Stolen: A New YA Fantasy Book Coming Soon!

So yes, I’m running behind on NaNoWriMo again, but this time I have a very good reason for it! I’m very proud to announce that after looking for a home for over two years, Stolen has finally been picked up for publication!

The digital ink is just drying on the contract, but Stolen has been picked up by the amazing folks at Parliament House Press. I forget how I found them, but I absolutely loved their aesthetic and their covers are simply gorgeous. I’ve followed their line for several months now and all of their titles are so intriguing! According to their site, they’re trying to be the Guillermo del Toro of indie publishing world, and their title listing and range of styles really proves that. Run by the role model Shayne Leighton, who has had a hand in multiple areas of the entertainment industry, they’ve got an impressive list of upcoming books.

Here’s a quick run-down:

  • There will be ebook, audiobook, paperback, and hardback copies. Omg hardback… definitely a first for me!
  • Yes, it will be distributed, and according to a friend of mine who works in a Barnes and Noble, it’s a distributor that they work with regularly.
  • It’s Book 1 of a YA Fantasy series. Only the first book has been signed right now, so that gives me motivation to finish up the other two books!
  • Yes, I am super excited! Can’t you tell?

Here’s the rundown of what Stolen is all about!

Shaleigh is tired of dealing with her father. To escape from the delusions he lives in, she explores condemned buildings with her best friend. But when she is kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes how much her father needs her, and is determined to get back home.

In a kingdom known as The Garden where minotaurs pull carriages and lion statues work as librarians, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant Teagan rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long dead ruler, not because she believes it to be true, but because it’s her only chance at survival. By befriending Teagan’s ex-boyfriend, Talek, who has a plan to get her out, Shaleigh thinks she has outwitted everyone. She’ll do anything to get home and that might be her biggest mistake.

I love the community that Parliament House Press has and even though I’ve just signed with them, they’ve all welcomed me with open arms. I can’t wait to get this book out and into the world!

If you want to learn more about what it took to get Stolen here and the long journey it’s had from conception to completion, take a look at my recent newsletter that came out. If you enjoy reading stories like these about the patience and pitfalls that being a writer takes, please consider signing up for my mailing list! You’ll be the first to know about any new publications coming out, and the first to know about appearances I’ll be making.

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Writing Diverse Books

If you’re at all involved in the writing or publishing scene, you know how big of a push there is right now for diverse books. There is a very sad dearth of novels in the world that have protagonists who are a Person of Color (POC). Historically most novels don’t have any POCs except maybe a token one here or there. These characters are often relegated to having the smallest role in a story, if they have much of a role at all. Current novels are trying to tip the scales so that people don’t have to reach so far to find protagonists that represent them that they can connect with. Hence the hash tag #WeNeedDiverseBooks was born.

I’ve tried to embrace this more in my writing, especially in the novels/novellas that I write. My WIPs of the last couple of years have all had protagonists who are POCs, but as you can see from my picture on the sidebar, I am a white woman and therefore will always have more difficulty in writing from a different perspective from my own. However that doesn’t mean that I just don’t do it because it’s more difficult, it just means I do more research to do it properly. There are plenty of things in writing that I’m not an expert in, but have to learn about to write it realistically.

I strive in my stories to write all my characters as realistically as possible, that includes flaws, mistakes, backgrounds, etc. It’s important to do the research to represent your POC characters realistically as well. I thought I’d do a shout-out to one resource that I’ve found invaluable in this: Writing with Color. This site has been incredibly helpful for me, from helping to point out appropriate skintone descriptions to describing hair, they have a ton of useful content available. As useful as their site is though, that should only be part of the research.

Stuff Mom Never Told You is an excellent podcast that’s gone through multiple hosts in the past year or so. However you can still find all their excellent podcasts online, which still reference books for even further research. Here are a few of my recommendations:

I consciously try to put more women and POCs into my stories. I think it’s important to get more stories into the media that include POCs so that there’s a higher chance that we’ll see them more represented in movies and television shows, so there are fewer incidents of tokenism and caricatures and just outright racism. It’s a slow process, but slowly the arena seems to be changing for the better.

My novella coming out on April 17th, The She-Wolf of Kanta, includes a teenage black woman who has to survive a town rampant with werewolves and human trafficking. A novel I currently have out on submission, Stolen, includes another teenage black woman who is kidnapped into another world and has to somehow prove that she is a reincarnation in order to survive. The novel I’m currently writing, The Seeking, has a teenage black woman who is in a loving lesbian relationship, but also must hide from the entire town for a full day each year in order for her family to keep it’s place of power. Diversity is very important to me, and sharing stories that include diverse people is a major goal of mine.

And what about the LGBTQIA+ community you might ask? Let’s save that for another post, but trust me, it’s just as dire.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman 


Finished: June 11, 2017

Malerman was featured on The Outer Dark podcast sometime last year, I believe. I liked what he had to say and the title and description of the book intrigued me, plus they gave it high praise on the podcast, so I added it to Goodreads. Fast forward to this summer, and Goodreads tells me it’s on sale for $2, so I just had to give it a try!

My review:

Josh Malerman’s Bird Box was one of the more terrifying horror novels I’ve read in a while. There are a number of scenes that are so suspenseful that you almost don’t want to find out what happens next. The scene in the bar was one of the more painful scenes for me. That was when I truly started admiring Malerman’s style and how intense his writing became. I binged half this book in a day because once it got rolling, it was hard to put down.

The only difficulty was the constant changes in perspective. It changes times a lot and sometimes it was difficult for me to pinpoint when a scene was happening and I had to reread sections. Overall this didn’t change how good the novel was, but it did make it slower to start. I definitely recommend it!
What I consider a 5-star book:

  1. Is it a fun read? Definitely! I actually found it hard to stop once I reached the halfway point.
  2. Would you recommend it to others? I’ve actually been dropping plot pieces to friends, describing the dystopian world and the claustrophobia of the blindness that Malerman is so good at. The premise alone sells this book, but the stellar writing is what makes me finish it.
  3. Would you re-read it? I typically don’t reread many books, but I would reread sections of this one. The writing was beautifully gruesome.
  4. Does it stick with you? Oh yes! Sometimes a bit too well. 😉

My overall rating? 5/5

Not Your Average Monster #2 Now Available!

Not Your Average Monster 2 Cover - SMALLJUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD
VENTURE OUT OF YOUR HIDING PLACES,
HERE COMES ANOTHER HORDE OF HORRORS

Slithering, wriggling, lurking, and creeping. Leaving slick trails of pustulent slime behind them.

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill monsters populating the pages of this tome. No, these critters feed on the fear that bubbles up inside you when all appears lost and the scent of blood is on the wind. Now is the time to face these demons and read on.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE MONSTER, VOL. 2:
A MENAGERIE OF VILE BEASTS

Now available at Amazon for Kindle and as a paperback.

Please leave a review either on Amazon or Goodreads! That’s the best way to help an author, especially new ones like me who are just getting started, and this anthology is full of so many new voices! 🙂

If you liked my story, “Tiny Necks”, here’s how it came to be.

Hooray for To-Do Lists!

In January 2015, I felt stretched thin with all of the writing projects I was working on. So I pulled out some paper and made a list of all of them, including a to-do list for each one. It really helped to keep me focused throughout the year, and it felt so good to be able to check them off as I got them published. So I decided to make another list for this year.

Many of the novels have been works-in-progress for several years. The series I refer to as [Suzie] for example was actually the first novel I wrote back in 2010. It’s seen a great deal of improvement since then, but still has a long way to go. Others, like Beyond the Treehouse, are currently out on submission and I’m waiting to hear back on.

Traditional publishing can be very slow, I’m talking months to over a year to hear back from submitted manuscripts. Even short stories can take over a year to hear back on. I learned early that it’s a good idea to not wait around. Your best bet is to push on to your next book, your next short, or your next series. I’m putting in this disclaimer cause I don’t want people to think I’ve written all of these in a single year. These titles, of course, could change as well.

Anyway, here is my 2016 Writing To-Do list in no particular order.

With a clean list of projects, I feel like I can actually figure out what to work on next. Otherwise I flounder around trying to make a decision, and nothing gets done!