Friday, December 30, 2022

Wishing You a Bright New Year


Wishing everyone a happy New Year!

In the New Year, as the days lengthen, may light also return to our lives. May we be healthy. May we create joy in ourselves and in others. May the universe tip toward equity and justice for all beings. May we be prosperous. May we love and be loved. May we know peace.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Wishing you a Glitter filled 2023!

a black and white Siberian husky resting in glittering snow with his pointy eared shadow stretching out before him

As we watch the last sunsets of 2022 we’re sharing thoughts and blessings for the year to come.

There’s something refreshing about contemplating the year to come instead of pondering the year that has been. What has been has been, and what will be is still in formation. Have you put thought into your 2023?

Like Jeffe mentioned yesterday, over the past year I’ve realized that I do need people interaction. It’s been a few years since I’ve attended a con, and I miss it. Author friends get it in a way no one else can. Those relationships are precious and in the coming year I aim to give more time to them. I hope you have the bandwidth to put into author friendships, they’re worth all the effort. 

2023 will also be when I send out my next manuscript. There’s all sorts of scary wrapped up in that, but I refuse to be afraid of my shadow. It is time. 

And I’m going to continue to look for glitter, every day. It’s easy to let the no’s and negative stuff bring you down. I believe it’s important to focus on the good, every day. I hope your 2023 is filled with glitter, writing, and author friends! 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Thank You, 2022, for All the Fish

 As we wind down the last few days of 2022, looking forward to a new year and the waxing of the light, this week at the SFF Seven we're offering thoughts or blessings for the year that has been or the year to come. 

For me, 2022 delivered a kick of a ramp-up back to life closer to pre-pandemic levels. Though spring started slowly, with several in-person conferences canceled, I was able to return to hanging again with other writers in person in April at the Jack Williamson Lectureship. It was SO GOOD TO PEOPLE AGAIN. One of the great lessons of the pandemic for me has been how much of my social life depends on conferences and conventions. (Can I just call them both "cons" for short? What even is the difference?)

Seeing people in-person again meant I also made new friends this year, which has brought light into my life I didn't realize I was lacking. Not unlike as the days grow longer and sunshine returns, warming the earth, and you begin to realize just how long and dark the winter has been.

I had a less productive year, wordcount-wise - in fact, my lowest year ever for wordcount, though I'll give final numbers next week - but it looks like it will be my best income year ever. So, looking ahead at goals for next year, I'm considering decoupling my wordcount goals from my sense of success and focusing on what makes me most comfortable financially. 

{{Content Warning: eating and body image}}

I'm also completing a year of 16/8 intermittent fasting, where I fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window. I also vastly decreased added sugars from my diet. I'm thrilled with the results. I'm down 18 pounds since January 3, 2022, 16 pounds of that from body fat, and I'm down over 4" around my waist and hips. It feels like really healthy weight loss, like I'm no longer so insulin-resistant, and I just feel tons better overall. 

{{Content over}}

While in many ways, it's been a difficult year, the work I did at the end of 2021 to break the stress cycle has really paid off. While we're facing the loss of our senior cat Isabel, who is 17 and declining, we've also welcomed in a new life, with kitten Killian joining our household. So many wonderful things have happened to me this year - including wonderful people entering my life - that it feels truly miraculous.

I'm grateful for the blessings of 2022 and eagerly look forward to what 2023 will bring. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

A Wish for the New Year

Dear Readers,

As we head into 2023, I wish you all good health, success in your personal and professional endeavors, and an abundance of happiness. 

May your soul thrum with joy, 


Saturday, December 24, 2022

Holidays: Three Things That Bring Me Joy


Image credit: Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Love it or hate it, the holiday season means a lot of things to a lot of people. As for me—a famously hermit-like writer who abhors the cold—I always focus on what I enjoy about this or any time of year. Below are three things about the holiday season that always bring me joy.


It’s no secret: I love holiday lights! There’s nothing like driving around the neighborhood enjoying the twinkling lights with a nice travel mug of cocoa. My neighbor across the street seems determined to outshine Clark Griswold, though my husband does give him a run for his money. Our local park also does a Dr. Seuss-themed display, and it is gorgeous. We go every year!

Of course, lights aren’t limited to the winter holidays. At my house we put up lights for Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, and for any other occasion we think of. Hmm, maybe I should work on creating a book-themed display.

Image credit: Michelle_Maria from Pixabay


I bake year-round (even in the sweltering hot summer months) but there’s nothing like a holiday for an excuse to go all-out. This year I’m making cinnamon star bread, brioche dinner rolls, and vanilla bean cake with my special chocolate icing—and that’s just for Christmas! For the rest of the week I’ll make a few different types of breads, some for immediate consumption and some for freezing. 

Here’s a writing tip: if you’re stuck on a plot point or a bit of character development, nothing helps you work out the kinks in your story like a solid session of kneading. Just imagine that blob of dough is your unruly characters, and all those frustrations get worked out.

Image credit:  Couleur from Pixabay


I typically take the last ten to fourteen days of the year as down time. This means no writing deadlines, no social media obligations, and definitely no editorial meetings. It gives me a great opportunity to reflect on the past year, relax with my family, and eat all those baked good I’ve been churning out like a madwoman. Which leads me to my bonus fourth favorite thing: planning!

Image credit: Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Planning for the Next Year

What’s that old saying—if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail? I wholeheartedly believe this, and let’ face it, failure is not an option. I make several yearly plans, organized under household goals, writing/publishing goals, and the like. For instance, one of my main household goals for 2023 is to finish painting the porch ceiling; I’d run out of paint, and by the time I got more it was too cold to finish the job. Well, that’s what next spring is for.

As for writing goals, I’ll be releasing two full length novels, a special edition hardcover, and I’ll be attending my first two in-person events since before the 2020 lockdown. Yes, I definitely need to plan for all of those events. I’ve also got a few new books in the works, and by setting aside time in my planner to flesh out and refine each individual story, I am confident I’ll be able to give them the attention they deserve.

Image credit: StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

What about the holidays brings you joy? Tell us in the comments, and as always, happy reading!

Jennifer Allis Provost writes books about faeries, orcs and elves. Zombies, too. She grew up in the wilds of Western Massachusetts and had read every book in the local library by age twelve. (It was a small library.) An early love of mythology and folklore led to her epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan, and her day job as a cubicle monkey helped shape her urban fantasy, Copper Girl. When she’s not writing about things that go bump in the night (and sometimes during the day) she’s working on her MFA in Creative Nonfiction. Get to know Jenn at Jenn’s latest release, Oleander, is available here:

Friday, December 23, 2022

Joy Times Three

Tis the season to remember that joy needs attention. It requires focus. Joy is a little like a butterfly - beautiful, fragile, but persistent and capable of astonishing feats. Held too tightly, it crumbles. It arrives when conditions have been cultivated to attract it - like planting milkweed in the garden attracts monarchs. You can also chase joy across continents and into dark jungles if finding the rarest kinds intrigues you. I am one of those people who needs to be reminded to allow myself to stop and let joy arrive. Three things help do that.

1. Cats. Living with little obligate carnivores who have massive outsized personalities is a delight. Each cat has his or her specific routines and every day, I'm gifted with a few minutes with each of them. Perceval wants to nap in my lap. Arya wants me to brush her and then throw her favorite toy. Peseshet wants me to come out to the lanai and pet her while she rolls on the bricks in the sun. Crow wants to lounge in my lap each evening. Raven needs a milk bottle cap slid along the floor for him to chase and fetch back to me. And Corvid needs a cuddle in one specific rocking chair in the house where he can flop over and pretend to nurse against my stomach. There's a lot of cute (and weird) but there's something warm and lovely and joyful about being a safe place for these creatures who share my home.


2. Boats. This one is cheating a little because it hits so many joy buttons for me. Nature. Stories. Freedom. Adventure. Getting to go new places and see/experience new things. Silence. Broad swathes of stillness and time. Sailing requires that you make room to simply stop and be. I love the sun on my skin and a good breeze filling my sails and the pull of water on my wheel or tiller. Feeling my way into the groove where wave and water and boat all work together. It isn't always possible. Conditions aren't always right for that. But the times it all aligns, challenging conditions turn into a sleigh ride that takes you from point A to point B in relative ease. It's a metaphor that extends well past taking the swells on the quarter and a 25 knot wind slightly aft of abeam.

3. Tea. Tea is a trip in a cup. It's a simple ritual that invites you to slow down, close your eyes, breathe in the fragrant steam rising from a set of wet leaves that grew half a world away. 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Joy Bringers

I make a conscious effort to find joy every day. Big or small, and especially when I’m feeling down. So it was difficult to narrow it down to three for our week’s theme of Three Things That Bring You Joy!

a young girl, two young boys, their black and white Siberian husky, and their father walk on a steep, autumn gold hillside overlooking Red Wing MN

Exploring brings me boundless joy, especially when I talk my whole family into it. Hiking trails, or making our own, is something we do in all weather. And it never fails to trigger images of characters traveling on quests or spy pieces that could be on another planet. 

a black and white Siberian husky with piercing blue eyes gazes back at the camera as he rests beside blue jean clad legs that are stretched out on the floor of a greenhouse, potted plants off to the side

Like chocolate and peanut butter, it’s wonderful when two good things combine into something even greater! My husky pup, Ullr, accompanies me when I slip out to my greenhouse to play with plants. Even on days where it’s negative fourteen Fahrenheit, playing with my plants makes me happy.

Alexia Chantel, wearing a green plaid shirt and black leggings, sits crosslegged on a rocky cliff edge overlooking pine forest beneath a clear blue sky

Last is one thing that helps spread smiles across my face. Yoga and meditation. Being able to clear my mind and stop the thoughts from bombarding me constantly helps my dopamine and helps my writing. And yoga gets me some zen and keep me limber after long writing sessions. 

There are a few of my favorite things. How about you? What are some of your favorites that bring you joy?

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Jeffe's Three Joys


This week at the SFF Seven, we're talking joy!

As in, three things that give us joy. As many of you know, I'm a big fan of making decisions based on what will yield the greatest happiness. Thus choosing the happy means a lot of things in my life bring me joy. But I'll try to keep it finite.

  1. Shiny new books
    While Christmas shopping yesterday, I bought myself a present - this Fairy Atlas! It's technically a children's book, but it has a lot of cool stuff in it from around the world that I'd never seen, and I love the illustrations. Perfect for what I'm writing now! And it looks pretty on my desk.

  2. Friends
    I'm so blessed in the community of my wonderful friends, many of whom check in on me daily and remind me of what's important. From friends who've been part of my life for years to people who entered my world in just this past year, I am rich in companionship of simply amazing hearts and minds.

  3. My profession
    Like any career, being an author presents its trials and it can be easy to focus on the difficulties, but this kind of poste offers an opportunity to step back and truly appreciate that I am able to wed my passion, my avocation, with my vocation. Making my living as a writer is a tremendous privilege and the realization of lifetime goal.

I am so blessed. 


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Trio of Joy

As we putter closer to the end of 2022, we're asked:

Holidays: Three Things That Bring You Joy
(anything from art to recipes, to books, to yoga poses)

White dog staring at camera
That's not contrition.
That's mayhem seconds
before launch

First and foremost must be the resident SWMBO, my pupper Pi. With a permanent wink and an expression of "let's do mischief together," she brings me love and joy even when she is the most pesty. It's been four years since I adopted her from the rescue and I wouldn't trade her for the world.

The second thing of joy: Limitless playlists. Whether it's Bryn Terfel singing a rousing ditty about hippopotami or the Helsinki Vampires (aka the 69 Eyes) asking if they're scary enough for me, there is always music streaming somewhere around me. Gone are the days of having to flip the tape or reload the CD changer (shhh, I'm old, I know). 16 hours a day (24 if you include the sound-soother rainstorm pattering throughout the night), I'm reveling in the joy of all kinds of music all the time. 

Third thing: Illustrations. Artists, man, I am continually amazed and thrilled by their skills. From comics to covers to stand-alone commissions, whenever I need to be in a particular emotional headspace, I go to online galleries. Often buying prints of the pieces that move me, I've accepted that unless my home magically spawns extra wall space, I must rotate the pieces regularly in order to reap the benefits of my collection. While the prints haven't outpaced by TBR pile, they're doing their damnedest. 

Cheers to a very merry holiday season!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Fantasy Romance Christmas Gifts


I’m hearing Last Christmas at least once a day, my Netflix recommendations are 95% holiday movies, and people are skating on the canals of the lovely Dutch city where I’m living. I’m ready for Christmas, in other words, and that means I’m ready for gifts, too!

For this week’s blog, I’d like to chat about a couple of fantasy romances I consider perfect gifts for yourself the readers among your friends and family. 

Once Upon A Forbidden Desire

First of all, for everyone who loves fairy tales but prefers them with an adult flavour: check out the Once Upon A Forbidden Desire anthology. With twenty retold fairy tales, this collection is the perfect bedtime read for fantasy lovers. The stories range from sweet and swoony to deliciously spicy, so there’s something for everyone here!

Some of my favourites are an intensely romantic fae Cinderella by AJ Lancaster, a dark and steamy Pied Piper by Zoey Ellis, and Vela Roth’s Twelve Dancing Princesses with a vampire twist. But each story is a gem, and I strongly recommend savouring them one by one rather than tearing through the full book at once.

Court of Blood and Bindings

For fans of longer books, I’d like to shamelessly plug my own Fae Isles series! The first book, Court of Blood and Bindings, is an epic fantasy romance with plenty of creative worldbuilding and plenty of steam and banter. If you enjoy enemies to lovers stories, fae fantasy, and books where the villain gets the girl – this one is for you.

When the deadliest assassin of the fae empire catches twenty-year-old Emelin using forbidden magic, she believes her hour has come. Instead, the Silent Death carries her off to his home to offer her a dangerous bargain. If she agrees, she could free all of humanity. But can she trust a man with so much blood on his hands?

Worse, when his smouldering dark eyes and dangerous secrets reveal glimpses of the heart behind his murderer’s mask… can she trust herself?

Court of Tricksters

As a final recommendation, I would like to give the spotlight to an author buddy who has saved my sanity several times this year and deserves all the holiday love for her newest release.

SL Prater’s Court of Tricksters is an utterly delightful Gaslamp romance featuring the sexy fae duke of Night, a shy but stabby forest witch named Rain, and a scheming, backstabbing court where war is always looming. Set in a gorgeously atmospheric world, it’s the start of a brand new series I can’t wait to see more of.

Court of Tricksters releases in January (I got my grabby hands on a review copy), but thankfully it’s already up for pre-order! And even better, it’s only 99c until release – so I strongly suggest getting it now 😊

Lisette Marshall is a fantasy romance author, language nerd and cartography enthusiast. Having grown up on a steady diet of epic fantasy, regency romance and cosy mysteries, she now writes steamy, swoony stories with a generous sprinkle of murder.

Lisette lives in the Netherlands (yes, below sea level) with her boyfriend and the few house plants that miraculously survive her highly irregular watering regime. When she’s not reading or writing, she can usually be found drawing fantasy maps, baking and eating too many chocolate cookies, or geeking out over Ancient Greek.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Medical Sci-fi with Romance for Christmas!

a t-shirt with a white-suited astronaut wearing a Santa hat is floating in space and between their arms rests an iPhone with The Mars Strain audiobook playing on its screen

It’s nearly Christmas and I finally got around to wrapping presents for our kids and put them under the tree. I’m behind this year, but I’ve got lots of holiday cheer! And that’s what’s important. 

Are you done holiday shopping? Do you need some book recs for those on your list? *cough* or yourself *cough* This week we’re sharing our holiday book buys! 

Jeffe and KAK shared some excellent choices. I’ve read them, I can say that. So if you’re in the mood for some erotic romance, fantasy romance, or urban fantasy they have you covered! If you’re looking for some sci-fi with a romantic sub-plot, check out my audiobook—The Mars Strain!

We’ve colonized Mars, but we never should’ve come back.

When the first astronauts of the Mars Colony returned to Earth, they brought a mysterious, metal box they had found half-buried in the red dirt, called the Mars Cube. The scientists assigned to uncover its secrets tested it, scanned it, tried to blow it up, and everything in between. Then they accidentally opened it.  

Biosafety level-4 laboratories, BSL4, hold the most deadly viruses on the Earth, and Juliet handled them daily. Her research at the CDC landed her a position on the Mars Cube Investigative Team in the world’s only BSL-5 lab. The only drawback: Her ex was one of the astronauts that brought back the Cube. 

What was held inside the Cube shouldn’t have gotten out. It shouldn’t have ever been exposed to our planet because the Mars Strain is now loose and killing at a 100 percent mortality rate. Juliet is fighting for our very existence, Jake is working with the Mars Colonists to decipher the Cube’s holographic message for a clue, and someone wants to take over the Mars Program for themselves. They’re all watching the clock, and it's about to run out.

Happy wrapping and book indulging! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Midwinter Holiday Romance Reads!

 This week at the SFF Seven we're talking books! Well, we always talk books, but this time we're jingling our wares for your delectation. You can find all of my books on my website, of course, but today I'll focus on a few that are perfect for your midwinter holiday reading pleasure. 

First off is FIVE GOLDEN RINGS, which is a bit of a throwback to my early days writing contemporary erotic romance, and is a re-release. It's a kinky, Christmas, Caribbean holiday romp. I'll be re-releasing this entire four-book series, the Facets of Passion


The Twelve Days of Christmas were never quite this naughty…

All Matilda Campbell wanted was to spend a romantic and relaxing Christmas in the Mexican Caribbean. When her lover dumps her—at the airport, no less—she decides to go solo. But fate and a well-timed margarita intervene, introducing her to the charming and seductive Miguel D’Oro on the plane.

Miguel offers Tilda an outrageous bargain, involving escalating naughty gifts for each of the twelve days of Christmas. The only rule is that she must accept what he gives her and what he tells her to do, or face a sensual punishment. Giving up control is just what Tilda is looking for, so she impulsively agrees.

As Tilda embraces a newfound freedom in abandoning herself to pleasure and Miguel’s demands, she only wonders what will happen when the holiday is over…


If you prefer my fantasy romances, THE LONG NIGHT OF THE RADIANT STAR is my newest release. It rounds out the Heirs of Magic series and is a midwinter holiday (the Feast of Moranu, for those who know the Twelve Kingdoms world) wedding extravaganza! 

At long last, Jakral Konyngrr—lowly sailor, gambler, and sometime rogue—has won the heart and hand of Princess Stella of Avonlidgh. Never mind that Stella’s mother is determined to make their wedding the event of the century, he’s happy to endure any trial to marry the love of his life and his guiding star. Very soon they can sail away together into the rest of their lives. Unfortunately the wedding becomes delayed for several months, until midwinter.

Stella—sorceress, empath, and bearer of the mark of the Tala—has been through great trials. But nothing has tested her as sorely as her passionate and flamboyant mother planning their wedding. Even Jak’s steady love and companionship isn’t enough as Stella finds herself crumbling under the pressure of being snowbound in a castle with the press of so many minds and emotions. When she lashes out, she hits the worst possible target, jeopardizing her chances for happiness.

With several kingdoms and a former enemy empire bearing down on them, Jak and Stella’s wedding on the longest night of year might not happen at all… Unless they can create their own happy ever after.


Finally, there's FAMILIAR WINTER MAGIC. This novella in the Bonds of Magic world first appeared in the Fire of the Frost anthology. For those who've read the Bonds of Magic and Renegades of Magic books, this story follows Han and Iliana. 


It’s holiday time at Convocation Academy, but best friends Han and Iliana are finding it hard to celebrate. As a familiar, Iliana is facing her assignment to a life of servitude to a wizard, very soon. And Han… despite being tested by the oracle daily, he is still uncategorized. As Iliana and Han face being separated forever, they at last find the courage—or desperation—to break the rules and acknowledge their deeper feelings for each other. But it will take more than true love to save them from the laws of the Convocation…

Happy Holidays, all, and happy reading!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Give the Gift of a Completed Urban Fantasy Series!

This holiday season, introduce your nearest and dearest to the cosmic gatekeeper on a mission to save the Mid Worlds in my Immortal Spy urban fantasy series. From the dangerous streets of Washington, D.C., to the soul-soaked passages of the Under Worlds, follow Bix and her team of otherworldly spies as they tangle with Fates, gods, dragons, and angels to capture traitors, expose corruption, and reconnect with lovers who might be out to kill them. 

Saturday, December 10, 2022

The Socials

Social media is an ever-changing space where the platforms that are all the rage (hello, Hive Social) pop up and then, most often than not, disappear quietly into the dead/dying platform abyss with my long-lost love, Myspace.

But there is one platform I always (no, really, it's got its claws in me so deep) come back to…


Though I can’t set my top four and watch the world burn, I can have a lot of fun on IG. I know most people hate Instagram because it’s so hard to please the algorithm gods on there, but I’ve been having fun posting whatever I want, whenever I want. (Even Alexia mentioned IG was her platform of choice in this blog HERE.)

Lately, I’ve been spending my days creating content where I’m marketing my novel A Realm of Ash and Shadow, sharing glimpses into my life as a debut author, posting memes and inspo graphics that showcase my personality, bookish photos that appeal to my target readers, and, most recently, setting music to my static posts for optimal ✨vibes✨.

While I am strategic in the layout of my feed (because #aesthetics), I’m less stiff in my captions/content, and I’m able to show my readers (AKA my target audience!) who I am beyond the keyboard, and that IRL we could probably (okay, definitely) be friends.

Many authors have had the same experience on TikTok, but I, personally, don’t think I’m cool or witty enough to commit to constant video creation. Whereas pretty photos and memes and selfies a few times a week feels more manageable. Maybe this will change in the future, but as of right now, Instagram is my ride or die.

Beyond my personal preferences, Instagram has been the foundation for growing and establishing my author platform. I have been able to engage with so many readers and fellow authors on IG, and I have no doubt the platform will have a huge impact on the success of my debut release in April 2023.

Love it or hate it, IG is constantly improving their platform and keeping up with the times. Even if it does seem like it’s stealing all of the best parts of dead/dying platforms, haha. Here’s looking at you IG Stories 👀.

I truly can’t wait to see what it implements next. A music clip on our profile like good ol’ Myspace? Yes, please.

Are you on Instagram? Are you loving your time there? Let’s connect! Find me at @laraonfire on IG.

Lara Buckheit is the author of A Realm of Ash and Shadow. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Communications from Wilmington University, is a 2021 WriteMentor Mentee, an avid writer (and reader) of spice, and one time she met Taylor Swift's dad. She started writing at a very young age, mostly fanfiction centered around women with swords and men with devilish grins. And she hasn't stopped since. When not writing, Lara can be found drinking tea, hustling for her day job, and reading from her endless TBR pile. Lara currently lives in Charlottesville, VA, with her husband, dog, and thirteen houseplants named after fictional characters.