If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have seen it, but I was moved by the spirit of procrastination and chaos to write a Valentine’s Day short story for Oliver and Felipe. Typically, I don’t run with the plot bunnies and get distracted, but this short story sort of sprung fully formed in my head and came together in a few days.
Oliver and Felipe’s first Valentine’s Day together was supposed to be perfect. That is, until Felipe’s idea falls through at the last minute and Oliver realizes he never ordered Felipe’s gift. Now, nothing is going according to plan. But with a little ingenuity and help from their friends, Oliver and Felipe may not have such a bad Valentine’s Day after all.
“An Unexpected Valentine” is a <5,000 word short story that comes after the events of The Reanimator’s Heart. Please read book 1 before reading this story if you don’t want any spoilers.
You can add “An Unexpected Valentine” on Goodreads.
Because this story takes place 3 weeks after the events of The Reanimator’s Heart, I think you have to have read it to read this short story. Otherwise it is spoilers galore.
Once again, this will be a freebie for my newsletter subscribers and will go out with February’s newsletter in the next few days. I will not be sending out a short story a month. There is no way I could keep that pace, so please enjoy these random short stories/novellas because there probably won’t be another one for a while. You can join my newsletter by clicking the link in the top menu that says “newsletter” or by clicking here.
Ah yes, December, the month of chaos where I am full of food, have no idea what day it is, and am perpetually stuck between finishing the year and looking toward the new year. This month was a bit weird because, of course, we had the holidays to contend with, classes ended (yay for grading a shit ton of papers), and my partner was dealing with some med changes/season affect disorder, so fun all around. I don’t want to be a downer, so I’ll try to reel myself in. This month was similar to November’s levels of exhaustion, but I’m finally starting to feel better. Fingers crossed January is when I finally perk up more fully. As a reminder before we begin, here were my goals for December:
Finish writing Flowers and Flourishing
Edit Flowers and Flourishing
Read 8 books
Blog weekly and send out my December newsletter
Finish Christmas prep
Have 6 weeks of lessons prepped/outlined for next semester
Set goals for Q1 of 2023
The goal was to read 8 books, and that’s exactly how many I read.
Last Gender (Vol #1) by Rei Taki- 4 stars, a manga that follows several people who all frequent a queer club. A bit grittier(?) than I expected, but I liked the frank nature of the portrayals of all the characters.
Undercover (#5) by Tamsyn Muir- 5 stars, as with all Muir books, it’s gorey, sapphic, and so unexpected. If you liked Gideon or Harrow, hit this up.
Masters in This Hall (#3) by KJ Charles- 4 stars, an off-shoot story from the Lilywhite Boys where a decorator gets tangled up with a killer and the only way out is to team up with an irate past flame and an unexpected ally.
Afterlives: The Return of the Dead in the Middle Ages by Nancy Mandeville Caciola- 4 stars, nonfiction research for a future book. It is academic but incredibly interesting as we get to see different kinds of dead and the geographic/theological changes.
She Loves to Cook and She Loves to Eat (Vol #1) by Sakaomi Yuzaki- 4 stars, an adorable sapphic manga following a truck driver who loves to eat and an office worker who loves to make pretty (and large quantities of food). Being neighbors sparks the potential for something more.
Hen Fever by Olivia Waite- 4 stars, a new woman moves into a town with a chicken breeding contest and finds love in a quiet, sunny woman who is hellbent on winning the festival and raising a once-thought-dead breed of chickens.
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake (#1) by Alexis Hall- 4 stars, a single mom enters a TV baking contest, falls for an asshole but eventually realizes she needs to take back control of her life and what she really wants.
The Girl from the Other Side (Vol #12) by Nagabe- 4 stars, a volume that fills in with short stories. It was very cute and sweet, not a lot of substance but I loved seeing Shiva and Teacher again.
Contacted ACX to get Kinship and Kindness changed from exclusive to non-exclusive (aka in the future I can publish the audiobook to sites besides Audible/Amazon and iTunes)
Listened to and approved the first 15+ minutes of The Reanimator’s Heart audiobook (same narrator as K&K!)
Worked on my lesson plans for my new class next semester and did 11/15 weeks worth of classes (aka I have 8 left to plan)
Set up my goals for 2023 Q1 and my 2023 bullet journal (it’s a lot of work)
Did an impromptu title reveal for the second Reanimator Mysteries book (I will do a more formal post here soon)
Edited Flowers and Flourishing. It’s currently in the let it rest stage before I go through and edit it again, but it will be coming to newsletter subscribers in late January. Join my newsletter to get it for free!
Edited what my newsletter automatic subscriber reply says in preparation for Flowers and Flourishing coming out. If you subscribe now, it’s the same, but I wanted to have the new copy ready for next month.
Played Lemoncake on PC (haven’t finished it yet), but if you liked Diner Dash or other timing based food/serving games, this one is basically the cozy version
I’m not going to do a week-by-week calculation because I wrote sporadically during the holidays and the numbers don’t make sense when you factor in editing and such. Instead I’m just going to talk a little bit about the writing process here. I struggled. Part of what sucks about what happened in November is that I sort of got out of practice/routine with my writing, so it ended up very much being done in small bursts, which is frustrating after having it be more fluid. I probably have a scene or two I will need to go back and add after I edit the second time, which is fine and expected. More than anything, I want to put out the best story I can for my newsletter peeps. Flowers and Flourishing has been fun to write and a far lighter (yet still pretty heavy) tone than The Reanimator’s Heart, and if you liked Kinship and Kindness, I think you’ll like this one too.
Hopes for January
Figure out how quarterly taxes work
Start working on the second Reanimator Mysteries book
Read 8 books
Finish editing Flowers and Flourishing
Send out Flowers and Flourishing with my January newsletter
Finally, a little relaxation via gaming or art regularly
Most of October was taken up with release day preparations and anxiety for The Reanimator’s Heart. I was super hyped about it, but I’m not going to lie, it sort of stole my attention and ability to focus because I was constantly worried about something going wrong or forgetting something important. Overall though, the month went very well, and I want to thank everyone who preordered, reviewed, or shared the posts for TRH on social media. You all are awesome. Anywho, let’s check out the goals I made last month for October and how we did.
Have a good launch for The Reanimator’s Heart (aka release ebook and paperback and maybe hit my stretch goal for my preorders)
Start prepping the weekly notes for my spring classes as they are both new *laugh sob*
Minimum goal: 10,000 words
Normal goal: 12,500 words
Stretch goal: 15,000 words
Read 8 books
Blog weekly and put out my monthly newsletter
Enjoy doing fall/Halloween stuff
My goal for October was to read 8 books, and I read 11 books.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren– 4 stars, a memoir about being a woman in STEM while dealing with mental illness and life. Very interesting, especially if you’re into trees/plant science. It was as much about her life as it was about the science she studies.
Saga Vol 9 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples– 4 stars, rereading in preparation for volume 10’s release
Saga Vol 10 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples– 4 stars, definitely worth the wait, though the body count is getting high. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series and how things change/grow going forward.
Three Kings by Freydís Moon– 5 stars, I had the honor of reading this book in order to blurb it. It is a M/M/M book featuring a trans main character, his husband, and a selkie that washes up by their lighthouse. Lots of magic and coziness to balance the sensuality.
Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu– 4 stars, I read this as research for “Flowers and Flourishing” and greatly enjoyed it. Definitely has those sapphic vibes, even if Carmilla is a vampire who just wants to drain poor oblivious Laura. Highly recommend for vampire lovers.
Obsidian Island by Arden Powell– 4 stars, a shipwreck, four castaways, and a lush island that is more than it seems, completely with a creepy tree, tropical birds, and giant bugs
Lore Olympus Vol 3 by Rachel Smythe– 4 stars, Hades and Persephone are lovely messes, and I really enjoyed this volume as we got to see more of how the underworld works and the fits and starts of these two figuring out what they want.
Temporary by Hilary Leichter– 3 stars (more like a 2.5), this was recommended by a friend and I didn’t love it. It’s just sort of the pretentious yet empty lit fic I would have read in my MFA program. There were moments where it had something going, then the author moved on and it disintegrated. Is it trying to be funny? Is it trying to be profound? I don’t think the author even knows, but it was short, so I finished it.
Daniel Cabot Puts Down Roots (#3) by Cat Sebastian– 5 stars, a music reviewer (ADHD-er) falls into the life of an autistic doctor and their lives meld together seamlessly that only they don’t seem to realize they’re in a relationship. It was absolutely lovely, especially the bits about community and family (found and blood)
Into the Riverlands (#3) by Nghi Vo– 4 stars, Chih (a cleric who records history) runs into a group of martial artists who are more than what they seem. Once again, the narratives in a narrative and unfolding of Vo’s layered plots held me rapt.
Exodus 20:3 by Freydís Moon– 4 stars, a trans man is trying to get his life together only to find himself rehabbing a church with a man who happens to be a monstrous yet attractive Biblical-style angel
Made quite a few graphics for The Reanimator’s Heart, including ones for reviews and blurbs from Magen Cubed and Cat Sebastian (they both are awesome)
Posted weekly on social media until release day
Blurbed my first book as an author (Three Kings)! Blurbing is when an author gives another author a marketing tagline they can use on their books or social media. I was very excited to blurb for an author I really like and respect.
Revised my paperback for The Reanimator’s Heart and released it
Contacted my narrator about doing the audiobook for The Reanimator’s Heart
Got a commission of Oliver and Felipe from Kay Fine. You can see it here. I’ll add it to the art page soon. As an FYI this is not cannon in book 1, but it will be in a future book (not spoilery)
One of my ARC readers is also an AMAZING artist, and she made fan art of Oliver and Felipe that is absolutely mind blowing. Definitely follow OblivionsDream on IG, Twitter, or Tumblr. You can see the picture here.
My partner and I split the cost of a cheaper tablet in hopes that I can get into digital art again (after like 15+ years of not doing it) and to do some writing away from the computer.
Turns out that I’m only teaching one new class next semester, which is a bit of a relief in terms of prep workload. Sadly, it isn’t the one I was super hyped about, but I didn’t start the prep for it yet this month.
Gazed longingly at the beautiful trees in my backyard and the farm behind it. Highly recommend this activity if you want to just mainline pretty colors and fall coziness while still void staring.
Sadly, the extent of my Halloween activities has been buying a Spooky Vibes Only shirt that has the agender flag colors from On Trend Tshirts on Etsy.
The launch/release of The Reanimator’s Heart– My baby is out in the world! I want to thank everyone who bought it, reviewed it, shared posts, etc. You all have been absolutely amazing and supportive of my weird little book. At some point, I might do a whole post about this book’s release because it went really well, like REALLY well. Like so well it freaks me out a little. My stretch goal for preorders felt like I was really dreaming when I made it, and I blew past it in the last week or two.
It has been a rough month for me in terms of grading and anxiety, which means writing is hard. A lot of the anxiety stemmed from The Reanimator’s Heart coming out, so for the past week, I’ve been sort of a mess. I wish I could say that was the only reason I’ve been a mess, but I felt like crap the first week of the month too. Luckily, I think I have caught up or will be able to. I only hit my 10k goal, but at least I hit it and am content with that.
Week 1- 710 words total, 2/2 days written, 355 words/day
Week 2- 345 words total, 1/7 days written, 49 words/day
Week 3- 2145 words total, 5/7 days written, 306 words/day
Week 4- 2050 words total, 5/7 days written, 293 words/day
Week 5 + the 31st- 4750 words total, 5/8 days written, 596 words/day
Hopes for November
Something I am really looking forward to next month is the lessening of my workload with my freshman writing class. The last big paper comes in during the first week, which means it’s all downhill from there. October was the month of giant papers (*laugh sob*), so this should give my brain a little more breathing room. That and The Reanimator’s Heart being out.
Read 8 books
Blog weekly and put out the monthly newsletter
Keep marketing The Reanimator’s Heart
Word count goals for “Flowers and Flourishing”
Shop for majority of the Christmas presents
Actually work on that spring class’s lesson plans
Do something relaxing- not sure what exactly but video games, drawing, crafts count
Let me preface this by saying this is not a how-to on how to fix your screw ups. This is a post about things I screwed up that I didn’t realize were even a problem until I did them [repeatedly].
There is no right or wrong way to do most things as an author, especially in regards to writing. There will always be people who are really into your niche genre or dying for this very specific type of character you’re writing, but on the business end of things, there are, let’s say, less desirable ways of doing things. Things that don’t benefit you/the writer or the reader/your audience.
How I F-ed Up My Newsletter
I am incredibly guilty of doing those less desirable things because I’m either a) tired or burnout b) didn’t know better c) didn’t want to bother anyone. I bolded and italicized the last one because not wanting to bother anyone has been a lifelong mode of operation that I probably need therapy for, but we will not get into that. The problem with that mindset is that you treat everything you do as a chore for others. I only send emails to my newsletter occasionally because I don’t want to bother them. Or I don’t want to advertise my book because I don’t want to bother people. This means I am treating the books that I love and spent hours and hours of my life working on as something unworthy of attention, and in the long-run, I am setting myself up for failure because people don’t know I have books or think I’m only reaching out to sell them something, which is not a great look.
So what I’ve been working on is creating a monthly newsletter that will cover the following things:
If you join my monthly newsletter, I’ll share things I’m working on, some cool research (and let me tell you, writing historically set books, there is a lot and it is weird), pics of my dogs, and books that I’ve read and loved and think you’ll love, too. When you sign-up, you’ll also get a free prequel short story, and over the next few months, I plan to send out another free short to subscribers. After the initial thank you emails, you will get monthly emails, which will be sent out at the end of every month.
I decided to change this to a beefier, monthly email because I was doing a disservice to my readers/subscribers by “not bothering them” except when I had book updates, and when I thought harder about that, it felt wrong to only send messages when I published. You could just follow me on Amazon or Bookbub if you wanted that kind of bare bones update.
How I F-ed Up my Back Matter
The next giant thing I screwed up is not keeping up with fixing my back matter. Back matter is the about the author, also by the author, newsletter/social media links, etc. that are found at the back of your book. Between changing laptops several times since 2014, switching writing programs, and just being overwhelmed at the prospect of going through like 10 Word docs, I put off updating all of these things for YEARS. This means that my first book had an “also by” list that only went up to like book four of the series. I facepalmed hard when I realized I hadn’t updated my back matter since 2017.
Something I would also recommend other authors doing is going back and formatting their docs, so the chapter headers are in a heading style and the body text is one uniform style. This makes it easier for the Kindle and eReader software to convert your book to something that makes sense. Guess who went back and properly formatted all 10 documents? And I was shocked to find that once I got going, it took significantly less time than I expected. I was able to do all of them over the course of a week and reuploaded the new files to my distributors. Amazon/KDP also has a new bit of free software called Kindle Create that is a lot like Vellum or, if you’ve used D2D, their autogenerated software, which will break your book into chapters and add pretty flourishes if you’re so inclined. Once again, very easy, highly recommend to make your books look spiffy.
If you’re an author, this is your sign to fix your back matter and formatting as it won’t take you nearly as long as you think once you finish the first book.
How I Forgot to Publish an Entire Box Set
The last thing I did to get my work back into shape is to add a new box set for the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. A while ago, I made a box set for books 1-3, which is 20% off the cost of buying the books individually, but I thought I’d wait until a year after book 6 came out before I made the next box set. Well, then I got overwhelmed with life and then enough time passed that I forgot. A couple weeks ago, I reached out to my cover designer (Lou Harper at Cover Affairs), made the file, and got it all listed, so if you’re interested in getting a box set of books 4-6 for 25% off buying the books individually, now you can. Both sets are available on all major retailers, BUT I had a little hiccup with Apple Books and Kobo. They have the set as a preorder that releases January 29th. I’ve reached out to fix it with no answer, but the 29th isn’t that far away, so if it doesn’t get fixed immediately, you will get your books by the end of the month.
If you’re an author, research best practices instead of assuming you’re being annoying because you could be in a totally different way than you though.
I thought I’d drop a post about why there’s been silence AGAIN on the blog. Well, that’s mostly because I’m actually writing. The more words dropped into MS Word, the less words I have to spare for the blog.
So I am knee-deep in Dead Magic at about 45% of the way into it. I’m still planning on having it ready to publish in the fall, so I will definitely be posting more excerpts and hints along the way.
What I’m really excited to announce is that between now and the fall, I will be writing two companion novellas for the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series.
The first story divides its time between Edo Japan where Americans and Europeans have finally barged in to “modernize” the Japanese and 1880s New York. Judith Elliott’s little sister is dead. Unable to save her and in failing health, Judith is sent to her uncle’s country home in New Jersey to recover. Resentful and dissatisfied with life, Judith fights her family’s concern and the treatments her doctors believe will get her over the devastating loss. Judith fears her life will never go on until she meets her uncle’s Japanese wife, Kiyo. Kiyo has seen more in her life than anyone Judith knows and thinks she can devise a way to repair a broken spirit. Can Kiyo help Judith move on? And is it possible to move on after fate steals the one you love?
The second will be a paranormal romance that centers around Emmeline’s mother. An old suitor has come to call. Two years after his disappearance, he’s returned to claim Madeline’s heart and hand. The only thing standing in their way is her absentee husband who has once again gone off to Africa, leaving Madeline alone at Headington Hill. Will she give in to her renewed feelings? And does her ex-lover have more to explain than just his absence?
Sound interesting? Well, the reason I decided to post the early blurbs for my forthcoming novellas is because I’ll be offering them as free ARCs (advanced reader copies) to my newsletter followers. If you would like to receive the free ARCs for my next two novellas along with updates and exclusive excerpts, sign-up for my newsletter by clicking here.