Fae Bargains and New Beginnings

Spring stories! Yay!

I don’t know about you, but I kind of feel like we all missed spring this year.

Today, I went out to the grocery store after being on full quarantine for two weeks. It was sunny…and very, very hot. And all the trees are in full summer leaves.

I missed all the gentle spring air and flowers.

But in a way, today felt like a fresh start after weeks of working from home and a completely destroyed sleep schedule. I got sunshine, ate some vegetables, and have renewed energy for my writing, no matter the other things going on in my life and the world around me. It’s a great feeling.

And another new thing happened yesterday: All That Glimmers released! AND I now have a BookBub!

This novella is the first spring installment of Seasons of Magic, and though it deals with the heavier topics of grief and guilt, it’s also a contemporary fantasy set in the same world as Pumpkin Spice Pie-Jinks. So if you liked Fae in that story, this is the next one for you. 🙂

Three things you’ll find inside:

  1. A deer Fae, complete with antlers.
  2. Friendship.
  3. New beginnings.

Here’s a little more about it (and keep reading for a sneak peek!):

Hallie just made the stupidest mistake of her life. Twice.

After the loss of her longtime friend, college student Hallie just needed a win. Too bad she got rejected from the only graduate program she applied to. But when a mysterious Fae appears offering to change that rejection to an acceptance, her choice seems clear. And all she has to give him is her first discovery—her academic firstborn.

But when the time comes to pay up, Hallie can’t go through with it. She never counted on a discovery that could bring her friend back to life. So she offers a new bargain: she keeps the knowledge, but she must figure out who this mysterious Fae is…or stay in the Spring Court forever. Now she must race the clock to investigate the Court, solve this mystery, and find out how to bring her friend back. Otherwise, she can forget about fixing her mistakes and say goodbye to her human life for good.

This retelling of Rumplestiltskin is a powerful story of loss, acceptance, and new beginnings. How far would you go to fix your worst mistakes?

You can get it on Amazon here or anywhere else here!

And now…a sneak peek!

Hallie crumpled the paper between her fists as the first tear hit her desk.

Of course she didn’t get in. Sabine University’s folklore program was only the most competitive in the country. And of course she didn’t apply anywhere else. And of course she had already told her parents—who already told everyone they knew—that she was a shoo-in.

And of course Kat had tried to tell her.

Stupid. She should have listened to Wyn. To Kat. But Kat was gone now, and it seemed she’d taken every good thing along with her.

Hallie rubbed at the fresh red scar across her collarbone. Even if she wanted to forget it all, she couldn’t.

After the accident, she had nearly failed her last literature class, missing the deadline for the biggest paper of the semester. Luckily, the professor had been understanding and let her turn it in late. Even a C was better than a 0.

And she got nothing done the entire week of the funeral.

And now this. Hallie sincerely hoped it was true that bad things came in threes. Maybe this meant the bad was finally past, like the spring shower pelting her windowpane.

How was she ever going to explain to her parents?

She tossed the crumpled paper onto her crowded desk where it was lost amidst her notes and books for finals. None of it seemed to matter now. She might as well skip her last final tomorrow and start packing up her dorm room. She stretched her arms over her head and leaned back in the chair, taking a shaky breath.

“You could always ask for help,” came a voice from behind her.

A male voice.

Hallie’s chair hit the cement floor with a thunk, and she spun to face the intruder without standing. A boy about her age stood in the door, his hair shaggy and storm-tossed from the wind outside. His black frames almost hid his eyes behind the glint of the fluorescent light, and behind him, her dorm’s door was definitely still closed. And locked.

“How did you get in here?” She swiped at the tears on her cheeks.

“The more important point is that I’m here,” he responded with a toothy smile. “After all, this is what you wanted, isn’t it? Don’t you want to know how I can help you?”

The air seemed to shimmer around the young man. There was more to him than what she could see, she knew that. Yet, in this moment, it didn’t seem important that she remember why she should care. Why she might worry. Wyn, as a Fae, had taught her something, but Hallie’s brain was fuzzy, like this boy radiated something to make her forget.

Her locked door was concerning. But she had summoned a Fae, any Fae, in the hopes that she could still fix at least one thing in her life. She just never thought one would actually appear.

And then she was speaking before she even realized it. “How can you help me?”

His grin grew even wider, were that possible. He took another few steps into the room. The crumpled rejection letter rolled from the pile of notes and smoothed itself in front of her. She snatched it up and held it to her chest as if she could hide the painful words from him.

“I can make that rejection…” He thought for a moment, looking up into a distant corner. A sharp tooth glinted in the artificial light of the dorm. “Transform.”

“Transform?”

“You want to get in, right? To be a student at Sabine? Well, I can make that happen.”

Hallie’s breath caught in her throat. He could get her in? How?

“I have ways,” he said, as if reading her thoughts. “But it won’t be for free.”

Her heart dropped. Of course. No magic was ever free.

“What do you want?” she forced from her wooden lips.

He smiled again. “Not much. I just want your first discovery. Your academic firstborn, if you will.”

“What?”

“I get the credit for your first discovery, my dear. That’s all.”

That was it? Her first paper would belong to him, whoever he was? That didn’t seem so bad. Her mind scrambled furiously, trying to see a downside to the offer, but nothing came to mind.

She should stop here. Think on it. Sleep on it. Wasn’t that what Wyn had always told her? Don’t trust the Fae too easily?

But why? She could change her fate. And all it would cost was a single piece of research. Didn’t she have a whole lifetime ahead of her, anyway? Her entire life to learn folklore, to find out where story and truth intersected?

She nodded slowly. “Okay.”

“Wonderful!” he said.

The boy stepped forward, extending a hand. She rose from her desk chair and took it. Vines of golden-green magic wrapped around both their arms, and the air hummed with energy. She could feel it sinking into her skin, a warmth like the first breath of spring air.

He released her hand and gestured at the letter, still clutched against her chest. “Look.”

She pulled it away, her eyes scanning the page quickly.

Congratulations, it said in place of We are sorry to inform you

Hallie caught her breath. So easily? Could it really be that simple? She looked back up at the boy.

“It is done,” the boy said. And then he was gone.

ONe more time…here are those links: YOU CAN GET IT ON AMAZON HERE OR ANYWHERE ELSE HERE!

~~~

News!

As I mentioned briefly above, if you’re on BookBub, I’m there now! You can find me and my recommended reads here. See you there! 😀

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!

~~~

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).

Spring! (And Creating a Book)

What do spring and creating a book have in common? Let’s find out!

Hi, friends! This morning I noticed my first green leaves on my commute to work! Usually, I don’t see the little development of spring growing around me; I see it all at once, as I open my eyes one morning to be surrounded by lush, green trees.

But today, I saw the tiny green leaves, the bright red buds on trees. And, of course, I’ve been noticing the flowers blooming on trees all week. That’s my favorite.

And it got me thinking about how the development of a story is like the birth of spring. How, you may ask? Well, let me tell you.

Every story starts with an idea, just like every plant that blooms in the spring started as a seed. That seed may have been deposited a long time ago, just waiting for conditions to be right to sprout, or it may have just been dropped and immediately sprinted into growth and development. And this is true for stories, as well. For example, I started a story a few years back that I got partway through and then just stopped. And then I had a new, fresh idea of what I wanted it to be, and it is developing from this old seed I thought was dead.

And while we’re on the metaphor, did you know that seeds can be dormant for thousands (maybe more, I’m a cell biologist, not a botanist!) of years and still grow when placed into the right set of conditions? Amazing, right? And so can a story. You may have had an idea twenty years ago and just now found what you wanted to really make it bloom.

Your seed is growing!

So time passes and you write your first draft. It’s a mess. But, as I recently heard it so eloquently stated, the first draft is simply to make the story exist. This is like the skeleton of the trees from winter. They’re there, but there’s not much to them. Yet.

After the story exists, then we start to make it functional. We rearrange the order of scenes or re-plot the storyline or subplots. These are like the buds and the tiny baby leaves. They are starting to become what we know will one day be a majestic forest full of majestic trees. As long as we continue to feed it sunlight and water and nutrients (feed your ideas and work on the story).

And then we can finally get to the mature story. This is where we get an effective draft, one that tells the story we want to tell and shares the message we want to share. Like the fully bloomed leaves on a tree, they’re finally doing their job of absorbing sunlight and creating food… our book can now feed readers’ imaginations and thoughts.

I’m so happy spring is finally here, and I am loving every minute of the development of my current works. This Cursed Flame is already at the final stage, heading into a summer of fun (you can pre-order it on Amazon and here for all other retailers), Sea of Broken Glass is at the second stage, growing its shoots and flowers, and the Secret New Project is a seedling still making its skeleton. I am in love with all three of these projects (and some other, smaller ones for the future), and I can’t wait to share them with everybody.

So what about you? What stage is your writing in? Or, if you don’t write, what are some books that remind you of spring? Let’s chat in the comments!