Another day, another check-in

UpdateOctober went by faster than September. And what’s with all this Christmas stuff now?!? I mean, one day there’s half-price candy corn, and the next, there’s a mechanical Santa yelling “HO HO HO MERRY CHRISTMAS” at you when you walk into the store. (Doctor Who has forever scarred me in regards to mechanical Santas…thank you, Russell T. Davies…)

I’m in the thick of making Christmas gifts, though, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much.

And yay, I finally got my reading mojo back! I’d been in a serious reading slump since Jase was born–I honestly think I went two whole months without picking up a book! (I can’t remember another time in my life that I’ve been that long without reading.) And I read in snatches here and there after that, but I never really got back into it until September, when I renewed my subscription to Audible. (Because I decided I just didn’t have enough time to actually sit and read.) WELL. Apparently that did the trick, because I’ve now plowed through several audiobooks and e-books, and I even finished The Legend of Sam Miracle! (Not because of any problem with the book, oh no. N. D. Wilson delivered, as always.)

A short sampling of books I’ve finished in the past couple of months:

The Legend of Sam Miracle by N. D. Wilson. (YES this book was fabulous. Time travel plus Old West plus a villain with a bunch of creepy pocketwatches. Fabulous.)

The Legend of Eli Monpress  by Rachel Aaron. (I see a trend in the titles here. This was actually a series, and I got them all on audiobook, and oh my yes. They had some problems, and the first book especially suffered from a bit of wooden dialog, and YES there are stereotypical characters like the huge-stoic-bruiser-fighter, and the cheeky-flippant-thief, and the over-zealous-good-girl, and the dark-mysterious-girl-who-might-kill-us-all-because-of-creepy-powers. But heists! And thievery! And cheekiness! And illogical-yet-fantastic fights! They actually remind me of the Ryria books by Michael J. Sullivan, and I have to admit…there’s nothing I ADORE listening to on audiobook than these kinds of series.)

Crucible Steele and Steele-Faced by Alex P. Berg. (Psych meets The Dresden Files if Dresden was an out of shape murder cop and Shawn was a woman. Weird description, yes, but it fits. These books are weird and quirky and wonderful and I unashamedly love them. I love a good urban fantasy/detective story, and these are a fun twist–set in a sort-of-modern fantasy city with all your typical fantasy races. Definitely worth checking out. I flew through these two books in three days.)

OKAY. Now, writing. The reason you guys all look at this blog anyway.

Misfits, the MG fantasy novel: still on hold. Hoping to finish it this month. (I know, I say this every month, but I continue to hold out hope!)

Slag, the Underworld Mythos novella: SO CLOSE I CAN TASTE VICTORY. Seriously, I have, like, just a couple of chapters to edit and tweak to fit the current draft, and I should be done! Do I still hold hope that I can publish this by the end of the year? Ehhh…sort of? But not really?


5 Minutes With Janeen Ippolito and Julia Busko

Welcome to another interview! Again, these ladies are fellow Realmies, and I honestly don’t remember when I met them, except that it was online. Janeen and I met in person at Realm Makers 2015, and this year I managed to at least say hi to Julia this year (she had THE MOST FABULOUS costume of The Last Unicorn and I’m a wee bit jealous and… *ahem* okay, back on track.) This is the first time I’ve interviewed co-authors, so this should be fun! 😀

*Tell us a little bit about yourself/your novel: 2016juliaheadshot

JB: My name is Julia Busko, and I’m a freelance illustrator stationed out of Lancaster, PA. I’m a storyteller who has WAY too many worlds in her head and the story of Blood Mercy is actually the story that brought Janeen and I together as friends.

JI: Janeen Ippolito here! Extroverted, collaborator, writer, teacher, reviewer, sword-fighter, and someone who gets on Facebook to INCREASE productivity (radical, I know!) Seeing Blood Mercy come to life is a fantastic experience after all the sweat and tears Julia and I put into constructing it over the years.

*What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve ever had to research for a story?
JB: … I’m fairly certain I’ve blocked out most of them. I’m pretty sure that according to my search history, I’d be portrayed as a serial killer who is sensible about recycling. Hahaha. I’d have to say that currently, the search the freaked me out the most was “drowned body.” Don’t google it. Just… yeah. Wouldn’t suggest it.

JI: Um, I don’t think anything is particularly weird. How addictive heroin (very), the electromagnetic spectrum (very cool), and birds in mythology (also cool). I think what I found most interesting was researching poisonous plants – it’s fascinating that the most deadly plants can also be the most healing in the right preparations!

*Where do you usually write? Can you describe it?

JB: Generally I write while sitting on one of my couches. In the livingroom, we have a SUPER comfy floral couch facing our projector screen. When not there, I crash my husband’s den and chill out on our retro green couch (it’s from the 50’s and LOOKS like it) while he is either working or playing Skyrim. I suffer from Raynaud’s, so there’s generally a fuzzy blanket involved when I’m writing. Or a oscillating fan, if it’s summer.

JI: On the couch where everyone is. I do better when I’m around people vs. being alone. It’s better for accountability and for moral support. I’m a ridiculously social writer.

*Do you have a strange quirk or habit while writing or preparing to write?

JB: Not that I know of? I’m not sure. Janeen would probably be able to answer this better than I can.

JI: ALL THE POSSIBILITIES. When Julia and I collaborate, the only cardinal rule is that there is NO dissing of the brainstorming. All the ideas must be thoroughly explored, even if you have to work the next day (unless it is getting super-duper late, in which case there is a reluctant rain check). Also, stopping the writing process to find new songs or look at goofy videos is always acceptable. Until Janeen gets antsy and starts threatening to write without Julia (which rarely happens, but some nights…). Um, oh and everything must, must MUST have a Pinterest board.

* Can you give us a hint of where the story is going next?

JB: Let’s just say that reconciliation is a beautiful thing, And not all of the Talamar’s secrets are their own.

JI: Agreed. The Talamars are on the plate – expect all the flair, drama, glitz, and emotional instability/narcissism. And fighting. And goldfish. But also humor. We always bring the humor (that’s how we get away with the dark feels). AND there is totally an HEA, even if it isn’t what you’d expect.

thanks for joining me here, ladies! I am so looking forward to reading this book! Her’es more about Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water:

What would you do if the one you loved was turned into a monster?Houses of the Dead cover

Melrose Durante brings order. As founder of the Houses of the Dead, he tirelessly opposes the vampires, and provides refuge for the Blood Kind, those like himself who fight against the blood curse that leads to vampirism. His medical breakthroughs have brought many back from the vampire path. After thousands of years, the Blood Kind finally has the upper hand.

Until a vampire attacks Melrose’s family, then begs for asylum. To his friends she’s Lucy, a disturbed young woman prone to incoherent rants, warning of an imminent attack by vampire leader, Conan. But to Melrose she’s something more.

His lost wife, Jane.

One thing is clear – time is running out. In five days Conan will attack Quebec City, killing or enslaving all in his way. If Melrose cannot unlock his wife’s tormented mind, even his immortal wisdom may not be enough to save Quebec City, the Blood Kind, and the Houses of the Dead.

Check it out on Amazon!

The authors’ online hangouts:

Janeen: Facebook| Instagram| Website

Julia: Facebook| Instagram| Website

5 Minutes with Sarah Baysinger

Sara and I have been online friends for a couple of years, but we bonded at Realm Makers 2015 while talking about writing as moms of young kids–our oldest kids are months apart, and while I was pregnant with my second, she had her second baby with her at the conference. Black Tiger is her debut novel, and after reading the blurb, it is definitely on the top of my TBR list. Enjoy the interview! 🙂

*Tell us a little bit about yourself/your novel:fullsizerender-1-59-47-pm

I grew up in Ecuador as an MK (missionary kid) but now live among the endless cornfields of Indiana. I have a terrible addiction to coffee. *Takes sip of Pumpkin Spice Latte while typing.* I’m obsessed with dinosaurs, and still consider paleontology a possible career choice for myself. I have two young children and a husband who can tell you everything about Star Wars. (I mean EVERYTHING.) I’m also the author of the upcoming dystopian series Black Tiger. Black Tiger takes place in futuristic Kentucky and features a girl, Ember, who grew up in an orchard, is taken to the most elite city, and learns some big secrets about herself—secrets that give her the power to affect the rise or fall of her country.

*What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve ever had to research for a story?

Research? What’s that? Isn’t the point of writing stories in the FUTURE so that you DON’T have to do research? ;P Kidding, of course. I can’t really think of anything funny that I’ve researched. Since my lead in Black Tiger lives on an orchard, I had to research orchard stuff, like when do you prune the trees? (Answer: winter time.) Also, I know absolutely nothing about fashion or clothes designs, so I had to do a little research on Victorian Era dresses after a beta reader pointed out that petticoats aren’t, in fact, supposed to show. #thankGodforbetareaders

*Where do you usually write? Can you show us a picture/describe it? writing-space

We recently moved out to a little house in the country, and unfortunately don’t have my own personal office anymore. *sad face*. BUT I do have a writing corner, which is kind of more… quaint? rustic? whimsical? (peculiar?) Not sure what the perfect adjective is to put here, but you get the idea. Unfortunately, it’s more of a holding place for all my book stuff. I do most of my writing outside, on a little picnic table where I can keep an eye on my kids while they play.

*Do you have a strange quirk or habit while writing or preparing to write?

So… before kids, I had a whole routine that took, like, an HOUR to set up before I even started writing. I would make my tea/coffee (cuz every writer needs a hot drink close by, no matter the weather.) I would go so far as to light candles, put Enya on Pandora, and throw on “writing clothes” (i.e. sweatpants and t-shirt). It was bliss. Now I’m lucky if I even get an hour to write in a day, and my “writing clothes” are now my “regular daytime clothes”. (But I get to play with kids all day, so I guess it’s win/win, really. 😉 ) So I guess my answer (after kids) is that I always need a warm drink in hand while writing.

*Can you give us a hint of where the story is going next?

I’m planning on writing a three-book series with Black Tiger. I have a novella for one of a secondary characters brewing, but we’ll see if it ever takes off. Book Two in the series, Ashen City, will deal with Ember’s struggle with the decision to redeem her country, or leave and never look back. It’ll deal with her questioning, no only her purpose, but also what it means to have a self-sacrificing type of love for those she doesn’t even know.

This was fun! Thanks so much for having me! 😀

Thanks for hanging out with us! 🙂 Here’s more about Black Tiger:

When the fire goes out, supposedly dead, the embers still remain, tiny specks of deadwood and front-cover-final-copyash that have the capacity to start a fire large enough to burn down an entire city.

Ember Carter is a sixteen-year- old farmer’s daughter who wants nothing more than to stay close to her family in the Community Garden when Career Day approaches. Unfortunately, all farming careers are given to boys, and besides, as of the past two years, all students have been drafted to the Line of Defenders to fight in a war no one seems to know about. When Ember meets Forest, the mysterious stranger who seems to know a bit too much about city life and the way the government is run, she’s even less eager to leave the safe haven of the Garden.
On Career Day, the future couldn’t look brighter when Ember is the only student assigned the career of a Farmer. But all hopes come to end when she attacks a Defender to save her best friend. Suspected a rebel and sentenced to death, she’s transferred to Frankfort Prison where she will carry out her sentence.
But Frankfort is full of surprises and snotty Patricians. While in prison, Ember learns a dark secret about Forest that makes her question what little she knew about him. And then there’s Rain,the carelessly handsome boy who enjoys instigating her just a bit too much. If THAT’S not enough, the world learns something about Ember even she doesn’t know. A secret that brings her character into question, enlightens her on her mother’s true identity, and ultimately, gives her the power to affect the rise or fall of Ky.
With the handsome Forest tugging at her heart, and the rogue Rain whispering treasons into her ear, can Ember make the right decision that will redeem the corrupt government of Ky?

Check it out on Amazon!

Sara’s online hangouts: Website| Twitter| Facebook| Instagram

September check-in

UpdateAnother month just went flying by, and I’m still not entirely sure where it went or what happened. Story of my life nowadays, it seems.

September saw the last of the jet-skiing and swimming, and while we’re still on our bikes14520604_1260856453935893_1664918853133711673_n occasionally, today saw the first of our fall hikes. Justin winterized the dirtbike, jetski, and camper yesterday, and I’m sure he’ll start tinkering with the snowmobile soon. I’ve begun preschool with Toby, and between that, housework, projects, writing, and fiberwork, I’ve found I have a lot less time for reading–something that I never, ever though would ever happen.

Speaking of fiberwork, I’ve been working on a commission for a friend–some stuffies of Willoughby, the dragon in her children’s book. They’re so adorable, and I can’t want to share pictures!


  1. Misfits (previously known as The Secret Project) is currently on hold, but hopefully not for long
  2. I’m almost done with rewriting Slag and hope to get it out to critique partners within a week. My goal is still to release this novella this year, so here’s hoping that happens!

That’s about it! I’m still trying to figure out if I have time for NaNoWriMo this year…I’m guessing probably not, but I’d still like to try. What is this madness?!?

How was your September?

Beautiful People, September 2016


More Beautiful People!

This post is for my Secret Project, Misfits, which I guess technically isn’t so secret any more since I’ve been talking about it a little bit on my social media. Essentially, it’s a middle-grade magical school fantasy novel–my short pitch for it is, “What Harry Potter would have been like if it had been about Squibs instead of witches and wizards.” (Which doesn’t help if you haven’t read the books, I suppose…)

It’s about a preteen girl, Epiphany Starr Scott, who has grown up thinking that she is the only Normal in her entire (large and loud) magical family for generations. Then, she accidentally makes a drawing come to life and attack a bully at school a few days before the beginning of Thanksgiving break. Because of this, she is sent to Saint Getrude’s School for Misfits, for kids who, for whatever reason, have powerful magic that is not easily controlled. There, she makes friends with the siblings Mozz and Amber Rose, the loner Eli Craven, and the cranky gargoyle guardian Fen. When strnage magical noises become concerning to Fen, and students begin to mysteriously vanish, it’s up to Pip and her friends to unearth a sinister plot unfolding in the school’s cellars.

I love it to death and have been having an absolute blast writing it (even though it keeps growing on me!)

  1. How did you come up with this character? I love the name Epiphany, and played around with pairing it with different names before settling with Starr as the middle and Scott as the last name. This is one of the first times I’ve built a character from their name first.
  2. Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast? Not literally starving.
  3. Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of? Pip is fabulous at sketching. She loves and adores it–until one of her drawings accidentally comes alive. After that, even though she has to draw sometimes just to scratch the itch, she has a difficult time enjoying it as much as she once did.
  4. List 3 things that would make them lose their temper. Bullies. Injustice. People misusing power that has been entrusted to them.
  5. What is their favourite type of weather? Least favorite? Pip hates the rain, but adores snow.
  6. What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality? She would totally be a Ravenclaw. I’m not sure about her MBTI–maybe an INFP?
  7. Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future? Given that her future is fairly up in the air at the moment–her becoming a useful member of the magical society requires her to master her insane magic–I’d say it’s fairly certain she’s more freaked out about the future.
  8. What is their favourite thing to drink? Orange soda.
  9. What is their favourite color? Least favorite? She loves teal–her hair is even dyed teal! Her least favorite color would be hot pink.
  10. What is a book that changed their life? I don’t know how incredibly life-changing it can be considered, but her illustrated version of the Beatrix Potter stories inspired her to begin drawing as a child.

5 Minutes with C. W. Briar

Welcome to another interview with…yes, you guessed it, another Realmie! Horror isn’t my absolute favorite genre, but at times I definitely appreciate the creepy thrill that comes along with books such as these. C. W.’s book is next up on my Kindle and I can’t wait to read it!

*Tell us a little bit about yourself/your novel:cwbriar_xtra_small

Wrath and Ruin is an anthology of fantasy and sci-fi stories mixed with good, old-fashioned horror. The scares come from suspense, creepiness, and monsters rather than the macabre. Rod Sterling’s The Twilight Zone is a good comparison because the stories mix thrills with the exploration of ideas and consequences. Some other influences were C.S. Lewis, H.P. Lovecraft, Michael Crichton, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The collection includes multiple genres. The Other Edge is a near-future sci-fi set in space. The Case of Elizabeth Flora is a throwback to pulp fiction and a twist on 50s monster flicks. One story is a multi-layered allegory. And Ghoul is a gaslamp fantasy/comedy/horror set in the late 19 th century.

*What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve ever had to research for a story?

(From an old Facebook post) My last month’s search history includes “time for corpses to
decay,” “women’s Victorian fashion,” and “alchemy” because #amwriting.

*Where do you usually write?img_20160905_124349968

I don’t have a dedicated spot at home, though I do use my treadmill and bookshelf as standing desks. I try to get out to Barnes & Noble or a coffee shop once a week to write because I have three wonderful but rambunctious kids. Starbucks is peaceful and quiet by comparison.

*Do you have a strange quirk or habit while writing or preparing to write?

I have a long commute that’s all highway and very light on traffic. I hate wasting that time, so I use a microphone and a software program to type what I say out loud while driving (I keep eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, I swear). The program makes lots of mistakes with what it records, but broken progress is better than no progress at all.

* What’s next on your plate?

I’m completing another short story right now, then moving on to a novel-length project. I have multiple books I want to write, but I’m leaning toward one in particular. Ghoul, which is included in Wrath and Ruin, introduced the world to exonatural investigators Gideon and Rose. They have more adventures to be had.

Thanks for joining me, C.W.! Here’s more about his short story collection:

Some monsters are nightmarish beasts with fangs and grotesque bodies. Others come in the form wr-cover-smallof bad decisions we dread or regret. Both kinds haunt and stalk us while we are alone at night.

Wrath and Ruin is a collection of nine stories with a focus on fantasy and sci-fi threaded with quiet, traditional horror. Monsters, both literal and figurative, lurk in the shadows of this diverse anthology.

Hunters pursue a ghoul in Victorian-era Pennsylvania.

A psychologist interrogates the lone survivor of a mysterious shipwreck.

Astronauts investigate a derelict alien spacecraft loitering in Earth’s solar system.

A man flees powerful enemies in a bizarre, hostile land.

These are only some of the stories in this debut book by C. W. Briar.

Check it out on Amazon

C. W.’s online hangouts: Website| Facebook




With a whoosh…


Oh, um, bye, August. Hi, September. I didn’t realize you were so close.

So yeah, I totally spaced on blogging in August. It was slightly busy. We got home from Realm Makers (which was awesome as always), my brother and his girlfriend came to visit, then a couple of weeks later we went camping. Everyone around here is in frenetic activity, trying to squeeze in as much biking, swimming, and other summer activities as we can before winter locks us into its eight-month grip.

There’s not much news to report. I’m (still) not done with the Secret Project. I got stuck, in fact. But the good news is that I’m currently working on the novella that goes between Forged Steel and the sequel, Burnt Silver. It’s mostly written, so I just need to do some rewriting and clean up work, and hopefully *crosses fingers* we will have at least an Underworld Mythos novella to release this year. Hopefully. It’s tentatively titled Slag. We’ll see if it sticks.

Nothing crafty has been finished, either. Except for all of the stuff that I took to Realm Makers with me. Since then I’ve been gathering supplies and working on Christmas gifts. Cannot wait for Christmas this year! And I’m actually (for the first time in my life) looking forward to Hallowe’en this year too! (My reasons are a blog post in and of themselves, I think.)

Soooo…not much to say other than…I’m baaaaaack! (didja miss me? Didja?)