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. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

VOTE and Ad Classes

Before I jump into the Topic of the Week, I'm getting out my soapbox for my annual plea to our US readers to GO VOTE. If you haven't cast your ballot early, please, please, please go to your assigned polling place and VOTE today. Even though it's not a year for a presidential election, so much still needs your say on the local level. Some of the nastiest legislation gets snuck through in off-presidential years because voter turnout is low and the citizens aren't paying attention. We cannot afford to "sit this one out." Whether it's your school board or gubernatorial race, approving liquor licenses or women's healthcare, issues on the ballot matter. 

 This Week's Topic: Class List: What are we learning and from whom?

I've been taking ad classes from the Zon and FB 'cause it's their platforms, so I consider them the experts. There are lots and lots of self-proclaimed advertising platform experts out there, yet a paltry few offer insight you can't get for free from the companies that own the platforms. Once in a while, the monstrosities run book-specific advertising classes and I hop on those toot-sweet. A lot is stuff I know, but as the companies release new features, I want to stay on top of those so I'm not wasting $$. 

I'm also subscribed to David Gaughran's free best-practices newsletter. He's been in the book biz for decades with a good reputation, and his advice--on the whole--is useful. YMMV. About one out of every ten newsletters has a gem that makes me jot down a note to "try this." What I like most about his newsletter is the inside scoop on when/how distributors are changing things on the tech or policy sides. Obviously, that's not in every newsletter, but when there is something coming, he's one of the first to know and to put it into "this is how it affects authors" terms. 

Sunday, November 5, 2023

What Can I Teach You?


I have a bit of a jaundiced view of classes targeted at authors these days. There's such a proliferation of "pay me to make you successful" schemes out there targeted at writers, most of which are predatory. Maybe you'll learn something? Probably not. Also, unfortunately (to my mind), the ones that seem to be the most successful are those that make people feel good without giving them real, helpful advice or tools.

There are good teachers out there, and good advice-givers of other kinds, but the best way to get good at doing anything is to do a whole lot of it.  That's why, though I occasionally teach workshops - I really like teaching Master Classes! - I'm mostly mentoring, coaching, and advice-giving through my Patreon. (I know, I know - seems like everyone has a Patreon these days!) Mine is modest in size (and in advice-giving, really) and works mainly to give me a place to offer insights from my experience to people who care enough to invest in hearing from me. We have a terrific, supportive community and I'm really loving it!

Come and join for as little as $5/month!

Friday, November 3, 2023

Ridiculous Cute Crow

On my mind - ridiculous cute. To manage migraine, I do yoga nidra at noon each day. Most of the time, this is a solitary endeavor. Yesterday, it was not. I developed -- a growth.

Crow decided to climb into my tee shirt with me. My fluffy black 17lb marshmallow cat flopped over between my side and my arm. He pillowed his head on my shoulder and 'assisted' with my  nervous system reset.


When my session ended and I need to get up and go back to work, we came to disagreement. My furry son declined to rise. He also declined to relinquish my shirt.

Thus it is that rather than distress the sizeable feline, I risked an indecent exposure charge. Only briefly. I was outdoors, but  inside the lanai when I shimmied out of that tee shirt and grabbed a blanket from the porch swing and got it around me to get inside. Good thing it wasn't yard work day.

I found myself another tee shirt to wear for the rest of the day. 

My first one remained a place of feline refuge.

I suppose there's something to be said for being someone's sense of safety. 

One final photo of a happy, ridiculous Crow cat below.