Violet’s Mountain

Violet’s Mountain tells the story of Violet, a mysterious young woman who lives atop a giant mountain of hoarded things. By day she is a heavy machine operator, piling more things up and up and up. By night she adorns the top of the pile with welded steel, sculptural whirligigs.

She builds, she creates, she welds, she lifts heavy boxes, she drives cranes, she’s a total bad ass.

But in the story you barely get to know her, before everything shifts.

Instead you get to know Lala, her cousin. Violet has been her guardian, but as Lala puts it, “I can’t leave her, she’s so arty that she forgets to eat.”

You meet Benjamin, the young man who falls in love, and wants to charm Violet down from the hoard, and take her away to the city.

And you meet Edmund, the surfing environmentalist, heir to an oil fortune, who wants to rescue her and doesn’t know how. He rocks her world.

The story is about love, duty, and rescue.  Love in spite of our shortcomings. Duty to family over all else. And rescue in spite of ourselves. And whether, when your world comes crashing down, you can find forgiveness for the one who caused your collapse.

violet polaroid

The first round of beta reading is done. Thank you Melody, Melissa, Mara, Fiona, and Isobel. I believe Violet’s Mountain has fans already. I’m making some changes and then it goes to the proofreader.




It’s been awhile…

Because I’m wading through my newest book, deep, okay, I’m snorkeling. Got my mask on and my breathing-tubey thing, a girl has to breathe, though it ain’t easy all the time when my newest hotties keep taking their clothes  off.

Here’s the thing, this book is probably—adult.

Perhaps—New Adult.

But when I look up New Adult all the covers sport naked male chests.

I’m not sure I get that market place. I mean don’t get me wrong, my guy, Edmund, is willing to take his shirt off, but he doesn’t have to.  He has other ways.

My new book is called, Violet’s Mountain. I’m looking for beta readers. Have you ever been a beta reader before? I give you a copy (kindle or ipad) and you read and tell me what you think. I have a questionaire for you.

The book should be ready for betas in about a week, so if you and yours want to help direct its direction, please send me a note:

hd  at  hdknightley dot com



New Review for Bright…

Catherine says (over on Goodreads):

“I love the premise: there’s so much light pollution that it’s impossible to see the stars…more than that, there’s really only one person that would like to, or even cares that she can’t. Stars you see are rather old fashioned, out dated and have been vastly improved by sky projections in New Town! At first I thought New Town (newer, better, improved) had shades of the Capitol in Hunger Games, then with officially sanctioned betrothals I thought I had the measure recalling Matched by Ally Condie or Delirium by Lauren Oliver but I was wrong. Bright stands on its own merits.
The descriptions of New Town aspirations, the sheer materialism of it all, absent of emotions ploughing through their natural resources in quest for new and improved are great. And Estelle. Gradually awakening and resisting the environmental degradation New Town champions; forging her own path. There’s drama, there’s romance, there’s overbearing bureaucracy, there’s a struggle. There’s everything you’re looking for!”

I loved this review. When I was writing Bright I originally wrote it with a dreary, yet well-lit city in charge. Then I saw the Hunger Games brought to life on the big screen. Oh the Capitol! The visual beauty of the city and it’s lavish oppression helped me envision a totalitarian society that is brutal, yet beautiful. Not so bad if you live there, but horrible if you’re part of the machine that keeps the pleasure going…voila New City.

I’m working on a sequel to Bright right now, it’s a visit to the environs around the City, a glimpse into the gears that hide behind the veil of opulence and newness. Finished the rough draft and first round of edits, only 24 left ;o)


Camping, TFIOS, and Writing and other things…

One of my favoritest things to do in the world is to sit around a campfire writing a new book. I went camping this week and didn’t write one single word, instead I read The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. It was my attempt to jump on the excitement train that my girls are gleefully riding, and boy am I on the train. John Green is a wonderful writer and the book is really good and it wasn’t just that my feet were warming beside a campfire and I was out under the stars while I read. Read it, the movie comes out next week and you want to be one with the flow of the universe, go go go.

I am about to dive back into my newest book, Fly. My editor, Denine, asked me the other day, “Do you want to publish it like it is, good. Or do you want to make it perfect? It’s up to you.”  I chose perfect, because it’s already good. I should be rewriting for a few weeks. Now I just have to figure out how to find an open campsite and a load of firewood!

I’m about to release the cover for Fly, to see what you think, dear reader. If you have a half a minute can you please tell a friend to sign up here on my site, follow me on Facebook? I need some buzz, got some buzz? Tell a friend you liked my book…

Also, if you’ve finished reading Bright and loved it, please leave a review here on Amazon. 


The Last Word

I may have told you that I wrote another book in November. While my Kickstarter campaign was running and my editor was editing and I was mama-ing with nothing much else to do, I signed up for NaNoWriMo and wrote 35,000 words. Not quite making the deadline or the goal.

January I added to it here and there until I had written a pretty passable 50,000 words by the middle of the month. I really like it. I began a first pass. Revising and editing and made my way through bit by bit. Changed the main characters name, now she’s Amelia. The main guy is now Hank-formerly Henry.

In this rewrite/revise as I neared the end I knew it would need to be heavily altered. The book is a retelling of a fairy tale after all, but I didn’t want the ending to simper. It should be happy like most of the best of the fairy tale persuasion (I mean modern versions of course) but not sappily. I feared that my ending was so sweet it would require a spoon full of salt to help it go down and as I neared it I knew it was true. Then it came to me. Amelia is no shrinking flower awaiting her rescue, she’s a pissed off bad ass and she reacts accordingly.

For about three days she was literally hanging off of a very tall something. I had written a ‘cliff-hanger’ and then couldn’t figure out how to climb her back off. This was a very weird experience. In the past, if I read a cliff-hanger I knew that the rescue was within the next few pages, already written, on its way. This maiden had no rescue and so she just dangled there in the back of my mind. I would mention it to the kids occasionally, “So, Amelia is still on the cliff,” and we would laugh.

Amelia’s not there anymore. The rewrite and revision is done. I’m ready to pass the story to a couple of beta readers. Yay!

I’ve written the ending of the story, Fly,  and the last word is: waves.

Becoming a writer…

I set out on this journey for one of the strangest of reasons: I was reeling over the demise of my career as a cartoonist. It took a long time to face that the former career was over, because I’d never really been paid, it was difficult to come to terms with the  fact that I would never get paid. Also, in the back of my mind I kept thinking, if you love doing it, you should do it because you love it, and isn’t that enough? Because that’s the myth that artist tell themselves, ‘keep creating content and giving it away,’ because you’re happy. Until suddenly you aren’t.

So one day I woke up and the sands of tide had shifted to reveal a rocky shore that I had flung myself up upon. Or simply, I decided to reinvent myself.

I had already written a very flawed book. 60,000 words that were almost all of them not quite right, but I decided to take a leap and tweak and tweak and tweak some more until the book was finally ready, and then publish it on my own. I plan to write about the decision to self-publish and also to write a bit about things I’ve learned along the way, but for now I wanted to answer a question I was asked the other day:

What made you decide to become a writer?

Cartoonists are by their nature story tellers, and I had been telling a story for about a decade, but cartoonists by trade are also simplifiers. We take a story and try and bring it down to its essence. What can fit inside of four bubbles, with few words and minimal punctuation.

I had a big story I wanted to tell, about a girl who dislikes her culture and builds a farm, I set out to write it, and then with the help of my editor, Denine Dawson, I wrote it again, and again, and again.  On the first pass with my manuscript Denine had to re-explain the importance of the occasional period. I had forgotten. On the sixth pass I was still tweaking my overuse of the word ‘that’.

I suppose what I’m saying is that  I had every reason to believe that maybe I should just give up, but I didn’t and the story is finished and I’m telling it. I wrote it.

When I asked a writer’s group, what do you do when you’re waiting for your editor to finish editing? They asked me, “well, it depends, was this just a story that you needed to tell, or are you a writer ? If you’re a writer, then write!”

Somewhere in all of the rewrites and endless editing and occasional tears, I realized that it was fun. I also started writing another story that I really have to tell. Come to find out, year 2013, I learned that writing makes me happy. I plan to keep doing it because I love it.



Floyd is now named Jack!

My lovely Step-Mother-In-Law, April, pledged to my kickstarter campaign and got to change the name of one of the characters in Bright.

Floyd Walters was a character that at first was only going to be in one chapter, but then he ended up in a love triangle of sorts with the main character, Estelle, and integral to the story. Floyd just didn’t seem like the right name.

April chose to name him after her grandfather: Jack Maranville and subsequently named the whole family Maranville and their business the Maranville Public Relations and Marketing firm.

Jack’s parents are now Leo, named for April’s grandmother (cool, huh?) and Maude, April’s grandmother’s middle name and my father-in-law’s grandmother’s first name. So there you have it, Jack Maranville is a character!

My dad pledged to kickstarter and got to name a girl character. She has a small role in this book, but I plan a bigger role in a sequel. She was named Sally, now her name is Angel Singer.

Thank you April and thank you Dad!


Introducing the guys!

Estelle has two men in her life, Floyd (This name is changing. It was a kickstarter reward and my lovely step-mother-in-law bought the opportunity to name him ;o) and William. Both are pretty great guys in their own way. One was picked by the System and there’s a contract, and rules, and he helps. One has joined Estelle’s rebellion, he’s an arrogant  outlaw and destined to bring trouble.

Here’s a bit of the story with each:

Estelle and Floyd (page 84):

After school, I met Floyd at the Office of Future Affairs. He greeted me warmly, and we leaned over the counter together and asked the receptionist for the forms we needed to dissolve our betrothal. She handed them to us with a quizzical look on her face, and then I spent the next few minutes trying to figure out how to fill them out without a pen. I checked the same pockets twice. Floyd watched me silently, a smile spreading across his face. Then he slowly took two pens out of his pocket with one hand and put them in front of me, giving me a choice. Here’s something I now know about my almost-future husband, he has a ready smile and carries two pens. I carry zero. We completed the forms, glancing at each other’s to make sure they were filled out fully, then signed them and turned them in together.

As we left, on the steps outside, Floyd said, “So, here we go again. I come in next week to fill out my new questionnaire, and hopefully I’m matched with someone a little less interesting.” He smiled at me. “I really hope she’s as beautiful as you, though.” He turned to walk away. “I’ll see you at school tomorrow.” He headed to his car, as I watched him go.

I walked over to meet Terran at his car. “Was that Floyd?” he asked.

“Yep, the husband that never was. We just dissolved our betrothal together. It’s done, and maybe we’re even friends, I think.”

“You, with a friend?” asked Terran. “I guess there’s always a first time.” He laughed.

“What, you have friends?” I half-teased, kind of wondering if he might.

“Yeah, I have friends.” He stated it simply and then quickly switched the subject.

and Estelle and William (page 126-127):

My relationship with William was tepid at best. We barely spoke, and I was discombobulated whenever he came near. While we worked, I listened to him and Terran banter back and forth and crack jokes. Sometimes, I desperately wanted to join in. I couldn’t though. I was still entirely too embarrassed and willful, I guess–if I totally come clean. I stayed clear of any conversations with him. It was easy enough because we were consumed with work the whole day, and then at night I would ask about him. What did he say at this time, and that moment? When did you meet? What is he really like? One night, Terran started laughing and shaking his head.

“What?” I asked, irritated that I didn’t know what was funny, and suspicious that I was the cause.

“You! You should just ask William this stuff yourself. You should talk to him, Stelley. He’s really nice.”

I opened my mouth to make an excuse, but then clamped it shut. I had no excuse. I was behaving ridiculously. I made a deal with myself that I would strike up a conversation with William the next day. The day after, at the latest. Definitely by next week.

My procrastination ended the next morning, when William walked up behind me and asked, “Um, Estelle, can I talk to you?”

I swear I almost had a heart attack. “Sure?” I said it like a question hoping that he might rethink and say, ‘never mind’. He didn’t.

“I know when I came to help I only talked about it with Terran. I know this is kind of all your idea, and so I feel bad that I never asked you if it was okay. I should have asked. I’m asking now. Do you mind if I stay and work for a while longer?”

I looked right at him, it was the first time I had let myself do that since we met in the Office. “No, I don’t mind at all. Having you here has helped enormously. I really don’t know what we would have done without you.”

“Oh man, I’m so relieved to hear you say that.” His eyes looked around the land, taking in all the work we had done, then he turned to me, “I was so nervous about asking. Petrified, actually.”

“Petrified?” I repeated, “To talk to me? Why?”

He looked at me incredulously for a long moment and then said, “Because you’re Estelle Wells, look what you’ve done.”

“I’m really just a girl, and Terran is here too, and…” I was trying to come up with an excuse, to cover my embarrassment at being singled out. I realized he was smiling at me.

“You don’t get it do you? I know Terran; he’s here because he loves the work, but ask him and he’ll say the idea is all you. It is all you. I can see it when you look out over these lots. Like you’re thinking it over, and through, planning what’s next, and that you’re worried about it all.”

“So, why are you here?” I asked, intrigued by this insight.

“Me? I like the idea.” He looked down at the shovel in his hand. He held it loosely, like he was judging its heft. Then, as if he was talking to it, he said, “We’ve got work to do.” He walked over to the Scorpion where Terran was waiting.