A mood board, just because.

These days I have to remind myself that, once upon a time, I released two books in one year.

I do not feel like that person right now.

I have been working on Blood of Ashlin for three years now. I know, “years” can mean procrastination, or not many actual hours logged, or too much distraction, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m prone to those pitfalls. The truth is, though, I’m enjoying this process immensely. I love writing this book, maybe too much. I keep adding more and rewriting bits of it and just in general being indecisive about what I want to cut out and what I want to keep. For the first two years of writing it, I would open the document and just kind of stare at the scary complexity of this story thinking, what have I done? But this third year, I am able to simply enjoy.

I do feel a bit guilty, because I know some of you are waiting for the final installment in Serengard. You might want me to actually finish so you can actually read. There’s a thought. Oh man…I want you to read this so badly. I do. I’m just in way over my head right now, in a good way. So, I’ll mood board like nobody’s business.

That’s actually just the first half of the book.

I’m starting to realize I have been this way before. This is actually the Rachel of the Teen Years. I used to write like no one was watching, because no one was. I’m a firm believer in keeping aware of the fact that people will be reading my words (hence the muchos editing), but I also believe we have to be true to each story’s core. I almost wish I could revisit Coldness of Marek and work on it long enough to find this blissful stream of agreement with the story. I know I encountered it while working on Knights of Rilch–I know because I remember wishing I could begin the entire series with that book–but I didn’t revel in it very long. I needed to be done. I honestly was concerned I would over-edit if I didn’t finish up, and probably, with that book, it was true.

All of that said, this has been in my head and in my Scrivener doc for basically a tenth of my life now, and I’m finally not struggling against it any more. I’m moving with it, and it’s glorious.

This is the second half. Completed novel coming this October. Or November. Or December. Soon, guys. Soon.

*All pictures used are referenced on my Pinterest board. Photo credits are there, as well as links to original files if you wish to like and share them yourself.

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Serengard: Book Four Title Announcement + Dream Cast

Last week I finished the first draft of the fourth Serengard novel. It was a really hard book to write (what book isn’t, right?), partially because I was exhausted from pushing so hard to launch Rise of Orion, but also because it’s the final novel in the series. There’s so much resolution that absolutely has to take place, and it’s tricky. A finished draft is still a rough and ragged thing, but while this novel definitely has a lot of evolving and wrangling and rewriting in store, I finally feel I’m to the point I can start treating it like a real book.

SO.

I’m pleased to announce that there will be one more Serengard novel, and one more only; Blood of Ashlin will release in Summer 2016, and will be the final book in the series.

I’m now going to be entirely indulgent and post my dream cast for the entire series. A lot of these actors were a toss up between two or three possibilities, and I’m still not entirely decided (what else is new, lol), but here is the best cast I could conjure and it was ridiculously fun.

P.S. Even though it’s going to be a whole year before you can read this book, I intend to make it up to you by holding some epic giveaways this summer. Because you’re awesome.

           Kierstaz  :  Alona Tal    |     Mikel  :  Tahmoh Penikett    |    Trzl  :  Amy Acker

 500fullNUP_134387_2142Amy Acker

 Malcom : Colin Ford  |  Colstadt: Manish Dayal   |   Gernan: Daniel Henney  

  ColinFordManishDayal4Cast23

   Sark: Sendhil Ramamurthy      |       Aura: Erica Tazel        |       Pier: Khaled El Nabawy

 RamamurthyTazel3khaled-el-nabawy-2

Izannah: Molly C. Quinn   |   Rendl: Eric Bana  |  Andrei : Steven R. McQueen

 Cast18Cast32

Sunn: Jamie Chung  |  Gavriel : Djimon Hounsou  |  Hodran : Daniel Gillies

 Cast27djimon-hounsouCast36

Otreya : Kevin Costner   |   Riyev/Tanya: Gemma Arterton   |   Tierrof : Chadwick Boseman

  Cast35QueenKierstazchadwick-boseman

Nerri : Kat Graham   |    Ric: Timothy Olyphant  |   Natalya: Mackenzie Aladjem

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Rise of Orion Soundtrack and Mood Board

Rise of Orion is releasing in exactly ten days, so I thought it would be a good time to share some of the emotions of the story. For those of you who have been waiting for the playlist, here it is! Along with a mood board for extra atmosphere. Scroll down for descriptions of the songs.


Listen on Spotify | Listen online via Grooveshark | Download these songs on iTunes*


 The Mood Board

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Free

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Gernan2TrzlBadassCaptainoftheGuard


The Soundtrack

I decided not to reveal much of the story with the playlist this time because not only is it chronological, any more information would provide major spoilers. I’m just going to tell you to whom each song belongs and you can draw your own conclusions. ;)

Castle of Glass – Linkin Park
This is Mikel through and through.

Set Fire to the Rain – Alex Boye, Salt Lake Pops Orchestra (not available on Grooveshark)
Kierstaz and Mikel have a bit of a fight. There’s a lot of denial involved.

Only Hope – Mandy Moore
This is Aura’s. She’s calm in a sea of uncertainty…most of the time.

Stolen – Dashboard Confessional
Someone is in a little deep…

On Fire – Switchfoot
This is The Song With All The Feels. First verse is Aura’s, second verse is Mikel’s, the bridge is both of theirs.

The Unwinding Cable Car – Anberlin
Mostly Kierstaz’s. A little bit for each of the other characters.

Riser – Dierks Bentley (not available on Grooveshark)
There’s a reason why the Captain of the Guard is always there. This is both his and Kierstaz’s.

Sea of Lovers – Christina Perri
Aura’s.

Strawberry Swing – Coldplay
This song always makes me think of Colstadt, but really it could belong to all of the Knights.

Running Up That Hill – Placebo
Otreya’s, Trzl’s, Malcom’s. All in the family.

Carry On My Wayward Son – Quietdrive
Mikel’s, when Trzl re-enters the scene.

Between – Courrier
“The space between the gallows and the gates…” No more need be said.

It’s Time – Imagine Dragons
Malcom has things to say.

King And Lionheart – Of Monsters And Men
Kierstaz has a sidekick…

Made For You – OneRepublic
A few eerie things. And a few good things. Mostly eerie things.

Haven – Enter The Haggis
Belongs to all the Drei. Pier especially.

Devotion – Hurts
Some things that Mikel needs to work out of his system.

Love Don’t Die – The Fray
Everyone in the story would say this in one way or another. Especially Colstadt.

Dust to Dust – The Civil Wars
Kierstaz’s.

Learn You Inside Out – Lifehouse
A scene with Sark that involves scars and dredging up old wounds and other such things.

Pompeii – Bastille
There’s a moment here where everything is deja vu, for every character. Nothing says it better than Pompeii.

Sing It Out – Switchfoot
Some more things Mikel needs to get out of his system.

Now We Are Free – Lisa Gerrard

*I use Spotify as a tool to find new songs and to spread around those I love via playlists. As a fellow artist, I always buy the music I enjoy so that I can keep it forever, but also so that the artist can earn a real royalty and keep making good music! Please buy music! <3

 About Rise of Orion:

RiseofOrionCover

After the Border Wars, Mikel Orion flees Serengard and seeks haven in the Desert of Aldad. Although he and his sister, Kierstaz, must become slaves in order to set foot inside its borders, the hot sands hold a bitter kind of peace—one he hopes to keep. But he risks destroying their newfound stability when he becomes entangled with an Aldadi girl. Aura has tragic secrets of her own, but she gives Mikel a purpose beyond his birthright, and when he leaves the Desert he carries scars that run deeper than skin.

Twelve years later, trouble brews in Serengard that threatens to pull in the Aldadi and the Drei alike. Trapped in a dungeon as the prize prisoner of Trzl—an orchestrator of the rebellion that killed his parents—Mikel is out of maneuvers. Even while Kierstaz gathers a force to attempt his rescue, Trzl transforms more and more into the hypnotic ruler she claims to loathe…and Mikel becomes convinced that peace has never been within his reach at all.

Rise of Orion is the third in the Serengard Series, sequel to Coldness of Marek and Knights of Rilch.

{Add to Goodreads} {Pre-Order for Kindle} {More}

On Writing Rise of Orion

I’ve been laboring quietly on my third Serengard novel since the beginning of March, my only outlet being an occasional complaint or victory shared on Twitter, and I thought it was about time I shared some details of the throes I’ve been in. Accompanied by some cute gifs. Because, you know, cute gifs are the best.

First, there was drafting.
I’m a messy drafter. I go off on bunny trails that end up having nothing to do with my outline. Somewhere around the middle, I end up losing my way and questioning the entire story. And that often leads to a Netflix binge, which, you know, is never fun (oh but it is), but then there are beautiful epiphanies and new ideas and ZOMG finally finding a voice for the novel and loving it. Rise of Orion was one of the sloppiest drafts I’d ever written, in spite of how long it took–just ask my critique partners. It was all over the place, and not for lack of trying. In some ways, I was embarrassed by my crazy and how long it took me to produce this tangled mess, but in other ways, I think I really needed to get some of the story out in such a raw form before I could make any sense of it at all.

And second drafting.
I ended up doing the same thing I did with Knights of Rilch: drafting the first half a year in advance (November/December 2012), letting it sit, and then completely reworking it (March/April 2014) before drafting the second half in May/June. Then I actually sent that second draft to two CPs and got notes back that helped me know where to go before my inevitable rewrite. I kind of hated to do this, because the version before my rewrite was sooooo bad, but their help (Darci Cole and Brett Jonas, you are superheroes) saved me from bunny-trailing into another 50k of turkey carcass shiz.

Behold, a rewrite.
My rewrites are funny things. Sometimes they’re more of in depth revisions, but I call them rewrites because I cut so. Freaking. Much. and then they turn into a rewrite midstream. The poor manuscript is unrecognizable when I’m done slicing it. I fill in the gaps with new words, puzzle the hot mess together into a third draft. All in all, I think I must be getting a little better at curbing my bunny trails, because with Rise of Orion I only had to scrap half the scenes during that rewrite. The rest of them just needed full overhauls. The trouble was, none of it came easily. I spent hours staring at the screen, knowing what I needed to say, just unsure of how to say it. In essence, I have two months worth of writing time spent in contemplative thought–or maybe in backspacing and retyping–because that’s how many months behind schedule I am.

And then came revisions.
The next phase is when I get more notes back from CPs and betas and start making tough micro decisions (special thanks to Amanda Aszman and Jenny Perinovic for the in depth help with my beginnings and endings!). At this stage with Knights of Rilch, I was still moving scenes around and nixing lines that I really loved. It got painful and involved many a late night moaning session, too much caffeine and too little sleep. But this third draft was a thing of magic. I found myself wanting to stay in this phase for months–adding dialogue, changing emotional tone, adjusting scene openings and closings–because I didn’t want it to end. I caught myself wishing I had time to put off my final revision because I just didn’t want to be this close to done with it. That’s not to say it didn’t hurt at all…but mostly it hurt when life got in the way and I couldn’t find time to be with it.

Killing a few more darlings.
The last revision is pretty much supposed to be full of pain, but it was bittersweet for Rise and I reveled in it. Even when I had to search and destroy passages that I’d held dear since 2012, it just…it didn’t sting. I’ve rewritten the entire ending sequence about eight times already, and I’m not satisfied with it yet. But I’m not sorry, because it means I get to mess with it a little more.

Line line line line line edits!
Last time, I loved line edits, because I finally hit a huge groove in tossing and tearing. People asked me how life was and I spewed gibberish about how in love I was with this story and these characters and their heartbreak but…nobody cared. This time, I’m just crazy nervous as I realize I’m almost done. It’s almost ready for ARC production. People are going to actually read it. You would think the pit in my stomach feeling would go away once I’ve successfully released a few novels into the world, but apparently not. I don’t think I’d be holding it together at all if it weren’t for the wonderful and amazing writers and friends who’ve been holding my hair back and reading my words and telling me they don’t suck.

Final edits, copyedits, proofread, artwork, ARCs, apples and bananas.
So that’s what it’s been like. Right now my fully revised manuscript is with my two fabulously irreplaceable line editors as well as two more of my longsuffering CPs, and when I get their edits back I’ll commence a final read through before sending the finished product to my editor (I would say copyeditor, but she does more than that because she’s a super ninja warrior). After she fixes the remaining issues in my manuscript, it will be ready for ARC production, artwork, proofreading, and actual publishing. That’s when I’ll be pumped on an endless high because it will be out in the world and YOU’LL BE READING IT. It won’t matter how many tears I shed over it or how nervous I was IT WILL BE A REAL BOOK!

The end. I love you guys.

–Rachel

Writing Process Blog Hop

I was supposed to post this on Wednesday but am epically late because my Wi-Fi at home went out for a few days and a I live an hour from a Starbucks (truth!). I’m posting as a part of Kelley Harvey’s Writing Process Blog Hop. I was tagged the lovely Jenny Kaczorowski, a fellow speculative and contemporary fiction writer whose first novel, The Art of Falling, was one of the sweetest books I read this winter. Here goes!

1) What am I working on?

I’m doing a third revision on RISE OF ORION that includes reworking the ending and the beginning, as well as getting the whole thing ready for line edits. Being the third in a series (and Mikel’s story), it pretty much drove me crazy during drafting, so I’m pretty excited to be into the later stages where it’s all just tweaking. I’m also drafting an untitled novel as a part of CampNaNoWriMo. I have about 30k written on that project so far.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

Probably my unusual use of timelines? I don’t do it in all of my manuscripts, but if you crack open one of the Serengard novels, there are two parts, preceded a chapter at the beginning to place the reader in the present. Part One is a flashback that takes up half the book, and Part Two continues the present story. It sounds so weird when I explain it, but because each book pivots around one of the central characters, and the backstory is almost as important as the present story, each protagonist gets their own flashback to the most important timeframe in their lives. It could be more character-centric than a lot of adult epic fantasy, but I hesitate to say that for certain. I just say it has few dragons and many heartaches, because the creatures and powers are minimal while the characters’ journeys and emotions tantamount. I’ve read a few Young Adult epic fantasies that could be described that way, and I loved them.

NanoStuff BNW

3) Why do I write what I do? 

I write fantasy because I love how layered it can be, how every event and word spoken can have a deeper meaning. This is true of all fiction, for sure, but in fantasy it’s somehow more vivid for me. Some of my books are darker than others, and that’s because I am fascinated with the contrast between tragedy and hope. I don’t think every book needs to resolve happily, it just needs to have resolution in what it set out to communicate, augment and/or portray.

I also love that I can create my own world and traditions, that I can pit humans in human struggles without excluding or misrepresenting earth history or culture. But at the same time, the opposite is the reason I love historical fiction. I love the truth in it, the fact that the other place and time I’ve been taken to was once a real, living thing, y’know? I almost feel like fantasy and historical are polar opposites, yet they are both favorites of mine.

4) How does my writing process work?

Oh man. This is hard because each novel I’ve written so far has had a different process. Some of them I sketch by hand for years before I even start drafting, some of them I sit down with a deadline and just write, some of them are abstract pieces of old manuscripts that I’ve decided to glorify into their own story. Two things remain constant, though:

  1. I must write linearly. Once I start drafting, I am not allowed to skip forward to a chapter that I’m desperate to write. I can write a barebones version of every chapter if I want, leave plot holes and very little description or conversations without context, but I must. move. forward.
  2. I must have a deadline. Even if I miss it, even if it means nothing in the grand scheme of revisions and beta readers and I end up having to strikethrough everything on my dayplanner, that deadline is what makes me sit down every single day and write.

Three of my books so far required a complete rewrite (ouch), but once I have a solid draft in hand, I send it to CPs, implement their notes, revise some more, send it to betas, revise some more… and then, since I self-publish, I go through line edits with my line editor and do a few read-throughs both to myself and aloud to my husband. After that, I get to send it to my editor and she works her seriously brilliant magic to fix all of the remaining problems with my writing. After her edits are in the finished product, I get it formatted for paperback and read through a hard copy of a real book with a red pen at the same time as my proofreaders do the same. And then I’m done!

Okay. I probably got way too long-winded, as usual. (This *might* have something to do with my love for series’…)

I’m tagging three writers for you to check out next week! They might post theirs on Wednesday…if their Wi-Fi is working! #fingerscrossed

Esther MeyerEstherMeyer
Esther Meyers is just some girl who loves classic rock and reads too much history (not possible), while obsessing over Supernatural and dreaming of future travels. She is an aspiring filmmaker and journalist, possibly an artist or archeologist, and hopefully someone who will finally finish and publish that darned Urban Fantasy novel.
Blog: http://greeneyedbrothers.tumblr.com

BrettJonasBrett Jonas
Brett Jonas is a music and book lovin’, Christian, homeschooled girl. She spends her days on her family’s farm in Southern Indiana, making and selling soap made from the milk of their 50+ Alpine Dairy Goats. Once she’s done with school and work, she spends hours writing her own books and helping other writers with their own. When she’s not doing that, you can find her chasing her seven younger siblings or hiding in a corner with a book.
Blog: http://booksquirt.com

Lauren Garafalolaurenicon
Lauren writes Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Paranormal for Young Adults. She has an unhealthy obsession with exclamation points and the caps lock key, thinks going to the movies should still be an Orphan Annie style event, and fangirls like it’s 1999.
Blog: http://www.laurengarafalo.com

Cover Reveal for One, Two, Three… by Elodie Nowodazkij

ONE, TWO, THREE...banner2

Today I am uber-excited to be a part of the cover reveal for a Young Adult Contemporary novel that I’ve wanted to read for a long time. This book’s blurb and first 250 words caught my attention when she entered them in a contest a year or so ago, and I even got to know her a little on Twitter and discovered that she is incredibly sweet. So I am pretty pumped to hear that One, Two, Three… will be released on June 26th and I will get to read it!!!

One, Two, Three…
by Elodie Nowodazkij

Publication date: June 26th 2014

When seventeen-year-old Natalya’s dreams of being a ballerina are killed in a car accident along with her father, she must choose: shut down—like her mother—or open up to love.

Last year, Natalya was attending the School of Performing Arts in New York City. Last year, she was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina. Last year, her father was still alive.

But a car crash changed all that—and Natalya can’t stop blaming herself. Now, she goes to a regular high school in New Jersey; lives with her onetime prima ballerina, now alcoholic mother; and has no hope of a dance career.

At her new school, however, sexy soccer player Antonio sees a brighter future for Natalya, or at least a more pleasant present, and his patient charms eventually draw her out of her shell.

But when upsetting secrets come to light and Tonio’s own problems draw her in, Natalya shuts down again, this time turning to alcohol herself.

Can Natalya learn to trust Antonio before she loses him—and destroys herself?

Add One, Two, Three on Goodreads

About Elodie Nowodazkij

Elodie NowodazkijElodie was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she’d never lose her French accent. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Modern Language & Linguistics, and later earned master’s degrees in German Cultural Studies and European Studies. Unbeknownst to her professors, she sometimes drafted stories in class. Now she lives in Germany with her husband and their cat (who doesn’t seem to realize he’s not human), and use her commuting time to write the stories swirling in my head. She’s also a serial smiley user.
ONE TWO THREE is her first novel.
And now, for the cover…
ONE TWO THREE COVER 3
 

Isn’t it gorgeous?! Hop on over to Elodie’s Blog for a chance to win all kinds of prizes,
Tweet @commutinggirl to let her know how beautiful it is,
and definitely check out the creators over at CreativIndie Covers.

From Here Onward

Last week on the Knights of Rilch Blog Tour:
On Letting Go of Inhibitions at There and Draft Again
Deleted Scene at BookSquirt.com
Kiss Me, Kill Me Review at Lauren Garafalo’s Blog
Review at Dyadic Echoes
Review at Jessica Rubinkowski’s Blog

This morning I woke up with one impulse running through me: WRITE ALL THE THINGS.

Weirdly enough, it’s been awhile since I felt that. I’ve been in a writing slump for the past month and a half. Probably just because there was so much release work to be done on Knights of Rilch, but I keep feeling like it was more than that. Even on days I didn’t have to do any formatting or emailing or tweaking art, I would sit and stare at the third book and not know where to go. Which is silly, considering I know what the next 20k of this novel should say. It just…gah! I couldn’t focus. Rise of Orion is Mikel’s story, and yet Kierstaz was trying to hijack it at every turn. I kept thinking about every little word and line in Knights, if maybe I could change this or that or add another 20k…about Sark? Or someone. Or something.

There really wasn’t anything to change. It was all done. DONE. I just wanted an excuse to keep working on it. It got so bad that I was messing with the cover art, considering changing the fonts on the spine, just because I couldn’t let go of it.

But once release week happened, it was off of my shoulders. Like letting my kid finally go off to college. Thursday morning I wrote a ton of words on Rise. I started sketching out a possible cotemporary thriller. I daydreamed about picking up my historical again. I’m taking a lot of deep breaths and staring at the final paperback of my second novel and thinking, hey…it actually turned out pretty gorgeous and perfect. I wouldn’t change a word.

In honor of the lovely Damon and Ric gifs gracing this post, I’m giving away one of the last paperback ARCs of Knights of Rilch. It includes a couple of deleted scenes that shall never be seen again, and many an out of place word that was caught in final proofreads. If you want it, simply leave a comment below to be entered.

All done, Kierstaz.

Sophomore Baby: Knights of Rilch (Serengard #2)

Today on the Knights of Rilch Release Day Blitz:
Interview on E.M. Castellan
Deleted Scene on Young Adult Guy
“Darth Vader and the Knights of Rilch” Review at My Random Muse
Review at Darci Cole’s Blog
Review at Amanda Shayne’s Sort-Of-Blog
Review at The Bearded Scribe 

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Today my second book baby goes out into the world to become its own grown-up self!

Throughout all of the excitement of this day, I was overcome with one major feeling: I am so very, very grateful. Being able to publish and share my stories has always been my dream, and to do it well takes a huge amount of hard work. I’ve been blessed to have the best critique partners and editor a person could ask for, as well as supportive friends, betas, and proofreaders who were always willing to read when I needed them.

The Serengard Series started as a sort of fling with fantasy for me, and then it became much more than that. I’ve had my writer fingertips bleed with angst over these novels, the pages hacked up time and again, and finally produced something I’m truly proud of. With Coldness of Marek, it was a heavy, frightening leap. I was scared out of my wits, but I did it. With Knights of Rilch, I’m ecstatic. I know this book is the strongest thing I can write at this point in my life, and that makes me confident and pleased to put it out there.

Everyone who helped produce it, everyone who buys it, everyone who reads it, thank you. Truly.

Available from these booksellers:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

{ Order signed from Author (US) }
{ Order signed from Author (International) }

{ Add to Goodreads }

Nearly a decade ago…Final_WebVersion

When Serengard rebelled and the Orion monarchy fell, former crown princess Kierstaz Orion’s love for her people became a burning desire to set things right. With a price on their heads, Kierstaz and her brother Mikel led a handful of men against the new army, fighting skirmishes all along the border of Dreibourge. But months of heavy bloodshed forced her small band of knights to abandon the border—and all of Serengard—to the rebels.

Nine years and a thousand betrayals later…

Kierstaz and Mikel again find themselves on the run—only this time, they’ve a boy in tow: Malcom, the son of two of the Seren rebellion’s strongest leaders. The new regime wants him dead, Mikel wants him alive, and it’s all Kierstaz can do to keep their tracks covered. Desperate to preserve the innocent life she swore to protect and the brother who has always stood by her, Kierstaz must gamble the last thing in the world she owns: her identity. Secrets are a staple of the Orion family, and those Kierstaz keeps are as dangerous as the ones kept from her.

KNIGHTS OF RILCH is the sequel to COLDNESS OF MAREK, and the second book in the SERENGARD Series.

Mood Board for Knights of Rilch

Today on the Knights of Rilch Blog Tour:
The Playlist Reveal on Darci Cole’s Blog
Writing Craft Guest Post on The Great Noveling Adventure
Review at Madwoman with a Writing Box
{ Full Blog Tour Schedule Here}

I know I haven’t ever done one of these, but with the second Serengard novel coming out tomorrow, I’m kind of crazy pumped and excited and it all just turned into a feels binge. Behold, a Knights of Rilch mood board.

Though she be but little, she is fierce. –Shakespeare





Image credits:
 Beebichu at womenfighters.tumblr.com
iloveeddieredmayne.com
le-petit-francais.blogspot.com
mintysushi.tumblr.com
inspiredromance.tumblr.com
medievallove.tumblr.com

One Week Until Release! First Chapter Teaser

To celebrate the release of Knights of Rilch next Tuesday, I’m putting up the first chapter a week in advance. (Warning! First chapter contains major spoilers if you have not read Coldness of Marek!) AND, the giveaway for four sets of Serengard Trading Cards ends on release day, so if you haven’t entered yet, check it out!

ReleaseBanner

Serengard: Book Two
KNIGHTS OF RILCH

Chapter One

TEV DIDN’T RECOGNIZE THE MAN’S face from this distance. He was a Seren, like many who came through the port towns, but he stopped Malcom in the street and said more than a word to him. That made the hair on her arms prickle, and the instant Malcom turned toward her, the pallor of his skin set her on edge. He hadn’t looked like that since the day they left the cliffs.

“He asked me which month I came here, and I couldn’t remember.” Malcom jerked his nose toward the short little man. “I made one up, but…” He shrugged, petrified fright still stamped on his face.

Tev kept her voice calm. “Have you noticed him anywhere before?”

“No. Wait… Where’d he go?”

“I see him.” Tev slipped around the corner of their tiny flat into the market square—if you could call the sorry mess a market. The man led her through a confusing maze of alleys and stacks of barreled fish, his footsteps fast for someone of his stature. As were hers. Even before she reached him, she knew what was wrong by the few glimpses she caught. His hair was cut close to his head. His fingernails were clean. He was not the kind of man who came here in search of refuge, but he was no slave trader either.

That made him a spy. A hunter.

Tev followed him all the way to the docks, into a narrow passageway between buildings, and grabbed his arm. She was stronger than him and tossed him against the wall without difficulty. He pulled a knife, but she already had one against his throat. She took his with a smile that she hoped gave him chills.

Tev tucked his blade inside her waistband. “Who are you working for?”

He didn’t blink. “Aren’t you forgetting to ask my name?”

“I know your type. I know you’re looking for someone. You can look elsewhere.”

One of his eyebrows raised slowly. “No need to get unpleasant. I can’t think what I did to upset you.”

“You were talking to my son. A man such as you might want to ship him off for the army. He’s too young. Keep your petty fingers off.”

“How old is he?” He was skilled, turning the conversation back on her.

Tev tried a different approach. “You know there’s reward money on most of the people in these parts, but you also know most of us are vicious enough to kill you before you collect, so there’s no reason to be this far west unless you’re looking for family. True?”

A slow grin split his features. “I’m not falling into your little traps, lady.”

Tev let the ghost of a smile drift across her own lips. “Your loss, sir.”

She stabbed him quickly, just below the knee. He cried out in surprise and pain and reached down to grasp at it.

“Should have answered me the first time,” she hissed at him through her teeth.

“You’re a cold woman.”

“You’re not the first to tell me that.” Tev smiled and flicked her long, dusty-auburn hair behind her. She slid an arm under his shoulder. “Not to worry. I’ll have you fixed up by evening, in time for the man to get home. He’ll want to talk to you.”

“Who’s the man?”

“He’s the nicer of the two of us. But he can be mean, too, I promise. Don’t make a sound. Smile and nod. I’ll keep this knife close to your gut all the way.”

No one noticed her limping companion. There were a lot of injured in the moor towns. The only sufficient work was in the mountains, cutting granite, laying road in the cuts, or—if you were lucky—hauling out the scrap. When people were too hurt to work anymore, they came to the moors. Tev had avoided them at first because there were ports nearby—too much access to the world—but she’d soon learned inland was far worse. The Drei had gravitated toward the Four Cities of the former kingdom of Serengard, and those left in the foothills were bitter and suspicious, especially of Serens. And while Tev was slim enough to fit in amongst the slender Drei, her brother had the stocky Seren build and hair far too blond.

Here, there were plenty of drifters and criminals. No one asked, no one told, and no one expected justice for any wrongs done.

She dropped the body of the man on the floor of their tiny dwelling. Malcom’s eyes went wide, and she put a finger to her lips. He had seen a lot in his thirteen years, but he hadn’t seen her let blood the way she was trained to. Not up close, anyway.

“The cellar,” she told him.

He swung open the hatch and helped her lower the man down.

“Are you going to kill him?” Malcom asked.

“Shh.” Tev let the light glint off of her blade. The rest of her was hidden in shadow. She knew she didn’t look all that menacing. She had a tiny frame and a face covered in freckles. They kept her looking younger than her thirty-four years. “I’ll probably have to. He refuses to tell me why he’s here, and we can’t take risks.”

“Can’t you at least wait until he gets home?”

“I might.” She didn’t want to ask Mikel. He came home late every few nights, his deep sword scars well-hidden by a mixture of dried sweat and marble dust. He slipped out with Malcom, and they played at weaponry behind bawdy houses full of patrons too drunk to notice. He didn’t sleep. He didn’t even eat that much. But he seemed happy enough. She didn’t like to disturb his calm.

Besides, it wasn’t his job to protect Malcom. It was hers.

“Did you like the feel of that blade in your leg, Seren?” Tev snapped at the man.

He bit his own lip hard enough to make it white. “I don’t care what you do to me, woman. I’m not here for you.”

“You’re here for the boy.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Tell me who wants him?”

“No.”

Tev looked up at Malcom. “Go check the windows.”

It was a good distraction for him. She tore the man’s sleeve, stuffed the fabric in his mouth, and made a long, shallow cut up his arm. He didn’t even scream. Not a good sign.

“Did Otreya send you? Are you here to steal him away for the old man? Or have you a more sinister purpose?”

He just shook his head.

“You probably find it quite convenient that you’re in my cellar. If you know who the boy is, you know who had him last. Is it his guardian you seek?”

The flash of recognition was unmistakable. Yes. He was looking for Mikel. And he knew who she was: Kierstaz Orion, alive and well in the slums of Dreibourge. Dermed. Well, she hadn’t meant to let him live anyway.

Tev removed the fabric, leaned close to his mouth, her blade playing on his throat. “Who sent you?”

He smiled, a hideous smirk, and she felt the ripple of instinct run up her spine. “Princess. He’s going to be so happy that you’re still living. We all thought you long dead.”

She gouged his throat quickly, but it still took him a minute to die—a minute in which Malcom completed his task and came back. He saw her hands, wet with fresh blood, and gulped. She couldn’t blame him. His true mother had protected him from the desperate side of life, and his father had been a horrid bastard whom he needed to be protected from.

“We’ll wait until dark to get rid of him,” Tev told him. She climbed out of the cellar and replaced the trap door. It took a few minutes to wash her arms and change her dress. She rinsed the fine dagger as well. It was long and thin with a hitch on each side of the blade, an inch from the hilt. She would have loved to keep it, but it could be recognized.

Malcom stood by the door when she came out of the washroom. He already wore a slight smile on his face. “We should go to the tavern. Blend in. He likely has companions.”

Goblins, the boy was smart.

“He most certainly has companions. Not to worry,” she told him.

It wasn’t quite dark yet, but they had to move. Tev opened the door slowly and slipped out. She reached for Malcom. He took her hand but shook her free as soon as he was in the street.

He was growing tall. It was getting harder to pretend she was his mother. Thank Allel he hadn’t inherited his father’s solid, square jaw or clear, dark eyes, but he did have nicely shaped hands and a swarthy chin that made him look more man than youth. Striking. Everything about Tev was half-tinted—soft freckles, auburn lashes, sandy skin, and a turned-up nose—the look of a girl who would never grow up. Then again, she didn’t look much like her true brother either.

The tavern was filled to brimming with senseless chatter and the tinkling of unskilled musicians, but Tev liked that. It would be easier to hide, and she wouldn’t have to listen to Malcom talk to his friends tonight. The other boys here liked him, and the girls liked him more. The sight of him flirting was always enough to make her stomach turn over. It was the one thing about him that reminded her of his father—his power over people. The boy should be too young to know how to incite that kind of worship from others.

Tonight she tipped her head and led him to a dark corner of the room. Mikel would know to look for them here when he came home. If he did come home tonight. The chance that he might not made her shiver. They might need to run again. Mikel was tired of running, but she didn’t want to leave him here.

“Tell me if you see anyone,” she told Malcom.

He knew how this went. They’d done it in many a village. He was taller, so he watched. She was stronger, so she fought. The hilt of her mid-sized Desert dagger—one she’d taken from an assassin many years ago—slipped into her fingers. She used to think it meant something to her, but like most things she held onto, it failed her much of the time.

“You are sure he would come here?” Malcom said.

“Shh.” Tev frowned at him. She wasn’t sure. She wasn’t even sure Mikel would come back at all this week. He sometimes stayed in the cuts until his food ran out. She didn’t need him; she only needed to know he was safe, and the cuts were as safe a place as any. She suspected that he only came back for Malcom now anyway.

“There,” Malcom said quietly.

“How many?”

“Three.”

“By the Derm.”

“They followed us?”

“Or they were here all along.”

“Who do you think…”

Tev scowled and led the way to one of the back doors. As soon as they were through it, she whirled against a wall. Malcom did not have to be told to do the same on the opposite side. Her heart thrummed. How long had the hunters been searching? These past three years? Would killing all of them force Otreya to start over at the beginning?

The door burst open, and a couple of drunks staggered through. Malcom jumped, threw himself back. He’d almost tackled one of them. Steady, Mal. Tev glanced intentionally away, into the alley, to remind him to watch his back. Malcom was skilled, but he was green, like a man of the long dead and forgotten Guard who hadn’t been blooded.

Another minute dragged past. Waiting was no good. Tev cocked her head to one side and slunk across the alley into the shadows. Malcom followed, his footsteps quiet on the soft mud of the street. Now she had to decide: go north up to the cape, where the shanties were; go west to the sea; or go east, inland—toward the border, the Four Cities, tyranny, and certain death.

East. The only place they wouldn’t expect Malcom to be.

She didn’t have a chance. Twenty feet ahead of her, dressed in black and clothed in shadow. Not three, but five. She turned, and there were two behind them to block the alley

“Tev,” Malcom rasped.

“I see them.”

But there was someone else—a prisoner they pulled out into the road. Mikel. These men weren’t half as tall as him, yet somehow they had him tied with heavy cord and his face shoved into the dirt.

Tev’s hands filled with a rush of blood and her arms throbbed with the new heat.

“Give us the boy and we free him,” one of the dark figures said.

“Don’t do it, Tev,” Mikel said. His head rolled as if he had been drugged.

By the Treacher. Tev blew air through her teeth. She knew how to get out of this. She’d done it before. But people always got hurt. Best plan was to be the one doing the hurting. “I don’t care about the boy. Take him if you like.”

“He’s nothing to you?”

“He’s just a slave boy, has to fight his own battles, same as anyone else.” She spit in the dirt, not sparing a glance for Malcom. “That all you want from me?”

“Yes, that’s all.”

Good. They didn’t know who she was. Her first kill had been fortunate—that one must have been the leader. She sauntered close enough to take in the height and build of each man in front of her, walked up to Mikel, kicked at the dirt under his nose. “Where’d you find this one? Is he drunk? He’s supposed to come home sober.”

“He—”

Tev used the moment to draw her daggers from inside her waist. If the men closest to her saw her move, they realized her intent a moment too late. She drove a weapon through each of their ribs before they could meet her offensive. Those behind had enough time to ready themselves. Three of them were on her in a moment before she’d drawn her sword. Instead she took a knee and turned about in a circle. Her arms twisted and turned fast enough that they couldn’t follow her movements.

Was Mikel up yet?

She heard another moan and knew Mikel was out of the dirt and taking one of them on. Good because there were the two behind Malcom that she hadn’t looked twice at. A haze formed in her vision and helped her focus as she kept her mind on the end of her sword. It was over in a moment, and she whirled to find Mikel standing in the street next to Malcom.

“Is that all of them?” she asked, her voice low. The block was silent, but it wouldn’t be for long.

Mikel nodded and held an arm out. He staggered slightly, but there were two corpses next to where he’d knelt. Another was in the midst of crumpling. Malcom held out a sword, his own. It dripped with blood, as did hers.

Tev slid her arm under her brother. “Can you walk? What did they use on you?”

“I don’t know. Knocked me out. I didn’t even see them.” He shook her free, rolled his head around on his neck. “I can walk, Tev.”

Malcom stood stock-still. The sword in his hand dangled, and then he dropped it. Mikel caught him in his arms just before Tev got to him and took his face between her palms.

“Mal? Speak to me. Malcom.”

His eyes rolled back in his head. She tore open his shirt as his breath grew shallow.

Excerpt Copyright © 2014 by Rachel O’Laughlin.

How Leigh Ann Kopans made me fall in love with Contemporary Young Adult

The title of this post is probably enough to make my sister’s jaw drop, because anyone who’s known me for a long while knows there is no place in my heart for Contemporary Young Adult. I have read (and enjoyed) maybe two contemp novels in the history of ever, and those were adult literary without a hint of romance. What has always fired my mind has been dark, deep intrigue, sweeping epic accounts of desperation and struggle…at the very least, a scary clairvoyant aunt and a tragic arranged marriage must be present. I read every single Dear America and American Diaries book when I was nine, L.M. Montgomery in my teens, and I was a die hard John Grisham and Michael Crichton addict at seventeen. One of my favorite authors ever is Rafael Sabatini, a troubled soul who wrote historical novels in the ’20s and ’30s — always about dastardly characters enmeshed in nearly every event from the 1500’s to 1800’s. Even Sci-Fi and Fantasy has to feel dark and mortal for me to enjoy it.

Unless they loved a girl who randomly stared off into space and couldn’t hold a conversation particularly well, they weren’t gonna want to go out with me.
–Solving for Ex

Today I want to tell you about this book that made my taste flip flop. It’s no secret that I enjoyed ONE and TWO by Leigh Ann Kopans. They reminded me of X-Men and my huge Sci-Fi phase when I was a kid, and the plot was complicated, sinister, and perfectly executed. Naturally, I wanted to read Leigh Ann’s next book, but…it was a contemporary romance. I typically don’t even touch romance unless the book is a few hundred years old and somebody dies. (I mean, Trzl and Mikel don’t get their dysfunctional relationship from nowhere. I love stories where people can’t figure out how to be good to each other.) I tentatively requested the ARC, secretly afraid I might not finish it…like most contemporaries I’ve picked up.

“Shut up,” I said again, much stronger this time. “You have no right to talk to me like that. Fancy parties and truck bed picnics are not an automatic ticket into my pants.”
–Solving for Ex

Unsuspecting, I started into it. Before I’d even made it two chapters, Ashley’s voice grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I know it will sound weird, but this is the first Young Adult novel I’ve read where I actually related to the emotions of the protagonist on a deep level. Brendan is just the kind of guy I liked in my early teens, but how do you tell a guy you like him if he’s the only real friend you have? Of course you’d be afraid of ruining it. Anyone would be.

Brendan certainly wasn’t trying, and that fact was quickly changing my attitude from sad to pissed off, and it looked like it could head into me not giving a damn.
–Solving for Ex

See, this, this how I remember romance as a teenager feeling. The silence between Ashley and Brendan is deafening. I know that feel by heart. Vincent, on the other hand, is all smooth and doing everything showy — at first — but Ashley has a gut feeling about him that keeps her from getting in too deep too fast. I made many a decision based on that gut instinct. I love seeing that in another character. She’s not perfect by any means, and neither is Brendan. (Oh, gosh, no. He’s not perfect at all. But that’s why he felt so real. Like someone I’m sure I knew.)

Mathletes is everything to Ashley. For her, it’s the only place she gets to be accomplished, admired, and completely in the moment with Brendan. Until Sofia shows up and starts hitting on Brendan and ruins everything. Gahh, Brendan is so blind. Just like many a teenage boy. I can’t stop going on about how freaking true to life these people are. You just have to read this book.

I pictured Vincent there. I’d never seen him even close to dirt, or dirty or sweaty or otherwise disheveled in any way. But I supposed it could happen.
–Solving for Ex

The ending wasn’t what I expected, but that’s all I can say without spoiling it. I loved the whole story so much that I had to buy a few copies of the paperback so I have some to give away, and one for my favorites shelf, obvi, because this is definitely one I’ll be re-reading until it’s dog-eared. I don’t know if there is another contemporary that will pull me in so thoroughly and make me skip meals like this one did, but I have to thank Leigh Ann a million times for making me love something from a genre I formerly hated. I’m reading every single one that Ms. Kopans releases — but I’m sure you already guessed that.

Solving for Ex releases TODAY (!!!) and is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in eBook and paperback. Add it to your Goodreads TBR here, and follow @LeighAnnKopans on Twitter or check out her website for more about her other novels.

1 crush on your best friend +
1 gorgeous, scheming new girl +
1 Mathletics competition =
1 big mess

SIMPLIFY.

Ashley Price doesn’t have much in life after being bullied so hard she had to leave her old school to live with her aunt and uncle in Pittsburgh. But the camera she borrowed from her best friend and secret crush Brendan, and her off the charts math abilities, make things a lot more bearable. Plus, since Brendan is the captain, making the school Mathletes team should be easy.

But when gorgeous new girl Sofia rolls in and steals Brendan, Ashley’s place on the team, and her fragile foothold on the Mansfield Park Prep social totem pole, it’s on. Sofia is everything Ashley left her old school to escape. The only thing Ashley didn’t count on is Sofia’s sexy twin brother Vincent.

Vincent is not only the hottest boy in school, he’s charming, sweet, and he’s got his eye on Ashley. He’s also not taking no for an answer. There’s no real reason Ashley shouldn’t like Vincent, but with the battle lines being drawn between her and Sofia, Ashley’s not sure which side he’s on. Or which side she wants him to be on.

She does know Sofia is trouble with a capital T, and she’s determined to make Brendan see it.

SOLVING FOR EX is a YA contemporary romance that remixes Mansfield Park as Clueless meets Mean Girls in a crazy mix of high school society, mathletic competition, and teenage romance.

Thank You, Every Random Wonderful Person

It just hit me last week.

As I was going over the acknowledgements for Knights of Rilch one last time. Holy crap, I’m actually doing this again. Releasing another book. Thousands of people do it every week, but still. All the planning that goes into it. All the months of plodding through tiny detail work just to get the fonts to line up and the cover saturation just right. All the millions of things that could — and do — go wrong.

It’s massive. I’m feeling extremely humbled to have so much help (you know who you are, and I owe you more than a blog post), but not only that, just to have the support. Everyone who asks me how my day is going. Who cheers me on for writing a few thousand words when I could have spent the afternoon reading or doing the dishes or running errands. You guys, seriously, you’re awesome.

Okay. Just had to say that. If you’re not in my acknowledgements, you’re there in my mind. Every time I see your picture in my Twitter feed or your name in my inbox or your number on my phone, I have a moment of elation and gratefulness that you are in my life, helping me push toward my dreams, and I hope I can do the same for you in some small way. Thank you.

Trading Cards Reveal

HI LOVELY PEOPLE!!!

Yep, I’m shouting today because I am ridiculously excited and thrilled to be revealing eight pieces of artwork based on my novels. I’m not doing it alone — seven of my loyal comrades have agreed to do this with me, and if you don’t know them yet, you should, because they are TOTALLY THE BOMB.

Each character is printed on lovely little 2.5×3.5 trading cards, complete with stats (spoilers!) on the back and a quote that represents them. Four more will be released with the next book, so if you’re looking for a character that isn’t here, s/he is probably coming. These Limited Edition cards are currently available individually or with proof of book purchase while supplies last.

And here they are! Scroll down for a giveaway after you check them out. :)

The Coldness of Marek cards:

The Knights of Rilch cards:

collectorcard-2.5inx3.5in-h-front

Character: Pier

From: Knights of Rilch (Serengard: Book Two)

And now for a giveaway! I’m giving away four sets of cards to three lucky winners. Thanks for stopping by today!
Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Getting Sick During NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month wasn’t what I expected at all this year. I didn’t have a glowing winning story, so I just slid on through and went on to the next task. But I kind of want to do a little update on it, since I told you guys which novel I was going to work on and was all unicorns and sunshine about it.

Well, it actually went splendidly and terribly at the same time. I got sick in the month of November and didn’t get better until well into December. It seemed like every virus under the sun hit us this flu season. My kids got everything, and there was nothing to do but suffer through and suck down vitamin C. This was, of course, not the best conditions for highly productive writing. I was a sopping mess of headaches and when my head hurts, I don’t do well. I just want to curl up and watch Netflix.

I persevered. I squeaked through November with 50,055 words of novel started. I still owe this baby another 100,000 before it will be a complete draft, but whatever, we’ll talk about that later.

But here’s the thing: for the first November in like forever, I didn’t make my word count every day. I did 3k and 5k days to catch up because I went days with only a measly 150 words or none at all. I felt like a loser. Like I’d never be a serious writer again. But I needed a break, as evidenced by my body breaking down the way it did, and it became more and more obvious that my brain was going to take a break no matter what I thought was okay.

As soon as December was back in full swing, I got my edit letter. And you know what? It didn’t look so daunting. I’d pushed through that crappy month of feeling awful and still got something down on the page. I’d made something of five weeks of couch sitting and stomach clutching and sugar deprivation and I’d made a freaking manuscript, just like I always do. What was 93k of edits? Psssshhh. I breezed through them and have complete ARCs in hand. Just a few proof-reads needed before the final version goes out. BOOYAH.

But those words from November are, surprisingly, not crap. They will need a great deal of revision. I still need to go back and finish the draft. It will probably daunt me like heck to even pick it up again and I’ll wonder again if I’m a failure. But you know, feeling like a failure doesn’t make you a failure. Life is like a first draft…until all of a sudden it isn’t. If you’re learning at all, that is forward motion. You’re going! You’ll get somewhere, even if it’s not where you set out to be. There might be a plot twist, and it could suck for awhile, but then it might turn out to be much nicer than you imagined. And honestly, as I’m about to roll over into full blown release work for Knights of Rilch and sprinty, crazy drafting on the third novel, I’m feeling more and more strength in being agile.

Being able to adjust well has never been my strong-suit, but I’ve been thinking about it and DANNNNGG, if I can bounce back from pregnancy and birthing and breastfeeding at all hours and sleep deprivation and all that craziness happening to my body, I can certainly take what the literary life throws at me. Of course I can. I can take the days when the kids don’t nap and I have to move my writing time to the night or the next day. I can bump a release date if the manuscript just isn’t ready. I can cancel stuff that just isn’t going to work out. And I can take new opportunities as they come.

Happy January, yo. Don’t be afraid to adjust your plans a little in 2014.

Thoughts on the Eve of the Year

Photo by Jenny Kaczorowski http://jennykaczorowski.blogspot.com/

Photo by Jenny Kaczorowski
http://jennykaczorowski.blogspot.com/

I’m an idea person. I dream up far more projects than I can reasonably accomplish. When it comes down to my determination to get things done, I’m terrible. I often don’t get a fire under my butt until the week of–or even the day before–a deadline. With this series, I don’t have that luxury. I have to work on my current novel every single day if I’m to release a quality book in a timely manner. So when I have an occasional day where I sleep in and the kids don’t nap and I’m sick as a dog at bedtime, and I don’t write? I’m a mess. I call myself a loser and weep for the lost hours of writing time. “If I could just write, I would be happy.”

As I’m approaching the end of edits on KNIGHTS OF RILCH right now, I feel like every micro piece of this process is taking forever. Actually, it’s not frustrating me. I’m strangely calm and slow about this. I want to get it right. My attitude is hugely thanks to my charming and brilliant editor, Rebecca A. Weston, who knows how to call me on my dumb stuff and pick on every tiny little word that just doesn’t sit right. I mean, I feel like I’ve been through this manuscript so many times, and she’s still finding a boatload of crap that needs to be combed through and smoothed over. I am ever grateful for her, because I know there is no way I would have the patience or strength to look at this critically for the bazillionth time if she didn’t have mark-ups all over it, forcing me to pay attention.

Final_WebVersion

I’ve had moments when I thought I was behind, but looking at the calendar now, I’m actually right on time. The days just feel like they’re rolling by and I’m not getting anywhere, y’know? But actually, I’m getting everywhere. I’m almost ready to call my second novel done. I’m halfway through drafting my third. I have a cover that just got revealed last week and ARC giveaways up and running. I am so freaking close to being more than a debut author, and I still spend 90% of my time taking care of my family, feeding, clothing, doing laundry, driving, cleaning, changing diapers, and hopefully finding time to shower and take a coffee break now and then. When I’m lucky, I actually get to edit, write, and read for pleasure in one day. Those days are like whipped cream. Fluffy, smooth, impossibly perfect whipped cream. And I get one now and then, on top of my pie and ice cream that is domestic life with two little boys. I should be so thankful and proud of myself.

My New Year’s resolution? Simply to bask in the prettiness and niceness of life. I love everything I get to do with my days. I’m incredibly lucky to be married to an extremely supportive man, who enjoys so many of the same things and shares the same goals. That I can be involved in my kids’ lives and grab an hour here and there to fill pages with words I love. That I have wonderful CPs, betas, and proofreaders who read my entire books multiple times. That I have you, reading this blog and finding my life/books/musings even slightly interesting.

Happy New Year!