5 Fantastic Books to Welcome Fall

Need some fall reading? I got you covered.

Hello, readers! This weekend has felt more like fall than any other day yet! And I am so happy about it. ❤ In fact, hubs and I have been burning fall candles (Pumpkin Apple Chai and Smoked Pumpkin Apple) nonstop all weekend, and I pulled out the leggings, maple leaf earrings, and fall leaves t-shirt, too. AND I decorated the main floor of the house and am sipping a pumpkin spice coffee.

So yeah. I love fall.

I also love to read things that put me in a fall mood. So today I’m going to share a few of those books! And don’t worry; I’m not going to be overlapping with last year’s books for Halloween post… though there may be an update on that next month!

And now: 5 Fantastic Books to Welcome Fall.

(As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through the links on this page. However, I have selected these books because I personally read and enjoyed them or am looking forward to reading them. Please note that NO associate links are ever linked to my own books.)

Ghosted by H.L. Burke

I beta read this little story just last week, and it was delightful! Imagine a world where ghosts must haunt to have energy to exist. Now imagine that you’re a ghost assigned to someone un-scare-able! And you have Ghosted. 🙂

Ghost Academy by E.C. Farrell

I read this one over the summer, but there’s a couple reasons it’s a good fall book: 1) it’s an academy story, and 2) all ghosts! Not bad to start welcoming spooky seasons with some ghosts! The story was fun and engaging and there’s a fox shifter ghost… I have such a weakness for foxes!

Bones of the Witch by A.L. Knorr

This is part of the Earth Magic Rises trilogy, an extended series related to A.L. Knorr’s Elementals book, and follows Georjie, our Earth Wise. She has some really cool powers linked to plants, healing, and, of course, earth, and in this series she accidentally awakens an evil witch bent on consuming the power of all Wises. I won’t say more to avoid spoilers, but if you want something atmospheric (set in Scotland with all the cozy fires and cold weather of fall) and spooky, this is a great read!

The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater

Ok, I cheated here. This is 4 books. And they fit in a lot of seasons. But we’ve got some fascinating magic realism here and four academy boys who become friends with the daughter of a clairvoyant. And they’re searching for a lost Welsh king who, according to legend, is buried somewhere nearby and full of magic. I would also describe this as atmospheric, and the whimsy and exploration of nature and bits of school sprinkled in here feel like fall to me!

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

And speaking of spooky, how about a dark carnival story? The main character of this story has magic of illusions and is part of a traveling dark carnival. There’s so much more to it than that, including mystery, danger, and maybe romance, but I can’t give away too much. You’ll have to read it yourself!

Bonus unread story!

Pumpkin Everything by Beth Labonte

So, I came across this one just this week in one of the free book newsletters I get. It’s set in New Hampshire, the main character is a horror novelist, there’s a failed fall wedding… yeah, I’m all over this one. I can’t wait to get to it after finishing the ebook I’m currently reading and wanted to pass this romance along to you as well!

Bonus: Seasons of Magic!

(This section DOES NOT contain affiliate links)

Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks by Selina J. Eckert

How could I talk about welcoming fall without talking about Pie-Jinks??? There’s a baking contest at a harvest festival, the Autumn Court of Fae, some sweet, cute romance, and mischievous sprites! And of course, all things pumpkin spice.

Here’s a special hint from me to you: I may or may not be working on a full urban fantasy series to start coming out next fall…

The Patch by Selina J. Eckert

And guess what else is on its way??? The next Seasons of Magic is coming in October! For now, be sure to add it to your Goodreads, but if you sign up for the newsletter, I’ll be able to send you the cover reveal and announce when it comes out (I also just shared a brand new short story prequel for the This Curse series… free to my subscribers! You can still get it for signing up!).

For now, The Patch is a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk and involves a haunted pumpkin patch and a ghost cat…

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I hope you guys find some new favorites in today’s list of books, and if you have any other suggestions for books for me to read, let me know in the comments! Until next time, happy reading! ❤

3 Ways Food is Worldbuilding

I love food.

No, really. I know that a lot of people love food, but really. I. Love. Food. I love the cultural identity that comes with it, the bonding experiences with people over meals, and of course the delicious flavors. I love food in cartoons, I love it in books, I love it in movies.

But did you know that food can also be part of worldbuilding? And that how you use and present food can help to define your world and character relationships better to readers?

And what better topic to discuss right before the US’s Thanksgiving holiday? So let’s dig right in!

Food lends an idea of place and time.

One of the beautiful things about food is that it’s incredibly diverse. A simple meal can tell a reader what kinds of crops are grown, what foods are accepted, what cultures may be involved, and the cooking capabilities of the time and place.

For example, many fantasy authors like to include feasts (more of a discussion on this can be found on the podcast Writing Excuses, season 14 episode 30, “Eating Your Way to Better Worldbuilding”). The foods are often what we see in medieval works like Lord of the Rings, including breads, meats (maybe even a whole stuffed pig), and cheeses.

But utilizing cultural foods, like saurkraut and bratwurst for example, can help the reader ground your world in a culture they may recognize. With a simple inclusion of one of these dishes, you can set a tone for what the reader can expect without overexplaining the culture.

Likewise, if you’re writing contemporary, think of what things you eat on a regular basis. Do you go to a taco truck? The cupcake stand on the corner? The fancy Asian Fusion restaurant on the other side of town?

The types of foods, and their preparation and presentation, can help readers picture your world more completely and set a tone for your world in a way that is unique to food culture.

Food can indicate a character’s condition and status.

In the same vein as the points above, the types and presentation of foods can help to solidify the conditions and status of your character. If they feast, they are in a time of plenty or they are rich and/or generous. If they’re scraping through the garbage to find a few potato peels, they’re in a pretty dire situation. How the character sustains themselves tells a lot to the reader about them.

As an example, I have a section in my first chapter of the R&R story where the younger sister is smelling what the older sister is cooking: a stew with a healthy portion of meat. The younger sister can’t help but feel angry and bitter, as the older sister is preparing meat for no reason other than to impress her peers, and they have limited amounts until the rainy season ends, not to mention how expensive it has become to purchase. She comments that they should be saving it for a feast day.

Just by this exchange, I am showing that the family has limited supplies, as does the village, and that some foods are precious and reserved for important days. It helps me establish the status of the sisters (scraping to impress the rest of the village) and the setting, as in the first point (the rainy season, a season of famine, restricted access to expensive foods).

Food can be used to strengthen a relationship.

Just like setting the tone, setting, and character status, food can also be used for building relationships. Do your characters often cook together? Is it bonding time? Do they eat out together often? Is one of them responsible for the cooking? Do they eat alone in the living room or as a family in a formal dining room?

Here’s another example from my R&R book. In a tense time, when the younger sister suddenly has expanded magic, she worries that her sister has reported her to the village officials (magic is not okay to them). When her sister gets home, they cook together in a way that is natural, indicating they’ve worked together to keep the house for years, but is full of unspoken tension masked by everyday tasks. It’s a way to show the older sister’s real actions…and reveal that she also has magic. It builds on their normal by throwing in something unexpected, something they have to discuss.

Think of a romance. How many movies and books have scenes of the male love interest cooking the woman a meal or vice versa? Or of them cooking together? It shows the amount of care they have for being together and for each other, and it can be used as a cute moment to give readers all the feels.

Food is such a handy tool for relationships!

A final word of caution

As I mentioned above, I love food. And because of this, I tend to have a lot of comfort eating scenes or cooking etc. in my stories. IT IS POSSIBLE TO OVERUSE THIS TOOL. Instead of focusing just on food or having an overabundance, make sure that each scene involving food serves a purpose. Know what that purpose is, and consider if there are any better ways to show it. Ask your beta readers for input. Be intentional.

But also don’t be afraid to pig out now and then on this powerful worldbuilding element. 😉

And of course, keep writing. (And Happy Thanksgiving, friends!)

Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks Release Day!

It’s release day!!!!

Happy book birthday to Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks, Reese, and her magical bakery!

If you’re ready for all things fall, pie, and tricky, sweet magic, check out this novella inspired by Hansel & Gretel.

But don’t rely on me. Take a look at the blurb!

When fate comes knocking, feed it pie!

Reese was never a risk-taker…that is, until she quit her job to open a bakery serving magical pies from her home. Now, she has the opportunity of a lifetime to win a contract with the visiting Autumn Court. But when two troublesome Fae appear on her doorstep, determined to find a mate for their prince, Reese’s life is thrown into chaos, and she begins to question every choice she has made. Can she learn to take a risk on her new life, despite the troubles around her? Or will the mischief of the Fae drive her business into ruin-forcing her to move back in with her parents? This light and entertaining tale is inspired by Hansel & Gretel and is a perfect way to celebrate the autumn season.

Need more convincing? How about a quote from the story?

Trouble is brewing…and maybe a little romance! If I’ve convinced you, or if you want to see more, check it out from your favorite retailer here or add it to Goodreads!

And if you read it, I’d love it if you could leave a review! Even something as simple as a single line is enough to help this book be seen.

Thanks, folks! Happy Halloween!!! ❤

5 Great Books for Halloween

Need some seasonal reading material? I got you covered.

You may or may not have noticed that last week’s post is a bit late. Well, hubs and I took a vacation to Peru! However, I forgot to schedule the post ahead of time. But instead of skipping, I wanted to make sure to post before Halloween so we can talk about some good books to read this time of year!

(Side note: if you’d like to see a few pics from our trip, make sure to subscribe to the newsletter!)

Without further ado, five great books to read this Halloween!

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken

I’m currently reading this one, and it is so far delightful! This is a middle grade story about a boy who lives in a New England town where his ancestors struck a deal with a demon…and then broke it. If you want the atmosphere of the season, there are plenty of bright leaves, atmospheric locations, and special treats to be had!

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

In this young adult fantasy, find yourself in a town that worships its founders ever since they locked a terrifying, dangerous beast away in the Gray. But the beast is growing more powerful, and the powers the founders have may no longer be enough to keep it contained. This book is several parts spooky, magical, and chilling, perfect for a Halloween read!

Garden of Lilies by Eli Constant

Warning for those of you who read clean fiction: this is not what you’re looking for. But if you want an engaging, raw, and chilling adult urban fantasy, pick this indie up.

Victoria is a necromancer…one of the last of her kind. Necromancers were killed and outlawed after they inadvertently caused The Rising, a zombie apocalypse, years before. But now Victoria works at the family morgue, which makes it a little harder to stay hidden, especially when one of her clients reanimates and begs for help. This book drew me in, and I had so much trouble putting it down!

Must Love Ghosts by Charity Tahmaseb

This one is another indie and a little bit different. Instead of a novel, this series is written like a TV show, and each book is a season of “episodes” revolving around a central arc. The tales are both spooky and cute, and there is plenty of coffee and tea to go around! If you want cute and spooky, this is the one for you.

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

This is another traditionally published young adult fantasy, written by one of the descendants of the players in the Salem witch trials. In the story, a descendant of Cotton Mather returns to Salem where she is immediately seen as the enemy…and targeted by the all-too-real witches who still live in the town. This was definitely a spooky read, and its suspenseful telling is just creepy enough for this time of year.

Bonus: Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks by Selina J. Eckert

Finally, for a cute little bonus, I have this novella written specifically to celebrate the fall season. Reese is a pie witch: a woman who bakes magical pies in her own little bakery. But when two autumn sprites show up at her door demanding pie, her entire world is thrown into chaos. This tale inspired by Hansel and Gretel is fully of candy, autumn vibes, cute romance, and PIE.

And guess what? It’s out on Halloween! Don’t forget to pick up your copy and soak in the season!

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So what about you? Do you have any books you love to read in the fall? What are they? Help me, and your fellow bibliophiles, find some new seasonal books! ❤

3 Things to Consider When Writing Seasonal Stories

You may have noticed that I recently began releasing seasonally-themed novellas (if not, scroll to the bottom for the latest news!). I have plenty of reasons for creating these books, but have you ever considered what exactly goes in to preparing a book for a seasonal release? Let’s talk about three things to consider before releasing your own seasonal stories!

You probably have to start off season

Yup, I started writing my summer story actually way back last winter. And my next release, a treat filled with all things fall, I had to start in July.

Now, I’ll admit that you can technically start during that time of year when you want to release (or even one year prior to release), and if you’re fast enough, you can release the same year. But if you’re like me, you take some time to write and revise, then you spend extra time finding beta readers, hiring developmental editing, and picking phenomenal proofreaders, not to mention finding someone to design the cover!

There’s a lot to do, and publishing something start to finish within a short timeframe is not easy.

So, for me, I have to start writing 3-4 months in advance, putting me squarely one season too early.

Planning out the release dates is important

As you might expect, picking the right release date is incredibly important when you have a story that is associated with a particular time of year. I chose October 31 to release Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks because my main character is a pie witch and the story is heavily influenced by Hansel and Gretel (aka CANDY)…perfect for Halloween!

But honestly, it still would have worked if I released in November.

But consider a Christmas story. It may make the most sense to release it just after Thanksgiving, when a lot of people are gearing up for Christmas and super excited about it! But you only get about one month to get people to read the story before they move on until the next year. You have a little bit less of a window for that kind of release than you would for a simple summer release, which gives you a much larger window, probably from about May to August.

Keep seasonal themes and tropes in mind

Remember that if someone is reading your story, it’s likely because they want to dive into the feelings and sparkle of the season. So play it up!

Summer? Have that beach. Go to the state fair. Jump into the jungle.

Fall? All the pumpkin spice. All the leaves. All the spooky ghosts and cozy fires.

Winter? Dance on the twinkling Christmas lights. Traverse the blustery tundra. Build snowmen!

Spring? All about renewal! Have those rainstorms. Let the flowers grow.

Don’t shy away from embracing all the things people love about the season, and put your reader into those feelings!

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of things that you may consider when writing for specific seasons and times of year, but today I talked about three you can start with and build from. Remember to give yourself time to create it, pick a date people will associate with the story, and give yourself permission to embrace all the wonderful things about that season!

Do you have any advice or thoughts for people who want to write seasonal stories? Share it in the comments and let’s talk!

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News!

Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks has a release date! Expect it at all major retailers on October 31st. Until then, you can find it on Goodreads or preorder through the Universal Link (please be patient if not everything is there yet…each retailer has its own turnaround from submission to available).

Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks Cover Reveal!

Guys, it’s time! I don’t have an official buy link for you yet, but I am ready to share the beautiful cover of Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks with you!

But first, the blurb.

When fate comes knocking, feed it pie!

Reese was never a risk-taker…that is, until she quit her job to open a bakery serving magical pies from her home. Now, she has the opportunity of a lifetime to win a contract with the visiting Autumn Court. But when two troublesome Fae appear on her doorstep, determined to find a mate for their prince, Reese’s life is thrown into chaos, and she begins to question every choice she has made. Can she learn to take a risk on her new life, despite the troubles around her? Or will the mischief of the Fae drive her business into ruin–forcing her to move back in with her parents? This light and entertaining tale is inspired by Hansel & Gretel and is a perfect way to celebrate the autumn season.

You can add it to Goodreads now!

And now, the main event!

*drumroll*

Savannah once again did a beautiful job catching Reese as I imagined her. I love the whimsy and fun I can feel in this title, and I feel like it fits with the story perfectly!

Let’s take a look at how Savannah put it all together:

Just, wow. From a florist and a cat in a basket to a baker, a magic pie, and adorable little Nutmeg!

Okay, okay. Since we’re talking treats, and it IS October now, how about a little taste of Nutmeg herself?

Don’t forget to add it to Goodreads, and keep an eye out for the official release link!

Autumn Goals

The air is crisper, the leaves are starting to change, and pumpkins are invading every corner of society. Yes, it’s true…

Fall has arrived.

Fall wasn’t always my favorite season. During my grade school years, it was probably summer (for pretty obvious reasons… no school and more time for books! Yeah, I’m a nerd.). But as I’ve gotten older, fall has become my favorite for a number of reasons. The weather is more comfortable, the smells are amazing (wood smoke, pumpkin, and apple anyone?), the memories are good, and fall is a time of renewal. Students go back to school, evoking feelings of a fresh start and opportunity, even now that I’m out of school.

And since this season has finally arrived (!), I decided I wanted to take a few minutes to share my seasonal goals with all of you. Now, these goals are personal, including things I love and things I want to accomplish, so they may not apply to you, but you may find yourself nodding right along with my list. So, without further ado, here they are:

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.

By writing your goals down (and especially when you share them), you are more likely to accomplish them. So I encourage you: take a few minutes to make some goals for yourself, whether they are just for the fall, for the rest of the year, or beyond. Then, feel free to share them in the comments below!