Hello my dear friends. It’s been awhile since I posted a blog, and I do apologize. I just wrapped a couple weeks of blog tours, then hosted Thanksgiving (and didn’t burn the house down! #winning), and now I am preparing for the holidays, another blog tour this time hosted and run by fellow authors, and, drum roll please, doing a book signing event just before Christmas!
I posted about this in my newsletter, so if you subscribe to that (hint: you totally should) you already have the details. But if you missed it, you can find the information on the official Facebook invitation. Please RSVP if you are going to attend, it helps me judge snacks and bookmarks for giving out, but even if you can’t go as it’s too far away or the timing just doesn’t work, list yourself as “interested” in the event. This is a public event (which makes me a tad nervous for various reasons) so if you mark yourself as “interested” then others will see it and who knows? Maybe they’d be interested and want to check out the event. It is being held in a super cute store run by a friend of mine, so there will be plenty to check out if you do decide to join me.
I realize this isn’t much of a blog post, but honestly, I’m pretty exhausted and scatter brained, as I’m sure many people are this time of year. I have had no time to come down from the stress of prepping a Thanksgiving meal and hosting it all for the first time. Like I said, it turned out pretty well according to the lovely people who joined us this year. Right after that, me and the husband had to start planning for Christmas as we are not staying in New Orleans (which should be obvious given the location of the book signing), which means I’ve had little time to just sit down and write.
Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but it is, or it is to me. You see, when I have a project that is eh, let’s say 80% done being written, not being able to finish it makes me really grumpy. Which means I get snippy (mainly at my husband, sorry hon), and I don’t like that. So, my goal is to get more work done in my WIP manuscript so, come the holidays and the book signing, my inner muse isn’t jabbing me with a rusty fence post for neglecting it.
So that’s why this is barely a blog post, more of a rambling update. But hey, you want to hear more from me? I’ve been spending a lot of time on Instagram, so go follow me there! I hope to see you all at the book signing event, and please don’t hesitate to ask me questions about it in the meantime!
Hello, good friends! I apologize for my blogging absence as of late, I do have a good reason though. I was out of the country in the Dominican Republic for a little bit, then I got sick, and then book two in “The Monster of Selkirk” series launched, so I am 2-for-2 on illnesses during book launches. But as it’s been a week and my energy has returned/is returning, and a few of the early book reviews for “The Heart of the Forest” have come in, I wanted to share an element from my life that was weaved throughout the latest book.
I’ve mentioned before on my blog tours and what not, that I enjoy using fantasy, particularly young adult fantasy, to give young people a safe place where they don’t feel so alone, and that is most prevalent in “The Heart of the Forest”. I am going to avoid spoilers, but there is a moment in the second book where Tallis is dealing with something very traumatic and heart wrenching, and Tomas tries to comfort her, he wants her to feel better, and to feel better NOW. On the surface, this is natural, we’ve all been there in one form or another. We’ve dealt with terrible things, or know someone who was going through something devastating and we wanted to do whatever we could to make them feel better. But Tallis gets mad at Tomas for this, and basically tells him that what she needs most is to be allowed to feel her feelings, she needs to grieve for as long as she needs to, and she doesn’t want Tomas to “try and make her feel better” just because her sadness makes him uncomfortable.
Take a moment to think about that, if you will. Our intentions for wanting our friends and family to feel better when they are depressed or upset comes from a good place: we don’t like seeing people we care for suffer. But part of that desire to make them feel better, is because their sadness does indeed make us uncomfortable. We can’t understand how they process their feelings, even if we have been in similar situations. We’ll never really know how they feel. So when they are depressed, we want them to, well, not be depressed because we’re generally good people and their sadness makes us uncomfortable to be around.
Conversely, when people are grieving or going through something traumatic, they often feel like they are not allowed to process those emotions for very long. As if there is a time limit on how long someone can mourn. But people, especially young people, need to know that it is absolutely okay to not be okay. That you can feel your feelings for as long as it takes you to process them and the terrible situation you find yourself in. It’s okay to take as much time as you need. In other words: you do you.
I was so excited when a reviewer found this section of the book and latched on to it, because it was done very purposefully. Not just because I think it’s an important part of mental health and something more people should be okay with, but because I have been in this situation, as I’m sure many people have.
I was going through a tough time, I felt like my life was crumbling, everything I worked so hard for slipping through my fingers. I was let go from my job and had nothing to fall back on, I was struggling with trying to figure out what to do with my life next, I was floundering with ideas of self-worth… I was a mess and I was depressed; I could barely eat, let alone sleep, and I had a tendency to wallow everywhere I went.
My husband, bless his heart, wanted me to feel better. And he tried, he really did, to alleviate my burdens and remind me that I was, and am, loved. But that didn’t change the situation I was in so my depression remained and he got upset. He didn’t understand why I was still this way, why I couldn’t just get over it. I felt like I had to be done being terrified of the situation I found myself in, but putting on a brave face and denying my persistent panic attacks wasn’t the answer, either. I eventually went to see a therapist to talk about these things, and he told me how uncomfortable our sadness makes others who do not share it, even if they love us and just want us to be okay. Its why we tend to bring food over to people who have just lost a loved one, it’s a universal way of trying to make someone feel better when they are going through something profound and terrible that we can’t comprehend. There’s a reason we call it comfort food, after all.
When my therapist talked to me about this, it felt like a weight was lifted. It made sense why my husband, who loves me, would make me feel bad about feeling bad, even if he didn’t intend to. After that, I gave myself permission to feel my feelings for as long as I needed to, even if that meant telling people to just give me space so I could do just that. Eventually, my head resurfaced, and I had a deeper understanding of myself and my own mental process, and I wouldn’t have achieved that if I hadn’t allowed myself to feel bad, and to accept that it’s okay to not be okay.
I thought that was important enough to include in my fantasy world, that little piece of knowledge and acceptance I stumbled across with my therapist while trying to achieve better personal mental health. I want people to feel comfortable talking about this, but I know it’s a touchy subject for a lot of people. So, I figured that if I put it in my books, that maybe it would help someone else, that it would let them know that it’s fine, you can be sad for as long as it takes, you do you.
If you’ve read the books, I’d love to know what other parts you found that really spoke to you the way it did to the blogger, Roxie. She caught something I did very deliberately that I am so glad she wrote about in her review, but if there are other parts, please share them with me so we can have a nice little chat about it! And remember, it’s okay to not be okay, you do you.
Hello friends! Since you seemed to enjoy my last post focused on my character profiles, I decided to do another similar posting. Instead of focusing on my leading cast of characters (though I'll probably do another such post, but focused more on the supporting cast, as they are just as diverse and important to the story), this post will be focused more on some of the images I used to help build and shape the land of Selkirk. These images can be found on my Pinterest account in the boards dedicated to Selkirk and the costumes, but not all those clothes belong in Selkirk, or the first two books, so I wanted to share a few of the more prominent images of the scenery and outfits you'd most likely run into in the first book!
First, I want to introduce you to some of the elves. Now these aren't your Tolkien elves, they wear tattered rags for clothes, seem impervious to the weather, and some even look like walking trees if they get old enough! They have glowing yellow eyes, and most have filed their teeth into fangs. While none of the images are 100% spot on, images like these really helped me shaped the elves currently plaguing Tallis and her friends:
It's no secret that I based most of Selkirk off of a medieval version of Scotland with a smattering of Ireland and England in there for good measure. The names of the towns and cities, the food, the language, and the attire are all inspired from those places (but mainly Scotland). So of course, as I was envisioning the forests, the towns, and the other places Tallis found herself traversing, images like these were instrumental in capturing the feel and the mood of the landscape, as well as the feelings Tallis and her friends had while going through the areas:
If you've read the book, you may have noticed that every once in awhile, I put on my Tolkien and George R. Martin hat, and get really descriptive about clothes and armor. I know not everyone is a fan of that, and is often seen as just a trope of fantasy novels, and if it is, sorry? But I honestly like getting detailed about that stuff every now and again, I think it helps complete the sense of you being there, of being able to really visualize the different characters and their personalities based on the clothes they wear, or the armor they choose to put on. I won't do it for every single outfit change, usually just once or twice to complete the image of the world, and then after, it's on you, dear reader, to make sure the characters aren't running around naked, unless you're into that kind of thing, then go for it! Regardless, I spend a lot of time looking for clothes that fit the world and characters, and the ones below fit that well for the first book, though if you have visited my Pinterest boards, you'll know the costumes vary wildly from book one to two, and beyond. These are just a few that inspire the looks I talk about in "The Duality of Nature":
You may want to click on the images in order to get a clearer view of the detail in each one, but I hope this little teaser was interesting, and if you've read the book, the details from some of the locations or clothes now make more sense to you. I'll post more of these as we get closer to book two's release date and beyond so you can see even more of Selkirk, and the things and people Tallis and her friends encounter along the way. Let me know what you think of the images, or if there are certain characters you'd love to see the character profile for. I'd love to hear from you all!
Now that the first book in “The Monster of Selkirk” series has been out for close to five months, I wanted to do a character feature on the four main characters so you can get to know them and (hopefully) move Book I from the “Want to Read” pile to the “Currently Reading” pile. I have also taken the liberty of collecting images of costumes that inspired everything from their clothes to their armor, as well as actors who I’d love to see play my characters. Of course, if you’ve read the books and have a different opinion on the leading roles, I obviously want to know! But first up, let’s take a closer look at my leading lady, Tallis.
Tallis has never felt comfortable in her own skin. She has always felt out of place and the teasing she endures has only exasperated that feeling of alienation, and the isolation that comes with it. She struggles with finding her place in the world, a place that is uniquely her own, and not thrust upon her due to the “station” she was born into. She yearns for knowledge, to do the things that people say she can’t do, and to never feel like others are leaving her behind. She knows, deep down, that she does not belong in Kincardine, and should leave the place she has called home her entire life, but the fear of the unknown has always held her back despite the animosity she receives at home with her father. She hates having to hide how she feels, and who she wants to be, but until she figures out what she wants for herself and her life, she bottles up her desires, and continues with the simple monotony of her day. The only people who can say they truly know Tallis are Donovan and Rosslyn, though Tomas is eager to learn more about her, Tallis never seems to grasp why… Regardless, once Tallis feels like she has found a true friend, she’d do anything to keep them safe—at any cost.
Donovan is Tallis’s older cousin, and raised even poorer than she was! He’s learned from a young age how fragile life is, losing his mother when he was a toddler, leaving his father to raise him alone. Donovan feels very strongly for his family, and will do anything for them, or to make them proud of him. This goes for Tallis as well—who he treats as a little sister—though he would never tell her that he trains as hard as he does so she will be proud of the man he is becoming. He’s always been a serious man, without a dishonorable bone in his body, making him closer to the kind of knight Tallis reads about in the monastery then any of the other young knights in Kincardine. Donovan lives for his duty, and does his utmost to keep those he has vowed to protect from any and all harm, even if that means following them into the forest to battle feral elves!
Rosslyn is the ultimate free spirit. She was born in Selkirk’s version of a Gypsy clan, adhering to a code of life where you follow your desires and live how you want to live, shunning anyone and anything that tells you otherwise. The clans do have to do what is best for the clan as a whole as dictated by their leaders, and when that meant putting her mentally challenged brother “out of his misery”, Rosslyn’s parents decided to give the clan life up in order to save their son, and Rosslyn would never want to be apart from her baby brother. Despite her free thinking ways, Rosslyn is extremely attached to her family, so even with the call of adventure always tempting her, she never leaves home for very long. Rosslyn’s disregard for the laws of the land often puts her at odds with Donovan, but she enjoys Tallis’s company far too much to let the knight’s disapproval deter her. Unlike Tallis and Donovan, Rosslyn does not know how to fight, she can defend herself in a tavern brawl just fine, but she is no match for the vicious elves, making her choice to follow Tallis into the forest strange, until you realize that the same fierce love Rosslyn has for her family is also given to her closest friends. Rosslyn would do anything for Tallis, just as Tallis would do anything for her.
Tomas has lived in the monastery his whole life, having been abandoned there as a baby by—according to the brothers—his wanton mother. The only life Tomas has ever known has been a cloistered one, one where he initially struggled with coming to terms with why his parents did not want him, and why Wodan (the human’s god) would not speak for Himself and explain why he was abandoned. Once Tomas accepts his situation and his place in life, he devotes all his time to studying everything he can get his hands on, feeding a keener mind than any in Kincardine have seen before. He never imagined that his life would deviate from the course it was on since infancy, until he meets Tallis. While his sharp mind often paints him as an intellectual outcast by those in his order, Tallis is genuinely interested in the contraptions he has been thinking up. Tomas hadn’t realized the difference between a friend and an acquaintance until he met Tallis, which has him imagining a different path in life, one where Tallis is a fixture. He knows that he cannot—and should not—act upon these confusing feelings, but Tomas doesn’t fully appreciate her pull upon him until Tomas is presented with an opportunity to lead a different life, and his curiosity about the world will not allow him to let such an opportunity pass him by!
And that’s it! Those are my four leading characters in a nut shell. Or, rather, it’s everything about them I felt I could share without the fear of spoilers. I hope you find them fun and interesting, like people you’d want to hang out with and get to know better, as that’s how I felt writing them. If you read the book and envisioned the characters or outfits a bit differently, I’d love to hear/see it, so please share in the comments!
This is going to be a short little blog post. But you see, I killed a character today. I was simply going to say “I killed someone” and leave it at that, all cryptic and scary, and faintly psychopathic, but given my Google search history already when I'm research things like combat or medicinal herbs that would have been common in a kind of medieval era, I didn’t want to chance putting myself on any more watch lists. Anyway, back to my point. I killed a character.
Normally, this isn’t a big deal. I’ve killed lots of characters and as more of the books in “The Monster of Selkirk” series come to light, you’ll see that it’s not uncommon for me to kill off or maim the people you and I love most in this fictional world of mine. But I am writing the very last book in Tallis’s journey, yes, that’s right, “The Monster of Selkirk” does have an end and I am almost done writing it. There is something so bittersweet about this, something that I’ve never experienced before as a writer.
I’ve spent about five years with Tallis, or it’ll be about that when I’m done editing the last book. I’ve gotten to know her, her friends, and her world so intimately, that it’s odd for me to say good-bye. It’s time, they are ready to be “normal” in the world I have left for them, because I do like to think of it a bit like “Toy Story” where, even though I am done shaping their world, they still live and have lives. Still, I’ve spent a lot of time with these characters and I’ll miss them. I can visit them alongside everyone else who is discovering them for the first time, but it won’t be the same.
What’s really getting me now is killing my characters this close to the end, more so than the other books where someone has, in the words of Shakespeare, “shuffled off this mortal coil”. There are some deaths that are more meaningful, more long lasting to my characters then the one that I just finished writing, but given this is so close to the literal end, it stings a bit more.
What, you didn’t think I felt NOTHING when I killed a character? Every death is deliberate and has a purpose, I want those deaths to hurt, because it hurts me to let them go. But this moment feels different. Feels a bit more like choking at the last moment. This character got so close to the end but, as I’m writing, I realize they can’t go on. These characters are guiding me to their end and it’s weird, and beautiful, and sad.
This is 100% a writer problem (probably an actor problem too, actually, when they are done performing a certain character or play, I’d imagine), and I just needed to air that out because I’m in a weird place right now. I’m about to write the climax and I am not mentally in a place where I can do that because of this character. Which is phenomenal! But weird, very weird.
Tell me friends, am I alone in my feelings? Is it weird that I feel this way (or, too weird rather)? Does this even make sense? Please make me feel like I’m not crazy. And no, I won’t tell you who dies, I will never reveal those kinds of spoilers! I’ll be fine in a few days I’m sure, but until then, tell me your thoughts on the matter, I’d love to hear from you!