Butterflies or Ghosts

Butterflies or Ghosts

I should probably keep resting–it’s only been two weeks since I finished my novella. My writer’s brain needs time to recharge.

Besides, I have library books to consume, a closet to organize, and that batch of muffins.

But stories flow through my mind, flitting like butterflies or lingering like ghosts.

The mermaids wait in the ocean, thumping their tails on the floor to communicate–congregation, location, danger.

Five siblings need their personalities to be explored and tied into ordinary wartime adventures.

A young nun must set out on her own to find the family she was sure she lost.

There’s a prophesied apocalypse to outrun. A WW2 hospital ward to visit. Ashkenazi Jews surviving in space. The girl in the compression suit. The girl who loses every friend. Something very wrong with clones.

I wouldn’t blame me for resting for a while longer. And I also wouldn’t blame me if I dove into a project head first. πŸ˜‰

Some Very Bookish Updates ;)

Some Very Bookish Updates ;)

Guys, I’m getting more and more excited by the day. 😍 It finally hit me today, after a video call with my fellow anthology authors, that this is real!

AHHHHHHHH!!! I’m here to spill all the details. πŸ˜‰

First off, we have a blurb…

Nyree moves when she loses her job, hoping to reconnect with herself and her grandmother in time for Easter, but when she stumbles upon a hidden garden, she discovers just how much she’s been missing.
The Prayer Garden by Kelsey Bryant, inspired by The Secret Garden

Felicity goes out of her comfort zone and invites Adam Moore to Easter service, but their business rivalry has him ready to prove her evangelization wrong.
Lilies and Thorns by Abigayle Claire, inspired by Romeo and Juliet

Samuel is haunted by his past and unsettled by the present, but as the Easter season begins, Ellie could show him what his future could be.
An Easter Canticle by Sarah Holman, inspired by A Christmas Carol

Addie hopes for a fresh start when she and her family move to the mountains to live with Grandfather, but some wounds seem too deep to heal, even at Easter.
Addie’s Mountain by Kate Willis, inspired by Heidi

Four classic-inspired Easter stories full of hope, faith, and the miracle of resurrection.

And we have a release date–March 1st, 2023–which also means it’s AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER! *happy dance* We’ll have some pre-order goodies available soon to boot. πŸ˜‰

And if you’d like to be part of the launch team (maybe get an ARC of one of the stories? πŸ‘€), you can sign up here.

Wow, that was a lot. I hope your week (and this new month!) is going well. πŸ˜‰

*disappears back into cave* *temporarily*

The In Or Out Book Tag

The In Or Out Book Tag

While my braincells recuperate from pounding out a book, I thought it’d be fun to do an “easy post” and snagged a tag from this blog. πŸ˜‰

It’s time for me to give my stances on some common bookish pet peeves, mwaha. Let’s get started!

1. Reading the Last Page First

OUT. If I run across a spoiler, the harder I try to forget it, the worse it sticks, so I’m veeery careful to not read ahead. (Not that it’s never happened.) πŸ˜‰

2. Enemies to Lovers

OUT, most of the time. I don’t generally like books with a lot of conflict or drama, and when it’s in a romantic setting it can end up leaning into some pretty disrespectful or abusive tropes sometimes. 😦 I do enjoy it when characters have a flirty, good-fun rivalry though.

3. Dream Sequences

OUT, but just because I’ve been tricked by them way too many times. πŸ˜‚ I do think they have their place, especially in fantasy if they’re visions of sorts, but if it’s used to mess with readers… thumbs down.

4. Love Triangles

OUT, (unless you’re the Matched trilogy and I’ll give you a pass). It comes back again to my dislike of drama, but I also find it easily leans into leading people on, feeling possessive, or cheating tropes which are not my cup of tea.

5. Cracked Spines

IN, though I’m not sure if I could bring myself to do it. I do really enjoy it when a used book is already broken in–it just makes reading so comfy. πŸ˜‰

6. Back To My Small Town

IN, and Toni Shiloh and Chautona Havig use this trope in the cutest ways.

7. Monsters Are Regular People

IN. Do we mean like the world of Monsters University or a friend is a hidden mermaid in the real world? Cause I like both. πŸ˜‰

8. No Paragraph Breaks

OUT. *gags* I need these for my brain!

9. Multi-Generational Sagas

*whispers very quietly* out. They tend to rely on relationship drama too much for my tastes plus I don’t often have the attention span for long series, lol. *stares in standalone and trilogy fan*

10. Re-reading

IN, theoretically. I usually remember the plots of books too well to want to re-read them, but it can be really fun and comforting too, especially if it’s a book from my childhood.

11. Artificial Intelligence

IN, mwaha. I love almost all sci-fi tropes and the ways they can be used to explore themes of humanity, entropy, control, emotions, etc. I must write a sci-fi book someday…

12. Drop Caps

IN, they’re cute.

13. Happy Endings

IIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNN. They’re the best, followed closely by bittersweet and hopeful endings.

14. Plot Points That Only Converge At The End

IN, theoretically. I love a good, huge reveal, but a little bit of satisfaction along the way is necessary. πŸ˜‰

15. Detailed Magic Systems

OUT. *hides* I’m sorry, but I do not enjoy super technical world-building.

16. Classic Fantasy Races

IN. Elves, centaurs, merfolk are literally always cool?!

17. Unreliable Narrators

Hmmmm… 50/50. I’m not sure I’ve read many books like this? (Yes, I’m aware of the irony of this answer.)

18. Evil Protagonists

OUT. Nooo, I want to be able to root for you! 😭 If we’re doing a descent into madness or redemption storyline, mayyyybeee.

19. The Chosen One

IN, mostly. This one can be really fun and creative or bland and overused, lol.

20. When The Protagonist Dies

OUT. I don’t need my heart broken!

21. Really Long Chapters

OUT. Again, I need the divisions for my brain otherwise I feel like the book is dragging. πŸ™ƒ

22. French Flaps

IN. (This is when the cover of a paperback has a folded-over flap similar to a dust jacket, I believe.) Feels so fancy, probably because I’ve only seen the highest quality paperbacks with them. πŸ˜‰

23. Deckled Edges

IN. (I had to Google to be sure, but this is basically untrimmed pages.) Absolutely gorgeous, gives an air of “yes, this is an old, mysterious library”, and I just really love how the texture feels. ❀

24. Signed Copies By The Author

IN. It reminds me there’s a real human who poured heart into these pages and having so many author friends makes this even more special.

25. Dog-Earing Pages

OUT. Be nice to the little page corners. 😠

26. Chapter Titles Instead Of Numbers

OUT? I actually don’t pay attention much to headings, though, unless they’re particularly artistic or part of the theme of the book.

There we are. πŸ˜‰ This was so much fun to answer, and I hope you feel free to snag it and share your answers! πŸ˜‰

I Did It!

I Did It!

Remember when I shared I was part of A Very Bookish Easter anthology and my plans for a Heidi-inspired novella? I wrote a large chunk during my escapades as a NaNoRebel but soon fell into writer’s block and dissatisfaction with the tone and direction of my story…

Each day as my deadline drew closer, I knew I couldn’t continue writing it.

Two days before the year ended, I took the plunge and completely started over. Square one, fresh document, no borrowing words from the original draft (except a short description).

Back when I was just starting chapter 3 😭

I wrote like a crazy fiend for the next two weeks through vacation, illness, and ginormous work projects. I wrote in the car, in bed, at the coffee shop, in my living room. Lots of tea was consumed. πŸ˜‰

Chai and cupcake Squishmallow for support

As the story took shape this time, I found both the joy and the deep theme I was missing. It became a celebration of spring, of a hometown very inspired by my own, of a close-knit family and community.

And it became an exploration of church hurt and longing for wholeness again.

I really am so grateful (and mildly shocked πŸ˜…) to have this novella completed. It’s been three years since my last new book, so this feels like a huge step and a big blessing.

My coffeeshop buddy πŸ’–

It’s currently in the hands of my fabulous beta-reading team and after that it’ll be sent on over to my editor. πŸ™Œ

I named it “Addie’s Mountain”, and I can’t wait to share it with you. πŸ’–

My Nostalgic Book Haul

My Nostalgic Book Haul

Recently my family was going through their books, and I got texted pictures of some they were planning to donate/give away. Looking through them brought back such beautiful memories, and I chose my favorites to keep and share with my own family someday. The oldest book here is one I first experienced almost 20 years ago and the newest are some I read in ebook or from the library and couldn’t pass up the chance to own.

I know it was a lot of work for my mom to take these pictures then sort out what I wanted, so I’m very grateful she reached out. πŸ’–

Here are the ones I chose…

  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, a smart, amusing, and helpful grammar guide
  • Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster, a newer copy and one I didn’t have in paperback (shocker, I know)
  • Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, an adorable newer find
  • The Cats in the Doll Shop by Yona Zeldis McDonough, one of the sweetest WW2 books I’ve read from the library
  • Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink by Gail Carson Levine, a very inspiring book that helped fuel my love for writing
  • Cherokee Run by Barbara Smucker, my first introduction to non-resistance but I’m conflicted about the land-grab history and will be looking at it more critically πŸ˜‰
  • Structuring Your Novel by K.M. Weiland, aka a book my parents bought for the family but mostly to help me with my writing (it made Kiera possible!)
  • Twinepathy by C.B. Cook, one of the greatest superhero books of all time and a favorite indie
  • At the Foot of Windy Low by May Justus, a book my oldest sister read aloud to me before I could even read πŸ’–
  • The Beautiful Culpeppers by Marion Upington, the most adorably unique book ever (a paper doll family?!)
  • Finding the Core of Your Story by Jordan Smith, another helpful writing book my parents bought

They also found my long-lost copy of The Book Thief which is going on the TBR for this year. πŸ˜‰

I’m enjoying the memories as I find shelf and closet space for them all. πŸ˜‰

Do you have a favorite nostalgic read?

Crunch Time

Crunch Time

Greetings from crazy author HQ. I haven’t updated you all on my WIP for the Easter anthology in quite a while because I’ve been frantically writing it. In fact, tomorrow I turn “Addie’s Mountain” over to beta-readers. Tonight I finish writing it…

I truly can’t believe this is happening. It’s been a while since my last project, and this one has had so many setbacks. To get to this point, well… I’m both excited and terrified out of my mind. πŸ‘€

*stares into the void* *flexes writing muscles*

As this week is proving too dynamic and busy for blogging, I thought I might pacify you all with a (very rough draftish) excerpt… πŸ˜‰

Addie awoke to soft gray light playing with the curtain and a chill running through the room that made her want to burrow deeper into her blankets and never leave. She yawned and rolled over to face Claire but her sister was already awake, sitting close to the window with her blanket draped over her shoulders.

“What is it?” Addie asked. She sat up but her body shivered in protest. 

“It snowed,” Claire breathed, and she was over to the window in seconds.

Soft, glittering snow had covered the whole backyard, dormant orchard and dead garden, and even balanced on the fence that separated yard from pasture. Small flakes still floated down here and there like butterflies skipping from flower to flower. Penny ran by wagging her tail and twisting with joy as she tried to snap up the flakes. The sisters exchanged glances and made a snap decision, changing into snow clothes and charging out the backdoor before breakfast could even be mentioned.

Addie chased Claire around the big maple tree, throwing handfuls of snow and dodging Penny who was determined to get under foot. Claire’s cheeks grew rosy with the cold and laughter, and she stopped suddenly and shoved a handful of snow right into her.

Addie shrieked and the snow battle was on. They sank down on the porch together and stared out at the slushy yard that was beginning to melt. A movement near the barn caught Addie’s eye and she looked in time to see a tall boy turn away and duck into the building.

I’ll be back next week with more project details and a very fun bookhaul. For now, send help and Chai. πŸ’–

(Also, J and I got a library card!)

A Proxy Wedding by Toni Shiloh // Mini Review

A Proxy Wedding by Toni Shiloh // Mini Review

Saying I Do was more than they bargained for.

Carly James values loyalty and friendship above all. So when her best friend calls asking her to be a proxy bride, she says, β€˜yes.’ How hard can it be to say β€˜I do’ so that her best friend can be with the one she loves? Only, Carly never counted on the feelings that began to swirl around with the proxy groom.

Damien Nichols likes life lined up from A to Z, but when his best friend calls in a favor, disorder begins to reign. Instead of taking a quick flight to the proxy wedding, he has to take a road trip with the proxy bride. Carly’s free-spirit attitude bumps heads with his meticulous approach to life. As Damien discovers the woman underneath the carefree faΓ§ade, his emotions become involved. (from Goodreads)

My Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Not gonna lie, the concept of a modern proxy wedding (??!) drew me in immediately, and I knew my favorite author could pull off something fabulous. It ended up being so cute and sweet with a surprising amount of character development, arc, and relationship testing in such a short novella. I really enjoyed it. πŸ˜‰ Definitely like a Hallmark movie, in all the best ways.

CW:Β Mentions of relational trauma from a family of origin and an ex-spouse. The main characters have strong chemistry that is often in their thoughts but it is handled well and never crosses a line.

New Year’s Resolution Book Tag

New Year’s Resolution Book Tag

Hello, and yes, I’m absolutely using this tag as a cute excuse to talk about my TBR. 😁 Heaven made it look so fun (go check out her answers), I decided to give it a go.

An author that you’d like to read (that you’ve never read before).

I’m leaving this space free for the lovely indies I’m sure are about to publish their debuts. You can do it, and I can’t wait to read it!

A book you’d like to read.

All of them, please. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ But more specifically Cinder by Marissa Meyer is on the TBR, mostly because I got the most adorable copy at the thrift store. πŸ˜‡

A classic you’d like to read.

I’d like to continue my tour through Agatha Christie books. I’m really enjoying her writing style and values so far. πŸ˜‰

A book you’d like to re-read.

My prodigal copy of The Book Thief has returned home, and I’m ready to let it break my heart again. 😭 Also, it’s an inspiring masterclass in breaking every rule as a writer so I will be soaking that aspect up.

A book you’ve had for ages and want to read.

In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh. I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to experience its gorgeousness. 😍

A big book you’d like to read.

So big books and I aren’t exactly friends and if I read them it’s an accident, so I’ll leave this space open for whatever I find.

An author you’ve previously read and want to read more of.

J. Grace Pennington! She’s releasing more books in her Firmament series and I am here for it. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ€©

A book you got for Christmas and would like to read.

It was actually for a birthday, but The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen has been making eye contact with me from the shelves. πŸ‘€

A series you want to read from start to finish.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins is one of my most concrete goals this year. I’m looking forward to hardcore judging Gale more and experiencing the little details the movies couldn’t get across. But pray for my squeamish soul. πŸ˜‰

Do you set reading goals? If so, how many books do you want to read in 2023?

Yesssssss. I’m shooting for 35 books this year, but we’ll see what happens. 😁

Any other reading goals?

Just to have a lot of fun and don’t be shy to DNF if a book is just not my type. πŸ˜‰

Whatever happens, I know it’s gonna be a lot of fun. πŸ˜‰

(Feel free to steal this tag–I want to read your answers. 😎)

2023, Bookish Goals for Me

2023, Bookish Goals for Me

Welcome, 2023! Make yourself comfortable and stay awhile. πŸ˜‰

As in past years, I’ve decided to share a few of my hopeful bookish goals for this year. πŸ˜‰

1. Publish my A Very Bookish Easter novella

My entry to this anthology is coming along well, and I can’t wait for you all to read the finished product. 🀩 I think it’s gonna give you allll the cozy feels. 😁

2. Commission character art

This was actually something I attempted last year, but it didn’t end up working out, and I’m really excited to give it another shot. I have some gorgeous art of Kiera and of characters from the Arrows and Archers series planned. 😍

3. Dive back into dormant projects

This includes but is not limited to… promised sequels, “Awake” draft bazillion and seven or something, and a middle-grade WWII homefront novel. I am hoping to ease back into regular writing routines, and the big dream is to publish at least one new project this year. πŸ™

4. Sell books in person?

It’s been a few years now since I’ve had the opportunity to sell my books at an in-person event, but I’m really hoping/praying/scheming to get something together this year. πŸ™ˆ

5. Read 35 books

I barely made my goal last year, but I am planning to read a lot, so I’ve started my challenge at a nice, moderate 35 books. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜ I’m hoping a high percentage of them are new indie releases. 🀞

There you go! Those are my bookish goals for this shiny new year. πŸ˜πŸ’™ In the personal sphere, I’m also planning to continue working on my mental health and to move on from my current day job to something that fits my needs better. Also, more baking, but that’s a given… πŸ˜‰

What are your hopeful goals for 2023?

Shalom and Goodbye to 2022

Shalom and Goodbye to 2022

If I had to choose three words to describe this year, they would be “sorting”, “softness”, and “new” memories. πŸ’™

Year one of marriage has been great! We’ve had so much fun getting settled in our little house, bringing his dog Nugget into the mix, and becoming pros at grocery shopping and communication (almost). Also, hospitality makes us feel like really cool adults. 😎 My favorite new memories have been us sitting on the porch watching it rain and our very bookish vacation this summer.

My mental health journey has been a ride. Oh boy. πŸ₯΄ Lots of coping with comfort shows, a cute computer game, and amazing naps, lol. I feel like I lost a lot of time this year to survival mode, but I’m so grateful to be six months into treatment and feeling way better. And just this month I got answers and a plan for 3+ years of “mysterious” physical illness. πŸ™ŒπŸ˜

It’s been an amazing author year in ways I could have never expected when I dove back in! It’s been encouraging and fun to find you all stuck around, and growing my bookish Instagram community has been great too. πŸ’™ I released the special second edition of Kiera, a literal dream come true, published Enjoy the Poodle Skirt in adorable tiny paperback form, and wrote Operation Robin and most of a novella. I’ve also been gaining confidence (and a low-key obsession) with cover design. 😎

So much more reading happened this year! And a huge percentage of it was indie, which makes me ridiculously happy. πŸ˜‰ From debuts to short stories to years-in-the-making comebacks, I’ve been delighted to support my authors and discover new fictional worlds. I’ve also gotten to experience a couple buddy reads which is always quite fun. Check out my Goodreads “Year in Books” to see what I enjoyed.

My husband and I really bonded over movies while we were dating, and the fun has continued into our marriage. Thanks to him, I’ve seen a TON of really good movies this year, so I had trouble choosing my top 5. (That’s why there are six. πŸ˜‚πŸ‘€) If you have any questions about a movie/content, I’m happy to share my thoughts. πŸ˜‰

I got to bake a lot more this season, and my favorite repeat recipe has got to be these cookies. So delicious and light. 🀀 I had to buy a new computer early this year, and collecting stickers on it makes my nerd heart so happy. 😍 As does my growing Funko Pop family and the book sleeve collection I accidentally started. 😊

It’s been quite a year, and I’m really, really grateful for it. πŸ’š I’ll be back next week (next year! :O ) with my nebulous goals for 2023.

Thank you for being part of my 2022!