Thursday, December 28, 2017

Top 5 Favorite Reads of 2017

We laughed, we cried, we went on adventures, we fell in love, and we reviewed it on Goodreads.  That's right!  2017 was, hopefully, full of great reads for all of us.  Though not all of these books were new releases, here's a list of my Top 5 Favorite Reads this year:

5.) FISH AND GHOSTS by Rhys Ford

This book was sexy and surprisingly fun.  I had no idea what to expect going into it which was probably part of what made it so entertaining.  I had never read Rhys Ford before but now I definitely get the appeal.  While the main characters were pretty standard fare as far as Romance novels go it was the setting of this one that ultimately won me over.  I won't spoil anything for you but if you like truly imaginative ghost stories with a side of erotica then this won't disappoint.

4.) LEO LOVES ARIES by Anyta Sunday

I read a lot of Romance this year, what can I say?  Venturing bravely out of my usual Paranormal Fiction genre, I picked up this charming Contemporary Romance by well-known M/M author Anyta Sunday.  It was a sweet, non-perilous (There's always peril in Peril-normal Romance), slow-burn story that had me hooked pretty quick.  The characters (All of them, not just the MCs) were completely lovable.  It'll leave you with that warm, fuzzy, feeling that any HEA romance should.

3.) THE MAGPIE LORD by KJ Charles

This dark, steamy, supernatural historical thriller took me entirely by surprise.  A mystery disguised as a romance.  I fell so very much in love with this one and KJ is now one of my favorite authors.  Please do read it.  PLEASE.

2.) THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller

I'm still crying nearly a full year later.  This was my first read of 2017 and oh man, it will hit you hard.  This isn't your average retelling of a classic.  This is pure poetry.  Invest in tissues first.


It feels like a holiday gift that I would end up reading my favorite book of the year as my last book of the year. (Bonus points that it also took place during the holidays.)  Add to that the fact that I've read all of Gail's books and this one is now my favorite to date.  I might be biased since it featured my favorite couple of her's but this novella was SO GOOD!  Not only do I think it's her best Romance writing but I also feel she's at the top of her Humor game in this one.  I laughed out loud so many times.  This was a reunion story worth the wait.  Thank you for the Christmas present, Gail.  We can definitely tell it was made with love.

What were your favorite reads of 2017?  Did we happen to read some of the same titles?

Oh yes, and just for fun...

My Least Favorite Read of 2017


There's a reason some books are out of print...

Here's to looking forward to more great reads in 2018!  You can follow along with my reading journey on Goodreads if you'd like.

Cheers! x

Friday, December 22, 2017

Blog Revival & 2018 Plans


That's right.  I've revived this old blog space.  I gave the built-in blog platform on my website a try for nearly a year (That's a fair enough shake.) and didn't really like it.  I prefer this format SO much more.  As you can see, I'm still working on updating and adding things but this will be my blog home now.  If you'd like to receive updates whenever I post, please scroll on over to the right-hand side and sign up through Bloglovin'.  Thanks!

I'm not even going to worry about deleting old posts here.  It's kind of fun to see the progress I've made.  And I won't be importing the past several months of posts because they were mostly just updates.  I think because I didn't like that platform it ended up deterring me from ever wanting to post anything there.  One of my many plans/goals for 2018 will be keeping up with my blog a bit more.  I've had a few people ask me in person if I blog or say that they would like to see me blog more.  So, NOTED.  Here I am.

2018 PLANS

The thing I'm looking forward to most in 2018 is the official re-release of ROAM through NineStar Press on July 30th!  I'm so happy this story has the opportunity to find a wider audience and I can't wait to see what they do with the cover art.  I feel insanely lucky to know that one of my favorite designers, Natasha Snow, is lined up to create it!  She's one of the best out there and I've read a number of books that she designed covers for.  Truly exciting!  The cover pictured above is actually a mock-up from the first test print when I was self-publishing.  I threw it together really quick just so I could try out a printer and see if they would work out for me.  There are only two physical copies that exist with this cover and one sits on my bookshelf in my writing nook to remind me of where I started.

Here's what else I've been planning and contemplating for the coming year:


I'll probably be fairly busy in this area with the ROAM release.  Any other designated writing time I have will be put toward writing The Dead Oaks: Book Two (Which I've already started.) and a super secret manuscript that I plan to submit to my publisher once it's finished.  Also, as mentioned earlier, building up this blog space.


At the end of this year, the thing that I feel I lacked doing most in this area was actually keeping up with my Etsy and Redbubble shops.  Thank you to everyone that bought something with that Riverdale Jughead illustration on it because I sold a number of those and that kept me motivated!  I think selling art can be difficult because you just want to draw what you feel like drawing and worrying about how well it will fit onto a marketable product is both annoying and, at times, stressful.  Right now, I'm only really offering the items Redbubble can make and mini-prints in my Etsy shop (Plus, a few sketchcards.).  I haven't made a solid decision on what other forms of art I could offer but I do have a couple of ideas that I might explore. If there's some specific item you'd like to see, let me know! Mostly, I just want to keep drawing and painting and see what happens from there.

I will have three pieces on display at the Stranger Things Art Show at De Nada in San Angelo, TX this coming March.  So come check it out if you're in the area!


Oh, you know, the usual culprits.  Fitness is definitely on the list along with eating healthier.  Those should just be daily goals in general but holiday snacking is what makes you think of it more. *guilty smile*  Scrapbooking, organizing, and hopefully taking a trip.

Another personal goal will be to allow myself time to actually relax every now and then and to enjoy my successes without immediately feeling the obligation to jump into a huge new project.  I left myself feeling burnt out and exhausted many times this year or feeling like I hadn't achieved enough (When my achievements were actually insanely awesome!).  No more.  I'm going to start being as nice to myself as I am to everyone else.  Self care isn't just a trend.  It's important.

And I'll end this list off with a fun one.  MORE READING.  I have a new Instagram Author account (Still have the old account but it's just for art now.) where I'll be updating all of my Current Reads along with doing so on Goodreads.  I've toyed with the idea of posting book reviews here but I don't really think people engage with those as much.  You're going to read what you're going to read no matter what anyone else's opinion on it is.  So, I might try to find some other fun way of sharing what I'm delving into. :)

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!  Thank you for all of your support and friendship this year and I definitely look forward to seeing what we all accomplish next year!

Cheers! x


The Julbock by Dez Schwartz is now available on Kindle.
(Yule themed M/M Paranormal Romance Short Story)


M/M Paranormal Dreampunk
July 30, 2018
Official re-release through NineStar Press.

YA M/M Paranormal
Coming Spring 2018
The second in THE DEAD OAKS series.  Jasper, Wes, and Liv tackle personal demons, haunted houses, and something truly terrifying.  Graduation.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

5 Character Creation Tips

I've mentioned in previous posts that I receive a lot of questions on my process of creating characters.  So, I am going to attempt to break it down for those that are interested.  These are the techniques and inspirations that work best for me but everyone is different, so feel free to pick and choose which things you'd like to try for yourself.

Since I've already written about the basics of character creation, I'm going to assume you already have a character established and that we're now working on fleshing them out so that they will be a fully individual and original character.  Generic tropes are boring for everyone.
Write A Character Sheet

I usually write my character sheets in the same notebook where I've outlined my story.  This is so you can easily reference all of those little details that you might have to refer back to while writing (i.e.- Physical Attributes, Strengths, Weaknesses, Personality Traits, etc.).  It doesn't have to be long.  Mine are usually written in bullet points and only take up half a page for each character.  These are your building blocks so don't feel bad if each description is only a few words;  you'll be constructing more along the way.

Create An Inspiration Board

This is incredibly easy and not very time consuming (Unless you want it to be.) since Pinterest exists.  Look up some quotes, mood setting photography, and maybe even some actors/models that match the vibe you want for your character.  Pretty self-explanatory and extremely fun.

Curate A Playlist

I like to use Spotify for this but use whatever service you prefer.  Personally, I make a playlist for each book and certain songs reflect certain characters.  However, making an entire playlist dedicated to one character would also be useful.  Just don't go overboard.  I try to keep my book playlists at 20-30 songs.  So, for a single character, I'd probably only make one with 5-10 songs that would effectively score their story arc.

(vibes // Vincent Roam)

Cast The Role

This can tie in with the Inspiration Board tip.  You don't have to do this but a lot of writers do.  Thinking of an actor/model/etc. as a "face character" is a fantastic tool once you begin writing.  It helps you envision things like expressions, tone, and body language.  Try to think of at least three people you would "cast" in your role. 

Playtest Them In Action

I mentioned this tip in a previous post.  It's very important to play out scenes in your mind more than once, or even to act them out for yourself, before you write them.  It forces you to really conceive all of the ideas, mannerisms, and feelings your character would be grappling with in a situation.  Also, it helps with constructing dialogue.

I hope these methods help you out with your process!  I've found they're a great way to develop characters and have a lot of fun in the process.

If you've created a number of characters already, are there any special habits you've formed along the way?  I'd love to hear them!

Thanks for reading!
Dez ☿

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Meet My Characters: Benny the Werehuahua

In this week's "Meet My Characters" blog linkup, I'm going to give you a little more insight into a ROAM fan favorite.

Benny, the Werehuahua

Benny is a staple in the ROAM series and such a fun character.  I feel his enthusiasm really jumps off the page.  Most readers tell me that he's their favorite (Beside those who have fallen for Dacey, of course. haha).

Technically, Benny would be a "reverse" Werehuahua.  Yes, it's exactly as it sounds.  He began life as a chihuahua, found himself cursed, and now becomes a human every day and reverts back to his natural form every night (No full moon necessary.).

For being a cursed creature, Benny is actually extremely positive and joyful.  I think he views his condition as more of a blessing than a curse and is actually kind of worried of it ever breaking.

I've had Benny's character in my back pocket for some time.  Originally, he was a silly little thing that I created for a Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG (Throwback Thursday, much?) over a decade ago and I always knew that I wanted to use him in an original story.  He finally found a forever home in ROAM. (Fun Fact:  He and an early version of Ethan Roam both came from that RPG.  They met when Ethan walked in on a guy [Benny] drinking out of a toilet.  haha)

In the series, he becomes both Dr. Grady Hunter's pet and employee (depending on his physical state).  He befriends Ethan and considers himself a loyal protector of his small misfit family.  Unless food is involved.  Then it's every man(dog) for himself.

(Ethan & Benny illustration by Whimsy and Noir)

Where does he go from here?

Benny will be traveling soon.  You'll have to read HUNTER for more clarity on that.  :)

Thanks for reading!  Also, a quick update:
I now have an official website and will soon be importing my blog.  I'll be sure to let you all know when it's up and running over there.

-Dez ☿

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Meet My Characters: Dacey Sinnett & Marcus von Rottal

Joining in again with the weekly blog linkup hosted by WhimsyAndNoir!  This week's characters are ones that I've written about before here.  However, I know I have some new readers, so I'd like to reintroduce them!

(vibes // Dacey Sinnett & Marcus von Rottal)

Dacey Sinnett & Marcus von Rottal

Dacey Sinnett and Marcus von Rottal are my leading vampires.  Well, one is much more than that but I'll leave it to the books to give you that story.  They are featured in the ROAM series and helm their own story as antihero protagonists in the prequel, The Revelation of Dacey Sinnett.  They're also perpetually entwined in, an admittedly, unhealthy and deeply passionate relationship.  I tend to refer to them as my "problematic favorites" for a reason.

The invention of Dacey's character was rather serendipitous for me.  At the time of writing the first ROAM book, I had a vague plan in mind for Ethan Roam's journey.  I won't post spoilers but those that have been reading along with the newest book, HUNTER, will probably know what I'm referring to here.  It was an "idea" but the roles hadn't really been cast, so to speak.

Enter a chapter where I have to tackle a definite issue in Dr. Grady Hunter's life.  He was always meant to have a literal tryst with Death (*wink*) in the form of a vampire.  It was a solid life event for his character that I wasn't going to back down from.  In order to move the story forward, I had to create a vampire that I felt would have been compelling enough to entice someone as guarded, jaded, and sharp-witted as Grady.  And thus, Dacey was born.

I definitely looked to the works of my favorite writer, Oscar Wilde, for inspiration.  In many ways, Dacey is my take on a vampiric iteration of a mixture of Oscar himself and his most famous character, Dorian Gray.  Then, I sprinkled a bit of 80's neo-romantic goth vibe on top and ended up with a character that I absolutely adore writing.  And definitely one that would keep Grady, and pretty much everyone else, on their toes.

Dacey is a natural telepath and insatiable flirt.  Wouldn't you be too, if you could easily read the minds of everyone that was attracted to you?  He was born in 19th century France and worked as a cabaret pianist and street illusionist until he became a vampire.  From there, he joins forces with his sire, Marcus, as the second half of a deadly duo of dandies bent on commanding an existence based solely in pleasure and luxury.  That is, until everything begins to go wrong. 

(vibes // Marcus von Rottal)

Once I had made the big decision about Dacey's ultimate destiny, it became quite clear that I needed to map out his backstory and share it with readers as well.  I felt the best way to do this was to ease the audience in with a moment that would link both the prequel and segue this "idea" into the sequel.  Marcus' appearance at the Halloween party in ROAM was precisely for this purpose.  At that time, he's simply introduced as Dacey's sire and former lover.  The Revelation of Dacey Sinnett tells that story in full and establishes the setup for the events that will transpire in HUNTER.

 ("The Picture of Dorian Gray" ~ Oscar Wilde)

Marcus is an Austrian aristocrat that took up procuring and dealing occult antiques (Usually "black market" as they're almost always stolen.) in order to maintain his preferred lifestyle.  Circumstances lead him to meet Dacey and, for both, it's love at first sight.  He finds himself spending the rest of his existence with a chaotically possessive obsession for keeping Dacey at his side.  He's clever, manipulative, and not the least bit afraid to leave a situation with blood on his hands or his dinner jacket.

Whereas Dacey wants to explore everything and everyone that the world has to offer, Marcus has a sharp singular focus -- and that's Dacey.

Where do they go from here?

Currently, you can read more about them in HUNTER, which is available chapter by chapter, bi-weekly on Wattpad.  I'll be releasing the Kindle and paperback editions later this Spring.  They will also be returning for more action in the forthcoming novel DREAM WEAVER.

Don't be afraid to leave comments letting me know which characters you'd like to see featured here.  I'd love to hear your suggestions or thoughts on the ones I've already posted!  Also, please feel free to play along with the blog linkup.  I can't wait to meet your characters as well!

As always, thanks for reading! ♥


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Meet My Characters: Ethan Roam & Dr. Grady Hunter

WhimsyAndNoir is hosting a new weekly blog linkup for creators to share their original characters!  You can join in on your own blog by using this graphic and linking back to her and/or sharing your characters through social media with the hashtag #MeetMyCharacters so that everyone can find each other.

This week, I'm featuring my two main leads.

Ethan Roam & Dr. Grady Hunter

(Dr. Grady Hunter & Ethan Roam)

Ethan & Grady are the two main protagonists of the ROAM series.  If you're reading the books then you probably already know them well.  I also illustrate them from time to time, which you can see on my IG.

Ethan is one of the first original characters I'd ever created.  His first iteration came into being over a decade ago in a role-play group.  His powers were much different back then (He used to just be a telepath.) but his personality was exactly the same. (Fun Fact: Benny the Werehuahua was another character I created at the same time for the same group.  So, they've actually been friends for a while. *wink*)

I loved his character so much that I knew I needed to bring him to life in story format.  Creating that story was a long on and off process over the past few years but everything finally clicked together and I began officially writing ROAM in 2015.

(Ethan "vibes" // Inspiration)

Ethan is a musically inclined college student that very quickly finds his life turned upside down by the onset of inherent supernatural powers that he was previously unaware of.  He has the ability to dream travel, among other things, and his powers only intensify as the story moves forward.

Ethan isn't exactly shy but he is a bit clumsy and self-deprecating.  He's also adorably innocent and overly optimistic; traits that both impair him and bolster him through his life's journey. 

(Grady "vibes" // Inspiration)

Early on in the story, Ethan meets Dr. Grady Hunter in a peculiar introduction that ultimately teams them together as partners (both professionally and intimately).

Grady's backstory is as interesting as his current one and I won't lie, I have definitely thought about writing a Grady-based prequel.  No promises.  For now, his personal history is divulged to the reader through dialogue and memories.

Grady is another character that I first created several years ago.  Originally, I'd planned to write my first novel about him and what is now his past.  Ultimately, that never came together but once I thought of combining his story with Ethan's everything fell into place.

Grady, a bit older than Ethan, is a mysterious and charming alternative healer.  At least, that's what he wants you to believe.  Really, he's a British monster hunter haunted by personal demons with questionable motives of his own.

He's quick-witted, handsome, and fairly formidable in a fight.

Together, Grady and Ethan find that they make a rather dynamic duo; whether that means facing paranormal foes or finding balance and comfort in each other.

Where do they go from here?

I'm currently on the last few chapters of writing HUNTER and then you're going to have to wait a bit for more of  them.  I know, I know.  I'm evil.  BUT it's really important to the timeline of the overall story that I go ahead and write the spinoff, DůO, before rejoining you with Ethan and Grady in the third installment, DREAM WEAVER.  They won't be disappearing anytime soon, however.  I'll still illustrate them and I'm sure they'll show their faces in other projects that I have cooking up.  I honestly can't imagine not working with them in some capacity on a fairy regular basis because (though I love all of my characters) they are my favorites.

If you're a writer, artist, etc. that has created original characters and would like to join in, please visit WhimsyAndNoir for more details!

Thanks for reading!


Monday, February 13, 2017

Author Q&A: Getting Into Character

Today I'm taking the time to answer a few questions I've received over social media so that the information is available to everyone.  Recently, I've mostly been asked about my characters so I'll devote this post just to them.  Here goes!

You deal with a lot of different characters in your books.  Do you have an organizational system to keep up with them?

Instant guilt trip.  I wish I were more organized!  haha
What I have are several notebooks filled with character details.  They are not curated in any sane or functional manner.  I just know where each one is in which book if I ever need to refer back.  I really do need to make an actual character compendium at some point to make my life easier but for now my process is flipping back and forth through various spiral notebooks. 

I'm an aspiring writer but I feel like I need to improve at making my characters relatable.  Your characters feel very real when I'm reading about them.  Any advice for a beginner?

Thank you!  Knowing people feel that they can relate to my characters means a lot to me.  As far as advice goes, I recommend fleshing out your characters as deeply as possible.  It's much more than just their appearance or what will happen to them in the story.  You have to know their hopes, fears, passions, distastes, and quirks.  Above all, give them each a central motivation that they never stray from in all of their actions.  I plan on writing a blog post about character creation in the near future, so I'll get more detailed with this then.  Another helpful practice is to "run scenes" with yourself.  You will sound crazy but do it anyway.  Speak the dialogue out loud; act it out.  It's a great way to decide how you'll describe their expressions and tone.  If you want your characters to feel real, you have to convince yourself that they are real.

Dacey was my favorite character in ROAM and I enjoyed getting a story all about him [in The Revelation of Dacey Sinnett].  Are there any other ROAM characters that you plan on giving their own books to?

It's something I've considered but that I don't have any definite plans for.  There are two spin-off stories in the works that I've mentioned before but neither will feature a ROAM character as the lead. Although, they will have cameos or play supporting roles to the new characters.

Feel free to send questions my way any time!  I enjoy hearing your feedback.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Spirits At Tea Time - Interview with Gaby of Whimsy and Noir

Everyone loves a good webcomic, including myself, and my friend Gaby of Whimsy and Noir just so happens to write and illustrate an extremely cute and spooky one!  Spirits At Tea Time introduces us to a very friendly ghost named Misty that isn't quite ready to leave the world of the living.

The newest installment releases today and I had a chance to ask its creator a few questions about her creative process and what we can expect.

Dez: What made you choose to create a webcomic?  Any tips/advice for other artists that might be considering this route?

Gaby: I love drawing and creating characters and stories, so a webcomic seemed like the perfect way to blend the two together. It's just something I'd been wanting to try my hand at for the longest time, after really getting into comics a couple of years ago. And in researching how they are put together: so many of the comics and the artists I most admire do the work digitally, and so I figured, "it's now or never". I bought a graphics tablet and haven't looked back since. Writing itself is not my strongest point, (and also takes more time for me), so instead of writing a novel, drawing this story idea I had in my head and releasing it in bits and pieces at a time seemed the way to go. I'm still very new at this whole thing and learning as I go, so I don't know what kind of advice I really have to give other than "go for it!"  One thing I've come to realize is that there's really no 'wrong' or 'right' way to do this webcomic-creating thing, it's just a matter of finding what works for you. It doesn't *have* to be drawn out digitally.. it doesn't even have to be drawn that well! Like all things, it's something that takes practice and evolves over time. It's fun to see yourself improve as you go forward, so if you have an idea but are too scared that you aren't "good enough" for it, (like I was/sometimes still am), don't let that hold you back and just try it! There are so many resources and places out there where you can get started and upload your work. Just have fun!

D: The ghost in your story, Misty, seems pretty sweet and friendly.  Is there anything about her past human life that you can give us a peek into?

G: Misty is the sweetest! To be honest, (at this point in time), her back story is as much a mystery to me as it is to you guys, (the readers)! If we go back into the Prologue, we had that whole scene with Misty getting scolded by the older ghost-lady about how she's not supposed to actually interact with the living. Like most ghosts in other stories we are familiar with, Misty has 'unfinished business' down here on Earth. What that business is, however, she doesn't know. It's sort of her mission to figure it out herself, so that she can cease being a ghost and 'cross over'.  But she currently can't actually remember anything about  when she was alive, (not even her real name), and she certainly isn't in a rush to find out!

She is a lonely, restless spirit, and still technically a young girl who left this world too soon.. and she still wants to live. She loves being around people and wants to help and be everyone's friend.

Like I said, I myself am not sure how this part of the story will all play out yet. I have ideas, but I want Misty to have some fun adventures before she gets down to business.

D: Do you personally identify with any of your characters or are they all much different from yourself?  I'm pretty sure I already know the answer but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

G: It's so funny that you're asking this, because lately I've been getting some serious "Teenage Me" vibes when writing/drawing out the character of Melissa. And it's been completely unintentional!  Outwardly, she definitely reminds me of me at her age: I was totally that punk rock/emo/Hot Topic kid in high school, and I really wish I had good enough photos to show you.. I was super influenced by the emo and goth musicians in the bands I was into at the time, (AFI, My Chemical Romance, Avenged Sevenfold, to name a few),coming up with similar outfits like they wore, or how I used to dye my hair pitch black. And I did have this awesome AFI hoodie that I loved, (but that ended up stolen and I never saw it again!).

Also, I don't know how clear it is yet from the little interaction we've had with her so far, but it will become apparent in Chapter Two just how moody of a teen Melissa can be. I'd like to say that I wasn't like that at all.. but I definitely had my moments! (sometimes still do..) Other than that, though, I can't say that I was gutsy enough to skip school to go and have a one on one seance with a Ouija board in an alley behind a haunted tea shop. Melissa is definitely more of a badass than I'll ever be!

D: I love how Spirits At Tea Time really embraces your overall dark whimsical aesthetic.  In developing your original artistic style, are there any specific inspirations that you feel definitely shaped your vibe?

G: Thanks, I'm glad that my spookiness is apparent! And, yes, it's why I chose to go with the name "Whimsy and Noir" for my brand/aesthetic. Light but dark, cute and spooky. Honestly, it's been a part of me since I can remember. Even as a small child, I always loved scary stories and Halloween and dreamed of being a cool goth-chick ever since the third grade! Like all goth-inclined folk, a huge inspiration is Tim Burton. All of his movies have his signature imagination clearly in them, and I love losing myself in his worlds. As far as story-telling and art go, Neil Gaiman is one of my biggest idols. He started with his Sandman comics, and now writes the most amazing novels and children's books, and all with a distinct 'spooky' feel to them. My favorites of his are 'Coraline' and 'The Graveyard Book' - these are meant for children, but at their core deal with things that most people would deem frightening and dark, but he manages to make them magical and whimsical. So I'm definitely trying to take that route with Spirits at Tea Time. It's a ghost story, but I don't want it to be considered 'creepy' or put people off. Whimsy and Noir: my whole THING is essentially about finding that balance between light and dark.

I also mentioned the band My Chemical Romance in the last question, and in a way they've been a huge influence in my overall artistic creativity as well: the lead singer, Gerard Way, would come up with these huge concept stories behind each album, like in "Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge" there's the tragic story of two dead lovers, with the guy more or less making a deal with the devil so he can try to bring his girl back to life. Or "The Black Parade" has the concept of death itself showing up to a young boy as a parade because it was his happiest memory. Just the way Gerard used his wild imagination to create entire worlds and feelings for each of his band's albums gave them so much more meaning and wonder. And they were *dark* stories, but still so relatable, in a weird way. Also, Gerard is a comics-creator, himself, so he's kind of a kindred spirit in that sense! I've admired him and his work since I was a teen, and he still influences and inspires me a ton. 

D: What can we expect to see in the newest installment of Spirits At Tea Time?   Got any teasers for us?

G: For chapter two, I wanted to sort of rewind the whole story just a little bit, and have it concentrate more on Melissa. All we know of her so far is that she was trying to make contact with the spirit world, and asking about a guy named "Martin Spencer".. so who is this guy? And why does Melissa want to find him? And how did she even know to go to that particular area of town with a Ouija board to ask? So we're going to get to know this girl and her back story, and it's going to lead up to other things!

D: This last question is actually going to be two and, obviously, I MUST ask them.  What is your favorite tea?  What's your favorite ghost story?

G: Oh, I'm so bad at choosing 'favorite' anything! But okay: for tea? I LOVE tea! I start each morning with a cup of chamomile, with a bit of honey and lemon juice. I also really love peppermint tea, or soothing lemon balm. A friend once gave me this dreamy lavender flavored tea, and I once bought this blend from a British goods store that I absolutely loved: it was made with rose petals, and turned the water a dark crimson! And as weird as it sounds, I love all those fruit-combo ones that come in the boxes at the grocery store. Peach and mango, or raspberry flavored tea! So long answer short: my favorite kinds of tea are flowery and fruity ones!

Favorite ghost story? Well, this isn't really a ghost 'story', but Edgar Allan Poe's poem "Annabel Lee" changed my life when I first discovered it as a teen: about a guy who is so in love with a girl that even after she dies, he still sees her everywhere and  in everything and only makes his love for her grow deeper. And in more recent times, I became obsessed with Cat Winters' novels "In the Shadow of Blackbirds" and "The Uninvited" - they blew my mind! 

You can get caught up on Spirits At Tea Time HERE and be sure to follow Gaby on Twitter & IG for more behind-the-scenes!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 3, 2017

February Updates

I've been keeping myself as busy as possible this past month.  I have a long goal list for this year and I'm glad to say a few things have already been checked off.

January Round-Up

Paperback Release of The Revelation of Dacey Sinnett
    You can now obtain a copy for your book collection on Amazon & Barnes & Noble!
Reviving Redbubble
    I mentioned this a few weeks back but one of my goals for the year is to produce more original art.
    I've already added my first new piece, a Dacey Sinnett illustration, and updated my best-selling Dice Dragons design.
Goodreads Challenge
    I read two books toward my yearly goal.  You can check out my reviews here:
    The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
    Leo Loves Aries by Anyta Sunday
    Also, if you're not already, please feel free to follow me on Goodreads!
Writing Contest
    Syfy & Wattpad are hosting a fanfic contest for The Magicians!  You can read my entry here. 

Coming Up

- I'll continue to work on my art and reading goals and update my progress regularly here and on IG.
- Roughly 4-5 chapters left to write of HUNTER!  I can't wait for you to see how it ends.  You'll either hate me or love me.  Please, do inform me either way.  haha
- I'm looking into hosting some sort of giveaway soon.  Details to come.

I think that pretty much covers everything!  I'd like to do an Author Q&A post sometime soon, so if you have any questions you'd like to shoot my way in the comments or through social media then please do!

On the personal side of things, my husband and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary!  I've started a 30-Day Ab Challenge because no workout is more legit than a pin from Pinterest.  lol  I'm also trying to play "catch up" with everyone that I owe some hang out time with. *slings coffees down the bar at you all*

Thank you so much for all of your support and I hope February treats everyone well!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Booklist 2017: Leo Loves Aries by Anyta Sunday

Full Disclosure:  I rarely read books that are outside of the realm of "Fantasy" in some capacity.  Generally, they all have magic or supernatural creatures involved.  That being said, I decided to take a leap out of my familiar pond and read something that didn't involve ghosts, vampires, witches, etc.  Although, it did include horoscopes which is probably why I felt like it was the perfect way to ease myself into "normal".  *wink*

I'm so glad that I fished in new waters.  Supernatural-centric stories will always be my favorites but this book was a delightful romp nonetheless.  Leo Loves Aries by Anyta Sunday is an adorable and charming love story about navigating the signs life gives you and trusting your gut enough to take chances.

Theo Wallace and his sister Leone are both heartbroken but very much want to move past the people that hurt them.  Inspired by one of the horoscopes that their mother sends them, they intend to do exactly that.  Theo and Leone make a deal to find each other dates to a spring wedding, giving them the opportunity to liven things up and make some new friends.  Enter Mr. Jamie Cooper, practically perfect in every way.  Theo is determined to make a love connection for his sister and finds himself endlessly surprised in the process.

I had a hard time putting this one down and would quickly pick it back up again at every opportunity.  Theo was incredibly relatable to me, so it was fun to read a character that I saw a lot of myself in.  Leone is a badass!  Such an inspiring lady.  I love her.  Can we please talk more about how much I love this woman?  *grin*  And Jamie?  Well, Mr. Jamie Cooper makes me want to be a better person; eat right, exercise, learn to fold my laundry properly.  Ha!

All in all, a super fun and insanely sweet read.  It's labeled as the first in a series, so I'm looking forward to more!  I also plan on checking out Anyta Sunday's other books as well.  I hope you will too!

**Bonus:  There's also a free download of a sexy follow-up to this book entitled Leo Tops Aries which you can also find on Amazon**

Thanks for reading!,

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

5 Tips For Planning Your Novel

One of the things that readers and friends ask my advice of the most is how to begin the novel writing process.  They have a good story idea but feel as though actually writing it is a daunting beast of uncertainty.  I've given them pointers and tips that they felt really helped inspire them to get started.  These are all based on my personal experience and process and will hopefully help you out as well!


Let's jump into this assuming that you already have an idea for your novel.  Get a notebook because it will be your best friend (besides your characters) through this entire process.  First, write down what the theme of your story will be.  Is there a social message you're trying to convey?  Is it a coming of age tale?  A slow burn romance?  A post-apocalyptic adventure?  Whatever it is, jot it down.  Next to that, include a few short descriptions of the general tone or genre you'd like your story to fall under.  This will help you to keep everything feeling fluid and connected with purpose.

Now, let's talk about that plot.  Sometimes writers like to begin a story without knowing at all where it will go.  This is actually completely acceptable and, even if you do know where your story is headed, typically you will consider new ideas along the way and want to incorporate them.  Other times you will know exactly where your story is headed before you start.  So, whichever route you've decided to take, go ahead and write a paragraph or two down explaining to yourself what you want the story to be about or how it is intended to conclude.  Forcing yourself to put these ideas into words will help you to begin to actualize the story; which, in turn, helps tame that daunting beast you felt so uncertain about.

In other words, you now have a reliable foundation.  If you confuse or overwhelm yourself along the way, you can always refer back to this first page of your notebook where you've stated your intent.  It's less likely that you'll wander off your path if you have a map.


I could write an entire post on this one process alone and, honestly, I plan to.  So, for now, we'll just focus on the basics. 

Assign Roles - Protagonists, villains, minor characters.  Decide what roles you need to bring this story to life and then you can begin to get to know them.

Nice To Meet You - There are several things you can do to initially create your characters.  They are NOT naming them or deciding what they look like.  Just as in real life, you don't want to form an opinion about someone based on their name or their appearance.  Start by giving your characters simple personalities (Don't worry, they will become far more complex once you start allowing them to have dialogue and interact.), strengths, weaknesses, quirks, motivations, and fears.  Once you've established these core elements then you've got yourself an actual character!  Say "Hi" to them, give them a hug, talk with them; you are now connected for life.  The writing process feels a lot like hanging out with your best friends.  They just happen to be fictional.

Names & Faces - Now feel free to name them.  You'll find that establishing personality traits has already caused you to begin imagining what they might look like.  Picture them in various situations and think about what mannerisms they might have or the expressions they might make.  You'll find that you know exactly what they look like very quickly.  A lot of times, they might remind you of one of your favorite actors or actresses.  That's great too because now you have an easy reference if you need it.


This step might not always be necessary but most of the time it is.  You have your characters, you know your story, so now you just need to feel confident writing about the material.  This generally happens if you are writing science fiction, historical fiction, or horror novels.  There are time periods, places, concepts, etc. that might need further exploration and understanding before you begin to incorporate and describe them in your story.  Take as much time as you need for this.  Save as many resources to refer back to as possible.  And, please, at least try to be organized.  You'll save a lot of time and thank yourself later.


Refer back to that short plot description.  Now you need to do one of two things (or both).  Either choose to write a timeline of events for your story to follow or go ahead and write a quick paragraph explaining what you intend to happen for each chapter.  Remember that none of this is final.  You can, and will, change it numerous times.  Always be flexible with your story because it will begin to flourish and develop along the way as you write your first draft.  However, taking the time to write a general outline like this is just another way to keep you focused and your story on track.  The more references you have to look back on while writing, the better.


You're all ready now!  You will also inevitably feel anxious about putting that opening line down.  Just do it.  Write from the heart, trust your gut, and listen to your characters.  If you don't like it, you can always go back and change it.  Nothing is seen by the world until you're ready for it to be.  So take the time to play around with a few different openings and see which one feels strongest to you.

Now you've done it.  You're writing a novel.

I hope you found these tips helpful!

Thanks for reading!,

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Booklist 2017: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I recently finished reading the first book on my "Booklist" for this year.  I set a goal of 15 this time around.  Last year, I read 16 and I figured I'd just stay in the same ballpark since I tend to keep busy.  I have to say, this year's reading list already started out with a bang! (Err...Uhm...No pun intended...okay, maybe slightly intended.)  In all seriousness, though, this book is not only great; it is probably one of my favorite reads in the past couple of years.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller retells the story of Achilles destiny and gives us a full and rich tale of the lifetime bond of friendship and love between himself and his best friend, Patroclus.  I think that most who enjoy Homer's Iliad and Greek mythology reimaginings will adore this fresh revival of these classic characters.  Along with providing us a deep connection to the two protagonists, through the intimate narrative of Patroclus, Miller also paints a vivid picture of all of the people, places, and deities involved.  The tone and structure of the story feels as though it could stand alongside Homer's works as canon material.  The descriptive passionate thoughts of Patroclus are raw and honest, romantic and poetic.

This book is emotional, intense, and unyielding.  It's definitely one that you won't want to put down but, when you finally do, it will assuredly be with tears in your eyes.

So, what drew me to this story originally?

The fan art.  I stumbled across it one day and the beauty of the illustrations as well as the quotes compelled me to find out more about the book.  So, I quickly looked it up and checked it out at my local library.  I tend to discover a lot of new books, shows, etc. through fan art.  I figure if someone loved it enough to take the time to illustrate it then there's a good chance it's going to be a great story.  In this case, it was an excellent one.  A tale of unconditional love and friendship that stands the test of time.

Thanks for reading and I hope you'll add this one to your Booklist this year!

Fan Art Credits: /
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Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Release - The Revelation of Dacey Sinnett (Paperback)

I'm happy to announce that you can now get your hands on the paperback edition of The Revelation of Dacey Sinnett through Amazon!

I absolutely love this book cover and I'm so excited to finally have it on my bookshelf in a real, tangible, form.  There's a unique sentimental feeling that you get when you can actually hold the story that you've put so much of your own heart into.  

I've gotten a lot of great feedback and reviews from readers on this story and I just want to take a moment to say thank you!  I try to entertain but, most of all, I try to share the deepest parts of myself through my characters.  It truly means a lot to me any time I receive a message or comment about how much they are loved or how relatable someone finds them.  So thank you for all of your kind words and all of your continued support!

As always - Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year

(Quote from John Muir // Images found on Pinterest)

Hello 2017!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!  Mine was great and extremely relaxing which was something I definitely appreciated.  Of course, "relaxing" to me is a slightly different definition than most people would have.  I did a lot of research which goes hand in hand with writing.  I also had a chance to sit down and make some long-term decisions and plans regarding the ROAM series which I'm very excited about.  I hope everyone feels refreshed starting out this new year and ready to tackle their creative and personal goals!

The Softcover edition of The Revelation of Dacey Sinnett is almost here!  I'll be reviewing a proof copy soon and if everything looks good then I hope to have them available through Amazon sometime this month.  I also plan to release Fossegrimen (short story) on Kindle early on in the year.

I have two books on Wattpad which are being updated regularly.  HUNTER and The Dead Oaks: Book One.  I'll continue to work on these in the first part of the year and then hope to finish the year out with my (ROAM) spin-off/tie-in DůO.  I can't give too much about it away but I can tell you that it will delve deeper into the Order of Azoth, Hunters, and Techno Mages.  But that's all I'm revealing for now!  I may even begin some other projects but we'll just have to wait and see how scheduling works out.  I also plan to submit some things to a few publications and enter some writing contests.

A book signing event may be in the works.  No date set yet.  Still mulling a few possibilities over.  I will keep you all posted, though!  That leads into an art-related question that I've already been asked.  Will I have any booths at conventions this year like I have the past couple of years?  I have no idea.  I haven't made any plans to and I'm still juggling the logistics of it.  Please keep in mind that everything I do to market/promote my work is 100% me, so it really just depends on time/finances.  I do love seeing you in person, though!  That's why I think perhaps a book signing might be better suited this time around.  You can always find my art online, though!

I already listed a few fun sketch cards in my Etsy shop over the holiday and I plan to list more periodically throughout the year.  I could write an entire segment on my artistic plans and because of that I'll end those musings here and save them for a future post.

Speaking of art, how awesome are these drawings of Ethan, Benny, & Dacey (ROAM), and Jasper & Wes (The Dead Oaks) from Gaby of Whimsy and Noir!  I absolutely love them!  She also runs a paranormal webcomic and has her own Etsy shop; so be sure to check her out sometime!

If you guys have any fanart or things you'd like to share from these series please send them my way so that I can include them here on the blog!
Thanks so much for reading and I hope you all have a fantastic year!