Welcome to 2021, my friends! I know it’s popular to, at the end of the year, to show off your “favorite” lists, but I always hold out hope that something may creep along in those final days to surprise me, so I never like compiling these lists until we’ve officially closed the book (heh) on the year. So, as such, I have my Top 20 from 2020 for you! This isn’t just a book list either, though we will start there. But it also includes some of my favorite bookish shops and artists of the year as well. These are shops and artists I’ve worked with or have purchased from, and while it may be a bit too late for holiday presents to utilize them for, you can now keep them in mind for other gift giving opportunities. Probably ones where they aren’t over burdened with Holiday requests too, which probably works out better for you in the long run, just saying. But, as for the books, there is never a bad time to check out these lovelies! Though I will say that putting together even my modest list of books has shown me just how few 5 star reviews I give out… Maybe 2021 will be the year where that changes? We’ll see! But, until then, please enjoy some of my favorite things from this year.
Top 10 Books of 2020
These are all books I have either given 5 stars too, or are a very high 4 star. They range from True Crime, to Science Fiction, to most sub-genres of Fantasy from both mega big authors, and lesser known indies, but all were incredible and were my favorite reads of the year! You can click the link to see the books on Goodreads, and read my reviews at the same time in case you're curious:
Top 5 Bookish Shops
These shops range from coffee, to candles, pins, book merch, and even book boxes! The shops change practically monthly too, which means that they are great any time of the year and not just during seasonal buying periods:
Top 5 Artists
You know me, I love having art commissioned for my characters in all my books. These artists are marvelous to work with, and their commissions are either open now, or open periodically throughout the year. They'll even do your favorite character from a book series, DnD character, or even a personal portrait, so even if you don't write books, they can still offer some real works of art for you. Click the link of each artist to see if their style matches the vibe you're looking for, but I've used each artist for my fantasy books, if that helps:
It’s typical in December for people to talk about their favorite gift ideas for the bookworm in your family, or small shops to support. While I can share some of those ideas with you (like give someone the gift of a book box subscription! Use my discount code AUTHOR5 on the Nerdy Book Box today!), I wanted to deviate a little bit. I wanted to talk to you, instead, about a charity that is near and dear to me in case you want to give a different kind of gift this year, or you’re simply looking for new places to give on “Giving Tuesday”. There are so many wonderful charities out there that help with literacy, feeding the hungry, racial justice organizations, preservation groups, you name it! There are so many wonderful causes that always need support, and I encourage you to find a local group you believe in and support them anyway you can, even if it is with your time instead of money. That’s what I have done, and continue to do, with the Best Friends Animal Society.
I know, we always like to joke about how people suck and that dogs are too good for us, but really, sometimes they are. I talk a lot about my eternal writing companion, Dobby, who sits with me all day while I write, who occasionally takes me for walks, and is always down for a good cuddle session. But what I don’t talk a lot about is Dobby’s story. Dobby is a rescue that no one wanted. Chihuahua’s and Pit Bull breeds are some of the most common dog’s in California shelters, so finding homes for these breeds is often difficult, more so when they aren’t puppies. Dobby was in one shelter for too long, and he was scheduled to be put down, when Best Friends Animal Society came in, scooped him up, and put him in another shelter where he could remain until someone adopted him, however long that would take. He wasn’t on the main floor with the other dogs when I arrived, he was too small, too shy to do well in a noisy kennel. So no one saw him. It was by sheer luck that when my husband and I were looking for a dog to adopt, we happened to see his picture on a kiosk in the lobby.
He was the most pathetic little buddy imaginable. They put him in a bowtie to try and make him seem fun and cute, but he was just so shy and uncertain; his ears were down, eyes sad, didn’t want to lift his head up. But the shelter brought him out to us, and he was still just this scared little buddy, curious but nervous about approaching us. Until I asked if he wanted to come home with us, and then he crawled into my lap, curled right up, and that was it! He took a little time to fully come out of his shell, but Dobby is such a good little boy that it’s hard to imagine that he was ever abandoned to begin with. He loves my cats, refuses to go on a walk unless my husband walks us to the door, and is so proud of himself when he jumps on the bed and throws all my pillows on the floor.
I am forever appreciative that Best Friends rescued Dobby (he was named Rascal at the time, and he is so not a Rascal that we changed his name) so that I could find him, and give him his forever home. Since then, I have donated to their organization to help them feed and take care of all the pets they have at their shelters. Dobby and I have even participated in one of their 5k walk/run’s to help show off how amazing shelter dogs can be, and I tell anyone who is interested in adding a fur baby to their family to first, check out their local shelter, but if their perfect pet isn’t there, to go to Best Friends.
So, if you are looking for a pet this holiday, or looking for places to support, this is a nonprofit that I know, love, and will always support. We adopted Dobby nearly seven years ago and, to this day, it’s still one of the best decisions my husband and I have ever made.
Hi friends! So now that the major book tours are over for Resistor’s launch (thank you so much to everyone who participated!) I figured it was time to compile and share all the different blog posts of note with you all. Basically, these are posts that I either crafted, or interviews I gave to various bloggers who then posted that content on their page. A lot of work went into those posts, both on my side and the blogger’s side, so it’d be a shame if all that hard work was lost. Plus, I think some of the content in there is pretty cool: ranging from behind the scenes writing processes, to excerpts from Resistor, and sneak peaks into what’s coming in book 2! I’ve listed all the links below as well as short descriptions of what you’ll find in each posting. I hope you find something new and interesting about me and my books in these links, and enjoy!
Hey booknerds! Now that the cover for “Resistor” is out in the wild and all the character art for the first book has been shown, I figure this is the perfect time to not only talk about the cover in more detail, but the character art itself, as well as explain how the pre-order art works. I am so insanely proud and happy with how everything turned out that I hope you love it all just as much as I do, and I hope you share “Resistor” with your family, friends, and everyone in between.
So let’s talk about that cover super-fast! It was done by the talented crew at ebooklaunch, with the very same designer who did my Monster of Selkirk series! I loved how those covers turned out, so naturally I wanted to use the same team, but given the change in genre, I needed a completely different format. Usually I shy away from putting my main character on the cover of my books as I don’t want to contradict the readers imagination, but not only does this cover fit with the genre, but Ellinor is so vivid in my mind and so distinct with her eyes, hair, the weapons she uses, etc. that it felt like a missed opportunity not to have her cocky-self shown front and center this time around. The next covers may even include more of the characters as Ellinor’s adventure continues, but we’ll see!
As for the character art, I see all these big book boxes that come with mugs inspired by amazing book series, book sleeves, candles, and that’s on top of the traditional character art prints. I couldn’t do the more elaborate art swag this time around, which is why the character art isn’t just a posed drawing of the characters, but rather scenes from the book so more of the characters personalities can shine through. That’s why I’m doing a playing card deck for these books as well. They’re functional, but in a way that you can use them with friends, which hopefully makes them a bit more special. But you may ask why I chose Kai and Jelani to be playing cards in addition to Ellinor. Simple: those two were my beta reader’s favorite characters. Plus, this allows me to add to the deck of characters as the characters themselves become more important, so even if one character is introduced in an early book but gets a bigger role in the next book, I can save his character card for the sequel. See? There is a method to all of my madness!
As for the pre-order incentives, I know it can be a tad confusing given that the paperback book is currently available for purchase ahead of the eBook, and you can currently buy signed paperbacks from my Etsy shop, as well. Never fear! Hopefully this helps clear things up:
You can either email me or the publisher Starfish Ink, or message me on Instagram or Facebook showing that you bought/pre-ordered Resistor, and then I will mail you the playing cards. As for the polaroid of Ellinor and her crew, that will be a giveaway prize for every 5 reviews "Resistor" gets, though I may have some extra goodies to giveaway for that later, too! These giveaways will be open for everyone though, so if you’ve read Resistor, reviewed it everywhere your heart desires, and just loved it so much, you can request the polaroid from me as well. But this isn’t included with the pre-orders mainly because you’ll better know who is who in Ellinor’s crew once you’ve read the book.
So there you have it! A little behind the scenes, some explanations, and a whole lot of art! Who could ask for more? Let me know what you think of the cover, the types of bookish swag you love most, or if you have any more questions about the pre-orders and how to get the “Resistor” art for yourself! And, if you’ve already bought your copies, I also have another custom Spotify playlist for “Resistor” for you to enjoy!
This is a very exciting month for me, booknerds: it’s the month where the cover of “Resistor” will be officially debuted, and the pre-orders of my latest book baby will start! To celebrate, I have two more characters to introduce you to from my New Adult/Adult cyberpunk fantasy: Cosmin von Brandt, and Jelani Tyrik Sharma! We’ll start with the villain of the new book, and end with my beta reader’s newest favorite character, that way we end on a high note, as it were.
Cosmin von Brandt is a seersha. A seersha is my new, colorful race that is a mix between elves, drow, and the quanari (the horned race from Dragon Age). This race of people can have skin ranging from the traditional colors we know, to indigo blue, soft greens, lilac… you name it! Their eyes are similar in that vein as well, they range from the natural to the unnatural—like Cosmin’s pumpkin orange eyes. Basically anything with color—skin, eyes, hair—can be any color of the rainbow for seersha. Some of them also have long ears like elves, or even horns. They are a beautiful and eccentric race by nature, and Cosmin, while not the most outlandish looking of seersha, makes up for it with his eccentricities. A connoisseur of high, fine and daring fashion, Cosmin loves all the flash that comes with being a seersha—including the power. Seersha casters are naturally more powerful than their humani brethren, and Cosmin is the most powerful of them throughout Euria.
Gifted with both fire and earth magics, Cosmin has made a name for himself smuggling illegal magitech—magically imbued technology. Not all magitech is outlawed, just the most devastating kinds, which happen to be Cosmin’s specialty. He is, essentially, a gangster with a crime “family” that spreads throughout the entirety of Euria. Cosmin is the extreme embodiment of “absolute power corrupts absolutely”; he’s arrogant, narcissistic, but also very generous to those who are unequivocally loyal to him. Which is why he gets so perturbed when anyone challenges him, tries to leave him, or take something he deems as his. Cosmin is always vaguely paranoid that someone will come along that will challenge his power, a worry born in him early due to the death of… well, I’ll save that little tidbit. You see, Cosmin will be getting his own standalone novella very soon that details exactly how Cosmin von Brandt became the elite and untouchable dealer of illegal magitech that you meet in “Resistor”. But needless to say, I had a lot of fun writing this character! He’s smooth and charming and an absolute dick. He’s a proper gentleman, and a perfect devil. And given he is over 300 years old, it’s very hard for someone like Ellinor to outmaneuver him.
And now, allow me to introduce you to the character that single handedly became my early readers’ favorite: Jelani Tyrik Sharma. Jelani is also a seersha, though he looks it more than Cosmin does. And, like Cosmin, he’s also a caster—of sorts. Jelani is an earth caster, but he’s nowhere near as strong as Cosmin—but more on that, and what it means for Jelani, when you read the book. I will say that Jelani is what you would consider to be a libertarian. He wants people to live their truth, he doesn’t believe in imposing someone else’s will over a person—be that in sanctioning mechanical advances, or the rights of the sentient robots, the Ashlings. Jelani is a freedom fighter, beholden to no one but his little sister, who he feels responsible for due to a tragic event from his past.
Jelani is a refined soul, someone who has lost much, but rebuilt himself and found new purpose in life. He is more than willing to drag Ellinor and very blatantly show her when she’s wrong, when her prejudice is making her into someone she doesn’t have to be anymore. Jelani is a sensitive soul, but he’s not a pacifist by any means. He can go toe-to-toe with any number of extreme beastie, so he’s definitely not someone to cross. Good thing it takes a lot to get on his bad side! But Jelani has his own motivations for wanting to remain on Ellinor’s mission, to stay within her circle, one that you just know is going to rub Ellinor the wrong way…
The contrast in personalities and speech patterns between my characters was thrilling to build and experiment with. It makes each one stand out from the other, and was honestly a lot of fun to write. I thoroughly enjoyed getting into the minds of these diverse characters, watching them butt heads, and discover things about themselves they didn’t know until these new faces came into their lives. Again, sorry for being a little vague on these characters, but I hope they sound enticing and interesting enough for you to want to meet them very soon!