2019 in Review ;)

2019 in Review ;)

A long time ago in 2016, some friends and I were commenting on a sci-fi looking outfit. “Woah, that looks like it’s from 2020 or something.” Seconds later, we all freaked out when we realized that sci-fi-sounding date was only four years away.

And now 2020 is today. O.o.

Start practicing writing it on papers now, y’all. 😀

At the very beginning of this year, I want to take a few moments to share some of my highlights from the last one. 😉

(Such a silly Kate)

In the blogging sphere…

2019 felt a little bit different for me as far as blogging goes. With all the writing/publishing deadlines I had this year, there were some rough patches with fatigue and a lack of inspiration, but I’m excited to see that fading. 😉 Thanks for sticking with me through it! I also did my first vlog with My Face in it and got to reveal a ton of really pretty book covers. 😀

I looked up my stats for the top five posts of last year (minus giveaways/collabs cause those naturally get more hits), and here’s what the numbers show…

  1. Shipping Is the Best is actually one I posted in late November 2018. It was super fun sharing memes about shipping (as in wanting two characters to get in a relationship) and sharing my tips for shipping books in the mail. XD
  2. Do I Have That Book? Challenge was super fun. I enjoyed searching through my books to find ones that answered the questions.
  3. The End of the Line: My Thoughts on Avengers Endgame. Okay, this one took so much work to write and put together, and I loved every moment of it. The movie was definitely a highlight of my year. ❤
  4. I Love Book Thrifting (and You Can Too) was disguised as a thrifting tutorial, but it was really just an excuse to get to go book shopping. 😛 😉 (Also another one that was posted late 2018 and took off the next year.)
  5. A Smorgasbord of Writing Music is a collection of some of my favorite songs to write to. (Obvious from the title, but this needed a description to match the others, right? XD)

And if I had to choose two favorites, they’d probably be #3 and My Shoes Have Bows. 😉

(Books, books, books…)

In the reading sphere…

Last year (it feels so weird to type that!), I found soooo many good books! Some really fun experiences this year were my very first buddy reads with my friend Mikayla, getting to finish reading some serieses (wooohooo!), and trying Kindle Unlimited for the first time. 😉 Goodreads put together a fun summary of my reading year (you can view it here), but I’m gonna go ahead and choose five keep-these-in-my-heart-forever books to highlight. 😉

  1. Legends by Denver Evans was something I was absolutely not expecting, and I still struggle to review it properly. Is it too cliche to say that it broke my heart and put it back together? Knocked my socks off? Asdfjkl; and other random gibbering? It’s full of ordinaryness and identity and identity found in Christ. 
  2. The Mysterious Benedict and the Prisoner’s Dilemma by Trention Lee Stewart is one of my favorite books out of the trilogy (I haven’t read the new book or the prequel yet), and it’s here happily representing all of them. Guys, I love the feel of these books and the characters and the themes so much. ❤
  3. Red Rover, Red Rover by Perry Elisabeth Kirkpatrick. So, I already warned you all that I read a lot of series this year, right? 😀 My summer was full of this book and the other five that followed in quick succession. So satisfying and brilliant and hilarious.
  4. In 27 Days by Alison Gervais gave me so much to think about and I absolutely love the cover. Also, it is reaaaallly heartbreaking. 
  5. Remarkables by Margaret Peterson Haddix… How do I explain it? It messed with my classic sci-fi expectations and have me a big dose of hope. 😉

And because I read quite a few picture books this year, I want you all to know that Hair Love and How to Bake a Book are amazing. 

(That moment when you upload the book!)

In the writing sphere…

My writing year in one word: surprising. I’m so grateful for all the writing that I’ve gotten to do this year, and the places God has taken it that I could never have imagined. Some favorites…

  1. Completing the first draft of my novella “Imperfect”. I love this book soooo much, y’all. 😉
  2. Finally publishing The Night Archers, sequel to The Twin Arrows, and taking it to the homeschool convention with some fellow writing friends. ❤ I’m so happy to have this book out in the world, and I’m so grateful for everyone who has cheered me on (and given me the hard truth XD) as I revamped and edited it.
  3. Brainstorming, drafting, redrafting, and finishing a brand new novella in just eight months. I’m so excited to have been published in A Very Bookish Christmas with some of my favorite authors, and I’m so grateful to Sarah Holman for inviting me. ❤
  4. Getting to write some spur of the moment essays to process and/or enjoy some things I was thinking about.
  5. Writing ¼ of my fantasy novel. I AM SO EXCITED about this one! I didn’t expect to be able to get this far on it so soon, so it’s been a nice surprise. 😉
(I went to a cookie decorating party at a local coffee shop this year. So much fun!)

Besides the things I regularly talk about on this blog, life has been full of new experiences. A mixed bag for sure, but I’m sooo grateful for it. We joined a new church, and I’ve been loving the healing/convicting sermons, getting to sing in the choir, and doing volunteer childcare. I also started another online job (which has been a stretching and wonderful gift) and discovered gluten-free flour which is pretty fun. XD 

I’m sure that’s a pretty incomplete sketch of all the gifts I’ve been given last year, but God has blessed me so much, and I feel very loved. ❤ Here’s to the rest of this year! 😀

How was your 2019? And what are you grateful for?

Christmas Cards for My Characters

Christmas Cards for My Characters

My characters mean a lot to me. I love creating them and I love sharing them with you all. 😉 Just for fun, I decided to “write” Christmas cards to my characters. 😉 Most of them are from published stories, except the last one…


Dear Kiera

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I hope you and the baby are doing well, and give Jade a hug for me, please. I think of you all often! ❤



Dear Drewin and Ryla,

Happy Christmastide! I hope you all have a lovely holiday! Enjoy the absolutely decked castle and some fantastic pies.



Dear Gavynn

Happy Christmastide! Enjoy being together with your family, and send my greetings to Farren. 😉



(Card made by Emma)

Dear Jem,

Meeerrrrry CHRISTMAS!!! ❤ We just met this year, but it’s been so fun and I feel like I’ve known you forever. Eat some cheesecake for me. 😀



(Card made by Pearl)

Dear Kylee, 

Merry Christmas, friend! Also, happy painting and Happy New Year! 😉



And dear readers of my blog and my books, Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas to you! ❤ I’ll be back here for New Years… 😉

Announcing Giveaway Winners!

Announcing Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway last week! It was so fun seeing your entries come in, and I hope you had fun doing them. 😀

(Also, if you asked a question on Goodreads, I’ve answered them all now, so you can check those out here.)

I used Rafflecopter to pick a winner at random and the winner of this first prize…

…is Ariel Ramey! Congrats, Ariel! I will be emailing you shortly. 😀

And the winner of the second place prize–digital copies of The Twin Arrows and The Night Archers–is Noreen Bruce. Congrats, Noreen! I will be emailing you as well soon. 😉

Again, thanks everyone for entering! Have a great week. 😉

The Night Archers GIVEAWAY

The Night Archers GIVEAWAY

Greetings from Lady Shelly Addison Middleton, a.k.a. me. I found this cool “author pseudonym generator meme”, and the name sounded rather royal and slightly medievalish, so yeah… 😉


As the creative title of this post suggests, I have a giveaway for y’all!! 😀 In celebration of my new book The Night Archers, I’m giving away a signed paperback copy and a themed bracelet. *grins ginormously* There’s even a second prize too!

A failed test. Ruined crops. Night archers.

The war against the rebels rages, and Riverside’s famous cavalry is called to the King’s aid, leaving behind the women, children, and Gavynn.

Gavynn knows why he was the only man left behind. Every day in the town is a painful reminder. But storms, sickness, and sudden danger threaten his people, forcing him into an unexpected role.

Could his failure be a blessing in disguise?


(Also, if you haven’t read chapters one and two of The Night Archers, they are available for free here. Enjoy!)

Fine print, because why not: Cool slatted and fern backgrounds not included. Grand prize only ships to contiguous United States.
Thank You, Wow

Thank You, Wow

Last weekend, I spent my third year with Generation Rising at the AFHE homeschool convention. There were a ton of amazing, hilarious, goofy, and downright does-my-brain-even-exist-now-I’m-so-tired conversations. We met with friends, new customers, and fans. Some of my favorite moments were when readers stopped by to tell us how much our books have impacted them. My answer to those stories was, “Thank you, wow.” And then teared up silence.

And after this weekend, those words pretty much sum up how I’m feeling. 😉

Below are some of my favorite pictures from the weekend.

The cast and crew of this comedy–er, booth. (Minus one member.) Look at all those books! 😀

Day one! In the booth! Looking tired and goofy!

Car selfie on the way home. I was very happy about that sandwich… #stillabetterlovestorythanTwilight

Second day!

That moment when a book club stops by to get copies of Kiera. [insert crying emoji] So blown away!

After clean-up selfie…

I’m so grateful to get to be a storyteller, and now I need to sleep for a week. 😉

Convention Countdown (+Chapter Two)

Convention Countdown (+Chapter Two)

Just for fun, here’s chapter two of The Night Archers. If you haven’t read chapter one yet, catch it here.

Chapter Two: Problems

Soft light filtered through the blankets that covered the sides of the dining table. Gavynn sat up, careful not to hit his head on the low ceiling of the blanket house and listened to the silence. The storm was over.

Rosie slept on one side of him, squeezing her doll under one arm, and Maire held tightly to his hand with her own chubby one. He smiled down at them and gently untangled himself from them. Standing up from under the table, he was struck by the contrast of the neighbor children sitting with their mother. They had fresh memories to spoil their dreams, and the thought filled him with a compassion that led him to prayer. 

They stirred from sleep when he unbarred the door and let in a rectangle of brilliant, afternoon light. His stepmother followed him to the door, holding the baby close in her arms, and let out a gasp when she saw the street before them.

Water ran across the cobblestones in streams, carrying mud and debris with it. Clusters of townsfolk surveyed the damage and spoke in hushed whispers. A thick smell of rain and mud filled the air, and Gavynn wondered what condition the rest of the town was in. He stepped out into the street and looked up at the thatched roof of their cottage.

Here and there, material had been torn away and would need to be repaired before the next storm. Their barn had completely escaped damage, and he breathed a prayer of thanks when he thought of the dwindling provisions stored there.

The door of the cottage closed with a thud, and Anwen came toward him with a rag and the last of yesterday’s water. “You’d best wash off that mud before neighbors look at you any more curiously.”

He took the items with a laugh and set to work scrubbing his hands obediently.

Anwen looked up at the thatch, then glanced up the street toward the ruined cottage. “We fared better than some.”


“We can’t send them away.”

Gavynn looked over at her. “I’m glad you think so.”

“But we can’t keep them either.” A crease formed between her brows, and she sighed heavily. “As it is, we have barely enough for the five of us, and the rainy season seems to be coming early.”

Gavynn dried his face on his sleeve and nodded in agreement, but his eyes fell on the stained rag in his hands and he remembered the neighbor boy’s desperation. “We’ll help them as long as we can.”

Anwen nodded, and they both turned to look as the cottage door opened. Caelan stood in the doorway, his light hair still littered with wet thatch but face clean enough to show the sunburn splashed across his nose. He eyed them both with an expression Gavynn couldn’t quite read.

Gavynn gestured toward the open town gates. “I’m going to check the fields. You coming?”

Surprise flitted across the lanky boy’s face, and his shoulders relaxed. “All right. And thank you for taking us in last night, ma’am,” he spoke to Anwen as he fell into step with Gavynn.

She only smiled and entered the cottage.

A dreadful hush had fallen over the town, heavier than the clouds that were finally beginning to disperse. Even the lowest of tones seemed harsh and loud. Townsfolk passed in and out of the church to whisper prayers and speak with the priest. Gavynn could feel their eyes on him as he passed them. Even the troubles of the past few hours couldn’t keep their gazes from following his tall frame across the square to the open gates.

He hurried his steps, and Caelan did the same, turning to look back at the group and shake his head. One step outside the walls of the town and Gavynn could see at a glance that their rich crop was mostly nothing more than waterlogged straw. A few unbroken stalks of salvageable grain stood like lonely soldiers, but the rest was dark with water and trampled to the ground by the stampede of hail. 

Gavynn took a few steps forward and ran his fingers along a broken stalk. “We’ll have to let it dry out again before we can cut it and see what, if anything, can be used.”

Caelan nodded solemnly, then mumbled to himself. “And I’ll need to speak with Father Gregory about a place to stay.”

“My family and I aren’t sending yours away anytime soon,” Gavynn cut him off and looked the astonished boy full in the face. “We have space enough. Provide your own food, help where you’re needed, and we’ll try to make this work.” He offered his hand, and they shook on it.

They retraced their steps, and Gavynn looked again at the women and children working to put their town and their lives back together. A question filled his dark eyes. It was already too late to replant. How would there be enough food for everyone, especially when the soldiers returned home?

Each step turned into a thought and each thought into a prayer. Shame added itself to his burden as his mind slid into his secret wish to escape all the problems that plagued him.

They reached the cottage, and Caelan paused to look at the roofless cottage mere paces away. He looked over at Gavynn, then glanced away and pulled at his light hair. “I lost my head in there. When you came to pull me out. I’m sorry I called you a coward.”

Gavynn nodded. “It’s all right.” Then added to himself. “We all lose our heads sometimes.”

Copyright 2019 Kate Willis

Convention Countdown: Pretty Book Stock!!!

Convention Countdown: Pretty Book Stock!!!

It’s just 62 hours until the homeschool convention, and the last of my book stock came!!

These are the very first copies I’ve seen of The Night Archers, and I love how they turned out. ❤ (Big hugs to my cover designer!)

Just look at them!

One book, two book, green book, blue book!

I’m still a little bit in shock that this is an actual series and I actually just held a copy of my new book in my hands. So sorry for all the jabbering. 😉

Also, I will have a giveaway for y’all soon. 😀

Convention Countdown! (+A Free Chapter)

Convention Countdown! (+A Free Chapter)

Guys, it’s only three(ish) days until the homeschool convention! Once again, this year I’ll be selling my books at our Generation Rising booth. There have been meetings, errand-runnings, and eagerly-waiting-for-book-stock-ings (I’m still waiting for some XD).

(There are some pictures on Generation Rising’s Instagram and Facebook pages, FYI…)

In honor of the convention coming up and my new bookbaby The Night Archers releasing last week, here’s the first chapter. Enjoy! 😀

Chapter One: Storming

Curls of wood fell away from his knife as a spoon took shape in his hands. It would be large enough to stir a pot of soup for the whole family and sturdy to last a few seasons to come. The young man smoothed away the loose sawdust, then bit his knife into the wood again. 

“Gavynn-Gavynn!” a sing-song voice called, and he looked up from his work.

He laughed at the little girl dancing in the line of children waiting at the well and raised a hand to wave. “I see you, Rosie.”
She grinned at him and turned away, light-colored braids seeming to skip with mirth and impatience. 

Gavynn shifted on the cottage doorstep and held his project up to the light. It was nearly perfect. Just a little more work, and it would be ready for sanding and oiling. 

A strong breeze tore across the square, whipping at the children’s clothes and ruffling their wheat-colored hair. Another gust followed on its heels and scattered his wood leavings out into the grass. 

He squinted up at the sky and quickly rose to his feet, sheathing his knife. “Rosie,” he beckoned to her but kept his eyes on the shadows that hung low brushing the top of the keep. “Rosie, come inside. There’s a storm almost ready to hit.”

She skipped over to him and slumped her shoulders, but he teased a grin out of her the next moment. “I’ll fill your bucket for you if you set up the blanket house with Maire.”

She shoved the bucket into his hands and entered the house, sing-songing for her sister. 

Gavynn left the shelter of the cottage doorway and joined the line of children. He pushed his limp, dark hair off his forehead, conscious of the curious looks directed his way. Smiling ruefully to himself, he met their gazes, grateful they at least didn’t ask any questions. 

The line inched forward as the neighbor girl, one of the blacksmith’s children, scrambled away from the well with her little brother at her heels. Gavynn stretched and looked over the heads, then caught a glimpse of someone he knew.

Farren. She was close in size to the children but nearer in age to him, and she drew her cloak tightly about herself, shuddering in the wind. 

A heavy raindrop splashed on his forehead, then another, and shrieks of surprise came from the line. A few children broke away toward their homes, but the majority huddled together, blinking and squealing at the rain that fell faster and harder with every second. 

Gavynn shook his head and pushed his way to the front of the line. Taking a bucket from the first child, he quickly filled it and sent him on his way, ready for the next one before anyone else knew what was happening. He hurried to fill as many as possible, but a flash of light and a rumble from the woods caused him to drop the bucket.

“Everyone home, now! This storm is more than just rain.”

The children scattered in every direction, and he watched them go through the downpour.

“Gavynn?” A slender hand clutched at his sleeve, and Farren stared up at him with wide, unseeing eyes.

“I’m here.” He covered her hand with his own. “Let’s get you inside.” He draped his soaking cloak across her shoulders and guided her, head down, up the emptied street.

Day had turned dark as dusk, and a coldness slipped into his bones. Here and there, a glow escaped the shutters of the houses, and he fixed his eyes on their guiding lights. They passed the keep and the empty stables, and Gavynn reminded himself not to look for what he knew wouldn’t be there. A gray horse, strong and alert; his horse, at least when he had trained with the cavalry. Thunder echoed off the stones beneath their feet, and he tightened his arm around Farren’s shoulders.

“Gavynn?” Her voice was little more than a whisper under the wind. “Are we almost there?”

Gavynn lifted his head into the rain and scanned the street. Just up ahead, a cottage door was wide open to the storm and a woman stood silhouetted in it.

His answer came in a gulping breath as he guided Farren forward. “We’re there.”

Farren’s mother let out a cry of relief and rushed out into the rain to take her daughter, gesturing for him to follow them into the house. Gavynn looked out into the black rain that rushed down the street in little rivers then again at the warm, inviting house. He shook his head. He was needed at home.

With a whispered prayer, he plunged into the storm, bending his body against the wind and hugging his arms against himself. Water rushed across the cobblestones, seeping into his boots and turning the ground into a slippery mess. He took one step, then another, then the next. Terror pushed at the edges of his memory. The darkness seemed to reach out, desiring to crush him in its grasp.

“It’s just a storm. Just rain, wind, and thunder. I’m far, far away from the sea.” He hugged his arms tightly around his body. “I’m safe. I just need to get home.”

The cottage was just down the street, past the smithy and the neighbor’s dwelling. A cry broke into his thoughts, and he lifted his head, eyes focusing on the little girl who stood in the open doorway of the nearest cottage.

The thatch roof had collapsed inward on one end and more threatened to fall with every second. He ran forward and guided her trembling body away from the cottage. Moments later, a woman burst from the house, carrying her young son in her arms and calling frantically. 


“She’s here,” Gavynn answered. “Go. Up the street to my house. They’ll let you in.”

The woman drew Aelie to herself, but she glanced back toward the house, torn. “Caelan’s still in there.”

Gavynn nodded grimly. “I’ll get him.”

Rain poured in from the open roof of the cottage, and Gavynn peered through it into the dark recesses of the dwelling. “Caelan? Caelan, are you in here?”

“Back here!” A voice called.

“What are you doing?” Gavynn spluttered, venturing closer.

“Trying to stop it!” The tall boy pushed up on the sagging thatch with a board in an effort to support it.

A creaking noise rippled across the remaining timbers.

“It’s too late. Get out now. You’re mad!”

“And you’re a coward!”

Gavynn felt a familiar anger, but he reached out and jerked the boy away from his work just as a sagging beam fell. Caelan gasped and didn’t resist as Gavynn pulled him out the door and up the street to his own cottage. He pounded on the door, and it opened immediately.

“Gavynn!” His stepmother’s eyes went wide and she stepped aside to let them in. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, Anwen. I’m all right, I think.”

He barred the door against the storm.

Copyright 2019 Kate Willis

The Story Within the Story

The Story Within the Story

Today’s writing session was particularly fun, since my character got to put her storytelling skills to work. It was basically a story within a letter within a story. Which is almost as confusing as it sounds. XD

As things ramp up in my story, I’m at that funny stage where I have to hold back a bit on the character arc because I don’t want things to resolve too quickly but also I have to keep moving the story along. 😀 Funny conundrum.

In other news, I gave my MC a NASA t-shirt (woohoo!) and worked on the official synopsis for “The Night Archers”. Expect that (and a cover reveal!!!) soon. 😀

What is one of the coolest props you’ve ever given a character?

A Li’l Excerpt

A Li’l Excerpt

I wrote not a word today, but I did check in with my beta-readers, read the rest of a very interesting book, hung out with siblings, and cleaned the house some. 😉

More words tomorrow, right? 😀

Here’s an excerpt of last week’s writing, just for fun. 😉

Glancing around the room like an introverted spy, she tiptoed past Dad and Mr. Donovan toward the coat rack. She fished around in her coat pocket and pulled out the notebook. The receipt she’d found in there before fluttered to the ground and she stooped to pick it up. The words were faded to read, but at least it would make a nice bookmark.

She slid it between the pages and returned to her inspection of the tree. The space between it and the wall practically invited her to enter it, and she sank down on the carpet.

Her black shoes she’d changed into just peeked out from under the edge of her skirt, and she reached out to rub a scuffed spot on one toe. She had done well being a normal socializing person for the first three hours of the party, but conversationally tiptoeing around small talk and trying not to eat too many cheesecakes around strangers got tiring quickly.