How to Crush NaNoWriMo this November: [a survival guide]


It is the first day of November and so, today, a writer will die.

Haha, just kidding! I have never known NaNoWriMo to kill anyone. (And brownie points for whoever got that reference!)

No, while NaNoWriMo is definitely intimidating, do not let it scare you; it is definitely conquerable, not just for superwriters like Cait @Paperfury, but for slow writers, new writers, and the rest of us.

Here are some of the top things I have done that make a difference:

Put words in the bank. On days when you are free, go over your regular wordcount, maybe even do two or three day’s worth in. On those days where you literally don’t get a chance to even sit down, you will be thanking your past self.

Do not underestimate the power of hyping yourself up. An outing at a coffee shop? Do it. Buy a new mug and coffee blend? Go for it. Choose a handful of things that are going to get you really excited to write and make it happen.

Take breaks. Let yourself enjoy the experience. You will definitely look back with some fondness on the marathon days or nights where you are chugging tea or coffee to stay awake and writing like a hero, but your story (and sanity) will be better off for taking fifteen minutes to build up your Pinterest board or read a few chapters of that new release.

Feed your creative side. I always make a point of consuming quality media during November, because nothing stops you in your tracks faster than running out of creative steam. I plan some movie nights (and I might just pick them based on actors that I’ve mentally cast as characters) and I choose a couple good reads to get through.

Get yourself a wingman. It is especially helpful if they are also doing NaNoWriMo, as word sprinting can be extremely helpful, but my non-writing friends have been just as instrumental as the writing ones. Someone who will tell you to get cracking when you want to procrastinate, someone who will buy you a coffee to encourage you, or someone who will ask how the writing is coming.

Put together a survival kit. Healthy snacks (so you don’t get a sugar or junk food crash), pens and scribble paper, small treats, things that remind you of your project, anything that will help give you that little push when you’re losing inspiration. For me, it’s mugs, pita chips, chocolate, coffee or tea, little notebooks, a fresh pack of pens, and candles.

Choose a project you can commit to. Nothing stops you in your tracks faster than falling out of love with your story. Choose a project you love, can’t stop thinking about, and burns inside of you like a fire, wanting to get out. That is the story that will see you safely through 50k in a month.

Where are my Wrimos at? While I am not “officially” participating this year because of edits I will definitely be writing alongside all of you! What are some of your favorite strategies for surviving/winning?

Seventh City Is Here! (A Blog Tour Kickoff)

Seventh City Is Here!


Hi folks!

I am so excited: my sophomore novel, Seventh City has finally arrived!  There will be a blog tour running between now and the 30th so be sure to follow along and check out all the stops and give these wonderful bloggers some love!

And now to the book and the goodies!



“Let me tell you a story that happened so long ago that only the hills and rivers can remember the time . . . .”

All her life, thirteen-year-old Maki has heard tales of the legendary city of gold, buried deep in the northern frontier. But when her village is burned and her brother captured by cruel invaders, the legend becomes desperately real.

Armed with a wolf-dog and a heart of courage, Maki sets out on a journey that will demand all her strength and cunning. She is determined to bring her brother home at all costs. Yet as her quest leads her deep into a wilderness of ancient dangers, Maki realizes that even for her, some prices are too high to pay.


Buy links: 
Barnes and Noble:
The Book Depository:


Official Seventh City Playlist:



Official Seventh City Pinterest Board: 

Blog Tour: 

August 20: Kickoff post: The Herosinger Blog

August 21: Guest Post: Down the Rabbit Hole

August 22: Spotlight: Deborah O’Carroll 

August 23: Interview: My Lady Bibliophile

August 24: Guest Post: Rae Graham 

August 25: Q&A: Liz Koetsier at Ink Lizard

August 26: Spotlight/Review: Claire Banschbach

August 27: Interview: Smudged Thoughts

August 28: Review: Kaleigh Stroink

August 29: Interview: Laura Grace at Unicorn Quester

August 30: Interview: Anne Rhys at Father’s Joy

Thank you everyone for you love and continued support! Be sure to follow along with the festivities for more behind-the-scenes and discussions! 

The Herosinger Is Back

The Herosinger is Back

I feel like I should quote Samwise Gamgee here and say, ‘Well, I’m back!’. I have really missed this blog and so much has happened since the last post!

Where have I been?

Working. A lot. Following Crowning Heaven’s publication, I picked up a third job, drafted a new novel (or two or three), I took an author business course, started training with a huge three-year-old Irish horse, and did a ton of behind-the-scenes work for my next book release this summer!

Since it has basically been a year since I was last here, I thought it would be appropriate to restart the blog with a little Q & A from some of the questions I’ve been asked online in the last number of months. Here goes!


Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Are you going to participate this year?
Yes! I have participated ever since 2014, and it is my yearly happy excuse to speed-write a novel. And this year? As of right now, I plan to. 🙂

What’s your best advice for new and old writers and what’s your best advice for writers looking into self publishing?

Best advice: Love your art and keep at it. Overthinking, comparison (especially if it’s to raise yourself up) and going stagnant (different from resting/taking breaks) are your worst enemies.

For writers looking to self-publish: surround yourself with quality and seek out professionals that will help you achieve that. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice even if you think you’ll sound stupid. Chances are, you won’t. Deliver on your promises and don’t compare yourself unless you intend to compare yourself constructively. And if you have random questions, find a fellow self-pubbed author or two. Often we are happy to share what we’ve learned.

I think I remember you saying once that you could use both hands as your dominant hand…HOW ON EARTH DO YOU DO THIS AND CAN YOU PLEASE TEACH.

So this is half true. I can use a sword equally with both hands. Writing, eating, not so much. And I practiced. And practiced and practiced. Nothing fancy, just time.

What’s your favorite ice cream?

Mint chocolate chip!

Who is your favorite character from Crowning Heaven?

It changes with the day. Today it is Breac Harward. 🙂

Top book that you’ve read this year?

That’s hard. I really enjoyed The Light Between the Worlds by Laura Weymouth.

What would be your ideal writing retreat?

Out in a northwoods cabin near a large water source or in a cottage by the sea, good food, a few good friends to talk story with and a crazy big goal to accomplish.

If you had to pick only one genre to read in for a year, which would you choose and why?

Historical fiction would probably be my favorite, since you could go all over time to all manner of places.

Would you ever write a book with yourself as a prominent character?

That’s a very good question. I do not like to cast myself usually, however, I did once. So the answer is sort of yes?

What is your outlining process and the writing schedule you follow to complete a book?

It varies from book to book, but here’s the gist:

First draft: When I first get the idea, I write down any ideas in a notebook or notepad on my computer, I often make a playlist and a Pinterest board as well, just getting down the impressions I have of the story. This helps me go back to the original feeling of the book when I hit the middle and get disillusioned.

Then I begin drafting. I usually have some important plot points in place but I do not outline everything because I want some flexibility to see where the story is going. Drafting often takes 1-4 months, depending on how busy I am. I try to set a consistent amount of words per day/week, and I often set a “finish date” so I have something to aim for.

For the actual writing itself, I will often set a 15 minute timer and race it. On very good days I can write 2k an hour, though I’m usually a little slower than that.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

Probably historical fiction, like YA historical fiction. There are so many incredible stories in that genre. However, I am getting fond of certain types of fantasy and sci-fi. Heroic characters are my jam, so wherever I find those, there go I.


Now I have some questions for you (answer any or all!):

What is your top book outside of your regular genre you’ve read this year?

What are you looking forward to the most this summer?

If you could make everyone read one book that you love, what would it be?

Crowning Heaven Official Release!

Crowning Heaven Official Release

Well. Today is the day.

Crowning Heaven has made it. It has been a beautiful three year journey with you all and with this book and I hope that this is merely the start of many, many more adventures.

Blog tour: 

Today we had a Q and A over at My Lady Bibliophile along with a giveaway! She is an incredible friend and a brilliant author of a WW1 spy novel.  Go ahead and give her some love!

5/17 Annie Hawthorne over at Curious Wren hosted me to talk about my journey with Heaven as a character:

5/18 Anne Rhys interviewed me at Father’s Joy blog:



I will be setting up a a giveaway in the next couple days as I sort through a few things. Thank you for your patience. It’s going to be good.

The Book: 


Heaven Cassidy has only ever wanted one thing: a family. But when she opens a letter from her long-lost mother, she finds herself running for her life. Swept into a world of proud queens and ancient feuds, Heaven must decide whether her dream is worth taking on the responsibility of two kingdoms, one of which wants to crown her and the other to kill her.


Hope you all have a great evening!


Announcing Crowning Heaven Blog Tour + ARC Giveaway Winners!

Announcing Crowning Heaven Blog Tour + ARC Giveaway Winners! (3)


Hello hello! Going to keep it sweet and simple today! First off:

Blog tour: 

I am looking for some bloggers who would like to be a part of a blog tour I am setting up! It will probably run between May 15-18, but I can flex on second date depending on people’s availability/how many people we get.  ARCs will be available to those who need them, and you do not need a large amount of followers to participate, so if you are interested at all, go for it!  I am planning a big giveaway and some other exciting things!

You can use the sign-up form below, or just shoot me an email at!


And now for what you probably have been actually looking for:

Giveaway winners! 


And they are:


Mackenzie Keene


Katelyn Buxton


I will be emailing you ladies shortly about the ARCs!

And thank you to everyone who participated! I can’t wait to share this book with all of you!

Crowning Heaven Cover Reveal + Win an ARC!

Crowning Heaven Cover Reveal

Today I have something very exciting to share with you: the cover of Crowning Heaven! And to celebrate I am giving away two ebook ARCs!

I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally share this book with you. Years of work, love, and crafting these characters (my favorite part of it all!) have gone into this book, and I am seriously excited to be able to give away a copy to two winners!

The book releases on May 15, 2018 and will be available for pre-order soon. Giveaway link is at the end of the post.

Synopsis: Heaven Cassidy has only ever wanted one thing: a family. But when she opens a letter from her long-lost mother, she finds herself running for her life. Swept into a world of proud queens and ancient feuds, Heaven must decide whether her dream is worth taking on the responsibility of two kingdoms, one of which wants to crown her and the other to kill her.


Ready for the cover??



Wait for it…




Isn’t it beautiful? I can’t wait to share the book with you all! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! It only runs for five days so make sure to enter soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Join the Street Team!


Greetings on this cold and rainy Saturday!  I am starting my street team/Crowning Heaven launch team, and I would love to have you be a part of it!

What is Crowning Heaven, you say? 

Crowning Heaven is my YA Portal Fantasy novel, and it releases May 15th. For more information, here are some links to a synopsis and snippets.


Inside the form, I explain a lot, but here are a couple common questions:

What is an author street team?

An author’s street team is simply a group of individuals who love to read and are willing to spread the word about their books!

What do I have to do?

This may vary some (and no one is expected to do everything) but here are a few general things:

-Leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon.
-Read Crowning Heaven (Advance Reader Copies will be available).
-Participate in a cover reveal.
-Host a stop on a blog tour or post about the book on your blog/website.
-Post about Crowning Heaven on social media accounts.
-Participate in polls within our team HQ.

But there are perks: 

Members of the street team get:

-The very first look at the new developments (cover design, book swag, etc).
-First chance at ARC copies of Crowning Heaven
-Book swag
-Access to a members-only group where we chat and scheme and have loads of fun!
-Exclusive giveaways, deleted scenes and other such goodies.


If you have made it this far and are still interested, go ahead and fill out the form below! I am looking forward to sharing this great adventure with you!

Six Elements of a Book I Will Pick Up and Probably Love


A Stunning or Intriguing Cover

People say not to judge a book by its cover and while I actually do agree (there are many great books with horrible covers or covers I could stare at all day but wouldn’t touch the insides of), the cover is the first thing that grabs me. A cover should give the reader an accurate idea of what they are in for, and many is the book I have seized because it’s cover promised me I was about to go on a great adventure.

Vivid, Real Characters

This is maybe the biggest element for me. I can stomach weak or choppy plot, minor flaws, a boring setting, cringe-worthy descriptions, (and even straight-up bad writing sometimes?) if I love the characters. If it weren’t for the people in books, I wouldn’t be a reader and I wouldn’t be a writer. And the first thing that really grabs me in a book description is whether the characters sound good or cliché. That’s the real selling point for me.

A Good Twisty Plot

I love to be kept on my toes by a plot. Let the characters make unexpected decisions, let the book take a sudden and unusual turn, let the loyalties of characters change. Usually if I can guess the ending, some of the excitement goes out of the experience.

Unique Premise or Twist on a Classic

A classic retelling in a totally different setting? A premise that doesn’t sound like fifteen other current books on the market? Turning clichés on their heads? Sign me up.


There’s a reason why when people finish a book, they feel like they’ve been somewhere, or lived it. That is (most of the time) due to good atmosphere. Many of my first stories and writing projects were about people and places and cultures I had never been in because I read books about them, and I felt like I had lived it once. I had fought sharks in the warm south seas with Mafatu, marched south of the Rio Grande with Lee, dodged the Sheriff of Nottingham with Robin Hood, raced along the streets of Sienna in the heart-pounding Palio. Atmosphere is everything.

For the last one I’m going to actually do a negative element:

Lack of Cliche Attitude

Cliche attitude is a big reason I may put a book down or simply not enjoy it. Characters who are consistently resisting responsibility, wondering why authorities ‘just don’t understand them’, men reduced to whining boys, broody handsome men you want to give your heart to immediately, girls who consistently show up all the men in skills the men have been practicing all their lives….



What elements do you look for in a good read? Are there any elements that make or break a book for you?


Also, look for a second post later in the week; I will hopefully be announcing street team details!

Big Crowning Heaven News

A BigCrowning Heaven Announcement

I can’t believe I’m about to say this. Deep breath.

Today is the big day!

After years of working, seemingly endless revisions, many betas and yes, tears, I have a release date for my YA portal fantasy/spec fic Crowning Heaven.


Heaven Cassidy has only ever wanted one thing: a family. But when she opens a letter from her long-lost mother, she finds herself running for her life. Swept into a world of proud queens and ancient feuds, Heaven must decide whether her dream is worth taking on the responsibility of two kingdoms, one of which wants to crown her and the other to kill her.


Wait for it…

And the date is…

May 15th!

What can you do now?

-Add it on Goodreads. If you shelve it, it’ll notify you of any giveaways of this book, which I am planning.

-Follow me on my blog or on my social media (in the sidebar) because that’s where I’ll announce any new developments.

-Scream, because that is the mature thing to do.

-Spread the word. If you have read Crowning Heaven or you are just excited like I am, you can tweet about it, share this post, or anything else your little heart desires.

Street team opportunities will be coming hopefully in the next two or three weeks, as well as pre-orders, a newsletter, big changes to this site, and much more.


I love you all!

February Roundup

February Recap

February has been a hard month and a good month. It was kind of my January, actually. I got a lot of work done in January, but it didn’t feel like I had quite gone back to normal life yet. I feel like I finally hit my stride in February. Anyway, here’s the roundup.


In My Life

I trudged through snow, splashed through puddles, made my first latte art, watched Black Panther, baked Maori bread and Hungarian chimney cakes, read books, had lovely coffee shop conversations with friends, followed the Olympics, won an ARC, chatted with my editor, played Dvorak, went to Orchestra Hall for a concert, belted Broadway songs in a hayloft (where my co-workers couldn’t hear), pulled multiple twelve hour work days, cuddled under blankets on cold mornings, shared cocoa and an early morning with a little brother, celebrated sibling birthdays, kicked off the NASCAR season with pizza, ate tons of Chinese food for the New Year.



Read: The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die by John Piper, Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz, and A Gathering Tempest by Catherine Jones Payne.

Book Haul:

Breakwater by Catherine Jones Payne

Reclaiming Shilo Snow ARC by Mary Weber (Am I excited? Yes I am.)

Ten Thousand Thorns by Suzannah Rowntree


For those who haven’t seen my social media posts, I got my manuscript back from my editor and so most of my writing, okay, actually all of my writing this month has been editing Crowning Heaven. It’s currently at that hard and thankless stage, but I’m confident that it’s at the best it’s ever been and I cannot wait to share it with all of you!



What I’ve Been Listening To:

Black Panther soundtrack: Make sure you find the score, not the rap songs written for it. I particularly recommend A King’s Sunset and Wakanda.

Homecoming by Thomas Bergersen. Because this music is Crowning Heaven.

Justice from Murder on the Orient Express. All of Patrick Doyle’s score is incredible, but this track is genius.



Book releases!!

Mary Weber is releasing her sequel to The Evaporation of Sofi Snow (Reclaiming Shilo Snow) on March 6th, and I had the privilege of winning one of her ARCs. Which is good news because I raced through her first book and it left me on a cliff hanger.

Also, Catherine Jones Payne is releasing her sequel to Breakwater (Crosscurrent) on the same day! Talk about one good day!

Crowning Heaven Announcements

March will be the month where some big announcements roll out. Can’t say more than that yet, but I am excited for the coming weeks!


In the north you can’t really count on spring until sometime in May, but March is always where winter turns the corner and you get sun again and some gentler temperatures. I am so ready!