Guns & Smoke, Mental Health, Writing

Why You Gotta Be So Rude?

As spring comes upon us, that time has returned: what’s been up?

First and foremost, in February, Lauren and I revealed the cover for our upcoming novel, Guns & Smoke!

It was SUCH a joy to see everyone’s excitement for the cover reveal! We officially started our pre-order promotions. If you’re interested in finding out more, head over to my Guns & Smoke page for more information! We hope to have the paperback available for preorder soon. 🙂

Guns & Smoke was out for copyedits during the month of February. Being as this is my first time working with an editor, I was slightly nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. Guns & Smoke has seen many iterations and been edited and drafted what feels like a hundred times by this point. When the edits arrived, I was almost afraid to look. But, then… it was mostly clean up! The majority of our editor’s notes were punctuation (which I’ve learned I’m terrible at), word repetitions, and suggestions on how to make sentences more succinct.

At the same time, our novel was out to beta readers. This was the first time we’d put the project in front of readers since changing the genre from YA to Adult, and straight dystopian, to dystopian-western-romance. I usually don’t get nervous when it comes to a small group of people reading my books. I didn’t really this time. It’s only as we get further into the process that my fears and imposter syndrome start creeping up on me. Anyway, the point to this is to talk about our wonderful beta readers and the feedback that they gave to us. While it wasn’t all good, I really felt like the suggestions that we were given made a lot of sense.

We had a marathon work day recently where we finished up copyedits and did rewrites. As always, those days are physically and mentally exhausting, but they are also a ton of fun. The only problem is sometimes we get off task. What do you expect though? We have fun together!

Now, let’s take a list at my to do list from last month, and I’ll let you know how I did.

  1. Finish A Shield of Stars Rewrites
  2. Read The Anatomy of Prose: 12 Steps to Sensational Sentences (DONE) and 13 Steps to Evil: How to Craft Superbad Villians by Sacha Black
  3. Film videos for Lauren’s Authortube Channel
  4. Get marketing emails for indie bookstores sent
  5. Clean up edit of A Shield of Stars
  6. Film TikTok content
  7. Read A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas
  8. Read A Vow So Bold & Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer
  9. Read Lore by Alexandra Bracken
  10. Social Media/Blog Prep for Guns & Smoke marketing

While I didn’t finish everything on my list, I did accomplish a lot. A Shield of Stars has been a bit of a thorn in my side because it seems once I find my stride, I hit another roadblock. A lot of it has been because I’m really struggling with my health and mental health lately. That’s part of why I titled this post “Why You Gotta Be So Rude?” Because my brain tries to trick me, and it’s really, really rude.

The biggest thing I’m trying to do right now is remind myself that I’m not some super human that can do everything, and to give myself a little grace. I’m also trying to sort out therapy right now, because my therapist had to take a professional break. I need to get myself back into it so I can be sure I’m taking care of me come time for the launch of Guns & Smoke!

I’ve taken on the task of proofreading Guns & Smoke. I just finished my first pass via a printed copy, and now I have to upload everything into the final draft so we can make those changes. She’s thicc yall.

So what does the next month hold?

I’m so glad you asked! (Just…go with it, eh? :))

  1. Create a realistic timeline for A Shield of Stars to have queries ready to go by the end of the year.
  2. Start my rewrites/developmental edits for A Shield of Stars
  3. Genre research reading (I have several books in the docket, so I won’t list them)
  4. Film a bunch of promo videos and create a coherent schedule of promo graphics
  5. Finish proofreading Guns & Smoke
  6. Create a coherent plan for partnership w/indie bookstore
  7. Schedule book tour(s) for G&S launch
  8. Build ARC team for G&S
  9. More marketing work for G&S
  10. Get back in the gym!
  11. Remember to take a breath!
  12. Writer’s Retreat Weekend!

I am especially excited for the last item on that list! Guns & Smoke is only the first book in a series (and sequel series, prequels, various novellas, it goes on and on and on), and we already have a base outline for the sequel novel! While we aren’t sure exactly when we plan to publish it, I’m hopeful it’ll be sometime next year.

That being said, Lauren and I booked an AirBnB in the middle of nowhere about an hour or so away from home where we can lock ourselves up for three and a half days and try to pump out as much of a draft as we can. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

Thanks for coming along on this crazy ride, my friends. It’s a pleasure.


HalfLife, Mental Health, Writer's Block, Writing

Mental Health, HalfLife, & Positive Intentions

May is Mental Health Month, which is fitting, because a large part of this blog is going to be dedicated to exploring my own journey over the past year. It’s been about eight months since I’ve posted anything, and longer than that since I’ve sent out an update on my writing.

The writing process is tedious in itself. I have a full time job, family responsibilities, and myself on top of trying to spend time in my craft. If I didn’t have those “real life” pressures, it would probably be easier to get something done on HalfLife. However, this is real life. My life.

For nearly the last year, I haven’t been able to write.

When I sent out my HalfLife draft to Beta Readers early last spring, I dove right into the sequel book. I managed to pump out 50,000 words in a very short time, but when I got the beta notes back, it was like I froze. A writer’s block in the worst way hit me. I would try and try and try again to rework the manuscript, to find the spots that needed the most work, to heed the advice of my Betas.

The truth is: I wasn’t doing well.

I hadn’t been for a couple of years. A year ago, I spent all of my time in bed if I wasn’t at work. I didn’t hang out with people. In fact, I actively avoided them. I literally only did the things I was obligated to do. There were periods of time where the only people who saw me were my parents because I was living with them.

I was really struggling. I’d lost people in my life, dealt with family issues, and my parents flooded in 2016. By the Spring of 2017, I was a mess. I tried dating, which I don’t really do, and my anxiety was horrendous. I’m talking three hour anxiety attacks beforehand. I didn’t know how to handle the way that I was feeling.

This week marks one year since I started seeing my therapist.

When I first went, I felt hopeless. I was at my lowest point. I felt alone, and lost, and scared. To this day, talking about how I was feeling then will make me cry because that’s a scary place to be. Logically, I knew that my thought processes were ridiculous, but emotionally, I had convinced myself that I had no worth, that I had pushed away everyone important to me, and that I was a burden on the world. Looking back on it makes me cry because I’m terrified of being that person again. That was a scary place to be, and I never want to go back there.

It was hard at first to admit that I was in therapy. When I was leaving early every week, I’d tell my coworkers that I was leaving for a doctor’s appointment. It took a good six months before I was comfortable even telling people outside of my immediate family that I was in therapy. At the time, it made me feel weak, like I was admitting to not being this strong person that I was for other people.

A year later, I know that taking that first step was the strongest thing that I have ever done.

I’ve learned so much about myself in the last year. I’ve changed. I still have anxiety. I still have depressive episodes, but I’ve learned how to manage them. I’ve also learned that I have to be gentle with myself. I’m my own worst critic. For the most part, this change has been positive, but not everyone has been supportive on my journey. As a result, I’ve had to say goodbye along the way. But through that goodbye, I was able to realize the people who are supportive. I am so lucky to have people that still care even when I blew them off for months (even a year!) because I was going through a hard time.

So how does this relate to my writing?

When I’m not well, the creative side of my brain shuts down. I go into survivor mode. Do the bare minimum. I’m finally in a place where my creative brain is working again. I have a clear plan for HalfLife, and I’m working to make the time to get through it.

This is my plan:
–rework the entire first half of the novel to increase and establish actual stakes early on
–character development (some names are changing & developing more concrete backstories)
–Building up the story so the ending doesn’t feel like a big bomb going off without any build up.

I have at least this draft and a round of heavy edits before this is ready for anyone else to look at. To those who beta read for me last year, thank you, and I’m sorry. That draft wasn’t ready for anyone’s eyes. I may be looking to do another beta read, but when that time comes, I’ll be asking different people so I have fresh eyes on the manuscript.

So, I’m here, I’m better, and every day I move more toward my goal of being published. Thank you to those who have stuck around. This is only the beginning.


PS: if you or someone you know is struggling, please know that there are resources out there designed to help. I know it’s scary to admit you’re struggling. Just remember, you have made it through 100% of your bad days. If there’s anything I can do to help, please reach out to me at I would be happy to help in any way that I can.