blogging, books, writing

Planning Ahead: Expanding the Platform, Attending Conferences, Confirming Publishing Goals

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Good morning! Hope you’re all staying warm!

Let’s get right to it — plenty to discuss this time.

One: The idea of me starting making video reviews.

Okay, the very thought of joining YouTube and struggling with all of their technical issues (and some of their not-very-nice viewers) makes me start to hyperventilate. White Fang has a YouTube channel, and some of his experiences have been wonderful, others not so much.

Plus, I do not extrovert — things like appearing in front of the camera. (The person who suggested I branch out in this method really needs to double check how well he thinks he know me.)

Anyway, there has been the recommendation that I could remain audio-only and do a few reviews with screen shots or something as background. Hmmm… I might experiment with that notion. I’d probably try out the first video on Twitter or Facebook, though, rather than just throw myself to the wolves of YouTube.

(Professional YouTubers have my undying respect. Seriously.)

Let me know what you think of all this!

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Two: I might try to go to a writers’ conference this year.

I went to one a couple years ago, and while I was only there for one day, and it was a small conference center, and I managed to survive the whole thing largely unscathed, it was still HARD.

Remember, the me no extrovert clause.

Also, I didn’t know anyone there, and I wasn’t yet a published author, and the market for speculative fiction (what I primarily write) just didn’t exist at this particular spot. Quite a shame on that bit…

Anyway, people are already flailing over Realm Makers 2018, and while attempting to attend this would be a WHOLE BIG THING for me (just imagine me running around my house screaming at the very possibility), it would be a lot of fun.

So, what do you reckon, moths? Should I look into this?

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Three: Firming up my publication ambitions for this year.

So, here’s what I would really like to do:

Publish How To Be A Savage before winter’s over.

Release Volume 3 sometime this spring.

Get the field guide out shortly after.

Make sure Volume 4 is ready to go before the end of 2018.

Here’s my back-up plan: Savage, Volume 3, field guide on tap prior to the calendar changing to 2019, Volume 4 coming to fruition early next year.

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Given that, after all of that, White Fang and I will start seriously attacking our collaboration standalone sequel (and of course he’ll be in school until June, which limits his availability for this project in the meantime), I think this is certainly enough to have on my plate at present.

Next question: Who here is interested in an ARC for How To Be A Savage?

Who here wants to design the cover?

Please form an orderly queue, over to your right.

I’ll be accepting comments on everything mentioned above until I get satisfactory answers. (Don’t worry, I don’t bite. Remember, I’m close-contact-phobic.)

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family, Parenting, reading, Young Adult fiction

Why Adults Should Absolutely Read YA

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Well, nothing like going in, guns blazing, with a hot topic discussion post at the start of the year!

First, how are you all? Did you survive the holidays? Thinking about emerging from the turkey dinner stupor to face the world? Still hiding under piles of discarded wrapping paper with bows and tinsel stuck in your hair?

Well, however you find yourself, I shall welcome you back! Let’s get right to it, then!

A few weeks ago, I read part of a rather irksome/disturbing thread on social media; the jist is that there are a lot of people over the age of 21 who strongly feel that anyone who is old enough to legally drink, get married, join the military, and live on their own should not be reading Young Adult fiction.

Excuse me?? Number one, when were the Reading Police established?! Number two, what is wrong with teachers, parents, pediatricians, school counselors and adolescent therapists knowing what our kids are reading?

And even more, what about those authors who write what our kids will be reading? How can they possibly know what their audience is interested in, or lacking, if they don’t connect with 12-17-year-olds?

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Years ago, parents could just let their kids pick up a novel from the YA/juvenile section in the bookstore or library, and be pretty confident that the content would be acceptable for their age. There were plenty of authors that tackled tough subjects like death, disease, drug use, sex before marriage with tact and in a way of presenting facts and both sides of the debate.

Nowadays teen readers are apparently told to go get stoned, get physically intimate, drive too fast, skip school, turn the air blue with their language. Don’t any of these authors have kids themselves?! Would they really want their own precious darlings behaving this way?

As a parent and a YA author myself, I take this responsibility very seriously. I’m not at all naive — I’m totally aware that nowadays many adults consider kids knowing all kinds of sexual lifestyles, swear words, and various political views to not be a bad thing. Well, I — an informed adult — disagree. It’s one thing to be well-educated; it’s another to instill harmful perspectives on young minds that are still forming their views and ambitions.

Warning: The Invisible Moth is officially jumping on her soapbox.

Encouraging teenagers to wait to have sex because they are too special to give their body to just anyone is showing we love them and believe in them to become solid, confident, well-adjusted future wives and husbands. Telling them the consequences of unprotected sex reinforces that we want them to remain healthy and emotionally whole. 

Warning them against using drugs and too much alcohol helps them develop self-care habits that could last a lifetime. Discipline and high self-esteem will provide our future doctors, teachers, parents, leaders with the power to change society, for the better, for generations to come. Showing them that a clean path can also be fun sets them on course for a productive, respect-filled life. 

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Okay, stepping off the soapbox.

Now, here’s why the idea of anyone “grown-up” reading YA is silly is just: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

1.) YA fiction is simply FUN. Since most children/adolescents aren’t past the point of wanting to believe — at least a little — in mythical creatures or flying cars or that you can access another world through your closet, the possibilities in a YA book are endless. 

What adult in the 21st century (with reality being so damn hard most of the time) wants to only read about fictional characters whining that they can’t get a date? Who cares?! Get out of your own grumpy head and go read about storming the castle and saving the endangered race of beautiful talking unicorns! Dream about being a hero! Don’t lose that passion!

2.) YA fiction provides an escape. Yes, most of us know very well that animals don’t really speak human, hypogriffs aren’t legal pets, and we’ll probably never get to live in a magical library. So?? Let us pretend for a few hours!

Children who regularly use their imagination often grow into big people who invent new technology, new medicines, the prototypes for hovercars, more effective academic systems, tools and inventions that make our lives better. LET US IMAGINE.

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3.) Parents and teens reading together is valuable. In recent years, too many high-schoolers don’t communicate or bond with their elders. Yes, this is a problem, trust me. Concurrently reading the same book or series with your 14-year-old is important. Find a subject that interests you both, and take it from there.

White Fang and I have both read and discussed Harry Potter, Warriors, The Illuminae Files, and Beaumont and Beasley, among others. This activity also gives you a great starting point for discussing tough issues, and encouraging your kids to do their research and develop their own points of view.

4.) Not all of us with a certain date on our birth certificates enjoy reading stuff aimed at that age group. I flatout find most murder mysteries/romances/spy thrillers downright formulaic and dull. Yes, I know that I’m somewhat of a square peg in a round hole in this instance. But it’s a fact, and it’s not changing anytime soon.

While I don’t necessarily want to read about being in high school, either, there are plenty more fantasy and speculative fiction choices among the YA sections than the adult. Plus lots of fantasy YA authors still take care to keep their language and explicit content to a minimum, whereas for adults, apparently ALL the barriers have come down. That just isn’t my thing.

5.) If you don’t have a long attention span or not much free time to read, novels aimed at juveniles are usually less than 400 pages long. This is a big deal for me, since my spare time is certainly limited, and if I can make it to the end of the paragraph without losing my place, then, wow, it’s an awesome evening!

Also, since I currently carry all my library books literally on my back, there is just no way in Hades I’m attempting to haul the latest 650-page New York Times bestsellers. No way, sir.

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6.) Whether it’s my personality, my mindset, worldview or whatever, I simply relate better to characters in YA. If you present me with an adult character who’s narrating about whether they can squeeze in an extra 10 minutes at the gym, or if they interpreted the fine print in their car lease properly, I will be either falling asleep or using the book as a footstool.

Whereas, show me the elf who’s hoping to return the enchanted sword to its sacred mountain before the kraken’s released, and I’m on the edge of my seat. Any night I spend reading Warriors will result in big stupid grins and lots of tears on my face. Finding out a secret about a beloved Clan cat will resonate with me for months.

7.) Reading about characters who aren’t jaded yet, full of hope and plans and enthusiasm, makes you want to have that again. Remember when you were in kindergarten, and making an extra blanket into a cape was the most natural thing? When you looked to the skies with an unending sense of wanting more?

Go for that, whether you’re 25, or 30, or 40.

Save the unicorns! Rescue the flying cats! Storm the castle!

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blogging, community

The Sunshine Blogger Award!

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Good morning! Happy last post of the year before we finish the holiday week! What better way to focus on the bright spots than to indulge in the Sunshine Blogger Award, courtesy of The Orangutan Librarian!

WHO IS THE ONE PERSON THAT IS THE SUNSHINE IN YOUR LIFE?

There will be no “one” answers in this post. It is not fair to make me choose.

Definitely my sons. And the cat. (Yes, he’s a person, shush.)

DO YOU PREFER ALL HAPPY MOVIES, OR OCCASIONAL SAD MOVIES?

Definitely happy, but there can be sad moments and I won’t get upset. I do not do the silliness of “everybody dies and everything is terrible, the end.” Nu-uh, sir.

WHAT IS THE ONE FOOD THAT ALWAYS MAKES YOU HAPPY?

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Asian in general, but especially sushi and noodle soup!

WHAT IS THE SUNSHINE ON YOUR BLOG?

Definitely the wonderful people who regularly swing by to show their support and share their thoughts with such kindness!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE  WACKY “FUN” DAY?

Hmmm…probably that rare, mythical day when I don’t have any responsibilities or children to take care of, and I get to just go to the mall by myself and sip chai latte and wander around, oogling over products I can’t afford.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF?

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Hmmm…this is a tall order for a Vulcan… I don’t give up easily. I keep pushing through, even when things get a bit bleak. I hate to be defeated.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU LOVE ABOUT THE BLOGGING COMMUNITY?

Certainly the way you all rally around each other, and are there when things get tough!

WHAT IS THE ONE BOOK THAT MADE YOU SMILE THE MOST?

Again, there is no such thing as “one.” Warriors, basically all of The Prophecies Begin, because of Yellowfang’s saltiness and her big heart, and book 2 in The New Prophecy had so many uplifting moments that just put a big grin on my face. More recently, Finding Audrey and Girl Online gave me lots of laughs. And in Kyle Robert Shultz’s Beaumont and Beasley series, whenever Malcolm Blackfire shows up, I will simply sit there with a massive stupid grin through that scene.

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WHERE IS YOUR CORNER OF SUNSHINE IN YOUR HOME?

When the sun hits at a certain angle (usually mid-afternoon), and it falls just right through the trees, and in late spring through early fall it has that real golden sheen… Yeah, when that’s on my writing desk, I am very content.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR OR COLORS?

Pink, purple, blue, yellow, and silver. (See? Just one is impossible.)

WHAT IS THE ONE MOVIE (OR DRAMA) THAT ALWAYS MAKES YOU HAPPY?

What did I just say… The film version of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (even with its creepy moments), Doctor Who (even with all the tears), and Lord of the Rings (yes, even with all the crying!). And there are scenes in Blade Runner and The Last Unicorn that are just absolutely beautiful storytelling.

All right, I’ll break with the tradition of not nominating anyone! Kyle Robert Shultz, Paper Fury, SM Metzler, Deborah O’Carroll, and Jameson @ Lovely Whatsoevers, you’re up! (And whoever else would like to do this!)

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blogging, reading

One Bookdragon’s New Year’s Resolutions

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2017 was a slightly frustrating year for me as a reader. There were a lot of books that I DNF (when previously I hated doing that), some authors I had been enjoying that I’ve written off (ha, sorry), and I faced the very real problem of hitting a slump.

So, hoping to avoid such travesties in 2018, here are my bookdragon’s new year’s resolutions:

I shall finish what I start. Yes, I am going to force myself if necessary to finish every book I begin reading. This should probably mean a) conducting a lot more research before adding titles to my TBR and b) not letting myself be swayed by hype. Sometimes the hype is well-deserved. But unfortunately, it mostly just increases the weight on my back as I trudge through the snow from the library. (Spoiler: it isn’t worth it.)

ARCs will be few and far between. Unless I or the author make a specific request. I love the concept of ARCs, especially for indie authors. But I, as a reader, don’t have the time, energy, or desire to commit to taking part in the evaluating-advance-copy-for-a-review bit this year.

There will be no pressure to review absolutely everything. Yes, it is very helpful in the community if you explain in particulars what you did or didn’t like about a book. However, not every rating on Goodreads has to be a 4-paragraph, beautifully-detailed mini-literary critique. A couple of sentences highlighting what you feel to be the title’s biggest pros/cons often work just as well.

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I am not going to guilt myself into leaving my comfort zone. Trying to suffer through romances, contemporary YA, or historical fiction anymore is not my idea of fun. If you love these genres, please don’t throw anything. I appreciate really well-told stories of any kind. Though reading all of them ain’t my cup of tea. Some authors’ styles and I don’t mix; sometimes the content makes me twitch (even when the seedier elements are necessary for the plot); and pure fluff just doesn’t float my boat.

So, yes, I’ll be reading a lot of fantasy, historical fantasy, and speculative fiction. And your point is?

Instead of attempting to begin all the new series, I will complete the ones I’ve commenced. I am behind on WarriorsThe Familiars, Apprentice Cat (all of which White Fang is champing at the bit for me to get to), and he’s going to force me to read Obsidio when that’s out. Plus, at the rate Kyle Shultz is hoping to publish his next titles, I better get ready!

More buying, less borrowing this year. It’s because I want to encourage myself to finish everything, and embrace quality over quantity. At the library, I have a greater chance of being impulsive — and all that literal trudging-and-hauling is getting old. Spending money on shiny new novels feels special, and I’m much more likely to limit my purchases to those selections I expect to enjoy and wish to savor.

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My Goodreads challenge goal will remain low. This year, I set my challenge at a very reasonable 20 books, and thought it would probably take me till around October to hit that tally. I reached it in April. It was intensely satisfying to see the numbers keep climbing (“You have read 30…40…60 books out of 20!”), and I did begin pushing myself a little too much, just for that emotional rush. But my back suffered (remember, all that library requesting), as well as my emotional state when I’d raced through hyped new releases that I thought were terrible. Again: not worth it.

Hype and I will have a distant, skeptical relationship. This is how I always used to feel about a title that supposedly the entire world was flailing over. Now I have learned the hard way that this approach is the best for me. It honestly irks me when I spent the time and mental effort to plow through a book that just makes me want to fling kumquats afterwards. Especially when I had a feeling before even opening the cover that I wasn’t going to like it. (Note: Listen to your gut, moth.)

Reading shall be for enjoyment first, for blogging or reviewing or “not missing out” second (or even not at all). I read novels for fun — not as competition, not to be up on something trendy. I’d very nearly forgotten that. When I, as a writer, take in someone else’s wonderful and engaging fiction, it helps me recharge creatively, and pushes me to want to do the same myself. All of this is much more important than a tally on a social media page. 

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reading, The Invisible Moth, writing

Year-End Wrap-Up (How Did This Happen?)

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So, as we are all painfully aware, we just days away from the end of 2017. Hence, I’m going to finish up this calendar page with a recap of all kinds of stuff I did in the last 12 months.

Okay, not really. Because although I know I was very busy, I cannot remember 89% of what I actually did. My guess is I must’ve been even busier than I realized, which is why so much of it is a blur.

Well, there are some things I can concretely tell you:

  • I set my Goodreads challenge at 20 books, and somehow managed to read 68.
  • At last count, my blog was up to 240 followers, and Twitter had climbed to 195.
  • I published not one, not two, but three (!) books.

Also, White Fang started high school, and Muffin started preschool, and believe me, this was a big deal.

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Yes, I went from just being a blogger who was frantically trying to finish a novel someday, to being a writer who had not only finished a novel but had it printed.

And it was getting pretty well-received, which really made my year. That led to boosting my confidence high enough to start working on the immediate sequel.

And, I shared some of my short stories and flash fiction on the blog, and that went over pretty well. So I decided to put the major ones together in an anthology.

My Goodreads page rather quickly went from being just a reader to being an author with a bibliography.

This is really such a huge thing; sometimes I still can’t believe it.

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There’s a massive rush in walking into your local library and seeing something you wrote on the shelf.

So, apart from that… Hmm, did anything else happen in 2017?

Oh, yes — I won NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row, and I gave a talk on self-publishing to a small group at said local library.

The latter will most likely lead to future engagements (huzzah!).

Here’s how I felt about the former:

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NaNoWriMo was brutal this year. One, I hadn’t completely finished my last edits for Volume 2, and was, in fact, trying to do those on a few days here and there in November, around my NaNo project. (This is highly not advised; I don’t recommend attempting it to anyone.)

Then I discovered (after writing nearly 39,000 words on my NaNo draft) that I didn’t like the way the story was going at all and would probably end up scraping it entirely.

But after coming that far, the idea was just loathsome. So, I decided to be a NaNo “rebel.” Since I wrote brand new 4,000 + words in the final edits of Volume 2 between November 2nd and somewhere around the 18th, I included those in my tally. Then I wrote two potential first chapters for How To Be A Savage at roughly 2500 words each, and (praise the Lord) I was done.

All of this has made me seriously question whether I want to participate in NaNo next year. But, thankfully, that’s 11 months away.

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In other, non-writing things — as already mentioned, I did manage to read a lot this year. More than I’d read in a 12-month span since well before Muffin was born. To be fair, I owe a lot of that to him, since now he gets regular bedtime stories (in fact he grows quite concerned if we suggest skipping one night), and while we also re-read a ton with him, I also get to try new picture books that I hadn’t read with White Fang.

And, oh, yeah, if you’re reading 10 new titles a month to a small child, that certainly helps advance that progress bar on Goodreads.

Most of the YA/MG selections I chose were, however, sadly disappointing. There were some real gems as well (happily). Some of my top favorites for 2017 (regardless of publication year) included:

  • The Beast of Talesend, The Tomb of the Sea Witch, and The Stroke of Eleven by Kyle Robert Shultz
  • Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
  • Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria by Rahma Krambo
  • A Matter of Temperance by Ichabod Temperance
  • Girl Online by Zoe Suggs

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Oh, yeah, and somewhere along the way, White Fang went from watching The Thundermans and Henry Danger to watching The Big Bang Theory and The Walking Dead. Guess that has something to do with him going from being 13 to being 14.

So, now, here we are, another year gone, and definitely a lot accomplished! Here’s to a healthy, productive, and happy 2018!

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Fantasy fiction, reading, writing

2018 Most Anticipated Releases

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Okay, first: Obligatory moment of screaming incoherently because it is nearly 2018. I literally feel like approximately 57 days were removed from 2017 in the middle of the night sometime around Easter and no one announced it to the public. How do you explain where this year went otherwise?!?!

Anyway, in an effort to be supremely positive about this sad, sad turn of events, I shall look forward with delight to new releases I get to rave over with that flip of the calendar page!

Beaumont and Beasley continuations and spinoffs:

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Kyle Shultz has announced his official plans for 2018 publishing, and there is a lot to be excited about. He’ll be going ahead with his concepts for taking his “canon” series, Beaumont and Beasley, in new directions (I love it when authors are brave and try something new), as well as a prequel for The Beast of Talesend, and a spinoff featuring Malcolm Blackfire (the dragon who will be my husband one day, so SQUEEEE!!!), and he’s started a sort of Wild West series on Wattpad. (Although I am incredibly behind on that, since I currently do not Wattpad.) Almost everything will eventually be out in paperback, and I am definitely looking forward to those!

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black:

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I am beyond falling over with anticipation for this one. Since (finally) finishing The Darkest Part of the Forest last year and loving it, I am quite eager for Holly Black to write more fairy stories. Years ago, I tried her first fairy-related book, Tithe, and didn’t really care for it, but there was so much storytelling potential waiting in the wings of that and her Curse Workers trilogy. So I hung on and kept an eye peeled, hoping that one of her titles would finally grab my interest and not let go. Now I honestly feel that she’s matured as an author, found her style and honed it, so The Cruel Prince is high on my list.

A Thousand Perfect Notes by CG Drews:

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Here’s an interesting sort of confession — I may not actually read this. Why?, when I know the author, and Goodreads has exploded over how much people are dying for A Thousand Perfect Notes to hurry up and be printed already? Well, it’s the content of the plot. I simply don’t read novels involving abusive parents, because it features high among my personal triggers. I’ve actually already discussed this some with the author, and since she understands the ASD struggle herself, this will hardly be a surprise to her. However, it does not one whit distance or deter me from recognizing this shall be a huge release, and hopefully the internet can hold itself together in the meantime as the rest of you flail joyously!

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes:

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To say I am excited about this novel can be related thusly: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!! It’s a historical fantasy, centering on Bonfire Night, which is one of my favorite British holidays, and the fact I have to wait until spring for it to be even close to being available is just: AAAAAAAHHHHRRGGHH!!!!!! I have not yet read anything else by this author, but I’ve heard very good things, and the concept is totally my cup of tea — hence the non-stop screaming until I get my hands on a copy.

(covers not yet confirmed) Volume 3 of The Order of the Twelve Tribes and How To Be A Savage by Daley Downing:

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What? Did you really expect me to get through this post without hollering about my own 2018 titles?

As of yet, there is no title or even cover art for Volume 3. It shall come to be eventually, when Kyle and I have survived the holidays and life throwing Other Stuff in our path. And no teasers yet, since Rulers and Mages just came out, and very, very few have had a chance to finish it.

How To Be A Savage will release first, anyway. I’m taking a break from an intense work schedule on my Order world to focus on my failed NaNo project that I’m now revamping into something awesome. As of now, there are no notions or schemes for the cover; I’ll cross that bridge sometime in January.

And there we have it! Now, let’s all run around panicking for a minute (or 23), because none of us are prepared for the new year!

Have fantastic holidays, moths!