Friday, November 24, 2023

Black Friday Book Sale!


Hello, friends! I hope y'all had a happy Thanksgiving! In case you're looking for a good book to enjoy while you munch on your leftover turkey and pie, I'm here to tell you that all seven of my books are on sale in ebook form for just $0.99 as part of the Perry Kirkpatrick Black Friday book sale!

This sale runs from Black Friday (today, November 24) through Cyber Monday. In it, you'll find literally hundreds of clean and Christian indie reads from authors like Kendra E. Ardnek, Tara Grayce, H.L. Burke, E.J. Kitchens, Abigail Manning, myself, and many others. The sale includes free and $0.99 ebooks, as well as some special deals on print and audiobooks. I've put links below that will take you straight to my sale listings, but you can also click here to browse the whole sale.

Blood in the Snow

Mechanical Heart

Bastian Dennel, PI:
The Midnight Show
Gilded in Ice
Mask of Scarlet

Through a Shattered Glass

Song of the Selkies

Have you checked out the Black Friday sale yet? Which books in it are you eyeing up? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 17, 2023

On the Taleweaver's Desk Issue 10: November 2023

Hello, all! It is the last month of fall, and that means it's time for another Taleweaver's Desk update. I'm still thinking of switching these to a three-times-per-year schedule in 2024, but we'll see how things go. (It may depend on how much news I have to share come February.) For now, though, let's take a look at what progress I've made on my various projects.

On the Taleweaver's Desk Issue 10: November 2023

On the Desktop

These are the projects you might find open on my laptop or desk if you took a peek at it during a normal day. They're currently in progress and at the top of the priority chart.

Bastian Dennel, PI #4

What is it? Book 4 in my Bastian Dennel, PI series and my first murder mystery.

Status: Thirty-one-ish chapters drafted.

Depending on when you read this, I'm probably working on either Chapter 31 or Chapter 32 of Bastian Dennel, PI #4, which I still need to name properly. It's fine. I'll get to it once the book is finished; that's what I normally do anyway. I planned to be finished with this book by now, but I got sidetracked (again) by a project for another writing challenge that was supposed to be a short story and turned into a novella. (Whoops.) I am close to the end, though — I have maybe three or four more chapters of Actual Plot, plus one or two chapters (probably just one) to wrap things up, and then I'll have a finished draft! Which I will then have to edit. Still, I'm optimistic about having this out sometime in 2024.

Daughters of Atirse #2

What is it? A Goose Girl/Puss in Boots retelling, the second book in the Daughters of Atirse series, and the prequel to Song of the Selkies.

Status: In the active planning stages.

Yes, you read that fairytale combo right! I've been thinking about combining The Goose Girl with Puss in Boots for a while now, and partway through writing Song of the Selkies, I realized that it would fit perfectly in that world. My intention is to submit this to the final Arista Challenge release, which means I need to get writing very soon! (Another reason I want to finish Bastian Dennel, PI #4 as soon as possible!) I'll give y'all more details on this story in a while, but for now, I'll just say that this is a prequel to Song of the Selkies that focuses on Ceana's oldest sister, Onora, and I'm very excited to write it.

D&D Campaign: Defenders of Serys

What is it? Defenders of Serys is the homebrew D&D campaign that I run for my D&D group.

Status: In between writing adventures.

I haven't touched this since August because I've been so busy with Song of the Selkies, Bastian Dennel, and grad school. I need to fix that soon, as the party is close to finishing the current adventure. (They're doing so well! I'm so proud of them!) I know what the next adventure will be, but setting it up will take time — it's an NPC-heavy adventure, and coming up with NPCs is one of the parts of D&D writing that tends to take the most time. Still, since we're in the holiday season now and we'll be meeting a little less, and since we still have some left in the current adventure, I should have through the end of the year to write the next adventure.

Stacked on the Side

These are the stories that I'm not actively working on (at least not officially), but I'm keeping close at hand because I plan to get back to them soon (or I just work on them sporadically as the urge takes me).

There are no significant changes to any of these projects since my last update, but I'll leave the list here for anyone who hasn't seen it before!

Blood in the Earth

What is it? Blood in the Earth is the sequel to Blood in the Snow and a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses crossed with the myth of Hades and Persephone.

Status: First draft finished; awaiting rewrites. I probably won't get back to it until late 2024 at the earliest at this point due to all the Bastian Dennel, PI and Daughters of Atirse books I have planned.

Once Upon a Dream

What is it? A light steampunk (or gaslamp fantasy?) Sleeping Beauty retelling; the predecessor to The Midnight Show

Status: Edited several times over. Awaiting another round of rewrites/expansion/edits (and a useful excuse/motivation for prioritizing those edits).

Shelved for Now

These are stories that are also on hold, but which I don't have specific plans to work on very soon. They're still within easy reach should I decide to return to them, but they aren't a top priority.

There are no significant changes to any of these projects since my last update, but I'll leave the list here for anyone who hasn't seen it before!

Dust of Silver

What is it? Classic-ish fantasy retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses crossed with Rapunzel, the first book in what has the potential to be a rather long series. Also, a rewrite of a book I wrote years ago that won't let go of me because CHARACTERS.

Status: Several chapters into the rewrite, though those several chapters haven't been touched in a few years.

Between Two Worlds

What is it? A portal fantasy adventure about what happens when you come home from the adventure, only to discover that the adventure isn't quite as done with you as you thought.

Status: Awaiting another round of edits/rewrites while I write other things and daydream about its sequels. May get bumped further up the priority list depending on certain other factors, but probably not for a while yet.

The Way of the Pen

What is it? Self-aware fantasy adventure about a girl and her author.

Status: The first draft is sitting on my shelf, patiently waiting for its turn back in the spotlight, as it has been for some time. Of everything in this section, this is the most likely book to move up to Stacked on the Side or On the Desktop, as I occasionally have wild thoughts of editing it and shopping it 'round to traditional publishers. However, that actually happening in the next couple years is improbable, due to Atirse and Bastian Dennel taking priority.

Berstru Tales series

What is it? A classic epic fantasy series and the longest-running series I've worked on (either in the number of books written or in how long I've worked on it.

Status: Needs to be rewritten from the ground up, but the bones are good. There's a particular character who's getting a whole new arc, and I'm really excited to write it . . . when I have time.

Awaiting Delivery

These are the stories that are on their way, but haven't quite arrived yet to the point where I can write them: ideas I'm toying with but haven't even started to draft because they're still too nebulous.

Additional Bastian Dennel, PI novels

What is it? Exactly what the heading said.

Status: I've been thinking lots of thoughts about the Bastian Dennel Little Mermaid/[secret story] retelling, which is great because I have about 75% of it figured out, but also not great because it's not the next book in the series. It might not even be the second-next book in the series, as I've been rearranging ideas again due to certain stories being seasonally dependent. And yet it's the book I have the most solid ideas for. (Why am I like this?) Anyway, I have lots of ideas, and will probably be writing Bastian Dennel books for quite a while.

Daughters of Atirse books

What is it? Multiple other stories in the same world as and overlapping casts with Song of the Selkies. Specific stories planned include: something in the Beauty and the Beast Family (a sequel), my take on Tam Lin crossed with a couple other fairy tales (another prequel, in addition to the one I mentioned in On the Desktop), and a retelling of part of the story of Pwyll & Rhiannon (another sequel). I also have ideas relating to Diarmad (Ceana's thrice-great uncle who, as you might recall, married a faery for political reasons) and Uaine, but I don't have specific fairy tales assigned to them yet.

Status: Too many ideas, too little time. On the upside, multiple people have said they want more from this world, so having lots of ideas is a good thing. I just need to make the time to write and publish all of them. I do have a rough series order plan, but because my ideas include prequels as well as sequels, I may adjust what order I actually publish things in depending on what I want to write.

Novellas from the world of Blood in the Snow

What are they? Currently, three ideas for spinoffs, most of which are also fairy tale retellings: one Puss in Boots (no, really), one Orpheus and Eurydice (probably crossed with a similar Japanese myth, Izanagi and Izanami), and one that's not currently a fairy tale retelling but would be about Gan and Azuma before they were animal-keepers at the emperor's palace (inspired the summer I spent watching a lot of Hogan's Heroes).

Status: Won't be written until after I edit Blood in the Earth.

Unnamed Fantasy Murder Mystery

What is it? Exactly what the headline says. A prominent noble is murdered; his adoptive daughter is poised to inherit his lands and position — but some are saying her hand was behind his death.

Status: Still just an idea, but it's an idea with a really good soundtrack. Still not going to be tackled until after Blood in the Earth. May end up being set in the same world as Daughters of Atirse, though not in the same series.

Miscellaneous Short Stories

What is it? My annual New Year's Eve story and a potential story for H.L. Burke's DOSA Files anthology.

Status: I'm poking at ideas for both of these currently. One, I need to write, but I don't have a solid concept for. The other I don't have to write, but I think would be fun, and I have about 75% of a concept for it — which is to say, I have the characters and some of the setup, but I still need to figure out some key plot elements. I do have time, though, and I also have a wordcount limit, so I should be fine.

What projects (writing or otherwise) are you working on currently, and how are they going for you? Tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!


Friday, November 10, 2023

Five Years Published

Hello, all! So, about two weeks ago, I hit a significant-ish milestone: five years as an actually published author. I published my debut novel, Blood in the Snow, on October 26, 2018. At the time, I was in my junior year of college, balancing writing and editing with classwork and, somehow, an actual social life. Five years on, I have seven published works, one of which has won a Realm Award, plus a story in an anthology. (And, bewilderingly, I am once again having to balance writing with classwork, thanks to my decision to try for a Master's degree — but I replaced the social life with a job and D&D, so . . . progress?) Anyway, given the occasion, a bit of retrospective seemed appropriate, so here are five thoughts from me on the last five years as a published author!

Five Years Published

  1. I'm glad I decided to go the self-publishing route instead of holding out for a traditional publishing contract. Just over five years ago, I posted a Friday 5s post about why I'd decided to self-publish . . . because two years prior to that, I'd written another post about why I planned to still pursue traditional publishing instead of jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon (which, at that point, was getting some real momentum). How well those reasons stood the test of time varies from one to another, but in any case, I'm happy with my choice. After all, had I stuck with my intent to be traditionally published, I'd probably still be querying — and even if I had a contract, I wouldn't be getting nearly as much from the publisher as I'd hoped back in 2016. (Notably, I'd still have to do a lot of marketing.) On the other hand, I've been able to self-publish books that meet my standards for what a good book should be without a publishing house and without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars for each new manuscript.
  2. The Arista Challenges were probably the best thing that could've happened to me, writing-wise. All but one of my books have been published with one of the Arista Challenges releases, and that's been such a good experience. Obviously, the first Arista Challenge provided the boost I needed to actually publish Blood in the Snow. Beyond that, though, they provided the structure and deadlines that I needed to make sure I released at least one book every year — and they prompted some of my favorite books I've written to date. Without the Arista Challenge, Bastian Dennel, PIThrough a Shattered Glass, and Song of the Selkies simply wouldn't exist! I've also learned a lot from Kendra about promoting and organizing a book release and about the actual craft of publishing. And, of course, the Arista Challenge led to my friendships with many other authors, particularly Wyn Estelle Owens, and those relationships have been such a blessing.
  3. I'm definitely still learning and growing as an author. When I posted in 2016 about why I didn't plan to self-publish, one of the reasons I gave was that traditional publishing would force me to constantly work to be better and self-publishing, in my inexperienced opinion, wouldn't. That couldn't have been further from the truth! I don't think it's unreasonable to say that my writing skills improve with every book I write and rewrite because every story requires me to either practice new techniques or hone old ones. (Again, I wouldn't have written Bastian Dennel, PI if I hadn't self-published, and that series is how I've learned, and am still learning, to write mysteries.) In addition, I've learned a lot in writing-adjacent fields. I've designed my own covers for five of my books, and I've received frequent compliments on them. I've also done the interior layouts for all of my books (not counting the Wags, Woofs, and Wonders anthology), and I can honestly say that I've improved a little with each one. In fact, one could argue that I've learned more from self-publishing than I ever would have had I pursued traditional publishing.
  4. As is typical, the people have been one of the best parts of the whole experience. I've already mentioned the friendships I've built with other authors. However, y'all — the people who read my books, either before or after they're published — have also been lovely. On the pre-publishing side, I've found a group of absolutely lovely beta readers, without whom I would probably be lost. Their critiques and suggestions do so much to make my books better, whether in small ways like pointing out confusing wording or in big ways like showing me where a particular character arc isn't what it could be. Plus, their commentary keeps me from going insane during the editing process! And once my books are published, I get to hear from people who've loved the characters and the stories, and it's just so awesome. Any time someone tells me that they read my book and liked it, it just makes my day — even moreso when they then tell me particular characters or bits they enjoyed or ask questions about the story. And, yes, part of that is because it's nice to get compliments — but more importantly, those comments mean that other people are finding meaning and connection and joy in what I make, that my stories are doing what I want them to do. A post I saw recently said that art isn't complete until it's experienced, and that's definitely true of writing.
  5. I'm excited for whatever comes next. Do I know what that'll be? Yes and no. If you keep up with my Taleweaver's Desk posts, you know I have a fair number of books lined up to write or rewrite and publish in the future, but the exact details of all that remains to be seen. I also haven't entirely given up on shopping around one particular novel to traditional publishing houses, just so I can say I've done it both ways. (Though I have to find time to actually rewrite that novel first . . .) I'm kind of keeping my plans intentionally a little loose, as every time I think I've set a solid course, something happens to throw everything off. Whatever happens, though, and wherever this path takes me, I'm sure I'll keep learning, and I pray that I'll keep getting to share my stories with all of y'all.

Have you hit any milestones worth celebrating lately? Also, which of my books so far is your favorite? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading — and thank you for making the last five years so great!

Friday, November 3, 2023

October 2023 Doings!

October is over, and only two months remain before the end of 2023. No, I can't believe it any more than you can, but there are two calendars right beside me, and both have only two pages left before they run out of days. (Which means I should probably make or buy some new calendars for 2024, now that I think about it.) And those last two months will go fast, given that we're just about to the holiday season . . . but I'm getting ahead of myself. Before we go rushing on ahead, time to recap October's Doings!


  • We'll start with the good news: Eat Local Read Local went very well. The event had an excellent turnout — over 500 people, if I recall the stats I was given correctly — and I sold a very decent number of books, considering that it was my first time actually doing the selling and that I ended up in the YA/Kids tent instead of the YA/Adult tent (where I think I would have done better). Plus, I got to meet several other authors who I didn't know were local, and several friends came out to see and support me. (One person came all the way from Maryland — that would be the lovely Wyn Owens, who surprised me so much I had to sit down. Then she and I got a late lunch/early dinner after the event and had a chance to chat, and that was fun.)
  • On the downside, I didn't accomplish either of my writing goals for this month. Oh, I wrote, certainly! I put down bout 20,000 new words in October, and I had some very good writing days towards the end of the month.
  • Unfortunately, only about 4,000 of those words were on Bastian Dennel #4, as first my characters were fighting me, and then other things got in the way of working on it.
  • That means I got 16,000 words on my short story challenge piece, and if you can't tell, it's kind of not a short story anymore. It is, in fact, threatening to become a novella. I'm trying to finish it, but these things take time. It's also very character-driven, which means everything takes longer. (On the upside, I am really enjoying the story. It's a platonic Beauty and the Beast wherein the Beast gets stuck with a pair of orphans staying in his manor, and I think you can guess where this is going. Accidental adoption arcs are just delightful.)
  • That said, part of the problem is also that there was a week straight where I didn't write because of grad school stuff. But I'll discuss that in the Life! section.
  • Even if I didn't hit my goals, though, I did get more words on pages, so I can be pleased with that.


  • Given that this was October, I had every intention of going all-in on spooky season reads. That . . . did not happen. The closest things I had to spooky reads were my reread of the Miss Sharp's Monsters trilogy (10/10; they were good the first time around, and they're better on the reread) and my foray into the Dresden Files graphic novels, which were surprisingly good. Specifically, I read Welcome to the Jungle and Ghoul Goblin, both of which take place early enough in the series timeline that I'm not going out of order. I wouldn't give them a blanket rec, but they were fast, fun, exciting reads, and they're a bit lighter on the Content that I dislike in the main series.
  • Aside from the Dresden graphic novels, my other new reads were almost all at the beginning of the month. I finished Of Fire and Ash fairly early in the month, and my opinions remain the same as what I said in September: it's a good book with cool worldbuilding, but it's not a new favorite.
  • I did enjoy Fugitive Telemetry, which is the sixth Murderbot Diaries book. Sci-fi murder mysteries are fun, and Murderbot remains a delightfully snarky and uniquely non-human narrator. As for A Little Persuaded, well, I already posted my thoughts on it, but in short, I liked it.
  • As for the rest of my rereads, they were all roughly as good as I expected them to be. I didn't enjoy Magyk quite as much as I did when I first read the series, which was sad, but not a surprise. On the other hand, the first three Knight and Rogue books remain excellent. They're also the series that got me hooked on the fantasy-mystery combo, so revisiting them has been fun.


  • Time for watching stuff is still hard to come by, but I did block out enough ten-minute chunks of time to rewatch Over the Garden Wall. I started in early October and finished on Halloween, which feels appropriate. I still don't get as into it as other people do, but it's a good show, and it's light enough to watch when I'm tired, but also has enough depth to be satisfying.


  • The highlight of the month was my visit to the Maryland Renaissance festival, at which I had a grand time! I love Ren Faires, and Maryland has an especially good one. I got to see several shows this time, including one on various street gambling cons throughout history that I thought was very interesting. Plus, I watched all three jousts, which were fun. They're not fully scripted like some jousts are, but they also do have a storyline running through them. Sir Keegan, in whose section I sat all three times, didn't win, but he was definitely a crowd favorite!
  • Of course, Ren Faires are even better with friends, and getting to see Wyn Estelle Owens at this one was absolutely lovely. She arrived a bit later than intended, but we still had a nice time exploring and chatting.
  • Outside of the Ren Faire, the thing that took up most of my time and energy was grad school. If you read last month's Doings!, you may remember that I mentioned that the assignment I was working on then should have been boring but straightforward, but instead ended up far more difficult than expected. That pretty much consumed all my free time (and some of my not-so-free time) for a week and a half, and it got to the point where the professor had to actually tell me to back away, take a day or two off, and calm down so that I wouldn't go mad. Thankfully, I did finally get it done, and done well at that. It just took rather longer than intended.
  • Then I had a week's break before my current class started up. Said class is on grant writing. I'm currently in the second week of the class and I really, really don't like it. Basically the only thing going for it is that the workload isn't horrible. Otherwise — the topic stresses me out, the professor has yet to impress me (and also has yet to grade my first week's assignment, which I submitted a week ago), and it's just not a good time.
  • On the work front, I've been kept pretty busy with regular weekly stuff, the Advent newsletter (it's almost Advent, y'all; can you believe it?), and all the various October events. At least the livestream issues seem to be staying resolved, and I have some extra tools now to try if they pop back up.
  • I also did some baking this month and tried out two new recipes. One is a pumpkin cake that I made for work; it turned out very moist and tasty. I did substitute a maple glaze for the original frosting, and I think that was a good choice. The other new recipe was King Arthur Baking's Rustic Sourdough, and that was also good. It's not as strong a sourdough flavor as my usual recipe, but it's much faster, and it makes two loaves instead of one, both of which are good things. I don't think it'll replace my usual recipe, but it's a good alternative option.
  • Oh, and I have to mention the D&D campaign I play in. That's been intense lately. The last several sessions have involved multiple attacks on my character's family, which resulted in certain members of that family (notably, my character's dad) temporarily dying, as well as our party sorcerer fighting a young blue dragon almost one-on-one . . . and the almost is because the dragon called in help. Not the sorcerer. (Our guy won, for the record. It was magnificent.)

November Plans

  • I'm starting off the month with another author event. Tomorrow (or November 4, for those not reading this post the day it goes up), I'll be at Doxacon, which is a very small one-day convention for Christian fans of fantasy and sci-fi. I'm sharing a table/booth/something with Heather Halverstadt (who I also shared a table with at Eat Local, Read Local) and L. Jagi Lamplighter, both of whom attended as vendors last year. It should be a good time.
  • As for my actual writing, I had hoped to start my Song of the Selkies prequel this month . . . but alas, I have other manuscripts I need to finish first. My new goal is to wrap up both my challenge story and Bastian Dennel, PI #4 by the end of November so I can start the SotS prequel in December. I know I'm close to the end of both of those stories, so I think that's doable.
  • Work and grad school will probably continue as they have been. Even though November and December are busy months at work, I am looking forward to getting to do Advent and Christmas designs — I've said this before, and I'll say it again: this season has the best colors and imagery. Hopefully it'll be enough to make up for the frustrations of the grant writing class.
  • November is also both my birthday month and Thanksgiving, both of which I'm looking forward to. I'm especially excited for Thanksgiving — we'll have the usual Bible study potluck, but more importantly, my sister should be coming down for a few days. I cannot wait to see her again.
  • As for my reading . . . I should be working to catch up on some of my reading goals, but realistically, I'll probably continue my rereads and otherwise mood-read my way through the month.
  • And . . . yeah. I think that's everything.

How was your October? What are you looking forward to in November? Did you go to any Renaissance Festivals this year? What are some of your favorite seasonal media (aside from Christmas books or movies)? Do you have more of a problem with your books turning out longer or shorter than expected?
Thanks for reading!