Sunday, December 31, 2023

Three Places I Find Inspiration

 Happy New Year!

On this New Year's Eve day, I'm busy crunching year-end financials in preparation to go to quarterly tax-reporting. Author finances, however, are not the topic of the week at the SFF Seven. Instead we're discussing a much happier topic: sources of inspiration.

The two are somewhat tied together for me as I've spent the last two weeks refilling my creative well. I finished my revision of ONEIRA (final title to come) on December 15 and sent it off to my editor. Since then, I've taken a break from writing work - very unusual for me. The time has been consumed largely by Christmas prep, travel, visiting family, and doing business like the above crunching of year-end financials. Looking at this, I've realized that I've been relying on passive well-refilling: hoping that if I simply leave the creative well alone, that the vast water table of the universe will seep in and top that puppy off for me. 

And, to some extent, that's true.

However, I'm realizing I haven't been following my new tenet of aggressively refilling the well. That would mean finding ways to actively pour juice into that well. And that's where inspiration comes in. What are my top three?


I'm putting a lot under this heading, much like my sibling-under-the-skin, Murderbot. One thing I have been doing is a full re-read of this excellent series by Martha Wells. Reading books - particularly brilliantly written ones by authors I admire - is a great source of inspiration for me. I also include listening to music under this heading. While road-tripping, I put my music library on All Songs Shuffle, which unearths interesting stuff I haven't listened to in ages. A Cat Stevens song - The Wind - turned up, so now I'm diving into a full Cat Stevens song shuffle. What an amazing songwriter, to communicate so much in so few words. Finally, I love watching movies for inspiration. I got a great idea just the other night from a movie and now I'm sizzling to write this series. Though it will have to wait, the sparkle of that excitement adds to my overall feeling of creative flow.


I'm fortunate to live in a beautiful place. My desk overlooks a spectacular view and my morning walk with the dog is replete with huge skies, distant mountains, and beauty of all kinds. I say I'm lucky to have this - and I am! - but I also sought out this place, because being outside in a beautiful place is super important to me. Just living here refills my well.


Longtime readers probably know that I'm an advocate of silence for creative flow. By this I don't necessarily mean the absence of ambient sound, though it sometimes means that for me. I'm talking primarily about the silence of the mind, the emptiness that allows creativity to flow in, that enables us to hear the voices scintillating through the veil, telling us their stories. Taking time off from the "noisier" parts of my life has been invaluable for that. 

Huh... Turns out I've been doing better at aggressively refilling the well than I thought!

Best wishes for an inspiring 2024 for us all!

Friday, December 29, 2023

So Turns the Wheel of the Year


In the liminal space between this end of year cluster of holidays, I wish you the warmth and relaxation and coziness of Arya nesting in my lap. May the new year be bright, prosperous, healthy, and joyous. I have no great advice to give or pronouncements to make. May we all become the best versions of ourselves as we move into another cycle.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Goodbye 2023

pine covered mountain top under a blue sky stand author Alexia in a long sleeve maroon dress next to her husband in light gray pants, black sweatshirt and vest and gray hat

My husband and I smiling goodbye to 2023!

It’s been a year. I spent countless hours at my kid’s sport events. Read 78 books. Wrote one sci-fi thriller. And I’m excited about 2024. I’ve got goals and I’m going to reach them. 

The new year is right around the corner. It’s a time to look forward in anticipation. It’s also a time that many make resolutions. Resolutions, goals, whatever you want to call them, they’re good motivators. And if you’ve been looking for the push, the thing that’ll energize you, now is a great time to decide that it’s going to happen now. 

A positive mindset can carry you a long way. I was reminded of that as I watched the most recent season of Alone with my family. If you're not familiar with it, it's a reality show from the History Channel that pits people against the wilderness and their own minds as they survive out in the woods alone. The woman who stuck it out to the number two spot was incredibly positive and grateful throughout the experience. She outlasted her competitors, who brought in more game, with berries and a smile. Watching her daily lift her face to the sky reminded me that I want to face 2024 with a grin. 

That’s my plan as I prepare for the new year. I hope your New Year celebration is safe and filled with joy and laughter, but also brings you a good dose of grit for your goals. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Cheers to the Changing of the Year

 This Week's Topic: Thoughts on the Closing of the Year/Start of the New Year

As we say goodbye to 2023 and look ahead to 2024

I wish you all 

Good Health

Good Fortune


Good Company

Cheers to the changing of the year!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

FaRo on my mind


As we look back on 2023, I want to thank our group, FaRoFeb, for contributing to the SFF 7 Authors blog this year! I love this partnership. I really enjoy seeing the different perspectives on the blog each week, and adding a variety of posts from a diverse group of our authors has been a real joy for me. 

For those of you who might not know, HR Moore founded the Fantasy Romance February (FaRoFeb) group as a way to bring together authors and readers of fantasy romance for a month of bookish activities. Now the fun lasts all year long! The group supports authors and readers of Fantasy Romance, providing spaces on social media to build community and promote great books.

The FaRoFeb team of volunteers works tirelessly to make the magic happen. If you'd like to learn more about them, please check them out:

Finally, follow FaRoFeb on social media and join their newsletter. There are games, book recommendations, character art, giveaways, and more.

Next week, we'll thank the volunteers who contributed to the blog this year and wish you a wonderful new year!


Friday, December 22, 2023

Winter Solstice What's on My Mind

Blessed Winter Solstice. On my mind today - Time. 

Time in all its complexity and in its simplicity. We brought in a tea advent calendar from Friday Tea in Seattle. We're counting down to Christmas with a different tea each day. We also brought in a wooden puzzle advent calendar. These simple time keepers were an attempt to handle one of our more complicated time issues - family.

My father received news from his doctor this year that no one wants to receive from a doctor. We're all aware that as we count down to Christmas this year, we're also counting down how many more Christmases we'll have together. It's a fact of life, of course, but no one has to like it, and we don't. So we're focused on connection, on creating moments for slowing down, for pausing and looking around. We're concentrated on creating enjoyment. The puzzle has been a surprisingly good way to do all of that. Dad isn't fond of the holidays to begin with, so we were pleasantly surprised when he opted to engage with the puzzle advent calendar with us. Well timed batches of holiday cookies have helped a little, too.

I'm making some of my family's favorite things to eat, of course. The holidays are time for me to try new recipes simply because I enjoy experimenting. I'm contemplating how to create more time and space in my life for my dreams and my ambitions. During this solstice season, I'm pausing, taking a full, deep breath and holding it in the depths of the dark while I look around with eyes not clouded by my breath in the cold night. Solstice night is the time to leave behind the parts of me that no longer serves me. Time to strike the match and light the midwinter fire. This is the doorway out of shadow into light.

It's time to realize that our lives are advent calendars counting down the clock of our existence. What matters to us can no longer wait. 

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Winter On My Mind

winter sky at dusk with hazy clouds gaining a golden hue that stretch over a pine covered mountain peak that towers over the smooth ice of a frozen lake

Food preparations, gift wrapping, laundry, my twin’s birthday, packing overnight bags, picking up dog food…these are a few things on my mind this week, and sadly none of them are writing related.

I knew the holiday time between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years would be busy, but I naively thought I’d be able to write. I wasn't prepared for a few days to have gone by since I’ve had the time, or been home long enough, to open up my laptop.

Now I seriously understand every author who has said they don’t write during the holiday season. But I’m not beating myself up over it. It is what it is. I’ve also got a lingering bug that I caught at a family Christmas, so I’m choosing salt baths and hydration over pushing myself for words. I'm choosing to winter.

Yes, I'm wintering. That idea that we need seasons same as our environment. Winter is the time of year for salt baths, cozying up on the couch with a warm cuppa, quiet nights at home with loved ones. It's restorative and does wonders for the brain. If you haven't done any wintering yet, I highly suggest it! 

My imagination hasn’t taken time off yet, my plot continues to grow in my mind. So I’ve got that going for me. 

I hope your holiday preparations aren’t driving you crazy and that you either get time with your own words or turn some pages with someone else’s! 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

A Peaceful Pause

 This Week's Topic: On My Mind, the Winter Edition

Image: Winterscape and text reading "a peaceful pause."

It's the time of year when I give myself permission to not write, to pause marketing analysis, and to back off ad management. There's no guilt for missing word-count goals. No stress over skipping editing pages. My book discounts and winter ad campaigns were launched at the beginning of the month and are slated to run through the end of January (yes, I do winter campaigns versus holy day campaigns).  I check my sales mostly because it's a habit and not because I will do anything to adjust campaigns.

When writing full-time--or any type of self-employment--we often forget to give ourselves permission to take a break. As creatives, it's imperative we step back, step away, and step into a place of regeneration and relaxation. Too many of us attempt to keep our work schedules during times of the year that we know will demand a lot of us outside our fictional worlds. Whether it's family obligations, religious observations, charity deliverables, or community interactions, the end of the calendar year is exceptionally taxing. Fighting the inevitable isn't worth my health or my sanity. Thus, I give myself permission to set aside my writing--both the creation and the business--to participate in the season of giving. Giving my time, my emotion, and my cooperation to those who've supported me throughout the year. 

Now, now, I don't give away all my time. I still maintain my restful hours. I even claim a few extras. Because, as stimulating as it is to reconnect with loved ones, it's also exhausting. This recluse can only handle so much of...people.

This winter, dear readers, I wish you the serenity of a peaceful pause.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Me and the Rise of Romantasy

 A weird thing about me: I'm always a bit ahead of my time. I don't know why this is, but it's been true all of my life. And it's not nearly as cool as it sounds (if it does sound cool). In truth, it's not a great thing at all, because it means I'm never in the full swing of the cultural zeitgeist. I'm the odd duck, the one not marching along with everyone else. 

Many of you have heard these stories of my trajectory (which implies a straight course and steady momentum which would be entirely incorrect). In summary:

  1. No one knew how to market the weird cross-genre stuff I was writing, starting back in 2007ish.
  2. Catherine Asaro told me to keep going and just know that writing cross genre would be like wading through hip-deep snow.
  3. Agent at a conf in 2010 told me my work fell in the cracks between genres. I cried. Friends dubbed me "Crack Ho."
  4. I didn't know I was writing Fantasy Romance until Carina Press took a chance on a crazy, cross-genre kid and published my books under that genre label.

Fast forward to today and the coining of the term Romantasy.

A number of readers have contacted me recently, having just encountered the term, largely via the new Goodreads Choice Awards category. I'm not sure who coined the term, but the portmanteau of Romance + Fantasy has now come to encompass Fantasy Romance and Romantic Fantasy. This has been occurring first in the Indie spaces and now is moving into traditional publishing as they catch onto the trend. Just last February - on Valentine's Day - Devi Pillai, Publisher at Tor, the notable publisher of science fiction and fantasy (SFF), announced that they'd created a new imprint: Bramble. Monique Patterson, Editorial Director at St. Martin's Press, moved over to head up Bramble, which will be SFF + Romance.

In very cool news for me, Monique was featured in Publisher's Weekly Notables of 2023 and namechecked me! (Along with my friend and colleague, Amanda Bouchet.) Monique said:

Romantasy may be the shiny new portmanteau on the block, but the fusing of speculative fiction and romance, Patterson notes, is nothing novel. She points to series by such authors as Amanda Bouchet and Jeffe Kennedy that would likely be categorized as romantasy now, but came out before the term was coined. It was tough putting out such books in years past, but they “would probably do wonderfully now,” she says.

Isn't that cool? I was so pleased to be mentioned in this context. From Crack Ho to Trailblazer! 

Ain't that just the way it goes?

Friday, December 15, 2023

Websites as Crutches

For the most part, I aspire to keep away from distractions. However, I find that good ambient sound works well for creating a cone of privacy around me while I'm writing. Especially when there are noise cancelling headphones involved. Therefore, I usually have YouTube up in the background. I'll run 3+ hour dark scifi, dystopian, or horror ambient tracks. I have specific needs for those - they need to run long and not allow ads. They can't have a ton of melodic line. These things are more a vibe than they are music, and they're just enough to keep my critical brain busy and out of the way of drafting while they also provide cover for the other noises of the household.

I'm a big fan of for word finding. My rule for this is that I must open and close the browser window for every single look up. It's an attempt to keep me from sheering off of making words with rando look ups. Some days, I don't open the site at all. Other days, I may need a little mental jog or two. Those days, I need to find just the right word before I can unclench and move on.

My final favorite website while writing is a website for writing. Consider this my ongoing plug for Timed writing, gamified, stripped down to a basic text editor so I can't get too precious about how stuff looks while trying to get x amount of words before time runs out. It's a great place to fast draft and a great place to write about writing. It's a perfect venue for doing a bunch of the prework of writing - compiling research / noodling how that research impacts plot and characters, getting characters hashed out, getting GMCs worked through, etc. I'm on the site every single day.

Once I have a draft, no matter how skeletal and bloody, I shift out of websites into Word. Edits and rewrites happen with fewer website interruptions. By the time I'm in edits, I pretty much know where we're going and how we're going to get there. I no longer need to anesthetize the critical portions of my brain like I do with drafting.  Until that point, though, websites are my crutches, and I lean on 'em.

Thursday, December 14, 2023



I’m sick, so this is what you get. Every inch of my body aches, but this fur ball still found me and hasn’t left my side…maybe he’s taking advantage of my bed bound state, but I appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Inigo Montoya and My Favorite Website

 This Week's Topic: What Website Do I Use The Most While Writing?

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.--William Goldman, The Princess Bride

I am guilty of this far more than I care to admit. There's a point at which contextual clues fail, and my vocabulary is filled with those results. Turns out, close is not actually good enough when one is the author instead of the reader. My greater foible is homophones. Greater still, straight up bad spelling. Then there's the whole When to Hyphenate issue. We won't discuss the CapItaLiZatIon iN FanTasY chaos that gives grammarians GERD.

I really ought to send my copy editor an Inigo Montoya plushy. 


Sunday, December 10, 2023

Stay Offline While Writing!

 This week at the SFF 7, we're asking what is the website you use the most while writing?

I'm going to answer this a bit contrarily. While writing - that is, while drafting - I don't use any websites at all. I do my best to stay entirely offline while drafting. Anything I feel I might need to look up, I put in square brackets and save for the revision stage. On my most recently completed book, TWISTED MAGIC, I had nearly 200 square brackets when I stopped drafting and started revising, which was at about 75% through. 

(Sometimes I draft all the way to the end, then revise; with other books I stop at some point and go back to the beginning, revise from there, then go to the end. There's no rhyme or reason to it. Each book is different. But that's another topic.)

Now, when I'm revising the website I use the most is... Plain Ol'Google. 

(What a world we live in now, where I can write down Google search as an old-fashioned method.)

Now, my Google-fu is strong. I use [word] + etymology a lot to find better words for what I'm trying to say, or that word in another language. I look up specifics on things I want to research more. I look up names. I stay away from rabbit holes, even while revising. 

For me, the internet is anti-writing, so I steer clear. Maybe that's true for you?

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Getting Unstuck


It happens. 

We all reach that point in the story where we feel stuck. For me, it often happens about halfway through the story. And right before the end. Often somewhere in the editing process as well. (It happens a lot.)

It's like the wheels turn into bricks, and the path turns to icy sludge.

And when that happens, argh. I want to set the pages or something on fire. But that is surprisingly not as effective at resolving the matter.

So how do I get unstuck? There’s no one guaranteed way, but here are a few of my favorites.  

Get Physical 

Physical fitness isn't precisely at the top of my task list when I’m in the middle of a deadline. But there’s little better than getting the blood pumping when the story won’t move. Often when my body feels slow and stagnant, it reflects in my writing, sometimes bogging me down even more. 

It doesn’t have to be a lot of activity. Sometimes a gentle walk suffices. 

In some cases when it’s a bad pain day and I need to get a lot more done, deep slow breaths help me clear my thoughts, even if it isn’t enough to resolve it. 

If you need more than that, meditation can also help. The Calm app as well as Headspace provide breathing tracks along with guided meditations to help, and K. A. Emmons provides guided meditations for authors on YouTube. (This is one of my favorites, but each one of hers I have tried has been lovely.)

Ask Someone You Trust for Their Opinion 

This works in two ways. Sometimes there are people in your life who understand what you’re working on and how to get yourself out of the mire. They may have good advice to share. In that case, asking for their opinion can lead to direct solutions.

And sometimes you have people in your life who will tell you what they think and, as soon as they do, you realize you know what it is you really want to do. If this is the case, remember to be respectful and courteous. Most will understand if you explain that other people throwing out ideas helps you spring off the initial concept to new ones as well rather than the implication that you don’t value their advice. (Having been on both sides of this, honesty helps so much and reduces the risk of hurt feelings.)

Mark Down the Motivations

I don't always outline (I adore the discovery process too much to be able to commit to much more structure than a rough outline that gets modified significantly as the story progresses). 

But when a story starts feeling like quicksand, one of the first things I check is whether I'm clear on the motivations of the characters. All of them. Even if they don't have a spoken line in the scene. And the motivations don’t even have to be big. But everyone always wants something.

One of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut quotes on writing refers to this situation: “Make your characters want something right away even if it's only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”

Figuring out the motivations and marking them down on a scrap of paper can go a long way toward breathing new life into the scene and helping you know where to go moving forward. 

Approach It from Another Perspective 

Sometimes I feel stuck because I've started the scene at the wrong point or in the wrong POV. (I like to joke that I start every story two chapters too early or two chapters too late.) 

When that happens, the simplest thing I can do is just start rewriting a bit. I like to try starting the scene from another point or a separate character. As I write in third person deep limited POV, this requires that I consider the details that that character notices (sometimes I combine this with the motivation exercise above). Those added details often bring to light why the scene is not working or what is currently missing to make it stronger. 

Recognize It Might Be Part of Your Process 

Becca Symes often talks about questioning the premise and analyzing why we respond the way we do. In quite a few of her Quitcast videos on getting unstuck and the Stuck List, she discusses how sometimes it is just a part of the process for us to get stuck. Our minds are still working through the story, and really what we need is to just be stuck for a little bit.

While a little alarming to know that you can’t just blast through it, it is comforting to know that it may simply be a necessary stage for your mind to continue processing and refining the story before you can move on.

Feeling stuck happens to all of us. It may even be part of your process. Whatever the cause, know that this feeling and sensation won't last forever. So try not to worry. It may take multiple attempts or techniques to move past the stuckness, but eventually you will get unstuck. This is just a part of being an author. And sometimes it’s good just to know you are not alone. 

So what about you? Do you have any favorite techniques for getting yourself out of being stuck? 

Jessica M. Butler is a USA Today bestselling romantic fantasy author who never outgrew her love for telling stories and playing in imaginary worlds. She lives with her husband and law partner, James Fry, in
rural Indiana where they are quite happy with their two cats and all of the wildlife and trees.

You can find her at

Friday, December 8, 2023

Path Out of Stuck

Take it from someone who walked face first into stuck (that was really a kind of burnout I didn't know I had) and then flailed there for a very long time: There's a difference between stuck and burnout. You need to know the difference.

Stuck is frustrating. Stuck is scary. Stuck still has hope of breaking free. Stuck usually means something is wrong with the story somewhere (and that's fixable.)

Burnout is paralyzed. Burnout is numb. Burnout says 'I can't'. Burnout usually means something is wrong in your environment or possibly in your physiology. 

Burnout needs recovery time and effort and may require professional assistance either from a coach, a therapist, or a doctor. Stuck needs a little strategic psychology to pull you free of the mire and can usually be resolved within a few weeks. Burnout can take months or even years. 

Whether you're in burnout or whether you're stuck, the antidote for the poison is the same: So long as you say 'I can't', you won't. The only way out of stuck and out of burnout (eventually) is to begin asking 'how can I?' Example: Going from 'I can't make this work.' to 'How can I make this work?' It's not magic and it's not immediate. You have to ask the question and ask the question and ask the question. Then you have to sit and listen. Free write around it with no rules. Stream of consciousness write around 'how could I make writing work?' 'What would it look like to make writing work again?' 'What do I need in order to write again?' Just keep asking and keep noodling. Initially, the answers will all be I don't know. Then, one day, you'll get an outlandish, crazy idea. Mine was to get some plywood up into the attic and laying it down across the rafters so I could get a desk and plug up there as well as a little damned peace and quiet and solitude for writing. Living in Florida where attics are regularly a bajillion degrees made the idea unusable but it did start a protracted effort to find some privacy in an overcrowded house. It's s process that's still unfolding. Recovery is a process that takes a little self awareness, honesty, and a willingness to ask for help if it's needed. 

Thursday, December 7, 2023


two leaves resting on white, icy snow. One is dried and brown, curling in on itself. The other is a maple leaf that is half bright green and half yellow, stuck halfway between summer and fall.

 This week we’re talking about the dreaded five letter word: 


There’s all kinds of stuck in writing. Yes, you read that right. There’s more than one way to be stuck, which means there’s more than one way to get unstuck! 

Stuck in a Scene: commonly found in first drafts. This kind of sludge holds fast no matter which direction you try to go. Move left, you’re pulled right back where you were. Move right, you didn’t actually move, you just assumed you did. 

Solution: in my experience, use the brackets. This is most helpful when applied to first drafts. If you know what point B looks like or where it is, use a set of brackets, like this [] to mark your place in point A and skip right to point B. Your brain will fill in the gap later on.

Stuck on a Name: commonly found in first drafts, but can appear at any time in the creative process. You try out one that starts with N only to decide it’s a no-go. You switch to a vowel, but that only makes you scowl. 

Solution: IMO, give yourself a set amount of time to peruse the baby name book. Note—set a timer or risk becoming lost in research land. If you pick a name that doesn’t seem to capture the soul of your character, proceed writing and once inspiration strikes, perform a 'find and replace all' action. And if you really can't find the perfect name, it's okay, the vast majority of readers will never catch the nuanced meaning of a name that plays into the theme or supports their personality.

Stuck on a Blank Page: has numerous connotations. See: brick wall, empty well, plot hole, and burnout. Commonly found in first drafts, but can occur during revisions. 

Solution: the origins of this are as varied as the solutions. What I’ve dealt with is stuck due to depression and stuck due to plot hole. The plot hole was solved by a beta reader and editing. The depression was solved by a healthcare provider and a lot of self care and self forgiveness. Possibly the most difficult writing stucks, please know you’re not alone. 

Stuck on a Finished Manuscript: commonly found after first revisions, but will frustratingly pop up at any point following The End. When you finish writing a book you’re filled with euphoria and want to share it with the world! DANGER: sending out your manuscript before it’s ready. 

Solution: take a breath. It’s a huge accomplishment to complete a novel, novella, or short story. Congratulations! If this is revision number one take a week or two, or more, away from your book. Come back, reread it. Fix the typos and plot holes you find. If this is revision number two: find some critique partners, beta readers, mentor, or freelance editor to read it and provide honest feedback before you take the next step to send it into the world. If this is revision number (x+2) and it’s gone through some great editing, proofreading, and you’re pleased with it, the book is ready for the next step in its self-publish or traditional journey! 

I know I didn’t list them all. What are some writing stucks you’ve found?

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Stuck?? Push!

 Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is what to do when you're stuck. Stuck writing, I presume, since other kinds of stuck aren't really what we're about here.

I'm sure there will be lots of great advice this week from all the contributors on the various tricks and techniques for getting unstuck while writing. Mine is going to be at the far end of the spectrum at Tough Love. 

When I get stuck? I push.

I'm a believer in chipping away at that block and smashing a hole through it. Inevitably there's juicy stuff on the other side. I think the universe sometimes makes us work for it, and that's what I do.

Now, I will caveat this advice by saying that I absolutely don't advise anyone beating themselves brainless against a brick wall. Use your head, and not as a battering ram! There are tools for this process; use them. This is where craft comes in and skill, where having a well-cultivated imagination will fuel the process, where having excellent work habits allows for focused attention. 

Push through those sticking places - but use your words, not your fists. 

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Winter and Holiday FaRo Recommendations

 I have a veritable cornucopia of book recommendations for you today, courtesy of our FaRo authors. This week we put out a call on our discord for books with holiday and winter vibes, and the group delivered! 

Many of today's book recommendations feature general wintery settings. It is a popular season for fantasy romance novels--all the ice and fire really heat things up! But first, let's look at Winter Solstice, a main inspiration for several books on our list. 
  • Vela Roth's Blood Sanctuary features scorching fated mates in its epic fantasy winter Solstice story. 
  • Stephanie Burgiss's Snowspelled is a low-steam gaslamp fantasy that takes place at a Winter Solstice house party. 
  • Jeffe Kennedy's The Long Night of the Crystalline Moon is a swoon-worthy epic fantasy romance novella.
  • Coffee Quills' Fae Soiree has a winter Solstice party setting for this fae poly romance tale.
  • Helen Rygh-Pedersen's Apple Seeds in the Snow has a fantasy version of winter Solstice and fairy tale vibes.
  • Catrina Bell's Beastly and Bookish starts with solstice and ends at New Year's, and features love over books between a librarian and a demon.

Yuletide is also popular for Fantasy Romance holiday books. The ancient pagan traditions work well for epic fantasy and other supernatural topics. Christmas also inspires some of the tales in our list.
  • Grace Draven's Sunday's Child is a contemporary fantasy romance set at Christmas starring a museum archivist and an immortal elf.
  • Laura Greenwood's Frosts and Fears includes a Yuletide ball in this retelling of the Snow Queen fairy tale. 
  • Isla Elrick's Gift of the Magi is a retelling of the classic Yuletide tale in a high fantasy setting. 
  • Sirena Knighton's Wedded to the Warlord features Yuletide celebrations in an arranged marriage romance.
  • Gwyneira Blythe's Ice Cold Moon is a reverse harem academy tale set at Yuletide. 
  • Irene Davis's Sugar and Snow is a continuation of the Nutcracker tale, featuring a low heat romance.

General winter vibes feature in a number of our author's books. The genres range from academy + gaslamp to contemporary fantasy to epic and shifters. There is something for everyone! The low to mid-steam recommendations come first. 
  • Fiona West's Bringing Down the King is a contemporary royals tale with a guaranteed HEA.
  • Arizona Tape's Wolf's Whisper has everything you could ask for--a sapphic fantasy romance with werewolves.
  • Kat Keenan's So Fell are the Fae features a winter fae court and medium heat in a romance between fated mates.
  • R.C. Ballad's A Song for Octaven includes the celebration of a fictional winter holiday in a gaslamp academic setting. 

If you're looking for a read to keep you warm, these books will suit you! These high steam and scorching tales have it all--vampires, feisty heroines, and bear shifters.

  • Lisette Marshall's Iron is a hot enemies-to-lovers read in a thrilling epic fantasy setting.
  • Isabella Khalidi's The Snows of Nissa is a dark fantasy romance with a warrior and General who burn up the night.
  • Ophelia Wells Langley's The Moon and the Hunt features forbidden love between a vampire and a shifter that melts the snow in the Swiss Alps.
  • Meredith Hart's Heart's Rescue is an enemies-to-lovers tale with scorching scenes in an epic fantasy world.
  • Kass O'Shire's A Polar Expedition is a high-steam gaslamp story with a polar bear shifter.
  • Elayna R. Gallea and Daniela A. Mera's A Court of Fire and Frost is a Romeo and Juliet retelling with a Summer and Winter Fae pair who can't resist each other.
I'm tempted to begin with solstice and then move on to the Yuletide and Christmas recommendations for my holiday break. I'll save the Winter vibes books for January, when I can curl up in a nice chair in front of the fireplace as the January snows swirl outside.

Which ones will you read first?
Stay safe and warm, Mimi

Friday, December 1, 2023

A Midwinter's Creepy Tale Promo

 Everyone loves A Nightmare Before Christmas, right? Right? I'm hoping so, because I bring you another nightmare. One that has nothing at all to do with Christmas. But hey. When you've had your fill of jingle bells and Hallmark movies, you can put on the Cthulhu Holiday Carols and dive into Nightmare Ink, a creepy urban fantasy.


When magic gets under your skin, it can devour you out from the inside out.  

 Tattoo artist Aisa Romanchzyk specializes in binding Live Ink. The Seattle Police Department’s Acts of Magic Investigative unit engages her as a consultant in investigations involving Live Ink. When they bring her a prisoner being consumed by his Live Ink, Aisa commits a fatal error in her haste to save the doomed man. His tattoo, a Chinese dragon, empowered by magic and by the man's blood, escapes into the winter streets. Aisa pursues the creature and learns the hard way that killing other Live Ink artists' creations has earned her enemies.

 Slick, handsome Daniel Alvarez, the best Live Ink artist in four states, and her former lover, kidnaps her. Over the course of six agonizing weeks, he inks another soul to her skin.

 Wearing the masterpiece of a Living Tattoo, she manages to escape. The full body suit takes the form of a winged demon with his fangs buried in her jugular. Huge wings encircle her body as if in an embrace. Only his bright emerald eyes break the black of his shape. He’s alive, and he wants freedom. Since he'd rip away her throat in the process of separating from her, his freedom means her death. It's clear to both of them. He's meant to steal her magic, kill her, take her corporeal form, and return to his maker. Daniel.

 Aisa intends to find out why and thwart to Daniel by any means possible. She names the tattoo Murmur because of the insidious way he whispers into her nightmares and into her waking mind in his bid for freedom.

 In searching for a way to capture the escaped Chinese dragon, Aisa realizes Daniel is stealing other people’s magic. He’s also stealing souls from Murmur’s world to create his Live Ink pieces and he’s not asking for volunteers.

 Murmur understands Daniel means to open a direct portal from Murmur’s hellish world into this one in a bid for power that would make him immortal, something Murmur won’t allow. For the sake of both planes.

 To defeat Daniel, Aisa and Murmur must risk trusting one another and themselves.