: Introductions and Inspirations

All stories have a beginning, middle, and end. As such, I’d like this blog to have the same. It seems rather logical, but the only problem is this is the story of my life; and as such, I’m only a character within a far too complicated plot – not the author. I have no idea what to point out as significant, or what details to put emphasis on as a foreshadowing of the future. Instead I’ll simply say it as I see it.

It’s only polite to introduce myself. My name’s J. E. Brand, and what those two letters stand for is a secret for only me to know. I’m in my last year at college – a full-time student trying to balance a part-time job and writing. I’ve never been the best at juggling, and it shows in the slowness of my writing. Slow but steady wins the race, I’d like to think.

My major has nothing to do with my creative passion. I’m getting my Bachelor of Science in Finance with minors in Mathematics and Education. Why? Because, aside from being a geek, I also pride myself on being a nerd. (Yes, they’re different.) I can’t quite explain what it is about the stock market that really gets my adrenaline pumping.

Why am I writing this blog? It seems to me that we only hear about failure in hindsight. “I was rejected by hundreds of agents but now I’m a full-time author living financially stable.” It’s easy to look at those moments after you’ve succeeded in your dreams, but while living them out you go through a whirlpool of emotions. This journal will be dedicated to embodying such, so that my fellow struggling authors realize that we’re not alone.

Me? I finished my first novel last year. It was rejected by nineteen agents altogether before I decided to move onto another story series. I know that number might seem rather low to some, but every single one felt like a bullet straight to the heart. I’ve completed five short stories since then, and each of them has been sent back to me with an email that begins with “Thank you for submitting ‘So and So.’ Unfortunately…” It’s all rather discouraging, but luckily I’ve a support system unparalleled by many.

First, there’s my sister: Kristen Brand. She’s an Indie author (Links to her books are below! I simply must recommend them, as is my sisterly duty. If you have ad blocker off, you might need to enable it. I promise Amazon links are the only ads you'll see.) and taught me most of what I know. I still remember the days when she was in high school, and I was in elementary school. I would beg to read her stories while I was attempting to be just like her and write something that at least vaguely could be called a story. I never could write past twenty pages before I moved onto the next plot. Now, I give her all of my stories to read, and she returns them with edits that help me give them depth, magical scenery, and basically just completely transform them into something I can be proud of.

Then, there’s my best friend Nick. He’s just an overflow of support. Whenever I doubt my abilities, he’s my own personal cheerleader. A day doesn’t go by where he doesn’t ask about my progress or characters. Whenever I’m excited about a new development, he listens with genuine intrigue and asks an overflow of questions showcasing his interest. Not only does that get my creative juices flowing, but it lets me know at least I have one person rooting for me (two if you count my sister).

I’m going to combine my final two mentions into one paragraph: Kaitlyn Lunceford and Niki Potosky. Why do I use their full names and why are they lumped together? Because, aside from being close friends, they’re also my professional co-workers that I want to brag on. You have Kaitlyn to thank for this beautiful website layout and whatnot. As for Niki, you haven’t seen what she can do yet. Soon to be added this site will be an upcoming comic book, and she’s the master behind the beautiful art. She takes my words and turns them into epic-ness, to say the least. You’ll see more of that in time! Yes, that’s your cue to get really excited.

So, I suppose my first suggestion to all of you struggling authors such as my self is this: find people who support your dream and surround yourself with their uplifting energy. When the world is only feeding you rejection and misery, it’s nice to have a sibling or friend that you can sip a cup of tea with while they remind you that you’re awesome. What’s the best way to make sure you’re not annoying them with your constant mentions of the fictional characters that dwell in your imagination? Support their dreams, too. It becomes a web of positivity, and then you and the people you care about are able to fight the odds and not give up.