Thursday, December 31, 2015

1 Year Later

It was about this time last year that I started this blog, released Onyx Moon, and started establishing myself as a legit author. Since starting this journey, the connections I've made and lessons I've learned have proven to be priceless. I was blown away by the overwhelming support of my family and friends. I couldn't have kept up the lifestyle of a writer without the understanding friends I blew off to spend my free nights hunched over my computer, the readers badgering me to know when the next book is coming out, all the people who showed up to my events, and the pep talks from my fellow authors.

Book Reviews

Through book reviews and volunteering for ARCs, I've gotten to know some very talented authors. I've been blessed to read their stories and learn from their strengths. I never thought I'd grow up and actually enjoy doing a book report but I absolutely live for it! I love sharing my opinion and helping to promote my new favorite books. I know just how important it is that books, especially independently published, get reviews on blogs and sites like Amazon and Goodreads. These days, people not only judge books by their covers, but also by how many people have read them. Regardless if a book has all 5 star reviews or all 2 star reviews, as long as it has at least 100 posted ratings, the book is going to get attention. That's why leaving a review for a book you've read, even a not so great review, is SO important to the author. It's like leaving us a tip. Except it doesn't cost you any extra money. ;)

All the reviews I've done are based on my personal preferences and opinions It's hard sometimes when a book doesn't really thrill me. Being an author myself, I hate writing bad reviews. I know how much work goes into a book whether or not one specific reader enjoyed it. But I've come to believe that all books have their reader. So I always try to find some aspect of the book I appreciated, whether it be a relate-able character, good narration, or just a fun concept. Just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean it won't be someone else's cup of cocoa.

Highlights of the Year

* Holding a lifelong dream in my hands for the first time, instead of reading it on the computer.

* My first book signing. So many emotions (mostly anxiety) and the perfect day to launch my career.

* Selling out of my first, second, and third print run!

* Getting my new computer! I don't have to plug this one into the wall and strap duct tape to it.

* Being featured in my local paper.

* Reading all of Onyx Moon's great reviews online.

* My niece talking to me about my book.

* Interviewing all of the authors that agreed to be on my little blog. :)

* Drinking "gourmet" cocoa while I work on a secret project. 

* Actually having more than one publisher interested in that new project and having to choose which publisher I wanted. That seriously did not feel like real life.

* Announcing my secret project...Sigil in Shadow!

* Doing my first radio interview.

* Seeing Sigil's finalized cover. I'll share it with you as soon as I get the green light. I promise!

 Coming in 2016

I'll definitely keep up with indie reviews as much as I can, but man, I've got a lot on my plate for this next year. One thing I'm really excited about is that this website is going to get a makeover. Yep! That's right! I really want to streamline things and find a theme that best represents my books. I'll be working with a designer soon and hopefully have an updated website by February. Also, I'll be available on Twitter soon so be sure to follow me. :)

A lot of people have been curious about the second book in the Onyx Moon Trilogy, Bloodstones. Things are definitely progressing, but I'll admit, it's slow going. If you've read Onyx Moon, you know that it's really like two books in one. While Bloodstones will be shorter, bringing the two story lines together has taken a lot of work. It took 8 years of stop and go to write the first one, but I promise, you won't have to wait nearly that long. The sequel is my main writing focus as of right now, but sometimes I have to push that manuscript to the back burner in order to work on promotions or finalizing things for Sigil in Shadow's release. For this reason, I'm not quite ready to give an official release date for the second book. But I will as soon as I finish the first draft.

Meanwhile, Sigil in Shadow will be in stores July 12th and will soon be available for pre-order wherever you buy books online. I'm setting plans in place for the release party and book signings, giveaways, as well as a book trailer. I can't wait to share everything with you!

One last thing....Remember when I said Sigil was a standalone novel?? Well, turns out I can't even follow my own advice. As I was finishing up the last pre-edited draft, I realized that there is another character or two that needs their story told as well. So, nothing is official, but don't be surprised to find a sequel in The Shadow Saga around the corner!

Happy New Year!!!!     


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Review: A Kindled Winter by Rachel L. Demeter

A Kindled Winter


Rachel L. Demeter


"Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas." - Dale Evans

A week before Christmas, Jeseca Reed sets off for Blue River, Oregon - her childhood home and a vault of tender memories. However, fate takes an unexpected turn when she's left stranded in the mountains' vast, untamed wilderness. Desperate and alone, she seeks shelter at a cottage and finds herself in the arms of a mysterious stranger.

Dr. David Drake was once a renowned cardiovascular surgeon. But a devastating tragedy has left him scarred both inside and out, unable to use his hands to operate again. For the past five years, his Blue River cottage has been his sole escape - a safe haven where he can shut out the world, bury himself in his grief, and reunite with his son's memory.

Together they are summer and winter. Fire and ice. And yet a poignant connection forms between them. Jeseca awakens David and thaws his heart with a romance hot enough to melt snow. But before David and Jeseca can fully embrace each other, they must wade through darkness and confront the ghosts of their pasts ...
Equal parts steamy and heartfelt, A Kindled Winter brings the spirit of the holidays to life with a passionate story of second chances and healing love.



I was looking for a cozy Christmas book and this came highly recommended. It was a quick, easy read, but didn't really meet my expectations for a good story. Despite good writing and developed characters, the plot was mind-numbingly slow and the hype fell flat.

Hear me out. I wasn't looking for heart pounding action and epic battles, but the whole premise of a cute girl stuck in a flash flood in Oregon during the week of Christmas and just happens to land at the doorstep of a hot, heartbroken bachelor is just too far fetched. And nothing happens - except the obvious romance that slowly blooms between them. The book is very emotional, which is fine, except that I kind of feel as though someone was trying to force me to feel for the characters, in a way.

The characters themselves were very fleshed out with tragic backstories, which for me, happened to be the best part of the book. I would have much rather read more in depth about the tragic events of their pasts rather than just what felt like an epilogue. 

But this isn't a bad book. I just don't think it was for me. Check it out if you love tear jerking love stories, but don't expect to find much holiday cheer in this dark romance. The author isn't bad. She also has a historical fiction novel out which I think will suit me better. 

3 stars 
* * *

Monday, December 21, 2015

Other Books of Honorable Mention (2015)

I'm officially reading my the last book I will finish in 2015. Normally, I save this blog space to talk about independently published and small press books. Before the year closes, I wanted to highlight some great books I've read this year that are from more well known publishers or bigger companies that I haven't mentioned here before. Because let's face it, who wants to limit their reading experience to just one genre/author/publisher?


I instantly fell in love with this cover and decided I must have it. (Little tip: Target will price match anything Amazon sells so I got this HARDCOVER for 9 bucks!!) I found out I was slightly deceived, though. The artwork suggests Renaissance court intrigue and drama, which there is, but this story is more dystopian/sci-fi, which kept throwing me for a loop since they would run around castles in pretty clothes and then use their electric super powers to glitch out the security monitors. But all that aside, it's a great book. Kind of reminded me of Game of Thrones and X-men. Definitely getting book two. Hopefully in hardcover. 

My family knows how much I love anything Renaissance so I got this for Christmas last year. It's different than anything I've ever read. It's a collaboration of about 12 different authors and each author writes an act. It's a very interesting story, but drags a lot, depending on who's telling the story. It's kind of a heavier (and long) read so I'd recommend doing a little research on it before investing in it.

This book was great. It's a very subtle Cinderella retelling, but what I liked most about it was the beautiful, unique world and the elaborate masks and costumes. When I read a book I want to escape to another realm, and What is Hidden provided me with just that. I'm definitely reading the sequels! Coincidentally, this book comes from the same publisher who is doing my latest book Sigil in Shadow. So, if you're familiar with this book, you'll probably like mine too!

This is one of the last in the Bloody Jack series - a chronicle of adventures concerning a young orphan girl who disquises herself as a boy to get a job on a ship. Excellent, excellent story telling! This series got me through some tough times and one I hope my daughter will read one day. "Jackie" and I have been through a lot together and I will be very sad to say goodbye to her.

I re-read this before I went to see the movie. Not the best in the series but still, "not the best in the series" in a brilliant series is still an amazing book.


I've got one more review coming up before 2016, but I'll be busy as I expect to get a lot of books for Christmas! What were some of your favorite books this year, indie or otherwise?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Book Review: The Black Mage: Apprentice by Rachel E. Carter

The Black Mage:


(Book 2)



Rachel E. Carter





  She survived a trial year at the Academy, but that was just the easy part…

Now sixteen-year-old Ryiah is an apprentice of Combat, her school’s most notorious faction of magic. When she finishes she will be a mage, but in order to do so she has to survive four years with a training master she hates and her old nemesis, Priscilla. To make matters worse the unwanted attraction Ry feels for her sometimes-friend-sometimes-rival Prince Darren is at an all time high –even though he is betrothed to the very girl she can’t stand.

Really, the only bright spot to Ryiah’s new life is the time she spends with her friends, including an older apprentice named Ian, who she finds herself thinking about quite often.

Just when things start to get comfortable they take a turn for the worse. An apprentice is killed in a rebel attack and several mages end up dead. Unwittingly, the apprentices find themselves in the midst of a budding unrest between Jerar and its northern neighbor, Caltoth. For Ryiah the impending conflict means many things, but as her apprenticeship draws to a close she finds her biggest problem at home.

Unfortunately for her, Darren’s not going anywhere.



Since reading First Year, the opening book in the The Black Mage Series, I've been anxious to get back to Ryiah and her struggle to move up the ranks at the mage academy. Apprentice does not disappoint. All the little snags and hang ups that I complained about with the first one are gone, and replaced with characters you love to hate and ones you relentlessly root for.

I was pleasantly surprised from the very beginning. The story opens in a refreshing setting not often used in fantasy stories. Instead of spending the entire year at the Academy, the apprentices travel back and forth all over Jerar. There's not much filler to the story, like I found in First Year. Hardcore action, which includes exciting mock battles and dangerous ambushes, is only interrupted for key plot points and heart wrenching angst.

There's no way around it. Ryiah is an angsty girl. A tough, resilient, pain casting, blade wielding girl, but a girl who often lets her heart over rule her head, nonetheless. It's easy to love Ryiah like you would a close friend, but I found myself "arguing" with her a lot. - Just as Ella, her actual best friend does, so I feel like my opinions have some merit. ;) But Ryiah is her own woman and has to make her own mistake. Lucky for you, you have a front row seat through all the drama with Darren. I told her many times, "Girl, if you don't get your head on straight, you're going to be singing along to a lot of Adele in your future. Trust me." Needless to say, Ella and I are anxious to see how things turn out.

You can tell when an author pours their entire self into a story. As a reader, I have no choice but to really feel for the main character, even if I don't always agree with her. Rachel E. Carter has such a voice that she puts you right in the story and makes you feel as if you're decked out in training gear with weapons right next to the other characters. Among all the action and heartache of Apprentice, something dark was brewing up for book three, Candidate, (now available) and I'm definitely not going to miss it!  

 5 stars
* * * * *

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Radio Interview

A few weeks ago I was able to sit down and have a chat with author and radio host Leesia Champion on her show Take Your Seat. Even though I was really nervous, (my first radio interview! ahhh!!!) I think I did okay. We talk about everything from the airline I used to work for, writing while juggling a two year old, and my plans for a Sigil in Shadow book tour. Have a listen!

*~*~*~*Click Here*~*~*~*

to listen to 
the full Broadcast!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Book Review: Redemption From Ashes by Megan Linski

Redemption From Ashes
(The Kingdom Saga #3)

Megan Linski


Her destiny will cost her everything.

It has been three years since Queen Bennua last saw the devil himself flee her borders, and her kingdom warily stands watch. Sahrahn has fallen into chaos, with rumors of countries being flattened at the wrath of Akshalad, the great eagle who seeks to devour the souls of men. Cities burn, entire communities are slaughtered, and Bennua’s faith in Alshams’ is shaken to its core as she witnesses cruelties beyond all imagining. Guided only by blind faith, Bennua finds that she is to play a crucial role in a great battle between djinn, men, and angels, a fight that will determine the fate of the world. Carrying the future of Sahrahn, Bennua’s only hope is not revenge...but redemption.


I was really excited to get the third book in the Kingdom Saga. I couldn't read it fast enough. Seriously, so many annoying day to day interruptions! The end of each chapter made me sigh and say, "How am I supposed to go back to work/cook dinner/reenter society now? This story, especially the epic ending, kept me up at night wondering what was next for our brave queen.


*~*~*~*~* SPOILERS *~*~*~*~*

Everything seemed golden in Sahrahn when we last saw Bennua and Zahid, except for the ever present threat of Rukuh's revenge on the sizzling horizon. Redemption opens after three quiet years have passed without so much as a dark cloud. When a devastating curse is uncovered, Bennua realizes that darkness is quickly closing in on all she holds dear.

I really appreciated the depth of this story. Bennua is pretty much stripped of everything except her faith, and that is all she has to guide her through the third book. The internal dilemmas Bennua faces mirror those of modern times; things her readers can definitely relate to. Linski also gives a new twist on spiritual warfare with magic, monsters, and djinn.

The plot unfolds quickly with one surprise after another. One thing that I really liked, was that when the characters had to get from one place to another, there wasn't a whole chapter on the journey there. I think that really kept the pace going. 

Bennua, Zahid, Shadi, and Nuri are so fleshed out, I sometimes catch myself thinking about them as if they are real people. I love Bennua. I don't always agree with her decisions and the way she handles situations, but I find myself "counsoling" her as I would a friend. And Zahid. Oh, Zahid! Ladies, as if we didn't have enough of a reason to swoon over him! In this installment, he will put all of your other fictional crushes to shame. I promise. By the third book, Linski's characters are like old friends, the kind you wish you could take out and go with on vacation.

Redemption From Ashes is the best in this ground breaking series, and you would be a fool to miss it. Keep an eye out for #4, Prince of Fire coming early next year. From what I hear, it's a game changer. Can't wait!  

5 stars

* * * * *


Monday, November 30, 2015

Inside & Out

I haven't done a fun, pointless post in a while. I found this on Bookfever, an excellent review and discussion blog that I follow. They stole it from another blog, Books, Biscuts, and Tea. Feel free to steal it from me. I'd love to hear your answers too!

I. Inside flap / Back of the book summaries: Too much info? Or not enough (Discuss)  

I usually read the first three lines of the description/inside flap/back summary. By then I've pretty much decided if it goes on my TBR list. If it looks interesting I'll read the rest, but mostly just skim it if it's more than 2-3 paragraphs. I don't like to much info when going into a book.

N. New book: What form do you want it in? Be honest: audio book, e-book, paperback, or hardcover?

Paperbacks are my absolute favorites. Hardbacks are fine but I like the simplicity and flexibility of paperbacks.

S. Scribble while you read? Do you like to write in your books, taking notes, making comments, or do you keep your books clean clean clean? (Tell us why)

I'll make notes on scrap paper if I'm planning on reviewing the book on my blog. Otherwise I like perfect, clean pages. I get mad if there are even pizza or chocolate smudges on a page. (Which happens a lot.)

I. In your best voice, read for us your favourite first sentence from a book.

That's really hard. So instead, I'll give you the first few lines of one of my all time favorite books...

                                    "They say the first of my kind was a woman named Alasdiar, a human raised by hawks. She learned the language of hte birds and was gifted with their form. It was a pretty myth, I admit, but few actually believe it. No record remains of her life."

                                                                  ~ Hawksong, by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

D. Does it matter to you whether the author is male or female when you’re deciding on a book? What if you’re unsure of the author’s gender?

Not a bit. It just so happens that the majority of the authors in my favorite genres are women. But what matters most to me is voice. If you can give me a convincing character I don't care what your gender is.

E. Ever read ahead? Or have you ever read the last page way before you got there?

Guilty. I can't help it. I've never read the entire last page but I have cheated and read the last line when curiosity gets the better of me. And if there is bold text anywhere on the page, my eyes immediately go to it like a Christmas lights display. I've ruined some plot reveals that way, but I don't fault myself for it.     


O. Organized bookshelves, or outrageous bookshelves?

I try to keep my bookshelves organized. I really do. But with a 2 year old, I'm lucky I even have a bookshelf. In fact, most of my books are packed away until we can get a bigger place or install wall shelves. We have 3 tall book cases in the livingroom and my husband takes up 2 of them with his monstrous  boardgame collection. I'd love to have a half bookcase in the bedroom, I even have the spot for it, but that would be impossible with my 2 year old unless I'd like to restock it 10-15 times a day.

U. Under oath: have you ever bought a book based on the cover (alone)?

Almost. I don't really have that kind of money to throw around, though... So I at least read the first part of the blurb before becoming absolutely sure I want to invest in it. I do find myself "click" happy with those free Kindle books though.

T. Take it outside to read, or stay in?

Too many people and distractions outside. I prefer to be completely alone when I read. My perfect "book date" is snuggled in my bed with my dog and a cup of cocoa. Scented candles are nice too, if I'm really up for a wild Friday night. :)  


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Author Spotlight: B.I. Woolet

Guess what! I joined a blog tour group! My first post will be featuring B. I. Woolet. A husband and wife team who authored the World of Arcus series.

1.   Tell us about your series and Arrows of Darkness.

Arrows of Darkness is the newly-released second book the World of Arcas series. The series battles amid realms and rulers who disagree with whether they should reunite an ancient pathway severed long ago between Earth and Arcas. In The Hunter, the Bear, and the Seventh Sister, Jackson is sent on a mission to insure peace by cutting the last ties between the two worlds, but lines quickly get blurred between friend and foe in this traveling adventure full of beasts and beauties. In Arrows of Darkness, Jackson returns to Arcas to escape troubles at home, but the peace he expects to find has been consumed by a violent new ruler that the teen unknowingly helped bring to power.

2.   You're a husband and wife team. What made you decide to join forces and write together?

Though I (Ila) studied and taught English, I never ever considered writing and publishing books. But Benji had this idea for a story brewing in him, and he wasn’t going to give up until I at least wrote the first chapter from his notes. I finally caved, but once I wrote the first chapter with him, we never stopped. J

3. What was the hardest thing about co-authoring a book together?

Finding the right rhythm of life is always a struggle. Like many authors today, we are trying to balance writing time, family time, recharging time, job time, and church/community time. We want don’t want to be overly consumed by any one area, but all of these are important to us!  We also have to compromise over plot-lines to find a balance that we both are happy with.

4. What was the best thing?

While it’s often difficult for busy couples to find time to connect, writing as a team gives us opportunities to enter another world where we can just escape everything else and create together.  

5. What makes your book stand out from the others in it's genre?

Though many tales have borrowed names from the stars, our connections intertwine within almost every fiber of the World of Arcas. We studied both the mythology the science behind the stars before we connected a character or place to them. Readers can enjoy quite the scavenger hunt of deep space objects, nebulae, and wonders in the world of astronomy if they want to while reading our books.

6. What's something you both enjoy together when you're not writing?

We love playing music and singing together (show tunes, gospel, jazz, pop, oldies), taking walks through wooded trails, and playing games like Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan. 

7. Who designs your gorgeous covers?

Regina Wamba is the amazing artist who designs our covers. Though we didn’t use live models on the World of Arcas books, she also does beautiful work using custom photography, make-up, and costumes for cover designs. Check out her other covers at !

8. What advice do you have for other aspiring writers?

Though many people think of writing as a solo sport, that definitely has not been our experience! Besides writing as a duo, we also reached out to a close group of friends and family throughout the process. Some helped us with editing; some just encouraged us to continue to writing and would ask us frequently about our progress. It’s a powerful thing to surround yourself with people who support you, challenge you, and encourage you. Find those people in your life and hold on to them!

9. If you could double date with any couple, alive or dead, who would it be?

We would love to have a double date with C.S. Lewis and his wife Joy. He was an amazing writer of fantasy and theology, and Joy published a book of poetry. We would love to hear their writing advice and learn more about their experiences and passions.

10. What's next for B. I. Woolet?

Though we know we have a least one more book to write in the World of Arcas, we aren’t completely sure how long the series will go. We have book ideas outside of fantasy, but we are definitely going to finish Jackson’s current escapades before we tackle any new realms! Nevertheless, the star-studded world of Arcas will probably always be beckoning us back for just one more adventure…

Friday, November 20, 2015

Author Spotlight: Megan Linski

If you follow this blog at all you know that I'm a huge fan of The Kingdom Saga The Kingdom Saga by Megan Linski. I'm currently reading the ARC for the third book in the series, Redemption From Ashes, and I thought, what better way to celebrate than to feature her with an interview? Here she is talking about the second book in the series Fallen From Ashes.

(Compliments of


Describe your story. 

Fallen From Ashes is a mixture of Aladdin and 1001 Arabian Nights, with themes such as equality for women and staying faithful to your true love, no matter what the cost.

What inspired you to write Fallen From Ashes? 

Fallen From Ashes is the sequel to Kingdom From Ashes, #1 in the Kingdom Saga. When Kingdom from Ashes came out, I got such a high demand for a sequel that I knew I had to get right on making another story in The Kingdom Saga for my readers to explore.

What makes a story great, in your eyes?

I believe you have to have something different in your book that’s unique to you, and you have to stand for something. The books that mean the most and create the most change in the world aren’t afraid of making a
statement and not pleasing people. They’re not afraid to be bold, and I try to do the same thing in my writing.

Where do you live? Did your hometown influence your story?

My hometown is pretty small and boring, so to create the exotic, adventurous desert of Sahrahn (where The Kingdom Saga is set) became an escape for my readers and for me.

How long did it take to write Fallen From Ashes?

Kingdom From Ashes took nearly three years from start to finish. By drastic contrast, I wrote Fallen from Ashes in ten days and took a month to edit and revise.

 Who is your cover artist and editor?

I have two editors: Sam McClure from Resolution Edits, and Thalia Smithingell, who works for me under my company, Gryfyn Publishing. My cover artist is the amazing Clarissa Yeo of Yocla Designs.

What have you learned while writing and publishing? 

Before I started I thought I had a great plan and knew everything about marketing, but it turns out I didn’t know anything. Things that I’ve really worked hard on haven’t really panned out, and other things that I’ve ignored have ended up exploding my book’s visibility on Amazon. This is why it’s important to read marketing books and know how to get your product out there. A good one to start with is Write. Publish. Repeat.

What helped you when you got discouraged along the way?

When readers asked for a sequel to Kingdom From Ashes, I had absolutely nothing. No plot, no outline, not even an idea of where I wanted to go. I sat down and didn’t let myself get up until I had an outline. The Kingdom Saga requires a lot of research, because it takes place in an ancient Arabic society, so I did that as I went along and made sure to stick as close to Middle Eastern folklore as possible. I just had a fire lit underneath me, and I didn’t let myself stop. Now that I’m working on #3, that fire is gone and it’s a lot harder to keep writing, but I’m forcing myself through it and not allowing myself to quit, which makes all the difference in the world. When you stop making excuses and start expecting results of yourself, magic happens.

What would you do differently on the next book?

I would treat myself better! My work ethic when it comes to writing is absolutely crazy. It’s not uncommon for me to be icing my hands and wrapping my wrists late at night after I’m done writing. With Fallen, it took only ten days to write, and I didn’t plan it that way. I simply went crazy and wrote as much as I could. I personally think it’s one of the best books I’ve ever written, but when I was finished I was shaking and on the verge of vomiting. I really need to take better care of my temple, otherwise I won’t be able to produce!

Best piece of advice for first time writers?

Stop making excuses and do what you want to do! You’re wasting time and money waiting for the right time or the right opportunity to go ahead and do something. You can always fix mistakes later, but if you wait too long, you’ll miss your chance. One of my biggest mistakes was not publishing in 2011 like I wanted to during the indie boom and waiting until 2014. I lost precious time and sales because I was waiting around until things were perfectly in place, until I accepted the fact they never were going to be.

Before you publish, though, go ahead and read every single book on writing and marketing that you can. You need to accumulate as much knowledge as possible before you go into publishing. The more you know, the less difficult things will be later. 

Another thing: successful people network and know a lot of other people! You may complain that it’s not fair and your career shouldn’t be like high school, but the more popular you are and the more friends (READERS) you have, the more successful you will be. Most authors are natural introverts, and I am definitely not the most social person, but if your book really means the world to you then you will find a way to get yourself out there and make some acquaintances. It may seem unfair, but nobody is going to find you if you’re underneath a rock. Posting your book everywhere, paying for lots of advertisements and spamming people doesn’t work. Making connections and lasting friendships does.

Where can readers find you?

At my site,, and you can sign up for my VIP list here!

Check out the series before I post my review for the 3rd book! Megan is currently participating in NaNoWriMo, working on a retelling of the first book in the Raider Prince's point of view.