#WIPWednesday – Art Edition

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So while I am an author and I could probably go on for days about the different novellas, novels, and shorts that I have tucked away in my box of plot bunnies (something that continues to breed as it sits.

Today I’m going to feature some of the art I’m working on. Because when not writing I enjoy spending time painting, making jewelry, and resin work.

A couple of paintings I did recently – they’re on 8-inch by 8-inch canvases. I did several blues with a little white and some lavender that didn’t really show up too well. A lavender and silver with a hint of pink. And a blue, lavender and pink with white – which is still really wet as you can tell in the lower left corner of the picture.

And then a shot of the resin keychains that I’m mailing by co-author, but I’m looking to make more to sell. As well, I have rune sets that look identical but are for divination purposes.

What do you do for fun when you’re not writing? Let me know!

Manic Monday

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I know that Monday tends to be a very large sigh of not again when we all start a new week (Somehow Sunday never feels like the start of a week despite though that’s likely just me because I work a Monday through Friday job).

Despite the very Monday feel to today, I hope that everyone reading this has or had a wonderful Monday. That it brought you something good, something that was able to make you smile, or at least something that wasn’t adding to your stress.

My Monday has been going a little everywhere – and by that, I mostly mean my brain. I have several things on my awareness that I want to do and I’m having a hard time trying to focus on one because all of them want my attention. So here I sit working on this blog post instead.

The Monday’est of Mondays.

 

Since my last blog post what have I been doing?
That’s a very good question honestly.

The boring answer is work. Work. And, more work. (My 9-5 has been eating a decent amount of my brain). However, that’s not ALL I’ve been doing either.

My co-author and I have been working on Book 2 for our Nine Universe, sequel to Hotel Fen and middle book of the Ragnarok Trilogy.
– We created a Wiki for the series. Super fun as a whole, not going to lie.
– Officially settled on the title for Book 2 – Monster Ridge – with the book slated for release July 23, 2022.
– And of course, we can’t write a book without an Outline, so we have spent the last month or so outlining the book. We finished it a little while back, the outline. The plan is to NaNo the book like we did for Hotel Fen. It worked really well as a whole for book one, so here’s hoping it works well for book two!

As well, my co-author has been sliding me short story competitions for magazines and things and when my brain can get around their theme, it’s been fun trying to write a few shorts for those.

We currently have a joint submission we wrote over a weekend pending decision.

As well, I submitted to FloraFiction.com’s Fall Haunting theme. You can find their website here: florafiction.com and you can find my submission “Lingering Ice” within its pages (page 16 to be specific) but you should definitely check out the magazine as a whole because there were a lot of good shorts, poems, and art/photography in the issue.

I have plans to overhaul my website a little more, make it a little more clean as a whole. So watch out for that in the coming months too!

Before I go though, how did your September go? Any hopes or plans for October to make spooky season fun? Let me know in the comments!

Pre-Order is Live!

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So back last October my friend and I were talking and we decided to write a book for NaNo. I am pretty sure I’ve both talked about it here and referred to it lovingly as Project Norse. We were able to finish the draft by the first of March – leaving it for a month or so while we dealt with work things and live things.

And then the editing happened. And while we were slow some months, we worked hard in others. Coupled with our amazing support team to help us, we have made it to the finish line!

I’m proud to present Hotel Fen!

It’s now live to pre-order from the following eBook stores:
Kindle
Apple Book
Barnes & Noble Nook
Kobo

Releasing Aug 24!

The paperback edition will be coming soon via Amazon as well, but unfortunately they don’t allow print copies up for pre-order. But I do have it set up in the KDP area to submit soon with the hopes that it will be reviewed relatively quick and won’t be too far behind the eBook release.

Also to go along with the beautiful cover and the fact that we’re releasing so very soon! Another incredible item to share is that my talented co-author actually wrote a song for our book too. (we’re actually working on a few more since we love how this one turned out)

It’s Live on Spotify now!
Listen here!

For those wondering, but what is the book about?
Don’t worry! I wouldnt’ leave you without a synopsis to read and hopefully tickle your interest!

Synopsis

Are you ready for the vacation of a lifetime?

Victor has always had a passion for Norse history and mythology, but after hitting a dead end with his book on valkyries, not even that passion is enough to move him forward. Just when he’s ready to abandon the project, he receives an email: he’s won a free trip to Hotel Fen, a remote vintage resort in the Scandinavian Mountains.

Silje has always felt that her life was fairly unremarkable. She cares deeply about people and that has led her to find her purpose at a nursing home in Oslo. When a resident dies and leaves her an all-expense paid vacation package to Hotel Fen, however, she takes the opportunity to experience something different.

It all starts innocently enough, with a little meet-cute in the hotel elevator that takes forever to arrive on their floor. But the longer Victor and Silje remain together, the more dangerous the hotel becomes, and the more they question where reality ends and the impossible begins.

And, just a reminder that Hotel Fen now live to pre-order from the following eBook stores:
Kindle
Apple Book
Barnes & Noble Nook
Kobo

Print Copy Coming Soon!

Cover Reveal: These Wicked Delights by Jessi Elliott

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Title: These Wicked Delights
Author: Jessi Elliott
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Release Date: June 15, 2021

Synopsis

When eighteen-year-old Emery Leclerc is taken from her home by a man who claims she has
magical powers, she isn’t sure who to call first: the police or the psych ward.

After discovering that the magic running through her veins is the reason her parents died years
ago, Emery wants nothing to do with it. She’d like nothing more than to return to her boring,
small-town life. But left unchecked, her newly awakened abilities prove dangerous. She must
learn to control her magic or risk having it consume her—and dying before making it out of high
school would seriously suck.

Unfortunately for Emery, learning magic isn’t as easy as her new housemates make it seem. As
her frustration grows, she learns that, while she may not want her magic, there’s a Wielder who
does… and the hauntingly familiar and wickedly charming Remington will do whatever it takes
to have it. As Emery battles him, she struggles to unravel the truth about her magical block and
the undeniable pull she feels towards her enemy.

They say the truth will set you free, but for Emery, it could be the very thing that kills her.

Pre-Order

Amazon | Apple | Nook | Kobo | Google

You can also Pre-Order a signed Paperback and get an exclusive Swag Pack FREE! Click Here!

Meet the Author

Jessi Elliott is a law clerk and author of both young adult and new adult romantic fiction. Her love of writing was born after many years of reading and reviewing books on her blog.

She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her adorable cat, Phoebe. Yes, named after the Friends character.  

When she’s not plotting her next writing project, she likes to spend her time hanging with friends and family, getting lost in a steamy romance novel, watching Friends, and drinking coffee.  

You can find Jessi at www.jessielliott.com, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can join her newsletter to stay up to date on book news and upcoming releases.

Catch Up

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I’m not even sure how we’re almost half way through April, I’m going to be completely honest with you. February and March passed quickly, leaving barely a trace of themselves behind as I stand here blinking at the progression of time. I mean, I know that they passed, my co-author and I worked really hard to finish our first draft by the end of Feb, which we ALMOST met deadline for. We technically finished it on March 1st, but that’s a close enough finish that I’m super happy with it.

March flew past in a blur. Things ramped up at work and I used March as a month to let the draft sit and get some space from, though we’re almost halfway into April and I am reminded that I need to dig into the edits now. I have some edits to make because I had someone read it and note all across it, plus re-reading to see where it needs edits myself as well. But I have faith that I’ll get there, and that we’ll get there, because my co-author is planning to read through and edit the draft after I run through it.

Meanwhile we’re already trying to outline books two and three so they’re all in line with each other from the start. We want to make sure the book plot and the overarching plot of the trilogy work well across the three books. So all the outlining and planning for us. And still pretty on par with our July release deadline we set for ourselves.

Life wise, things have been as they have been. Which is to say, the world is still in a pandemic, we’re mostly still stuck at home. I and my mother have both been fortunate enough to get the vaccine, we both work with hospital staff and doctors, pharmacists and residents who see patients so we were in the 1B section of the population. For those who might be wondering, neither of us had much in the way of side effects. I slept for the day after getting it, she was tired the day after but over all after 24 hours we were both fine. And we’re still making sure to be super careful and follow all the masking and hand washing recommendations.

I’m really glad that the weather has warmed up again, I’ve decided that while I’m working from home I’m going to strive to take like, an hour or two on the laptop and work outside so I can get some fresh air and get out of the house a little while still working. Of course, after the first day of doing this, it’s rained every day since. So, fun times there. And because of the rain, my migraines haven’t been great, though I’m trying a new medication recommended to me, over the counter, and it seems to be helping some. I still have them, but they’re less crawl under my desk and cry these days. So I can work through them so long as I’m in a hat or a non-florescent lit room. Small favor.

Over all I’m hoping to get back to writing on here more consistently. Wish me luck.

I hope, dear readers, that you’re staying healthy and safe.

And time vanishes

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So I lost my weekend to the best reason possible. All the words. All the words is definitely a good thing to lose time to though. My co-author on Project Norse and I decided to try and do a 10K words in a day challenge for our respective Saturdays.

As a whole, the challenge went well. We realized fairly early on that our time zone difference made for an interesting addition to the challenge, because with her in the Philippines and me in the United States, being fourteen hours apart means we can’t just boomerang the novel back and forth between us all day. For a good chunk of the writing time, one of us was sleeping while the other was writing.

We made it work though by working on different scenes in the novel at once. Like, I think we were working on four or five different areas to go back and forth with each other, but then also we had a couple areas where one of us took the lead on a certain scene and ran with it.

Neither of us hit 10,000 words on Saturday, but both of us got a little more than halfway through. She finished her 10,000 words on her Sunday. I didn’t, because I ran into a secondary challenge for a long da like that. So back in May 2019 I had my dominant hand’s wrist in a cast. And ever since that accident I’ve had serious problems with my wrist when I over work it.

Well apparently it feels that 6,372 words it decided was over working it. My morning went super well and I was able to get a little over 2,000 words before breakfast, but it had started to ache after that and just get progressively worse through the day as I tried to alternate between resting it and working on more words as I could.

Sunday was pretty much a get nothing done, only rest it day. Also, all the grocery shopping and things I had meant to do that I pushed off from Saturday, so no real other words happened over the weekend. But still, we were able to get about 16,000 words collectively on our novel over the weekend, which is awesome! Since we have that July deadline for publishing, it’s great that we’re able to make so much progress on it as a whole for draft one. As well, when we were awake at the same time and not writing, we were able to flush out our outline to really hone into the timeline of what we what to happen when and how we kind of want it to go so we have guiding things to get us there. Overall, it’s a super productive weekend.

And then yesterday I also realized part of the problem with my wrist is that when I have to work on campus and cover the front desk, that the angle the desk is at compared to the chair is part of my problem. We’ll see if anyone complains about the chair, because I lowered it by like a TON, but I’m hoping since it’s just a little lever, that they’ll just shift it for them when they’re on campus and no one will complain. But the angle was not okay for me anymore. within the first hour of working at the desk my wrist felt like it did after writing 6K words from Saturday, only worse. So yeah, something had to change. I also shifted how the monitors were set on the desk, but those were put back after my shift so no one had to worry about them.

I’m hoping my work week goes fairly quiet as a whole, and I can continue to get words in on the novel. I really want to continue this momentum that we’ve found on getting things done on the different chapters. I’d personally love it if we could have draft one finished by either the end of January or the really early beginning of February so we can get those edits in hard and fast.

Hope your week goes well, readers! And if you did anything you’re proud of, drop a comment and let me know!

Also, if you’re wondering what the image has to do with this post, well, it’s partially just because it’s my kitty and I love him. And partially because that’s legitimately how tired I feel right now.

2021 – Forward We Move

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Can you believe that we’re already four days into the new year? Hopefully your New Years celebrations, even if quiet, was good. Mine was mostly quiet with some Star Trek Discovery watching with my mom and some Among Us with some friends before that.

So far, I’d say my year is progressing well as a whole. I’ve been getting some writing in, but then my co-writer and I have set a very ambitious goal for our joint book so can’t take too many days wtihout touching it.

Let’s just get right into my goals for 2021!

  1. Finish, edit, market, and publish the book I’m working on with my co-author. Our ambitious deadline for it all is July. Six months. We’re that ambitious. But we’re also extremely motivated to get it done!
  2. Finish editing and publish faerie novel.
  3. Finalize and publish at least two shot story/novellas
  4. Read 24 books – this is two books a month. Which, if I carve out a little time occasionally, should be more than doable.
  5. Be more active on both Instagram and Twitter.
  6. Work on both Esty shops to get them up and going a little better.

They’re fairly ambitious goals for the most part, but they’ll keep me going through the year. And they’ll hopefully mean that I’ll get all the things done. Though for the first six months of the year, my main focus is definitely going to be on that first goal. I’m super excited to both work on it but also get it out in the world. We both are. Closer to it’s release, I’ll share a little more details about it.

To keep up with visuals of my progress, be sure to check out my Instagram account! You can find both my Instagram and my Twitter in the left side bar on this blog.

Do you have any goals for the new year? If so, please let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: Rogue Huntress by Thea Atkinson

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Author: Thea Atkinson
Publisher: Thea Atkinson
Series: Rogue Huntress Chronicles
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: July 6, 2016
Rating: 4 Stars

Find Rogue Huntress on Goodreads

Brief Synopsis

Shana, an assassin for the Beo pack, has been taken hostage by her foster brother, Caleb, after he kills her father, the alpha. By pack law, Caleb is now the alpha of the pack, but Shana and her brothers are a threat to his leadership and he’ll do what he can to force Shana into submission with the lives of her brothers.

Can Shana fake submission long enough to turn the tables on Caleb and take her pack back? Or will the human mercenary Caleb’s brought in be too much of a distraction that she’ll lose it all?

Review

The book starts off right in the thick of everything. We don’t start before Shana’s capture to get to know any of the characters, but with Shana already captured, trapped in the manor she called home. Caleb, her foster-brother turned captor wants her to submit to him and be his mate, but naturally Shana doesn’t want to mate to the man who had killed her father and put her essentially in a cage, even if her wolf thinks the idea of mating to such a powerful wolf isn’t a terrible idea.

A lot of the backstory about Shana and Caleb comes to us through Shana reflecting back on the past and both who she thought people were coupled with what Shana has gone through to make her the woman she is today. She thinks several times that she’s not sure who this Caleb is, because he wasn’t the man she’d grown up with, trained with, and knew as a brother. Though short of those comments we aren’t ever shown that juxtaposition against the Caleb we see keeping her captor and wanting her to be his. It’s a lot of telling in that respect.

Throughout the book, we’re teased back and forth with Jeb, the human mercenary that helped Caleb take over the pack and had been helping keep Shana captive. He seems cold and calculating, but then there are glimpses where we think we can maybe trust him, that he’ll be there and come through to help Shana take Caleb down and free her pack from his influence.

The worldbuilding that exists is good, because we’re mostly kept at Shana’s manor and the surrounding woods and ravine around it there isn’t too much to have Shana describe or see to us. But the descriptions of the old trees, the roots that in some scenes are large enough for Shana to duck under or around, the bramble bushes with their pricklers are described nicely to be able to visually see what Shana is going through. Even the description of the halls of the large manor as we’re taken through it in the different scenes left me fairly confident I knew about where things were from walking the halls with Shana.

The characters are mostly well thought out. Shana, being the main character feels the most alive, and her inner thoughts, motivations, and drive are well written. She’s very much a well flushed out character. As were the others over all. I don’t know if I’m over thinking it too much, but the only piece of the puzzle I feel like I’m missing is Caleb’s motivation for killing Shana’s father and taking over the pack.

Throughout the book Shana’s telling us that this isn’t the man she grew up with, and yet Jeb mentions at one point that this had been years in the planning. And Caleb didn’t take the pack over by way of the normal trial by combat normally associated with an alpha battle but crept in the shadows and took the wolves he knew he couldn’t beat fairly by deception and blind surprise. It leads well to why some of the pack wouldn’t follow him because it reeks of cowardliness despite the strength Shana’s wolf tells us Caleb has.

While I liked the book over all, it’s the lack of understanding Caleb’s motivation for turning on the people that had welcomed him in as a family for centuries if Shana’s offer of growing up with him is caught correctly is what leaves this more at a four star read. The story does hook you, and I followed it happily. I am also considering picking up the next book to see where Shana goes. However, even after I read it, I still have the serious, but why did he do it, nagging at the back of my head. There were also quite a few noticeable errors in spelling and punctuation being funky that while it didn’t completely pull me out of the story, were distracting.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. All thoughts are my own, and were not colored for receiving a free copy.

2020 – Looking back at the year

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So 2020 has been quite the year. I’m not going to rehash what all happened, because let’s be honest. Unless you’ve literally been living in a cave since February, you know, and if you have been living in a cave, well, you’re likely not reading this blog.

It brought a lot of change, which while not great in the how it did, change that will hopefully move us better for the future and the coming year. But that’s not why I’m writing this post. This post isn’t about the future, but about looking back at the year from my goals as an author and seeing where exactly I lined up with them. Maybe digging into a little of the why, though I know a big portion of the why already wtihout needing too much reflection on that part.

So let’s remind ourselves of the goals I’d put into motion via a post on this blog back in January:

  1. Publish at least 2 short stories in 2020
  2. Publish one full-length novel in 2020
  3. Read 50 books in 2020
  4. Relaunch jewelry shop
  5. Sticker shop – create and open

Okay, so let’s go through each and every one of these together and see how I did.

1. Publish at least 2 short stories in 2020? Accomplished! I was able to publish two shorts this year, so woo! go me!

Treasure of the Deep follows Kari, a headstrong Princess that loves to explore the ocean floor for treasure. But her heart ends up at risk when she saves a diver from a shark attack.

On the Clock is a super short read that follows an office tryst.

2. Publish one full-length novel, which did not happen. I’ve got it in editing still, though I am hoping to get some headway in it over the week between Christmas and New Years because I have it off from my 9-5 job that has gotten demanding. – Failed

I can say that I didn’t have the time, or that things came up, which feels true in most senses. But part of it has been I’ve been having trouble focusing on words as a whole. There’s not one thing that I can narrow it down to, but I will say that work has stressed me out more and I’ve found more than one night where I was working on things well past 6pm from home because I needed to make sure something gets done by a certain time. Which after the stress is gone has left me literally wanting to sleep more than anything.

Here’s hoping that getting elbows deep into the editing will mean I can get it polished and out by end of January, maybe mid February at the latest.

3. Read 50 books in 2020 – Failed

I’m gonna be completely honest, this is another fail. I haven’t had time to write, and that also leads to haven’t had time to read much. I think I read like three books this year. I’m in the middle of one that I’m finishing for a review coming Wednesday. But mostly, I’ve been using my time for crafts instead of writing or reading because there’s an instant gratification  of having it done like an hour later and it’s been really fun and made me smile.

4. Relaunch the jewelry shop – Accomplished

This one is technically accomplished. The etsy shop is up and running, though I need to dig into some serious work on getting it back to where it was. A lot of that is involving sitting down and doing a hard inventory and cleaning, but I did get the shop up and it has some items listed on it, and we did make one sale for 2020. So I count it as a win!

5. Start a sticker shop – Kind of accomplished?

So this goal kind of changed after a little while. After really working on stickers, I decided that the time it takes to design them, lay them out, cut them, make sure the print and cut is correct, that it’s time I would rather put into trying to write or read or do other crafts that I enjoy a little more. Like, it was a fun experiment. I made stickers for about two months for my self. I use my cricut machine like crazy still for other things.

But trying to keep up with designs for every week and month is a lot of work. Like full time job work. And if I’m going to put that much work into something, I’d much rather put that time and energy into my author stuff.

Now, I know you’re looking at it though and going, but Meri, you marked it as kind of accomplished. Why is that? Because deciding not to start a sticker shop isn’t technically accomplishing that goal, it’s technically more taking it off the table. Well that’s because while I didn’t open a sticker shop, I did open MBenson Creations on Etsy.

My original jewelry shop is fine gemstone jewelry. Real stones in a sterling silver or 14K gold setting.

MBenson Creations is going to be more of a catchall for my non-fine gemstone jewelry stuff. So I have some acrylic pour necklaces up right now. I’m looking to list a few bookmarks I’ve made, as well as some resin keychains I’ve made. Once I finally get books that are large enough to make into books that can be published on demand I can offer signed copies through this Etsy shop as well. A place for all my creative creations to go up on.

I could have listed them all through the same shop technically, but at the same time I personally wanted a difference in branding for the two. So it made sense to separate them.  But because I did actually create a new shop for that stuff, while not a sticker shop, I count it as an accomplished goal because it revolves around the same goal.

So looking back over, I’ve accomplished three out of five goals. Which in the grand scheme of things, is actually fairly good.

I’ve also jotted down new ideas for some shorts or novels depending on where they go once I get to writing them. I’ve started a joint novel with a friend, and she’s determined to push us to get it out by the end of next year, so goals you’ll be seeing in my next post regarding that.

While 2020 has been crazy, it’s also been a somewhat productive year between the 9-5 stress I’ve been handling. So all in all, while it hasn’t been the easiest year to deal with and learning to work at home has been interesting, more in the I’ve learned that I have problems walking away after I’ve technically clocked out and am not getting paid for the work I’m doing now, I’ve made some good strides as a whole.

Hopefully, looking back on your 2020, you’ll find some bright spots among the cloud that’s been hanging out over the year and can find some reasons to smile, take a deep breath, and move toward 2021 with your head held high and your optimism next to you.

Happy Holidays!

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Happy Holidays!

Whatever holiday you celebrate, may you and your family have a wonderful one. And if you don’t celebrate any holiday specifically, may your week be wonderful.

This year has been a long one. But the year is coming to a close, we’re wrapping things up the same way we wrap the presents this time of year.

May the new year bring us light, good memories to create, and less stress as a whole.