Category Archives: Uncategorized

Real Talk: How This Whole Charity Anthology Business* Became A Thing

one of the mini-buttons you can get when you back the kcickstarter campaign!

one of the mini-buttons you can get when you back the kcickstarter campaign!

(*By “business” I mean “activity or concern,” not industry!)

So, 2017 has had many of us feeling pretty powerless–especially if you’re not in a swing state, and/or don’t have enough disposable income to donate to reputable charities every month. The world is a hot mess sundae, and the US is a steaming pile of cherries on top. What is there to do?

Like many of you, I don’t have much extra income to donate to charity, but I do have a skill set. I can donate my time and effort to creating a product that will produce sales, and I can donate sales from that product to the charities that speak to my heart, and hopefully yours as well. That is how I decided to embark upon this Halloween anthology project. For this anthology, (which is hopefully the first of many charity anthologies I’ll be editing over the next few years) I’ll be donating 50% of the proceeds to Girls Not Brides, a global charity working to put an end to child marriages, something that affects over 15 million girls every year.

I’ve decided to publish this anthology not just because I enjoy the process of publishing, and not just because it’s fun to work together with other authors on a creative project, but because I see this as an opportunity for a group of us to make a little bit of a difference in the world, starting with one of the most vulnerable, but potentially powerful, demographics: young girls.

But I’m not doing this alone. The authors writing their stories and submitting their work are contributing. The amazingly talented illustrator is contributing. All of the friends helping me spread the word are contributing.

Can you help us reach our goal by backing this Kickstarter campaign, or sharing the link? Every dollar and every share is deeply appreciated.

And if you are a YA author, would you consider submitting to the anthology?

Thanks!

Announcement: Unknown Press’s First Anthology

So I’m doing a thing, because I work well under pressure, and I have a Critical Thesis to write this semester and not enough pressure to cook with apparently!

This summer and fall I’m using my expertise in indie publishing to put together an anthology of Halloween-themed short stories written by YA authors. Why? Because Halloween (the most important holiday of the year) deserves to be celebrated in all possible ways, and reading a collection of Halloween-themed stories is a pretty great place to start! After all, what goes better with your October mood than a cozy Halloween story?

Even better: 50% of the proceeds from this publication will be donated to Girls Not Brides, a “global partnership of more than 700 civil society organisations from over 90 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential.”

Because I’m just poor confused millennial lass, I don’t have the funds up front to pay the authors for their hard work. BUT AUTHORS DESERVE TO GET PAID, so I’ve put together a Kickstarter campaign where you can, if you so choose, support the anthology with a few dollars, a pre-order, or just spreading the word. When you support the campaign, you can receive:

  • Our undying thanks!
  • A free Halloween costume suggestion
  • 1 of 4 (or all 4) original “I Support Halloween” mini buttons
  • A pre-ordered eBook copy
  • A pre-ordered print copy
  • Or even YOUR NAME forever emblazoned in the Acknowledgements section of the book!

I hope you’ll take the time to check out the campaign! And now, I leave you with my favorite Halloween .gif (from “Over the Garden Wall”):

 

2015 Year In Review!

2015! What a Year! Let’s take a look.

As 2015 dawned, I was working full-steam ahead on a little sequel that would be known TOWER-smallas The TowerWhile that took up most of my creative attention for the first few months, come spring I found out I was among the ten incredible writers selected to attend Nova Ren Suma’s Young Adult Novel Writing Workshop at Djerassi! Basically my head exploded and I rode that high until halfway through summer. <3

In the meantime, I was finishing up edits on The Tower AND working with the incredible Maria Marquis on the audiobook version of GHOST CITY. I also started work on the novel that I brought with me to the workshop, (working title:) SAVAGE CASTLE, which I discovered was Too Fast, Too Furious a pace for me to continue with that precious gem. I know myself, I know my stories have a longer gestation period than some, and I conceived the idea and churned out the first 75 pages way too quickly (as much as I am still in love with the words I’ve written and the idea of the book) without letting all of it take firm root in my head and my heart. (Soon, though. Soon.)

ghost city audiobook imageOver summer, I attended Nova Ren Suma’s Djerassi workshop where I got to meet not only the author of my favorite YA novel to date (who is also an amazingly lovely person! Er, Nova is, not her book. That would be weird, if her book was also a person. Although…*jots down story idea*), but also nine other incredible and talented lady authors whose books I can’t wait to read when they are published! I had the thrilling, if harrowing, experience of doing my first reading (public speaking, blech), and the invaluable experience of talking about craft and industry with other authors from around the world.

Then BAM–the Ghost City audiobook was released!

BAM–The Hierophant read-along! 15 poorly planned days of insanity wherein I revealed read-along-rounded2little known facts and insights about The Hierophant, and even somehow got over my fear of being on video and posted a few vlogs where I got to read from the book and ramble about what I liked about writing it.

BAM–The Tower – Book II in the Arcana Series was released! Finally, after two years of writing and revising and editing until my brains fell out, my very first sequel was set loose upon the world.

AND THEN…rest. Lots of rest. Because it turns out I can’t keep up with the pace I was setting for myself in writing/publishing, in addition to working a full-time job.

And then…some sadness, too, because I made the mistake of comparing myself and my process and my speed of writing to that of other writers, faster writers, more accomplished writers.

And then…some writer’s block, as well, because what I want my books and my writing to be does not fit into the molds that others have shown me, and when I ignore the wild, outrageous ideas that inspire me to write, I end up listless, lost, disconnected from the story (and ignoring wild, outrageous me is specifically why I haven’t been able to work on SAVAGE CASTLE, something that’s only obvious to me now as I type this).

In short, 2015 was a very busy year that started with a bang and ended with a much-needed nap. But I’m slowly getting back on track, I think, reminding myself to trust the story, to trust the little inspirations that come along the way, and stop thinking about what one “can” and “can’t” do when writing a novel, or a sequel, or within the nebulously defined category of “young adult.”

So what am I working on, now that the bleak fog of writer’s block has finally lifted? As promised, finishing up the first draft of Book III in the Arcana Series is my main focus for the time being (when I’m satisfied with it, I will announce the title! Oooh what tarot card could it be??!!). I don’t want to be a mean author and make people wait years for another sequel. But after that, SAVAGE CASTLE has my full attention. I have…*strong feelings* about that book and, without putting too much pressure on myself, I know I need to get that novel written, for myself, as much as for my career.

It’s true, those novels are two utterly different creatures, but they both possess a different part of my heart. And I dare to hope that, someday, they might touch the hearts of a few other people, too.

So that’s it for 2015! Happy New Year everyone! May 2016 be a year of incredible stories for all of us. :)

 

November Update – Goods and Services

Hello! It’s been a while.

October rushed by in a haze of colorful foliage and fun-sized candy bars, and by fun-sized I mean full-sized, and by candy-bars I mean expensive dark chocolate and cheap red wine. (What can I say? Being 30 is thrilling and delicious.) While the wheel of the year has turned from the Autumn Equinox to the Witches’ New Year, and now to the month of NaNoWriMo and Thanksgiving, a lot has been going on in the world and in my life.

What do I have to report back to you? Oh, you know. A little of this, a little of that.

First off, if you’ve ever wanted to purchase signed paperback copies of any of my books, you can now do so directly through my website! Simply click on over to the Books page, click “Add to cart” on any of the books you’d like, and checkout through PayPal! (You don’t need a PayPal account to checkout.) All the orders go straight to me so if you have any special messages or instructions, let me know!

Also, since I have been formatting books for friends and family now for ages, I am pleased to announce that I have decided to start offering my services professionally. I have over 5 years experience in the self publishing world for both digital and print novels, and my own catalogue of professionally formatted books to prove it. So if you have zero desire to learn about formatting and every desire to publish your novel, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a free quote. (Also, if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this month and you decide you would like a paperback copy of your novel once you’re done with it, mention that it’s a NaNo-Novel and I’ll take 25% off the price of your basic print interior layout!)

In book news: I continue to hammer away at Untitled Arcana Book 3! I will post more as that develops.

I hope everyone has had a lovely autumn so far!

 

 

Happy New Year

It’s still the beginning of the academic year for lots of people. It’s the beginning of Persephone’s descent into the Underworld. It is the end of the Days of Awe–the stretch of days between Rosh Hashannah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur. To me, it feels like new beginnings.

Maybe it’s because these past ten days were the holiest days of the year for my ancestors. Maybe it’s because I am winding down from the riot of spring and summer, into the magic and quiet of autumn and winter. Perhaps I have not quite begun the actual descent into Hades, but I am on my way through the wilderness, to the entrance to the world below. I feel like I am on a pilgrimage, but with only a vague idea of my destination.

~*~

I’ve taken September off from writing. It felt like the right thing to do, when certain projects had obviously become too fraught with anxiety–when my creative self could not hear itself speaking through the clamor of outside voices. This is what happens, every time, when I worry too much about the “rules” of writing and publishing, or what other people say I can and cannot do. I have a bad habit of always believing other people know better than I do, and while it is excellent to be open to new ideas, it is never a good idea to let outside influence undermine your internal guidance.

I’ve lost the thread of too many good projects that way. Now, I am taking September to clear out those instructive voices, to reconnect with that part of myself that remembers why I write stories in the first place. I am taking the time to read books and cook good food, to explore new ideas and opportunities, and to reestablish a place for spirituality in my life. Writing will always be my most sacred act, but sometimes it loses its sacredness when it is tied up in earnings and reviews and the expectations of others. There must be other places for spirituality to shine through, safe spaces that have nothing to do with birthing stories into the world.

But what I have re-learned this month, as I have re-learned again and again in my life, is that some stories–the best stories, even–are for yourself. And some of those stories you need to keep to yourself–at least for a little while. For any kind of magic (and writing novels is the greatest kind of magic I know), there is power in containment, in holding a secret in your heart and your hands, feeling it take on shape and form. The stronger your knowing of the soul of that story before you bring it into the world, the easier it will be to feel your way through the telling of it. The stronger your knowing of the soul of the story, the easier it will be to know good advice when you hear it, too.

~*~

So what is the (writing) plan, now?

I flatter myself to think that some of you may be interested in knowing something about when you can expect Book 3 in the Arcana Series. ;) I can’t say anything definitive at this point other than it is coming. Unofficially, the plan is to have it out around this time next year. But a lot can happen in a year, and in fact I am expecting quite a bit to happen in the coming year (some of it writing-related, some of it life-related), so I won’t make any promises I can’t keep.

What I can promise is that I love this series, and I love you guys, and my pen will not rest until the entire story is told!

~*~

Happy new year, peeps. I know it’s a few months early for most of you, but I just love a chance for new beginnings, don’t you?

THE TOWER is born, and THE HIEROPHANT is free!

ebook covers

Today is the day! The Tower is now available for Kindle! (Coming soon to other retailers, as well as paperback!) And guess what? If you haven’t had the chance to read The Hierophant yet, it’s available for FREE in the Kindle store from now until Saturday! :D

Let me go all-out-honest here, as I tend to do on this blog: I am absolutely in love with this book, as any proud book momma should be…but, I’m also terrified. Every book that gets published anywhere requires tremendous courage and faith to see it through to the end, but it turns out sequels come with their own special set of fears that would have otherwise never crossed my mind if this had been a stand-alone. The main one is: what if this is nothing like what the readers are expecting? Or worse: what if this is nothing like what the readers want?

But this is the story I’ve written, the story I love, and the story I hope the reader will love, too. It’s a story about a teenage girl who loves so fiercely. It’s a story about learning to trust your own instincts when exploring the fuzzy line between right and wrong. It’s a story about embracing your power–embracing every single part of who you are: the beautiful, the ugly, and everything between.

But ultimately, The Tower is a story about healing. And sometimes, the road to healing is just as dark and winding as the road that leads us to our wounds.

I hope you love it even half as much as I do. <3

~*~

As for the NEXT book in the Arcana Series, all I can say is this…

Kyla sure is awesome, huh?

;D

THE END of The Hierophant Read-Along!

THE END of

read along

Welcome to THE END of The Hierophant read-along! Check out this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about, and join the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #ArcanaRA :D

* * *

We’re done! And this time there’s no waiting to find out what happens next because TODAY is The Tower‘s birthday! :D

RECAP: Chapters 64 – END (Book 1)

Chapter 64: It’s two months after Ana has been released from the hospital. She hasn’t heard from or seen Trebor at all, and she’s miserable without her magic–she never realized how big a part of her it was. But she takes a lesson from her father and tries to keep living.

Chapter 65: Ana takes a nap and when she wakes up there are texts from an unknown number on her phone (but it’s Trebor) asking her to meet at the orchard. Ana almost doesn’t go because she knows Trebor is only going to say goodbye, but at the last minute lets her heart decide and races out the door.

Chapter 66: Ana meets Trebor in the orchard and tells him how she feels–how she’s mad, and hurt, and refuses to say good bye–refuses to let Trebor promise her anything at all. But they love each other, and that has to be enough, for now.

* * *

AND NOW, a video! …is what I would have said if I’d had the time to film and edit one :( I’m sorry, I suck! There were a million and one last minute things I had to do for The Tower’s release and, well. Let’s just say that NEXT time I do a read-along, I will plan better (also space it out more! *passes out from exhaustion*)!

So that’s it for The Hierophant Read-Along! Thank you so much for reading with me and chatting with me about Book 1 in the Arcana Series as I prepared for the release of Book 2! Stay tuned for the official post on The Tower‘s release, and keep an eye out to see if you won anything! I’ll tweet at the winners tomorrow! <3

Day 14 of The Hierophant Read-Along! Chapters 60-63!

Day 14

read along

Welcome to day 14 of The Hierophant read-along! Check out this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about, and join the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #ArcanaRA :D

* * *

We’re almost done!!! Tonight we finish, and tomorrow The Tower is released! :D

RECAP: Chapters 60-63

Chapter 60: Ana confronts Madame Cevaux and the skinwalker (in Andy’s body)! In exchange for Kyla’s safety, she gives herself to them, lets them slit her wrist again to try and bleed her out while the skinwalker takes over. But she uses her powerful human magic in combination with her mother’s protection spell to blast them away and send Madame Cevaux and the skinwalker back to Sheol! Trebor runs to her to heal her, just as the other Irin show up. After he heals her, he’s captured by Faye, but they stand separate from the other Irin. Raven, the leader of the other Irin, blinds Ana to magic, making her effectively powerless and harmless to the Arcana–and Trebor lets her.

Chapter 61: Kyla takes Ana home, and Ana has a small nervous breakdown in the driveway when her father comes out and hugs her, and begs her to tell him where she’s been. She see’s Laura, his new lady friend, for the first time, and doesn’t like her on sight.

Chapter 62: Ana wake up in the hospital and overhears the nurse telling her father they want to do more tests on her because of her elevated blood platelet count (a sign of cancer, but Ana knows it’s just because of Trebor’s healing magic). She lies and tells her father she had temporary amnesia from the car accident and didn’t remember who she was, and that’s why she was wandering the city for days. And she also says she doesn’t remember much of what she did those days. Her father tells her that because of her breakdown the doctors want to keep her in the psychiatric ward for a 72 hour observational period.

Chapter 63: Kyla visits Ana in the psych ward. Ana is pissed at Trebor for not stopping Raven from blinding her, even though it was the only way to keep her safe while he ran–and he did have to run. But she’s also sad he’s gone and misses him, and she can still feel his heartbeat within hers. Ana asks Kyla about what happened outside of City Hall when Kyla…changed. Kyla attributes it to black-out rage triggered by overprotectiveness. But is it possible that Madam Cevaux was telling the truth about Kyla’s father, or lack thereof?

* * *

Some fun facts!

-Originally, there was a lengthy storyline about “crazy Laura” (Abe’s new girlfriend) and how Ana disliked her, and Abe was totally blind to all of her eccentricities. She had a perfect daughter who had committed suicide, for seemingly no reason, and her whole house was plastered with pictures of her. Laura was always talking about her as if she was still alive, comparing Ana to her, like “Laura was on the tennis team, what do you play?” “Violin.” “In which orchestra?” “None…just by myself…” She was also a clean-freak who handled everything with gloves and put too much sugar on/in everything. It obviously didn’t fit with everything else–and besides, Laura has a very different role to play, now. (BUM BUM bummmm) I might use that character in something else, though…

* * *

I’m so sorry, but there is no video today! There has been too much last-minute stuff to address in preparation for the release of The Tower tomorrow, and there was no time left for awesome video-making :( Hopefully I will have something for you tomorrow, though!

In the meantime, feel free to chat with me on Twitter, or use hashtag #ArcanaRA to join the conversation and automatically be entered to win some free books, and maybe a pocket tarot deck!

Until tomorrow!

Twitter!

Facebook!

Tomorrow: Chapters 64-END\!

Day 13 of The Hierophant Read-Along! Chapters 58-59, plus an embarrassingly poorly made film!

Day 13

read along

Welcome to day 5 of The Hierophant read-along! Check out this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about, and join the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #ArcanaRA :D

* * *

Did you do the reading?! :D

RECAP: Chapters 58-59!

Chapter 58: Ana and Trebor return to Iritz and Trebor is freaking out because of the nightmares he was having in Sheol about Ana dying. They kiss–they tell each other they love each other–they realize it’s pretty much impossible to be together. Kyla joins them just in time for Raven to show up and try to take control–then hellhounds join the party and Ana and Kyla have to run off with a random Irin to protect her from skinwalkers but THEN they run into the creepy old Zee lady who is pissed because Ana killed her son, and they’re running through downtown past city hall and they see Andy, and Kyla flags him down but Andy slits Ana’s wrist??? And Kyla…well, it’s hard to describe what Kyla does, but it certainly seems like she goes supernova and somehow uses magic to force Ana to run to safety.

Chapter 59: Ana is bleeding to death on the steps of a cathedral. She starts yelling at the Universe, and just before she passes out Trebor finds her, and heals her, which means they legit have that havati bashrat bond Trebor was talking about. Andy shows up, and he’s clearly possessed by a skinwalker, who he apparently made a deal with a while ago. But the skinwalker wants Ana, and the Zee have Kyla, and now Ana has to make a trade.

* * *

Fun facts!

-I tried to make the chase through downtown Buffalo as accurate as possible, but there has been so much construction in the past few years that it’s totally inaccurate now. Especially at the waterfront, where chapter 60 will take place–that’s been completely restructured. But there is in fact a cathedral down that way made from red Medina sandstone which is where I imagined Ana bleeding to death. :D

-Before writing this, I was in a Film 101 class and made a silent movie downtown that was basically just a guy running from demons. It’s terrible, and all of the film ended up so ridiculously over-exposed because some know-it-all jerk face I may have been dating at the time was responsible for taking light meter readings. The whole thing ended up being a huge joke (the pretentious French title translates poorly to “Thriller” and for some reason the protagonist blames President McKinley for his troubles) but I will link you to that movie now because I think it’s funny. Also it has a few good (but waaaay over exposed) shots of downtown Buffalo.

Terrible. Terrible. Terrible.

* * *

That’s all for today! Questions? Feels? Use hashtag #ArcanaRA to join the conversation and automatically be entered to win some free books, and maybe a pocket tarot deck!

Twitter!

Facebook!

Tomorrow: Chapters 60-63!

Day 13 of The Hierophant Read-Along! Chapters 54-57!

Day 13

read along

Welcome to day 13 of The Hierophant read-along! Check out this post if you don’t know what I’m talking about, and join the conversation on twitter with the hashtag #ArcanaRA :D

* * *

Did you do the reading?! :D

RECAP: Chapters 54-57

Chapter 54: Ana and Kyla are taken to the Zee camp by a man named Ishmael, where they are forced to make a “trade” with the Zee because they are traveling on Zee land (which Lykos heavily protests). Kyla gives up amulet in exchange for safe passage, ignoring the Zee wise-woman who offers to tell her the name of her father instead. When they are leaving, the old woman implies that it’s possible Kyla doesn’t have a father. Wut? Ana uses magic again to get them back on track, and it’s heavy.

Chapter 55: Kyla asks Ana how she really feels about Trebor, and Ana responds with total denial of her feelings for him. Just as they reach where Trebor is being held, under a faux river of shadows called the Black Gash, Ishmael shows up, demanding another trade, on behalf of the Sura who took him: Trebor for Ana. Ana refuses, because she knows that if the Sura get their hands on her human magic it will be bad to everyone. Ishmael attacks them with intent to kill, and Ana stabs him. At the last moment, Nikolai/The Devil appears again.

Chapter 56: Nikolai offers to save Ishmael, to keep Ana from having to take a life. He promises that everyone will be safe, that Trebor will be saved. The only condition is, in the end, Ana must join Nikolai in Sheol. He tells her this is the last chance she will have to avoid what she saw in his vision. But Ana refuses his offer again, because she refuses to accept that her fate is to Fall.

Chapter 57: Ana sends Kyla back to Iritz with Lykos, because once she goes into the Black Gash there are only two things that can happen: she fails and is stuck there forever, or she succeeds and when Trebor wakes up they’ll come home (because an un-Fallen Irin can’t exist in Sheol). Kyla goes; Ana jumps into the Black Gash, where it’s pitch black and she can’t tell up from down. She finds Trebor, but can’t wake him. When she thinks it’s all over, she kisses him for the very first time–and he wakes up (just like a Disney princess, lol).

* * *

Things to think about!

So much, really. So much. There are so many important things that are said in these chapters that make me extra glad some of you are re-reading it before The Tower comes out on Tuesday (Tuesday! OMG!).

-I know there are a lot of mixed feelings about Trebor, and I definitely give him a hard time myself. But never let it be said that Trebor does not absolutely love and adore Ana, mysterious bond or not. Is he perfect? No, not by a long shot. But aren’t we all sick of those perfect YA male love interests?

-Something I have always disliked about most books and movies where a relatively normal person kills someone is the lack or real emotional resonance. Like, don’t get me wrong, I eat meat and I could unhappily learn to hunt for food in some post-apocalyptic world. I respect the animals I eat, try to buy pasture raised cruelty free stuff, etc. But if I killed a human being? Even in self defense that would be traumatic.

I loved in Buffy the Vampire Slayer how not only did everyone recognize that when Faith accidentally killed a human it was traumatic, but the trauma was seen through on so many different levels. The way Faith coped with what happened was perfect (for her character, and for that story–not in real life). So when Ana kills Ishmael, and then again decides not to save him…it’s kind of a big deal. Not just plot-wise, but for Ana as a person, it’s hard to wrap her brain around that choice and make peace with it.

* * *

That’s all for today! Thoughts on what it feels like to kill someone? (Whoa, that’s a joke, but it reads really dark…) Feel free to chat with me on Twitter, or use hashtag #ArcanaRA to join the conversation and automatically be entered to win some free books, and maybe a pocket tarot deck!

Until tomorrow!

Twitter!

Facebook!

Tomorrow: Chapters 58-59!