January 20, 2020

New Project: Journals

I feel like I have a million irons in the fire—many of which I’m not quite ready to share. But, I’ve got a new venture I’d like to announce!

One of the creative parts that I love about producing books is making gorgeous covers, and as a writer, I use a lot of journals. So, I decided to combine these two in order to create a line of journals that will be available through Amazon. To keep these new journals separate from my novels and puzzle books, I will be publishing them under a new brand: Journalu Press.

I’ve read a lot about publishing journals, and through my research, I have found countless self-publishers who create diaries, notebooks, bullet journals, planners, etc. My plan is to bring something unique to the table—or at least cool. There are already some pretty crazy items on the market, like this kitten riding a sloth riding an alpaca. My initial lineup contains some simple designs in a variety of bright colors. I’m also open to suggestions if there’s a type of journal you would like to see!

December 16, 2019

Flash Fiction: Advent Calendar

I thought I'd try something a little different and share a flash fiction piece I recently wrote. So, to get into the holiday spirit, here's a story about a woman who finds something surprising in her strange advent calendar.

Advent Calendar

When I bought the advent calendar from Mr. Thompson's antique shop, I had thought it would be empty. My intentions were to fill it with candies and small gifts for my eight-year-old niece. However, when I opened the first drawer, I was surprised to find a pack of mints. None of the other drawers would open for me, so I tossed the mints in my purse and went about my day. They had come in handy when the regional manager came into my office—I tossed a few in my mouth to mask my coffee breath which in turn gave me the confidence to speak with the manager about a few concerns I had on a particular project.

As had become my habit each morning, I opened the fourteenth drawer on December 14th. Every day I had gotten something that I ended up needing throughout the day, so I was particularly shocked to find a compact gun inside. I quickly pulled it out and tossed it in my purse. I wasn't sure if it was loaded or not. I had never even touched a gun before, let alone fire one. Paranoia washed over me. My plans for the day were to go to the mall and pick up holiday gifts for the last few people on my list—including my niece. What would happen at the mall today? Would I have to shoot someone?

I shuddered at the thought as I pulled on my coat. Every item in the calendar had been useful, but they were all mundane objects which could be used in a variety of situations. I was reading too much into this. There was no such thing as a magical advent calendar that somehow predicts what I'll need that day.

Nothing eventful happened until that evening. I was supposed to get dinner with my boyfriend Greg at a popular restaurant, but when we got there, it was absolutely mobbed.

"Why don't we go see a movie first?" he suggested, gesturing toward the movie theater next door.

I shrugged. "The theater looks pretty packed, too."

"We can see something that's been out for a while."

I nodded. We'd likely need to wait a few hours to get a seat at the restaurant anyways.

Once we were in line with our tickets to get inside, I suddenly recalled the weapon in my purse. There was a security guard looking through everyone's bags. I needed to do something.

"Greg," I whispered. "I need to go to the car real fast."

"We're almost inside. Can it wait?"

"No, it can't."

He raised a single brow and frowned a bit. "What do you need from the car?"

I stood up onto my toes so I could whisper right in his ear without being overheard. "I have a gun in my purse."

"You have a gun?!" he said, much too loudly. He immediately stepped away from me.

I had no time to explain before the security guard was right behind me. "Ma'am, you need to come with me."

He led me to a room at the back that was labeled "Employees Only." When asked, I gave him my bag and he looked inside. "Why would you bring a gun into the movie theater?"

"I forgot it was in there," I answered honestly.

"I'm going to call the police, and you and I will wait here together until they arrive."

I sighed heavily. Not only was the item I got today from the calendar not useful, but it was actually ruining my day. After what felt like forever, a few police officers joined us in the claustrophobic break room and asked me a bunch of questions. I was so nervous and scared, I could barely understand what the said to me after declaring I was under arrest.

With zip ties around my wrist, I walked with them out the break room and through the theater. I saw Greg standing next to the concession stand, and when he saw me, he followed us out of the theater while shouting at the officers to let me go.

Outside, one of the policemen led me to the car while the other tried to calmly explain the situation to my now irate boyfriend.

A sudden flash of light blinded me, followed by a loud boom that felt like a kick in the chest. Fire and smoke poured from the windows and out the top of the theater. The officer who had been talking to Greg grabbed his radio and started shouting into it, while the other one ran toward chaos, shouting instructions to the terrified crowd of people.

The first officer glanced quickly at me and said, "You can go." Greg and I immediately took off and I got in his car.

My wrists were still bound by the zip ties, but that wasn't the most pressing thing in my mind. "Let's get out of here," I said.

Only after getting home and heating up a frozen pizza did the reality of what happened hit me. That gun saved my life.

November 6, 2019

Today is Release Day for Puzzling Escapes: Trapped in the Bookstore!

After launching Puzzling Escapes: Mystery of the Spaceship and the Missing Crew, I jumped into a new sci-fi novel. But when sales for my puzzle book really took off, I decided to set the new fiction book aside and focus on another Puzzling Escapes installment.

I had a few fun ideas for scenarios that would be exciting to escape, and ultimately picked the idea that aligned most with my own interests: a bookstore. I’m sure all of my other ideas will eventually get featured in other Puzzling Escapes books.

Since I had already put together an escape room style puzzle book, this one came together a lot faster. I’m so glad I was able to reach my November 6th deadline because that also gives me the time to focus on my next sci-fi novel for NaNoWriMo.

If you enjoy logic puzzles, escape rooms, or need a gift for someone who does, check out my new book, Puzzling Escapes: Trapped in the Bookstore!

September 30, 2019

Book Review: Tentacles and Teeth by Ariele Sieling

A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Ariele Sieling at GalacticCon, where I snagged a copy of Tentacles and Teeth. The next book in the series, City of Dod, released last week, and I realized I never shared my thoughts on the first one.

Book Review: Tentacles and Teeth (Land of Szornyek Book 1) by Ariele Sieling
My rating: ★★★★★

Askari is a young warrior in a post-apocalyptic world full of monsters. She has a hard time following the rules of her tribe, which leads to her unique punishment: retrieve a special book from far away. Her journey is dangerous and she encounters several unique monsters on the journey.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Askari is an interesting character and we get to watch her grow as the story progresses. The many monsters she encounters are imaginative and scary. Not only do the characters have to fight the threatening beasts in really engaging action scenes, but they also have to get clever when the creatures they encounter are numerous or pose a seemingly insurmountable threat. The entire time I was reading, I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next. This book has a lot of action and heart and is incredibly well written.

For anyone who enjoys young adult dystopian novels, Tentacles and Teeth is a must-read!