Category: Unrelenting

Awards and Press and Getting Back to It

Awards and Press and Getting Back to It

I have been staring at the screen for half an hour, trying to figure out how to start this blog post.

Note to self: Don’t wait 5 months between now and the next one.

I’ll start with the highlight reel:

Awards for Unrelenting

In September, we found out Unrelenting had been selected as a Finalist in 3 categories for the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book awards. The original nomination form stated that we’d find out who the winners were in late November.

So imagine our surprise when, only a week later, they announced the winners!

Turns out Unrelenting is the WINNER of the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award in the category of Gay/Lesbian (LGBTQ)!

We’re also a Finalist in the categories of Fiction – Sci-Fi/Fantasy and First Book NM for debut authors.

We’re super honored by this, and now my to-be-read list has grown exponentially with all the other awesome-sounding finalists.

Press for Unrelenting

We’ve had some fun new press come out about Unrelenting since my last update — although the hype has, of course, slowed down since the book launch.

  • We were highlighted on the Hugo-winning site, by Mike Gyler, about our NM-AZ Book Awards win. (Link)
  • We got to discuss the most meaningful part of Unrelenting (for us!) on the blog of Hugo, Locus, and Nebula Award winner, Mary Robinette Kowal. (Link)
  • We chatted with fellow writers, Wil Ralston and Marshall Carr, about the experience of writing and publishing Unrelenting on the Just Keep Writing Podcast. (Link)
  • We were season finale guests on the This Podcast Needs a Title Podcast by the indomitable Peter Malone Elliot and Erica Davis of Book Pipeline. (Link)
  • We talked about our co-writing process on the DIY MFA Radio Podcast with Gabriela Pereira. (Link)
  • We were co-hosts of the #PipelineAuthors Twitter Chat hosted by Book Pipeline. (Link)

Plus, we just recorded an interview with Edgar Award winner, Mindy McGinnis, in a to-be-released episode of the Writer Writer Pants on Fire Podcast.

Getting Back to It

This summer was rough on the personal front. I was unexpectedly traveling a lot, and I ended up taking a writing hiatus for a few months.

I track all my writing time and word counts in a spreadsheet, so here’s what the summer slump looked like, in terms of production:

April-July were not so hot. Proverbially speaking. They were quite hot, literally speaking.

But then something magical happened in August.

I was home. I got into a schedule. I was in flow.

I started setting my alarm for 3 hours before work. Instead of lying in bed doomscrolling like usual, I put on the soundtrack I’ve been listening to while writing, took a shower, had breakfast, fed the dogs, and then sat down at my desk. And wrote for 2 hours before work began.

This is the soundtrack I’ve been listening to while writing Flightless:

Look what that yielded!

I was mostly working on Flightless, my solo work in progress. I am SO enthusiastic about this novel.

In September, I attended the 2022 Writing Excuses Retreat (WXR), an event that is born from the Hugo Award Winning Writing Excuses Podcast.

This year, the instructors and staff included (in alphabetical order) Marshall Carr, Kathy Chung, Matthew J Drake, Piper J Drake, Margaret Dunlap, Mary Robinette Kowal, Erin Roberts, Brandon Sanderson, Peng Shepherd, DongWon Song, KM Sparza, Howard Tayler, Sandra Tayler, Dan Wells, and Dawn Wells.

I’m super fortunate and privileged to have attended 3 WXR events now, and to have had a chance to learn from these super-talented, extremely giving folks. So many advancements in my writing since 2019 can be traced back to what I’ve learned at these events. Plus, I’m so grateful to now count several of the instructors among my professional friends. These are some deeply good people, in addition to being deeply good writers and storytellers.

Even with all of that, the very BEST part of WXR events is the other early-career writers. I’ve been able to form some deep friendships with these writers over time, and I cannot imagine my life without these dear friends. Plus, they’ve been so very supportive of Jessi and me with Unrelenting‘s launch.

I’ll be sure to update you on any of their books as they come out! I had a chance to beta read one of them earlier this year, and y’all. Y’all. Y’ALL.

This year, sadly, the experience was significantly dampened by an anxiety-inducing COVID-19 outbreak among participants. Plus a cold. Plus e.coli. Jessi and I are SO extremely fortunate that we didn’t end up with Covid (although each of us ended up with one of the latter other issues, respectively). We’d had our bivalent boosters the week before, but we had a ton of exposure, and we were just downright lucky. We’re thinking about so many of our friends who weren’t as fortunate and are recovering now.

Books I’m Excited About

I’m excited about 3 upcoming books, and I plan to review them all here on my blog.

On October 8, 2022, Neal Holtschulte releases his debut sci-fi novel, Crew of Exiles.

Neal has been a friend of mine for a number of years, and we met through a local critique group.

I’ve always been SUCH a fan of his writing and intelligent critique.

Well, now his very first novel is coming out, and I’m so fortunate to have read it… and LOVED it!

Goodreads Link to Preorder

On October 11, 2022, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award Winner, Mary Robinette Kowal, releases her 10th (!) novel.

This sci-fi murder mystery is set on a swanky cruise ship in space, heading from the Moon to Mars.

The Spare Man features a main character with a disability, a world with baked-in gender inclusivity, and the WORLD’S CUTEST DOG. I’m enjoying the heck out of the ARC right now!

Goodreads Link to Preorder

On October 18, 2022, New Mexico-Arizona Book Award winners Geoff Habiger and Coy Kissee release the third installment in the Constable Inspector Lunaria Adventure series, Fear of the Minister’s Justice.

I’m so excited to read this fantasy buddy cop tale in a richly-realized world! I enjoyed the first two immensely, so I encourage you to pick up all three if you’re into secondary world fantasy detective tales.

Goodreads Link to Preorder

Thank You for Your Support

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that now is a GREAT time to order Unrelenting as a holiday gift for your fantasy-loving friends and family members. Click here to grab a copy.

And if you want to read exclusive stories every month that are published nowhere else, please consider joining my Patreon at the $6+/mo level. You’ll get access to the Writing Archive, which grows every month with another deleted scene, sneak peek, short story, novel fragment, or other creative tale for your enjoyment.

LGBTQ Reads Reveals the Unrelenting Cover

LGBTQ Reads Reveals the Unrelenting Cover

I am super excited for today! 3 things are happening:

📒 LGBTQ Reads is unveiling the cover of Unrelenting.

😍 They’re also unveiling an excerpt from the novel.

🌞 They’re letting you know where you can pre-order it as early as TODAY!

Jessi and I have partnered with LGBTQ Reads to do an exclusive cover and excerpt reveal. This is the world’s first glimpse at the finished product of our book, and we’re grateful to have the chance to partner with them for this opportunity.

Both of us believe in the importance of LGBTQIAP+ representation in fiction, and LGBTQ Reads is a huge proponent of this.

Later today, they’ll be posting our cover art, an excerpt from chapter one, and the pre-order links.

Check out these links!

The cover and excerpt are live on LGBTQ Reads’ website.

☝️ This is where you can get the preorder links!!!!

And please give this Tweet some love.

While you’re on their website, check out the other featured books. Who knows, you might find your next great reads there!

Why is LGBTQ Reads a good fit for Unrelenting?

LGBTQ Reads is all about sharing curated LGBTQIAP+ literature for anyone and everyone, kids to adults. This is a mission Jessi and I are fully behind.

Unrelenting focuses on Bridget’s search for Dahlia and the secrets she uncovers along the way. It’s also a story of queer representation. Unrelenting isn’t a coming out story. It’s not about the inherent marginalization that comes with queerness. Instead, it’s a story about people who happen to be queer having (sometimes spooky and scary!) adventures. This sort of casual queerness is, unfortunately, not seen as often as we’d like in literature. We’re setting out to make a tiny contribution to this end.

It’s a total honor to have LGBTQ Reads showcasing Unrelenting to their tens of thousands of followers, and we encourage you to check out some of the other books they’ve featured!

And if you choose to preorder a copy of Unrelenting through LGBTQ Reads’ links, then I offer you an extra thank you!

One quick P.S. about the hardcover…

The hardcover edition is being held up by our distributor for a few days. It will be available later this week, but right now, only paperback and ebook formats are available.

If you want to buy the book in hardback, that is awesome… please just hang on a few more days. If you’re on our email list, you will receive an email when it’s ready! (Sign up for the email list here.)

If you prefer paperback or ebook, you can go ahead and secure your copy today.

The Journey from Book Contract to Pre-Sale

The Journey from Book Contract to Pre-Sale

Back in January 2021, Not a Pipe Publishing offered to publish Unrelenting. This is my co-author’s (Jessi Honard) and my debut novel, so we’ve been learning a LOT along the way.

It’s been a fun and interesting process, going from then to now, 13 months later.

🎵 It’s been a long road, getting from there to here… 🎵

Apologies for the earworm. If you know, you know.

Here’s what we’ve been working on.

We took stock of our options.

At the time of the offer, we had a few conversations going on. This is largely thanks to the buzz and support we got from Book Pipeline after being named a finalist (top 3 in sci-fi/fantasy) in the 2020 Unpublished Manuscript competition.

An agent was speaking with us about the book and had offered a R&R (revise and resubmit) with specific feedback. A medium-size press had offered to publish it, but on a protracted timeline.

We also got on a Zoom call with Benjamin Gorman and Viveca Shearin, the co-owners of Not a Pipe to get to know them, their process, their contract, and their values.

We fell in love with the press from the first interaction, and we’ve stayed in love ever since. They were more than supportive of us having an LGBT+ main character, loved the book, and couldn’t wait for the sequel.

They had a great track record with their authors, which was corroborated by private conversations I had with several writers who had published them. It was nothing but glowing testimonials of feeling respected, heard, and seen.

I ordered a few books they’d published and was impressed with the quality of the stories, writing, and physical books, themselves. They really go the extra mile to make the books special and unique, in terms of the appearance.

And, later, this article came out, which made me believe in them all the more.

We were ready to sign with them, except for one thing…

I See We Have a Long Way to Go

We negotiated the contract.

Since we didn’t have an agent, we needed a third party expert to make sure that the contract was all in the proper order. We worked with an excellent literary attorney, who said the contract looked great. She had a few small recommendations, so we went back and forth a handful of times. All parties were smiling when we signed the contract in March of 2021, feeling great about working together.

That was it… our book was officially going to be published with a house we believed in, and who believed in us! It was such a great feeling, and still is.

We started working with a cover artist.

One of the wonderful things about small presses like Not a Pipe is being able to work directly with your cover artist. We were able to pick the artist from a list and give detailed feedback along the way.

She’s done a great job of bringing our vision to life, and we can’t wait to reveal the cover soon! (That’s right, it’s complete!!) We’ll brag all about the artist, too, once we do the reveal.

We dove into edits.

Viveca Shearin, our editor at Not a Pipe (who co-owns the press) worked closely with Jessi and me as we went through several more thorough revisions and edits of the manuscript.

It takes a village to catch all those consistency errors and typos, even at this late stage of a manuscript. We’re grateful our village was headed up by the talented Viveca!

We talked timetables and marketing.

Benjamin Gorman, the other co-owner of Not a Pipe, talked with Viveca and us about marketing strategies for the book, as well as the release timeline. We decided that the release would happen in the spring of 2022 (just in time for everyone’s summer reads!). As we got closer and closer, specific dates began to firm up.

While Not a Pipe does book marketing of their own, authors are never free of contributing their own marketing efforts. So we received strategic instructions on developing a rapport with local bookstores and seeking to shelve our book at them and potentially host readings/signings — although that last one is a bit difficult with an ongoing pandemic.

Plus, we’re using a lot of the marketing skills and relationships Jessi and I have gained over the years as co-owners of a content marketing firm. We are READY!

We started working on Unrelenting‘s sequel.

I’ve always heard that the best way to sell a book is to have two books. So Jessi and I have been working on the sequel to Unrelenting. We don’t have a schedule for publication yet, since we’re still drafting it, but rest assured it’s in the works!

We lived our lives.

2021 was a tough year on the personal front. About a month after Jessi and I signed our book contract, my husband and I separated, then divorced. That led to me moving into an apartment (which ended up being not great), then buying a house.

During that time, I didn’t have the creative or emotional energy to write much, so I generally guilted myself a lot and watched a bunch of Netflix. I also road tripped to see some family and friends, went solo camping with my dogs, and worked a bunch.

Not a Pipe remained super understanding and compassionate through the process… once again confirming my love for them.

In September, I had the great fortune to attend the Writing Excuses Retreat, where I finally got my creative mojo restored and felt excited about writing again.

Jessi and I made progress on plotting Unrelenting‘s sequel, and I’ve also been making good headway on Flightless, my fantasy heist.

What’s next?

We’re very close to the Unrelenting cover reveal and announcing the dates for the pre-order and book release.

We’re in the process of requesting blurbs and sending out advance reader copies (ARCs). If you have a platform or audience and are interested in receiving an ARC, please reach out to me via the Contact page.

Also, if you’re interested in helping Jessi and me promote the book to your family and friends, let me know. We’re about to create a book launch squad, and we’ll give you all the info you need.

Please also sign up for my mailing list, if you haven’t already. That’s where I’ll be sharing more information soon.

Thanks so much for your interest, and I’m thrilled to share this novel with you. The time is nearly here!

Unrelenting to Be Published in 2022

Unrelenting to Be Published in 2022

Well, it’s official! Unrelenting, my co-written contemporary fantasy debut, will be published in Spring 2022!


I cannot wait for you to read Unrelenting! You’ll get to know a determined woman named Bridget as she takes the search for her missing sister, Dahlia, into her own hands. When she discovers the disappearance is linked to a hidden, magical society, Bridget must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice to find Dahlia.

After having multiple wonderful conversations with Not a Pipe Publishing, a small traditional press in Oregon, my co-author, Jessi Honard, and I decided it was the perfect home for our novel.

We met Not a Pipe through the great folks at Pipeline Media Group after Unrelenting was a finalist in the 2020 Book Pipeline Unpublished Contest.

Wanna know more? Click here to check out the blog post on our book’s website.

Want to support me?

The number one best way you can help me is to join my email list. This is how I can make sure you get the latest updates, like pre-order information.

If you’re reading this, thank you. There’s already a long list of people who have been supportive and instrumental in this process. Friends, family, beta readers, writing critique groups, query letter editors, advocates, and champions. Thank you all. And the journey’s just beginning!

Unrelenting: Finalist in Book Pipeline Unpublished Competition

Unrelenting: Finalist in Book Pipeline Unpublished Competition

Holy bananas.

I’m SO proud (and overwhelmed and amazed and chuffed and and and!!!) to report that Unrelenting has been named a finalist for the sci-fi/fantasy category in the Book Pipeline Unpublished 2020 competition!

This means the novel is among the top 3 for the genre, and we’ll find out about our final placement on November 5.

You might know the book by its working title (The Grigori) or the series working title (The Deathless Gods). Here’s a quick synopsis, if you aren’t familiar with the novel’s premise:

In their single-parent household, Bridget has always acted like a second mother to her half sister—so when Dahlia goes missing as an adult, Bridget believes she alone cares enough to find her. The investigation jolts to an unexpected halt when unexplainable, murderous smoke attacks her during her investigation. Recognizing she needs backup, she partners with James, a supernatural enthusiast and Dahlia’s former classmate.

As they research, explore, and eavesdrop, Bridget and James learn Dahlia’s disappearance is linked to a hidden world ruled by powerful beings who wield elemental and physical magic, like firestorms and plagues. One ruthless faction has kidnapped Dahlia, convinced she holds the key to unlocking lost abilities. With options dwindling, Bridget and James team up with questionable magical allies to save her sister, and Bridget must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice for her family.

I co-wrote this contemporary fantasy novel with Jessi Honard (my best friend, hiking/camping buddy, and business partner), and… let’s just say there were a lot of happy tears when we heard the news.

Of course, we’re thrilled that we’ll be able to take advantage of the prizes, including consideration from producers for film/TV adaptations, invitations to writer events, and possibly circulation to agents/publishers/editors.

But honestly, the biggest gift is the affirmation. We put 6 years into the book, building the world, creating the characters, imagining the magic, reading every sentence aloud. We’re proud of it. We know it’s an enjoyable read… at least for us. But it’s been a tough year (as we all know). It’s been hard to muster the energy to write and query. Imposter syndrome has been creeping in.

This news has been electrifying. Someone — beyond our partners, families, and friends who’ve always had our backs — believes in us.

We can’t wait to share this story with you, and hopefully this is the push the manuscript needed to get in front of decision-makers who can actualize our dream.

Stay tuned! I’ll let you know how it goes in November. 🙂

If you want to get on my newsletter to learn more, enter your email address in the “GET EXCERPTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS” widget.

And if you want to join our newsletter specifically for Unrelenting (which you may know by our original working title, “The Grigori”), please click here and visit the “Learn More” page.

November 5, 2020 Update: While Unrelenting was not selected as the Grand Prize winner in the fantasy/science-fiction category, we are still just SO grateful to be finalists. Excited to see where this takes us!

It’s Time to Query Unrelenting

It’s Time to Query Unrelenting

EDIT: Unrelenting has found a home with Not a Pipe Publishing! Click here to learn more.

In two days, I will begin querying agents for a contemporary fantasy/suspense manuscript for adult readers called Unrelenting.

In the story, Bridget’s sister is missing and everyone has given up hope. Everyone except Bridget.

Determined to take matters into her own hands, she begins a desperate search for answers among the misty streets of Cleveland, Ohio.

What she finds points to something far more ominous than a missing person’s case. Bridget is caught up in an unpredictable world of ancient magic and sinister secrets, hidden in plain sight.

To find her sister, Bridget must adapt to this new reality, team up with an unlikely companion, and forge an uneasy truce with supernatural beings called Grigori before it’s too late.

You can read more about the book and sign up for email updates at And you can follow announcements on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

I co-wrote this novel with my best friend and co-business-owner, Jessi Honard. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments to date. Here’s how the process has gone down so far.

Original concept + draft

Six years ago, Jessi and I had the seed of an idea. What if angels lived among us? And what if they weren’t all that angelic?

We did some research and came across the Grigori. The Book of Enoch tells the story of how many of these angels, also known as Watchers, fell to Earth. We discovered the artwork of Peter Mohrbacher. We couldn’t keep the idea from growing into more.

So we started drafting a story.

As we wrote the first draft, we realized the story needed to change a lot. So we moved on to the second draft. Then the third. Etcetera.

The final drafts

By about the seventh draft, we were ready for beta reader feedback. We had ten incredibly generous readers who gave us wonderful food for thought.

We spent the next year implementing those changes, learning, and honing our craft more and more. We started studying storytelling and novel structure more intensely than we ever had before.

We attended the (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!) Writing Excuses Retreat in 2019, learning from masters like Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, K. Tempest Bradford, Howard Tayler, Cory Doctorow, Piper Drake, Dongwon Song, and more.

We kept refining and refining until we wrapped up the ninth draft.

Preparing to query

The writing, revising, and editing process took us six years.

The next step was reaffirming our game plan. These days, writers are fortunate to have different paths to publication. Jessi and I are seasoned marketers, so we could probably have some success self-publishing.

But from the beginning, we’ve always envisioned this novel going the traditional route. It just felt right to us.

So we recommitted to that game plan, and taking the question up with those who know the industry much better than we do! That means querying book agents, who could then put our manuscript in front of a publisher.

But it’s not as simple as reaching out to a bunch of agents.

First we had to land on some comp titles (which was NOT easy).

Then we had to research agents to see if they’re open to queries and a good potential fit for the manuscript. We’ve looked into their manuscript wish lists and the authors they currently represent to narrow our search.

Then we hired an author who is also a professional query letter and book manuscript consultant to review our query letter and first ten pages. The feedback on the pages was GLOWING. But we have some work to do on the query letter.

This week, we’re finalizing the letter and submitting our first agent query.

What’s next

I don’t know.

I know the process of finding an agent will take some time. Months. Years.

And then we still have to get the book sold to a publisher and wait for that process to come to fruition before we can hold the book in our hands.

But I’m so proud of what we’ve done.

Honestly, finishing a manuscript I’m so proud of, in collaboration with my best friend, has already made me feel like a success.

Everything else is a whole pile of cherries on top.

My 2019 Recap

My 2019 Recap

So long, 2019. It’s been a frenetic, crazy year. It’s also been good to me, but I’m so happy to put in the rear view mirror.

For years now, I’ve had a ritual of settling on a Word of the Year. My 2019 word was ACTUALIZATION. Knowing me, I picked it to avoid the woo-woo concept of “manifesting.” Equal parts woo-curious and woo-skeptic right here, y’all. 🙋

Basically, I wanted to actualize all the learning, growth, and self-discovery I’d started in 2018.

That meant creating a few things:

  • Epic growth in my business
  • More financial freedom in my household
  • Improvement in my mental and physical health
  • A completely edited manuscript for my co-written novel

Here’s how everything shook out.

Epic growth in my business

My business partner and I hit this one out of the park. We grew our team from 6 to 10, upleveled our clients, and invested in networking events that were a great fit for us. (Yes, this introvert networked. Hold the applause, please.) As a result, our 9th year in business was our best yet, and we made more than 2.5x the revenue of our next highest year.

In 2020, we’re focused on stability and optimization at this new level.

More financial freedom in my household

My husband and I moved to New Mexico three years ago and bought a house right at the tippy top of our price range. The result was a beautiful home on 3 wooded acres… with a mortgage that stressed us out like nobody’s business. We decided in 2018 to downsize our square footage and mortgage. It only took 6 months to sell our house 😓 but sell it we did.

The new home ticks all the right boxes. It’s smaller with a better layout for us, costs less, and is closer to amenities. The downside? It needs major renovations. Demolition kicked off before we moved in during March 2019, but it’s January 2020 now, and we’re still renovating.

I can’t even express to you the amount of frustration, angst, hours on hold, and dust storms this has created in our lives. We’re slowly unpacking, but we’ve been more or less living out of boxes since October 2018. Frus. tra. ting. (In a first world problem kind of way.) But we’re getting there, slowly but surely. And the lower mortgage is definitely easier on the pocketbook.

Our goal for 2020 is to wrap up renovations and make this house feel like a home.

Improvement in my mental and physical health

Until I was about 28, I was the picture of self-confidence and poise.

And then I started to feel like crap. I was filled with self-doubt and self-loathing. I didn’t trust myself, and I didn’t believe in myself.

Most of it stemmed back to unprecedented challenges I was facing. I no longer had a steady paycheck and was self-employed at poverty levels. I was traveling full-time in an RV, without a steady community or friend group at my fingertips (holla RV friends, I love you, but I couldn’t see you all the time… the internet only does so much). I discovered I was a conflict-averse people-pleaser, which meant I wasn’t as strong as I’d thought. By the time I was 31, I was desperate for help.

So I sought it out. I was, not shockingly, diagnosed with depression. Finally, I felt empowered, because I had a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

Last year marked my 3rd year of counseling. Plus I added to my mental health treatment weekly personal training at the gym. The difference has been amazing. Even though I still have super-rough days, I’m feeling better all the time.

The key for me has been accountability. My therapist and my personal trainer are expecting me to show up… so I DO show up, and I do the work.

In 2020, my plan is more of the same — to continue caring for my mental and physical health. No compromising. This is the most essential thing for my well-being. (And yours, btw.)

A completely edited manuscript for my co-written novel

I flubbed this one, but not for a lack of trying.

My business partner and I have co-written an urban fantasy novel titled Unrelenting. We’re super proud of it. And a teensy bit perfectionistic.

In February, 2019, we got an offer from a New Mexico publisher to put the book on paper and get it into stores. Hello, dream come true!

We were in the midst of post-beta-reader edits at the time (which is a no-no… you’re supposed to submit a fully edited as-good-as-you-can-make-it manuscript to publishers, but fortunately he is SUPER gracious).

We’re now on a final pass of revisions. But between moving, living in a construction zone, business insanity, and life in general, that process has turned into a 12+ month slog. That super-gracious publisher friend also understands that we want to find an agent, so that’s next on our list.

In 2019, we did also attend a fantastic 9-day conference for fiction writers led by some of the most incredible humans, authors, and agents on Planet Earth. We loved it so much, we’re attending again this year.

In 2020, I’ll finally actualize my 2019 goal of a fully edited manuscript, querying it to agents, and starting on the next project! Can’t keep this girl down.

2020 is for boundaries.

In order to achieve what I want in 2020, I need to get serious about boundaries around my time, energy, and choices. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

Happy belated New Year, everyone! May it be a productive, prosperous year for us all!