Giveaway Story #2: The Sailor’s Son

Here is the second story for the Dissonance giveaway! (If you just found out about this and want to know details about how to win, click here!) Reads for the first story and responses to that question still count, you can find it here!

Thanks for joining me, and I hope you enjoy! Again, here is the lovely graphic explaining simply how to win!


David West had given his old denim jacket good use. He never explained his attachment to the thing, but now it was battered and threadbare. The material was too soft and it smelled of the ocean, testament to the times Peter spent with his father out on the boats.

Peter hounded his dad to get a new jacket countless times, especially when the buttons began to come off. Now he was the one wearing it.

He picked at the last remaining button he’d secured to the cuff with extra thread. Memory of that hounding filled him with regret. Not long ago this jacket was a cause of embarrassment, but after David’s death, Peter picked up many habits he had once despised.

He still didn’t understand Dad’s attachment to the jacket, but it didn’t matter. Peter sometimes thought he would die wearing it; sometimes he fell asleep wearing it, though his father’s scent was long gone. It kept him warm where his father’s embrace once did, this ratty jacket he’d once despised.

Just like Dad, he refused to part with it, even when Enna offered to buy him a new one.

Road trips made it too easy to get caught up in sad memories. They were headed to the plantation, and had been on the road for several hours. Last time they visited, Peter hadn’t left the car. It had been too soon after the accident; he couldn’t marvel at Julian’s magical world without Dad in it.

A year had passed and Peter wasn’t sure he believed the things Julian told him. More than that, he wasn’t sure if he disbelieved on purpose for the sheer delight of exasperating the Muse—like last week, when he finally lost his patience.

We were friends before,” Julian cried last week, “and you believed me! Why would I lie to you now?”

Peter hadn’t responded. In the past he’d accepted Julian’s tales because David never questioned them.

Dad’s not coming back, said the voice in Peter’s head he hated. It’s time to make your own judgments.

He tuned it out, letting the monotonous crunch of tires on pavement numb his mind into silence.

Before long they’d turned up a driveway, heading for a sprawling plantation with creamy yellow walls. The air around it appeared to shimmer with power Julian said was present—proof the Muse was not lying, proof Peter refused to accept.

But Dad’s not coming back.

Are you awake back there?” Enna asked over her shoulder.

He could not be mad at her. Julian was easy to snap at, but his wife only tried to be a friend. “Yeah,” Peter replied.

She peered at him with a faint smile. “You’re quiet.”

Peter shrugged and nodded to the book next to him. It told of explorers who conquered the ocean; it spoke of ships and brave captains who sailed them. One of Dad’s books—his name was written on the front page, David James West.

A sad glint darkened Enna’s smile when she turned away. She didn’t drag on the conversation, giving him space like she promised on the morning after the accident. Peter liked her, but wasn’t sure about her husband. The Muse had once been his best friend; now there was a chasm between them, and it was probably of Peter’s making.

Julian broke the silence, asking a tentative question: “Do you want to go in? I imagine there’ll be lunch.”

Peter imagined what his dad would say—We’re going inside, boy, you haven’t eaten all day. It’s rude to hide in the car. Julian never did that, keeping his distance as if scared of Peter, who would fight if the Muse told him what to do.

This time Julian hadn’t ordered him in, asking if he wanted to. Peter did feel rather hungry, so he replied: “Yes, I do.”

The Muse raised both eyebrows in surprise at the sound of Peter’s voice. He exchanged a glance with his wife. Peter bit the inside his cheek; they made him feel like a badly behaved puppy who’d finally learned a trick.

You’ll like it in there,” Enna promised. “The architecture is beautiful. They have a lot of sailing relics, too,” she added as an afterthought, triggering in him a rare spark of interest.

Peter hadn’t gone sailing since the accident. He tried filling the void with books about sailors, but words on a page did no justice to the freedom he felt at sea. Seeing maritime objects in person might fill the void a little.

God, he missed his dad.

How should we behave?” Enna asked her husband, as he switched the car off. “Are we in mourning?”

Peter remembered the baffling announcement Julian made earlier that week. One of the twins who lived in the plantation had gone missing. She vanished without a trace; none of the search parties had any luck to this day.

Julian tapped at the steering wheel, torn. “Perhaps it’s best to only speak of Georgiana if she’s brought up.”

It’s still her house, though. Wouldn’t it be rude to pretend nothing happened?”

Peter listened, sliding the book into his backpack. He’d never met the twins, because the last time they came he’d been hiding in the car. However, he sensed a supernatural sadness in the glimmering fields. The Van Meteren plantation was in mourning.

Let’s not make it the dominant topic, darling,” said Julian, taking her hand. “I’m sure by now he’s had plenty of guests give condolences, not knowing for sure if she’s dead.”

Enna nodded with a sigh, holding his gaze as if searching for stability. Peter watched, torn. He’d always harbored the guilt of an intruder, having joined them six months after their wedding. They had a magic bond stronger than marriage, one he’d never understand.

Dad knew about this bond. When Peter asked about it, he said Enna saved Julian’s life. He was careful to cloak the details, as if masking a crime.

Let’s go, then,” Enna said, turning to Peter with the smile she always had for him. “I’m sure they’ll let you explore.”

Explore. He almost smiled, egged on by the word he’d read so many times in his book. It might not be an ocean and he wasn’t in a boat, but he needed an adventure.

He slung the backpack over his shoulder and followed them up the sidewalk. It smelled like roses and rainwater, though the ground was dry. The calendar said it was July, but the weather was mild for the south.

As if reading Peter’s mind, Julian said, “We aren’t in Alabama anymore. We’re in a place called Bonifay.”

He knocked at the front door, assuming a confident gait he always wore when meeting other Muses.

Perhaps it was the Muse’s confidence, but this time Peter didn’t question his claim. If Julian said they’d taken a left turn into a different universe, Peter didn’t need evidence. His life was chaotic to begin with.

The door opened a heartbeat later. Peter tried to look dignified in his ratty jacket. Lear Van Meteren looked like he’d left a corporate meeting, complete with a red necktie, hands clasped behind his back.

Ah,” he said, gray eyes flashing, “Giulino, welcome back—”

Julian,” the other man corrected him as they shook hands. When Lear raised an eyebrow, he explained, “I had to change it. I couldn’t keep on with…the other name.”

I see,” said Lear, words meditative. He glanced at Peter, who shifted uncomfortably, then turned to Enna. “I assume your name has remained the same, Mrs. Alzarsi?”

She smiled, the sadness in her face replaced with pride. “It is,” she said, accepting his handshake daintily. “Thank you for having us…” Peter could hear her unspoken words: Even though your daughter is missing.

If Lear heard them he didn’t respond, instead barking over his shoulder, “Meredith! Hurry down and say hello.”

Peter frowned, thinking it a harsh tone to use on one’s daughter. Then a girl he assumed to be Meredith hurried down the winding stairs and he lost his train of thought. Graceful and blonde, something about her energy distracted him.

She curtsied and greeted the guests with enthusiasm to counter her father’s steely distance.

Meredith!” Enna cried, embracing her. “What a delight to see you again!”

Meredith turned to Peter with eyes of curious blue. He realized his hands were sweaty; he did not know how to greet her. He could only nod, because his hands were too clammy for a handshake.

He thought with distant embarrassment that yes, Julian’s words were true. This had to be another universe because her smile changed something inside of him. For the first time in over a year, he didn’t think of his dead father or his ratty clothes or even sailing.

She’d changed something in him, and perhaps one day he’d find out what.

Question #2: What tragedy has befallen the plantation?

Review: The Earl of Brass by Kara Jorgensen

untitledIn The Earl of Brass we enter a well-imagined, satisfyingly dark Steampunk London where airships and corsets exist simultaneously. We follow two complex characters as their eyes are opened to the possibility of a different world.

Eilian Sorrell doesn’t want to be an Earl. He wants to be an archaeologist, uncovering stories of cultures long gone. His family’s disapproval makes this difficult; when the airship he’s on crashes and he loses an arm, it seems his dream’s gone up in flames.

Now he must struggle to live life with one hand, relearning basic things such as eating or riding a bicycle. I enjoyed watching his spirits lift as he made progress, accepting the challenges and beating them.

When he gets a prosthetic arm, everything takes a more adventurous turn.

Hadley has watched her elder brother craft the arm in his final hours, wrestling with his sickness. Their family business makes things such as mechanical toys and prosthetic limbs for people like Eilian. When her brother dies before the arm’s completed, it falls on her to finish the project.

She plunges headfirst into the family business. In the scene where Hadley delivers the arm to Eilian, I smiled. She wasn’t afraid to show her disdain; after all, this was the arm her brother was working on in his final hours. She thinks the effort weakened him.

The prosthetic arm becomes more of a burden than help, especially when it falls off during a family meeting. On the verge of spiraling, Eilian resolves to wear it as little as possible.

But things are about to change: Hadley, who’s been hiding her genius because it isn’t proper in a woman, has found her older brother’s plans for an arm that could be moved at the wearer’s will, welded to the body. She needs someone to test the invention on.

Eilian agrees to be the test subject. When the operation is a success, his dreams of archaeology spring to life again. Friendship blossoms between him and Hadley despite their social differences, and he invites her to join him on an expedition, where she chooses to disguise herself as a man so they won’t treat her like glass.

Their expedition kicks up the tension and excitement. This book is rich with betrayal, and secrecy—but most of all freedom, newly discovered by two people who’ve lived their lives trapped by social stigma. Now they will return home knowing life has more magic when you break past the barriers.

The Earl of Brass was not what I expected, but I’m so glad I gave it a read! Not only did the plot keep me going, the writing was beautiful. Jorgensen has a way with words that would have kept me reading, even if I hadn’t enjoyed the story—but I did.

This book is great for lovers of Steampunk, Historical Fiction, and characters who aren’t afraid to break the rules.

Giveaway Story #1: In the Silence

The giveaway game starts today, and will last until the 26! Here is the first story, and at the end of this post is a question to answer; if you answer correctly, I will put your name in the jar to qualify for a paper copy of Dissonance!

To learn all about this giveaway, click here!

Here’s a graphic explaining the rules! I hope you enjoy the story!


What was corrupt song? The question flickered in his mind, flickered like the candle on the ground before him: One shivering light to reveal concrete walls trapping him. This was the only prison that could steal a Muse’s freedom, because he scarcely heard his own ragged breathing.

Months ago, Giulino attended presentations given by the Muse Council. None of them had given a satisfactory answer to the question of what corrupt song was. They failed to give a clear definition of what he and his partner hunted.

But Giulino had been a fool for not pressing the matter, carried away by the glory that came with his first assignment.

A lot of good it did me, he thought, holding out a trembling hand as if to strike the candle. He knew the light wasn’t here to bring comfort, but to torture him; he would watch the wax melt until it left him in a pitch-black cell.

He could end it now and put out the candle, making a choice to bring about darkness himself.

There was no point dwelling on what should have been, or how they failed to prepare him for this corrupt song. He no longer cared that he and his partner had been told the bare minimum: Corrupt songs surfaced when Muses were careless.

In these presentations, the Council discussed what society accepted as ‘decent’ songs. They listed the qualities of songs parents banned from children who, upon reaching adulthood, were all the more eager to listen.

Those lectures turned out to be pointless—human bias had nothing to do with what Giulino and his partner faced.

The Dark Songs were more than sound; they infected society where it was most vulnerable, gripping the art and tainting peoples’ spirits. In attacking Muses, the source of art, they left humanity vulnerable.

Giulino was a Muse himself, but hadn’t been corrupted. He’d been doing the job they assigned him, never stopping to ponder the magnitude of it.

The candle flickered again, taunting him. His arrest took place in the dead of night, so people didn’t know he’d been taken. Giulino pondered the irony—he’d set out in hopes of fame but instead was put in Silence.

He wondered if the Council had planned it all when they assigned this task to young people. They tossed over the file, flashing smiles, washing their hands like Caesar—Here, you do it—but don’t do it too well, or we’ll accuse you of corruption—

The Muse stopped himself before his thoughts could consume him. Bitterness filled his heart, but he didn’t want the last thing he felt to be anger, so with a sigh he scoured his memory for the most beautiful thing he knew…

A woman.

He’d gone against the unspoken code of his people, falling for a human girl because of the purity in her gaze…because she would make him cookies for no reason…because she always had time for him—

The candle flickered, shattering his concentration. He felt, rather than heard, the shout of fury that escaped his lips, felt it because it hurt physically—lunging forward, he punched the candle so it rocketed across the room and hit the concrete wall, the flame going out and leaving him in darkness.

Hot tears slid down his face and he crumbled to the ground, sobbing—painful sobs—think of her, think of her, think of her…

The first time Muses recognized Dark Songs as harmful, he’d been an apprentice. On his way home after lessons, he would listen to crowds gathered in discussion. They were always talking about the latest victim to lose their mind because of a melody.

Then faery tales began to fall literally, beautiful houses plummeting from the sky to land in remote places. It seemed as if someone were going through storybooks, cutting the buildings and letting them drop. The Council sent Giulino a message suggesting these incidents were linked to the Dark Songs.

He investigated and came up with a theory: Every time a Dark Song came forth from a corrupt Muse, it weakened the veil between this world and the one where dreams lurked. Those buildings falling through came straight from the imaginations of storytellers everywhere.

The Council left this responsibility to two young Muses, so they could continue their lazy lives of luxury. It was against Muse nature to oversee one project for long, so they juggled tasks amongst themselves.

He still wondered, as he sobbed into the darkness, why the destruction of their universe wasn’t enough for them to spark into action.

Giulino and his partner tracked the Songs across the globe. Some people denied their existence while others embraced them as miracles. He could not remember the names of those people, or the places where Dark Songs were strongest.

It was a wonder he remembered his own name in this soul-sucking prison; he’d already forgotten that of his partner. All he felt was abysmal Silence torturing his mind. Muses might be lazy when it came to distributing music, but they couldn’t live without hearing it.

Giulino’s life would end soon, or he would go mad. Fight the madness, he thought, fight it… Taking a deep breath, he thought of her again, longing to see her one last time.

He remembered her blue eyes tearing up sometimes when she smiled. He remembered her voice being the purest he’d heard, even when she wasn’t singing—how it healed his soul when she whispered his name.

The precious nothing they would do together made him ache for a life where it was acceptable to settle, not fleeing the notion of responsibility. He would give anything to bring her a life of happiness, forgetting thoughts of glory he’d entertained months before.

He whispered her name, a breath of beauty in this place of darkness: “Enna.” He wanted to see her because he never said good-bye, promising he’d be back for the new year. He hoped that, wherever she was, she could feel him thinking of her.

In his last remaining moments, Enna was music breaking the Silence.

He stretched out on the concrete ground, taking steady breaths. There was no point screaming, but the tears came anyway. He might be breathing, might still have a heartbeat, but the young man Giulino was dead.

He heard through a daze when the cell door was kicked open—bang! He was too weak to jump at the sound, curling up against the echo keeping him awake.

He’s here!” It was her voice; perhaps he’d begun to hallucinate beautiful things. He tried to hush his breathing so he wouldn’t miss a moment. It sounded like she’d been crying, her words thick with horror. “We’re not too late!”

Not too late,” said a voice he recognized but could not assign a face to. “He’s almost gone. Hold the flashlight…”

No,” she wept. He felt a hand on his face, the tickle of her long blonde hair on his cheeks. “He’s not gone. He’s stronger than that.” Her voice dropped to a whisper: “Giulino, you can’t leave me, I won’t let it happen—”

Wasn’t he already gone?

If he’s here a moment longer he’s going to lose his mind,” the other voice said impatiently. “We need to get him out.”

He felt a soft kiss on the cheek before drifting into semi-consciousness. Occasionally he woke to hear Enna fussing over his health, Enna who had always been his lullaby…perhaps death wouldn’t be so bad, if he could listen to her.

He faded, grateful to hear something beautiful in the moments before he ceased to exist.

Question #1: What was the name of Giulino’s partner in the quest to learn about the Dark Songs?

“my blood is a mix of coffee & tea”


Recently I spoke to a friend about writing, specifically poetry. A couple of verses I wrote came to mind, verses I feel define me:

my blood is a mix of coffee & tea
and words from authors long dead

I wondered, how much of me is made of the words of authors long dead? Where do their voices end so mine can begin?

The question hit me because I’ve been trying my hand at poetry. Perhaps this is a case of Poet’s Block (a new phenomena to me) but when I try tapping into my deepest emotions–I rarely find words.

It’s easier for me to write poems about quarrels with my muse. I’m a creative being, but I don’t have secrets to spin poetry from–it’s all about writing, arguing with the elusive muse. I wonder if somehow I’ve set myself aside.


How do I absorb every book I read without canceling myself out? I’d already set this year aside as one for self-reflection; I know a writer is a thousand people in one, but it feels like I’ve made my own voice less audible.

It’s why I’ve gone back to keeping a journal. The root of the problem might be that I hadn’t kept a journal for the entirety of 2015. Journals help us keep in touch with our inner selves.

I know there’s a person in me aside from the books I write, because I encounter her in my old journals.

A writer might be a thousand people in one, but there’s still the soul who types the story. Things we read and experience shape a unique voice. In a bizarre way, I’m eager to find out what I have to say.

How can we use our unique voices if we don’t know what they sound like? There’s no problem living by truths taught in books–that’s what they’re for, and one of the reasons they’re beautiful!–but. As people, we are unique and have new truths to tell.

Keep a journal–you’ll learn so much about yourself, and years later will be glad you made the effort!


Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

14061955NOTE: There may be some spoilers in this review, especially  if you haven’t read Shadow and Bone.

Siege and Storm, book two of the Grisha trilogy, made up for the slow pace which sometimes kept me from fully enjoying enjoying Shadow and Bone (I reviewed it here!)

Beginning on a note of action, book two of this magical series was impossible to put down.

Alina Starkov has been hiding in an obscure village with her childhood friend, Mal. She soon learns you can’t escape the Darkling for long. He manages to trace her whereabouts, forcing her to choose between servitude and Mal’s life.

The Darkling wants to use her power as the Sun Summoner for his own purposes; he’ll stop at nothing.

Alina and Mal are taken aboard a ship the Darkling has ‘borrowed’ by paying the captain, Sturmhond. He’s a privateer (pirate!) with a crew who remain loyal to him throughout the ordeal. There’s so much more to Sturmhond than a pirate; before long I was turning the pages just to see more of him!

Sturmhond rallies his crew and gets rid of the Darkling. Having taken back his liberty, he immediately steals the show. We wonder what his real name is and where he came from; when we find out, the story is almost unbelievable!

His aid in freeing Alina was not selfless, for although he isn’t as creepy as the Darkling, he also has his own motives. Yet even though he blackmailed Alina into following his own plans, he remained likeable. I never shipped Alina with Mal or the Darkling, but hoped she’d go with Sturmhond.

Which brings me to my only gripe: Everyone seems after Alina for something—her abilities, political power, or maybe because a religion has sprung up in her honor. I suppose it’s not unrealistic; whoever has Alina by their side will have a huge advantage. Still, it felt like there wasn’t enough focus on her power because of all the potential relationships.

(Even though I did ship her with Sturmhond so, so badly.)

Siege and Storm is a fantastic read for anyone who enjoys fantasy and tales of adventure. The characters are well thought out, even if some are annoying (not everyone can be Sturmhond #shameless) and Leigh Bardugo’s writing is magical. Her descriptions pull you through the most aggravating scenes.

At the end of Siege and Storm, we witness a radical change in Alina’s mindset. She’s lost again, and suddenly wants what months ago she dreaded—power and honor. It’s this change that makes me restless to pick up the next book: She’s accepted who she is and wants nothing but to take it back.

I’m rooting for Alina to find herself again (and maybe Sturmhond, too…)

This is my new favorite series. I’ll be reading the Grisha books again; they’ve earned a place of honor on my favorites shelf, because they are enchanting!

How to Participate in the Dissonance Paperback Giveaway

Blank bookcover with clipping pathI’ve been looking forward to this–the first Dissonance paperback giveaway!

On February 26, I’m choosing a person (they can be anywhere in the world!) who will receive a copy of Dissonance, but this isn’t a like-to-win situation.

I have written four short stories based on what happened before Dissonance. They show four characters’ points of view: Julian, Peter, Tyson, and Allie. Each story is character driven, leading to the plot of the novel itself.

On the month of February I will release one short story every Monday, and on the 26 I will announce the winner’s name.

This means there will be a new story on the 1, 8, 15, and 22 of February, and the winner will be announced here and on all my social media sites on the 26.

To qualify for the paperback, there’ll be a question based on each short story. You can answer one or you can answer all four, but the more times your name is put in the jar (yes, I’m using a jar) it increases your chances of winning!

I’m not going to ask you to spam friends’ pages with my name and book cover (though I must mention that word of mouth is my best friend, and it would be really kind!) What I want is to get to know all of you and become closer friends.

Best of all, the winner could be international. You don’t have to be in the U.S. to win!


To enter your name, leave a comment at the end of each story. You can answer in a blog comment, tweet me, or reply to the Instagram posts I’ll be releasing each time a story’s posted. If you answer correctly, it’ll get your name in the jar!

Remember, four entries increase your chance of winning. If you have any questions, ask here!

The fun starts February 1!

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

shadow-and-bone1In Shadow and Bone, we meet Alina Starkov. Orphaned as a baby, she’s lived a quiet childhood alongside her best friend Mal. They did everything together until he became a Tracker and his focus shifted to outdoor activities, creating a divide between them.

Alina hasn’t recovered from this separation. Even when they both join the army, Mal’s popularity among soldiers and women causes her unrest. Not only is she mildly jealous, but she feels he’s known his calling all along while she followed him blindly—until their troop crosses the Unsea, a cursed land shrouded in darkness.

On this journey, Alina discovers she’s got the ability to summon light. This is a rare ability, even for the Grisha—people with gifts like control over wind or water. None have her ability to summon light from nothing!

Only one Grisha has power equal to hers in rarity. The Darkling summons shadow, like Alina summons light. He is respected and feared by everyone; though he works for the king, the Darkling is the one they fear in the Little Palace.

Alina has caught his attention, so he takes her in for training. He watches her power develop, impatient for her to reach full potential, and later we learn he’s got a motive. If Alina keeps training for him, her power will cease to be hers.

The Darkling has been sending parties to find a magical stag. If caught, the stag’s antlers will create an Amplifier that’ll increase Alina’s power…for his purposes. Upon learning he has plans for her, she escapes. In her flight she runs into Mal, and together they trek through the snowy land of Tsibeya.

Shadow and Bone ends on a note of escape and fear: Tsibeya can’t keep the Darkling away. He catches the stag and forces Alina to wear the Amplifier, essentially claiming her power for his purposes. But is there a chance she can use her ability to get away?

I found Shadow and Bone to be a slow read at first. The story didn’t sweep me away until Alina was captured for her ability. Even the slow scenes were a treat to read, because Leigh Bardugo has a gorgeous style. She painted pictures for me without getting too wordy; the dialogue provides satisfying insight on characters’ personalities.

Having read the second book, Siege and Storm, I realize the worldbuilding in Shadow and Bone lacks a bit. Don’t let this discourage you from trying the book; the series gets better with each installment.

Bardugo has become one of my favorite authors! Shadow and Bone is a tale worth reading, sweeping readers into a cold, snowy dream. Give it a try if you like fantasy and worlds where power takes  part in everyday life, inciting greed and darkness—but also awakening fighting spirits.

Artist Cait Potter on Exploring Different Crafts

Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.
Pablo Picasso

Picasso’s quote comes to my mind when I ponder two drawings by artist and writer Cait Potter. They’re among my favorites, the titles creating a parallel: Her fish is titled No Ordinary Bird, and the bird (displayed later in this article) is No Ordinary Fish.

What caught my eye about Potter’s work were the questions they prompted. Is it a bird, or a dragon? Is it a mix of the two? With art it often isn’t about what a subject is, but the emotion a piece evokes. Cait’s art made me wonder, so I asked about her creative process.

No Ordinary Bird


When did you start drawing? Was it an urge you’ve always had lurking, or did it wake up one day?

Start of last year, I was going through some really rough stuff and when I was in the hospital I was really bored and it just kinda clicked. It was what I wanted to do; I stole a few magazines from the trolley and drew all over them. Tracing and copying the faces of the models. I had a sketchbook at home and I got it out as soon as I got home. I just went from there and it’s been a really good outlet. I think I was really just itching to try something new, I wasn’t inspired, I was really down and I’ve always been really visual.


Can you name three things that influence your visual art?

Music, I’m a huge fan of music, I used to play a couple of instruments but now I just do the listening, maybe playin isn’t for me, maybe I’ll pick it back up in a few years. Who knows? I’m content with simply expanding my music taste and supporting local musicians’ atm

Movies, I got told once that I watch too many of them but now, I disagree, I think that movies have helped me become the writer and artist I am today. Rocky horror picture show will probably be one of my all-time favourites, along with Velvet goldmine. I’m a huge fan of b-grade and experimental films, it’s honestly something I want to get into making.

Photography. I love looking at photos, no matter how crap they are, give me experimental photography, give me interesting photos of random things, idc I’m about it.

No Ordinary Fish


Are your drawings tied to your writing in any way? Do you ever consider a drawing truly done?

My art is very tied to my writing; I’m often drawing things based off of my writing or vice versa. I don’t really know tbh, I just do both when I’m inspired.

I hate it when drawings are done, you kinda just know when to stop, you just think, yeah this is done, but I get attached to my drawings while I’m drawing them, I hate when I’m done. Style wise, I don’t think a drawing is ever done because I know that if I left it and then came back to it a week later to finish it could be totally different then whatever it was in the beginning. Maybe I’m never finished a drawing, maybe I just get bored and never finish anything.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to draw, but hesitates to try a new art form?

Just do it, even if what you draw is crap. Don’t worry about the outcome enjoy the process, draw cause it feels good to draw not cause you like what you draw.

transparentcaitFind out more:

Cait Potter is an 18 year old artist, writer and photographer. She is an art student who has written three chapbooks.

Find her on Instagram and Pinterest, or visit her blog.

Guest Post: Setbacks and Opportunities

setbacksI used to live a twenty-minute drive from a massive, sandy beach. It was never warm there, never suited for lounging and sunbathing. It was always windy, and the north Atlantic water was frigid even on the warmest days. But it was a lovely spot for searching for sand dollars.

Sometimes I’d find one within a few minutes of hunting. Other days I seemed to be out of luck, and I’d give up quickly. But over time, I discovered something interesting: If I kept looking, if I kept my eyes open and had faith that I would stumble on something wonderful, a treasure always appeared. Usually it was the sand dollar I’d been hunting for, and I made it my goal to come home with one every time we visited the beach. But there were others. Beautiful moon snail shells. Purple mussels, and narrow razor clams. Yellow snail shells so tiny I could fit ten on my littlest fingernail.

But I only found those treasures because I looked for other opportunities while I was on my mission. If I’d only watched for circles, the other shapes might have slipped by.

It’s a lesson that’s come in handy for me many times. I’ve learned to keep my eyes and ears open, taking in information even when it doesn’t relate to what I think I should be searching for. It’s how I stumbled on the world of indie publishing while I thought I should be researching agents and queries, and it changed my life.

Opportunities are out there, but we have to be ready to spot them.

Sometimes the opportunities come directly from setbacks. They can be the hardest to see, but can also be the most rewarding.

During the production stage of my third book, Sworn, I thought I had things under control. I’d set reasonable deadlines for myself, left lots of time for revisions before editing and after, and felt confident that I had my proverbial ducks in a row. As I’d scheduled things, edits would be back by September, just in time for the kids to go back to school. I’d work my butt off, and have things ready to go by Christmas.

And then there was an unexpected delay on my editor’s end, and it turned out that while I still had the first editing slot in the month, it would start several weeks later than anticipated. I’d be sending the book out to him when I had hoped to be getting it back.

It seemed like a huge setback, and left me in a bit of a bind as to what to do with myself while I waited to get it back. Three weeks wasn’t enough time for me to start drafting a new novel, and I didn’t really feel like stepping away from that fictional world while I waited to dive back in with edits. I was frustrated, a little panicked at the idea that I wouldn’t have the book ready for when I’d hinted I would.

But then I started looking for the opportunity. Instead of sitting around and moping, being upset about something that no one had any control over, or wasting my time, I poked through my idea notebook for something else I might tackle.

So I wrote a prequel novella, just to keep my head in the world of my books. And what started out as an interesting exercise in getting to know a difficult and somewhat mysterious character turned into a 28,000 word novella, drafted in four days. A doomed romance, intense and beautiful (and ultimately heartbreaking, for anyone who has read the Bound trilogy). I wrote and revised it while Sworn was with my editor, and sent it to another editor who was able to fit the small project into her schedule.

And now that little side-project is with beta readers, and will be going out to my newsletter subscribers as a Christmas gift, a thank-you for the incredible support they’ve shown while waiting for me to finish the trilogy. The big novel will be out at the end of January, and in the meantime, my readers have a little fuel to add to the fire of the story.

Maybe not every cloud has a silver lining, but so much depends on whether we react to minor disasters by shutting down or by searching for the opportunities.

An editor completely ripping a book apart is a blow to the ego, but it’s also an opportunity to make our work so much better. Rejection by an agent or editor might lead us to looking into opportunities we might not have considered otherwise. Unkind words from readers can help us focus on what’s important to us about our work, and help us understand who we are (and aren’t) writing for.

So this is my goal, the thing I want to work on in the coming year. When things go badly from here on out, when the monsters jump out of the closet and make me want to cry, when I fall flat on my face in front of a crowd, I now have a plan. I’ll give myself time to be upset, to lick my wounds and tend to my bruised ego.

And then I’ll look for the opportunity, believing it will always be there if I look hard enough. Maybe it won’t be what I expected to find, but I believe there is always a beautiful treasure out there somewhere, if only I look hard enough.

Kate Sparkes is the Amazon and USA Today best-selling author of the Bound trilogy (Mature YA Fantasy). She lives in Newfoundland , but spends most of her time exploring strange lands from the comfort of her office. Visit for details on her work, upcoming releases, social media connections, and to sign up for her newsletter and grab some free stories.

Review: The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red-Queen-Victoria-AveyardThe Red Queen was one of many books I had put off reading because of its popularity. However, by the time I finished, it stood out in my mind as a storm! Emotion of the darkest nature gathers in this story to end in chaos.

Initially I found the plot predictable, but emotional conflict kept me turning the pages. I see why so many people enjoyed the book, because though dystopia isn’t my genre of choice, I couldn’t put down The Red Queen.

Mare is of Red blood, meaning she’s part of the lower branch of society. Reds exist to work for the Silvers, whose special abilities give them distinction from Reds, and the ability to discriminate.

It’s a very typical, off-balance dystopian society. Silvers are powerful and rich, Reds do the hard work. Reds are drafted to the war if they don’t learn a trade; when killed at war, Reds are often disposed of in mass graves, unmarked and never to be left a flower.

Mare’s struggle at the beginning of the book to help her family make a living wins her over to us as a character. She lives as a pickpocket, hoping to gather what she can for her family before she is deported.

Her life changes when one of her attempts goes wrong: The person she’s tried stealing from is Prince Cal, who we later learn escapes the palace all the time. Instead of having her sent to prison, he gives her more money than she’s stolen in her life. The next day they’re at her door, telling her they want her at the palace.

Cal has gotten her a job as a servant for the royal family. She’ll be paid well and her family will be taken care of. It might have ended perfectly if Mare had started her job on a different day.

She arrives in time for Queenstrial, an event where young Silver ladies show off their powers, demonstrating what they could offer the crown should they marry the Prince. But Mare wrecks their show when, in a moment of chaos, she falls to the ground—and from her begin to emerge waves of purple lightning.

Mare, a lowly Red girl, has done the impossible—and at Queenstrial, of all places. She has an ability no Red should have. The only way for the royal family to cover up this blunder is changing her identity.

Though she’s pretending to be a Silver, Mare isn’t respected like the other Queenstrial girls. She’s forced to change her name and past in order to survive. To seal her fate, she’s betrothed to the youngest prince, Maven.

This is where The Red Queen gripped me. I wondered who the real prisoner was, because towards the end nothing was as it seemed—I couldn’t call it predictable anymore! I closed the book with adrenaline rushing through my veins.

The Red Queen could be compared to other popular novels, but I think it has the typical traits for popular dystopia, which isn’t a bad thing! We close the book wondering if Mare’s destiny can ever be positive; after all, she’s one girl facing a society the queen has cleverly lied to. When you read the book, you’ll see what I mean.

The Red Queen earned its popularity. For someone who rarely picks up dystopia, I’m glad I gave it a chance. I hope Mare has her justice carried out and hearts will be healed, but the world they live in is so tumultuous. All I know for sure is that I’m reading the next book!