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.

Thursday, November 30, 2023


The Mars Strain audiobook, with the rd planet behind the title, being held by a white, puffy-suited astronaut wearing a cartoon santa hat as they float above the Earth

Nothing says winter holiday like a near-future, sci-fi audiobook that takes place in May! Wait, you were looking for Christmas lights and mistletoe? Well…The Mars Strain does have a well lit, cube observation-room and there is some kissing. 

“—listeners will be intrigued by the premise of this timely story 

and energized by Juliet's tenacity and courage.” 

Audiofile review by S.A.H.

You can pick it up at Audible and, since I just looked it up, a lot of new to me online stores like AudiobookSTORE and Chirp Books!

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.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

New Fantasy Romance & Old Fiery Fantasy

Jeffe's latest in her Renegades of Magic fantasy romance series is out today!

TWISTED MAGIC: Renegades of Magic Book 3
Their love makes them stronger together... 
Unless the world rips them apart

BUY IT NOW: Amazon | Kobo | Apple | Direct from Jeffe

This Week's Topic: Winter Holiday Promo!

Fire Born, Blood Blessed: Book 1
SPFBO 2016 Finalist!

Blood-beings can be chattel or char.

Fire seethes through the veins of every Morsam, demanding domination and destruction. Combat is a hobby. Slaughtering the inferior blood-beings is entertainment. Life is a repetitious cycle in the prison fashioned by the gods. But mix-race abomination Vadrigyn os Harlo suspects the key to freedom lies in safeguarding the blood-beings; until her blood-born mother uses foreign magic to turn the Morsam against her. Betrayed, bound, and broken, Vadrigyn struggles against the dying of her essential fire. Yet the ebbing flames unleash the dormant magic of her mixed heritage…

The magic to destroy free will.

Seized by the gods and dumped in the desert nation of Larcout to stop history from repeating, Vadrigyn discovers her mother’s legacy of treason and slaughter still festers. To survive the intrigues of the royal court, the roiling undercurrents of civil war, and the gods themselves, Vadrigyn must unravel the conspiracy behind her mother’s banishment. But manipulating free will unleashes a torrent of consequences.

If she fails the gods, she will return to the Morsam prison, stripped of all magic and all hope.

If she succeeds, she can rule a nation.

Kasthu. Roborgu. Inarchma.

Live. Learn. Burn. 

Buy It Now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks |Kobo 

Sunday, November 26, 2023


TWISTED MAGIC is finally (almost) here! Releasing on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, the book is available for preorder now - including in print!


Their love makes them stronger together… Unless the world rips them apart

Jadren El-Adrel knows he’s a mess. He’s a cobbled-together monster pretending to be a wizard, still unable to master the magic that makes him pretty much immortal and is useless for anything else. Though he’s tried to learn to work with his familiar, Seliah, he’s still terrified to discover what might happen if he gives himself full access to the depths of her powerful magic. Some questions should never be answered.

Seliah Phel got her happy ever after. Jadren loves her; they’re together in a safe and beautiful place; and they’re finally learning to work together as wizard and familiar. But even she must recognize that Jadren continues to stew in his black moods, brooding that only worsens when he receives a missive from home, his horrible family demanding the unthinkable: that they both return to House El-Adrel.

As the denizens of House Phel fight an increasingly pitched battle against the enemies determined to destroy them forever, Jadren and Selly fight their own war—against the past and to overcome their own failings. To become truly stronger together.


And yes, there will another trilogy in this world! I haven't set dates yet, or even titled the trilogy, but I hope to have all three out in 2024. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Gratitude: Pi the Pumpkin Queen

This Week's Topic:
Gratitude: Three Cheers for Writing Buddies (be they furry or friendly)!

Regular readers of this blog know about Pi, my constant companion, my furry beast, my "get off your ass and walk me before you develop a clot" timer, my pestiest writing buddy. 

Pi (Dog) with Pumpkins
Pi the Pumpkin Queen

During this week of conscious gratitude, we thank you, dear readers, for supporting us throughout the years past, present, and future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2023

What I Wish I'd Known

 What I wished I'd known before my books were published:


Not a damned thing. I'm glad I didn't know what a weird and wonderful and stressful trip being published would be. I'm glad I didn't know about awards and nominations before hand. I'm grateful that I had no idea that business relationships could or would twist into something unrecognizable and actively harmful. I'm also grateful that I came to my first several books filled with aspiration and faith and freedom. Not that I was writing whatever I wanted - I recognized the need to comprehend craft and story structure and to honor to contract made with the reader. But because I lived in beginner's mind, I came to writing without any preconceived thoughts or ideas about what it HAD TO BE in order to make a sale or hit a list. When you're out there in the pre-pubbed trenches, you can't imagine, nor should you, the slings and arrows that come with being published. I suspect that when you're newly published, you can't imagine the problems that come with being in demand or with scrambling to make a living from writing. The truism is that we don't get to run away from pain. We only get to pick our pain. Which means every stage of writing life has its issues and its rewards.

This is a profession. It's a job. Like any other job, you'll have good days and bad days and a lot of boring, grindy days in between. That's why it's so vital for the process of writing itself to be the reward. The doing has to be the thing that brings you to the keyboard everyday. If you live only for the results of your writing, you'll have a lot of hard days in before hitting The End. Control what you can - spoiler alert: the only thing you control is you and your writing. Accept that all of life is a learning process and the day you're done with lessons and possible struggle, it will be because you slid into your grave. There's a grace to not knowing everything and a particular sweetness to retaining the capacity to still be surprised. 

So no. I don't have regrets about what I didn't know. I'm grateful for what has been and for what might yet come to be. Right now, that's enough.


Thursday, November 16, 2023

Dive In, Pen First

an unlined notebook with a cream, satin page marker and a black ink pen resting on the open page where it wrote 'Once upon a time'

When you start writing your first book you’re filled with excitement and pure joy. So it’s no wonder your brain isn’t thinking ahead to marketing, career strategy, and long term goals. When you first start, don’t stop until you’re done. 

But once you’re done…take a breath.

This week we’re writing about things we wish we’d known before we wrote our first books. Personally, I don’t think you need to know anything before you try your hand at penning your first novel or novella. I believe going into it without expectations or rules is a precious thing because you’ll only ever have that experience once. 

If you have no previous education, you have no rules to follow. Going into writing a book without knowing the phrases three act structure and character arc give you the freedom to explore your story without any hinderances to your imagination. And it’s fun.

Once you have a completed book the real world comes crashing in with decisions. You’ll need to edit it, how and/or who do you have to help you comes into play, and then you must decide which publishing route you want to take with it. And no matter which path you choose, there’s a LOT to learn. 

It’s true, the story may not work. You may end up with a meandering mess or characters who fall flat. But, you’ll have had the best time writing it because your imagination had free reign. If you’re thinking about writing a book, do it. You already have the capability and you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars going to conferences or taking classes. You’ll be starting with your innate ability of storytelling that you’ve formed from all of the books you’ve read up to this point. 

I will add one caveat to this whole idea of starting to write without any prior knowledge, don’t write it long hand in a notebook. Type it out. You’ll thank yourself when the next step doesn’t include converting written text to electronic format.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Oh The Expectations I Wish I'd Known

 This Week's Topic: What Do I Wish I'd Known Before I Wrote My First Book?

Let's see, the first book I wrote (and finished) was a shifter PNR. It was fun to write, but it got no love from agents or editors -- and, in hindsight, I'm glad they rejected me. What I'd written didn't meet romance-reader expectations. What I'd written could maybe be called romantic fantasy, but not fantasy romance. Here are four things I'd wish I'd known:

  1. The OTP meeting needs to happen in the first chapter 
    • I'd waited until ch 5, building on the Jaws-esq dunuh dunuh dunuh approach (closer, closer, closer, Meet Cute)
  2. They need to spend 99% of their time on-page together
    • I'd structured it in the way I like my personal romances--with time spent apart, not living in each other's back pockets.
  3. A short synopsis is not my enemy; it is a tool to ensure my plot is structured and complete. 
  4.  That there was such a thing as readers' genre expectations. 
    • hahaha, zomg, {face palm} I can't believe I didn't know that
It's been almost two decades since I started writing as a career, so uh, safe to say, I've learned some things along the way. 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Learning to Unlock Writing

It's funny. When we're newbie writers wanting to be authors, we get to a stage where we realize we need to learn a few things in order to level up to being authors. Then we shift into a stage where we secretly wonder if there isn't some special sauce thing we could learn that would catapult us to bestsellerdom. Maddeningly, the authors who are best sellers swear there isn't. Yet most of us keep looking. I know I did. Still do, sometimes.

I gather I'm susceptible to classes and training and such because I have a thing that I want that I know intellectually and emotionally is attainable. Yet I'm not attaining it. So I keep squinting at myself through some inverse magnifying glass trying to work out what's getting in my way. Classes have been part of that examination. I believed that if only I took enough writing classes, I'd pass some unknown Rubicon equivalent and suddenly get it together as a writer. The problem was that my issue wasn't with the writing. Necessarily. That can always improve. Maybe the better way to say that is to say that the writing hasn't been the blocker all this time. I have.

Getting a late-in-life autism diagnosis has been a trip and a process. A long involved process. I've had a lot to learn about what it means, how my brain functions, how I function, and what motivates me and what demotivates me. I've had to learn to pay much, much closer attention to what my nervous system tells me when it tells me. So all of my learning for the past two years has been from other autistic people, some of whom have done an amazing job of deconstructing what it means to be neurodivergent in Western society. I've had to learn how to stop masking so I can recover from a lifetime of burnout. That's been messy. I've learned that I'm demand avoidant to a pretty high degree and that impacts writing. I *finally* worked out why I've never won a NaNoWriMo. Write and report every day creates this massive block of pressure in my chest that builds and builds through the month until I just nope straight out and then call myself a failure. And then meltdown, anyway, without ever understanding why I end up hating me. Not super useful or particularly healthy. 

Having learned what I've learned so far, I'm doing NaNo differently this year. If I report daily, I report daily. (Spoiler alert - yeah, no.) I will just report my numbers when I feel like it. And if I don't make 50K? So what. I'll still be farther along than I was. So while I am taking classes and learning from folks - I can't really say that these people are teaching me writing. They aren't. But what they are teaching me is breaking writing free. Finally. Finally. 

Raven and his friend wish you a happy, relaxing Friday.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

A Craft Tale

a tower of books stacked into the shape of a tree, wide base up to a stack on top

Once upon a time, back when there were numerous, in-person cons every year, there were panels on character arcs, story structure, and pacing. The information was bountiful and the speakers mostly accountable. But then, a dark cloud descended across the land and all of those cons were no longer at hand. 

What was a novice author to do, without all the fixes and tricks? No more handshakes and tips? 

Well, I really thought I was in trouble. It even felt like I was in a bubble. But then, what did I find on the shelf? There was an elf. 

No, not any normal elf, because it was the elf and everything else populating the shelf. Characters. They appeared on pages. On covers. On spines and maps. They showed up when unexpected, never again to be neglected. 

Books. There were towers of books from the well-written, to ones you’d overlook. And on top of it all, sat a notebook. So with paper and pen, I began again. And for help I never had to look farther, than to the pages resting over yonder. 


Our topic this week is what are we learning and from whom? And for me it’s true that I haven’t sought any writerly education for years, expect that I realized every time I pick up a book I’m learning. As you read you absorb story structure and pinch points. You experience character’s motives and pressures. So my arrow is going to point you right back to that stack of books on your nightstand or on your kindle or on your desk. Keep reading and it will improve your writing craft.