a conversation in the gardens // “if the stars awaken” excerpt

a conversation in the gardens // “if the stars awaken” excerpt

In honor of the gorgeous, helpful progress my beta-readers are making, I thought it was high time for another excerpt from my upcoming novel, “If the Stars Awaken”.

Remember, this is an uncorrected draft. 😉 Enjoy!

Soft afternoon light danced across the cobblestones as the tree leaves parted and pushed together in the wind. 

Marinne studied their patterns as she strolled down the winding garden paths, rocking Leif in her arms. Their guard trailed behind, looking mildly out of place in the relaxed environment. She smiled as she thought of how she had asked for a rotation to give more of them breaks from council meetings or riot patrol. 

When she reached her favorite bench, softly shadowed and hidden by a large tree, Marinne sat down and picked up a nearby fallen leaf. She held it up to show Leif, and he zeroed in on it, eyes nearly crossing. Her laughter flit through the garden like a hummingbird and rested in her voice as she explained, “This, little one, is a leaf. It feeds and beautifies the whole tree, and together the leaves provide shade to all.”

“You are teaching him beautiful truth, m’lady,” the head gardener said, walking by with his ladder. 

Marinne flushed, embarrassed he had caught her. 

“I’m sorry, m’lady, I spoke out of turn,” the gardener said, hoisting up his ladder and continuing down the path.

“No, I thank you. I talk to my child a lot, and sometimes I don’t know if the words are of any use.” 

The gardener stopped and looked around, his turn to be startled. She glanced down at Leif. “He’s only just begun to be able to see beyond his own nose.”

The gardener set down his faded wood ladder and leaned on it. The color had faded from his hair and clothes as well, but his eyes were deep with years spent taming and cultivating life. “Ah, but he has a lot to know of this great and terrible world. And who better to teach him than his own mother. He may not know the meaning of your words, m’lady, but he already knows and loves your voice.”

“You are very kind. Thank you for your words,” Marinne smiled down at Leif and nestled his forehead against her shoulder.

Copyright 2023 Kate Willis

All the Bookish Updates You’d Ever Want to Know (and Ice Cream)

All the Bookish Updates You’d Ever Want to Know (and Ice Cream)

April flew by a little bit slower than I wanted it to (because I was chomping at the bit to get to send my book off to beta-readers, which I did yesterday, eeee), but I managed to get in some fabulous reading and writing (and ice cream).


I read a total of eight and a half books (sucksinbreath ihavenoideahow butihadfun), and it was quite fun. I’ve been loving passing on favorites to my younger sisters then fangirling over text together.

Just for fun, here’s some stats:

  1. 4 five-star reads, 3 four-stars, and one three-star
  2. 5 out of 8 books were indie (I adore indie)
  3. All of them were epic

Notable reads: Please Return to the Lands of Luxury by Jon Tilton surprised me with its sweet plot and unique worldbuilding. The Herbwitch’s Apprentice by Ireen Chau (one of the books I got for my birthday, actually) was ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE, and mynewfavoritething, and the second book is coming in the mail right now, and it sent me into an epic reading slump with its goodness, and ahhhhh.

(Look at that cutie. 💜)


Besides the title reveal for “If the Stars Awaken” (formerly Awake) and the short story I shared last week, I’ve actually been secretly working on a thing. It’s mostly consisted of learning how to plot a series, plotting said series (at least the first two books), realizing one of my plots was wrong and abandoning it, but starting on the other one and loving it to pieces.

Here’s all I can tell you… I’m writing SCI-FI. (*dances in a happy Wall-E circle* *cringes at how bad I am at worldbuilding*) I’m bouncing between having delusional confidence that I’m just going to write this and have a ton of fun and indulging in self-doubt and perfectionism, but what else is new? 😉

Here’s the sneakest of peeks…


(And Ice Cream)

The temps here are bumping up against 100F, so J and I tried out a local ice cream shop, and y’all, it’s the most adorable thing! I had a really good monster cookie cone. (Because Oreo ice cream is life.)

How was your April?

Title Reveal Time!

Title Reveal Time!

It is time





title reveal…


My fantasy novel you’ve previously known by its working title “Awake” is now “If the Stars Awaken”. And its projected release is this fall!

Here’s a sneak peek of what the story includes…

  • A really cute, wholesome marriage
  • The world’s best dog
  • A guard with scars
  • A driven apprentice
  • Unique fantasy elements in a medieval-ish world
  • Holding onto hope in God
  • End of the world stuff

And just for fun, here are a couple *rough draft* excerpts.

I’ll have more updates (and a beta-reading opportunity) for you soon, but for now, ahhhhh! 💖 Thanks for celebrating with me. 😉

Another Day, Another Draft

Another Day, Another Draft

I finished another draft of my fantasy novel, and this one felt like more of a victory than usual.

It marks the draft right before beta-readers. 👀

When I’m ready to share the official title (next month!). 🥳

When I’ve started making cover and release plans. 😱

When I’m more in love with the story than I have been in a while and I’m ready to work my head off to share it with you all. 😉

But right now, it’s a funny time of rest. While my alpha-readers go through the story, while my creativity awakens with 600 more story ideas, and while I wait for the next stage of things.

I’m really excited. 😉

Before the Tea Is Ready

Before the Tea Is Ready

It was a dark and stormy day, and I had the perfect writing time planned.

Tea, laptop, cozy vibes, new work-in-progress… Yes.

I just had to wait for the water to boil so I could steep my tea.

I probably paced a little. Listened to the kettle, waiting for that sweet whistle of readiness. Wondered what to do in the meantime. Stared at the kettle, making sure it was centered on the burner. Paced some more.

After a few minutes of this, I sat down in my writing space.

What else was I going to do? My brain and my laptop, aka my two most important tools were ready. I had creative energy and time.

So I started writing.

And I wrote an entire chapter before my tea was even ready, and the writing time only improved once it was.

I do love a good peak author moment when the sun slants just right and my hair is in a curly updo and I have cozy blankets and warm feelings and the perfect mug of spiced chai. Some days I need to curate this to fuel my creativity or prepare my emotions.

But other days, I just need to start. 💖

What I’m Accidentally Working On

What I’m Accidentally Working On

I recently got up the courage to start writing a new book.

Then about a week in, an old project stole my heart, and I haven’t looked back.

You’ve probably already guessed (or hoped) what I’m working on, especially if you follow me on Goodreads…

I’m pleased to say, I’m over 40% of the way through draft three of my fantasy novel, “Awake”. 😍 That’s all of part 1, and some very tough but very important scenes from part 2. 😉 Also, character development!!

It feels like I’ve been working on this novel forever, but in reality, it’s just the one that gets pushed to the back when other deadlines call my name. I’m excited to be making progress again, and it feels like maybe this book will *finally* be a thing. 😉

I’ll share with you my *real* project soon, but for now, here are some movie-esque posters I mocked up for inspiration. 😁 (All images from Canva.)

Okay, back to editing and devastating your hearts. 💖

A Very Bookish Easter Is Here! (+Thank Yous)

A Very Bookish Easter Is Here! (+Thank Yous)

IT’S HEREEEEEEE!!!! Our anthology is finally born, and ebook copies are going out with paperbacks soon to follow. 😍😍😍

I hope you enjoy diving into this anthology this Easter season. 💖

I’m so overwhelmed with joy to be a part of this (and to be back as an author!), that I’m honestly out of words and emotions except happy dances and hugs. 🤷‍♀️

I think I’ll let my acknowledgments from the novella speak for me.

The author wishes to thank…

My Joshua—for your support, encouragement, and adorable face while I was trying to concentrate at the coffee shop that one time.

The Very Awesome Mikayla—for letting me send you chapters for motivation and for giving me the cupcake mascot.

Lillian Keith—for your encouraging comments on my blog throughout the whole process.

My A Very Bookish sisters, Sarah, Kelsey, and Abigayle—for having me as part of this anthology. It means so much to be in your company. 

My fabulous beta-reading team, Perry, Rosy, Kaitlyn, Havelah, and Rebekah—for your enthusiasm, thoughtful questions, and grammar skills. It’s been a delight to have you on my team. 

Kelsey—for the always amazing editing and encouragement.

Birkenfeld, Oregon—for being such a beautiful, dynamic place to grow up. Your people and your flowers fill the world with color.

God—for resurrecting me.

May hope invade your heart! 💖

Character Art (+ Title!) Reveal

Character Art (+ Title!) Reveal

You all… I commissioned character art for the first time every in my published author life, and it turned out so amazing, and I’m over the moon, and I’ve been waiting to show it to you all, and I’m going to make character cards!

*catches breath*

It seriously turned out even more perfect than I could have imagined, and I hope you like this peak into it too. 😉




Ryla from The Twin Arrows by @robinofcelticwoodland. Isn’t she gorgeous?! I love the expression, especially. 😉

Here’s a zoomed-in for details version. 😉

I hope to eventually commission art of Gavynn and the main character of book three as well… 😉 Which by the way has an official title! 👀

“The Lost Sister” will finish out the trilogy and explore some aspects of the world and characters I think you just might enjoy. 😉

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. 😉

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. 😉

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 😅) 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 💖

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

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