Fall Comes Again

I found this poem while cleaning out old notebooks and it just struck me. Figured with autumn truly setting in, this was a perfect time to share it 💛

Listen to the rain.

The pitter patters

Of a cloud in tatters.

Fall has come again.

🍂

Watch the leaves swirling.

Colorful scraps that descend

And at your feet find their end.

Fall is round you curling.

🍂

Taste the sweet cider.

The harvest has provided

And round the table lay divided.

Fall spreads the wider.

🍂

Smell the poignant hay.

In bales is it packed

And on the truck stacked.

Fall upon the fields lay.

🍂

Feel the warm blaze.

At your fingertips is raised

And all else becomes hazed.

Fall weaves its maze.

Redefining Success

I’ve been telling everyone who asks that my signing this past weekend was a success. And it was! But, if they were to look at my stats, I doubt they would be impressed. Why? Because I define success in terms that are harder to quantify.

Instead of looking at follower count, I look at the quality of those relationships. Instead of word count, meaningful words. Instead of attendees, true connections. And did I have fun? Instead of sales…well to be honest, as an indie author living on a budget, sales are always in the back of my mind. But I’m training myself to focus here: Has it helped anyone? Are my readers enjoying it? But my ultimate level of success is whether or not people have seen Christ in me.

I’ve found looking at the world in these terms lessens the stress levels and discontent. Because as great as a large wordcount, readership, and royalties are; when your focus is placed there, you’re in constant comparison mode. There will always be someone out there with better stats than you. And so, you are left always needing more. Just one more follow to beat the algorithm. Just one more k to hit that ‘sweet spot’. Just one more sale to move up the list. Just one more, just one more… And y’all, it’s draining!

So today, I’m challenging you to take a hard look at how you define success. And if needed, make a mental shift to focus on the things that feed your soul rather than drain it. 💛

Also, just want to give a big shout out to my mom for all the help! She made such an impression one buyer asked her to sign the book too 😂 Tip for my fellow introverts: when doing events, bring an extrovert with you!

5 Mental Health Care Tips

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day! If you’ve been around here for a while, you know mental health is very important to me. So today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite ways to care for it.

1. Naps!

It sounds cheesy, but I firmly believe naps are magic. No matter how bad the day is, it looks a little bit better once I’m well rested.

2. Quality time with friends and family.

Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on now and then. Talking your troubles out, even if you don’t reach a solution, can give you a real moral boost. This includes prayer, btw. There’s a certain kind of peace that comes from handing off your worries to the one who loves you most and is always able to handle them.

3. Fresh air.

Never underestimate the power of fresh air and sunshine! I’m partial to hiking or a bonfire, but any outdoor activity will do. Even if it’s just sitting on your porch watching the leaves fall.

4. Be Cozy.

Clichés exist for a reason. And warm cookies with a glass of milk and a fluffy blanket has never failed to put me in a better mood. Soothing music and a good candle never hurt either 😉

5. Journaling

Obviously as an author, writing helps me process things. Whether its journaling about my troubles or creating fictional worlds in which to face them. Things just seem less scary and more manageable once I’ve unloaded them from my mind to a sturdy notebook (or more often, word doc).

So, what about you, friends? How have you cared for your mental health this weekend? Got any care tips to share with me?

Mood Setting Tips

I find it helpful to set the mood before I write. Especially when writing in seasons opposite the one I’m living. So, here are some tips for getting in the writing mindset.

Music, Candle, & Snack/Drink.

I always choose a candle, playlist, and drink that fits the aesthetic of the wip. These not only help me get in the mood to write, they also help me visualize the scene I’m working on and incorporate sensory descriptions.

Now, some people just can’t write with music, and I get that. I actually can’t listen to anything with lyrics or I get distracted. So I keep two separate playlists, an instrumental one for writing and one with all the moving lyrics for use when doing chores or for promotion later. I’ve also found ambient nature tracks to be a great choice when focus is key. They’re also pretty to watch when your eyes need a break from the page 😉

Writing Outfit

Just as dressing up for a job interview gives you confidence and focus, having a designated outfit or accessory can give your writing a boost. I tend to prioritize comfort, a favorite geeky item, and something that ties into my wip. For example, To Slay a Curse got my hobbit t-shirt while my current project is a red hoodie (it’s a Little Red retelling).

Moodboards & Props

Ok, this isn’t one I utilize that often. Given the chance, I would spend all my time on Pinterest and none of it writing 😅 But I do find it helpful to both my writing and mental health to take breaks for those little, fun things. Making moodboards to reference or post online. Finding items my characters might have used. Researching and acting out scenes. Plus, it’s good to get out of the chair on a regular basis.

Take Some, Leave the Rest

So, there you have what works for me. But keep in mind there’s no one right way to do this job. Don’t push yourself to do something you dislike because you think you’re supposed to. Your physical and mental wellbeing is paramount! Take what works for you and leave the rest. We all get to the same place in the end.

Have some mood setting tips of your own? I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.

Kindle Unlimited and a Book Signing!

Got some fun updates for you today!

First off, To Slay a Curse is now free to read with your Kindle Unlimited subscription! And it looks like they’re running a two month special right now. So if you’ve been debating whether or not to try it out, now would be a good time. But if you don’t have/want KU, don’t worry! The Kindle e-book is for sale and the paperback is still up on most major retailers.

Second, I’ll be doing my first book signing next month! If you live close, or just really enjoy road trips 😝, stop by the Cape Girardeau Library on October 16 between 2-4 and pick up a signed copy of To Slay a Curse, character art, or some of my custom bookmarks! If you’ve already got a copy, you are more than welcome to bring it for signing.

Songflight Review

Are you looking for a fun dragon book with diverse characters, timeless themes, and an ending that will leave you pacing the floor? Look no further!

Synopsis:

Alísa was born to lead her clan of dragon slayers, but her vocal stammer has robbed her of confidence and respect. If she can’t lead slayers, how on A’dem is she supposed to lead dragons?

As the only child of a dragon slayer chief, Alísa’s purpose should have been simple: lead the clan in ridding humankind of the dragon scourge. But while gaining respect from hardened warriors is difficult enough with a vocal stammer, when they learn her empathic powers connect uncontrollably to the dragon enemy, it becomes impossible.

Confidence shattered, Alísa resigns herself to silent service under her father’s apprentice. But when her growing connection reveals one dragon’s capacity for good, she realizes the war isn’t as black and white as the slayers teach. Now Alísa faces an impossible choice: stay with her family in comfortable but condemning silence, or follow the dragon claiming to know her true purpose.

What I Liked:

Diverse Cast: I loved the way Michelle weaved together so many complex characters. A timid, stuttering, heroin from a warrior clan with an uncanny connection to her enemies. A chief who loves his daughter deeply, and yet fears what she may become. A dragon who must work with his father’s murderers for a chance at peace. A village boy desperate to make a difference but convinced he will never be enough. All coming to terms with the meaning of worth and the dangers of judging others without first attempting to understand them.

Alísa: I related to Alísa so much! She’s introverted and compassionate with physical limitations. Ones that often cause her to be seen as weak, incapable, worthless. A sentiment she takes to heart. Yet, strength can be found in quiet perseverance. Bravery in kindness. And I loved watching as Alísa learned this and comes into her own. In the end it’s this very ‘weakness’ that becomes her strength.

Magic System: The magic system revolves around music and telepathy in a very unique way. Both a weapon and the glue that binds Alísa’s clan together. I especially loved the way it’s used with Alísa and her adopted baby dragon.

Slow-Burn Romance: Not going to say too much on this. But there’s a slow-burn I wholeheartedly ship. And an ex I desperately want to punch in the face 😂

My Rating: 4/5

Managing Stress

How do you deal when the world comes crashing down?

NGL, my first impulse is to curl up on the couch and bingewatch years of tv within a couple weeks 😅 But my more helpful tactics include time outside or with friends, baking, and focusing on one small accomplishable task at a time.


It’s been a particularly brutal month for me. I’ve been cleaning up one catastrophe after another on all fronts. As soon as I get one thing resolved, another shoe drops. And though my trials may not be large in the grand scheme of things, they feel gargantuan in the moment.

But when I take a step back, I notice all the small blessing’s God’s showered me with along the hard road. Mainly in the community that’s pulled around me. Co-workers took me hiking, good friends checked in on me at just the right time, I made new friends in a ladies’ group, and Sunday School is finally back on!

It’s so easy for the treacherous mountain path to overshadow the flowers along the road or obscure the pond on the far side. So, as we close out the month, I’m challenging us to focus on the good moments, no matter how small.


Also, this month’s binge was Once Upon A Time. Any other CaptainSwan shippers here?

Sisters in Spirit

If there is one thing I will gladly take a beating for, it is the healer who was a mother to me. And the daughter who has followed in her footsteps-my sister in spirit who greets me with a question.

To Slay a Curse

Last week, I talked a bit about found family and how that has played a role in my life. For this post, I want to focus on the theme as it applies to sisterhood.

I come from a small family. Just one brother about two years younger than me. As a kid, I would see my friends with their sisters and kept hoping my parents would give me one too. Cause’ obviously, Mom just had to visit the hospital and bring home a present 😂 Alas, it never happened. Pretty sure they made a pact after my brother 😉 No one needs two of him 😝

So, I’ve basically gone through life adopting sisters for myself! Which works out quite well, actually. You can stick round for the fun and go home when they get annoying 😂

Ok, but in all seriousness, these girls have been my life force through the years. Sometimes very different from me in personality and interests, but always there when I need them with a hug and encouraging word. And no matter how much time passes from parting to meeting, we can pick up right where we left off.

They are the Ami to my Giselle. And I wouldn’t make it through life without them. So, to all my sisters in spirit, know that I love you so much I wrote you a book 💛 And I can’t wait till our next meeting!

Tell me, who is your Sister In Spirit?

Tribe

I fully believe finding your tribe , sisterhood , found family is one of the biggest blessings God gives. Now, this doesn’t mean he’ll only bring you people exactly like you. We all need a bit of diversity and challenge in our lives. But he’ll always give you YOUR PEOPLE. The ones who understand you on a level no one else does.

I’ve had this kind of community several times throughout my life. Each time I thought I lost it, God was SOOO faithful to bring me a new one.

Growing up it was the other foreigners. The ex-pats. The TCKs. The ones who knew what it was to live outside your comfort zone. To always be learning a new language, a new culture, a new life. To never quite
belong. The Brit who comes to your 4th of July party. The Costa Rican who celebrates Thanksgiving with you. Because they know it doesn’t matter why you’re together, just that you are.

I largely lost that sense of community after moving back to the states at 16. I did have a great friend group in college, many of whom I still consider family, but didn’t quite find my people again ’til almost a decade later.

Four years ago, one of said college friends brought me into Realm Makers and Realmies quickly filled that gap in my heart. They come from all walks of life and all over the world, but they know what it is to write. To write for the Lord. And to do so in a genre that is often gravely misunderstood. Once again, to never quite fit in. The ones who admire your cat ears and handcrafted cloak. The ones who will skip class to talk life for hours on end. The ones who cheer their hearts out for the person who just beat them in an award.

Because this is not competition. This is the family of Christ. Laughing with those who laugh and mourning with those who mourn. Showing love and grace, not only to the outside world, but to one another. And I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it.

Now tell me, where is your tribe?

Bookish Food

What are some of your favorite books that celebrate food?

I am a true hobbit and love books that feature a good feast. Aside from The Hobbit; Redwall, Narnia, and Harry Potter come to mind. In fact, I believe most of them have their own cookbooks now. Which I am dying to get my hands on!

When I was writing To Slay A Curse , I knew I wanted to make food A THING. (Ok, it’s probably more a thing in my head than on paper. But I tried, right? 😉) So, I channeled my love for baking into Ami’s character. She’s much better at it 😂 But the one thing she can never quite get right are her mother’s tarts.

Ever since, I’ve wanted to try them myself. I spent hours on Pinterest hunting down the simplest recipes, but never got around to making them. Imagine, then, how happy I was when The Writers Sanctuary provided me with not only a recipe but an excuse to bake one in the Ren Faire Conference I attended recently!

I can now sympathize with Ami. These things are hard to get right! I always envisioned hers as raspberry, but unfortunately that attempt didn’t turn out and I thought it best to stick to the instructions 😅 But when I did, they were delicious!

Have you ever tried tarts? What did you think?