Monday, October 22, 2018

5 Reasons Why I’m Still Doing NaNoWriMo

So…NaNoWriMo will be upon us in a little over a week. *wailing and gnashing of teeth* And I’m feeling a bit of shock/denial/what-the-even-WUT because this will be my NINTH year participating. NINE YEARS??? Do I value my sanity at all? (Not really no…) Why on earth have a brought this torture upon myself for 8 years and am about to do it again??? WELL. That’s what I want to talk about today!

Because that’s the thing. NaNo is such a stressful time. I mean, who chooses to write 50k or more words in 30 days during one of the busiest months of the year? WHY??? What is this ridiculousness? And for me, it’s really bad, because I, erm, have a rather obsessive personality. I don’t stop at 50k, I write until the book is DONE. Even when the book ends up being 150k words (lololol I whish that was an over dramatization). Quite a few NaNos ended with me continuing to write through the first week or two of December to get the book done. Because I get obsessed with writing it all to completion. (NOTE: I do not recommend being like me. I need to tone it down like 30 notches…)

Between NaNo Prep in October (my outlines take ages and often end up being around 20k words o.o) and then NaNo in November, it really consumes all of fall, one of my most favorite times of the year! Not to mention ends in soooo many late nights and a ridiculous amount of being overwhelmed as all my other responsibilities fall to the wayside and pile up into a ginormous monster that may or may not eat me come December.

So I ask again, WHY? Why do I do this year after year? Why would anyone? Is it really worth it?

My answer: YES!!!

I have never regretted a single one of those 8 NaNos I’ve participated in. Each one was worth it to me for so many reasons. And that’s what I want to share today: The reasons why I keep doing this insane thing. And why you should too!

And stick around, because at the end I have a special invitation for all you NaNo participants!




For my very first NaNoWriMo, I tried something I had never, ever done before: I plotted my novel. Before then, I was a hardcore pantser. And never physically plotted any bit of a story a day in my life. I thought pantsing would forever be The Way for me.

But then I decided to attempt NaNo, and as I was trying to think of ways to make the process quicker and easier I thought, “What if I outlined the book?” Because, as fun as pantsing was, it was slooow going as I’d constantly have to pause, often days, even weeks, at a time to mull over what happened next. But if I knew everything that happened, then I could just write nonstop. So I did. And now? I’m a hardcore planner. My young self would have never thought, yet here we are. Because NaNo pushed me to try something new.

From them on out, each NaNo novel (really each novel, a NaNo one or not), has been plotted a little differently. A lot of things I still do that I adapted that very first NaNo, a lot of it I’ve taken my methods and adjusted them to suit my needs. But there’s always something a little different, a little new, with each novel, and as the years have passed, I’ve refined my methods more and more.

NaNo challenged me to look at creating a novel differently. It made this girl who is really set in her ways and not wild about trying new things to, well, try new things. To step out of my comfort zone and find the best possible way to produce a novel.

But going from pantser to planner is just one example. There are so many other ways NaNo challenges me to keep pushing the barrier with my writing. To be wild and free with it, and not stuck in the same ol’, same ol’ I tend to fall into when writing. It taught me that I can write in short bursts in between life, instead of setting out a very specific set of time to write like I used to do. It gave me permission to try crazy things with my stories, because, hey, why not? I’m only writing the thing for a month. Why can’t I experiment a little? It helped me see what my strengths and weaknesses are, and what types of scenes and plots in general I enjoy and dislike. And because of this, it’s helped me GROW as a writer.

Because NaNo gives me permission to experiment and make a mess with my stories, I’ve very much found the best methods that work for me, what types of stories I like to tell, and the best way to tell them. Such as some of my NaNo stories had way too slow pacing, a couple sped by far too quickly. And I learned all this because I wasn’t bogged down by perfecting my story, or taking my time writing it. NaNo gives me permission to focus solely on the story and truly, deeply refine my craft.

Which happens to be to my next point…



I of course do a lot of writing during non-NaNo months. But during those crazy November days, there’s something different about the writing process.

During all the other times of the year, I get distracted. Oh goodness, the distractions! I always refer to myself as a “productive procrastinator”, because I do productive tasks while procrastinating to make myself feel better about procrastinating. And, unfortunately, usually what I’m procrastinating is writing. Instead of taking time out each day to write or edit, I think, “Oh, well I need to go write a blog post.” or “I better spend some time this afternoon taking pictures for my Instagram account.” or “Wow, I’m behind on my friends’ social media, I should catch up!” See? Productive procrastinator. This is my life. *shakes head* Unfortunately, it puts working on my actual BOOK at the bottom of the priority list, when, really, it should be the top. But NaNo changes all of that.

There’s fewer things in this world that kicks me into gear more than goals needing to be met within a time limit. Something about that ever moving clock pulls out my ultra focused, obsessive side like no other. So you can only imagine how on hyper drive it is during NaNo. Suddenly all those things I worry about for 11 months of the year? They’re insignificant. During November, it’s all about STORY. And I love it.

Yes, we shouldn’t be that hyper-focused 24/7 for all of the year. There are other priorities in life and to-do lists that need to be checked off. But as writers, it’s also so important that we sometimes allow our novels to consume our thoughts. To give ourselves permission to fall so deeply into our stories that it’s more real to us than reality.

NaNo always does that for me. For those 30 days I’m living my story. It suddenly feels so real and so important, and it’s such a thrilling feeling. It’s like a 30 day retreat with my characters (a 30 day retreat of torture and pain and feels but ya know). And it’s so nice to not be worrying so much about all those many other things on my to-do list, and have my novel be at the top of the priority list for a time.

(Sidenote: I’m talking about physical tasks that need to be accomplished. God, our loved ones, and our health should be permanently at the top of our life priority list, and I do actually fall short on those things during NaNo so much. So of course there is a balance, as with everything.)

It’s a funny thing. Because during NaNo, I often get so flustered and tired and stressed and want to do anything in the world but write. But then afterwards, when it’s all said and done, I never really remember those moments. Whenever I think back to any NaNo, I smile, because what I remember is the magical feeling of being utterly immersed in my story. That’s always the lasting impact of NaNo for me. And it is for that feeling alone that I find NaNo is always worth doing.



A huge thing that NaNo helps with is pushing us to go beyond what we think we can do. So, so many times during non-NaNo I’ll consider writing, but then decide I’m too tired or that I need to do something else. Or write a just a few words and then call that “good enough” and go do something lazy. But with NaNo, I don’t really have that option. Again, there’s that goal that needs to be met and a time limit ever pushing me forward. So instead of turning on the TV, I take up the laptop and write. Instead of claiming I’m too tired to write, I just write anyway. Instead of considering 1k words enough for the day, I write 1 or 2 more thousand. Instead of scrolling on Pinterest while waiting at the dentist office, I pop out a few words on my phone.

But more than that, it reminds me that I can finish a story, and within a short amount of time. Before I did NaNo, I would take over a year to write a book. And some I never even finished. But then I did NaNo, and I realized, as long as I put my mind to it, my novel can get DONE.

If I remember right, it was Lisa Mangum at Realm Makers who said that we can always stretch a little farther than we think we can. And NaNo taught me that more than anything. Every single year it helps me get these novels done, and reminds me that I just have to put my mind to it, not get distracted, and do it.



I think all writers have those occasional existential crises where we wonder why on this green earth are we writers? Writing is hard. Shouldn’t we be doing something else with our time?

I definitely have those moments, more frequently than I’d like. There are even some scandalous moments where I’ve considered not doing NaNo for a year. I KNOW. It’s true! But I always force myself to do it. Why? Because, every single time, it shoves away those writer doubts.

Like I said earlier, whenever I think back on past NaNos, all I can ever seem to dwell on is how utterly fun I had writing my novel. Not on those nights I stayed up until 2 in the morning feverishly trying to get a blog post ready for the next day because I had used up my day writing. Not on the moments where I’d assume move to Antarctica rather than have to write a single more word. Not when I wanted to sit and cry at how behind I was getting on other things because writing was taking up all my time. Those moments happen every November, but I so rarely remember them. Instead, what is always at the forefront of my mind is how fun it was writing my novel.

Because writing is fun. We’re literally creating entire worlds and characters and have the liberty to make anything at all happen that we want to. It is magic. And being so consumed in our magical stories is something utterly special.

So I do NaNo every single year, even during those times when I’d really rather just skip it and take it easy during these amazing fall days, because I need to do it. Sometimes I forget just how amazing storytelling can be. I need that reminder that creating stories is FUN. And that it’s something worth doing.

I have learned so much about writing and the world and life in general through writing. The amount of lessons I’ve gleaned through those stories I’ve written during NaNo are innumerable. Stories have power. They’re truly one of the most powerful weapons we have on this earth. And I firmly believe writing them is always worth your time. Even when it’s tiring and hard and doesn’t seem it.



Lastly, one of my top, top, top favorite things about NaNoWriMo is the community it provides.

Back in the dark ages before I did NaNo, I had zero writing friends. I was the only writer I knew, and it was lonely. Because, well, we writers are weird. And sometimes you just can’t understand a writer unless you are one. Every writer needs some fellow writers friends so we can feel understood. And what better way to find writing friends than NaNoWriMo, where literally thousands are participating all over the world!

During my very first NaNo, I poked around the NaNo forums and stumbled into a group that called themselves the Purple Elephants, full of fellow writing teenagers (ya know, back when I was a teenager, good times, good times). And, oh my goodness, the fun we had! The amount of random nonsense we’d talk about and stories we shared and inside jokes we made. It was hilarious. A lot of us got older and I think most of the core group faded away, sadly. (Though I think it may still live on a bit. I haven’t checked the NaNo forums this year to see.) But it was within that group that I learned what it felt like to have fellow writer friends. And it was in that group where I made one of my closest writing buddies who, to this day, I consider one of my bestest friends in the world. Through her, I met other writing friends, then I started blogging and met more. And it grew and grew, and here I now have a whole community of fellow writers all of whom I love and adore. (Seriously, you guys make my world. <3) And it even went farther than that. Through blogging I learned about Realm Maker, where I met some of you, and made more friends. The connections just continuously grow. But all of that was because of NaNo. I never would have met any of you, and probably wouldn’t even be blogging, if not for NaNo. It was the starting point to this writing life I now lead.

It is seriously a wonderful place to meet writers. But not only that. There is something utterly motivating knowing that you’re writing your novel along with thousands of others. Suddenly writing isn’t lonely. It’s one, ginormous, epic group activity! And there are always people to cheer you on every day.

So that’s why, here 9 years later, I’m still doing NaNoWriMo. It’s not just a fun, crazy challenge to accomplish. It’s so much bigger and important and more magical than that.

Now, of course I 100% understand it’s not for everyone. For some people, NaNo has the opposite effects and makes writing a negative thing. Or maybe life is just way too busy right now to take on something like NaNo. I absolutely get that, and I suspect one day I’ll decide life is just too hectic to participate myself. But if you’ve been considering it, and think you can find the time, I cannot recommend it enough!



I know this post is already long enough to cover like the first week of NaNo words, buuuut I promised you I had something special to share! I left my point of the community and having writing friends for last, because that leads me right to it.

I’ve decided to create a NaNo Google Hangouts Chat.

Sadly, these days I never find the time or make the effort to poke around the NaNo forums like I did in my earlier NaNo days. I’m just a lot busier. But I really miss the tight-knit group I had with the Purple Elephants. Then it occurred to me. I already have a group of NaNo participants, right here! We just don’t have a specific place to chat. Which is where Google Hangouts comes in! It’s such a great place for instant messaging and popping in now and again for quick chats. The one problem is that I thiiink you have to have a Google account to join in on Hangout conversations. *sniff, sniff*

But if you do like using Hangouts and are participating in NaNoWriMo and want a place to chat with other fellow Wrimos where we can talk about our stories, do word wars/sprints together, share snippets, encourage one another, and just have FUN, then send me your email address at, and I’ll make this happen! It’ll basically be like the cabins that Camp NaNoWriMo has. I think it’s going to be a blast and I’M SO EXCITED!

(NOTE: I will make sure this is a very safe environment and will remove anyone who uses crude language or tries to bully or anything like that. But I feel SO blessed with the readers I have on my blog and am like 99.999% sure none of you would ever do that! Just figured I’d better assure you that it will be safe.)


Other posts you might like:



And stay tuned, because next Monday I’m actually, finally going to be sharing more details of my NaNo novel Kings Bleed Gold!



The obvious question is, WHO’S DOING NANO??? (Pst. My NaNo account is HERE. I’d love to buddy you all over there!) Don’t forget to email me if you want to join my Hangouts! (Also, I apologize to all my non-NaNo participant readers. I know I probably drive you guys craaazy this time of year. Thank you so much for sticking by me and my NaNo obsessed self and always being an encouragement. I love you ALL!)

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Language of Worlds - Korinna

Hello, my elflings! I am all the excited, because today not only am I gonna tell you what I’ll be writing for NaNoWriMo (oooh yes!), buuut you’ll be meeting one of the characters. *DANCES*

The ever-fabulous Liv K. Fisher has posted the set of questions for her bimonthly character linkup, The Language of Worlds—a linkup that asks us ten questions about any one of our characters of our choosing. I think this one runs until the end of October or thereabout, so if you want to join, check out the details and find the questions HERE. (But seriously, it’s so much fun. You should do iiiittt.)

In August, I joined in the last one (you can find my post HERE), in which I introduced you all to a new WIP I spontaneously started, called King Bleed Gold—a King Midas retelling with DRAGONS.

Well… Guess what I’ve decided to write for NaNo?


Haha, yeeeah. I’m being a smidgen of a NaNo rebel, because you’re “supposed” to start something entirely new for NaNo. But I’m only being like…a fourth of a rebel, because I only have 1k words of the story written, and I might change up those 1k words anyway. So yeah, it’s still a very new novel. AND I AM EXCITED TO WRITE IT.

I’ll be telling you guys alllll the details and fun things about this story near the end of the month when I answer the questions to my own linkup Know the Novel (#shamelessplug). Buuut, first I’ve got to actually figure out what all this novel is about. Because eheheheh, the more I plot, the more confused I get. It’s already turning into a convoluted monster, per the norm for me. (Whyyyy?) But yeah, you’ll be getting all the fun facts soon!

For today though, I’ll be answering Liv’s lovely questions about one of my main characters, Korinna. I haven’t quite got a full grasp on Korinna’s personality yet, so this linkup came just in time! These things are always so helpful in digging deep into our characters’ heads. Are you excited? I’M EXCITED. So let’s get to it!


1.) What does your character fear the most?

Seeing others be harmed due to her own failings.

Bit of backstory: Korinna is a slave to the dragons, and when the slaves misbehave, instead of punishing them, the dragons punish them by going off on a human killing spree. (This is such a nice world I’ve created.) Korinna has a deep heart for people, and she’s been through…a lot, and seen some pretty terrible things. She hates serving the dragons, but she knows if she doesn’t, other will suffer. So her greatest fear is that people will die because of her.


2.) How would they handle it if they were to face their fear?

This fear is really Korinna’s driving force day to day. When something terrible like this happens, it just pushes her harder to make it never happen again, as well as to try to get the other slaves to behave themselves and avoid this terrible punishment as well.

She hopes that as long as she does as much work as she can, it’ll cause the dragons to not kidnap more slaves, and appease them so they won’t harm anyone.


3.) Do they want to get married? Why or why not?

Something like marriage has never really been an option for her, and she most certainly wouldn’t want to bring a child into the life she endures. Again, her driving force is assuring no one else gets hurt, no matter how much harm that brings herself.

But, yes. She’s definitely dreamed of a normal, safe life where she can happily be married and have all the children she wants. She just knows such a life will forever be denied her. So she fills that void by doing her best to protect the people she does have.


4.) What is their love language (i.e. words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, quality time, acts of service)?

Words of affirmation, definitely. She pours so much of herself out for others, being encouraged and told what she’s doing is important and that she means a lot to a person lifts her up more than anything else.

But quality time comes verrrryyy close. She truly values when people show they care about her enough to choose to spend their time with her. Her time is so consumed with work, she’s acutely aware at how precious it is. So having someone use their valuable time for her touches her deeply.


5.) On a scale from 1 (messy) to 5 (organized), how do they rate?

I would say a full 5. Again, time is a valuable thing, and she doesn’t have enough of it to be disorganized or messy with her work. She can map out a day and her workload to optimum capacity. Gotta keep those grumpy dragons happy, remember. Eheh.


6.) How do they feel about debates/disagreements?

Korinna does not shy away from them. She’s often the instigator of debates if she finds the subject important and needs to be discussed. Disagreements are certainly nothing she enjoys, but her need to speak out against injustices is stronger than her want for peacekeeping.


7.) What do they bring to a battle (figurative or literal)?

Korinna isn’t really a fighter, but she could absolutely be one of the sharp minds behind battle formations. Again, she’s extremely organized and also intelligent. So I guess she’d bring…her brain? XD


8.) What's their favorite thing to eat for breakfast?

Erm, she doesn’t have a lot of options when it comes to food. She has to eat to survive, she doesn’t have the luxury of it being a recreational activity. Berries and cooked fish are her main sources of food.

But if she wasn’t a slave and had her option of any food, I see her as a fruit on top of pancakes type of girl. Not that…they have pancakes in her world, but ya know.


9.) How do they treat themself after a long day?

Every day is long for her. (I treat my characters so, so well.) Usually she just collapses in bed. But she values time to herself to just think, so when she’s not too tired, she’ll occasionally just find somewhere quiet outside to sit and ponder life.


10.) What do you most want readers to glean from this story?

One of my most favorite quotes is by Oswald Chambers that says:

Never look for justice, but never cease to live it.”

If we spend our lives searching for justice in this world, we’re going to be sorely disappointed. It’s a dark, harsh world we live in. BUT, that does not give us permission to dish harshness back. We should always, always show kindness and goodness, no matter how terribly injustice our circumstances might be.

And that is the theme of this book. My main character Midas is a bratty, pompous king who is constantly rationalizing his behavior. But through many, er, unfortunate circumstances he begins to learn the importance of just being kind, for no other reason than that it is right, even though it’s hard. And, as you can probably guess, Korinna is a key factor in helping him learn this lesson.

There we are, my girl Korinna! This was exceedingly helpful getting a better grasp on her character. I even accidentally realized what her MBTI type is whilst writing this post. I’m pretty positive she’s an ISFJ. (One of my main characters in my last NaNo novel was an ISFJ too. I’m apparently very partial to that type…)

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Liv, for these great questions and wonderful linkup! I’m now all pumped to get back to plotting now that I have a better understanding of this character. This was great!

And don’t forget, if you want to participate yourself, just head on over to LIV'S POST to snag the questions and link up!



What do you think of Korinna? Am I totally the worst to my characters? (The answer is: yes.) And have you joined in on this linkup, because you definitely should!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Know the Novel Part 1 - Introductory {A New Writing Linkup!}

Last week I promised I had something super fun for you all coming. Well, here it is. A writing linkup!!! And my first EVER linkup to create. I AM ALL THE EXCITED.

So a bunch of you probably remember during NaNoWriMo season Sky @ Further Up and Further In and Cait @ Paperfury always did a special novel edition of their Beautiful People linkup called Beautiful Books. It was a great linkup for introducing our novels and talking about our writing in celebration of NaNoWriMo. Buuut since they had to close their Beautiful People/Books linkups for now due to that thing called Life (something we can all relate to, I’m sure), I decided to create something very much in the same vein as Beautiful Books! I adored that linkup. It was always such a great way to share what I was writing for NaNoWriMo.




Like Beautiful Books, this will be a 3-part linkup series, one for each of these last three months of the year. Each one will feature ten questions you can answer on your own blog (or anywhere else on social media if you’d like!). The questions will be focusing on different parts of the novel/your writing.

It will go as followed:


  • Part One: Introductory – These questions will be centered on you telling us all about your novel and giving the fun, juicy details.


  • Part Two: Within the WIP – This is more focused on how the writing is going, what problems and victories you’ve experienced, your writing process, etc. Basically all the fun behind the scenes writing things!


  • Part Three: Writing and Beyond – The last one will have questions asking how the full writing of the novel went and what your next plans for your novel will be!

The gist of it is, for three months I’ll throw ten novel/writing-related questions your way, and you can answer them on your own blog. Sound fun? I hope so!

Though I am doing this during NaNo season since, ya know, a lot of us are doing NaNo. You DO NOT have to be doing NaNoWriMo to participate. You can answer these questions for any WIP you have. It’s all just for fun! Plus I love seeing what all my writer frens are working on. So share away!

Alrighty, now that we know what’s going on, let’s get to the questions!


I’d be honored for you to use the graphic above for your own posts, but it’s certainly not required!


1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

2. Share a blurb!

3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

4. Tell us about your protagonist.

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

6. What excites you the most about this novel?

7. Is this going to be a series? Standalone? Something else?

8. Are you plotting? Pantsing? Plansting?

9. Name a few things that makes this story unique.

10. Share a fun “extra” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).



Now for the important bit, ADDING YOUR LINK! Do be sure to use the widget below to link to your post so others can check it out!

Part one of the linkup closes at midnight on October 31st. I’ll be posting part two on the second Monday of November, so stay tuned!



What do you think, dear writers? I believe this is gonna be a ton of fun! (I’ll be answering these questions myself later this month. Hehehe.) Don’t forget to add your link above. I can’t wait to hear about everyone’s lovely WIPs!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Burning Thorns: Snippets + A Call for Beta-Readers [Closed]

Happy October!!! Am I the only one in shock it’s already October? Because like…WUT??? But, at the same time, I’M SO EXCITED. The last three months of the year are my faaaave. Between the weather cooling down, NaNoWriMo approaching, and holidays upon us, there is so much excitement to be had during October/November/December.

I am in fact getting geared up to start doing some serious NaNo plotting, and will be talking about all that soon (seriously, get ready, it’s getting that time of year where all the talk around here is NaNo #sorrynotsorry). BUT, I’m also still doing some finishing touches to the very thing I’ve been pouring basically all my time and energy into this year. You guessed it…


I feel like at the point you all groan at the mention of that story, since I’ve been talking about it for literally years now. Buuut hopefully you’re not too tired of it??? Because today I’ve got an exciting announcement (which you all already know what is if you read the title of this post and paid attention to the giant banner above but we’re pretending that’s not there for dramatic effect).


I’m looking for beta-readers!!!

After doing a major edit to it earlier this year, and then some more polishing and tweaks just this last month, I am officially ready for others to look at it!

Buuut before I throw a sign-up form at you, you may want some info to see if you’re interested in investing your precious time into it. Annnd I’m also sharing SNIPPETS. Because it’s been a while, and I always tend to share snippets after I’ve finished a draft.



. . . BLURB . . .

The Dragon’s shadow is spreading, and only a terrible sacrifice can stop it.

Since childhood, Rose has shivered at the tales of a beast known as the Dragon—he who cursed the once beautiful fae world into a land of shadows. But when her sisters’ betrayal sends her fleeing from a slave trader, Rose escapes to the one place no one would dare follow: the Forest, home of these fae.

The stories quickly prove to be far more than myths when Rose is attacked by a horde of dark fae. Thanks to a young masked man, she finds a safe haven inside his enchanted castle surrounded by roses, where candles light themselves, food magically appears in the dining hall, and a kind elven woman is mysteriously trapped in the mirrors.

But who is this quiet man who shrouds himself in robes and masks and lives in such a strange place?

Rose is determined to seek answers and bring joy back to the lonely castle. But her hope of finding a new home has blinded her to the shadows growing under the man’s mask and the truth of the Forest’s curse. And only an unthinkable sacrifice can end it all.

Wordcount: 113,500 words (but don’t worry it’s a standalone, with potential for sequels about other characters, but this story it still totally complete on its own)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Beauty and the Beast retelling

Content: Being a Beauty and the Beast retelling, there’s some romance, but it’s actually not super heavy. Most of the story is more focused on the characters trying to stay alive and break curses and not be eaten by creepy fae and fun stuff like that. With that said, it is rather dark, and there’s sooorta magic in it. There’s not exactly a magical system, but the fae do have otherworldly powers, so if magic is not your thing, you may not like this, which is perfectly fine. But other than a touch of magic and dark creepiness and normal fantasy violence (some blood, sword fights, evil beasts terrorizing people, etc.), it’s all clean.



You can find the Pinterest Board HERE for more visuals.

Bare feet pattered just behind him, and only a few seconds of silence followed before she spoke again.

“What is he like?”


“The beast that haunts the Forest.”

Muscles tensing, he ducked his head deeper into the hood. “What do the humans these days say about him?”

“That the Forest wasn’t always this way. It used to be a happy and bright place, but not long ago a terrible creature took reign over it and spread his shadow, tainting it. The fae fed off his shadow and became the dark, wicked things they are now. Some call the beast a”—her words halted before she whispered the name—“dragon.”

He clenched and unclenched his fingers. “They’re not far from the mark.”


He was so pale against his black clothing. Pale hair, pale skin—what little was visible past the half mask. His curly, shaggy hair dropped over his eyes down to the nape of his neck. To her surprise, he hardly appeared much older than her. Really, he could almost be handsome if not for the strange mask covering half his features.

“Why do you wear it?”

His body tensed. The gloved hand resting by his plate curled into a fist. “Wear what?”

“The mask, the gloves. Everything. Why do you cover yourself like that?”

Like daggers, his eyes shot toward her, freezing her in place. They were an unnatural green. Bright and sharp.

She swallowed. Why couldn’t she just be quiet for more than half a moment?

For one heartbeat, his pupils changed shapes—two long dark slits piercing into her very being. But the sight was so fleeting she wondered if she imagined it.


The boy’s lips slanted to one side as he eyed Marigold up and down. “Today is proving to be very interesting. Girls are popping up every which-away. Who are you, then?”

Marigold quieted her wheezing breaths and stilled under his probing gaze, eyes narrowed. “Marigold,” she answered cautiously. “Who do you think you are?”

“At last, someone is gracious enough to ask. You sister here seemed to have forgotten proper formalities.” He shoved himself from the branch and bowed, one hand spread wide behind his back. “Lark at your service, m’lady.” Once straightened, he pressed two fingers on a branch. Slowly, he raised his hand, and a small crimson flower ascended underneath, as if he were pulling it up from the bark itself. He plucked up the tiny thing and stretched his hand through the branches and thorns toward Marigold. “It’s a pleasure,” he said, every tooth showing in a too-big grin.

Marigold’s cheeks burned as bright as the red petals, her eyes twice their original size. She tentatively reached for the proffered gift. “How did you do that? And— Wait a moment! How did you know we’re sisters?”

“Natural talent,” he said, as if that explained everything.


The Dragon tore through the Forest. Clawed past bushes and trees, hurtled up inclines, pounced over rocks and ruins. He did not know where he was running to, or why he was running at all, but he could not stop. Could not face the destruction behind him.

Perhaps that was it. Fear. Fear of what he was becoming…had become.



Cacophonic shrieks exploded from the darkness. Rose snagged Father’s arm, clinging to his sleeve. A heavy thump snapped her attention to the window where dark, leathery faces and black eyes peered at her from the outside. The dark fae crawled along the windows, their grotesque shadows dancing across the floor and walls. Winged beasts hurled into the panes over and over. Talons screeched along the glass. Fairies with tattered wings and fingernails mutated to pointed claws, nymphs with shadows wisping around their emaciated forms, sprites who seemed to pull the darkness around their bodies instead of illuminate light. So many creatures consumed in darkness.

And then their whispers came, and Rose’s blood turned cold.

She is ours.”

Give her to us.”

Ours. Ours!”


With new resolve coursing through her bloodstream and energizing her from the inside out, Rose backed away from the door. “I’m going to make everything right, Dragon.”

“Rose…” His voice wavered with fear. “What are you planning on doing?”

“I’m going to find Lystraea.” What she did after that needn’t be voiced, not yet. “Although…I don’t actually know the way home.”

A pause, and then, “Head straight north from the castle, it’ll take you to the Forest border into Cantrelle.” Was that amusement in his tone?

She couldn’t help smiling. “Will you escort me there?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t.”

“Please, Dragon. Why won’t you come out?”

“I don’t want to put you in danger.”


Have you come to kill us, girlie?” a nymph hissed.

The Dragon’s smile fell away. He crouched low, snarling. Rose’s back was to him, making it impossible to see her expression, but her shoulders rose and fell with heavy breaths. The fae shifted, murder gleaming in their eyes. The Dragon dug his boots into the earth. A deadly silence filled the air.

“No.” That single word, spoken so softly yet with such assuredness, snapped away all the tension. “No,” Rose repeated, louder now, straightening her shoulders, standing a little taller. “Enough with the killing. Enough fighting and murdering and darkness—it has to end.” She held up the dagger, stirring the creatures again, but then she hurled the weapon away, where it disappeared in the shadow of the Forest. “I am not here to harm you. I want to help. But you have to help as well.”


No matter what she did, the darkness always won. Where was the light? Where was hope?

“Stop!” she cried again, but her own sob and the dark fae’s shrieks drowned out her futile plea. The agonized screams of the men had stopped, and when the dark fae parted, her defenders’ bodies lay dead at her feet. She threw a hand over her mouth, the tears spilling over her fingers. “No…”

The dark fae turned to her, hunger oozing from their eyes.

With shuddering breaths, she pulled her hand down, bated her tears, and looked to each of them. “Take me. Just do it. Finish this.”

Erm, yes, there’s lots of drama. Just how I like my stories. Bwahahaha. Though there is some lighthearted moments and a touch of snark (namely from a certain Lark *cough, cough*) in between the feels.



Okey doke, to the technical stuff now that I’ve given you a taste of what you’re signing up for.

As mentioned, Burning Thorns is a project I’ve been working on for a long, long time. It’s on its 3rd (4th-ish?) draft. I did in fact have a group of beta-readers for it a couple of years back, and have since incorporated all their amazing suggestions and have done a ton of work on it since. But because I’ve done quite a few changes, I would absolutely love for it to be swept over once more by a group of eyes that aren’t mine. I need some fresh brains on this thing! (That sounded creepy…) BUT if you already beta-read it and want to do it again PLEASE DO. I LOVE YOU GUYS!!! And would be totally honored. But nooo pressure on anybody, former beta-readers or not. These days I very, very rarely take on beta-reading projects myself. I just can’t seem to find the time. I know it’s quite an undertaking, so only sign-up if you really want to. Okay? Okay!

I will actually prooobably be querying this project while you guys are reading it, which may be weird. But, like I said, it’s gone through many edits and beta-readers before, I feel mostly ready to start (fiiinally) searching for a literary agent with it. But still, I’d love to have some people look at this newest draft and gather opinions!



  • Typo Sweeps: I’m the #TypoQueen over here, and though I’ve combed through it multiple times, I would not be the least bit surprised if I’ve missed a few.


  • Grammatical Errors: Guys, I still get proper uses of lay and lie confused, IT’S BAD. So yeah, if you’re good at grammar, I NEED YOU.


  • Line Editing: Sentence structures off? Wording choices weird? Paragraphs strangely placed? You noticed I used the word “just” 347 times? I want ALL suggestions!


  • Major Thoughts: Gaping plot holes, awkward character arcs, unbelievability factors, literally ANYTHING you find wrong with the story, I want to hear about it!


  • Minor Thoughts: A chapter that feels unemotional, a paragraph that should be cut and changed, some dialogue that seems out of characters, all those little things.


  • ANYTHING: Basically, I love any and all thoughts, so let ‘em loose!

IMPORTANT NOTE: This does NOT mean every single beta-reader has to do ALL these things. If just one of these are your specialty, I’d love to have you! Basically what I’m saying is I’m looking for all things in my beta-readers. Finding typos aids me just as much as pointing out plot holes. It’s ALL helpful in making my story the best it can be. But I do ask for honest input. Trust me, I live off critiques. I crave them. How else can I write a good story after all? You will not hurt my feelings. It helps me so, so much when my readers are honest with me. So my one requirement is DON’T HOLD BACK. If you see something off, TELL ME!



The first time I had beta-readers, I sent the book in a Google Docs file that everyone could access and make notes on. I absolutely loved that system, because each person could see the other’s notes and bounce off them (plus we just had a lot of fun chatting there and making inside jokes!). I’d love to do that again. Though Google Docs can get laggy when it’s filled up with lots of comments, so I've split the story up into 5 separate Google Docs to avoid that problem.

With that said, if you don’t like Google Docs, or get distracted with other people’s notes, I can send you the manuscript by itself via a separate Google Docs or PDF or another way (like a .doc file?). It’ll be completely up to you! I’m perfectly fine with whatever you’re most comfortable with.



I’d love to have everyone’s notes back by January 7th, 2019. BUT, I absolutely understand people’s lives are crazy (especially this time of year). So if you can’t manage that, it’s perfectly okay. That’s more a loose deadline since I’ll probably be ready to do more work on the story by the new year. (How are we already talking about 2019???) But, again, if your life gets too hectic and you can’t make that deadline, it’s fine! Just me let me. ^_^



Alrighty. With all that out of the way, here’s the sign-up sheet! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email (just click the little green envelope in the top right corner of the blog) or ask in the comments.


EDIT: Oh my gracious, guys. You blew. me. away. Within just a day I had over 20 people sign up!!! I guess I should have put a cap on how many I’d take. I just did not expect to get this kind of response. I LOVE YOU GUYS AND FEEL SO BLESS AND HONORED!!! I’m closing the form now since I’ve gotten so many people. I don’t want to completely overwhelm myself here. Haha. But if you were just dyyyying to beta-read or you had asked me to beta-read before and I totally forgot to add your name and/or contact you, shoot me an email! Otherwise, I’m not taking anymore on. But just, YOU GUYS. I can’t even begin to express my thanks. Your enthusiasm for my story makes it all worth it. I just…I can’t. LOVE YOU ALL! <333

Again, there is nooo pressure to be a beta-reader. I know it’s a huge commitment. But for any who did sign up just… THANK YOOOUUU!!!!!

It means the world to me that you’re interested in my story and want to help make it the best it can be. You guys are helping my dreams come true, and there aren’t enough words to properly express my thanks.

I will hopefully be contacting everyone who signed up within a week or two and sending out the manuscript!


Another huge thanks to all who signed up! Feel free to leave questions in the comments! Also, I know this wasn’t much of a blog post, more like shameless self promo. *sheepish grin* But I DO have something super fun in the works for next week, so stayed tuned!

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