Monthly Review

April 2022 Wrap-Up

And now we have reached the end of April. I don’t know about all of you, but April felt short yet incredibly long at the same time. That may be because I’m teaching and it’s the end of the semester, though. Here are the goals I laid out for myself last month:

  • Read 8 books
  • Start work on fixing my room/office (this is a giant project)
  • Writing Goals
    • Minimum goal: 12k to reach
    • True goal: 15k to reach
    • Stretch goal: 18k to reach
  • Blog weekly
  • Monthly newsletter released
  • Make blurb for The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Brainstorm the newsletter freebie (since that didn’t happen in March)

Reading

I set out to read 8 books, and in April I read exactly 8 books, lol.

  1. Proper Scoundrels (#1) by Allie Therin- 4 stars, I really enjoyed her first series (Magic in Manhattan), and this continuation didn’t disappoint. Grumpy x sunshine is always a favorite
  2. How to Read a Dress by Lydia Edwards- 4 stars, really fantastic resource for period costumes. While not comprehensive, it provides good info about the shifting trends and repurposing of fashion.
  3. How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis by Brian Cohen- 5 stars, if you are a writer, I cannot recommend this book enough.
  4. Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples- 4 stars, I have read it so many times (since I teach it in two classes) but I’m rereading the series in preparation for volume 10’s release this fall
  5. Saga Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples- 5 stars, it just gets better. The world is expansive and the characters richly human (and awful)
  6. A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee- 4 stars, really great dark academia, psychological horror(ish) type story, but I feel like this would have been better as New Adult instead of Young Adult as it would have been more believable
  7. Heartless by Marissa Meyer- 4 stars, an interesting and clever retelling using Louis Carroll’s body of work, also made me sad
  8. The Forgotten Dead (#1) by Jordan L. Hawk- 4 stars, a contemporary paranormal mystery with romance between a ghost hunter and an academic studying paranormal phenomena, also yay for trans rep

Admin/Behind the Scenes Author Stuff

  • Reached the midpoint of The Reanimator’s Heart (and then some)
  • Sent the book so far off to my cover designer, so we can get to work on that
  • Created a blurb for The Reanimator’s Heart, which you can read in one of the blog posts listed below
  • Worked on the idea/outline for the free newsletter short story that will come out later this year (you can join my newsletter by clicking Newsletter in the top menu)
  • Finished the vast majority of grading for my class this semester
  • Made a significant dent in my room/office revamping (mostly cleaning, sorting, tossing, but it’s LONG OVERDUE)
  • Researched marketing my book on TikTok, but I’m not sure if I want to wade into that cesspool
  • Edited the first half of The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Commissioned couple art of Oliver and Felipe (thank you @Bloodwrit on Twitter)
  • Was significantly less anxious than usual this month, so I’m putting that here as a win. It’s something I have been struggling with, but I think I finally found some things that actually help.

Blogs Posted


Writing

In total this month, I wrote 15,000 words, and I am really happy with that, especially since I tend to write fairly clean drafts. Secretly, I had hoped I could hit 17,000 words by the end of the month, and I was on track to do so until I sort of burnt/spun out at the very end of the month. I have officially hit and gone past the midpoint in The Reanimator’s Heart, so we are on the downward swing, tying up lose ends and such. Aka watch Kara get stuck on and off til it’s over, lol. I’ll definitely update you all during the month about how it’s going.

  • Week 1- 1,505 words and 0 missed days, 502 words/writing day (3 day week)
  • Week 2- 2,855 words and 2 missed days, 571 words/writing day
  • Week 3- 3,955 words and 1 missed day, 659 words/writing day
  • Week 4- 4,685 words and 1 missed day, 781 words/writing day
  • Week 5- 2,000 words and 3 missed day(s), 667 words/writing day (6 day week)

I did so well in the middle of the month, and then I just faceplanted week 5. I fried myself a little bit trying to edit the first half of the book and then write profusely after. That worked for like a week before I tanked myself. I feel better now, but I need to remind myself to not knock myself out by overdoing it daily. Exponential monthly writing group isn’t really possible, and that’s fine.


Hopes for May

  • Read 8 books
  • Word count goals
    • Minimum goal: 15k
    • True goal: 17k
    • Stretch goal 19k
  • Blog Weekly
  • Monthly Newsletter
  • Finish majority of room/office clean up
  • Play video games and craft more to unwind
  • Do a craft for fun (I’ve been slacking)

Now that the semester/teaching is nearly over, my hope is that I can devote more free time to more crafty, artistic pursuits than I have been lately.
Let me know in the comments what you have planned for May!

Writing

Keeping Characters Consistent

This past week as I was knee-deep in working on The Reanimator’s Heart, I put out a call for blog post ideas because I was tapped. Someone asked how I keep my characters consistent. I’m not sure if this is from book-to-book or from beginning to end of the same book, but today’s post will cover both.

As with all writing, this is covering my process and what works for me. If my way of doing things doesn’t jive with you, luckily the world is full of resources that will hopefully work better. *shrugs* It happens.

My Character Development Process

I want to cover this [briefly] because I do think the way I create characters affects how I deal with consistency later. I am not a planner, at all, when I write, so the thing my stories really start with is the characters. Usually, I have a vague idea of who these people are and what issues they might have.

For instance, Eilian Sorrell from The Earl of Brass began as archaeologist who loses arm and gets a new one that is steampunk in some way. From there, it was an easy jump to say what if the other character/love interest was the person who made the prosthesis. That’s where Hadley came in. I stewed over Eilian for a while. Who in the Victorian Era could afford to be an archaeologist and travel all over? Well, someone who is wealthy, so maybe he’s titled. But would he like being titled? His family probably wouldn’t like him being a globe-trotting archaeologist, so he might not have the best relationship with his societal status or family. These attributes set the core issues the character has, and from there, I can usually see a personality starting to develop. He’s the eldest son but the black sheep of the family. He loves archaeology not for the prizes or accolades (he already has wealth and status) but because he finds learning about the past to be a giant puzzle. It also takes him far away from familial expectations, which is an added bonus.

Now that I have some of the core features of this character, I pick what they look like (sometimes I have that before I get too deep into their personality), but the minutiae of them as a character comes from writing them. Often I just start writing the story and see where the characters take me, and if someone is being particularly stubborn or not forthcoming (*cough* Adam *cough*), I’ll do some free-writing or use scene prompts to see how they would react or what might be lurking underneath. I don’t use DnD character sheets or those 100 question sheets about characters before I start writing them. This is partly because I tend to think of my characters as real people, so I don’t necessarily know everything about them and that’s okay with me. I’d rather give them the room to let me find out more as I work with them. It also keeps you from writing yourself into a corner later.

I can already hear someone say, “But if you don’t know everything about them, how do you keep them consistent?”

Well, you don’t. Not exactly.

Consistency, Not Uniformity, is Key

From the beginning to the end of a story or the beginning to the end of a series, a main character should change**. They shouldn’t be wildly out of character, but there should be a difference in them between the beginning and end, that’s why they’re the main character.

**If you’re writing detective fiction or a thriller or something pulpy with the same main character, this might be less true as they tend to be more static or change far slower than typical 2-5 book series.

When we talk about consistency, we have to be careful that we don’t mean the character must be uniform throughout a story or series. Their experiences in the story should and would change them. They should be affected by what happens to them and their friends, for better or worse. If your character is exactly the same from the beginning to the end, there is a problem. Sometimes this is because your story is following the wrong character, and you need to reorient the story to follow someone else’s journey. Other times, this is because you haven’t looked far enough into the psychological and emotional changes that would befall a character making this journey.

The question you should have is what change is consistent with who they are? Let’s continue to use Eilian from The Earl of Brass.

When Eilian finds out his father has died suddenly and he is now the earl, his reaction is shock. He’s shocked and terribly upset because he and his father never got along, never made up, and he’s grieving for the closure and support he’ll never have while also grappling with the fact that the life of traveling he loves may be over forever due to familial duty. He isn’t a fighter, but his flight reaction is hampered by the fact that he does love his mother and doesn’t want to make things harder for her. Instead, he agrees to go home and deal with it. He’s doesn’t like being the black sheep of the family, so while he won’t conform outright, he won’t make things worse either. Eilian returning home is consistent with who he is. Eilian marrying whomever he pleases (his middle class, independent, capable, masc-ish partner, Hadley) is also very on brand for him, but him standing up for himself to his family is his major change by the end of the story. It’s his experiences in the desert and see what he could lose that gives him more of a backbone. Even having this new title/position adds to that strength in the moment, turning a hindrance into an asset.

Is he still consistently the antithesis of what his family wants? Yes. Does he still do what he wants? Yes. But does his willingness to now face his family instead of fleeing judgment make sense after what happens in the story? Yes.

Confirming Consistency in a Story or Series

  1. Read the entire book over again once you finish. Pay attention to how the character is at the beginning, how they act after the first point of no return, at the midpoint, at the climax, and at the end.
  2. Looking at those points in the story, does the character’s emotional/psychological journey make sense? Do we see a logical behavioral progression? They should be becoming better people or overcoming their issues or even becoming more horrid, but we should see change.
  3. This does not mean we can’t have some backsliding in the middle. Often, there’s a 50-80% plot point where the characters panic and revert to hold habits, which makes sense because progress tends to be 2 steps forward, 1 step back.
  4. If there are moments where your character acts wildly out of character, reel them in. At the same time, make sure all your characters are not reacting the same way. For instance, a quiet character may have a high threshold before they start yelling while a more extroverted or short-tempered character might react more swiftly.
  5. Remember that every major plot point should have some reaction or impact. Some will be long lasting, others temporary, but there should be a ripple effect all the same (some may take longer to come out depending on the character, trauma, etc.).
  6. In terms of a series, all of the above applies, but you need to pay attention to the progression from book to book while still maintaining the core of who this person is. If you have a trilogy or five book series in mind, you might want to think ahead of time where you want this character to ultimately end up. Each book should be incremental change toward that. After each book, see where they came from to get a better idea of where they’re heading in the next installment. I read my entire series/books with those characters before I start working on the next book. It helps to reacquaint me with the characters.

The key takeaways are: reread your work from start to end. Reread it often (with each new book or even when halfway through your current project). Make sure the progression is logical and that there are reactions to actions. And finally, don’t force your characters in a direction they wouldn’t go because it doesn’t make sense for them.

I hope this helps as you all write your characters and work on your series! If there is any topic you would like me to talk about, please leave a comment below.

Monthly Review

March 2022 Wrap-Up

Back in February, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish in March. Let’s take a look at that before moving forward:

  • Read 8 books
  • Finish Sarra Canon’s Publish and Thrive Course
  • Brainstorm a short story for my newsletter
  • Writing Goals
    • Minimum 10k to reach 30k words
    • True goal 15k to reach 35k words
    • Stretch Goal 20k to reach 40k words
  • Blog weekly and send out a monthly newsletter
  • Crochet something

Let’s see how March went.


Reading

I set out to read 8 books in February, and I read 9.

  1. Where There’s a Kilt, There’s a Way (#2) by Ella Stainton- 4 stars, greatly enjoyed seeing their paranormal adventures continue in Sweeden with even more queer characters
  2. Gallant by V. E. Schwab- 4 stars, sort of a Secret Garden meets Crimson Peak
  3. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody- 5 stars, super helpful, would definitely teach creative writing from this in the future
  4. Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore- 5 stars, connected with me as a neurodivergent, queer, nonbinary person. Might be a little biased as A. M. is an auto-buy author for me.
  5. A Spindle Splintered (#1) by Alix E. Harrow- 4 stars for a Sleeping Beauty, multiverse story featuring a chronically ill character (closer to 3.5 stars but it was different and enjoyable)
  6. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings collected by Ellen Oh- 4 stars, as with most anthologies, it’s a mixed bag, but I found quite a few authors I definitely want to read more of
  7. Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee- 4 stars (more like 3.5 but the ending saved it), a trans teen realizes the realities of relationships and figures out how to be a better friend and partner
  8. Lamb to the Slaughter by Joanna Chambers- 3 stars, a interesting but fairly generic short paranormal fantasy story with a minor twist
  9. Her Favorite Rebound (#4) by Jackie Lau- 4 stars, Jackie’s books are always an auto-buy for me, billionaire boyfriend is the villain this time and the main character finds someone better and more self-worth

Admin/Behind the Scenes Author Stuff

  • Finished all 5 weeks of Sarra Canon’s Publish and Thrive course (highly recommend it, btw)
  • Created a series page for the series associated with The Reanimator’s Heart (not live yet)
  • Created the Works in Progress page on my website
  • Worked on my goals for the second quarter and prepped my kanban board
  • Made some spreadsheets for my author business stuff, like books sold per month organized by book, rolling monthly ebook royalties, and royalties in general
  • Outlined more of The Reanimator’s Heart

March was more of a writing month than an admin month, and I am totally fine with that. At some point, you get really sick of doing annoying little time-consuming tasks. My allergies are also starting to kick my ass, which is killing my productivity right now.


Blogs Posted


Writing

I’m actually really proud of how much writing I’ve done in March. In February, I was still struggling to get into the groove of writing consistently, but by the beginning of March, I had gotten far enough into the story that I got on a roll and was able to write most days without issue. I struggled with some fatigue due to allergy season starting, but I wrote 16,000 words total this month. My minimum goal was 10k, which I hit a little over halfway through the month, and I ended up exceeding my true goal of 15k.

Here are my weekly writing stats:

  • Week 1- 3,675 words and missed 2 days of writing, 735 words/writing day
  • Week 2- 3,455 words and missed 3 days of writing, 864 words/writing day
  • Week 3- 3,755 words and missed 2 days of writing, 751 words/writing day
  • Week 4- 4,145 words and missed 1 day of writing, 690 words/writing day
  • Week 5- 1,485 words and I missed 1 day of writing, 495 words/writing day (this week was 4 days only)

Can you tell which week my allergies were the worst? Looking at you week 5! We also had family events earlier in the month, which totally threw me off, but I’m very happy with 16k words. I feel like my allergies are going to be a problem at the beginning of April since everything is blooming. Let’s see how long I can manage not looking totally ill and bedraggled.


Hopes for April

  • Read 8 books
  • Start work on fixing my room/office (this is a giant project)
  • Writing Goals
    • Minimum goal: 12k to reach
    • True goal: 15k to reach
    • Stretch goal: 18k to reach
  • Blog weekly
  • Monthly newsletter released
  • Make blurb for The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Brainstorm the newsletter freebie (since that didn’t happen this month)

What are your goals for April? Let me know in the comments!

organization · Writing

Adding a Works In Progress Page

So you may have noticed something new in the upper menu of my website. It’s a “Works in Progress” page!

What is it?

I’ve been talking about potentially adding a works in progress page for a while but was hemming and hawing because I didn’t know if people would actually care. When I posted about it on Twitter, my friends and readers seemed enthusiastic, so here you go.

I also wanted to make this because it holds me accountable in my writing, and I think it adds a little more excitement surrounding my forthcoming projects. It’s basically a catch-all for the projects I am working on or intend to work on. And it’s a place where readers can keep an eye on what I’m doing and where the books they’re excited for are in their production.

If you want to, now may be a good time to check out the WIP page before I talk about it (I’d suggest opening it in another tab if you’re interested).

How does it work?

This page is broken down into currently in production, on deck, and backburner.

Currently in production is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the projects that I have started or am actively working on. Right now, I’m actively working on The Reanimator’s Heart and I have some words on Trousers and Trouble. In that section, I’ve also included a progress bar, and a slated release date. Since I’m not that close to being done yet, I do not have a specific date, so seasons/years will do. Right now, I plan to update the progress bars once or twice a month. I’d like to say twice a month, but I may forget (my apologies in advance). There will be a date for when the progress was last updated.

On deck is comprised of works that I know for certain I am working on soon. Typically I have plot ideas for these or know at least somewhat where they are going. I also want to specify that if there’s a series and there’s only a finite number of books listed, that is subject to change. I mention book 4 of the Paranormal Society Romances with a “the end?” because that’s the last book I have in mind now. That doesn’t mean that some character won’t steal my attention and become book 5. So don’t get sad if you see less books in a series you like. These books are also not in any sort of production order. Now that I have more than one series going, I don’t know which series’s book will grab my attention next, so I make no promises as to the order of completion (if only I could be so regimented).

Backburner projects are not shelved,they’re projects that are still marinating. I would like to work on them, but they’re still underdeveloped in my head. I don’t like to work on stories until I have a decent idea of where I want to go with them and who the characters are, so I make note of them and let them sit until they start to gel. I’m super excited about everything on this list, but I have to segregate them from my on-deck projects because I get overeager and scattered if I don’t have a semi-regimented to-do list. Having 10 series going at once is fun but not the best business decision.

How Often Will This Be Updated?

I’m aiming for twice a month. I would like to update it every two weeks or so because there should be a substantial change for my current project by then. As mentioned above, I may forget, but I promise I will update it at least once a month. If you’re very interested in this new page, do not check it every day, it will not change that often, lol. You also get to see how slowly I write.

Slowly but cleanly! Don’t panic when I don’t drop 50k words in a month because I tend to not need to do major edits on books, which is a perk of writing like a snail. Once I finish a draft, the updates will change from word count to editing progress.

Going Forward

Going forward, I will add more details as projects are fleshed out and come into themselves. So as I have titles and blurbs and links, those will appear on the “Work in Progress” page as well. Of course, I will still post about these things in regular posts, but that page will be a nice catch-all for things you may have missed on the blog.

Let me know what you think of the new WIP page!

The Ingenious Mechanical Devices Series

Get Book 1 Free & Book 2 for 99c

This random post is brought to you by me putting The Earl of Brass for FREE and The Gentleman Devil at $0.99 at all major retailers (and countries/stores as far as the retailers will let me but I tried to go wide with this).

The Earl of Brass and The Gentleman Devil are the first two books in my queer historical fantasy series, The Ingenious Mechanical Devices. They can be read out of order if you prefer M/M romance (which is what book 2 is) as both are standalones/foundations for the rest of the series.

Grab a copy of each book below as the links will take you to your favorite retailer:

Book Reviews

10 Nonfiction Books I Love

Since it is Valentine’s Day (or it will be when this post comes out), I thought I would share some nonfiction books I have greatly enjoyed.

First off, I will say, I am not the biggest consumer of nonfiction. I like it, depending on the topic, but I tend to have a 1:10 ration of nonfiction to fiction. But when I do read nonfiction, I tend to go science, weird, or very niche, so buckle up for my 10 favorite nonfiction books so far.


  1. From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty– Caitlin Doughty is the figure head of the Order of the Good Death, a death positivity group online. She is also an incredibly engaging writer. If you’re interested in death rituals, the American alternative funeral industry, and the morbid in general, definitely hit her works up. I also highly recommend her first book, Smoke Gets in your Eyes. What I especially love about her work is that she doesn’t sensationalize things that aren’t the norm. She treats death rituals with a great deal of respect and talks about the cultural reasons behind them.
  2. The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris– As a writer of Victorian stories that often have medical scenes, I greatly enjoy learning about antique medical science. Lindsey Fitzharris is a wealth of information regarding medical history. The Butchering Art talks about Joseph Lister’s journey to promoting germ theory and totally transforming the medical profession but especially surgery. There’s an incredible amount of depth to this story that interweaves Lister’s life with his professional contributions as well. Fitzharris has a new book coming out about plastic surgery during WWI that I am looking forward to as well, called The Facemaker, and she hosts the show The Curious Life and Death of… which is also fascinating.
  3. Fabric, Colors, or Jewels by Victoria Finlay– I will auto-buy anything Victoria Finlay comes out with. I absolutely love her books and hope she makes many more in the future. All three books are close looks into the cultural significance, history, and composition of fabric, jewels, and pigments. What I love about her books is that she goes all over the world to do deep research and talk with the people in the communities that create these things or are affected by their harvesting/creation. I’m a nerd who loves super deep, niche research, and Finlay’s books fill this void for me.
  4. Spirals in Time by Helen Scales– I have a thing for sea creatures, and spirals in time does a deep dive into the anatomy of molluscs, the way they were used in different cultures, how they can be used for drugs or food or poison, how they are being affected by climate change, etc. Basically anything you wanted to know about molluscs, Scales talks about. Once again, probably niche for some, but if you like to learn about a large part of ocean life that happens to be quite small and seemingly unimportant, this is for you.
  5. Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake– First off, the author’s name is amazing, especially in relation to a book on mushrooms. Second, fungi is the most fascinating of kingdoms. Much like Spirals in Time, it is a deep dive on the structure, life cycle, toxicity, promise, and even processing power of fungus. I know a nonfiction book is good when I want to read five more books on the same topic. Definitely leans more toward the creative nonfiction side than a try text, which I appreciated (other reviewers, not so much).
  6. The Dinosaur Artist by Paige Williams– This was one of those books where it just got wilder and wilder. The world of dinosaur hunting and selling, international trade regulations, fraud, Mongolian politics, and so much more. As a child who was obsessed with dinosaurs, I am still an adult who loves dinosaurs. This book is less about the dinosaurs themselves and more about the craze surrounding them. The magnetic appeal that leads to international smuggling rings and high profile arrests.
  7. An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage– an interesting look at food from pre-history to modernity with detours into the evolution of grains, how empires were built around them and transported them, as a tool to create ideologies, the spread of foods through empires, and how modern farming and consumption affects food. I didn’t love the more modern chapters, but the archaeology/anthropology-based bits were far better.
  8. When Brooklyn was Queer by Hugh Ryan– This is a book I’ve been referencing since starting the Paranormal Society Romance books. Ryan takes readers from Walt Whitman’s home in the 1850s to the sapphic women of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in WWII. The book is loaded with information but told in a way that feels almost like a story. It’s a comfortable pace without becoming too dry. I ran through When Brooklyn was Queer far faster than George Chauncey’s Gay New York (which I also recommend but it was drier). Ryan also provides a great works cited section at the end.
  9. A History of Ancient Egypt by John Romer– I will warn you, it is dense and large with tiny print. But if you are interested in Ancient Egypt, it is worth it. So far, there are two volumes, and I am DYING for the third which runs from the beginning of the New Kingdom to (I assume) the end of the Ptolemies. What I love about Romer is he only uses archaeological evidence for his theories, which takes away a lot of the “assumptions” we have about Ancient Egypt that reflect a British imperialist mindset.
  10. The ReVisioning American History series by Michael Bronski, Kim E. Nielsen, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Paul Ortiz, Daina Ramey Berry, and Kyle T. Mays (so far)- This series is really a starting point for further reading, but I like them because they talk about the history that often isn’t taught in schools. The books focus on queer history, disability history, Indigenous history, an African American and Latinx history, a history of Black women, and Afro-Indigenous History. The histories are often horrific at times, but they need to be told and read. As I said, they are not comprehensive, but they are a good starting point in order to delve deeper.
Writing

All of My Books are Now Available on Google Play

The title pretty much gives it away, but yes! All of my books are available on the Google Play store. I will be uploading the short stories there soon, but for now, every novel is available in every country Google Play supports, including the box sets.

The links are active, but I’m still trickling through the system (aka they’re not showing up in searches yet). All of the content warnings and blurbs are available by clicking the books page at the top of the menu on my website.


If you’re someone who uses Google Play, you can grab your copies below:

Kinship and Kindness (Paranormal Society Romance #1, latest book)

The Earl of Brass (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #1, only 99c, oldest book)

The Gentleman Devil (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #2)

The Earl and the Artificer (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #3)

Dead Magic (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #4)

Selkie Cove (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #5)

The Wolf Witch (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #6)

Box set IMD 1-3

Box set IMD 4-6

Book Reviews

My Favorite Books of 2021

I’d like to begin by saying this is in no way a comprehensive list of my favorite books. Throughout the year, I read roughly 120 books, so to narrow this down, I went through my reading log spreadsheet and picked through my top 5 star books. The following books are in no particular order, but I did group them together by semi related genres/feelings.


The Intensity!

Jade War by Fonda Lee– book 2 in the Green Bone Saga (see Jade City for book 1) did not disappoint. I actually had a hard time getting through parts of Jade War because I needed to put the book aside and calm down. This book of magic, family, political intrigue, and the brutality of street wars is incredibly intense but worth the heart palpitations.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse– a multi-POV fantasy set in an alternate version of Central America where colonialism didn’t destroy the Nahuatl/indigenous cultures. If you’re into soft but dark magic ridden boys, headstrong female captains who are a bit of a mess, and incredibly intriguing mysteries, Black Sun is one to pick up.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark– What is the KKK were actual monsters? Ring Shout tells the story of a diverse group of resistance fighters who decide to take on the KKK and bring them down once and for all. What I absolutely loved about this was the way African root/folk magic was interwoven with historical events and eldritch abominations. All of Clark’s works are a must read for me.


Kissing Books

Tommy Cabot Was Here by Cat Sebastian– While narrowing down my list, there were 3 Cat Sebastian books with 5 stars that I read this year, so take it as a blanket statement that I love her work. Tommy Cabot Was Here is deliciously filled with hurt-comfort as Tommy deals with a divorce and making a new life with his son while grappling with feelings for his best friend (his son’s teacher at the boarding school they attended as boys). If you love queer historical fiction, Cat Sebastian is a fav of mine.
Seducing the Sorcerer by Lee Welch– Goofy magic horse? Check. Middle aged protagonists in a queer romance? Check. A Diana Wynne Jones magical vibe? Check. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you aren’t into BDSM (it was pretty light overall), but this just hit the spot for me. Charming, complex, yet easy to sink into.
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert– As soon as I see a book with neurodivergent love interests, I am sold. I love Eve and Jacob’s dynamic, both messes in their own way. Tornado of chaos meets stuffed shirt to create the perfect balance. All of the books in the Brown Sisters series are wonderful, but I think this one is my fav.


Into New Worlds

An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley– This is another one that I think hit all my sweet spots. It reminded me of Hocus Pocus in terms of the brother-sister would kill for you dynamic. I’m also a sucker for Louis XIV/Rococopunk type stories, and this doesn’t disappoint with a plot to kill Louis XIV while overthrowing the government and creating an even worse one featuring magic and poisons.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRou by V. E. Schwab– A girl in 17th century France sells her soul to have a different life and quickly finds herself in a Monkey’s Paw situation where no one remembers her. Until she meets Henry. This one is a slow start, but once it got going, I was hooked and finished it in like two days.
Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko– If this sounds good to you, make sure to read Raybearer first. Both books follow Tarisai as she joins the future emperor’s court, finds a new family, and discovers that she is so much more than she thought. I always worry a second book in a fantasy duology will be too samey-samey with the first one or go totally off the rails. Ifueko creates an interesting world filled with so much magic and how one deals with a legacy of pain to make a better future.


Life Is Complicated

Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi– Talk about complicated sibling relationships. June and Jayne are sisters who seem a world apart when in reality, they are both messes. Jayne is envious of her corporate, high-rise sister while she is struggling through college and clout-chasing friends in a crappy apartment. When June steals Jayne’s identity, the sisters are drawn together and deal with their new realities and futures. I’d also like to mention that I love Mary H. K. Choi’s books, and if you haven’t read Emergency Contact, you should.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston– time traveling lesbian, need I say more? After spotting a leather jacket lesbian on the train (Jane), August takes the train to get to know her and quickly realizes Jane has been stuck on the same train since the 70s. It’s a story as much about NYC and queer history as it is a sapphic romance and begs the question, will August and Jane get to be together?
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen– Vanja has been impersonating Princess Gisele for over a year, but her deception comes crashing down after being cursed for her greed and discovering her horrid betrothed is plotting something horrific. Vanja has to team up with a motley crew, complete with a stuffy inspector, to save her country and maybe even save herself. Set in a German-like fantasy world, the folklore and magic was *chef kiss*


Let me know in the comments what are your best books of 2021!

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The Box Set of Books 1-3 of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices is Now Available at All Major Retailers

For quite a few years, the box set of books 1-3 of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series was only available on Amazon, but I have finally taken it wide, which means that you can now buy a copy on all major ebook retailers, such as Kobo, Nook, Scribd, Apple, and more.

The best part is that if you buy the box set, it costs 20% less than buying the three books individually.

The box set contains The Earl of Brass (#1), The Gentleman Devil (#2), and The Earl and the Artificer (#3).

If you click the button below, it will take you to your favorite retailer. If you have never visited Books2Read before, it will ask you to pick a retailer and will remember for future clicks.

Kinship and Kindness · Writing

Cover Reveal: Kinship and Kindness

I know I’ve been going off the grid on here, but there’s a good reason (besides work and life), I’ve been working on a new book: Kinship and Kindness.

Kinship and Kindness is a bit of a spin-off from the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. It follows Theo Bisclavret, the name might sound familiar because he was mentioned in The Wolf Witch. He is Silas Bisclavret’s son and Wesley’s brother.

The story continues where The Wolf Witch left off, but it’s set in Louisiana and kicks off a new series about paranormal society in America. It’s a m/m romance between a cis man and a trans man, and yes, that is very possible historically (see my previous post about queer historical-romance). Here is the blurb:

Bennett Reynard needs one thing: to speak to the Rougarou about starting a union for shifters in New York City before the delegation arrives. When his dirigible finally lands in Louisiana, he finds the Rougarou is gone and in his stead is his handsome son, Theo, who seems to care for everyone but himself. Hoping he can still petition the Rougarou, Bennett stays only to find he is growing dangerously close to Theo Bisclavret.
Theo Bisclavret thought he had finally come to terms with never being able to take his father’s place as the Rougarou, but with his father stuck in England and a delegation of werewolves arriving in town, Theo’s quiet life is thrown into chaos as he and his sister take over his duties. Assuming his father’s place has salted old wounds, but when a stranger arrives offering to help, Theo knows he can’t say no, even if Mr. Reynard makes him long for things he had sworn off years ago.
As rivals arrive to challenge Theo for power and destroy the life Bennett has built, they know they must face their greatest fears or risk losing all they have fought for. With secrets threatening to topple their worlds, can Theo and Bennett let down their walls before it’s too late?

As promised, here is the cover, done by the wonderful Lou Harper.

Kinship and Kindness

If you’re interested, you can pre-order Kinship and Kindness here. I plan on setting up the pre-order to other retailers soon, but I need to work out the logistics first.

In regards to the publication date, it’s currently set on July 1st, but I’m hoping to have it ready by early May. When you set-up a pre-order you cannot push it back if things so south, so I’ve left myself wiggle room and will move the date up (and let everyone know when I do).

Stay tuned because I will be posting an excerpt as we grow closer to publication.