Raise your hand if you love Camelot?
Growing up, many girls dream of being princesses and boys dream of knights (I imagine some dream of being king too lol). For me, I don't remember caring about being king or queen. I remember wanting a knight of my own...and a sorcerer because who wouldn't want magic on their side? As I grew up reading and watching retellings of Canterbury Tales, it became abundantly clear to me that I did not want to choose. I 100% wanted all the knights, toss in Merlin and add Arthur for good measure. I personally thought Gwen choose wrong though, with the bulk of my adoration going to Lancelot.
While on my third or fourth rewatch of BBC's Merlin this winter it hit me, I didn't have to choose because I could have a heroine who didn't have to. I could retell the story with a different heroine, with darker villains, and without choosing which man because they all had wonderful reasons to pick them.
So, Nights in Camelot was born!
I've been fairly secretive with this series, mostly because I cherish it so already, but also because RH doesn't normally sit under the "high fantasy" or "retelling" vibe check. So here I am, doing what I do best, and mixing it all together simply because I want too (and the characters agree).
Without any delay, the cover and blurb for book 1 - The Sorcerer's Calling!
⚔️ 👑 Cover Reveal 👑 ⚔️
Preorder Sale Price ➡️ http://books2read.com/camelot1
Cover Artist: Original Book Cover Designs
Release Date: November 14, 2022
Genre: Fantasy RH
The realm and knights of Camelot need a savior, and Gwendolyn wants a new life.
Gwendolyn Penn spent her life wishing for a different life in a different reality. She longed to live alongside the Knights of Camelot, to slay dragons, wear gowns, and fall in love with a handsome, courageous man. When a portal opens and a man steps through claiming to be Merlin with a prophecy stating Gwen is his kingdom's savior, she doesn't hesitate to run with him.
Morgana wants Arthur's throne, and a vision placed Gwen at the heart of the battle. She doesn't understand how a boring, human woman could slay a sorceress. Until Merlin's blood mingles with hers and she can command the magic of the fae. Until she realizes her attraction to the three men unlocks a side of her she didn't know existed.
A side that might defeat Morgana.
Surrounded by Merlin, Arthur, and Lancelot, Gwen learns there's more to Camelot than the tales tell. There's more to her than the quiet librarian, as well. Her heart wants what her heart wants, and Gwen is going to listen to it no matter who it leads her to.
Gwen needs her magic to be enough.
Gwen needs her attraction to not one, but three, men to not distract her as she learns to wield her magic.
Gwen needs to save Camelot.
The importance of taking a break is one that I think most authors ignore.
we get so wrapped up in the characters, we forget that hopping from story to story and world to world will always cause a burn out.
That burn out will look different for everyone. It’s taken me 5 years of writing to realize what it looks like for me.
thoigh I first wrote in second grade, writing to publish only began in 2015. I was so stoked I just kept going. The ideas came and came, and my publisher continued to accept them.
it wasn’t until late spring 2020 when I became sick with my mystery illness that I took my first break.
I couldn’t write. I was terrified every day over why I couldn’t swallow. The characters were there, but even if there was some free time without doctors and surgeries, there wasn’t the mental time.
like all indie authors and small businesses, I needed a break. Unfortunately, the break all but vanished my career. I had 40ish books published, but with no marketing on my part and no releases I became invisible. My anxiety grew, and I wondered if I’d ever publish again because it’s incredibly expensive. Yes, I could suck it up and start querying, but I’ve become accustomed to instant publishing and (mostly) full control.
fortunatley, we know I’m not dying or in severe danger, and so in late 2021 I began to write again.
Starting back up opened up a flood gate. From November 2021 until today I’ve written: 2 full lengths, 2 novellas, and 5 shorts.
so where does my point about burnout come in? I’m the last 23 days I’ve only written 15k. I love the story I’m writing - it’s a less written genre for myself and I was excited by the outline.
I’m not super busy at home - but spring sports are in session. My husband still doesn’t grump when I say I need to write instead of something else if I’m deadline. So what happened?
I burned myself out. I no longer want to sit down and type. I want to be outside playing with my son, seeing movies, making memories. I want to tell the story, but the drive to have to type it out has poofed.
Am I blocked? Not at all. I hear Annika and Connor shouting at me a ton. I just keep ignoring them.
at the end of the day, I needed a break. I hopped between too many different worlds too quickly, and spent too much time in front of the screen.
Burn out will look different for everyone. It will last differently for everyone. More importantly, it will impact releases differently.
im fortunate this book isn’t due to readers (arc readers) until May 20. So there’s a month for my to get my bum in gear, or I can even skip ARC readers.
so why am I rambling? Is it because it’s been a month since I blogged? No. It’s because there’s immense pressure on authors to pump out work quickly. It can cause burn out, poor stories, and so much more.
authors, even trad pub, have to do so much on their own. It’s a constant worry that we’ll fall into the cracks. Please be patient if your favorite author it’s not making TikToks or has to push a release a tiny bit.
What does burn out look like for you? How do you find your groove again?
I'm going to tackle a sensitive topic today - for myself and for others I've spoken to. It doesn't just affect authors, but honestly any small business. It can be hard to talk about, because in a sense, it admits to failure on some level.
Let’s talk about the reason why so many authors - myself included - struggle to make ends meet with their author career.
Is it crummy book covers? Nope.
Is it poorly edited (or not edited) stories? Nope.
Is it a lack of marketing money? Nope.
Is it a lack of talent? Nope.
Don’t get me wrong, the above can contribute to failing careers, but at the end of the day the key metric all struggling authors experience is a lack of support.
But I can’t afford to buy books all the time!
Support has very little to do with a monetary value. Support that most small businesses need right now is "moral" support.
Support is taking time to click like on a post, to comment on it, to share it, because that viral reach could put your friend in front of new readers. Support is offering to review (and actually following through) which costs you nothing but time, and if you’re already a reader you get free books! Support is chatting with other book people about your friend’s new book. Support is sending them a text or DM on release day to give them little congrats because writing a book takes a metric fuck ton of work.
I can post about the stupidest thing on my author and personal Facebook/Instagram and get engagement and comments. The minute I post about my books, it’s almost utter radio silence unless it’s a huge accomplishment. Here, check it out. I post book stuff maybe once every 3 days, so it’s not a flooded thing either for those that might think “authors just shove too move in your face”.
This goes for authors, too.
Other authors are not your competition. I cannot tell you how many authors I support simply because I love them and their work. Because kindness matters and if they thrive, that’s awesome! Together, we can reach new readers, more readers, and maybe stop the author from permanently closing the laptop on their dream career.
But you always act like you’re doing awesome.
Of course I do - fake it till you make it. It hurts and drags me down every single release day when I barely make it into double digit sales - and I do have those double digits every release, but sometimes it’s hard and other times I skyrocket past. It’s gut wrenching anytime I post looking for a quick share or a like because I know next to no one is going to take the time, which means I look unsupported and therefore not worth a chance to new readers.
It's insanely expensive to be an author. Roughly $800 per book and 95% of us do not make that back. We fund it with our day job. We skip new shoes or fund snacks because our dream is worth it. We spend time writing we could otherwise be out or with our family. We won’t all make it. We won’t all be quality worthy of making it, but a simple show of support could pull us from our darkest days when looking ahead to decide if the next book might be our last.
Isn't it possible your work just sucks?
100% a possibility. However, when I have been able to reach new readers, I've gotten amazing reviews, inboxes telling me how much they loved something, and sometimes, (hopefully) new book friends! So yes, I may suck. It's entirely possible, but it's unlikely given the response when my work is looked at by new readers.
I’ve got a challenge for you 2022
If you’ve got an author (or any small business owner really) on your social media feed, don’t scroll past that post. Give it a thumbs up. Maybe even comment. Offer your community to share just for a single. Maybe skip a coffee or fast food meal to buy a single one of their books. You never know what you’ll find.
When all your hopes begin in the sky...
In early 2016 I began writing The Race. It was everything I'd dreamed I'd get to write in steampunk - an action adventure romance that took place almost entirely on an airship. Unfortunately, all the complications from my pregnancy left me unable to write from about February until my son was born at the end of May.
Then, we moved to New Orleans. The next thing I knew, my publisher had deadlines for me. I finally felt well enough, but I was unable to continue The Race due to other needs.
Fast forward three years. it's now 2019. I booked a cover with the fantastic Illustrated Author. I did this with the hope that I'd fall in love with it and push other projects off to get back to The Race. She did not disappoint!
Unfortunately, in April 2020, my swallowing condition began. I couldn't write ... anything. Despite not having answers, it wasn't the only thing draining my creativity. Aidan was home from March 2020 - September 2021 and my day job stepped up to almost 60 hours a week.
January 2022 came and I knew what I had to do. I had to prioritize the story and characters I'd left behind. And I did! The Race had only 18,000 words written when I stopped and I added 62,000 words in just 26 days. Rose and Wyatt couldn't be stopped and I'm so excited they are finally here.
Their journey was 6 years in the making, but it's finally here!
When all your hopes begin in the sky.
The world is not what it once was, but Rose cannot seem to convince her mother of that. Steam powered airships, mechanical carriages, and a far less constricting type of fashion are not enough to free Rose from her mother's hand. Headed toward London and a suitor she's never met, all Rose wants to do is captain the airship her father left her upon his death. While not impossible in the new world order, it's certainly not fathomable to her antiquated mother. In order to live her dream, Rose will have to take matters into her own hands.
Two tragedies left Wyatt nearly destitute and an emotional rogue. When he hears of the big race that could win him a title and land, he's ready to push life savings on the line. Unfortunately, he had no ship of his own and no way to enter, until he meets the beautiful Rose.
Their only hope of seeing both their dreams become a reality is each other. From London to Paris and more, the duo must trust in one another if they are to win the race. Trust comes with quite a cost as adventure can easily turn deadly and losing the race isn't all they have to worry about.
See what early reviewers are saying about The Race!
Last month, I posted a fun video to TikTok that was playfully poking at how insane my writing calendar is for the next 2 years - because I'm determined to get all these crazy characters out of my head. I also shared the video across my other social platforms because I thought it was a good way for readers to understand what goes into the books. Now, my process is a lot faster than most because I'm fortunate enough to be an uber quick typer who essentially hears my stories in my head all day long so they spill out when I sit down for a few hours after work.
Want to see it?
I figured I'd get some quick comments on it, people would have a laugh at how crazy my goals are, and that would be the end of it.
What actually happened was A LOT of authors asked me where I got the template. Well, I made it. There were actually 6 different iterations of it because I kept forgetting what I wanted to include/kept realizing other filters would be helpful later on.
This thing might look small, but the columns have custom dropdowns and a lot of coding in the backend. Plus, it's helped me stay on track A TON as I work through my lofty goals. Something about having it down on paper helps. Plus, since it's digital, if I get into trouble and absolutely have to shift a date here and there - so long as it's not release of course - I can!
When I've said I made it, a lot asked me for the file. So, I went ahead and created a blank template!
I also added a book cover field since some people aren't cover whores like me and buy them before they start.
You will need to either save a copy to your drive or download a copy to edit the fields.
I suggest downloading a copy because it displays nicer!
Since I had a lot of bloggers reaching out to me for ways to organize their TBRs, I created one for them, too!
Hope these can help you rock your reading and writing goals in the future!
My darkest fairy tale is out today. I've been twisting fairy tales yearly since 2018 - but they were light hearted and full of Christmas magic. This time, the darkness found a way in.
Beauty and the Beast is a time-honored fairy tale. It's also ALWAYS bothered me, because it takes place over 5 days and results in falling in love with your captor.
When I twisted it for the Christmas release two months ago, it wasn't instalove, merely attraction that occurred over the five days. Yes, something over the top happens in the final few pages, but it's not a declaration of everlasting love. My beauty was also the beast, and instead of a monsterous form that could be removed, she was pissed because she was wheelchair bound.
In Cursed Magics, it takes a more traditional route, with a few surprising plot twists at the end that I hope will leave you satisfied and not scratching your head with how the characters got where they did. Non traditionally, my beauty is cursed this time - though not physically.
She'll have to not only fall in love with the beast to break his curse, but she'll have to decide who she wants pleasuring her - the monster or the man within?
Magic touched Casey's life the same way it touched her mother’s. A premonition gone wrong lead to her mother's death. After, Casey and her father packed up their trinket shop and ran to protect Casey from the same fate. The path ended in Junaria, in the quiet outskirts of the village just in the edge of the palace.
Magic stole Charles's humanity, his father, and the kingdom that was rightfully his. All that remained was a silver swirl in a glass jar - and his need for revenge.
Magic couldn't forewarn Casey of the monster who would trade her father's life for hers. Magic couldn't change the soul of a man losing himself with every moment.
Magic could bring a beauty and a beast together and break two magic curses.
Did you buy a copy? Send me confirmation of your purchase (I LOVE photos of you with it on your reading device), and I'll send you a code to a FREE audiobook from my backlist :D
Click the photo to listen to a snippet before you buy!
In February 2020, I released the first book in the City of War series, City of Light & Steam. It was an amalgam, and such a mashup, when I wrote it, I was terrified of how it would do. The book was actually written in late 2018, but I needed time in my release schedule, so I'd held onto it.
Apocalyptic? ✓ The world was destroyed by a virus
Dystopian? ✓ The world was rebuilding/trying to function after the illness swept through it and failing miserably with it incredibly dangerous to step outside after dark.
Steampunk? ✓ Takes place in Victorian London with steam and electricity as the main sources of power long before they belonged in existence.
Vampires? ✓ The term for those affected by the illness that destroyed white blood cells causing them to need blood infusions to survive
Romance? ✓ Yup, the two guild leaders do, in fact, fall in love.
To my surprise, readers were in love with it, many messaging me days after release. I'd already had the second and third book covers, so I immediately sat down to outline. As often happens when I'm fresh out out of a world, the outline came quickly and I was ready to roll!
The pandemic began and life as a full time social media agency girl, mom, and author came to a halt as I could really only be a mom at that time to my 3 year old. My days were spent figuring out playtime, how to keep him from missing his friends, and how to stay safe because I originally didn't think COVID was a big deal - I was in New Orleans at the time, and the city taught me better.
Shortly after at the end of April, my mystery illness began. For 4 months I was in and out of so many surgeries, imaging sessions, and doctor's appointments I couldn't write, there was no time. Not an iota.
What happened next? A military move which means driving across the country, cleaning the new place, getting the new place ready, and starting life again. All during a Pandemic - which at the time, New Jersey was a dangerous place to be. From September 2020-September 2021 I worked more than 50 hours a week at the day job AND hand my son home with my full time. If you have been a long time reader of mine you know that between city of war and the end of 2021 I released 3 book in total - 2 Christmas Fairy Tales and Land of Flames.
In fall of 2021, my son started kindergarten and I quit my horrible day job in favor of a much calmer business opportunity - still in social media, but not for a giant agency that didn't give a shit about it's employees work hours. The words began to flow and I very quickly had written a Christmas story, a Monster Romance (accidentally because I didn't know it was going to be a thing), 2 In Service shorts, and began The Race.
The juices were back! I was vibing. But, the more I thought about City of War the harder it became for me to write. I love Ben and Raven so incredibly much. I love their world and how far they take things.
But, I can't focus on a world destroyed by an airborne illness that failed not because of the illness, but because of how the people within the countries around the world couldn't play nice in the sandbox. It's too very real right now and while some people can write that way, I want an escape from the drama America is going through every damn day.
Readers, I apologize. I know this has been a favorite series already, and I'm here to tell you that they will be out - likely late 2024. While things are still rough, they are getting better and with every escape I read and write, it's getting easier to believe I can distance myself from the crap around me.
I want to know, how do you feel about reading a story with so many accidental parallels to COVID?
31 days down!
We did it! We're on day 31. Not only did we do the first month of 2022, but I completed my first ever challenge. Just in case you weren't following along on social media, I thought I'd drop the challenge here by day as well!
That's a Wrap!
Each year - pre COVID and even in 2021 - I attend a variety of book signings and book conventions. I love getting to meet readers in person and chat books. I especially love getting to meet readers who’ve read the books and want to talk details! In some instances, I’m able to reconnect with readers year after year and it’s wonderful!
While I love attending all signings and convention, there is one that I cherish most of all. This is because out of all conventions, the authors and readers at this one are my family.
And that convention is LLS (and all it’s sister versions)
First and foremost, LLS is about allowing readers and authors the ability to connect. It’s 3-5 days of pure nerdy, literary bliss. It’s a time to chat over meals, lose yourself in playful craft time and enchanting readings.
For me, it’s something more. It’s a group of people who fill my soul with joy. They push me to be better every single day.
from readers who support me throughout the year to readers who are dear friends - these are not just people popping by my table to grab a book and a photo. These are men and women who are by my side, in my inbox, at coffee dates with me, and being part of my life.
The authors I have met over the years are some of my closet friends. We don’t just see one another at LLS. We plot books together, we create box sets and co-author sets together. When we’re down, we call one another. When we need help, we’re a message or call a way. When we need someone to tell us not to buy the new cover…we’ll, we’re not there for that :)
I cannot think of a day that has gone by since joining these events that I’ve not spoken to at least one of my LLS family. Most days, it’s wake up to bed time in chats, on the phone, and pretending we don’t have hundreds or thousands of miles between us.
In 2020 when my mystery illness prevented me from attending, a reader made a photo of me that was passed around. And of course, my author bestie took me everywhere.
Going to conventions is a grand event. It can also be scary if you’ve not been to it before. That’s where I’m coming in now. If it’s your first year at LLS as a reader or author, comment on the blog and I’ll have something special for you as a way to say hi and like to my favorite group of people.
I can’t wait to see you all! There’s less than 6 months to go!!
If you’ve read a few of my books or have perused titles on my site or Amazon you’ve probably realized one thing - a good chunk of them take place in New Orleans. What you might not know is why.
Yes, 95% of my New Orleans books are supernatural and there are arguably maybe two places as comparable as the Big Easy as settings for the things that go bump in the night.
While the ghosts and lore are a wonderful reason to unleash witches, warlocks, vampires and more on the city in my worlds, it’s actually not the main reason.
When I write, I want to transport the reader to the setting. When it’s a fantasy world, this is actually much harder. When it’s a place I love, it’s like cuddling up in my favorite sweatshirt.
I live and breathe New Orleans. From the dark corners to the food, and the true Mardi Gras spirit to the areas of the city that don’t often make it into stories, I want to explore it all.
A book set in New Orleans is more than booze and darkness. It’s gumbo weather warnings and teasing national news people who can’t come close to pronouncing the crazy rivers and towns down there. It’s making sure the local voice explodes on the page from small details you can’t get without immersing yourself in every section of the city from the West Bank (that is, yes, on the East bank) to the constantly flooding Mid City and fancy Upper Garden District Plantations sitting in plain sight.
The pure magic when you eat your first spoonful of gumbo, or crush a beignet in your mouth while watching people wander down Decatur is blissful. The accidental find in the French Market that leads to the perfect necklace or knick-knack is one you should always experience in your life. The unadulterated rush when a float rider locks eyes with you and tosses you anything is joy-inducing. Those feelings, those emotions, come out in stories when they're set in New Orleans.
Yes, admittedly whenever I write In the real world I use places I'm fond of, but there's no place like home, and to me, New Orleans is home. It's the place where I find myself, again and again. It's the place where my characters find themselves, and their forevers, as well.
And just in case I haven't gotten to sappy with you, here's a random slideshow of some of my all-time favorite New Orleans moments.
What's your favorite place to read about? Bonus points if it's New Orleans!
Stay up to date with any announcements and just general posts here!