Hello out there!!!
With spring finally here, and my littlest peanut already 7 months old, I’m finally stepping out of my winter/new-mom hibernation and preparing some exciting things for The Strega Series in 2017!
Keep your eyes peeled for some major changes, including new content for my website and a significant publishing update.
Photo courtesy of Barrett/Flickr.
It has been quite some time since I’ve posted, but I’ve been hard at work on Book II. Research and writing continues, and life’s experiences continue to inspire the details and depths of my characters and story (dear life, please let me up for air).
This year has been a challenging one, and despite a profound sense of loss (or maybe because of it), I feel more deeply thankful for all that I have – a family that I love and can’t live without, friends that make me laugh, good health, a roof over my head, a job that pays the bills, and the freedom to be myself and choose the life I want (a huge thank you to all responsible parties).
In six years, I’ve lost my dad, my brother, and most recently my mother. Losing such major keystones has shaken my foundation beyond what I am able to express (still working through it all with the pros), and has given birth to a very real fear of future loss. Nothing is certain in this life except for death, and that is a truth that most of us (myself definitely included) work to avoid facing on a daily, regular basis. On the whole, that is a good thing – it is unhealthy to dwell on such morbid realities, and doing so would prevent us from living our lives and embracing all the amazing things in it. But when death is thrown in your face over and over again, before you can even get on your feet from the last knock-down blow, it becomes really difficult to ignore that death and loss is very real, and it is absolutely terrifying.
Heartbreak tears us apart, but in the process it deepens our understanding of ourselves, it makes us more compassionate and empathetic to others who have or are enduring it, and it forces us to re-prioritize our lives. It shakes us out of complacency, allowing us to see everything with a renewed sense of appreciation. It makes us more thankful than ever for our loved ones, because we know that there is no guarantee that they will be here tomorrow. Though I wish there was another way to cultivate such profound appreciation (and a way to keep my family safe in a bubble), experiencing pain and loss is a rite of passage and this is the reward. Appreciation, gratitude, thankfulness…these are gifts. Without them, you can have the world and still feel empty and unfulfilled. With them, you have everything you need.
On this Thanksgiving, I wish you and your loved ones all the blessings that life has to offer. Be well, and spread the love.
Photo courtesy of Don Graham/Flickr.
April hath put a spirit of youth in everything – William Shakespeare
Happy Spring everyone!
In New England, we’ve finally emerged from our snowy tombs after getting slammed all winter with the cursed stuff. Mountains of snow survived into April, and 20 degree days made us wonder if there really was such a thing as spring. We did walk outside in short sleeves and flip flops once upon a time, right? Just last week, we were still in our winter jackets. Thankfully, May brought the sun back to stay, and our hyacinths and tulips are blossoming in celebration.
Being holed up this winter did have its benefits. I did a ton of research and finished a bunch of Great Courses lectures: The Peloponnesian War by Kenneth Harl; Ancient Greek Civilization by Jeremy McInerney; Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World by Glenn Holland; Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Empire by Kenneth Harl; Greece and Rome: An Integrated History of the Ancient Mediterranean by Robert Garland; and The Aeneid of Virgil by Elizabeth Vandiver. Right now, I’m finishing up The History of Ancient Rome by Garrett Fagan, and then I’m onto my next adventure: The Aeneid by Virgil. Elizabeth Vandiver’s course on the Aeneid was awesome, and I’m so excited to dive into the epic itself (after falling in love with the Odyssey last year).
All my research goes to good use. I’m plugging away on Book II and having lots of fun with character development, plot twists, metaphoric parallelism, and all the stuff that makes writing so addictive. Ancient Greece and Rome is fertile ground, and my favorite place to spread my seeds of creativity.
In other news, I learned in March that Strega Book I was chosen as a finalist in Chanticleer’s Dante Rossetti Awards 2014 for Young Adult Novels. I’m so excited and honored to be among such a talented group of finalists. Now that Book I is out there in the world, I’m even more excited to finish Book II and share it with everyone! Stay tuned.
Also, don’t forget to enter this month’s Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win a free, signed copy of Strega Book I.
Happy reading (and spring frolicking)!
Photo courtesy of Gary J. Wood/Flickr.
Happy New Year everyone!!! It’s 2015, and another year of possibilities is ahead of us!
Last year on New Year’s day, Strega was only 3.5 weeks old. As 2014 began, I looked back at 2013 with amazement because I had actually written a book (and published it). It was a big dream, and I had accomplished it. Holy Shitake!!! In my blog entry last New Year’s, I thanked everyone for making the launch of Strega such a success. Everyone had been so supportive those first few weeks, buying paperbacks and Kindle ebooks on Amazon, spreading the word to friends, and taking the time to write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. And we were just getting started!
Now, as I look back at 2014, I’m amazed again.
By January, Strega had hit all major book retailers and the paperback was available to order via all local, national, and online bookstores. Kindle, iTunes, and Nook versions of the ebook were online. Strega was registered with the Library of Congress, and it started popping up in markets across the globe. My very first Goodreads Giveaway contest ended, and I sent signed paperbacks into the world for the first time. Five winners in Australia, Portugal, New York (2), and New Jersey received those very first shiny paperbacks wrapped in shimmering copper wire. Strega was chosen as the January book of the month by the Lovers of Paranormal group on Goodreads, and the group conducted my first Author Interview.
In February, Strega was chosen as a finalist in the ForeWord Firsts Book Awards competition. Strega paperbacks landed on their very first physical bookshelf at Gibson’s Bookstore in New Hampshire, and it was chosen as Ryan’s staff pick for February. Reviews of Strega started popping up everywhere online: Foley’s Fiction Farm; Pebble in the Still Water; Bit’n Books; Saad’s Book World; and The Hellvis Compendium to name a few. Strega also made Foley’s Fiction Farm 2014 year-end review top 10 books. I opened my Strega-centric Pinterest account and began collecting historical and magical tidbits that relate to the Strega Series storyline. With more than a thousand repins and just as many connections with awesome boards and pins, it has taken on a magical life of its own!
In March, Piece of Cake PR put together my first press release.
“A pathway to the darkest and the most beautiful parts of the human experience, ‘Strega’ is a Young Adult novel of incredible power, and a true testament to the author’s electrifying talent for creating new and exciting worlds for readers to explore.” — Piece of Cake PR
In May, The San Francisco Book Review published their four star Review of Strega.
“The writing and storytelling in Strega are gorgeous…Strega is an outstanding start to a clever fantasy trilogy.” — The San Francisco Book Review
Throughout the year, Goodreads activity was booming. Thousands of people entered each month’s Goodreads Giveaway contest, and I sent signed copies of Strega to winners in Germany, Algeria, Australia, Philippines, Mexico, England, Ireland, India, Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, Canada, and the United States. By December, Strega had received 115 ratings with a 4 star average, and more than 10,500 people had added it to their bookshelves. Also, my Twitter Author page had hit 950 followers, and my Facebook Author Page was just shy of 300 Likes.
2014 was also a huge year for research. I finished Professor Grant Voth’s lectures on Myth in Human History; Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days; Ovid’s Metamorphoses; Professor Elizabeth Vandiver’s lectures on The Iliad of Homer and The Odyssey of Homer, followed by the heavy hitters themselves – the Iliad & Odyssey; Vandiver’s lectures on Classical Mythology and Herodotus; Professor Jeremy McInerney’s lectures on Ancient Greek Civilization; and in December, I started Professor Harl’s lectures on the Peloponnesian War.
As I kick off 2015, I am filled with gratitude and the motivation to make this year just as epic as its predecessors! This month, I’m wrapping up my research and shifting my focus back to writing. I’ve drawn in loads of inspiration, I’ve got the momentum of a growing fan base behind me, and I’m ready to finish Book II.
Whatever your goals are this year, ride the New Year wave and go get ’em! 2015, here we come!!!!
Photo courtesy of Vincent Kaczmarek/Flickr.
We all have something to be thankful for…life, love, friendship, family, health, peace, joy, freedom, independence, acceptance, satisfaction… The list is endless, and each is a gift. It is so easy to take blessings and miracles in our lives for granted. Thanksgiving is a great time to reign ourselves in, recognize the beauty in our lives, and let it fill our hearts (while we fill our bellies with turkey day deliciousness!).
I’m thankful for family, friends, health, and the freedom and independence to educate myself and to do what I love (and I’m thankful for those who protect and defend this freedom). I’m thankful for all the little things…enchanting moonlight, fiery sunrises, the beauties of nature, hot coffee, blueberry pie, loving husband kisses, and a little smiling face that calls me mummee. I’m thankful for the beautiful days, and I’m even thankful for the hard, painful, gut-wrenching ones because they help me grow and evolve into a stronger, wiser, more passionate person. Every day is a gift and a miracle.
I’ve always loved to write, and I feel blessed that I was able to finish my first novel (a dream 10+ years in the making) and share it with the world. It’s been almost a year since Strega was released. Putting it out into the world has been a scary, wonderful, terrifying, exhilarating experience. Last month, Strega hit 100 ratings on Goodreads, and more than 10,000 people have added Strega to their bookshelves. Thousands of people enter each month’s Goodreads Giveaway, and I get to send signed copies of Strega across the globe. So far, Strega has gone off to winners in Germany, Algeria, Australia, Philippines, Mexico, England, Ireland, India, Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, Canada, and the United States. I’ve received amazingly positive reviews from The San Francisco Book Review, Writer’s Digest, ForeWord Reviews, and so many beloved bloggers and readers. I am overflowing with thankfulness!!!
And finally, I am thankful for all the writers and teachers past, present, and future who educate and inspire. I’m a sponge and I can never absorb enough. Last month, I finished Professor Elizabeth Vandiver’s lectures on The Iliad of Homer and The Odyssey of Homer, followed by the heavy hitters themselves – the Iliad & Odyssey. The Odyssey is now my absolute favorite story of all time. It is amazing in every way a story can be amazing. Until now, I’d only ever read or heard fragments of the story, but the Odyssey as a whole blew me away. This month, I finished Vandiver’s lectures on Herodotus, and now I’m onto The Histories by Herodotus, and Professor Jeremy McInerney’s lectures on Ancient Greek Civilization. My inspiration for Book II and III is endless thanks to these amazing professors and pioneering authors of olde.
This turkey day, I wish you full hearts and full bellies. Put the spotlight on all the beautiful things in your life and bask in their glory (as you stuff your face with pie)!
Photo courtesy of Nick Kenrick/Flickr.
Happy October, friends!
Autumn is one of my favorite times of year. Nature’s amazing spectacle warms us with beautiful blasts of color before winter settles in. Pumpkins are carved into scary faces, hayrides deliver us deep into apple orchards, magical candlelight stirs our imagination as we share scary stories, and warm ovens tease us with irresistible treats. What’s not to love?
Samhain, or Halloween, marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the dark half of the year. From sunset on October 31st to sunset on November 1st (which is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice), the traditional belief is that the veil between worlds becomes thin. During this liminal time, spirits and beings from the other side can more easily cross over to our world. Bonfires are lit for their cleansing and protective powers, offerings of food and drink (trick or treat, anyone?) are left for visiting spirits to placate them, feasts are held to welcome the spirits of loved ones that have returned to us, and masks are worn to disguise oneself from harmful spirits and evade their wrath (better dig out the face paint!).
Though I love reading (and writing) paranormal thrillers, I’m a huge scaredy-cat! While writing Strega, there were many nights when my laptop almost left the land of the living as I tossed it aside and ran for shelter from the boogeyman outside my window. But alas, I just can’t get enough. And this time of year, my cup (and my DVR) runneth over. Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Grimm, Sleepy Hollow… they are all back on. Sleepless nights, here I come!
If you love sleepless nights and espresso shot mornings, head over to Goodreads and enter to win a free, signed copy of Strega. This Goodreads Giveaway runs until midnight on October 31st, so make sure to enter before the post-trick-or-treat candy coma sets in!!! If you’ve already read Strega and you’re waiting for Book II, rest assured. It’s coming in 2015 (before Halloween, of course!).
Have a spooktacular October!!!
Photo courtesy of Great Beyond/Flickr.