It's been just a little over two months since To Love a Tea Witch dropped on Amazon and KindleUnlimited, and since then, I have been working on the second novel in the Thistlewood Witches series. It's all about Alexis Cohen, the strange, brooding, gothic coven member who has a deep obsession with demon worlds after a chance encounter in her teenage years.
I've done quite a bit of work on this story since we last talked about it. The first draft has been finished, put to bed, proofread for spelling and grammar errors, then took a trip to my editor. Its back in my hands now. I've done a bit of rewriting, and its been read by my alpha readers (My alphas are the BEST), and now I am taking my time with making adjustments and changing a few things in the line-editing phase.
So far, I am really loving how Alexis's story has played out. When we first met her in Tea Witch, she was a little strange, a little kooky, and WAY obsessed with her mission to reach the Underworld once more. Sydney was put off by her at first, but the more they got to know one another, the closer they grew until Sydney herself brewed Alexis a sleep potion to calm her mind and nerves.
In her story, Alexis has calmed quite a bit, though her obsessions still remain the same. She's a bold woman, with strong intentions and goals and she never wants to waiver from them. And when she meets her match in the form of a demon named Xal'aros, sparks fly all over the place! The novel ends up being a fish out of water story just as much as it is a love story!
Right now, I am right on time to meet my deadlines and have the book out on the Fall Equinox, or September 22nd. Once I finish with this round of line edits, the book will go back to my alphas, then to my betas. And if everything looks great (fingers crossed!), I will be looking for ARC readers! And then when the leaves start to turn, it will be time for Alexis to take center stage!
As August rolls along, I'll be doing more updating on Ko-Fi (link) about this story and other books that will be coming in the Thistlewood Witches series. So, for shorter, sweeter updates, make sure you follow me there.
And on the blog, I'll be posting another update when its time to reveal the new cover!
For now, make sure you are all caught up with To Love a Tea Witch and I will see you all next week!
By the way, my novella Frost and Flame is currently FREE on the Amazon store!
The sale runs through Sunday, August 8th, so grab it while you can!
The wheel of the year keeps turning, and this time, we are taking a closer look at Lammas, the pagan festival that falls on August 1st.
I love this festival, probably more than most. This is the first of three harvest fstivals, where the first crops of the season are harvested and the community would often get together to celebrate! Grains were the major harvest of this time, so Lammas was often seen as a bread festival. Grapes were traditionally harvested at this time as well, and wines were made and stored away to ferment. Fruits like apples, peaches, and pears were also harvested at this time, and summer squash was picked and stored away for the winter.
I love the warm harvest of August. This is the time of year that features county fairs and long days in fields on tractors. I remember my Mamaw baking fresh bread in her kitchen, and my papaw handing me empty buckets to go collect beans and tomatoes from the garden.
In my own garden, the last of my blueberries are ripening and ready to pick. My tomatoes were late this year, so they still look rather green, but my roses are experiencing a full second bloom. The last of my lavender seedlings from last month are finally starting to sprout, and my very-late sugar pumpkins are flowering!
This year for the holiday, we are keeping it low key. I don't have anything to harvest, beyond a handful of blueberries every day or so. It's fun seeing my late fall veggies start rolling in, though. I think I will spend the day working in fiber arts. I am almost finished with a campfire hoodie for myself and I have the yarn ready to go to make a simple lap blanket for this winter. When fall rolls around, I almost always have a crochet needle in hand!
I hope that you all have a safe, festive, fruitful Lammas, and we will look forward as the wheel of the year rolls around to Mabon in September!
Well, its July 31st. The last day of Camp Nanowrimo for this year.
How did I do?
I won, but barely. It was by the absolute skin of my teeth, let me tell you.
July was hard, you guys. I really struggled from the first week on. The holiday at the beginning of the month tripped me up, and I had multiple weekends where I ended up traveling or out of town, dealing with personal things. And last weekend, I even missed posting up a blog post because my husband surprised me with a weekend getaway. So when I tell you that this win was hard-freaking-fought, it really was. There were plenty of times when I was up late into the night, pounding away on my keyboard and trying to keep everything moving.
That being said, I really love how my word tracker turned out! Look how pretty she looks, all filled in and colorful. Just absolutely gorgeous, through and through. I've already started brainstorming what I want to draw and fill in for November when Nanowrimo rolls around again. For something as simple as coloring in flower petals, it really was a nice motivator.
For what I was writing, I have been dividing my time between working on episodes for my Kindle Vella serial, 11 Rules for Dating Your Mortal Enemy, and the third book in the Thistlewood Witches series (title coming soon!). And when I haven't been writing, I have been working on the line edits for To Cross a Dark Witch. I am so excited about the work I have been doing lately. 11 Rules is starting to get really good, hot and heavy, and my third Thistlewood book has started to ramp up with a little bit of a mystery woven in with the romance.
And now, we're on the last day of July and let me tell you, I am so tired. This was a hard month for me personally, and I am glad to see the back of it. August has so many new possibilities opening up for me, and with the normalcy of the school year gearing up, I'll have more time to put my nose to the grindstone and get some real, serious work in. I have a lot of plans for novels, with many of them being in the Thistlewood Witches series, and I think I am ready to start dabbling in projects like Tiktok and audio books!
Camp is over, friends! Let's take a breather and start fresh tomorrow!
August is upon us!
It's July 17th and we are a little over 2 weeks into Camp Nano! July is over halfway over, and how am I doing?
I am slowly but surely catching up to where I need to be. I've had some really high highs, with one day ending with 2.7k+ words, and low lows, where I ended one day with a paltry 706 words for the day. But either way, I've kept on and ended up at 23,653!
Not too bad. I'm slowly chipping away at the deficit and I am hoping to be back on track to win Camp next week.
So, I guess you are wondering where my time went this week...
Well, when I wasn't writing, I was working on a new story that's hit Kindle Vella this week!
If you're new here, 11 Rules for Dating my Mortal Enemy has been a side project that I have been working on for a few months now. I originally intended for it to be a trilogy of magical novels, something outside of the world I am building in Thistlewood. But when I heard about Kindle Vella, the brand new program for serials, I figured that 11 Rules would be a GREAT starter story! I love serials and have always wanted to toy around with one, and now I have my chance.
You can find my story here.
New chapters/episodes will hit every Friday, but you can read the first three episodes for free right now!
Wanna know what 11 Rules is about?
The story is about a princess named Lailah who is from a magical town called Soland, a town that is always at odds with Veilside, its magical brethren to the south. When the good people of Soland hear about a coming eclipse, the Kings of both cities agree to a magical marriage between Lailah and the prince of Veilside, a young man named Mikhal. This marriage will solidify a peace treaty between the cities and usher in a new era of unity.
The only problem is... Lailah hated Mikhal! Loathes! Despises! He's not too fond of her, either, if he was to be honest.
The pair have to work together to make this bond work, or they risk all out war breaking out between their beloved towns.
So, while I've been lagging behind in Camp Nanowrimo, it was for a very good cause! I am excited about where Kindle Vella could take readers and authors, and with Lailah and Mikhal's journey just beginning, a whole new world awaits us all!
And now, we can get back to the writing!
With week 3 beginning, I am ready to set my nose to the grindstone and get this story back on track!
Its July 10th and week one of Camp Nanowrimo is behind us!
And let me tell you, it was a week of struggles for me!
I was a very busy bee for most of the first 10 days of July. I spent two days driving 6+ hours, one was spent during a holiday with lots of family, and one of them was spent celebrating my wedding anniversary! Add in a couple of yucky-feeling days and you've got me clocked in at 12,779 words out of my goal of 50,000.
That's not to say that I am not enjoying myself! Those 12k words came pretty easy when I was able to sit down and put fingers to keys. The rough draft of my third novel is flowing wonderfully. I'm three chapters into the work in progress and I am completely, totally enjoying myself. Savannah has always been a character that I find myself completely in tune with, and being in her head is just lovely. And I've even introduced her love interest, she just doesn't know it yet!
My word tracker is looking gorgeous!
I love how my flower is looking so far! I've got each row of petals assigned with 2-4 different colors, using one color a day to fill in my progress. There will be no clear pattern, no rhyme or reason in the end, and I think it is going to be beautiful!!
You know, I have really grown to love these monthly word count trackers. I got the idea from watching folks who make bullet journal videos on YouTube, and it's been a blast to fill out with each camp. Next year, I am considering using a bullet journal instead of a yearly planner, and if I do, you better believe that I will be drawing one of these a month!
For now, I'm focused on July's camp and getting as far into my work in progress as possible. Week 2 may be a little bit of a struggle, but I get a big break from life during week 3, which is very exciting! Either way, as long as I am writing a little bit each day, I am incredibly happy.
Fellow writers, how was week one of Camp for you? Are you still on track?
Have a wonderful week and let's catch up again next Saturday!
July brings about a lot of things for me! Not only is it time for CampNanowrimo... Not only is it time for me to start the rough draft of the next novel in the Thistlewood series... But it is also time to reset my Kanban board!
We are currently 2 days into Camp Nanowrimo, with this blog post going live on day 3. I started off strong on day one, racking in over 2,000 words, which was well above my daily goal of 1,613. Day 2 saw some of the same successes, leaving me to start Day 3 off with a word count of 4,282 of 50,000.
As much as I would like to say that I am knee deep in the rough draft of Green Witch, these first few days have been dedicated to my old WIP, finishing up the last few chapters before moving on. The piece, which is tentatively titled Novella #5, is a quick read about a young witch in training who falls for a master wizard, and the only way that they can be together is if she finally passes her magical test in front of the Assembly. I've been working on it off and on for some time, and I really would like to get it finished and put to bed before starting in on Savannah. With the rate I am going, I should be done by the end of week one, which gives me the rest of the month to enjoy my time with Savannah Inola.
And let me tell you, I am dying to get into that story! I have pages and pages of notes about Savannah, her family, and the strange man that she finds injured at the edge of her cottage's clearing. While Sydney's story was spent learning about magical craft and overcoming outsiders, and Alexis's story was filled with a demon learning how to live life on earth, this one is going in a very different direction. It's going to be full of love, intrigue, a secret society, family mysteries unravelled, and an outside force who's threatening to strip the forest of its most precious resource: life.
See? It's going to be AMAZING.
But before I could do all of that, I spent two full days working on my Kanban board.
At the end of Q2, I was kind of shocked to see how much I had accomplished in just a little bit of time. It also showed me how much I needed the Kanban board. I was able to keep myself on track, releasing multiple Novellas and my first novel during Q2, and seeing all of the tasks move to the bottom box filled me with a lit of pride. Pulling down every sticky note at the end of June was cathartic, and holding those little papers in my hand and feeling their weight made me realize just how much I had accomplished.
And then, I got to spend the rest of my time putting up NEW tasks!
Look at all of that work!
I learned from my mistakes with my old set up, but I dont know if you can tell. I've started using small sticky notes exclusively, giving myself much more room to work with. And on top of that, each project is color coded, marked, and they are all set in rows going down. When I finished and stepped back to get a good look for the first time, the amount of work sent a little ripple of fear into me. But that was gone quick. I like work. I like seeing the progress I make and I enjoy the rewards from working hard and being determined.
Q3 is going to be a great one!
Well, I am off to get my words in! Happy Camp and happy writing!
It's that time again! Time to prep for another grueling month of writing, editing, and creating! It's time for Camp NaNoWriMo, July edition!
I had an absolute blast back in April during that Camp month. I felt like I worked my fingers to the bone, but it was so worth it to complete the month and see the progress that I made. I was able to crush April with a whopping 50,081 words, and I cannot wait for July 1st to roll around so we can do it all again!
My project is already set up on the website! Take a peek at what I am going to be working on...
That's right! Its book 3 in the Thistlewood Witches series! This novel will follow Savannah, our green witch/kitchen witch as she learns about the secrets and mysteries behind her heritage, finding love with someone that she could never have imagined, and fights against those who are willing to steal the forest around her.
I am so excited to start working on this story. Savannah's story was one that slowly came to me over time, weaving its way into a perfect little romance that's just waiting to blossom. Savannah's story goes in a bit of a different direction from both Sydney and Alexis, so we shall see where the writing takes me!
One thing that I did back in April was make a word tracker to color in as I wrote. Filling in that page with all the different colors of leaves gave me a lot of joy, and this time, I wanted to do something very similar.
It took me a bit to sketch it out at first, but here's my pretty petal word tracker! Each petal represents a thousand words, and as July progresses, the flower will get fuller and fuller until it explodes with color! I am so excited to see this thing filled out at the end of the month, and it has really given me a lot of motivation for pushing forward. If I ever start bullet journaling (which I am going to try in 2022), then I'll be making word trackers like this for every month of the year! There's just something about them that inspires me to push forward and see the month through.
With my story plotted and ready to go, I am just counting down the days until July 1st hits. I want to write Savannah's story so bad, and its going to be a great treat to spend a month in her head and heart, watching her love story unfold!
Before I start today's post, I want to take a moment to say Happy Juneteenth!
Today we celebrate the end of one of the most horrible and bleak periods in US history, and to see it finally recognized nationwide makes my heart sing.
Black Lives Matter. I love you all!
The wheel of the year is turning again, and this time, the northern hemisphere is heading into the Summer Solstice!
I love this holiday, mostly because I love the warm, sunny days of summer. There is nothing in this world that energizes me like warm air, sunshine on my face, and a big, beautiful tree to sit under and enjoy the shade. Before we moved, every summer day you could find me hanging in my hammock in my backyard or swimming at my friend’s pool.
And the summer solstice has been a favorite holiday of mine for years!
Midsummer, Midsommar, or Litha is the celebration of the longest day of the year. During the summer solstice, the sun will have its longest time in the sky. In some pagan lore, this is the time when the horned god reigns supreme and the earth is at its most green and lush. The sun celebrates triumph in the sky over the darkness of night. The holiday itself is considered a fire festival, with many people burning candles and enjoying the warmth of a late night bonfire.
The summer solstice falls somewhere around June 21st, sometimes a day before or after, depending on the year, usually between the 20th and the 23rd.
For this year, me and my husband will be celebrating the best way we know how: hikes and cooking! During the day, I’ll be brewing sun tea by adding a few tea bags of choice (I’m thinking a lovely black tea with lemon peel) to a tall mason jar of water. All you have to do to make sun tea is leave the jar in a bright, sunny location and let nature do the rest! Sun tea is a slow brew that yields a delicious, rarely bitter tea, and was one of my favorite drinks as a child in Appalachia!
Once the work of the day is done, we are heading out to the forest. I love being out in nature and a holiday like Litha calls for communing in the forest. In case of rain (which is, sadly, a risk this year), we will be staying inside and watering our plants with moon water that I collected at the full moon before last (not the eclipse!). I’m thinking about making a flower chain for my bookshelf as well.
For a meal that night, we have opted to grill up some fresh salmon and fresh veggies! We’re going to be grilling asparagus, tomatoes, onions, and broccoli to go on the side of our lemon-soaked fish. And for desert, I am making a variation of honey cakes by following this recipe. I have never tried it before and I am very excited to give it a go!
And, of course, the husband will be enjoying mead while I sip on a bottle of watermelon wine while we light out candles and enjoy the rest of our quiet, wonderful evening.
Can you tell that I love Litha?
I hope that your summer solstice is as enjoyable and loving as mine is shaping up to be. Snack on some fresh fruits and veggies! Light a candle or settle in around a bonfire! Put flowers in your hair and turn your face up to the sun!
Until next time, my friends!
Have you heard of Kindle Vella?
Kindle Vella is a new program rolling out for e-readers through Amazon, featuring episodic chapters of stories which are available to read with tokens. Similar to Webtoon and Radish. Amazon made the announcement about the program back in April, sending the author world into a buzz about it.
And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to dip my toes into the Vella waters and see how it goes!
Honestly, I have always wanted to write an episodic series. I have a deep love for soap operas (blame my mother and her Days of Our Lives addiction), and I remember watching the wild, wacky Passions soap opera back in the early 2000’s. I honestly tried to never miss a show because the craziest things would happen if you looked away!
So, when I heard about Kindle Vella, my mind started turning with all sorts of ideas!
Now, as of this blog post, the program is still in beta and not yet available for readers, but writers can start uploading episodes, or chapters, of their works in progress. And I have started doing that with a side project novel called 11 Rules For Dating Your Mortal Enemy. When the program goes live, readers will be able to jump right into the enemies-to-lovers romance featuring magic, political intrigue, and two warring sister cities, with peace balancing on the shoulders of Lailah and Mikhal’s betrothal.
Once the program goes live, I’ll be posting ALL kinds of links to get you to the project!
And on my off time, I’ve been noodling an idea about a magical, wacky town filled with romance, drama, intrigue, sex, heat, betrayal... You know, a true soap opera! What a dream that would be to write a real soap opera, one episode at a time! And man, that sounds like so much FUN.
I think the Vella program is going to be interesting for authors and tons of fun for readers. I have my fingers crossed that Amazon will release it for readers soon, because I cannot wait for everyone to meet Lailah and Mikhal and watch their love story unfold, one episode at a time. And if you prefer to read the story in its entirety and not wait another week for a chapter, rest assured that once the story has concluded, I will release it as a proper ebook and paperback.
Come on, Vella! I’m ready for you!
I’ve got a lot going on in my little life. I’m juggling writing books, keeping publishing deadlines, writing both a blog and a newsletter, and juggling the schedule for a family that is larger than average. And though my husband calls me “super woman,” I wouldn’t be able to do it without a little help from my friends.
And my friends are my planner, my notebooks, and my kanban board!
Let’s start with my kanban board. It is nothing fancy, just a few boxes made of washi tape on the wall behind the door of my office. I use this to track my quarterly goals, breaking them down into manageable chunks. The top box is for things I need to do. The middle box is for what I am currently working on, and the bottom box is for everything that I have finished. We’re at the end of Q2 for 2021, and there’s still a few abandoned projects on the board, but I am pleased with my progress so far! The board will be “reset” on June 30th, and I’ll take down all the sticky notes, reassess my goals, and make some new ones!
So far, the kanban board has been wonderful for me. It’s very inspiring to look at and see the progress I am making, plus I can keep track of how multiple projects are shaping up throughout the quarter. The board helps me see the overall picture, while my planner and my notebook help me break down tasks in different ways.
I always keep a notebook at my side. Whether I am jotting down story ideas, character observations, little moments of inspiration, or taking notes on books about writing, it gets cracked at least 5 times a day.
And one of my favorite things to do each month is to make a monthly goal spread.
These goals are different from the items on my kanban board. While the kanban board breaks up tasks in bite-sized chunks, my monthly goals let me be more elaborate and dreamy. I aim high with these, and when I hit one, it is cause for celebration!
Plus, it is very inspiring to look back on past months and see my progress across time. The kanban board gets dumped every three months, but my notebook is here to stay.
And speaking of things to stay, I also have my daily planner. I’ve been treating it as a bullet journal, using the planner to document daily tasks, checking them off as I work. My daily planner also works as my family scheduler, keeping track of doctor appointments, events, birthdays, and days off from school.
My daily planner is absolutely my best friend. It lives right next to my writing laptop and I am constantly working out of it. While I may check off an item on my monthly goals every few days, and it may take me a bit to move a task on the kanban board, I am constantly checking off items in my daily planner. It keeps me on track with everything, from writing and posting blog posts, to when preorders are due to Amazon, to when to push my newsletter every two weeks! I also use my daily planner to keep track of my word counts every day, which I like to add up at the end of each month.
Next year, I will be transitioning away from a daily planner to a bullet journal, but that’s a post for another day.
Without these three modes of scheduling, I would be lost. It has taken a long time to perfect each method, but they work so well together that I couldn’t go without any of them!
What planning/scheduling methods have you tried?
Until next week, friends!
Just me, a paranormal romance author with big dreams and even bigger crushes!