Book Review: The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

The Goblins of Bellwater

I picked this up for the gorgeous cover, and was interested in the premiss. Kit, goblin liason, is stuck stealing for the tricky creatures. When he misses a payment, they tend to get into mischief, stealing people to turn them into goblins…or killing them. As long as you stay off their magical paths and don’t eat their tainted fruits, you’ll be safe. Too bad a young woman named Skye wanders into the forest and gets put under a spell. Part of the enchantment renders her unable to smile, or even speak of the goblins. Her sister Livy thinks she’s suddenly depressed, and turns to Kit for comfort. When Kit’s own cousin Grady gets involved with not just Skye, but those tricky goblins, trouble is ahead, and time is running out before the goblins add another member (or two) to their tribe.

I really enjoyed this! After reading reviews, I can see how some people didn’t get into this, but I loved the weirdness of it. I was slightly confused about the mentions of sex in reviews, because there’s really not much so I think most was removed, and I kind of wish I’d read the earlier version. Shrugs.

If you’re not into creatures, this might be hard to suspend your disbelief, but I liked it. The characters were well-written, the tension believable, and the ending was amazing– the tasks! I loved the nature throughout, and the love Livy shows her sister. I enjoyed that for an adult (or new adult?) fantasy there was no gore, and hardly anything violent. I liked the softness of it, because that seems rare. The very end was a bit too tidy, but that’s ok. Overall 4.5 stars.

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Sweetheart Swag Book Giveaway ♡♡♡ 

My fellow book besties and I wanted to give back and do something fun for Valentine’s Day, so we’ve picked a few of our favorite love stories, and treats, for you to treat YOURSELF. Included in this giveaway is:

-These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

-Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

-A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas 

-Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst  (this was my pick! It’s an #OWNVOICES f/f fantasy)

-Déja You: Stories of Second Chances by the 5 of us besties- me, Jamie, Kelly, Bianca, and C.H. 

-Enamel heart pin by Jacobson Design Shop 

-Prima Naturalis black mud soap

-A handmade rose quartz bracelet, made by Bianca!

-Cupid keychain set (m/f set) 

-Engraved “love” beach glass from InLoft Calligraphy 

-Organic caramel sea salt chocolate bar

-Author bookmarks from us all

To enter:

-Must be in the US. 

-Must be 18 or older. 

-Follow this link to Rafflekopter and gain as many as 34 entries by following as many of our accounts as you like! 

Ends on 2/14/18. 

This giveaway includes books with sexual content, some mild and some more explicit. 

Giveaway not affiliated with any site. Shipping is included. 

Thanks for entering, and good luck!

Pre-order Up! 

The fantasy anthology I’m involved in is up for pre-order now. 

Check out this gorgeous photo by Instagram @januaryrabbit whose story Little Red kicks off the anthology. 

More about the book, which will be released in paperback too, March 1st:

Eu-2 Publishing is proud to present Fireflies & Fairy Dust: A Fantasy Anthology, with content from over twenty fiction authors, poets, and artists, both established and emerging. This collection features twists on classic nursery rhymes, retellings of familiar fairytales, and also brand-new work that is sure to become favorites. From uplifting to stark, poetic to funny, sweet to sorrowful, we’ve got you covered with this magical collection.

Includes work by: Kennedy Vega, Autumn Lindsey, Jewel Eliese, Aisha Mohamed, Robert Rogler, Marya Layth, Haley Pritzl, A.N. Moore, Amanda Linsmeier, Joe Euclide, Jamie McLachlan, Norma Bishop, Bianca M. Schwarz, Cara Masset, Alicia Gaile, Candice Conner, Shirani Rajapakse, Kerry E.B. Black, Mandy Eve-Barnett, Kim Plasket, Artyv K, and Leslie Wibberley.


Revise & Resubmit

Or otherwise known as an R&R. 

What is this? And why am I blogging about it?

First, if you’ve been following you know I’ve been working on my Weightless revision for awhile. I finished about two weeks ago, and began sending out my first batch of queries to literary agents (of this YA version. If you recall, I queried way back in 2016 but that was an entirely different Middle-grade manuscript, basically, and I’ve carefully revised since). I got a quick request for the FULL manuscript from an agent and was super excited. Then. 

The rejection email came, but it wasn’t the typical “not for me” rejection. It had gems such as “lovely writing” and “you have something here” BUT then there were detailed remarks on why agent didn’t fall in love, including serious characterization issues. Gulp. 

I took some time to let it all soak in, because as much as some of the comments caught me off guard, once I thought about it, I realized there ARE issues, and the biggest ones were things I’d never even realized, such as my main character being too “good” in parts, basically devoid of any personality. Yikes. So. Now what? 

The agent invited me to resubmit my manuscript after revising, and I know how great an opportunity that is. It doesn’t mean she’ll accept it even after, but it does mean she sees potential. 

I’ve started making changes, and the easy things were, well, easy to change. But there’s a huge aspect of the story I need to change and I’m struggling. Deep breaths, right? 

Anyway, I’m going to take a few days off from revisions (round 500??) and just read for pleasure. I need to clear my head (So. Much. Confusion) and get inspired to tackle this head-on. Hopefully this time-out will give me fresh eyes to get focused on what needs to be done, and HOW I can do it. 

So wish me luck! XO



Book Review: Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović

Wicked Like a Wildfire (Hibiscus Daughter, #1)Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I got Wicked Like A Wildfire this summer, and sadly, it sat on my bookshelf unread, for months. The premise sounded intriguing though, and I finally picked it up a couple weeks ago.

Twin sisters, Iris and Milena, both have what their mother calls a “gleam”—a unique magical gift. Iris can see flowers in fractals, and translates what she sees into blown glass. Milena uses her voice to interpret emotion. Their mother, the sharp-tongued Jasmina, can evoke settings with her baked goods. The three live a sheltered life running their café in Montenegro, and Iris and her mother are constantly at odds with each other, even going so far as to slut-shame the other. Iris rebels by drinking, being promiscuous, and always dreaming (and talking) about Japan since she and Milena have a long-lost Japanese father. Then everything changes when their mother softens one night, showing them tenderness once again. Too bad the next day she is brutally attacked, and left hovering somewhere between not alive and not quite dead.

The girls are determined to find out what happened to their mother, and who the strange visitor who came to town was just the day of the attack. The storyline twisted deeper and deeper, bringing new light to who their mother was, and why she became so cold toward the two, and the more I read the more interested I was.

Lovers of sparse, clean prose might not care for the poetic descriptions. At times it even became noticeably to me—and I love a beautifully-crafted sentence, but overall I loved it. Passages like:

Other days, she made floating islands, fluffy lumps of spongy, unset meringue bobbing in creamy zabaglione and laced with orange syrup, violet preserves and a powder she ground from bee pollen, so every bite tasted exactly like late spring sunshine. She churned her own gelato too, but her chocolate stracciatella was always streaked like a sunset with other things, marmalade and rose hip jelly and crystallized chips of honey, and somehow it put you in mind of the sky—the held breath of twilight, the sanctity of dusk, and the final slippage of night. And you knew that when she looked at the sky, this was the taste that bloomed in her mouth.

(OMG gorgeous, no?) really set the tone of the story, and I felt so much of my imagination was using the senses the author brought to life. At times, the description slowed down the story, and I wish there’d been more with iris’s glass blowing—we only get 1 actual scene of the process and I’d have loved to have gotten more immersed in her talent. But in general I loved the story, the question of who had attacked their mother (and why), would she survive, and the hint of romantic tension throughout. The last 20% had me with my knuckles white, for things really got exciting, and I was left both unsure what to think, and freaking out for the next book. I cannot wait for the second book to find out more. 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for a lush and generous book about sisterhood, complex mother-daughter dynamics, beauty, love, sensuality and for including diverse characters and relationships.

View all my reviews


Quick hi.

Well, hi, everyone. It’s been so long since I’ve posted- sorry! I hope you had a terrific holiday season and a happy new year. My 2018 has started off with a burst of creative energy, so that’s great. I started working on a brand-new story, and I’m still querying WITCH LESSON and revising WEIGHTLESS.

I will have a new book review up soon for Wicked Like A Wildfire (loved it!) AND a 2018 reading year in review, so stay tuned for that. I’ve just been so busy writing and reading, and working (and momming) that I am behind.

I wish I had some amazing news to share, like an agent offer, but I’m hoping it’ll be soon. Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me that 2018 is my year!




Fireflies & Fairy Dust Cover Reveal

Just a quick post to share the cover for the anthology I’m involved in. 😄 I don’t know a release date yet but hopefully soon.


Author Branding

mini headshot

This blog post is geared toward writers/authors, but please feel free to read if branding & design talk floats your boat 😉

In all seriousness, I have a lot to say, and I *think* (hope) that it’s fairly useful for writers trying to find their way around the overwhelming task of creating a brand. What is a brand, and why is this all so important? I’m by NO means an expert, but I’ve learned a lot in the last six months.

Simply put, a brand is what your audience (readers) can expect from you. It’s not just your books, or stories, it’s what’s in them, it’s what makes you, YOU. Steven King’s author brand is easy to recognize. You know you’ll get scary, right? What about Jennifer Weiner? Her brand has feminist appeal, plenty of snark, and some heart. Name any well-known author and you can probably see where this is going. Think of musicians, artists, etc. We know what to expect because we recognize their brand.

(Graphic from Pinterest)

There’s a lot of great information online from smarter people than I on the subject. There are people who work on branding for a living. But what I can tell you as someone who has focused on her branding (and refocused after I got it wrong) is that there’s several important steps to consider, and you can’t rush it.

Okay, so brand = what your audience expects from you as a product (your books/writing), right? Think about that further with just one more example.

Nike brand = athletic apparel, sports, work-out, healthy living, kicking ass. Their logo, the infamous swoosh, is beyond simple. Yet you see it, you recognize immediately who it is from.

This isn’t just about smooshing all your branding into one simple symbol, however. It’s about how we use each element of our brand design to create a package that is intriguing, consistent, and genuinely us. Or you, or whatever.

Let me back up for just a minute. I promise to be quick. My first book was published, and my publisher chose a cover (which I liked very much):


After that I then self-published a few short stories. My covers looked like this all together:


You can see if you look at them all together that nothing really went. Yes, they all had my name. And perhaps a certain whimsy (for some) but that was really it.

Then, a few months ago I decided I better make a logo and business cards finally. I had been learning bits here and there about branding, and I knew I needed to get something set. I was dreading it because as much as I do enjoy creative design, art, etc., it was SO overwhelming narrowing down what I wanted. I went with something that I thought fit my “brand” of work- writing that is emotionally-charged, lyrical, simple-whimsical, and overall feminine in style.

Now that might still be confusing, but you know when you pick up one of my books you’re probably not going to get sparse, stark language, much violence, horror, or fast-action scenes. You will probably get slightly poetic descriptions, hopeful endings (in general), character-driven stories that often use flowers, nature, beauty, and a hint of magic (for most). Now, my branding is probably harder than some other authors because I write cross-genre. I have to create consistent branding between my poetry, my fantasy (both YA and adult), and my Women’s Fiction (one novel, and a short story collection). I totally lean toward fantasy writing, because it’s where my passion lies, but I can’t say ALL my stories contain elements of magic, so I have to do my best. It’s even more of a challenge when you consider my audience. I might have fans of my Women’s Fiction who HATE poetry. Every time I post a poem on social media, I risk them unliking my page (and therefore losing valuable marketing and visibility), for one example.

Anywho, it’s harder to create consistent branding in that case, but not impossible.

I read a fantastically helpful article about branding covers, and I want you all to go read it right now. Go ahead. Please.

Okay, now that you have, is it making more sense? After reading that I looked at all my covers, and was like ruh-roh. It looked like books/stories from four different authors! Truth be told, I’m still working on updating covers. But, after tweaking font, images, and other details, so far…

Can you see where the covers I am set with (so far) are all looking more cohesive? And do you catch the hint of whimsy, magic, femininity, lyricism in them? It’s okay that the colors vary because the most important thing here to me is the style & feel. 

I wasn’t done yet, however (still am not) because I still had my logo to contend with. As beautiful as it was, really, and as much time as I spent on it—I literally placed those floral elements piece by freaking piece—it wasn’t quite ME. I could go off on a whole tangent here about knowing yourself, and even at 34 I’m still figuring out my style and who I am, but I’ll just say not to rush it. Really decide when you’re looking at something if you just find it beautiful OR if it really represents you. It could be clothes, or home décor, or design, or anything else. Is it something you admire or something that truly speaks to you?

I went from this


to a much cleaner, simpler this

amanda logo set

I’m so much happier with it. It feels like a breath of fresh air. My logo and branding is starting to really reflect who I am. I’m using this to make all kinds of decisions in my life and home, even. My wardrobe is a mostly-neutral set of black, gray, white, cream, with a hint of blush or lavender. It’s what I’m comfortable in. My home is eclectic but I’m finding much more peace in more minimalistic décor. I like things to be pretty, but not fussy. Feminine but not fluffy. Simple but not stark. Check out

My Author Brand Aesthetic Board

And my Instagram feed is reflecting this all, too:

And it’s definitely not accidental. I’ve worked really hard to be consistent, and the result is something that makes me happy every time I see it. It’s me, it’s my brand, it’s my work, my hopes, all rolled together.

Some of you may not be published authors yet, or you haven’t started really figuring out your brand. You may not have book covers to design, or Instagram feeds to curate. You may think this is too much work, and that I have no clue what I’m talking about. Eek. But the sooner you can get comfortable with your brand I promise the easier it will be. Who are YOU? What kind of work do you want to create? What do you want just the sight of your logo to say to future readers?

Simple ways to start:

  1. Think of 3 keywords that describe your writing. If you have trouble with this ask beta readers, friends, critique partners, etc. I polled people on my author Facebook page awhile back. There were several keywords that were repeated. This helped me focus in on what my readers see. But you also have to keep in mind what you want. Perhaps you only write cozy mysteries but you want to venture into erotic romance. You’ll need to design around the future of your work.
  2. Look at other branding boards. Seriously, just hop on Pinterest, search “brand design” and see how well people pull all the elements together. Save the ones that speak to you. Are you drawn toward funky, colorful branding? Soft, floral? Bold, simple? You’ll start to see a pattern of what draws you in.
  3. Pick a color palette you love. Not just colors you love, but a palette that works well together, and is soothing to you. That doesn’t mean bold colors are out, by any means! But pick colors that feel good to you deep down. If you wouldn’t wear them, or decorate your home in them, then you probably don’t’ really love them. Choose no more than six colors. Mine? Charcoal gray, soft white, muted sage, lavender-gray, blush pink, black.
  4. Look at logo designs. Again, save some that inspire you. What kind of fonts do you like? What don’t you like? What shapes are you drawn to? What elements?
  5. Check out your favorite authors books. Do their covers have anything in common? What is it about them that you like?
  6. Save images, photos, greeting cards, scraps of fabric, or anything else to a mood board for inspiration. If your brand is truly reflective of you as a writer, then the mood board doesn’t just exist as a way to design your brand, but as an inspiration for your work! If you like, do this digitally on Pinterest.
  7. Seek professional help, if you have the means. I did not, so I made my own.
  8. If you make your own logo, cards, etc. there are several great resources. I purchased images from Creative Market, got free ones from Pixaby, and then used Canva to create my logo for no cost. I paid for some of my book images, but others were free stock photos. I used Zazzle to make cards.
  9. Try to expand your branding design to beyond just business cards, logos, or book covers. Don’t neglect your website, your social media headers, your author headshot, bookmarks, and even giveaway packaging. Even the way you wrap books to ship them to lucky readers who win your books should reflect your design. I haven’t yet, but I plan to purchase birch-paper wrapping paper, and lavender-gray ribbon to wrap mine in. See how that just fits right in? 🙂 
  10. Finally, take your time. It can be easy to rush into it, because yes it’s kind of fun. But I spent HOURS working on my busy floral logo, printing 200 business cards, and making headers, only to find it wasn’t ME. So first, get to know who you are, take time with yourself, and your desires.

That was really long, but I hope informative! Please comment below and let me know where you are at with branding. I’d love to hear from you.




Book Review: The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer 

The Gravity Between UsThe Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer

Where does friendship stop and love begin?

At just 19, Kendall Bettencourt is Hollywood’s hottest young starlet with the world at her feet – but behind the glamour and designer dresses is a girl who longs for normal.

Payton Taylor is Kendall’s best friend since childhood, and the one person who reminds her of who she really is – her refuge from the craziness of celebrity life. 

With her career taking off, Kendall moves Payton to LA to help keep her sane. But Payton is hiding a secret that could make everything ten times worse. Because to her, Kendall is more than a best friend – she is the only girl that she has ever loved. 

Just as they need each other more than ever, they’ll have to answer the question of where friendship stops and love begins? And find out whether the feelings they have can survive the mounting pressure of fame…
3 of 5 stars

This was a really easy read, and it had lots of potential. I wanted to love it more than I did.

The good parts were Kendall & Payton’s relationship as friends. I felt they cared about each other. The underlying sexual and romantic tension also felt real most of the time. I also thought the conflict of what society/Hollywood would think made it stronger than just “will she/won’t she” because there was something bigger coming between them.

That said, I had to downgrade because of the bi-negativity other reviewers mentioned, the multiple times “retard” was used ::cringes:: and that the two points-of-view just sounded way too much like one person. It was a good read if you are looking for something light.

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Black Friday Sale 

Hey there! I have two ebooks on sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. If you want to buy yourself a little something, or give to a reader in your life, both Like Waves and Déjà You Kindle ebooks are on sale for just .99! 

As always, thank you for your support! And if you haven’t already liked my Facebook page please do. I’m *so close* to 1,000 likes and I plan to do a giveaway when I reach it! 

Have a great weekend 😄