Wednesday, September 16, 2020

When You Don't Have the Heart

It's not always easy to make time to devote to writing when life is going smoothly (or as smoothly as anyone's life ever goes), let alone when life goes off the rails. Our creativity is often affected by our mental states and sometimes we don't have the mental or emotional energy to get our butts in the chair to write or create.

Covid-19 has been a struggle. I know many writers who have struggled to create during this time of global upheaval (I'm not here to debate Covid-19 or any politics surrounding it, so save your comments). Even before that though, my marriage had taken a downward turn and late last year my husband decided to move out. When you're hurting and heartbroken, it's difficult to create. I've even found it hard to concentrate enough to read much of the time.

At first, I tried to push myself but ended up not making any progress and ultimately feeling miserable about it. So I took some time. I've watched a lot of TV (introducing my teenage daughter to Supernatural) and tried to be kind to myself. Observing other stories (no matter what form) is always good when you aren't feeling up to writing because it allows you to see how other people put things together and may give you ideas.

After a while, the doubts started to creep in though. I've felt that I needed to get something done to query, especially since I'd had a short story published. Seeing the success of writers I know made me feel like I was falling behind (though I was truly happy for each of their successes). Eventually, I started to wonder if I'd ever write again. Every time I thought about writing, I didn't have the heart to sit down with my manuscript.

Luckily, I have some fantastic writer friends who remind me that there is no time limit and that it's okay to take a break. They have reminded me to be gentle with myself. I've done my best to listen to their advice.

After four months of not working on anything writing related, I finally felt strong enough to open my manuscript for some revisions. I read through a few pages and made some adjustments. It felt good to return to my familiar characters. Is this the start of returning to writing? I don't know, and that's okay. I hope so because every day I'm feeling stronger.

For everyone struggling: you are a writer no matter what. If you have put words on a page, finished or not, you are a writer. You do not have to write every day to be a true writer. Discipline is important if you want to get anywhere, but if life is hard and you need time away, there's nothing wrong with that. Take care of yourself first, the writing will be there when you're ready.

Friday, September 13, 2019

My Short Story is Out!

I'm thrilled that my short story Gin & Vin's Last Ride is out today as part of the Haunted anthology!

I'd originally had a different idea for this anthology but once I got the idea for a heist ghost story, it wouldn't leave me alone. Though I didn't do a heist, the idea evolved into a Bonnie and Clyde-ish meshed with an early 2000's horror movie that has always stuck with me. I'm not going to tell you which one it is so I don't ruin the story for you.

Virginia and Vincent are on the run from the law after a failed bank robbery. Taking refuge in an abandoned farmhouse, Virginia tries to keep the fatally wounded Vincent alive long enough to get him to a doctor. When she starts to hear and see things, she wonders if the house is really empty.

I've always had a love for dark and creepy stories, especially ghosts. This leads to a lot of debate with my husband who doesn't believe in ghosts, but I do. I grew up in a haunted house. Nothing crazy but something walked down the stairs or across our creaky floor from time to time. My sister has also seen the elderly woman who died in her room.

Sharing the pages with some authors I admire including Sara Dobie Bauer, Wendy Sparrow, and the multi-talented Rhonda Parrish is an honour. I especially thank editor Trysh Thompson for choosing my story, even though it didn't quite fit all the criteria.

If you'd like to read my story along with the seven others in Haunted, here's the order links.

Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned

Not all ghost stories are simple sightings and things going bump in the night. Not all ghosts are left behind because of simple unfinished business. No, sometimes that unfinished business is messy, complicated, and even deadly.

These are not your typical ghost stories—they are desire, love, and most importantly, revenge—all rolled into one. Revenge for a love stolen away, a love that never was, a retribution for a horrific act, or even an act of war.

Amazon (US) (CA) (UK)
Or go here to read more

To entice you further, I'm sharing the first part of my story here:

The 1932 Model B Ford they’d lifted two days ago drifted towards the shoulder. Virginia shook her head to keep the darkness from dragging her down. The sun was high, almost noon, but it did little to keep her awake. The monotony of the landscape, trees and fields, didn’t help. She squinted at the driver’s side mirror, but only a cloud of dust billowed behind the car; there were no signs of the men who had chased them after their failed bank robbery. She hoped they were safe but knew better than to let her guard down. With the immediate danger gone, the adrenaline that had kept Virginia going long past the time she should have passed out drained away.

“I think we lost them, Vinny,” she said to the wiry man slumped in the seat next to her. The side of his dark green shirt was almost black with the blood that had seeped from the wound in his side. His short, dark brown hair was plastered to his head with sweat. The sallow look of his skin frightened Virginia. He’d make it. They’d been through too much for it to end like this.

Vincent shifted, his narrow features pinched in pain. “We need to get off the road, Gin.” His voice had lost the usual good-humour that lurked beneath his words. Instead it was flat, tired.

“I know.” She swiped a lock of her short, dirty blonde hair out of her eyes. “We need to get you a doctor more.”

“I’ll be fine. Just need a rest.”

Virginia’s fine lips turned down. They rarely quarrelled and she hated to be contrary, but she wasn’t sure he could wait. The flow of blood seemed to have slowed. Maybe he was right. If they were caught, the men would probably let Vincent die. She couldn’t risk that. Once they found a place to hide, they could develop a plan.

A farmhouse sat back from the road, almost hidden completely by trees. Unlike the others they had passed, the grass was too long, and there was an empty feel to it—exactly what they needed. So many people had lost their homes since the depression began four years ago that she was surprised she hadn’t seen more homes like this.

Without consulting Vincent, she turned onto the narrow lane almost hidden by weeds. She grimaced as the car bumped along and hoped it didn’t hurt Vincent too much. Shafts of sunlight peeked through the bright yellow, orange, and red leaves of the maple trees that lined the long laneway to the house.

“This place looks good,” Virginia said as she maneuvered the car around another rut.

Vincent grunted his agreement.

When they reached the house, Virginia stopped the car and let out a long, tired breath, allowing some of the tension to ease from her shoulders. It would be good to rest.

A large corn field stretched out behind the white two-story house. To the left, across the neglected lawn, was a bush, the fall colours vibrant against the dark grey clouds in the west. The white paint around the windows was flaking and a weathered brown board filled the gap where a window had been. The covered porch sagged; the half rotten posts barely holding it bent with age, like withered spines. It was one strong wind away from collapse.

A sense of déjà vu washed over Virginia, making her sway. Something was familiar about the house. Maybe it reminded her of one she’d seen while she and Vincent had travelled across the country robbing small stores and gas stations.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

I Have a Short Story Coming Out!

I've been sitting on this great news for a while.


Gin and Vin's Last Ride will be included in the Haunted anthology being published by Pen & Kink Publishing in September. I'm honoured to be part of this along with some talented authors.

Today I get to show you the cover of this upcoming book. Amanda C. Davis has done a fantastic job designing this one. What do you think?

Gin and Vin's Last Ride, is a Bonnie and Clyde inspired story where the couple take refuge in an abandoned house. Vin was shot in their bank robbery attempt, leaving Gin to deal with the strange happenings in the house.

You can add this book to your Goodreads list or pre-order the e-book (the physical copy will be up soon if you prefer that) on: Amazon, Kobo, Apple, or Barnes & Noble. The ebook is available for $2.99 until release day when the price will go up to $4.99.

Subscribers to my mailing list received a sneak peek at the story. So you don't miss out next time, add your name to my list. I only send emails when I have something to share.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

My Book Niece is out Today!!!!

Today is a big day!

My BFF and critique partner Dea Poirier's debut novel is out! I've watched her journey from conception to completion and read the manuscript a couple of times along the way. It's so exciting to know I was part of the process and I'm thrilled for Dea.

If you're looking for a twisty, dark crime story, this is the book for you! If you haven't got your copy of The Next Girl to Die, you can pick it up on Amazon or add it to your Goodreads list!

To celebrate, I asked her a few questions about her book and writing, but first, let's take a peek at her book, Next Girl To Die! 

Solving the case will avenge her sister—unless the killer finds her first.

It’s been fifteen years since Claire Calderwood’s sister, Rachel, was brutally murdered in their small hometown in Maine. Claire has finally carved out a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit, but the past comes calling when the local police back home ask for her help with a murder eerily similar to Rachel’s.

Still haunted by Rachel’s cold case, Claire returns home, hoping to solve the crime and finally put her grief to rest. As she starts investigating, the last thing she needs is tenacious journalist Noah Washington asking questions she’s not ready to answer. But like her, Noah won’t give up until he finds the truth—and Claire reluctantly finds herself relying on him more and more when disturbing new details about Rachel’s death come to light.

When the killer strikes once again, Claire knows he’s not 
done. Now he’s set his sights on Claire, who will have to find 
the courage she needs to survive a deadly confrontation years
 in the making.

Interview with Dea Poirier

1) Tell us a bit about your new book!

My debut, NEXT GIRL TO DIE, Fifteen years after her sister’s unsolved murder, Claire Calderwood returns to her home town when another murder that’s startlingly similar to her sister’s occurs. In the sequel, BENEATH THE ASHES, Claire continues to struggle with the emotional impact of her sister’s death while working on a new case in Maine. More details about that book will be released soon!

2) What was the hardest part to write?

In NEXT GIRL TO DIE, the hardest parts for me to write were the romance. By nature I’m just not a romantic person at all. While I knew the two characters were growing together and it made sense for the narrative for there to be romance at some point, it was very difficult for me to write that realistically.

3) Your writing deals with the darker side of people, why?

I find the darker side of humanity to be more realistic. Everyone deals with trauma, darker emotions, and the harder parts of life. I feel like showing those feels more authentic than focusing on the lighter topics. I’ve also always been drawn more to writing characters that are deeply emotionally flawed, maybe because I relate to that more.

4) You often balance more than one project, how do you keep them all straight?

Usually my projects are so different that it’s easy for me to keep them all straight in my mind. I usually write drastically different projects at once, so there’s unlikely to be any overlap. For example, I recently worked on a Middle Grade, a YA project, and BENEATH THE ASHES all at once. It was easy for me to keep the characters and narratives straight because there was no overlap there. The genres were completely different, the characters weren’t even remotely the same, and it wasn’t even for the same market. That made it easy for me to switch between them. I also leave myself notes as I write or edit so it’s easy for me to pick up where I left off on a project.

5) What inspires your writing?

Many different things inspire me, it really depends on the project. Sometimes it’s another writer’s work, mythology, a podcast, something weird I saw in a movie or TV show.

6) What advice do you have for writers?

It’s difficult but stop questioning and just get the words out. Most of my non-productive time is because I can’t stop questioning what I’m doing, what I’m thinking, if there’s even a market for what I’m writing. When you’re drowning in questions, you’re killing your flow. If you can, put aside your doubts and just get the words down. Accept that what you’re writing might not sell tomorrow, or in a year, or even five years. But regardless you need to get that story out of your head.

Dea Poirier was raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, where she found her passion during a creative writing course. She studied computer science and political science at the University of Central Oklahoma. She later spent time living on both coasts and traveling the United States before finally putting down roots in central Florida. She now resides somewhere between Disney and the swamp with her son.

Don't miss Dea's next book, Beneath the Ashes!

Pre-order on Amazon and add it to your Goodreads page!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Another Great Book to Help Your Writing

Angela and Becca at Writers Helping Writers are doing it again!

They are releasing another great book to help writers. This time they have updated the Emotion Thesaurus, a book I use frequently while writing.

Because I believe so much in these books, I wanted to be part of the cover reveal.

So without further ado, I give you...

The Emotion Thesaurus Second Edition!
You might have heard of The Emotion Thesaurus before, or even have a copy. The original released in 2012 and quickly became the go-to guide on expressing character emotion. The book's lists of body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for 75 unique emotions made brainstorming character expressions and reactions so much easier.

In this second edition, the authors have added 55 entries, bringing the total to 130 emotions.

That's not all, either. This book is almost double in size with lots of new content. You can find a full write up for it HERE and a list of all the entries (plus some samples!) HERE.

Plus, this book is available for preorder! You can find it on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble.

One last thing...

Angela & Becca are giving away a free webinar recording of one of their popular workshops on Emotion, so head over if this is an area of struggle for you.

It might really help!

Monday, December 31, 2018

My 2018 Reads

This was a busy reading year for me. I read 46 books, which is a new record for me. Taking part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge had something to do with that. I set my goal for 35 and then worried I wouldn't make it. The challenge is supposed to be fun, but it ended up stressing me out so I won't be doing it for 2019. I'd rather read as I wish and not have the pressure of reaching a goal.

I resumed listening to audiobooks after a lengthy break and made it through nine. There are a few I started but didn't finish in the allotted two week loan period on Overdrive, so I'm waiting to get them back to finish.

If you'd like to see all the books I read this year, visit my Goodreads page here.

Historical Fiction

I started the year on a bit of a historical fiction kick. It's one of my favorite genres. Here's the highlights of the ones I read:

Odd and True by Cat Winters. It's a wonderful book about the love between sisters that leaves you wondering if the monsters are real. I adored Cat Winters and plan to read more of her in 2019.

Alyssa Palombo's books The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence and Violinist of Venice are beautiful with stories that swept me away. I can't wait to read her latest The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel, which I got for Christmas. I also interviewed Alyssa earlier this year, which you can read here.

Amalia Carosella's Helen of Sparta and By Helen's Hand were also fantastic. I love myths so Amalia's series swept me away with the story of Helen (of Troy) and her love for Theseus.


There were several debuts I read this year, most of them authors I know. If you have time, I recommend any of these.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is a book from my Pitch Wars 2016 group that has  great world building and a powerful story.

Another from my PW group is Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. I had trouble putting this one down. It's intense and the way Zoje deals with mental and chronic illness was well done.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (also from my PW group) was a fun read. I don't often read romance, but this one made me swoon and laugh. I've recommended it to many patrons at the library where I work.

Frejya's Daughter by Rachel Pudelek is a great paranormal story about powerful women. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Planetside by Michael Mammy was one I enjoyed more than I expected and recommended we get a copy at the library. I liked the main character and the mystery kept me reading. I can't wait for the sequel in 2019.

The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amalia Berube and What the Wood Keep by Katya de Becerra were delightfully creepy.

I recently finished an advanced copy of The Perfect Assassin by K.A. Doore, which you'll see out in March. It's a fast paced story about an assassin with a moral dilemma and mystery to solve.

Enjoyed More Than Expected

Uprooted by Naomi Novak would have been one of my favourites if I hadn't wondered what the story was about most of the book. I expected more of a YA fantasy judging by the cover copy but it was so much more than described.

The classic The Giver by Lois Lowry was recommended to me by a co-worker. It was a fast read that I really enjoyed.

I listened to Arrowood by Laura McHugh and loved the gothic tale with a dark mystery. The only thing that would have made this book better was ghosts.

Omens by Kelley Armstrong is another I enjoyed more than I thought. I kept wanting to read one more chapter because the chapters are so short and I wanted to know what would happen. I read the first two books in her Cainsville series and am looking forward to more.

I'm very particular about witches but read three this year that I'd highly recommend.

The Witch House on Persimmon Point by Suzanne Palmieri was wonderful with it's legacy story, a creepy house, and ghosts. I want to read the other in the series.

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan follows a family of witches for several generations, which I love, though I wasn't keen on the last woman's story.

I also tried out an audiobook called Hexes and Hemlines by Juliet Blackwell. It was a light, fun mystery to listen to and I liked the way it respectfully dealt with religions.


I want to re-read Stephen King's The Dark Tower series but with so many books I haven't read, there hasn't been time. Instead, I'm listening to them on audio. I finished The Gunslinger  but have had to wait months for The Drawing of the Three to become available. I also listened to Eyes of the Dragon, which was the first Stephen King book I read when I was 12 or so. I've enjoyed returning to these books.

Honorable Mention

I was delighted that my friend Em Shotwell released another book in her Blackbird series this year. Blackbird Falling is Delia's story. I enjoyed the lighter tone of the first part of the book but when it took a darker twist, I was all in and loved it!

Superheroes Suck by Jamie Zakian was another fun read. I liked the different take on superheros, as problems rather than solutions, and the characters.

2019 Reading

My to read pile is overflowing. As mentioned, there are some series I want to continue with, and lots of books that I have yet to dig into. I'm always reluctant to mention new books I'm looking forward to as I know I'll miss some. Here's some that come to mind that are coming out in 2019...
You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

As mentioned earlier, Spaceside by Michael Mammy

And most importantly, my best friend and critique partner's book comes out! Don't miss Next Girl to Die by Dea Poirier. There have been some changes since the last time I read it, so I can't wait to see the final product!

Are there any books you read in 2018 you loved or ones coming in 2019 you're looking forward to?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Blackbird Falling Release Day!

Happy Book Birthday to Blackbird Falling by Em Shotwell!

I'm thrilled to help Em launch this amazing book! I finished an advanced copy yesterday and loved it!

This is the perfect follow up to Blackbird Summer. It pick up a year after BBS left off. We see Delia struggling to come to terms with the horrible things that happened to her (no spoilers in case you haven't read BBS yet) and navigate the world as a new mom.

Before I continue with my review, here's a bit about the book.

Meet Delia. Gifted. Magical. Broken.

Hell hath no fury like Delia Caibre—Gifted single mom with the power to make people love her, and a chip on her shoulder the size of the Mississippi.

When last summer left her broken by a monster, and abandoned by the man she trusted, Delia pulled herself up and vowed to never let anyone hurt her, or those she loves, again. So when Thomas Richard shows up, begging forgiveness and flashing his hundred-watt-smile, Delia lets him know that it will take more than dimples and promises to win her back.

Besides, raising her daughter, Genevieve—whose Gift is rare and stronger than anyone in the magical Caibre family—leaves little room for things like dating. But Thomas is persistent. And cute…and it would be nice to feel carefree and nineteen.

Until a masked-man from her past wields a Curse that leaves Delia’s beloved sister on her deathbed, and makes off with Genevieve. It will take the most powerful in the Caibre family to put things right. But bringing her broken family together may prove impossible, even if not doing so means their destruction.

You can buy your copy here.

The first part of this book has a lot of sweetness as Delia gives Thomas a second chance. I was swooning and laughing. Em is a master at writing those sweet, awkward scenes. Though Delia is dealing with her grief and PTSD, I found the first bit fun.

I admit, I was a little worried that the book would continue in that vein, which would have been fine but I was craving the chaos and darkness that I know Em can deliver. And deliver she did.
When Genevieve, Delia's daughter, is taken, there's no stopping the Caibre family from getting her back.

I loved what Em did with the story. Kidnapping of a child is a common trope, but in this story, totally necessary as Gen has the coveted gift of vigor. I don't want to spoil the book, but what Em down with the Gifts and families had me enthralled. I didn't want to stop reading.

Em's characters are complex and emotionally troubled in their own ways. She writes with compassion and humor. I love the world she's built and I can't wait for more!

Where can you find out more about Em and her Blackbird series?

Em Shotwell is a mom, writer, cancer survivor, foster youth advocate, podcast producer, and a casual geek--among a million other things. Sometimes she writes books about misfits and the people who love them.

When she’s not frowning at her computer screen, Em enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, or indoors daydreaming and wishing she could play the banjo. 

Find her on her website, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Get your copy of Blackbird Falling here.