Looking Back


When I was eighteen years old, facing my high school graduation, I also faced an uncertain future. I lived in California–not the nice, beachy part of California but a small rest-stop-of-a-town in the middle of the desert, right on the border between Mexico and California. The economy was terrible; people who had jobs weren’t quitting or retiring. People who didn’t have jobs were flooding the only community college in the area, making it nigh impossible for kids right out of high school to get the classes they needed. I felt a little stuck, unsure what was coming next for me. I also wanted a car (back then a car equaled freedom and not an insurance bill and endless gas payments) but my parents weren’t wealthy enough to get me one. They told me they’d pay for half but I needed a job in order to raise the other half of the payment. Thankfully, my grandparents (who lived in Phoenix, AZ) offered to house me for the summer. My uncle said he could get me a job at the corner deli where he’d gotten his first job.

I’d visited my grandparents before, for up to a week every summer. But this was different. This would be for an entire summer. I’d never been away from home, without my parents, for that long. It should’ve been scary, the prospect of moving. Instead, I felt at peace. I just knew in my heart that this was what I was supposed to do. A little voice said, “Go.” So I did.

I spent that summer working, holed up in my room writing, or attending my grandparents’ church. It was enormous compared to the church I grew up in, which had 50 regular attenders at the most. This new church had a college group, which I eagerly began to attend. With so many people who had grown up in the church together, it was hard for me (the new kid, the socially awkward introvert with terrible self-esteem) to make friends. Still, I persevered because that certainty in my heart of hearts remained. I knew God wanted me there. So, instead of going back to California after the summer was through, I stayed in Phoenix.

It was hard. Sometimes I’d come back from college group, face plant into my pillow, and cry myself to sleep because I was so discouraged and lonely. Sometimes, I’d come home from a long shift at work, lie on my back on the floor, and prop my feet up on my desk because my ankles were so swollen. Sometimes, I’d wonder what my purpose was for being there. I wondered if things were ever going to get easier.

I got progressively more involved with my church. I volunteered in the nursery. I volunteered in the mid-week children’s Bible program. I started singing in the choir. I saved my pennies and finally bought myself a car, a tiny Dodge Neon that was my pride and joy. I moved out of my grandparents’ house, into a flat above an older couple’s garage. The garage was separate from the house so I had my privacy and independence. I got a new job at Chipotle, started community college.

That was hard too. My bosses quickly learned that I was fast and efficient, so they put me in the back. I labored over a giant stove and a grill, sweating constantly, burning myself constantly, slicing and dicing and marinating and washing enormous piles of dishes and scrubbing floors. It was the most physically demanding job I’d ever had. Sometimes, I had to work nights and came home after midnight. Only to wake up early the next morning and rush off to class. I didn’t have a washer or dryer in my flat. I had to go to the laundromat once a week. I still remember doing my homework as I waited for my laundry to be done, all the while keeping my eye out for suspicious characters.

Things at church got a little better; I made a handful of friends at least. Then I met the man who would later become my husband. We dated, got engaged, and married all within a two year span. We moved into a tiny apartment. I got a new job working as a receptionist for my church. While it wasn’t physically demanding, it was mentally taxing. Dealing with all sorts of people who came through the door, looking for financial assistance, looking for counseling, looking to help organize various events, looking to sell me something; it was exhausting. But sitting for hours and hours at a desk, waiting for a phone to ring, also provided me with endless time to write. I completed multiple manuscripts while fulfilling my receptionist duties. I also had time to do homework and finished my schooling while working there. I’ll always be thankful for that time in my life.

But then I transitioned into writing and being an author almost full time, which proved to be hard as well. Despite how diligently I tried to have a social media presence and promote my books on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, despite keeping up a blog and sending out a monthly newsletter, despite writing and rewriting my books to make sure they were the best versions of themselves, I wasn’t making any money. I read articles, I consulted other authors, I used free and paid online promotional services, I made Facebook and Bookbub ads, I even did some cross promotion with other authors. Nothing. Worked. It was so incredibly frustrating! I started questioning whether it was worth it, being an author. But the voices in my heart and mind, the voices of my characters and my loved ones and my inner child, couldn’t be silenced. So I kept trying.

Three years later, we welcomed our son into the world. Becoming a mother brought on new challenges. Breastfeeding a premie proved to be impossible; he was struggling so much to gain weight so I resorted to pumping and bottle feeding. Those were scary days and endless nights as we tried to figure it all out. Thankfully, we did. One day, we weren’t just surviving anymore. We were living, having created a new routine to incorporate our little one into our lives. It was a beautiful time. Until I had to go back to work. I left my precious boy with my grandmother and a friend of the family while I worked from 8AM to 4:30PM, Monday through Friday. For a whole year I balanced work, writing, and motherhood. Little sleep, little time with my baby, little time with my husband. I longed for the day when I could be at home full time. Just when I thought I’d finally gotten used to being a working mom, we found out we were going to have another baby. And it was made very clear that I couldn’t keep working.

So when our daughter was born, I quit my job at the church. I became a full time mom, just like I’d always wanted. But that was hard too. Being stuck indoors all the time with two babies, one of which was very gassy and colic-y, was taxing on my mental health. I went through post-partum depression, started questioning my ability to be a good mother and wife, struggled with anger and hopelessness, could hardly put words on a page. Fortunately, that season–like the others–did eventually pass. God was good and provided for our financial needs until I was in a better place, mentally, and able to work again. A friend of ours told us about a remote job opportunity through the company he worked for and I prayerfully submitted an application. I was hired maybe two months later.

Baby girl still wasn’t sleeping through the night and learning my job responsibilities took time, so it was another sleepless season for me. But I was thankful for the opportunity to help provide for the family and determined to do this job well. After all, it had been an answer to prayer. It took time to grow accustomed to the new routine, to balance work with writing and book marketing, and motherhood and being a homemaker and wife. There are days when I still get overwhelmed, frustrated, and discouraged, and I start to wish things weren’t so hard.

But life has always been hard, hasn’t it? Just in different ways. And with every new set of challenges comes a new type of joy, one provided by my gracious Heavenly Father. I can look back with gratitude and celebration, look forward with confidence despite the unknown, because I know wherever I go, whatever I face, whatever I do, He will always be there.

Advertisement

Cover Reveal for Death’s Curses

Hey everyone!

So sorry I’ve been MIA for the past few months. Life has gotten the best of me but I haven’t been idle! Here is the long-awaited cover reveal for Death’s Curses:

This beautiful cover was created by the talented Cora from Cora Graphics. I’m completely in love with it! As usual, Cora captured my and my sister’s vision for this cover perfectly and we’re so excited to showcase it to you guys!

These are the three main characters of the book Esmer, Jasmine, and Charlie. The story alternates between their three points of view. This is the first book where I alternate between more than two characters and it was so much fun to head hop!

The manuscript is now in the capable hands of Lucy Felthouse who edited my ebooks In the Dark and Asta and the Barbarians. Since Death’s Curses is so long, it’ll take several weeks if not a whole month to be edited. My sister and I have gone over it so many times I’ve lost count; I’m confident there will be very little work that will need to be done after our editor takes a look, but it never hurts to have another pair of eyes on a project this size. We want it to be as polished and professional as any book produced by a traditional publisher. We still don’t have a definite publication date but I will keep you updated as things progress.

There are also ebook ARCs available in mobi, epub, and PDF if anyone is interested in a free book in exchange for an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads!

Cover Reveal for The Andromeda’s Ghost

Super stoked to announce that my new adult science fiction/fantasy book has a cover! I got the manuscript back from BHC Press’s editor earlier this month along with some notes and corrections. After two weeks of combing through it myself, I’ve deemed it to be as perfect as it can be. I’ve sent it back to my publisher for formatting. Then it’ll be sent out to reviewers! And once those reviews get in, it’ll be publication time!

The Andromeda’s Ghost is scheduled to be published in July 2020. This is the first book in The Andromeda Chronicles, which will be a trilogy. It’ll be available in ebook, paperback, and hardcover! For more details, feel free to visit the book’s page on BHC Press’ website.

 

The_Andromedas_Ghost_B_Fox_FC_WEB

A Good Mom

It’s a late night and an early morning.

It’s a sleepy smile, a drool-covered chin, a runny nose.

Time for play?

How about a walk?

Anything for you, baby.

It’s dinner time, bath time, and off to bed with you, mister.

Yes, you are tired. Don’t give me that look.

It’s having to sit perfectly still while baby screams on a monitor screen.

Quietly fuming. Or privately aching.

Sometimes both.

I’ve done everything I can think of.

Why is he still crying?

Does this mean I’m not a good mom?

It’s a house that’s always half dirty.

Laundry mostly done. Clean. Folded. Sitting in baskets all over the living room.

It’s meal planning. All day. Every day.

It’s checking the heater several times before bed, obsessing about baby’s comfort.

It’s cheers and tears after every milestone reached.

I’m so glad he’s growing up at a normal pace…

But why can’t he stay little forever?

“Thank God he can’t stay little forever!” I think moments later.

It’s worrying about his future.

It’s beating myself up after every little failure.

It’s praying, “Oh, God, please help me be a good mom.”

Over and over and over again.

It’s keep to the schedule at all costs. Until baby changes it.

He never sleeps in this late. Is he still alive?

Oh, sorry, baby. Didn’t mean to scare you. Shh. Go back to sleep.

No? Okay. I guess it’s breakfast time now…

It’s panicking when he gets sick.

It’s wiping food off my face. Food that’s not mine.

It’s rocking and crying softly. Overwhelmed by the depth of my love for this baby.

It’s coming this close to cursing at baby. Then actually cursing at baby.

Then feeling extremely guilty for cursing at baby.

It’s falling asleep on the couch with baby, waking every time he moves.

It’s melting whenever I make him giggle.

It’s raging war against the mosquito that dared to bite my baby.

I come home after a long day at work and there he is, crawling toward me at full speed.

Does this mean I’m a good mom?

“You are,” says his grandma.

“You are,” says his aunt.

“You are,” says his father.

On this long, winding road we call motherhood, I struggle to believe sometimes.

It’s looking at a positive pregnancy test.

Happy. Exhausted. Terrified.

Can I do this?

My heart is big enough for both of you, but is my spirit strong enough?

Can I still be a good mom if there’s two?

Only time will tell.

2019 Recap

A lot of people send a Christmas letter to their family members with a summary of their year or a quick update on what they’re currently doing. While I did send out an adorable Christmas picture card of my husband, my baby, and myself, there was no summary attached. So, without further ado, here is my 2019 summary:

  • In February, my mother-in-law flew my husband and I, along with two of her other sons, to Seattle to visit their grandmother. It was my first time flying while pregnant and it went surprisingly well.
  • In April, I signed a contract with a new publisher (BHC Press) for my first science fiction/fantasy novel, The Andromeda’s Ghost. I also self-published my first book, the sequel to my young adult romance novel, titled I Dare You to Stay With Me.
  • In May, I gave birth prematurely to my son, Bennett Mordecai Fox.
  • In September, we said goodbye to my husband’s cat of fifteen years, Cowboy. May he rest in peace.
  • In October, my husband and I flew to Hawaii for his brother’s wedding. It was our first time traveling with a baby. Tears were shed. Lessons were learned. It was a beautiful wedding and I’m glad we were there.
  • In November, I wrote and “produced” my first novelette, A Favor for a Princess, a prequel of sorts for The Andromeda’s Ghost. This book is still available for free, by the way!
  • In December, a good friend of mine who moved to Oregon and now works as the librarian for a high school over there, added I Dare you to Love Me and I Dare You to Stay With Me to her shelves.
  • (I have to include January in this recap because two super exciting things happened this month as well.) BHC Press submitted The Andromeda’s Ghost into Publishers Weekly, along with several other upcoming titles of theirs, in the hopes that they would be featured in PW’s Spring 2020 Announcements page. And The Andromeda’s Ghost was featured under the SF, Fantasy & Horror Listings! Woot woot! Also, the manuscript my sister and I had been working on together for a little over a year, a young adult urban fantasy titled Death’s Curses, was completed this week. It will be sent off to beta readers within the next few days. Once we get their feedback, we’ll be applying necessary changes and then submitting it to BHC Press to be considered for publication. 

It’s been a fun, exhausting, and productive year. And this year promises to be similar. Things I’m looking forward to so far in 2020:

  • In February, I Dare You to Love Me will be participating in a library marketing campaign by New Shelves Books, a book sales and marketing company. My book, along with several others, will be featured in a catalog that will be sent to libraries across the country who are looking to add new books to their inventory.
  • In May, my husband and I will be celebrating our five year wedding anniversary by going on an Alaskan cruise. We’ll be leaving our son for a whole week! Of course, he’ll be a year old by then and he’ll be well taken care of by his grandmas but…I still have mixed feelings.
  • In July, The Andromeda’s Ghost will be published!

In the meantime, there’s lots of work to be done! On my writing schedule, I have the last book in The Andromeda Chronicles to finish, the last book in The Dare Trilogy to start, and a whole mess of plot issues to fix in the first book of my faerie series, tentatively titled The Sentinel’s Test. Not to mention there’s a novelette series that has been on the back burner since Asta and the Barbarians was published. So, yes, lots to do! I can’t wait to get started!

A Favor For a Princess Excerpt

Hey everyone!

I haven’t gotten any requests for my free ebook so I’m going to try and entice you by offering an excerpt. Here you go!


 

“Oh, my God! Have you heard?” Mariana gushed. She balanced two pillows over an outrageously thick comforter. All that could be seen of her was the bun poised at the top of her head.

“No, and I don’t care,” Elvira muttered, pulling tightly on the edge of the sheet before tucking it into the side of the bed. Dinis would be by within the hour to inspect her work; there would be hell to pay if there was a single wrinkle across Princess Kylee’s bed. Not that the princess herself would’ve noticed. That was just the Marques motto: if it’s in your power to make something look perfect, do it. If not, do it anyway.

Mariana leaned to the side to give her sister a chastising look. “Well, you should care because it’s about the Mirelings. You know, the alien race that threatens our very existence? Maybe you’ve heard of them?”

“Yes, unfortunately, I have.” Elvira plucked one of the pillows from the top of Mariana’s stack. It didn’t need any more fluffing but she fluffed it anyway before placing it on the bed.

“Saleh heard from Anaura, who overheard Respen talking to one of the guards. Our spies confirmed what the Mirelings claim; they have these plasma weapons that are strong enough to—”

“You shouldn’t spread that kind of gossip, Mari. It’ll only give those Mireling bastards more power over us.”

Her face scrunched in anxiety. “But what if—”

“Don’t go freaking yourself out, either.” Elvira relieved her sister of the remaining pillow and then the comforter, arching an eyebrow. “You don’t want to go prematurely bald like Auntie Bia, do you?”

Mariana slapped her hands over her bun as if it could fall off at any moment. Her round face paled. “No.”

“Didn’t think so. Now, help me finish so we can go on break.” Elvira waited for Mariana to scurry around the princess’ bed before opening up the comforter and tossing it over the mattress. It billowed gracefully out before settling down. Mariana got to work flattening the creases she could see while Elvira did the same on her end.

The clichéd nature of her family’s chosen profession was not lost on Elvira.

Her ancestors had hailed from Portugal on the planet Earth, which had been destroyed by an asteroid a hundred and fifty odd years ago. The language was dead, the culture and religion blended thanks to inter-species marriages, but whatever genes that produced the distinguishing golden brown skin, black hair, and thick eyebrows had managed to survive. (Elvira’s siblings, like the rest of their family, had been blessed with these attributes while Elvira had not. Their mother had freckled skin, soft brown eyes, and copper colored hair; of course, one of them would take after her.) Despite the advancement of humanity and artificial intelligence, there were still rich people around who preferred humans to wait on them hand and foot.

So, even though the royal family that ruled over most of humanity was “progressive” enough to let their women be the figureheads, they still had (formerly) Latin American servants. How much had humanity evolved, then? Really? Not much in Elvira’s opinion. Not that anyone had bothered to ask her.

She begrudged her great-grandfather for taking a “temporary” job as the staff manager for the palace. Doeline was the biggest country on Jurthaan IV (humanity’s new home planet). Of all the jobs in all the cities in the entire country…he’d chosen to grow old within the palace walls and bequeath the role of staff manager to his son. This seemingly inconsequential decision had resulted in the life-long employment of almost every Marques that came afterward, including Elvira’s father.

Aurelio had been born in the servants’ quarters of the palace, had grown up with Miyako when she was a princess, had taken his first job as a chauffeur for the late Queen Hua, had married the palace chef. Now, he raised his daughters to be the best damn maids the palace had ever known. His son was training to take over the much-coveted role of staff manager.

The Marqueses were proud of their line of work. They were professional in every way, borderline obsessed with the cleanliness and hospitality of the palace, and passionately loyal to the crown. There were other members of the royal staff who weren’t related to the Marqueses; the Mistsinger family (also lifers) along with a handful of stragglers. But they weren’t nearly as dedicated or distinguished as Elvira’s family. This was just a job to them. It wasn’t their entire life.

Elvira retightened her ponytail for the hundredth time that morning as she led her sister out of Princess Kylee’s bedroom. Mariana tugged on the cuff of her uniform, chewing on her lips. Her thoughts, no doubt, still lingered on the Mirelings’ superior military strength. It wasn’t as if Elvira never thought about it; the impending war between the Mirelings and the citizens of Jurthaan IV was the main topic of conversation on every news program, gossip column, and blog on the planet. She just didn’t obsess about the conflict like other people did.

The alien species humans shared Jurthaan IV with were called the Folinar, a simple people built like tailless primates with gooey pink skin, flat faces, and glowing red eyes. They were friendly enough, just a little weird. They worshiped a cloudy white rock that vibrated (it had other special qualities but Elvira had never bothered to learn what they were). The Mirelings wanted to use that rock to rebuild and expand their underwater cities. Why that rock specifically? It had something to do with those “other special qualities.” The Folinar were unwilling to part with their sacred rocks. This made the Mirelings mad.

Humanity was caught in the middle. On the one hand, they were indebted to the Folinar; the creatures allowed humans to settle peacefully on their planet, asking only for help in the first war against the Mirelings. Humanity wanted to side with the Folinar in this rock issue to preserve that alliance. On the other hand, the Mirelings had learned from their defeat. They’d created weapons of mass destruction, unrivaled by anything Jurthaan IV’s people could produce. They had the upper hand this time. Humanity thought it wise to appease them to keep Jurthaan IV’s population from being conquered or destroyed.

The only rumor Mariana had shared that had sort of interested Elvira was also the only one she’d been able to prove; Queen Miyako was working on a compromise. Elvira had walked past the meeting rooms while the queen had been in video conferences with the Mirelings and the other leaders of Jurthaan IV. For all the queen’s faults, she was doing everything in her power to ensure a peaceful resolution to this conflict. There was hope that war could be avoided. That was enough to keep Elvira from worrying. The same couldn’t be said about her eighteen-year-old sister, however.

“Stop it,” Elvira said, tugging on Mariana’s wrist. “You’ll wear the Ersatz and Grandpa will throw a fit.”

Everything that looked like cloth nowadays was actually Ersatz, the latest synthetic fiber that was softer and more durable than any other textile known to man. It came in all sorts of colors and nostalgic textures like imitation leather, silk, satin, denim, and numerous others. Even the body armor the palace guards wore was made out of a hardened version of Ersatz called imitation ceramic.

Mariana clasped her hands before her. Her fitful energy was transferred to her mouth, which squirmed from one side to the other.

“You’re too young to be worrying about politics. Try thinking about something else,” Elvira said.

“I couldn’t care less about politics!” Mariana gulped and looked around to see if anyone had heard her. “What if there really is a war, Vy? The Mirelings are going to want to eliminate the planet’s leaders. They’ll come here first. It’ll be a massacre!”

“No, it won’t.” Elvira stopped to point out the window. “See those guards? The cameras? The ten-foot-thick wall separating us from the rest of the city? The shield generator by that guard tower? We’re safer here than we could be anywhere else.” She gave her sister a stern look. “If there was a threat, the palace would be evacuated. We’ve run the drills. You know we have a plan to meet up with our great uncle in Statine if the worst should happen. We’d be fine.”

Mariana bobbed her head in nod, smiling faintly. “I know, I know. I just…I can’t shake the feeling that something awful is going to happen.”

Yes, that was Mariana. If there was a creak on the stairs at two in the morning, it was due to an intruder coming to murder them in their sleep. It couldn’t possibly be Dinis, sneaking back into his room after rolling around in the grass with his latest conquest. If one of the other servants was curt to her, it was because Mariana had offended them in some way. It couldn’t possibly be because they were in a hurry or upset about something else or preoccupied by personal matters. If their parents were arguing, it was because they were going to get a divorce. It couldn’t possibly be because their mother was easily offended and their father was often careless with his words after a long day of driving Queen Miyako around.

Elvira grinned affectionately as she looped an arm through her sister’s. “You’re definitely going to go bald.”

“No! Vy, don’t put that evil on me!”

“Then stop stressing,” Elvira said, bumping Mariana with her hip. “We have twenty minutes before we have to load the laundry into the washing-drying-pressing machine. What do you want to do?”

Mariana exhaled, lips flapping. “Oh, I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

Elvira pretended to think about it as they walked down the grand staircase and into the main hall. The marble floors had been waxed recently; they reflected the artwork of the domed ceilings above. Decorative columns lined the walls on either side, broken up by scenic paintings, artistically framed mirrors, or tall windows with thick crimson curtains. The tassels fluttered as the air conditioning kicked on. Sleek, modern furniture had been placed in the alcoves littered along the hall, uncomfortable-looking chairs and oddly-shaped end tables that had never been used nor would they ever be. The plants in their exotic pots were all real, cultivated from the royal gardens and immaculately cared for by the Mistsinger family.

That’s what Elvira always wanted to do during her early morning break: visit the gardens. Right now, the light from the sleepy sun would make the dew on the petals shimmer. The air would be crisp with the smells of wet grass, fresh mud, and different floral combinations. The birds would be twittering. The fountains and man-made ponds would be gurgling. The statues of various angels and deities would shine among the multicolored sea. And Ulfric Mistsinger would be doing his daily pruning rounds. It didn’t matter if they had machines that could do the job faster than he could. Ric was determined to do this himself.

Elvira loved nothing more than to watch him wander among his flowers, stopping frequently to whip out his shears and rid his precious garden of even the slightest imperfection. Because of his irrational hatred of tan-lines, he usually did this while wearing only a pair of cut off shorts, much to the delight of all the female servants working the palace grounds.

But Elvira couldn’t suggest a walk in the gardens. Not again. She already shared her room with Mariana, her meals with the extended family, her days off with Dinis (they went into the city together to attend the community center for higher education), and her dream of eventually leaving the palace with the few cousins who hadn’t been brainwashed into believing this was the only life for them. Her feelings for Ric were hers alone.

“How about…?” She was saved from having to answer by the princess’ sudden appearance.

One moment, they were walking toward the front doors and the next, Princess Kylee was standing outside the main dining room, wiping under her eyes. She looked up and gasped as if the maids were the ones who had suddenly materialized before her.

Elvira and Mariana dipped into low curtsies and stayed there, knees bent, hands holding the edges of their skirts, eyes on the floor. Good servants were never seen or heard. The only evidence that they existed at all was the fresh laundry and lavender floor cleaner smells they left in every pristine room they walked out of. Consequently, Elvira had only ever seen the princess from afar.

“Please, rise,” Kylee said. She had the loveliest voice; clear, kind, delicate. It made someone want to lean in and pay attention (useful, given her title).

The maids obeyed, but even while standing straight they didn’t meet the princess’ eyes. It was forbidden. Not by the royal family but by Grandpa Tiago. (He was the patriarch of the Marques family. He also trained everyone who worked within the palace walls.) But Elvira couldn’t help glancing at Kylee’s face.

This nineteen-year-old girl with oriental ancestors had been pampered her entire life. Her hair was so straight and soft; it looked like fresh black paint on a canvas. Her skin was as smooth and radiant as a newborn’s. She oozed grace even while standing still. Her dresses were always extravagant, and gorgeous, tailored to accentuate her petite frame. She smelled like honey and vanilla, subtle but striking. She was basically a walking, talking porcelain doll.

Mariana adored her.

Elvira pitied her. Because while everyone saw the princess’ radiant smile, swam in her cute almond-shaped eyes, hung on her every benevolent word, and envied her privileged life, Elvira saw different things. Like the tightness of her smile, the sadness behind her eyes, the restraint behind her voice, the suffocating routine she kept to like a windup toy that couldn’t do anything else. And now, the frustrated tears she was trying to hold back.

“Are you well, Highness?” Elvira asked.

Mariana stiffened. They were supposed to stand there quietly, staring at the princess’ chin until dismissed. Their grandfather would be so upset; spit would be flying as he screamed at them about protocol. But Elvira couldn’t help it. Princess Kylee wasn’t just an icon. She was a person. Surely, she’d appreciate being treated like one…?

Kylee smiled, inclining her head slightly. “Quite. Thank you.” She started running her hands down the bodice of her dress but stopped. It was a nervous tick of her mother’s. With a grimace, the princess walked away.

Mariana exhaled as soon as Kylee was out of earshot. Turning to Elvira with bulging eyes, she hissed, “What were you thinking? Grandpa will kill you!”

“Not unless you tell him,” Elvira hissed right back. She took her sister by the arm and dragged her out the front doors. “Come on! Let’s visit the horse hybrids.”


 

Request your free copy by sending me a message through Facebook. All I need is an email address and your preferred format (EPUB, Mobi, or PDF). What better way to spend your Christmas break than by reading?

Also….

Merry Christmas from the Foxes! Ain’t we cute?

THE FOX FAMILY

Free Ebook

In August, I got the brilliant idea to write a short story. I’d heard of other indie authors giving away short stories for free in exchange for newsletter signups. With a new book scheduled to be published next year, I thought this short story could be a good promotional tool. I pitched the idea to my new publisher and they loved it. They even offered to help promote the story through their website. So I got to work.

My first story idea turned out to be a dud. Thankfully, my trusty writing buddy and best friend (my big sister), was there to save the day. She gave me an idea and I ran with it, thinking if it stuck, it stuck. If not, I’d go back to the drawing board. Well, it stuck, all right. It stuck a little too well. My “short story” turned into a novelette. During the editing phases, I thought I could shorten it but the plot’s pacing was perfect. To take anything away would cheapen the quality of the overall story. So I left it as is and submitted it to my publisher, hoping the length wouldn’t be an issue.

Unfortunately, the length was an issue. My publisher still thought it was a good idea and encouraged me to promote the story on my end. I was disappointed I wouldn’t get their help after all (I’m not the greatest at book promotion) but I wasn’t about to let my hard work go to waste. I created a cover for my novelette, and formatted its content so that it mimicked one of my professionally published ebooks. Then I found a website that could  convert my PDF file into an EPUB and a MOBI file. Now I have myself a professional-looking ebook.

Now, it’s time to promote. The real hard work begins.

Here’s the blurb:

Elvira Marques has only ever had one goal: to start her own business outside the palace walls. But leaving the servitude of the crown is not something a Marques does. Her family would like her to marry one of the other servants and remain Princess Kylee’s maid forever. Her big brother is constantly reminding Elvira of how good they have it, how great their loud, uncomfortably close family is, how hard it is to make it in the royal city by oneself.

Despite it all, Elvira has remained determined to make her dream a reality. When she falls in love with Ulfric Mistsinger, the gardener’s grandson and another palace lifer, Elvira finds herself having to choose between her heart and her dream. Then Princess Kylee comes to her, asking for a dangerous favor. In exchange, the princess is willing to do something for Elvira. Something that could potentially solve her heart versus dream dilemma.

To get caught while on this secret errand for the princess would mean getting fired. At the least. If the queen finds this offense worthy of banishment, however, Elvira could lose it all. Still, the potential rewards outweigh the risk…right?

This is meant to be a prequel of sorts to The Andromeda’s Ghost, which is a science fiction/fantasy type story. Even if science fiction isn’t your cup of tea, I encourage you to give this novelette a try. It’s really more of a fantasy set on a different planet. If it turns out you like this novelette, you might like The Andromeda Chronicles too, since they’re written similarly.

Whether or not you’re already receiving my newsletter: send me a message through Facebook with your preferred file format (EPUB, MOBI, or PDF) and your email, and I’ll send over your free novelette.

Hope you like it!

A Nostalgic Post

Remember when I took a poetry class to challenge myself since I’m not so great at writing poems? Well, I was cleaning out my USB stick the other day and happened upon a folder with some old assignments. I felt both pride and embarrassment upon reading through them. Here are two of my favorites:

 


 

A Cat and His Dog 

(Inspired by my pets)

The dog thinks she’s the alpha of the house.

The dog is wrong.

She watches cars and people pass through the window,

Barking at anyone and anything.

Unless they come through the door.

Then they’re friends.

The dog thinks I enjoy playing with her.

The dog is wrong.

When Mom and Dad can’t toss the ball for her

She charges and snaps and barks at me.

The dog is often very sorry for this.

I make her cry and retreat every time.

The dog thinks she’s Mom and Dad’s favorite.

The dog is wrong.

She gets treats and belly rubs and sleeps at Dad’s feet.

I get to sleep on the couch.

Mom doesn’t let the dog sleep on the couch.

Enough said.

The dog thinks we’re friends.

The dog is wrong.

Sure, we share the water bowl sometimes.

When I sneak out through the dog door,

We eat grass together and watch the birds.

And when I’m full and the dog asks very nicely,

I let her finish my milk…

I suppose the dog isn’t always wrong.

 


 

My Salted Pine

(Inspired by my grandfather’s ranch)

Freshly tilled earth squishes between my toes

Releasing memories of water, fertilizer, vegetation

My grandfather works hard to nurture his fields

They reward him with good produce every season

Sunshine weaves through the leaves to meet the top of my head

Bringing memories of summer, play, blackberries

My cousins and I once ran through these fields

Raced up the chicken coop to pick the berries that grew there

The wind whispers across the land

Churning up memories of rain, clouds, thunder

I often sat before the front window of my grandparent’s house

Watching the weather wreak havoc across their land

My tree sways and gestures with its branches

Recounting memories of adventures, epiphanies, dreams

This was my place of solitude, the place I could escape to

The place I came to think

I reach up to press my hand against the creases in the bark

Close my eyes, take a deep breath

And remember being a child

 


 

Don’t worry. I’m not quitting my day job yet. It’s just fun to look back and reminisce. At least, it is for me. Hope you enjoyed them! 😉

What’s New?

Happy fall, ya’ll!

While I’m waiting for Inkitt’s editors to be available to look over I Dare You to Stay With Me and get it ready for publication, I’m still writing. I don’t think many people know this but I’ve never been able to stick to one writing project at a time. I usually jump back and forth between two manuscripts, and end up finishing both at around the same time. (The Andromeda’s Ghost has so far been the only exception; that one took me forever to write!) Anyhoo, these are the two books I’m working on now.

The Andromeda's Crew banner.jpg

The third and final installation of what I’m temporarily calling The Andromeda Trilogy is entitled The Andromeda’s Crew. Taren’s come a long way since he crash landed on the desolate planet of Cartiss. It’s been a fun ride. Not necessarily for him, but for me! This was my first attempt at the scifi/fantasy genre and I found it very refreshing. I’m still not sure if I’m “doing it right” but I’m coming to realize that my books don’t need to fall perfectly into a category in order for them to be entertaining or make an impact. Taren’s had to run for his life, fight for the people he cares about, think his way through obstacles, and grieve, things I think anyone can relate to.

The blurb and the first eleven chapters are up on my Inkitt profile page in case anyone’s interested in taking a peek. I’m trying to open myself up to more constructive criticism during my creative process so I’ll be updating the story as often as I can. Be sure to leave comments if you find any grammatical errors or things that need to be explained further. This will be super helpful. Thanks in advance for your time!

Death's Curses

Death’s Curses is a young adult magic realism manuscript my sister and I worked on together back in my high school days. It’s about a pair of twins who were cursed by Death (personified as a woman). Jasmine and Charles sense the deaths of strangers within a certain radius. They live with their uncle, a homicide detective, and help him solve murders. They’ve tried to keep a low profile and simply live with this curse, until Esmeralda moves into town. She has scars of her own, but has a thing or two to teach these twins about living.

This is another genre I have very little experience in. It was slow going but interesting to watch this story unfold the first time. I’m curious to see how the story changes. My sister and I are communicating via email to get this new draft ready for publication. I have the blurb and the first twenty or so chapters up on my Inkitt profile page. Come check it out!

Things, they be a’happening. Stay tuned!

My new YA romance manuscript

For those of you who are following me on Facebook, you know I’ve mentioned a young adult romance “project” that I’ve been working on. Now, that it’s finished I can say it: it’s a sequel for I Dare You to Love Me!

Yep, that’s right. All of you Brian and Iris fans who were kind enough to leave reviews and were begging for a sequel; it’s finally here! Well, almost. I finished the first draft, edited through it, had a beta reader look at it, and then went through another round of edits. It’s as polished as I can make it. I emailed my publisher about it. Now, all I can do is wait for instructions. Crazy, right? I still can’t quite believe it. In October, I Dare You to Love Me will have been published for a year and now it might have a sequel before the end of 2018!

It’s kind of funny because I never planned on writing a sequel for this particular book. I mean, I fantasized about doing it a few times, just because I love these characters and I had such a great time writing their story. But, because of that rule I have about writing sequels, I held off on actually writing one until I was sure I had an amazing plot that would be just as good if not better than the first. It took almost ten months, but I’m confident I’ve accomplished that.

Here’s the blurb:

It’s been three years since Brian Royland was dared to take Iris Newman to the prom. They’ve managed to keep a strong long-distance relationship even while balancing college classes and jobs.

Around the same time of Brian’s impromptu marriage proposal, William Lexington comes back into Iris’ life with an opportunity to go on tour with a well-known rock band. There’s only one condition; he has to be reinstated as Angst’s bass guitarist. Despite her reservations, Iris can’t deny that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So she puts her engagement on hold to fulfill her dream, with Brian’s blessing.

While the band’s on the road, discovering things about each other that they never wanted to know, the drama in Brian’s life escalates. Not only is he dealing with a competitive coworker, a biased boss, and a roommate who just can’t seem to take no for an answer, but then his long-lost mother decides she wants to fight for custody of Leah after all. Brian and Iris’ phone conversations get shorter the more time passes and the distance only grows wider. Things quickly spin out of control, to the point where both Brian and Iris start to wonder if their love is strong enough to withstand the new miles and obstacles that separate them.

I Dare You to Stay With Me is technically a new adult fiction novel because the main characters are twenty-one, but it still has a young adult feel. It’s fun while also tackling some hard subjects and shedding light on some pressures a lot of teenagers deal with. College students will definitely be able to relate, since Brian’s chapters focus on the stresses of going to school while also having a job. All in all, I think you guys are really going to enjoy this second installment to what I’m very tentatively calling The Dare Duo. It’s too soon to tell if there’s going to be a third book or not. I would love to, obviously, but I don’t know if I can whip up an even better plot than this one in the next year or so.

For right now, I think I’m just going to sit back and enjoy getting this second book published.

Stay tuned! More news to come.